Episode 152:

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” That’s the standard advice of any investment advisor. But that investment can only happen once we’ve actually made the money. But maybe the concept of diversification is equally applicable to the first stage – making the income in the first place.

Having multiple sources of income builds wealth more quickly and mitigates risks inherent in having just a single source. The logic of that seems simple enough.  But the execution – that’s a whole different animal.

My podcast guest Dorie Clark has a very interesting perspective on this topic and I was excited to pick her brain for all of us. Her most recent book, Entrepreneurial You, is a blueprint for developing multiple income streams without losing your sanity.

Building these income streams involves tough decision-making but it doesn’t have to mean you take huge risks along the way. Dorie suggests a more measured approach and walks us through some of the methods we can explore as we expand our ability to accumulate wealth.

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategy consultant, professional speaker, and frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review. She is also the author of Reinventing You and Stand Outwhich was named the #1 Leadership Book of 2015 by Inc. magazine and one of the Top 10 Business Books of the Year by Forbes. 

The New York Times described Clark as an “expert at self-reinvention and helping others make changes in their lives.” Clark consults and speaks for a diverse range of clients, including Google, the World Bank, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Yale University.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Creating diverse income streams without jumping into big, new, risky ventures
  • Guiding people through the sales funnel by offering incrementally advanced services
  • The importance of living beneath your means as an agency and as a person
  • Minimizing risk over time through developing diverse income streams
  • How to be the person that makes the hard choices
  • The meaning of the word “perspicacity”
  • The biggest obstacle to being entrepreneurial
  • How making introductions with no expectation of anything in return can be a superpower
  • The difference between a mindshare activity and a market share activity

The Golden Nuggets:

“Depending on your client base, you could offer a more bespoke, hands-on offering as an upgrade, or do the opposite – offer something pared-down to reach a different audience.” — @dorieclark Click To Tweet “Two questions to ask: one, what adjacent services can we offer existing clients, and two, who else might be interested in your services that you currently are not working with?” — @dorieclark Click To Tweet “In developing new income streams, more is not better. You’re not going to develop ten new income streams this year. Choose one to focus on. When that is up and running, then think about the next one.” — @dorieclark Click To Tweet “Ultimately if you want to keep a client long term, you have to approach them with a little less urgency. Come from a position of strength – be willing to walk away if it’s not the right fit.” — @dorieclark Click To Tweet “I am a big advocate of both individuals and companies really making a concerted effort to live beneath their means. Whenever there is an edge of desperation, the client can sense that a mile away.” — @dorieclark Click To Tweet “What we have to understand is that the essence of strategy is deciding we're doing this and we're doing only this.” — @dorieclark Click To Tweet

 

Subscribe to Build A Better Agency!

Itunes Logo          Stitcher button

Ways to contact Dorie:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency podcast, presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.

Drew McClellan:

Hey, everybody. Drew McClellan here. And guess what, this is another episode of Build a Better Agency. Super glad that you join me today, this is a going to be a great conversation. We are going to talk about entrepreneurialism, some of the traits that we need to lean on and lean into in a bigger, better way to be smarter about running our business in terms of the entrepreneurial nature of our work. We are going to talk about networking. We’re going to talk about all kinds of thing.

And I’m guessing that, for some of you, this is a guest that may not be on your radar screen, but boy, should she be. So I’m excited to introduce you to her. So Dorie Clark is an adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. And she is also the author of three books, Stand Out, which the subtitle that is, How to Develop Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It. And then in 2015, she wrote the book called Reinventing You, which was named the number one leadership book of 2015 by Inc. magazine.

And she just came out with a new book called Entrepreneurial You, which is a really interesting read about sources of revenue coming into your business and some other things. She’s had a fascinating career, which I’m definitely going to ask her more about. But I mean, she literally has been a presidential campaign spokesperson, a journalist. She often writes for Harvard Business Review. I told you, she’s a professor. And one of the things I find fascinating about her is she’s also a producer of a multi-Grammy Award winning jazz album. So that’s an interesting combination.

And we’re going to find out about all of that. And we are going to pick her brain to find out what we need to do to make sure that we are being as entrepreneurial as possible, as we think about growing and building our business. So let’s welcome, Dorie Clark. All right, so without any further ado, welcome to the podcast. Thank you for joining us.

Dorie Clark:

Hey, Drew, thanks for having me.

Drew McClellan:

Give the listeners a little bit of an intro. I gave you a little bit of information about your background, but give them a little bit of a sense of who you are and how you came to study and understand the entrepreneur the way that you do.

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, absolutely. So I came to entrepreneurship through a somewhat convoluted path. I …

Drew McClellan:

As many of us did.

Dorie Clark:

Yes, exactly. I did have my stint as a very junior person in the world of agencies when I was in college. I did an internship at a big advertising agency in New York City. Ironically, I actually now live in New York City about a block from where I did that summer internship. So it’s coming full circle. And then right after I graduated from college, I did another internship at a PR firm in Washington. So I got to see those sides of things. But when I started my career, I was a journalist. Then I worked in politics, doing political communications on governor’s race, presidential race.

I ran a nonprofit for a while. And eventually, in 2006, I started my own business and have been an entrepreneur ever since then. But it’s piecing together all of the areas, all of the avenues around writing and spin and communications and turning them into my own entrepreneurial venture.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. So tell everybody a little bit about your business and how that intersects and ties all of that together.

Dorie Clark:

Yeah. So broadly speaking, my new book, Entrepreneurial You is actually about how to create multiple income streams in your business. And so, these actually have nine, but what they all center around, all the pieces, the writing and the speaking and teaching and executive coaching, they center around a common theme, which is about how professionals or at the enterprise level, organizations, companies, agencies, can make sure that their message is heard effectively in an increasingly crowded and noisy environment. What can you do to break through and make sure that your voice and your ideas are heard? That is what I help people figure out.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. And boy, do we need that now. Agencies, they wrestle with that, they wrestle with being different, they wrestle with breaking out of the noise, they wrestle with getting on the radar screen of the clients or the prospects that they know they would be a great fit for. So we have plenty to talk about.

Dorie Clark:

Yes, I’m excited to be here.

Drew McClellan:

So, a lot of agency owners, I believe, are accidental business owners. So what happened in many agencies beginnings, humble beginnings, is somebody either got mad and quit, or they got downsized because when an agency loses a client, that’s what happens, whatever it is. And all of a sudden, this person hangs up a shingle and decides to while they’re looking for another job or maybe they decide they want to just be a consultant. The next thing they know, they look around them and they’ve got 10 employees or 20 employees.

And now they’re an entrepreneur, and now they’re a boss. And so, all of a sudden, they’re like, okay, this is not what I went to school for. I was a great art director. I was a great writer or a great account person. What’s a P&L? And what is this whole idea of being an entrepreneur? So I think some of them, some of the younger owners that I know actually chose right off the bat, right off college, that they were going to be an entrepreneur. But if the owner is more my age, middle aged, odds are they worked for someone for a period of time and then suddenly found themselves holding this baby and going, oh, I have to raise this baby now. So talk to me a little bit about how does one get more entrepreneurial? How does one learn to be a better entrepreneur?

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, it’s an important question, Drew, and you’re exactly right. I think a lot of times, people do stumbled into it through the craft of what they’re doing. Ultimately, when it comes to being an entrepreneur, thinking more entrepreneurially, one of the main messages that I share in my new book, Entrepreneurial You, is the importance of diversifying your revenue streams. And I think that this is something that as a broad principle, when it comes to entrepreneurship is useful. Because essentially, it’s talking about two things that every entrepreneur needs to do.

Number one is mitigating your risk, and number two is figuring out a way to maximize your upside. And so, I’ll give an example. Of course, if you are offering really just one kind of service, as an entrepreneur, you might feel like you’re diversified. You can say, oh, well, we’re an agency, we do advertising campaigns. And let’s say you have 20 different clients or however many different clients, great, okay, you lose one of them, you still have 19, you’re a lot better off than many other people.

Certainly better off than someone with a day job who, if they lose that, they have zero streams of income. What I want to encourage folks to think about, especially entrepreneurs, is understanding that if you are doing the same type of thing for all your clients, you’re actually not that diversified. There are market changes. There are hidden disruptors. All of a sudden, hey, Amazon decides they want to get into healthcare. Well, guess what? All of the insurance companies are quaking now. You never know what’s around the corner. And so, just thinking a little …

Drew McClellan:

And it comes so fast and furious today.

Dorie Clark:

Yes, absolutely.

Drew McClellan:

It’s not like you’re like, oh, I bet this is going to happen in five years. It’s like, all of a sudden like, oh, holy buckets, that happened today.

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, that’s right. And so, the questions that we need to be asking ourselves, number one, how can we take our existing customers and offer adjacent services that they might also need? And/or number two, who else might be interested? They’re not our client currently, but they could be interested in the things that we offer. And how can we structure it so that maybe they can do it? For instance, maybe you’re doing very high end bespoke offerings. There’s a lot of people who might like that, but can’t afford it.

Is there a way that you could strategically structure a pared down offering that is something that could open you up to a new segment, or vice versa? Maybe you’ve been doing something low end automated. Could you do a more bespoke hands-on premium offering? If we can ask those questions, think about how we can expand strategically. It makes our businesses stronger, by giving us more options and more ways to bring in money from interested customers.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, yeah, that’s so true. And I think one of the challenges for business owners is that they are so busy putting out fires and taking care of clients and dealing with employee issues, that it’s hard to carve out the time to strategize around that or to think about that. So if you have some ideas of if somebody is like, yeah, that sounds great. But in the 25th hour of the day, I’ll get to that. How does somebody bake that into their routine or their day or their month or their quarter so that they are asking those bigger picture questions on a more consistent regular basis?

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, so I have a couple of thoughts about that, Drew. The first one is it is really important to state upfront. When it comes to creating multiple income streams, this is an area where more is not better, at least in the short term. You need to pick one new thing to focus on. You can’t say, oh, I’m going to have 10 new revenue streams this year. What I like to encourage people to do is, yes, add new revenue streams, layer them on, but pick one a year to add and to focus on that. That is a doable number. It gives you something you can wrap your arms around.

I’m up to nine now, but I’ve been doing that over the past six to seven years. And so, it’s been a very strategic and incremental process. So if you can pick one new area to focus on per year, it’s a lot easier to do it. Now, in terms of the second piece, how do you actually decide what to do? How do you wrap your arms around the strategy of it? What I would suggest is you want to look for an activity that is going to make other things easier for you down the road. That helps you answer the question of, what is a good thing to do now? Or what is the first thing to focus on now?

So, for instance, you might say, well, all right, there’s a million online courses I could offer, let’s say, if you decide you want to do that. But if you say, oh, okay, I can focus on this particular audience here because I can already tell that if they take this online course, let’s say, they’re beginners in whatever subjects, they take this online course and it goes well for them. I can already envision that they are going to need follow on services. And so, if I have this pool of people that I have assembled who are going to need things that I can offer down the road, then that presents to me both a strategy for things I can add on in year two, year three, year four. But I have the readymade audience here. I’ve already assembled them at the top of the funnel.

Drew McClellan:

Right, yeah. That’s a good point. So if somebody thinks about a new product or offering or any aspect of their business, really, it would be arrogant to assume and erroneous, probably, that every idea you have is a winner and that you’re never going to stumble and fall. And I know, in the book, you talk about the importance of using the things that didn’t work, using the failures and really not just learning from them. Because I think we all hear that, like learn from your failures. But what does it actually mean?

And how do I infuse that learning into my business so that it’s sticky. So talk to us a little bit about when something doesn’t go according to plan. And the other thing, I think, that you address is the whole issue of being willing to talk about and acknowledge that something you tried didn’t work. And I think especially in an agency culture where everyone is looking at the founder or the owner or the president to set the direction, I think there’s a misperception that that means that somehow we have to present the perfect version of ourselves, as opposed to the real version of ourselves.

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, for sure. I think the key here, Drew, is taking the mentality that almost any new thing you’re trying should be viewed as a pilot. If you say from the beginning, oh, we’re going to do this thing and we’re going to go all in on this thing, and it’s going to be huge. If that doesn’t work out, of course, you’re going to lose face, of course, you’re going to lose a lot of money, because you’ve just thrown everything into it without really having a basis for making that decision.

But if instead, we have a constant, I think in many ways, this is emblematic of entrepreneurial thinking, if we have a constant view of life as, you know what, let’s try it. Let’s have an experiment. Let’s try it for a month. Let’s see how it works. If it works well, let’s try it for three months. Let’s see how it works. Okay. Now if three months in, we’ve got some traction, maybe now we can make it a thing. But you don’t make it a thing until you have some proof or some evidence that it’s going somewhere.

It is nothing to be embarrassed about if you try a pilot for a little while and it doesn’t work. All it is, is a hypothesis you tested. I mean, it’s kind of the equivalent of, if people are dating, if you say to your friends, “Hey, I’m going out with a girl on Friday night.” And then you see them the next week and they say, “Oh, how did it go?” And you could say, “Eh, not so well. She wasn’t for me.” But if you, meanwhile, have told your friends after only ever seeing somebody’s profile online, “I’m going to go out with a girl that I’m going to marry on Friday night.” And then the next week they say, “How’d it go?” And you say, “Oh, it didn’t work.” Well, of course, they’re going to say, “Well, geez, you got so worked up.”

Drew McClellan:

Right. Yeah, you just ditched your bride.

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, exactly. We’ve got to be measured. We’ve got to take the mindset of placing the little bet, rather than the big bet.

Drew McClellan:

Well, and I think the other thing about that too, is when we live that out loud in front of our employees, it also encourages them to be more experimental and to try new things and to keep their eyes and ears and mind open to, oh, we could do this a different way. I think it’s even in our business, which is rooted in creativity, it’s easy to get in a rut. And so, if you, the leader, demonstrate this willingness to experiment and that it’s okay that every experiment doesn’t go well, I would assume that that would inspire your people to start behaving in a similar fashion.

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s kind of the ultimate form of role modeling. You’re exactly right.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, yeah. So I think the other aspect of that, as I’m listening you talk, is this idea that … We talked about Amazon deciding all of a sudden to hop into healthcare and what that did to the whole industry, talk a little bit about how, not just the theory behind it, but how, really, what we should do to be keeping our eye on the ball in terms of our own industry. And by the way, the industries of our clients, because I think we have a dual role.

We have to be mindful of our own businesses and the trends or what’s coming down the road in our space, but our clients look to us as a trusted advisor. And so, we also have to be able to watch for the cultural signs or the shifts that are happening in their business as well. So what are some best practices around that? And do you think that that’s important for us to do? I’m assuming you do.

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, for sure, for sure. I mean, part of the reason that people come to agencies, creative agencies, is the sense that we’re the eyes and ears on the ground. They’re busy turning out their product or doing their typical business things. They don’t necessarily have time to be out in the public square, seeing what everybody else is doing or talking about. And they are relying on their agency to give them a sense of like, oh, wait, have you heard about this thing? Maybe you should think about this thing. So I do think that that is important.

And similarly, I think that we have to be judicious about finding a way to operate in the sweet spot between the two poles of one pole is like, well, let’s just do things with the way we’ve always done them. Let’s just keep a good thing going. And then the other pole, of course, some people fall prey to is the shiny new thing pole. Where it’s, whoa! You got to be on periscope and you’ve got to be on vine and you’ve got to be on Snapchat, and this and that. And, of course, half of them disappear within three months and, eh.

And after a while, you get to be viewed as like The Boy Who Cried Wolf. If it’s like, oh, do this, it’s going to be the big thing. And then three months later, they’re like, wait a minute, does that even exist? So I think that that navigating those poles, again, really does come back to cultivating that experimental mentality, where you have to level with your client and say, look, this thing could go away, this thing could be a Facebook, or this thing could be a Google Plus. So we don’t really know yet. But would you like to play?

Would you like to take a measured bet and see how it develops? And of course, the truth is, is that for any given client’s audience, even if the channel, if we’re talking, let’s say, about new social things or whatever, even if the channel succeeds and thrives, it might not be the place for their business. Their customers might not be there, for some reason. But you don’t really know until you investigate.

Drew McClellan:

So how do you spot trends? How do you know as you’re watching your industry or your clients industries, how do you know how to identify, oh, something’s changing over here. I need to lean in, I need to pay more attention to this. What’s your methodology for doing that?

Dorie Clark:

I think this is part of the place, Drew, where it’s important to know your strengths and to know yourself. And there are some people that really thrive here. They’re always seeking out the new thing. And they have an almost preternatural sense for it, and that is amazing if you have that. I, on the other hand, and perhaps at the other pole, I’m at the end, eh, I don’t really want to waste my time until I know it’s a thing. I mean, there’s …

Drew McClellan:

Do you still have a VHS player?

Dorie Clark:

That’s right. I mean, there’s the strengths and weaknesses involved. I mean, I think about …

Drew McClellan:

If that’s a weakness for you, how do you overcome it?

Dorie Clark:

I think that it’s not so much about overcoming it as it is being cognizant of it. And ultimately, the danger for that is that you might be a laggard. And so, I’m probably never going to be the early adopter trend spotter. There’s a lot of things I do right. That’s not necessarily one of them. I’m not going to try to push myself to that place, because it doesn’t come naturally to me. What I need to do is focus on other strengths, but work on mitigating the weakness. So I don’t want to be a laggard. If I can at least look at other smart people that I know and listen to them enough so that I can be in the middle or in the early middle, frankly, that’s good enough because there’s other strengths that I have that are compensatory.

Drew McClellan:

Right. Well, and odds are in your business, and in our business too. There is a danger in running to the hot new fire too fast. And to being, as you said, that boy who cries wolf, and is constantly bringing your client a new thing that is so new. I mean, somebody just yelled squirrel yesterday and you ran over to it, that you’re not vetting it properly. I think we do have to find in the agency world and in your consulting work too, I’m sure, we have to find a happy medium of, yes, there’s a new thing, and maybe saying to the client, hey, there’s this new thing, just want to let you know, we’re checking it out. We’ll let you know if it’s something for you to think about, as opposed to taking everything to the client and saying, you got to try this today.

Dorie Clark:

Yeah. I mean, it reminds me of my dad’s stockbroker when I was growing up back in the days, when people had stockbrokers for e-trade or whatever. This guy would always call my dad and, “Oh, I’ve got a hot tip, you got to get in on this.” And I mean, obviously, what he was doing … I mean, I think I even knew this when I was eight, although my father didn’t, was he was just looking for the churn. He was getting commissions every time my dad would buy or sell or whatever, and he would get a commission.

And it works for a while, because it creates a sense of excitement and urgency. And the client says, “Oh, these guys are on top of everything. They know what’s going on. They’re keeping me up on the cool thing.” But you get a little bit of a track record and a couple years in, they begin to see, oh, some of these things are working, but a lot of them aren’t. And it begins to sow some seeds of suspicion. And so, ultimately, if you want to keep somebody long term, you just have to approach it with a little less urgency and a little more perspicacity of taking the tone, as you said, Drew, of, you know what, we’re investigating this. We’re going to see. Do you want to investigate it too?

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, yeah. So I want to take a break. But when we come back, and we did not talk about that. I was going to ask you this. So I’m going to give you a minute, think about it while we take a break. But one of the things about you that I thought was most interesting is the jazz album that you produced, and that won several Grammys, correct?

Dorie Clark:

Yeah.

Drew McClellan:

So when we come back from the break, what I want to ask you is, how does having that sort of skill … Because that’s quite a different skill than your day job, how do you bring those … Because I think many agency owners are creative in their own way. They’re great writers or they’re musicians or they can paint or whatever. How do you bring the work that you did on the album into the work you bring to the clients and the entrepreneurs that you serve? So we’re going to take a break.

And then when we come back, we’re going to … I also want you to tell us the backstory of how that all came to be. But we’ll take a quick break, then we’ll come back and talk about a Grammy winning album. One of my favorite parts of AMI are live workshops. I love to teach. I love to spend two days immersed in a topic with either agency leaders, agency owners, or AEs and our AE boot camps. But most of all, I love sharing what I’ve learned from other agencies from 30 years in the business and all the best practices that we teach.

If you have some interest in those workshops, they range from everything from money matters, which is all about your financial health of your agency to best management practices of agency owners to new business, to a boot camps and a plethora of other topics. Go check out the list and the schedule at agencymanagementinstitute.com/livetraining. Okay, let’s get back to the show. All right, we’re back. And as I promised, in the tease before the break, we are going to talk about we are going to take a little left turn here. So, Dorie, tell us about album and how that came to be and what skills or lessons learned in that you use in the work you do with entrepreneurs?

Dorie Clark:

Yeah. Thank you very much, Drew. So it is true. I was involved in producing an album that came out a couple years ago, was by the Ted Nash big band, was called Presidential Suite. And it did end up winning two Grammys in …

Drew McClellan:

So cool.

Dorie Clark:

… last February. It was for Best Instrumental Composition and Best Big Band, that’s a jazz ensemble recording. So it was an amazing thing to be part of it. It was super cool and something that I did not ever expect to get to do, to go to the Grammys, to be up on stage, accepting an award at the Grammys. That was kind of …

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, how cool?

Dorie Clark:

What I think is perhaps most interesting for me about this is, so first of all, I did not get to be part of this through any great musical talents or anything like that. What got me involved in this project is actually something that I do bring to my clients and the business work that I do. The way that I got involved in it is actually through networking. I have a friend, a guy named Kabir Sehgal, who is very involved in the jazz world, as well as the business world. We became colleagues. And I like to be a little bit of a matchmaker sometimes.

And so, there was another friend that I had, who I got to know totally separately, who was involved in the jazz world, who’s a composer. And I decided that she needed to meet Kabir. And so, I connected them, and they ended up collaborating on another project. And it was this very cool thing that they had put together. And so, as a result of that, basically, Kabir was appreciative of that. And as his way of saying thanks, he offered to bring me in on this other project, the Ted Nash big band. That he said, “Hey, I think this album is going places. I think this is a cool thing.

Would you like to be involved?” And I said, “Hey, sure.” And sure enough, it became this Grammy winning album. But for me, the lesson here is that networking relationship building, try to connect interesting people. I certainly wasn’t somehow plotting to be involved in …

Drew McClellan:

Right, sure. How would you have ever guessed?

Dorie Clark:

I did it because …

Drew McClellan:

I’m going to introduce these two people so I can win a Grammy.

Dorie Clark:

That’s right. I just wanted to help out some people, but it really does lead to good things. And so, if you’re able to practice that and make that a component of how you do business, I think it really can become powerful in unexpected ways over time.

Drew McClellan:

Well, and I think the other interesting thing about that is I believe that that’s one of the superpowers that most agency owners underutilized. So most agency owners are pretty network, they know a lot of people, they have a lot of clients, vendors, they’re pretty active in their community as a general rule. But I think sometimes we get going so fast that we don’t stop to go, you know what, person A really would love to meet Person B. And sometimes when someone says, hey, do you know someone who does fill in the blank? We’ll go, oh yeah, I can make an introduction.

But we don’t do what you did, which was I see these two things, and I go, oh, peanut butter and jelly. I should put those together, because that would make an awesome sandwich. And in doing that, there’s an energy that comes from that and there is a … I think there’s a currency out there that we don’t really capitalize on, which is, I believe a lot of people put a lot of stock in someone who can make those kind of introductions, who can see, not just that they know a lot of people, but they know them well enough to go, okay, you should know this person or you should know that person.

And I’m willing to invest in helping you create that relationship, create that connection, with no expectation to your point, with no expectation of I’m going to get anything out of it. I just think it would be cool, and I think you both would benefit from that. And I think that’s one of the ways you can be entrepreneurial. So I think you can create things outside of your company that eventually, like in your example, do come back to benefit you and your business.

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, that’s exactly right. I think that’s very true.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. So as you think about the clients that you work with and as you think about the goals that they have and them trying to be more entrepreneurial, what gets in the way, what gets in the way of us being entrepreneurial, of us trusting that entrepreneurial bone in our body and instead making either safe choices or no choice or whatever it maybe?

Dorie Clark:

There’s a great book that I really like. I mean, I teach part time for the Fuqua School of Business at Duke. And one of the books that I sometimes teach is called Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard P. Rumelt, who’s a professor at UCLA. And what I love about his book is that he says, good strategy, it’s actually not that mysterious in a lot of ways. It’s often pretty clear, if you were to ask panel of experts, what should you do in a given situation? Mostly, it’s not so surprised.

They are going to converge on an answer of what the thing is to do, whether we’re talking about a business strategy or a military strategy or whatever. The problem is that good strategy feels so hard, because so many people botch the execution of it. And the reason they do, he says, is that they are unwilling to say no to things. They are unwilling to make the choice to turn away from certain options. And I think that that is so crucial. What we have to understand is that the essence of a strategy is deciding we are doing this and we’re doing only this. And people are unwilling to make the hard, short term, emotionally difficult decision of displeasing certain constituencies.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. We see that in agencies all the time, not only in not saying no to a constituency, but, A, I know that this is not a good client for us. But they have a project and they have money, and we’re a little slow, so I’ll take it. And that project always ends up costing that agency twice as much time and twice as much money. Because they knew at some level, it was not a good call, but they were not willing to say no. Or the agency that tries to serve every industry in every business, as opposed to saying, I am going to narrow my focus and I serve chiropractors or funeral home directors or software service company.

Doesn’t matter what it is. But I know that I have a depth of expertise that allows me to serve them differently and better than the average Joe. And I really should only be serving these kind of customers. Where do you think that comes from? Is that fear? Get back to my question earlier, is that fear of failure?

Dorie Clark:

I think that there’s a couple of things at play. One is just this kind of human nature, nobody wants to be the bad guy, nobody likes to make a difficult choice that is going to upset whoever, and so that’s a hard thing. As a leader, you have to get comfortable. The essence of leadership is getting comfortable making choices, that in the short term, you will actually be punished for. It might be the right choice, but you will be punished by the people around you for it. And that is one of the burdens of leadership that doesn’t really get talked about a lot. It can be emotionally very hard.

I think the other factor at play is a financial one, to your point. I am a big advocate of both individuals and companies really making a concerted effort to live beneath their means. However, we construe that. Because whenever there is an edge of desperation, the client can feel that a mile away. They will exploit it, they will take advantage of it, and it will never go well for you. You always have to be coming from a position of strength where you can choose to walk away if you need to. Otherwise, you are going to be held over a barrel forever.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, that’s interesting. I just had a conversation with an agency owner, and they’re struggling financially. And he was like, “I can’t figure out why the sales aren’t going well.” And I said, “Because you’re pushing them and they feel your desperation.” And so, they intuitively are like, this is not a boat I want to get into. And I said, “Until you actually act like you don’t care if they buy it or not, they’re not going to buy it because they can sense exactly what you’re saying. They know that there’s something not quite right because of that desperation. They smell it.”

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, absolutely. Humans have evolved to have a really keen sense for sussing that out and we sometimes delude ourselves if we think that we’re not transmitting it. If you are feeling it, other people are feeling it on you.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, right. And your point about is not about just hiding it, but it is about adjusting your business so that you are not desperate anymore. So again, that gets back to cutting staff if you need to or doing whatever you need to do to adjust your budget so that you don’t have that sense of panic around, I’ve got to make the sale.

Dorie Clark:

Exactly.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, that’s a great point. I feel like we have just scratched the surface, but I know that our time is almost up. So one of the things I want to make sure we talk about is the self-assessment that you have. So can you tell us a little bit about that, and then want to make sure people know how to get access to it. So give us a little bit of background.

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, thank you, Drew. So it is true. My book, Entrepreneurial You, is about how to create multiple income streams in your business. And so, I have a free self-assessment, the Entrepreneurial You 88-question self-assessment. It actually walks you through how to apply those concepts to your own life, your own agency, and if people are interested in that and thinking more about how to diversify your income streams, how to begin to derisk your enterprise a little bit and hopefully capture a little more of the upside. Folks can get that for free at dorieclark.com, that’s D-O-R-I-E-C-L-A-R-K.com/entrepreneur.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, beautiful. And we’ll put that in the show notes too, guys. And as Dorie is talking about this whole idea of diversifying and all of that, she’s not talking about like opening a bakery next to your agency. What she’s talking about is many of you talk about how frustrated you are that most of your clients are project based. So is there something different you could sell that would be more retainer like and that would smooth out your cash flow issues? Is there something you could do that allows you to teach other people what it is you do every day?

Because they’re too small that they’re never going to be a client, but they might be able to do a DIY version of what you do. So it’s really taking the essence of what you do and figuring out a … Think of it as you made steak last night. And so, tomorrow, you have leftovers and you’re going to make shepherd’s pie. It’s like, what do you do with the leftover stuff that is actually a value, but serves a different audience or tastes different or looks different? So don’t say, oh, I’ve already got one risky business. I don’t need another. That is not what we’re talking about. What we’re talking about is, how do you actually make your business less risky by having more to offer more or different people?

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, good metaphor. I like that, Drew.

Drew McClellan:

Thank you. I’m not a cook, so I don’t really know where it came from. But as we were talking about, I travel too much actually [inaudible 00:37:29]. So, Dorie, any parting words of wisdom for our listeners who are … They’re fighting the good fight, they’re struggling to make payroll and feed their people and keep new business and all of that. So words of inspiration for them as they go back to battle.

Dorie Clark:

Absolutely. Going out there into the arena. I love it. One of the things that I think is an interesting frame that I picked up in the course of doing the interviews for my book, Entrepreneurial You, is I spoke with a guy named Michael Parrish DuDell, who’s a consultant, who is perhaps best known for writing the book that was the companion volume to the TV show, Shark Tank. And I liked his frame. He talked about one of the things that was most important in his business.

And I think this makes a lot of sense for agency owners as well, is understanding the importance of splitting his time between what he called mindshare activities and market share activities. And I think that sometimes we have a tendency, depending on just how we’re wired to over index on one or the other, to really have to have both. And what he meant by that is a mindshare activity is something that is not necessarily going to bring in revenue, but it’s kind of a promotional activity.

In his case, it could be writing articles or being on TV or being quoted in the media or something like that. And that’s certainly something that agency owners can do as well and pursue. Those things are great for raising the overall profile of your agency, but they’re not going to lead to money in the short term. Meanwhile, the market share activities are the things that actually do lead to short term revenue. It’s doing the client work. It’s grinding it out. But in many cases, depending on the type of agency you are, a lot of that work might actually be hidden.

It might not necessarily be visible in such a way that other people can see it or pick up on it. It’s a little bit more subtle. And so, you have to grow both simultaneously so that you can raise the bar of your business and the type of clients that you’re ultimately able to attract. But it involves being mindful of proceeding on both of those tracks simultaneously.

Drew McClellan:

Well, in some ways, it’s about chasing the money today and planting the seeds where there’s money tomorrow.

Dorie Clark:

Exactly, yes.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, yeah. And many agencies have gone through the experience where they plant a bunch of seeds, the seeds come to fruition, they harvest the seeds, and then they’re so busy dealing with those new clients that they forget to keep planting seeds. And so, then all of a sudden, they’re in a scramble again in a year or two when that big client goes away, because now they were so focused on the short term, that they didn’t really lay the groundwork for the long term. So it is rock solid advice, I think, in terms of the world that agency owners live in every day.

Dorie Clark:

Yeah, that’s very true.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. So if folks want to learn more about you and they want to learn about your consulting and the book and other things you do, is your website the right place for them to go?

Dorie Clark:

The website is a great place to go. And in fact, I have more than 500 free articles on the website that I’ve written for places like Forbes and Harvard Business Review and entrepreneur. So if folks want to dive into the oof, that is a very good starting point. It’s dorieclark.com. And of course, the new book is Entrepreneurial You.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, that’s awesome. Dorie, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and your observations about entrepreneurialism, and reminding everybody that inside their business, there are other ways to make money. And it is a true entrepreneur that seeks some of those out and starts to explore them so that they … Being an entrepreneur is risky at its very core, and being an agency entrepreneur is super risky. So the more we can put some more legs on the stool so that it sits steady, is just smart. So thank you so much for your time.

Dorie Clark:

Hey, thanks for having me, Drew.

Drew McClellan:

You bet. All right, guys, this wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. Lots of actionable items there. So again, my goal with the podcast is not to give you something interesting to think about, but I want you to find a thing or two in every conversation. And actually, to Dorie’s point earlier, practice with it a little bit, play with it, experiment with it. Because some ideas, amongst all the ideas you’ve heard and that you get from these guests, are going to be the right one for you. And you’ll never know that if you don’t put some of them into play.

So please do not be a passive listener. Go and take action on some of these things. I will be back next week with another guest. And hopefully, they will stretch your brain and get you thinking the same way Dorie did today. And in the meantime, if you’re looking for me, you can find me at agencymanagementinstitute.com. So I’ll catch you next week. Thanks so much. Believe it or not, that wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. Man, the time goes by quick. Love sharing this content with you. And I love spending the time with you.

So thanks so much for listening and sticking all the way to the very end. And for those of you that did stick around to the end, I’ve got a special new twist for you. So many of our podcast guests have books or other things that really expand upon the information and knowledge that they share with us during the podcast. And so, we’ve reached out to them and we’ve asked them if they would like to give away some of their books or whatever classes, whatever it may be. And we’re going to throw some AMI things in there as well. We’re going to have some AMI swag.

And we’re going to actually give away some workshops. So all you have to do to be in all of the drawings, you only have to do this once, is go to agencymanagementinstitute.com/podcastgiveaway. So again, agencymanagementinstitute.com/podcastgiveaway. Give us your email address and your mailing address. And every week, you will be eligible for whatever drawing we’re doing. And we’re going to change it up every week. So we’re going to have a lot of variety and we will pop an email to you if you are the lucky winner.

You can also go back to that page and see who won last week and what they won, so you can see what you’re in the run for. So if you have any questions about that or anything agency related, you can reach me at [email protected] And I will talk to you next week. Thanks.

Speaker 1:

That’s all for this episode of AMI’s Built a Better Agency, brought to you by HubSpot. Be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways. We serve small to midsize agencies. Don’t miss an episode as we help you build the agency you’ve always dreamed of owning.