Thinker(s) in Residence: Q&A with John Moore, Geno Church, and Robbin Phillips

Sally Haldorson

October 18, 2013


Create a culture that knows how and who is going to respond and give your team permission to be human. Those are the companies who are shining in this new connected world.


"Create a culture that knows how and who is going to respond and give your team permission to be human. Those are the companies who are shining in this new connected world. "

1. Is The Passion Conversation a book about social media? JOHN Yes, it's about social media but not the "social media" most marketers have come to know. We think too many marketers have a "check the box" mentality when it comes to being "social" with customers. As in, must use Facebook to engage with customers. CHECK. Must tweet fast and furious to be conversational with customers. CHECK. Being social isn't about the number of likes or fans a brand has. It's about connecting with customers through shared passions. Those passions lead to conversations in both the digital world and the physical world. So, being "social" is about connecting with customers through shared passions wherever they are, online or offline. GENO The Passion Conversation sets up social media as the problem and the solution... as in how we today define "social media." In broad context social media before it became tech enabled came from our social interactions in face-to-face interactions. Humans are social creatures, so authentic natural word of mouth is social media. Our book addresses the lure of all these sexy social media tools and tactics, they're wonderful but there's a big playground of human interactions that's not tethered to a laptop, tablet or a smartphone. 2. If a company makes widgets, where do you find the passion? GENO Too often a company focuses on the widget, they see the production, the transactions from the prospective of the widget. The passion can be found in many ways, like re-visiting the why a company was founded. It can also come from outside the company – it's customers, often a person outside the company has a passion for the widget stronger than the passion inside the brand. Talking to internal and external advocates creates a wonderful mirror to check out the passion reflects inside the brand and outside the brand. JOHN Behind every enduring business is an endearing story of why the business began. It doesn't matter if you're selling a continuous level measurement widget or a ceiling-mounted precision cooling system. Many times you can find the passion by learning the story of why the company was founded. Capturing the founder's story can help to rekindle the passion employees have for your company, and serve as an emotional reminder to employees explaining why the business exists and who it exists to serve. 3. If a company's obvious purpose is to change lives, how can that effort be managed to greater effect? JOHN Henry Ford is quoted as once saying, "A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business." I like that. Making money is mandatory for a business to survive. However, making meaning is mandatory for a business to truly thrive. In The Passion Conversation we share stories of four businesses making meaning in the lives of its customers. One company, Anytime Fitness, seeks to improve the self-esteem of the world and they start small with every individual gym member. Another company, Foundations Recovery Network, seeks to change the world by ending the stigma of addiction from being about anonymity and shamefulness to a heroic and celebratory effort. Both of these companies are surviving because of their ability to make money but they are also thriving because of their ability to make meaning in the lives of its customers. GENO I was told by a wise college professor "whomever tells their story best wins." To change lives a company has to be successful. The obvious first step is does a company's employees know their purpose is it something they believe in, can they share it in there own words, can they share a story of person who's life has changed. It goes back to Yoda and Luke Skywalker... to change lives you have to understand your not the hero, they are, your just the mentor. 4. What can a company do if people say negative things about them? ROBBIN It feels so obvious, but the answer is to just listen, then thoughtfully and truthfully respond. The truth is the easy way out. Negative remarks are a chance to raise your standards -- always a good thing. Create a culture that knows how and who is going to respond and give your team permission to be human. Those are the companies who are shining in this new connected world. If on the other hand, people don't like you for the stand you take or a cause you are pushing forward, then all you can do is simply respect them for their point of view and agree to disagree. If your brand takes a strong stand, you will not be everyone's cup of tea. 5. How can a company's reputation truly be measured? JOHN Tough question. I don't think a true measurement exists. Sure, there are brand strength monitoring tools and online sentiment tools but those are complicated, spendy and not 100% reliable. Simplistically speaking, I equate a good reputation with being a strong brand. That said, it's my belief brands with the strongest reputations do not focus not on building a great brand. Instead, they focus on building a business that makes money, makes employees happy, and makes customers happy. I can almost guarantee you that if you build a business that makes a profit and makes people happy the result will be a strong, reliable and emotion-rich reputation.
ROBBIN PHILLIPS, GREG CORDELL, GENO CHURCH, and JOHN MOORE work together at the word of mouth marketing and identity company Brains on Fire. Along with others in the Brains on Fire tribe, they partner with some of the most fearless businesses and organizations on the planet to ignite movements through the contagious power of passionate people. Robbin is the courageous President of Brains on Fire and truly believes love is a circular transaction. Greg is the Chief Inspiration Officer, which means his job is to find inspiration where no one else is looking. Geno is the Word of Mouth Pathfinder, helping to find and nurture the passion conversation inside every business. John is the Chief of Wahoo, helping clients grow and fostering learners and leaders within the Brains on Fire tribe.


Check in with us tomorrow as we continue our Thinker in Residence series with Brains on Fire on Business & Books.


Read our recommendation of The Passion Conversation by Brains on Fire and more about the company.

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