On Being Johnny Cash

From my May column for the Kitsap Business Journal…

Last month, I was in Bogotá, Colombia, to speak at a conference. I stayed an extra week to visit with family, as I am half-Colombian on my mother’s side. I have five aunts still living and scads of cousins. It’s always a joy to mix business with pleasure, especially in such a cool city as Bogotá.

I was sitting with my aunt and two cousins on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in her living room that overlooked the mountains in the distance. The view was spectacular and I had that feeling of being a continent away from my normal world. That changed suddenly when the radio station we were listening to made a switch in programming from its Latin music to one I was very familiar with. As I was absorbing the ambiance of the classic South American city, I recognized the unmistakable dulcet tones of … Johnny Cash. I literally did a double take. Here I was in Bogotá and the voice coming from the radio was a legendary American country artist. I might as well have been perched in Nashville.

It doesn’t matter your age, the area you live in, or your taste in music. If you’re an American over about 20 years old, you know the name and the sound of Johnny Cash. Although he passed over a decade ago, Johnny Cash developed a symbol so powerful, that millions of Americans can picture him in their mind by just listening to his music. Now that’s brand.

When I say Johnny Cash, you probably picture the ruggedly handsome man in black, with wavy jet-black hair and a guitar slung over his shoulder. You hear the deep, rich, baritone voice with a slight twang that drips with heart and soul.

How badly would you like to create a brand like that for your business?

If you’re smart, then pretty badly! We all want to be “top of mind” when it comes to our profession, whether we offer a product or service. The question becomes, how can we become like Johnny Cash?

Without belting out a rendition of “A Boy Named Sue,” I’ll share with you my five strategies and tactics to Being Johnny Cash …

1. Create a Look.  Johnny Cash was “the man in black.” Heck, he had a song by the same title. He became synonymous with the bad boy image of his time by always being dressed head to toe in black. What “look” can you create through consistency? Consistency in marketing is critical. It includes your logo, your signage, your documents, your letterhead, and your social media presence. When people see your work, they should immediately be able to identify you.

2. Create a Sound. Johnny Cash’s voice is so unique, once you’ve heard it, you will always recognize it. How are your products or services unique? What separates you from your competition? If you aren’t unique and an object of interest, why would anyone do business with you over someone else? Cash’s voice drew people in. How does your exclusivity and image of difference do the same?

3. Create a Following. Johnny Cash certainly wasn’t the only country-western singer of his time, yet he created an immense following of loyal fans. Do you have that? What kind of a business community are you building? What value are you providing so that people will follow your writings; listen to your speeches; buy your products at any cost; or seek you out because of the experience of others? Entertainers are skilled at creating “groupies.” Maybe you need some, too.

4. Create a swagger. JC was one of the original entertainers with “swag.” The term swag comes from the hip hop music industry and means superlative style. JC had superlative style based on the machismo that he exuded. Do you have swag in your persona? Now, I’m not talking arrogance; rather a powerful self-confidence. If you don’t have supreme confidence in your ability to help others with your products and services, then why should they? The first sale is to yourself, and you need to buy in big-time.

5. The Music. Johnny Cash reached into people’s souls with his music. It was often describing pain, sorrow and loss that his audience could identify with. He also sang with humor to lift spirits. What’s your message? Don’t have one? You’d better get one then, and a good one. Your message is about how you improve the conditions and lives of others, and you’d better “sing” it in a way that causes an emotional response. Logic makes people think; emotion makes them act. Too often, business people like to express themselves logically, and lose the attention of their audience because they couldn’t uncover the emotion.

Bottom line — People of all types are hugely successful in this world when they have a consistent message that engages the masses and do it in a confident manner that touches people’s emotions. Johnny Cash did that. So did Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and Mark Zuckerberg. If you’re not doing it, you must start. Take a look at my list and start moving boldly forward. If you are doing it then keep learning, growing, and developing your brand so one day, you will be as legendary in your world as Johnny Cash is in his.

14_02_DanCapJackRetouch_001Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps business leaders and executives to become stronger leaders, grow their businesses, and enrich their lives.  He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-697-1058; e-mail at dan@danweedin.com or visit his website at www.DanWeedin.com.

 

Extra Points – What’s On Your Menu?

What’s On Your Menu14_02_DanCapJackRetouch_001

Last week I ate at an eclectic Mexican restaurant in Bogotá, Colombia as a guest of my cousins. This little joint was down a dark street just off downtown, yet once you entered, it was marvelous. Five tables, no menu. That’s right…small and you have no idea what you’re going to eat or how much it will cost. In better terms, exclusive and unique.


The chef prepares the menu daily based on her whims, the freshness, and anything else that strikes her fancy. Every table and gust that night gets the same 6 courses (tapas style) to share. No menu and no dollar amounts. You’re going on blind faith. And, it works. The uniqueness of the concept; the terrific food; and the richness of the experience keeps that place packed and popular.

Can you say the same thing about your business or career?

What makes you unique that others want to sample your work? Have you become an object of interest? Do you get referred to others becasue you do things differently? Does price even matter for your prospects and clients?

Counter to what many think, being different, unique, and out of the box is a good thing. Delivering quality work and outstanding value puts you over the top. Doing both over time will catapult you to being considered a “destination” professional, just like my little Mexican restaurant in downtown Bogotá.

What’s on your menu tonight?

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

This week’s quote – 

“I want my food dead. Not sick. Not dying. Dead.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Join my new weekly  Unleashed Google ON AIR Hangout today at 12 pm PST / 3:00 PM EST. This will be our topic of discussion. It’s free, it’s cool; and your invited. Come join us and bring your questions and observations. 

 

 

My Interview on Colombian Television

Okay…let’s be clear. My Spanish needs some work and I might have been a little over my head in trying to use it as much as I did. But, it’s about being Unleashed, right?

I had the opportunity to be interviewed about my new book, Unleashed on a morning program called La Manaña in Bogotá, Colombia last week. My friend Maritza Castro and her co-host Luciana Martin were very kind in inviting me and being very patient. I brought my wonderful cousin, Maria Alejandra with me for translation support. My goal was to do as much in Spanish as possible, yet I realized early on that they talk really fast and I think in Spanish way too slow. In the end, a caller wanted one of my books and the producer said their were many requests. At first I thought the caller might be my aunt, but upon listening to the voice later, I think it was legit!

Here’s the lesson we can all take away. Although far from flawless, I tried my best to speak in Spanish. I didn’t let fear of looking foolish stop me. I figured, if I am terrible, then I was terrible in another country. The upside far outweighed the downside. Turned out pretty well overall. They were happy and I have a story. And Captain Jack is now known in another continent. He’s happy.

Don’t succumb to fear. Try something new, do your best, and be satisfied. Poke fun at yourself and laugh. In the end, in order to be unleashed, you need to take some risks.

Here is the complete video of my interview (15 minutes). As you can see, I’m surrounded by pretty women so I had that going for me, too!

 

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Home, Sweet Home

Back from a great trip to Bogotá, Colombia where I gave a speech at a conference and visited family. After missing a connection in Houston coming home last night (and painfully watched my plane back out of the garage without me on it) due to extra long lines in customs (a blog is coming – believe me), I arrived completely back home at 1:30 AM. All in all a terrific trip. I thought I’d share a few photos with you…

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© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Sometimes You Just Need a Paperclip

So I’m in Bogotá, Colombia to speak at the 2014 Latin American Distribution seminar. As is my custom when traveling, I bring one black suit with multiple shirts. That is always good enough for a 2-day conference. As I’m preparing to go to breakfast, a terrible thing happens. I realize my zipper tag is missing. Gone. These slacks are fresh from the dry cleaners so I’m figuring it’s lying on their floor somewhere. Does me no good now.

I’m an expert in crisis planning and I think I’m in good shape. I find the sewing kit nice hotels always have and grab the safety pin. Too small. It wouldn’t stay affixed moving it up and down. Now I panic.

Good thing I have my own expert. I text my lovely and talented wife, Barb. (Actually to be candid, we already had been talking…the safety pin was her idea. You think I knew this myself?) She says go to front desk and get a paper clip. I went and got three of them (insurance in case I mutilated one or two in the process). It worked on the first try! I was very proud of myself and this newfound skill. The part that keeps me humble is that I would have never gotten their without Barb’s help. As she texted me back, we make a great team.

Where or who is your crisis expert? Where do you turn when your business has an unexpected “zipper malfunction?” Let’s face it, crisis happens all the time and it rarely sends a warning. You need both internal and external experts to keep you calm, give you guidance, and help you respond well. And, you need them in place BEFORE the crisis. Otherwise, the chaos increases. My personal crisis expert is a continent away as we speak, yet I was able to access her. Can you say the same?

Copyright 2014 Dan Weedin. All rights reserved

New Video

Many thanks to Matt Biondi from BiondiMedia for creating this new video on my business. Video is a great way to engage your readers of your web site, blog, or other promotional pieces. It doesn’t matter what your industry is, video can be a terrific part of creating a marketing presence and brand.

Check mine out an let me know what you think!

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

New Spanish Page on Blog

I’m very pleased to introduce a new section on this blog…in Spanish.

This section will continue to evolve and build. If you know anyone that can benefit from my work that needs to speak in Spanish, please share it with them. In the coming months, I will be adding the audio from a recent interview I did with Radio Carocal out of Bogot, Colombia.

This video is the introduction of me in Spanish. Many thanks to my friend and colleague, Maritza Castro for helping me with it.

Muchas Gracias!

 

P.S. I would be remiss not to mention my friend and colleague Elena Rodriguez Brenna who transcribed for me…thanks Elena!

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Crisis Response to Tragedy

There was a terrible tragedy at a construction site in Seattle yesterday morning. A construction worker was killed on the job site Details are limited, but the reality is that a life was lost and it affects a great number of people ranging from family, friends, and co-workers.

Last month, when I was in Bogotá, Colombia at the Occupational Health and Safety Summit, I discussed how management’s response to crisis has a trickle-down effect on the entire organization. I have never been a part of an organization who has lost an employee, while at work. However, I can imagine the impact. Just a few months ago, a member of our Rotary Club and a friend died at his business from a massive heart attack. His employees tried to save him, to no avail. Now you have a crisis and the leader is gone.

These two examples lead me to pose some questions to you…

  1. How do you respond to a tragedy like a death of one of your employees? Who is in charge of reaching out to employees, family, and the media? Has this person (who now becomes the face of the business) been trained in speaking and able to empathetically respond to hard questions while emotions are high? This isn’t easy in any way and going out there cold without any training or practice can be overwhelming. Not only is it difficult for the spokesperson, the opportunity to not deliver a message that should be is high. The solution is simple. Whoever is designated the spokesperson for the organization needs to have at least some training in communications; how to deliver a message; be empathetic; and be able to deal with the media. This takes practice and role-playing and should not wait until the event happens. This type of “on the job” training is dangerous.
  2. What kind of services do you have ready for your employees. Grief and shock follow tragedies like this. What can you do to alleviate that grief, anxiety, and sadness? You can’t take it all away, but you can provide help to your people. Solution – be proactive. Have a name of a group or service that provides grief counseling and develop a relationship. You hope you will never have to use them, but the reality is at some level you might. If you already have a relationship, understand their role, and have them on call when you need them, the results will be quicker and better service for your employees, which leads to improved morale and a quicker return to work. That and you’ve helped them immeasurably deal with a terrible situation.
  3. What if it’s you? What if like my friend you are the one carted away in the big red truck? Who is in line to take your spot? These are important questions…do you have answers? I understand these aren’t “fun” topics to discuss, but the continuation of your business if you become disabled or unable to work either temporarily or permanently is important. Solution – Determine your plan of succession and communicate it. People need to know the world won’t implode if you’re not there. They need assurance and a plan. Make sure everyone is on the same page and then fund it with insurance so it doesn’t become a financial burden.

Unfortunately, tragedy at work happens. It just happened in a big way here in Seattle. Not being prepared as an organization to deal with it is negligent. Your employees, their families, the community, and your supply chain deserve it.

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved