About Jeremy Richman
For more than 20 years Jeremy Richman has been helping clients to go to market with powerful messages, branding and communication that move buyers to select them over their competitors. His sweet spot are businesses with complex products and services, such as B2B, professional services and financial services.
However, Jeremy’s personal passion is animal welfare. For many years he volunteered his, and his team’s, resources to help Voiceless with their branding and communications. In 2019 Jeremy joined the board of Greyhound Rescue (voluntary role), where he is director of new projects. www.greyhoundrescue.com.au
Lesson 1: Moments of truth 05m 08s.
Lesson 2: Value people by what they contribute, not by what they take 11m 27s.
Lesson 3: Buy now or… 15m 44s.
Lesson 4: Let a good cause find you and embrace it 18m 20s.
Lesson 5: People don’t have to like you to respect you 25m 39s.
Lesson 6: Engage on topics you are told to avoid 30m 06s.
Lesson 7: What you say may not be what they hear 34m 45s.
Lesson 8: Be clear on where you fit in your client’s lives 39m 00s.
Lesson 9: Writing is hard work – it should be the last thing you do 43m14s.
Lesson 10: Your best clients leave you alone 49m08s.
Jeremy Richman: [00:00:00] If I need to undergo surgery, there may be a surgeon who’s okay. But has a wonderful bedside manner. And another one who’s sort of gruff antisocial, doesn’t have a clue about small talk, but it is brilliant at surgery. And I rather have the latter cut me open than the former.
Robert Hossary: [00:00:17] Hello and welcome to 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn where we dispense wisdom, not just mere facts to an international audience, of rising leaders. My name is Robert Hossary and I’m your host. This podcast is sponsored by the Professional Development Forum, which helps diverse young professionals of any age accelerate their performance in the workplace. On this podcast, you’ll hear honest, practical advice that you can’t learn from a textbook because it took us 50 years to learn this stuff.
Today’s guest is Jeremy Richman, for more than 20 years, Jeremy has been helping clients go to market, with powerful messages and branding and communication.
Jeremy has worked closely in the financial and professional services sectors amongst others, but Jeremy’s personal passion is animal welfare. For many years, he has volunteered his resources to help Voiceless the Animal Protection Institute with their branding and their communication. And in 2019, he joined the board of Greyhound Rescue in a voluntary role as Director of New Projects.
Jeremy, welcome to the show. And thank you for speaking with us today.
Jeremy Richman: [00:01:30] Thank you very much. I’m flattered, to be asked.,
Robert Hossary: [00:01:33] I want to start this off with the one question that we always ask our guests and that is, can you remember your very first business lesson?
Jeremy Richman: [00:01:43] Mm, yes, I can. I was a student. I studied advertising and marketing in the UK, and somehow, I was able to get into what was then the only copywriting course in the whole of the UK and in Europe.
And it was fun, and it was creative. And in many ways, it couldn’t be much further removed from reality. After I graduated, I shopped my portfolio around a few agencies and marketing companies in London, and I was convinced that my creative genius would quickly land me a job, and it didn’t.
Robert Hossary: [00:02:16] So in other words, you were young.
Jeremy Richman: [00:02:19] I was young and Yeah, more than a little bit naive, but the one interview I got some really useful and very, very painful advice. And this person told me go and spend a year sale, any sales and I did, and it was bloody tough. I worked at a company that developed film and prints for professional photographers.
I ended up selling advertising space for the daily Telegraph in London, and that was back in the day, this actually was on fleet street. And really learned the tough lesson that if I’m going to achieve any success at all, in my chosen career in advertising marketing, it’s not going to be because people admire my witty headlines and it’s not going to be my job to impress my colleagues.
My job is to sell or to help my clients to sell, and I needed to understand what people have to read and hear. To turn themselves into buyers. So that was my first lesson. It was before my career took off. It stuck.
Robert Hossary: [00:03:23] That was an excellent advice though. That was excellent advice. Do you look, do you look back at it now and think to yourself, I am truly grateful?
Jeremy Richman: [00:03:32] I’m truly grateful for the advice. I’m also grateful for all those people who turned me down and forced me to take the kind of work that I didn’t want to do and thought it was nice. Well, it’s in way beneath the creative work that I assumed I’d be doing. But when you go out and you try and sell and you realize just how hard that is and to realize how hard it is to do that remotely, when you’re not actually sitting face-to-face, you’re doing this through advertising and marketing on behalf of someone else.
Yeah. That was a, a very, very productive lesson.,
Robert Hossary: [00:04:08] Oh, that’s brilliant. Because as you know, I have throughout my career met many marketing professionals and they don’t have your level of experience in sales. They don’t understand what it means.
They don’t understand what it means to talk to a client. So, the story you’ve just given us the anecdote you’ve just given us is to me, I wish every creative person went through that. They would understand the whole sales process so much better and their creative, their bi-lines, their jingles, whatever the hell they’re doing is going to be so much more on-point.
Jeremy Richman: [00:04:51] Yeah, you’re right. I think you should do the rest of this podcast and I’ll just go and have a scotch.
Robert Hossary: [00:04:55] That was, that was your lesson, Jeremy. Not mine. All right. Well, let’s get started with your, your 10 lessons. You sent me a list of 10 lessons that took you 50 years to learn. Let’s start with lesson number one, moments of truth.
What are moments of truth?
Jeremy Richman: [00:05:14] I mean, this is a really big topic, and it could be a podcast on its own, just focusing on this one, but the moments of truth that when you find out whether the people you’re dealing with, the companies you’re dealing with. When things go wrong, you know, when the chips are down, who are you dealing with?
You are dealing with people who are standing behind their promises, living up to the hype they’ve created, or do they all just sort of fall apart and look, at a personal level and a business level. There are companies that I will never, and people that I will never buy from again and never do business with again, and there are companies who will always be first and possibly the only ones on my shopping list. And often the difference between those two is what they did in those moments of truth.
Robert Hossary: [00:06:01] Do you have an example, Jeremy of something or a company you don’t need to name names, but an organization that has it rocked you to, to this epiphany?
Jeremy Richman: [00:06:12] Oh yeah. I’ll get to a couple of examples, but a gentleman by the name of Jan Carlzon, he was the CEO of Scandinavian Air Services.
I don’t know if you read his book. I mean, we’re talking pre-history here is the 1980s. But he wrote a book, coincidentally, called ‘Moments of Truth’. There is actually an anecdote at the very beginning of that book. And it starts with the story of this businessmen who had left his plane ticket in his hotel room.
And this was decades before you could check in with your phone and do all those sorts of things. So, when he got to the airport without a ticket, the airlines check-in staff were 100% within their rights to say, sorry, no ticket. You don’t get on the plane, but instead they did absolutely whatever they could to make sure he got on his flight anyway.
And that included calling his hotel, verifying that his ticket was actually on his bedside table where he said he’d left it and they sent a car to pick it up. Meanwhile, printed out a substitute ticket just in case the car didn’t bring the ticket back in time. And I can’t vouch for what this man’s attitude to that company was afterwards.
But if it was me and they flew the route that I wanted to fly on, I wouldn’t even consider another airline. After that. Let me give you a bit of a negative and a positive anecdote that things have happened to me in my career. I’ve worked with a couple of clients who have gone bankrupt. One of them was a partner in a professional services firm, a big global name.
And he owned a retail business in, I think what is now termed a side hustle and things went pear shaped, and he lost a lot of money and he behaved impeccably. He saw it as his personal business, and he saw himself as personally responsible for it. And he made a point of paying back every one of his creditors over time. When legally, he could have actually skirted that obligation. So, the other person I’ve known in his capacity, he was a senior executive at a large Australian financial services company. And He talked, great story. Talk big. He lectured anyone who would listen about ethics and about loyalty. And he left. He started his own consultancy business that didn’t work out particularly well.
His business went under, I was owed some money and the moment of truth came very, very noticeably and very quickly when he stopped talking about his business as his business. And started to refer to it as a third person, entity. He just distanced himself from everything, ethics, loyalty, all the big talk, just fell away in a flash.
It was like somebody who’s just caused a car wreck, standing with all the other bystanders and tut tutting about the mess. He just completely walked away from it. Now today, the former is one of my best clients. His business is flourishing. He is doing incredibly well. The latter, not so much, but I think the lesson here is that over time you learn to keep an eye out for these moments of truth, you sort of learn to predict them.
And to a degree you acquire a bit of a gut instinct for how a person, or an organization is likely to behave when the chips are down.
Robert Hossary: [00:09:27] What, what you’re talking about is integrity. This is, this is how I’ve translated. What, what you just said. It’s understanding a person’s integrity. And if they have integrity in the way they deal with you, they will always have integrity.
If they don’t then your pretty much banking on the fact that these people or this person that you’re dealing with, whether it’s in a relationship or whether it’s in a business is going to let you down in one way or another. Yeah, I have experienced this. I’m sure a lot of us have experienced this. I see what you mean by moments of truth.
And again, the, the, the word integrity is the only thing that comes to mind. Because if you are not true to your word, if you are not true to the relationship you have built, then, then you’re not, then you’re not worth following up. You’re not worth having that relationship with, so I get it. I get it, Jeremy.
I think it’s very clear. And it’s, it’s also something that people need to grasp. And obviously you have had experience with people who don’t have that personal integrity or the professional integrity that you needed from them. And that’s a thing. We need other people to have a level of integrity so we can trust them.
Jeremy Richman: [00:10:56] Yeah, absolutely. And you know, sometimes you just see the way some people are letting down a company that otherwise does have integrity.
Robert Hossary: [00:11:05] Yep. Yep. We’ve all seen that too. Haven’t we? Yeah, absolutely. All right. Well, that was great. Let’s move on to your, your second lesson which I think actually links or always connected to your first one.
So, lesson number two, value people by what they contribute. Not by what they take. So, I think I understand that, but explain to us a little more,
Jeremy Richman: [00:11:31] I think you and I have probably gone through a very similar process over the years. You just learn to value people, by very different set of measures than perhaps when you start your career.
And the more I reflect on this, the more I realized that I, and many others have shown far too much respect for people based almost exclusively on what they’ve managed to extract from society. Hmm, rather than on what they’ve contributed and look honestly, expensive cars, luxury homes, tell you very, very little about a person’s character.
And I think we need a different filter. We need a different framework in which we’re going to look at businesses and measure the benefits they generate for our community. I’ve got a huge admiration for people like Bill and Melinda Gates. And in Australia, people like Brian Sherman and his daughter.
These are people who have accumulated significant wealth and could do nothing for the rest of their lives except indulge themselves in luxury. And yet they devoted their money, their knowledge, their network, their time wholeheartedly to causes that they really care about to try and achieve stuff for others.
And I really do take my hat off to them, but you don’t have to be wealthy to be a contributor. And we’ve just seen this now with this current pandemic. I mean, it’s underscored the life and death role of frontline medical staff, and even people who clean places and make it safe for employees to go to work.
And we know the enormous contribution that’s made by people who work in areas like aged care and work with people with disabilities. And we obviously know what difference teachers make that can influence a person from, from childhood through to their entire life. So that’s what I mean by valuing people by what they contribute.
But there’s also those people who take, well, I was just going to say, I look with a mixture of sort of anger and despair. It, the kind of exploitative practices that we see such as zero hour contracts. And I don’t know, actually know if they’ve come to Australia or not, but, you know, they force vulnerable people to except totally insecure employment with no health safety net.
And they wrap it up in cute phrases, like the gig economy. And I just wish we had a stronger community backbone. And actually, shun these people in these organizations for the way they deplete what we have as a community instead of contributing.
Robert Hossary: [00:13:55] You’re not going to get an argument from me. I’m on that bandwagon with you and.
You know, I, I read very recently one, a celebrity who is wealthy. I’m talking about Dolly Parton, who’s a millionaire. And I read recently when it was discovered that her foundation helped promote or help research the coronavirus vaccine that we’ve got now or the COVID-19 vaccine, some smart posters put in there she could be a billionaire if she didn’t give away all her money. She’s given away all the money and she’s still got more money than you and I ever will have. So, the question I’ve always asked is how much is enough? And people like Dolly Parton, people like Bill Gates, as you’ve mentioned, you know, these are people who are doing things for society, with their wealth.
So, I’m not going to get into, you know, the, the social aspect shall I put it that way? But. I agree with your sentiment. I agree with, with that, if more people did more for their fellow human beings, we might be in a much better place to live.
Jeremy Richman: [00:15:06] Did you, by any chance see any of the interviews with Dolly Parton?
Robert Hossary: [00:15:10] Yeah, I did. She’s very, very down to earth. Wonderful person.
Jeremy Richman: [00:15:15] Could you see the way her face was just lighting up as she was talking about her involvement in this and feeling that she’s contributed something?
Robert Hossary: [00:15:24] I mean, yes. Yeah. I mean, and, and that’s what it’s all about. And it’s also supporting your point, speaking of which lesson number three, buy now, or…
Well, I mean, we all need more stuff, Jeremy. So, you know, I understand the buy now, but what is the or? Or what?
Jeremy Richman: [00:15:43] So it’s always buy now, we’re going to have to offer you a better deal later.
This is one of the more significant lessons in my life, and it comes with age and experience, but it’s learning how to deal with or pushback. At pressure. Now this is sales pressure, but there’s all kinds of other pressure, but learning to deal with it has also had a big impact on my decision-making. I mean, obviously you get pressure from people who want to close the sale now, right now telling you that you have to buy now.
And yes, I complete that sentence in my head with all we may have to offer you a better deal later. And look, I’m not going to claim to be a great negotiator, but I think we’re all unbeatable negotiators when we know what we want and we’re genuinely prepared to walk away when we can’t get it, because know there’s always going to be another deal.
There’s always going to be another investment opportunity, another business opportunity. And I think also understanding that from a buyer’s perspective has helped influence my own conduct when I’m selling my company services to prospective clients. And that sort of works in two ways. Firstly, you know, understanding just how counterproductive pressure from my side can be, you know, this by now, or you just kind of appear a bit desperate, but also pushing back at clients.
And if you exclude excuse the paraphrasing, know the price, but don’t, or choose not to comprehend the value. I’m not going to undersell my services. If, if clients are not willing to pay a fair price, then we’re probably not well-suited anyway.
Robert Hossary: [00:17:21] And that’s an important lesson that, that is incredibly important for anybody in business, in sales or in life.
And I’ll get to that in a sec, but. If the buyer or the seller is not prepared to recognize the value of the relationship of the deal walk away. Yeah. You know, and again, in life, it’s the same thing. If you’ve got a partner that doesn’t recognize how important you are in their lives. Maybe that’s not the right partner and I’m not giving life advice here.
I’m just seeing the parallels between them.
Jeremy Richman: [00:18:00] I don’t know. There could be some mileage here. Robert Hossary life coach.
Robert Hossary: [00:18:05] I don’t think so, Jeremy, but thank you. Okay, well, let’s look at lesson number four, let a good cause. Find you an embrace it. Now I’ve known you for a while. Jeremy and I’ve known you had other causes that you are still pursuing, but I had no idea until very recently until our last communication, maybe several months ago. How passionate you are with this particular cause you found with, you know, the, the, the whole animal rescue.
Jeremy Richman: [00:18:38] Well, this actually started with my two children, my daughter, in particular, she opened my eyes to the animal welfare horrors that the going on.
And many of us and I was guilty of this for probably too long part of my life. We just willfully avoid seeing it. We just don’t want to know. And when you do delve into the scale of suffering is huge. I mean, we’re talking beyond huge, we’re talking billions, and I think it’s a good reason that animal welfare has actually been flagged as one of the next great social justice movements, by the way, as an aside for those people that don’t care about animal welfare, it’s having a very, very significant and growing impact on the investment market and is deemed a serious business risk as well. For those organizations, that are still heavily involved in it, but this cause really gripped me.
And as you said, it’s the cause that sort of shapes my endeavors outside of paid work and will undoubtedly be a cause I support for the remainder of my life. And as you generously said at the beginning, we’ve donated a fair bit of time to Voiceless over the years. Obviously, we didn’t charge them for it.
I, I find them pro bono a little bit pretentious. Although I only found out recently that it’s actually short for pro bono Publico meaning for the public good, which I probably should have known, but anyway, voiceless is a wonderful organization, primarily it was focused on trying to change government policy and shape the minds of young lawyers.
And it’s now sort of shifted its focus a bit more to education for anybody in, in my sort of space that was actually our first major non-paying client. And one of the things that I learned very quickly there or concluded very quickly is that if you’ve got a non-paying client, you’ve got to treat them exactly the same way that you would a paying one. You have to schedule and prioritize their work and set the same quality standards that you would for somebody else.
You can’t sort of go well, that’s a non-paying client. I haven’t got time for that. I’ll do that. I’ll get back to them when I can. And then the greyhound thing 2018, October the 12th, two o’clock 2018, my wife and I adopted a Greyhound. Anyway, I ended up joining the board of Greyhound Rescue, about a year and a half ago, and it’s a very small organization.
So, on a shoestring budget, hugely dependent on volunteers and does the most astonishing and heartwarming work taking Greyhounds that the industry doesn’t want. And lovingly rehabilitating and rehoming them. And when I say doesn’t want, I think most of us know what happens to the ones that the industry doesn’t really want.
There’s a huge amount of care that goes into it and into matching the right human and the right hound. And, but for me, I have met some of the, the best, most decent, most compassionate people I could ever hope to meet. And there’s some senior executives, they’re professionals, lawyers, architects, engineers people working in senior government roles, business owners, sort of students, and pretty much every walk of life.
And the organization is actually fantastic. I mean, awarded outstanding rescue group of the year in Australia, one of our volunteers was awarded a volunteer of the year and I feel very lucky that they let me hang around and contribute whatever I can.
Robert Hossary: [00:22:00] Well, let me, let me ask you this, Jeremy, about, about that, or would it be fair to say that you, you know, these people that you’ve met who are outstanding it’s because they have a shared passion for this good cause. And is that why your network is growing with people who feel the same way as you do and offering you the same level of respect for being as passionate as they are?
Jeremy Richman: [00:22:34] It is undoubtedly, if you get involved with Greyhound rescue, you had joined a cult. There’s no question about that.
These are actually outstanding people in their own rights. Many of them are hugely successful. But what happened? The, the commonality is
Robert Hossary: [00:22:54] My point was, are they are you finding them even more? Fantastic and outstanding because they share your passion.
Jeremy Richman: [00:23:03] They could be passionate about other causes. It’s the decency, the compassion, the humanity, the best of humanity that we’re seeing.
And I don’t want to go into this in too much detail, but I think if you look at the Greyhound racing industry in Australia, you’ve got two very, very different extremes here. You’ve got some of the worst of Australia. And in these rescue organizations, you built some of the best conduct you’ll find in Australia.
I just want to just close with a little thought on this because you know, you really, and as we were talking before about Dolly Parton, you just can’t put a price on the personal satisfaction and personal reward you get from contributing to a cause that you care about. But this is where I just want to quickly touch on that notion of let a good cause find you because I think many people are told you’ve got to get on a board of a charity or a not-for-profit organization because it’s prestigious or because it offers good networking opportunities and good career opportunities.
Maybe it does, but when a cause finds you and touches your heart and you really care about it deeply, truly madly, the rewards are absolutely unmatched.
Robert Hossary: [00:24:17] So how do you let a cause find you?
Jeremy Richman: [00:24:21] That’s a one that I’d probably have to think about for a bit, because I know how this one found me and it just found me through, through my children.
But my point is that there are so many causes out there. Don’t chase the one that you think has the most prestige or that is best for your career chase, the one that touches your heart.
Robert Hossary: [00:24:40] That’s that is excellent advice. And, you know, I would say to find the one that touches your heart, you’d need to be out there looking around. You can’t have your eyes closed. Lesson number five, Jeremy.
Jeremy Richman: [00:24:53] Oh, yes, you’ll like the anecdote here.
Robert Hossary: [00:24:55] And I liked the point because I will share this with you. Because I’ve known you for a while because I respect you. And I would be proud to say that we’re friends when I first met you. I thought, man, this guy is just pissing me off, but it did not stop me respecting you.
And that is your point. People don’t have to like you to respect you. I do like you now, by the way and respect you. But you know, initially, Oh, you’re talking the initial point. So. Yeah, it’s an excellent point. Can you share with us some of your experience on this?
Jeremy Richman: [00:25:36] Well, look, first of all, it is nice when people like you.
I mean, there’s no question about it, but it can be beneficial to you. You get more leeway; you get more second chances. But it’s not always going to achieve what you want. And fairly early in the business relationship I’ve got with my business partner, we each had our own company, and then we worked together for a while and then we formed one unit, one brand, but very early in the business relationship, he took me to a meeting with a long-term client of his, and we were going to work on a communications piece that was aimed at helping them win new business.
So, I needed to understand stuff like what the differentiators and their key selling points were and sat in this client’s office. And it was small round table and meeting room clients telling me all about their products and services. And I’m holding my hands pen and it’s hovering above the paper.
And after 15 minutes, she said to me, why haven’t you written anything, why aren’t you taking any notes? I rather arrogantly. And rather ungraciously said, well, because you haven’t said anything worth writing.
Robert Hossary: [00:26:43] Well, that sounds like you, Jeremy.
Jeremy Richman: [00:26:45] Oh, it does. It does. And it was rude and, but it wasn’t off the cuff.
It was actually very deliberate move on my part because on many occasions I’ve talked to people about their company’s products and services and they just trot out these well-worn phrases mixed with a few cliches, and there’s usually something about their commitment to clients and shifting some paradigms and all of them slumping things.
And I’m fairly sure that they’re not going to be persuaded by content that vacuous, if they were on the receiving end of it. And I’ve got no idea why they expect other people to believe it when they’re dishing it out much of the time it’s, you know, you prod gently. Like you’re doing, and you ask for another level of information, you ask for a bit more detail, but sometimes you just got to jolt them out of this sort of lazy jargon non-thinking thinking and make them work a bit harder and they don’t tend to like me for that. And I suppose potentially could cost me a client. Although that hasn’t happened yet.
Robert Hossary: [00:27:41] So what, what was the outcome though? After you told her, what was the outcome?
Jeremy Richman: [00:27:45] The outcome was, she wasn’t happy. She was very miffed, but she ended up providing me some really, really good insights.
Which we were able to turn into really good communication. The upshot was this on the next project. She said to my business partner, I want Jeremy to work on this. Just don’t bring him to any meetings.
Robert Hossary: [00:28:08] Well, as you said, You know, you don’t have to like you to respect you, but that is a very, it’s a very tenuous lesson only because if you don’t have the wherewithal to be able to read the situation, read the person, you can really damage a relationship. Yep. So, while I see the lesson and I understand it, and I’m sure our listeners do. Be very cautious when you apply that to your lives, you’re not all Jeremy Richman.
You’re not all going to be able to tell a client that they’re idiots and get away with it.
Jeremy Richman: [00:28:46] Look there, there is something that’s very defined about the work that I was doing at the time, and I needed to get information from them. And if I hadn’t done that, I would have walked away with a bag of fluff, which I couldn’t have used, would have done the client a disservice would have done me no good at all. My reputation doesn’t get enhanced by turning out fluff, but I think you can extrapolate this to other areas. I mean, if I need to undergo surgery, there may be a surgeon who’s okay. But has a wonderful bedside manner manor and another one who’s sort of gruff, antisocial, doesn’t have a clue about small talk, but he’s brilliant at surgery.
And I rather have the latter cut me open than the former.
Robert Hossary: [00:29:30] It’s a very powerful lesson, but again, be very cautious how it’s applied, but it’s true. People don’t have to like you to respect you. Okay. Let’s move on to lesson number six. Engage on topics that you were told to avoid. Now, I, I really don’t think this is wise at all.
Jeremy. We’ve been told many times to avoid religion and politics. We’ve been told not to talk about you know, personal issues. And now your saying, yeah, go ahead. Have a conversation about it. I don’t know how, how well that’s going to go.
Jeremy Richman: [00:30:06] I don’t know how well it’s going to go either, but you’re, you’re right.
People had told him emphatically, stay away from politics, stay away from religion, stay away from, personal comments. And in general, people accept that as a, as a wise policy. And look, I, I know of a professional services firm, people would just tell don’t comment on some new item of clothing that a colleague of yours is wearing.
So, I couldn’t say to you, nice coat Robert. That was so frowned upon. And I personally think this is actually quite dangerous and it’s quite damaging and that we shouldn’t talk to people. (Robert Hossary) Why do you say that? (Jeremy Richman) Well, because we need to learn how to address difficult issues that we’ve got a difference of opinion on, we need to learn how to understand other people’s perspective, and we need to learn how to persuade them of the merit of our argument.
And we need to learn to do that in a way that’s respectful and, and civilized. And I think there’s a couple of important aspects to this. One is this whole issue about embracing diversity. If. All we’re doing is embracing diversity by saying, well, that means we engage with people who’ve got a different skin color to ours or different country of origin or different native language.
That’s not diversity. We need diversity of perspectives and views and beliefs, ideas of accepted wisdoms. We need a diversity of experiences. I mean, that’s the kind of stuff that brings new and interesting thinking into play. The other side of that is if you look at what’s going on around the world at the moment, because people are not managing these conversations. They’re taking more and more intolerance stands.
They’re taking more and more extremist stance and not listening to each other. There’s no dialogue, they’re not persuading each other they don’t get the other side, they just assume they’re uninformed fools or enemies. And there’s a, you must remember that SBS program. ‘Go back to where you came from’.
Robert Hossary: [00:32:01] SBS is an Australian television broadcaster that specializes in non-English programs.
And no, I don’t actually remember that particular program.
Jeremy Richman: [00:32:12] This program, they took a group of Australians who had some very, very firm views on asylum seekers. A hot topic in this country for quite a while now. And they gave them the opportunity to experience what those people had gone through. So why they’d left their home countries and the risks they took and the dangers they faced, and they learn, they understood you know, some of them you could see completely changed their position.
Others didn’t budge at all, but they had conversations that went beyond slogans and they learn to see the world a little bit more the way other people saw it.
Robert Hossary: [00:32:47] Look, the point you’re making is very valid. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say, I can’t see it happening today. As much as you have enlightened people who want to do this, especially when, when the world is so polarized, as you pointed out.
I understand what you’re saying. I understand that having these conversations would help bridge that gap. I mean, this, this is a very, very large point. We can talk about this for a long time, cause there’s a lot of hurt at the moment. In Australia, in, in the U S in, in Europe in the UK, in almost every country in the world has got this division.
And I understand what you’re saying. Talk to people, engage in the topics that you, that you’ve been told to avoid and see whether or not you can find common ground or just at least understand. Try to understand their point of view. Is that correct?
Jeremy Richman: [00:33:51] Yeah, just try and see the world a little bit. The way they see it and try and get them to see the world a little bit, the way you see it and learn that there are alternatives to taking extremist positions.
If more of us do that, then the extremists really are sitting out there alone on the extreme edges.
Robert Hossary: [00:34:09] Well, as I said, I can talk to you about this forever, but it does also segue into your next point. Lesson number seven. What you say may not be what they hear.
Jeremy Richman: [00:34:21] Yes. Well, one, one, one benchmark for this. It was actually my son when he was a toddler, and we were driving, and I was in the front seat driving and he was in the back strapped to booster seat and he picked up a bit of a cough and he was coughing repeatedly and quite annoyingly.
And after a few minutes, I turned to him, he said, Julian, that’s his name, please put your hand over your mouth. And he did and he coughed again, and he gave me a look of total disappointment and said, it’s not working.
Now, I had such a clear purpose in communicating my request and he had an entirely different benefit in mind. In carrying it out. And that has actually served me as a benchmark in terms of communication as well. And it’s a big part of what we do within, within eyelevel, within my business, which is being attuned to the audience’s level of knowledge and the way they’re likely to interpret things.
And our standpoint is that we try and make things, make communication as simple as it needs to be. But no simpler. So, you’re not going to get much traction. If you’re trying to convince a sophisticated investor to put some money into a private equity fund, if you start explaining 101 stuff to them about what compound interest is, or the fact that an investment funds way of pooling money so you can, buy something bigger than you can buy on your own. So yeah, you, get bitten by these things over the years and you carry the bruises and, and, and you learn, and you learn that not only people may not interpret things the way you want them to, they don’t follow the communication process the way you want them to.
Robert Hossary: [00:36:01] What do you mean by, by that they don’t follow the communication process.
Jeremy Richman: [00:36:06] Give you an example. Many, many years ago, we produced a really beautiful corporate capability brochure for an international search company. One of the big names, very well-known head-hunting firm. This was one of those documents with, you know, incredibly impressive production values, absolutely lovely to hold.
And it had this compelling written and visual story that started on page one, finished on page last and in between we thought each section was very cleverly building on the one proceeding it to reach this wonderful conclusion and the chairman loved it. We’re very proud of our work. And then I saw him hand it to a client in his office and the client picked up this brochure and flipped through it backwards, starting from the back page, towards the front stopping and a few random pages.
And that was a very, very, very painful, but a very, very important lesson.
Robert Hossary: [00:36:59] Yep. Okay. I get that. But how would that happen in conversation?
Jeremy Richman: [00:37:05] I’m not looking at this so much in conversation. Again, a lot of our workers is we’re working on behalf of clients to put information in front of their clients in a way that we need them to consume it.
And you just cannot predict the route that somebody will take through a website or through an app or through a printed brochure.
Robert Hossary: [00:37:24] Okay. So, in real life, I, I get that. Now. I understand what you’re saying now, and that’s true. That’s true. That’s why you have, you know, flow user flows on website. So that people can see, that’s why Google analytics tells you what page people land on.
That’s why you have all of this. Yep. Yep. I get, I get that. But your anecdote with your son is probably the most powerful thing I’ve heard in a while, by the way. And it’s a little know it’s trust. So, it’s just so clear if you could present your requirements or as you say, if you could, if you say something to someone that they hear and understand.
Then your life would be easier, but if you say to some something to someone who doesn’t interpret it the same way it’s going to make your life a little difficult or interesting.
Interesting. Thank you, Jeremy.
Jeremy Richman: [00:38:20] He’s been a very interesting child.
Robert Hossary: [00:38:22] Yeah, well, let’s move on lesson number eight, be clear on where you fit in your clients’ lives.
Well, Jeremy, I don’t fit anywhere in my client’s lives. They have their own thing. They’re clients. Why should I even fit in their lives?
Jeremy Richman: [00:38:37] Well, the simple explanation that I give for this probably fits a bit more into. Pre or post COVID world, but you know, we, we, we can dream. So let me give you an example.
You’re at the office, it’s getting close to one. O’clock lunchtime. It’s a busy day. You’ve got a lot of work to do. You want some food, and you want some coffee, and you walk around the corner to a deli that sells good, fresh, nutritious food, and you buy container of tofu and mung bean salad and a bottle of water and a carob crunch and a takeaway coffee and your back, your desk 12 minutes later.
And tomorrow you’ve got a client visiting from interstate and you want to show them that you value them, and you love them and appreciate them and appreciate the effort they’ve made to come visit you, and you. Book a table at a great restaurant with water views and maybe a bit of local character in a place that they wouldn’t find on their own.
And you spend a couple of hours and you enjoy some fine dining with them. And it’s very, very easy to see where those two different eateries fit into your life. But you see so many companies that are trying to be everything to everyone. And if clients don’t know where to place you within the context of the things they need to do, they’re not going to bother trying to figure it out.
They’re just not going to put you anywhere. And that’s my point in this.
Robert Hossary: [00:39:50] I still don’t get it. I still don’t. Don’t quite understand if, if I’m going to. Fit into my clients’ lives. It’ll be in a business sense.
Jeremy Richman: [00:40:00] I am talking about a business sense. I’m not talking about a personal sense,
Robert Hossary: [00:40:03] In a business sense, and I will only fit into their business life in a very slim category of where they need me or my service beyond that, my clients would never think of me. They wouldn’t even,
Jeremy Richman: [00:40:17] I’m not, I’m not, I’m not suggesting that they do, but I’m saying within the context of that little slim piece of light that you belong in and you can provide them the services they need solve their problems, help them achieve whatever opportunities there thereafter.
You need to be able to articulate that you need to be able to demonstrate that to people. And when you’ve just got these sorts of broad explanations of, we do all sorts of wonderful things and they’re great. And you’re asking clients to potential clients to figure out how your services will fit into aiding their business.
You’re asking them to do something that they will not do. You have to tell them, not sort of go, Hey, we do stuff. If you need stuff. Come to us, you need to be able in the same way that the simple deli and the, and the nice restaurant, you know exactly when you want that one. When you want that one, you need to be able to do that at a business level as well.
By the way, just a cute, useful little tip that I picked up somewhere. I can’t remember where, but if you trust the place that you’re going to take a client to, and you should trust them, because if you don’t trust them,
Robert Hossary: [00:41:24] why are you taking your client there? Yep.
Jeremy Richman: [00:41:26] Yeah. But what I’ve learned to do is actually paid the bill well before the booking.
So, if the bookings at one o’clock, I’ll go in there at 12 o’clock hand over my credit card, tell them to tot up the bill at 10% and that’s it. And then when you’re finished eating, you do some, you, you done Mr. Client, Mrs. Client, you just get up and walk out to very perplexed looks on their side.
Robert Hossary: [00:41:48] Yep. Yep. That works. I see how that would work very well too, because there is a, an element of unpleasantness when it comes to a bill. So very clever. That’s a good tip. Thank you very much for that. All right. Well, that, that was, that was rather deep Jeremy. That was rather deep, but in a nutshell, I think it’s a very, very important lesson.
For a lot of people to understand, especially in business, understand where you fit, even, even in your personal lives, understand where you fit in with your friends and with your family. You can’t be all things to all people. All right. So, let’s move on to lesson number nine. Writing is hard work. It should be the last thing you do.
Okay. I know many authors and they, they agree with you that it’s hard work, but why Jeremy, is it the last thing that you should?
Jeremy Richman: [00:42:50] Well, first of all, it is hard work but let’s again, just put this in context we’re talking about business writing here, not people writing novels, not people for whom writing is the profession.
Robert Hossary: [00:43:01] Well writing is your profession, you know,
Jeremy Richman: [00:43:04] and so I’m going to provide a little bit of an insight into the way I work around this stuff, which is mainly you sit staring at the computer and two little beads of blood appear on your forehead, but that’s not a technique that I necessarily recommend, but I remember working actually with an American executive who was based here in Australia and he was incredibly articulate.
As many Americans are. And when he spoke, he was fluid, and it was full of expression. It was actually a pleasure to sit back and listen to him. And I was totally floored when I received a page that he had written, that was to be used as a foreword for, I think it was an industry report and it was dull and it was stilted, it was full of jargon and I couldn’t help, but cringe just reading it.
And I’ve seen a lot of businesspeople write the same way and a lot of people struggle to write, and I think. I think that in many cases, not all, but in many cases, it’s down to one reason. They start the process of writing by writing. Now, what I mean by that is they write the first sentence or paragraph, then they rewrite it and write it again and again and again, and you know, in the old days you would have had a rubbish bin full of papers torn out of the typewriter in despair. And now you just have an electronic version of that, but the fact that we’re saving the trees, hasn’t actually solved that problem. So, if I can run through how I go about this, maybe there’ll be some benefit from somebody. So. First of all, you start by being crystal clear on what your objective is.
What do you want people to do when they read or hear what you wrote? How do you want them to respond? How do you want them to feel or their perceptions that you need to change? Key facts that they don’t have that you want them to have. You need to have an objective, then you work out. Your messages should be to achieve that objective.
So, what you need to tell them what messages will change the perceptions, what facts will enable them to make the decisions that you want them to make down to what tone of voice, you know, even if you’re writing an email to a colleague or a boss, you know, do you want to keep it light? You need to keep it light.
What do you need to do? And as you’re doing this, you just. Jot this content down in no particular order using whatever software you’re comfortable with or pen and paper, and you, you just dumped this content, then you create a structure. So, what order do I need to communicate this information in? And you try and think through that from your audience’s perspective, not necessarily from your own and by the way, just another tip.
And it was a very good idea. I encountered when writing emails and, but I think it applies just as well to verbal communication is to start by stating what you want. And a lot of people write their emails, and they provide you with the background. They provide you with all sorts of outlines of issues and touch on the solution.
And then finally at the very, very end, they get to the request for them, what you do. And I think a much better option. And again, I didn’t come up with this, but I’ve adopted it and I love it. Is you tell people at the very beginning what you want? Then you tell them why and what the benefits will be.
Anyway, going back to the structure, you’ve got a structure, you’ve got all these bits and pieces that you’ve jotted down. You put all the messages where they belong within that structure. You move them around because they don’t know you’re not going to put them in the right place. Initially. Then when you’ve done all of that, your head is clear.
You sit down and you can actually turn your mind to smithing words. And if you think that process takes too long, just compare it to writing that opening paragraph 20 times.
Robert Hossary: [00:46:30] No, no, I don’t think it takes too long. I think it’s a, it’s a great process. It’s a great technique to use and learn. And I thank you for sharing it with us.
When I first got into business, I would write letters to clients back then, those letters. Introductory letter to a client. You’re going to love this Jeremy three pages long. And this is exactly what you have just said. All the crap, all the fluff in the beginning of this aren’t we wonderful. We’ve been in business.
We’ve done this. We can do that these are our client, by the way, can I have an appointment right at the bottom of page three? Now today I struggle to put two paragraphs together because it’s so concise. So, I hear you. And that process is, is brilliant. Well done. Thank you.
Jeremy Richman: [00:47:16] Can I just point out when I’m talking about this process?
This is a process I’m recommending to people who are in business, but writing is not what they’re hired for.
Robert Hossary: [00:47:26] Yep. Well, hang on, hang on. I’m going to take issue with you today in the world we live today. Writing should be what we’re all hired for and
Jeremy Richman: [00:47:36] But the job title is not.
Robert Hossary: [00:47:39] No, it’s not. No, it’s not. You know, I would strongly advise people to rewind and listen to that, those points again, make sure you jot down Jeremy’s instructions because it will help you be more succinct. It will help you clear your head and add clarity to your messaging. So, thanks for that Jeremy.,
Jeremy Richman: [00:48:02] I think if I wanted to summarize that it’s think before you write.
Robert Hossary: [00:48:06] Excellent advice for anybody. Actually, excellent advice for any part of your life. Okay. Let’s go to lesson number 10, which is something I don’t understand. Jeremy, you’re going to have to explain this because it’s just, it just doesn’t sit well with me. Lesson number 10, your best clients leave you alone. Why do I want my clients to leave me alone, Jeremy?
Jeremy Richman: [00:48:30] In my case, they’re my best clients.
They’re my hardest clients to deal with. And to an extent it’s because they know me too well for my own good. They know that I care about my work. They know that my team cares about the work and that will keep at a project longer and invests more in it when they leave us alone. And I think the lesson cuts across, beyond my limited sphere to pretty much the whole work spectrum.
When you micromanage people, you take the responsibility and accountability off your shoulders. It’s off their shoulders. It’s almost physical. You, you can, you can see it lift off their shoulders. They’re no longer responsible, exclusively for them, for the output. It’s now a shared task. I can go back to one of the earlier experiences, which is in the days when dinosaurs roamed, the earth and type setting was done with bromides.
Most people listening to this, wouldn’t have a clue what that is. The bromides and typesetting is basically tight produced on photographic paper. So, you cut out, cut up, laid out together with the images by graphic artists who then creates the artwork. The printing plates made from and all of this was completely made redundant when desktop publishing came in. Anyway, I was responsible for large corporate project for a holding company that was showcasing. I think they had a couple of dozen, large companies in their portfolio and they wanted to make sure it was done right. So, I went to the typesetting company to work with my designer and the bromide machine. And that was, I don’t know if I made a mistake, but I certainly learned from it because I spotted an error in one of the first bromides to come out of the machine and pointed it out. And at that moment, the whole dynamic of, of the work changed and I became the backstop. They just did stuff, handed it to me for approval and it took the weight off their shoulders and put it on onto mine.
And as I said, I see that happen repeatedly across the spectrum with suppliers that we work with. And I said, you can feel almost, you can feel a physical shift when the mentality goes from thinking about how to do something, to tell me what to do and I’ll do it. And that’s where I’m saying that yes, your input as a client is obviously required, but once you’ve briefed somebody stop, micromanaging them, leave them alone, let them suffer for their art, let them do whatever it is they need to do until they’re turning over some work that they think not it’s work that you, the client would accept, but it’s work that they would accept. And hopefully that, that, that standard has got to be higher.
Robert Hossary: [00:51:00] Yeah. Work that they would accept. That’s some very good advice, Jeremy, that’s some very good advice. Well, we’ve just gone through all your 10 lessons and before I let you go, we have one last question for you in your career. In, in, in your 50 plus years, what have you unlearned? Well, this is something that you held onto as, as truth as, as the Paragon of, of your belief system.
And then something happened. You gain more experience, more wisdom and went yeah, I don’t believe that anymore.
Jeremy Richman: [00:51:36] Well, what I’m actually got for you here as a personal story not a business story, that’s fine. And this happened not long after we arrived in Sydney and we were exploring around Darling Harbour.
And I was on the upper level of Darling Harbour on the bridge that goes across to Pyrmont. And I had that same son again in his pram. And my wife and daughter were wandering around the ground level, where the escalators are I think there was someone near the aquarium and I don’t know why, but we were pretty much alone on the bridge.
There was nobody else. And we were heading towards the escalators and then suddenly this big bloke appeared. The full punk gear, the boots, the nose ring, the muscle, t-shirt the spiky hair, scary as anything. And he was striding purposefully at 90 degrees to us. And he was going to cut us off just before we reached the escalators.
And he did, he got there just before we did and he’s blocking our way. And he looked directly at me, and he look to the pram and said, “Mate, do you want to hand getting that down the stairs?” And I unlearned a hell of a lot that day.
Robert Hossary: [00:52:47] Well, yeah, sort of don’t judge, a book by its cover story for you.
Jeremy Richman: [00:52:52] A little bit of that. And you know, that clothes maketh the man? Nah!
Robert Hossary: [00:52:57] Well, especially coming from the UK, I’m sure that you know, the punk scene for you have been very different to the punk scene in Australia.
Jeremy Richman: [00:53:05] And that was where a lot of my trepidation came from. So, I thought we were in for a real problem. and I unlearned an awful lot there.
Robert Hossary: [00:53:13] That’s wonderful, Jeremy. Okay, we will call it a show. Thank you very much, Jeremy. I really appreciate you making time to be with us today. You’ve been listening to the international podcast of 10 lessons It Took Me 50 Years to Learn our guest today was Jeremy Richman.
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