Our episode guest is Deb Boelkes, Founder at Business World Rising. Deb is on a tear, transforming the business world into one you'll love and never want to leave.
Five things you’ll learn from this episode:
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About Deb Boelkes
Deb Boelkes is the award-winning author of "The WOW Factor Workplace: How to Create a Best Place to Work Culture" and "Heartfelt Leadership: How to Capture the Top Spot and Keep on Soaring." Deb is not just a role model heartfelt leader; she’s the ultimate authority on creating the best places to work, with 25+ years in Fortune 150 technology firms, leading superstar sales, marketing, and professional services teams. As an entrepreneur, she has accelerated advancement for women to senior leadership. As an author and keynote speaker, Deb has delighted and inspired over 1,000 audiences across North America and beyond.
Guest’s contact info and resources:
- [Narrator] Welcome to On Top of PR with Jason Mudd presented by ReviewMaxer.
- Hello and welcome to On Top of PR. I'm your host Jason Mudd. Today I'm joined by Deb Boelkes with 25 years of experience leading superstar sales, marketing, and professional services team at Fortune 150 tech firms. Deb is an award-winning author of two books, "The WOW Factor Workplace: "How to Create a Best Place to Work Culture." And "Heartfelt Leadership: "How to Capture the Top Spot and Keep on Soaring." Deb is not only just a role model heartfelt leader, she's also an authority on creating best places to work. As an entrepreneur, she has accelerated advancement for women to senior leadership. And as an author and keynote speaker, she has more than a thousand speaking engagements on her resume. Deb delights and inspires audiences worldwide. Deb, welcome to On Top of PR.
- Thank you, Jason. I'm delighted to be here today.
- Well, and I'm glad you're here too. I'm glad to be here. We met at a book event and have been talking for a while now about getting you on this show. And so we're so glad to be here. Thank you for the opportunity to share your smarts with our audience of marketing and public relations leaders.
- So anything that I missed about you in your bio or any interesting factoid you'd like to share with our audience as we get started?
- Goodness. Well, no that was pretty much the overall major portion of my bio. In addition to working in Fortune 150 companies for almost 30 years. I was an entrepreneur after that and had a leadership development company, which I started out in California focused originally on accelerating advancement for women to senior leadership. We broadened that out and focused on helping men and women accelerate to senior leadership of best place to work companies. And it was interesting because so many people that we talked to said, "Hey I'm not sure I really wanna lead this company. I'm not sure I love working here." Hence the first book that I put out, which wasn't going to be my first book. Actually, my first book was gonna be the one that I'm about to publish, which is "Women on Top: What's Keeping You From Executive Leadership". So that one is just about to come out, will come out this fall. And the first two that I did put out were mostly because we found out wow, people aren't really loving where they work and if they're going to be the greatest leader possible, it's all about having a great place that you're leading and turning it into a great place. So that's, I guess the little bit more that you could add to the bio that you just talked about.
- That's great. Deb. I can tell you there's a very prominent fortune 500 company that hired us once to help create, promote them as great place to work and a great contributor to the local economy and an organization that gives back to their community. And we said, "Great. "You know, that's our specialty. "We'd be glad to help you do that." And the data started coming back to show, well, they really don't give a lot of money. Their employees really aren't happy working there. And these volunteer programs that they think they have that are so active, come to find out, aren't very active at all. And so we said, "Okay, you know, that's all right. "We can help you get there." And a couple weeks later they came back and just said, "Hey, "how do we get out of this contract? "'cause I just don't think we really have the tolerance "or interest in trying to change this." And I thought, you know, getting out of the contract should be the least of your worries, right? At this point. So, you know, let's, let's pretend for a minute. We're talking to that audience, Deb, how, how do we convince them to kind of think a little bit differently, you know, about turning around the ship and trying to become a best place to work? What's the value in it?
- Well, I tell you, there's, there's an awful lot of value in it, both for just the overall culture of the company, the satisfaction of your employees and your, the satisfaction of your employees, is it directly correlates with the satisfaction of your customers and for the folks that are probably listening to this audio, this podcast, it's, it's all about having a wow brand that just customers love and wouldn't ever want to buy from somebody else. More importantly, though, how you get there is by having a place where people love to work, line up to get jobs there and wouldn't ever want to work any place else because they love it so much. They love their boss. They have the best boss. They love what they're doing. And when you love what you're doing, you're a great person to be around. You are enjoyable to be around. And I mean, nobody wants to be around people who aren't enjoyable. So it really all goes hand in hand lockstep. And when you've got folks who are not happy in their job, believe me, that feeling how they're feeling is going to be pervasive and how they interact with a customer. So if you want to have a great place to work and you want to have a wonderful perception out there in the marketplace, you got to walk the walk and walk the talk, talk the talk.
- Absolutely, I completely agree Deb. And you know, that's always been something that I look for. If I was ever in the job, in the position for a job market, I'm going to look at the list of best places to work, right? And companies who care and seem to take care of their employees. And, you know, we try to create that same experience at Axia and you know, it makes it, you know, where if you, like you said, if you love what you're doing and the company you're doing it for, and the people you're doing it with, then you're ultimately going to do a better job and just have less stress and more enjoyment and satisfaction in your life.
- Absolutely. Yeah. I, I talk about it in the book. As a matter of fact, give, I give examples. Because a lot of people say, "How, I don't even know "what a great place to let work looks like. "I've never worked for one." So how would they know? So we kind of have to spend a little bit of time talking about what does that great place to work look like?
- [Jason] Right?
- And from a customer's perspective, it's a place that as a customer, it takes your breath away, their products and their services, and their people take your breath away. Time and again. Now, you probably don't think of too many places that do that, but I give some examples in my book. In the "WOW Factor Workplace", they do exist out there. And I can tell you, if you want to enjoy your life, you want to enjoy your career. You want to enjoy every day when you get up. Where work is not work, it's all about building that kind of a culture where it takes your breath away. And you're thrilled to be there every minute. And everybody around you is that same way.
- Yeah. Well, let's talk some examples, Deb. I'd love to hear some examples. Feel free to name, drop a company names or, or anecdotal, you know, examples that you might have that create a WOW factor for a workplace.
- Oh, absolutely. Gosh. I've got several of them. One of them right here in Florida is a steak house, Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Florida. I don't know if you've been there, but it's one of those places. At least the first time I went there and it never fails to take my breath away, when I go in. And it starts from the moment you walk in door until you get to your dining place where you're going to actually spend your evening. And the service that you get is impeccable. You never feel like you're being watched, but somebody has magically there when you want anything. And most importantly, when you talk to the people that work there, you can tell it is just it's, it's endemic. You sense that they love working there. And when you ask them, "how long have you worked here?" You're going to be stunned to find out. Some of these people have worked there 30 and 40 years. They don't even look old enough to have worked there that long, but that's because every day is refreshing. They wake up every morning and they're energized by going to work. So that's one place that I would, I would use as an example, especially here, we're here in Florida. Another place I would suggest is Southwest Airlines. It's one of those airlines that some people may or may not love to fly on them, especially if they want to have a ticket that has their assigned seats and they want to go right to that assigned seat without worrying about where they sit.
- [Jason] Right.
- On the other hand, you've got people who love that opportunity to go and pick their seat whenever they get on the plane. But for the most part, while you're on that plane, it's a happy place to be. Typically the flight attendants are happy. They have a smile on their face. Well, when you can see them, when they're not wearing a mask, it's a little bit different these days.
- [Jason] Sure, sure.
- They're normally joking over the intercom. And I can tell you when I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Southwest Airlines, the first time I went to their corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas. And interestingly enough, if you think of Southwest, their logo is wings like air airline, captain wings, with a heart, and they talk about their old tagline was, "Somebody up there loves you." And love is in virtually everything that they do, it's in their branding. And I mean, to think of how many places, have you seen, where the word love shows up either in their brand, in their tag, in anything that they do, anything in their workplace, it's almost never a word that we hear, but they absolutely exude it. And when you go into their corporate headquarters, oh my goodness. It's, it's an amazing place to be. And I, I just had such a great time interviewing One of the people that is in the book, "The WOW Factor" both my books, "WOW Factor", "Workplace", and "Heartfelt Leadership" was the, it was President Emerita Colleen Barrett. And Colleen has worked almost every day of her life up until, and even after she retired from Southwest Airlines, as the president, she had worked in virtually every kind of position you could have that was in the office. And before they founded Southwest Airlines with Herb Kelleher, who was the co founder, and she worked, she worked with Herb like that. Their offices were right next to each other, but she actually was his secretary when he was an attorney, before he even came up with the idea for Southwest Airlines, they still loved being together. And they, so they weren't married to each other. Herb's got a wife and, and they all have their separate personal lives, but they just really enjoyed being together. And it was all about helping other people to have that same enjoyment at the office and beyond.
- [Jason] Okay, yeah, that's a great example. Well, good. Well, Deb, let's take a quick break and I'm going to come back and ask you more questions about how to be a WOW factor brand and
- How our audience of marketers and corporate communicators can learn how to do that.
- Okay, great.
- [Narrator] You are listening to On Top of PR with your host, Jason Mudd. Jason is a trusted advisor to some of America's most admired and fastest growing brands. He is the managing partner at Axia Public Relations, a PR agency that guides news, social and web strategies for national companies. And now back the show.
- Welcome back to On Top of PR we're with Deb Boelkes today, and we're talking about how to create a WOW factor brand. Deb, thank you so much for joining us. Tell us a little bit more about how to create a WOW factor brand.
- My favorite topic, one thing I do want to say, is having a WOW factor brand starts with you. So many people think "I can't do it, not here. We've got these other issues" or "the CEO isn't quite into it". Sort of like the story that you were talking about earlier, Jason.
- [Jason] Right.
- But at the end of the day, wherever you are, whether you were at a first-line manager or you're an individual contributor, you're a mid-level manager, or you're at the top of the ladder, it all starts with you and your own personal attitude. And as I said earlier, it's hard to have a WOW factor workplace or a WOW factor brand. If you aren't wowing people and wowing yourself every single day. So it's important to put on a great attitude, think about smiling and thinking about enjoying what you're doing. If you don't enjoy what you're doing, it's time to have a heart to heart with yourself and also with your manager and think about what you really want to be doing and move on to whatever that is, because you'll never be great at what you're doing. And the people who work around you, aren't going to be great at doing what they do either if you're bringing them down. So having that WOW factor brand starts with you loving what you do. And you, especially if you're a manager, if you're leading anyone, or even if you're an individual contributor still exuding the fact that you love what you do and you inspire everybody else around you to be the best they can be. And then that, then you can start focusing on the products and services that your company offers and get really creative where you're not bringing each other down saying, "Oh, no, we can't think that that's not what we do here". Be open-minded and think about fun or at least think about the kind of brand that you want to be, which usually has got to entail having people love your brand. So they come to your brand. They wouldn't think about doing anything else, but again, it starts with you and no excuses that, well, if I, if my boss isn't like that, I can't be that way. Yes, you can. Wherever you are, start it. And wherever you are, those who are around you are going to start being that same way too. It's contagious. It's amazing what you can do to impact everybody else above you. And aside from you. And then when you're out there having dealings with your marketplace, you know, whether you're actually out there with, in business to business environment, selling to other businesses, or if you're with in the retail industry, however it is, you communicate with those customers, you want it to exude having a great time. And the only way you exude that is when you are.
- Right. Right. So, Deb, what I'm hearing you say is a couple of things: One you're reminding me of a, was it Steve Farber who says, "do what you love in the service of people who love what you do". And you're also kind of reminding me of this idea that we are our own brand individually. And if we can bring our full self, right, and our WOW factor and our passion and energy and enthusiasm to our workplace, it will be infectious. It will be contagious and others will pick up on the positive vibe that we're bringing. And then if we can be that inspiration to others, and then it has the, you know, what would you call that the, the viral effect of, of, you know, catching on to others. And then hopefully we can turn the company around, you know, as well. Overall, in addition to that, you're, you're talking about things that remind me of what we talk about when we have ideation and brainstorming sessions, which is, you know, think positive, right? Focus on desired outcomes, but also, you know, have fun doing it. And the more fun we're having at work, the more creative we get to be the more playful we are at work, you know, the better people seem to enjoy what they're doing.
- Absolutely. And I mean, and also put yourself in the customer's shoes. If you were your own customer, how would you feel? How would you want to be treated?
- [Jason] Right.
- So you, you want to treat others and provide others with the things that, that you would want to be treated with or provided by yourself.
- [Jason] Yeah. That's very true.
- You've got to put yourself in those shoes.
- [Jason] Yeah. Okay. Awesome. Deb, is there another example of a company that does this well, that you want to share with us?
- Oh, golly. I hate to talk about food places all the time, but there's a, there's a hotel, right, right near me. And they have a fantastic dining room that is kind of a go-to place for my family. Whenever we want to have a really special experience, we know that we'll have it there. And they had at one point, unfortunately she's retired. And so she's moved on now. But one of the people that really caught my attention early on when I first moved here in the very first time I went to this dining room in this hotel, the chef actually came out and talked to us, which is not that unusual. You may have chefs come out and talk to you a lot. But usually they come out, "Oh, are you having a good time? "Is the food good? What can I do to help?" And they're pretty serious. And they go away and you wish they'd go away. Well. In this case, this was the most jovial chef who was passionate about what she did. And she just came up like you were the only customer that she wanted to specifically get to know that very day. And she wanted to find exactly what you wanted and what could she do to make this the best, whatever it is you were going to order that day. And maybe she could do something a little bit special for you. She had that conversation with us at our table. Well, and then she said, "And if you'd like, "I'll take you in the back and I'll show you where I cook "and I'll do something really special for you". Now. That's not something that they normally do in a restaurant, but that was how she ran her place. And she ran the entire beautiful, very upscale dining room with just that down home, happy Southern attitude. So there's another example. Let me give you another example. There is a company that's a software development company and they create software to help truckers. So companies that run trucking lines, you know, that deliver the food and drive the trucks all over the nation to deliver whatever they're delivering to, to the end, to the end places. Well, you can imagine how important it is for trucking companies to keep their truckers happy. So they don't decide to not not be driving for this company anymore, go drive for another company. And so this company started creating software based on their own personal leadership philosophy. Their their and how they built their brand of a prior business that they had all based on, again, kind of this WOW factor, feel the love kind of thing. And so they developed software and they help the companies focus in on what are those things that will make a driver really happy to be a driver for your organization? What special things can you do for that driver? And a lot of the time it comes to listening, you know, listening to what your customers, your employees are saying, feeding that back and then taking action on it. Don't just listen and go, "Oh yeah, that's nice. "Yeah. Well, we tried that before. "We're not doing that again." Whatever you've done before you need to realize it wasn't the same then. Even if you were in the same business in the same industry, circumstances are always different. People are always different. So you need to, you need to listen and follow that through. So this interesting, this software development company was all about sharing love with their employees, making sure that their employees who wrote the software loved working there and they loved interacting with their customers. And therefore the people that bought their software loved working with them. And then of course, the end people who were, they were actually measuring and trying to help satisfy where the end trucker. So, you know, you can have a great brand, no matter what you do. And a lot of us forget even things as mundane as driving a truck
- [Jason] Right.
- Can be fabulous.
- Yeah, that's great Deb. Thank you for sharing that. I think one of the key takeaways too, of that trucking company, it sounds like were; they're very good at being active listeners and hearing what the marketplace either was asking for, or being intuitive enough to hear where there's a need or a gap or demand and an opportunity to fill it.
- Absolutely. And in fact, the other example I gave about the chef who came out, it was that, it was all about engaging in a dialogue where she really wanted to know what you had to say, and then she wanted to show you how I can do what you just asked. Let me show you.
- Oh yeah. I love that. Yeah, that's great. Well, Deb, if our audience who heard you speak today wants to connect to you and either, you know, get to know you better or engage you for speaking engagement or other ways, how do they best get ahold of you? What's your preferred way of them reaching you?
- Well, there's a one way is to go to my website, which you can get there either by my name, Deb Boelkes. B-O-E-L-K-E-S, or the name of my company, which is Business World Rising.
- [Deb And Jason] Business World.
- [Jason] Rising.
- [Jason] Okay.
- And just to confuse things too, I have another website that is Heartfelt Leadership, just like my second book. So any of those will get you to me.
- [Jason] Okay, excellent. Are you also on LinkedIn, Deb?
- I am, I'm on LinkedIn and I am Deb Boelkes. So if you just go to LinkedIn and then what is it in or whatever it is, and then slash Deb, D-E-B, and my last name B-O-E-L-K-E-S.
- Perfect. Excellent. Thank you for joining us for this recording. I was so glad to do this with you, and I hope that we can stay in touch. We'll provide links to all of those ways to get ahold of you in the episode notes. So that's very convenient for our audience to get connected with you, Deb.
- Great and I should also say that there is a link on Business World Rising that if you say slash On Top of PR, I have a special offer for the listeners to get a sample of my newest book. That's not out yet.
- Oh, that sounds wonderful.
- You can be the first to see what I have to say in the next book.
- That'd be great. Deb, what is that address again?
- That addresses is businessworldrising.com and then slash, On Top of PR.
- Perfect, Deb, thank you for offering that to our audience. I'm sure they'll appreciate it, we appreciate it. And it'll be a great way for them to get connected with you.
- Absolutely looking forward to it.
- Excellent. This has been a great episode of On Top of PR. Thank you for tuning in and listening to Deb and her advice. If you found value in this conversation, please take a moment and share this with a colleague who would also benefit from it. And with that, this has been Jason Mudd signing off, helping you stay on top of PR.
- [Narrator] This has been On Top of PR with Jason Mudd presented by ReviewMaxar. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. And check out past shows at OnTopOfPr.com.