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Aug. 28, 2020

Running Your Business In A Pandemic with Michael Levine

Running Your Business In A Pandemic with Michael Levine

Curious what the man dubbed the 'America's Branding Expert' by CNN has to say about running your business during a global pandemic?

Prepare to find out and how discover how you can use his advice during these turbulent times. Within this episode, Andy interviews Michal Levine. Michael is a best-selling author, Media Expert and Success Coach. 

Michael Levine's career has included representing a record-breaking 58 Academy Award winners, 34 Grammy Award winners, 43 New York Times best-sellers. Former clients include Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, and George Carlin among many others. His work has included media counsel to former presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. In addition, he himself has authored 19 books, including 5 best-sellers.

ABOUT THE HOST:

Andy Splichal - Make Each Click Count PodcastAndy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.

New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.

Transcript

Andy Splichal  0:00  

Welcome to the Make Each Click Count Podcast this is your host, Andy Splichal, and today I'm being joined by a very special guest. He is a best selling author, media expert in success coach. This guest has represented a record breaking 58 Academy Award winners, 34 Grammy Award winners, 43 New York best time sellers. His former clients include Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand and George Carlin, among many others. His work is included media counsel to former presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. In addition, he himself has authored 19 books, including five best sellers. CNN has dubbed him America's branding expert. And he of course, is the one and only Michael Levine. Welcome, Michael. Hi, Andy, how are you? I'm doing great. Thanks for joining us today.

 

Michael Levine  1:41  

Thank you for sharing your valuable audience with me. 

 

Andy Splichal  1:44  

Well, now before we dive into today's topic of running your business, in a pandemic, with so many Ailis clientele, I think that many people might ask is how did you first sign your your first big client?

 

Well, I have an answer to that question, which is often asked of me, but the problem with my answer is, so while it's true, it's not very satisfying for most people. 

 

Okay, 

 

Michael Levine  2:13  

So if you'll allow me to give you an answer that is both true, but also not very satisfying for most of your audience, I will be happy to answer the question. 

 

Andy Splichal  2:27  

That sounds great. 

 

Michael Levine  2:28  

All right. So how did I sign? Or how can you sign your first really, really, really big client? And I'm going to tell you how to do it, how I did it and how you can do. And I'd like to invite you if you're willing to write it down? Again, I've already acknowledged that I don't think you're going to find it very satisfying. Okay, but I do promise you it is true. So here is the answer. Here is how you and I, here's how I did it. And here's how you can do it. Ready? 

 

Andy Splichal  3:16  

I'm ready. 

 

Michael Levine  3:19  

Somehow the answer is somehow. Now, for those listening that have just written that word down and said, Well, that's not very satisfying. That doesn't give me any information. I think it does. I think it gives you a vast amount of information. And the vast amount of information it gives you I believe, once you get past the disappointment of the answer is that the great ones find a way they go to the front door, the back door, the side door, the chimney, the great ones, find a way. And if you want to be a great one, you are going to have to find a way. And how will you find a way some somehow through the front door, the back door or the side door or the chimney, you will find a way somehow. And that's the mindset that I really believe most accurately explains how I signed my first big client.

 

Andy Splichal  4:30  

Well, that's great. That is definitely something to think about. You know, over the weekend here. I read your book, well, one of your books, but I was I read Broken Windows, Broken Business. And within that book I found particularly interesting. In one point you mentioned there are two speeds in today's business climate fast and dead. Right. And I would imagine that now during the COVID pandemic, this must be even more exaggerated with

 

Michael Levine  4:59  

I give you an example of Andy, and I'm going to show share with you and your audience. Just how terribly far we've fallen. And what a great opportunity is for people who take the challenge seriously. So we are talking today on Monday, it's a Monday, 

 

Andy Splichal  5:27  

Right. 

 

Michael Levine  5:29  

Yesterday was Sunday, Sunday, and around 10:30 in the morning. I did something unusual, at least for me, I drove into a Krispy Kreme donut shop, drive thru. never really done that before, but due to the pandemic, kind of a drive thru, and I drove in at 10:30 in the morning in Orange, California, this is Orange County. And so I got into the line. Now from the time I got into the end, it's very warm out, maybe about 90 I think 10:30 in the morning. And from the time I got into the line all the time, I got my tea and a doughnut a total of 30 minutes past. 

 

Andy Splichal  6:29  

Okay.

 

Michael Levine  6:29  

Now, what does that say? says a lot of things, I guess. Now, the pandemic is tough on business, there's no question. It's tough on all of us, and it has slowed us down. But when did 30 minutes to get a doughnut become acceptable in the minds of the Krispy Kreme Corporation? When did the Krispy Kreme Corporation wake up and say, Well, normally we're going to get it to in 15 minutes. But in the pandemic, we're going to get it to 30 minutes. They simply are not able, as most companies aren't able to meet the challenge of the times in which we live. And so I will never drive into another Krispy Kreme drive thru again. And I will tell people, as I've just done with you and your blessed audience, about their failure, I mentioned by the way, at the end of the experience, I asked to speak to the manager. And his name was Edward and I talked to Edward for a moment and Edward was modestly polite, underlying modestly. And he said that I could have the doughnut and the the tea for free. Well, I guess I appreciate that. But I don't really get a sense that Edward or the Krispy Kreme Corporation really understands the importance of speed. And what a terrible, terrible broken window that is for their company. Now, I have never been through a Krispy Kreme drive in before, but I'll never do it again. And I'll tell anyone I can think to about that maybe even write it someday.

 

Andy Splichal  8:32  

Now I would I would think that most people are unsatisfied, too aren't telling Edward at Krispy Kreme even about it? 

 

Michael Levine  8:39  

Well, that's the interesting piece of this, I get a sense, more than a sense, Andy that we have normalized that which we should normalize. And so a humorous way I put it and I'd love your audience to think about this. In the world we're living today in 2020, sadly, C, has become the new A. F has become the new C. And that's a pretty powerful indictment about the way business is being done in America in the early part of the 21st century.

 

Andy Splichal  9:27  

You know, another part and a kind of jumps on to the other extreme, but you had a chapter in your in your book that I thought was fascinating. And it was talking about JetBlue and how they the revelations revolutionized to an extent the airline business by eliminating frills and concentrating on customer service. Now when you talk about that you had a line in there that said in the time honored fashion competitors rushed to imitate what works instead of analyzing why it worked. Now I thought that was a really great insight but how would you apply that to today's climate?

 

Michael Levine  10:04  

Well, I do you know, Andy, to view be personal with you for a moment and your audience, some of this stuff I'm going to share with you right now, you know, and they probably don't. That's what makes this conversation interesting in certain ways. I'm talking to people who I've never met, one likely to never meet, who have no idea of maybe who I am. And where I came from my particular story I was born and the two and a half miles north of Ground Zero in New York City. And I was one of the few Americans alive today who had the distinction of watching the World Trade Center be built twice. kind of wacky thing. Now, in growing up in New York City, I grew up in a poor home. I don't mean financially poor, I mean, emotionally, for my mother was an alcoholic. And me, anyone who's ever lived in alcoholic home knows it's pretty rough. And so I had the burden of living in an alcoholic home, which essentially means you learn to raise yourself. And then, in addition to that problem, and I think, you know, this Andy also had a disability, that is not wasn't very well known at the time, but is much better known today. A lot of things are better known today. For example, my mother's alcoholism, alcoholism or addiction wasn't very well known or much talked about topic 50 years ago. It's much better known today, we know much more about addiction, alcoholism today than we did then. Now one of the things we did not know much about at that time was dyslexia. And so, and we used to have another word for dyslexia. 40, or 50 years ago, Andy, and that was dumb. People who were dyslexic 40 or 50 years ago, we didn't refer to them as dyslexic, we refer to them as dumb. And so we I had a struggle and barely, barely graduated high school, leave the house at age 17. And now I have at 17 I have no money, no job, no education, no parenting, I'm scared, and I'm skinny and I'm dyslexic. Other than that, I have some really great cards. And what I learned over time, and the is that these disadvantages in my life that I'm mentioning, strangely turned out the very paradoxical way to be advantages. And so one of the things that my dyslexia did, when I'm still dyslexic, is allowed it increased, apparently, my capacity for observation. And so while I can't send a text message, or read a very fine print credit card statements, I have an above average ability at watching what really smart people do. And it's really been very helpful. So I'm not very bright Andy but I'm above average at watching what bright people do. And that's been damn helpful to me. Now, if I can tell you another secret, or a separate secret, in addition to being above average of watching what bright people do, I might even be a bit better at watching what dopey people do.

 

And that's even more powerful strangely. And so what I learned in my observational skills is to do what the bright people do and don't do what the dumb people do. And that has been very powerful. Now you indicate that people look around and copy immitate success. But I do think that's very good observation about they don't often go deeper into the why. And, and I think that's important to know why so. Not only that something works, but why it works, I think is very important. And that's what my broken windows book is about. It's about how little details matter a lot. And why they matter a lot.

 

Andy Splichal  15:32  

Right, right. Yeah, no, that is not some, some very fascinating train of thought. You know, another thing that came up, so the majority of my listeners on the podcast here, they run ecommerce businesses. And inside your broken windows book, you have a, you have a chapter specifically about websites. And in that chapter, you're right, good or bad. The little things you do send psychic signals to people with whom you most hope to communicate your customers.

 

Michael Levine  16:02  

That's right, that is true. And they're sending sending these bloody psychic signals all the damn time. And the psychic signals are powerful, they're invisible. And you can send a psychic signal that's positive, or send a psychic signal that's negative. So for example, if you have, yeah, this happens to me all the time by the way. People will send me a video to watch right now, if they send me a video to watch, right. And they make it easy for me to watch. Like with one click, I'm more likely to watch it than if I have to stop and challenge my dyslexic brain to put in a password or an access code, often small try hard to read, at least for me, a participant ID a user name. So we have to think as Jeff Bezos from Amazon does think with the customer in mind.

 

Andy Splichal  17:26  

Yeah, no, he's done. He's done. All right for himself.

 

Michael Levine  17:29  

Yes, I would agree. And because he is not, you know, he doesn't care about what the customer thinks he's obsessed with what the customer experiences. You know, Andy, one of the things I've noticed today, that's at the core of so many businesses screwing up, and we're at an all time high businesses screwing up, is that too many of them are running their businesses based on what's good for the owner, and what's good for the staff. Not what's good for the customer. And that's a problem. That's a big problem.

 

Andy Splichal  18:21  

Right? No, that definitely would decrease conversion.

 

Michael Levine  18:25  

I think you're being funny and truthful and understated.

 

Andy Splichal  18:34  

So we're running out of time, but I'd be remiss if I didn't get your feedback on another really shrewd point that I read in your book. And it was that having a superior product doesn't guarantee success. But having superior customer service and fixing broken windows almost always does.

 

Michael Levine  18:53  

Well let me mention to you a statistic Andy, to your audiences Well, 90% of all restaurant complaints prior to the pandemic, or service related. Listen again 90% Of all restaurant complaints prior to the pandemic were service related, not about the food, not about the the surface related. And the biggest broken windows very often are broken people. I mean, we are we are employing people for customer service jobs that frankly, shouldn't be in that position. Now, our friends on the web, or digital friends who listen to this show. They want to automate everything. They want to create a business model, where there are no human beings Well, the question is not whether that's a convenient strategy. The question is whether it's a good strategy. And I think that our friends who live in digital realities, would do well to reconsider the fact that they're doing business with customers who happen to be human.

 

Andy Splichal  20:31  

No, that's a, that's a great point. Now, here, we're at the end of this, near the end of the show, and what I usually ask my guests is, if listeners want more information regarding you, how would they get in contact, however, I know that you're doing something really special right now. And they've launched a weekly group that gets together via zoom to discuss today's environment. And I know about the group because I'm a member of the group. And I personally, I have found it to be not just insightful, but very useful and adjusting the current environment, you're welcome.

 

Michael Levine  21:03  

I think you have been valuable to the group. So let me first tell you that if somebody wants to learn about my PR firm, or me or what I do, you I mean, you can go on Wikipedia, you can go on Michael Levine, media.com. So that's Michael Levine media, media.com. You can do that. Now. We have formed this group about three months ago called The zoom Excel community. And it has a kind of Shark Tank like feeling to it. Meaning that instead of coming into the meeting and begging people for money, which is what people do on Shark Tank, they come into the meeting and they ask people instead of for money, they ask people for wisdom, which is another very valuable currency if you have a brain. So this zoom Excel community is terrific. And if anyone is interested in that they can obviously contact you, or then go through the Michael have been media site if they're interested i, we we it's every Friday, it's noon, at Los Angeles time, but we have people from as far away as Norway already. I mean, we're all over the cut mentally all over the country all over the world. And these are people who are go getters and these are people who are going to use this tremendously difficult time we're in to prepare so that when the doorbell rings, and someday it will ring I don't know when it will ring it probably will ring not in a day or a week or a month or probably sometime from now the doorbell will ring the people who have been in the Zoom Excel community will not be looking for their pants or their key so their underwear their shampoo, they will be ready. And that is important piece to zoom XL community.

 

Andy Splichal  23:19  

Great. Well, if it's all right with you, I will post the information regarding your group in that make each click count Facebook group.

 

Michael Levine  23:27  

Great. I would love that anyone can join for once one time for free. There is a cost to the group, it's $120 a year well worth it. It all comes with a money back guarantee, in my opinion. But I You could come and and participate for a week for free. And we'd love that. 

 

Andy Splichal  23:50  

That's great. Yeah, and I could, like I said before, but to the listeners I highly recommend.

 

Michael Levine  23:55  

Thank you check your hands. And listen, your book is also very important and valuable. Oh, well. Thank you, Michael, it helps people delineate the difference between results and activity. You know, you one of the problems with the social media and the web is that it is very very, very good and very seductive. It's great. Creating feelings of motion, activity activity activity, but much of it is is just motion it's not results can't take any likes to the bank. So yeah, I love that quote. For sure, for sure. Very seductive it at fooling you into believing you're doing something effective.

 

Andy Splichal  24:49  

Great. Well, before we go, is there anything else that you'd like to add regarding the subject to running your business in a pandemic?

 

Michael Levine  24:56  

No, just that this is a human Niek crisis for our country in the world. However, it is not the first crisis the country in the world has ever faced. And that I am convinced that we will defeat this crisis. Now, it may not be in a day, or a week or a month, it might be a year, it might be two years, it might be 18 months, but that day will come. And the question is, what are you going to do? If it is going to be the next state team on switches on bloody long time? What are you going to do, dear friend, to be prepared? So when the doorbell rings, you fly out the door, like an Olympic athlete, not like someone who's been asleep for 18 months. And I promise you if you follow that strategy, you will join others who have been willing and ready once the doorbell rings in other crisis. And so thank you again for the opportunity.

 

Andy Splichal  26:22  

Great. Well, thank you, Michael. It's been a pleasure. All right. Well, that is it for today. Remember, if you liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts and leave a five star review. And if you're looking for more insights and wisdom from Michael, feel free to join his Excel community. Those calls happen each Friday and I will post all the details within the Make Each Click Count Facebook group. Remember to stay safe, keep healthy, happy marketing, and I will talk to you in the next episode.