The Secret to Removing All Doubt with Marcus Sheridan

1,000 Stories


Joe Mills: What are the unique experiences that drive business leaders to keep growing, and how can the lessons learned from those stories enable others to do the same? I’m Joe Mills,

Reid Morris: and I’m Reid Morris,

Joe Mills: and together we’re investigating who it takes and the tools to use to build companies and culture.

Reid Morris: Then we’re sharing those stories with you.

Joe Mills: This is 1,000 Stories, an original show from Element Three.

Reid Morris: Okay, Joe, so a really cool guest. For, you know, our next episode of a thousand Stories. We operate in the marketing space as an organization and a framework that most people in our space are familiar with is They Ask, You Answer, and obviously the individual behind that is Marcus Sheridan.

Really excited to have him on the show. Really interesting guy. Could you tell me about what you’re hoping to get from your conversation with him?

Joe Mills: Yeah, so Marcus, just to give a quick background, worked for a pool company and then has his hands in an agency and now he’s an international keynote. And that is a pretty disparate chain of events.

Right. If you were to ask him, I imagine while he was starting his career at a pool company, do you think you’ll be an international keynote speaker really around like marketing and talking to your buyers? He almost certainly would’ve said no. So I’m interested in how that path came to life, but the piece that really triggered me wanting to bring him on the show and get his perspective was a few shows back, we talked to Chip Nighty.

Mm-hmm. , and part of the conversation with Chip centered around showing up the way other people need you. and also being authentic, and it was like this little path. We didn’t dive all the way down, but it, it came up in conversation. And then not maybe three or four days after we talked to Chip, I saw a pose from Marcus that was about performative culture and how he values performing and how that brings an element of positivity to those around you and and to yourself.

And he brought up the fact that most of the time when you say performative, it sounds negative. But it can have really positive implications for you and for the people that you’re with. And so I want to talk to him about how he views just performing in general and how he views the idea of like how to show up authentically and in a way that benefits the people in front of you and how to not do that in a fake way.

Just like the idea of being who you are on stage and whether you’re stage is in a one-on-one meeting or in front of thousands of people. How to be yourself when you’re on stage, but also give people what they.

Reid Morris: Yeah, I think it’s really interesting. I mean, you touched on it earlier that he has this really interesting career path, right?

Sort of leaning into those non-linear paths that we’ve talked to with a lot of different people about, but then that underlying tone of how being performative, how showing up in that way has either been beneficial throughout that journey, or maybe he reached that point of clarity at some specific point, and I think it could be a combination of both learning about how he got to.

And on some level, learning about how he uses that as a tool, more of like the sort of educational area of what we’ve sort of leaned into over some of these conversations and what benefits can that provide for people who, like you said, are leading organizations or even people who aren’t doing that yet.

Right. So I think it’ll be really good conversation. Yeah, I’m

Joe Mills: very excited for it. Marcus, welcome to 1000 Stories man. Thanks so much for, for coming on the show.

Marcus Sheridan: Hey, I’m here for the stories brother. Let’s do it. Can you just

Joe Mills: kind of intro for people. Where you started and what you do now. Yeah,

Marcus Sheridan: sure. When I, right when I got out of university, I wasn’t sure where I was gonna work, who I was gonna work for, and had two buddies just started a swimming pool company and they said, Hey, um, do you think you could run the store, read the little retail store they had selling hot tubs and whatnot while we’re installing pools in the.

and I said, sure, until I figure out what I’m gonna do with myself. So you know, maybe I’ll be here for a couple months. A couple months later they said, would you be a partner to the business? And so I became the third partner and we tried growing the company and we struggled along. We were doing okay, we’re getting bigger.

But then 2008 came, and of course we thought like many pool companies, we were gonna lose the business. And it was a really, really difficult time for anybody that. In a luxury type of business, like swimming pools and lots of swimming pool companies in the US went outta business during that time. But the cool thing about times like that, and, and this is what’s gonna happen over the next couple years, is pain and frustration and being scared leads to innovation, leads to great innovation, doesn’t it?

So it was during this time where I started really leaning into the internet, started paying attention to things like inbound marketing, content marketing, social media, and they were all just starting to pop right during that. . And what I heard when I looked at all these things and my simple pool guy mind was, you know Marcus, if you just obsess over your customer’s questions, worries, fears, issues, concerns, and you’re willing to address those on your website through text, through video, you just might save your business.

And so in March of 2009, I brainstormed all the questions I had received over the years, started addressing them on our website through articles and video. Thoroughly, transparently, any question was up for grabs, good, bad, and ugly. And within a couple years we had become the most traffic swimming pool website in the world.

And, uh, during that time, I started to write about what we were doing. And uh, that little blog where I started writing about what we were doing, that personal blog that started to get traction, people started to say to me, can you share that at our event? Or Can you teach my company how to do. And, uh, so while River Pools was blowing up, my personal brand started to take off as well.

And, uh, They Ask, You Answer, started to get major momentum. And so then the book I wrote came out in 2017. Revised version came out in 2019. That’s now done a couple hundred thousand copies. It’s been translated a bunch of languages and. I’ve been speaking all over the world now for about 10 years, full time.

I still have an agency that agency helps companies implement. They Ask, You Answer, become the most trusted voice in their space. Um, and, uh, still have the pool company to this day, but I sold part of it, which was the manufacturing business that came out of doing. They Ask, You Answer and uh, so I still own the original, let’s call it franchise that is in Virginia.

And, uh, so it’s been an amazing ride and it’s led to this unbelievable life where I’ve, I’ve seen so many other companies and organizations, I’ve helped them to become the most trusted voice in their space while still holding onto those roots that got me, uh, where I am today. It’s, it’s really fascinating.

Joe. Uh, I’m

Joe Mills: curious, um, one of the things that popped into my head when you were talking about it is did They Ask, You Answer framework that would’ve. I guess at this point in 2022, you know, over 10 years old, in your mind, when, when you go and speak, how do you keep it relevant? How do you grow that, that framework as a, as an idea?


Marcus Sheridan: the great thing, really what I’m talking about, if you look at what sales and marketing is, uh, it’s, it’s just communication, right? Some people are good at communication, some people are, are not so good at it. And so I’m teaching people how to communicate in such a way, organizations, businesses, et cetera.

So has to become the most trusted voice in their space. And so we already start with principles. We don’t focus on platforms. And so if anybody ever hears me speak, they’ll quickly see that I’m not a platform guy. We say things like, is trust gonna be fundamental to your business in 20 years? Anybody’s gonna say yes.

Yeah, but is uh, Facebook gonna be fundamental to your business? 20 years? Probably not. It’s platform. It’s probably not even gonna be around in 20 years. Something else will have replaced it, and so trust is. It’s not going anywhere. We don’t know when it started. That means we don’t know when it will end.

It just is. So the businesses that build, uh, their entire, let’s say philosophies and their strategies on trust, they can just take that from the next platform to the next, to the next, to the next. Now, right now, we apply these principles of becoming that trusted voice to your website. We do it through text and.

That will change over time. But what doesn’t change is what we as buyers and consumers wanna know, what we wanna learn before we engage a company. The things that will allow us to feel comfortable, uh, with reaching out to an organization. So the only thing that’s really happened in 10 years is the framework hasn’t changed, which is glorious because it’s pretty evergreened.

What’s happening though is that we’re becoming more impatient as buyers consumer. We want the answer, we want it now. We do not wanna wait. We wanna buy it on our terms. We want friction free. Um, we want it to be fast, right? And so if you understand this and you’re obsessed with the way the buyer thinks, and you let go of this thing called the sales process, and you embrace what you and I would call Joe the buyer’s journey, well now all of a sudden you can quickly.

Dominate your space because you’re talking about things, you’re showing things, and you’re doing things in a way that others in your space aren’t willing to do. Do people push

Joe Mills: back on that all the time? Um, really, what, what are the things they say?

Marcus Sheridan: Yeah. So, um, one of the, the courts of the framework that They Ask, You Answer.

His, uh, at least on the marketing side is there’s five subjects that every buyer and consumer, B2B and B2C tend to research before we engage a company, before we reach out. Service product doesn’t matter. These five subjects are, we wanna research cost, other words, value, budget, pricing, et cetera. We wanna research problems, negatives, issues.

How could this go wrong? We wanna research comparisons. We constantly compare things online. We’d love to. We wanna research reviews. We wanna know the good, the bad, and the ugly on reviews. And we wanna know the best, the best, the most, et cetera, et cetera. So cost problems, comparisons, reviews, and best, we call those the big five.

They run what we call the economy of search. Okay? And what’s so fascinating is as buyers, consumers, we’re obsessed with them. But as businesses, we don’t like to talk about them. So it creates a paradox of once buyers want it, businesses don’t like to talk. And so if you wanna become the voice of trust in your space, you can’t be, as we like to say, the ostrich with your head in the sand, thinking the question, the worry, the fear, the issue’s just gonna go away.

It’s not gonna happen. We gotta lean into it. You know, it’s funny, every company loves to say how they believe in trust and transparency. It’s BS because their actions don’t show that at all. And so where they push back the most, of course, especially if they’re, let’s say a B2B service based business, is when it comes to cost and price and where people mistake these things.

The title of the book and the title of the framework is, is They Ask, You Answer. It’s an actual system. It works. It’s been proven to work. I mean, hundreds and hundreds, thousands of times. But people get caught up in the phrase answer, and if there was a perfect title to the book, it would be They Ask, You Answer it really, really well.

But that’s not catchy. Doesn’t quite work the same. It doesn’t. and so it’s, They Ask, You Answer when somebody understands that you don’t have to always give an exact answer, but you do have to be willing to address the thing. Question the worry, the fear, right? So if a company says, well, I don’t wanna talk about pricing costs, my website, well, first of all, it doesn’t matter what you and I want, does it, Joe?

No. Because the only thing that matters is the marketplace. And so we know the marketplace wants this, and so we say, First question is always, yeah, but will it help us induce more trust? So if I go to a business, they say, we don’t wanna talk about cost and price. Okay, fine. First question, we have to be honest about yes or no.

Will it help us if we’re willing to address it? Will it help us induce more trust? Well, yeah, but no, no, no, no. Just yes or no. We start right there. Once the answer is yes, yes, it will help us induce more trust. Then it becomes a matter of, okay, well then how do we effectively do. And for every business, like the pricing conversation, it’s actually not very hard.

We overcomplicate it cuz if I came to you right now, Joe and I said, you know, with your agency, can you help me understand the factors that would drive the costs working with you up? You could explain that easily. If I came to you and I said, can you help me understand the factors that would drive down?

You could explain that easily. If I came to you and I said, you know what, you gave me a quote for some services. Some of your competitors gave me a quote. Can you help me understand why some of you are very expensive? Some of you’re less expensive, some of you’re in the middle. Could you explain that? Of course you could, because you’re in the game and you understand how this works, right?

You’ve done it before, and so that’s every business. It doesn’t matter, right? Problem is oftentimes we don’t explain what value proposition looks like. What I just did is value prop, right? We don’t explain that until we’re asked. By that point, we’ve lost a crap ton of. That wanted to know the answer to that, but they didn’t find it, and therefore they were afraid to reach out.

The greatest hindrance to action online is doubt. Really, if you break down, what great marketers do is they remove all doubt because if you remove all doubt, what’s the only thing that’s left is trust. Trust, Lisa. Action. She gotta remove all doubt, which means you gotta know what those doubts. , and then we’ve got to be aggressive at pursuing those doubts.

Can we pursue them in such a way that the person says, you know what? Now I understand. Now I feel like I get it, and almost always answers. Yeah, of

Joe Mills: course you can. The thing that I can’t help but feel as you’re talking about it, is how much this relates beyond marketing, beyond what you put on your website.

I see it immediately inside of the way that I imagine leading a business. Does this flow over into your life at all? Like, like when I say life, I mean family life, the way you have your relationships, parenting your kids, like does it show up in those avenues outside of business as well for you?

Marcus Sheridan: Yeah. It’s funny that you asked that, Joe.

I don’t think anybody’s asked me that. And it’s a really great question because again, what’s my obsession is communication that leads to trust and transformation. I teach as much on communication, uh, than I do on sales and marketing. A lot of people know me as sales guy or as a marketing, but what I really teach about is my next book is purely about transformative conversations and transformative communication.

What does that look like? And so, you know, one of the phrases, uh, cuz I have a communication framework that’s coming out in the book, and one of the major elements to the framework is what we. Vanguard and a Vanguard. The historical context of it is the Vanguard was the first part of the Roman army that went into battle.

And when they went into battle, they formed a V and that’s how they went and they attacked it. And so when you vanguard something, it’s almost like you’re getting in front of the issues. And so the greatest way in life to resolve a concern is to address it before it becomes a. So great communicators, they’re always looking for what do I need to vanguard in this situation?

So as to eliminate concern, so as to eliminate doubt, so as to eliminate somebody saying no, or somebody saying that doesn’t make sense to me. So the great marketers, they do that. The great communicators, the great speakers, they do that. The great parents do that. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.

If my child comes. And they say, Hey dad, I got this. I got this problem and I got four kids, right? So they said, Hey dad, I got this problem. What do you think? Well, the reality is they almost always know the answer. They almost always know the answer. It’s my job as the parent to do leadership training in this moment and to help them learn to pull the answer from themselves because at that point, they’re the hero, not me.

Now, a lot of parents and a lot of aunts, uncles, et cetera, friends, They don’t realize this, but we tend to answer questions very quickly. We do it in leadership, we do it in management. Why do we do that quickly? Because we think it’s efficient and when it’s not, it creates us having flooded inboxes and getting text all the time on a vacation.

Um, but also what it does is teaches people to come to us because we’re the hero. Now, the great communicators and the great companies know that the customer’s, the hero, the great parents make the person the child. The hero by the child realizing I know the answer to this, but what does the parent do?

They asked the right questions, but how do you vanguard this the right way? Because somebody comes to you and you just start asking questions. It can feel like an interrogation, right? So Vanguard, what this looks like is if you came to me, Joe, and says, you not got this issue, I’ve got this need, I would say, okay, glad you came to me, Joe.

I think we can figure this out. But here’s the thing. In order to figure out, I’m gonna have to ask you some tough questions. You have to be really honest. Can you do that? And if you do, We’re gonna get there, I promise you. Say yes. Now that’s a Vanguard. That’s a vanguard. Done that hundreds of times.

Talking to different employees, talking to my kids, talking to anybody that’s a vanguard. So in sales, we Vanguard buy, for example, let’s say there’s major questions that we know they’re gonna have. And if I go to any sales team in the world and I say, are there certain questions that if you get asked these questions in the sales process, you immediately know they’re not ready to.

every salesperson says yes. There’s always questions that I know that if they don’t know this answer, they’re not ready to buy. So what if we integrate content into the sales process so early that we ensure they know the answers to those questions before we say, have that first sales call. Okay. Now, how’s that first sales conversation gonna be different?

They’re not only gonna know the answers to those redundant questions they should already know, but they’re gonna have heard it from you. They’re gonna learn it. . So what you’re vanguard now is your vanguard waste. You’re getting in front of waste because you know what? Questions, worries, doubts, issues that could arise in this situation.

How can I eliminate them? Again, I’ll repeat. The greatest way in life to resolve a concern is to address it before it becomes concern. . And so when you become incredibly situational, situationally and self-aware, you know what those, let’s call exit doors are gonna be of your audience, your persona, your reader, your viewer, your friend.

You eliminate those on the front end, and now you’re so much more successful because of it. Let me give you one last silly one. These are all just like simple little vanguards. So let’s say you have a company meeting and it’s in the board. Um, is the, is the meeting more effective if everybody is shoulder to shoulder, or is it more effective if there’s a bunch of space between each person?

Well, of course it’s more effective if everybody’s shoulder to shoulder. So this is why when you have meetings within your company, if you’re in the boardroom, you should eliminate any chair that’s not being used. You should never have an empty chair in any meeting. Meeting becomes dramatically more effective in that moment, is why as a speaker.

I have an instruction in my writer that says, we want one chair per attendee. No more than that. So, because if you have a full room, in other words, no empty seats, it feels like a movement. If you have a half empty room, doesn’t matter how big it is. . Let’s say hypothetically you went into a church. The church has uh, thousand seats and there’s 600 people in there.

You’re like, this church is dying. But if the church has 60 seats and there’s a hundred people in the room, this is a cult. This is a movement. This is unbelievable. What’s going on here? I wanna be a part of this. Right? It’s a vanguard. All these things are vanguards.

Joe Mills: Yeah, it’s interesting. I used to own a CrossFit gym in Indianapolis, sold it last year, and I remember one of the things that as I was looking back on my experience doing, Very tactical in nature that I wish I had done differently was I rented too much space at the start to grow into it.

And it hurt the experience. Yes. Because there’s so much to fill. Great. Yeah. And the energy sort of dissipates. Um, so I, I feel what you’re talking about on a, on a firsthand basis, it’s a, it’s a really true thing. Great

Marcus Sheridan: analogy. You just made, you start small, you pack some people in, they’re like, look at. Got us a little tribe here.

It’s packed in here. This is something, something’s happening here. You always wanna be bursting out. You always wanna be bursting outta the seams every single time.

Joe Mills: Well, there I think there’s like impatience, right? I know. I feel it in myself of like, you look around, you see everybody else’s success and you’re like, it seems like they got there in a month.

I should be there too. And so I won’t do the, the like less sexy beginning work because you expect the payoff to be so quick. It. It’s a weird human condition of a, we

Marcus Sheridan: certainly at those, you know, you, you’ve heard of the, uh, EDUs complex mm-hmm. , but I think oftentimes business we have edifice complex, right?

Like you had an edifice complex. I had one when I had a bunch of retail stores at one time for my swimming pool company. I thought that stores equated to perception of success. I loved being sac this see my stores. Mm-hmm. and, uh, they were sucking me. It wasn’t until I got rid of the stores or sold the mills as they say, and focused on, you know what, we could be the best in the world at that.

We were really, really successful. And so, you know, I think your analogy was really, really perfect there. And we gotta be very, very careful about that and, you know, figure out what’s our motivators in business, what’s really driving us? Why are we making the decision? , you know, we’re making, and there’s value in the grit.

Uh, and there’s value in the bursting out the seams. There’s value in the sardine effect, as I like to call it. All those are nuances that add energy to, to a thing, whatever that is. Mm-hmm. , you know, it’s like whenever I’m thinking about events, I’m just like, I want a packed event. If you don’t think you can pack it, I don’t want to shoot for the stars.

I was like, I don’t want, I don’t. Go for 2000 people. Unless I know we got 3000 people that want to come in the doors and pay for us. Otherwise, best change the goals.

Joe Mills: Yeah. We were talking before we hit record about the English Premier League cuz you were just over there speaking and we were talking, you, you mentioned to me that Liverpool’s got like something like 28 years of season ticket holders waiting.

It’s like that’s what you, that’s what you want. That’s

Marcus Sheridan: right. If you wanna get a season. To Liverpool football team in the Premier League, you gotta wait 28 years. That’s the waiting list. That is the frenzy effect, right? That is security . That is, yeah,

Joe Mills: that is insecurity. You are right.

Marcus Sheridan: You know, it’s just, that is, that is a beautiful, beautiful business model.

And somebody might say, well that’s just such a cultural, that’s No, no, no, no, no. That principle applies to pretty much anything in life. And just as a side note, Joe, The most successful people I see in business are the ones that they grab principles from all different facets of life. So it’s like your question about, I imagine that this goes way beyond business.

It’s a really smart question. You’re thinking on a principle based level. You’re not caught up in the weeds of like, you know, this is a marketing thing. And most people though, are constantly in the weeds. They’re just thinking about the little thing, right? That little. It goes so, so far beyond that.

Joe Mills: Well, I’m interested because I, I feel like a lot of times people get caught in the weeds because they’re busy and they’re like, all right, I’m focused on this.

I’m trying to solve the immediate problem. Sort of the idea of working in versus on your business, your role. Well, I can’t imagine that you were hanging out, twiddling your thumbs when you first got to the principal. Thinking of what led to They Ask, You Answer, like how, how do you pull yourself out of all the things you have your hands in to give yourself space to think in principles instead of in tactics?

Marcus Sheridan: I think when I look back to the ask you answer, the reason why I quickly came up with this framework after I started reading about inbound marketing was there’s a couple things that I. exceptionally well. And then there’s only a couple because there’s a lot I don’t do well, number one, have very keen self-awareness.

So like when people say to me things like, that was a really great talk. I appreciate the compliment, but I don’t need to hear it because I already know if it was good or bad. Generally they might say That was great, but to me it was an eight and a half. I’m going for a 10. I know what a 10 looks and feels like it wasn’t a 10.

Mm-hmm. . I just did 12 straight speaking days in the uk. Okay. My lowest was like somewhere between eight, eight and a half. Highest was the 10? Know exactly where it was. Know exactly. Whereas I know every single night to need a single person and tell me just no, because I’m looking at everything. I’m looking at the audience, I’m looking at their faces.

I’m taking it in, and I’m able to see it for what it is without being too emotionally connected. Now, I say this because in 2000 and. I just was looking in the mirror saying, holy crap, my personal behavior has changed. The way I am vetting companies online is changing the way I’m using this thing called search is changing.

And if I’m doing that, I know everybody else is doing that. I’m not special. A lot of people think they’re special. I’m not special, right? My business wasn’t special. Everybody thinks your business special. Business not special. My business was like your business built on trust. Okay? So that’s the first thing.

Very, very keen sub word of how am I evolving, as in this case, a buyer. The second thing was, and this is also why the book took off, this is why the framework took off. It’s because I am never really interested in sounding smart. And where does that come from? I think it comes from the hero complex, right?

It comes from this desire for people to steam us. What happens when somebody hears me speak or reads, They Ask, You Answer. I can tell you what happens because this with what I’m striving for, they look at the person next to them and say, what? This is so obvious, why are we not doing this? Like literally, that is the sign that we’ve had communion.

Now, if somebody read, They Ask, You Answer and said That Marcus guy, he’s a genius. That’s no compliment. Why? Because they’re steaming me so highly. That they might not be able to see themselves as capable of doing what I did. So, so why do I constantly reference the fact that I’m a pool guy? Cuz it’s dumb not to dumb it down.

If the listener can see, okay, so a pool guy did this. And so if a pool guy can talk about all these things and he can become the voice of trust in a space, why can’t I with my business? And so there’s, I mean there’s been hundreds of times over the years, Joe, when somebody came. And said, you know, I’ve heard about inbound, I’ve heard about content market, I’ve heard about this, I’ve heard about that, but it didn’t make sense until I heard you.

Cuz I don’t say any of those phrases. I’ll never say content marketing. I’ll never say s e o, I don’t use any of them. I talk about principles of trust, I talk about our behavior, and by the end of it, they’re like, dude, why are we not doing this? It’s,

Joe Mills: it’s really interesting to hear you talk about, so the two things I heard there was I’m very self-aware and I don’t let my ego drive my decision making.

This is gonna sound like a judgmental sort of question, I think, but we’ll use some current event as we’re having this conversation. I’m guessing you’ve seen the like complete explosion of Sam Bickman Frit. Yes. And, and the crypto. Yes. Um, and I saw somebody post something on LinkedIn that was four pictures of Elizabeth Holmes from Theranos Lanich from Uber.

Marcus Sheridan: Yeah. These are all people we worshiped. I saw that same post. It was very, very telling. These are folks that were on the cover of the magazines. There was, yeah. Like bunch 400

Joe Mills: or something. Yeah. Mm-hmm. , I’m, I’m, I’m curious, like it’s very natural to chase. Just cuz it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s right, but we think if, if people look up to me, I’ll have more resources, I’ll be in better positions to, to support myself and doesn’t care about et cetera.

I definitely don’t. I’ve, and I’ve never, I’ve been lucky enough to be in the room while you’ve given talks before and just following you through, you know, LinkedIn and other channels. I’ve never felt that from you. And I’m just curious, have you always just not needed the ego thing or was there a moment in your life where you were like, oh, like I do not need the outside.

Um, hero complex to feel fulfilled. So

Marcus Sheridan: I can recall when I was doing the ask answer the moment that really changed my life. I’ve never shared the story before. So before I started speaking to the world, I was speaking to the swimming pool industry because that was the next step up. You know, people started in the industry saying, wow, this is cool.

Can you share it at this conference? So one time I was sharing, did They Ask, You Answer? and my business. I had two business partners at the time. They were there and we had a, a leadership meeting the next week after the conference where they saw me speak and we were sitting in the room, just us three, and my best friend to this day, still my business partner, he says to me, when you told that story, you told it as if we didn’t exist.

the only pronoun you used the whole time was I. Now, this was a really difficult moment for me because the presentation that I’d given was really amazing presentation. The crowd, everybody just got into it. It was just so palpable, the energy. So I was coming off of a high and I was thinking that they really felt amazing about it too.

And keep in mind, I’m probably in this moment somewhere around 32 years old, let’s say 32, 33 years. and as soon as he says this, I immediately get so charged and so emotional cuz I was hurt. I was hurt by what he said. I had to go to my office and I just, I was done for the day because I, I was completely deflated and hurt because somebody I love deeply.

My business partners, both best friends really were. , you said this in a way that was purely self aggrandizing essentially is what they’re saying. And um, it hurt for weeks and weeks and weeks. And I’m not even sure in totality why it hurt other than I know that they were right. And so that’s why I became very obsessive about we language, when.

Tasted of that bitterness. And so today I try to really share things from a, a we perspective. We’re in this together and try not to take all the credit because the credit wasn’t all mine. Sure, yes, sure. I was like the brains behind. They Ask, You Answer, but my two business partners, they were helping me produce.

And, you know, they were in the lab with me to a degree you could say. Right. And they were in that sandbox. And so, and they allowed me to do it, and, and it was like, so they were a part of it. There’s a big part of it. So I think that was the major, major turning point, Joe. Otherwise I might’ve gone down the road of, you know, look at me out smart.

But it’s, I’ve never, never let go of that bitterness. It hurt really, really bad. And that’s why I think sometimes in society, we forget how important. is sometimes and hurt feelings are right. But it goes back to the self-awareness too, because I was able to say, yeah, but it is right. Mm-hmm. , and he was right.

Joe Mills: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that because I, as you were telling it, I could feel like, I think we’ve all been in that moment where you didn’t realize, you put your foot directly into your mouth and you’re like feeling great, and then somebody says something to you that’s like, , you said this and it, it like really hurt me.

And like the, the way your chest feels in that moment. Yes. Where it just feels like constricting and you’re like, and it’s almost in your throat. It’s hard, you

Marcus Sheridan: know? You know, like six weeks later, my business partner Jason and I were talking again, my best friend, I think we were on a plane or something, you know, he looks at me in a moment and he’s like, I wanna apologize to you that I said that thing.

And I said, no, I need to apologize to you. But it was still that. , like he was emotional. Mm-hmm. . I was emotional because he knew how much it hurt me, but it really changed I think, my entire trajectory. That one little moment. I gotta say one other story about Jason. Mm-hmm. , which I think is just pertinent to anybody that’s listening to this right now.

And this is why I believe so much that we’re not meant to walk life alone. That we need partners, partners in business, partners in life, you know, just partners in. , I started to blow up. After that point, I started speaking more and there was another conference that, um, I spoke at and it was still in the pool industry.

And this was a, a, a bigger one. There’s lots of people. My business partners were there. And, uh, it was electric, it was magnetic. And at the end we were coming home. Once again, we were on the plane and once again, my business partner Jason looks at me and he’s emotion. He says, you’re not supposed to be a pool guy.

And I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be just a pool guy. But how do you leave your best friends? How do you tell them, Hey, I want to go do more? Like, how do you do that? Well, instead of me having to do that, he says, you need to go pursue your calling In life as a, essentially as a speaker, as a, as a. and then him and my business partner financially bridged me until I was in a position with my other businesses to be able to not need that.

What type of business partner does that?

Joe Mills: You, you know what’s amazing is on the first story you shared where you used a lot of I and use a lot of, like, you were like, yeah, he was right, and then he was there to sort of bring you back down to say, Hey, you’re, you’re a little ahead of your skis, but. Once you were in a point where it was gonna be like the Marcus Sheridan show, he was also the one who enabled you to go make it real.

And it’s interesting to see that power of community, that power of feedback loops we talked about, we’ve talked about that on a couple different episodes, actually, the power of surrounding yourself with people who can give you honest, real feedback. And that oftentimes is said in the way of like, keep me in check.

But equally powerful is the other half. Enable me when I have the opportunity and I won’t take it myself. It’s really cool to see how both of those levers got pushed at really important times and it’s an amazing business partner who does that. And life partner.

Marcus Sheridan: Yeah. And that’s why I believe partnership is such a big deal.

I don’t enjoy going in businesses. I have five right now. Companies that I have some ownership stake in. I don’t wanna do ’em by myself. Mm-hmm. , it’s just like, it’s no different. You know, I was in the UK for two straight weeks, just recently and spoken, uh, multiple towns all over the uk. People would ask me like, have you gone all over the towns?

Have you seen all the things? I’m like, I’ve seen all the things because I don’t really enjoy creating memories to share with myself. I think memories are meant to be shared with others way more magical when somebody’s with you. and uh, so the times that I went out on the town, I had somebody with me.

Right. Because there’s just more majesty in that, the sharing of thoughts and ideas and the energy of the moment, you know, versus just having it for yourself. Point being is I am such a firm believer in mentorship and coaching, and not everybody has, let’s. , a mentor that they talk to every day. That doesn’t mean we can’t have mentors.

And I still believe Dale Carnegie and Jim Ron were my greatest professional mentors, um, in terms of my own personal development. And they haven’t met me, but I know them. Mm-hmm. and, uh, I’ll never forget ’em, both

Joe Mills: of ’em. There’s, there’s one thing, um, that I had in the back of my head that I wanted to chat with you about, which is this idea of sincerity and perform.

So you put a post up, I don’t know, maybe a month ago that was talking about this idea of like performative exercise. And I think when people hear the word performative, they think negatively. But at the same time, like if, you know, let’s say you’ve, you’ve booked a talk, right? You’ve been, you’ve been booked to go be at this event, to bring your energy, to be you.

And the moment before you get on stage, you get news that something bad’s happened. And it’s not so bad that you have to cancel, but it’s bad enough that it affects your mindset. and you know, maybe a business deal fell through and you’re like, ah, I’ve kind of rattled about it. Like in that moment your commitment is to go do what you were booked to go do, but you’re performing.

That’s right. So I’m, I’m just, but like, it’s not authentic. So there’s sort of this like tug and pull of authenticity and performing and I’m just curious to hear your perspective on that cuz we’ve had it come up a few times in conversations and you had a different framework for it.

Marcus Sheridan: I love that you brought this up.

I have been thinking about this a. We say the phrase authentic a lot in society today. What happen if we were always authentic? Let’s analyze this for a second. Right? So had a long day. Been traveling since last two weeks cuz I just got home yesterday from the uk. So for two straight weeks I have long day speak to people and present for, of course about five hours a day.

And then that night as I’m exhaust. I would get on a video call with my kids. Now, if I’m being authentic in that moment, how do I act? Tired? Am I positive or somewhat just like downbeat? That would be authentic. But then there’s the other side. What if authenticity was being the best version of what that person, what that audience needs you to be in that moment?

are you being performative? Well, the answer is yes. So when I’m talking to my kids on the phone after a long day and they feel like they’re the only ones on the planet that were there, like that matter, and that I’ve literally been waiting to talk to ’em all day, and I sound like I just woke up. My energy is so strong, like I’m nothing but vibrant.

Am I being performative? Absolutely. Is that what they need? A hundred. Right now, Joe, are you being performative

Joe Mills: in a sense? Yeah,

Marcus Sheridan: absolutely. You are. So am I. So much. Did you talk to your grandparents the exact same way you talked to a child or to an infant? You’re being performative. You see, the problem that we have is we think, to your point in informative means inauthentic or insincere, and that’s BS because the promise that I’ve made to myself is I’m going to.

What that person needs so as to get the most from that moment, that’s what I’m gonna be, right? So what do I need to be right now? I need to be very honest. I need to be sincere. I need to be real. I need to be thoughtful. I need to be pensive because that’s the vibe of this interview and that’s what I feel like is needed right now.

One last thing I’ll say about this. Do a lot of sales. and one of the first things we do with salespeople, cuz almost nobody does it, which is really sad, is we do call observations. So they have to watch themselves on, on sales calls. One of the foremost observations that salespeople will make about themselves on sales calls is, uh, I don’t smile nearly as much as I thought I smiled.

This is number one comment. Mm-hmm. . And so then if you start to talk to a salesperson about it, occasionally somebody will say, yeah, but I’m not, I’m just not a smile. What does the person need you to be at that moment? So which one is more authentic? Allowing your resting bee face to have a really negative impact on your audience or showing them what’s needed to be the best version of yourself.

It doesn’t mean you’re fake. It’s not what it means. Just means you’re so again, situationally and self. That you adjust to what the audience needs in that moment.

Joe Mills: So one of the things that just popped into my head was the idea of being what other people need you to be while holding your authenticity. It would seem to be imperative that you put yourself in environments where who you are is actually helpful.

Like we, we do sales training and our sales coach talks a lot about your, your job is not to. New business or to sell something, your job is to uncover truth. And if you can come to an educated decision together and it’s no, you did your job great. I love that. If I’m trying to convince you to work with us, you should definitely not work with us because it’s not gonna go well.

That’s right. Is that how you filter it? Do you filter what you say Yes and no to, based on is is who? Marcus is going to be helpful for that audience.

Marcus Sheridan: I think this conversation is like, . There’s a lot to this right now because you know, I have a coaching company essentially, right? So we help companies implement.

They Ask, You Answer, but it’s all business coaching is what it is. And during the sales process, I teach them to what you just said. And during the whole relationship, we teach them that at any point in time they should feel like you’re totally okay if both parties just walk the other direction and there’s power in that.

because it means I’m committed to being so honest with you right now that if it’s not a fit, we’re totally okay with it. So often, like most people aren’t trained the way you’ve been trained Joe, and therefore this is how sales gets a bad name. But to your point, if you really go into something really curiously, like truly, truly curiously, it feels different, man.

There’s a different vibe. There’s a sincerity that is picked up on, there’s a sixth sense that we feel as humans. It’s very disarming when we feel that from the person we’re talking to, because we realize they’re more interested in the outcome being a win. For me, the audience, the, the prospect, whatever that person is, versus making a.

Right. Because the moment they feel that it’s we’re done, I mean, we, we got nothing. Totally. And sometimes there’s no reason why it’s not right. It just isn’t right. And that’s okay. There’s so much, there’s so much power

Joe Mills: in that man. I’ll just kind of start to wrap us here. You brought up two things that you, you know, you’re good at.

One is self-awareness. Sailor one is not being driven by your ego. It’s interesting how much, um, I think there’s an underlying skill of, of confidence that comes through with you. Allows the other two to be real. Like you’re like, I don’t need somebody to tell me that the talk was great because I already know if it was great or if it was an eight and I’m going for a 10 and I know why and I know those things, and you’re not looking for the external validation of it to make it real one way or the other.

But it, it comes through in the ability to say like, I don’t know if I can help you there, because I think a lot of times, I’ve certainly experienced this at various points in, in my career. where it’s like, I want to find a way to help because I, and in reality I’m just trying to make myself feel good, like, oh, I’m smart enough, we’re smart enough, we’re good enough.

Um, and every single time it gets there, it never turns out well, like very rarely do we end up working together. When we do end up working together. I think everybody’s sort of like, why? So it’s like, should I change that for this subset or just be completely fine with the fact that I don’t need to be loved by everyone?

I need to serve those that. Take value from this in a really meaningful way. And I think it takes a lot of like self-confidence to get there.

Marcus Sheridan: One of the things I’ve been thinking about, and again, just saying this, somebody could hear this and say, I dunno if I like this guy, but I’m gonna say it anyway because I believe in talking about things openly.

It’s, and you’re not bragging, you’re just asking yourself why There’s certain things that happen in life. You say, why? , and part of that is knowing what your genius is. I think in society sometimes we don’t want people to really own their genius. Now, I think we’ve all been given gifts, and one of the keys is identifying them.

None from a source of unrighteous pride, but from a source of, Hey, knowing this I can take this and I can run with it, and I can have my greatest. If I’m in that zone of genius all the time, but my point that I was gonna make is I’ve never felt the feeling of imposter syndrome ever. Oh, interesting. And I wanna understand why not.

Like what, oh man, is it that makes someone, in other words, I’ve gone into things, let’s say, maybe nervous about it, but I’ve never. Felt imposter syndrome. And so when people talk about it and it’s a prolific subject matter, right? That that a lot of people are constantly talking about, this is one of those where I’m having a difficult time truly, truly bridging it, right?

And helping people fix it, simply because I don’t literally know if I’ve ever experienced it.

Joe Mills: You know what would be really fun? I think this would be cool. We could do a three-way convers. where we find somebody who really experiences imposter syndrome. Yeah. And talk to them about Talk it out, lead leading through that.

Why do they feel that way? I could sort of facilitate, because frankly I just don’t think that I’ve been in a position at this point to like be, I don’t know why either. But I have, I, I haven’t felt imposter syndrome and I, I think it’s maybe because I haven’t been in a high enough like position to feel like my title.

Grandiose enough to put me in that sort of feeling. I don’t know. Um, but I think it’d be fun

Marcus Sheridan: to, A lot of people have that lot that are, if they were doing what you’re doing right now and if they were interviewing, whether it’s Marcus Sheridan or anybody else Right. They would feel imposter syndrome. You don’t feel it, right.

Question is why don’t you? Yeah. To me, that’s an interesting conversation. I think it is. There’s very, there’s something. It’s a book. It needs to be written and needs to be put into a framework so it makes sense to people. , right? Yeah. So, so maybe that’s our sign that

Joe Mills: that is another, I’m gonna leave that cliffhanger there.

I want to have that. We’re gonna, we’re gonna run it back together and we’re gonna do it again and we’re gonna talk all about imposter syndrome. Cause I think that would be, I think it’d be fun. Yeah, let’s join on it. Awesome. Well, Marcus, thanks so much for coming on, man. I appreciate you spending time with us.


Marcus Sheridan: my pleasure.

Reid Morris: All right, Joe, how was your

Joe Mills: conversation with Marcus? Yeah, it was awesome, man. It was awesome. He brought up a, a very good story. We talks about his business partner really shining a light on him, allowing him to see the feedback. Um, and it was hard feedback. And actually this was one of the coolest things we talked about is that then later when he had really turned into a, an excellent speaker and was getting a lot of attention.

The same business partner who had sort of kept him grounded in the beginning when he needed to, was like, Hey man, you need to be more than a pool guy. You need to go chase it. And like, um, gave him the emotional and financial capability to, to focus on a new avenue for himself. Mm-hmm. . And it was a really cool, like, power of community moment in the show that he talked about, which was, which was really interesting.

And I love how that related back. , like our conversations with Chip and Will around the power of community and how important that is. It was just, it was a cool moment. I was thinking

Reid Morris: a lot about that and, and you explaining that conversation. If we think back to Chip’s conversation and having teammates who create a safe space for you, right?

Mm-hmm. and, and the idea of, you know, me talking to your, an eager and type of being, like where do you not feel successful right now? Right. Right. But just the idea conceptually. , creating a safe space, having people around you that are willing to do that, and they know that’s coming from a place of caring.

Mm-hmm. not of judgment, and it feels like he experienced something very similar to that and on some level really changed. Yeah. How he was looking at things in his

Joe Mills: trajectory. Right. Yeah, totally. I mean, I can imagine his business partner not saying to him, Hey, you should go do this, and how much longer it would’ve taken him to make the emotional leap or, or if he ever would.

because of the lack of, am I gonna still have these relationships? Am I gonna be able to have these people in my life if I go and, and make this big step away from them? Um, so yeah, it was just, it was, it was a cool

Reid Morris: story. And it feels like somebody who put a lot of thought into those decisions too.

Joe Mills: Right.

Yeah, I’d say that’s probably fair. The other thing we talked about, which was cool when we, we ended the conversation with it, and I think it’s a future episode potentially with him, is that he was like, I’ve never once felt imposter. He’s like, I, I, he’s like, I hear so much about imposter syndrome, but I’ve never, he’s like, it’s one that I have a really hard time unpacking and understanding because I’ve never felt it.

Well, it’s

Reid Morris: interesting because depending on what content you consume, the, the circles that you operate in, you might hear that you should experience imposter syndrome. Yes. And if you don’t, then there’s a problem there. Yes. Which is so interesting is the flip side of that coin. Yeah.

Joe Mills: I, you’re so right.

You’re so right. These things that. Like say they experience when you feel like you don’t, it does start to be like, is something wrong with me? Am I a narcissist? Like in this situation? Exactly. Yeah. Am I a narcissist because I don’t feel imposter syndrome, because that’s usually

Reid Morris: tied to the conversation of ego and that type of thing.

Mm-hmm. again, he says that that’s never been an issue for him. Yeah. And yet has never had an imposter syndrome. That could be a really interesting

Joe Mills: place to go. Yeah. Well, I think, and I said this to Marcus on the. He has a sense of like self-confidence that is, does not come off his ego, but also shines through.

He highlighted like, I never need somebody to tell me it was a good speech. He’s like, I already know if it was an eight or a 10. I try to hold myself 10 standards. I know when it’s an eight and why, and I don’t need somebody to tell me. Similarly, I don’t need somebody to tell me it was a 10. I know it’s cool and that’s like an interesting, I don’t need the ego.

I’m confident and I know who I am and I’m self-aware, right? So he said like, I don’t need the ego stroke, and I’m self-aware. It’s like those two things play into it and maybe it’s like I am self-aware of when I am fully qualified to be in this room. So I have no imposter syndrome and I am confident enough to stand inside of that.

Without it being a, an ego play. So, but yeah, I think you’re right cuz they are an interesting, like most people would present them as being an opposite end of the spectrum. I love it. We already have somewhere to go. We do. Cool. Joe 1,000 Stories is brought to you by Element Three with production by Share Your genius.

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