Today we are joined by George Khalife, the Vice President of US Capital Formation with the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the host of the podcast, Let’s Grab Coffee. Listeners can expect to get some great insight into how creating content offers direct value to your network and you and why it is so important to show up as your best self for your audience and community. Being a creator, in this sense, is such a rewarding and important role, and it is heavily dependent on your mindset and intentions, and George expands on some of his ideas to help point you in the right direction. Towards the end of our chat, we also cover the positive sides of social media and the importance of giving back. So, to hear it all and get started on your next steps in content creation, listen in with us today!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Creating value for your network; the questions that can clarify your mission.
- Surprising areas of exploration that open up through conversation.
- Chipping away at your work and slowly improving your content over time as your audience grows.
- Getting comfortable on camera and on record and moving past the anxiety that is so often there.
- A few simple tips from George for better conversations and presentation.
- George explains his interpretation of good energy and why it can be so powerful.
- How to show up with the best energy possible to important meetings and events.
- The positive sides of social media; George weighs in on the constant debate.
- Putting in the reps in order to up your game and the common results of practice
[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builder’s podcast. Helping middle-market professionals connect, grow and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.
[00:00:22] AD: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Branch Out Podcast. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today, we welcome returning guest, George Khalife, Vice President of US Capital Formation with the Toronto Stock Exchange, and host of the podcast, Let’s Grab Coffee. George and I discuss how creating content adds value to both you and your network, and how showing up as your best self will lead to better outcomes. I hope you all enjoy.
[00:00:46] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders.
[00:00:53] AD: George. Welcome to The Branch Out Podcast. Excited to have you here again.
[00:00:57] GK: Thanks, Alex. Yeah, definitely excited to be on for part two. I know. We have a lot to cover today.
[00:01:03] AD: We certainly do. For our listeners, George and I put an episode together about a year and a half ago now, something like that. A lot can change in a year and a half, especially when it’s a year and a half and COVID and everything else in the world. Excited to be able to pick up on some of our conversations before, but also, to dive into some new content today. George, maybe the right place for us to start, why don’t you just give our listeners a little background on yourself and what you do?
[00:01:28] GK: Yeah, sure thing, Alex. I appreciate the opportunity. For folks listening, who might not be connected to Chicago two years ago, to essentially build out the office for both the Toronto Stock Exchange, as well as TSX Venture, which is Canada’s premier Stock Exchange, and really with the objective, or focus on helping private companies in the Midwest, which is my purview, but we focus on the US in general. Helping these private companies raise public capital in Canada, and eventually go public on our markets.
A lot of my day-to-day is with startups at various stages, focused primarily on CEOs, CFOs, the C-suite network, which is what I love doing. On the side, I also host a podcast called Let’s Grab Coffee, which is a top 10 Canadian business podcast, focused on uncovering the entrepreneurial journeys that you probably don’t hear about; the ones that sometimes go missing. Except that they have a ton of value that we can all resonate with. That’s what I do by day, and that’s what I also do by night.
[00:02:24] AD: Your podcast is great. You have some excellent guests on there. I think, what I’d love to start with is, why do you have a podcast? What are you doing with that? How does it help you?
[00:02:32] GK: Yeah, sure thing. I mean, and I’ll try to keep my context. I know, most of your listeners, typically are whether in accounting and law, or private equity, banking. Hopefully, you’ll resonate with this. I started my career in cap markets. I still am. I started my career with the TSX. I think, if you look at 2016, when I started the podcast, doing so was still very early. I mean, now you probably hear about podcasts more and more. Doing so in cap markets at that time, was still nascent.
I’m sure you feel this, and I felt this. There was a bit of pressure in the sense that what am I – I mean, should I be doing this? I also didn’t see in my network of other people trying to be in this creative space, while also working within finance, or cap markets. I started the podcast, essentially, because a lot of what I really was passionate about doing working outside of it was connecting with interesting individuals across different industries, understanding their story. For me, it was a selfish reason and just learning. I find, I learn the best and I get the most energy from talking to other people, asking really interesting questions.
Then I’m like, “You know what? why don’t I just put a camera between us, a mic?” Now it’s more virtual, so it’s easier. Record it and put it out to my network. It was a great way to build out my brand, of course. It was a great way to keep myself on other people’s radar. Also, when I started, I was about 22, 23. It was a way for me to also talk to CEOs, who were much smarter, much more experienced and more mature than I was.
Being that young, and learning from all these stories, having an hour with a CEO of a startup at different levels, that’s currency to me. That’s why I called it Let’s Grab Coffee. It’s the most priceless coffee you can ever have, right?
[00:04:10] AD: I love it. I love the story behind it. What I really liked that you said there is the learning that comes from doing it. We’re not advocating that everyone on here should go and start a podcast, but we’re just talking about the being a creator, doing stuff like this. What are some of the reasons and some of the value of doing it? What I heard clearly from you was, it’s great. You get to promote your brand. You can gain greater access through it and leverage and build your own platform around it, which is very helpful from a professional and personal standpoint.
What I really heard was the learning. You get an hour to talk to someone and ask questions and listen to them, and especially starting at a young age for you, that had to have opened up a lot of new thinking that didn’t otherwise exist. Is that a fair way to look at it?
[00:04:52] GK: A 100%. I mean, I have personal reasons, as well as the community-driven reasons. Because I think, it’s not fair for me to just to say, “Well, this is all a value driver.” I mean, it was and it still is. Obviously, there is a reason for me to defer money into it. I think, the learning is important. As a consequence of that, I’m also sharing that lesson, or those lessons with my community, whether it’s through LinkedIn, through Instagram.
To your point around, not everyone has to start a podcast, can you document some sort of experience? Can you put that out in a digestible format that other people can leverage? That doesn’t have – I mean, a podcast is one method. You can write a blog. I know there’s going to be varying degrees of comfort here, which is why I bring up the different platforms, that the real value is you putting out value to your network. That’s not always about talking about what your company does, or how successful of a year it’s been and you breaking records. You also have to ask yourself, why should people actually care about this content? Are they going to spend five minutes to read or watch this? Get other people to talk about their story. Let them share their experiences. Create that in a value bucket, and then put it out there.
[00:06:01] AD: A couple things you said there, I want to circle back on. One, when we started this, you mentioned the creative space and in general. Whether in the case, CEO specifically. In your case, in my case, we’re talking about a podcast. Whether that be any form of content creation, again, blogs, Instagram, Reels, TikTok, wherever you might find yourself. This idea that you’re being creative, and you’re putting something out there. You’re putting something of value out to your network. You’re finding a way to add value to your network.
One, it’s a great way to build and expand your brand in the way that people look and trust you and what you share. When I have spent time doing that, when you try to create something of value for your network, it forces you to stop and ask yourself, “What would be valuable for my network? Why would my network care? What is important to him?” When you start asking yourself that, I think it helps you see it for yourself, what’s important, back to this personal growth, what you can learn from it, how you yourself can advance through it.
You’re also – you’re helping others along the way, and recognizing that the likelihood of you getting a podcast that takes off and becomes number one, or having a blog that goes viral, it’s pretty small. That doesn’t have to be the mission of what you’re trying to accomplish. The mission should be this desire to put something of value out to your network that will make people want to learn from you and just add value into your network.
[00:07:24] GK: Yeah. I mean, there are so many pieces to what you’re saying, which I absolutely love. The first part to unpack is the passion aspect. I bring up top 10, but I swear to you to this day, I still don’t care about that. In fact, I didn’t even know I was in the rankings, until someone just sent me an email. It was part of a ranking in Canada. It wasn’t really ever something I set out to do. I had more micro goals just to keep me motivated, because it’s something I do on the side.
There’s no accountability, unless you put that milestone, or accountability on yourself. Maybe a better metric is, you know what? By the end of the year, I want to have 20 quality, crisp, well-recorded podcasts out to the public. That’s something I’m content doing. If I over-exceed that, great. More micro-objectives, I think, is the important part. It all starts from, first of all, why you’re doing it. I don’t think glamour and fame should be the preface of why you’re doing something like this.
For me, it was really just because I enjoyed it. You can tell. I mean, I know you enjoy doing this. I don’t think you would continue doing this if you –
[00:08:23] AD: Love it.
[00:08:24] GK: – really had to, or if you’re forced to do it. You can tell by someone’s voice, you can tell about their enthusiasm, you could tell about their consistency. All those facets really are good telling sign of whether or not they’re genuinely passionate about it.
[00:08:37] AD: The passion in setting the right goals, because I think this is really important. Again, I’m going to share my own experience, my own thoughts coming from the perspective of creating a podcast. Again, for our listeners, this is about any kind of content creation, any way of adding value to your network. It doesn’t have to be just a podcast. The couple lessons I’ve picked up on is, and your passion is such a good comer on this, you have to enjoy what you’re doing, and you have to make sure you’re looking at what the right metrics to measure success are. Outside external metrics, number of downloads, number of views, number of shares, number of impressions, those are nothing that you can truly control. You can affect them, you can influence them by doing the right things to expand your reach, but you can’t control what that number is.
If you start doing this, and trying to put content, trying to be a creator and trying to add value to your network, and you focus on just that as your metric, you will fall flat in your face before you know it. Because I’ll tell you, when we first started, it doesn’t work like that. Even once you’ve been doing it, it doesn’t work like that. I’m sure, you see wild ups and downs in your own exposure on stuff. If that’s what you’re focused on, it’s just going to lead you down the wrong path. It’s a great way to understand some of the impact and the reach you’re having and to give you metrics to measure and just understand how things are doing, but you yourself have to want to do this and have a desire.
That, I think, comes back to this personal growth element; this wanting to advise to your network. Again, passion fuels all that, but what is passion? Passion is that having a real reason in your mind of why you’re doing this, that gets you excited, that makes you say, “I want to keep doing this.” Those reasons have to be rooted in something that is meaningful to you, and personal growth for me is really what drives this for me.
[00:10:20] GK: Can I ask you a question on that?
[00:10:20] AD: Sure.
[00:10:21] GK: Can you think back and obviously, to people listening, can you think back of a moment when someone was describing something that even though you may not have been interested in to begin with, made you want to actually dig into it deeper after they explained it?
[00:10:34] AD: Absolutely. I’ll use this podcast as an example. My entire journey of how I got into podcasting, it was something I thought about and played around with, but I had a friend reach out that was very passionate about wanting to start a podcast and wanting to do something. I was like, “Sure, I’ll give it a try.” I felt very anxious about it. I felt nervous about it. I didn’t know if it was – I was like, “I’ll learn a little bit more,” it opened my mind. That’s obviously one specific example. I think, when someone comes to me with passion, it’s less about my true under, or care for the underlying idea. It’s more about care for that person and the passion they have, in wanting to understand why they’re so passionate about whatever it might be.
[00:11:12] GK: A 100%. Sometimes, we all have that one friend who’s a foodie. You hit him up for restaurant recommendations, food combinations, or dining in or whatever. The point here is that, people feed off of good energy. The reason why this is so important space is to your earlier point, you don’t get instant gratification as quickly as people assume.
I’ll give you another facet. Most people think that YouTubers with a million or plus subscribers, do so through one viral video. If you study any famous YouTuber, and I know a couple; actually, you are good friends. You can literally take a look at their trajectory. A good exercise, if you ever want some confidence on this, go to any of your favorite YouTuber with a million-plus subscribers, and go to their oldest videos first. Of course, keep in mind that 20,000 is probably because of where they are today.
Subtract probably another 15,000. Very, very quickly, that for the first year or so, and this is actually true, I think, roughly, it takes about a year or two, for someone to crack above at least a 100,000 subscribers on YouTube. Even Guy Kawasaki, an early evangelist of Apple told me this. He’s like, “The best entrepreneurs just chip.” In the beginning, it is important to be crappy to put it out there, not to really care about the vanity metrics around downloads. Because think of the first year as you’re building here. Give yourself that grace. I think, from a psychological perspective, if you tell yourself that, i.e. you’re not looking for that one-hit wonder, that piece that’s going to go 300,000 views. It actually gives you more comfort.
You don’t have to have the best podcast equipment. You don’t have to have the flashiest camera. Just put content out there. Over time, through that one year, if you actually just stick to this formula, most people don’t, which is why most people don’t have a million-plus subscribers. Through that, you’ll start iterating, you’ll start figuring out. If you tell yourself, “I’m going to have the best video with the first one that I put out.” I mean, it’s nearly impossible to do that.
[00:13:01] AD: I 100% agree. I’d say, if your very first attempt at something is the “best,” one, there’s no room for improvement. I think. that’s just a silly way of thinking to begin with. because I think. anything you do. you become better at it, right? I mean, you’ve been doing podcasting for five-plus years now. Have you become better? Do you ever go back and listen to your old content and be like, “Oh, wow. I’ve come a long way.”
[00:13:22] GK: I would encourage you to do the same, if you haven’t already. I literally mashed up, I think, three of the first episodes I ever did, like episode one, two, and three. Then, I did episodes 30-something plus. It was just me doing the intro. I swear to you, Alex, and it’s on YouTube. It’s with Paul Nadeau. He was a former FBI negotiator. I was so nervous, dude. First of all, the camera was in a horrible position. I didn’t have a mic. I had a blazer on. I was stuttering all over the place. Then you see iterations of that and how much more smooth, how much more confident I look. This is coming from a person who was always in sales and BD.
Technically, when I first got into this, we spoke about this before recording, I assumed how easy this would be. As soon as the camera turns red, or blue, or whatever the color is, we start going live and the record button’s on, it’s a whole different story.
[00:14:13] AD: Totally. Let’s talk on that, because before we hit record, George and I were just chatting about some of the angst that goes into this. I think, it’s easy for listening to someone else’s podcast, anyone even listening to this one right now, it’s easy to say, “Oh, well. They sound comfortable. They sound confident. You’re good at what you do.” I hear people that make that comment to me at times like, “Oh, you’re so comfortable doing that. You’re so good at that.” I appreciate hearing that.
The truth is, I still feel anxiety. I still feel a level of pressure to perform. I don’t know if that will ever go away. What I think happens over time, and this is I think any form of personal growth, you become comfortable in some of that pressure. You become comfortable under some of that. As you become more comfortable in that, and more comfortable with yourself and more comfortable with your abilities, you just tend to perform better in general.
The amazing thing and again, this is speaking specifically to podcast content. For me, that skill set transfers outside of being behind the camera. It’s definitely, the camera creates some level of pressure when it does turn on. When you’re out talking with people, there’s a level of social pressure that exists there, too. That quiet, comfortable confidence, I think, comes from repeatedly putting yourself in an uncomfortable position, that forces you to learn and to work through some of that discomfort.
[00:15:32] GK: Yeah. I mean, let’s tackle, first of all, the fear of public speaking. I think, because again, not everyone has a podcast, right? Generic. Listen, I go through this all the time. I’ve spoken to the co-founders of Netflix, Starbucks. I’ve had Guy on. Every single time, I have a bit of that nervousness come up. Actually, watched this speech performer or coach talk about this on YouTube. There’s a bit of a bell curve that she was displaying. She was basically talking about the balance between how important this is to you and how nervous you are. It’s important to be somewhere in the middle.
If you’re too nonchalant, you’re going to come off as egotistical, or you don’t care about the subject that you’re speaking to. If you’re too nervous, you’re obviously going to come across as less confident and less knowledgeable about what you’re talking about. Somewhere in the middle is actually perfect. You want to display some emotion. I mean, we’re not robots. I feel like, similar things, either any emotion that comes up, our natural reaction to it is to dim it completely.
You have to realize, the reason we have anxiety in any speaking scenario is actually very tribal. If you think about when we were Neanderthals, the fear of speaking was, first of all, you were part of a tribe. In the past, if you ever had to speak for whatever reason, it was to fit in, or to be a part of something. If that didn’t work out for you, most cases, it would be a very dangerous outcome, and probably, would lead to death.
You still have a part of that fear, that fear of not being accepted, the fear of judgment, the fear of being outcasted. Whether it’s on a podcast, or speaking on a stage, I think a lot of that comes from that historical element. Experience, obviously, is the most important part, i.e. repetition. In every scenario, reps, it’s BD, if you’re an athlete. I think, putting out more content, you’ll see you’re going to become more comfortable.
The final part that whenever I feel like I screwed up, like I had a podcast and it was so shitty, or I was on stage and I really blundered, man. I froze. I’ve had those moments. I’ve had them even in team meetings, full transparency, where for some reason I was nervous. Sometimes I got – whoever’s listening, please understand that it’s not always because you’re nervous about who you’re in front of. Sometimes it’s a mix of things. You’re maybe nervous, or anxious about something else in your life. Give yourself a bit of grace, that it’s okay. You can’t always be perfect, and you shouldn’t always be performing. At times, your goal is just to be your best and to put out whatever message you can to the people who are listening at that moment.
Final thing I’ll leave you with, every time that you’re in doubt, or feeling shitty about yourself, because of something that happened specifically with this, go on YouTube and just put Kobe Bryant airball. It’s a five-minute clip, Kobe talks about early in his career, he used to hit a lot of air balls, unfortunately. He’s like, it would hit the rim. It would be on point. “The problem I realized is I didn’t have enough gas in my legs. Because I wasn’t used to the NBA schedule. I was used to college schedule. I had to work out on my legs.”
Ultimately, his mindset was like, “Okay, so I had an air ball, and it cost us the game. So what? I’ll go back to the gym. I’ll train and I’ll work on it.” You have to also remove the ego from it as well and say, “Listen, is this is the end of the world? Can I recover from this?” If both answers are, well, if one is no and the other is yes, then move on with it.
[00:18:44] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast.
[00:18:51] AD: That’s such an important point. You said something in there, be your best, right? Just show up at your best. Do the best you can. Know that if you do that, one, it’s the best you can do, period. Do that. Understand that you’re not going to be perfect in everything you do. You, frankly, shouldn’t be perfect. Because if you’re perfect in everything you do, again, there’s no room for improvement. I’d argue anyone can find areas for improvement. My experience around it is the more you do anything, and this is the reps thing, you do become better at it. Also, you become aware of what you do, what your triggers might be, or what your behaviors might be.
I know for myself, what I have learned is when I am in a high-stress or high-anxiety, or I feel anxious about it, I don’t tend to freeze. I tend to talk very fast and say a lot in one breath. I find myself talking in excess, where I have to catch myself, stop talking and just let someone else talk. That’s something I’ve learned about myself through doing it, through experience and seeing that in myself. I wouldn’t be able to see that myself without the experience behind it.
Twofold. I think, one, you become just generally more comfortable, which helps build confidence, but you also become aware of things that as you build greater self-awareness and greater self-mastery, you can start to control and see some of those things in the moment and help you make even greater improvements.
[00:20:16] GK: Yeah. I mean, that’s really important. Much like reps are important, you also have to study yourself. This is a concept, I never understood why folks in business don’t do as much. Athletes, for instance, study tape before going to a game, or fighters will study other fighter’s positioning, especially if you’re left foot first, that’s really important, because that dictates how you should prepare for that upcoming fight, as an example. I’m a big UFC fan.
If you have a presentation business, or something that you’re pitching, or proposing, or maybe just a conversation, it is important. I’ll give you one example with myself. I consider myself now a pretty seasoned podcaster and still have so many hiccups. You might not see them. I’ll give you one example. I realized recently, and my fiancé actually called me out on this. Especially when we do this two-sided camera, when I would be doing the podcast, I would blink a lot.
I know, it sounds really strange, but it was very distracting. If let’s say, you had this for 50 minutes, and we had us two together. When that person was speaking, I’d be like, for some reason, I just keep blinking. Just being a bit more attentive to it. Now, I try to blink less. I know it sounds really detailed, but it is important over time to start figuring out where those hiccups are.
One other one quick example, if you’re ever moderating, one thing that I would encourage you not to do, when someone else is speaking, as an example, we have this tendency to interject a lot. It could be something as small as yup, or mm-hmm. You could probably edit that out. It’s important for the flow of the conversation once in a while. Early in the game, I would catch myself always be like, “Hmm.” That’s not necessarily important. Sometimes, it’s better to give the space. Again, styles matter. These are just things that I was aware within myself.
[00:21:56] AD: I’ll share from my own perspective on it. I think, I’ve had a similar experience and in different ways. I have gone back and listened to most of my podcasts. I truthfully don’t listen to every single one of them, front to back. If you’ve ever tried to listen to your own voice in your own podcast, it’s so hard. It’s so, so hard. I joke with some of the other guests that have been on the show like, “Hey, do you want to review this?” Everyone says they do, but I know how hard it is to actually listen to it front to back.
I’ve done that. In that process, there’s times and I go through seasons of this, where I’ll have words, or phrases that I get hooked up on it. If I look back at some of my content from last summer-ish, I wanted to unpack a lot of things. I said, “Let’s unpack that,” probably 25 times in an episode. Like, okay, there’s only so much we can unpack here. It wasn’t anything I was consciously aware of, till I went back and saw that.
I liked that idea of study yourself and recognize that you can do that by creating content, by recording sessions that you might be leading. Or, you can even sit behind the camera and practice giving a pitch, or a conversation and just record yourself and rewatch that and learn from that. I think, there’s so much value in doing that. It’s not easy. It’s definitely not easy. It can take a lot of emotional wear to have to rewatch yourself and listen to yourself, but you can learn a lot from that process.
[00:23:20] GK: I would always say, whenever you’d answer a question, I’d be like, “Interesting.” To one more thing to you. As much as it’s important to also watch yourself and look at the things you’re not doing so well, the one thing actually that worked out really well for me, especially in a more of a formal presentation setting, sometimes you think you come across, especially in a virtual environment, much more nervous than you might appear.
If you ever want to try this, and you’re nervous presenting for something that you’re doing, literally record yourself. Or, maybe if you could ask someone to record the meeting, whatever. Speak. Then afterwards, actually hear yourself. Nine times out of 10, you never sound as nervous as you actually think you do.
[00:23:57] AD: We are our number one critics. I fully believe that. The other side of this and I’ll say this in the context of podcasts, but I think it applies to speaking, to presenting to, to most human interactions, people don’t pay attention as closely as you might suspect. I don’t mean they don’t pay attention, but they don’t hang on your every word. No one’s sitting there watching you being like, “Huh, I wonder if they noticed that their voice pitch continues to change. Or I wonder if George notices he said interesting 17 times in this.” I don’t think that’s what people do. I don’t think that’s natural tendency. Frankly, those that are that critical and judgmental, I don’t know if I necessarily really care what they think to begin with.
I say that all in the context of, we are our worst critic, so we probably think we did worse than we did. We’re also probably judging ourselves from a standard that is far above the standard that anyone else is going to look and judge us on. What’s considered good enough and good enough in the sense that everyone looks at it, respects and thinks you did a good job, that bar is probably a lot lower than you realize.
When you give yourself that space and that credit, I think it gives you that confidence and that ability to go spend more time doing this type of creation. That’s all back to reps. If you want to do this, you have to have that initial confidence and that ability to go do it.
George, I want to take us back to something you said earlier, I thought was really important. People feed off good energy. What do you mean by that? Let’s unpack that a little bit more, for my favorite word.
[00:25:22] GK: Well, let me ask you another question. You ever have two friends, and hopefully, one of them maybe is not as close anymore. Let’s say, two folks that you know. When one of those friends texts you and says, “Hey, Alex. I’m coming over.” You get excited. You know what I mean? You’re like, “I’m pumped. Watch the game, or maybe we’ll hit up a bar. We’ll go to a restaurant.” You want to be around that person. Someone else next to you and unfortunately, it’s a family friend. You have some ropes, but you don’t really know how to tell them that you don’t really want to see them.
One friend gives you really good energy. Good energy is as simple as when I’m around you, I’m not necessarily always airing my dirty laundry, complaining about other people. There’s just a natural vibe to someone. That vibe is the way I interpret it is, when you walk into a room, people smile generally to know you’re either there, or they’re generally happy and excited to be around your presence. You have an aura around you. That’s important, because it gets manifested by everything you are, you’re presenting, and you do.
Unfortunately, sometimes that aura could be disrupted by maybe doing something that doesn’t feed you energy. It could be a job that right now you’re not really vibing with, as an example. Or, maybe you’re in a physical state, where you’re not necessarily garnering a lot of energy. Maybe you’re not exercising as much as you could, for whatever reasons. The point is, figuring out what feeds you energy, making sure you’re in a good state as many times as you possibly can. I mean, consistency is important, but we all have our days where we slip.
You just know, a very good and simple question to ask is, I learned this actually from that. I know, we talked a little bit about Sandler. A very simple question. Let’s say, Alex Drost wakes up and has literally a killer day, a 10 out of 10. What would be some of the things that you would want to do to make that happen?
[00:27:05] AD: To me, it has a lot to do with being in positive environments, going to the gym, working out, feeling good about the things I’m doing, socializing, being around other people that that make me smile. Not feeling stressed. Not feeling overwhelmed. Not feeling anxious. Feeling positive, good outlook on life. I don’t think there’s necessarily specific things as much as a state of mind and how I experienced them today. Is that answer what you’re trying to drive at?
[00:27:31] GK: Perfect. I guarantee you, 99% of people listening would agree with you. It’s simple. You didn’t say, “I have to win 10 million dollars for me to have good energy.” It’s very small, consistent actions that you do over time. That’s it. If you put yourself in that state, I guarantee you, if I met you at 3 p.m., on your way to the gym, or whatever, what kind of energy would you be giving me, if I saw you in that 10 out of 10 day? That’s really the question. It’s not about having the most perfect day all the time.
I think, we all know what some of those activities are to put us in the right energy. It’s important, man. If I come on this podcast, and I’m really down and I don’t have any energy to give you and my answers are half-assed, what kind of impression am I leaving everyone listening? Are they excited about connecting with me?
[00:28:15] AD: Not at all. I want to add on this. I’m going to share some thoughts. This is some of the work that I do within Connection Builders. We do a network training program. We have what’s called a Networking Boot Camp and an Intentional Networking Program. In those two programs, one of the things that we’ve spent a lot of time around it and creating content around is exactly what you’re talking about.
For our listeners, because I know many people care about networking, and that’s a huge fundamental aspect of our careers as professionals, put yourself in a situation, whether you’re at a networking event, or you are at a one-to-one coffee, launch, practice, whatever it is, and just think about, you walk in and the person that you’re talking to, whether again, you’re at a group, and they walk up and talk to you at a group setting, or you sit down with them. They’re like, “Yes. Hey, how you doing?” “Uh. This client’s being an acid. I’ve got all this doing. Uh, I hit this red light on the way here and I couldn’t find parking, and I stepped in a water puddle on the way in.” Versus the person who says, “I’m doing great. Had an awesome day and things are off to a good start. I’m excited to sit here and have a conversation with you.”
That person can have the same actual life experience before showing up to that meeting. The person who shows up as their best selves and shows up and brings not in an inauthentic way. You don’t have to be like, “Oh, everything’s perfect and nothing’s wrong in life.” You can say, “You know, on my way in, I stepped at a dang puddle and now my shoes wet.” That’s a way different way of saying, “You know, I stepped in this puddle, and now my foot’s all wet.”
For our listeners, when you’re sitting there, just think about being in that situation. We’ve all been in those environments. I’ve done a lot of networking in my life. The number of one-to-one meetings I’ve walked in and someone – and you’re just 10 minutes in, you’re like, “Oh, this is going to be painful.” How do you feel when you’re interacting with that, right? This just recognizing that and saying, “I’m going to show up and bring my best self, because I know if I do that, and I bring that positive mindset and that positive energy, people are going to enjoy their time with me so much more, regardless of what I do or say.”
[00:30:13] GK: Yeah. One key there that I would recommend as well is, if you’re, let’s say, at a networking event, if you’re getting on a Zoom and it’s a virtual webinar, or whatever it is, maybe try to schedule something beforehand. Maybe block off 30 minutes, an hour, do a stretch. Maybe if you’re a gym person, go to the gym. I know it’s winter now. Cannot say you go for a walk, but maybe it’s a 15-minute treadmill walk. It’s a quick stretch. Instead of having a bunch of dessert as an example, right before you go to a networking session, three apple pies, or 10 donuts. Listen, I do that from time to time. I’m a big sweet tooth.
I’m saying, if you have something that requires energy, you have to be careful what you put in your system at the same time. Maybe go for a salad. Something a bit more lean. When you show up, you’re also not drained. I mean, this is why I tell you, your energy is a manifestation of what you’re doing. If you had really crappy sleep, you’re not going to come to this networking event pumped. Again, certain things are going to happen during the day. They’re outside of your control. I think, you made a good point as well to say, not everything is rosy and sunshines, because that’s also disgenuine at some points.
I think, you’re in control of your energy. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about doing those small bits that help you become a little bit better of a version of yourself. Equally, will help other people want to gravitate towards you. That’s the key here.
[00:31:29] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle-market professionals.
[00:31:37] AD: I completely agree. Another, I guess, tip or pointer, stuff that we spent a lot of time thinking around, let’s talk networking events. I go to a networking event. Not a virtual, but I’m going to an in-person one. This tends to be where people feel overwhelmed, angst, anxiety, and social anxiety. I think, it’s very common going to events like that, that feel that way. To really show up as your best self, show up 10, 15 minutes early, and just sit in your car and take a few deep breaths, listen to some music that makes you feel good, and just be calm. Don’t worry about your inbox. Don’t worry about everything else that’s going on. Don’t be checking your emails, waiting for a phone call, or having your mind in all the client work that you might have to get done.
Because as soon as you’re doing those things, what’s going on inside your head? I think all too often, we show up to things and we’re trying to maximize how much we get done every day, and we always feel there’s more to be done. There is. The world’s busy. I get that. I respect that. If you want to go do something, you want to show up as the best version of yourself and you want to be successful at everything we’re talking about here. Take 10 minutes for yourself and calm your mind and go in a more relaxed state, and you’d be shocked at how big of a difference that can make.
Even in podcasting. I have a practice of before I jump on, I stop. I sit here. I take a few deep breaths. I take a minute to center myself before doing it. I think, that’s so important to having awareness and being in control of some of those thoughts in your mind, that drive, as you said, the outward manifestation of the thoughts and the energy patterns that are going on inside of your mind will come out. If you are wound up worrying about stuff, it shows. It really does. I know it’s not an easy solution, always just forget about worry. We all have worry and overwhelm. I think, that’s a typical feeling of especially anyone in professional services. Find ways to control that thinking and calm that thinking, before interacting with other people. It makes such a meaningful difference in your ability to genuinely build a relationship and have people like the engagement, like their time they spent with you.
[00:33:37] GK: Yeah. I mean, those are such key things that you point out. The first one is actually, what people call priming. You’re priming yourself to get in a state, where you’re ready to conquer something that you do on a habitual basis. For me, for instance, it’s listening to a song. For those who might like Linkin Park, Numb, you know Jay-Z Encore.
[00:33:54] AD: There we go. Yeah.
[00:33:56] GK: I listen to that even at the gym.
[00:33:57] AD: It’s like, 20-years-old now. You realize, that song is 20-years-old.
[00:34:00] GK: Crazy. As soon as I hear that, that start of that instrument, I go in a different state. It’s my way of also getting ready to say, “You know what? I want to make the best of this networking opportunity.” The other thing too, I love your point around, what’s your intention? I’ve been doing a lot of yoga, mostly because I’m really not flexible. I’m going to be very honest with you. I’m still 28. It’s a bit of an issue.
[00:34:22] AD: Me either.
[00:34:23] GK: We’re working towards it. I follow this channel called Breathe and Flow on YouTube. Highly recommend it. Love what they do and their content. Before we start, they always say like, “What’s your intention with this practice?” Always set an intention. Do you want to focus on strength? Do you want to focus on flexibility, recovery? I think, what gets missed is, and this is where you see folks with not the best energy. You go to a networking event and they’re in between meetings and calls and they show up. For them, it’s a task, right? They just have to show up. They get there, they down four beers and go home.
That’s not necessarily the right intention. If you show up with the intention of really putting your best self out there, not sure what’s going to come out of it, but I’m going to have really solid conversations. I’m excited to meet like-minded people in my industry. Who knows? I mean, it could lead to some opportunities. Worse comes to worse, I meet a new face. I have a good time. An hour or two, and I go home whenever I feel like it. The intention. The last one is, actually, be grateful for what you’re doing.
There are so many professions out there that don’t allow you to do this. You understand that you have the privilege and the ability to spend two, three hours drinking with professionals and growing your network. Other people, unfortunately, have to be stuck in a profession where they’re time-bound, they have commitments that don’t allow them to. Don’t forget, just to be a little bit grateful that this is something you get to do. Not necessarily something you have to do all the time.
[00:35:41] AD: I would say, the statement that comes to mind is mindset makes all the difference. The way you’re internally framing that, it’s being intentional; knowing what you’re trying to do and embracing that grateful mindset, but in your head, are you telling yourself? In this talking, networking at this point, but to apply this to recording a podcast, speaking, networking, whatever you may want to apply to. Are you going in with the mindset of, “Oh, I have to do this.” Or, “This is going to be good. Grateful, I can go do this.”
Even just say that to yourself. For everyone listening, just whatever your next big activity of the day, or the week that you’re doing, just state in your head, “Oh, I have to go do that.” Versus, “Oh, that sounds really fun.” You feel that, just in your body, just in even saying that, that’s I think, is exactly what we’re talking about, and the energy and bringing that positive energy. That’s how you create that inside is by embracing the right mindsets behind what you’re doing.
On that for mindsets. We talked a little bit about this before we jumped to recording. I want to cover, this as our last topic. Let’s talk about some of the positive aspects of social media. I say this in context, and for our listeners, social media, I think is something that you can hear good and bad about it, and that there are some negative thoughts and pessimism that comes around social media at times. I think, there’s also a lot of positive benefits from that. George, I’d love to hear your thoughts on why there are positive aspects of being engaged within social media.
[00:37:07] GK: Well, very, very simple. How did we meet, Alex? Which platform?
[00:37:12] AD: LinkedIn.
[00:37:13] GK: What are we doing right now?
[00:37:15] AD: How many times have we talked and seen each other in person, stayed in touch? I’m sure you have the same experience. You’re one of a 100-plus people that I’ve met, encountered and had follow-on conversations with purely through LinkedIn.
[00:37:29] GK: Right. Had it not been for LinkedIn, the odds of us probably colliding might be very slim. Probably high, but we collided because we’re both active on a platform, operating in a space that’s very comparable and synergistic. This is actually such a great segue, and last talking point, because everything we talked about leads to this whole aspect of this discussion, which is the mindset.
You can see something and I think, the challenge with the mindset is everything you believe, you eventually see in the world. If you see, and if you really believe that social media has this negative, evil-twisting machine that does XYZ, unfortunately, you’re going to reap those kinds of negative consequences from those platforms. Here are my micro-tactics, in terms of how I view social and why it’s been so positive for me personally.
Number one, I follow things that give me good energy. Back to the energy comment, you have to think about yourself as digesting different information throughout the day. If all you follow on IG is news, negative topics around COVID, all the wars that are happening, not to say that you should be completely tuned out. If that’s all the content that you digest all the time, from the time you wake up, when you’re in bed, you open IG and the first thing you see is there’s a war here, there’s a new variant. Well, obviously, this is not necessarily a tool that’s giving you some benefit. That’s the first thing. Realize what content you’re actually consuming and actually ask yourself, and it’s fine, just be very real. Is there something that you’re feeding from, or actually just it’s soul sucking?
The second one is, really reflect on which platforms you resonate with. I don’t resonate with every platform. I’m not on Twitch, I’m not on Discord, as an example. Listen, that’s fine. That’s literally fine. Funnily enough, I came across D Rock, who’s Gary Vaynerchuk’s videographer and person who’s been with him since the start. He got a question on IG that said, “Why don’t you start a YouTube channel?” He simply replied, “Because I don’t want to.” It’s as simple as that. This is a guy who literally could blow up tomorrow, because of the access. Doesn’t want to. Ask yourself, which ones you actually like to be on, or create content on, and which ones you don’t.
The other thing to understand from the positive experience is, you have to contribute as much as you take from it. If you’re just on LinkedIn, and you have an account, and it’s halfly made and you posted, maybe one post a year ago, and it was just re-sharing a company’s update, or whatever. Of course, you’re not going to reap the benefits, because you’re not putting in the right time, energy and effort into it.
You have to understand that it takes time, of course, to build the brand, to build content, to do all this stuff. The really cool part and you’ll start seeing it in bits. Just think about every opportunity, or access that you now have through something like LinkedIn, that maybe my parents didn’t. The possibility of that being a mere factor that you can actually execute on, to me, is the only motivating factor.
Aside from that, think about everything else it trickles to. Very quick anecdotes. The fact that I can create friendships, like the one I have with Alex, and the opportunity to get to speak about my experience on his podcast, that’s an amazing win. There’s no tangible ROI. There’s no dollar sign attached to it. There’s nothing quantitative, other than we’re putting out facets of what we’ve learned together. We’re co collaborating, and we’re sharing our network. There’s a lot of benefit to that.
Aside from that, I would encourage everyone, especially if you’re not in the creative space yourself, like let’s say, you’re listening to this and you’re an auditor, I guarantee you, if you do something similar to this, and you put more of yourself out there, eventually, that starts trickling into your industry. Here’s how. Take an FAQ and write a blog about it, or take something that’s very difficult and explain it to a five-year-old. I think, the more you do that, you start building a brand, really strongly around this thought leadership in terms of what you do. From that, you’re going to get opportunities to collaborate, opportunities to engage. Even this access to a network that might be shutting yourself from. Those are some of the things that come to mind.
[00:41:28] AD: The last point I want to build on a little bit, what else happens when you do start putting yourself out there and creating some of this? I like your auditor experience, where you write a blog, or you start putting content out to answer some questions that might be common questions that your clients have in the marketplace. That may open up some doors. There’s a likelihood, if you stick with it over time, it will open up some doors that can create opportunity for you.
The other thing that will come out and I’ve seen this in myself in material ways through doing the podcast; ultimately, my time that I spend communicating, putting stuff out there, and creating that content is reps. It’s practice. It’s me getting better at what I do. When I’m in a dialogue, when I’m in a conversation with someone, that when I finally get in front of that client prospect opportunity, or I’m talking to that relationship that whether it came because of the content I put out there or not, I have personally developed my own skill set and honed, and continue to improve my own skill set, because I forced myself to create that to begin with.
Whether you’re writing, or recording media, whatever you’re doing, that stuff takes a level of thought and mental rigor that we don’t tend to come by in our normal day-to-day life. That thought process is what helps solidify those ways of thinking and those ways of communicating better in our minds and makes us ultimately, that better communicator in the heat of the actual moment of the interaction. Because if you get in front of the right person, if you don’t know how to have the conversation, it’s not going to go anywhere anyway. You have to develop that. Whether you get in front of them or not, you will develop those skill sets just by consistently being, putting out something in the creative nature.
[00:43:10] GK: Yeah. Every leadership role today is requiring some form of that. Whether that’s speaking to the public, speaking to the press, writing an article and getting coverage, follow any CEO of a startup that actually does, and is the startup that you really want to keep your eye on. It does something like that. Also, if you want to start growing through the leadership ranks in whatever company you are, a Fortune 500, or a startup, or a corporate, doing this on the side actually builds one way for you, and gives you that practice. So that one day when you’re in the seat formally, maybe in your day job, and you’re required to do something like this, you’re going to be so much more ironman.
Actually, this happened to me as well. If your company starts to want to be a podcast for themselves, who are they going to think of? They’re going to think of the person who actually is keeping up to date with the modern aspects of business development and marketing. I’d rather be the fish that rides the wave, versus the one that gets caught in it.
[00:44:03] AD: That’s an excellent way to wind this down here. I’m going to give just a quick recap of what we talked about for our listeners today. Our real focus was around being in the creative space, how being a creator, and there’s a lot of different ways of looking at what that word means. How putting out something into your network, something of value into your network is good both for you, for your personal brand, for the opportunities it can bring, but also for your own growth, your own evolution of being yourself.
The way you do that is one, you have to really think about for your network, where can I add value? What do people want to know? What can I put out there that will add value to those in my network? I have to be passionate about what I’m doing. I have to really want to do it and I have to set the right goals behind it. I cannot focus on just likes, impressions. That’s not the underlying goal, especially when I first start with it. It’s having the passion and understanding that there is greater value created that.
Now, part of being successful at this is showing up at your best. It’s bringing the right amount of energy. We had a nice discussion around, when you show up and you bring your best energy, and you show up as your best self, people tend to like you more, and they tend to enjoy the experience, whatever it might be more. It takes mindset. It takes intentionality. It takes being grateful about the situation you’re in, and forming the right mindsets, wherever you find yourself, to really ensure that you are showing up with that positivity and that energy that will help you be successful in this endeavor.
Then, that really led us into the end of our conversation, you gave three tips and three frameworks around thinking about social media that I thought were really important to re-cover. Number one, you have to really understand that what you follow is what you consume. Be thoughtful about who you’re following, and where you’re consuming content from. I’m a big believer in content consumption is learning, content production is teaching, and maybe not the actual media, true production, but if I read something, I’m consuming content. If I watch a video, I’m consuming content. If I listen to something, I’m consuming content. All of those are learning. Consuming is learning. When I’m producing, writing, speaking, whatever it might be, I’m teaching. I’m sharing some of that knowledge. I think, when you recognize that framework, you become more conscious about what you consume. I think, that was an excellent point on your part.
Then you pointed out, we don’t have to be on all platforms. You don’t have to be on it just because someone is. I think, for our listeners of this show, and our target audience, LinkedIn is it. You, in many ways have to be on LinkedIn. I highly recommend that you do, but it doesn’t mean you have to be on all the other platforms. If you want to go start a vlog, you don’t have to go do it on YouTube. There’s other ways to do it. Recognize that.
Then finally, and this being, I think, the most important element of all of this, you have to be able to contribute. You have to give back. You get what you give in life in general. I think, when we talk about social media, or any form of content, I think that is very much a cornerstone of it. You have to give if you really want to have success in the long-term.
[00:47:03] GK: Love the recap. That’s a great summary.
[00:47:04] AD: George, for listeners, how can they get in touch with you?
[00:47:07] GK: As you mentioned, most of our listeners, I believe, are on LinkedIn. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Always active there. I try to be very responsive. I’m just at George Khalife. You can listen to the podcast, of course, Let’s Grab Coffee. I’m also active on Instagram. Try to be a little bit active on YouTube. Always happy to connect.
[00:47:25] AD: George, I really appreciate you coming on here. Enjoyed the conversation as always, and we’ll make sure that your LinkedIn and your podcast is linked below. Any listeners, make sure to check out Let’s Grab Coffee and reach out to George.
[00:47:37] GK: Thank you, Alex. I appreciate you and keep up the great work, my friend.
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