ep. 32 - Ryan Estis: Culture, Sales, Leadership, & Business Performance Expert


Ryan Estis has more than 20 years of experience as a top-performing sales professional and leader. As the former chief strategy officer for the McCann Worldgroup advertising agency NAS, he brings a fresh perspective to business events. As a keynote speaker, Ryan is known for his innovative ideas on leading change, improving sales effectiveness and preparing for the future of work. He was recently recognized as one of “the best keynote speakers ever heard” by Meetings & Conventions magazine alongside Tony Robbins, Bill Gates, Colin Powell and Mike Ditka.

Ryan delivers keynote speeches, courses and online learning with an emphasis on actionable content designed to elevate business performance. His curriculum emphasizes emerging trends influencing corporate culture, communication, collaboration, leadership, sales and brand experience. Ryan helps participants prepare to thrive in today’s ultra-competitive, hyper-connected business environment.

Ryan and his team publish original research featuring client case studies to expand the live event experience. He is also the author of a popular blog on business performance.


ep. 32 - Ryan Estis: Culture, Sales, Leadership, & Business Performance Expert

Gail Davis: Ryan Estis is the former Chief Strategy Officer for the McCann Worldgroup Advertising Agency, and today runs his own research and learning organization delivering 75 live events [00:01:00] annually on leading change, improving sales performance, and preparing for the future of work. Ryan helps companies and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance. Each live event lends original research with compelling stories that move participants to take action. Ryan has 20 years of business experience working with the world's best brands to initiate change, inspire innovation, and deliver growth.

We're thrilled [00:01:30] to have Ryan with us today on GDA Podcast.

Kyle Davis: Hey Ryan, how are you?

Ryan Estis: Hi. I'm great. It's great to be on the Podcast guest.

Kyle Davis: Good.

Gail Davis: Awesome. We've had the pleasure of working with you for a number of years, and I know you have lots of different topics that you can really speak to. When I think of you, one of the topics that immediately comes to mind is sales. Maybe we might just dive in there a little bit, and tell us about your experience with sales and what your current [00:02:00] topics are.

Ryan Estis: Well, I am a professional sales person. That's my background, my career, and my passion. I think it's the greatest way to make a living in the world. My first job out of college was an entry level sales job working for an advertising agency, and I worked my up through that organization. Ended up running the sales organization before I left to start my own business. Professional selling is a passion of mine.

What a lot of my work focuses on today [00:02:30] is customer transformation and how the sales organization and the individual contributor needs to evolve in order to deliver value, impact customers, and win business. It's a big area of research and study, and I would say that probably constitutes about 50% of my work product; either dealing with sales teams or sales leadership. It's my life experiences and my life's work. I still to this day consider myself a sales professional [00:03:00] and love it.

Kyle Davis: When you say this like transformative sales process where you're basically coming out of the woodwork and it's no longer the transactional short sale cycle. It's the consultative selling, knowing multiple layers of the client, and really adding value before the ink is dried, so to speak.

Ryan Estis: That's right. The reality is that sales today, and that's whether to be or be to see, it's just becoming increasingly more complex. There's more decision makers at the table [00:03:30] with dispersed agendas, the sales cycle is lengthening, and it's harder to get in front of a buyer. Customer expectations, attitude, and decision making behavior is gonna change more in the next 5 years than it has in the previous 50, and it's putting just tremendous pressure on both organizations and specifically the sales function to evolve to keep pace.

That's where our work focuses. It's giving this transformation and the landscape of professionals. Selling and partnerships is [00:04:00] changing. How does the individual evolve to stay relevant and win in this new economy. That's really the focus and concentration of the work product.

Kyle Davis: It's kind of like ... I guess, what's interesting about my sales background for what I did, and a lot of it initially in the beginning, was very transactional; buy it, leave it, see ya later, maybe I'll talk to you again, maybe mostly likely I won't. Then when I got into software sales it started off with short duration sale cycles, maybe with three [00:04:30] or four different touch point, deals closed, move on. Then when I got to a new start up, when I moved back from San Francisco to New York, it was the unknown and we didn't know what we were selling, so the expectation was, and that's always the problem, is that-

Ryan Estis: That is a problem by the way. Just ... Yeah. Yep.

Kyle Davis: You don't know how long it's going to take. You don't know what strings to pull on. You don't know what's going to be the tipping point, so to speak, and what should have been in the minds [00:05:00] eye of founders, who aren't sales people, a thirty day close ends up being a 3 month, 27 conversations, and we're still no where because we're still trying to figure out how to package it.

What is your thought process for organizations, at least, starting at that point? Let's say they've never been in sales and they're not doing it. What are they doing to set expectations, and then from there, how do they grow it?

Ryan Estis: Well, a couple of things. The first thing is, you have to understand the world through the lens of the customer [00:05:30] and become customer obsesses and customer focused. It's one thing to understand your products, services, and solutions. It's another thing to understand what's most important to the customer in terms of the value you can provide, and then have the skill and the ability to differentiate yourself and your solution, products, and services from what's available in the marketplace.

What you articulated is true. The way customers decide is [00:06:00] changing. Customers today are gonna do their own research. They're gonna talk to other people. They're gonna go online. There this popular statistic that a customer is 60% of the way into the decision before they ever come in contact with a sales professional. That means customers are navigating the first mile or the first 12 miles of the marathon decision on their own.

How do you impact and influence a customer during that segment of the decision cycle, and you know, a lot of that comes down to the relationship with marketing. [00:06:30] It's marketing. It's content. It's case studies. It's putting things into the market-

Kyle Davis: It's how your website looks.

Ryan Estis: Yeah. It's how your website looks. It's what you're publishing. It's what your known for. It's what other people say about you. All of that has to be approached in a very strategic, sophisticated way.

Then the second thing is, you have, in the moment of truth ... To your point, today it takes between 9 to 11 interactions, touch [00:07:00] points, for a deal to actually close. Through that decision cycle, every one of those touch points is a moment of truth, that's an inflection point, where you have to show up prepared, add value, and distinguish and differentiate yourself from the competition. Navigating that road map in the decision journey is the key to sales success today.

Kyle Davis: One of the things I found so interesting about these long duration sale cycle sales that I got in to was, it was a two type of people that go in to. One [00:07:30] that does the sales by the book and just says, "Well, in this meeting we're gonna talk about this, and at that meeting we'll talk about that." And they're never really asking a probing questions for the client saying, "What do you want to talk about on the next call? What do you want to have accomplished? Who's gonna be there?" And like really doing a pre-call before the sales call or the sales Skype video thing.

What are your thought on that?

Ryan Estis: My thoughts on that are two fold. One, the book that you talk about, throw it out the window because if that book was written even more than two years ago [00:08:00] it's not relevant for today's marketplace. That's my thought, that customer expectations are changing so fast ... The best sales people today have to bring some measure of creativity and innovative thinking to the table to understand their customers and come up with solutions.

And to your point, the whole Q&A, pre-call planning, how you approach getting prepared for a customer engagement, that's one of the areas that's changed the most. I'll give you a statistic around this. Today executive buyers report [00:08:30] that only 20% of the sales people they meet are successful in achieving expectations and creating value in the meeting. As a result, only one in four of those sales people get agreement from buyers to meet again.

The buyer today is deeply frustrated with the lack of preparation they're seeing from most sales professionals, and if you want to differentiate yourself from the competition show up prepared. The best sales people today, they're [00:09:00] students first, which they're disciplined about preparation. They out prepare their competition, and then they're teachers second. They show up to a meeting prepared enough to impact the customer in a way that gets the customer to think about their future and their business differently. When you're skilled enough to do that, you have an advantage.

Kyle Davis: Yeah, I mean, I think having a real understanding of kind of like your craft, and then one of the things that I really liked doing was just finding that person, it may [00:09:30] not be the ultimate decision maker, but have the person who's the insider, the influencer, the person who can give me the inside edge when I'm selling to this person, and that's the conversation that I have offline. That's the person who helps me build, so to speak, the agenda for the next meeting.

Ryan Estis: Yeah, if you can build a relationship with an internal champion, an advocate, that kind of helped you, as the seller, navigate the decision cycle, and then ultimately they can be a shepard for both putting [00:10:00] the deal together or expanding the relationship once you have your first piece of business or project, depending on what you're selling, that inside position can be critical. Obviously, that's where you want to be.

Selling is still, in some respects, a relationship based business. In many respects, it is a relationship based business. What's changed today is the expectations around the relationship. Today's expectation is that the seller can come in and be an expert, understand the customer, deliver compelling solutions, and add [00:10:30] value. That's what it takes to win today.

Gail Davis: You know, I'm thinking about our industry and, you know, you can find a speaker, you can google on any speaker, and I have so many clients where they see the value that we add is literally being able to say that whether or not we've been in the audience. That's a lot of pressure to be able to say that for every speaker that you're recommending, but I've got one I can think of in particular and they have no interest in me recommending anyone that I haven't seen.

Ryan Estis: [00:11:00] It makes sense to me. Ultimately, I think your buyers are representative of buyers across many categories and that are overwhelmed. The Internet's great. Access to more information is great. Smartphone's are great, but what happens when you google keynote speaker? There's 700 thousand links, and you know what, you can go through the first 10 pages and watch 500 videos and a lot of it looks the same, and it all looks good.

[00:11:30] Now, you're a buyer that's overwhelmed and maybe even more confused than when you started your journey, and that's why being able to leverage an expert whose been there done that, whose checked the box, whose sat in the audience. On my side of the table also, being able to then come into that conversation and say, "Here's what you're going to get in terms of my preparation and the value beyond the hour in the room." And, "This is how we-

You know it's funny, I just wrote about this [00:12:00] is a blog post, which you can link to in your show notes, the title of the blog was "Prepare to Win or Prepare to Discount" and you can think about it that way, and I articulated for our industry all of the additional steps we'll take in preparation to ensure the experience is a good one. That's ... You have to think about that, whatever you're selling that way.

Gail Davis: And you talk about the overwhelm. I have a long term client that, many years ago, I sent her [00:12:30] too many options, which I think now that I've groomed new sales people I see that as a typical mistake early on, and I remember her saying to me, "Gail, if I wanted to google options I could do that. I need you to just tee them up for me; number one, two, three. And tell me exactly why you're putting them in that order. Don't give me more than three." And so, I've really ... I think you're 100% right that there ... It's just overwhelming how much [00:13:00] information is out there.

Kyle Davis: One of the funny things, sorry Ryan, but one of the funny things that I used to do when I owned this marketing company was ... Our results were based on how many people we can get from the interview to come to training, right?

Ryan Estis: Sure.

Kyle Davis: And if I thought that every person from training, and this is the first mistake I made, I'm like, "I got 135 people booked for training. They all said that they would come." Put 135 chairs out there, and you know what? 75 people show up. That's a lot of empty seats, and [00:13:30] what my mentor taught me was, "Hey look, it's easier to add than it is to subtract. If you need to add more speakers, if you need to add more chairs, if you need to add more content that's fine, but if you're drinking from the water hose or fire hydrant, I meant, and it's just too much or it's ill prepared or not well thought out then you're left with garbage."

Gail Davis: Awesome.

Ryan Estis: Yeah, I mean, a good way to fail. Today's customer is time poor and what they're looking for is expertise. They're looking for expert validated [00:14:00] recommendations, "This is what you should do, and this is why, and here's the proof of concept." The expert, as in the sales expert, that can deploy that and still build trust and confidence and a track record and reputation and relationships has a real good opportunity to win and win big because that's not the standard practice in the marketplace.

Gail Davis: Ryan, I know you also talk about leadership. What was your view on the marriage between [00:14:30] sales and leadership, I mean, is it tightly woven together? What are your thoughts on that?

Ryan Estis: Yes. Our ... The last kind of big research project we did was about sales and sales leadership. We published this ebook called "Adapt and Thrive: How Sales Leaders are Preparing to Win in a 2020 World" and for a lot of the reasons we've articulated that also means the role of the sales leader has to change, right? The way we approach leadership, and recruiting, and retention, and sales engagement, and relationships, [00:15:00] and training and development, and performance management, and feedback, and coaching, and influencing culture all is evolving rapidly. You've got this kind of perfect storm where customer attitude and expectations are evolving, and simultaneously employee attitude and expectations are evolving.

This is research and we can link to this stuff. It's wild some of the things we found, it's like, 4 out of 10 professional [00:15:30] sales people today are reported as under-engaged. Nearly 80% of sales people, if they could make the same amount of compensation in another vocation would consider leaving sales altogether. Sales leadership today, 43% of all professional sales people in the United States are actively looking for another job, and when you think about how that creates vulnerability in a territory with customer relationships in your pipeline, in your growth trajectory as a large sales organization [00:16:00] it really brings into perspective how critical quality sales leadership is to the growth of the business.

Kyle Davis: One of the questions that's kind of popping up into my mind, and this is largely cause I was talking to a person who runs a really good, I don't want to say the name of the company, but they help fortune 500 companies source computer equipment and different things like that for the organization, and one of the things that he was having an issue with was hiring new sales people. The new sales people would get their [00:16:30] four to five accounts that were just handed to them, and then maybe they might grow it by an account or two per year, but they would really just sit on their laurels and rest on their laurels and not do much more than that and draw in this crazy compensation because all they were really doing was managing accounts versus actively hunting and cultivating new ones.

Ryan Estis: Right.

Kyle Davis: So, I come from the experience of, especially in software, it's like once that sales done it's no longer mine, that's account management and that's what their job is versus hunting and finding new ones.

I'm wondering what your [00:17:00] kind of philosophy is and I'm sure it's specific to the business not agnostic, but what are your thoughts with [crosstalk 00:17:06] versus all that stuff?

Ryan Estis: Yeah. Those are two distinct jobs, right? Hunting and farming are two different things. Back to your example, if I was coaching or consulting with that executive team I may challenge them to think about how their incentivizing and what kind of behavior their incentivizing and what kind of expectations because if you want hunting, if you want traditional business [00:17:30] development, but you're getting people house accounts to manage, how do those things mutually co-exist. I think some of that is communicating very clear expectations around what the performance targets are, and then incentivizing behavior that drives towards those targets. They're different roles. The reality is that today's sales person is ... They're overwhelmed as well. They're overwhelmed with the administrative requirements of the job because everything's so data driven and [inaudible 00:17:57] focused. We've turned sales [00:18:00] people into data entry people with sales force, and CRM, and inputting data, and then of course the account management; more preparations required and personal development.

You got to create an environment, I think, in the sales organization where sales people are supported and incentivized to go out and win business. I completely agree that those are two different functions. The best sale people, obviously, they're invested in the relationship on a long term basis. They want to make sure that [00:18:30] the promises that were made and the expectations that were created during the decisions cycle are ultimately fulfilled and delivered on. I always tell sales people, "You can't make promises or create expectations that you can't ultimately deliver on." You've got to be authentic and, I think, depending on the type of sale and the type of organization, maintaining those relationships are a catalyst to grow the account and grow the business over the lifetime value of the customer relationship.

Kyle Davis: Yeah, I don't remember where I saw this study, but I want to say Gartner, maybe something else like that, [00:19:00] but it was like 75% of the time that a sales person has during the week is spent toward administrative stuff or prepping for the next call. Now, prepping, I'm not gonna disparage anybody from doing that, but a lot of this administrative stuff, and I'm a huge, my mom will tell you, I am a 100% sales force fanatic, but VCRMs and all the stuff that you want to have this data-centric marketing and everything else that comes from that volume of quality data comes at the expense of being hard [inaudible 00:19:28] administrative stuff [00:19:30] and your pipeline hygiene and everything else.

What are your thoughts for people that, organizations that maybe overdo it with regards to how much data uptake that they have for their sales people?

Ryan Estis: Yeah, I think what gets measured gets done. What you inspect and incentivize ultimately becomes the behavior, and it just ... Some of that's culture. There should be no replacement for [00:20:00] ... It's time and territory management. Ultimately you have to look at what yields the highest return for the type of sales organization you're managing. For a lot of organizations, that's time with and in front of and engaging potential buyers, so the more opportunity you can create for your producers to do that is great.

The individual contributor side, I always subscribe to the philosophy that data entry, [00:20:30] proposals, expense reports, those are for early mornings and evenings. When the market opens to the time the market closes, that's customer engagement time and ultimately, technology ... You can't automate relationships and you can't automate decision making. Ultimately, at the end of the day in a territory, whether it's B to B or B to C, you gotta get customer engagement and customer face time. To do that ... It's [00:21:00] still a numbers game, right? It still requires activity and volume and the best producers are ultra focused on how they manage their time and how they manage their territory because they've gotta do that effectively and efficiently in order to win.

At the end of the day, we all get the same 24 hours. How efficiently and effectively you can manage that has a lot to do with your success.

Kyle Davis: One of the, and I'll end with this, one of my mentors when I went into the software space, what he really did was he broke down his calendar, [00:21:30] his google calendar, and then shared it with people saying, "Hey, this is what I do." And it was to the minute. It was 13 minutes for lunch and then the rest of it was, "We're gonna spend 'X' amount of time." And then everything, like for lead cultivation, we were incentivized at this company and if we brought our owns leads and were able to flip them it was like a 2X on the commission, and so he had an expectation that, "If I'm gonna spend 'X' amount of time on this, this is how many leads I have to generate because I know [00:22:00] what my fall of is gonna be from the sales funnel." Everything was so meticulous and so well thought out that it made, for this guy, an immense amount of money.

Ryan Estis: Yeah. Look, you can reverse engineer that and do that math. You can know exactly how many proposals, phone calls, meetings, et cetera, whatever you're doing, it takes to yield a certain output. Obviously, if you increase your potential, if you increase your skill and competency, you can move that belt on the numbers. The best sales [00:22:30] people in the world, perhaps they need fewer meetings to hit their target because of their skill and competency, but you want both of those things to be moving north at the same time; skill and competency and efficiency.

When we're coaching, one of the first places we'll start with is we'll do a calendar audit. What gets scheduled gets done, and we'll do that with leaders too. You have an executive that, "Oh, I'm really focused on one-on-one engagement. Coaching my people." And then you look in somebody's calendar over the last two or three weeks and they didn't have one internal meeting, and so it's like [00:23:00] "Okay, that's a little disproportionate to your agenda." Are you managing your time in a way that's moving the needle and creating momentum around your most important objectives?

In the example you highlighted, you can. That's what great about sales; it's black and white. You can reverse engineer this. What are peak call times? What are peak customer engagement times? When should you be arriving? What ... You can measure all of this stuff. To have is down to say, "I know that when I make calls on Tuesday [00:23:30] morning from 7:30 to 10:00 a.m., I have the highest probability of connecting ... you can measure all that. That's what's beautiful, and then create routines and rituals that map to giving you your best opportunity for success.

Kyle Davis: That's a 100% of what I did. I reversed engineered almost everything. One of the things that, when I was doing sales recruiting and helping with that at other companies, the thing that frustrated me the most is you get these like real talented sales people who are super slick and they can talk themselves in and out of whatever you wanted [00:24:00] them to, but then when you start pressing them on their numbers, the numbers you know ... How many calls are you making? When does this go out? When does that like ... I'm a mail merge person. I love sending mail merges out. I can tell you my conversion and open rate and everything else like that, and how much money it makes me by sending e-mails versus phone calls. I know it down to the number.

Ryan Estis: And I would say that person's a better hire than somebody who looks good in a suit and can tell a great story in the meeting, but can't really validate it because it's a blend; it's art and science. [00:24:30] It's relationships and knowledge and expertise, but I'll take the analytical, preparation obsessed, detail oriented, disciplined with time management, producer over somebody that's fast talking and slick and the life of the party all day long.

One of the sections that we focused on or highlighted in the ebook, it's called "The DNA of a Top Producer" [00:25:00] and in the case studies and the interviews we did it was real interesting to see kind of how the skill set and competency for the function has really evolved in the last 10 years, which is what I think we're talking about, to more closely aligned with what we're describing versus the way people may have traditionally thought about sales people 10 or 15 years ago.

The best sales people today, they're not great talkers, they're great listeners. [00:25:30] They ask better questions. They listen. They do their homework. They're prepared. They understand technology and data. That's very different than the way we would think about a sales person 10 years ago.

Gail Davis: That is so true. You know, early on in the conversation you said that a high percentage of sales people are actively looking for another job. I know you speak a lot about employee engagement. What are some take aways that those leaders and managers listening can do [00:26:00] to maybe slow down the turnover and keep their employees, all employees, maybe specifically sales, but employees more engaged?

Ryan Estis: Yeah, I'll give you a couple things. First one, sales people who receive training they need to do their job are ten times more likely to fully engage. You want to create an environment of learning. A culture of learning. I always say, "You gotta keep everybody in the learning lane." That's just really, really critical [00:26:30] to future success.

Another thing, compensation in the research we've found. People want to be incentivized. They want to be fairly compensated. That was a big deal.

Here's another one, creating confidence in the future of the organization. Having a clear and compelling vision. Consistently communicating that, connecting people to where the organization is going. People want to work for an organization that has an exciting future. They want to be part of something larger [00:27:00] than themselves. Having confidence in your leadership, confidence in the future of the organization, that's really huge, and then collaboration and teamwork. That was another big driver of engagement and a function that was traditionally isolated or still, in many respect, can be ... You have these sales people in the field, they're working from home, they're on an island, creating ways to connect people to a culture in the larger organization is valuable.

From a leadership perspective, [00:27:30] more communication, more coaching, and more feedback. This idea of the annual performance review or we're gonna get together and review your progress once a quarter, that's over. If you're not having a future directed conversation with each individual at least every 30 days, you're missing an opportunity. Those are some of the big ones out of the research that sales leaders should be thinking about in order to influence culture and move the needle on engagement [00:28:00] and retention.

Gail Davis: Those are really great. Speaking of research, what are you working on now? I know that all of your talks are researched based. What have you got going on?

Ryan Estis: Yeah, they are. The next evolution of ... Two new things. This last round of research we did on sales leadership and adapt and thrive, we're gonna take that and blow that out into a larger study on leadership, and we'll publish that additional research either in our [00:28:30] next ebook or attack a full book project. That research, we've got two years worth of proprietary data, that research has expanded and will continue to collect data around.

Then I actually just rolled out a new product, a new program, it's a full day program focused on the executive retreat or the leadership team offsite. We'll actually take the first day of that meeting, and I'm doing that in partnership with another speaker Seth Madison, [00:29:00] and that entire program is driven by proprietary data that we collect from that specific organization. We'll actually deploy survey, collect an audit research from that team, and then curriculum to design the program based on what we learned. It's real customized and the program is new as of this January, but we've got multiple clients [00:29:30] that have gone through it. We've getting great feedback.

Those are some of the new things that I've been working on, and it's ... I do like to customize and I do like to leverage the research. That type of research mechanism is also could use in half these seminars or even to create a real custom keynote. I think it's been a differentiator for me and a nice feature in the work I do.

Kyle Davis: As I choke on my breath for some reason. I'm like, "Ah, man, it's so good I have to die."

Ryan Estis: I was so compelling you're choking.

Gail Davis: I saw that.

Kyle Davis: [00:30:00] Yeah, I don't know what that was all about, but whatever. One of the things that you do talk about though, and we went heavy into sales just largely because, I think, I like talking about it and I know my mom does as well, but is just overall culture. Some of the things that you hinted on was compensation, interactions, having people feel they're in a team and they're connected, that's spill over into everything else that they're doing.

What are you seeing with regards [00:30:30] to culture and how companies are trying to do a whole bunch of stuff cause, like I said, I've worked in tech companies in New York and San Francisco where they had more money than God and I could have literally whatever meal I wanted catered, every drink Kombucha, and there's an office dog, and I was loving life, but I wasn't happy because the culture wasn't there. There wasn't something to support me. What is it, what can people do to help better their overall culture, not just sales culture?

Ryan Estis: Yeah, you've [00:31:00] ... You're hitting on an area that I see as a major area of focus and concentration for most of the large and mid-size organizations we serve. Culture's a focus because it moves the needle on business, it creates momentum, to your point, happy employees, there's all kinds of research about this. They're more productive. They're more engaged. They contribute more discretionary effort. They're more successful. They're more creative. Every organization is trying to unleash human potential and drive innovation. [00:31:30] For my perspective, culture's a focus, and culture varies simply as a reflection of how we lead.

What can an organization do? Develop and deploy better leadership in an effort to align people around common goals and principles and values and connect peoples work to these larger things. I always say from the leadership perspective, "Culture is a reflection of how we lead." Leaders [00:32:00] just have to make a decision around how they show up. From my perspective, leadership isn't a job, it's a responsibility. It's not about us, it's about helping other people become the best they're capable of being. It's really about humility, sacrifice, service, and helping other people maximize their potential.

Extraordinary leadership changes lives. I get to see that play out every week in the work I do. [00:32:30] I think when a leader can look at their opportunity and their work through that lens of perspective and the difference they can make in somebody's life, then I think you can start to move the needle on culture and engagement.

Two questions I love to use and challenge leadership with, they're kind of my true north, but they're two great leadership self-assessment. The first one is, who did I impact today? From my perspective, everyday leadership needs to be about impact, and the more specific and precise you can be [00:33:00] in answering that question the better. The second, how will I be remembered by the people I work with today. Ultimately the cumulative answer begins to shape your legacy as a leader. We've all had experiences of working for somebody that has an extraordinary impact on the person we become and we are today, and you can think back about that relationship or moment in time and it really serves as a catalyst to propel you forward.

Probably everyone [00:33:30] listening to this has examples that are just the opposite. Getting leaders to look at that, their role and function through the lens of responsibility and the impact on the people around them, I think, can be a powerful catalyst to move the needle in contribution and culture.

Gail Davis: That's making me think of a story that happened recently. We have a client, and through a course of conversations, one day she shoots me and e-mail and she says, [00:34:00] "This is such a random question, but was your maiden name Pervett, and did you work at EVS?" And I was like, "Yes." Well she said, "Oh my gosh, Gail, you were one of my managers." She remembered, she had a typo on a document and she just went on and on how I pointed out to her how important spelling things correctly was, but did it in a way that made her feel good about it; not punished or whatever. I [00:34:30] mean, this had to be 34 years ago.

Ryan Estis: Wow.

Gail Davis: And for that story to come up, I'm not sure I've always handled myself exactly that well since then, but it's funny because you don't think about the impact. She said she's just never forgotten that. Yep. So, it is a huge responsibility that you don't ... I like the question because you don't realize the smallest things and the lasting impact they can have.

Ryan Estis: Well, we don't, right? I do a whole section in my leadership keynote [00:35:00] around, "Decide how you show up." That it's always a choice. It has less to do with external circumstances, more to do with how you respond to them and amateurs tend to overreact. They get overwhelmed, they lose control of their emotions, they're temperamental, and ... But that's not ... The best leaders, extraordinary leaders, they anticipate and respond. They're very intentional.

When I was a young manager a mentor of mine, one of the best bosses I ever had, he told me, he said, "You know, you're passionate [00:35:30] and you're emotional, and that's great." He said, "But I'm gonna tell you something." He said, "The next person that walks into your office should have no idea that you were dealing with a problem 30 seconds ago." And it really struck me as, "Wow, get a hold of that. Be present with the people you're there to serve." I do ... Similar to your 30 year story, which I actually think is a beautiful story and it really articulates the impact that leaders can have on people, there's a section in my book where [00:36:00] I'll ask people to identify a leader in their life that's had influence or impact on the person you are today, and write it down. I even encourage in my keynotes if people are still able to reach out to that person on that day and just thank them for the impact they had.

We have all these wonderful stories of people reaching out and reconnecting with somebody they've worked for and the person had no idea that that individual felt that way or they made that contribution. [00:36:30] It's really beautiful so see all that play out. To conclude it, I challenge all the leaders in the room with this question that, "Hey, you had somebody in your life that really had an impact on who you are today. Who's sitting in a room like this would put you on their list, and what gifts are you giving away?" Because at its essence, that's leadership.

When you think, here 30 years later, this person's never forgotten the impact you made on [00:37:00] them, and you didn't even know it. I think that's a beautiful illustration that reminds us as leaders to remember who we are.

Kyle Davis: Yep.

Gail Davis: That's beautiful. I've got some good take away. I love the line, "Emotions are for amateurs."

Kyle Davis: She wrote down all those notes, failing to remember she could listen to it later.

Ryan Estis: You know, that's it. Amateurs react, leaders anticipate and respond. We're there to solve the problems, that's what leaderships about.

Gail Davis: Ryan, you're so good and you're just [00:37:30] so genuine. I just love it. I love it. I encourage everyone to consider bringing Ryan in. He runs the gamut, obviously has a passion and love for sales, but really great on leadership and culture and employee engagement as well.

Ryan Estis: I appreciate that. You know, I'm lucky. Both my parents were school teachers and I always wanted to be a teacher, but I got into business and kind of built my career up through corporate channels. Today, [00:38:00] my classroom looks a little different. I like to think of myself as a teacher and it's my way to honor the legacy of my mom and dad. Truth be told, I wouldn't be able to do what I do without good partners like you, and all of the people listening. I'm deeply, deeply appreciative of our community, and partners like you, Gail, and the planners that actually allow me to fulfill my mission and legacy. It's been a great partnership and I hope your listeners get a little [00:38:30] value out of our time together today.

Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, one of the things that my great mentor said to me, and I think it's a great way to bookend this cause he was my sales guru, but basically he said, "If you're not learning, you're not growing. And if you're not growing, you're dying." So, I always grow.

Gail Davis: Yep. Well, we were growing today! We were [crosstalk 00:38:48].

Ryan Estis: We were in the learning lane.

Kyle Davis: We were in the learning lane.

Gail Davis: We were.

Ryan Estis: We're all still learners. We were in the learning lane. It was fun.

Gail Davis: I think it's funny that you never learn at all. [00:39:00] I mean, gosh I've been doing this-

Kyle Davis: You never learn at all?

Gail Davis: You never learn at all.

Ryan Estis: No-

Kyle Davis: I don't know what that even means. I'm always learning, I'm always reading, I'm trying-

Gail Davis: No, you can't learn it all.

Kyle Davis: You can't learn it all ... I don't know. I must have misheard you.

Ryan Estis: Can't learn it all because it's always changing. I say stay a student. Stay in the learning lane. You can learn something from everybody and every experience you have. I think that's a good way to look at it.

Kyle Davis: Another one of my favorite colloquialisms is this, "It's set in water, [00:39:30] not concrete. Be fluid."

Okay, cool. Hey, if you guys want to book Ryan Estis for your next event you can do so by contacting GDA Speakers at 214-420-1999 or visiting GDA Speakers dot com. If you'd like to read the transcripts and have all the cool show notes and everything else that came from today, maybe heck we might even publish an ebook on there who knows, you can do so by going to GDA Podcast dot com.

Other than that, Ryan, thanks.

Gail Davis: Thank you Ryan.

Ryan Estis: [00:40:00] Thank you guys.

Kyle Davis: Have a good one.

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ep. 32 - Ryan Estis: Culture, Sales, Leadership, & Business Performance Expert by GDA Podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.