The Tony Steuer Podcast

Get Ready with Shennandoah Connor: Focusing On Your Client’s Perspectives

April 18, 2020 Tony Steuer Episode 17
The Tony Steuer Podcast
Get Ready with Shennandoah Connor: Focusing On Your Client’s Perspectives
Chapters
The Tony Steuer Podcast
Get Ready with Shennandoah Connor: Focusing On Your Client’s Perspectives
Apr 18, 2020 Episode 17
Tony Steuer

"It’s your story, you own it, you get to write the story that you’re going to tell, you get to write the story that you’re going to live" - Shennandoah Connor

In this episode, I spoke with Shennandoah Connor, Vice President of Strategy and Client Services at Connor Creative about how advisors can focus on their client’s perspectives and issues rather than their own. We discussed the application of behavioral economics to better serve clients. We also discovered unique issues to women in the financial services industry.

Please subscribe to the GET READY! With Tony Steuer podcast. 

Bio: Shennandoah Connor is a graduate of the “get ‘er done” school of thought, Shennandoah Connor takes strategy and execution to the extreme, rapidly developing and implementing both client and company initiatives while maintaining high standards of excellence. Shennandoah actively writes and speaks on topics related to marketing, leadership, and business for many conferences and organizations including SXSW Interactive, Women in Finance, the Institute for Leadership in Capital Projects, the Society for Marketing Professional Services, the Women’s Global Leadership Conference in Energy, and others.


Show Notes Transcript

"It’s your story, you own it, you get to write the story that you’re going to tell, you get to write the story that you’re going to live" - Shennandoah Connor

In this episode, I spoke with Shennandoah Connor, Vice President of Strategy and Client Services at Connor Creative about how advisors can focus on their client’s perspectives and issues rather than their own. We discussed the application of behavioral economics to better serve clients. We also discovered unique issues to women in the financial services industry.

Please subscribe to the GET READY! With Tony Steuer podcast. 

Bio: Shennandoah Connor is a graduate of the “get ‘er done” school of thought, Shennandoah Connor takes strategy and execution to the extreme, rapidly developing and implementing both client and company initiatives while maintaining high standards of excellence. Shennandoah actively writes and speaks on topics related to marketing, leadership, and business for many conferences and organizations including SXSW Interactive, Women in Finance, the Institute for Leadership in Capital Projects, the Society for Marketing Professional Services, the Women’s Global Leadership Conference in Energy, and others.


Speaker 1:

Welcome to the get ready with Tony stirrer podcast in partnership with insurance nerds, I'm pleased to be joined today by shin Andela Connor . Good morning. In this episode, we'll be discussing behavioral economics and how advisors can focus on our client's perspectives and issues. Shenandoah is a graduate of the, get her done school thought , uh, Shenandoah Connor takes strategy and execution to the extreme rapidly developing and implementing both client and company initiatives while maintaining high standards of excellence. She marries Sarah experience training in , uh , change management and organizational development with their 20 plus years of experience providing marketing and strategy services for clients in the AEC , uh, struggling this morning, financial services, technology and healthcare industries. She actively writes and speaks on topics related to marketing leadership and business for many conferences and organizations, including , uh, SXSW interactive women in finance, the Institute for leadership and capital projects, the society for marketing professional services, the women's global leadership conference in energy and others. Yeah, that's a few things. It keeps you busy at Bush . You're a mom, right?

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

Hey , that's another full time job. And as vice president of strategy and client services at Connor creative, she is leading the implementation of new technologies and services while bringing their full suite of marketing and communications capabilities to the market. So there we go. That's about Shenandoah. So let's plunge in and learn more about you and what you're up to. So maybe, yeah. Fantastic. So let's , uh, talk about how you got started.

Speaker 2:

Uh, well, it's kind of funny, starting a story. I started very, very young. Um , I started learning about , uh, everything that I employed today, the sales, the marketing, how to influence people, how they think, what affects their decisions. Um, actually in middle school, my father, there's a flight coming at me. Um, my father was a farmer, but , uh, for health reasons had to change careers and went into , uh , sales at an RV dealership. But yeah , he's one of those when he was going through learning everything that he needed to learn, he went through the Dale Carnegie stuff and all that. He came home and did it taught it to us kids. So I'm the oldest of three and all of us went through sales training in elementary and middle cause he was, you know, that's how you learn, you teach it to others. And so that's what he was. We were his, you know, captured , captive audience, so to speak. Um, so I started learning it then and , um , always worked with my parents in some capacity , um , you know, working on the weekends or helping them out. I've always had a knack for writing. And so it would help my dad with developing sales letters and things. But I really started , um, kind of working as a copywriter and doing marketing and support , uh , in high school, I wanted to participate in a pageant, but my parents were of the ilk that if you want something that's extracurricular , you have to figure it out yourself. And so they would allow us to , um , get sponsors and sell advertisements and the program for the pageant. And , uh , but they didn't give us any sales materials for that. So I developed my own sales letter, supply it just after me today. Um, but yeah, I developed my own sales letter and got my Sunday best and started going around to all the different companies , um, where I grew up, which was less versus New Mexico. And I got the entire pageant paid for , uh, plus some gigs doing some sales letters. I was so good at it. They wanted me to help write their marketing materials. So, so I got started , um , and it always has been kind of a side gig until , um, I had my daughter, I was a single mom with a four month old baby and had to figure out a way to make a living in a way that , um, you know, it wasn't just, you know, childcare is so expensive and as a single parent, it was just very difficult. So I started freelancing again , um, when she was born and quickly grew an agency from that. So kind of the roundabout way that it ended up

Speaker 1:

Well. Fantastic. Yeah. And let that fire . I know he can be booked next week.

Speaker 2:

I don't know I had the doors open earlier cause it's a nice morning, but that was probably a bad idea.

Speaker 1:

Well , maybe it's a Dale Carnegie fly and you know, he's persistent.

Speaker 2:

See how well my meditation on focus is working today.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's great. Um, and I think one of the things you said , uh, that's just so important. Um, and the lesson you learned early on that it's, it's about teaching others. It's what we learn, but that the key is not selling. The key is teaching. And , uh , that's what I love about what you're doing and uh , your school of thought. So let's get into, you know , what you're doing today, what you ,

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I kind of on that point right there, one of the things I do quite a bit, or what I call it is educating to conversion. So I work with a lot of knowledge-based companies. There are financial services or professional services where they have , um, very involved technical , uh, products and services that they deliver or, and they're working with mostly with B2B. Some of them are B to C. Um , so we do a mix of both where you have to really educate a client before they become client. And throughout the whole process, it's just part of the selling and customer service , uh , funnel that you need to be able to continually educate them. So there's a lot of blogging and thought leadership that happens through that. Um, but it's also really thinking about translating really technical topics into terms and language , um , and stories that the customer can understand and that they can relate to , um, to wherever they are in the process. And so that's a big part of what we do. Uh, you know, there's a lot of different aspects that can go into it from a , from a tactic standpoint, whether we're talking about social media or email marketing or doing strategic partnerships or webinars or , um, events, those types of things, those are just kind of the ways we go about really trying to connect with the right type of clients that would be a good fit for whomever. Um, you know, we're representing and really just getting that thought leadership and expertise out there and educating them in a way that is bringing them along for the journey that's going to lead to a sell for our client , but that is ultimately gonna lead to a positive solution and outcome for their end user as well.

Speaker 1:

Definitely. And , and I think that's , um, another key thing it's that it's about a positive solution is that you want people to walk away feeling good about what they've done is , um, I know so often in the financial services industry is so often clients walk away and they're either puzzled or they don't feel great about the process. And , uh, you know, they have just this view of , uh, especially the insurance industry, but I'd say across the whole financial services industry of like, yeah, these are people I got to deal with that I don't really want to deal with them. You know, it's like,

Speaker 2:

Well , and I think a lot of that comes when you can feel when you're not, when they're not operating in your best interests, when they're trying to meet quotas or represent a specific products , versus what's the best solution for the client, you can feel that sometimes. And if you can walk away not getting that great experience, if, you know, for a fact they didn't do the due diligence, even if it is maybe even the right product for you, but they didn't do that due diligence on the front end of really getting to know you and understanding what your needs were and drawing that connection between where you're at, what you need, what your goals are, your level of understanding and what they're trying to provide to you. And that's where that disconnect can come into play quite a bit.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Great. Great. Well, I think that leads well into our next question is , uh, you know, what is behavioral economics? I know that's one of your specialty areas.

Speaker 2:

Uh , yeah. And then with anything that they throw behavioral on top of it just means we're applying psychology to whatever that is. So economics , um, classical economics, the models were based on, you know, very perfect information, everybody, everything they needed to know, everybody had the same negotiation power, and everybody always acted rationally. They didn't resist change. They knew it was necessary. They never did any impulsive buys. Everything was very logical and well thought out. Um, and as humans we know that's not true. We're not logical. Um, most of the time, we're not actually, especially when it comes to finances. That's one of those things where , uh, people can make a lot of really , um, uh, unhealthy decisions that can impact them for a very long time because of emotional reasons. And so, but also anytime you're trying to influence someone, it's not just a logical decision or just an emotional or a decision or a psychological based decision, it's a combination of the two. And so you have to understand both in order to really be able to not only attract a client and keep a client, but to make the client happy. And that's part where it comes into play from an economic standpoint, it's more about that. What incentivizes people, what influences their decisions. And then as a marketing person, that's what I look at is what influences people's decisions. When do they start that you start to perk up and they start listening. What makes them take that next step and what makes them stick around what also keeps them from making those decisions that actually are good for them. Um, and there's a lot, again with my background is also in change management. So resistance comes up quite a bit when you're dealing with, with anything. Um, especially if there's , um, and we've talked about this before, if there's people wanna avoid thoughts of death, people wanna avoid negative thoughts, but how do you get them to be proactive while also being aware of they're going to have this resistance to certain topics or resistance to certain things, or they're going to have, you know, a certain inherent bias to things. And that's basically what it does is we're looking at all the different ways that , um, influences their thought patterns and how can we incentivize and motivate them to take the actions we want them to take, or they need to take

Speaker 1:

Exactly. So, you know, and I think that's a really in the insurance industry, you're dealing with the , the first thing you hit on is people's not really wanting to talk about money and feeling comfortable with money. And then you're also dealing with things that people don't want to talk about. They don't want to think about their house burning down or getting in a car crash or somebody dying or becoming disabled. You know, those are not positive events. So how can advisors and , uh, you know, other financial service professionals, you know, apply , uh , behavioral economics to better serve their clients and to help their clients, you know, deal with these issues, you know, w while not being a trained psychologist.

Speaker 2:

Right. Right. And like a lot of that honestly comes from the old adage of, you know, learning to listen and hear what they're actually saying. And so stopping and taking the time to get to know your client and hearing what their current pain points are. And, and if you can meet their pain points first, and they start to trust you, they're going to listen to you more on some of these bigger things. So if you've got a, a young person or a newly married couple, they're not thinking about 50, 60 years from now, this happens, this happens. This might be an issue they're thinking about, okay, we want to buy a house. We want to do this. We want it . And so thinking about where they're at, how can you help them meet those needs, be that trusted advisor, and really understand where they're going in their life, where they're at in life right now, build that trust and then start incrementally moving them towards these other items. Um, and then sometimes too thinking about , um , what are the things that they value and how can you speak to those values or standards that they want to live by and , and kind of draw that connection. So that's something we use a lot. Um, so if you have someone who values themselves as a provider, and they value themselves as someone that provides and protects for their family appeal, to that sense of, of being a provider in your discussions, instead of coming from a doom and gloom standpoint, you're coming from me, you're taking care of your family standpoint. So it's not about loss. It's about protecting what's there and preserving what's there. Um, or if you have , uh , someone that is , um , I know we talked about this, a lot of women end up being caregivers, and they're overwhelmed by a lot of these things. What can you do to address their concerns as a primary caregiver, either have young children or children with disabilities or aging parents, or whatever their situation might be thinking about what are their pain points and how can we speak to those pain points and where they're at right now solve their immediate problems and start working them over towards addressing the other items that they need to address. So often everybody wants to come with, okay , here's the full package of everything that you need, or here's ultimately the best thing. And if they're not either there yet, or they're so overwhelmed by their current situation to them, that's like, okay, well, that's not what I need right now. Or like you said, the other than to try and avoid that until they feel that they have , um, a relationship in a , in a bond with you. Um, and until that's developed, and it's really hard to really sell them on anything much less the whole kitten caboodle. So that's definitely how I , how I advise our clients

Speaker 1:

Definitely. Well, and I think , um, is that what you're really saying is, is you have to that people can't. And I found this myself as sometimes, you know, taking in the whole picture at a single time, you know, at one point it is kind of challenging and you have to have people focus in on one component of the plan to start leading them through the entire plan. Um, so how do you , um, recommend and how do you help people focus on one specific aspect of a bigger solution?

Speaker 2:

Well, part of that first is , um , doing kind of your customer discovery. So really everything you have to start by understanding your customer first. So often clients come in and they want to sell a specific product, or they have their own goals that they're trying to reach. Um , but in order for us to draw that connection between what the client, what they're wanting from an organizational standpoint, whatever quotas they're trying to reach, whatever products they're trying to sell, we have to first think about, okay, what is the audience that you're trying to reach out? What are their key pain points related to this? What are their concerns? What are their interests related to this? And we do that initial discovery first and think about, okay, how can we meet them, where they are, and then start drawing that those connections from, okay, here's where they're at. Here's their pain points. This is what you offer and working our way backwards to meeting them where they are and slowly bringing them along. And that definitely does mean having more steps in the process. And I have a lot of clients that are very high energy CEOs, and they want to get there fast and they want to convert right away and, you know , just really make it happen, but really for us to do it well, we've got to break it down. Um, because even we've all been there. If you get too much thrown at you, once you just shut off, if you get too many emails at once, if you get this giant brochure with all this technical jargon in it, once you're not going to go through it, but if you can get little incremental steps that address a specific point and has a single call to action , um , like this is your next step. And really thinking about it in those baby steps , um, from , you know , step a step B step C don't try and go from a to Z right away. And that's typically how we go about it. Um, a lot of times it does help to have that outside perspective is , again, we're so jaded by our own wants and needs and goals as an organization, I had to get the same way , um, where you're focused on just trying to meet your own needs, that it's hard sometimes for you to see the other side of the equation. Um, and it's also sometimes hard for you to see where that starting point might be. Um, as a lot of times, it's not where the client actually starts engaging with you is not necessarily where you need to start engaging with them. Naturally. Um, the example I use a lot of times, it's like with the hospital. So often they wait until a patient comes in. That's the point that the , the customer journey starts for them, but that's not when the customer journey starts, the customer journey starts when they start having symptoms and not feeling well. And that can be weeks or months before they actually show up in the hospital. And it doesn't end when they're discharged. It continues for several months after. So from where we're at, we have to think about when are they going to start thinking about these decisions and how can we start getting in front of them before it's time for them to actually make that decision and be that resource that's already positioned for them long before they actually have the need. So those are really the different steps that we take really thinking about looking outside of your organization and understanding the client's needs, breaking it into much smaller steps and starting with where they're at and slowly working them over with a very distinct value proposition or piece of information that has a very specific call to action afterwards. And then thinking about where the customer's journey really starts. And it starts long before they really actually need you. So, so it's long before you really think it does

Speaker 1:

Well. That that's great advice. And , uh, you know , uh, how , you know, the , the question I have too, is that there's a lot of people in the insurance nerds audience , uh, that are not directly interfacing with a client. Um, some of them are CEOs of insurance companies. And so a lot of people are removed or they're in underwriting departments. How do people who are not directly interfacing with clients , um, think about this in terms of their work and , uh, you know, even just, you know , uh, the work at the company, but helping the company move in that direction towards being client focused.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And that's actually interesting cause I I'm reading , um , high performance habits right now by Brendan Burchard. And he just talked about the service component of his , um, focus for , and it talks about that really thinking about who the end user is. And , and, and so often just because of technology these days , um , doesn't even the traditional client facing , um, positions are also very removed from the customer experience and with just technology and with how specialized organizations get the bigger that they get. And the more that your back office moves further in the back , um, and the CEO has become more of this high level . It's very easy to get disconnected from who you ultimately serving. So even if you are traditionally let back office or your internal client is, you know, your other team members, your ultimate client is the external client. It is the, the family member or the business or whomever you're actually underwriting the insurance for underwriting for, or leading the organization for them . So it's important for everybody to remember that and not to forget, to stop and take the time to get to know their customers and stop and talk with them. Um, if they're not able to physically do that, if the CEO is not able to go and visit with , with customers every so often , um, then it's important to somehow give a voice of the customer into the organization. So whether you have a team , um, and it's usually helps if it's across department team cross-functional team. Cause again, you can get a broader perspective on just understanding the customer journey, but also looking for opportunities to help the customer , um, where , where they're going out and they're creating these opportunities to get straight from the horse's mouth. What is the customer experiencing? What are they seeing and communicating that back to the organization. So if you have a large organization, that's one way to do it. Another way to do it is there's a lot of agencies like ours that do that voice of the customer type of work and research and can present that back. Um, it helps sometimes to have a third party, especially if there has been a customer satisfaction issue or just been a lot of a disconnect for a very long time. Um, not only for that third-party perspective, but sometimes customers might be afraid to be honest, if they think it might impact their relationship, if they think it might impact the quality of , of what they're receiving. Um, there are certain situations where there might be privacy issues as well. And so, you know, we can come in and do all that research anonymously and be able to aggregate that. So a lot of times when you do that, you get , um , more honest answers. They might not be what you want to hear, but they're more honest answers. That'll really help you get at the root of the problem. Um, so that's typically what we see. It's just, don't lose sight of the fact that you're ultimately doing this for your customer, no matter what your position is in the organization, without customers, that organization does not exist. You know,

Speaker 1:

Aye . I , I think that's that that's really the bottom line is people tend to forget if you don't have happy customers, it doesn't matter how good your underwriting department is or whatever, if your customers walk away and they go, boy, you know, I didn't really enjoy being stuck in a phone tree for 20 minutes before I actually got to talk with somebody, you know , that doesn't make me happy. Um, it reminded me of something when I was a child is , um, my father was a CFO of a large movie theater chain, but what he used to do was every once in a while, he would take us as a family, to a movie theater and he would pay and we would get, you know, it was great when I was a kid, cause we got to eat everything we wanted from the snack bar. And, you know, cause he, he he'd want a fully report on everything. You know, how the food was it everything else, but you not , you know, in retrospect when I got older and I understood the purpose was is , you know, nobody knew who he was, but later on, they would get a letter from the home office, you know, talking about what the theater experience was and you know, what the pros and cons were of what was going on and, you know, and, and I think that's just brilliant. And that gets to what you're saying is that people have to think about how is the customer looking at what we're doing and in every department, even if you think you're not having an impact on your customer is, you know, is our billing department being reasonable when our client gets late bill , um, you know, what's that experience like , uh, can the client figure out, can they go to our , uh , website and figure out what the mailing addresses are , how to contact us and especially with technology companies, I'm sure you've seen this or some technology companies where it's literally impossible to contact a human person and you know, I mean, how do you think that's going to impact, because I know the insurance industry is, you know, there's a big movement towards financial tech companies, FinTech. Uh , are you familiar with FinTech companies?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I mean, in technology in general, it's , it's a double-edged sword. I love technology if it's used well, because it should, what it should be doing is it should be automating the things that don't meet human touch so that we can focus more on the things that do require human touch. Well , what we do is we either use it the other way around, or we don't put the systems in place. We don't choose the right systems and we make it to where it requires 10 times more work to do what it used to do, you know , before, when we were taking things manually. And so then it's creating more work and creating more , um, stress and , and , um, burden on the system, which also detracts from our ability to focus more on those human touch factors. And so again, technology itself is not necessarily bad. It's , it's a tool, but it's misused. So often it should be simplifying things. It should be automating those tasks that don't require a human touch. So you can focus more on those human things , but you should never become so enamored with efficiency that you forget about how important that customer services. And actually there's a huge trend right now because I know part of it too, was a lot of outsourcing was happening and now you're having resourcing or insourcing , whatever term they want to use. Um , because companies are finally realizing that they cut so many corners on customer service, that it's starting to significantly impact them in a lot of ways, they focus so much on the client acquisition piece, but not on maintaining clients. And they try to really make that the cheap part of the experience. And then they're constantly having to fight to get clients back, which is a lot more expensive than keeping the clients you already have. Um, and then another point I wanted to make, cause you mentioned something too about how like with the customers that we need. Um, one of the things that drives me crazy is when people want to put customer services and mission, that's just the core tenet of being in business. That's not a mission of your business that if you're not providing customer service and why are you in business? That's not a differentiator. That's not another could be aspects to it, but you've got to make sure that you're putting your customer in the middle of everything that you do. The customer gotta be in the middle of your marketing. You've got to be in the middle of every decision that you make and you have to be keeping them in, in view, every decision that you make every, every time that you do something and thinking about how's this really going to impact the customer? You mentioned some things like the phone tree issues and the billing. We always think that actually delivering the product or the service, if that's good, everything else is fine, but it's all of little things. It's the front 10% or the back 10% that can make or break the customer experience. And that's where we see most of the issues take place. It's not necessarily in that actual transaction, it's in the stuff leading up to it, or really quite often in the everything right after it. So like you said, the billing always a big issue or the phone tree items. It should not be so difficult to find someone when I have an issue. Um, it doesn't matter how big or small your company is that I should be able to know who to call if I have a problem so I can get that problem solved. Um, cause it's not necessarily a good customer service experience or a good customer experience in general. It's not about never having an issue. It's about what do you do when an issue arises and how easy is it for a customer to , to get that solution? It , how, how much can you reduce friction for the client? Um, and again, we're working in the opposite direction. We're trying to make things easier on us, but in the process we're making it harder on our customers.

Speaker 1:

Definitely. Well, I know personally , um, I have my home and auto insurance with a traditional insurance company. It's definitely not the lowest premium, but I do know that I can reach my agent and her team at any time and they will respond and , and they may not respond with a resolution, but they'll at least respond and say, Hey, we got your message. We're on it. And we'll get back to you and we'll keep you posted about it. So how can companies and agents pivot to start using behavioral economics and client retention? How do you make that change?

Speaker 2:

Um , well again, I'm making it to where customer service and knowing and understanding the customer and delivering what the customer needs as part of your culture is critical. So cause we can come in here and we can do, you know , customer surveys all day long. We can generate reports all day long, but if you're really, aren't truly making it part of your culture, you're not going to actually implement any changes based on any of the data that you get. It doesn't really do us any good whatsoever. Um, so really it has to be, and one of the core tenants is as goes the head service, the body leadership is always going to set the example. So if leadership not making it a priority for us to truly meet the needs of our customers, that nobody else in the organization is going to do it. It's not a bottom down effort. It's not going to come from middle management. It's not going to come from just the marketing department or just the sales department. It's got to come from the executive team and it's got to be prioritized all the way down. And uh , so that's where you really have to start, is making it part of the culture of truly understanding it. And it's not doing it's one-time effort. You need to have things in place that allows you to continually get that feedback, be able to, you know , digest, understand it and apply it and figuring out sometimes you're going to get feedback that you don't need to act on. Sometimes somebody is just not ever going to be happy or it's a one-off thing, or it's not anything you have control over. Um, but a lot of times if there's there's feedback coming in, but you're not acting on it again, that's kind of frustrate the customer too . If they can't see this leading into a different experience in the future. So being able to have those, the monitoring and controls in there to where you have a way to continually collect that information, be able to evaluate it and be able to act on it. So that's part of where it does help to have that cross functional team that is responsible for that internally, that can look at this information that's coming in. Cause sometimes the solution isn't going to come from the traditional place, you know, it might come from HR, it might come from a production team. It might come from , um, your accounting team or it could come from, you know, and an executive administrator. You never know where the solution might come from, but the more that you can have a diverse team that's working on that, the greater perspective you can have in the greater , um, problem-solving and creativity you can have in that whole process.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's, that's brilliant. I, I love all of that and I think that's, that's exactly changing the focus. So do you see a trend in the financial services industry towards that end?

Speaker 2:

Um, not yet. There's, there's always been kind of this movement towards having more of a customer service focus, but like you said, with a lot of the technology, the way that it's rising , um, it's not being properly implemented. And so again, it's not the FinTech itself, that's the problem. It's how it's being implemented and utilized. Um, too often, people don't go through the whole process of properly sourcing their FinTech , um, or any technology, even if it's just their marketing technologies or whatever. So they end up with all these different pieces that don't communicate together and just create more redundancies and challenges and , and just bogged down the system overall. And that can impact the overall customer experience. Um, but a lot of it is yet we're seeing the technology challenges, but we're also seeing there's so many other pressures that are impacting , um, competitive newness . And so people trying to strive for competitive advantage while remaining profitable, keep looking at how can they reduce costs, reduce costs, improve profitability. And sometimes it's at that expense of the customer service. And that's what we've seen that happened quite a bit lately. Some companies are insourcing back or changing their habits, but a lot of these cost cutting measures have had unintended consequences. And so right now it's, I think everybody's feeling the pain, but we're not seeing a trend towards a customer-centric solution yet. It's just more of everybody's feeling the pain and not understanding what it is and still looking at it as more of a, a numbers issue or a sales issue or a goals issue and not as a human issue, but it's really, you're , you're dehumanizing your entire org, you know, the whole process and how you connect with the client. It's going to have negative implications.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, boy, it makes me think of , um , I think it was James Carville, who said when bill Clinton was running for president it's the economy stupid that really maybe the insurance industry and financial services industry should adopt it's the customer stupid yet . There might be a little too blunt for some of my audience that I think is that sort of bottom line.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I mean, bottom line, you need to put the customer first and you really need to understand their customer and their story, and you're going to have different customer segments. So their pinpoints are going meet different. The story you need to tell them needs to be different , um, because of where they're at in their life and what their faith is saying . And so that's really gotta be primary. Um, I mean, I lived in Austin for a very long time and they'll always tell you , um, cause you know, startups , startup central, they say before you even develop a product, the first thing you need to do is go out there and do a customer , um, surveys. You need to go out there and talk to your customers and what are their pain? What are they seeing? Don't start developing products and solutions until you understand that. And so the tech companies really well more in the startup startup world really understand that more than anybody else. It's just not translating into these other industries that you have to start with the customer because that's ultimately who you're trying to serve. That's ultimately who you're wanting to purchase from you. You know that they're , you're wanting them to buy from you. Um, but you can't want something from somebody until you've given something first and you have to give value and you have to understand what they need first to be able to give them the right value first. So it definitely think that's the starting point. Everything else from there you're going to get, you know, there's change management involved. There's you got to change your marketing message. Um, cause I know a big trend right now for a long time there was storytelling, but it was more brands telling their story. Well now your storytelling needs to be your , the customer needs to be the hero in the story, not you, the customer needs to be the hero in this story. It's about them. Not about you it's it's like, and that's how it is with a lot of companies these days, it's like being in a bad relationship where you're trying to, you know, talk to somebody and they never hear you. They never hear you. They're too busy talking about themselves. That's how most companies operate. They're too busy talking about themselves to truly hear what the customer needs and what they're saying.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Well, I , I, you know, I've been reminded to the sink . So, so much through this podcast is, you know, that's why we have two years in one mouth. So, you know, let's pivot a little bit is , um , you've been very active in , uh, helping women find their way in, you know, and especially in the insurance industry, in a male dominated industry, what are some of the unique for women and how can they succeed in the financial services industry?

Speaker 2:

Right. And that's kind of there , it's actually complicated answer and I know a lot of people try to over simplify it. And that's where I think some of the issues are coming from is that they assume that what's holding all women back is going to be the same for all women. And it's not the , uh , the case because what the challenges are for me as a mom are different from someone who's fresh out of college and starting out and also depending on , um, each of the different pockets of , of the environment. Um, but what we definitely need to start with by having more inclusivity and in most people misunderstand that they think inviting somebody, but expecting them to be held to, you know , act the same or be the same as everybody else as being inclusive. And that's not, that's assimilation. You need it to be inclusive means being, allowing a woman to be able to be a woman at the table. And, you know, being able to have that diversity and , and representing your entire client base, it's not just about women, but women of color and women of different backgrounds and women at different stages of their lives. Um, because they're going to have different challenges and different things that are influencing and , and holding them back. Um , definitely motherhood is a huge factor that affects and certain, certain companies are very much about hitting those quotas and working those crazy hours and not having the flexibility, but it's still a known fact that we're the primary caregivers. We're primarily once responsible for the household. Um, even in a more fair , um, relationship, I'm still constantly having to educate my own husband on what all it takes to run the household and what all it takes to make sure the kids get off to school and get picked up. And if there's an issue I'm still the first one that's called or those types of things, you know, so those things impact my flexibility, but that doesn't mean that it's affecting the quality of the work that I'm producing or what I'm able to bring to the table because we have this expectation of a very, a very specific way of working that was designed for , um, a worker that did not have some of these responsibilities, but it also means shifting to the other side, we also need to allow fathers to be fathers. We need to be able to have that flexibility in both sides. It can't be just flexibility for mothers. Um, and there's been a lot of case studies and things where they do put things in place to support mothers and support working, working mothers in the environment that working fathers are able to take advantage of that allows them to not only be better employees, but better fathers at home. And it feeds both ways. If you're satisfied at home, you're satisfied at work and vice versa. And if you get to bring your best self to both situations, you're , you're just overall satisfaction is going to be better. You're going to continue to produce more and you're just going to be just a better employee and a better staff member overall. So it's not, it's not a simple , um , solution, but the more that we can be about having representation of , of women, of all backgrounds in leadership roles, in all departments that they're not relegated to administration or in the back office , um, that they are actually serving in a variety of roles that they're visible, that visibility is going to continue to help. Um, women also need to take control of , um, learning how to become more visible, communicating more. Um, we just talked about this at the a woman's conference in February, and that was the whole theme of the entire conferences is get visible. And how do you do that? And it's helping women learn how to communicate what they're bringing to the table, tooting their own horn a little bit more , um, and , and really being able to know and understand the value that they bring , um, and being able to also build alliances to help them do that. And so it's not a man versus woman thing we need to be working together. Um, and , and same thing among women, we need to be supporting each other. We need to be supporting , um, our male colleagues and vice versa. Anybody that's an ally for us. Um, and then understanding again to what other different backgrounds and what challenges does that bring and being able to provide resources and support and being willing to restructure our expectations around work and what it means to produce and be a good worker. It's not necessarily that button seat scenario. It's not necessarily a very rigid work schedule. It's not necessarily , um, you know, there's just certain aspects to what, how we've kind of evolved and what our expectations are about what makes someone a good worker or a producer in certain areas. So often we don't actually look at what they're producing. We look at how much are they checking in? How much are they clocking in? How much are they able to be at the happy hours? How much are they able to meet these certain things? And we need to change that expectation before we can get any more diversity regardless of gender, but just any diversity in some of these more , um, diverse roles and in some of these more leadership roles,

Speaker 1:

What that that's powerful. And , um , I think that does get back to a little bit of your message about , um, the customer, is that the expectation is that people , uh , and I think this is true of most people just innately is that we like people who are like ourselves and feel more comfortable about them. But if we want to be genuine, genuinely , uh, inclusive with our clients with our employees is that we need to hear their story , uh, and actually take it seriously , uh, and integrated into what we do and think that, you know, point this isn't just about us. This is about how women feel, you know, as a man, how women feel , um, you know, for that once or twice for my wife, maybe so that I may not be listening or interpreting her reality. Um, and you know, so I think that's just so powerful as to change that perspective. And , um, yeah, and I think at the same time too, is, you know, women or anybody else who is not the majority in any situation is that you do have to tell your story because people aren't getting now , um, I've been in situations, you know, where I'm not, you know, in the majority is I'm breaking into a new , uh, area. And so it's always, you know, w what's that message, you know, and, you know, I think all of us at certain points feel like, yeah, we, we feel a little bit like the outsider. Um, and I know that women in business, that's a huge problem. Um , like , and I'm sure you're familiar with this is when I came into the insurance industry, women were the HR person that was the job. You know, if women were going to be a vice president , they were going to be the vice president of HR. And it was like, well , why , um, you know, maybe because I'm younger, I grew up, you know, with a women being completely equal and everything it did. So I had no , uh , you know, it never made sense to me. So I know

Speaker 2:

Where it was always all hands on deck. So when I got into the workforce and I was like, why are, why are all the guys over here? You're my , all the gals over there. Like, it never sat well with me because that's not how I was. Um , but one thing that you talked to you about is you kind of briefly mentioned on telling your story. And that's one of the things that I think women struggle with in general. And , and again, this came up a lot at our conferences. They discount their experience, they discount where they're coming from. Especially if you have to leave, you know , the workforce for family reasons, or you have , um, there's, this we've come embarrassed or, or kind of downplay certain things. But when you have to remember is it's your story. You own it. You get to write the story that you're going to tell you, get to write the story you're going to live. And so, you know, don't be ashamed of, you know, that you had to take time off to take care of family. Don't be ashamed of the fact that you can't go to every happy hour. Like I used to try and hit every happy hour, but I have three children. And my youngest is autistic. You know, childcare is not easy, so I'm , I don't do happy hour events anymore. And I don't apologize for that anymore is my, my story is, is that after, you know, six o'clock, that is time for my family. It is not time for work. And that is my story. My story is not, Oh, I can't do this. I don't get to go do this. Or I had to take a year sabbatical for health reasons. It doesn't mean that you know, that my career is any less valued. That doesn't mean that my trajectory is off or anything like that is that I needed that break. It helped me re-energize and now I'm that full force and can do these things, but so often women like downplay or tuck or demean their experience, or, you know , just have a negative story that they tell about where they're at in their career, or what's happening to their career, or what they feel is holding them back in their career, instead of changing that story and, and, and owning it and making it, putting a positive spin on it. You're not lying. You're just changing your point of view, that the way that you're looking at everything, instead of looking at it as a challenge, instead of looking at it as a roadblock, what is the opportunity? What lesson did you learn if you had a setback, if you had to change industries, if you had to change careers, you still learned from those experiences and those experiences still have tremendous value on where you're at today. And how are you applying that in a positive way, focus on that story instead of focusing on the negative aspects, or again, just, we're really good at telling bad stories about ourselves. And so that's something I think that women really need to do. And from, in terms of us , um, what we can control and what we can do, we can control the story that we're telling about ourselves. Um, not only to others, but in our own heads, we need to be telling better stories to ourselves in our own heads.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, I think that's true of all people on everything and, you know, T to get back to our conversation a little bit about customers is I think that's also something with customers that financial services industry is they tell negative stories, you know, people talk about, you know, the claims problem they had, or the problem with their bank overcharged them or whatever is that people tend to tell the most negative story. Um, and so I think it's so powerful what you're doing is, you know , helping people to change their point of view and to tell better story. And that for companies, you know, whether it's female employees or , uh , minority employees , um, you know, what have you, and for their own customers is, you know, they have a different story and you have to understand that. And then you know, that we, each, as people have to, you know, tell our own story. So, you know, There you go own it. That can be that . Uh, so, you know , um, what have you , um, how do you juggle all these things? Cause you've got a lot going on and that's when , uh, you know, questions I always ask is how do you juggle so much?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I mean, it's one of those things that I feel like recently I've gotten much better at it. Um, I've gotten really clear about what I want, what I value and what I need to be focusing my time and energy on and be like , I've eliminated everything else. So there was a lot of things for a long time that I was doing, because I was trying to live up to some expectation, especially in the marketing space. There's, it's such an ego driven ego driven industry. Um, and there's just all these expectations that you have to doing all these different things , um, and, you know, be traveling and be doing all of these speaking engagements and be, you know, have , um, videos going and podcasts going and serve on X number of boards and be seen and be seen and be seen. And , um, I was doing all of that and running myself into the ground and not really seeing any ROI from it. So I've gotten very clear about what I, what I will, what I enjoy, what allows me to bring my best self to the table. What's in line with my values and what's in line with my personal and professional goals. So I do have some very significant personal health goals right now that I'm not compromising on whatsoever. Um, and that has allowed me to eliminate a lot of activities. So I don't do any happy hour events anymore. Um, I significantly limit my travel to about once a month and I am, you know, focused on those activities that truly do allow me to connect with like-minded people that allow me to connect with the right type of audiences and industries. And then I protect my time so that I can get my downtime. Um, if I can rest and recharge properly, I'm so much more productive. I can get four times more done in the same amount of time versus a , by trying to force myself to do 12 hours straight. I'm just wasting the other four hours. I'm not being productive at all. Whereas if I get that downtime and I have the time where I'm focused with my family and the time where I'm focused on myself, then I can come, you know, Roran really knock it out of the park when I come to work. Um, so that's been, the other thing is I just don't feel fresher to serve on boards anymore, or to be present at all of these events. Um, and I don't feel pressured to have to , um, you know, glorify busy and , and just, you know, work these crazy hours. I focus more on, what's really gonna move the needle and focus on those projects instead. And all the other stuff I'll get to it when I get to it, but to do list is never done. So I just, I , I do as much as I can and, and then give, you know, make sure I have that those boundaries in place. So that's something, and I've only recently started doing that, but it's made a huge difference. I feel a lot better. Um, but, and I do see, I I'm able to bring my best self and , and more quality ideas and quality work to my clients as well as to my home, to my family.

Speaker 1:

That's great. Well, I know you've given me some fantastic ideas, so I , I, I know you're, you're delivering your best and , um, you know, just to kind of close out , I also like to ask people, you know, if they have a funny or interesting story they want to share.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that one , um, I was, I was thinking about that . I was trying to think of one that was appropriate.

Speaker 1:

Is this more of a happy hour story?

Speaker 2:

Um, so I did stop drinking back in August, but , um, and I never was a heavy drinker, but I did earn a nickname at happy hour. Um, so one of my nicknames, I earned shenanigans. Yeah. Cause people can never, you know, after, after they've had a couple of drinks, no one can say my name. And so , um, yeah, that's my, one of my nicknames is shenanigans and most people's phones do auto-correct . My name does shenanigans too. So it kind of stuck one of the , I guess, more tame stories I could share.

Speaker 1:

Well, we could have another podcast to talk about the rest of the stories.

Speaker 2:

Well , we lead every podcast .

Speaker 1:

This has been great, you know, I mean, you've shared so much and I really appreciate that. Um, so where can people learn more about you and I I'll put in a URL in the show notes, but how can people get in touch with you and learn about what you're doing?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. Um, so the name of our companies is Connor creative company. Now that's Connor , that's C O N N O R M because ever since I got remarried, no, one's misspelled my first name, but they keep misspelling Connor, but it's Connor , creative co.com is our website. And I'm , I blog there every week and constantly putting out resources and content there. Again, I'm very, I mean , I'm a lifelong learner , so I'm always putting out educational content on marketing and , um, leadership and things like that. Um, you can find me on LinkedIn. I'm very active on LinkedIn and it's just Shenandoah Connor . Um, and , uh , I kind of, you know, do a little bit of Twitter, not as much as I used to, but I'm also on Twitter as well. And there I'm shin and do a TX. Um, she didn't do a Texas. Yeah. So those would be the big ways to reach me.

Speaker 1:

All right . Well, fantastic. I will add that , um , to the show notes, so people will be able to find you , um, thanks again for coming on today. It's been a pleasure and , uh, for everybody listening or watching, please be sure to subscribe to the podcast. Uh, thanks again, Shenandoah. It's been a real pleasure .

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. Thank you, Tony.

Speaker 3:

[inaudible] .