Jay Baer: Remarkable
The “Remarkable” Jay Baer shares his insight into that very word. Listen in on our conversation and enjoy learning from being a fly on the wall to our discussion.
The full transcript
Phil Jones: Here we are again on Words With Friends. This where we talk about a word with one of my friends. Today we have my good friend, Jay Baer.
Jay Baer: Hello, Phil. Fantastic to be here. I’m excited for our word, as well.
Phil Jones: Aha. We’re gonna be talking of the word “remarkable”. The reason I picked that word for you is, well number one, you are pretty darn remarkable.
Jay Baer: Thank you.
Phil Jones: By my definition of the word. You’ve been in this world of reputation marketing and all things to do with what other people might think of you for quite some time. Tell me this from the get-go. What does the word “remarkable” mean to you?
Jay Baer: To me, it is worthy of remark. Something or somebody or a circumstance that actually merits conversation. We tend to toss remarkable around a lot in life and say, “Oh that was remarkable.” The same way we tend to over use the word awesome, for example. Awesome means it is awe inspiring, that’s not usually what actually is the case. We say remarkable more often than we mean it and really to me remarkable means it is worthy of a conversation.
Phil Jones: Okay. It’s worth talking about, but not necessarily a word that means it was brilliant, it was breath taking, it was wonderful. It means it was worth talking about, so not always necessarily a good thing?
Jay Baer: Yeah, you can be a remarkably bad, right? It can be remarkably tragic, there’s a lot of things. It is an adverb so there’s a lot of things that can be remarkable other than just something that is fantastic and stupendous.
Phil Jones: Okay. Now, historically talking about other people behind their back was a bad thing, right?
Jay Baer: I mean, I don’t think so actually Phil, because word of mouth has been around since the first caveman sold a rock to another caveman and caveman three is like, “Hey man how did you like the rock?” So, that was either yeah the rock is great or this guy sold me a bad rock and so the idea of recommendations and people talking about you behind your back has been around forever. Of course sometimes it is bad and sometimes it’s done in a negative way or a pejorative way, but I think every person should seek to actually want people to talk about them behind their back. If you know what I mean.
Phil Jones: Okay. Now that makes sense in a business context, we’re trying to grow brands, we’re trying to get people to know more about what we’re about. What about just for the average man and the average woman? We have this world where everybody has some transparency into everybody else’s life. How does remarkability play out in that world?
Jay Baer: I think it’s the same, because you have a choice of who you spend time with, you have a choice in who you have dinner with, you have a choice of who you invite to the holiday party. You have a choice of what and how you spend time and so to say “hey this individual in my social circle is remarkable” is different in some way is unusual in a way that I actually find interesting and compelling. I think that’s good, we should all seek to be remarkable in every facet of our lives.
Now, some people just don’t want that, because when you think about remarkable it almost requires you to stand out or be different in some way that is noticeable, and some people just simply don’t want to do that. In fact, in some cultures being remarkable is considered to be over stepping your boundaries, as opposed to in the West in particular, in the US, that’s striving to be unusual is a badge of honor. Where it certainly is not in some parts of the world.
Phil Jones: Okay. So, you made some bold choices, right? Through things like fashion, every time I see you I think I see you wearing something different. Some form of suit that forces me to be able to say something, pass comment about what’s Jay wearing today. So is that a conscious decision because you want people to talk about you or is that just because of how you feel and how you choose to express yourself?
Jay Baer: No, it’s totally conscious. It’s part of the package, it’s part of a personal brand. I don’t like the term personal branding very much, but for conversation purposes I’ll throw it out there. Yeah, it’s a choice, it’s not an accident. There are some utilitarian rationals, but I am sort of Frankenstein shaped, which may not come through on the video here. I’m not the easiest off the rack fit and so I realize by the time I altered everything to fit, I probably could have just had something made just about. So, I just decided to start doing it that way and have an amazing suit guy who actually lives here in my town who keeps me in what I consider to be remarkable level fabrics.
Phil Jones: Okay, very nice. Now, what would somebody like you wish that people were saying more about you?
Jay Baer: You know, it’s such a weird question because I don’t want to say I obsess about that, but I always struggle with understanding what people do say about me. You know what I mean? I know I’m a quasi public figure at a very, very, very, very tiny microcosm of the world. Amongst 500 people, some people know who I am. You get beyond that group of 500, nobody has any idea, it’s not like people are stopping me at the grocery store. You kind of hope that people say things, but you don’t really know and it sort of drives me crazy. I wish I had … I will tell you an interesting story. I believe that the only thing I have to sell, that you have to sell, the only thing that anybody who is essentially an educator has to sell is trust.
It’s not really about what you know, it’s about that people trust that you know what you say that you know. So, what we do at my company every year is a trust survey, where we talk to a few hundred, sometimes a thousand marketers, which is typically my audience. We say how much do you trust Jay? How much do you trust these other people who do similar work as me? Just to gauge where we are in that trust continuum. It’s actually, if nothing else, prevents me from freaking out and then going into a shame spiral, but it is good to have this data against that. Kind of have a sense of what people actually say, so I actually spend money to do that kind of research just to ferret it out.
I would say that if I had to pick one thing that I wish people talked about more, is I wish they talked more about my ability and history in creating new entrepreneurs. One of the things I’m most happy about in my entire career in life Phil, is that I think now 15 or 16 people that have worked for me have started their own businesses.
Phil Jones: Wow.
Jay Baer: I’m really, really enthusiastic and happy about that.
Phil Jones: Okay, so if that’s something that you’re super enthusiastic about or something somebody else was enthusiastic about. Let’s take it away from you for a second, because I know how uncomfortable that can be, which is a crazy set of questions by itself. It’s like why do we want more people to think about us, but we don’t like thinking about ourselves, is a whole other paradox. If for example, other people are looking at this thinking they want to become entrepreneurs, they want to be able to go out and do more things. You just told me that there are 16 people that are now business owners as a result of touching Jay Baer in some way. I say touching through business purposes, not inappropriately.
Jay Baer: Sure.
Phil Jones: How do they do that? What are the secret ingredients then? Tell us some of that stuff.
Jay Baer: I think part of it is … and I’ve done some content creation on this topic, but some of it is just some rules that I learned having done this now for 25 years. I’ve paid a lot of fools tax as they say, on the entrepreneurship side and some of it is saying “no” instead of yes. I think the most important word in life is “no”, especially when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re just starting out. The tendency is to say yes to everything because you figure I’ve got to get paid, I’ve got to do more, I’ve got to be active, I’ve got to make contacts. I’ve got to be remarkable, and in many cases it’s the wrong approach because you end up spreading yourself too thin and you become known for nothing because you’re doing bits and pieces of all these things.
So, you’re not really known for one thing, you’re kind of known for 11 things and that isn’t actually a very sharp positioning statement. So, “no” is much more important than yes, I’ve found that to be true. I feel like the best thing you can do is be scared, because if you’re not scared you’re not actually working very hard. I’d say the third thing that I really try and teach people is to stay as level as possible. I’ll show you something, I’ve got right here on my wall, my mom bought me this sign like 10-15 years ago and it’s sitting right here by my desk. It says, accept that some days you’re the pigeon and some days you are the statue, which is my favorite saying in life and in business because it’s so true.
It’s never going as good as you think it is and it’s never going as bad as you think it is. It’s very, very helpful to keep that in mind every day.
Phil Jones: One of the things I love about something you just said there is you’ve had 16 people that have worked with you that have now gone on to be able to run their own successful enterprises in some way and you say that with such pride. When I’ve heard other people talk about people have worked for them and then gone off to start something themselves, and no doubt some of these people that now work for themselves their skill set, their service proposition overlaps yours in some way shape or form.
Jay Baer: Of course.
Phil Jones: Surely that can be seen as a bad thing right? It’s like I taught them all this stuff and now they could potentially have access to my clients, could potentially take some stuff away exceeding my knowledge. How does that make you feel?
Jay Baer: I think it’s short-term thinking and a thinking of scarcity not abundance. I have believed since I first started my very first company, I was 22 or something like that. Much older than you were when you started your business, but I’ve always believed that everybody is competition and nobody is competition.
Phil Jones: Right.
Jay Baer: That truly rising tide lifts all ships and I’ve always operated that same way, even when I was in a position to be much more competitive and having RFPs and things like that, that we would compete with other companies for and things of that nature. I just never really looked at it that way, I always looked at a competitor as just a collaborator that hasn’t gotten it figured out yet and so I try and operate everything the same way. I really believe if your goal is to bring somebody smart and talented on to your team and keep them there forever, you’re doing it wrong.
Your goal is to bring smart intelligent people on your team, get them better and then watch them go on and do something even bigger and better for themselves and their family. If you operate that way, yeah you might lose a client here or there. You might lose a little money here or there, but trust me over the long haul it comes back and stays because the 16 greatest advocates I have in this whole world are the 16 people who started with me and now are running their own businesses. You gotta quit worrying about this week, or this quarter, or this year. Probably one of my greatest weaknesses is that I’m always thinking five years down the line, and it allows me to make different decisions than some people would make, but sometimes you lose the thread of today as well.
Phil Jones: One of the things I love about your work in particular, particularly seeing you on stage or reading any of your specific Jay Baer materials is that you’re always featuring and showcasing other people. You’re not saying I’m brilliant, look at me, look at me, look at me. What I learn every time I play into some of your material is like oh I should check out that person or I hear about another great business somewhere else in the world. Why is that just the key part of your methodology?
Jay Baer: I feel like me just standing up there and saying do it this way because I say so, isn’t a very compelling message. Could I make that work? Probably, but I’m just more comfortable telling stories and teaching lessons through the experiences of somebody else where I’m sort of documenting the lesson as opposed to saying I developed this. I think partially it’s because I don’t invent anything, I’m not a futurist, I’m not a mind reader, I’m not Magellan. I don’t discover anything, my only thing that I’m good at really is pattern recognition. So, I see a pattern and say, “Oh, here’s a pattern that not enough people understand or know about. Let me explain that pattern so that more people can understand it.”
Really all I am is a translator, I’m a trend to execution translator. I’m the guy in the middle, so I find that it’s easier, it’s certainly more comfortable for me and I think better outcomes when I do that translation through other people’s stories instead of my own stories.
Phil Jones: Okay. Have you got any specific examples maybe where you’ve shared somebody else’s brilliance? Whether it’s through stage presentation or whether it’s through maybe some of your writing work, where maybe that stranger has reached back out and perhaps made contact with you or those people have become friends or some businesses come from it over time?
Jay Baer: All the time. Not so much on the individual side, that happens constantly. People that I wrote about or talked about on social media and then we end up being friends. It happens so often, especially in my world, sort of the world of digital marketing consultants. It happens on an almost weekly basis, just the way that business and that industry coalesces. For example what happens consistently is I’ll find an instance of a company or an organization or a brand doing something that I find fascinating that sort of fits in one of the theses of my books or my presentations and I’ll use them as an example on stage.
I’ll say heres a good example of X, Y, Z and invariably somebody in the audience will live tweet that and will tag that brand and say Jay Baer is talking about this brand. Then they’ll be like what, who’s Jay Baer? Then they’ll start to follow and then it ends up being this whole relationship ex post facto that then be allowed to do more work together and get some inside information that happens constantly. It’s really fun when that occurs.
Phil Jones: So, is there anybody, fly on the wall listening to me and you talk right now that could take from that as to how they would be able to build their reputation, make themselves more remarkable instead of saying me, me, me, me, me, but actually looking to showcase brilliance of others?
Jay Baer: Part of it is, you only know so many things. So, if everything you’re going to teach and espouse is only from your own experiences, that’s a pretty narrow slice of life. If you say all right, here is my thesis that I’ve developed, now let’s seek examples for that thesis across everybody not just me. It gives you so much more raw material, plus you can switch it out all the time. It’s one of the things I really enjoy is that I’ve never given the same presentation twice because I always have different examples. New examples are either sent to me or I discover them all the time, which is tons of fun. It’s almost like writing a newspaper article that never ends, because you’re constantly rewriting, rewriting it.
It’s funny you say aspects or why I do it this way, maybe it’s because my original background is in journalism. I was a journalism major, all I wanted to do was go be a major newspaper reporter and be an investigative reporter. That’s all I wanted to do as a kid and so so maybe that perspective on more documenting things that are happening as opposed to let me tell you how great I am. I never thought about that until this show, so thank you Phil. I feel like I’m in therapy. I feel like we’ve made a real break through here. Maybe that’s why I look that way.
Phil Jones: How many bottles of Tequila do you have?
Jay Baer: I don’t know, probably 40, 50 something like that. A bunch, I put it in my bio that I’m a Tequila collector and that was the greatest thing I’ve ever done because now every time I step on stage they say that I’m a Tequila collector and what do people send me as thank you gifts now? Free Tequila, so my advice is and this is just my little take away for the show, if you want to be remarkable the thing that you like the most, put that in your introduction or your biography and then it’s amazing how that tends to work out.
So, if you are a big fan of I don’t know salt water fish tanks, I’d be like hey I’m a huge fan of salt water fish tanks and guess what people are going to send you? They’re going to send you fish, so think that through. You got to reverse engineer your thank you gift.
Phil Jones: That’s it. Well I get it all the time in my world where I drink a lot of Bourbon. At least I like to drink Bourbon, so I now have an ever growing collection that I’m looking at here that now I’m running out of shelf space for.
Jay Baer: Yes, yes.
Phil Jones: I’m running out of liver capacity to be able to wok through, so this is why I need to get more friends to come and help me drink my Whiskey.
Jay Baer: You got to come out here to my area of the country and do the Louisville Kentucky Bourbon trail. It’s not too far from my house.
Phil Jones: I’ve done it a number of times and I’m there on Thursday next week.
Jay Baer: Oh fantastic, I will be in Prague unfortunately, but one of these days we’ll make it happen.
Phil Jones: One of the best things about our work is the places that we are least likely to bump into each other is in the places where we live. Right?
Jay Baer: Ain’t that the truth.
Phil Jones: That’s the kind of crazy thing, so just thinking about this area being remarkable. We’ve talked about some business ideas, now what if I’m just a normal person that wants to grow my reputation in some way, wants some of my individual brilliance to be shared with more people in the world. How would I go about that, what might be some steps I could take to either pivot, change, grow, evolve a reputation?
Jay Baer: Well, I think you have to understand that remarkability is typically tied to being different, not good.
Phil Jones: Okay.
Jay Baer: So, when it comes to remarkability, “good” is a four letter word, so same is late as I say all the time. So, if you want to be remarkable, if you want to be remembered, if you want to be talked about and discussed and want your ideas to take flight, it’s not about having ideas that are particularly good. Although that helps, it’s about having an idea or a style, or a circumstance, or a something that is different than what people expect and what they typically see. Incompetency does not create conversation, nobody ever says let me tell you about this perfectly adequate experience, or this perfectly adequate person I met last night.
That never, ever happens, right? You remember the weird guy with the crazy suit. There’s a guy in the farmer’s market here in my town who goes and buys groceries, he buys vegetables, whatever every Saturday and he always has a parrot on his shoulder. He’s like the parrot man, I’m not suggesting that the word remarkable requires you to buy a parrot, but it wouldn’t hurt. It would totally work, I could tell you that right now. It would totally work.
Phil Jones: We’re going to see 4,000 people wearing parrots tomorrow, right?
Jay Baer: Yeah, you should get an affiliate program setup right now, get a little bit of a commission on that. You have to have a thing, right? They say don’t try to be somebody else … or be yourself because everybody else is taken, that’s a really good piece of advice that you have to figure out what is your thing and then focus on that thing. I think when people try to be remarkable, one of the challenges is and one of the mistakes they make is they try to be remarkable in so many different areas and then it just waters it down. So, pick one or two things that people will remember, go deep into that and then people will actually remember it.
Phil Jones: Okay, and I guess some of this could also be … you could be something plus something else, right?
Jay Baer: Of course. Yeah.
Phil Jones: So, an accountant who loves to fish is more remarkable than an accountant?
Jay Baer: Oh my God, I’ve been talking about that for 10, 12, 15 years now, and I tell people all the time I used to do a lot of this kind of work. How do you as an executive or a business owner how do you become more well known in social media, more remarkable? I would always say your personal life is so much more interesting than what you do for a job. In 95-99% of the cases, your personal life is way more interesting. I used that exact example, I would say look the fact that you are a realtor is not interesting, right? There’s hundreds or thousands of them in every town, but if you’re the realtor who grows prize winning roses, that I remember. Right? You’re the rose guy, so on your business card you put roses. On your website, you put roses, when you pick up a new client you give them a rose. That is your shtick.
People sometimes get uncomfortable with that combination of personal and professional attributes, the rose thing has nothing to do with me being a realtor. Except it has everything to do with you being a realtor that people remember.
Phil Jones: Right. This thing goes on to the fact that people go on and can talk about you a little bit more, you’ve just got a brand new piece of material that I’ve had some privilege to see from the inside out from your co author in Talk Triggers. A brand new book coming out, which is this precise scenario, right? It’s how do we start more conversations, what is the thing that actually is the catalyst to allow this thing to be able to run on through? Where might there be some specific examples in every day life that unlike just this one specific example of the realtor who has prize winning roses, there are other things that people could perhaps consider to create their own talk triggers.
Jay Baer: Sometimes it’s operations, right, in this or how you conduct your life, maybe it’s the crazy party that you have every year. A friend of mine has a yacht rock party every year where he dresses as captain from the Captain and Tennille and it’s like all this nautical theme. That’s his thing, he’s known as the yacht rock guy in town, so you’ve got to embrace it and you got to own your differential. You see people walking around … we’re talking about the parrot guy, every time you see somebody walk around with a snake wrapped around their neck you’re like, yeah I remember that guy. I remember the boa constrictor guy.
Phil Jones: This is great if you want to do a parrot, or a snake, or you like roses, but what if you’re just a normal person?
Jay Baer: Yeah. I take umbrage with the fact that you would consider them to not be a normal person. It’s just a normal person with a snake, right? It’s okay, but maybe you’re the person … you just have to figure out … and I’ll tell you what works best. The guy with the parrot, loves parrots. The guy with the snake, loves snakes. The guy who’s the captain, loves yacht rock. The realtor who grows roses, loves roses. So, the best way to think about this is to do an audit of what you really love. What’s the thing or things that you would do for free forever? Or, if you won the lottery, what would you spend your time on forever if nobody was watching?
That’s your true passion, that’s the thing that really makes you work. That’s your operating system, that’s the thing that should make you remarkable. If you let that thing out and put a spotlight on it publicly, that’s the thing that will make you remarkable. What I find really interesting Phil, is that in most people that thing that they’re really, really passionate about, they tend to keep hidden. In many cases, not every case, but in many cases they’re like that’s just kind of the thing I do on the side in my basement on the weekends and it’s for me. Its my thing, I don’t like to talk about that with others, but that really typically is your recipe for remarkability.
Whatever thing you really, really, really love, that’s the thing because you’ll never get tired of it. That’s an important point, if you’re going to say this attribute of my personality of my life is going to be the thing that people remember. You better really like it because you can’t change it very often because then it gets very confusing for people. I love sport coats, and I’m going to have to love sport coats for a real long time, right? I can’t get off that train now and just like you, you can’t be like well today from now on it’s Gin. I’m no longer drinking Bourbon, now I’m drinking Gin. Everybody’s like I thought he was a Bourbon guy, right? So, you’ve got to be prepared to live this for a few years, so you better like it.
Phil Jones: So, your thing if you won the lottery and could do everything that you wanted to do all day every day is to hang out in sports coats?
Jay Baer: My thing would be, if I could do anything … I’ve never said this before publicly. My team knows this and my wife does, I don’t think anybody else, nobody is watching this yet, right? If I could do any job I would be the host of the Price is Right game show, or really any game show. That’s all I really want to do is to host a game show, Drew Carey is currently the host of the Price is Right. I think we’re about the same age unfortunately, but if anything ever happens to Drew, God bless Drew, I’m in. First call I’m making is Price is Right, I would love to host a game show. That’s my thing.
Phil Jones: You’d be so good at it. You’d be so good, I’d like to watch. I don’t like game shows, but I’d watch this one.
Jay Baer: Thank you, thank you. Let’s invent one, let’s do one together.
Phil Jones: Let’s do it, let’s do it. I think we’re going to put this out in the world and something is now going to happen and you’re going to get a call one day and it’s going to be like Jay . . . .
Jay Baer: I’ll tell you what, if I get a call from Sony or whoever produces that show like hey we need a fill in, man I would owe you big time Phil.
Phil Jones: Well, it might even be different, they might have named it something very slightly different like The Price is Kind of Close to This.
Jay Baer: Right, it’s adequate.
Phil Jones: Very good, very good. Jay your time has been really, really precious just the same and I’m super grateful for what you’ve shared. I learned stuff and I’m sure everybody else listening in, but on “Words With Friends” there’s a question I ask everybody. Nobody knows it’s coming and I want to ask this one of you and see what we get.
Jay Baer: All right.
Phil Jones: What’s your favorite word and why?
Jay Baer: My favorite word is “bludgeon”, which sounds quite horrible, but I just love the way it sounds. The actual way you say it and the sort of moves that your tongue and your lips have to make sounds like the word. It’s the whole thing really, I’ve loved it forever. Ever since I was a little kid, my mom is an English teacher and has 1700 million masters degrees in English so I was the kid who was always corrected on grammar and sentence structure at the dinner table, but “bludgeon” would be my answer.
Phil Jones: That’s a great answer, “bludgeon” and I wasn’t expecting it. Okay. When you see some of our other friends and their words, you can just see how remarkable that choice of word really is.
Jay Baer: Yeah, they’re word is like happy, or love, or puppies or whatever. Hey, you asked me an honest question, I gave you an honest answer.
Phil Jones: I’m going to see if I can make a sentence up.
Jay Baer: My second favorite word is “phlegm”, because I just love the way it’s spelled.
Phil Jones: Oh, with the P H right?
Jay Baer: P-H-L-E-G-M. Yeah, it’s like a complete train wreck, it has nothing to do with how it sounds. It’s the classic English word. You don’t notice it because we grew up in it, but English is one of the hardest languages to learn because there’s so many exceptions and it’s just kind of everything as well, but in this case you say it differently.
Phil Jones: Yeah, you try going to Ireland and people giving you their names and then you say spell it how? Okay, got it. Book signings in Ireland are always fun to me, but final question I guess is on this area of being remarkable or the word “remarkable”. Is there anything that you want to ask of me, we’ll do while the camera is still on?
Jay Baer: Why do you care so much about words?
Phil Jones: Why, because I believe they have the power to change the world, and I believe that if more people could pay more attention towards the things that came out of their mouth, the things that came out of their keyboards, they’d have a lot more influence and perhaps could use more of that stuff to do good things. It just fascinates me sometimes how somebody can present something some way, somebody could present something completely different. They can both have the best intentions, the best products, the best everything that they might want at that moment in time, but the words are the difference. That just keeps me confused and passionate. I think if I wasn’t doing what I would do for work right now, I’d do something similar just for fun.
Jay Baer: I think what you should do is walk around with different words on your shoulder and that would be your version of the parrot.
Phil Jones: Right, I could just be like a walking scrabble board or something.
Jay Baer: Yes, I love that.
Phil Jones: We could start a game show called Words With Friends and you could host it.
Jay Baer: I’m in. I think you should have a Scrabble suit so on the back of your suit is a magnetic patch and it’s got letters and people can go walk up behind you and spell things on your back.
Phil Jones: We could build triple word score all that kind of stuff could be going down and I think they’d be okay with this, right? Scrabble wouldn’t mind if we make a game show out of it?
Jay Baer: They’ve been knocked off so many times, they’ll be fine. They’re not going to care.
Phil Jones: Jay Baer, thank you for joining us, it’s always a treat. Look forward to catching up with you on the road some day soon.
Jay Baer: Thanks buddy.