Traveling the world can be fun. But can it help you increase sales?
Life after exploding brunch
Today my guest is one of my best friends, Bobby Shanes. He was first on the show way back in May of 2008, in Episode 6: JetBlue and Brunch. What Could Go Wrong? That episode was the “Demo Tape” that I brought to Wired to try and convince them to let me have my own podcast.
As the legend goes, I played the beginning of the interview (about Bobby’s corporate job) and they weren’t too impressed. But when I continued on and played the fun part of the interview, about exploding brunch and pancakes, that’s when everyone lit up and I knew I had found my podcasting voice.
As with all interviews, it’s best to subscribe on iTunes or press play on the embedded player above to listen to the entire show. Below are some highlights.
Sales tips from a 20-year veteran
Bobby talks about his interesting path to travel, starting out with an extended stay in the middle east during college, including founding a semi-famous cover band. From there he ended up in Denver, with invaluable sales lessons in an unlikely environment: Grateful Dead concerts.
His amesyth story was so compelling that I was ready to buy something right on the spot. Hear how he turns storytelling into a must-buy sales opportunity.
Building empathy through language
Bobby talks about how his knowledge of a few phrases in many different languages builds empathy during a selling situation. What’s funny is that while the basics are important (How are you? Please/Thank you. Where is the bathroom? How much is a beer?), we discover that knowing a few random phrases (Just kidding!) can be equally as effective.
We discuss exactly how to use even just a few native phrases to open up a conversation with someone, and what to do when they reply in full native tongue (when you don’t know more than a few words).
Bobby explains how these two words can instantly indicate where you stand with a client. By using the “Five W’s” going into a sale, you can build rapport and guide them to the point where they are ready to buy.
Travel tips from 60 countries
– The seat on a plane that is almost as good as first class, yet costs you nothing
– Packing tips for international travel
– Jim’s low-cost tip that will let you bring half the clothing
– How Michael Jordan helped Jim remember a fun phrase in Japanese
Case studies and stories
– How “Momma” from “The Rooster” in Greece can lead to a sale
– How asking what time it was in Russian led to him meeting his wife
– The difference between Ramadan and Ramen Noodles
– What it means when someone in Thailand throws a bucket of water at you
– The problem with Google Translate
– The only acceptable meal to eat with clients while in Guadalajara
Paging Tim Burton
One of the goals of this blog is to illustrate that there is no “right” way to live an ideal career and lifestyle. As we’ve seen in this interview, Bobby is fully entrenched in the corporate world, working 10 hour days as Vice President of Sales for a major manufacturer.
The upside is that within 5 minutes of meeting him, you know that he was born to do sales, he has the freedom to work from home with his 18-month-old son nearby, and his job has allowed him to travel the world extensively over the years.
Meanwhile, an entrepreneurial venture is brewing on the other side of their home.
When not chasing after a quickly-growing toddler, his wife Katya Tal is in her studio creating intricate hand-made dolls. Each one is hand-crafted over dozens of hours and takes weeks or months to create.
Similar to long-term passion projects such as writing a novel or making a documentary, this side project is not in the same quick-fix category as selling an eBook on your blog or teaching a 2-hour Skillshare class. Rather, the goal is to appeal to the high-end art market and eventually one day, generate high-end income.
As you can see, there are many paths to a lifestyle that involves both travel and passion projects. Often times, the role of one partner in a relationship is to hold down the “real job” to provide consistent income, benefits, and stability.
At the same time, the other partner works on longer-term projects that might take years to develop, but can potentially generate large financial spikes and future passive income to balance a family’s portfolio.
You can see samples of her work at KTdolls.com.
Final advice: Watch your feet around Tuk Tuks in Thailand.
Sponsor Message: Freshbooks Fresh Take of the Week: I want to talk about nametags. Who really thinks about nametags? I think nametags can be a really interesting thing.
First, there are a couple of levels… you can hand write your own. Then there’s the pre-printed versions. Pin-on ones. Cool magnetic ones. Finally, the official conference pass on a lanyard.
My friend Mike Davidson wrote a great post called Building a Better Conference Badge criticizing 90% of name tags out there, saying that they focus on the wrong thing. Huge callout for the conference – we’re already there! – and first and last name the same size. Should be able to read from 10 feet away, so as a designer he analyzed the fonts used on highway signs.
So we had a Reboot happy our Thursday night, and we had to make the call. Tags, or no tags? It was a happy hour in a bar, very casual. Should we pass on it? In the end we decided no… we’re trying to be a bit formal and brand ourselves, so I ended up going with the hybrid model… pre-printing the Reboot logo on the generic white stickers, but allowing people to write their names with various color Sharpies.
I think it was the right call. It makes it easy for people to do introductions, it takes the pressure off for introverts, it identifies who is with what group at the party, and to be honest, there is always at least 1-2 people that come up to me and are like OH HI JIM! and I don’t remember who they are. Save!
Another good call is using Freshbooks to manage your invoicing. Like a good nametag, when you send out an invoice, it allows you to customize it with your brand and logo, which really makes it look professional. More info, take the tour at Freshbooks.com.