Episode 413

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Do you know the “why” behind the work you do? If not, it might be time to find out. Understanding the motivation behind why we show up and feel connected to our work is key to personal happiness and effective interpersonal communication.

As it turns out, there are nine “whys” that we could categorize ourselves into that affect agency communication and connectivity. Knowing where we fall on that spectrum, especially as agency owners, can remove blocks and help your agency reach its goals faster and more effectively than doing things the same old way we always do them.

If your agency has a lot of goals, but the team sometimes struggles to execute them, it might be time for the “why” mindset strategy that our guest, Linda Perry, is teaching us about in this episode. Because at the end of the day, your people are your greatest asset, and knowing how to communicate with them how they receive it best is a recipe for success.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

agency communication

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The mindset perspective that helps agencies reach their goals faster
  • Getting to the bottom of limiting beliefs that prevent us from growing
  • The what, the why, and the how for better agency communication
  • Creating connectivity between agency owners, leadership, and team members
  • The agency owner’s responsibility is to create moments of connection
  • How to navigate different “whys” and assign tasks accordingly
  • How the “why” mindset strategy aligns with the agency’s mission, vision, and values
  • Understanding a client’s “why” for better sales strategies

“We don’t make decisions based on our conscious brain. In fact, only 10% of our decisions are made by the conscious brain. The remaining part of our brain making decisions is the subconscious brain.” - Linda Perry Click To Tweet
“We all have limiting beliefs running through our brain, dictating how we're showing up. In fact, they dictate our inaction or procrastination and the way we communicate with other people.” - Linda Perry Click To Tweet
“Talk to the person based on how they want to hear. Not necessarily how you want it presented.” - Linda Perry Click To Tweet
“If you are trying to go to the next level and want to make sure you have the right team in place, you're investing in people. And the biggest worry always is, are they going to go away?” - Linda Perry Click To Tweet
“We all want to know, what kind of person am I? We want some sort of answer, and I think more than that, people want to know how they can show up in a better way.” - Linda Perry Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Linda:


Hey, before we get to the show, I just wanna remind you that we have created a private Facebook group just for you, our podcast listeners. There are almost 1500 agencies, agency owners, inside that Facebook group every day talking about what’s going on inside their shop, asking for resources, gut checking decisions, talking about everything from pricing to hiring, to biz dev. All kinds of things are happening there. We’re starting conversations. You guys are starting conversations. What I love about it is the community’s coming together and sharing resources, encouraging each other, and just sort of having a safe place to talk about what it’s like to own an agency. So all you have to do is head over to Facebook, search for a Build, a Better, Agency Podcast Group, or Build, a Better, Agency Podcast, and you’ll find the group.

You have to answer three questions. If you don’t answer the questions, we can’t let you in. But they’re simple. It’s, do you own an agency or do you work at an agency? And if so, what’s the U R L? What are you trying to get out of the group? And will you behave, basically? So come join us. If you haven’t been there for a while, come on back. If you haven’t joined, join in to the conversation. I think you’re gonna find it really helpful. All right, let’s get to the show.

Welcome to the Agency Management Institute community, where you’ll learn how to grow and scale your business, attract and retain the best talent, make more money, and keep more of the money you make. The Build a Better Agency Podcast, presented by a White Label IQ is packed with insights on how small to mid-size agencies are getting things done, bringing his 25 years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant. Please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Hey everybody. Drew McLellan here with another episode of Build a Better Agency. Super glad you are here with us. I think you’re gonna find this topic fascinating, both for yourself and for your team. So I’m excited to introduce you to our guest and dig right into that. But before I do that, I want to remind you two things. Number one, there are a lot of lively conversations going on in the podcast Facebook group. So if you’re not a member of that Facebook group, you really ought to come join us. Just go to Facebook, search for Build a Better agency. It’s gonna ask you three questions. What’s the U r L of your agency? What? What do you wanna learn there? What do you want to get from the group? And will you be nice? That’s it. You have to answer the questions, or I won’t let you in.

We do vet everybody to make sure that it’s only agency owners and leaders, and it’s not a bunch of people trying to sell things to agency folks. So you’ve gotta answer the questions. But anyway, lots of lively conversations and a lot of conversations around niching. As always, it’s a hot topic. How do you niche? Should you niche? What’s too narrow of a niche? All of those kind of things. So I wanna remind you about a tool that we put together, I don’t know, a year or two ago, right after Steven and I wrote Sell With Authority. And so it’s basically, think of it as a report card where you can evaluate different potential niches against what we believe are the criteria for what makes a good niche.

So there’s a grid, right? And down the left side, it’s all these different criteria that we think make a niche strong for an agency. And along the top, you can list five or six different niches. And basically you give a letter grade. So a four is an A, A three is a B, et cetera, for each. So let’s say it’s, do I want to be a pharma agency for, you know, pharma products for women over 50? That would be one of the columns. And then you would grade, you would answer a bunch of questions about that particular niche in your agency, kind of connection to that niche. You would answer the questions, and then you would get a score at the bottom. And when you do this for a series of different possibilities, what you find is which niche seems to be the strongest one for you to consider.

So super easy to use, super helpful, very clear, and it’ll get you thinking more objectively about what niche makes sense for your agency. So to download that, it’s a free tool. All you do is go to agency management institute.com, and then slash niche criteria, all one word. So again, agency management institute.com/niche criteria, and you can download that tool and let me know how it works for you. All right? Okay. So I wanna tell you a little bit about our guest. So Linda Perry is a coach who specializes in the why methodology, and I’m gonna let her explain all of that to you.

But it really is about understanding what motivates people, sort of what is the driver of why they do things, what, what matters most to them, how do they wanna show up? And then there’s this whole other sort of sublay to the why, which is The what and the how. And the whole point of understanding this is to understand yourself better, what motivates you, but also to understand your team members better, what motivates them, and how do you communicate with them in a way that’s really gonna resonate with them, that’s gonna inspire them, that’s gonna motivate them to do the kind of things you need them to do to be a great team member. So in this era of us trying to rethink about culture and connectivity with our team, how do we, how do we create a work environment where everyone feels seen and valued?

You know? And in my solo cast a month or so ago, I talked about sort of the psychological safety of making people sort of feel like they belong and they’re welcome and they’re a part of the team and they can contribute. This sort of goes hand in hand with that, and I think you’re gonna find it fascinating. So without further ado, let me bring Linda onto the show, and let’s start talking about how you can use these tools, what these tools are, and how you can use them to strengthen your agency. Okay, Linda, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us.

Thank you so much for having me. I’m looking forward to this.

Me too. So give everybody a sense of your background and your experience before I start peppering you with questions and you start making them smarter.

Sure. Like so many people these days, I think I’ve worn several hats to finally land in the career or the business that I love. I started out as a federal criminal defense attorney in Chicago for 17 plus years, and then switched, yeah. And then switched gears completely and became a mindset coach. And I’ll be honest, that was a shock because I became this business owner and I didn’t know how to run this business. And turns out 80% of life coaches fail. So what I did is I started to learn everything I possibly could about marketing copywriting. And it actually landed me in the marketing world for several years, huh? I ended up back as a coach because I started to really see the struggles that copywriters, marketers, agencies had with some of their head trash, as I call it, and with how do we really grow our business to the next level?

So I finally was able to sort of marry all of my tools. And what I really like doing now is, is working with agency owners who are looking to grow to the next level and help them understand their team better, their communications, build leaders, grow their next generation. And that’s really what I do. And I come at it from really a mindset perspective, married with some strategy.

So talk a little bit more about the mindset perspective. What do you mean when you say that?

Yeah. You know, mindset gets this weird rapid, is it mindfulness, right? Is it mindset? Is it woo? Is it

Right? Yeah.

Yeah. Are you gonna make me hold crystals? No, I’m not. Right? So the truth is, is that we make decisions not based on our conscious brain. In fact, only 10% of our decisions are made by the conscious brain. The remaining part of our brain is the one making decisions. The subconscious brain, if you think of like an iceberg, we only see the tippy top whatever is underneath. That’s what’s driving the show. So a lot of what I do is, is really understand what is the gap between where your team is, where they wanna be, where you are as an owner, where you wanna be, what is some of the head trash that stands in the way?

And I call it head trash because we all have some stories, we carry some negativity, but also I tap into that part of our brain, the motivations, the things that actually are our strengths. And I bring them out of people so that agencies can actually reach their goals much faster.

So do you start with, I think you’re right. I think everybody has that voice in the back of their head that you know, is either old stories or what your parents said to you, or you know, those sort of disabling beliefs that we have that a lot of times we’re not even aware that we have. So when you work with an agency, do you start with the owner? Does it, does it all start and end with the owner’s head trash and where their head and heart are at, and if they don’t understand that they can’t run the team? Or do you just dig right into the team?

Yes and no. It really depends what’s happening for the agency. But often what happens is, is there’s a communication problem. There is somebody that’s been identified as the stopgap in the growth. And so what happens is, is I like to understand what the exact situation is, and generally we’ll work with that person, but inevitably, the agency owner begins to learn something about themselves. And so what I start with actually is this tool called why. If anybody’s read Simon Sinek, start with Why. Sure. Essentially, he taps into people’s motivation, which again, is part of the limbic brain. We think we make decisions logically, but really we make decisions with this very sort of primitive part of our brain and then rationalize it with a neocortex and say, this is why we get to where we are.


But isn’t, isn’t, I mean, you would think if anybody understands that that’s the way decisions are made, it’s us. Because we take advantage of that with our copywriting, our design. We know that emotions drive decisions, and we have to tap into that. And then you’re right, then the logical brain says, well, yes, that red Corvette would be a good choice because you know, fill in the blank when really it’s like, that’s a hot car, I want to have it, right? Yeah. So, so you would think we, we wouldn’t be fooled by that, right?

No, you would think, right? And what happens though is, is we’re all too close to our own product, right? Right. We know that. Right? Right. And, and which is why people hire agencies in the first place. But right. When we’re dealing with teams, you often have to start to look at what are the different whys? What are the motivations? How do you speak to somebody in their why not my why, right? And so how do you start to tap into them? Whys that person not turning in their billing? Whys that person insisting on a certain way? And when you begin to understand, and there are nine whys I found this certification, and I think it’s really cool because there’s a really quick assessment, and then we go through your why, your how, and your what.

And what it creates is this picture of each individual that can then build upon the team that can then build upon the overall values and messages. And so that’s really where I start to dive in. And I can see, for example, an agency that maybe will have a bunch of creative idea thinkers, but you’re missing the systems people. So how do you shore that up? And that’s really how you’re gonna get to the next level. And it starts really with the mindset. Because if you’re trying to get somebody who has a why of better way, which is what I do, I have a why better way, I’m always looking for better ways. They’re not necessarily going to be your system creators.

They’re not gonna be the ones that create the path, and they wanna look for better with solutions for everything. So, so they’re gonna be best put on certain projects, outward facing client projects most of the time. And so this is just sort of an interesting thing that you get to start to collect and gather some information. Now, I add to that the toolbox of, I’m a a shadow coach, which means I’m trained in the work of Carl Young, which basically says that again, we have all these limiting beliefs sitting in the back of our brain that are dictating how we’re showing up. And in fact, they dictate our inaction, our procrastination, and the way we communicate with other people, how we show up.

And so that’s the second level that I work to get people on track on their communication skills. And so it’s really creating change in the individual long term so that the agency can actually effectively meet their goals. So everybody’s on the same page.

So I think most people are probably familiar with the why. I think Simon Sinek has done a great job of telling us that. But, but tell, tell us a little more about the h the how, the why connects with The. what, and the how I think is what you said, right? Like te what is that, that, what is that TrkA of things?

So this is really your why operating system, if you will. Okay. And if anyone’s curious about it, this was, I was trained at the Y Institute through this, and you can Google that online, but essentially The what the, the why is your motivation, your how is how you do it, and your, what is what you deliver to people. So I’ll give you my little operating system, and that is, I have a why of better way. How I do that is by challenging norms. So I like to rock boats. I mean, it’s not surprising given my career path, right? What I deliver as trusting relationships, which means I’m actually in the pretty perfect position for my job because I create safe containers for people to create their own changes.

And so I find a better way, because I don’t believe that some of the standard ways we’ve been taught work harder, right? Right. Just, just apply yourself, just dig in. Why aren’t you doing that? Right? Right. Those things aren’t effective. And in fact, most of us have what I call plateaus, where we get stuck. So those goals that we wanna reach, we never get to. Hmm. So, and something brings us always back to the plateau. So when I look at somebody’s roadmap, I can start to see where they get stuck. Someone with a why of better ways gonna get stuck because I, I can’t create original roadmaps.

I need help with that. I also bounce around from idea to idea because I like to challenge things, so someone’s gotta keep me on track. So when I look at the whole operating system, I can actually see where a person’s gonna get stuck. And it actually helps me with the rest of my job, because I can pretty much predict somebody’s limiting beliefs. I can pretty much predict where they’re gonna be resistant and dig their heels in. I can predict where they’re gonna need the most support. And that is super effective. And so that whole why operating system is really a basis from which I can work and actually start to build and say, Hey, this is how you’re gonna communicate with, let’s say the bus, the, the agency owner, right?

If your agency owner has trust as their first, their why, they’re really rooted in you following up with your word. They’re really rooted in relationships. So it teaches me how, it tells me how I need to coach somebody and how I can improve the communication of the team overall, talk to the person based on how they wanna hear, not necessarily how you want it presented.

I can see how this would be helpful for a supervisor or a department head to understand everybody on the team, because I, my guess is we instinctually communicate from our own why, how, and what, right? Yep. Yep. We make the assumption that everyone thinks and works the way we do and values what we value, which I, you know, I, again, logically we were like, that’s, that’s not gonna work. But it’s just probably our sort of go-to. So I’m assuming that part of the work is helping the entire team understand each other so that they work better together in, in a collaborative work environment like an agency.

Yeah. That’s really huge, because again, while most agencies are, are a bunch of creatives, you will have that one person who’s not, and it may create some rifts with the team. And so this is a tool that I use to help everybody understand the rest of the team. Now, the cool part about it too is, is we, before we kick this off, we started to talk about, you know, the younger generation, what’s really neat for them is that when they start to understand their why, they get it a lot earlier than maybe you or I did. And they’re able to start to say, oh, well that’s cool. I’m motivated by this, and this is already a strength I bring.

Because, you know, you remember what it was like to be in your twenties. You didn’t know your strengths, you had no idea. You’re like, I’m showing up here.

And well, and, and I think when you’re in your twenties, in our generation anyway, you just worked harder and longer, right? That was how you proved your value. You didn’t understand, you’re right. You didn’t understand your core worth. But it was just, I’m gonna work harder than everybody else, and I’m never leaving the office before the boss leaves the office.

Yeah. Yeah. That’s how we were trained, right? And unfortunately, you know, that did lead to a lot of burnout. Yeah. And this generation is really emotionally intelligent. Yeah. So they, they know that that doesn’t work, right? Yet, they’re not exactly sure what does. And so providing them with their whole operating system gives them an idea as to how they’re gonna show up. I can work with ’em where they’re gonna get stuck. And what’s cool for the agency owners is they see that somebody caress and is invested in them. And that matters. I mean, they want someplace cool to work.

They want the interaction. They’ve been raised in Covid, and they’re starting to work and they’ve not met, they don’t, they don’t know anything about the people they work with. Right? And so, what, what I love about this tool is, is it’s, it’s a way for people to connect too. So imagine, you know, all of a sudden you’re the agency owner and you have a yf Makes sense, makes sense. People are problem solvers by the way. And then so is your new young employee, you now have this connection automatically and something to share. We all wanna belong somewhere. Yeah. And so this is a tool that we start to think about as a tool for communication, for retention.

Then you can think about it also as a tool for sales. Imagine you have a whole bunch of better way challenge kind of people that are really like, we’re gonna do this differently and we’re gonna do it better. You now have some additional marketing messaging that you can really feel confident about. You may have known it, but you feel confident about it because you now have something that proves to you. Yeah. I have innovators on my team. Right. And that’s something that I’ve seen as as very helpful as well.

Yeah. You know, we do research every year and, and a couple years ago, normally we’re talking to clients of agencies every year, but a couple years ago, right? I think it was 2021. So as we were coming out of covid, we kind of turned the telescope and talked to agency employees. And one of the things that was, came out loud and clear to your point, is that one of the reasons why they would stay at an agency, a specific agency, is because they feel like their boss gets them as a human being, right? Yeah. So it’s not just they understand my skill as a copywriter or an account director, but that they see all of me, they understand the, my struggles, what’s going on with my family, but they, I, I feel seen and, and what you were just saying, maybe sort of connect to that, which is, you know, they, they want to be mentored and recognized in a way that feels really authentic to them.

Yeah, for sure. And, and this really gives the agency owner a new way of thinking about that. You know, and I do hear from agency owners saying like, look, I’m investing, especially if you are trying to grow to the next level, and you wanna make sure that you have the right team in place, you’re investing in people. And the biggest worry always is, are they gonna go away? Are they gonna go to someplace else? And it used to be just throwing money at the prob