Michael Roderick | Building Relationships, Building Your Business

Adam LeanPodcast

When it comes down to it, your success in business is about people, notes Michael Roderick. Your customers and clients. Your business partners. The people you know who will refer you to others. 

You can’t take these relationships for granted if you hope to leverage them to help grow your venture. You have to develop them… cultivate them. But that doesn’t mean flooding social media with posts and comments, cold emailing potential partners, or handing out your business card. 

In fact, networking and relationship building the way you’re doing it now is probably all wrong. Michael shares a more polished and effective approach for creating a network that will lead to more business opportunities.

Tune in for details, including…

  • The importance of “packaging” your ideas the right way
  • A simple “trick” for making your ideas (and business) grab and hold attention
  • What you must do to get influencers on board with your message
  • The role of research in building relationships with a human touch
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:


Adam Lean: In this episode, we’re going to talk about how to grow your business by becoming helpful givers and thought leaders in your field. We’re going to find out how to seek and find connections with influencers, decision-makers, referral partners and advocates for your work and much more. This is P is for Profit.

Adam: Welcome to P is for Profit. My name is Adam Lean and I along with the rest of the team at The CFO Project are passionate about helping business owners improve the profitability of their business. My guest today helps business owners cultivate the right relationships so they can grow their business. Michael Roderick, welcome to the show. 

Michael Roderick: Thanks so much for having me, Adam. I’m excited to be here. 

Adam: So I’m excited to jump in. There’s a lot I want to talk about and ask you in regards to growing the business by becoming a helpful giver and a thought leader in your field. That’s, but first, tell us sort of who you are your background, why you got started working with business owners.

How Michael Got Started Working With Business Owners

Michael: Sure, sure. So I started out actually, as a high school English teacher, and I went from being a high school English teacher to a Broadway producer in under two years. 

Adam: Oh, my goodness. 

Michael: So a lot of people were very curious as to how I did that. And I would have people just kind of keep asking me, like, how do you get in the stores? How do you make things happen so quickly? So I was getting my masters at the time in Educational Theatre and one of the things that we learned about was the power of simulations where basically you have people act out particular scenarios. So I’ve started studying networking by having people act out networking scenarios, right? I actually have people act out one on one meetings, job interviews and cocktail parties. 

And based on what I saw, I noticed that a lot of people had patterns in terms of just how they interacted with each other. And patterns are always the precursor to frameworks. So I started teaching the frameworks around relationship building. And people kind of kept coming to me and saying, like, Hey, can you help me with this? You help me with this etc. And over time, what I noticed was that in addition to all these relationship-building principles, that the wing that I was teaching was the thing that was getting me a lot of interview opportunities and a lot of people coming my way. 

So I realized, oh, wait a second. It’s not just about getting in these doors, it’s about how you package your ideas. And that’s what really led me into this field of helping people on the thought leadership side and really looking at what can you do to accelerate those relationships by making sure that you have really fantastic content when somebody does invite you in. And that’s a very, very quick, you know, sort of Reader’s Digest version, if you will, of my journey. 

Adam: Wow. So English teacher to Broadway producer. Just curious, what was the catalyst for that?

Michael: Yeah, I was always involved in theater, sort of, throughout most of my life. And one of the things that I was doing, while I was teaching, was I was kind of studying what the Broadway dynamic was. And one of the things that I learned was that most people were very, very interested in the idea of credit. So basically, if you raise a certain amount of money, you get your name above the title on a particular, you know, on a particular show or a particular project. 

So what would happen would be other producers would go to higher-level producers and say, I will raise this amount of money, and I want my name on this. And they would basically negotiate that type of deal. And what I wanted to do was I just wanted to get better at raising money and understanding the dynamics behind it. So what I did was I went to producers and I basically said, I’m actually not interested in having my name on anything until I really feel strongly that I’ve done it kind of justice. 

So if you want to give me a deal flow, I’m more than happy to go out there, raise money, get better at it, and I don’t need credit right now. And that just led to a lot of producers basically giving me a deal flow and saying like, here’s shows. Yeah, go out and raise the money. So I built this pretty substantial level of credibility amongst people in my industry. And I was offered credit very, very early in my career without having to really negotiate for it at all.

Adam: So, I mean, did that experience sort of lend itself to what you do now? I mean, is that the idea is that you’re using that experience of building relationships?


Michael: Yeah. It definitely influences the work that I do now in a number of ways. I mean, relationship building is a key part of the work that I do, but also when I was working in Broadway, it was about packaging, right? Like you had this think about how do you get somebody to make an investment in something that is pretty high risk, like it’s not a common type of thing. It’s not a very safe investment. 

So you really have to package the product or the show in such a way that people felt like they had to do it or that they were really interested in sort of being a part of that world. And relationship building is all about understanding other people and figuring out what is it that they’re motivated by, what is it that they’re interested in, and crafting the message around that.

Adam: Yeah, that makes sense. So, and these are sort of, you know, the art of selling, if you will. Packaging and the relationship building. So let’s start with packaging. How can a business owner whether they are selling a physical product or a service, what are some tips or what are some things that they need to think about when packaging their product or service and trying to sell people who are, may not know or trust them or even know they exist yet? 

Michael: So the first thing I’ll say is that very, very often what happens is the business owner tries to explain what it is that they do. And it’s not about what it is that you do. It’s about what you do for the client. And it’s just, it’s about you taking the time to basically say, Okay, what am I doing that is helping this particular individual? And the way I like to look at it is, if you don’t do at least one of these three things, you’ll be SAD in your business. SAD. And that solves a problem, alleviate pain, or decrease friction. So you have to think, how is my business, how is what I’m offering, solving this person’s problem? 

Like, what is their problem? And then what kind of pain are they experiencing that offering the service is going to help them get rid of? And then finally, if they did hire me, how much friction would they have in getting this thing done themselves? Like what are they doing? And if you can craft that narrative in such a way in that people see, oh, it just, you know, this, hiring this person or working with this person is going to make my life so much easier. It’s going to make it so much easier for me to get to the goal that I’m interested in, then you’re going to have much, much less trouble. 

Because most times, and this happens in relationships all the time, people try to prove their value, right? They try to be like, Hey, this is why you should work with me or this is why I’m valuable and this is why you should talk to me. And it’s not about proving your value. It’s about showing that you can help somebody achieve the thing that they want to achieve. That’s what it is. It’s not about telling people what you can do, it’s about showing them. 

And that actually has the second point which I refer to it as a magic trick. So every magician that you will meet has a trick that they can show you and then they can show you how to to it, right? So they’ll show you the trick you’ll be amazed and then they’ll say, Okay, now watch. And they’ll show you the behind the scenes exactly how to do the trick. And what does that do? That causes you to take that trick, show up at a cocktail party and then show off that trick to other people, not because it makes the magician look good, but because it makes you look good. 

So every entrepreneur needs to have their own magic trick. They need to have something that’s really really easy to explain. It’s really easy to break down that other people will take and show to their friends because it makes them look good. That’s the important piece. So often we don’t think about how do our ideas make other people look good? We think how do our ideas make us look good? And that’s not going to help the idea be spread.

Adam: Yeah, now that’s very interesting. It’s solve a problem, decrease pain, decrease friction, all those alleviate pain, decrease friction, all those things are sort of your packaging your product or service. So can you give us an example of how a business owner could create their own magic trick, if you will? So what would be a couple of examples for that?

Michael: Yeah, it’s so SAD is a magic trick, right? What I just explained to you is a magic trick. Because I’m telling, I’m giving you something that’s super easy to remember, which means anybody listening to this interview is going to walk away and they are going to probably tell somebody about that idea, because it makes them look good. So they’re like, Hey, have you heard about these three things that you need to think about with the business, right?

TED Talks are another perfect example. The TED Talks that get shared the most are the ones that have the simplest idea, right? So if the TED Talk has a very, very simple idea that easy for people to share and easy for people to talk about then it gets shared all over the place. And that is a magic trick, right? The Golden Circle from Simon Sinek start with why TED Talk is a magic trick.

Because everybody can draw a circle and look smart in front of their friends. A cartoon that Tim urban draws in the week what why TED Talk, where he shows us the procrastination monkey and the wheel and us trying. All of that is something that people will try to draw or explain to their friends because it’s a magic trick. They think it’s fun. They think it’s cool. And we see this all the time. Like when things get spread, it comes down to this aspect of we look good as a result of spreading it. 

So any viral video is not about the content of the video, it’s about the ego of the person who is sharing the video. If I share a funny video, it tells you that I’m funny. It tells the rest of my audience that I’m funny. It says that I’m a good curator. So when we package something, we make it really, really easy for people to share it. We make it really, really easy for them to look smart, and them to work cool. Then all of a sudden, people just start sharing it all the time. 

Adam: That makes a lot of sense. So let’s talk about the idea of being a thought leader. And, you know, I started off this episode by saying that you help people become helpful givers and then thought leaders. So explain what that is and how it helps business owners.

Leadership is About Sharing Ideas

Michael: Sure. So from the standpoint of a helpful giver or a thoughtful giver, most of the time, we’re not thinking from the angle of like, what are we actually doing for the other person? Because as entrepreneurs, it’s too easy for us to kind of get in our own head about like, well what do I need to sell? And what do I need to put out there? So by being a thoughtful giver, what you’re doing is you’re thinking about how is this serving not only the individuals that I’m working with but how is this serving the community as a whole, right? 

So if you’re in a particular industry, what are the trends of that industry? How are you thinking about what you’re adding the picture, is that actually creating a better experience? And that ties directly into the idea of thought leadership because thought leadership is about sharing ideas that get people to think differently. And that’s the most important thing. If you want to be a thought leader. It’s not about just spouting a bunch of content, it’s about putting content together that gets people to think differently. If they start thinking differently, then you’re in the field of a thought leader. 

If you’re just spouting the same stuff that other people are doing or recycling everybody else’s phrases or concepts, etc, then you’re not a thought leader, you’re a thought follower of the leader. That’s really all you are. If you’re a thought leader, you’re asking yourself, what kinds of things are interesting to me? That could make other people think? How am I going to make other people think differently? How am I going to help them to think differently? How am I going to drop the breadcrumbs? 

When I worked in more in the entertainment serve theater space, I had a professor who used to say that good directors drop bread crumbs for their actors. They don’t tell the actor Hey, you know, be mad or be sad. They ask them leading questions that say, Okay, this person just slammed the door in your face. How does that make you feel, right? They would drop the breadcrumbs. And that’s the type of work that you do as a thought leader. You drop the breadcrumbs, you get people thinking differently and then they say, wow, that idea is fascinating. 

I need to talk to that person more, right? And ultimately, like, that is what your goal is as a business owner. As a business owner, your goal is to deliver content in such a way that people basically say, I need to listen to this person more. I need to find out more about what they’re about. The example I often use is the show Breaking Bad. So a lot of people know this show and it’s been a very, very popular show. 

But there’s a story about the fact that there are these scenes that open the show and basically the scene is this completely curiosity lead in the scene where you see this moment and it doesn’t tell you why it happened. It’s in the middle of the action so you have no idea, like what is going on. And the writers of that show didn’t pay off the scene. They didn’t help close the loop on why that scene in the opening of the show started until the middle of the show. And you know why? Because the show depended on ratings and ratings depend on do people watch all the way to the middle? 

That’s when ratings get signed. So they would finish it off right in the middle and pay off that moment because you would just be hyper hyper curious. So when you’re creating content, when you’re putting things together when you’re putting your ideas out there, you want to do the same thing that those writers of Breaking Bad did. You want your audience be so curious that they continue listening, that they continue watching, that they say, Oh my god, this is so great. I need more. 

And if you do that, people will come to you and say, Okay, well, I want to learn more, I want to do more with you. And then you’re attracting these people. You’re not trying to sell them anything really, you’re just showing them your expertise. They’re thinking differently. So now they’re going to come to you and then you have a conversation about whether or not what you do is going to be a fit for them. And it’s a much, much more powerful place to be then going out there and trying to prove your value. 

Adam: Absolutely. I mean, I’m taking so many notes. This is really good information. So when it comes to being a thought leader, or you know, a giver, or building relationships, what are the biggest mistakes that business owners or entrepreneurs make in this area?

Take a More Personal Approach

Michael: Yeah. So I would say one of the biggest mistakes that I see is the aspect of not doing any research. The number of people who will reach out to you without having done the research on who you are, even something as simple as five minutes to see what you’re about, and what your story is, is absolutely staggering. I get emails all the time on the LinkedIn or on the Book of Faces or any of these different, you know, social, you know, social platforms. 

Where people are like, Oh, yeah, I really love your content and I’d love to talk to you more. And I can follow up and say, Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. Which piece do you like the most? And then it’s crickets. I don’t hear a thing in that from them because somebody taught them that this is what, you know, that this is what’s new. And the problem is when you got people out there teaching formulas of how to build relationships, right? 

And they’re like, here’s my script for reaching out to this person, what happens is if everybody is reading the same script, and everybody will be using the same script. After a while, we’re all going to get the joke. Like we’re all going to get Oh really, you know, they took so in so’s class, right? So you have to think about things in terms of frameworks, not formulas. So you have to think about principles and say, okay, based on these principles, how would I reach out to this person? 

And a principle that stands the test of time is best. You cannot deny the significance of helping other people feel significant. So very, very simply put, we all want to feel significant. That is a natural biological part of us. Okay, we all want to feel like we matter. So if your communication is communicating to somebody else that you’ve taken the time to research them and understand who they are, then they instantly have that feeling of significance. 

They’re like wow, this is really, really cool. This person thought about me for more than a couple of seconds. I’m not just a number. When I used to raise money, people would always ask me, the number one question I would get is how do you find investors? And my answer was always the same. You stop calling them investors. These are people. And the second that you stop looking at them as checkbooks, and as individuals, you’re going to discover all sorts of things about them and how you can help and how you can support them.

Adam: I mean, that makes sense. I mean, there’s so many people out there that are buying these courses or, you know how to, you know, do XYZ with marketing or building a business. And they’re wanting to scale and automate everything that the one thing that gets lost is the relationship building. And that’s, you know, the person. whoever buys your product or service is a person. You’ve got to speak to them because they’re a person because they’re just a number.

Michael: Yeah, yeah. And the second that you treat anybody as a number, you’ve lost them. The second that somebody feels like they’re not significant anymore, they’re gone. They’re off to somebody else who is going to treat them like a human being, right? So if we get, if we end up on a list, and we feel like, you know, that list is just constantly selling us and constantly telling us like come buy from this person or from that person, then after a while we start to feel like it doesn’t really matter if we’re on that list, right? 

And it’s just that’s the thing is you want to take the time to research people and treat people like people. And it seems so simple, but if you do it, you will stand out from 90% of people. The other one that I see, so I’ll tell you the, what I call my two steps for blowing people’s minds. The two steps for blowing people’s minds are number one, do what you say you’re going to do. The number of people who do not do that, right? It’s again, staggering. And number two, do it properly. 

If you do what you say you’re going to do and you do it within a timely manner, you will stand out from massive amounts of people. Because it’s far too easy to put off doing the thing that you said you were going to do. People over-commit themselves all the time. And what builds relationships faster than anything else, what makes somebody just become so close to you and show interested in what you have to offer, is consistency. 

Consistency will build trust faster than any other tool out there. I don’t care how many marketing tools you have, I don’t know how much technology you have, if you are consistent and people know that they can depend on you and count on you to deliver what you say you’re going to deliver, you will have a higher level of trust from the people within your circle than most of the folks who have larger lists, larger opportunities, larger things because you’re showing up every day. You’re showing up every day and you’re doing what you say you’re going to do. Like that is at the heart of relationship building. 

And it is one of those things that it’s so easy for people to put off. It’s so easy to forget about. But people are always, even if it’s subconscious, they’re always paying attention to did you deliver on what you said you were going to do? They’re always thinking of that, you know? And when you see that that person is consistently delivering and constantly doing what they said that they’re going to do you have a higher level of trust for those people.

Adam: Yeah, that makes so much sense. Well, Michael, I mean, we could spend all day talking about this. This is very fascinating, and I’m taking, I’m already on my second page of notes here. So if a business owner is listening, and they can, you know, they want to learn more, they can use some help with cultivating their message or their packaging or relationship building or becoming a thought leader, where can they find you? Where can they learn more?

Michael: Yeah, so my website is just smallpondenterprises.com and I’m also on all the different social platforms. So you can feel free to reach out on any of those. I’m on Twitter, I’m on the LinkedIn, I’m on the Book of Faces, you name it. So you can always feel free to reach out to me on any of those platforms. And I also have a podcast called Access to Anyone. So you can check out accesstoanyonepodcast.com. There’s lots of interviews and content there as well.

Adam: Excellent. So smallpondenterprises.com and Access to Anyone Podcast at accesstoanyonepodcast.com. We’ll put those in the show notes. And it took me a minute, Book of Faces. What is that? I need to check that out.

Michael: Yeah. That’s one of my favorites. And it’s actually a nice little messaging lesson too. Take something common that everybody kind of knows and just change the language slightly, and then people will remember your interview because you’re the guy who referenced it in that particular way.

Adam: I love it. Yeah, that sounds great. Well, Michael, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.

Michael: Yeah, thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun.

Adam: And so again, you know, I’d like to thank Michael for being here. And if you would like to see if Michael can help you with your business, please reach out we’ll put his website in the podcast in the show notes. And as always, thank you so much for listening. And remember, the goal of your business should be to make more profit than last year and then to turn that profit into cash that you get to keep. Have a wonderful rest of your day.