Michael Roderick is a reference expert and the founder of a consulting firm called Small Pond Enterprises. Through its workshops, classes and events, Roderick supports solo entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs looking to accelerate the success of their businesses. He sat down with Jessica Abo to discuss why it’s not enough to think about your “why” and what you need to focus on.
Jessica Abo: Michael, what is a reference expert, and can you tell us about the work you do at Small Pond Enterprises?
A referral expert is someone who focuses on the idea of what people will say about you when you’re not in the room. How will they get your content and ideas to be shared without you having to be there? And the job I do at Small Pond Enterprises is to help thoughtful donors become thought leaders. Usually, the people who are very good at doing the work for their clients are the ones who depress the packaging of their own intellectual property. So I help them develop these great ideas, these concepts, and build them so that other people can talk about them when they’re not there.
Why do you think “why” is such a popular idea and why do you think it’s not the best idea to focus on entrepreneurs?
The reason “why” attracts so many people is because it’s about you. You get to have the emotional component of sharing yours because, why do you do that, you share your passion, your enthusiasm, but unfortunately, it’s totally focused on you. It’s the “you show.” So the thing is, unfortunately, that doesn’t matter to him. Your customer cares about himself. They care what is there for me, they want to know what transformation you will provide me. So if you spend all your time talking about your why and about yourself, you’re actually turning off your client because they’re listening to how you’re going to help me.
If it’s not about why, what is it about?
This is the YES This is the innovative framework. It’s about taking the idea and making it so easy for other people to share it, and really breaking it down so that your audience thinks differently. They are seeing your model, your thinking frame, your way of doing things, and then they want to leave and they want to share it with other people. This is where we should focus.
What do you mean when you say there is a big YES and a small YES?
The big IF is the biggest innovative framework you have, and this is usually your first public presentation. Because most people won’t be willing to mess with you about your way of thinking if you don’t give them a great idea to start with. You always need an access point. So your big YES is you challenging a dominant narrative. It’s you saying this is the way everyone says things should be done and I disagree and here’s why. And that’s what makes them lean, and they say, “Oh, well, if that’s the case, tell me more about how it works.” And that’s when you go to the small IF because these innovative little frames, these very simple ways that you use to showcase your idea, that’s what will basically help them see how this great idea connects. This is what will give them the tools to execute the work they are doing. That’s when you take out the pen and paper and draw the graph. That’s when the metaphor comes out. That’s when you show them the three phases. All of these different elements, but you have to start with this big YES you have to start with this aspect that I’m challenging this dominant narrative just to get people willing to pay attention.
So for people wondering about the benefits of having an FI and the importance of having an FI, why are these frameworks so important?
Basically, when people are out there, they try to decide who to hire, who to work with, they look for someone who has taken the time to define how they will really work. And just like if you go to a store, even though Duane Reade’s version of Coca-Cola is exactly the same version of Coca-Cola, you’ll buy Coca-Cola because it’s branded. They’ve taken the time to create an experience, a way of thinking about it, and for coaches, consultants, and subject matter experts, it’s the same. You might have the best experience in the world, but if people don’t have a way to package it and refer to you and think of you as the person who created this method or you as the person who invented it concept , you will only be in a line of other subject matter experts who are trying to sell your services.
How can people build these frameworks? What are some of your tips?
One of the best things is to find other people who are also working on your intellectual property because you yourself are too close to your ideas. So you’re going to think something is really interesting or you’re going to think something is really powerful, and you’re going to go out there and try to sell that thing and maybe it doesn’t land, maybe it doesn’t make sense, maybe it confuses people. But if you meet other people who can see what you’re talking about and you basically say to yourself and be honest, “That confuses me.” I don’t understand that. This metaphor is strange. With all these different kinds of things, you’ll be so much better. You will be able to refine things much better and you will be able to understand them. But the added part of this is also that if someone asks you all these questions and helps you perfect that process, they now understand your business even better, so it will be even better when it comes to referring new businesses because they understand. it from the inside out.
You organize a class several times a year to help people with their frameworks and they can do it with other entrepreneurs in real time, but could you tell us how these classes work?
The way the classes work is that they’re like a writer’s thinking leadership room, where you walk into the room and at the same time you’re sharing your ideas with everyone. They are giving you feedback and you are working on the concept in class. In fact, you’re doing the work there, and you get a chance to actually do the work instead of learning about something and then say, “Okay, well, I hope to get there someday.”