Well, here we are...
The Impeachment is over. The President was acquitted in the Senate. An almost 100% partisan line conflict in both the House and the Senate....
FOREVER IMPEACHED!!! FOREVER ACQUITTED!! FOREVER RIDICULOUS ON BOTH SIDES!
I do not know if you remember what your social media and news and television outlets were like back in 2016.....
But its also....
AN ELECTION YEARRRRRRRRRRR!
So how do you go about handling yourself during this time?
How do you go about navigating conversations that are bound to come up from prospects, colleagues, superiors, and locals who simply HAVE to talk about it?
How do you go about navigating your own need to talk about it, if you are one of those types of people?
Here are a number of suggestions as we head into this already white hot political season.
#1 - Know your Audience
If you are going to be speaking loud and proud on social media just realize that everyone you are connected to COULD see your stances.... chances are only about 10% of them will see it... but you do not know which 10%... and you also do not know who is wandering over to your page to check out what you have been up to that is not letting you know...
#2 - Filter Your Audience
On some social platforms you are able to create custom lists and audiences that exclude whoever you would like to exclude from your connections. Have some thoughts that you want to share but do not want to have people coming for you with torches? Exclude them from seeing it. Just the one post. No need to unfriend.
# 3 - Just talk about it
You can always throw caution to the wind as well and know that social media can be a revolving door if you so choose. If you are patient and ok with a lot of turnover, you being loud and proud about your political stances will ultimately create an echo chamber of people who think like you and believe in causes you do. That echo chamber is easy to build a know, like, trust factor with but it is a long play that will have you in a lot of online arguments along the way. In small town America where everyone knows and talks about everyone this would not be my recommendation. Larger, more populated areas where no one knows anyone it is a somewhat
#4 - Do not talk about it at all.
This is the most common advice that most professionals will give you around the topic of politics. While I believe it to be the most basic of things to advise people, I do not fully agree with it. People buy from others they know, like, and trust. While I do not recommend banging a drum loud and proud because you do not want to stand out as an activist, I do believe when opportunity to share a common belief arises it is a fantastic way to make a human connection with someone who will inherently feel more connected to you.
#5 - When a prospect or client asks about it
These are always the MOST difficult to navigate particularly if you are not sure where the person you are speaking to stands on the matter. My suggestion here is to tread lightly and not commit too heavily to any opinion and keep it light while trying to change topics. While you may have some common beliefs they may hold beliefs that you do not want to be associated with. Keep it light and move it along.
#6 - My MOST SOUGHT AFTER ADVICE ON THIS TOPIC
Today I want to share a failure of mine that took a while to learn from but has ultimately led to a valuable lesson.
But before I do... if youre not a part of Insurance Soup on Facebook, join now. 30,000 of our colleagues are hanging out and sharing the very best strategies and ideas our industry has to offer.
In early 2017 we hired a YouTube coach. One of the very best in the industry. A dude who has a channel with billions of views, that grew with intent, that has monetized both via views and products and owns a number of multi million dollar companies all built on the platforms back.
A coach who works with other business owners and teaches them how to build channels that have tens of thousands of subscribers and millions of views.
We paid him $2,500 a month for a year…. $30,000…..
And what did we do with it?
We gained a fantastic education and knowledge of the platform. We understand what to do and how to do it from a technical position. We understand the importance of the platform as a company for what we are doing.
But how many videos did we put out? What kind of content did we produce?
Zero. Zilch. Nada.
There were a couple of reasons why…. None of which were our coaches fault.
For starters, I was a novice. I will not pretend otherwise. Not only was I a novice, but in Soup North HQ here in NY, I worked in my office alone.
Soup South HQ in TX is where all the fun happens. Cooler people. More people. Younger people.
But as someone working alone, with no experience around shooting video or the platform we wanted to publish it on, I found myself spinning my wheels a lot.
Having to start and stop video constantly.
Having to try and figure out editing.
Having to figure out music, and lighting, and set, and key, and camera positioning, and more…
And then…. ONLY THEN… could I begin to apply myself in areas I am comfortable – marketing, writing copy, using my creativity, imagination, and understanding data and analytics.
All very overwhelming, right?
You see, while I had an idea that I wanted to launch I had no vision of how to bring it to life. It did not matter how badly I wanted it.
Most people want many things in life that they never wind up getting. Why? Lack of vision.
Lack of vision leads to a lack of direction and without direction we are bound to get lost no matter how badly we want to get to our destination.
So late last year we announced in Insurance Soup that we were launching a promotional item shop.
It’s still coming but we are streamlining some processes before we launch and making sure that it’s a well oiled machine. With 30,000 of you maniacs on Facebook, 8,000 of you on Linkedin, and more on Twitter already using promotional item stores without loyalty, rhyme, or reason, we know that our promotional item shop which will be discounted for all of you, will probably be popular and used heavily.
On the search for an employee to help run it, my sister in law approached me and said shed be interested in helping out.
She has not been in the workforce for some time as she stepped away about 10 years ago to raise her daughter; my Goddaughter.
What did she do before turning to the hardest profession in the world, full time Mom?
Oh nothing that big…. Just the Emmy Award winning set designer of the childrens show Blues Clues that has worked behind the scenes on many television shows, music videos, and movie sets.
You’d never know it… shes very humble. Doesn’t talk about it much and reading this article will probably make her a little uncomfortable.
But here I am with an Emmy award winning set designer with a ton of video shooting and editing experience… looking to work… and I was about to put her in a role taking orders for a promotional item shop.
Why isn’t she looking to get back into television you may be wondering? Emmy award winner would find work with her eyes closed if she wanted it that badly.
Well, we’re about 90 minutes from the city. Prior to having her daughter, she lived in Brooklyn and the commute was easy. She moved out this way to be with us, her mother, and her brother who is a couple towns over to raise her daughter and be closer to the people she cares most about and to provide her daughter with some local cousins. And here in Suffolk County, Long Island there is not a lot of ongoing work for Emmy award winners.
On her second day in my office our conversation switched gears from running the promotional item shop to video production, youtube, podcasts, and my office space.
I shared with her our experience spending $30,000 to learn Youtube that left us by and large simply out $30,000 but with a working understanding of the platform.
I explained to her that I struggled to shoot video by myself. Couldn’t figure out lighting, sets, and editing while trying to run businesses and produce other significantly easier content for the other platforms.
That it all seemed so expensive to have to outsource a lot of the work post shoot.
That it seemed like it would be expensive to make areas of the office look more interesting or cooler than they are. Like we weren’t sitting in a 600 square foot 3 office room.
And that’s where the magic happened.
She stood up and started walking around my office like a crazed Mary Poppins and began sharing her experience in television with me.
Showing me how not only do I have room to shoot video here… but how theres enough room for several small sets… and how easy we could pull it all off… and how inexpensive it all would be… and how much fun it would be… and how shes produced television SHOWS that were wildly popular in spaces SMALLER than my office…. and she lit up like a kid on Christmas morning…
And I stopped dead in my tracks and told her she was officially fired from the promotional items shop and we are going to use her in her zone of genius and get her back to doing things that energize and excite her.
Huge opportunity to get her back into what she loves and help Soup push out into areas we have previously been uncomfortable, unable, or…
LACKING VISION TO COMPLETE.
Fast forward a couple weeks later and I now have 4 spots in my office to shoot video with a 5th spot being set up as we speak. We are having conversations around several different segments we are planning on producing and are beginning to line up not only a Youtube channel but a Podcast as well.
Now I want to make something very clear as I know a lot of readers take the advice I give seriously and I do not want to guide you in the wrong direction.
I am not bullish on Youtube for Insurance Agents. Not in 2020. If video production and their platform get a little friendlier for the typical Agent with little to no marketing experience my opinion will probably evolve over time but the typical Agent does not have the time to conquer Youtube.
Yes, you may be able to create some videos that generate opportunity for you.
Yes, you may even find a guru or two telling you Youtube is amazing.
You wont find them on any incentive trips. You wont find them winning awards. You wont find many testimonials. You wont find many people other than them saying it’s great.
Yes, you may be able to find people looking for insurance.
But you can do that on all social platforms with a little bit of education and all the other social platforms do not require you to be Martin Scorcese AND David Ogilvy.
And the reason that I personally believe that Youtube is not particularly Agent friendly yet are for all the reasons I personally struggled to get off the ground on the platform…
A newer Agent, who is generally the type of Agent who buys education around marketing in our space, is NOT going to have the time to shoot videos and produce videos and turn them into ads and cross their fingers and HOPE it works.
The money coming into Agency isn’t there. The time isn’t there. The manpower isn’t there. The basic foundations of marketing are not there. Hell most of us come into the industry from the most random of places, the RAREST of them being “video producer”
AND they do not have an Emmy award winner in the family coming join the team in a triumphant return to the work force.
While I personally bring a lot of skills and talent to the Soup businesses I lacked vision in this area.
My sister in law was able to take my ideas and dreams and apply vision to it and now we are in business.
Within the next couple of weeks we will have segments covering sales, marketing, industry news, laughs, a podcast, and we have a full suite of products at our disposal to make some truly wacky and fun creative commercials and ads.
And we did it for about $1,000. I mean we literally created a desk out of a piece of Styrofoam that my printer / scanner came in by wrapping it in a wrap that gives off the look of wood.
Many of you are sitting on ideas that are quietly brilliant that you do not have the vision to execute.
That does not make it a bad idea or one that would fail to take flight.
There is a good chance you are simply lacking the vision to pull it all together and having the right consultant, employee, or friend in your corner could be all you need to turn a dream into a reality.
Do not let your dreams die on the vine. Reach out to people and share your thoughts. Share your roadblocks. Share your objections.
Chances are you have someone in your circle that can help solve the problem and share the vision.
Failed dreams are not necessarily failures. Theyre lessons. Opportunities.
And in some cases…
It’s just a lack of vision.
You can hire vision.
Oh yeah that last photo… of the shelving unit with the protein shakes, cups, and a piece of art for one of my kids?
You may not see it yet…. But theres a podcast studio right there… you just need the VISION.
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Look at me at my "fancy desk" in my beautiful library with a "book" made from a box a local Chinese food place gave me with a calendar inside of it for Chinese New Year!
8 days ago the world was shocked by the tragic and sudden loss of global basketball superstar Kobe Bryant along with his daughter Gigi, and 7 others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I had been having a conversation with my good friend and partner in Agency Elephant, Brian Blair. He shot me the message as I was pulling into a parking spot at my local grocery store on Sunday afternoon.
I sat there stunned for a good 3 minutes and began to find myself overcome with emotion.
Felt silly to be getting emotional over a basketball player but it was a moment for me that just felt very close to home despite it happening 3,000+ miles away to a people I never knew.
Kobe Bryant was 41 years old when he passed away and I turn 41 in less than 2 weeks from today.
He was married with 4 children and I am married with 3.
He is a legend in his field and we are working hard to be remembered in ours.
What struck me so hard about the entire thing was the humanity of it all.
Kobe Bryant was the last athlete I really looked up to as a kid.
He was a rookie at age 18 when I was a senior at Chaminade High School on Long Island.
I watched him all through college and my junior and senior year he won the title alongside Shaquille O’Neal.
Kobe Bryant had two goals in his career – winning championships and scoring.
His career in a lot of ways mirrors many of ours
Starting off with a lot of promise and coming out the gates doing extremely well.
When we are young we often believe we are prepared to take on bigger roles and be in the spotlight long before we were actually ready.
We have people in our careers that challenge us that we respect but do not particularly care for.
We have people we had to work with to get things done that we did not like.
We think we deserve way more than the people around us think. He thought he should be option #1 on the Lakers… I thought after having a solid first year in mortgages that I should basically own the company.
We were all wrong. Ignorant, naïve, immature, and entitled.
How the real world actually operates was the wake up call that most of us get in our early 20’s.
As we built our resumes and grew our games we all either adapt and win... or refuse to see the error of our ways and remain where we started.
As we get a little older and wiser in our careers… we settle into roles that we earn in due time… and evolveto be leaders that lead by work ethic and example and mentor newer and younger people and help them achieve great things.
It’s a career who I have quietly felt mirrored mine on a much grander scale for a long time.
What really made the story tough was knowing that a man who had recently found peace in his heart… a man who was transitioning from being a stone cold closer… to being a softer, loving, caring, nurturing teacher, father, husband, son, and coach.. a man who achieved global fame and untold fortune… with a literal lifetime ahead of him to give back to the world..
A family man who had sunk his post-NBA life into raising 4 young women was taken from this world in an instant.
And that my friend… can happen to any of us at any given time.
I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the qualities of Kobe Bryant that we as entrepreneurs and business owners can learn from and admire.
Work ethic – The man showed up before everyone… left after everyone… outworked everyone…
Tenacity – If you ever watched him get after it – there was no stopping until he got what he was after.
Dedication and commitment – Kobe played for one team and one team only his entire career.. all 20 years… despite having many opportunities to go elsewhere and play in bigger roles or for more money.
Practice – Despite being the best basketball player on the planet for a decade, Kobe was constantly improving his game. Every offseason he came back with new moves… more range.. more accuracy
Discipline – To achieve and maintain the status he reached as an athlete requires a tremendous ability to stay on task and not get distracted… and as a global celebrity the opportunities to derail are countless and endless.
Maturity – We watched him grow up in front of our very eyes. We watched him make major mistakes professionally and personally. And we watched him handle them and own them publicly and learn from them and become a better person for it.
Leadership – we watched a man go from an “all eyes on me” approach to the game to a “lets win this together” approach
Humility - A man who had several major mistakes in his career own them, learn about them, learn from them, and rise up as an advocate against his own transgressions. A point that for many, makes him tough to admire.
Was the man perfect?
Far from it.
In 2003 he dealt with a situation he created for himself that will tarnish his legacy in the minds of many forever. Straying from his marriage, he cheated on his wife with a woman who later went on to say the act was not consensual. He will be looked at by many in a very similar light as other famous athletes that found themselves wrapped up in dramatic scandals and all the positive he brought to this world will never be acknowledged.
He was also fined $100,000 by the NBA for referring to a referee as an anti LGBT slur. A move that sent him down a path to learn about a lifestyle he knew little about.
I am not asking you to admire him for his transgressions, mistakes, and disasters. I am asking you to look beyond them as a person who has things they have done that they are not proud of. As a person capable of finding forgiveness. As a person who has been in need of forgiveness at points in your own life.
I am asking you to look at the man who had a tremendous amount of positive qualities shown throughout his career and his ability to find the humility to learn from and apologize for his mistakes – something that many of us today struggle to do as adults.
Many do not realize that since his retirement he has been very focused on his family, his businesses, supporting women’s sports, advocating for LGBT causes, and he has always been highly charitable and involved in advocating and helping those who can not advocate or help themselves.
He had granted over 100 wishes in 20 years for Make a Wish. He hosted basketball camps for the Boys and Girls Club of America. He was the spokesman for After School All Stars, He supported cancer initiatives and in 2012 helped Stand up to Cancer raise more than $80 million for cancer support. He raised 2.5 million from 2012-17 through his own foundation. He was a part of Step up on Second and My Friends Place, trying to help combat homelessness in LA. He led a youth soccer club called Mamba FC. The Kobe Bryant China Fund raised $6 million for education and sports programs for children in China and the US.
He had recently trademarked the name “Mambacita” for his now deceased daughter Gigi, who at age 13 was already being looked at by UConn for college ball and was already being heralded a future superstar of the WNBA. He was going all in on helping his child achieve her dreams.
I say all of the above to say this.
There is a lot to learn from Kobe Bryant as a business owner and entrepreneur.
How to conduct ourselves in business… how to really get after it… how to take our gifts and blessings and share them with others… how to grow… how to recover from major falls… how to deal with fierce and deserved scrutiny.. how to evolve… how to own mistakes… how to win
While so many are focused on the loss of a basketball player..
I find myself focused on the man.
The man he was on and off the court who had so much for all of us business owners and entrepreneurs to learn from.. both what to do and what not to do… how to conduct ourselves… how to bounce back… how to learn from our transgressions… how to be great… how to make good… how to share the abundance some of us find with the world..
An imperfect person making the absolute most of what he was given and doing something special with it for himself, his family, and the world.
If you cant find a few things to learn from this mans life and legacy you are simply choosing to focus on the wrong things… which may also tell you something about you.
Rest in peace Mamba and Mambacita.
The lessons and impact you made on my and many others lives will live on.