Jake Van Buschbach 0:00
Hey everybody, my name is Jake from umbrella IT services and today I'm very excited to announce our guest, Michelle sorger. Rowley from transformation catalyst. Michelle is a business differentiation coach with over 30 years of experience in entrepreneurship. She's an ICF, Master certified coach, who helps her clients leverage their individuality to achieve new levels of success and fulfillment while expanding their impact in their field. I learned a lot from this conversation with Michelle. So without any further ado, let's jump into it. Michelle, thank you so much for coming on today and talking with us about business differentiation. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Michèle Soregaroli 0:35
Thank you, Jake. It's great to be here. And I'm delighted to have the opportunity. So Michelle sorger. Rowley, I am a master certified coach. I've been coaching for 16 years. And I work as a professional on differentiation strategies for businesses and professional services. That's kind of my professional bio, if you will. I'm also a mom of two older children who are both University and I've been married for almost 25 years this August. So next week, it'll be 25 years. That's awesome. Congratulations.
Jake Van Buschbach 1:07
Thank you and your husband is your business partner, correct?
Michèle Soregaroli 1:09
Yes, he is. We live together. We work together. We play together. Yeah. And we're still married 25 years.
Jake Van Buschbach 1:16
Good for you guys. That's awesome. Can you give me a good definition? Please like your definition of business differentiation? Because when we first initially discussed it, to me, it seemed very similar to branding and marketing. But the more you explain things to me, it really is its own thing. Do you want to break that down for the viewers?
Michèle Soregaroli 1:35
Yeah, I'd be happy to, because it's something that I think is often misunderstood and there are a lot of nuance nuances to the three different things. So as I see them, differentiation is really more of a coaching exercise. And the reason I say that is because differentiation is as I see it, the most powerful and valuable expression of your true self. Now what I mean by that is that when I say powerful, I mean that when you are Truly differentiated, you're playing in your power zone, you're playing in your uniqueness, you're playing into your strengths and all the things that you do really, really well. What I mean by valuable is it is valuable and contributes to making the world a better place and it is useful and desired by the market. So that's differentiation. Now that comes from an inner, an inner exploration, right? It's not something that you can put on per se, it starts on the inside, and then it's expressed out. When we talk about branding. On the other hand, branding is more of a strategy. It's basically a set of actions that you take to cultivate a certain perception of your company or your brand by the market. So you're trying to create a perception or an image of who you are, and you're trying to reinforce all of those things about your company. So that's a branding exercise from from my perspective, marketing, on the other hand is more about tactics. So marketing is the activities that you do to generate interesting crave attention and generate more sales and leads. And it's about building awareness, as opposed to the strategic side, which was branding, as I said, and then differentiation is the inner stuff that is then reflected out as an expression.
Jake Van Buschbach 3:15
Gotcha. So when you and your team are doing a lot of this coaching stuff, do you notice? Do you end up helping people with a lot of the marketing and a lot of the other stuff? Or do you strictly try to keep it to the coaching?
Michèle Soregaroli 3:26
Well, differentiation coaching, we strictly stick to the coaching first, because that sets the foundation and I don't want any clouding of the issues. But I don't want our clients to start thinking about how does this look and how do I create this and how do I package it because it makes that exploration messy. But that being said, once their differentiators are established, and they understand how they are most valuable in the marketplace. At that point, they can explore branding and marketing strategies. tactics, if you will. And sometimes that'll involve new messaging and marketing or branding experts. Sometimes it's new websites, new collateral new things. But that is a reflection of the work that we've done usually. And at that point, I'm often involved, but I'm not doing that work. Yeah, I'm helping to guide the process at times, depending on who they're working with,
Jake Van Buschbach 4:24
then that makes a lot of sense because doing a little bit digging into yourself and your team of transformation catalyst, it kind of seems like you're actually just helping people take off blindfolds and kind of realize things that they've been trying to keep hidden. In one of our previous conversations, you were letting me know that when people when you ask people, what is it that makes your company unique and different? They all usually say the same thing. But if you actually just let the person explain what they do, they all sound completely different and go in a different direction. So what what are some of the ways that you help your clients kind of find that inner voice and Find with their unique strengths are?
Michèle Soregaroli 5:02
Well, I think it might be best if I start with an example or a story. So
I'll talk about myself first. because years ago, back in my earlier career, I actually worked as a financial advisor and all my expertise is around financial, sorry, professional services. So any advice based business, the differentiation work that I do can work really, really well in advice based businesses. So I was a financial advisor in the early to late 90s, early 2000s. And I spent over 10 years in that industry. Now the fascinating thing that I found in that industry was working alongside so many other advisors, planners and brokers and whatnot. I knew them all individually, of course, and I knew little bits about their offer. And I understood what it was that was unique and different about them and what made their offer truly valuable and why They could bring themselves forth in a strong way that made their offer even better. So I could see that, except that when they were marketing themselves or branding themselves, they were more or less saying so much of the same thing. Things like I want to be your trusted advisor or we give great service or We've been in business 25 years or you know, we have a great financial portfolio management process or what have you. And I was just hearing the same thing over and over again. Anyway, I found that really curious. I didn't really do much with it at that time, but I found it really curious. Move forward a few years later, and I went into, I started thinking about what it was that was important to me, according to my value system. So when I moved into being an advisor, an advisor myself later in my career, at that point, I just leave into the one thing that I felt very strongly about now, this would have been in the late 90s. And I felt very strongly about what I call fee transparency or information arbitrage. So at that time, information arbitrage simply means that one party has more information than the other. And they will take advantage of that information to their own benefit, typically, right. So information arbitrage puts you as a buyer or an investor in that case, in a really uncomfortable and difficult position because you don't know everything you don't know the industry as well as your advisor does, right. So the one thing I wanted to do was put us on the same playing field. So I started out my entire business from the ground up. Every client I spoke to I explained how I got paid. I explained the different fee structures that went with the different products that we sold that went through the different bonuses that I received, depending on what I sold, and how I was compensated and how I was pressured to be so called independent but not because there were pressures from head office wanting me to do certain things right to sell certain products. So by doing that, my peers all thought I was completely nuts. Because that was well before transparency of fees was a thing and financial services nowadays with CRM to and whatnot. But at that time, nobody talked about us. I did. And it worked beautifully. Because the first thing that happened was I built trust. Yeah. So I was leaving into a value of my own because I was uncomfortable with their feeling like we would have been, I would have an advantage. And I didn't want for a second for my clients to think that the advice that I was giving them had an internal bias that they weren't aware of. So I would my fees, tell them how it was paid. And then I would say to them, so now when I'm advising you or providing you with some recommendations, you can question the If you think that my compensation, or the pressure that I'm receiving from external forces might be at play in this advice, so I invited that challenge at any point. So that was a key differentiator in my work. And it worked beautifully. I, you know, I had great success with that strategy and clients became very loyal and generated lots of referrals, because they trusted that I was being truthful and forthright with them.
Jake Van Buschbach 9:29
That makes a lot of sense. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I actually have a very similar story with the way that I started this company. I was overly transparent, like people would be asking me Okay, what's, what's going on with this? What's going on with this invoice and I had a lot of early clients take advantage of it because, again, I was very, very young as 1920 years old. I didn't know a lot about negotiating, working with these larger corporations like HBO and Scotiabank. It was very easy for them to get low cost services out of me. But on the other flip side is I was able to go from taking In a couple of phone repairs off of Craigslist to having over 1000 residential clients and over 50 different full time businesses in the span of five years. So relation, thank you. Thank you very much. But I'm very refreshed to hear you say the transparency and honesty were some of the values that you brought to the table because I've noticed a similar sort of issue going on in the IoT space where a lot of clients that we end up taking over from other companies, they just assume it is black magic, and there isn't that transparency, or the breakdown of what's going on. That's why I'm so heavily focused on education. So, so far, I understand that education is one of the differentiators that we have. What are some of the more common differentiators that you're finding across the different professional industries that you're working? Oh,
Michèle Soregaroli 10:46
gosh, you know what, they're, they're so different. I have, that's what I love about what I do, because each The thing about differentiation when it's done right and when it's done from truly authentic place with the advice provider or the business leader. Those those leaders have so many things inside of them that are really important or deeply valuable to them. Things that they would not compromise on things that are, are really part of the value proposition they want to bring forward. And what I find more and more is that they're reluctant. I hear so many things like, Oh, I can't say that. Or if I did that I would lose clients, or, Well, yeah, but that wouldn't even sell or that sounds too fluffy would nobody would care about that. So there's a lot of resistance to bringing forward some of the things that are most meaningful to us. Some of the things that really, really matter to us. And so what happens with differentiation is when we can take that thing that is most meaningful, and the thing that makes you feel most valuable as well. Right? When we can take that and turn that into value to the market, and help you see as a business owner that when you've got the right clients and you have the right fit, they also value that as well. Yeah. And they deeply, there's there is an immense amount of courage required to kind of step out and say some things that are quite different and unusual. You know, I had a client now several years ago, but this particular client was in the insurance industry. And he is he's also a master of meditation and mindfulness practices were really, really important to him
Jake Van Buschbach 12:39
Michèle Soregaroli 12:41
And this insurance advisor was not talking about that at all. Right wasn't present. So when we started talking about I said, Where is this in your business like where does this show up in your business? This it's so important to he said, Oh, no, no, no, you know, it doesn't businesses business and home is home. Life is life kind of thing. Yeah. And I said, I said, You know what? I think that there's room for that. So, trends, we go through our process and we ask lots of questions. And all this got revealed. Six years later, his entire business has been built on mindfulness and meditation philosophies around life insurance. That's amazing. And his business has taken off. He's just talking to the other days, had his best year yet, six years, and he's got a much larger team. He's absolutely on fire, totally excited and thrilled and happy, because he gets to bring all of himself into his work.
Jake Van Buschbach 13:37
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense that you reminded me of a book I'm actually reading right now it's about workaholism. And it was saying that one of the biggest challenges that a lot of people have is accepting the fact that they've actually segmented their life into different sections like you said, and you have the work you and you have the real you and you have the family, you and you have the brother, you and all these other variations and The more you can start to align those things, the more you get into, I guess what you would call the zone. And then you just start rolling and and just, you just get rocket packs on your back. So very interesting to hear you say that.
Michèle Soregaroli 14:15
It's risky. It's scary, because you know, first, the first thing that I the general resistance is around things like I'm going to lose clients Mm hmm. Or it will affect our brand, it will affect our reputation reputation in a negative way. And without exception, I have never yet had a client where their brand and their reputation has been affected in a negative way. Because ultimately, the clients that are not a fit, and the networks that they play with in that sandbox are not a fit, they find a new sandbox, they find clients that are better aligned, they have supporters and advocates who are excited about their value proposition and their work and their principles, the values, the things that they are that are important to them, and it just turns into Fire. Like, it's amazing to watch it and it just just gives me such great joy. I just love what I do, because you can turn a business around in as little as a year. That's a man. Yeah, it's quick you what happens is, in the first six months or so, it's a deep dive exploration of the really good stuff, the stuff that sets the foundation. Right? That's where we start. And there's, there is some follow through in terms of action, but what I'm looking for most is reflection and what is really true for you and what is really important for you, and I'm really good at asking those questions. Jake. So which is why I say it's a coaching issue.
Jake Van Buschbach 15:39
Yeah. So you're the Morpheus of coaches. After that
Michèle Soregaroli 15:42
six months, then you you're starting to try on a little bit of stuff, but then that next six to 12 months. That's when you start prototyping and experimenting and really getting into this innovative action on this new stuff, right? in that space of time, it doesn't take very long before you start getting some pretty powerful rewards. Without almost without exception, I can't say without but almost without exception, the I have seen countless clients with an increase in referrals within sometimes weeks. It is remarkable what can shift when you are able to articulate what's important to you why it's important to how you plan to deliver value, how your clients can benefit from that. It's just phenomenal.
Jake Van Buschbach 16:31
That makes a lot of sense. I've seen a lot of people kind of go through similar thing, especially as a younger guy. My old marketer said that you got to let your star shine, and you're gonna attract the people that you're meant to attract based on based on that those vibrations. She's a little bit more into the spirituality stuff than I am, but I think it lines up a lot with what you're saying as well as a conversation I had yesterday with IRA Thompson from Northshore digital about Google AdWords actually. You He was mentioning that a lot of his clients very much struggle with what you're talking about where he'll ask them, what are we going to talk about? What's unique about your business? What are we going to do to bring people in? And they go, Well, we do good service.
Michèle Soregaroli 17:11
Yeah. Okay. Well, you know, what? They don't know. And I see that right. This is what I deal with every day. Yeah. And they tell me what they think makes them unique and different. And it's not not anybody's fault. We all have trouble seeing ourselves. We tend to discount the things that are easy for us, we tend to discount the things that are important to us, because we're so busy being in service of the market. Exactly. Right. So we don't really pay attention to those things. It's very, very hard to pull that out. And I would suggest that the majority of my clients, if not all of them, would say that they would not have been able to do it on their own.
Jake Van Buschbach 17:48
Yeah, hundred percent. Yeah. And to reaffirm what you just said about, you may lose some clients you may I think the word transition is the best word for after speaking with yourself. And IRA now, Ira was saying that once people start to acknowledge a small sliver of what makes them unique, and again, he's a marketer, right? It's not his job to do what you're doing, it's much more beneficial for you to go get the foundation built with you. But once they do that, he was saying their recruiting gets better. All of the clients that they're getting are better and you're getting a smaller part of the pool. But it's like a VIP section. Now, instead of being in this entire pool, and you've got the grandmas and the babies, and the teenagers going nuts, it's just you and your selected crowd. And again, as you mentioned, you're just you're all on the same vibe, you're all lifting each other up. And it becomes a very good synergistic relationship between the clients, the employees and the business owner, based off of the differentiating factors, which are what is helping the CEO get out of bed every morning. So absolutely, yeah, very interesting.
Michèle Soregaroli 18:52
The other and you've touched on a really good point, because when you differentiate well, right, and this is why it's not necessarily A branding or marketing exercise, when you decide to differentiate? Well, it starts on the inside. Yeah. So the way that your company performs, as I say, you know, if I pull back the curtain, and I go into the inner workings, and I talk to your staff or I look at the way your office is organized, will it proved to me that your differentiators are authentic? Right? So how people behave on the inside behind the curtain is the greatest indication of whether or not your company is truly differentiated or whether it's just exercising a marketing initiative.
Jake Van Buschbach 19:35
Yeah, whether you're wearing a mask to meet the market or are actually being genuine.
Michèle Soregaroli 19:40
So you can be beautifully branded and still have an inauthentic experience, right? Because the branding is again about building perception. And then as you create that for the market, you want people to have a gut feeling around your their experience with company, right. So that post if you will, yeah. Right, on a stage, but behind if you open up the curtain and you kind of pull back and go does the brand, if you will, would your employees still talk that way? And would all the inner workings of the company operate in that way?
Jake Van Buschbach 20:14
Yeah, right. And I think also having that genuine parallel between yourself and your employees just to speak internally as well is so important because I've had members of my team that are no longer with us that didn't share the same values that we had. And it it, you can tell mentally, that something is off because they're not being genuine. They're filtering something. And as just a again, my job is to hire people and help people do what they need to do and put people in the correct positions. I can feel the friction between certain people, but we have other folks that have worked with us and then moved on, that still do contracting work with us. And it's just a pleasure to work with them because we don't even have to really we go over the details. We go over all the client things we go over all the technical Details. But on a emotional and communication level, things just flow like water because it's the exact same values driving us. And if I didn't express those values initially, it just wouldn't work out when I actually asked people while we're interviewing them, what are your four top values? And what are some goals you want to accomplish over the next two years that we could help you accomplish? And a lot of people are shocked when they see us ask those questions. But I'm sure that you and your team would be able to do a lot more and bring a lot more questions to the table there. What What does the the process usually look like when you're getting started with one of your clients?
Michèle Soregaroli 21:37
Um, well initially, we start out with I just do some deep dive questions. And what I'm looking for at the starting point is key themes. So what I don't like to get into too much detail too early on, because I'm a very big picture. I'm a very big thinker and a very big picture thinker. So I want to make sure that we start with the big umbrella and then we distill there. Yeah. So the themes are about, you know, how do you uniquely solve problems? And how do you and then how does that create value? Those are usually the two themes that I'm looking for around when you uniquely approach a problem, and you you create value through your solution, what does it look like? And then the third part is that that I'm wanting to know is, and was that important? What Why do you care about that particular approach? If you take that approach? Why do you choose to take that approach? Right, there's usually an underlying reason there. So I like to start with that piece first. And then from there, we get into what I call commitments or promises. So what I want there is delivering on the things that are truly important to you. So this is why again, differentiation, the exercise of coaching through it is an inside job, because I'm actually not that interested in what the clients want, yet. Not right. I really want to know what you want to do. Right. What do you want to do for your clients? That is really important to you? Because it's important to you. Yeah, right. So those commitments, then you can really deliver something that is sincere and authentic that you are proud of, and that you're 100% behind. Right? Then we look at things like guiding principles. And the reason I'm looking at principles or philosophies is because the philosophies that you have or the beliefs that you have, will determine or inform your actions. So I want to understand if you do that thing, if you have if you act that way, what's underneath that? What's the belief that's creating that action? Yeah, right. And when we can start to dig into this, what happens is, with each level, they get like the iceberg, right? They get clearer and clearer and clearer. Yeah. And what I do in each of those exercises is help our clients see with with so much clarity, because Cuz I don't take the first answer with a second or third.
Unknown Speaker 24:04
It takes a long time, because I keep poking and poking and poking you might be a little inconsistent or this is what I heard. Is that what you meant?
Unknown Speaker 24:12
Yeah. Oh, no, no, that's not what I meant at all.
Jake Van Buschbach 24:15
I can definitely see why this would take a year, just to even peel back some of the layers that people have set up. And getting those ideas implemented, and then accepted by a lot of staff and accepted by clients. Yeah, absolutely.
Michèle Soregaroli 24:32
It's a beautiful and gentle process. Yeah, that's the thing I love about it. Right. Right. Right. After we do all of that then one of the the key thing that really anchors it all is I go back to big picture. And now I'm like, Okay, let's talk about purpose. Yeah, we understand what you're all about. Now, let's talk about what you care about. Right? And so from there, once they have a really big purpose, and they understand what their bigger intention is, and again, I'm not I'm not looking for worldwide Change your world domination it can be. It can be that their purpose can be very, very small and scale. And that's totally fine with me. It doesn't matter to me what their purpose is. It just matters to me that they know what it is.
Jake Van Buschbach 25:11
Michèle Soregaroli 25:12
And then from there, we talk about strategies, and we get into the 20, what I call the 20 year game plan. So anything that I do is the work that I do around the differentiators. What I tell them if they meters is that you can actually transport these same differentiators to a different business to a different industry, across channels, right? It is not meant to last two, three years. It's meant to last you 25 years. And it's meant to carry you every moment of every day, no matter what industry or what business you're in. So it really helps the individual, the entrepreneur, the leader, the founder of the company, understand what is at the essence or the Heart of what they do day in and day out, and it helps them lead with such clarity.
Jake Van Buschbach 26:06
That makes a lot of sense. I was gonna say that you probably helping a lot of people avoid getting hit by a midlife crisis because some of them get
Unknown Speaker 26:14
out of midlife crisis.
Jake Van Buschbach 26:15
Yeah, yeah, exactly. 100% Yeah. Because I can imagine that there's a lot of people again, that like they have their personal life, they have their their family life, they have their their career life, and they've been lying to themselves about more than one area. And I know that you're very clearly focused on their career aspect. But I think when you help people start that journey, they're going to be subconsciously starting to analyze things going, why, why was I late for my kids recital? Why, why didn't I take my wife out last week, you know, I mean, all these little things, and they're gonna start going, is this really my value or have I just been telling myself that this is my value, and as they start to discover these things, I can see somebody going from like you said, if you have an IT company, and then all of a sudden you want to sell that and get into a different profession or If you're just doing something with the family, those values are gonna be in the back of your head at all times. I've recently started trying to do that a lot of mindfulness stuff and writing out my values. And I really, really appreciate the fact that what you're saying as well is that you like to segment it. And you kind of like to keep people focused on what they need to work on at that moment in time. Because, again, someone like myself, I'm struggling a lot, doing what you're actually helping your clients with. Because I keep jumping ahead. Am I okay? Well, I need to write this down and get this down, becomes a scattered, overwhelming mess. What are some of the ways that you kind of help people stay grounded and help them kind of accept the fact that they've got this tremendous amount of mental internal work to do?
Michèle Soregaroli 27:45
Oh, that part's easy, actually, because I don't expect anything more than what they can do. Hmm. And I recognize because my clients are small businesses, they're, you know, revenues are in the million to $10 million mark teams are somewhere between five and 20 typically so quite small which I love because I like working with speedboats. But what I tell them is, look, you've got a you've got a very busy business and a very busy life, usually with families Not always. And so I try to make it very bite sized bits. Right. My one of my core mottos is small steps climb mountains. Just don't stop. Yeah. Right. So small steps over time. So we do little bits. And so why this is why coaching is such a beautiful way to draw this out. Because six months from today, I can guarantee you that not only will you know who you are, what you stand for and what you're all about. You'll know your differentiators. You'll how you'll be able to articulate them, you will understand how to share them with your team. And six months from today, you are set for the next 30 years. Yeah. And then it's really about refining and being in action right then you get into strategy and tactics. But once you've set that foundation, you don't have set it again. You're done. Yeah, I have clients who've got the this blueprint, we call it because that's the core. I've got clients who've got a 10 year old blueprint. And they've told me that it still serves them. And it's still true 10 years later,
Jake Van Buschbach 29:16
that makes complete sense to me. I can imagine. Again, this is a life changing sort of program for a lot of people because they're realizing what's real to them after decades or years of lying to themselves saying, well, the public wants me to do this, I should be like this because I think other people want this. And then most of the time, it's an empty promise because they don't even know what other people expect about them. They don't know what their clients really want. But when you can be transparent with people and be honest with them, I've learned that people will tell you a tremendous amount of information about themselves. And by having those conversations with people. You learn about a lot about yourself at the same time. And again, having somebody that's able to take that information and use in a practical way to fuel the growth of a business, like you said, like a speedboat. I think that's absolutely invaluable. So I'm very glad you're here on with us today to talk about this stuff. Thank you.
Michèle Soregaroli 30:11
Yeah, the thing about it's interesting, it's,
you know, most people are trying to do good work. And that's, that's the thing that it breaks my heart. And that's why I do what I do. Because most of us are trying to do good work. We're trying to be really good entrepreneurs, we're trying to be good and valuable to our clients we're trying to lead Well, most of us are trying to do good work. And when we are torn inside with what we think is right, or what we think we should do, or sometimes we're just not investing enough reflection time to know what we stand for. That stuff is it's relatively easy to fix. And then it's and then it's more about the courageous implementation of that and the follow through of that, right. And so sometimes when we open up That horizon and release that it's, it's truly amazing to watch it. Because people sometimes don't have that awareness. They just don't even know yet right? The same reason that articulate, you put 100 financial advisors on a stage and you ask them all what their differentiators are, and you're gonna get at best 20 different answers. Mm hmm. Right, you're not gonna get very many.
It's just they don't know. They can't figure it out.
Jake Van Buschbach 31:28
Yeah. Since since what you're doing is it reaches people at such a fundamental level. Has technology affected what you're doing it all in any way as the digital age accelerated things I can imagine it would make the pressure on the clients to try to conform to be even worse than it would have been when you originally started this now with all the social media and LinkedIn and everyone's got to say the same thing at the right time and all this kind of stuff. Have you noticed a big change in since the digital age and social media has come into the picture
Michèle Soregaroli 32:01
In terms of clients?
That's an interesting question. I haven't noticed. Yes, I've noticed a change in terms of how to
put their messaging out into market in a sense because of social media and online options. Now there's more and more of that it used to be just a website. Well, it didn't it used to be a brochure, paper brochure.
the fundamental problem is still the same. Right? It's so there are lots of lots more shiny distractions out there. Yeah. Lots more opportunities to, to take yourself off point, if you will. But that problem has always been the case for as long as I mean, I started my first entrepreneurial venture 10 years old, so nothing has changed in all those years. It's still there's still tons of distractions, there's still different ways to do the same thing, different opportunities and what what the entrepreneur has to get very Very good at is distilling and filtering out all the noise. Right. And so when they are very clear on decor things in their business and the value proposition that they want to deliver, and what makes them unique, as soon as they're clear on that a lot of it just naturally falls off because it doesn't make sense. It's not the right. It's not the right playground, it's not the right platform, it's not the right way to engage, you know, it gets a lot easier to make those decisions, but that from so has it changed? Yes, in the sense that there are more choices hasn't changed in terms of how the entrepreneur is dealing with it? No, because they're still scattered, and they still can't make decisions. Yeah. And it was the same 30 years ago. So
I don't know if that answers your question. But
Jake Van Buschbach 33:48
yeah, it does. It's very reminiscent of what Steve Jobs says actually, which is the hardest thing you have to do as a CEO is learning to say no. And it's very much like I believe Warren Buffett's the same thing. It's you To say no to people and to say no to these projects, and you might have a fantastic idea, but you've got to say no to it. I think Warren Buffett said right out right out the top 25 projects that you want to accomplish in your life, and then you scratch off the bottom 20 and you treat them like a virus and you stay as far away from them as possible. And you work incredibly hard on those five main priorities that you have. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Michèle Soregaroli 34:25
And that's another approach that I take with clients. It's very similar. I just say, you know, one thing at a time, you if you try to take on too much, it's dilutes all your energy and you get nowhere. Mm hmm.
Jake Van Buschbach 34:36
So, that makes a lot of sense. When you when you have this whole COVID situation going on as well. has this affected anything for you at all? Because I would imagine that, now that we've been talking about this in more detail, it's actually even better for people because I've seen so much of this corporatization going on and a lot of these small businesses are starting to get kind of squeezed by a lot of the regulations that are going on and so Something that seems to be helping my business is the fact that when I'm talking to people, I'm incredibly transparent about things. And the people that I'm interviewing with or that we're doing discovery meetings for, they seem to really appreciate that in a time where all of these corporations are the only option like I can't go down the street anymore to the hardware store that a couple blocks from my house, I have to go to Home Depot. A lot of the butchers that I was going to are now gone and I now have to go to Costco. So anytime I meet someone like yourself or the other small business owners, I'm interviewing, I get very, I just like it a lot. I get excited to talk to people like yourself because you have that passion. And I think that what you're doing, especially during the time of COVID would make it even easier for people to highlight their passion and what makes them unique. Have you noticed a change at all since the COVID situation started about four months ago?
Michèle Soregaroli 35:54
Oh, well, there's definitely opportunity for sure. The the change that I've seen is coming twofold there is opportunity as you've already highlighted, the bigger risk right now is when the small businesses are experiencing a crunch or they're experiencing downturn in revenues or what have you. This is when they start to compromise, right? Fear creates that compromising on things like values and all that they've set up over the last many years or short term, however long they've been in business. The risk in doing that is that as soon as we come out of COVID, they've breached the trust of their followers. Right. So the integrity in the differentiation is very much about integrity. Right? Because that's what trust if you carry, carry who you are and your values through the good times in the bad times, then people will trust you that much more. If you're carrying the good times. This is the interesting thing about consumers which is why our clients are so skeptical because this has happened to them so many times in the last week. Whatever years through history really, in the good times, it's easy to look good. It's easy to act good. It's easy to be generous, and it's easy to align with the things that you say are important to you. But the minute things get tough, it's very common for us to start compromising on those things in the interest of survival, right? And consumers, our clients are watching. Right? They're paying attention. And so then they wonder you were there for me during the good times, are you here for me during the bad times? And if you're not, that is what creates consumer skepticism, right? Because they see that you're doing different things, or you're not acting the same way as you were when times were good. Yeah, you're not treating them the same way. So that is the biggest risk that I see in all of this quite apart from revenue loss and all the other things that COVID we don't need to get into what COVID has done for some of the smaller businesses. In terms of opportunity, though, for those smaller Businesses that can, if they can really what I'm encouraging is for them to even ramp up, ramp up in a bigger way, show how committed they are to being valuable and really delivering an exceptional offer to the market. And when they do that effectively at a time like this Holy mackerel, does it stand out? Yeah. Right. So it's really a time to hunker down. And that's the opportunity because we notice as clients we notice and guess what we get to do. When we're a client of that business. We get to brag about that business. You don't get to share how fortunate we are to have learned about this business to be working with this business to have this supplier what have you, right, and it causes us to bring the good stories up. We bubble up about those good stories at times like this.
Jake Van Buschbach 38:49
Yeah, I couldn't agree more with you. We've had a lot of people just say thank God, we had you guys on our team. You guys got to set up so quickly. You were so prepared for us to be able to move over you were so flexible We've our contracts with clients usually say five o'clock or six o'clock or seven o'clock, we're done. And we were working with some clients until one two in the morning, get everybody set up remotely. And it was just something I was happy to do for people at no charge. And just, you know, you got to be there for your people. And you got to be there for your team. And a lot of the guys now they're saying, Well, you know, I don't really want to come and work in from the office, can I just work from home and if anything, as a business owner, I've noticed that they've improved working remotely. So again, genuinely speaking, my values are my team has to be happy. And if they're doing their job better than before, and they're happier and they're more comfortable. Why would Why would I want to keep this kind of sanitized corporate rule in place where it's you have to come in, you have to work nine to five, you have to do it. When Truly speaking, I don't care. You know, I care that when my clients call the phone gets picked up, and just by sticking to those values during this time, I think like you said people are able to pick up and go Okay, we We want this guy on our corner during this situation next time. And if they were to call me and I were to be disingenuous when they're stressed out, and I'm stressed out, they would pick up on that even more and say, I don't think I can trust him anymore. Something's off. And I think literally now that stack up.
Michèle Soregaroli 40:17
Yeah, they do. We know, we know. And we can intuitively read that right. And so that's that's the opportunity for businesses now is to really show up and bring that integrity even make it even louder. In other words,
Jake Van Buschbach 40:30
that makes a lot of sense.
Michèle Soregaroli 40:31
Yeah, get bigger with it. Yes, it will serve you well.
Jake Van Buschbach 40:35
What are some of the mistakes that you see people making while they try to differentiate themselves or differentiate their business?
Michèle Soregaroli 40:42
biggest one, Jake is lack of patience, lack of patience with the process. So in the fast paced world in which we live,
entrepreneurs have learned to expect faster results and when you're doing with people, it doesn't work that way. People don't change that fast, right transformation doesn't happen that fast. And when you're looking to transform your business, as I see it, I'd started to talk about this a little earlier. But you've got six months of setting the foundation. And then at that point, you've started to integrate it, but you haven't completely adopted it and fully committed, you're, you're in but it's still a little uncomfortable, and you still try to start trying it on. The next 12 months or so, is when you're kind of in a period of innovation, experimenting, pilot programs, prototyping, trying new things, exploring right, and seeing what's really sticking and what's really working. And that's the time when you're what I would call practicing. Right? The next 18 months is where the hockey stick starts to happen, right? It's that that tip of the hockey stick where that's when Things start to click, because guess what your clients have been watching you for 18 months, right? They've been paying attention to a little bit that you were doing internally, six months, because you're telling them stuff, then you're going out and doing stuff for the next 12 months or so. And the next, then they've been watching you. And then so as you start to refine, and that next 18 months, that's when you're refining and honing and really focusing and really committing to certain things that really work that land and resonate with you as a company and with your clients as well. So your value proposition just gets stronger and stronger and stronger. And that 18 months, three years in your business is just rocking, right? So the average cycle is roughly three months to significant transformation. But what I find is, when I say we need to spend six months on the foundation, you're like, Oh, my gosh, this happened a lot. Can we do it faster, I'm like, I can go as fast as you want to go. And so we accelerate the process and literally within Six weeks I like to slow down. Yeah, that is way too fast. Because there's a period of adoption, integration and bodying kind of sitting with it. People need time. So that would be the one thing, whether it's an initiative, a project, an experiment. One of my best examples of this is when social media was really, you know, 10 years ago, when people were starting to explore it. Countless entrepreneurs, right, they would open a Twitter account, try it on, see how it went. And then three months later, it didn't work. We just quit. We got no results. You know, three months on, Twitter's not going to do it. You're going to need a lot longer than three months for your market to trust you that you're there permanently, every day. Yeah, for them, right. It takes time for the market to trust that you're being sincere and you're not just marketing to them.
Jake Van Buschbach 43:52
Oh, yeah. Hundred percent,
Michèle Soregaroli 43:53
right. Yeah. So this is where I see the biggest challenge is that they're expecting too much too soon. Soon. And when the clients that I work with when they recognize that it's just a pace, small steps, climb mountains, be consistent, be disciplined with it, keep showing up. And I promise you, the market will reward you. And they always do. So when when you are able to stick with the plan and just keep going it Wait, even when you're not getting results when you're not getting the feedback when you're not getting the rewards that you're expecting. Right. You're getting some but you're not necessarily getting the acceleration that you expect. Yeah, that doesn't happen for a good 18 months.
Jake Van Buschbach 44:33
Yeah. So just slow down and be patient, make sure you understand what you're doing. Has the peredo principle come into play at all with what you're doing the 8020 rule. So let's say that, again, 20% of the person's value structure is what's doing 80% of the heavy lifting inside of their business. Have you noticed that happens at all if they write out let's say five of their core values, but only one of them is really benefiting the business and then some of them may even be detrimental. Have you seen that at all?
Michèle Soregaroli 45:01
Well, I don't work with core values per se. So what I do is the work that I do is actually taking their core values and giving them action. I like to see core values in action. So all the work I do is around that. But no, I would not say that if only one of your core values has traction, and the others don't. There's something weird about that. Yeah, I'm not saying that at all. So core values, and the basic themes and the things that you stand for what I think is that they should all be in sync. So what I say is in, for example, in a client engagement, let's say you have five core values in your example, right? If you have five core values, if you've got in your client engagement, if only one of those core values is actually being honored in a reciprocal kind of way, and four of them are not being honored. Your tables gonna fall Over Yeah, right, it won't stand. So usually what I talk about is that you need them all to be supporting the core values are like a table. And in your case, your table would have five legs. Yeah. Right. And all five of those legs need to be fully and completely engaged or your table is lopsided. Right, that makes it a little off kilter. So it's just a weak point. It's a weak point in your offer. It's a weak point in your internal structure. It's a weak point in your leadership. It's a weak point in your team. It's just a weak point. So what I like to see is that your core your core stuff, is is never compromised on. And then that turns into your differentiators and your value proposition as you're delivering. Right? So that's how I would see it.
Jake Van Buschbach 46:54
That makes sense. How would you recommend that people kind of put their best foot forward before they start working with someone like yourself, so let's say that somebody is at the level where my business is out, let's say, because I probably wouldn't be at the same revenue stream that I would need to be at, I wouldn't have the amount of growth that's going on that I need. But the things that you're talking about, I'm actually already starting to chase after just by accident. But so I've already kind of started this foundational value thing and a couple of these other discussions that we've had so far. But is there anything specific that you would recommend people kind of do as a prep work before they reach out to yourself and transformation catalyst?
Michèle Soregaroli 47:38
No, it's there's no prep work, per se. But if you're trying to do a little bit of work on your own, I think is the question. Let me give you an example of myself. So the kind of prep work you can do as in an advice based business where you are a service based business, right. Here's an example. So I became a coach. In 2004, I got certified. And I realized very quickly that I didn't want to be a life coach. So I knew I wanted to be a business coach, because I love business and I love entrepreneurs. So very quickly, I was able to distill that I wanted to work with entrepreneurs, and I wanted to work in business. Great. So then I just tilted a little further and I thought, okay, you know, what? The business that I've known my entire life, because I grew up in the environment and ever since it's been professional services in one form or another. So I've been involved and I know professional services inside out, particularly finance, real estate law. I know those industries really, really well insurance as well. So I thought okay, so professional services is where I can really add most value because I understand it. Then I just started distilling and I got into coaching more and more and, of course back then in 2004 2005, even when the 2007 coaching was really about accountability. So this is a really critical example of how differentiation can work effectively. So, accountability is how the coaching industry first started helping you be accountable to your desires and your intentions, right? Wow. I'm not really very good at holding people accountable. I never have been good at people. I've got to, you know, children 18 to 20 years old, and I've never hold them accountable ever for doing their homework ever at all, ever. It's not something I like to do. I don't want to do it. And so clients were asking me to hold them accountable. I was like, Hmm, okay, I don't want to do that. And not only do I not want to do it, I'm also really bad at it. Not good at the whole accountability thing. So I had to really think about that. And this is where your differentiators start to come up. Right? Because for me that was bubbling up. Yeah. So what I thought about was I thought, you know what, the reason I don't want to hold people accountable is because I don't want to be a nag. And I also don't want them to depend on me to perform. Right? Because that doesn't work. Yeah. So I thought instead of being accountable to me, why don't we find things that you're accountable to yourself for because they're that important to you, and you're inspired by them? And then you're far more likely to perform on your own, you know, need me for that. Right, then it's more fun for both of us. holding people accountable. Right. Yeah. So, so those are that's an example. So ever since then, and it was early on. Like I said, I think it was around 2006 2007. Very quickly. I was like this accountable accountability things not working for me. So I'm very clear with any client today who comes and says, I'm coming to you because I really think I need you to hold me accountable.
Yeah, absolutely. got the wrong coach. Yeah.
No, I can. I'm not good at it.
Jake Van Buschbach 50:45
To be honest with you. It sounds like they found the right coach, because I have a lot of friends of mine as well, like you said with the accountability thing. I think that that mindset of I need you to hold me accountable. That's like a very foundational pillar that needs to be adjusted for someone to be an independent adult. Like if you can't even hold yourself accountable. How are you supposed to do anything in life? I over the last four weeks here, I think I've lost about 18 pounds. And I'm not. Yeah, thank you. It's just the covid 18. But, yeah, so I didn't do that by having my friend call me every morning going, Hey, man, 630 you go for your run yet? Hey, buddy. Maybe you shouldn't have that McDonald's. You know what I mean? It's me going, Okay, I'm gonna sit here at my desk. I'm gonna eat broccoli as a snack and drink my two liters of water. Yeah, that's it. That's just me holding myself accountable. And if I had a vendor, or a business partner or anyone else, and I went to them and said, Hey, buddy, I really am excited about this project, but I'm gonna need you to nag me every day to make sure I don't fall off this wagon. That's not gonna work.
Unknown Speaker 51:50
Well, it doesn't sound like you're very excited.
Jake Van Buschbach 51:52
Yeah, exactly. So if I was gonna come to you for your services, and I said, Hey, are you gonna hold me accountable with this and that that would be the first thing in your position, I would say, okay, we need to address this first off and figure out, like you said, What is it that's getting you out of bed in the morning? Let's hold you accountable using those things as a motivator. I think that's an awesome thing that you're doing for people.
Unknown Speaker 52:12
Yeah, well, it's way more fun. Yeah, hundred percent. And I know it works, because I've got two kids who I've never held accountable for anything. And they're both so far tracking fine.
Jake Van Buschbach 52:21
That's great. That's great. So
Michèle Soregaroli 52:23
yeah. But yeah, that's so that's an example right of and so it's what you might see as we were talking about earlier, is had I been fearful of communicating that because of course, coaching was built on accountability. I would write I would not be able to develop the business that I have today. Right? Because the fear is that if I say I am not going to hold you accountable as a client, my the fear could be that that client could walk up and say I need an accountability partner. And guess what? That's totally okay. Yeah. Because I have no business holding you accountable because I'm so bad at it. You're better by somebody else anyway.
Jake Van Buschbach 53:01
Yeah, if you're looking for that kind of things, and in my position, I would go, why did this professional turn me away? And then I would go, oh, because this is my problem. And then I would think about it and go, Okay, I need to be able to hold myself accountable, then I can work with someone as successful as Michelle is. And I think that that it like you said, it's the short term fear thing. If you can avoid having a reactionary mindset to short term fear, you're going to unlock a lot of different potential inside of yourself. And that's, that's why I'm not really surprised to hear that your program isn't only going to affect people for professionally,
Michèle Soregaroli 53:37
right? Oh, yeah, we cover a lot of personal ground as well. But even my client, like I mentioned earlier, the insurance advisor who ended up having a practice based in mindfulness meditation, right. I mean, in life insurance is one of the oldest most traditional businesses on the planet. Right. And it was it was challenging to enter into that world where he was well regarded. And had a ton of expertise and history in the industry, and to come forward into transition his business towards that it was difficult and it took some courage. And he found, as I mentioned that that when he leaned in, it only need you only need a little bit of feedback. Yeah, right. You only need a few people to go, that's fantastic. I'm with you. Can I join you in your sandbox? Right, I'm alongside. And that can fuel more. And as you get more and more positive feedback and ignore the naysayers who are saying, Are you completely crazy, right? and ignore them? That's okay. Because they're not your people anyway, just like for In my case, the clients who choose as I say, if you want to be held accountable, why don't we find something important for you that you can hold yourself accountable to right? Yeah. And if that resonates, then we get to go and have a ton of fun together. Absolutely. And I get to attract a whole bunch of people who want to have that kind of fun together who want that kind of coaching. relationship you want that kind of life for themselves? Yeah, that gets really, really great for me. But someone else might not enjoy that maybe they actually are really good at holding people accountable. And that's their thing. And I think that's fantastic, because some people need that. And that's okay.
Jake Van Buschbach 55:13
Yeah, hundred percent. I totally agree with that. I was actually having a very similar discussion this weekend with someone just saying that the more people you can have in your corner that share in my opinion, it's a growth mindset. That's one of the most important things for me, especially again, being a younger guy. There's a lot of people that are fine hitting their prime in high school or in their last college year, and I'm definitely not one of those people I want to be just, I remember I used to annoy people, because I have so many questions. And I'm always gonna be like that. And now I've accepted it and I know when to harsh a little bit. But having a little platform like this where I can ask people like yourself questions is absolutely fantastic. But having a group of people that you vibe with, and you share those core values with whatever they may be. Everyone gets lifted up in And my experience. So to get away from the individual business owner really quickly, when you're working with them in the next phase like the 18 months following. Do you equip them with any tools to kind of empower their team to function the same way as they've gone through? Or what do you usually do when they're working with their teams?
Michèle Soregaroli 56:22
So my longest running client is 14 years. And we've been
Jake Van Buschbach 56:25
Michèle Soregaroli 56:26
every, you know, 14 years consistently. Yeah. And so what happens is, once we have the foundation, the tools that they need, I quit the leaders to lead. Right? That's what I do. I do that very well. I equip them to lead. There are times when they need support, in which case we do come in periodically. But what I'm most interested in is that they develop the leadership qualities in themselves to help build new leaders within their company. Right. So there are a few tools I'm not I'm again, I'm a coach. I'm not a consultant. So with coaching, I'm more interested in giving the leader the skills they need to have in order to take their company where they want it to go and lead from the platform of their differentiation.
Jake Van Buschbach 57:15
Yeah, thanks a lot of sense,
Michèle Soregaroli 57:17
right? So yeah, so that's what I work on. And that's really,
when you're coaching behaviors, right? It's about coaching behaviors. So how are you showing up? How are you articulating your messaging? What is the structure that you're using to present or share, communicate? Right? So all those little things, they're very nuanced, but I treat everything I do I treat as human to human right. It's not about a tool or a structure or process. It's really just people. Yeah, and people will be effective in different ways. So my job is to help everybody be effective in the way that is most powerful for them. I don't think that any particular tool necessarily can is best for everybody. So yeah. There, you know, there are some tools that are really good out there. There's a few, you know, sometimes a profile, some kind of can be really valuable. But when you're in a coaching platform, learning new skills, it's really about having an insight trying something new, just like you would if you're learning a new sport or something, right, you learn, you learn one thing, you keep trying it until you get it right. Then you practice and practice. And as you're practicing, you might start to learn a second one, because the first one is getting easier. Right? It's just bit by bit.
Jake Van Buschbach 58:39
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Yeah, because I think even some tools that would be beneficial for certain personality types would be detrimental for others. So
Michèle Soregaroli 58:49
yeah, I'm a believer in simplicity. I'm a real believer in simplicity. So I think the more tools and the more things that you are getting caught up in the more complicated the process. becomes, and it actually is a detriment to your own self. Your personal growth? Yeah. So to an extent. So, you know, there's there are different schools of thought around that. But that's my approach. And of course, it works for me, because that's my philosophy. But there are other coaches who use a lot of tools. And they're very, very effective, very successful, because of their philosophies and how they approach their coaching engagements. So I think again, it depends on the individuals, and how you how you what you need, right? Yeah, as a client, and how my approach can be most effective for you. And if there's a fit, that's a match. That's brilliant. If there's not, that's okay. Right. Yeah. Hundred percent. What else? Yeah, yeah. And that's where the courage comes in, is recognizing that we can't be everyone to all people. Yeah. And we won't be effective in serving everybody. We just can't be a perfect match for every single person. Possible.
Jake Van Buschbach 59:58
Absolutely. Do you have any resources, other people in your field market leaders, any blogs or anything like that the recommend people follow to kind of just add to their social media feeds or start following as a separate website to kind of keep up to date with this kind of mindset and this kind of Outlook and these kind of these circles that you're on.
Michèle Soregaroli 1:00:20
I mean, I've got books and whatnot coming out my ears, but just off the top of my head. One of the there were a couple of books that I thought were very, very insightful. The first one you actually touched on are the book mindset by Carol Dweck. I don't know if you're familiar with it. She talks about growth and fixed mindsets. So as a leader, and as someone who has a team, as well as clients, it's a great read to understand how we can not only have a growth or fixed mindset, but also how you can put someone in a growth and fixed mindset by accident, or intentionally as the case may be. Yeah. So that was really Good one of the one of the books that I referenced many times with clients is called atomic habits. Written by James clear, yeah. And the reason I like it is because small steps climb mountains. Yep. And he helps you understand the little things that you can do one step at a time, that can make a massive difference
Jake Van Buschbach 1:01:23
that's in my stack. Actually, I've got that in my bookshelf right now it's coming up. haven't read it yet.
Michèle Soregaroli 1:01:29
If you want, you know, if you want a really juicy read on things that could be core philosophies, guiding principles, values, that kind of thing. Ray Dalio, his book principles is excellent. It's a tome I think it's 1600 pages or something. Yeah, it's a tome but it is. It gives a really, really solid understanding of the role of key principles or values or what have your key differentiators and how to leverage them. So it's got an Business component and life component. You don't have to read the whole book, because it's divided into so you can read just business or just life
Unknown Speaker 1:02:09
But that one's also great. So the three of them between those three, they're they're quite
Michèle Soregaroli 1:02:13
different. And you know, I, I'd certainly recommend those, but I've got hundreds in terms of our own stuff. I do a lot of we've relatively recently launched a YouTube channel and there's 25 videos or something like that up on there, talking about little snippets of differentiation. So if you're just looking to go a little deeper, you could go there.
Jake Van Buschbach 1:02:36
And that's just transformation catalyst on YouTube. Yeah, okay. Perfect. We'll make sure to link to that down below in the description for people. Yeah.
Michèle Soregaroli 1:02:44
So that's probably where I would
guide you to start.
Jake Van Buschbach 1:02:48
That's great. I've been reading, relax, focus succeed, I think is what the book is called. It's a little bit cringy in the title, it's by Karl polishchuk. But, again, it does talk a lot about the topic. Folks that we've discussed today like writing out everything that you're getting out of bed for in the morning, identifying if your behaviors, aligning with these things, figuring out how segmented your brain is, and how much of these characteristics that you have may be toxic, and you think that they're positive. But when you actually reflect on yourself, and you stop trying to please everybody, you'll find out that they're actually counter to your internal beliefs, and you become disassociated. Because when you're acting and you're saying things and you're just going through your daily life, you're actually not moving in the direction that your inner self wants to move in. So yeah, I think that pretty much every business owner that I know would benefit tremendously from reading the books you recommended, and and speaking with you for even a small period of time. No worries. Do you have anything else you wanted to touch on before we start to wrap up? I
Michèle Soregaroli 1:03:51
don't think so. I just encourage everybody to be brave.
Jake Van Buschbach 1:03:56
Yeah, I think that's great. Because I think the the main thing takeaways for me today would be to really focus on honest messaging, trying to figure out what my values are and what I'd like my team's values to be not being afraid to stand up for those values, and not being worried about change, because change is inevitable. And it's going to get better or it's going to get worse. And you may as well just go with the flow and start to realize what it is you truly care about and move in that direction. I think that does it. So thank you so much for coming on today. Michelle, I really appreciate it.
Unknown Speaker 1:04:29
Thank you. It's been really a delight, Jake. I appreciate it. It's just been great to have this conversation. So
Jake Van Buschbach 1:04:34
absolutely. Yeah, you're welcome back anytime. So I'm gonna make sure we throw the links in the description. So if anybody would like to get in touch with Michelle and her team over at transformation catalyst, please use the links in the description down below. And again, thank you so much for coming on today. Michelle, I really
Unknown Speaker 1:04:50
appreciate it. Pleasure. Absolutely.
Jake Van Buschbach 1:04:52
Okay. We'll talk to you soon. Bye. I hope so. Bye for now. I think that does it for today's video. If you could please leave a like on this video. It really helps us out. If you want to see more videos like this then please hit subscribe. If you have a suggestion for a future video or a guest you'd like to see on the show, please leave a comment down below or email us at Tech Tips at umbrella it services.ca Have a great day and see you all soon.