Episode 097 : How to Use Video to Accelerate Sales and Build a Fantastic Customer Experience with Ethan Beute

Ethan Beute is Chief Evangelist at BombBomb, coauthor of Rehumanize Your Business: How Personal Videos Accelerate Sales and Improve Customer Experience, and host of The Customer Experience Podcast. Ethan has collected and shared video success stories in a variety of formats for a decade. He’s even sent 10,000 videos himself. Prior to joining BombBomb, he spent a dozen years leading marketing teams inside local television stations in Chicago, Grand Rapids, and Colorado Springs. He holds an undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan and UCCS in communication, psychology and marketing.

Questions

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey of marketing and customer experience and how you landed at BombBomb. And of course, the book that you wrote, what inspired you to write the book and what impacts has it had on your clients and as well as non-clients?
  • Could you explain to us by when you say humanize the connection with customers using video through the services that BombBomb provides, what does that look like in reality, if I was to apply that strategy in my business, what would that look like?
  • We spoke about video and how video can definitely humanize the experience for our customers. One other thing that I’m really curious about Ethan is in the book, do you speak about how it is that you can build better relationships with your customers?
  • Can you share with us what’s the one online resource, tool, website, or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
  • Can you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read recently or maybe something that you read a very long time ago, but it still stays with you to this very day.
  • Can you share with us one thing that’s going on in your life right now, something that you’re really excited about – either something that you are working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or a saying that during times of adversity or challenge you’ll tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps to keep you refocused kind of get you back on track. Do you have one of those?

Highlights

Ethan’s Journey

Ethan shared that his story of how he arrived at BombBomb. So, as you read in the bio there, he spent a dozen years in local television and that was kind of by accident. He was at the University of Michigan, he always liked school, he was good at it, he enjoyed learning and growing and he didn’t really have any career direction.

And so, he ended up in the communication department there and wound up going back home to his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan for the summer and got an internship in television and then ended up doing that for about a dozen years. But he was bored of it, he was tired of the work, it’s highly repetitive. Television news is not a particularly interesting product after a certain amount of time. And so, he was doing all kinds of project work and he hopes some of the listeners can relate to this.

He wasn’t quite sure; he had been doing about the same work, obviously with some nuance differences, for a long time. And so he was wondering what else would he be good at? What does he enjoy doing? What skills does he have that would be transferable to someplace else? And in television, you do a lot of writing and producing and editing, so he was very comfortable with video and he had met the two co founders of BombBomb socially when he moved out to Colorado Springs.

And they were building this company from nothing. And so, he did project work with those guys for a couple of years, he wrote some email campaigns, he made a couple of videos for them, he wrote some website copy and he just really liked them, he liked what they were about. He liked the mission that they were on, he liked the purpose behind the company, which is not just to generate revenue and be financially successful. There’s a lot of purpose behind the work.

And so, he knew when they could make him a somewhat competitive offer to leave the television station that he would join them. And so he did that almost 9 years ago now. And as for the book, he was just really excited about what they were doing. He thinks he hit his sixth year full time at BombBomb.

And when he started, they maybe had 100 or 200 customers and now they have over 55,000 at the time, he thinks they had over 35,000 or 40,000, he was just really excited about how far they had come as a company and as a team and as a community of people who are being more personal and more human in their communication.

And maybe they can get into the nuance there, but just to tie it to the book; he just felt like, they’re marketing the service, they have positive word of mouth, customers that like them, really, really like them and bring more customers to them which is all any business could really ask for, is that their customers are so satisfied that they bring new customers to you willingly for no compensation.

And so, he was just excited about the growth of the community and the movement. And he felt like a book, like a traditional book would be beyond their webinars and their blog posts and their social media and some of these other things and their customer base spreading the word. He felt like a mainstream business book about this opportunity to use casual conversational unscripted videos would get the message to more people.

He knows that they will be in a better world; it’ll be a better place to live and work when more people are more personal more often in their business communication. And so, that was what motivated him to start writing. And he started writing it between 5 and 6 in the morning, on his own time and the better part of a Saturday or a Sunday, most weekends.

And then started talking about it with some of his team members, he wasn’t sure A, how to write a full length book and B, how to get it to market. So he had to work on both of those at the same time and ended up going with a pretty traditional publisher called Wiley. He had read a lot of books that they had released and he liked them. And it was a fun journey.

To the last part of the question there, one of the things he did in preparing to write the book was he re-read books written by people he knew and then asked them if they would talk about the process of writing their book and all six people he reached out to said yes. And the one theme that was very consistent for them was releasing a book will open doors that you didn’t know existed. And by that, you’re not doing it to capitalize on a particular opportunity or to create a particular outcome. It’s just that doing it will open up opportunities that you didn’t know were opportunities.

And he would say that is come to be relatively true. He thinks it’s one of the reasons they are talking today. They’ve sold a lot of copies of the book; people that he doesn’t know are reaching out to him directly by email because he included his email in the book and reach out by LinkedIn and other networks. And it’s just really neat to see the impact that it’s having on people because again, you get to be yourself more often, it’s just so wonderfully satisfying and then it builds human connection. And so, it’s been delightful to have it out in the world.

How BombBomb Uses Video to Build Relationships

Ethan stated that when he says video, he thinks a lot of people, when they think about video in a business context, they think about lights and scripts and budgets and drones and green screens and expensive equipment and all these other things. And that’s all nice if you’re using that style of video in YouTube or on your homepage or in social media or whatever, that’s fantastic and you should continue doing that.

If you’re not doing that, there’s an opportunity that every business has, that every person has. And that is to replace some of your plain typed out text, this faceless digital communication, the same black text on the same white screen that doesn’t differentiate you, it doesn’t build trust and rapport, and it doesn’t communicate nearly as well as when you jump on a video call or you jump on a Skype call or you get on the phone or you see people in person.

There are so many benefits to bringing to life your message and by using your webcam or your smartphone in a casual conversational, unscripted type of way; you can be more personal and more human more often. And so what BombBomb does, and they’re not the only company that does it, they make it really, really easy to record these video messages and send them to people typically by email.

But you can also share them through Facebook Messenger or LinkedIn Messenger. You can text the videos to people, etc. And so, when you think about video the way they think about it, they call it relationships through video and to draw a line against marketing through video. And he doesn’t mean against as in that’s not a good thing you shouldn’t do it as he already said, if you’re doing marketing through video like budgets and scripts and things, good….keep doing it.

But this relationship through video piece, it’s just about being a person instead of being a two or three paragraph block of text. And so you’re wondering maybe when would I use this, we could talk used cases for the rest of our conversation here, but he’ll just share a couple that get people’s minds going.

One of the most important things that they can do for their customers and for their employees and for their partners and suppliers and vendors and other people in their business ecosystem is to say, thank you. And so if you only used video, if you took 5 minutes every morning and you thought of two or three people, and you just said, thank you. 

“Thank you so much for filling out that survey. Thank you so much for renewing your contract. Thank you so much for taking the time to have that phone call with me. Thank you so much for spending 2 years of your career with us. Congratulations, it’s a 2 year anniversary of you being an employee on this team. You’ve grown so much. I appreciate you so much. And I look forward to what the next two years brings us.”

Ethan Beute

These kinds of things; Thank you. Good job. Congratulations. I’ve been thinking about you. I was excited to hear. I was sad to hear it. Doesn’t all have to be positive, we can just be kind of honest in relationship building with people. And so there are just countless ways to use it, you can use it to get potential customers, to set more appointments and to actually show up for those appointments. If you are presenting a contract or a proposal, you can record a video to go along with it.

So you can talk about how you structure the contract, things that typically people have questions about, if you negotiated some aspect of it, you can be sure to explain away the fact that you accommodated whatever their need or interest was.

 You can use video for on boarding new customers, you can use videos to ask for online reviews or testimonials or referrals or whatever, any message that your company is sending. Anytime you’re clicking send is an opportunity to potentially add a video to bring the message to life and to get more people to say yes, because they feel more connected to you.

Me: That’s brilliant. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that business model before. And you said you have competition in this space; there are other companies that offer the same type of service?

Ethan shared that they have a lot more competitors than they did maybe 3 or 4 years ago. The company was legally founded in 2006. He joined BombBomb full time in 2011. And so, they’ve really pioneered this space with and through and for their customers. And again, that’s kind of that excitement was what motivated him to write a book when no one was asking for it.

And it’s been interesting to see the growth of the movement, however, to your observation. It’s still relatively small, they have 55,000 or 58,000 customers, but when you start thinking about how many people use email every day in a business context, it’s tens, if not hundreds of millions of people and whether you’re in sales or you’re in customer service, or you’re in marketing, or you’re in leadership and management, if you are in administration and talent management, all of these opportunities, we’re all using email all the time.

And we could all save a little bit of time by talking instead of typing. And again, and we can be more clear because the message isn’t just plain words on a screen, it’s your face and your voice and your personality and your expertise and your sincerity and your enthusiasm and all those really rich, wonderful human qualities that just don’t come through when we strip ourselves out of our messages.

Me: That’s so true. That’s brilliant. That’s really a very unique approach. So let’s say for example, you have a client who takes up your service and they decide to humanize their messages through these videos. After they’ve made the video, is it a case where your platform now modifies the video, because as you said, you started out by saying, some people think it’s a great investment because you have to get a green screen and a professional camera and a teleprompter.

And all of that can be just so time consuming, especially if video editing and those things are not your primary core business. Let’s say your primary core business is sanitation or selling fans, but now you have to be mastering a new skill in order to be able to refine this message in a video as you said, to humanize that experience, how is it that you guys transform it? Is it that we just send a video to you as a client and then you transform it based on your platform?

BombBomb Platform Made Simple

Ethan shared that they make it really easy to record these videos. So, they have a video recorder that you can access on your phone or on your laptop. They have their own web app that you can log into @bombbomb.com and do a variety of things. They work directly on your iPhone or on your Android phone, through a mobile app. They work directly inside the Gmail inbox. They have a Google Chrome extension that allows you to record from the top of your browser. They have integrations with a number of other services like Salesforce or Zendesk, and a variety of other platforms as well.

And so, for example, he uses Gmail every day, bombbomb.com is a Google apps domain. And so, he checks his BombBomb email in Gmail. And so, when someone sends him an email and he wants to explain something back or he wants to say thank you, or he wants to get clear, or he wants to maybe record himself and his screen to give an update on a particular project or a report.

He just hit the record button directly in the composer, the reply window, it opens up the BombBomb recorder, he clicks record, and it counts him down 3, 2, 1, he starts talking to the person or the people; you can send these to more than one person. And as soon as he’s done, he hits stop. And they host the video for you automatically and securely in the cloud. They take the first 3 seconds of your video and turn it into a little animated preview.

And so, when your recipient or your recipients get your video message, it’s a little three-second animated loop that says, “Play 47 second video” but they can see you and they can see that you’re moving or that you’re talking or that you’re sharing your screen or whatever else you might be doing in the beginning of that video.

And so, they take out all the steps that would be required to try to do this yourself. A lot of people wonder like, “Hey, can I just do this myself?” And he’s like, “Yeah, you can, but it’s going to take a lot more steps.” One thing he always say they have about a thousand customers who sent 1000 or more videos themselves. He has sent more than 10,000, one of his team members has sent more than 17,000 videos, but he’ll speak to the 1000 customers of theirs who’ve each sent a thousand or more videos.

You don’t send your 1000th video, unless two things are true. One, it gets you better results than what you were doing before. You don’t do something a thousand times because it’s not helpful; you do it because it is helpful.

So, it’s a more effective way to communicate in lots of instances. And then you don’t do something a thousand times, if it’s not fast and easy to do, if it’s cumbersome, if it’s slow, you’re just not going to get there. And so, if you’re going to try to make a habit of using some kind of a recorder on your own and uploading the video to YouTube, but then marking it to private because it’s not for your channel, it’s just for these three people. And then you’re going to screenshot that video and put it in an email and link the screenshot over the YouTube video. You’re never going to do that a thousand times, there’s just too many steps.

And so, what they do for you is, they take all of the challenge away and put it in a nice little streamlined process so it’s quick and easy to do. And then they also tell you your results, they can tell you who’s opening your emails; they can tell you whose clicking your links, they can tell you who’s watching your videos, they can tell you how long your videos are being watched on average and a number of other things as well.

Me: So you provide analytics as well in addition. Almost like an email marketing platform if you were to send out an email blast.

Ethan agreed and stated that in fact, that’s kind of how they started when they started in selling the service in like 2009, 2010, at the time it was mostly essentially like a MailChimp or a Constant Contact, but designed around video with video being deeply integrated in the experience. So to your observation, which is a very smart one, they do allow you to drag and drop and make nice looking email designs. You can upload lists of people and send to some people or all of the people.

It is an email marketing platform, but where they really saw this transform people’s businesses is in this kind of lighter weight, higher volume video messaging piece. And so, they spent a lot more of their time and energy focused on kind of the quicker, lighter weight use cases than say sending out a video newsletter every month, which a lot of their customers still do, it’s very useful and they do it themselves.

Me: Very nice. Well, I think that is game changing. I don’t think I’m seeing anybody in Jamaica and I’m speaking for my local market using video the way how you have just described it and how BombBomb offers it. I think that it’s really, really good. What I see a lot of people doing, and I know video is a new buzzword for definitely for 2020, for sure, especially since the pandemic is on more social media platforms, especially LinkedIn video is a very big thing now.

Everybody is producing all of these videos; pretty much explainer video or marketing on sales videos telling you about what they do, or just free value in terms of content about sales and marketing or how you can offer better service experiences to your customers. Originally, when you said video, I wasn’t clear, I wasn’t sure if you were talking about what video from a social media marketing perspective or from an email marketing. So now that you’ve gone very granular and explained how the process works, this to me makes sense, because as you said, you really feel like the experience is more humanized when you can see and hear the person’s voice, you see their facial expression it’s different than just writing an email and it’s probably even quicker.

Ethan shared that it’s just inherent in how they approach what they do. It’s a deep part of their philosophy in addition to being part of the practice. The key to human connection is very obviously allowing other people to feel seen and heard and appreciated. This is one of our deepest needs as a human being is, “I just want to be seen and appreciated. I want to be recognized for who I am as a unique individual.”

And so, it would be difficult to write a book about the way they view business and the way that they see opportunities to take what you’re doing every day and to make it more effective by making it more personal and not have a relationship basis. They have 5 core values at BombBomb, and they’ve had them since the company was founded in the first and foremost, that underpins everything that they do is relationships.

They think that in this environment, he’ll cross over into customer experience here. In this environment that we’re in, in 2020 and different markets are different, different industries are different, but in general, it is fair to say that competition is now hyper competition that product parody or service parody is a reality that if you innovate and you create this new feature of your product or service, it’s not going to take very long for a competitor to knock that off and to make their own version of whatever this innovation is.

And so, the thing that makes you different is how you make your customers feel, it’s in the relationship that you have with them. And obviously when they’re a team of 135 people or so, and they have 55,000 customers, they don’t know every single one of their customers personally, but they all take care to get to know as many of them as they can in the course of their work, by doing customer interviews, by reading their feedback, by sending them videos.

How Ethan Interacts With His Customers

When he sees questions on social media, he will engage with those directly himself as well several of their team members. When he reads these, now he’s getting a little bit tactical here, so they use Slack at BombBomb and one of their channels inside Slack automatically ingests all of their NPS or net promoter score feedback. And of course, that’s a 10 point scale.

And so you can see the scores, but he reads all of the comments that people leave, because on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to refer BombBomb to somebody else? And then what is the reason for that? And sometimes someone will just type a couple of words, sometimes people will type two or three paragraphs, and he reads all of those. And during any given week, he’ll probably send 5 or 10 of those people a personal video just to address their problem or their question, or to say, thank you, these types of things.

And you can’t do it for everybody, it doesn’t perfectly scale, but the more attention we can pay to what our customers think and feel, and the more that we can make them feel seen and appreciated for who they are uniquely as human beings, the stronger the relationship, and therefore the stronger the company, like your company as you’re listening to this as a listener. Your company only exists really for one primary reason, which is to attract, convert and retain customers.

And it’s obviously an exchange of value as he already said; we all face more competition, no matter our business than ever before. And so the more we can take care to treat our customers and our employees for that matter by the way. A great customer experience is impossible without a great employee experience, we have to make our employees feel seen and heard and appreciated as well.

And so, we need to just take a little bit of time out of the day, and frankly, it’s a very healthy way to live, to communicate more directly, more often with the people who are key to our individual and our collective success. He’s not sure if that answered the question, but he obviously feel very strongly about these things and he appreciate the opportunity to share that.

Me: Of course. And I mean, Ethan, you hit the nail on the head when you spoke about the fact that if you’re going to have an amazing or a fantastic customer experience, it starts from within. I always tell my clients that there is a consistent feedback from customers about a bad experience, whether it is in product quality, or just how the employee deals with you or the long wait time that you have and nobody even takes the time to say, listen, “We’re working on serving you. Could you give us a few moments?” just communicating and caring to say it to people so they know what is happening every step of the way. If you’re having a consistently bad experience on the outside, we strongly believe that it’s a symptom of something that’s happening internally why the customers on the outside are feeling it.

Because the service experience starts from within, how you treat your employees, how responsive you are to their concerns, any challenges that they may be having, do you support them when they make their wins as much as you support them when things may not go well, because we’re human and yes, we’re humanizing the experience, but human beings make mistakes.

And I think how we handle and manage people making mistakes is so critical because it can either drive them into fear where they don’t want to make a mistake again and so they won’t take any risks to try and enhance the experience, or it can empower them and let them want to go above and beyond to try and serve the customer because they know that their team or their management will stand behind them when mistakes are made, once those decisions are being made in benefit of the customer.

Ethan shared that he really, really appreciate that and he agrees 100%. And he guesses the only thing he would add is that a lot of it is about managing expectations. Like being clearer, obviously with customers. Like disappointment is a function of expectation and so the more we can make clear what is a reasonable wait time?

Managing Expectations

He knows that when they were a much smaller business, they felt a lot of pressure to meet the standards of excellence. Their customer’s expectations are being set by multibillion dollar companies like Amazon and Apple, and some of these other brand names that we all go to when we think about excellent experience. And so he just wants to empathize with the small business owners who are listening and saying, “Gosh, I only have 6 employees, I can’t get back to everyone instantly.” That is perfectly okay. We just need to manage expectations.

And he thinks the more direct we are about who we are and what we’re about and how we approach things, the more clear and honest you can be with people, he thinks the more grace you buy yourself. And then, the other important side of the expectation piece is what Yanique said about employees and making sure that they feel safe making mistakes, that they feel safe taking reasonable risks because that’s what we have to do if we’re going to stand out.

And the last thing he’ll add is when someone, whether it’s an employee or it’s a customer is confused or disappointed or frustrated, we can start to feel bad about that but that’s actually a really great opportunity to deepen the relationship, to make things right, to work our way through it, or to talk our way through it, or apologize if necessary and your relationship is going to be stronger on the other side of that.

The real threat to your business is the quiet customer or the quiet employee who’s just sitting there a little bit confused, a little bit frustrated, not so frustrated or angry that they’re going to raise their voice about it and they’re just going to silently disappear one day, they’re going to stop buying, or they’re going to start looking for another job and take another job. And you never know that they were confused or frustrated or disappointed or whatever the case may be.

And that’s why we need to keep these communication channels open, make it really easy for people to share what they’re thinking and feeling and to pay attention to that feedback. It’s the worst thing you can do is to collect feedback and not pay any attention to it, because then the person feels doubly unheard, “You actually asked me for my feedback. I actually took the time to be thoughtful about my approach and you didn’t respond, you didn’t read it, you didn’t use it. You’d made no change.” And so that’s making a bad situation even worse. There are just a few cautions and thoughts around what Yanique shared there, and he really, really appreciates your valuing of internal service quality.

Me: It’s definitely one of the things that I’ve picked up over the years as a customer service trainer. One thing I’d love to get your feedback on, I got this feedback, this question from a participant in a workshop I had last week online and she asked the question, if you work in an organization where you send an email and the email that you’ve sent is asking for, let’s say an update or information that I will need in order to complete a particular task or activity to complete a project and it’s time sensitive and all of that was outlined in the email, but nobody in the department even chooses to respond to say that they knowledge the email, they’re working on gathering information or they don’t have the information, no feedback is provided.

And so, it’s almost like you have to be calling the department to find out if they got the email and then when you do call them, they say, “Oh yeah, we got the email.” And then that’s it. There’s no apology, there’s no we’re working on it. How do you adjust in an environment where people don’t give feedback in an organization and what’s the best protocol when you send an email to someone asking for something, should they respond or should they not respond?

Ethan shared that that sounds so frustrating. He’ll go back to expectation management. As a team member, we need to model the behaviour we want to see, the culture is built one decision, one behaviour at a time, and everyone is responsible for building the culture. The culture is what is normal and acceptable around here.

And so, he doesn’t think it’s acceptable personally for a team member to be in need of something, to need something from one or more other people and they can’t make any progress. And the other people don’t respect them or the work enough to respond in a timely manner. So, he just thinks that’s a bad situation, obviously.

And so, for example, a team member of theirs, he just got a new position within their company, he has a very important role. It’s very important to a lot of the work that they’re doing and he’s looking to generate some strategies there going into the third quarter that they just entered. And he specifically asked for, “I want 15 ideas to move X to Y.” and he’s asking that of everybody and then he’s going to compile it. And then they’re going to have a meeting and a discussion about it.

And he (Ethan) knew that that was going to require at least two hours of his time and he knew he got this email last Wednesday and he wanted the feedback by the end of the week. And so, he replied to him, he was like, “Rob, I think what you’re doing is really, really important. I do not have two hours between now and the end of the week but here are four or five or six things that I’m thinking about as soon as I saw your questions, these are some things I thought about.”

 So, he told him that he’s not going to honor his full request. He just can’t do it, but here are some valuable thoughts. And he was very appreciative and thankful. And so as soon as he saw it, he thought, okay, maybe he’ll look at this tomorrow and see if he can find two hours tomorrow. And then he got realistic with himself and he said, “I’m not going to have two hours tomorrow. I’m not going to have two hours this week.” And so again, managing those expectations and getting back to people right away.

The other thing he would say that he sees a lot of people miss on internally, and he could tell a story around this, but he won’t. We need to use more than one channel very often and we do need to think about these types of requests as campaigns. So if you are reaching out to 5 or 10 other team members and you need something by the end of the following week, let’s just say it’s 7 business days away.

Well, you can’t just send that one email and then just hope it happens 7 days later, you send an email that Wednesday, and then you send maybe another one on Friday or Monday, “Hey, just a quick reminder.” And then you send another one on Thursday, “Hey, just a reminder by tomorrow I need.” And for him, he would do it by email and he would probably do it by Slack as well. As you think about having multiple touches between now and the delivery of whatever’s needed, he would use what other people are giving as a way to kind of create some awareness around it too.

So it’d be like, “Hey, just a reminder. If you’re getting this email, I need X, Y, and Z by the end of the week. And here’s something that Jennifer shared with me, here’s something that Steve shared with me and I would love to know what you think too.”  So think of it as a little campaign, you can’t just send one email and expect everyone to perform because we’re all super, super busy. And so, think about using multiple communication channels and think about using some time spaced reminders to people as well.

App, Tool, Website or App that Ethan Can’t Live Without

Ethan shared that honestly, the Google Chrome extension that he uses every day from BombBomb and of course he’s a little bit biased, but again, he has tens of thousands of people who would agree with him. Just dramatically changes his relationship with his inbox, but more importantly, his relationship with the people who are in his inbox.

These messages aren’t just messages, these messages are relationships through the foundation for the relationships that makes him successful as an individual and makes them successful as a marketing team at BombBomb and makes them successful as a company and more broadly makes them successful as a community. He also will use the Chrome extension to send videos to people via LinkedIn message.

So, instead of having all these anonymous connections that they make where they maybe look at their profile the day that they connect and maybe never communicate with them again. He has been taking care to record short personal videos for people to thank them, to introduce a couple things he likes to talk about and communicate about.

And the nature of the conversations that he’s enjoying with his new connections bring the network to life in such a more meaningful way than just this kind of collection of people who’ve clicked, he accepts. It just really closes the world down and people all over the world.

And so, it’s really interesting and exciting. And not every relationship becomes amazing but it certainly increases the odds of it right out of the gate. And so, he thinks again, being himself and being accepted and engaged with for who he is as a person and as a professional is satisfying for him, but it also lets other people feel like they’re being seen and heard as well. It’s just really wonderful.

Me: Brilliant. It’s funny you said you use it for LinkedIn because I recently connected with a gentleman from Trinidad and I remember when I accepted the invitation, he sent me a video, it was very personalized. “Hey Yanique, great to connect with you. Just wanted to hop on and find out how your Sunday’s going.” And I was like, “Wow” it really wowed me because I’ve connected with lots of people on LinkedIn and most of them are very spammy.

Off the bat they start telling you about what they’re and no interest in whether or not I’m even interested in their product or service but it wasn’t about sales. And the fact that he sent it in the form of a video, it seemed like he just recorded it like on the front porch of his house, it was a Sunday morning, the street was like in his background. I thought it was really authentic and it was very human because he clearly would be doing that on a Sunday morning, it didn’t seem like it was staged or it was put on, it was just very authentic and I was very impressed. It was very interesting. So, I think video for sure can definitely help to enhance those types of experiences.

Books that Have Impacted Ethan

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Ethan shared that these may be a little bit atypical, but the first book that comes to mind when you ask that question is a book called The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability (Collins Business Essentials) by Paul Hawken. And he picked it up at a used bookstore sometime in the mid to late 90s. He was a very young person and it was very impactful on him. It’s essentially about the intersection, obviously of the economy and ecology in general and some of the choices that we’re making as customers, but also as businesses, how they affect the natural environment.

And it was impossible for him to read that book and see the world the same way. And he has read it several times now and it’s just a fantastic read. And, so again, that’s The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken.

The other one that comes to mind, well, two of them from Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. The first one is called Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard. And the thing that he really likes about that one, there’s a section in there called philosophies where he talks about like breaks down the approach to various important aspects of a business, that is just a fantastic section of the book.

There’s also some company history in there, but at a high level, one of the things he really, really enjoyed about it is that he didn’t start the company intending to be, at this point, he got to imagine he’s a multimillionaire, it’s been such a successful brand, and it really lead the way in environmental stewardship in a lot of cases.

He was not trying to start a business, he was just trying to fund his hobby of rock climbing and surfing. So, he (Ethan) would imagine that all of the people that are listening to this conversation right now, that there are people that started the business that they’re running because they just didn’t know any other way. Like, this is just what I’m supposed to do. This is what I have to do. This is who I am. This is what I need to do. And he thinks a lot of people will find themselves, A, picking up some good ideas, particularly out of that philosophy section, but B, just identifying with this guy who through the natural, normal course of events, just found himself running a business based on his personal passion which is always inspiring.

What Ethan is Really Excited About

Ethan shared that he’s constantly reading and listening to podcasts. And so, when he thinks about something really exciting, so he married, he has been married for many years. They have a teenage son who is starting to look at colleges and universities because he’s entering his senior year of high school right now.

And so, it’s just a really interesting phase of his life and their lives and it’s just interesting to think about this person who not that long ago was a toddler, is now on the verge of really launching off into his own decisions and his own life and becoming a more fully realized person with more independence. And that whole process is just so challenging and exciting and scary and curious and joyful and nerve wracking. And so, we’ve been spending a lot of time on that.

Me: So, that’s an exciting thing to be working through. I guess I’ll be there with you in a few years. My daughter’s 14 going on 15. So, I suppose in another year or two, I’ll be where you are. I do look at her every day and I’m like, “I wonder, could I just get her back as a toddler just for like a day.” Because I miss her at that age.

When she was younger, people would said to me all the time, “Enjoy her because the time goes by so quickly.” And you take it for granted because you’re in that moment and you’re thinking, “Oh, the time is not going by quickly. She’s doing this, she’s doing that, she can’t stop moving up and down.” And it does go by quickly because she’s now 14 going on 15 and I would give anything to have her back as a toddler, even just for a day.

Ethan agreed and shared that there’s so much that we take for granted and that certainly is one of them. And it’s interesting, everyone’s going to give that caution, the same advice that you got was the same advice that they got as young parents. And so, everyone says it and he would just flip it now just to tie it back into the theme of the conversation here today is, it’s really easy to look at your business as a set of numbers but those numbers are just the scoreboard, they’re the outcome of the decisions that we’re making every single day and the relationships that we’re building every single day and the people that we’re serving every single day.

And hopefully, depending on the nature of your business, you are transforming people’s lives, in some cases it might be a very small transformation, but it brings a sense of ease or allows people to do something a little bit more quickly or resolves a particular pain point or frustration for them. And so, the work that you’re doing really, really matters, and if you’re serving meals to people as a restaurant or something else, there are people behind every number and no matter what you’re looking at, there are people behind the numbers and the numbers are just collections and representations of the decisions that we’re making every day and the people that we’re serving every day. So we can’t lose sight of that either.

Where You Can Find Ethan Online

  • Ethan shared listeners can find him at –

Email – ethan@bombbomb.com

LinkedIn – @ethanbeute

www.bombbomb.com

www.bombbomb.com/book

www.bombbomb.com/podcast

Quote or Saying Ethan Uses During Adversity or Obstacles

When asked about a quote or saying that helps him refocus, Ethan shared that he doesn’t but the one thing he’ll offer is that, “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.” The worst you’re ever going to hear from anyone in any circumstance is no. The more comfortable you can get with that, the better. There is a humility often times required in asking for help or asking for a favor. And frankly, again, just to go to the relationship piece, people like to help other people. And he thinks to the degree that it’s a reasonable ask, most people will say yes, most of the time. He has been shocked at how many times people have said yes.

And so, if you find yourself in this time of the pandemic, whether it’s a personal feeling or whether it’s a professional challenge, a business challenge or whatever, don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask for help even if it’s just for a second opinion or a thought or a conversation, people want to help each other. And there’s something very honest in humbling of you to make that ask of other people and to reveal that you do need or want some help. And he thinks it draws us closer together.

Me: That’s a very good point. It’s funny you say that because it’s one of the things that I encourage my daughter to do. Generally speaking, I find that in a learning environment you’ll have people who may want to ask a question, or even in a business meeting, you may have a staff meeting and you can share with me if you think this is something that’s common.

But people will sit down in a meeting and you’ll get to the section of Q and A. And they’ll say, guys, any questions and it’s not until one person, brave person, courageous person raises their hand and asks a question. It’s not that 5 or 10 other people didn’t have the same question or similar, but nobody was brave enough to kind of take that first step to ask the question.

And so, even with my daughter, from she was younger, I always say to her, no question is stupid and you should always ask the question because somebody else in the class is going to benefit from you asking that question. And I’ve proven it time and time again with my own activities when I attend programs, or if I attend a meeting. I don’t know why it prevents them, if they’re fearful or what exactly, but you’re right. You you’ll never know unless you ask, you have to put yourself out there.

Ethan shared that he completely agrees. There is no bad question and really, especially if someone has presented information to ask a question, even if it feels to you like a dumb question, like you should have gotten the answer by listening, it gives the person another chance to double down on what they obviously are excited about and have invested a lot of time and energy.

And if someone is presenting information or a short presentation or whatever, people love questions about the work that they do, and it shows that you have a level of interest in addition to whatever else you learn, it shows some respect and it puts the presenter or the person answering the questions in a position that they generally like to be in.

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