Today I talk with Michael Roderick, CEO of Small Pond Enterprises, who’s an expert at making people more referable. Learn how to identify the triple threat of skills that you bring to the table and hear Michael’s tactical step-by-step process to make yourself more referable.
Hello, folks, welcome to Inde on air. My guest today is Michael Roderick. He is currently CEO of small pond enterprises. And the reason he's on the show is because He is an expert at helping people become more referable which, especially in today's economy, everything that's going on with unemployment couldn't be more timely.
Yeah, so I started out as a high school English teacher and I went from being a high school English teacher to a Broadway producer and under two years, so a lot of people asked me how, and I started doing a ton of work in the networking, relationship building space, teaching a lot of things in that in that world. But over the years, what I learned was that it didn't matter if you could get in the room if people were not interested in having you stay there. So when I saw that I realized That relationship building wasn't enough, you also needed the messaging piece. And that's when I realized, if people are talking about you when you're not in the room, then that's what gets you in more rooms. That's what gives you lots and lots of opportunity. So that's where I decided to start focusing all of my work.
So it's almost like it's like, the same but but individual focus of like product positioning, right? Like we spend so much time on as entrepreneurs, we spend so much time marketing our companies thinking through positioning thinking through individual products or launches, but you're saying applying that to to a professional or to yourself.
Yeah, and it's it's one of those things where we tend to D prioritize packaging our own intellectual property. Totally. So we're, you know, we love to like serve others because that's the nature of the entrepreneur. It's like an exciting type of thing. But so So often, we take all of our ideas, and we never sit down and say, Okay, how could I actually make this easier for people to understand easier for people to share? What is my golden circle, kind of dynamic, those types of things.
And that's something that I've seen over the last decade going through help hiring people going through applications is that even with myself is where, as professionals, a lot of us are really terrible at positioning ourselves and even understanding what we're good at, and then how to how to fit that with the market.
Yeah. So I would always start with what I call question zero, which is why are you doing what you're doing? So if you just left so if you just left a job like, what did you actually love about it? And why did you? Why did you do it? Because once you start to get into that, that sense of like, this is what I care about, you're going to start to find all sorts of things that are specifically you like part of your personality and your style and who you are and who you truly are. And once you tap into that, it's much much easier to start making decisions about what is for you and what is not for you. I think the mistake that a lot of people make when they get into these positions like you leave a job is to think, Oh, well, somebody has to find me. Somebody has to hire me, somebody has to choose me. And it's much more about you figuring out who's going to be the best fit for the talent that you have for the one thing that you can bring to the world, versus, oh, I'm going to try to fit somebody else's definition of me.
How do you even find that out like and you mentioned what did you love about you know, your last job or something? But what if you were in a job that you didn't like or didn't feel connected with?
Yeah, I think that's a great question. I think if you didn't like the last job, it's important to also ask yourself, why did you not like that last job? Because there's all these clues in our complaints, right? I like to refer to it as complaint alchemy, right? So anytime somebody complains about something, there are all of these opportunities to come up with new services, new new ways of positioning messaging, you can take you can create copy off of the things that people are not happy with, or or struggling with. And for yourself, like you step away from from something you're like, I didn't like that. Well, why? So you may realize, okay, you were in a position where you were spending a lot of time talking to people and you love talking to people. Now you realize, you know what, I'm a social person. So If I'm going to be looking at a position in the future, I've really got to make that decision of sort of, where are those so more social positions and make sure that I'm playing to my strengths, as opposed to trying to sort of push myself into what everybody else is sort of looking for me to do or looking for me to be.
Okay. And then in terms of being referable, like what is the the tactical step by step look like to get to that point? Sure.
So basically, there are three main principles that you have to consider. So the first is accessibility. And accessibility has to do with the fact that basically, if people outside of your industry don't understand what you're talking about, they're likely not going to share the idea. So if you're in what I call the echo chamber of the enlightened, where everybody's using the same language, then you go to another industry and people have no idea what it is that what it is that you're talking about. So you have To think about how are you going to communicate your value in an accessible way first, like how are you going to make sure that people who are not in the industry that you're that you're looking for, or are completely in other worlds can understand your value? Because if they can, you can have people who might refer you to a job you would never expect, would refer you to a job. It follows the law of weak ties, which you may have heard of, where it's your strongest results always come from your weakest connections. Well, people can't be a good weak tie for you if they can't explain what it is that you do, too.
What's like, what's a an example? Like maybe an example of what not to do? And then how you or what to do?
Sure. So every industry has a bunch of jargon, right? They it's certain words that you're always you know, that you're always using, and you're always trying and everybody's kind of always using this like Siri series of words. So let's just say for example, it was in marketing, right? And you're basically like, I am a specialist in direct response marketing, who helps with conversions, let's just say is the language that you use when you're talking about the value, right? So people outside of the marketing world don't understand what direct response is. They don't necessarily know what marketing is. And they've probably never heard of conversion. And they might think that it's like this technical type of thing. So if you say, you know, I studied how to get people to buy things.
Um, all of a sudden, it's like, people are like, Well, tell me more.
Right. So it's actually making the language super. So it's making the language like, like, if you're talking to a ninth grader, and then is it also opening up kind of like a, like something for them to follow back up?
Yeah. So the way that I look at it is that basically all businesses have to do at least one of three things. And it's easy to remember them. Because if you don't do at least one of these three, you'll be sad. And that's solve a problem. alleviate pain, decrease friction, right? So if you think about it, solving a problem, you've got to get really, really basic in terms of your language to talk about the problem that the problem that you solve, right? If you're getting rid of pain, it's the same thing. You're getting really, really granular. You're just saying, like I saw, I saw this problem, I get rid of this pain, or on the decrease friction side, I take this process that's normally five steps. And I turn it into a two step process. Right? So you help people understand that. And when you do that, you're, you're in essence, kind of stripping your language of jargon. Because now you're thinking more in the context of the these like granular, actual things that we all kind of like punch us in the gut, right? Like when we think about our problems when we think about our pain, when we think about the things that cause friction in our lives. We can get rid of a lot of the sort of overbearing language and usually just say, I would like this, or I am hoping to have this problem solved or I'm hoping to fix this issue. But the other side of it, and what I, I call this the jargon grid, where you can do the sad, right, solve a problem, alleviate pain, decrease friction, but then you can basically across the top of the grid, right, TCM and TCM stands for time, connections and money. And no matter what industry you're in, no matter what world you're in, you have a concern around one of those three things, in some cases, tons of concerns around around each of them. You're either worried about how much time you have, you're worried about not connecting with the right people, or you're worried about how much money is coming in how much money you're winning how much money you're losing. So now, if you take that concept and you say how do I solve a problem? For people in regards to time so if we're looking at this from like an actual like presenting yourself to a potential employer, if your employer cares more about saving time, then your message about how your work can help them take something that normally takes them five hours and you can do it in one is much more compelling than some jargon laid in. Here's all the, you know, tools that I understand how to use, here's my you know, here's, here's the past titles that I have, etc. It's can use Can you solve a problem for me in terms of time? You know, can you alleviate pain in terms of time? Can you decrease friction for me in terms of time, and you can go right down the line connections money,
So it's solve a problem. alleviate pain, decrease friction. Yep. And then it's time connections. Money. Yeah, I love that. So So as a job seeker, so like, if right now I was looking for Roll, I would understand what I'm good at, I'd understand what I like, I'd understand maybe what my, you know, start to understand what my unique genius would be or, you know, there's so many frameworks. And then I would look at the opportunities that, you know, I could potentially be helpful in. And then as I was applying for those roles, and then once I was doing a zoom interviewer call, or whatever I would, the way I would frame myself would be like, this is how I can solve this problem. Like you're a startup, you're growing fast, and things are breaking. I'm good at operational operations and scaling systems. I'll come in, I'll make things break less. So you can focus on product or engineering or whatever your genius is, and then, you know, okay, that's so it's interesting. It's like, I'm always blown away that we weren't taught this in school. Like how is this not something that was such a core part of the education system from high school on Or like, one day, you'll have to most of us will have to work for a living. Like, why haven't we been taught how to actually think of ourselves as a professional, think of ourselves as a product and then approach these situations and how can I solve your pain? I don't get it. But but it's great. It's freeing when you start thinking it that way. It's not like, hey, I want this job for this reason. It's like, Hey, you have this company that I'm interested because of x. You have this pain point. I can help you solve it. Like that's so much more motivating. Yeah, yeah. As a hiring manager as a founder. Right?
Yeah. And it's the type of thing where if you've, if you take even the slightest amount of time to research the company that you're about to do this interview for Yes. And you're able to say, Hey, I was looking at this. And I, you know, I was thinking, I was wondering, why is this piece missing? Or have you have you guys ever tested this thing out before and just you literally just throw out a card A couple of thoughts about your ideas for the whole thing. And all of a sudden, they're like, wow, this person is proactive. They're thinking about me. And they're thinking about how I can become more successful. And that is that is something that very, very few. So I call them asking blinders, where basically if like, you go to a job interview situation, a lot of the time you have blinders on because you're so focused on getting the job, right, and you're like, I'm going to tell you all the value that I have, and I'm going to convince you of how valuable I am, and it completely backfires. Because nobody wants to hear you talk about all the things that you do. They only want to hear you talk about the things that you can do for them,
them, help them solve,
you know that particular problem or get rid of that pain. They want you to focus on them, and how you could be part of the story of their success, as opposed to you coming to them and saying, This is why you should hire me. This is Why I'm you know, this is why I'm special.
What is the biggest what, you know, what are the biggest mistakes that you've seen candidates make when when looking for work, either maybe you hiring someone or watching colleagues and friends?
Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of them. Um, but you know, I think that one of the biggest ones is this aspect of trying to prove them themselves, as opposed to like really making that disc, like more of a discussion and taking the time to really understand the other, you know, the other company, right? So like, even if you're being asked questions about yourself, there's ways that you can frame it as like how you're going to help or what you're going to do for the company or why you're interested in the company. Versus here's the laundry list of things I've done. The mistake that I see a lot of people make is that they basically reread their resume in an interview and people already have the resume. They already know like all The things that you you've done, it's a question of what is inside of each of those things that you've done. So if somebody asks you about your experience, you don't want to say, Well, I worked here and then I worked here and then it worked here, which is something that happens a lot. You want to say, Well, when I was at such and such, we worked on this, and we accomplished this. And just that slight shift of AI to we suddenly communicates to people that you are a team player, like you're thinking about how you are going to be part of a an organization, but most of the time, especially in interview scenarios, I hear I far more than I hear Wait.
What are your thoughts on resumes?
I think that they don't really, you know, matter that much anymore, I think like they're, they're kind of like, you know, if I go back to sort of my theater background, like They're kind of like the headshot, right? Ah, okay need to have it because they basically use it to, you know, sort of keep track of every, you know, keep track of everybody. But the headshot doesn't get you the job. Like you have to like, it's you who gets you the job. So the idea of sending out a resume and hoping somebody responds to a resume is is foolish, in my opinion. Right? Because a resume doesn't do anything. It's a support product. It's support material for who you are. It's not the it's not the lead. If it's if it's the lead, it doesn't, I just don't see it really working very well.
What about like, personalized sites or videos like what have you seen? I mean, I think there is so much what's interesting is you talked about theater than even thinking in terms of like sales. It's like every Professional would benefit from, from cross training in these things from learning how to present themselves learning how to tell a story, learning how to engage in a way that people are like, ooh, like, that's interesting. It's and it's like we all have our different strengths. We all have our different weaknesses. But I feel like the people that I find that are, are the most preferable or the best network get the most interesting opportunities have really, they haven't stuck to one specific genre. They've actually, you know, kind of, what's that old saying? The it's like a not a man of mystery, Renaissance Renaissance
Renaissance person. Yes. Yeah. I mean, I think that there's, there's a lot to the aspect of being in other industries or sort of learning from learning from other industries. And I think that the thing that basically the thing that sort of takes you away from that world of like jack of all trades, and I don't trust you, versus Renaissance, you know, renaissance man or woman, right? Is this aspect of you actually communicate what you learned from those industries, as opposed to, oh, I worked in those industries.
That's huge. That is so huge. So what I've noticed with my generation millennials and and younger is that it seems like well, first of all, we're switching jobs more often. Were doing a job and a side project or three side hustles at once. So when I'm interviewing someone who is you know, my cohort or younger when they start telling me I'm like, so what do you do? Tell me about your background? It's 12 things and I'm just like, I get whiplash versus what you're saying is, is explain even if you did 12 things, tell a fluid story. Like, understand where you are now where you want to go? And then how do you tell that story? Like my first business in college, I was selling metaphysical jewelry. And then I built websites. And then and if I tell it that way, it makes no sense. But if I'm like, I learned the power of storytelling and entrepreneurship, and then I, you know, enter the world of tech, and from there and my driver is connecting people with meaningful work. So this is the flow. So it's really thinking about, yeah, figuring out the way to store retail.
Yeah, yeah. And also thinking about what your like white label skill is, right? So what is the skill that no matter what industry you've ended up in, you're basically able to just like, tack on that skill. So like, I love that term, if you've taught in every single industry, right? Then teaching is the thread that's your white label skill. That literally you just sort of, you know, it's part of your you know, it's it's public. Part of what you do.
Right white label skill. I love that. So it's like what you come out of the box, every new job, every new role, every new project, you pop up in your box, and you're like, I got this one.
Yeah, yeah. It's like any time like whatever industry you're in, you're able to just pop in, because that is a skill that you have carried throughout every, every project. So for me, it's always been teaching, right? So I started as a high school English teacher. But teaching is something that I do very, very well where I break down where I break down material. So when I moved into Broadway, and I was raising money, all I was doing was bringing my teaching skills to show people what the dynamics were of Broadway investing and help them understand whether or not it was something that they wanted to do or not wanted to do. From there. When I ended up in a technology startup, and I was doing more business development. I was teaching people about a product and helping them sort of under Stand understand that particular product. And now in the work that I do, I'm making people referral. I'm teaching them the principles, right? I'm taking these complex ideas, and I'm breaking them down in the same way that would help students Remember, a Shakespearean play, right? In the same way that I would help them understand a certain concept by giving them a mnemonic, or by giving them some very, very simple three part step or whatever. I do the exact same thing. And I do the exact same thing for my clients. So teaching is my white label skill. It is carried through in every single thing that I have done.
And we all have, is there one, or is it more or is it usually like one overarching thread?
I think that it's Yeah, I think it's, it could be it could fall in the category of like a triple threat kind of kind of model where it's like, Are you familiar with the concept of triple threat in in performance? So it's really interesting concept. So in performances, they're their triple threats, which are actor, singer dancer, or you're a dancer, singer, actor, or, you know, so basically it's like, which is your leading thing. So you're either you're really, really good actor, and you're kind of a moderate singer, and you need a lot of help as a dancer, or you're just a top tier dancer. And maybe you're a middle of the road singer, and you're not that good of an actor, you know, and basically, you can keep sort of rotating them. So I think that we all have kind of our triple threats, where it's like, there are certain things that are leading our leading thing. So teaching for me is probably my my top, my top thing, but content creation is a very, very close second. So writing ends up being a pretty solid, solid thing. And then finally speaking is is probably the third in that sort of triple threat, kind of kind of model. So I think that if you were looking and you're trying to think about like, well, what are the skills that I bring to a draw job, it might be worth it to ask like, what is my triple threat? And actually looking at, like, what are the three white label skills and actually lining them up in your triple threat? Kind of kind of model?
Okay, that's super helpful. Um, and I like that too, that it's not you're not equally good at each. It's good to have that lead. That's so that's so helpful. So I guess and just, this has been awesome. Wrapping up a few things in terms of when you look at the next decade, um, what types of careers and what types of professions careers job opportunities do you think are going to just explode? spanned even faster than we might realize now, and what are kind of gonna die off or get disrupted?
Yeah, I think that, especially with sort of all of the things that are happening with technology, we're going to see less and less of that factory worker, I'm going to tell you what to do, you're going to do it kinds of, you know, kinds of
remote type of work.
Exactly. Like we're anything that can be automated. Exactly. And I think that when I used to teach high school, I would always tell my students that at the end of the day, they were either going to be an innovator themselves, or they were going to work for one. And, and I really think that that is sort of the direction that were that we're heading into. I think that as time progresses, we're going to become significantly more individualistic, and we're going to we're going to find more instances in which People are basically splintering job titles like I think that we're going to see a lot of new job titles coming up. And I think we're going to see entirely different jobs coming, you know, coming into coming into play. And I think I've been thinking a lot about just sort of what's happened in the world recently. And I think that we're going to be on the search for, I'm calling this the rise of the Maven, like, we are going to be on the search for the curators, for the people who are going to tell us out of all of this mess, what should I pay attention to? What should I focus on? What should I be thinking about? And I think that we just have so much input right now.
Right, exactly. It's just like we it's we have nonstop information.
Exactly. And I think that there are probably going to be Maven level roles that will start to come into play where it's like you're the decision maker helping us figure out how to play All of these things coming in, what do we buy? What do we use? You know, out of all these people we could hire, you're the person I trust to figure out who we should hire. Like, I think we're going to start seeing more of that as, as companies start to, as companies start to move away from this world of like, here's this person, they're going to do this very, very specific job, come into work, you know, or show up for work and do this rote thing. I think we're going to get we're going to be looking for more people who are going to want to take charge, right? And and be able to sort of take a job on in more of that sort of entrepreneurial, entrepreneurial way. Like we're always going to have people who will still fall into the like the factory worker dynamic, but that's going to just keep shrinking. So I think if people are looking ahead at the job market, it's important for you to have your own 90 is your own thoughts, and you have the ability to think for yourself, as opposed to letting other people sort of, you know, or looking to other people I guess is the best is the best way to think about it, to tell you what you should be doing, versus talking to them, sort of, you know, figuring it out and then going out there and making some decisions on your own.
I love that. Especially the curation aspect. That's something I've been thinking about a lot too, because it's like, we don't need another blog or another article. But what is really interesting is how do you how do you parse between all the stuff there is? Yeah, so it's like, you don't necessarily even have to be a creator yourself. You could just get really good at curating. Yes.
Yeah. And I think that's going to be a I think on the content side, that's going to be something we're going to see a lot more of, I think we're going to find more people who decide like, you know what, I don't want to be a content creator who decided I I'm going to be a curator, I'm going to just find the best content. And I'm going to deliver that to my audience in a very, very specific way. And that's how they're going to become known. It's not going to be that they're writing things or creating things themselves, it's going to be that they're the trusted person, for us to say, Oh, I'm going to, I'm going to read this, this list of things. I'm going to read this group of articles, because I trust it because this person's really good at curating.
Are there any resources, podcasts, books, articles that you would suggest someone who's who's looking for, you know, kind of to take control their career, maybe looking for their new their next role or just thinking about the future of their themselves professionally, that you'd suggest people if they want to dig in a little more?
Yeah, I mean, I think that there's lots of there there. I mean, there's a wide berth of stuff that's out there, um, but I always go back to Seth Godin is purple cow. I when I taught when I taught high school, I used to have my seniors read that book before writing their college essays.
Oh, wow. Yeah. How cool because I wanted
to make about that college essay, like the purple cow. Like I wanted them to think about how are they going to write this in this sort of remarkable way, as opposed to this is just another essay.
So applicable if you were just about to start your job search saying read purple cow, and then think of each application this way?
Exactly. Exactly. And also, Blue Ocean Strategy is another really good one. And, you know, that will help you see how other companies have done have basically found like completely different markets. And I think as a job seeker a lot of the time we sort of have this idea of like, Oh, well, this is the market like this is where I should get a job. But reading something like that will give you the idea that oh my god, there's probably another untapped markets, there's probably there's probably companies right now that don't even have a job title yet. So I could help actually what I do and I could help them and you sort of jump in in that, you know, in that capacity.
Okay. How about the SAT and the TCM models? Do you have those written out on your blog? Is there something we can link to?
Um, yes, I I am actually working. I'm doing a rework on the on on my website. So I will get I think, you know, for that, cause I love that.
I'm excited to dig into that myself. Thank you. Oh, this was so awesome. Thank you so much, Michael. Lastly, where can people find more about you find more about small pond church? Yeah. webs.
Yeah, if they just go to small pond enterprises calm. There are a ton of resources there. And then All over get on the on the social side of things. You know, find me on LinkedIn book of faces, any of those. Any of those places Say hello.
Can you do that? Do you do the tweets?
Yes, I do. I'm just at Michael Broderick.
So always always easy. Awesome. Thank you so much.
Yeah, thanks so much for having me. This was an absolute blast.
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