Episode #17: Today Value Is Created Through The Customer’s Transformation with Betsy Westhafer and Tony Bodoh

The COVID-19 crisis has nudged businesses worldwide to pivot, not only with the pandemic itself but with the changing nature of the economy. As we enter the new decade, we usher in a new economic paradigm – a transformational economy where value creation is most seen in customer transformation. This is an economy where the foundational tenets of client relationships become even more critical to business success. Betsy Westhafer and Tony Bodoh talk at length about these transformations in their book, ProphetAbility. In this episode, they evaluate what they have learned since the book’s publication in terms of the salient topics that entrepreneurs have to consider during this era of change: building client relationships, working with a client advisory board, acting on customer feedback, and closing the loop.

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Today Value Is Created Through The Customer’s Transformation with Betsy Westhafer and Tony Bodoh

Facing The Discomfort Of Conflicting Ideas And Creating Something New

Today we’re going to do something a little bit different. Instead of having a guest, we want to talk about some of the things that have been unfolding over the last few months and tie that into the work that we do and some of the things that we’ve learned from executives we’ve been working with during this period of time.

I’m excited to have this conversation because we’ve learned so much from our guests that we’ve had on but we’ve also seen some things within our individual businesses that will be helpful for our audiences to learn and share some of the things that we’ve observed over the last few months.

You posted an interesting poll question on LinkedIn and I was watching as it was unfolding. I was seeing what was happening and then I went ahead and answered the poll. You had four different answers possible, and I chose mine. When I saw the results revealed, I was stunned at what was showing. Take us through what was that poll. What was the question you asked? What were the answers you were going after?

Your reaction was not unusual. We had a lot of people say “Wow that surprises me.” The question was “As previous priorities are being re-evaluated, when it comes to customers, where will you place the lion’s share of your attention?” In this poll, there are multiple answers but LinkedIn allows for four different answers. The choices were retention, expansion, relationship building, and strategic partnerships. What was amazing is retention was 0%, which surprised me. This is why you have to talk to your customers because you have your own idea of what the answers are going to be but until you ask people, you don’t really know. What was amazing is relationship building was 52% of the respondents and strategic partnerships were 32%. Strategic partnerships are all about relationship building as well.

Eighty-four percent of the respondents said relationship building and strategic partnerships were their number one priority moving forward as they re-evaluate how they’re going to spend their time, attention, and resources. I find that fascinating and super encouraging. I am happy to see that because with everything that’s happened, with COVID and the economics of everything that’s going on, people are starting to understand, “I really have to have those relationships with our customers. It’s not enough to sell them stuff. We have to build relationships.” Also, looking at opportunities to collaborate with other people. I had been doing a lot of webinars with other consultants and other complementary businesses and looking for opportunities to work together. Sometimes, it’s a little overused, but we are all in this together. That stands for business as well. I was really encouraged and as I was looking through the comments on the post, several people commented that they were surprised at the results, but also encouraged people that believe that building relationships is key in business. It is a new feature on LinkedIn. If you haven’t done that yet, it is fun to do and see how the responses come in. It is interesting to look at the results.

I find it fascinating to think about relationship building from the perspective of this survey because retention in a sense could be relationship building. When a lot of people look at retention, they’re thinking about retention as like trying to keep your customer. On the other hand, a lot of people are doing relationship building with their existing customers, which will result in retention. The traditional retention-based activities of pricing discounts and things like that, people are not focusing necessarily on that. That’s where I saw the split come down. If I can only choose one, which am I choosing? I see that and I’m thinking back to the show we did with Tim Hinckley.

Transformational Economy: People are starting to see that it’s not enough to sell stuff to their customers. They have to build relationships.

In that episode, he talked about how there were retention-based activities, but it was all around relationship building. He talked about how they were trying to figure out how to help their customers, their clients to ship products from different warehouses from different locations, get products out of their stores and get them to customers because that’s how their businesses could survive. That means they’ll keep working with Radial, the company that Tim works for, because they help them survive. That whole relationship-building process can exist with existing customers. 

Radial is a shining example of a company that truly believes in relationship building. We work with them on their Customer Advisory Board initiative and I’ve seen firsthand how much that relationship building means to them. What’s been interesting is they are in the supply chain, which we all know has been crazy with everything that’s been going on. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several people at Radial. It’s been cool because they see that it goes beyond running a business. They are helping companies stay in business. They’re helping their customers keep their people employed. They’re helping deliver essential products to people that need them. It’s been fascinating to watch. Fortunately for me, I’ve had a front-row seat to get to see this unfold. The relationships that they have built are paying such huge dividends to the business, of course, but also the people involved. As you always say, B2B is not just business to business, it’s human to human. Being able to see those human relationships advance a business, but also be for the betterment of the humans involved has really been fascinating to watch.

We’ve talked about this here and there. We’ve had some people that have used Client Advisory Boards, like Radial as an example. We’ve had them on the show. We’ve had them talk about it, but can you go deeper into explaining what a Client Advisory Board is, the real benefits that it provides, and why it might be even more important now than ever before to have a Client Advisory Board and get that in place?

I do believe now more than ever that it’s important to listen to your customers. It’s different from other listening mechanisms. There are a lot of good listening mechanisms out there to listen to your customers, but a Customer Advisory Board is about the strategic insights that you get. It is made up of the executive team of the host company. We then invite the executive decision-makers from their key customers to form this Advisory Board. We have conversations around where the market is heading, where are they heading as individual companies, the industry challenges, the product roadmap, the marketing and messaging which has changed dramatically. When you think about marketing and messaging, it’s important but it’s never been the way it is now because tone-deaf messages, people call them out real fast.

It’s a chance for an executive team to make decisions with input from their key customers. You think about the opposite of that is where an executive team is making decisions with no input from their customers and throwing it out there and hoping it sticks. We talk about this in the book, ProphetAbility. We talk about companies that didn’t listen to their customers and they made gigantic mistakes that cost them either bazillion of dollars or cost them the company itself. The risk of not having a Customer Advisory Board and listening to the strategic insights of the people who determine the market is so high that I can’t imagine with all the talk there is about risk mitigation, I know I’m biased because it’s the work I do, it’s the results I see that make me feel this passionate about it, but why any executive team would make key important decisions without the benefit of having this strategic board of decision-makers who are committed to your success.

They come to meetings 2 to 3 times a year. It’s confidential conversations held under NDA. It’s like having an extension of your management team with your customers who pay for your products and services with their dollars. It’s fun work. The results are amazing and that’s why I’m excited to talk about it because with everything that’s going on, 100% of companies don’t know what the future holds. One hundred percent of companies don’t know where their customers are heading. It’s like this big whiteboard has been wiped clean and everybody’s back at square one. It’s something that I firmly believe can make a difference for companies as they come out of this time that we’re experiencing.

100% of companies don’t know what the future holds and where customers are going.CLICK TO TWEET

Let’s walk through some of the results. You alluded to them. You said that you believe in it passionately because of what you’ve seen. I know you’ve been in this space for a long time. Walk us through some of the results that you’ve seen over the last year or two with clients who have engaged with Customer Advisory Boards and embrace and use them to their fullest extent. 

We have a client that is committed to their customers and dedicated to the relationship building. They have an advisory board with about fifteen board members on it from various industries but all are customers. They started having these meetings and the relationship building led them to a point where one of their clients ended up signing a large multimillion-dollar joint venture with them. I was so intrigued by that. I wanted to find out, how much of that do they credit to the Customer Advisory Board? I spoke with each party individually, our client and then their customer that were involved in this joint venture. They both said independently that the Customer Advisory Board was the catalyst for developing that deep trusting relationship that ultimately led to this joint venture.

It was a game-changer for our client; massive growth as a result of this joint venture. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. It was after the fourth meeting and after a couple of years of doing these board meetings that led to that. It was historic to see a deal this big come out of the Customer Advisory Board relationship. We had another client that it was their second board meeting. This customer that was on the board, it was his first board meeting. After the meeting was over, there was some chitchat in the boardroom. Everybody then starts filtering out and my client came up to me and he said, “You won’t believe what just happened.” I said, “What’s that?”

He said that this particular client came up to him before he left the boardroom and said, “A year and a half ago I was ready to kick you guys to the curb. I now see by virtue of this meeting, where you’re going, how it’s going to positively impact my business, how committed you are to the customers, how you own any issues that come up. I’ve seen who you guys are. Our contract with you is not due up for another year, but what I’d like to do is renegotiate it now, make it a three-year deal and throw in all of our international business on top of it.” That was before he left the boardroom. I was losing my mind when he was telling me this story. Our client then made the comment to me, “As far as I’m concerned, this pays for years’ worth of advisory boards. This is huge for us.” It’s the results you get by building the relationships, being transparent, opening up the curtain to your key customers, you don’t blast everything, but these trusting deep relationships, it’s fascinating to watch the results unfold.

As evidenced in that story, it’s also about taking what you learn from the customer and implementing it, and then providing this closed-loop feedback so that the customer sees, “This truly is a relationship.” It would be like being in a relationship and listening all the time. Maybe you go out there and fix some things, but you never let them know that it’s fixed. I had a client like that years ago. It was a financial services company. They refuse to tell their customers what they had fixed and that it had come from them. I said, “You do not realize the value you’re missing here.” It was shameful to see that because they lost much in the process. So to hear a company embraced that makes me excited and thrilled because we’ve got to recognize that value is created in the relationship. 

We do a lot of training with our executive teams. We do a lot of prep going into the meetings to make sure that everybody’s aligned around what they’re going to present and how they’re going to talk about things. For the customers to know that their input was valued, you have to act on it. That action may be, “We’re going to defer this to Q3 of next year.” It doesn’t have to be acted on tangibly right then. It has to be evaluated, talked about, decided upon, and then communicated back to the customers. We spend a lot of time making sure that we’re keeping the customers in the loop, that their feedback is valued, that they’re acting on it, and making sure that they hear that. That’s an important point.

Transformational Economy: The transformation economy is all about guiding people through experiences so that they achieve their aspirations and goals.

In that little piece right there, one of the things we talked about in the Admiration Equation is that when a customer has a negative experience, it has to be resolved. By resolution, we don’t mean it has to be fixed, but it has to be addressed and they have to get feedback. You could make a decision and say, “We’re going to put that off until the third quarter of next year.” There was something that struck me from, it was our show episode with Jonathan, with RopeSafe USA. He talked about how he was with a particular Navy SEAL group. They had made a recommendation for something and he got excited because this is the Navy SEALs telling him this. He went back and evaluated it and he said, “That doesn’t make sense anywhere else in the marketplace, to any of my other customers, no one needs that.” He came back to the Navy SEALs and he said, “We’re not going to implement that.” They still became a customer anyway.

I love the discipline that it showed. Jonathan is a veteran entrepreneur and has a fascinating story. If you haven’t read that interview yet, please do. The discipline required for him to say, “I am acting on this feedback, but I’m not necessarily acting on it the way they would like for me too” and yet, he still had the respect from the customer that they still are engaging. That’s a great example of that.

Tony, I want to turn the tables. I want to ask you about something that you are an expert in because it’s timely with everything that’s going on. In our book, we talk a lot about the transformation economy. If ever there was a time that things are transforming and there are a lot of discussions out there in the business world about digital transformation and different types of transformation. What you are brilliant at explaining is the transformation economy. I’m wondering if you could dive into that, let people know what that means, and how that takes shape in the time that we’re experiencing right now?

The transformation economy is not my original idea. I give full credit for the idea to Joseph Pine and James Gilmore. They wrote a Harvard Business Review article back in 1998, published then. Their book came out in 1999 called The Experience Economy. 2019 was the twentieth anniversary of the book. They updated it. These two gentlemen did an amazing job of going back and understanding the evolution of the economy over the last 150 years. They lay out five different economic stages we’ve been through. I’ll briefly give them so that people can understand it. The first was the commodity economy, which means you’re buying the raw material. Let’s use coffee as an example. They use it in the book and I’ll continue using it.

The commodity economy is about getting coffee beans, and either you have to be a farmer and grow coffee beans and maybe trade them with your neighbor, go to the general store or something like that. Then you move into the product economy and that’s an economy where we create branding, packaging. We put it on store shelves. Think of Maxwell House or Folgers or any of those classic coffee brands. Then we move up to the next level, which is the service economy. I think the two examples I love to use there is the diner. You go to a diner and you get a cup of coffee for $1.50 or something like that. They pour it for you and you chat with the server.  Or the convenience store, which a lot of us pop in on our way to the office in the morning. We grab a cup of coffee from the convenience store. They’ve got the cup there. They’ve got the different flavors of creamers. All these little different features and benefits that you can take advantage of.  Maybe it’s $1 or $1.50 for that cup of coffee.

Then you accelerate and you move up to the experience economy. The classic example here for coffee is Starbucks. It’s the third place. It’s where we go. Starbucks stages experiences. They create it. They want to influence and move your emotions, and interact with your senses in such a way that it creates a memory. That’s the key thing. The experience economy is about creating memories and influencing or engaging the senses and emotions. 

Pine and Gilmore talk early in the book about the first three economies. They then get into the experience economy and spent 80%, 90% of the book talking about the experience economy. How to engage with it? How to build it? This was 20 years ago. We were in the experience economy with Disney, Ritz-Carlton, and even Southwest to some example is an experience economy because of how they treat people in that they have that fun and excitement on their planes. But now we’ve been through it for 20 years and people are sometimes waking up to, “Oh my goodness we’re in an experience economy.” They’re still doing it today. I still see people surprised to think about the experience economy. It doesn’t mean the commodities or products have gone away. If you look at where the most value in the economy is created, it is in experiences.

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What I would argue is that in 2008 and 2009, when we went through that financial crisis. That was a catalyst for a shift for a lot of companies to move into the experience economy. There were several reasons for it. One, you could look at the release of technology. You go back to Kerrie’s episode, where she talks about how the technology was ripe explosion in 2007. The iPhone was released in 2007. Now we can post and read reviews online. It’s like the whole customer experience explodes at that point. You also have Millennials who are coming into the workforce. They started coming to the workforce around 2000. They hit their peak in 2016 where they became the largest segment of the workforce. Right in the middle of that is 2008, 2009. They were halfway into the workforce. They were becoming a dominant force in the workforce. They were underemployed, over debt, and they started buying experiences rather than things.

You have this catalyst shaking things up. Fast forward, we’ve been in this experience economy for years in a big way, in a noticeable way. Something else has been developing and people think of it as an extension of the experience economy, but it’s a brand-new economy. That’s the transformation economy. What distinguishes the transformation economy according to Pine and Gilmore is that it’s no longer about making memories. It’s about guiding people through experiences so that they achieve their aspirations and goals. It’s helping them to become someone to achieve something, to accomplish something. That’s the transformation itself, which is why they name it that. I would argue that we have been moving into the transformation economy. There’s never a black and white that I can draw a line. It’s an evolution. Things happen over time. You can look back and you can see that. 

Give an example of what the transformation economy looks like with the coffee example.

The best example that I have found is there is a company in London called Change Please. It is more like a social organization. It’s a for-profit company but it’s designed to do social good work. What the founder realized as he was looking around and doing the analysis, he’s a very much a business-oriented person, he said, “At the rate we’re growing, we’re going to need 100,000 baristas in London over the next X period of time.” He looked at the labor force and he said, “We don’t have enough people in labor force unless everyone becomes a barista,” which is not realistic. 

He was thinking about the problem and trying to figure out, “What can we do here?” He looked around one day and it’s probably one of those things that evolved over time. He realized there are all these homeless people. They can be trained to be baristas and he begins to realize, “I can solve multiple problems at the same time.” Change Please has coffee carts like little trucks they drive to different places in the city. They park them on the side of the street. They have baristas who were homeless people who have been trained, and as they earn the money, they get to move into a shared flat. Over time, if they make enough, they can move into their own flat. It teaches them a skill, gets them off the street, gets them into housing. They eventually get their own housing. It builds their confidence and their pride. If you compare the two, it’s transformational for the employees. That’s one aspect of it but it’s also transformational for the customer. I could be walking down the street with a cup of Starbucks in my hand and that logo right there. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s making the statement, “I’m able to spend $5 on a cup of coffee.” It’s a lot about me, the memories, and looking inward telling everyone about me.

If we take a Change Please coffee, what happens there is I’m walking down the street with a Change Please coffee logo on my cup. What that tells the world and what it tells me is that I’m not just a patron. I’m a philanthropist. I helped someone get off the street and into a home. I helped someone get a job. You can look and say, “Starbucks does that too,” but it’s different. How they market and how they deliver the messaging, the meaning behind it is different. I have nothing against Starbucks. They’re an awesome company. They do a lot of great work but they’re not a transformational company. They do some transformational things but at its core, it is not yet a transformational company. Change Please coffee would be.

ProphetAbility: The Revealing Story of Why Companies Succeed, Fail and Bounce Back

I love that example and it’s a clear way to explain what the transformation economy is all about. Tony, with the work that you do, let’s go back and tell our audience a little bit about how we came together. We each have our individual companies, but we do a lot of stuff together. We’ve written a book together. We’ve done an online summit together where we live streamed for nine hours with all these amazing speakers. It was a couple of months ago but I’m still on a high from that day. Now we have the show. Let’s give our audience a little bit of background on how and why we came together and how our work fits together.

From my perspective, both of us have this deep, deep passion for the human experience. Understanding why people have the experiences that they have, how they experience life, and how the experience of life can change their perspective of themselves or place in the world, and what they can accomplish. I typically look at it and say, “Several things happened in my life years ago, which caused me to realize that every moment of human experience contains this tremendous potential, where we can make a decision.” We have the power to make a decision in every given moment. If we use that power, we can change the trajectory of human history.

You might be saying, “Those are the big decisions.” No. These are the little decisions. It’s taking a moment and smiling at the person who’s working across the counter. If you’re a customer and they’re an employee, smile at them. It’s buying someone behind you in a line a cup of coffee and doing it anonymously where they can’t thank you. You buy it and you move on. You may not know the ripple effect of that, but maybe that person has an amazing day because they’re like, “That was awesome.” They felt uplifted because someone did something for them. Maybe they turn around and buy the cup of coffee for the person behind them. They’ve become a philanthropist and they have done good work.

What we know in the human experience research is that when a person is in a slightly positive state of mind, we’re not saying euphorically happy like they have won the lottery, it’s not that. They’re in a slightly positive state versus a negative or neutral state. I’ve got my statistics right here. For salespeople, they are 37% more likely to close a sale. Doctors are 19% faster and more accurate in their diagnosis. People are somewhere between 31% and 34% more creative in solutions. We’re not even talking about getting to that full state of flow, which I’ve talked with you about, which takes us to an entirely new level. We’re talking about slightly positive.

This is the question I’ve been wondering about and trying to explore for years. If we could turn people from negative or neutral and turn to slightly positive in little interactions throughout the day, how would that fundamentally change our world? What types of things with that extra creativity could we solve versus maybe never solving? How does that ripple effect go throughout the entire economy, the entire society and change things? We can see the ripple effect of how a panic or negative situation, whether it’s large or small, can ripple through society and our world. What if we focused on that from a small perspective? What people may see, “You’re just doing customer satisfaction.” For me, it is much deeper than that. It is about the experience of life because we define our life by the experiences we remember having and that’s what matters to me. That’s where I was coming from.

When we came together, we were at Fort Sam Houston. It comes back to experience work. We were both there in support of the USO, in support of the US military because we believe in the sacrifice that they’re making. We believe it’s important to show them support. You’ve got family members who’ve been active in the military. My father was in the National Guard during Vietnam. He did not go to Vietnam but was in the National Guard at the time. One of my past clients works closely with the military. I had exposure to things that I was never aware of before. It deepened that passion and that love for helping the military. We were both there at the USO’s opening of their facilities and we were able to have a conversation over lunch in the commissary.

People are moving beyond the experience economy into this age of transformation.CLICK TO TWEET

It was serendipitous that we were both there. We had a common friend that had brought us together at this event. We were in the commissary, getting to know one another and we start talking about customer work. At that point, that’s as far as it went. Several years later, I’m shifting my business to be exclusively focused on customer work. I sent you an email and said, “Can we have a half an hour chat?” That half an hour ended up being an hour and a half. The result of that chat was, “We should write a book together. Let’s do it.” That’s been the start of our work. What’s fun for the work that we do together is that your experience is so much around the experience and the bottom-up work that you do with talking directly to users and filtering that message up to the decision-makers.

By contrast, the work I do is at the executive level where we’re getting these strategic insights and filtering that messaging back down through the organization, so that everybody understands why we’re doing things the way we’re doing it. Both of our worlds come together to cover the full spectrum of what it means to be customer-centric and using a customer mindset to grow a business. That’s why it’s much fun partnering with you on all of these things and we’re excited. We have a lot of ideas and we’re working through prioritizing them. We both are passionate about the customer, the relationships, the experience, the transformation, all of the things that we’ve been talking about. That’s the genesis of how we came together.

It’s been an amazing journey because I found for myself that I worked much better when I’m partnered with someone. When you said, “Let’s write a book,” and you said it off the cuff, you’ve revealed since then that you didn’t necessarily mean it that way. I already had in my mind that I was going to write a book. This was in 2018 because I’d written two books in 2016. I was like, “I want to write another book.” I was scheduled for it. It was in my plan for the year, but the person that I was going to coauthor the book with had some things come up. They couldn’t do it at the time. I was looking for an opportunity. This is where chance meets preparation. That book, we dived in a short period of time. We begin to realize there’s something here for us to say that’s not been said before. The focus of that work has been it’s not just about reacting to customers in the moment. It’s about that strategic view 3 to 5 years down the road. We’ve been focused on that for years. The book is the outcome of that work and what we’ve learned in doing that. I would say that that type of mentality has begun to take hold out there. There is so much more work to do. 

One of the things that was fascinating in the process of writing the book is that we have all these theories that we’ve been talking about today, but we also had practical applications. The subtitle of our book is The Revealing Reason Why Companies Succeed, Fail or Bounce Back. Diving into the research for the book, we were able to find companies that didn’t do it right. The consequences of that are doing it well and succeeding, or maybe learn the lesson and now they’re doing it well. It’s been fun to evaluate those companies and see where some of them went wrong and where some of them are crushing it because they understand these concepts that we’re talking about with the customers. There is a link to the book in the show notes if you have interest in diving deeper into these topics.

It’s interesting to note because as you and I have watched the progression since 2018 when we published the book. I’m going to point to a couple of industries that stand out and tie it back into what we’re seeing. We’re coming out of COVID-19, we’re coming out of lockdown, we’re coming out of a very challenging time for individuals, much less a challenging time for businesses and the economy. When I look at that, it’s going to be a catalyst very much like 2009 was. By that, I mean people are looking for something deeper than experiences. People are moving beyond the experience economy into this age of transformation. They want to redefine who they are. Not to get too political or too deep here, but I think we have to. I don’t think we have to shy away from that necessarily. I find myself prefacing things, but then saying, “This is the time to step forward and say it.”

We’re looking for a new national identity. There are people that I want to hold to an old identity of how we were at some potentially romanticized period of time. It may never have been actual reality. It’s our perception of how things were way back in the past. And then we have what people are actually experiencing today. We can see and learn from them what the experiences they’re having today. Instead of looking to this romanticized version of the past, look to what’s happening today and deal with what’s happening today. We cannot move forward in a productive and more evolved way that’s going to be beneficial for more people. Will it be beneficial for everyone? Probably not because we’re human beings and we can never make a perfect system, but we can make it better. I think that’s the one ideal that we can hold on to. Let’s head in the direction of better, but not sacrifice movement forward because it’s not some romanticized idea of the past.

I say that because as we talk about the transformation economy, transformation is very much about who I am as a person. In the transformation economy, the customer is the product. They’re the raw material that comes into the process that you guide through various experiences. They come out the other end having mastered, achieved, or accomplished one of their goals or many of their goals. They are the thing that changed in the process. When they change, their worldview changes. How they engage with the world changes. I believe if you look at all of the products out there from IoT products, Internet of Things, smart technology, a lot of companies look at those and say, “We’re going to make your life easier, better, quicker and faster.” The reality is if I’ve got a wearable where I’m tracking my steps and I’m monitoring that, it’s because I want to change how I feel about my body. I want to feel like I’m moving forward. I want to change my identity, my relationship with my body, my self-confidence, whatever it may be. 

Transformational Economy: In the transformation economy, the customer is the product.

We’ve got other devices that are tracking temperature in our home. We can go on our phone and we can change the temperature. We can set it so that when we’re not there, we’re not wasting energy. We can cut down on pollution. We can save money for retirement. All of those come into play. We look at self-driving electric vehicles that are powered by solar panels or from solar power when they get plugged in. We’re talking about being able to change the economy that way. When you have people building these products, not just for ease and convenience and cheapness, but we’re talking about building these products that literally can transform how we exist in this world. How we engage with this world and how we can transform the future, the trajectory of human history by engaging with things, that’s what gets me excited about what we’re going through because it is causing us to question the paradigms that we’ve lived with for so long. It’s causing us to engage and embrace something new and different. Some people are getting more entrenched in the past, but many are moving forward to an entirely new future.

I had a conversation with a CEO that I’ve known for a long time. He commented that what’s going on is going to shake up leadership teams because there are a lot of leaders out there that are fine with the status quo. They’re riding out this train until they get to retirement or their buyout or whatever it is they don’t want to rock the boat. How disruptive this world is for those people and what a risk the status quo is. Personally, as emotional and roller coaster ride this has been, there are a lot of ups and downs, I’m excited to have the opportunity to be in business at a time that is so wildly transformational for our country and for the world.

When you were talking about the different things out there that people buy to make them feel different, it popped in my head about Tesla. When you buy a Tesla, by default you’re connected to the guy who’s sending individual rockets up to the moon. He’s wanting to build this community on the moon and send the common citizen up there. The two things are grounded in if you want to feel the buzz of being around Elon Musk. If that’s why people buy Tesla, which my guess is that’s part of it, because there are a lot of great cars out there that people could buy, but why would you buy a Tesla? With everything that’s world-changing, like what he’s doing with Space X, the whole world is transforming and I find it very exciting. It also depends on how you’re wired as a human. For a lot of people, this is the most upsetting time in the whole world, unimaginable and rocking their boats like never before. Others of us are wired like, “This is awesome. Hold on for the ride.” We have to be respectful of all perspectives. Personally I’m thrilled to have the ability to have a company where we can make an impact on this transformation, on the people that are doing business, on the customers that they serve. I’m super happy to be doing this work with you, Tony.

If we look at the way things move, if we look at how we have developed and evolved our understanding and awareness of the work that we do and the people that we serve, what stands out to me is that we’re able to hold conflicting and often very uncomfortable ideas from different perspectives at the same time. We don’t shrink in the face of the conflict or the discomfort. We stand there and we help the leaders that we work with and show them how they can stand there in the discomfort of those conflicting ideas and identify what they can create in a new way. That’s what gets me excited about what we do because when we come together and when we work with leaders, they often come up with something and say, “We never thought about that before.”

It’s not you or me bringing it. It’s you and I being willing to show them it’s okay to be uncomfortable, to stand in that place of holding these conflicting ideas that are often gut-wrenching. Part of what we’re seeing today is we deeply empathize and recognize, in our ways, we’re out there supporting those who are most at risk and most feeling the pain. At the same time, we hold this view of hope for the future, but not just hold that view we’re out there also creating that future with people who are moving it forward. To exist in both of those worlds can become challenging, but it’s also highly rewarding. 

I can’t think of a better way to wrap up this conversation, Tony. It is highly rewarding work that we do. We’re always interested in talking to people that want to learn more about this. There are a lot of ways that you can find us to have these conversations. Tony and I are both active on LinkedIn. We each have our websites. Tony is at Tony Bodoh International. I’m at The Congruity Group. We also have our book and our show. We’ve got more stuff coming that we can’t wait to share with you. With that, thank you and we’ll see you next time.

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About Betsy Westhafer

Betsy Westhafer is the Founder and CEO of The Congruity Group, a consultancy focused on helping organizations achieve 100% retention of key accounts and double-digit account revenue growth through building and leveraging deep customer relationships.

Congruity works with companies to build and execute customer-focused strategies, with a particular focus on deploying both digital and in-person Customer Advisory Boards.

Betsy is a speaker, a frequent podcast guest, and the co-author of the #1 Best Seller, “ProphetAbility – The Revealing Story of Why Companies Succeed, Fail, or Bounce Back.” She lives in Dayton, Ohio with her husband Paul, and when not working spends her time with her kids and grandkids, preferably on the water at Lake Cumberland.

About Tony Bodoh

Tony Bodoh is the CEO of Tony Bodoh International, a customer experience consultancy. TBI’s focus is on applying the science of human experience to deepen the customer relationships that build brands and grow businesses. In 2018, Tony was named one of the “Top Customer Service Movers and Shakers You Should Follow.”
Tony is also a co-founder of 3 other businesses, including Pinstripe Entertainment which runs Pinstripe.TV and BZNS. Tony describes Pinstripe.TV as “Netflix meets Amazon Prime Video for business people.” The platform provides live-streaming and curated on-demand shows, documentaries, and courses for business leaders. BZNS is an all-business broadcast channel launching in 2020.
Tony is a speaker, podcaster, and co-author of three #1 Best Selling books including: ProphetAbility – The Revealing Story of Why Companies Succeed, Fail, or Bounce Back; Leverage – How to Achieve a Lot with the Little You’ve Got; and, The Complete Experience – Unlocking the Secrets of Online Reviews that Drive Customer Loyalty.
Tony lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and two daughters, and spends his free time between volunteering in the community with his family and binge-watching historical documentaries.

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