Marketing With A Heart – Ben Gioia

Marketing With A Heart – Ben Gioia

My guest today, his name is Ben Gioia. You guys are absolutely going to love him. He's going to talk about, first of all, the most interesting thing is that this guy has actually escaped death 4 times. Not just escaped death 4 times in his life, but in 72 hours. We're going to talk about that. It sounds like he went on a crazy trip to India. He's lived about it to share some stuff with you. I think there's been some big lessons that he's learned that's going to apply to your business, apply to your marketing and help you start making some more sales online. He is the author of a book called Marketing With A Heart. He's the marketing board chair for Conscious Capitalism Bay Area.

Ben Gioia

Ben Gioia

Ben, what he's going to do for you guys is he helps entrepreneurs, visionaries, leaders, help you guys serve, succeed and transform people's lives and hopefully, your own by using the things that you know, your leadership, your authority, your empathy and influence in a way that's authentic so that people can trust and inspire action out of them. If you think about it, one of the things that we always talk about on this show is how you can build that relationship, how you can use your authority so that you can make more sales, increase your business, help your life and help the lives of others.

Ben, I'm super stoked to have you on here. We got to chat a little bit before this show started. I didn't really want to bring it up because I didn't want to know too much about this, but I'm dying to know about this death experience that you had because I've had some growing up, but mine were mostly like self induced and afterwards going, "I made it through there." Welcome to the show.

Ben Gioia:
Thank you, Lance. It's really a pleasure to be here and so excited to have this conversation with you and to really serve your listeners in the best way that I can. Appreciate the opportunity a lot.

Lance Tamashiro:
Awesome. Let's talk about this escaping death. First of all, the big reason I want to know about it is, obviously, I love near-death stories because they're always like, "Wow, I can't believe I did that." Also, this had to have made a dramatic shift in your life and maybe even the trajectory of where you were going after something like this happens to you.

Ben Gioia:
Yeah, that's exactly what it is. It's funny because you used the word self induced to describe your own experiences. This was technically self induced as well. I made that choice to go to India and I made the choice to go on a hike through the mountains with a guide. Just starting out walking along. It had been this time where we're in the south of India and hadn't rained for 4 months, so we're talking bone dry everywhere. We're walking and all of a sudden we're in this forested area. We're already up in the mountains and hear all of this yelling in really agitated voices, all in a language that I don't understand at all. The guide turns his head to me and he says "Run." I said, "Run?" He said, "Run." We go running down the path and running for, it might have been 15 minutes. In my head, I'm thinking because I'm from New York, I'm thinking, okay, the police are chasing us or very bad people are chasing us. Have no idea. We stop and we take a breath. I said, "What the hell was that?" He said, "There were fires." There was actually an out-of-control fire that a whole village was trying to contain and people running from it.

We walked about 100 feet farther as I'm trying to process this whole experience. We come out on to this plateau. I look to the ridge on the left of me and there are 12 fires burning. I look to the ridge of the right, and there are 4 fires burning. I just went, "My god." I don't know what to do here other than really just keep my focus on staying alive. What does that look like? I have no idea. This is way before I had any clue of a spiritual practice, mindfulness, a way to cope with what the heck was happening inside of me. I'm just like I had to survive, I just had to survive. The trek continued, the walk continued. We went from there to stumbling upon a snake on the path. I didn't see the snake, little green snake. My guide stops me and he points to and he says, "Snake." Apparently this is deadly, tiny poisonous snake.

Lance Tamashiro:
You're thinking that's a worm.

Ben Gioia:
Right, exactly. It's not much bigger than that. We sit there and we throw a little sticks at it and eventually, it gets off the path. I'm like, "Okay, great." We go further. As we're going through this, just having these like spikes of adrenaline out of survival ... As each event or each circumstance is happening, I'm getting higher with the adrenaline and then more exhausted from the experience, just going ... It's starting to not even faze me anymore. We get a little bit farther on the path. We're flanked by forested roads or forest along the pathway. We hear this really, really big sound of a large animal coming through the forest parallel to where we're walking. I go running up behind the guide, my guide because he's one with a big stick...

Lance Tamashiro:
They'll eat you first.

Ben Gioia:
The path there, like the flank, if you will, the back leg of a mountain lion. I was just like, "Oh my god."

Lance Tamashiro:
Wow.

Ben Gioia:
Yeah. At this point, okay, here's this whole experience that I don't even have the tools to process yet at all, but here we are. The icing on the cake and all of it is getting [tuned 00:06:17] from the mountain, you're on a bus. Buses in India and roads in India are notorious for being really, really dangerous and lots of road deaths. We're coming around the turn on the bus, and the back of the bus literally smashes and demolishes the guard rail. I'm sitting in the back of the bus. The entire back of the bus is literally over the abyss for that one amazing second that lasts for about as long as infinity. Somehow the bus didn't go careening off the cliff 6,000 feet down. The driver did some magic. I think there were angels and also it's other beings. I called in probably everything.

Lance Tamashiro:
A whole new meaning, personal meaning [inaudible 00:07:08], right?

Ben Gioia:
That was exactly it. Yeah. To your point, to your introduction around creating a shift in me and my experience, yeah, I went wow, not only did I get a second chance, but I got a third and [inaudible 00:07:31] chance. I came back from that whole experience and said, "Okay, whatever I'm going to do for the rest of my life, a, I need to do what I love and do what I care about; and b, I would actually probably even put this first, is it absolutely has to be in service to other people somehow or another because that is really the only way that says me to be on this earth because we're all in this together and we need to do it together.

Lance Tamashiro:
What's interesting about that is a lot of people when they come online, that the goal is making money right, like I want to be successful, I want to make money. Then they figure out, "Oh, my gosh, I got to do this thing." Typically, people will go, "You got to pick a niche. You got to do this, figure out what you're going to do." The one advice that I always hear from people and tell people is pick something that you're passionate about and do that. What I love about the way that you put this is the shift for you is I have to figure out one, what I love; and two, what serves other people. What's neat about starting from those 2 things as your framework to beginning life or business or whatever is that you can succeed, it positions you to inevitably succeed in whatever direction you're moving at.

Ben Gioia:
Yeah. You're absolutely correct. I appreciate you articulating it in that way. This whole journey, this whole, whether you call it entrepreneurial journey or starting your business and even if you're not starting ... If you don't have that core passion and that core love for the thing that you're doing, the inevitable downs and challenges, you can't get through them otherwise because you don't have that higher purpose, higher calling, whatever that means to you and that place of refuge to go back to and go this day, week, maybe even this year just sucked, but I know that this is part of who I am and what I love and what I want to do. I know that this is going to serve people. It's already serving people. I think even more subtly, and this is a tricky reminder for all of us is that it's ... The thing that is our calling, if you will, we grow that and we evolve that, and we evolve into that as we're taking this step.

For some people, you could even call it, I call it for myself a spiritual journey, my practice, I do a bunch of meditation, my practice, day to day in my business is as much of a practice as sitting down on the cushion and trying to pay attention to my breath. It's hard. Every single day, it's hard. No doubt about it. No candy coating, nothing.

Lance Tamashiro:
I think that whether you meditate or whatever it is that you do, I think the important part of all of it is every single day, you have to know what is that purpose. Like why are you doing this? Get focused for whatever it is. There's a million ways that you can do that. Meditation is a great one. But if you don't get that refocus every day, I think that's when people get off and feeling overwhelmed, feeling like you talk about down because they didn't have a good day, month or year. Reminding yourself to do that every day, "Why am I doing this," focusing on what it is, I think that's a huge tip and things that people need to be doing in order to make this because if it was easy doing the kinds of things that we do, building a business, living a better life, everybody would do it. The truth is very few people do it because it's dang hard but super rewarding.

Ben Gioia:
Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. It's so funny because one of the most important things in what you just said is having ... Articulating that purpose, getting clear on it and then literally having it printed out on the wall in front of you so you can just keep looking at that. I share that with clients, with coaching clients of mine, for example, or I'll talk about this from stage. The question I sometimes get is, "What if you don't know what that purpose is?" That's a great question. I didn't know what the hell I was doing for a gazillion years or why I was doing it.

Somebody taught me at some point that, hey, just start with as much as you know about your purpose. Being that place of passion and know, just be honest with yourself of what's even the 10% of that for me. Okay, if I can get that much and focus on that, the next steps of clarity are going to come, the next people, the next experiences, the right book, the right podcast, that's when all of that stuff starts coming in because however you want to take my next statement, the universe, so to speak, God, whatever the big forces that are moving stuff beyond our comprehension, it responds, they respond. They start feeding back to us, the things that we're literally putting out to them or to it.

Lance Tamashiro:
Yeah. I think that's a huge point is so many people ... Back to how you started with what do you love, what's going to serve other people is a lot of people ... They just say, "My goal is to make money. It's like you can get that, you know what I mean? You can move towards that. What I love about your whole idea of putting it on the wall and you don't have to know exactly what it is, but knowing what you're moving towards, if nothing else that keeps you focused. For me, my daily thing is am I moving in this direction? If I'm making a choice or deciding to take time, spending it doing x, y or z and I've got 2 choices, the right choice for me, and I don't always make it, is to choose the one that is to that bigger goal, moving towards it. I don't know necessarily what the step is after that. I know that if I do this, it's at least moving me in that direction.

Ben Gioia:
Exactly. Yeah. That idea of you can't see 10 steps ahead but you can see the next step. When you take the next step, you can see the next step after that.

Lance Tamashiro:
Yes. Let's talk a little bit of this book and this whole idea. One of the things that really stood out to me when I found out about you was this whole idea of conscious marketing. I have an idea from the things that you've been saying, but can you talk about what that is, how you came up with that and how people can use this idea to better themselves in their business.

Ben Gioia:
Absolutely, absolutely. The quick history around that is I did magazine production for great many years back in New York where I'm from and then stepped away from that because I knew I wanted to do something, at least, even before the end of the experience, I wanted to do something that was more hopeful, more in service to people. I started working with nonprofits. That was amazing because I'm feeling like I was making a bigger impact. What I realize was I wasn't expressing myself through that in the way that I wanted to. I wanted to really just making even bigger impact than a structure that I was part. I think really big and keep that as my energy, as my feeding energy, if you will. I started thinking, "Okay, what does that mean and how can that be done?"

I kept seeing all of these people have these great ideas, not just individual people but businesses, organizations of all sizes who are doing great staff. Their message either wasn't getting out there the right way or they were doing that what so many people have learned is traditional marketing and traditional advertising. The stuff around fear and manipulation and the used car salesman so to speak, all of that stuff. I was looking and I'm going, "Wait, there's a big disconnect here." If you have a person or an organization who's doing this heartfelt thing that can potentially be so transformative, even if they're just impacting one person's life, it's not the number of people I don't want to dissuade anybody when I said I have big, big picture, big ideas for myself, 1 or 10 or 10,000 people, whatever that is, it all applies. If you're going to do this great thing, why would you possibly talk about it and try to enroll people in it through subversion and through manipulation and through treating people like crap and not respecting the humans around you.

That was the core of this. Then I started looking at it, I was going, "You know what? You can do marketing and you can communicate with people and you can be influential and do it from the heart and be effective." If you really just focus on transparency, if you focus on educating people, if you focus on that idea of win-win, as Stephen Covey calls it. How do you make the outcome the best possible thing for everyone? Then that puts you in a really good place.

Then from there, if you really focus on ... I like to say if I was trying to influence my grandmother to take more vitamins, would I try to scare the hell out of her, would I try to drop a guilt trip and then say, "Grandma, you don't love me if you're not taking your vitamins?" Or would I really, really educate her and do my best to open her eyes to the realities and to the possibilities and connect that to her goals and dreams of living a little bit longer, spending more time with her grandchildren and being able to have fun with her grandchildren as well. It's not just she's the person laying on the couch over there saying hi to her grandchildren for 5 minutes, but how does she really be in that place with them. That was how it all came together for me.

Lance Tamashiro:
What's interesting about what you said is I've studied copy writing and sales and all of that stuff, and you're exactly right. The normal sales process that is taught historically is scare them, give them a solution and them give them an outcome, so they're not scared anymore, right? I've never thought about it like this, but you're right, there is a huge disconnect between we're out there trying to save the world or we're out there as a charity, or whatever, and they always lead with let us scare the crap out of you. Then they educate you and move to these outcomes.

What I like about the way that you've approached this is it's still the same sales process minus the fear. It's education and solution with the outcomes why are we even ... We live in a society today, why are we even going to deal with this fear peace anymore? We know you're looking for a solution. I don't have to tell you if you want to lose weight, that you don't feel good about yourself. You already know these things. If you're approaching the right market, most of that fear, they know that. You don't need to remind them about it.

Ben Gioia:
Right. I appreciate very much, you said that "What I teach is very much the sales process but just flipped on its head a bit." I'd love to say a tineey bit more about that because as awake and aware and 21st century as we all are, we are still human beings. A lot of ourselves and a lot of our lizard brains, if you will, hasn't evolved a whole bunch in the last many tens of thousands of years. The things that are oriented around survival and safety, avoidance of pain, seeking of pleasure and then, on a little higher level, if you will, this idea of connecting to meaning, all of that stuff still applies.

The idea of the marketing psychology, the things that drive people to take action in the way that you can help people take that step, it all still comes into play. I'm saying to everyone who's listening right now, still do that staff but look at your intention behind it in the first place and then how you're actually delivering it because sometimes you do have to say ... Remind people of literally the pain of not taking action and give them, honor their choice to take that step or not because it might not be the right step, it might not be the right step right now. Sometimes tough love does come into the mix.

Lance Tamashiro:
I know that you do a lot of coaching around this whole idea of the conscious marketing and stuff like what does it typically look like if somebody comes to you and they say, "Ben, I've got this business that I'm trying to start. I sell x, y, z widgets, but I'm not selling any." What's the process that you take somebody through in order to transform how their business looks and how their marketing works?

Ben Gioia:
Yeah. Thank you for that question. The first thing, coming back to the beginning of this discussion, is really getting oriented around purpose. I would do a bunch of questions in interviewing with this person to understand who they are and what they're about and why they're doing what they're doing. On the deep level, like how is this an expression of who they are and what they care about and their purpose. If it's not aligned, see if we can make some alignment happen just by opening up some ... A little bit different thinking, and then how does that passion, are they literally expressing that in their marketing, in their communication, in their sales calls, in every human interaction? How are they showing up as their highest and best self that's excited and passionate because that's such a huge thing.

You've had this experience like you encounter someone who's, I don't know, offering ... I can't even think of an example, you're walking through the mall and somebody has a food sample, and they're so excited to share with and you're like you're going to love this. Oh, my god, and maybe you weren't even hungry but this person's passion and their care and the fact that they're looking you in the eye, you're like, "All right."

Lance Tamashiro:
Versus the person that comes up and goes, "Try my tea" or "Let me spray you with this perfume."

Ben Gioia:
Right. Yeah. Because you see you how much they love it and how much they care about it. That's one huge part of it. Then moving from there after this connection to purpose is really getting clear on thought leadership and influence. We all exist in a really crowded market, pretty much no matter what our niche is or the audience that we're serving. One of the best ways to stand out, of course, is to [inaudible 00:23:44] leader. Are you the person who's really showing everybody that you know a bunch of stuff? Do you have a book? If you don't have a book, do you have articles published online? Are you being interviewed on podcasts and webinars? Are you talking to your lists, literally cultivating that relationship, having that conversation, expressing and clarifying your credentials, and showing also how you are uniquely positioned to deliver what you're delivering. Let's say you're a consultant, there could be 25 other consultants in your space, but why you? A big part of the why you is coming out of your purpose, is that expression of your purpose. Then...

Lance Tamashiro:
It's funny that you just said that because I think that's a big thing, too, is nobody is you. I even wrote down here connection to purpose as you were saying that because I love your example of the food person because that comes through. I think ultimately, and I think even more online than people realize, especially today, it wasn't like this maybe 8, 10 years ago online. Definitely, today, there's 25 of whatever you are. If you're lucky, there's probably more like 1,000 of whatever you are. At the end of the day, I think you're exactly right. The way that a person makes a decision between you or the other 25 or 1,000 of you out there is you. If you can bring that passion through and bring that personality through and bring ... I almost hesitate to say personality because there's a lot of people with good personalities and big personalities in all of this, but it's that authentic part, right? You can only get that when you're connected to those values that you talked about at the very beginning.

Ben Gioia:
Yeah, absolutely. I want to make a little bridge here. One of the most, if not the most, powerful way to actually get that done is to really tell your story. I have a unique story, and not everybody has such an exciting story, but it doesn't matter because the story is not just, "Hey, I had this experience." Your story is as much, "Hey, when I was getting my PhD in the lifelong learning, what I really figured out is that people over 50 are being taught all of this stuff around longevity and aging, but they're not actually being taught stuff around quality of life. Then, that's when I started figuring out let me talk more about quality of life because that's what people really care about.

Just as an example. How do you bring your story across? Your story is an expression of your personality. Your story is also the articulation of that thought leadership. Why you? If you've been studying something for 10 years and you've read all of the books and studied with all of the masters or all of the gurus or all of the best business leaders and such and such a thing, that's a story onto itself.

Lance Tamashiro:
I think that...

Ben Gioia:
I think that's your unique positioning.

Lance Tamashiro:
I think that's important for people to realize because a lot of times the people we see out there on TV or on stage speaking, they have these stories. We're like, "Oh my gosh." Now, the first thing that I hear when you say something like this is I got to craft this story, this crazy over the top thing. The truth is, is that you don't. I think the important part is, is that your story is going to be for the people that it's for, whatever that. You don't know who those people are. The reason there's 1,000 people or 25 people in your market is because there's 25 or 1,000 unique stories that people are connecting to. Your story can't be crafted to grab the market. Your story is there to attract the people that identify with you and your unique story.

Ben Gioia:
Absolutely, yeah. Thank you for saying that because I think that's another big challenge that so many people face as they think they have to be that 1 thing or everything to everybody. When you have that focus and orientation, you're nothing to no one, right? Yeah. You keep that in.

Lance, to reiterate what you said, if you tell your story, tell your truth and make sure you're hitting all of the stops of why you're the man or woman or person, however you identify, really, the stuff that you talked about is going to resonate with the people that you care about and that you can serve, assuming ... I have to always throw this in, too, that you are talking about things that they care about in the language that they're using as well. You're really going back to the whole idea of niche and market enough about your people and who you're serving, not so much from your perspective of them, which is important as a foundation but how do you literally stand in their shoes, look through their eyes, think about the things that are coming up in their lives every day, their fears, their frustrations, needs, desires, goals, dreams. The meaning that they're trying to get out of their experience, whether it's just something yummier for dinner or something that's going to really transform their business and their life.

Lance Tamashiro:
Awesome. The people, they get their message out, they get their story out. A couple of the things that I heard you talk about is actual like things that are tangible. Your story is your story. Nobody can craft that for you. You got to figure out what that is and be comfortable telling it. Then you talked about that visibility piece, like the books, being found online, getting interviewed, talking with your list, which I think is a huge one. I see people that are afraid to mail their list, think their list is too big, too small, whatever, and don't go out to it. If somebody doesn't have any of these things, what would you say to somebody who said, "Okay, I got my story 6down. I have no visibility. What practically can I go out and start doing immediately to at least get the ball rolling in the right direction?"

Ben Gioia:
Yeah. If we're talking absolute ground zero here, I would say get a profile up on LinkedIn, first and foremost, because there's this perception of LinkedIn, which is true, that there are professionals in a professional space interacting professionally most of the time.

Lance Tamashiro:
You automatically become a professional because you're there.

Ben Gioia:
Exactly. Then you start looking on LinkedIn and look for people who make sense for you to talk to, look at groups that could be talking about your topic and start paying attention and start being part of that conversation. Whoever you're reaching out to, whether it's an individual or a group, and this can be on LinkedIn, this is just a rule.

How do you actually lead, as in start a conversation, start an engagement from a place of value and service? Not like, "Hey, what can I get out of this transaction?" but "Hey, how can I serve you? How can I help you? Hey, Mr. And Mrs. so and so, I know you talk about executive coaching, and I came across this great article about executive coaching. I wanted to share it with you because it impacted me in A, B, C way. By the way, I'm just getting started in the space. Do you have a couple of resources for me? Do you have a couple of minutes ... Do you have 10 minutes you can chat on the phone with me?" Because most of the time, people want to help and people get so much personal satisfaction from helping. If you ask in a very human way, 9 times out of 10 people are going to say yes. If they say no, it might just not be the right time.

Lance Tamashiro:
I loved it. I appreciate that you actually laid that out because I know me, personally, it's hard to go up to somebody you don't know. You hear all of this stuff in the marketing world like be of service, do all of the cliches that we all know. To actually have some step-by-step system to use where you approach them with an article, ask them for some help, I think that's super helpful especially for somebody like me that I don't know ... I'm not good of reaching out and talking to new people and doing that stuff, and especially people that, whether it's or not, that you perceive as more successful for you or where you're trying to go to, I think that that's a great lead in that people can use.

Ben Gioia:
Yeah. Thank you. I have one more, if I may.

Lance Tamashiro:
Yes, heck, yeah.

Ben Gioia:
Yeah. A really neat one, which I learned from a coach of mine was if you want to figure your way into something that is a passion of yours and you want to bring something special to the market around it, go on Amazon, look at a bunch of the books, read all of the table of contents and read the reviews that people give and see what people are talking, what the material is and see if there's a gap in the material. Everybody is talking about this, this and this in this space, but nobody is talking about this particular thing because none of the books are talking about it, and maybe even in the reviews. One of the readers was like, "Hey, great, great books except they didn't tell me how to do this." That would be a gold mine right there.

Lance Tamashiro:
Right. I love that. Perfect. Ben, I want to put you on the spot here.

Ben Gioia:
Go for it.

Lance Tamashiro:
I like to do this because it's something that nobody has ever prepared for and I always think that, that's good. You do this business stuff. You've got your coaching. You run your own business. What it's the one tool or the one service or a place online that you use more than anything, that if somebody was to take it away from you, you would really be hurt over that?

Ben Gioia:
Is it something like my own website or is it a resource that I use?

Lance Tamashiro:
Like a resource that you use, yeah.

Ben Gioia:
I see. God, if they took Google Search out of the mix, I would be dead in the water.

Lance Tamashiro:
Awesome. Google Search.

Ben Gioia:
Yeah.

Lance Tamashiro:
Yeah. I use that one a lot, too, especially along the lines of what you've been talking about. A lot of times, when I'm looking for somebody for an interview or I'm thinking about buying something, the first thing that I do is I go put their name in the Google. Back to your point of visibility, I want to see if how long they have been around, I want to see what people are saying about them, I want to know are they somebody that position themselves as being this crazy marketing guru, and it turns out they don't even have a website. Google is a very important tool these days.

Ben Gioia:
It really is. Lance, I don't know if ever read the book, and I say this as much to everybody who's listening. There's a book from an author Daniel Pink called To Sell Is Human.

Lance Tamashiro:
No, I haven't read this one.

Ben Gioia:
It's brilliant, absolutely fabulous, recommended, recommended. The point that I want to get to here is what the author talks about is how in ... I can't remember the exact terminology he uses, but in this day and age in all of the selling that happens, in all of the business that gets transacted is so much more peer to peer than expert to non-expert. In the past, if you needed a vacuum, you would go to the store and the vacuum salesperson would be the expert, and they would guide you to make a choice. Maybe they were guiding you into a choice that was not for your best interest but for their best interest. At this day and age, you go online to Google Search, let's say, and you can walk into that vacuum store, for example, with as much, if not more knowledge than the sales [inaudible 00:37:09].

Lance Tamashiro:
Yeah, sure. That's a fun thing to do if you've never done this, and I'm sure everybody has. You've done your research, and it's always fun to ask that question or say that thing where they look at you dumbfounded because you know more than that.

Ben Gioia:
Yeah.

Lance Tamashiro:
That is definitely true. Ben, I super appreciate you being here. Where can people find out more about you, find out about your book, find out about the stuff that you're doing? This Marketing With A Heart thing is a complete shift versus what a lot of people are hearing in the marketing space.

Ben Gioia:
Thank you. Yeah. My book is available in print and all the digital forms and Kindle, on Amazon.com and it's Marketing With A Heart. Then my website is also marketingwithaheart.com. What I'm going to have available for your listeners, Lance, is if they go to marketingwithaheart.com/lance, I have some good tools and training that I want to make available to people, a chapter of my book, a couple of videos, they're more audio, but they're presenting as videos. I think the stuff that really focuses on the conscious marketing things that we talked about today, the thought leadership things, getting to know your audience and building that relationship. This is a crash course in that stuff. It's very informal. It doesn't take that long. I think it will really open a lot of eyes and hearts and doors for everyone who's listening.

Resources:

Marketing With a Heart

 

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