E23: The Power of Connecting with Lou Diamond



This episode focuses on the power of connecting to create business value. Lou Diamond, CEO of Thrive Loud, is a performance mentor for sales, marketing, and leadership teams. This has been a tough year and not everyone is thriving. Authenticity and empathy are paramount. How can we do a better job as leaders at connecting with our teams and our customers? It's a great conversation about ways to challenge the status quo and power up our connections.



Listen in to learn about:

  • Why now is a great time for authentic and empathic messaging

  • Communicating a clear message of what your company is focused on

  • Creating a "culture of asking"- ask great questions that build relationships

  • Connect-working is the new networking

  • How companies are using podcasting platforms internally to scale engagement

  • How connecting translates to business value

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Episode Transcript:


Laurie Barkman:

Welcome to Succession Stories, insights for next generation entrepreneurs. I'm Laurie Barkman. I've spent my career bringing an entrepreneurial approach to mature companies struggling with change as an outside executive of a third generation, 120 year old company, I was part of a long-term succession plan.


Now I work with entrepreneurs, privately held companies, and family businesses to develop innovations that create enterprise value and transition plans to achieve their long-term goals. On this podcast, listen in as I talk with entrepreneurs who are driving innovation and culture change. I speak with owners who successfully transitioned their company and others who experienced disappointment along the way.


Guests also include experts in multi-generational businesses and entrepreneurship. If you are a next generation entrepreneur looking for inspiration to grow and thrive, or an owner who can't figure out the best way to transition their closely held company, this podcast is for you.


Visit smalldotbig.com to schedule a complimentary business assessment, to identify ways to grow your company, reduce risk and accelerate your business value.


Laurie Barkman:

This week I welcomed Lou diamond to the show. Lou is the founder CEO of Thrive and author of Master the Art of Connecting. He's a performance mentor for sales and leadership teams, and he hosts truly awesome podcasts, including Why They Listen and Thrive Loud. I've been a guest on both of those shows and highly recommend if you want to check them out. One thing's for sure this has been a tough year and not everyone is thriving. Back to back video calls are sapping our energy. Authenticity and empathy are paramount. How can we do a better job at connecting with our teams and our customers? Lou shared how companies are using podcasting to distribute content and engage key audiences. It was a great conversation about how connecting translates to business value. Be sure to subscribe and leave a review if you enjoy the episode. Thanks for tuning in!

Laurie Barkman:

Lou Diamond, welcome to Succession Stories. It is just so awesome to have you here. I've been a guest on your show, different shows, a couple of times, and I'm so grateful to be able to return the favor and introduce you to my audience because you in the background have been a supporter and a coach of mine and so many different ways giving me encouragement as a new podcaster. And so it's super cool to welcome you and have you on the show and talk about podcasting, amongst many, many other things. So welcome to the show.


Lou Diamond:

Laurie, truly an honor to be here. Yes, you are one of the rare ones that I've had as two guests. I guess you've been on two different programs, which as obviously your listeners know, is worthwhile because you're spectacular what you do. And I think this platform you've created is spot on. It's targeted. It delivers on great content, great lessons, and maybe most importantly- entertainment off of all of it. You really have a good natural knack at this. I know you think you're a rookie at it, but I think you've been doing it your whole career. I'm excited to be here.

Laurie Barkman:

I appreciate that so much. And we probably should tell the audience how we met, which was 30 years ago, perhaps at this point?


Lou Diamond:

Oh my gosh, yes


Laurie Barkman:

We met in college and you were a very good friend of my husband's in his fraternity with that merry band of gentlemen. So again, welcome to the show.


Lou Diamond:

That’s being so kind.

Laurie Barkman:

It’s being so kind!

Lou Diamond:

Happy to be here.


Laurie Barkman:

We are happy to have you, so let's start by talking about you and your story, because I think it's really cool to tell us about how you went from Wall Street and made a transition to what I'll call the entrepreneurial front street.


Lou Diamond:

Oh, I like that. I like telling people, Laurie, I was put on this planet to work with the most amazing businesses, leaders, and brands, and help them thrive through the power of connecting. And that seems like a mouthful, but it took my whole life to kind of figure that out. And what's really interesting is I think the entrepreneurial aspect of my career has always been there front and center. And I just had different outfits that I put on, if you would, hats that I wore that resembled different versions of that entrepreneurialness. Even on Wall Street, creating like your own business within a big company in a business is what I did for a very long time at Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. I was in consulting for a very long time. And I also, as you know, one of our, the first time our paths crossed in business, I was working at Organic, which is one of the first companies to build websites. And you were at?


Laurie Barkman:

American Eagle Outfitters

Lou Diamond:

American Eagle, and you were running marketing for them.

Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, for the e-commerce team.


Lou Diamond:

You were the eCommerce team. And we were building platforms for that. And that was one of the most entrepreneurial experiences ever because it was like the Wild West of the internet. But if I go all the way back before my consulting career, where I worked at Deloitte and Accenture, I worked for my dad who had his own business and retail jewelry stores. So I've always been an entrepreneur. I just didn't know that it was that aspect of what I did that made it more unique, I guess, because it had traditional businesses that I worked for at traditional companies that I dealt with. It was only then that I took all of these lessons and recognize that my super power was connecting people through business, through relationships, through sales, through client service, through eventually a new medium, and helping to bring them together to really find out what they do best and help them thrive.


Lou Diamond:

And that's where that motto that I came up with of how I work with these people to get them to connect and thrive because it was connection. That was something that I recognized, which is one of the most important aspects of being a great entrepreneur is establishing really strong, powerful connections with key people on your team, with your clients, with your investors. And that ability is a skillset that I've now recognized that I can help train, teach and help others do the same and take advantage of. So I know that's a very fast winded story to my life and career, but that entrepreneurial component of leaving Wall Street was my whole life just screaming at me saying, you got to do this because this is what you do best.


Laurie Barkman:

Well, good for you for having the courage to make that leap. I'm sure that was not an easy leap and your family probably wondering about that decision making, but they obviously supported you, which is great. And you found your voice. You found that purpose that you were getting clues of throughout your career, but then you ultimately chose to pursue it. And now you work with companies to help them thrive, as you say, and this year has been tougher than we've all imagined. What changes are you seeing with companies, which ones are thriving and which ones are struggling?


Lou Diamond:

Great question. And I think it's important that in the role that I have in working for Thrive, and that's the consultancy that I'm focused on now, my core business, that's what I'm doing in helping people better connect and grow. There's three areas that I'm helping them with. One is with sales and helping them grow and better connect to their clients, marketing and helping their message better connect to their brands, and leaders on how they better connect to their people. So I have been incredibly busy during this time of COVID because companies are facing challenges in all those areas, depending on the industry of their end. Obviously their sales issues are, they're either not having issues at all because they're just absolutely overwhelmed in the industry they're in and they're growing like crazy. Or they're really struggling because there are shutdowns and challenges and there's been layoffs and all those issues and trying to figure out what they need to do next.


Lou Diamond:

Marketing is even more important because the way you message your company today is even more valuable than anything else. And it's really amazing how many people have been having this challenge of trying to figure out the right message to give during this time. And lastly, helping leaders, those leaders, Laurie, if you think about CEOs right now and having to manage your team, your people, during this very trying time, you used to all be in the office. Now you're remote. So without a doubt, what everyone is doing, whether sales, marketing, and leadership is they're all hitting that word that's too overused these days, Laurie, that’s pivoting. Oh, I'm pivoting my business. By the way, I hate the word pivot. I played basketball - pivot is when you kept your foot on one spot and you just kind of spun around in a circle around that foot. And just, you didn't really move anywhere. What's really happening is people are readjusting and rethinking about their business maybe faster than they had originally planned.


Laurie Barkman:

So maybe they should say pirouette?


Lou Diamond:

That would be exactly what the word that they're doing I'm spinning around, or that would be spinning around in a circle. Let's just talk, first of all, I want to talk about leaders first. The biggest challenge I've been dealing with is working with companies and helping those leaders better connect to their people. And the biggest transformation for that is now no one's in the office. Everyone is virtual and how people are managing meetings. I joke about this, but the way that meetings have taken on, I'm dealing with a client right now. And I said to them, if you want me to help you, we're going to have to blow up the way you think about meeting with one another. The way they're connecting in this virtual environment is overkill. I kid you not Laurie. They are having meeting after meeting, after meeting, and Zoom, Zoom, Zoom.


Lou Diamond:

They're never leaving their chair because they recognize that before they needed to go into a meeting room, sit down there, and they would absorb everything around it. Well now, everyone's meeting room is the same spot that they're in. Nobody's leaving their space, but they're all trying to connect to different people. So really what has to happen is one: meetings need to be shorter and I'm helping companies literally change the way they think about a meeting and connect in a faster way, get things done more efficiently so they spend less time zooming internally and more time growing their business. More time, going out and connecting to their clients, figuring out innovative ways to virtually connect. So that's one aspect of what I'm doing. Sales actually, isn't changing that much. I actually think that's the biggest part about sales is now we're not just hopping on planes and going to places.

Laurie Barkman:

Right. That’s right.


Lou Diamond:

But what is changing is the way we present. And one of the things that I'm helping people connect to their message a little bit better with is when you think about when you went into a conference room to give a capabilities presentation of your company or sales presentation, you forgot that if you looked at the room itself, what you would see with your eyes would make up the people in the room, the conference room, the walls of the meeting, they put you in and the building you went into, and your eyes would actually be looking at many people at one time, the people in the room, the deck, the presentation that you'd go through would be almost a postage stamp on the wall on a conference room screen. But now we flipped it. When we go to a Zoom meeting or whatever, we'll share our screen and we'll share a capabilities presentation. And now we’ve literally flipped the ratio where now the screen is making up 80% of what we do and our little pictures in our boxes of who we are gets smaller. And what we forgot was that in those meetings, the reason we went to the Sales meeting was to connect with those people. And that's where we thrive. And now we've made them really small. So the reality is I don't want to share my screen that much. I want to see, like I've seen you on our recording here. I could see you almost in my entire full screen, that's who I'm connecting with. So how we work virtually in sales, that aspect has changed, but the follow through the way they connect and all those pieces, that's still the same effort.

Lou Diamond:

To your point about my last part, messaging and marketing and promoting. This is the hardest part of all, because there already was a big push to digital and to ways that we can message and market. But now we're in, we're in front of our screens more than ever. And we are, believe it or not, or listening to podcasts more than ever. It's becoming a news source. We're being bombarded digitally, constantly. The way you message your brand now has to be so on-point on a bunch of fronts because we also not only have the world of COVID and the struggling parts, like you don't want to be too pushy in an economic downturn in certain industries and other industries, things are fine, but we also have social injustice issues going on. We have an election going on. We have a lot of people that are stressed just in general with the fact that they've got kids running around in the background and they have them homeschooled their virtual classes. And we're all really just getting tired of being socially distant and from a messaging and marketing point, we gotta be aware of that. We have to be caring in the messaging that we send. We can't just be in the same way we were make it all about us. In fact, we really need to do is shift the coin and make sure that we're talking all about who we're targeting. All of that is where I've been sitting and watching an absolute mammoth, behemoth change take place right now within one year.

Lou Diamond:

And it's keeping me busy. It's keeping me working with a lot of companies to help them think about the new way that they can connect and find other ways which will be good segues for our conversation, that they can better connect today so they can do virtual better and keep their business growing and thriving in a time when you can do it, by the way, it's not a shutdown for everybody. In fact, it's the perfect time to maybe pirouette dance and leap in the air. And it's hard to figure out that the chances you want to take, because you have a chance to take advantage and get ahead of so many things that you probably couldn't have done before and work really efficiently and connect even better.


Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, I think that's right. And that does tee up the next question I have for you, because it sort of weaves in the topic of values that you were bringing up of organizations that really value connection. They value the engagement and it will drive business benefit through encouraging those relationships and having those relationships thrive, be they internal or external. And so company values certainly plays into this whole decision making dimension during the pandemic, as well as operational issues. And I think a lot of the companies, the ones I've seen too, there's great examples of clients that I work with where they've tried new things. And there've been, they've been testing new things during the pandemic that will most likely become part of their service offering. You know, they got this little bit of a cold water bath to say, oh, we're going to try this right now. Is this going to work or not? Does the market need us to do it? The answer is yes. So let's go and then they're figuring it out, how they can scale it along the way.

Laurie Barkman:

So that leads me to the next question for you, which is the ability to take on change and deal with risks and what I've seen in my experiences with larger, more mature companies, they tend to be slower to adapt to change. And it isn't necessarily about that pivot, but it's about decision-making and process and, and how things go versus an entrepreneurial culture typically read as “smaller company.” And so how do you think about that challenge where companies need to continue to grow? They need to continue to innovate. They've been so focused on operations and certainly financials, which is super important. They need to do those things, but you know, like I work with business owners on value creation and as they think about go to market and growing, they need to be able to solidify some of these changes. So how do you think about, or how would you advise organizations that don't quite have that entrepreneurial DNA? Yet they know they need that agility. They need to be able to react.


Lou Diamond:

It's the biggest challenge for the big company, the old expression, you know, those big Naval cruisers can't, you know, spin on a dime and those little kayaks and canoes can spin around in circles over them each time. But one makes huge waves and one might not even make a puddle. So the question is how do we get the big company to think innovatively and I believe this is actually where it doesn't matter the size of your company. What really matters to you. Your point about value is leadership needs to be, take the value and recognize what is most important right now. Laurie, can I share with you one of the things that I do when we have a status meeting, and this will all make sense to you and put it all together.

Laurie Barkman:

Yes, please do.

Lou Diamond:

So having worked in sales for a long time and managed a lot of sales teams, I would kick off. I watched people kickoff sales meetings, and if you've ever sat through a sales meeting, if anyone has listened to it, there is nothing more annoying than an hour of your time being taken up where each sales person runs through their entire pipeline of activity. What's going on with this. What's going on with that, where you are, and the leader of the team listens to this and here, there's all this stuff. And it's like, okay, I've heard this story about a hundred times, this, these other guys won't move. And it almost becomes a, well, I want to speak up and tell you right now, because if I have the pulpit, if I'm speaking, I'm creating value for what I do. And I hated this. I hated this one. Okay. Was the head of a sales group. I hated this when I was a sales person.


Lou Diamond:

So when I started working in training salespeople and leaders and CEOs, I recognized there was no difference. The way you talk about sales, marketing leader and leadership is all about connecting. So my big point was this, come to the meeting, didn't do the come with the three most important things you're working on today. And the one thing you need help with, I used to take this 35 minute meeting that this company has working with. And we demoed it. They had 15 people in this group. 14. One of them would go around. The leader was the CEO didn't need to, it was the head of sales would go around and each person would do this. We got out of there in about 16 minutes. That's by the way we made, we made basically what was an hour long meeting, right?

Laurie Barkman:

That's incredible.

Lou Diamond:

Everybody just went around and talk real quickly. And sometimes it was even faster. Sometimes I have no update, but there was something else that I want to take that same thinking that short immediacy what's important right now. It's an ego out of the room. It made, it made everybody feel a little bit more cohesive because when they asked for what I need help with, sometimes it was someone in the room who was going to help you. Think about these new initiatives has changes are coming on. The biggest problem is big companies have trouble letting go of the way that they're doing something and taking on something new feels like they have to take on a lot of new things. Don't take on so many things. Highlight the most important priorities right now and what you can get done. And if you do that, it makes it a lot easier for the whole ship to make those turns a little quicker.


Lou Diamond:

Don't worry about so many other decisions, don't try and take on. Don't try to bite off more than you can chew. The most important thing that you want to connect not only to the people inside your organization, but outside as well is a clear message of what you're focused on right now. If you're, if you're an organization- I just saw this recently, a large hospitality organization, no one is going into the hotels at the rate that they were going before. And now they recognized that they're not having new guests come in. This is they're firing people. They're letting people off. It’s an awful situation. And they don't know when they're going to open up. They don't know, but they do have certain values that they have on their properties and things that they can do.


Lou Diamond:

I've seen hotels offer space to hospitals and beds. We've seen this in New York city where they offered even they, they housed the homeless. They've even done situations where emergency folks can be there. Hotels actually use their lobbies to help emergency workers or other people come through. They've even come up with different partnerships and alliances with other technology partners, for their mobile charging stations around the cities around there. What they did was they said we can't put people in the rooms, but we're going to try and make sure that our brand connects with people where we can. It's that level of thinking that was not done because they had to worry about everything else. They just pick the only things or the most important things they can do right now. Imagine if every company did that, Laurie. Imagine if they just focused on what was needed at the very moment and not try and dwell too much on too many other things, or take on too much at one time. It's that level of thinking that enables people to work faster, be more clear on what they're focused on at that time. And it gives leaders a chance to get a more clear vision on what they can do moving forward. So that would be my answer to your question in a very roundabout way, but that's what people should be thinking about at this leadership point.


Laurie Barkman:

Yeah. That makes sense to me. I talk to a lot of companies about strategy roadmaps and that's what it's about is figuring out what are the most important, most impactful things and laying them out in terms of accountability and timeline. And so, yeah, the timelines might be accelerated versus what we're used to, but it's those few important things that are going to move the needle for them. So thank you for that.


Laurie Barkman:

Lou, let's talk about building business value and connecting. I want you to talk about your experience with that. And I know as a Wall Street guy, when you think about business value, you're probably thinking about financials and tangible assets market share. And there's a lot of factors that go into the value of a company, but what about intangible assets? The people side, collaborating, the team functionality, how well they work together and those types of things. So they can translate inside and outside if you have a strong company, culture and communications. And I know you're in the business of connecting, you even wrote a book about it. How do you think connecting translates to business value.


Lou Diamond:

Shameless promo for only Laurie because she could see it. I was holding my book up for her. Those that you talked about, those communication skills, people skills, the things that are part of the culture often associated with the company a long time ago, had a very unique word associated with it. They used to call it soft skills. I call them super skills. These are your super powers. The ability to connect within an organization to communicate effectively to almost feel the vibe of the culture within your organization is what makes a company more valuable. Yes. I came from a world of Wall Street where we looked at values of companies and products and financial assets and all of that stuff. But the reality was, it was always about the relationship with whom you were doing business with that actually was where things happen.


Lou Diamond:

So the ability to have that was really the nuts and bolts and the glue that made things work. And that is more important than ever inside a company today, as we were addressing before internal communication and great leadership during this time when we're not all in the same building or we're working, we're working remotely. Or to your point, a lot of things that are going to happen in COVID are going to carry over. I've been talking to people who were like, maybe I can only work at home. I could work from home three days a week and go into the office only a couple. But I do tell you, we crave this connection. We all miss one another. So great companies are doing a phenomenal job, figuring out the ideal way to communicate. And I'm gonna tell you how they do this.


Lou Diamond:

And it's really funny because you're sitting in a role and I sit in that role too, because you're asking really good questions, the best leaders, when this stuff were happening, weren't telling people what they needed to do. They created a culture of asking them what they wanted, what they needed. It would be a little bit much in this day and age to ask people who have all their kids at home, also have their spouse working in the same place, lots of responsibilities to take care of from the dog, to the kids, to the food, to dinner, to literally trying to squeeze into a small space, to work, to tell them that hey, we have to have this regular 10 o'clock meeting every single day to give an update and a report. Now the right company is the one that's being flexible in dealing with the time zones, the business life and the personal life of everybody.


Lou Diamond:

What I've seen and what I've been helping leaders do is help them understand their customers by creating a culture of asking. This culture of asking is one of the ultimate links to being a great connector. Being a master connector, and I'm going to steal a quote from a good friend of mine who's a speaker who talks about this in sales, but it applies to everything. My friend, Phil M Jones says to:


“Ask great questions that start conversations that build relationships with who you do business with”

Lou Diamond:

And that applies inside your organization and out. That's coaching that people will give to salespeople all the time. It's now more important to carry over that same mentality inside your house, inside your organization, because it is that fluidity of communication by asking great questions that will get you the answers you need to address those problems and solve them as cleanly as you can.


Lou Diamond:

So from a value perspective, my values reside in those that appreciate how important that level of communication is, Laurie. And that's where organizations do thrive because they've gotten all the BS out of the way. I didn’t know what our rating was on this podcast. They've gotten all the BS out of the way and the stuff that they don't have to deal with because they've put the priorities of everyone on the team first, and then they could focus on their job better and focus on creating great products and great messaging, great content. All of that stuff, which will help connect the organization better. But it has to start with those super skills first.


Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, super skills and the culture of asking. And I think as someone who is now getting more and more used to having these types of conversations in a podcast format, I am more attuned to what the direction can go. But what happens when you get a question as a leader that you really can't answer, because you don't know the answer. What's the right way to handle that, that doesn't leave you looking like you don't care, because maybe it's just a pretty big problem that the employee has, or the team member has, or the customer has. How do you tackle those?


Lou Diamond:

I am from the camp of authenticity. And if somebody gave an answer that they did not know the answer to and gave some kind of BS response, people read through that pretty quickly. So I would have to say the, “I don't know right now” would be the right answer for that. And “I will look into that” is the response I would want if literally a leader doesn't know the answer and because they haven't fully thought it through or haven't considered it, but to give the, I don't know, answer, you're allowed to give that answer once as I always say, because then once you've been hit with the question, it's your job to then go learn and figure out the answer, or try to give an attempt to it. I learned that on Wall Street if I didn't know how to solve something, if I didn't know it and say, if I was asked, do you know how to do this and what this means? I don't know. Okay. Go figure it out. Once you then go figure it out. And now you've learned what that is. You can now address it. That is so important because I don't want leaders telling me, talking in circles or dodging the questions. I want them giving me the real answers we need because during these times, we need transparency and clarity about what we know, what we don’t and what we have to work on.


Laurie Barkman:

You've been podcasting for a number of years. You have several podcasts.


Lou Diamond:

Five years.


Laurie Barkman:

Oh my goodness. Happy anniversary. That's awesome. So you have two shows that I'm most familiar with. One is called Thrive Loud, and the other is called Why They Listen. They're great resources for the audiences. And I think they're a little bit different. So I wanted you to talk about those. Because I think, especially on the show, Why They Listen and I was very excited to be a guest of yours recently, and we talked about niche audiences and why are people listening to this show. Why do people listen to any show? And companies are podcasting too, because you're working with some of the largest companies in the country to help them set up a great program. And so for all the people listening who have a message to share as leaders, or because they're content generators, and maybe they're wondering if they should start a podcast, what do you advise?


Lou Diamond:

So I'll give the long answer.

Laurie Barkman:

Go ahead!

Lou Diamond:

I'll start off with this summation, if you would, podcasting is the greatest “connect working” tool of all time

Laurie Barkman

Connect working.

Lou Diamond:

Yeah. So I don't believe in networking because - well, I believe in networking, networking is growing your network and adding context to your list. But the reality is we could have a gazillion people that follow us or that subscribe to our programs. But if we don't really have a strong connection with them, then what's the point of having a large network, which we'll get to one of the answers to your more specific audiences and funneled content in a moment. But podcasting enables me to speak to any leader of any company on the Thrive Loud podcast, which has been featuring those that are thriving in their lives, their businesses and their passions.


Lou Diamond:

And that's just who I am each and every day to really figure out how people are being brief and bright and taking things to the next level. I love that. Whether that's you as a career marketer and professional, and obviously now a podcaster, to leaders of companies who have done absolutely unbelievable things, to famous people that have been in movies on stage or on television. Connecting with people that we can want to learn about and understand what makes them thrive and decoding, that has always been something that I love to do. It's kind of like my curiosity project and that podcast grew into absolutely ginormous things- just happened to be at the right place at the right time, maybe. But also I love conducting really good interviews and it's helped make me a better consultant. It's helped make me be a better leader.


Lou Diamond:

It's helped me ask the questions and create that culture of asking that I do each and every day as a podcaster. Now, what I also realized is that it has such a wide net that it really wasn't as narrow focused as some great programming is out there, because I actually believe that it isn't really important how many listeners you have in a show. It's how many people engage with you that's more important. And there are a tremendous number of programs out there that are doing a spectacular job of picking one specific niche on what they do. They've got one type of audience they're trying to cater to, or they have certain types of people that they're featuring, or even certain types of content that is so specific and so niche that it's so unique that it is delivering and answering values, delivering great content to the audience that needs to deliver.


Lou Diamond:

And that's why “Why They Listen” was created, was to feature these incredible people that had this very niche audience and very specific purpose, and really have created something that makes you want to ask, well, why do they listen to that podcast? What is it about the succession stories that is so fascinating, which really is a perfectly described program and niche and why you were featured on why they listen. Now, Why They Listen is powered by AIMeCAST. AIMeCAST is basically a multimedia internal podcast and company. So to your point, large organizations have recognized the power of this medium. And if you haven't gotten anything out of this interview, the one thing you will leave is that I love connecting with people and I love how internal organizations can connect. If podcasting is the greatest connect working tool of all time, it applies not only externally to connect to people and bring them into your circles.


Lou Diamond:

It even applies more appropriately to connecting to the people within your circle and what inside company communication can be done from corporate communications and CEO messaging to training development, learning lessons, cool updates, even entertainment within an organization. I'm watching some of the largest companies use AIMeCAST’s amazing platform. It's like a podcast player on steroids listeners. You just can't believe. Not only do you get audio, you get video transcription interaction. You get to communicate directly with people and it's all within a private internal network. So it really is a very inside audiences. So some of the people we're featuring on why they listen are some of the users inside the walls so people can hear what they're doing in corporate communication.


Laurie Barkman:

So Johnson & Johnson was one of them. Weren't they?


Lou Diamond:

Johnson and Johnson, Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim, all these big pharma companies. Pfizer is going to start to use it. We're working, I just recently had a former NBA player, Allan Houston, who has a company called FISSL, and they've created an app that talks about their leadership training. And they train people through that. Bruce Springsteen is using it through the E Street community and all the content you could ever imagine about Bruce Springsteen through this amazing AIMeCAST player from interviews of members of the band, to stories about concerts and even some great music and content and videos. So talk about doing something really cool. They created an internal way of using podcasting to connect and create that really niche piece. And that's why “Why They Listen” is powered by AIMeCAST. It's a perfect partner. So what I'm most excited about is if you're looking to improve your organization internally and communicate, podcasting is one of the most effective ways to do it because when we listen, we really absorb a lot of content in a different way than just having to sort through 60,000 emails and letters from our CEOs.

Laurie Barkman:

It is super cool. Do you think that that platform or other similar to it are a fit for smaller organizations? I know that companies you mentioned are really, really big. So a lot of folks that listen to this show might be in small to medium sized companies. Are there any recommendations you might have if AIMeCAST is too big?


Lou Diamond (32:43):

No, it's a great question. And in fact, what's great is that it's based on channels. If you would the program grows on how many channels you have Johnson and Johnson has over a hundred channels because they have such a huge organization and so many different companies within companies. But we've been working with smaller companies, really startups, even by the way. The Thrive Lab podcast will soon be on a name cast platform. So we can actually have behind the scenes interviews and these video interviews, like we just did, to be able to provide extra content for listeners and very small things. And trust me, I am not nearly as big as Johnson and Johnson, so small companies can use it too. And if there was one thing that I will say it works great, it's a great way to train new employees into the organization. It's probably a more effective way to do stuff that native sat on an intranet or internet. But now can actually sit on your phone. And I think that's the world that we're living in specifically now, where we're mostly remote, that the ability to access this content when we need it, on demand, in an environment that's easy and has flexible multimedia focus, multimedia products, be different things than just audio video is why AIMeCAST is kinda set up for a unique spot right now.


Laurie Barkman:

Yeah. The on-demand nature of this medium I think is amazing. Reaching niche audiences is part one and having the on demand is certainly another big part of it. I love how you brought up connect working because I think there's a couple of angles to that. There's one is having a niche audience that you're going to connect with and make it interesting and useful as an insider in a company. It also gives people another avenue to build their career and to build their networks. I used to work for a very, very large company. You might've heard of called FedEx and building your network within FedEx was not easy. Used to be you'd had to go travel, and to connect with different affinity groups. So podcasting can certainly be one angle on that. The other piece of it, I think is important as the on demand nature, because everybody's days are busy and crunched and, maybe you do want to go take a walk at lunch and you want to listen to the message from the CEO when you want to pull it down, not necessarily for the all hands call that might be pulling you in.


Laurie Barkman:

So last section here, kind of these fun questions when I was on your show, you asked me what my favorite movie was. So I want to turn it back to you. What's your favorite movie?


Lou Diamond:

I think I've answered it a couple of times on the podcast because people keep kicking that back at me. Rocky is my favorite movie of all time. One because, well, I grew up in the seventies as a little kid, so that's when the movie came out in ‘76. And I mean, the story of the underdog is one thing. But as the series progressed, not just Rocky, specifically more of the later movies, not two, three and four, five never happened by the way that they needed to get rid of them with me. But when they went back to the Rocky Balboa and then the Creed series there's some really inspirational messages that they kept doing and the whole thing about keep moving forward. Life will, nothing will hit you harder than life, but it's not how you get hit.


Lou Diamond:

It's how you take the hits and how you get up and you keep moving forward. And that's what thrive is all about. And that's what I've always been about. That movie, I think, it was easy for them to look at a 30 year view of one of the best fictional characters of all time and look at how emblematic it is of what we all do when we're down and out. And that when we overcome and whether it's that pump up music that gets you going, but Rocky inspires us, I think, to be the better version of ourselves, but also be the tougher version of ourselves when things are hard. And right now, could there have ever been no more thing that we could all be facing as so many of us are facing so many different challenges each day? So Rocky that's my favorite.


Laurie Barkman:

Oh, Rocky is a great movie and sometimes you just want to yell, "Adrian!" Are there any causes you're passionate about in your community?


Lou Diamond:

Yeah, two specifically one is the Michael J. Fox foundation for research for Parkinson's. Every year I am the emcee for Tips for Parkinson's and shout out to my very good friend, Sue Bilotta who I got involved with this when I was on Wall Street and I carried that over afterwards. It was actually touch was a bartending event. We would take all these Wall Street trading firms and promote that. And actually this year we have we have a clam shucking activity, which is going to be virtual which is basically like “Shuck you, Parkinson's” is actually what it's called. And it's very cool. And they're going to have a professional chef actually do it where you actually go in and you can order your oysters and shuck them. It's all gonna be on virtual. And they're all raising money for a really great cause.

Laurie Barkman:

Let's hope their hands are protected.


Lou Diamond:

You'll be doing it yourself. You order the shucks, or you could do it yourself, which is kind of cool. And now of course the last part of my other involvement is I'm very connected to Israel. There's a program each year called Sal Shalom where they send over Israeli military professionals, people in the Israeli military, and they come here to New York and they spend about 10 days here. We actually housed a couple of soldiers in the past, which is a lot of fun, and I've actually got to go there with my family. It's like having, I've got like, other children that are now there, I guess it's being their quasi dad for a while, but it's a great program that connects you to another country. And, you know, I've always recognized. The one thing that Israel does do is it puts kids into the military mandatorily when they hit age 18 and something I've always thought of like what a great life lesson that you should really do. And they've gotten that down. I know the US is too big to do that, and that isn't a thing, but every now and then I keep thinking that might be a good plan for a lot of people, kind of put a real reality into your life, I think, and give good perspective. So I'm very involved with that program.


Laurie Barkman:

The military does build a lot of skills for a lot of people in our country and in Israel too. Who's had the greatest impact on you and why?


Lou Diamond:

I have two answers to that. And I'll call this the heads up, heads down approach. My parents. My father is specifically in business. Probably the most likable guy in the entire world. I say that he is literally, first of all, he looks like he could be my brother, but not my father, he's got better hair. And he's such a young guy in spirit all the time, but he's also probably the best sales person I've ever encountered. I learned from him, he ran those jewelry stores and trust me to sell retail jewelry in downtown Brooklyn is no easy task.


Laurie Barkman:

No.


Lou Diamond:

You learn a lot about connecting with people back then. So that would be one. The other one of my children the other side, looked in heads down approach. Not only did they make me proud, but I learned from them each and every day, they are way smarter than I am. My son and my daughter, and I think wedged together, obviously, like I love my wife with everything, but you talked about who I learned with. I absolutely have a new respect for what's next. And to see that in action is really good. So I kept it keep it in the family here.


Laurie Barkman:

So people may want to connect with you online after this show, because you're such an amazing guy.


Lou Diamond:

They may, may not.


Laurie Barkman:

So where can they find your podcast? Where can they find you?


Lou Diamond:

So it's really easy. I made it simple for everyone. You can find me at Thrive Loud, everywhere on social media. And that's T H R I V E L O U D and it's also thriveloud.com is where Thrive's business site is. And you can hear the podcast there as well. We soon will have the Why They Listen podcasts there, but Why They Listen, can also be found at AIMeCAST.com, but everywhere in social media and all the podcasts programs I have, if you just search Lou Diamond and Thrive Loud, you’ll find it.


Laurie Barkman:

Yeah, they'll find you. And my very last question, as you know, as I love to ask all of my guests is if you have a favorite quote about entrepreneurship.


Lou Diamond:

I actually, I have two, can I share two?


Laurie Barkman:

You can share two, sure.


Lou Diamond:

So one - one is I'm going to save this and anyone that ever went to summer camp with me is going to laugh because it's the person who said it was the director of our camp.


"Love many trust, few, always paddle your own canoe.”

Seems a little silly and maybe not the most trustworthy thing, but what I've learned in life that you can always have great relationships and whatnot, but you're the one who's got to paddle the boat. And when you do that, everything moves forward. Now that came from this guy named Jerry Parker, who passed away several years ago. This one was my favorite entrepreneurial thing. Whenever you think about what you gotta do, and you gotta pick up that paddle and you gotta start rowing.

Laurie Barkman:

Well, you gotta look in the mirror, right?

Lou Diamond:

The other one's my own quote. Because I live by it. Can I give that as a quote?

Laurie Barkman:

Of course!


Lou Diamond:

You know how I sign off my show,


"Be brief, be bright, be gone."

Lou Diamond:

Be brief, get to the point right away. People have a lot of things on their plate to do. Be bright. Think about what you're going to say and give something that's going to change and make you come up with a smart answer, but also shine while you do it. And be gone doesn't mean mike drop and then walk away. Be gone means move onward and upward. Take it to the next level.


Laurie Barkman:

It's a perfect tie in with Succession Stories to innovate, to transition and to grow. Lou, thank you so much for being here today. It was so much fun to talk to you and I really, really appreciate your friendship. Thanks for coming on the show.

Lou Diamond:

Truly my pleasure. Thank you for having me.


Laurie Barkman:

Innovation. Transition. Growth. Easy to say but hard to do. If you’re an entrepreneur facing these challenges, I get it. I work with businesses - from small to big - for strategic planning with your team to achieve your vision. Visit smalldotbig.com to schedule a call with me. I’d love to connect with you.

Be sure to catch the next Succession Stories episode with more insights for next generation entrepreneurs. Thanks for listening!



Laurie Barkman is a Business Growth Advisor | Entrepreneurship Instructor | Host of Succession Stories Podcast| CEO of SmallDotBig working with owners to accelerate business value and achieve their goals.



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