The Art of Conflict and Communication with Ben Baker

Full Transcript:

Hey there. Thanks for joining us for tales of misadventure, a podcast all about business blunders. On this podcast, Nicole Donnelly, founder of dmg digital talks to entrepreneurs and learns how they turn their lemons into lemonade. dmg digital is a content marketing agency focused on helping manufacturers attract new buyers through digital self serve. Nicole Donnelly is a fourth generation entrepreneur, a girl mom, and an avid traveler. Now let's head into a tale of misadventure with your host, Nicole Donnelly. Hello, and welcome to tales of misadventure, where amazing entrepreneurs share their stories of failure and how they turn lemons into lemonade. Today, I am so honored to be joined by my dear friend, Ben Baker. And Ben is so great at helping organizations communicate value inside the work. Too many of us focus on communicating our value outside organization. But the challenge is if people inside your organization don't understand and believe in your story, what you do and why and who you do it for, they won't be able to communicate it to clients, prospects or vendors.

For more than a quarter century, Ben has been helping organizations tell their story, build cultures around it, share their vision, mission and goals and drive change all through developing more effective internal communication strategies and processes. Not only that, but Ben is also a published author of two amazing books, powerful personal brands, a hands on Guide to Understanding yours, and leading beyond a crisis a conversation about what's next. On top of all that Ben's also a father and husband and community leader volunteer and also been he has been podcasting since before podcasting was even a thing. So he is, you know, a legend in the podcasting industry. So, ladies and gentlemen, welcome Ben Baker to the show today. The goal, I am so excited about this maybe legend in my own mind, you know, let's, let's get this started. I mean, yes, I have been podcasting for 11 years. But I got buddies of mine that have been doing this for 20. So I'm not quite an OG, I'm right, somewhere in the middle there. But you know, I've done this for a year or two. So I got to shorten that bio, you know, we are going okay. All right.

Like it's it's enough, you just sit there. All right. I just call me Ben. I'm happy with his bed. I love the name bed. My brother's name is Ben. So I hear that name. And it just warms my heart warms my heart to my soul. It's a beautiful name. And I would just love to start. So I'm just curious about what was it that brought you into podcasting so long ago? What was the what was the thing that you're like, I want to do this? Well, I feel as I kept joking with you off air, I have a great face for radio. And about 1112 years ago, I was doing some radio work with some friends of mine and right with digital radio was first coming on board. And I found that it was just stilted. It was just is it was still that 23 and a half minute process. You know, for every for every half hour, every half hour you got you have to wait three minutes. It's, it's okay, it's intro, and then you go up for commercial, then you come back from commercial, then you talk for five or 10 minutes, then you go up for commercial again. And then you bring it back. And then you have to reiterate what you said before the commercial and bring people back into the conversation. And then blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so for an hour, you're lucky if you get 42 to 46 minutes. And it was just it was it was there and back. And especially when you're trying to have a conversation with somebody because I really liked having interview radio. I just found it really stilted. And a friend of mine said, You know what, you're gonna love podcasting. Because you control it. If you want to have all your, your, you know, your commercials at the front of the show and have him at the front of the show. You want to have them all at the end of the show. At the end of the show. If you want to have a block of commercials somewhere in the middle. You can do that if you don't want to have any commercials whatsoever that's on you as well. But it's it you control the horizontal you control the vertical. And it allows you to have more of a real life, ongoing conversation without constantly having to be looking at the time and go, Okay, I got to wrap this up in a minute and 32 seconds because the next set of commercials is coming up. You're absolutely right. I think it really does. The format of podcasting allows you to have those deeper conversations and just get deeper and deeper and deeper because there is no you can, like you said there's so much flexibility on how it's structured. I mean, there's some podcasts that you can look, they're like three, four or five hours long. You know, I was on vacation with my family this past month in July, and we did it was a road trip. We went

went and toured several beautiful national parks here in the US. And we listened to this History podcast on the Vikings. And it was it was literally hours an hour. And it was riveting. It was utterly riveting and it was more to the to the host, you can do that I tell you.

As much fun as I have, I can't be I can't be riveting for three hours, I'll tell you that. I was just amazed at how much knowledge he had and detail about that he was able to tell in such a cool storytelling way. You know, it was like reading a book. But listening, it was just so very, very cool. So I totally love that too about podcasting and for your audience. It just allows them so much flexibility, because they can listen when they want to they can they can binge it if they want to multiple episodes and all of that. So very cool. Absolutely. I think it's a great medium. And the great thing about the medium is there's lots of different ways to unpack it, you know, you and I will do 4045 minutes, maybe a little bit more, maybe a little bit less. But we can impact this thing. And all of a sudden it can become three or four, five minute videos, it can become audio grams, it can become, you know, memes, there's all sorts of things you can do with the material from the podcast, it could become training material, it can become white papers, audio grabs. My second book is a series of podcasts, we took 16 or 20 podcasts, you know, transcribe them edited the down, added a little bit, you know, took a little bit out. And all of a sudden we had our book. And so there's so much you can do with the podcasting medium that is beyond the actual podcast itself. That just makes it just a such a flexible, powerful medium. Oh, you're so right, we like to call it the content waterfall at our company, you take that long form piece of content podcast. And then it creates this awesome waterfall, you know, beautiful waterfall where you can just splice out different video clips, blogs, social media posts, and it just lives in perpetuity. And you can just continue and from a branding perspective, the more you can get that same consistent messaging out over and over and over, the more that's going to create those, you know, connections for people that whenever they think of this topic, they're going to think of your brand. Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I mean, we do something called for clients we call the mini podcast where we find that there's lots of companies out there that don't want a full podcast, they don't want to be the rigidity of being in a podcast studio 52 weeks a year, they just don't have the time don't have the energy don't have enough to say or whatever they don't think they have enough to say. So we create these 13 Episode mini podcasts. And not only do you get 13 episodes of them sharing their thought leadership or the thought leadership of their people with the thought leadership of their clients over 13 episodes. But you are able to take that information and turn that into as I said, white papers, you know, becomes all sorts of different content, short videos, audio, Graham's posts, posts, so all of a sudden you have hundreds of pieces of content that come out of 13 episodes. And it becomes extremely powerful for companies, you know, that just need to be able to communicate with their clients on a regular basis. But Dappy in their face on a daily basis.

So true. Love that. Very cool. Well, you know what, Ben, as I was preparing for this episode, I really had a topic in mind that I was perfect. I love it. I was like, Man, I want to get Ben's take on this. And that is conflict I saw that you did this really cool show the other day with Khan on conflict was really interesting to me. And I recently interviewed someone on the podcast and we were talking all about conflict and conflict resolution. And I just think this is such an important topic for us wherever we are in life. Because with our you know, personal lives, professional lives, it is inevitable that you're going to encounter conflict. And I think that there's like this stigma around conflict that it's just like, if you're in conflict with someone, it's bad, you know, but I just I would just love to get your perspective. I I read this really great book while I was on vacation. Yes. Jay Shetty. Yeah, oh my gosh, it's so good. And he totally reframes this idea of conflict. And I'd love to get your thoughts on conflict and in the workplace and all that but sure. He says in this book, he says, What if we approach a fight as a team? The specter of disagreement builds like a wave in the ocean. I love that visual. As it approaches it grows taller and more daunting. But instead of turning away from the wave to pretend you don't see it, the two of you face it as it looms over you. Can you keep your heads above water or will it crash on top of you? The key is understanding that your partner or whoever it

is it you're in conflict with is not the wave. The wave is the issue about which you disagree. If the two of you approach it together, kicking in the same direction, you can swim through it side by side with a sense of shared victory. Isn't that? I love that. Yeah, I love the way that he frames that with the analogies of the waves because

the first wave never kills you.

Yeah, the first wave never kills you in the first wave wakes you up and realize it says, Hey, listen, there's something you need to pay attention to. But most people ignore the first wave.

And I think that the reason we have the stigma against conflict is that we don't understand the language of the waiver. We don't understand the language of conflict, we, you have your lexicon, I have my lexicon, you have your biases, I have my biases, you have your, your goals, your wants, your needs, your your fears, your aspirations, I have mine. And we feel that we've gotten to a point in the world where it's, the shades of grey have disappeared. And it's there's this there's this feeling of black and white, and whether it's politics, whether it's religion, whether it's also thing, and we haven't learned how to sit there and say, Listen, none of us are 100%, right? None of us are 100%. Wrong, there isn't my truth versus your truth, there's my opinion versus your opinion, there is a single truth out there, that probably none of us understand. And none of us will never understand. We can get closer to that truth together by combining my, you know, my ideas of what's right and your ideas of what's right and coming up with a common language that enables us to attack this together, to be able to look at this thing and say, Listen, we don't understand this from each other's point of view.

Okay, let's get your opinions and my opinions. And let's see if we can come up with a third understanding of what the actual reality is, because none of us truly understand reality. I mean, I'm having fights with people about AI today that are not AI experts. Everybody's got their opinions about AI today. Everybody's expert, it's so new. That's right. I'm six YouTubes ahead of you. So I'm an expert on AI. But everybody sits there and wants to claim that they are an expert on AI, people have been talking about AI for 90 years now. And they still don't understand what it can be. They understand what it is. Today, in its infancy. It's not even in diapers, yet. It's just coming out of the womb, and it's in that initial swaddling cloth. You know, it's got so much to go before it can crawl, walk and run. But we've all defined that it's either evil or it's beneficial. And we're in this huge conflict about it. But I think the issue is the fact that none of us are willing to, to admit that we're wrong. None of us are willing to admit that we don't understand that we don't have a full understanding of what something is and what something can be. It we do an a wonderful exercise with clients. Have you ever seen a graphic recorder? You know, what would would keynote speakers hit up? They have that cartoon drawing that somebody does on the big blackboards behind? Yeah, it shows the journey of the conversation. I've had that done for me many times on stage, and they're great, because it gives this analogy of where you are. Yeah, the beautiful thing is that we bring that into situations when we're talking about where a company is and where it's going. And instead of you get people in the room where, you know, there's dynamics, and you know, there's politics and you know, there's opinions and turf wars and all that. If you can get them focused on the drawing instead of each other, then they can sit there and say, Well, no, no, that's what we want it to be. Oh, yeah. Okay, and, and then all of a sudden, you get these warring factions collaborating on what the drawing should be and where the drugs should be. And it leads to these breakthroughs, based on not focusing on each other and letting ego get in the way and actually focusing on the problem itself. And I think that's our biggest problem. We're not teaching kids at a very young age, how to be conflictual anymore and and how to sit there and say, it's not about you. It's about the idea. And it's not about me being right and you being wrong, and this is a zero sum game. It's it's an idea. It's a thought it's a it's a process. And let's work through it together like that. We don't have debate teams anymore. We don't we don't have any of we don't have any of the tools that we've had in the past. To enable kids to have a language of conflict. They have a language of

debate and be able to sit there and say, Okay, maybe there is a third opinion or maybe your idea has merits instead of everybody digging in their heels. So I've talked about this too long. But, you know, I loved so many like amazing nuggets. I love the first thing you said about it's the first wave that doesn't kill you.

Oh, that is such wisdom, right? Sometimes that first wave knocks you and you're just like, Whoa, I gotta figure out how to recenter myself. And I loved to what you said about ego, because you're absolutely right on there is like, the sooner that we can release the ego, the more that we can really try to understand and separate ourselves from, you know, ego is us, right? To separate you from the problem, and try to look at it from this external vantage point of a bigger perspective of this is more than just you. There's a lot more at play here. Take ego out of it, how can we address this problem? And if you're so right, about discourse shifting, and kids not learning about how to, you know, see conflict this way? What do you think needs to change? Or, you know, I'm a parent, what is something that I can be doing within my own family, you know, with my kids to help foster and encourage that

sense of like, leaning into conflict in a healthy way and releasing ego. What are some things some strategies that people can be thinking about, that they can implement in their workplaces, in their homes, wherever they're at so that we can get back to that healthy place? I think we as parents have got to let our kids fall in their face.

I truly think we've got to get kids out there and getting dirty and letting them eat dirt again.

I truly admit I am a 1950s Parrot I ended I am the dinosaur. You know,

you don't look like a dinosaur. But I truly believe I mean, my my son at a very early age, less than six months old, stop breathing three times. Okay, he almost died. He had something called GERD, which is gastro esophageal reflux disease. My daughter, same thing. Exactly. He Oh, we sent them to the hospital, they figured it out. And from that point on our viewpoint is, look, is he bleeding? Is he breathing? Okay, let him go. And a lot of it comes down to parents enabling their kids to discover things on their own. Because if we're discovering things for them, if we're continually holding their hand and guiding the path, they can't, they'll never figure that path out on their own.

And, you know, and yes, the world is a scary place. And yes, there are things that we need to do. But it's giving the kids the tools to be able to have healthy conversations. When I was a kid, I was not allowed to leave the table when the adults were talking.

I was to sit at the table. And my job was to be part of that I was expected to be part of the conversation. Adults would ask me questions, you know,

my son growing up was on the golf team and played golf. And a lot of times he would walk on as a single and end up playing with doctors and lawyers and accountants and stuff, people who could take the day off and play in the middle of the day, because he played at two o'clock or three o'clock in the afternoon after school. And he learned how to talk to adults and to be able to have conversations outside of his own minutia is out of his own head. And I think the more places we can give our children, the ability to be curious, and the ability to understand that they don't know everything. And that and that they and that there is a world to explore beyond their own set of beliefs, and challenge them on that. I think we're setting them up more for success.

You know, it, you know, maybe I'm wrong. This is my viewpoint. But But I find that the helicopter parenting and the they're there now. Now, everybody gets a blue ribbon mentality hasn't worked. So maybe we need to try something else. Yeah, you're I think you're you're onto something there with this whole idea of self discovery, right? Because by giving your kids the freedom, or even in the workplace, people that you work with, if you're a manager, giving your team the freedom, and letting go of the need to control the situation, and letting them have the freedom and knowing you know what I'm going to they're going to go off on their own. I'm going to let them ride down the street to Joe's house. I'm not going to see them the whole way. Yep. But I'm going to trust that they're going to get there. And I'm going to give them the freedom and the confidence to for them to figure out how to do it. Yeah. And maybe you tell the kids that when they get to Joe's house, they have to either text you or they have to call you to say that they're there. That's not unreasonable. Right, but giving them the opportunity to get on their boat bikes themselves and go down there and not have to have

Do you walk them every single time or drive them every single time they want to go three blocks down to a neighbor's house is not an unreasonable experience. And I think you're right for leader leaders taking that same thing into the workplace is is the same analogy we need to be working with. Yeah, because it's true, you're giving them the ability to self discover for themselves and have their own experience without any sort of filter, right? You're not filtering it for them, as a parent who's right there next to them, helping them with whatever, or in the workplace, you're there with them trying to help them solve this problem. They get to filter it for themselves and figure out for themselves and I can see how that that then would then lead them to have more empathy for other people, because there's not someone that they're having to answer to. Do you know what I mean? Like, that's so fascinating. One of the best definitions of leadership I ever heard was leadership from the middle,

you're in the middle of the fray. And some people need a gentle push forward, some people might need a hand back, pulled back to, to pull them forward every once a while. But most people just need to know that you're there. When I was when I was a leader,

when I was a leader, you are not.

You were not allowed to come into my office, unless you had two answers to the problem. If you had a problem, you had to come into my office with two problems with two answers. I may not like either one of them. But Gordon lightly, I'm going to let you try one, what are the two of them are a combination. So you had Yo, I was giving I was empowering you. My job is to empower you as a leader.

I think what's great about that, too, is that you are there building confidence. And the more competent people are I find the more open minded they are. Because they realize there's not this like

self consciousness about the need to be right all the time, or else I'm not going to be worthwhile or good, right. But the more confidence you have, the more self love you have for yourself. I think there's an openness there to accept like, I'm still okay, if this person believes something differently than I do, it's gonna be fine. We can find we can find something together. That's one thing I'm curious about that I feel like may have changed this a lot is because over time, it's like we're in this now. Now now society, right? So like social media, people are just tweet tweeting and saying things and it's like instant communication, right. But there's, it's difficult in the system because of social media in this situation, that we have to have these like extended discourse situations, right? Like, it's just like, there's a tweet, and it's just incendiary. You know, rather than let's like, create a situation like this, where we can sit and converse, I mean, there's those two. Yeah, I mean, don't you find like, it's a little bit harder to have those because everybody's just rushing around all the time. And, well, in a time, it's the thought process of it's left my it's left my fingers. So it's not my problem anymore. You know, you send an email, you send a tweet, you post something online, whatever. It's now somebody else's problem.

And it's, it's, it's not taking responsibility, how many people on social media, actually, once they've sent a tweet out, post, link something on Instagram, whatever, go back and actually read the comments, and actually respond to their own comments, a very small percentage of people that actually do act actually walk into their own comment section and actually engage with the people that are part of that. So it's, it's almost like

a dump and leave situation. And it's, it's, it's at the, it's absolve yourself of responsibility. And I think that, because of that, horrible, hurtful things are said, you know, people can say things without any retribution whatsoever. And then people just move on. And people have accepted this, where if you actually have to sit in the same room with somebody or over zoom or whatever thing, and actually have a discourse with somebody, instead, it's somebody sit there go, Hey, Nicole, what did you mean by that? And you actually have to sit there and respond. And you actually have to take responsibility and accountability for the words that come out of your face or the actions that you've done. Hopefully, you're going to be a little bit more intentional about what you do and what you say. And I think that social media has ruined communication. It's ruined our ability not only to communicate effectively because of the asynchronous nature of it, and things get lost and said unintentionally, or intentionally, and it also gives us the inability to listen. And I think that listening is the fine art of communication.

that most people have lost. That's so interesting listening is the fine art of communication that most people have lost.

That so

I think a lot of a lot of the thing that's missing with social media with listening to is that you're not seeing people face to face. And there's something about facing someone when you're having those difficult conversations knowing that like there is a human person there with eyes and a smile and a mouth like it takes up social media takes some of that humanity away from this human experience. That is such a beautiful thing. And it makes it difficult to listen, when you can't see the person and use an experience listening with all of your senses, right? Like you're limited, you're stunted, you only have a few senses, you can use to understand the whole complexity of the situation. And even if you are like, it's usually a one sided situation where you're watching a video, right? You're not or maybe you're not involved in whatever the live event is. So I love I love what you said there about listening. And let's talk about that a little bit more. What do you think we need to do to be better listeners?

Well, I mean, it's social media is not social. It isn't. It's one way communication. And it tends to be for the vast majority of people. Yes, there are people that understand what social selling is. There are people that communicate really effectively they they engage back and forth and comments, but that's a rare percentage of people. What do we need to be better effective listeners? What do we need to be better effective communicators, I think the first thing we need to do is care.

We actually need to care about the person on the other side of the conversation. They can't just be some avatar, they can't just be subtitle on the other end of a communication piece, whether it's email, a tweet, a text, message, whatever. It's a human being. And that human being has hopes, wants, feeds, fears, needs and desires. That human being is either having a good day is having a bad day that that human being may have a sick parent that a human being may have a sick child. And you know, and therefore, whatever you say, impacts that person in ways that you may never understand.

And I think the more human we are to each other, and the more humane we are with each other. The more we have the ability to have meaningful conversations and be able to sit there and say, you know, what the conversation is about isn't about me, it's about we, it's about both of us. It's not about just how bad my day is. It's how are you doing? And mean it like actually ask somebody, how are they doing? And not go to the next question, when they say, Yeah, I'm fine. Well, are you really fine? Are you just saying that for political expediency? No, truly, how are you doing, and be willing to take the 510 1520 minutes it takes for that person to unpack if they need to unpack. And I think that, as you said, because we are such a busy society, because we become such instantaneous gratification. And it's about us, through social media, and through through the world. And we see the world through our own lenses. And we are becoming more narcissistic, as a society.

We need to, we need to be conscious about that. And realize that other people are not viewing the world the same way that you do. They don't care about the same things that you do. They, they don't feel the same things that you do are important. And if you really, truly want to know them, you need to understand how they see the world and what are the things that they matter to them, if you really want to have that relationship. So good.

So my next this is just so great, then I could just like, can we just talk all day long.

Like you and I are like, everything you're saying is just it's like hitting me right in my heart. And it's just everything I want to hear need to hear. And it's so powerful and impactful. And it's challenging me in so many ways to think about my relationships, and how I can, you know, improve and so I'm just really appreciative and inspired by everything you shared. It's super awesome. Love it. Let me give the caveat to this. I am not perfect. Over times, I unload on people, there are times that I sit. What do you mean by that? And I really don't care. You know, I'm not a perfect husband. I'm not a perfect leader. And you know what, we are all going to have moments of our own self deed. And there are times we just don't really care about what other people have to say and what other people

Need, we just need to get stuff done? And yeah, but we need, we need to be conscious of that. And realize that that should be an exception, not a rule.

I think that's a good point. I also think what you're saying is is like, as we're trying to cultivate and become better listeners, it's so important that we bring forgiveness into that forgiveness for ourselves, and forgiveness for other people and realizing we are not perfect people. I'm not perfect, you're not perfect. And so like, the more that we can try to really lean into, I am going to listen to this and I'm gonna forgive whatever income into it with like this, I have forgiveness, how can I cultivate forgiveness rather than?

I mean, how do you Yeah, I just think that's

very, very cool. But I do have a follow up question. Yes. When would you say

when How can you identify when conflict is truly reached or crossed a line where it's like, this isn't working? This is really not a relationship that is worth continuing pursuing? Or you're it's like unhealthy? You know, it's an unhealthy conflict. How can you What would you advise for people, when they're trying to suss out like a conflict, they may be having to identify? Is this something good? This pursuing? Or yeah, what's your advice there? Did you want an example? Yeah, exactly. I'll change names and locations to protect the innocent. But I had a client that was a fairly large client that was which was attached to a much larger client. It was a police department attached to a city. Okay. Okay. So the relationship was intertwined.

And the person that I dealt with in the police force changed.

And at the same time, my vendor changed, one of my vendors went out of business, we added a new vendor. And this was something as simple as hats, baseball caps for for the police force, and they needed three to 5000 of these of these hats for the police force.

And I said, Look, we're creating, we're going after a brand new vendor, you know, the vendor is the same vendor who does Disney the hats for Disneyland, we know that they're, they're a good vendor, but you know, it's our new relationship. Let's get samples made up. And so we did get a deal I got a digital proof made up I had to make a one off sample I had the the, the fat and China produce a sample of this is going back 10 years ago, had the makeup, a digital sample of the of the hat had to make an actual sample of my hat had to prove the whole way, have the the actual physical sample brought here. And through the entire process of chasing this guy for approvals? Yeah, he's just, he's too busy. He's too important to be able to get the approval. I said, Look, we're not going any further until we get the and then try these new years came. And he finally got me approval about a week before Chinese New Year. I said, Look, you've missed your window. These things are now delayed at least a month. Yeah, because China shuts down for a month during during Chinese New Year. And he was grumbling this out there thinking we finally got on the hats.

And there was a spelling mistake in the embroidery.

And I went back to the original proof. And through the entire process.

That misspelling was there. And he signed off on it four times.

Including a physical sample that was in his hand. Wow. And this was 100% my fault.

100% hit my fault. I was being unethical. I wasn't taking care of the situation. I was a bad supplier. You know, they weren't going to pay for this refusal, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I made all the concessions in the world. I said, Look, you know, we'll figure this out together. Let's work. No, it's 100%. You you need to take care of I said, Look,

what you're gonna do is you're gonna give me back the hats. I'm going to destroy them.

And we're gonna stop doing business together because he was being unethical. He he kept calling me unethical. He says that is is I'm gonna ruin you at this address to tell you what, I don't want you walking around with 5000 hats that have a spelling mistake on it. Give back to me. I'll pick them up. I had them certified destroyed because you don't want hats lying around with the police logo on them that anybody can have their security for security reasons. I mean, these were official police hats.

And not only did it did it, did I sever my relationship with the police force. But it ruined my relationship with the city and it was a quarter million dollar client all told. But it was it was it had to do with the fact that they this guy started calling me unethical.

Yeah, after I tried to do everything within my power to fix the situation and make this about us, and yes, we're both going to take a hit on this. There's no question. We're both going to take a hit on this, but you need to take some responsibility for this. And His attitude was no, I'm gonna bully you as a supplier. And I went, I've done. Interesting. Yeah. And I'm done. And you'll look at these situations, and sometimes the customer, you just need to let the customer be wrong.

Sometimes you need the customer to sit there and say, You know what? That's your opinion. You've made a decision. That's the way you want to it's your company. Yeah, but I don't have to stick around

and be a doormat. I don't have to stick around and be a doormat. Yeah, I think you've said several things there that I think is really key for listeners who are like, How can I identify if this is a relationship worth continuing. And the one thing I heard you talk about is just summed up as integrity is this person operating from a place of integrity, which means they're going to follow through on their commitments, they're going to be honest in their dealings with you. They're, you know, going to be trustworthy, and those kinds of things. So I think that's one key thing. The second is, is there any sort of remorse, or a sense of like, we're in this together? I recognize that I've done something wrong here. I want to fix it. Yeah. You know, if there's no sense of like, there's no remorse, they don't can't take responsibility or ownership for whatever their pardon, is it that's kind of a red flag. And I think values is kind of one of the other things I heard you say is, are their values and aligned with my values? And are they you know, if there's a disconnect there, and you just can't get on the same page, you know, and I've had to walk away from clients where those three things were not met, and it was painful, was so painful in the moment when it happened. I was like, couldn't sleep over it. But at the end of the day, I was like, well, there's not, there's not integrity here. There's no sense of responsibility for their part in the situation. And there's just a mismatch and value. So I have to just, and that's what you know, you just walk away and realize, you know, what, I fired five clients in the last 30 years. Those three factors are the only reason as a combination of those three factors are the reason that I'm just going through them in my mind right now. Yeah, I can bring it back to those three factors for every single one of those clients. Is is that it was the lack of integrity. It was the lack of remorse. And it was the inability to sit there and say, You know what, this is our problem. Yeah, you know what, it was our problem together. If it was 100% my fault if I if I messed up, guess what? You eat it. You don't like it? But you eat it. And that and that's the way it is, you know, it is 100% your fault. You sit there you don't want about it. You don't complain about it. That's why you build margins into jobs. That's why you don't do things that cost plus 2%.

scares me

terrified. It terrifies. Yeah, exactly. The cost was 2%. It's just, that's, that's like swearing to me.

But you sit there and say you build in a reasonable margin. So if something like this goes wrong, you're shrugging your shoulders. You bite your tongue. And you go, I'm sorry. Let me fix this. And you move on. You know, because none of us are perfect. None of us are beyond making mistakes. None of us are all knowing and all seeing and can see around every single corner. Bob knows I can't. And you know, there are times in my life where I've had to sit there and go. Yeah, yeah, I I you know, I poached that. I? I messed that up. I'm sorry. Let me fix it for you. And yeah, and you just you just move forward? Yeah.

So good.

How was an awesome discussion on conflict? My gosh, I'm gonna master class. I'm gonna like literally go back and listen, and rewind and listen again and listen again and have my children. Listen. We're all going to just sit around the dinner table, Billy, you guys. We're going to talk about conflict tonight. listen in.

Well, I hope I hope I offered some nuggets I truly do. Oh, totally. Yeah, there's no question. Totally, totally, totally. Let's shift gears a little bit. Just talk about

let's talk about misadventure. Yes, adventurous adventure. We talked about that a lot. A little bit just now actually. You just shared a big tale misadventure that you had and from that experience that you had with this you know partner where it just like all went sour last this huge account had to walk away. That's a massive that's a massive disappointment. Oh, yeah. I mean, significant.

In terms of the relationship, the time spent the investment, the money and all of that. Exactly when that happened, what did you do?

Well, it was a long conversation with my wife first and foremost,

to say, you know, those steaks we're gonna buy that next week might be hammered.

You remember that really nice vacation to wherever, might get delayed six months.

You know, but it's, we can laugh about it now, we could absolutely laugh about it now. Sure, it was incredibly pained. It was it, it's scary. It's absolutely terrifying when you sit there and say, Okay,

that's not my entire income. But yeah, it's, it's a nice piece of it. That just went away. And you know, it's not the first time that's happened to me, and hopefully, it's the last, and plus businesses emotional, let's be honest, emotional, and people, these are relationships that you had, and nobody wants a relationship to go south, you know, and, and to have to deal with, like, kind of like the emotional impact of that, in addition to the financial like businesses, no matter what anyone says, business is emotional. It's just like, you see these images of people, and they're just, like, all serious all the time in business. And it's not, it's just not

I've never met an entrepreneur. That doesn't take some, you know, it's, it's a personal thing. Oh, I took it extremely personally. Yeah, I took it extremely personally. And you sit there and say, Okay, what did I do wrong? What do How did? What was my part in the situation? Did I did I mess up? You know, do I need to go back to these guys on my knees? And May a Koopa? Or, or did I make the right decision? You know? And okay, what do I do now? Right? What Dow the Dow that these people are out of my life?

Is this? A? What can I learn from this? You know, how can I be better from this? And see, what kind of clients do I want moving forward? And I think that, you know, truthfully, I do almost no business with government, in cities now. And you could probably trace it back to that to that one situation where, over the next couple of years, I basically got myself out of government business, and I did millions and millions and millions of dollars with the work with health care, with smoking cessation, alcohol awareness and drug addiction, and realized it was becoming bureaucratic, I wasn't able to deal with the departments anymore. I was having to deal with procurement. You know, everything was RFP, not the relationships were not existed anymore. And I realized, I don't want that business. It allowed me to refocus what I did, why did it? How I did it, and who I did it for? And I think I, you know, in the end, yes, I came out of it stronger. But I'll tell you, there was probably six months of real self doubt that came out of that going okay. Have I really made a mistake it? Did I did I really do what I just did.

How do you armor yourself in those moments? That's the six months of self doubt as a lot. What did you do to personally build resilience in yourself during those moments of self doubt, when you were struggling? What was it that got you through that to be able to take the next step and move forward? There's there's a number of things. There's a saying that I have the glasses and either half full or half empty, it's refillable.

And that's been something that's been with me from the times I was a young man.

I love that because it's so

there's no pressure. No, there's no expectation, right? You release the expectations of yourself. And you just what is what is and there's always potential and there's always opportunity, and there's never going to be an end to whatever and that just like the minute you said that it's just like, oh, just feels good, like a nice cold glass of lemonade on a summer day.

Just Just keep drinking. Yeah, I was lucky enough to have a father that was an entrepreneur. And you know, and I watched him go through the good and the bad and the ugly. And we never really talked about it on a functional level as he was going through it, but I watched him and I watched him recover. And I watched him move forward. And I watched him you know take the ashes out of the out of the fire and build it build something new deal with it. And I think realize

think that that's possible. And that that's what you you need to do is to say, Okay, this blew up in my face. Yeah, this, you know, all of a sudden I got shrapnel all over my face. My job is not to grab my knees and rock back and forth. My job is to grab to extricate the shrapnel from my face, you know, stitch myself up necessary, clean myself up, and realize what do I need to do to make sure I don't get shrapnel in the face ever again. And I think that that's just, it's just a DNA thing. It's just, you know, I call me an optimist, call me whatever you want. But I believe that there, the sun will always come out eventually. And it may not come out tomorrow, it may not come out the day after that. But eventually the sun will shine again. And I just want to be there when the sun does shine.

I love that I just want to be there when the sun shines again, you know, that shows just a lot of beautiful long suffering and patience, you know, recognizing that what it is that we want and hope for and the deepest desires of our hearts is not always going to be something that's going to be most of the time isn't going to be realized overnight. And in fact, isn't that the beauty of it? The beauty of it, knowing that like those really special moments are so rare and so fleeting, it makes them so much more valuable because of the struggle that it takes you to get there and the character that you've built along the way so that when those moments do come, you embrace them with such humility. And like, you know, it just I think just makes us stronger to be able to see see it see it from that perspective. And I think it allows you to appreciate the winds even more, you know, the small wins and the big wins. It allows you to sit there and say, I did it. You'll I actually you'll I got myself up. It's not the fact that you fell down seven times is the fact that you got up eight. Yes. And what did you learn when you fell down because every time you learn something, every time I've fallen down, I've realized that resilience is my friend. Creativity is my friend. Adaptability is my friend. And I think those are the three skills that I've gained over my lifetime. That probably make me who I am. Is the adaptability, creative, creative creativity, and resilience, adaptability, creativity and resilience. Yeah, I mean, any successful strong entrepreneur, those three qualities are it man, right. And like you have to have all three of those if you really want to be able to, to

achieve anything that's a value that you want for yourself or your family. Anything.

That's cool.

It's, it's realizing that I'm here for long term.

You know, I'm here for long term, and I'm here for as long as I'm here. You know, I'm not gonna be here forever.

I don't want to be here forever. You know, I don't want to be 150 years old. You don't I mean, 150 If I could be like, 150 but in a 40 year old body. That's right. If you look at look and feel like you do today, the 150 you be must be awesome. Yeah, you know, as long as I had the money to do the things that I wanted to do, and just didn't care anymore.


as I tell is getting Getting old is not for sissies.

I look none of us are sissies.

We're all we're all pushing, pushing the envelope. But I look at it and sit there go you know what? It's the lessons that I'm learning along the way that I appreciate. If every day I learned a little something if every day, I can touch another individual. If everyday I can help somebody be better off than they were the day before.

That's life. Everything else is gravy. You know, I can't take the money with me. I can't I can't drive the Mercedes into the hole with me. You know, it's just, that's just not practical. So you might as well just enjoy the ride as you have it. And appreciate the fact that one day that ride ends and you just want to live without regrets.

Live without regrets.

Amen, brother.

Sometimes that makes me a little irreverent. But you know what, that's the way it is. Yeah. My gosh, Ben, this has been such a phenomenal conversation. Oh, it's been fun. I loved every minute of it. I can't thank you enough for coming on and sharing your experience in these one the wonderful stories that you've shared from your own life experience and just in credit

more insights on on conflict. And from all of the work that you've done with brands and helping them resolve conflict. We didn't even get a chance to talk about branding really? Well, we could always have another conversation about another one.

Anytime you want. I mean, Nicole, I love you. I love the work that you do. I love how you take care of your clients. I love the inspiration that you are on LinkedIn. If people are not reading the stories that you come up on LinkedIn, they're missing out. You know, I'm, I've been wanting to be on your podcast before you had the podcast. You told me you were gonna be starting a podcast and I said, Nicole, I'm in. I don't know what it's gonna be about. I don't know what the format is gonna be. But when you're ready to have me on the show, I'm in so I am so happy we got a chance to do this. Oh, we're gonna do it again. This has been such a joy for me. I every time I talk to you, I feel like I come away from our conversation just a better how do I say this? Every every conversation we have, I come away from it feeling


confident in myself in who I want to be and show up in the world as I come away from our conversation feeling challenged to try to

make a greater impact. And the people that I'm that are that I've you know, I'm serving with around. And I'm humbled. I'm always humbled after I have a conversation with you because you always helped me you the perspective that you share always teaches me something that I need to learn or hear in that moment. And you've done that for me today. So I'm very grateful for that. Thank you. Well, I'm appreciative of everything you are and everything you do. So I you know, my thing is, is everybody listen, this podcast, search out Nicole, go look at her website and look at her social media do business with her. She does incredible stuff. And you know, Mike wise, thank you. I appreciate it. But it's you know, what you people need to realize when they listen this podcast over and over again, and all the guests that you have, that you are behind this thing being the real talent, and people need to pay attention to you and and know that you're going to be there to take care of them when when when you're off the air. Oh, that's very kind. Very, very kind. That means a lot to me. Man, Ben, look at us get no center. It's a Friday afternoon.

Well, thank you so much again, for coming on. We're going to do this again. There's going to be a part two. I would love it in whenever you tell me where so? Yes. And next time I want you to talk all about branding, because I wanted to get a chance to talk about that we didn't get it. We weren't able to dive into it. But thank you again for being on the show. And as we wrap up this episode of Tales of misadventure, we're reminded that with entrepreneurship, there's no straight path to success. It's the unexpected twists and turns that shape our stories and make them worth telling. So embrace the misadventures in your own life, and let them guide you towards your own blessings. Thank you for tuning in. We'll be back soon with more captivating tales of misadventure. Tales of misadventure is produced, edited and moderated by Julie Basello with Basello Media music by Marcus way. Special thanks to our amazing guests and the entire dmg digital team, visit us at dmg To get access to all our podcasts, interviews and other helpful resources. And if you'd like to get updates on the latest and greatest, please sign up for our email newsletter. We'll see you next time for another episode of Tales of misadventure until then, keep falling forward.

Looking to overcome marketing blunders and find inspiration from the experts who have been there?

Subscribe to Tales of Misadventure with Nicole Donnelly wherever you prefer to stream podcasts!

Get in touch with the team at Tales of Misadventure by visiting

Don’t forget to enroll in our newsletter for more small business marketing tips and entrepreneurial inspiration!