Chase: On your website way down hidden in your ‘about’ page, it says “My mission is to help you realize your incredible value, and use your unique voice to positively influence the world.” Now, here’s what I’m curious about. Why does that matter to you personally?
Vanessa: So, I think that in the very beginning of my business especially, I was just like with people, trying to appeal to everyone. I would walk into a room or networking event and I’m like, “How do I make sure that everyone likes me? How do I impress everyone?” And that driving force did not work, right? I was either incredibly anxious, or I didn’t appeal to anyone specifically. And so one of the bit turning points in my business was trying to figure out maybe it’s not appealing to everyone, maybe it’s trying to appeal to the right people. And so, when I talk about interacting with people its not be the bubbly extrovert, that’s the people skills advice we all hear. “Just be friendly with everyone, make friends, be likable.” And I think that that just doesn’t work, especially if you’re like me, I’m an ambivert or an introvert, that advice feels really inauthentic.
Corbett: What’s an ambivert? [crosstalk 00: 01: 04] you can’t just gloss over that.
Vanessa: Sorry. So you’re an ambivert if all your life, people ask you “Are you an extrovert?” “Are you an introvert?” And neither sounded right. So an ambivert is someone who, in different situations, can turn up, or turn on the extroversion, but needs their recharge time, needs their alone time to be able to make it.
Chase: That sounds more like most people that I know than one or the other extreme.
Chase: It’s true, it’s true. It’s like, “Are you an extrovert, and introvert, or an ambivert?” I’ll take both please! You know what I mean? That sounds more like what most people are like.
Vanessa: So here’s the thing, I agree with you, and what makes me- it was the year of the introvert a few years ago. Susan Canes amazing book, but I think this is the year if the ambivert. We did a quiz, a little quiz on our website to test if you were an ambivert, it’s really basic. Adapted from some research that Dan Pink did, and we’ve had, I think, 15,000 people take that quiz, and 82% of people who take it are an ambivert. Now, obviously it’s self selecting, people who are taking the quiz are curious, but I think most of us are ambivert but we don’t know how to leverage it. Right? So as entrepreneurs, we’re told the worst piece of advice that entrepreneurs are told is “Say yes to everything.” Especially in the being of your business, you never know when opportunities are going to come. I understand the premise behind it, I get it comes from a good intention, but saying this to everything means that you don’t have the energy to say yes to the really good things.
Vanessa: So it’s about leveraging I think, where and when you come alive.
Corbett: Yeah, I like that.
Chase: I love- can we just talk about the photo in the beginning of the book?
Vanessa: Oh no.
Corbett: What, the cover or the?
Chase: No, not the cover. About four pages in, there’s this photo of Vanessa wearing a smart vest, I think you called it?
Vanessa: Plaid vest, a smart vest, yes. On a tee shirt.
Chase: As a 10 year old or something? How old were you?
Vanessa: That was thirds grade. And the funny thing about that picture, and I really thought hard about putting that picture in the book. I mean, I start the book very vulnerably, you know. Most books start with like, “I’m an expert in all these different ways.” And I think that is a problem with a lot people skills books out there, is if you are naturally charismatic, if you’re naturally extroverted, it very hard to teach to people are not naturally extroverted charismatic. I am not naturally extroverted charismatic. I figured out ways to dial it up in a way that feels good to me, and so I was like, I’m going to start with the book with all the reasons that I’m awkward.
Chase: With your nerdy third grade shirt on.
Vanessa: With my nerdy third grade picture, I have a bowl haircut. So what’s funny about that, is my mom got a galley of the book. Which is …
Chase: Don’t send mom- am I learning not to send moms galleys of books?
Vanessa: So, my mom, love her, she [inaudible 00: 03: 44] the book, and I was really nervous. And she immediately calls me, like right after she gets it. She’s like “Oh, I got your book.” And like 20 minutes later she calls me and she’s like, “How could you?” And I’m thinking to myself, which part? Right? That’s what I’m thinking, I have no idea what she’s referencing. And she’s like, “how could you put that picture in that book? In the very front, in the very front, the first page?” And I was like, “Because that’s real.” And she was like, “But that part of your life was so painful.”
Chase: Oh wow.
Vanessa: And I was like, thanks mom. And I knew what she meant, what she meant was that was an awful, I had no friends, I would get hives from social anxiety, it was really awful. And so she wants to bury it, she’s like “You’ve moved on from that. You’ve learned from it.” And I was like no, that is my foundation. I write every blog post from that bowl hair cut and vest, because it keeps me really real in what I’m doing.
Chase: You basically, you needed to figure people out because it didn’t come naturally to you.
Vanessa: It was a survival- it was either I was going to survive in the business world, or i was not. And I underestimated people skills from the very beginning. I think we all do, where it’s sort of thought of as an after thought. Right? You focus on technical skills, I was focused on my GPA, and I did not learn how to work with a team. I did not learn how to negotiate, or interview, and as an entrepreneur, even if you’re a technical co-founder, you are still having to deal with people all the time. If you cannot do that, you will not succeed.
Chase: Yeah, so, I’m curious. Is this something that you’ve grown to love over time? Cause we talked on the show with people who are trying to figure out what their “thing” is. Like, what are they going to become an expert at? And you’ve carved out this specific place for yourself, which I think is really unique. There are some other people focused on people, but it seems like you’re fairly unique in this way, and the new book is pretty unique. You came with this because you needed the skills, and over the past however many years that you’ve been focused on this, have you come to love it? Is this something that now is part of your fabric?
Vanessa: I would say I’m obsessed with it. I don’t think it’s love, I think I’m obsessed with figuring it out. I think about it constantly, you know, it’s what keeps me up at night, it’s what I roominate on road trips on. Do I love it? No, cause it still sometimes confounds me, but I really am obsessed with it in a very good challenge way. I feel like I have a very complicated math problem- like every human that I meet, and I’m so sorry if I look at humans this way, this is just the way I think, you know.
Chase: I’m ready.
Vanessa: I meet a human, and I think of them like a big formula- like a working matrix. And I’m trying to solve for different parts of their formula. The five personality traits, their value language, and I’m literally plugging in as I talk to them that those are their formulas. So they’re like ‘click, click, click, clicking’ together. There are certain people, of course, that are very hard to figure out. I become obsessed with figuring them out. I become obsessed with figuring them out. So it’s a good and bad thing, I think. But it definitely drives my work, and the amount of content we produce, people are always surprised.
Chase: This is interesting, this is- I do a similar kind of thing, probably from a different angle, cause I think for me there was such a hunger for connection early on, and I just don’t think I had a lot of that, and so I’m always a vacuum of that, and I’m- my shape was always “who do I need to be to connect with-” how do I be a people pleaser type of thing, right? But that translates really well to marketing, you know what I mean? I’ve got a long career of marketing, and I think I’m successful at it because of these intuitions I have about how to connect with people, and how to- and not with everybody, though. I have to figure out exactly who I’m focusing on, and then using those inside jokes, using those cultural references to kind of- to get them. To make it feel like this company’s cool. You know what I mean?
Vanessa: Yeah, and so it’s interesting we talk about marketing in people, cause it’s exactly the same thing. A lot of people talk about marketing personas. You hear a lot about “what are your customer avatars? What are your customer personas?” It’s okay, I found it moderately helpful when I went with that exercise, what I prefer, which I think I a much more scientifically robust way of thinking about marketing to that specific person- is trying to solve for each person. Specifically their big five, so trying to figure out- how can you figure out their matrix, so that you are screaming at them? So it’s very, very obvious to them. And that doesn’t always work with customer personas, you’re kind of- like throwing darts and hoping you’re near the board, I think personalities are more precise way of looking at marketing.
Chase: Yeah, this is a good follow on because just a few weeks ago we were talking about your target market, your ideal customer, and we’re of the same mind that the more you focus on one specific person, and you get to know not just their demographics, not the scratch the surface kind of stuff, but really what drives them. What keeps them up at night, why are they mad at their mom right now? You know, that sort of stuff. So then you can speak to them really directly.
Vanessa: Yes, and one more layer, which is how do they process the world? Right, so what they worry about is actually- not to get too deep, but a symptom of how you think. Right, so for example lets take one of the personality traits, which is neuroticism. Neuroticism gets a bad rap. Whenever I do presentations on corporate personality, whenever I say “Who’s a high neurotic?” No one raises their hand.
Chase: Yeah, you’re not supposed to. We all know you’re not supposed to.
Corbett: Chase would raise his hand in that situation.
Vanessa: Me too, high five for that statement. I am a high neurotic and proud to be so. So neuroticism is a framework of how you process worry and how you see the world. For example, people who are high neurotic often carry a special form of a certain gene. It’s called the serotonin transport gene. So if you carry a different version of this, it means you process serotonin more slowly, which is actually very important, because lets say that you’re driving down the street and you almost get into a car accident. Your adrenaline rushes, your cortisol rushes, your heart pounds, you’re like “whoa! We almost go in an accident.” And then slowly your serotonin rushes, and you feel calm, it stabilizes your mood, you’re like “Phew! I made it.” That serotonin calming down your adrenaline and your cortisol, high neurotics produce serotonin more slowly. So when they almost get into a car accident, they literally feel the effects of that worry for longer. Which means you’re driving to work and they’re still agitated. They come in and they’re like “ugh! Traffic was so bad.” And people are like “Oh, she’s so negative.” It’s not necessarily that she’s negative, its that physiologically she’s had a slower response.
They also worry more about things that are coming because they know they’re going to have a worse response. So as a high neurotic, I am terrified about my book launch, because in my mind I’m thinking about all the bad things that could happen. Not because I’m pessimistic, but because I know that if one of those bad things happen, it will effect me physiologically more than my non-neurotic.
Chase: Yeah, fascinating.
Corbett: Chase is over here taking notes.
Chase: I am- well, what I’m actively doing is- again this is why mindfulness is such a powerful thing for so many of us. You know, because it just gets you- and even and- anyways, I could- part of me really wants to go deep down the psychotherapy of this, and spirituality of it, but I’m going to stop, because this is a podcast for indie entrepreneurs.
So, lets jump back in, I want you to talk about these three modes of playing the game. The varsity, junior varsity, tell me about that.
Vanessa: Yeah, so when Chase asked me about my business and the flow, I think about business a very specific way for myself, and for every entrepreneur that I meet. Whenever I do entrepreneur workshops, this is what I think about. There are three different phases, just like high school sports. There are the, for lack of a better word, want-trepreneur. People who are not playing yet. They’re in learning mode, right? They’re watching a lot, they’re listening to a lot of podcasts, they’re observing and doing a lot of informational interviews looking at mentors, same thing as when you go to the JV or the varsity sports teams, you’re like, “oh, one day. One day I’ll be starter on the basketball team.” And then you have people that get into JV, right? They’re playing. They’re actually actively in business, they’re really trying to learn, and they are practicing the skills on the court.
Chase: And JV means junior varsity for anybody listening outside of the U.S. probably. Na dits just the- I don’t know, it’s the farm league. It’s the pre- before the big game is this level.
Vanessa: But you still play, but you still play your own games, you have your own leagues, you still get time on the schedule, you’re playing, but you’re still actively learning, and things aren’t as natural yet. You’re spending lots of time practicing free throws, you’re doing lots of drills. And you’re working you way up the JV team. You start as a bench warmer, and then you’re like, “Oh hey, I’m going to work my way up to a starter.” And then eventually, if you’re lucky, you flip into varsity. Right? And varsity is when, okay, it’s natural, less learning.
Chase: A little more instinctual at this point.
Vanessa: Exactly. You’re not necessarily doing drills to learn, you’re doing drills to make sure you’ve got it. To calm yourself before games, and now its the fine tuning. You’re fine tuning your skills, you’re building a team, it’s much more about your team communication as opposed to you as a player.
Chase: Yeah, because you’re looking at the effectiveness of the overall, not just am I- like it seems with junior varsity is like, “am I the one? Am I one of the good ones? Can I make it? Can I do it?” And then, it seems like in some ways, varsity- well, at least hopefully, hopefully you realize the point is to take the team to the nationals, or something like that.
Vanessa: Exactly. And it becomes less about you, and more about your impact, and more about the team. I think it’s the same thing in business, where you- I almost can always put someone in that bucket, or I ask them to put themselves in that bucket, is are you watching and getting ready? Are you learning and focusing on your skills? Or are you thinking about the bigger picture in the team? And are you fine tuning? And I think from a goal perspective, all of those are amazing places to be. None of those are bad. But, it’s really helpful if you’re in the early learning- even at the not playing stage, to be like “I want to be a starter!” “I want to be the next Malcolm Gladwell!” That just doesn’t work, if I had started- I was honored by your introduction, that was such- the biggest compliment you could’ve given me, because the beginning before I had even started playing, I looked up to Malcolm Gladwell, and I was like “Maybe one day.” But I wasn’t like, “I better be Malcolm Gladwell tomorrow.” You know, ten years later, someone mentions that I might be in the same sentence as him, and I’m like “Maybe I’m at varsity!”
Chase: And it’s funny- now I think that in it of itself is something that I’m learning- or I guess I’m really surprised by in my own learning of how- I’ve always oriented myself to heroes. Always, for some reason. I’ve always just like- and what’s interesting is how that has changed over time. As I’ve matured, as I’ve been more of a varsity player and less of a JV player, the less I’m- I don’t know, I’ve got Bill Murray, Louis CK, Will Ferrell, and John C. Riley in these little saint-like catholic candles over there. They’re my little prayer candles. And Louis CK is just someone who I realize is just- he’s the- [crosstalk 00: 15: 02]
Vanessa: He’s like the coach at this point, let’s be honest. He’s not even playing mercy.
Chase: He’s not, he’s not even playing.
Vanessa: He owns the league, okay?
Chase: And I think so much of my life I’ve compared myself to him, or the Eddie Murphy’s, or the ones that I really, really saw- it’s amazing what Robin Williams does, you know, they set a high watermark- I know I could never try to compete at that level, like your Malcolm Gladwell, right, but now what I’m doing more and more is focusing- is just seeing them as just these absolute demigods, and really appreciating and loving, but not comparing myself to them as much.
Vanessa: And I think that is the fundamental difference, and that’s why putting yourself in those buckets actually makes it okay to be like yeah, I see that person, I have their baseball card or whatever, but I need to focus on who’s in the next level for me? Right? So who’s the starter on the JV team? Then who’s the starter on the varsity team. That’s a much more digestible, non-imposterous syndrome setting up desire. I have so many readers who are obsessed with their role model, so much so that they’re blinded by who they are, and then they end up feeling like “well I’m not there yet. I’ve been trying for two years and I’m not there.”
Chase: And that’s so toxic.
Corbett: I feel like it’s a natural part of the process, though.
Chase: It really is.
Corbett: That all of us do that in the beginning, we have to try on other peoples shoes mentally, to see, you know.
Chase: So I’m curious, these three modes- actually what I’m going to do, I want to hear your story of- the big points of when you were, you know, in the bleachers, playing JV, and on varsity. But first let me read the ad from Fresh Books.
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All right, so Vanessa, before we switch modes and get into- really want to get into how do we know ourselves part one, and how do we know our customers and the personality traits. Give me a little bit of an overview of your sort of stages of getting into entrepreneurship.
Vanessa: Yeah, so in my very first stage, I was trying to decide the direction, and there was really two choices in front of me. One was secret service, you know, FBI, CIA, I speak a couple of languages, I was very- at that point, burgeoning an interest in micro expressions and lie detection, and body language. And I did an informational interview, which is one of the key parts of that early stage, and someone very honestly, I’m so grateful to them, said to me “If you continue on this path, you will be interrogating terrorists for the rest of your life.” And I was like, ooh. It was very- she told me when you play varsity, that’s what it is.
Chase: You’re going to be in the lunchroom going like, “do you know who that is? She’s the one that got something something-“
Chase: Something, something, yeah. You have to wipe peoples faces off from the waterboarding, and then try to see like-
Vanessa: Right, that’s the top of the game in the career track that I was in. And the other decision was try and take these skills, and do something business corporate self development. Which I am a self development junkie, I love self help books. So I was like well, lets try it. Lets see if I can go that route. And so, that’s when I started learning more about passive income, and trying to build an online business, which was very new age at the time.
Chase: At what do you start to- your interest in figuring out people, at what point in your life does that start? Is that a college thing?
Vanessa: College, yep, that 100% started in college with a moment- I think I might of shared this in the book, maybe it didn’t make the cut, there was a moment sitting with a professor, and it was a group project, it was a group writing paper. You know one of those horrible assignments where they make you- each person had to write two pages of a paper. And I was arguing with my professor, I was like “look, I’ll write you double the amount of page- so I’ll write you 20 pages if I can do this by myself.” And he looked at me so kind, and was lie, “Vanessa, this paper is not about the writing skills, it’s about the people skills.”
Corbett: It’s about the working together.
Chase: Yeah, wow.
Vanessa: And I was like, “what?!” Like terror, and he very gently was like “Look, I know you’ve been very focused on the technical skills, but lets beef up this other side.” He was the first person who introduced me to anthropology, sociology, phycology, it’s when I was like oh, there’s this whole other- you can study people. It’s not just like “Make friends.”
Chase: So he had to talk to you in an engineer kind of way to get you to understand why this is important.
Vanessa: Yes, and he said to me, “I want you to study people like you study for chemistry.” And I had never thought of that before, but I was literally making flashcards for conversation starters. Like I would make a flashcard, I could carry them in my purse, use a conversation starter, and then take notes in the bathroom.
Corbett: This must have been so awkward for a while.
Vanessa: Oh, so awkward. Just like JV players, have you ever watched them? When they’re first starting, it’s rough, right? So it was the same thing. I was taking notes in the bathroom, I had notebooks that I would take, just because that’s how I learn, right? I had to break down, and I do this in my book, I had to break down a networking event into a map, like the football field. Because I was so overwhelmed when I would walk into an event, I had no idea what to do. So I was like okay, if I had to break it down into a map, and I move from here to here- that is how I think, and it ended up serving me very well. And I know there’s other people out there who wanted people skills like that.
Corbett: And how did you turn that into a business for yourself?
Vanessa: Okay, so that was when I decided to start doing, and I think the key difference between no playing and playing, is making money. It’s not just setting up a website, it’s not just blogging, it’s actually earning your first dollar, that’s when you start playing. So I was writing, I was blogging, wasn’t making any money, that was not counting as playing, i was just sort of surveying the field, like feeling out my voice. When I finally was- I got asked to come in an do a presentation on the science of people. So before I named my website “the science of people” for a group of engineers. This boss had been reading my blog and he was like, “you know, my engineers- they really have a hard time with people, but I think that they would like your kind of formulas. Do you think you could come in, just do a science of people? They do the science side of engineering.” So I was like “…okay.” Went in, gave this presentation based on my blog post, and they were just like me. They had the same questions as me, and they got my fears and we got each other. And that was the first dollar I earned, teaching this science like this.
Chase: Nice, got it. That feels like a really interesting place to head towards this, cause I’m just picturing you having this experience of “oh, oh wow. They get me. I get them.” That’s the experience I want to try to give fizzlers, right? Cause that changes everything when you’re no longer trying to “What about this face paint? What about this face paint? What about this face paint?” You know? “Now is it working? Now is it working? Now is it working?”
Vanessa: “I changed the color of a button, now is it working?”
Chase: Right, exactly. Or “I’m changing me, I’m changing what the business is about, I’m changing- now is it working?” Because- and I understand that because when we’re in JV mode, we’re trying to earn the fundamentals of the game, right? Where maybe I’ll be the passer person, or maybe I’ll be the-
Vanessa: Point guard.
Chase: Yeah, you know? All the- you just think maybe this is who I am.
Vanessa: You try every position, which you should, which you should, and I think it takes little bit. So very specifically, dialing to specifics. So that moment with those engineers was really important for me, because I met my people for the first time, and I got a very clear picture of who they are. Not just their persona or their avatar, but actually their personality. So they were ambiverts leaning on the introvert side of the spectrum.
Chase: By the way, how long ago was this?
Vanessa: Oh goodness, seven years ago?
Chase: Seven years ago, and you already had awareness of these five traits and the things that- you had this system of a matrix developing.
Vanessa: The system wasn’t perfect yet. I had read the science, I thought it was really interesting, I had not developed The Matrix-
Chase: But you were probably pretty confident in what you did know.
Vanessa: Yeah, right. And I knew that it was helping me, i didn’t have the formula just yet, at that point, which is why the blog was still not 100% there yet. I didn’t have online courses yet at that point, the formula wasn’t there yet. So okay, they’re ambivert introverts, right? So they don’t get a lot of energy from people, but they can be with people and enjoy it in the right situations, okay. Second, they’re highly conscientious. So conscientious is the second personality trait. Detail oriented, loves lists, loves plans, and schedules, and agendas. They loved- they wanted the bullet point breakdown of everything.
Chase: What is conscientious, what is the break down of that word? I’m thinking of- conscious is the wrong way of taking it, it’s almost like concept ness, almost. Is it-
Vanessa: Purposeful thinking, like conse, like thinking, and so conscientiousness is a really important one for your ideal avatar. Because if you have someone who is high in conscientiousness, before they buy anything, before they sign up for anything, they want to see a detailed list of agendas, phases, promises, formulas, scientific studies, they want all the details. Whereas a low conscientious person is a big idea person. They like strategies, big concepts, big ideas, more go with the flow. They like big promises of change-
Corbett: Big picture, not all the little details.
Vanessa: Exactly. And so that was a big change with how I now do my marketing, that completely forms how I write every landing page.
Corbett: For the high conscientious person, or the low?
Vanessa: For the high.
Vanessa: So I stopped making all these big promises, or I would put the big promise at the very end, because that turned them off at the very beginning. It was too fru-fru, it was too-
Chase: That is one of those- interesting. So conscientiousness is one of these traits?
Chase: Of five?
Vanessa: Of the five, yep.
Chase: Cause that- it seems like, are these kind of binary things if I choose, okay, I’m-
Vanessa: You’re either high or low. Of course it’s a spectrum, right? This is the biggest difference between Meyers Brigg and Big Five. So just to be clear on the science, I really like sticking to it if I can. The only personality framework that is actually based in academic research is the Big Five. Disk, enneagram, Meyers Brigg, no. It just hasn’t been repeated in a lab. Is it interesting? For sure. Is it a great conversation? Great.
Corbett: What about that book that has a day for every birthday in the year?
Chase: That’s good, I like that one, that’ll tell you some stuff.
Corbett: There’s some science there, right?
Chase: Well, I don’t know about science, but you might-
Vanessa: I plead the fifth.
Chase: You might learn something about yourself.
Vanessa: You know how I view those kinds of things, same with I just had this discussion about tarot cards, so no. They’re not scientifically based, however, they are very interesting prompts. For example, if you open your birthday and it says you are highly adaptable and love change. That would be an interesting prompt to think about yourself to be like, “Huh, if I’m highly adaptable but I have lived in the same city my whole life, I eat at the same restaurant every day, and I never do anything new, maybe I need to start doing more things.” Now it doesn’t mean that its actually right, that you need change, but its a nice prompt.
Chase: It seems like the ultimate empirical experience, or way of living is to judge everything- i mean, is to filter everything through your own consciousness, right?
Vanessa: If you’re viewing it like that, the problem is, is with astrology and forecasting, and Tarot cards, and birthday-
Chase: They come with voodoo.
Vanessa: They come with voodoo, and people take them as prescriptions. It’s not a prescription, it should be filtered.
Vanessa: It should come in, and then you’re like, “do I like this? Does this feel like me? Do I want to try this?” That’s a very different thing that “Oh, the forecast- the horoscope says today that I’m going to have a bad day. Whelp! Guess I’m going to have a bad day!”
Chase: Yeah, totally.
Vanessa: When we’re talking about placebo affect, horoscopes can be quite dangerous in that way.
Chase: Totally, no, I like that.
Corbett: So the test that you’re saying is based in science, tell us about that again, what’s the name of it?
Vanessa: So it’s called the Big Five.
Chase: The Big Five
Corbett: The Big Five, okay.
Vanessa: Also known as OCEAN, cause it’s a acronym. So Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
Chase: Okay, these are the five personality traits.
Vanessa: Everyone has them.
Chase: Now in your world, you talk about getting to know yourself, and then getting to know your customer. And it seems like this ties in- does tie nicely with that whole thing you were just saying before where the point is these are kind of- I don’t know, which one are you? What ar you like? Right? Which to me it’s the great work, it’s the great art of your life is to even- is to go that far, is just to the point where you are, I don’t know, you are present and not necessarily in control, but you as a function of your consciousness are just going “Interesting, what do I think about that? How do I feel about that? Is this me? Is this not me?” You know what I mean? Just that sense of- the world I’m looking for probably is autonomy, or something like that, is a thing that not a lot of people necessarily walk around with.
Vanessa: No, no.
Chase: Right? And I think that’s- if there’s anything that excites me in the world, it’s that in it of itself- I don’t care how you life from there-
Vanessa: As long as you have autonomy.
Chase: I want you to experience your power. It makes you think of that you’re “my mission” is to help everyone see how valuable they are, and how much they can change the world when they use their unique voice, right?
Vanessa: Yeah, and that’s exactly what I say when I say I want you to find yourself first. Right? So yes, you could outline your ideal customer avatar on all five personality traits and be like “Yep, they’re low open, high agreeable, high neurotic, and-” but if you are not those traits, and you’re the one writing those landing pages, and answering their customer questions, there’s always going to be friction. When you’re talking about product market fit, I think that what you’re talking about is also do you have a match of personality traits between your chief marketing person, or your chief com person, or you and your customer? Because you have to be able to translate that fit, and if you’re not writing about it right, I think it’s really hard.
Chase: So what I’m hearing you say is the importance- what this triggers for me, is especially the importance when we’re doing small businesses, solo entrepreneur businesses, the whole idea here is not that you- the whole dream is that your business kind of makes you come alive. That, to me, seems like why to start your own business. Besides “I need to earn revenue, I need to create wealth, and I want to come alive in this thing. I want to enjoy- I want to do more than just enjoy this, I want it to matter.” You know what I mean?
Vanessa: And also, you want to make sure that when you are doing it, you do not feel like a fraud. So what happens is, and I know this more than anyone, I have pivoted my business more times that anyone can count. Now some of those pivots were probably not noticeable to my customers, some of them were. Each time I pivoted, there was risk that I was pivoting aways from my natural orientation to try to meet what I thought was happening. So as you’re growing your business, and you’re pivoting, and you’re adjusting, and you’re fitting, you know “does this work? Does this work?” As you were saying earlier. I think the first question you have to ask yourself is okay, maybe this pivot- this shift is a good thing. But does it match me? Does that feel natural to me? Because even if it’s the perfect thing for your client, if you don’t like talking about it, if you can’t write about it that way, it’s going to be very hard for you to market it and promote it.
Chase: To sustain as well, and I think there’s a parallel here to the life you live yourself, if you’re living a lie, for lack of a better term, in terms of who you present yourself as to the world, you’re going to exhaust yourself over time, right?
Vanessa: Can I give you a really specific example? I’m literally dealing with this right now, so any advice that you have would be great. So we have two sides of our business, B to B and B to C, so our B to B is corporate clients. Big fortune 500 companies, we go in and do a ton of workshops for them, hiring managers, sales, great. B to C, online courses on people skills. So conversation courses, charisma courses, and those two match pretty well.
About two years ago, I noticed that some of my most popular YouTube videos- we have a big YouTube channel, were the ones where I tried to be a little funny. No I am not naturally funny, I do try to be funny, a little bit silly here and there, but it’s not necessarily my natural orientation. I’m quite a serious person, I’m a researcher. I sit and read academic studies all day. So I was like okay, so this is working. My vanity metrics, my views are really up, so I decided to spend more time learning about humor and trying to write funnier videos. So over the last two years, and I was literally looking at all of my teleprompter scripts over the last few years earlier this week. My videos got sillier, and sillier, and sillier, to the point where now I look at my YouTube channel, and I don’t really recognize myself. And it’s me, I’m still saying things that I believe, but I’ve hammed it up too much, and-
Chase: Riding the ham.
Vanessa: Yes, and my consumers like it, my businesses do not like it, and I’ll tell you what, I’ve accidentally turned off my paying consumers. So I have two different types of people who watch me, a couple. You know, you have the- someone who loves my work but will never buy anything, and you have the managers that would buy something, but because I’ve gotten so silly, I think I’ve actually accidentally turned them off. That was a pivot that very slowly, insidiously-
Chase: Right, and that’s because they’re conflicting goals. Right? One goal is how do I get more page views, and then the other goal is how do I stay true to myself and my customers?
Vanessa: And get more big paying customers. Exactly.
Chase: Right, and also it’s that you’re on a medium, YouTube, where the medium wants what it wants, right? And so it’s eating you, you’re not eating it, you know?
Corbett: But YouTube isn’t one mass of the same person a billion times over, there’s a lot of sub segments.
Chase: But there is- if you watch the metrics you can get on youtube, you will be incentivized.
Corbett: And that’s because YouTube has what it wants, the actual business of YouTube- [crosstalk 00: 34: 11]
Chase: Yeah, exactly.
Corbett: So it doesn’t care if you get sales.
Vanessa: It absolutely doesn’t care, especially cause I don’t run ads on my channel, right? Cause that’s not the goal of the channel, the goal of the channel is to get big sales.
Chase: The thing that’s interesting to me now, this is, I mean I think this is a really juicy conversation, right, the same exact thing happened in journalism. And there has been from the beginning, there was never a golden age of journalism. It’s always you know, had this pressure to be what people wanted instead of the real thing or whatever, right? So there’s this thing, it happens in media, probably of all kinds, and this is why Marshal McLuhan’s work on this stuff was so interesting back in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s when he was touting it about, but the thing that’s fascinating to me then, okay, as an awakened sort of person who is wanting to live life on my own terms, not cause any suffering in the world, but rather to earn a living doing something that I care about, and that I think matters in some way, and that probably people out there want. I can look at YouTube and say okay, if I respect YouTube as it is, I have to say okay, who are you, what do you want. You know, to YouTube, then play by YouTube’s- I’m not saying the company YouTube, I’m just saying the-
Chase: Massive ecosystem of YouTube. YouTube likes videos that are certain different kinds of videos, and you noticed that yourself, right? I think there’s a way that you can bring yourself with an aligned sort of spine to that, and go okay, we like a little bit of this, but I’m not compromising on that. So now, you can- Buddha would say find the middle way here. Where it isn’t just not funny at all, it isn’t just silly, you know, and that’s why I think- I don’t know, I think that feels like a great art to me right now. That feels like a really, really- I love exploring that stuff.
Corbett: And it’s true not just of YouTube- [crosstalk 00: 36: 09] but Instagram, or Snapchat, anywhere that you’re going to play.
Chase: Email, anything you’re going to play, because what we’re dealing with is what’s already- what do I expect? Because everything is like, if I’m surprised by you, i’m paying attention. Right? So you have to know this stuff so you can break some of the norms, while you still play by the necessary rules. So knowing the difference between the principles and the tactics so that you can surprise on the tactics and always deliver on the principles. I think that’s, I don’t know. I love- that’s where I spend a lot of my time, probably just back of my brain thinking, because that feels like a real skill that- I don’t know how to teach it, right, that’s the thing.
Vanessa: I think it’s this way, because I didn’t know either, and I was like ugh, if I had actually stuck to who I am and my personality trait, which is- silliness is a facet of extroversion as well as agreeableness, so its cheerfulness- the more extroverted you are, the more talkative you are, the more cheerful and optimistic you are. So its a facet of that, it’s also a facet of agreeableness. Agreeableness is how cooperative you are, if you work on teams, sharing, sort of that sweetness- I’m actually medium-low agreeable, meaning I’m a data head, I like to work alone-
Chase: You find yourself saying things that you’re like “Oh, yes, that’s correct, but it doesn’t serve the purpose of-“
Vanessa: Let me google you. So you know if you’re high or low agreeable by the answer to this question, which is do you default to yes or do you default to no? So typically, I will default to no to do more research, then I’ll come back to you and give you a maybe or a yes.
Chase: I’m high agreeable.
Vanessa: Yes, that’s right.
Chase: But, i do do things- I’m a high agreeable but a lot of that is just smoke and mirrors upfront, for the sake of hey, let’s keep this writing smoothly, and then- cause I’m also like, I want to work alone kind of guy.
Vanessa: And that might be your extroversion or not. I would agree that you’re high agreeable, so on my YouTube channel-
Chase: Notice how I just said “Yeah.”?
Vanessa: Exactly. You know, a low agreeable person would have disagreed with me. They would’ve been like “I don’t think so, and here’s why.” But that’s how we know, and by the way, that works really well with people you’re working with, partners and colleagues.
Corbett: Doesn’t work so well for podcasting or improv.
Chase: No, it doesn’t. “there’s a gun in my pocket!” “no there isn’t.” Okay, so OCEAN, Openness-
Vanessa: Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism.
Chase: And neuroticism. Okay, and neuroticism is …
Vanessa: How we worry.
Chase: How we worry. Openness is …
Vanessa: How adventurous we are.
Chase: Adventurous. Conscientiousness is …
Vanessa: How organized we are.
Chase: Wow, I like this. Okay, E for …
Vanessa: Extroversion- how social we are.
Chase: Social. Okay and then what’s the-
Vanessa: Agreeableness, if you say yes or no. How we are in a team.
Chase: How we are in a team. These are the five traits in the big five that- I’m assuming there’s a book on this if people want to learn about the big five.
Vanessa: Yeah, so if you really want to dig deep into it, there’s some really good books on personality. Make sure you get the Big Five one. So for example, Snoop is one one personality and things in your office. And if you want a smaller one, I have one chapter on this topic, which is- this is enough to get you through and kind of figure it out, and I pulled kind of the best things from Snoop.
Chase: Is that in Captivate?
Vanessa: Mm-hmm (affirmative), it’s chapter seven.
Chase: Alright, I’ll put both Snoop and obviously your book in the show notes here. So we have these five personality traits. It sounds like what you’re telling us to take advantage of, is know where we stand on these, and then also identify our ideal customers.
Vanessa: Yes, exactly. And, so the first part is actually relatively easy. Even as I’m talking, you’re probably like oh yeah, that’s me or that’s not me. We’re pretty good at self diagnosis, if you’re worried, we have a free personality quiz you can take on our website, its sciencepeople.com/personality if you want to just test it out, it’s free, you can take it as many times as you want. By the way, bonus challenge, if you really want to test yourself, send that to your partner or your best friend to take as you.
Chase: Oh, that’s good.
Vanessa: A really good conversation afterwards.
Chase: You love quizzes by the way.
Vanessa: I love quizzes.
Chase: Your book has a bunch of quizzes, your website has tons.
Vanessa: Yeah, I love quizzes. Also because-
Chase: They’re fun!
Vanessa: Yeah, and also I don’t always know. I rather you test yourself. This, by the way, is not a quiz that I made, it’s a 44 questionnaire that academics use. So I’d rather you be more accurate than guess, so once you know yourself, you then want to think about how do you quickly indicate to people that this is for them? That’s what you use personality for. So for example, high opens. So high opens, they love trying new things, they’re very curious, very adventurous, they have no problem getting into a rabbit hole on a website, they love to click on unique or interesting buttons. So I have signals on my website for high open people. I do- my ideal customer avatar is very high open. They want to learn a lot, they’re really creative, they like trying new things, cause my challenges are risky in a certain sense, so i indicate to them that I am a high open person, and I want high open person with one of my tabs on my website is “Awesome.” A low open person is going to be turned off by that, in fact, we get low open people who email us and complain about it. I’m like, great, that’s no worries, you’re not our person. You know?
Chase: You passed the filter.
Vanessa: Right, exactly right. But my high open people, they are- they get a dopamine hit when they see that kind of tab. Or on our sidebar we have a ‘do not click here’ button.
Chase: Yeah, I saw that. What’s your-
Vanessa: Did you click it?
Chase: No, I didn’t click it.
Chase: I had a purpose that I was coming to your website for, and so I didn’t’ end up clicking it.
Vanessa: I don’t want to tell you, people should click it. No I’m just kidding, it’s actually-
Chase: Actually, don’t tell us what it does, tell us- yeah, no, share your secret, share why that’s there.
Vanessa: Okay, so first of all, it’s the indicator. It’s a very quick indicator of you found this on the bottom of my sidebar, which means you’ve gone below the fold. Reward. Right, reward for you high open readers, not skimmers. And second, when you click on it you get a video of me talking and showing baby animals, okay?
Corbett: Oh, I love baby animals.
Chase: I should’ve clicked that button.
Vanessa: Exactly, aren’t you sad you didn’t click it? And I thought very hard about what I was going to put there. I could’ve put a pitch, but I wanted to purely reward the personality of a high open person browsing deeply on my website. And what makes you happy, what instantly gives you dopamine is pictures of baby animals.
Chase: Oh man.
Vanessa: Right. I also wanted to show them-
Chase: Or goats yelling.
Vanessa: I don’t know, that could be rough sometimes.
Chase: Unless you’re high neurotic
Vanessa: What is it? What was it?
Chase: In my videos, my YouTube bag reviews, they’re like- every title screen it’s just the sound of a goat yelling. It’s my favorite thing.
Vanessa: So you should put a ‘do not click here’ on fizzle, and it should be goats yelling.
Chase: We might, we might, who knows.
Vanessa: It’s also interesting, the data that comes from that, our conversion rates on that page are extremely high. Either people subscribe to the YouTube channel right then and there, or they give us their email. Because it’s a very clear indicator of one, I didn’t sell you. I rewarded you. I’m so happy that you’re here. Yay, you’re here with me! And then I have more that I can teach you if you’re willing. So- indicators. So indicating high openness. All the other personality traits have the same kind of indicators, and these are fairly obvious once you start to think about them. I’ll give you an example with agreeableness since we already talked about it.
So with agreeableness, this is- are you encouraging community with your brand? Or are you not? Fizzle wants to encourage community, that’s a big part of what makes fizzle, fizzle. Whereas someone selling one product, or if they’re a single thought leader, that’s not a goal of theirs. They’re not trying to encourage a community. So, Johnathan Fields, if you look at his home page for Good Life Project, you’ll notice he has the most high agreeable brand I’ve ever seen. So what does he do to indicate that? Every picture on Good Life Project is people hugging, people touching, people holding hands, people doing things together. It’s never a person alone, it’s not really about Johnathan, it’s about the team, the people, the players. That is an indicator, very quickly, as a low agreeable person, me, I don’t like it. It scares me.
Chase: Mm-hmm (affirmative), it’s too much. [crosstalk 00: 44: 31] I had the same exact feeling-
Vanessa: It’s too much touch.
Chase: And I know the people in my life who love the Good Life Project and the camp that he runs and stuff like that, and every one of them-
Vanessa: And they’re touchers, and they’re huggers, and so I- that’s perfect.
Chase: If I could have a business of just those- I mean, that’s brilliant. It’s brilliant to realize. So this is where we’re realizing the intention you can kind of set forth and go this is what I’m like, this is who I want to attract, this is a way for me to, as we’re always encouraging people to do. To focus, get specific, and niche down, doesn’t have to be just, you know, this is for single dads. It can be for single dad’s who like to hug. You know what I mean?
Vanessa: Exactly, exactly. Lets take that example and take it even a step further. So if you’re going to give the kind of advice that’s like snuggle with your kids every night, because it has a lot of oxytocin and a lot of benefits, some people are going to be turned off by that piece of advice, and some people are going to be like “Yes! What a great idea.” You want to almost warn them that that’s coming, because they’re going to be the ones who actually listen to that and then buy your book, or your product or whatever.
Chase: Yeah. You’re establishing bias almost.
Chase: You’re signaling for-
Corbett: Well, really as humans, we’re all just looking to reinforce our own worldviews.
Corbett: Right? So you’re just tapping into that and riding the wave as Chase said at the very beginning of the episode, trying to figure out where that wave’s coming, and how do you have the right wave to ride it?
Chase: Exactly, exactly.
Chase: Okay so we’ve got these five traits, we identify ourselves on these traits, sounds like you were saying relatively simple here, you know the questions that you were saying, like do you normally say yes or no when someone says things like that.
Vanessa: “Are you very adventurous or not?” Right, “Are you very organized, or not?” You know, there’s really simple questions. So the agreeableness one was “do you default to yes, or do you default to no?” For high contentiousness, “do you love alphabetizing?” “do you put stuff on your to-do list for the pleasure of checking them off?”
Chase: Oh my god, I am so high conscientiousness.
Vanessa: Like, I like- it really gives me an adrenaline rush.
Chase: The amount of hours I’ve spent organizing the genres of my iTunes library throughout the course of my life- I’m serious. I’m like hold on, is this Chillout or Downtown Po?
Corbett: I get notifications all the time, because Chase and I share a Dropbox folder, I get notifications everyday saying ‘Chase reorganized something in the folder’ there’s no new file, it’s just that he moves things around.
Chase: How you categorize and you know- what’s the word I’m thinking of? Not topography- taxonomy! The taxonomy is so critical.
Corbett: I guess so.
Vanessa: For a high conscientious person, you are right.
Chase: Dude, if you’re low conscientious and you get involved in my taxonomy, you’re jobs going to get better and easier too. Even if you’re low conscientious.
Vanessa: Okay, but let’s go into this for a second.
Chase: I’m saying it wrong, I’m saying low conscientious.
Vanessa: you do.
Corbett: If you’re borderline sleeping, you’re going to get a lot of benefit.
Chase: Yeah, I’m judging, I’m judging.
Corbett: So this is the perfect example of why knowing yourself and then knowing others is that process. So in most corporate settings, and you have someone who’s high conscientious, and they’re like, “How could you not have a taxonomy of your drop box? It makes everything better.” And so you also have agendas for your meetings, you have to-do lists for your calls, you send people very long phased emails with steps. Someone who’s low conscientious is going to feel boxed in by that. They are going to feel like A. It’s a waste of time B. It’s closing in their creativity and C. That you guys are not on the same page.
Chase: So it’s interesting because creativity here- the trope is either you’re- like Corbett and I, it’s really easy for me to go well, he’s the analytical one, I’m the creative one, right? And that line has been- it sounds like these five types are drawing lines, but they’re more informed.
Vanessa: And I should say, it’s really a spectrum. So when I teach this, you’ll see there’s actually kind of a spectrum in the book where you’re high or low, and you place yourself on the spectrum. So if you’re somewhere in the middle range, or medium high, or medium low, you’re pretty- you can kind of sway, you can kind of pick depending on who you’re with. And typically with your partners, for example, you will adapt to where they are, which is very helpful.
Corbett: Or your coworkers.
Vanessa: Or your coworkers, exactly. So it is a spectrum, it’s not lines.
Chase: Corbett, you’re not my coworker, you’re my partner.
Corbett: Well I was thinking-
Vanessa: Aww, cute.
Corbett: I was thinking of people that meant less to me, you know?
Chase: Like my wife?
Corbett: No, like literal coworkers, back in the day. Partners- that’s a whole different thing.
Chase: That’s a whole different thing.
Vanessa: There was a moment there.
Chase: It was a moment.
Vanessa: I liked it.
Corbett: So the trick, it sounds like to me though, is not just “Okay, I took this test, I know who I am, and I can imagine who I want my customers to be.” The trick is what do I do with that information?
Vanessa: Yes, it’s how do I indicate it? Right, so-
Chase: Well hold on. First and foremost, I just think that there’s a pause to be taken at just the awareness.
Chase: Cause just like we were saying before with the three different buckets on you’re not playing, JV, and you’re Varsity. To be able to be aware that “Oh yeah, you’re right, I’m not playing.” There’s a lot of people listening to the show right now who need to realize, like “Oh, I’m in the bleachers. I’m watching and I’m learning, and I’m not playing.” And in their mind for months they’ve been saying “I’m an entrepreneur.”, “I’m trying to be an entrepreneur.” Or something like that. And I think there’s just a level of awareness, and acceptance, and appreciation, of “Oh.” And then ownership of that, right? Allowing-
Vanessa: I need to be here.
Chase: Yeah, exactly, because-
Vanessa: You have to do that before you do JV.
Chase: Otherwise you’re just- it’s shame, it’s guilt, it’s all sorts of stuff, you know, which doesn’t- so in the similar with these traits things, it’s like “Oh my god, wow, i am a high conscientiousness.” And like you were saying before, one of the real practical things of that is don’t make these big promises up front for these high conscientiousness people. You’re providing the information, the data, the facts, the stories, the things that they need to go “Okay, there’s something here. What are you offering me, pal?” You know? So I don’t know. First and foremost, it just seems like there’s- all I do is call that out. That’s what I mean. Call that out as- identifying where you are might be a little bit of a “Woah, I didn’t’ know that about myself.”
Vanessa: There’s a lot there. You could spend a couple weeks journaling on just that, and I think you should because that will help. But when you get to, and you’ve processed it, and you’ve had the pause, when you’ve explored your own traits, then to turn it into sort of practical markers- indicators on your website, or your brand, or your materials, your pitch, your slide deck, all of these- and the personality traits should be framing every piece of your branding. Cause you want to indicate it to investors, to colleagues, to new hires, to readers, to buyers. Pick two or three that you want to indicate. I don’t think you actually have to indicate all five.
so for example, my most important ones that I try to indicate are high openness, I want them to take chances with me. Second is high conscientious. The reason for this, is because if you are low on conscientious, you’re going to be very frustrated by all my frameworks and formulas. Like, immediately.
Vanessa: Got my quizzes, exactly. And you’re going to ask for refunds more often. I’d rather indicate to you upfront there’s going to be a lot of frameworks.
Chase: I’m thinking about first of all, to restate what you said. Pick two or three to really signal to your audience.
Vanessa: Yes. Not all of them. The ones that really are like “Yes, my person is super low conscientious, they love big ideas, strategizing, they don’t want to be bogged down in the details.” So knowing that about those two to three, and then figuring out where is the most important part of my funnel, or my process, to indicate that? So for example, I mentioned refunds. So there’s lots of different leaky parts of your funnel, it could be conversions up front, it could be getting a freemium people to pay people, it could be paid people asking for refunds. So one of the problems that I wanted to address was this problem of people asking for refunds, which three years ago was a problem with our online courses, because online courses- it’s real easy to ask a refund if you want it, so when we looked at that, I was like, I think what’s happening is I’m looking at all the complaints that come with these refunds- very nice. And they’re like “It’s just so overwhelming. There’s so many steps, there’s so many videos, the work book is 90 pages.” As a complaint, and I went “wait a minute. That’s actually, for a conscientious person, a selling point.”
Vanessa: So I added in our landing page and our sales page, I reemphasized ‘A 90 page workbook!’ ‘15 exercises!’ ‘32 formulas!’ Because I knew then, if you don’t like that, you won’t buy it.
Chase: Well and at the same time, you’re going to appeal to the people that do want it even more.
Vanessa: And they love you for it.
Vanessa: Right, so I identified the leaky parts of that process, and when you need to indicate certain things.
Corbett: So then one other layer just to add to this, we’ve talked about figuring out who you are, who your customers are, what to do with that information and how to indicate, the third thing is, to me, if you’re working with a team, it’s not just expressing what you want as the entrepreneur, but what you represent as a company, right? So we probably, Chase and I are probably opposites on some of those things-
Vanessa: Cause you balance.
Corbett: Right, so we balance, so figuring out how to indicate those things and what we stand for as a company, I think a lot of the times when there are arguments between team members, it’s because you’re assuming that we are an organized, conscientious company and someone else is assuming we’re not.
Vanessa: Basically, the biggest miscommunications for teams is that everyone assumes The Golden Rule, which is “Treat others the way I want to be treated.” The Golden Rule does not work.
Corbett: It should be the opposite.
Vanessa: It should be “The Platinum Rule,” which is “Treat others the way they would want to be treated,” right? So it’s not just- if you just do it from your framework as a high conscientious person, you are baffled by people who have a disorganized desktop. So it’s about figuring out in your team A: whattya got? Right? And if you can, hire ideally. So for example, as a high neurotic, I cannot hire low neurotics. I am married to a low neurotic, who keeps me incredibly calm and stable and that is amazing, but I also need other high neurotics on my team because they worry for me. I’m able to export my worry for them and they do it for me.
Corbett: And you know that they’re gonna stay up at night, worried about this thing, and they’re gonna get it done.
Vanessa: Yes! Exactly. Now some people, like if I was gonna hire a sales person specifically, I would hire them as a low neurotic. Because I would want them to be able to push through and not worry and be my rock in the business. So you have to think about what are the rules and what emotional rules are at play behind that. If you’re a low, agreeable boss, do you want to hire other low, agreeable people? You might never get anything done.
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