4 Keys from this episode:
- The best way in the speaking training industry of getting work is to do work
- Give people the opportunity to sample your product before they buy it.
- Stay hungry!
- We can choose our thinking
Doug Morneau: Welcome back to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. I am super excited today to have a friend of mine on as a guest, Ryan Walter. I met Ryan several years ago at an Alpha Canada Golf Tournament, the fundraiser for the organization, and have gotten to know both him and his wife on a personal basis and on a business basis, and I’m going to share with you a little bit of Ryan’s background so you get an idea of where he’s coming from, where he is, and where he’s heading to. Ryan, if you’re not familiar with him played and coached 17 seasons of hockey over 1,100 games in the NHL. He was drafted second overall by the Washington Capitals in 1978.
He was named ‘The Youngest NHL Captain’ in his second of four seasons and went on to play nine seasons with the Montreal Canadians, winning a Stanley Cup in 1986, and then, finally returned to his home to play his last couple of years for the Vancouver Canucks. He was named ‘Team Captain’ in the World Junior Tournament and was selected to play the NHL All-Star Game in 1983 for team Canada, and three world championships. He became the Vice President of the National Hockey League Players Association and was honored as the ‘NHL Man of the Year’ in 1992. Ryan’s gone on to get his master’s degree in leadership and business, and he is the author of five books. He created a board game called ‘Trade Deadline Hockey’, and ‘Electronic Transfer Deadline’.
He’s a regular contributor to both online print magazines, newspapers, radio and TV. In addition, he co-founded and is the President of two startups, NHL and IIHF coach, a TV hockey broadcaster, a hockey advisor, an actor for both television and movies, and President of the Professional Hockey League. Ryan is a member of the board of directors of the Hockey Canada Foundation and sits on the Seton Hall Stillman School of Business Leadership Advisory Council, and he currently speaks and helps hundreds of companies and organizations leveraging his experience in leadership as he relates that to team performance as a former hockey player. Ryan, welcome to the show today. Is there anything that I’ve left out?
Ryan Walter: Thank you very much, Doug. That was painful, having to listen to it all, but happy to be with you.
Doug Morneau: I knew you being such a humble guy, you, like myself, you don’t like to hear somebody going on and on, but that’s just a short overview, the highlight reel if you will of what you’ve accomplished.
Ryan Walter: I’m very thankful, Doug. Thank you for sharing that with your listeners, and I’m always thankful for the things that we’ve been able to accomplish in the past, but you and I, we’ve had lots of time together, and I love your podcast. I love this idea of what works today and what we think works in the future, and that’s really the focus that I have in these days.
Doug Morneau: Where are you working today in your role leadership and speaking to companies throughout the world? Can you share with our listeners a major breakthrough or some success you’ve had using a specific marketing tactic?
Ryan Walter: Yeah. For sure, and we are so thankful, Doug, we’ve just come off our best year ever. We’ve probably have connected with around 130 different sessions during the calendar year with companies. We have now both 750 clients, and I’ve just finished speaking to just over 800 CEOs over the last three years. I want to share how we got in front of these CEOs because I think that’s been our biggest marketing breakthrough for sure. What we did is we started to connect with a couple of organizations that we’re looking to add value to our group for a very low cost.
The first group in Canada is called ‘TEC’. They’re called ‘The Executive Committee’. What TEC does is they have presidents and CEOs of companies that actually a get-together on a monthly basis to work through their issues, but in the morning of that day, they have a speaker/trainer that comes in and gives a fresh perspective on a number of different areas of their business, so I got going and intentionally focused on TEC. We built a three-hour presentation. Very interactive.
We focused on the five mindsets that the CEO’s team or organization would either drift into or shift into and then we actually allowed them to feel that those five mindsets through our process, what we call ‘Architect Builder’, a little game we play. The reason I mentioned all of this is I’ve just finished just over a hundred TEC sessions over the last three years, and that has been the prime marketing opportunity for our business, so if the CEO loves what you do, you don’t go through HR. Right? They call you up and you’ve got business, and we’ve generated the most business we’ve ever had through that connection, so we also … There’s a group out of the U.S. called ‘Vistage’, and they are exactly the same group.
TEC in Canada. Vistage in the U.S., and so now, Jenn and I, my wife and I are doing a lot of speaking in the U.S. through this Vistage group. I think from a marketing point of view that anytime we can get our message, but not even our message, our actual product, if people can feel, and taste, and touch our product in a scenario where we can actually, and this is what happened to me, where we can actually let them experience it, that for me is the number one marketing opportunity, and that’s what Vistage and TEC has given us.
Doug Morneau: How did you get it started? I mean, a lot of people, if you talk to them about speaking and they want to speak, they want to speak on stages, and I think maybe … I mean, you’ve done this for a long time, and you work as a fee speaker as well. Maybe you want to start as a fee speaker, but it sounded to me like you got involved with TEC, and really, you just had to roll up your sleeves and donate and put some of your time in there to get in front of the group and let them like you said to experience the products. Is that what you’re saying?
Ryan Walter: Totally. I think I started off at TEC. I’ve done a $500 per session level, and my half-day sessions retail are $9,500, so we absolutely went into this as a marketing opportunity. I think the other thing is a lot of speakers feel that “That’s a waste of my time. I can’t be booking four months out because I might end up getting a paid gig in a day, four months”, but how Jenny and I looked at it as a way to add value to their companies, to the CEO’s company through the executive, and I think that that idea of adding value comes through the attitude, comes through the energy, comes through what we do, and I always say that the best way in this industry, and I’m not sure if this is true, Doug across industries, but the best way in the speaking training industry of getting work is to do work. In other words, people have to see what you do.
They have to be able to touch it. They have to be able to experience it. They have to be able to see the benefits and the value. Then, when you … My experience is the more work I do, the more work I get, so what we’ve tried to do …
Yeah. What we’ve tried to do, Doug makes sure that if … Let’s say, and you know this from you and I have worked together a golf tournament, or if a local charity, or if a hospital-raising capital comes alongside, we really work hard to add value to anything that we can do in this industry. Not only are you going to meet people that would say, “Hey, I saw Ryan speak, and he was terrific”, or you’re going to just sharpen your craft every time, so as with all professionals, when I was a professional hockey player, I didn’t turn down a time to practice my craft, and I think that’s true of this being in the training industry.
Doug Morneau: Right. Yeah. Isn’t that a great analogy? When you think of the great talents of the sports players have, we see them on TV or hear them on the radio, and we just miss all the years and years and years of practice just endlessly, and how they made that a priority in their life, yet, in business, we somehow feel that, “I’m in business, so every time I do something, I should get paid”, and there’s really no thinking towards a practice and giving back.
Ryan Walter: Yeah. That’s a great point, and don’t mistake what I’m saying. I know that you don’t, but our listeners. If you can get paid for your business, go for it, and we get paid very well for our business. Our half-day session is 9,500.
Our full day session is $12,500, so we are very thankful for that, but what we find is it if people don’t get a chance to see the value that we’re delivering, they won’t pay $12,500, but once they see that, they will, and so it’s really the marketing opportunity is really getting your best and your best stuff in front of the exact market that you want to spend your time in, and for us, TEC and Vistage do that. Finally, in this area of TEC and Vistage, this is a worldwide organization, so they have … The beauty is Jenn … The vision that Jenn and I have is to add value to leaders and grow leaders and leadership and team worldwide. The Vistage group out of the U.S., they have arms in Britain, Australia, Asia, China, so as we end up doing a good job for them in the U.S., we see this as a way to continue our business worldwide.
Doug Morneau: It’s funny listening to you talk about the networking and the opportunity. You’ve probably recognized who said this quote, and “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know”, so stop complaining. Get to know the right people.
Ryan Walter: Yeah. Very good.
Doug Morneau: Yeah. I remember Jim Janz at, and I’m thinking back to a conference that Heather and I were at not too long ago in the U.S. in La Jolla with the guy by the name of Frank Kern. Frank is well-known in the direct marketing industry, and he talked about this new book that he’s published, and he gives his book away. People said, “Why would you give it away?” He said, “I actually don’t give it away. It’s that it’s free, plus shipping, but I pay $25 per book basically in advertising to convince someone to pay for the shipping.”
Then, after they pay for the shipping and receive the book, they said they read the book, sample my … Basically, like you said, sample my product, and then they became customers. When he shared with us his ROI, and it was just absolutely unbelievable. He built a business that does half a million dollars a month within six months of giving his product away.
Ryan Walter: Wow. Wow. I love that idea, Doug, and I think somewhere … You’re the most amazing marketing guy that I know. I mean, somewhere between getting paid a lot and between getting the message out, there’s going to be some pain.
I mean, we don’t get the … I always say to people, “I believe in the vision, but I don’t believe that if you just close your eyes and look at a Mercedes Benz, do you get a Mercedes Benz?” There’s a little pain in the middle there. Right? Like there’s got to be something that we’re giving, and I think the idea of both the give, and it might not be money.
It could be value. It could be attention. It could be time, but in the early days, there is the give to get, and we love this idea, and it was Robert Cialdini who first taught me this Biblical principle of reciprocity.
Doug Morneau: Sure.
Ryan Walter: You don’t give to get, but when you give, you get, and so his point was … He’s a Ph.D. out of Phoenix that talks about influence. His point was give first, so in everything we do, the greatest marketing principle in my life is give first, and so I go into relationships as you do, thinking, “How can I add value to these people?”, instead of thinking, “How can they add value to me?”
Doug Morneau: Yeah. Yeah. The good point. I mean, as they say, “You give what you want. If you want more money, you give money. If you want more love, you give love.”
It’s just what you give comes back to you. I want to go back to a point, and I’m going to bring in one of your books because you talked about giving and basically, it’s no different than your career in sports where you have to work hard. Business is the same, but I remember reading about the time that you were injured. I’m thinking of times when business owners stumble or they have something doesn’t go the right way, or they get physically sick, and I think back to listening to your story, so you can correct me if I miss part of this. It’s been a while since I read your book, but you were injured.
You’re playing for the Montreal Canadians. You had an upper-body injury, and instead of sitting in the green room and watching the game or sitting in the stands with your wife, I had read that you took an exercise bike and duct taped it upside down to a table in the training room, and you stood and pedaled the bike with your arms while watching the game to keep your physical shape up, and then, when you weren’t doing that, you were cheering on the team. That was the reason that you kept up your physical ability and were able to play in the Stanley Cup game. Is that about sum up the effort that you’ve put into that time when many people would have just given up?
Ryan Walter: Yeah, Doug. I think you tell that story better than I do. That’s awesome. It was in 1986, and I broke … It was actually my ankle.
I broke my ankle three games to go in that season, and so really, if you think about it, in the next month and a half, I’m not going to feel that ankle enough to get back into the game, and yet, early on, I just felt a real desire that if my team was going to work, I was going to work, and this wasn’t going to be a time that I was going to take time off, and so I did that without knowing that heading into the Stanley Cup final that the doctor, Eric Lenzner, the orthopedic surgeon came to me.
Doug Morneau: Okay.
Ryan Walter: He said, “Ryan, I know you’re in terrific shape. You want to take an x-ray?”, and he held the x-ray up, and he said, “Oh, darn”. There was a little crack and still a small crack in the ankle. He said, “I shouldn’t say this as a doctor, but you know, Ryan, do you want to try it?” He gave me a little bit of freezing and a little bit of taped up, and that practice, it didn’t feel very good.
Next practice felt better. Next practice felt better, and I was able to play in the last five games of the Stanley Cup final. What really haunts me, Doug, and I’m sure that people often say that, “It’s not the things that you do that you regret. It’s the things that you don’t do.” What haunts me about that opportunity is, “What if I hadn’t stayed hungry?” Right?
“What if I hadn’t decided to put the work in?” I would have never got a chance to play in a Stanley Cup final because of that, as it turns out, those are the only five games that I got to play in the Stanley Cup final. We got back to the Stanley Cup in 1989, but we lost to Calgary, so you’re right. I mean, life teaches us that education’s never wasted, work ethic’s never wasted, a high focus is never wasted, so those are good lessons for me to remember.
Doug Morneau: Yeah, and I just remembered that story because I know that life has its ups and downs. In businesses, we had good years and bad years, and it’s just really about still putting in the effort and working hard when nobody’s looking.
Ryan Walter: Yeah. Yeah. That is so true, and I love your idea of when nobody is looking because I think that that’s the hardest part, and we do a lot of work as you know in this area of mindset and energy, staying hungry, being part of a winning team, and I think that that is the hard part, what you just enunciated, is to be … Doing the hard work when nobody’s looking, knowing long-term that whether you get glory or not, that’s not the issue. It’s real, “How much value do we get a chance to add to people’s lives?” I think that’s the hard part because that’s where we’ve got to really stay hungry.
Doug Morneau: I was at an event in Lake Tahoe once, and we were discussing business with a group of entrepreneurs, and somebody had asked me to speak on that topic, and I got thinking about being a business owner, and people sometimes, their reluctance to sell their services, and this thought, this came upon me and struck me, and I thought, “For those people who won’t ask for the sale, who are afraid to ask the sale, the word that came to my mind was they’re being selfish”, because we’ve all been blessed with different gifts and talents, and if we believe our product or our service conserve people and make their life better and help them, we know this, and we don’t ask them to do business with us, then really, we’re just being selfish because for our own reasons. I’ve just never been able to forget that. When I meet somebody at a … If I know that I can help them, and I may say, “Hey, look. This is how I can help you”, and if they say, “No” or “Not now”, I’m just not going to let up because I know that what I can do can make their life better, and for each of us in our own businesses that are serving people, we need to not be embarrassed or ashamed. It’s a business, and we trade money for our services and go out there and be bold and help people.
Ryan Walter: Yeah. I love that idea, Doug, and I would use the same analogy maybe even with a different word. My wife Jenny and I do a lot of work with leaders around this word ‘Ego’. You know I come from testosterone dressing rooms, so I always think that ego is thinking too much about myself, “I’m so good, and everybody else isn’t”, but Jenny has really schooled me in this area.
Doug Morneau: Yeah. [inaudible 00:21:24].
Ryan Walter: r of ourselves, and both sides of ego are self-focused, and not team-focused or not value-focused”. I love that thought because I think a lot of people, what holds them back is this idea that, “I could never sell a product”, or “I could never be a part of a winning team”, or “Nobody’s going to want what I sell”, or there are all these thoughts that come into our minds. I think that one of the key components to mental toughness in business and sport is that the thoughts we have are not always us, and we can choose our thinking. I might have a thought, and I might say, “Oh, that’s a good thought. I’ll take that one”, and I might have another thought, but that thought might have come from a circumstance, and I might say, “No, no. I’m not going to take that thought. I’m going to be disciplined, and I’m going to be focused where I get the highest return.”
I think this area of mindset and of thinking really helps sharpen our way of being able to, as you put it, sell the people the things that are going to add value to them.
Doug Morneau: Speaking of mindset and going back to your story about working with TEC and Vistage, what do you think the biggest myth about this tactic is? You’re saying the opportunity was there for you to get in front of these organizations to give your time and to get in front of people, so for our listeners who are thinking, “Hey, I’ve never really spoken to a big group or I don’t speak to anyone outside my company”, what do you think the biggest myth is that they’re holding is truth?
Ryan Walter: I love that question. I think the myths that most speaker, trainers, or anybody that’s starting in and go after this marketing tactic, the biggest myth is that, “I don’t receive enough value for the equation here”. My half-day fee is $9,500. They’re only going to pay me $500. What’s that about?
Here’s the gap that I was able to close as Jenn and I talked about the opportunities. What we do, Doug, and we learned this from you and Heather, is we actually now have an evaluation form that I give away a free e-newsletter on performance and leadership to the group, so I ask them to fill out the form at the end of the session. I get permission. I get their name. I get their email. I get their permission, but then I ask them also to give me a little evaluation. “One to 10, how much value did you feel that added?” Then, below that, I have four little boxes that they can check. “I’d love Ryan to come in and work with my team. I’d love Ryan to help develop my leaders.”
What that sheet does, Doug is it allows me to really stay focused from a marketing point of view. If somebody wants our information in our e-newsletter on leadership, the beauty is I get to stay in front of 800 CEOs on a monthly basis. What I found is you’ve got to find a way to stay in front of people, and it’s got to be full of value, but number two is it already, and you’re brilliant at this … That sheet of paper already hones my funnel, and so if somebody checks off, “I want Ryan to come in and work with my team”, the next week, I’m sending an email to set up the telephone call that sets up the potential opportunity for a purchasing of product. That has been I think the greatest step that we’ve been able to learn in this area.
Now, someone might say, “Instead of $9,500, I’m only getting $500”, but the way we look at it is that’s not the equation. The equation is ifp with them. That, I think that that has been the track that has allowed us to fill the gap between the myth and the tactic.
Doug Morneau: That’s really cool because I think of it in a different way. If you consider going to networking groups or joining various associations or traveling abroad to seminars where the industry leaders are there, those are all your … You write a check for each of those, and so what you’ve got is an opportunity to get in front of your ideal target audience who are CEOs, and yes, the pay is not what you’d normally get, but if you compare it to the other situations where you may be at a networking event or a mastermind, you may have paid tens of thousands of dollars of being at a mastermind. They may not be your ideal clients, and you’ve paid to be there, but in this case, you’re getting paid to deliver your … It’s not an advertising message, but you’re really showcasing I think your product while you’re adding value, which is super cool.
Ryan Walter: Yeah. That’s exactly, exactly what we do, Doug, and just to finish that, it’s not –
Doug Morneau: Looking at … Yeah. Go ahead.
Ryan Walter: I just finished that one thought. I learned early in business that to never give out business cards. I learned early in business to always ask people for their business card, and I think that that principle has been so powerful, so if I was to give every one of these CEOs my business card, they would forget about me. They’d put that card in the drawer, and 10 months down the road, they might say, “Oh, yeah. That guy was pretty good”, but when I get their information with permission to contact them, that is the power of marketing.
Doug Morneau: Yeah. Absolutely. Stay in touch. I mean, it’s funny because when I would go to networking events, and I do exactly what you said, I played a little game, and my game was how many business cards could I collect without having to give out any, knowing that, like you said, people are focused on themselves and they really don’t want my business card, and then I would reach out and send them a letter, a personal letter, hand-address it, hand-sign it, and basically just to add value. “Hey, it was great to meet you at such and such event. I enjoyed learning about your business. If there’s ever an opportunity for us to get together or collaborate, be happy to do that.”
What really surprised me was how many people phoned me and thanked me as if I had sent them a wonderful gift, and all I had done is send them a letter with no pitch, no brochure, no business card, saying, “It was just great to connect”, and that really lets me know that the opportunity that people want to have a deeper relationship with you before they do business with you is there. I still look at the events that I go to and the number of hand-written notes that I get or don’t get, and wonder why people aren’t taking such a simple approach and leveraging that to grow their business.
Ryan Walter: Love that idea.
Doug Morneau: Moving forward, what are you most excited about as it relates to your business and where you see marketing opportunities for small business in the next six to 12 months?
Ryan Walter: Yeah. I think that in general, face-to-face relationships are always the core. I mean, Jenny and I will continue to do that, will continue to stay in front of people, develop relationships, find ways to add value, but one of the things that we’re excited about is, and you’re very good at this, Doug, and I’ve got lots to learn in this area, is the online opportunity, not only to market our products and services but also then to actually deliver our products and services online. I wouldn’t say we’ve been slow adapters. We do lots online, but we’ve stayed very focused on growing our business with this tactic that we have that’s working, so I think that that for us is going to be the next stage, the next step. The one thing that we’re going to do over the next four to five years where we’re going to work this tactic very hard is we’re building a database.
We’re building a database of CEOs and Presidents of companies across North America and the world, and then we’re going to find ways to leverage, ethically leverage that database to upsell or resell businesses on products that we’ll build personally that they need, and so I think that those two pieces go hand in glove, and that’s the excitement that we see in the next little bit, is to be able to leverage some of the great contacts that we’ve been able to make for our next products.
Doug Morneau: That’s really cool. Yeah. I’ve heard it said often before, and you probably heard the same thing. “The money is in the list”, and so yeah, but it’s more than just the list you need to communicate and add value to the list moving forward. A couple questions for you before you wrap up. Who’s one guest that you think I absolutely have to have on my podcast?
Ryan Walter: I was looking at this question, and I was thinking about it a lot. I’ve met so many amazing people over the last little bits, but I think there’s a guy that I think you would love, and his name is Geoff Williams. Geoff is out of Surrey, British Columbia, and Geoff runs a company that helps car dealers sell cars, and he does this worldwide, and it’s his business, and he’s a kid from Victoria, B.C. who has taken a business globally. I just think you would love Geoff because he had a little bit like you, Doug. He had to start from humble beginnings, he had to start from the grassroots up, and he’s developed an amazing business.
He’s got a brilliant heart. He’s actually has a huge charity arm to his business where he’s helping orphans and babies down in Guatemala. He’s just done some amazing stuff. The guy’s name is Geoff Williams. I mean, I’ve got lots of other people, but I think he is the one guy that you and your guests on the show would love.
Doug Morneau: Okay. We’ll have to track him down. Ryan, share with our listeners what are the best ways for people to find you on or offline?
Ryan Walter: Yeah. Thanks, Doug. Number one way is just RyanWalter.com, so RyanWalter.com. The second way is very simple. It’s [email protected].
I mean, I can give you my cell number. Nobody will remember it, but directly, 604-996-4446. Would love to find ways to add value to the people that are listening.
Doug Morneau: Awesome. Thanks so much. Listeners, make sure you check out the show notes. We’ll have links to Ryan’s websites, his leadership training, his books, products, and services, as well as his phone number, so you’ll catch all that in the show notes. Thanks again, Ryan. It was really great to catch up with you in between your many trips and travels, and thanks for sharing your knowledge and insight with our listeners today.
Ryan Walter: Thanks for your great podcast and your great program, Doug.