Episode #22: How To Have An Agile Mindset When Listening To The Customer with Scott Miller

In this episode, Scott Miller, Head of Thought Leadership at FranklinCovey, joins Betsy Westhafer and Tony Bodoh as they discuss how FranklinCovey reshaped itself based on the minds of their customers and why it’s important to have an agile mindset when listening to your customer. Scott shares his journey throughout the years and the multiple roles he’s playing aside from his day job at FranklinCovey. They talk about the difficulties companies have viewing themselves accurately versus through the eyes of their customers and the mindset you need to have as part of the leadership team to understand your customer. Learn the importance of having thought leadership to anticipate any disruption and stay ahead of the curve.

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How To Have An Agile Mindset When Listening To The Customer with Scott Miller

Vulnerability, Humility & Emotional Agility

I am glad to have everybody here. Scott Miller is our guest. Tell us about Scott, Tony.

I’m excited because Scott is the head of Thought Leadership from FranklinCovey. He’s been in a number of roles with FranklinCovey over the years, but this one in particular is where he’s at. In this role, he is leading the charge of where they go next to the organization. He has to understand who the customer is, what they need to know, and where they’re headed in their lives and their businesses next. That’s why I’m excited to have Scott on.

I was looking forward to this conversation. Without further ado, Scott Miller, welcome to the show.

Thank you for the platform. I am looking forward to it.

In addition to your day job, you do a lot of other cool stuff too. You’re a columnist and a podcaster. You are on the On Leadership podcast, which I shared before is one of my all-time new favorite podcasts. It’s full of great information and amazing guests. You do a whole lot of other things too, but give us a little background and a little more detail on your career path, and how you landed to be the EVP of Thought Leadership at FranklinCovey.

In no order, I’m a dad and a husband. We lived here in Salt Lake City with my wife, where FranklinCovey’s headquarter is. We have three sons. Mentally, they all have my personality. I’m from Orlando, Florida originally. I lived half my life in Orlando, half my life here in Salt Lake. I worked for the Disney Company for four years and just shy of four years, Disney invited me to leave, which was a cordial way of saying, “Get out.” It was the FranklinCovey company that had met me with some partnerships at Disney that recruited me out to Utah.

Here you had, many years ago, a single Catholic boy from Orlando moving to Provo, Utah. That’s being Jewish and moving to Vatican City. It’s culturally crazy but it’s been a great ride. I started as a frontline salesperson for the FranklinCovey company. By most measures, it is the world’s most prominent leadership development firm based here in Salt Lake with offices around the world. We started selling leadership solutions to universities, school districts, and colleges. I became a sales manager and spent a year in the UK office. I became a Sales Vice President and became the company’s first Chief Marketing Officer. I served in that role for eight years, which is almost three times the national average for tenure for a CMO. The average is somewhere between 3.5 and 4 years. Years ago, I stepped away from the Chief Marketing Officer role and appointed myself as the Executive Vice President of Thought Leadership in unison with the CEO and the board.

A common perception in life is you see the world as you are, not as it is.CLICK TO TWEET

We never had a thought leadership strategy. We had thought leadership, but not a thought leadership strategy. It was in that role that I became what is now the host of the world’s largest leadership podcast called On Leadership with Scott Miller every week. I’ve been privileged to co-author and author multiple books. I have two more books coming out in 2021. I write a column for Inc. magazine every week. I hosted a radio program on iHeart Radio, but it was just too much. I had to focus and not do 40 things at B-level. I had to do 39 things at A-level. I had to get some focus on my life. I’ve got a few reps when it comes to working with clients, building our brand, saying no to a lot of things, and saying yes to some things. I’m honored to be here.

We are honored to have you. One of the things that we talked about when we first met you, Scott, was about how difficult it can be for companies to view themselves accurately versus through the eyes of their customers. Talk to us a little bit about that.

That’s a common perception in life. We see the world as we are not as it is. No matter what role you’re in with a leadership role in a company, it’s imperative to move outside of the fake reality you’ve built. Here’s a great example at FranklinCovey. We’re a 40-year-old company. We formed by the Franklin Quest Company, which was the planning company. It is a $500 million paper planning company and the Covey Leadership Center, which was a private boutique leadership consulting company. We merged many years ago to become FranklinCovey, but our legacy to the world is the planner people or the 7 Habits people. We had 170 retail stores years ago selling the Franklin Planner. There were 40 million people buying them a year. We sold that business over a decade ago, but when most people think of us, they think of us as, “I used to have that planner.”

They have a paradigm about it. It’s hard for us to shake it, but we have disassociated ourselves with that product and that brand many years ago. It’s the first thing that comes to mind for every chief learning officer, every chief human resource officer, and every CEO because they’re not in their 30s. They’re usually in their 40s, 50s or 60s. At some point, we’ll age out of that brand. For us, we face the same problem because even though we have moved beyond, our target buyers are still very much associating us with our legacy brands. It’s important for us to confront reality and to recognize that what we think isn’t reality. It’s what our marketplace or what our buyers think. We can’t boil the ocean. We have to be thoughtful around whose perceptions we change. We’re not trying to change eight billion people’s perception. We’re probably trying to change a couple of million people’s perceptions. It’s with that discipline that we’re better able to focus in on whose minds are we trying to change. We call that spearfishing versus net fishing. A lot of organizations get caught up into net fishing. We’ve been deliberately successful at being more particular around whose opinions we care about shaping accurately.

It’s intriguing to me because, as you said, I’m still one of those people that no matter how often you tell me that you’re not associated with the planning company, I’m still thinking about that. I still walk through the aisles of the office stores and see them there. If we look at where you’re at and what FranklinCovey does as an organization now, I’m familiar with the past organizations I worked with. You used at that time what was called The Four Disciplines of Execution. It worked very well, the BHAGs and all of those other wonderful things that were in the program. Where has FranklinCovey gone since then? There’s been a lot of change in the world and a lot of growth. Where have your customers taken you? Where have you gone?

Like a lot of organizations, we have successfully disrupted ourselves prior to the market disrupting us. I give our CEO credit for being exceptionally talented at looking around corners and seeing, “Where do we need to be three years from now?” Bob is intellectually agile. He’s great at that adage of where’s the puck going to land like skating to the puck. He’s good at being there before the puck lands there because he’s humble. He doesn’t need to be a genius. He’s thoughtful around, looking at the landscape. FranklinCovey’s made some major transitions. The Thought Leadership of which I’m responsible for shepherding helps to identify the challenges that the organizations have that are coming up and making sure that we’re there at the right time. Here’s a great example. We’re launching a book called The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias.

It will be a great book. We’re working on it for two years. I wish that book would come out earlier but it will be a great solution. We try to keep our pulse on where companies are going to be struggling. We don’t create solutions that we’re passionate about. We create solutions that our clients are passionate about, and then we become passionate about them. We don’t try to force our solution to clients. We carefully listen to what clients are struggling with and then decide, can we be the best at that in the world? We’ve pivoted. To your point, we were a B2C company selling tens of millions of individual tools a year. We migrated over to being a B2B company, a training company.

Agile Mindset: You have to understand where is the learning out there, and it may not be right in front of you in your own industry.

In the last few years, we transitioned ourselves to a SaaS company. We’re now a subscription organization where a company comes in and buys a license to our intellectual property. They then have enterprise-wide access to all of our content, which are hundreds of tools and assessments, and 30 contents, not one content. We provide our clients with a docent or implementation specialist to help to navigate this large library of content that can help to solve their problems. We’re not trying to be the Amazon of training. We’re not trying to be the biggest training aggregator by any stretch. We’re trying to be a one-stop-shop for organizations that are trying to achieve their top priorities, build a great culture, and to develop leaders. I think we’ve skated to where the puck is going to land.

I find it interesting that you’ve made that migration because on this show, we’ve talked with companies that have been in the tech space. They moved from selling the on-premises, capital intensive software and hardware to where now they’re doing Software as a Service model. It is very much like you’re describing, where you have training as a service. That change there means you have to listen to the customer even more because they can cancel their subscription at any point, rather than if you sell them a year-long package or a two-year-long training package that they’re going to be in for a period of time. Now they can cancel at a much faster pace. I imagine there have been some changes in how you listen to the customer as well.

If someone is canceling their subscription with us, it’s shame on us, not shame on them. We go into every client opportunity thinking, how are we going to provide so much value that cancellation isn’t even an option? It’s all about expansion. It’s all about, how do you move from 200 people to 800 people? We take cancellation very personally because then we think we’ve not done our job. If we sell on a budget, on the initiative or anything other than, “This is going to make your organization more successful,” then we’ve sold the wrong solution to the wrong client. We’re thoughtful about making sure we are very clear on what does the client need, not what do we need. We don’t want a business for one year. It’s not what our investors want. It’s not what our board wants. We want clients for life.

One of the things that our executive team has done is not just listen to the industry, but to watch other industries. I don’t think this is proprietary, but one of the reasons why we moved to a subscription model is our CEO, his home is in Park City, Utah. It’s a ski resort 30 miles from here. For several years, he was watching the Vail resorts come in and take over Park City. They had this thing called the Epic Pass. The Epic Pass allows you to ski at Whistler, Beaver Creek, Vail and Park City. They were decimating the ski industry because once they bought up ten resorts, there was no reason to ski anywhere else. You get Epic Pass for $600, whatever it was, you could ski everywhere. And it completely disrupted the industry. Our CEO is looking out his window every day, watching thousands and thousands of cars drive into the Vail resort to not go to other resorts. You couldn’t even get up to church on Sunday in Park City because the cars were backed up out to the highway miles because everybody bought an Epic Pass. I was late to mass a couple of times because of the Epic Pass. Catholics aren’t late to church. You don’t walk in behind the priest.

You’re talking to two other Catholics by the way.

I did not know that, but that’s a cardinal sin to walk in behind the priest at church. There’s no such thing as a late Catholic. It was an insightful analysis to watch Bob look at other industries. Not just the training industry, the consulting industry, the ski industry and co-opt or adapt innovations that were before our time. It is why FranklinCovey is certainly surviving in the pandemic. The industry is being decimated because no one is getting on a plane and flying to a client with 30 people in a room. It’s all being done virtually now. We have been able to thrive in terms of retention, expansion, new logos, new opportunities, clients that aren’t canceling, but they’re seeing the value of investing in their people. I credit our leadership team, similar to our CEO with that emotional agility to understand where is the learning right out there. It may not be right in front of you in your own industry.

That is such an interesting concept to not only know your customers or your industry but also as you said, observe other industries and see what’s going on out there. What strikes me about one of the things you said is this journey from back in the days of the planner, which I have this. When you were talking about emotional agility, I have this emotional response when I think about FranklinCovey because I used to have to drive 25 minutes away to get my new planner pages. I remember doing that year after year and I loved it. I get excited and it’s all-new stuff. I know a lot of people feel the same way about that, but that goodwill has stayed with your company. Even though you’re a very different company now than you were years ago, I feel like that goodwill is still there plus all of the great content that’s come out that people know, the 7 Habits and 40 Acts, and all of that great stuff that people are attached to. Getting a little bit tactical, how do you go about listening to your customers? What do you do so that you know that you’re getting the right insights?

It’s important to confront reality.CLICK TO TWEET

I think your insight is right on goodwill and it can be a double-edged sword. A lot of our time is spent re-educating people. They think we’re one thing and they realized, “I had no idea you were this.” We also aren’t ashamed of our legacy. We’re very proud of all we’ve been in many years. To answer your question, Betsy, if you’re going to listen to your customer, humility is a leadership competency. It’s to recognize that you may not be the smartest person in the room and that your customers often use a different language than you do. It’s fascinating to me how often we’ll go to a customer and they’ll call something, “We have a trust problem.”

We think immediately, “This is the solution.” What they have is an execution issue or they might say, “We have a deliverable issue,” but it’s a clarity of expectations issue. We have to make sure that our sales staff, our sales leaders, our product innovators, chief marketing officers, chief innovation officers, are thoughtful around listening. Is what they call it what we call it? Like any company, we have a whole cadre, a vocabulary or a lexicon of things that we’ve named it this, therefore that’s what they call it. Not at all. We have to be very thoughtful around making sure that all of the heavy nomenclatures that we’ve attached in our own culture as experts doesn’t cloud what the customer calls it. A lot of times, we’re talking about the same thing but not solving the same problem. We’re solving a similar problem but we’re calling it differently.

We spend an inordinate of time teaching great listening habits to our sales staff. Dr. Covey wrote this book, The 7 Habits. Habit 5 is seek first to understand then to be understood. One of our hallmarks as a sales organization is understanding that most people listen with the intent to respond, not to understand. We do a fairly good job checking our own language and not immediately rushing to a solution. Moving off the solution and digging deep to understand, is what the client describing the same thing that we think it is? We are making sure that our solution exactly matches their need or if not, refer somebody else in. We’re a very abundant company. We don’t close every sale. We don’t try to force fit because then you won’t have the renewal.

If the sales should go to VitalSmarts, we’ll take it to VitalSmarts. If we think Ken Blanchard’s solution is better for them, most of our people recommend that because the client will come back to you. They’ll remember that you tried to steer them in the best direction for them. That comes back decade after decade. I imagine anecdotally probably the sell we’ve lost, we’ve landed 5 or 6 later on because the client knew we had their best interest in mind. That’s not pablum. That’s not some plaque on the wall, FranklinCovey, that’s who we are at our core.

I want to shift gears a little bit and turn toward the salesforce because you gave us a little tidbit as we were preparing. You talked about how you have lead measures in place in the sales team versus most organizations having these lag measures. When we talk about knowing the customer, a lot of those measures that are used now are lag measures, NPS or customer satisfaction. They’re all lag measures. How do you guys look at things from a lead measure perspective to know that you’re on target and maybe to be aware when you’re not on target and how to change things?

It’s not easy. We didn’t move from lead to lag or lag to lead overnight. It was the introduction of our book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution that helped to shape the thinking of our company. One of the things I’m most proud about after many years in the firm is that we do a good job of walking our talk. We’re not perfect. Someone’s gossiped once. Something wasn’t perfect here or there. I’m sure I did some things wrong back in 1996, but not since then. To your point around lead and lag measures, it takes discipline because sales leaders, which I was one, tend to lead their life looking in the rearview mirror.

The last month’s revenue, this month’s revenue. It takes a lot of discipline, foresight and some trust instinctually to say, “What are the indicators that we can impact?” You can’t impact last month’s revenue. It’s done. You can’t impact last month’s close rate, but you can impact future behavior. You can impact lead measures that come out of sales activity. We’re thoughtful around differentiating between activity results. We’re also disciplined around which activities drive the highest return results. I think we’ve talked about it in a different setting. We know the value of a face-to-face meeting.

Agile Mindset: You can’t overnight teach someone talents they don’t have.

Pretend this was pre-COVID. We’re required with fierce discipline and accountability, a minimum of ten hours a week of face-to-face meetings. Our sales staff is in front of a client or a prospective client a minimum of ten hours a week. That doesn’t include at the time Skype calls or webinars or things like that. You’re at Chick-fil-A having lunch or you’re in their office talking with them because we know down to the dollar, how much every hour of face time with a client correlates to revenue. We know if someone’s goal is $2 million a year. I’m very comfortable talking about us. We’re a for-profit company. We have investors. We have shareholders. I own stock in the company. I want us to make our revenue targets. We know to the dollar how much revenue will generate out of every hour of face-to-face meeting. This came through multiple quarters of assessments and analysis, and what has to happen during that hour, not in a contrived way, but what makes a valuable meeting for a client and for you.

We also aren’t Pollyanna surrounded. We’re brutally honest. How much of that revenue is going to close in 60 days, 90 days, 120 days? How much of that will fall through your pipeline? D, C , B, A. We were disciplined around correlating face-to-face time, not just to revenue but to invoiced revenue. It’s been a key differentiator for our firm. It’s being able to meet our revenue targets by having clear key predictive lead measures. “If you do this, then this will happen. If you do this, then nothing will happen or this will happen.” That didn’t come overnight. It took quarters and quarters of assessing high performers, low performers, the middle 60, the bell curve, and trying to move the middle, if more people do what high-performers are doing. It took a lot of training and investment. It took guaranteeing some salaries for a longer period of time because you can’t overnight teach someone talent they don’t have.

You can’t book a face-to-face meeting and twiddle your thumb. You’ve got to be thoughtful around what types of behaviors happen in a face-to-face meeting that are most predictive of outcome in terms of listening skills, proposals, followup, nurturing the client. Make sure the client wants to meet with you. An hour of sitting for the hostage is a waste of everybody’s time. Make sure that the client has a problem that they need to be solved, that you have a solution that will solve their problem versus trying to uncover one in the conversations.

Without giving away our whole strategy or formula, every organization will have different lead measures that are predictive of success that you could influence. Should it be 9 hours, 11 hours? Is your close rate 30%? Is it 70%? What is it really? Something else we’ve done in our culture is we make it safe to tell the truth. Whenever I coach CEOs or leaders, I say, “If your team members are lying to you, that’s your fault, not theirs because you’ve not created a culture where it is safe to tell the truth.” What happens is people lie to you and they ambush you. At the last minute, all of a sudden, your $22 million pipeline has turned into $4 million and only $2 million was recognized because people weren’t comfortable asking for help. They weren’t comfortable admitting they didn’t know or understand.

A lot of our training is making sure everybody is telling the truth to everybody up the letterhead. You can lose a lot of revenue in a culture that is corrupt or worse, is it transparent? Everybody wonders, why? What happens is people get fired down the letterhead because the top leaders didn’t make it transparent for the lower leaders to tell the truth. Sorry for my soapbox, but that’s been key to our success as well.

I think there’s so much to that. Not just on the internal side, but also with the customers. You have to make it safe for your customers to tell you the truth as well. In a lot of the work that Tony and I do, whether it’s more at the B2C level, the B2B level, whatever it is, your customers have to have that trust built in that they can tell you what you need to hear. A lot of the coaching that we do is on making sure you’ve got to be open to this customer feedback. It’s one thing to listen to the customer but then take it to heart, be humble about it, receive it in the spirit in which it’s intended, and then act on it.

One of the most valuable experiences I’ve been involved in at FranklinCovey for many years is we brought in a friend of ours who’s the former Dean of the Hamburger University at McDonald’s. Her name is Diana Thomas. She went on to become the VP of Training. We brought in the former CHRO of Southwest Airlines. Most of our sales staff had a two-hour meeting with them. We just listened to what their day is like and what their week is like. These are our buyers, CHROs, chief people officers, CLOs. It was shocking to hear what their day is like, how many emails they get, what their gates are, who gets to them, where they seek out information, how you build credibility with them. I thought, “I’ve been here for twenty years, why aren’t we doing this years ago?”

Most people listen with the intent to respond, not to understand.CLICK TO TWEET

Betsy, one of the things that you do well is you’re helping organizations understand what are people looking for? How are they listening? How are they searching? What are they thinking about you? Most organizations, we have a level of hubris and arrogance. We think we know the best, “Listen to us. Here’s how we do it.” I don’t care how you do it. Here’s how we need it. That takes a lot of humility. It takes you to check your own ego. We need to do more of that at FranklinCovey. We need to shut our mouth more and listen to what our prospective customers need and want, when, how, and why.

When we coach the executives, before going into an advisory board meeting, we say, “You are here to listen 80% of the time, talk 20% of the time and that 20% is made up of clarifying probing questions so that you can go deeper and deeper and get a better understanding.” I love the whole thing. Do you have any stories that you can share with us as far as some of your clients that have been going into your content and have learned something that has propelled them?

I thought you were going to go somewhere else. I had a great story to share about failure. Let me share this one. Back when I was the General Manager of our Chicago region. I was living in Chicago for six years. We had a seventeen state regions the largest business in the US for us. We had about twenty salespeople that worked for us. Each of them had a $1 million revenue goal and they were all six-figure earners. There was one particular person. She happened to be a female. Gender is immaterial.  If I use her name know that gender is immaterial. She had a big deal cooking with a large potential client. It was about a high six-figure deal, which is a big deal for FranklinCovey years ago.

I would do weekly check-ins. I’m pretty good at peeling the onion. I’m good at getting to the root cause. It was a custom deal with their logo on it, a custom mission statement, the CEO is going to make an appearance in a video. It’s a cultural training solution for a B2B business. It was a waste management disposal business. This deal was going to close. It’s a six-figure deal and she asked me to come up and close the deal. I get on a plane and fly to the state. We walk into the client and he’s a seasoned salesperson. He has been in the business for fifteen years. I’m not the best salesperson in the world, but I have good instincts. I can tell in a couple of interactions if I think you’re trustworthy or legit.

I’m not a suspicious person but I’ve got good instincts when it comes to human nature. I walk into the business and asked three questions. I realized there’s no business here. There’s no deal to close. This deal is three people away from being signed. In fact, the person who has to sign off on this doesn’t even know there is a deal. It took me three questions to ask. What is your decision-making criteria? Do you have signing authority for this? Is this going to be some of your funding? These are small things but the salesperson was so caught up in their own excitement and their own narrative. It was oceans apart. The deal never closed because there was no deal. The salesperson was uncomfortable asking the tough questions, moving outside their comfort zone, listening to what the decision-making process was.

This isn’t original to me, but most people when they say they’ve got twenty years of experience, what they mean is I have one-year experience repeated nineteen times. All of us have to be a little more agile around stretching our skills and disrupting our strategy, moving outside of our comfort zone, discussing the undiscussable, listening for the bad news, not just listening for the validating news. To your question, let me tell you about Frito-Lay. Frito-Lay is owned by PepsiCo. The CEO of Frito-Lay decided about a decade ago. It was a gentleman. I don’t mean to share a positive story about a man and negative about a female. This salesperson is one of our top salespeople in the nation. She’s crushing it. I can learn so much from her. She’s come so far and we’re very good friends.

This CEO, this gentleman decided that the future of Frito-Lay was going to be based on building a high trust culture. He believed in the value of leaders trusting their team members and vice versa. That trust was going to be their ultimate competitive advantage in the snack industry. Trust take it where you want whether or not Fritos or Doritos are good for you or not, that’s not my point. I’m not a nutritionist. Not only did he decide to train everyone at Frito-Lay and FranklinCovey’s Speed of Trust Solution, where we spend two days. We teach the thirteen behaviors of high trust leaders, listening first, talking straight, clarifying expectations, and being transparent. Not only did he train every employee in Frito-Lay, he trained the entire supply chain, all their vendors, their farmers, and their distributors.

Frito-Lay underwrites that training for their entire external supply chain because he realizes when corn prices go up or wheat prices go down or whatever the calamity is or oil disrupts, whatever it is they have to have, he wants everyone to be on the same page. “Here’s our profit margin. Here’s your profit margin.” To this day, I think Frito-Lay has one of the strongest cultures and uninterrupted supply chains in any industry because this CEO’s foresight on taking a couple of million dollars and training everybody on what it means to be transparent and trustworthy.

I’m sure there are problems. I am sure there are disgruntled corn farmers somewhere out there but overall, this is the foresight of a leader that chose to take it all the way even outside the company. What CEO trains their vendors on how to operate with them? I bet you Walmart does some of that by the way. It was a very prescient CEO. In fact, several years later there was a huge spike or drop in corn prices. One of them was disproportionately earning more money than the other. Because they had all these principles of how to be trustworthy deeply instilled in their entire supply chain, people understood why margins might be squeezed or why we’re buying less or buy more. I heard some great stories and on their ability to thrive in tough times because of their investment inside and outside. This is one for the ages, Frito-Lay.

I’m intrigued by that because when I was going through my MBA program, we studied a lot about information flow and Lean, Six Sigma, all of those wonderful things. In that process, there’s this thing in the manufacturing and supply chain called the Bullwhip Effect. If you shake a whip a little bit here, it has massive effects out there. Why that came to my mind as you were talking is, we always talked in my MBA program about the information flow. We talked about the accuracy of the information, but we never talked about trust. What’s fascinating with the story you told in that context, if we look at what happened here, as we were going through COVID-19 and the supply chain mess, all of a sudden overnight, people go from their offices and eating out to home.

The supply chains cannot shift that fast to take food sources going to restaurants and put them into grocery stores. Toilet paper going to office buildings and warehouses that supply the commercial sector and put it over in the residential sector’s supply chain. We didn’t have that clarity. We didn’t have that trust. We had panic. That’s a minor example of how a supply chain can be brutally disrupted in this day and age even though we have tons of information flowing back and forth because people don’t trust. The consumers lack the trust that they would be able to get what they needed, so they hoard it. If you have any commentary, I would love to hear that.

This is a leadership principle. Leaders can over-communicate. You hear this all the time, “You can’t communicate enough.” Look at the president. This isn’t political, but you can over-communicate. A leader’s job is accurate and concise information flow. You can over-communicate because now you can try to opine on areas of which you’re not an expert. You can start making stuff up. You start fabricating things. You erode trust when what you say is not credible. My advice on that topic, I’m not going to speak to supply chains per se. A leader’s job is to create transparency, to clarify expectations, to make sure that people know what you do know and what you don’t know. You admit when you don’t know because with absent facts, people make stuff up.

One of the leader’s greatest roles is to declare your intent, to say, “This is my intent for sharing this with you. It might change.” One of my favorite statistics I’d ever read is there was a book called How Will You Measure Your Life? This book was co-authored by Karen Dillon, the former Editor of the Harvard Business Review, and Clayton Christensen. Both of them are friends of mine. A third author who escapes me is a gentleman. In this book, they take proven business principles to teach people how to apply it to their personal lives. It is a phenomenal book. They share a statistic from some outside researchers. The statistic is that 93% of “successful companies” that achieve their revenue goals did so with not their original deliberate strategy, but with a new emergent strategy. What they set out with is not what got them to their finish line.

That requires vulnerability, humility, emotional agility, willingness to change your mind, and an admission that you aren’t the smartest person in the room. As a leader, your job is not to be the genius, but the genius maker to quote Liz Wiseman in her book, Multipliers, another phenomenal leadership book. The best leadership book written in the last decade. I can talk about Multipliers for an hour. I do think leaders should be concise and accurate with what they do know and acknowledge what they don’t know so that people don’t say, “Last time, you said this.” “Yes, and things have changed.” Recognize that you set expectations that this is what we know right now. This may change. We’re all in this together. We’re not hiding information. We’re not hoarding information, but we’re also not over disclosing so that you don’t have to rewind. People can handle bad news. What they can’t handle is no news or wrong news. That’s a good leadership lesson for all of us as we’re communicating out information to our teams.

If you’re going to listen to your customer, humility is a leadership competency.CLICK TO TWEET

Tell us a little bit about your upcoming book.

I’m privileged to host a podcast. I mentioned it’s called On Leadership with Scott Miller. It comes out every Tuesday via email, but it’s also on every podcast platform. We interview a different guest every week. I was in the studio interviewing a gentleman named Bobby Herrera. He’s a Latino gentleman that wrote a book called The Gift of Struggle. I decided to write a book every year with my 40 most inspiring insights. The book is called Master Mentors: 40 Transformative Insights from Our Greatest Minds. It’s being published by Harper Collins. What I’ve done is from the first hundred interviews, I’ve curated 40 people, Seth Godin, Dan Pink, Liz Wiseman, Susan Cain, Stephanie McMahon from WWE Wrestling, General McChrystal, Tererai Trent who was Oprah’s favorite ever guest, Trent Shelton, a former NFL player, and a whole bunch of other ones.

It is 1,000 words per chapter and I shared insight from them. I’ll give you a glimpse. The insight from Seth Godin is the difference between being fearless and being reckless. It is a huge difference. A lot of us confuse the two and I share some insights around that. I shared insight from FranklinCovey’s Chief People Officer around the idea that people are not the organization’s most valuable assets. It’s not true. It’s the relationships between people that are ultimate. There’s a whole learning. You might say, “This isn’t transformative.” I think it is. I’ve written a story about the insight sometimes how I was able to achieve it, or I struggled, or how my friend, Betsy may have seen that come alive. There are 40 people that are being highlighted.

Larry King is writing the intro for me as the ultimate interviewer. He’s the only endorsement I wanted. We met and he agreed to endorse the book. He was like, “I’m excited. I’ll write the foreword to it.” I am honored that Larry King is writing the intro. I expect to write a volume every year until I die. I’ve already got the next 40 people lined up for volume two. I just have to find the time to finish writing it. The manuscript is due. Thank you, Betsy, for the tee up and the shout out. It’s called Master Mentors. It isn’t up yet on Amazon. It will come out in early 2021, probably February, March. I said January but I’m tweaking some things. I want it to be reflective of the landscape and make sure that I’m adequately highlighting people from different genders, faith, ethnicities. I feel good about the balance, no pandering, but it will be a great book.

We can’t wait to get our hands on it. It sounds like it will be on the top of our 2021 reading list. Scott, is there any community organization or nonprofit that you want to give a shout out to? We enjoy our show putting a spotlight on good organizations that are doing good works out there. There’s certainly room for more good news in the world. What’s an organization that’s doing some good work out there that you’re aware of?

Mine would be the Elizabeth Smart Foundation. I had the privilege of interviewing Elizabeth Smart on my podcast. I don’t know if you saw that podcast.

I listened to it. It was phenomenal. She is an amazing woman.

She lives not too far from me. She’s here in Salt Lake or in Park City. We have a lot of mutual friends but I don’t know her personally. Her story will leave you speechless. She wrote a book that I highlighted in the program around forgiveness, moving forward, and moving on. I didn’t delve into Elizabeth’s kidnapping on the podcast. I started it with her rescue because when you read her book, you’ll regret it. When you read her book about her capture, you’ll regret reading it because it will change your life. Regret it meaning, I have three boys and I started reading it. I had to put it down because I didn’t want that in my mind. I’m speaking about it from a dad’s point of view.

Her heart, mind or spirit are unbridled generosity. If Elizabeth Smart can forgive the man who repeatedly raped her night after night, day after day for nine months. If Elizabeth Smart can forgive the man who stole her life from her, then all of us can forgive everybody who’s said something rude to us or slighted us or not paid us back. The work that Elizabeth Smart is doing with abuse victims and recovery is remarkable. Check out the Elizabeth Smart Foundation. She is a hero not from her own desire or doing but from her ability to transform her life. She’s a mother of 3 or 4 kids now. I want to pay tribute to her because she has softened my heart. If Elizabeth Smart can forgive the man who did what he did to her, you can pretty much forgive everything coming your way. I mean to leave that on a high. That was a little bit heavy and I didn’t know that I was going to pick that one until about midway through. I need that to be inspiring.

It totally is. It’s what we need now for sure with everything that’s going on. It’s inspiring and uplifting to think that we can all do better in that regard. Scott, thank you so much for your time. It’s been an absolute pleasure. If you haven’t listened to the On Leadership with Scott Miller podcast yet, I highly recommend it. Hopefully, we’ll have more opportunities to chat with you.

I would love to come back. Best of success to you, you’re class acts and thank you for the platform. I appreciate it.

I’m not sure there’s enough to say about this episode. I’ve got to go back and read the interview myself. It is phenomenal how Scott thinks, how he sees leadership, and how relevant that is to really knowing your customer. There are a few things that he pointed out over and over again. I don’t know how many times he mentioned it, but it was vulnerability, humility, and emotional agility. I was about ready to start rapping that or something because of that rhyme there but it’s true. We’ve talked about this with other guests we’ve had on the show here. We’ve got to have the vulnerability, the humility and his term, emotional agility to be able to listen that unfiltered listening that we talk about all the time and then to take that back to your team.

It’s not just listening to your customers, it is listening to your team and what are they hearing from the customers? What do they need to do? What do you need to do in your sales meeting so as you’re listening, you’re understanding where the customer wants to go? It was truly a fascinating interview. Honestly, I am so whelmed by what he’s given us, that I do want to go back and read this again because there’s so much good stuff in here.

I agree, Tony. I’ve been all over their website. There’s so much good content in there. If you want to hear more from Scott or from FranklinCovey, they have so much content plus Scott’s podcast, his blog, his books. There is so much good thought leadership that it all stands the test of time. It’s not the new shiny stuff. I’m thrilled to death that we could have him on the show. Audience, if you enjoy that episode and any of the other episodes, we’d appreciate a review. Tony, thank you. This has been so much fun and we will see you next time.

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About Scott Miller

Entering his twenty-fourth year with FranklinCovey Co., Scott Miller serves as the Executive Vice President of Thought Leadership. He is the host of the FranklinCovey sponsored On Leadership With Scott Miller, a weekly leadership webcast, podcast, and newsletter that features interviews with renowned business titans, authors, and thought leaders and is distributed to more than six million business leaders worldwide. He was the host of the weekly radio program Great Life, Great Career With Scott Miller on iHeartMedia’s KNRS 105.9. This radio program and podcast provide insight and strategies drawn from FranklinCovey’s leadership principles and from Miller’s career and personal life experience to assist listeners in becoming more effective as business leaders and to improve their personal performance. Additionally, Miller authors a weekly leadership column for Inc. Magazine.

Miller leads the strategy, development, and publication of FranklinCovey’s bestselling books and thought leadership, which provide the framework for the company’s world-renowned content and solutions. He is the author of FranklinCovey’s Management Mess to Leadership Success: Become the Leader You Would Follow (Mango Media). He is also the co-author of The Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves A Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team, released in October 2019 (Simon & Schuster).

In his previous roles as Executive Vice President of Business Development and Chief Marketing Officer, Scott helped lead the global transformation of FranklinCovey’s brand to match the transformation of the company. Prior to that, as General Manager of Client Facilitation Services, Miller worked with thousands of clients and client facilitators in numerous markets in over thirty countries. He has presented to hundreds of audiences across every industry, and loves to share his unique journey as an unfiltered leader thriving in today’s highly filtered corporate culture.

Miller joined Covey Leadership Center in 1996 as a client partner with the Education Division, which focused on serving K-12 schools and higher education. He also served as the general manager of FranklinCovey’s Central Region for six years in Chicago

Miller began his professional career in 1992 with the Disney Development Company (the real estate development division of Walt Disney Company) as a founding member of the development team that designed the town of Celebration, Florida.

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