Brian Fanzo: Community
Damn I love me some Fanzo!! Brian is a brilliant human, a great friend and an ambassador for all things digital. We have spoken at the same event a few times, we have hung out in far too many bars and my goodness, this man speaks faster than even me! Often quizzed on branding, digital marketing, live-streaming and millennials I figured it would make sense to talk about something completely different… In Episode 3 I talk to Brian Fanzo who shares his insight into the word “Community” and I know I shouldn’t say it, but this is possibly my favourite episode so far!!! Listen in on our conversation and enjoy being a fly on the wall to our discussion. Want to know more about the Legend that is Brian Fanzo – visit www.isocialfanz.com.
The full transcript
Phil Jones: Hello again, and here we are for another episode of “Words With Friends”, and this time, I have my good friend Brian Fanzo. And Brian, we’re going to be talking about a new word, which I’m going to throw to you in a second. Brian, the word we’re going to be talking about is “community”. So, Brian, welcome.
Brian Fanzo: Oh, thanks for having me. I’m excited, I get to find out the new word live on air, I love it. “Community” sounds good to me. Let’s do this.
Phil Jones: Well, I think it’s more of a fun way to be able to go; I like to be able to throw my friends under the bus to kick a conversation through, and the general rules for “Words With Friends” are thus: one is you have to be one of my friends, and two is I pick the word. So . . . .
Brian Fanzo: If I qualify as one of your friends, you can probably see your books over my shoulder. Actually this past week, I gave out four of your books on the road. I wouldn’t say I’m paying for that friendship, but I’m glad to make it happen.
Phil Jones: Awesome. Well, Brian, thank you for your continued friendship and support in the business world, and I know that we bump into each other a lot on the road, which is fun, and now we know each other. But we’re part of communities, our communities overlap in a variety of different ways, but help me understand this. From Brian Fanzo’s point of view, what does the word “community” mean to you?
Brian Fanzo: Community to me, this is an interesting evolution of the word, because I think community also, for the longest time, especially growing up pre-digital, meant the people around you that shared your interests, but they were the people around you. I think when I look at community now, I look at people that share a common purpose, and have a passion to get themselves to that purpose. I don’t think of it as… I like to think of a network as different than a community.
A community are people coming together because they have a shared purpose and passion, and therefore their bond is the purpose. When you have a network, a network is people that are coming together because people invite the people. So I think of a network as Facebook. How do I become a friend on Facebook? It’s a friend of a friend request. When a community is really, “Hey, we are all here because of a movement. We are all here because we’re passionate about…” it could be anything. Underwater basket weaving can be our passion. But it’s people coming together around underwater basket weaving, rather than coming together because they’re invited by an individual person.
Phil Jones: Okay. But is it the common interest that creates the community?
Brian Fanzo: No, I think the common interest is the glue of the community. I think what creates that community is the movement. Is being able to come together to accomplish something. I think as humans, and I say this all the time, I think we are greater than me. The idea that we’ve realized for the longest time, that individually we can do certain things, but together we can do amazing things. I think we innately want to be a part of something, and communities are built… that passion is the glue or the purpose is the glue, but it does take leadership, it does take people coming together around that. It can’t just be about that certain thing, and not having people leading the charge.
Phil Jones: Okay. So, what you’re saying here is it’s like let’s create a common interest, that even if we go back in time, the common interest would be “We all live on the same four streets, and we can see each other on a regular basis.” That might have been the common interest to build a community, but now a community could be underwater basket weaving, it could be professional speakers, it could be a love of baseball.
Brian Fanzo: Correct. Without question.
Phil Jones: Okay. Now, is this really just as simple as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in this requirement for belonging? Is that something that creates the continued fuel towards community, or is it different to that?
Brian Fanzo: I think it’s different than that. It’s interesting. I just got off Father’s Day weekend here, and my dad has always preached that family is number one. And we believe, so many people are built in that innate thing, but the interesting thing about family is that we don’t get to pick our family. Our family is who we are born into or thrown into that mix, and I think what community is, is community allows you to be around people that share your interests, and ultimately, I think the most powerful communities are the ones that feel like family, and they’re even sometimes stronger than family, which might sound a little bit controversial, but it’s because people are opting to be a part of it. They aren’t a part of it because they have to, they’re a part of it because they believe in the mission.
I think that, and like you said, it could be the people that you just happen to be around and you live around, or it could be because you’re going to solve this problem. You want to stop childhood hunger in America, and everybody joins a community that is enabling the solving of this massive problem. But I think it’s because we have this desire and need, not only to be with people, but community allows us to pick the people that we are associated with.
Phil Jones: Okay. Now, if we think about historic times, where that community had constraints or boundaries on it, with geographic constraints, what you can get to, what you can reach, what you actually had transparency towards, when you compare that to now, where our ability to be part of communities is so abundant, and as time goes on we find ourselves being part of them, what kind of challenges does this cause in the modern world?
Brian Fanzo: I think one of the biggest challenges, and I love the way you phrased that question, is that it’s this idea that before, and I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I remember my access to the world was very limited. It was my friends and family in Pittsburgh, and then we went on vacation to the beach. That was my exposure to what other people were doing. And I think one of the biggest issues or problems ends up being the whole grass is greener kind of mentality, because not only are you able to be a part of any community, you’re not limited by resume, geographic location, even how much money you make, ultimately an internet connection or a cell phone allows you to be connected to a community tool or resource, but I think that also poses lots of questions on one of the powers behind community, is exclusivity.
Exclusivity is important because a community isn’t everyone. A community is people that are sharing a purpose and passion, but if everyone has the access to join, you’re now figuring out “Well, how do I limit access?” Or “How do I help connect with the right people?” Because exclusivity doesn’t mean it’s me or them, but exclusivity’s extremely important for the power of community, and I think as we look in this digital world, now, exclusivity is a little bit harder to maintain and keep up. I know, even the two of us are part of a couple really strong communities, but one of the things I always worry about with a great strong community is “How do you scale it? How do you grow it without losing that core functionality and ability that these different communities have?” I think that is even more of a struggle today than it was in the past, because at some point you got to a limitation of who was around you or who was moving.
Even my dad, I remember my dad saying that… I asked him a simple question this past weekend. I said “Why were you so involved in the community baseball team?” And he was like “Well, until we had more people that moved into the area that had experience coaching baseball, I had no other option.” He ended up being a community leader by default, because there wasn’t enough access to other people, where, oftentimes today people are fighting for your job or thinking they can do it better than you on an everyday basis, sometimes every hour basis, which definitely is something that, I think, makes community leadership an even stronger, powerful position.
But it’s a hard thing to do in today’s times.
Phil Jones: There’s a beautiful point that you made in that statement you made about your father there, about he stepped up into the role of being able to lead the community baseball team because there was nobody better. And I think there’s something fun in that, to help realize that if somebody better showed up, what would your dad have done?
Brian Fanzo: Oh, he would have taken a step back. I think my dad would have… and my dad is also one that enjoys leading from behind as much as he does from the front. I think this is a sign of great leaders, especially in communities, is that I think people can bring it to a certain level, and then when they allow other people to join, it takes it to the next level. I think oftentimes communities, what limits communities, especially today, is if a leader doesn’t believe in the ability of allowing other people to lead when it makes the most sense.
I know my dad, and my dad would have been one of those ones that would’ve worked with that person to the point where it’s said “Okay, let me hand you over the keys. I will still be a part of it, but let’s see where you can take this, as I’ve taken it to a certain level already.”
Phil Jones: Okay. I see a lot of motivation right now towards communities being built for perhaps the wrong reasons. It’s been talked about as a buzzword within the digital marketing space of “Build your community, build your tribe.” And then you can sell to them. It’s being talked about a lot, and actually it’s even being encouraged as a general marketing strategy, to be able to monetize expertise. What does Brian Fanzo think about all that stuff?
Brian Fanzo: I think community for the idea of marketing and sales isn’t a community. I think that’s a group of people that you are wrangling together to achieve your own business goal. And this is that weird spot where a community… I think great marketers and salespeople can rally people around a certain cause and mission, and it becomes a community that they can lead, but I think creating a community or even… one of my good buddies, Tim McDonald, he’s someone I always looked at as a great community leader, he always said that communities are never built. Communities come together and start to establish themselves, and then leaders start to take them to a next level.
I think, when we’re looking at it from a brand perspective… and this is something I always ask in everything that I do, is when someone comes to me, and this happens actually fairly regularly, is that they will say “Brian, I want to build a community and I want to build it between- I want millennial gen-z’s in this community, and I want all these people that are talking about, let’s just say, power bricks for mobile phones. I want to create a community around that.” And I ask them, and this is a simple question, I say “What does success of this community look like?” And if that success is some arbitrary number of sales, or influence or marketing number, or an affiliate link, that’s not a community.
They’re not building a community, they’re just trying to build a group. If you look at, oftentimes, what Simon Sinek did with “Why” and then if you look what Seth Godin did with “Tribes”, I think oftentimes some people separate those two. And if your tribe or community doesn’t have a “why”, it will not succeed in the long term. I think that, to me, is a failure. This is the other part that I think brands forget, is that being a part of another community, and helping make that community even be more successful, is just as powerful as creating your own community.
This is that weird world where we see lots of great communities, and we say “Well, I need my own.” Well, I challenge that oftentimes. “Do you need your own, or can you be an active participant in another community, make that community more successful, and ultimately have more light shined on yourself than if you had to wrangle everybody to your own community?” Because I think this is that weird world where marketers have ruined content, and marketers have ruined community.
We’re just doing content for content’s sake, and we’re creating community groups because someone told us we need a community, and if we don’t have a community… and I’m one of those ones, I’m onstage saying “Community is the future of business.” But I don’t believe that it has to be your own individual community. I do believe you have to invest in community to be successful in business moving forward.
Phil Jones: So what are some examples that you’ve seen people do this disastrously wrong? People have actively gone to purposefully build a community, and maybe it’s been, through your lens, a disaster?
Brian Fanzo: I think one of the examples that, and I will leave the product name off, but it was a community group that they built to launch a new product, and for me, the original part of the group wasn’t to launch the new product, it was for beta testing, for feedback on the product, and all of these launch things, and I thought it was amazing, because they were allowing people inside the walls, and this is a very large company, to review a product.
They sent free stuff out there, and it was everyone coming together because we cared about making this product better, but eventually, as the group started to be really vibrant, and started to get some really interesting information, I felt as though there was someone that had that really bad ROI hammer, and went to that leader and said “Well, what’s the ROI of this?” And all of a sudden, they started dropping tracking links, and “Don’t share or talk about this group unless you’re linking them back to our website.” And all of a sudden, the group went to, “How do we bring people together that care about a certain product?” To “How do we enable these people that we happened to capture their attention of, and get them to do something that we can track ROI to prove to our boss?”
That was one that I went from being a very active member, to being a member that was unfortunately, kind of jaded, and it’s not even a product that I use anymore. That’s how far it fell from . . . .
Phil Jones: Wow . . . Let’s flip that around, then. What about the other side of that coin? What are the things that you’ve seen that people have done things for the right reasons and it’s maybe gone on to be bigger than anything they could have imagined?
Brian Fanzo: I would say, one for me personally, and it’s No Kid Hungry. No Kid Hungry is a mission to solve childhood hunger in America, and what they did is they started to build a community around people that had kids, people that were… we did the ice bucket challenge back… but what they were ultimately doing, was they were starting to team up with brands that also care about school lunches and brands that care about healthy nutritional options for kids. And all of these things just started growing, and the nice part about this community is that it had multiple different leaders, multiple different facets, and they also did an amazing job of diversifying the leadership.
What they ended up doing, and I’m on the social council there, so in full transparency, I’m part of the social council, I’ve been a part of it for about 3 years, but they came to me and said “Brian, we want to get your advice and inspiration, and we want to bring you a part of this community as a leader, but more so than that, we want you to be an active member of this community.” And I can tell you, it’s something I’m an active member of on a regular basis, and I’m a part of… there’s so many great leaders I’m also associated with, but the underlying mission is that I’m a dad of 3 girls, I also believe that everyone should have the ability to have access to food, especially in America. We claim to be such a world power, yet so many kids can’t figure out where their next meal is coming from.
These are things, and this group has come together… it’s amazing. They also really understand the importance of when is a good time to make an ask? Which I know is something for you. They only ask for donations one time a year. They are very strategic with when they tap into this community to achieve something, so the rest of the time, it truly is about community and the people and the stories. And because of that, and this is something I think every community could learn from, is that you must not only manage expectations of your community, but don’t be afraid to put things out there and say “Hey, for 364 days of the year, this is what we are about. This is what we’re doing. But there is that one day that we’re going to make an ask, and you’re going to commit to doing these things.”
I’ve done an 8 hour live stream on Facebook live for them on that one day. But for me, what I was able to gain through those 364 days, made giving up that one day for myself without… was the easiest ask they could’ve made. I think it’s also because those expectations are set from the beginning. I think that community is a great one that really jumps out at me.
And then one that I don’t belong to myself, but one that I think is really powerful, there’s one called We Are Cisco, which is from Cisco the networking enterprise technology company. What they’ve done, is they built a community externally facing around their employees. So it’s a social brand. But what they do is they allow their employees to take over their social accounts, but they do a lot of social good with the idea of highlighting their great employees.
Now, the byproduct of this, is they get a lot more applications, and people understand their culture of their company, but the community itself, when they do outreach or they volunteer at the food bank, these are people that love it, and are part of it because they believe We Are Cisco as a mission is highlighting the great people there together. I think that’s another one of those communities that really stands out to me as having a greater mission, but also achieving some business goals along the way, which I think is that rare combination.
Phil Jones: Okay. So, you’re almost caught doing good stuff when nobody’s looking.
Brian Fanzo: Yes.
Phil Jones: But there’s always somebody looking. But you’re not doing it for the purpose of the attention, you’re doing it for the purpose of the purpose.
I’m also reading into the way that you have a take on this, which I really like, is that you don’t lead a community, you serve a community.
Brian Fanzo: Without question.
Phil Jones: And that means that there is leadership in abundance, as opposed to people looking in one direction for somebody to. And you don’t join a community, you give to a community.
Brian Fanzo: Without question. I think also, not only do you give, but you give without expectations. And I think this is that interesting balance. I talk a lot about mentorship and leadership, and I think with mentorship, one of the hardest things to remember is that a great mentorship relationship oftentimes is mutually beneficial. I think a community is the same way. If you’re not getting out what you put into the community, it’s hard to feel that community love, but I think for a community, you have to start giving first before you take.
If it’s something that you’re going in and saying “How do I get something out of this?” I don’t believe that community is right for you. When a community says “Wow, how do I serve this? How do I help them achieve this?” Then the byproduct is all these things on the end, that is where that magic happens. But community definitely starts with giving first, without that expectation of needing to get something out of it immediately.
Phil Jones: Gotcba. One of the things that I see with that give first mentality, is often that people show up in a community feeling like they want to be a part of it, and they want some of the spotlight to be shined on them. So it becomes an opportunity to contribute, and they turn that into “I know best.” And they turn that into an advice giving moment, or “Here’s another teachable moment, where let me tell you how things could be done differently, or what you should be doing here, or what you could be doing there.” Is that something you witness, too?
Brian Fanzo: Without question. That’s one of the things where I like to read into what people say, or what they don’t say, and part of that ends up being, if they’re telling people what to do when they join a community, that’s not the right start. If they’re starting to share and saying “Hey, we can do this better.” That using “we” vs “you”, or “we” vs “I”. Those are things that we see, I think, too often.
I also think there’s an element of community, like a relationship, is a long-term play. And yes, oftentimes, I think great communities do, when you jump in there, you take a little bit of the limelight, you oftentimes are going to try to share and set where your feet are, but I think those that are meant to be part of that community will continue to figure out where their feet are over a long term.
Some people will come in, splash, think that they can get that short-term ROI or that short-term return, or as soon as they don’t get something immediate feedback or immediate return, they’re kind of like “Well, I’ll shift my focus to a new community.” And I think that’s also one of the… your first question, a danger today, is that before, we were limited by the amount of communities that we even had the ability to join. And now, I feel like the opportunities to join communities are everywhere. It’s now up to us, even more so in the community, the person that is in the community, that’s growing it, to select the right community.
And selecting that right community might mean you test out 5 or 6, and one of them is a great fit, or you test out 5 or 6 and 5 of them are a great fit, and then you have to figure out where you prioritize. I think that’s also one of the struggles that nobody comes out of college and understands how to prioritize their time within a community, but yet we’ve all been told that we need to surround ourselves with people that make us better, and we are the byproduct of the 5 people that we keep closest to us. But yet, how do we find those 5 people? How do we prioritize our time with a lot of those things?
I think this is also where marketers have done it fairly well. Where they create a lot of products, podcasts, and shows, that aren’t direct ROI plays, but they are plays that allow them to tell a story or convey a message, or establish though leadership. The question becomes, how do you take that and foster a community, vs take that and try to manufacture some group of people that you can move in a certain direction?
Phil Jones: Got you. I’m learning something here in talking to you right now. You end up having a relationship with the community.
Brian Fanzo: You do.
Phil Jones: In terms of thinking about a word, thinking about the good ones that I’ve been involved in, and the ones that you’ve gone through lumps and bumps with, you’ve overcome some adversity with, you’ve been around for long enough to be able to both enjoy some of the highs and understand the backstory that sits behind things, too. If I’m bumping into a new community for the first time that I think I want to be a part of it, I know I need to give first, and I know I need to serve in that community, but also I don’t want to be too outspoken, I don’t want to overstep my mark. What are the first steps that we should go through to say, “Okay, I want to make this count. I don’t want to mess it up.”?
Brian Fanzo: You know, I think part of it that comes into it is being honest and transparent up front. One of the things that I think we sometimes forget, is to say “Okay I’m just going to listen and lurk in the background, and I’m just going to stay there and I’m going to see what’s going on.” Well, if nobody knows that you’re listening or lurking, it’s hard for someone to reach out to you. So, being okay with putting out there and saying “Hey, guys, I just joined this community, I’m trying to figure out what’s best for me. I’m going to listen and I’m going to engage where things make the most sense, but if there’s something for those that know me in this group, if there’s something that jumps out at me, please tag me in a post, so that it will help me get my feet wet.” Being transparent with your listening, which kind of sounds backwards, because when most people assume listening, you think of it as “I’m the guy or girl that nobody actually sees.” But if you put yourself out there, and let people know that you’re listening and learning, it’s amazing how much that gives.
And the other part of that is, look for those in that group, that are always willing to help others, and don’t be afraid to private message them one to one. I think one of the things that we forget inside of a community is that oftentimes, the power is what we can all do together. But to get that movement, or to get that post, or that mission, in the right direction, it takes a lot of buy-in. I talk to a lot of people where, this is something my dad taught me early on, and I know for you… my dad was a sales guy, so I know this is a no-brainer, but my dad always told me “Son, win the boardroom before you enter the boardroom.”
And I always knew that I would have side conversations, I would send someone an email and say “Hey, would you look over this slide for me?” All knowing that I was setting the deck before I got in there, where people knew enough and I knew how people felt. Well, in a community, you can do the same thing by reaching out to certain people. “Hey, I was thinking about posting this.” Or, “I was thinking about joining this.” “I was thinking about doing the walk and run at this community function, but I don’t really run. Is this something I should do?” Reaching out to individuals in the community before making that big splash publicly, it’s amazing because not only does it get you buy-in, but it makes you feel a little bit more confident in yourself, because it’s that difference between doing it self-serving, or doing it to where you’ve set enough of the little tentacles around to where you feel that “Hey, I’m posting this because I have the backing of others.”
And that doesn’t mean tagging those people in the post. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is, don’t be afraid to listen, and don’t be afraid to reach out to those one to one leaders within the group that you feel that you can run things by.
Phil Jones: Okay. So it’s active listening, even if in a digital world, which could be as simple as liking other people’s posts, leaving a comment, thanking somebody for a contribution, sharing with them what you got from that, sharing with them the experience of what you then did with that piece of information, asking one more question, saying “Tell me some more about…”, looking for clarification or validation of what somebody’s really saying. Saying “I’m here, and I’m listening and I’m learning.”, which then earns you the right to be able to introduce something later down the tracks, if what you have is an area of expertise or insight, or that you have some value to be able to bring in the other direction. It’s not like, hide forever and then show up.
Brian Fanzo: Right.
Phil Jones: And we bring it back to an old-fashioned version of community is, if nobody ever saw you on the block, and then all of a sudden there needs to be a piece of floral arrangement done for something in the center of the town square because a member of Parliament’s coming to town or some form of hierarchy’s coming, and you can’t just jump up out of nowhere and say “I know horticulture best, and let me tell you what you should be planting.”
You need somebody else to be able to tip in your expertise.
Brian Fanzo: Without question I think it’s also participating in other people’s conversations, is a part of community. I think this is that weird world where, when I look at community data, oftentimes it’s not about who posts the most thought leadership topic, but rather who supports others in many different realms. I would rather have a community built of people that were supporting a lot of different ideas and conversations and people, than people that only felt that their time and place was when they are making the center of attention.
I think that’s one of those things. And then there’s digital world, one of the things I tell people oftentimes is, turn on notifications for whatever, it could be Slack or Facebook or LinkedIn, or whatever group you’re using to facilitate your community, turn on all post, all notifications. And people are like “Wait a second, that’s way too much information.” And I always ask them, “If it’s way too much information now, is it going to be even more way too much information when you start actively participating?” How do you, yourself, want to allow that community to be a part of your life?
Because one of the things for me, that I know a community is great, even when I’m not posting, I miss the content, I miss the conversation, and the people that are there. If I’m on the road for a couple weeks speaking, and all of a sudden I come back and I start looking through it and I’m like “I really missed this conversation. I really missed being a part of something that is greater than me.” That’s how I know that community’s the right fit for me.
If it’s one of those ones where you turn off notifications and you forget to ever turn them back on, that’s where you realize you’re probably not in the right community to begin with.
Phil Jones: Got you. I like that, too. It’s a question I keep asking myself a lot, a real front of mind question right now, which is, how much is enough? In terms of money, in terms of busyness, in terms of house that I’m living in, car that I drive, number of friends that I keep, trips that I go on. We find ourselves keeping score where bigger is always better. I have a community of 30000 people. I have a community of 5000 people, et cetera. But when you push anybody in a real conversation, it’s the 6 people they talk to most, the most prevalent. Yet, we still have this metric where quantity seems to be our yardstick.
I think communities at risk are the same, that everybody wants bigger, and now the overlap on those becomes bigger than the heart, which means that nobody’s truly in any of them.
Brian Fanzo: I think that’s where we’re at right now. I think, in 2018, 2019, I think we are in a dire problem of not only do I agree that we want that quantity in numbers, but scale, I think, is the hardest thing. Scale keeps me up at night, as an entrepreneur and a speaker. Scale keeps me up when I think about communities. I also have the question, is there a need to scale? If the community is getting to a point where it’s starting to get so big, does that mean that there’s probably two communities within that one group? That we maybe have added too much noise to the outside, and now it’s going to figure out what that means? Or can we be okay with saying “This is the best 400 people that we know that are on this mission. And yes, there’s other people that are part of this similar mission, but let’s let them be a part of something else, and let’s make this the best 400, or the best 40 people.”?
And I think you’re right. It’s funny, I have the same wrestle with myself, because I think there’s this also, not only the need for community, but what does it mean and what does that success look like for you individually?
Oftentimes when you talk to people about what does success mean, never do they talk about the number of followers or number of people in the community, they’re talking about those things that matter the most to them. I’m really trying to prioritize my time to say not what I think will make me get those high numbers, but what will make me happier, when I look back at this year, this month? When I look at success, am I doing those things on a daily basis that get me towards that success? I think community is one of those ones where, and I will openly admit it myself, I did a spray and pray approach for a while, and I joined any community that people would have me a part of.
And then I realized really quickly, even more quickly than I did in business, that if you’re trying to please everybody, you won’t please anybody. If you’re trying to be a part of every community, you won’t find that community that truly matters to you. And I think being okay with stepping out of a community and realizing it’s not a great fit, probably takes more power and more leadership than it does trying to join every community.
If you can be self-aware enough to know “Hey, this is something I should not be a part of because I cannot give the time, or it really probably isn’t the greater mission for me.” That’s where the magic…
I would challenge people, if you’re looking at your communities, you’re overwhelmed by community, ask yourself, “Which communities can I step back and remove myself from?” Which then, in turn, will allow you to add more to the communities that you’re like “Well, I don’t really want to remove myself from that community.” By removing yourself from 3 other ones, you’ve now just added more access, more time, more scale, to the communities that you truly do care about.
Phil Jones: Gotcha. Now, I’ve got 2 phrases that come to mind. One is the whole “You’ve got a foot in both camps.” And I think that’s really prevalent here as we talk about communities, is, you can’t do that. Because you can’t be in both places at once. You’re going to find yourself with a conflict of attention, a conflict of interest, and the big risk there is that you damage your own personal reputation, because you get seen as being somebody or something to some people, and then they learn to rely on you. And I think this is what’s interesting about community as a whole, is that when you show up and you give towards people, then you build a dependence.
Brian Fanzo: Yes.
Phil Jones: Right? Which then is a responsibility, that then says if you’re ever going to be breaking that dependence, you probably need to communicate that fact, or be prepared to accept the consequences of you failing to communicate that.
And then the other phrase that this brings to mind, is that “A horse only has one saddle.” And I think this becomes more and more important, when it comes to community. So the question I would be asking myself more right now is, “What are the communities I can’t not be a part of?”
Brian Fanzo: Yes.
Phil Jones: “And then how do I better serve those spaces?” And then “How do I look to be able to give more of myself to those in a way that is selfless, but the result of which is what I grow from, is friendships and people that I can lean on?” Because if you look at the magic of community from the past, it’s where others step up. Perhaps when you didn’t ask them to. But because they had eyes on you.
Brian Fanzo: Yep.
Phil Jones: Because they called you out on something. They checked in on you when something was going wrong. They provided support and encouragement. You have to have been there, visible enough over that period of time. So, the truth in community as I’m looking for it right now is where you have conversation and communication channels with people that are outside of that one core community.
So, for example, if you have a regular weekly meeting where you go and see some people, but you never talk to those people using text message, picking up the phone, have email, dial up with them, et cetera, they’re not a community, right?
Brian Fanzo: Right.
Phil Jones: I live at a condo building here right now. We have a monthly association meeting. That is not a community.
Brian Fanzo: Right, but I bet you if you asked that management, or that leadership, they would have called that a community.
Phil Jones: Perhaps.
Brian Fanzo: You’re 100% correct.
Phil Jones: So, I think the more positive choices that we can all make towards community is better, and what can we afford to not be without? And also, how do we show up in that space with a long term view?
Brian Fanzo: And I also think, on top of that, is also this idea, if you are a part of enabling a community to be very successful, a by-product of that success is other communities being aware of that, and wanting you to do the same thing for them. I think great community leaders are givers. You’re initial thought is, “Well, I gave, and we made this happen. I want to give more, and I want to give to more groups.” And I’m saying this as a little bit of self-awareness. I know for myself, that I did this very early on. 2015, I was part of a couple really exciting, powerful groups that we were doing some amazing things together, and as soon as people were aware of these communities that I was a part of, I was getting asked to be a part of communities that I would’ve never dreamed of.
And then all of a sudden I started realizing that the communities that I was really helping, I was helping a little bit less, and then I also realized I wasn’t having as greater impact. I will tell you, it took me almost 2 full years to realize that my… and to your point of that piece, earlier, is that managing expectations, and I started to realize that I was hurting myself. I was keeping myself up at night. I was hurting my own reputation, and even more importantly than hurting myself and my reputation, I was hurting the communities that I was spreading myself too thin on.
And that, to me, I think, was the biggest eye-opener. When someone came to me, one of those leaders in the community, and said, “Brian, you’re doing more harm than good in this community.” And I was like, “What do you mean by that?” And they were like, “You’re looked at as a leader, as someone that always replies, that is always engaged, that is not afraid to put themselves out there, and you have not been doing that part in this community.” And I had to take a step back and say “Why am I not doing that?” And it was because I had spread myself way too thin, and rather than doing what I was so known for, and what made my success, is I started to do just little bits of it. And then I became just like everyone else that was dropping in.
And to your point, I was showing up to the monthly meeting, but between those monthly meetings, I didn’t have enough time to prioritize or reply to a text, or to join, “Hey Brian, we’re doing a community meetup, ask me anything, will you be a part of it?” “Get back to me in 8 months.” Where I used to be the person that said “What is the mission, what is the thing? Let me move some things around, or let me work later.” I think that is something, as we look at communities moving forward, I think, Phil, I think we’re going to see people be a little bit more selective with the communities they join, because they realize that.
I think it’s a really exciting time, because I think the last 4 years, we continued to spray and pray, and be a part of everything. We could put an association or a brand or a logo on our website, we wanted that to be there. And now, I would rather say, “I want to be a part of the 3 or 4 that are doing amazing things, and I want those logos because of their success, and how much time I can dedicate to them, rather than having 30 ones on there, and really not being a part or a member of any of them, individually.”
Phil Jones: Okay. Now, we know the community has the power of being able to change a great deal of the world. With like minds getting together, pulling in the same direction, largely has been the only thing that’s ever corrected any meaningful change in the world at any point, when you track back. What I then see is, I see this abundance of energy being utilized by people. Particularly online, where all they’re looking to be able to do is to build a following, grow a fanbase, attract attention towards themselves.
They’ve got a social media group of some way, that they are serving, but there is nobody listening, although there are people in the group. And what we have is collectively, millions of hours every single week. Excuse my bad language, but really, people are pissing in the wind to nobody who’s listening. It, to me, is an epidemic. How do we raise awareness towards that? And you must have even more insight into this than what I do, given your area of expertise, in and around the world of digital communication. How do we stop this, because this is wasted energy, is the thing that keeps me up at night.
And I see it happening under this hunt for attention, all under the disguise of community.
Brian Fanzo: I think that you hit it spot on. I think one of the things that when we look at it, is that element of empowering people to realize that they can be a part of a community, just as much as they can run their own community, or create their own community. But this is also something that, because you have followers on a social network, does not mean you have a community of people. I tell people, and this is something I preach on an everyday basis, “How do you truly create a digital community? It doesn’t matter where you are.” And I ask this all the time. Twitter is the biggest following I have on social media, and I often tell people that if Twitter went away, it would hurt me. I would be upset. But my community is so vibrant, that they would follow me to wherever I go next.
And it’s not about followers, because there’s a lot of people that build a giant following on Snapchat that I’m friends with, and then Snapchat was having a little bit of a thing, and they’re like “Brian, I can’t get my community to move over to Instagram.” And I was like, “Well, it’s because you don’t have a community, you have a bunch of followers on a social network, and there is a difference there.” And I think that’s where we have to start, is we have to say “How are we giving as a whole, outside of a network?” That includes email marketing. I hear all the time where people are like “Well, that’s why I don’t use social media, Brian. That’s why I have an email newsletter.” And my question is “Well, is your email newsletter, is that truly a community of people? Or are those a bunch of people that have figured out that they enjoy getting your message once a month?”
I think that’s also a difference where if it is truly a community, not only will they follow you where you go, but when you need to activate that community to do something, this is the magic for me, is that, oftentimes I don’t even have to make the ask. Oftentimes, because they’re a part of the community, they know what our goal is and what we want to achieve, and they’re already ready to go and make that happen without having that expectation.
I think that’s definitely something out there. I think the other part of it is, I’ve preached community as the future of business, but I also believe that the future of business requires us to redefine what community is. I will have companies come to me and say “Brian, I want to create an influential marketing community.” And I will ask them “Well, how do you empower your employees, the community of employees?” They’re like “Well, we’re not worried about them, we’re worried about these influencers.” And I remind them that community, from a business perspective, are your employees, your customers, your prospects, your business partners, your future prospects, those are all possible assets to your community, and it’s amazing how many businesses today skip over their greatest asset, which are their employees, when they’re building a community.
Because, if you’re employees don’t believe in the mission that you’re coming together with, for a brand community, then you have a much bigger problem than community, than influencers, and this is where marketers get in trouble, is that we often want to throw all these buzzwords at a problem without even realizing that the true problem is that it’s internalized. It’s people.
And I think this is also one of those worlds where, in the US this is definitely the case, we have right now, polarizing politicians. The politician landscape in America, and outside, I just got back from Poland a couple weeks ago, and I can tell you every dinner conversation for me as the American outsider, was about Donald Trump. And it was either pro or against, or what’s going on, or wanting my opinion.
And for me this was very interesting because they assumed we were a community of people that were all of a sudden divided. And I reminded them that no, we were never a community of people as the United States. This is where we happen to live, but it’s not a community making one considered movement. I think that’s also one of these things that you have to look at, and ask yourself “Am I a part of a network?” Which, I think networks are important, don’t get me wrong.
Networks have their purpose, but there is a difference. I’m not saying that networks are the future of business. I believe communities are the future of business, and there is definitely a delineation. And if you’re not sure which one you’re a part of, or what something is, this is what I challenge you, is that if you’re a part of a network, and the person that asks you to belong, or you’re a part of something, and the person that asks you to belong to that no longer participates, or they disappear. Do you still want to belong to that? Do you still believe in that mission? Or, when that person that invited you in is no longer a part of it, you decide not to be a part of it? That’s a good example of that’s a network, because you’re there because of the other people that are there.
But if it’s a movement, and you’re like “I don’t care what people are there, I just want to share that movement with other people that believe what I believe.” That’s that community magic as we move forward.
Phil Jones: Gotcha. I had some interesting thoughts as my businesses changed, as well, in that I used to send a weekly newsletter to my community, and I’ve built some big Facebook online communities, as you’re aware of.
Brian Fanzo: Yeah, that I was a part of.
Phil Jones: Yeah. And I’ve built closed groups, open groups, all sorts of different things, and the one most joyous part of all of those is the time you get to set people free. This community had a purpose, and we’ve perhaps fulfilled as much of that purpose as we could’ve done through that point, now it’s time to stop.
So I stopped writing my weekly email newsletter, because I ran out of things to say, and I didn’t have clarity over who I was talking to and what I was really helping with. So I just cut the thing and let it go. And then the same with a number of online groups that have been built, served a purpose, and then passed on, and I think community can be seen as not necessarily a forever thing, but a long-term committed thing, and have the ability to say that you might form a community around some form of given change, do the best you can to be able to implement or effect that change, and then let that thing go.
It’s this keeping them alive forever, for fear of loss, that I think can cause some frustration. I’ve just come to another conclusion here, and I’d love to check in with you and see if you think the same thing, is that if you’re going to choose to lead or star or be a part of a founder of a community in some way, you’ve got to take a long-term view.
However, you can serve a community one moment at a time.
Brian Fanzo: Not a question.
Phil Jones: So, if what you’re under the hump for is personal attention, or you have a solo skillset, or a solo mission, then you might be looking to say “Where are the existing communities? What I can do is I can show up and I can serve that.”
Strategically, one of the things I’ve done over the last 12 months, is to look to see who has communities that I can add value to, and add value to in potent pills. So I can turn up and I can introduce the idea of “Magic Words” and share and some Exactly What to Say principles in somebody else’s community. I can then deliver them some tools, they can facilitate that discussion long after I’ve gone, but it was like a show up, deliver, add value, disappear, without the responsibility of a tail.
Brian Fanzo: Yes. And I think that’s also self-awareness, in yourself. I think that’s where, if someone wants to be a…
And this is that weird spot where you’re like, “How do I become a great member of a team?” You first have to be the best possible self you are. And you have to understand your own self-awareness, and I think that’s where…
I look at that and it’s like “Wow, Phil, that’s a leadership play.” Because you’re realizing that “Hey, I could probably build a community that does something similar, but that long-term play of that community isn’t for me. Therefore, I can add value when it makes the most sense, and not feel like I have to control.” I use that term all the time, I think that control is an illusion, but often as we feel that, if we’re not owning it, then we don’t control it. And last time I checked, a community you never control. A community is not controlled.
I get that question all the time. “Well, Brian, I understand that I should be a part of other communities, but I can’t control those communities.” And that’s where I know we have to start back at ground level of communities. I love that you brought that up, because I think self-awareness for each individual within a group… if everyone is extremely self-aware, or continuing to become more self-aware, that’s a powerful community.
A community of people that are not self-aware in what they know, but also what you don’t know… this is something that I challenge a lot of people, when they join a group, they’ll tell me what they can add. And I will ask them “Well, what are you planning on getting out?” And they don’t know how to answer that. So then I challenge them back, and say “What are things that you don’t know, that people in this group probably do know?” And that’s when the light bulb goes off, and they’re like “Oh, yeah, well I don’t know how I would execute this.” Or “I don’t know how I would go over this in my life.” Or even little things, like from a personal perspective.
I joined a dads group, and it was a dads community, and it was a vibrant dads community, but I’m a very proud dad of 3 girls. I was going through a divorce, and I was amazed that something I was not self-aware was “How do I handle divorce? How do I handle a depression angle that’s coming in on all of that?” And all of a sudden, when I was self-aware to know that I could add value for my life as a dad, but also be open to learning about this world that I had no idea about, that group was amazing for me. It was something that I realized that that community, I couldn’t do without.
But it wasn’t until I was self-aware to know what I didn’t know, because all of a sudden I’m like “Well, I gave all these great ideas on how to deal with an 8 year old child, and how to have 3 kids…” and all of a sudden it was like “What is Brian adding to the group?” But that moment when I said “What do I not know that people in this group do know?” That community shot up the value train for me, by simple being more self-aware myself.
Phil Jones: So the lesson I guess I’m hearing from our discussion so far is if you’re looking to have more community in your life, then look at the communities that you’re part of, perhaps work through a life audit and see what needs to be there and what doesn’t need to be there, and then look to say “How do you give more of yourself towards the communities that you’ve self-selected to be a part of?” What is the value that you bring?
Brian Fanzo: Yes.
Phil Jones: It’s trying to own the role that you play, and don’t meddle in other people’s.
Brian Fanzo: Right.
Phil Jones: Become cheerleaders or supporters or ambassadors. I’m seeing this more and more. I’ve just taken a volunteer board position within the National Speakers Association at my local chapter level, and we’re at a board meeting, and there’s so many things I know I could contribute towards, but they’re not my space.
Brian Fanzo: Right.
Phil Jones: I’m being put in this box over here, and I need to do a good job with that box, because if I start trying to play with everybody else’s, then guess what happens? We debate forever and nothing gets done. Whereas actually, we could make progress if we stay in lane and protect and respect everybody’s individual responsibilities.
Brian Fanzo: And I think that also shows great leadership within a community. Because it’s not only being self-aware with what you do know, but being also aware enough to know when is your place to step up, when is your place to be an active member, when is your place to just put your head down and allow things to happen around you? I, individually struggle with that oftentimes. There’s a group that I started, which turned into a fairly vibrant community, and then I moved from Arizona to Virginia, and I’m still quote/unquote, a “part of it”, but I had to take a completely different role.
My role completely changed, and it took me a while. At first, I was like “Well, I don’t like this community anymore.” Then I had to ask myself, “Well, is it that I don’t like this community, or that I haven’t accepted my new role in this community?” And when I took a step…
Actually, it took an honest conversation with somebody in the community. I simply asked them “What more do I have to add to this community?” And he was very straightforward. He was like “I don’t know. I’m not sure if you can. But let’s go over this, what you have and what you can now.” And that was a hard conversation for me to have, as someone that felt like a founding member. But I tell you what, now, I’m able to stay in my lane, like you said. I’m able to prioritize my conversations, and I also feel happy being a part of it knowing that I can just contribute in my way and not be overwhelmed by the greater mission.
And it’s also allowed the community to be, I would say they’re 10 times more successful than they were when I was part of it, and I like to think a little bit of that was my ability to get the hell out of the way when it made the most sense.
Phil Jones: And ego is a big enemy of community.
Brian Fanzo: It is. It is. And I think that’s… you need strong leadership, you need people with strong opinions, but I think, if I could sprinkle something in every community, it would be empathy. It would be empathy, because your ability to have a strong opinion, but respect others’ opinion in that same community, is vital. And unfortunately, where we go from empathy to ego, is where things go from conversations that move us forward, to arguments that divide us.
And I think that is unfortunately, I think it’s still, from the beginning of time, is a community by-product, and I think now more so than ever. I think as we move forward, the more empathy a community can strive for, the more success that community will have, no matter what form it lives in.
Phil Jones: That’s beautiful. I got a great thing on ego the other day from a mutual friend of ours from Sylvie DiGuisto. Sylvie put a point in when she was building her new community for the leadership roles for the NSA chapter, and Sylvie lays it down, she’s like “I want people with big egos to be part of this. Egos that are so big, that they don’t need to serve those egos when they’re here. That everything they do with their ego, or everything that feeds their egos happens in another part of their world, in another part of their life. They’re not fighting for ego points in this space.”
Brian Fanzo: Oh, I like that.
Phil Jones: I like that take. I think it allows you to be able to say “Well, actually, no, now I do want to make a dent in this world. I do want to show up. I do want to leave some legacy, and there might be some things where I want somebody to be able to say ‘That happened because of Phil.’”
I’m real, real okay with the fact that my ego wants some of that stuff, and I like to see my name on a book in a bookstore. I like to see number ones. I like to see five stars. I like the lights on me when I’m onstage. I like the audience and standing ovations. I love all that stuff. But I don’t need any of that when I’m serving a community.
Brian Fanzo: Correct. I think that’s a delicate balance. I love that play. Sylvie, she’s amazing to begin with, but I also love that. I think the difficulty on that part ends up being making sure that those egos are prioritizing that community when it’s not feeding their ego. I think that that’s the selective element of getting the right people at the right time. I think that’s also, when you look at associations, I look at associations oftentimes as it’s either keeping the people around too long or not giving people enough swim lane to figure out where their ego can disappear.
We kind of do both, where we keep someone around because 22 years active member, and then we give someone a year and they’re like “Sorry, you probably aren’t a good fit for our association.” And you’re like “Why don’t we give that person a little bit longer and why don’t we figure out maybe this person, because they’ve been around 22 years, they don’t need to be as big an active member.”
I think that’s a struggle. I think that’s why associations have had that roller coaster. But it’s exciting when you have leaders like Sylvie that are empowering people to do things a little bit differently. That’s where community does make a big impact.
Phil Jones: And it’s back to that purpose again. So, things that are learned out of this conversation is if you have a long-term vision of the purpose, then maybe a community is the right thing to do it. If you have a short-term vision or purpose, maybe you need a focus group or an action group, but it has a start line and a finish line, and everybody understands the same things.
And associations are different to communities. Within associations could exist community.
Brian Fanzo: Yes.
Phil Jones: But the greatest gift that we have is not to be a part of a community, but be able to serve the community and see the uprising of others, or the greater mission. It is about something bigger than yourself. It is not about yourself, and if you are the center of community, than maybe you’re seeing it wrong.
Is that me wrapping this up in a way that you see?
Brian Fanzo: You’re wrapping it up, that is beautiful. I love it. I love that we are able to bring that around, because I think the more conversations we have around community like this, the more it opens our own individual eyes, because it is… I still think of community as that weird element that, unless we individually are our best selves, communities will not be better by having us in it.
It’s such a backwards thing, because you’re like “How do I join a team and make that team more successful?” Well, first, the person looking at you in the mirror has to be in the right state of mind, understand all their priorities, and then when you join that with other people that are also on that same plain, you can do great things. This conversation was spot on.
Phil Jones: Awesome. And is that first seat to understand, before you choose to offer up advice as well, right?
Brian Fanzo: Yes, without question.
Phil Jones: So, let’s wrap this around with a couple of extra questions. One is, what else do you want to share with me about community that we haven’t talked about today?
Brian Fanzo: I think community, as we look at it moving forward… I look at virtual reality and augmented reality, as adding a layer of feel, like feeling, like touch and smell and surrounding, that digital communities oftentimes are lacking.
The reason I always say that I love digital, because I don’t believe that replaces a handshake, I believe it gives us the opportunity to have more handshakes, and turn handshakes into hugs and selfies, and the reason I say that is kind of fluffy, but I look at a great online community that, when I meet someone offline, it is a hug, it is very intimate, it’s very loving. But I look at virtual reality and augmented reality as an interesting play in this space, because we are oftentimes limited. Maybe we only see members of an online community once a year. Maybe even less than that. How can we add that touchy feely, that empathy, that feeling, to communities?
I’m very excited to see where virtual reality, augmented reality, go on there. And another thing that came to my mind as we were having this conversation, is that I also think that if you’re not sure where you belong, it’s better to try to dabble in some communities today than it is to sit back and keep waiting.
I don’t think you need… you don’t need permission to take action. And for those that are waiting around for a community to invite you in, maybe you’re not looking or listening in the right spot, and go jump in two feet forward, because one of the communities that we belong to, the National Speakers Association, I joined it passively because someone talked me into it, and after a year I was done.
I thought this was a waste. I had a very honest conversation with a couple of our mutual friends, and they simply challenged me, and said “Did you go all in? Did you really give it a fair shot?” And I remember thinking “You know what? I didn’t. And no, I didn’t do this, and no, I didn’t spend this amount of time.” So I gave it a second chance, and I can tell you, thank God I did, because going back in and saying “Hey, I’m going to give this full effort.” I’ll tell you what, what I did about that, is I removed myself from two other communities. Two communities that I felt like I had tapped out my resources, and I took that time, and said “I’m going to focus that more on this National Speakers Association community.” And wow, has it been amazing that I did that.
It was a little bit because if I would have just tried it that one time, and then ignored my friends that were giving me that eye opening opinion, I would have… the amount of things that I would have missed out in the last 18-24 months are amazing. So I think for those that are out there, don’t be afraid to jump into a group, but here’s another piece of that: don’t be afraid to revisit a community that maybe you grew apart of, or that you tried once and it didn’t work, because today is way different than yesterday, and where we are moving for tomorrow is way different than what we ever would have imagined.
I think, for me, I am a spitting example of that. I’m so thankful that I went back and revisited a community that I didn’t give my full effort to, because now it’s something that I’m very proud to be a part of, and proud to serve, and it’s only because I was able to revisit it after a failed attempt first.
Phil Jones: Love that stuff. Thank you. Some really good insight. Three more questions. One is a question I ask everybody on this season of Words With Friends, and you don’t know what the question is. The question is if there was a word that could be used to describe Brian Fanzo, a word that other people would use and you’d be delighted if you heard other people using to describe you, what would that word be?
Brian Fanzo: Caring.
Phil Jones: Okay. Choose to elaborate?
Brian Fanzo: Sure. For me, when you hear words like passionate, I think sometimes, or when someone says “Brian you’re very passionate.” And I remember in high school, it was actually middle school, my guidance counselor told me “Brian, you’re so passionate, you could be passionate reading the phone book.” And phone book, as in… and I remember going home and being sad. I was disappointed. I was like “Wait a second, if I’m passionate about everything, then apparently I’m passionate about nothing individually.” And my guidance counselor wasn’t… that wasn’t his point. What he was saying was that “Brian, you find a way to be passionate about all different kinds of things and walks of life.”
What I realized was, where did that passion come from? It came from caring. I do care. I love people. I love being a part of things, and I struggle on a daily basis with that, that we even brought up earlier, with trying to please everyone, knowing that we can’t do it. Part of that is because I do care. And so when someone comes to me and says “Brian, I know that you care.” Or “You are a caring person.” That means the world to me, because even if I fail at meeting my requirements or I don’t live up to the expectations, I firmly believe that it wasn’t because I didn’t care, it was because I didn’t do some of the things we talked about.
Caring, to me, is something I take a lot of pride in. I’m very transparent with my life, my struggles, my successes, but also, that is because I want people to know that this isn’t a façade. Caring, to me, is something that really makes me very proud of the things that I do accomplish, and it’s something that I want to instill in my daughters. I tell my daughters on a regular basis, “I want you to care about everything you do, and care about the people that are around you.” And if I’m going to be the leader for my daughters, then I better act and practice that on a daily basis.
Phil Jones: Sweet. What have I got time for? I’ve got 2 more questions. One was, what might be something you wanted to ask me in and around the subject of “community”? Is there anything you wanted to shoot my way?
Brian Fanzo: Sure. Yes, there’s actually probably 2 of those things. One of them that jumps out to me, I think, that’s interesting, is that, not only your ability to sell, but part of your book, part of the things that I connected with you the most is that when I think of sales, I think of people with a hidden agenda, oftentimes. But I think when people are part of a community, and they’re able to sell, oftentimes, they don’t even have to right hook, or they don’t even have to make the sale, the community comes to them.
When you’re looking at that, when you look at a community and people that are great salesmen or women within a community, what’s a character trait that allows them to have the sale come to them in a community environment? Because I don’t really know what it is, but when I see it, it’s like magic. When I see someone giving and all of a sudden we’re all buying 30 of their books or we’re all running all this self-promotion, and they didn’t even have to ask, I’m like, “Wow, they are great at knowing what to say, they’re great at knowing how to sell without ever making us feel that way.” What would you say that character trait is?
Phil Jones: It’s a few things. I’m just scribbling some notes here so I can try to make this concise. Firstly, my dictionary definition of what selling is is earning the right to make a recommendation. It is not embellishing a product or service with features or benefits, hoping that somebody else might buy it. I had this come out in a conversation in the community group the other day, they’re like “Phil, you’re the king of sales. You’ll be able to find a way of being able to sell this to him.” I’m like “(negative). No. If the dude doesn’t want it, and it’s not the right fit for him, it’s not like ‘Hey, sell me this pen.”, nonsense.” Those days are over. Though, what we need to be getting into position in, is we earn the right to better make a recommendation.
You know I love metaphors and being able to create associations of things to help people see things. Now, I know that you are happily divorced, but it does mean at one point in time you asked somebody to marry you, correct?
Brian Fanzo: Yes, I did. 13 years.
Phil Jones: The day you asked her to marry you, did you know the answer to the question, the day you asked her?
Brian Fanzo: Without question.
Phil Jones: Yeah? It wasn’t a pun. It wasn’t a “Hey, let me embellish why I’m going to make the perfect husband for you, let me get my pitch right.” So that she chooses me. It was a simple question that came at the perfect time, because you’d earned the equity ahead of that to better ask a simple question that in fact she was waiting for you to ask.
Brian Fanzo: Without question.
Phil Jones: That’s the goal that we’re looking to be able to get to. So you need 4 simple ingredients. First thing, you need visibility. If people can’t see you, they don’t know you exist, you’ve got nothing. Secondly, you need credibility. Credibility is earned, it’s not given. So the easiest way to be able to demonstrate credibility is to show success of the thing that you’re good at through the mouth of somebody else.
Brian Fanzo: Without question.
Phil Jones: Right? So, visibility then credibility. Then you need authenticity. Now, authenticity is different to credibility, or different to visibility, or different to even any ability. Authenticity says that you do this with caring heart, which means that you’ve shown up and done it more than once. Authenticity is normally delivered with some form of proven track record over time, not just masterful brilliance, but again, and again, and again, and again. And then the fourth part of it that is often the missing piece when you talk about the hook, or the right hook, or the jab, it’s availability.
It’s what is the thing that you do to say “This way, please.” Or “Here’s the door that’s open.” Or “Here is step one. Here is the door that is mildly open for you to be able to step onto.” So, great salespeople guide people towards a solution that both parties know is right for them.
Brian Fanzo: Yes.
Phil Jones: That’s the outcome. So how this shows up in the world of community is visibility is be there, and get caught being brilliant. Credibility is offline, do things for other people so the voice of other influencers within that credibility will fight your argument for you, fly your flag for you, when a moment arises, not because of the fact that you’ve asked them to, but because you demonstrated… we would like to know a guy or know a gal… the more you do for others in positions of influence, you’ve become their go-to, go-to guy. The authenticity part of that piece is you’ve got to be prepared to be there for the long haul.
Brian Fanzo: Right.
Phil Jones: So you’ve got to show up and say “No, again, no again.” Not be a one trick pony, but be able to say “Aha, I know I did say that thing, but that’s not what I meant for this set of circumstances, because this set of circumstances is different to that.” And start to be able to build on it.
Then the availability… you talked, for example, about books. If people know that one of the best ways they can give back to me is to recommend Exactly What to Say. If people know that is an availability, and my shop window is open in all of my other platforms for the things that people can buy from me.
So they know how to make-
Brian Fanzo: That’s a lesson right there. You just gave me… three things jumped in my head, like “Wow, Brian, I have not done a good job with 2 of the…” I was like, “Wait a second, I can go…” and you know what? As you were saying that, there’s a couple leaders that are great at the sales side in the communities that I belong to, and they embody… their authenticity and credibility are built by the validation of other people.
You want to look at recommendations for them, it’s pages long on multiple groups and comments and threads and feeds, and it’s so funny. Now, the way that you spelled that out, no wonder we all jump. Because they do walk down that step, and then having that accessibility at the end, it’s that “keep it simple stupid” without question.
I love that you… that’s why I was excited to ask . . . .
I could picture the 2 people that came to my mind that are really great at that in a couple communities I belong to, and they embody all 4 of those steps. Spot on.
Phil Jones: Yeah. And even some that we are mutually acquainted to, as well.
Brian Fanzo: Yes.
Phil Jones: They’re there. Final question, Brian, how do people find out more about you, the things that you do, and get to know you a little better?
Brian Fanzo: Consistency’s key in this crazy world of community. Isocial fanz, with a Z or a Zed at the end, it’s on every channel, every social network. isocialfanz.com. And I have a podcast called FoMoFanz, F-O-M-O-F-A-N-Z, Z or Zed at the end, and that’s a weekly show that I do, and most people… I tell them I’ve everywhere doing everything, but if there’s one place you want to find me, to kind of keep it simple, is that podcast. It’s available on every podcast app. Isocial fanz everywhere. This was a pleasure, Phil, this was a lot of fun.
Phil Jones: For sure. Thank you for joining us today, Brian. Pleasure, as always, I look forward to catching you on the road for another cheeky drink or two sometime.
Brian Fanzo: Yes. I think exactly in a month from now, we’ll be hanging out . . . .
Phil Jones: Yeah, we’re going to be in Dallas, right?
Brian Fanzo: Yes. In Dallas. I look forward to it.
Phil Jones: Sweet. Thanks, Brian.
Brian Fanzo: Alright, cheers.