Ramon Ray, Entrepreneur, Global Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Author

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Ramon Ray, Entrepreneur, Global Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Author

Ramon has started four companies and sold one. He's written three books, one is a best seller and he's in the process of publishing his fourth book, Celebrity CEO. Ramon travels around the USA and the world speaking to business owners to help them start and grow their businesses. While Ramon's favorite meal is brunt pancakes, bacon and eggs he'll also wolf down a bowl of cereal.



[00:00:01] You're listening to Scaling Up Services where we speak with entrepreneurs authors business experts and thought leaders to give you the knowledge and insights you need to scale your service based business faster and easier. And now here is your host Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt.

[00:00:22]Welcome everyone I’m Bruce Eckfeldt, I'm your host and our guest today is Ramon Ray and Ramon is founder of four different company is an entrepreneur. He's also an author who's written a couple of different books. His most recent one celebrity CEO and we're gonna speak with him about authority marketing and about positioning and about how companies grow their business and influence. Ramon welcome to the program.

[00:00:41] Hey Bruce thank you so much. And I mean in your community a recipient of your emails and your own video so thank you for sharing what you do with us. But I'm so deliriously excited to be here.

[00:00:51] Well I'm happy to have you here. I attended your conference a while ago here in New York with Vicodin and Adrian Miller and a whole bunch of other folks. That was great it was great to get the community together a little bit and have a chance to rub shoulders with folks.

[00:01:05] And I think I want other people to the conference so thank you.

[00:01:08] Yeah yeah yeah. I brought a couple of different friends there.

[00:01:11] And you know I think one of the fun things about these conferences is that it's a good excuse to actually get together with folks. We spend so much time online and you know in video conferences and emails and stuff to actually meet in person can be a bit of a rarity these days. Yes. So you know I'm excited to have you on because I know you've you've been kind of a master of this world of helping companies market to influence interact with this kind of small business medium sized business market.

[00:01:39] And so I think you know I'm excited to see you here. Can I hear your insights and your take on things. You know our audience here is primarily you know service based businesses. You know why don't we start with just a discussion of when you look at your domain of your you know kind of small business medium size business growing markets. How do you see services like what what is the role of services in that.

[00:02:00] Yeah I think it's essential I think people forget Bruce and again I'd love to hear from you as well on this and learn from you as we're having a discussion but I think the product these businesses is one type of animal. But I think services businesses are important because we all need them there. I think I kind of see them as a back office that runs America. You know whatever you or I are doing or any of our clients or peers everybody needs a service based business and what that means basically is often you're paying for somebody whose time you're paying for their expertise you're paying for the knowledge. I think when I think of a service based business to one degree that's one essence that I see of that and I think it's vitally important. There's a lot of challenges though of course which we'll talk about. But I love it. I think it's a great business and I think there's a lot of opportunities to growth.

[00:02:39] And as you're doing to scale them up yeah I think it is it's interesting the more businesses I kind of interact with the more sort of service businesses I run into and and also elements of businesses that are service related. So even even if you were a quote unquote product company and you're selling widgets or you know SAS platform or something at some point there's some element of service within it and you start running into these challenges of you know we're where people are intimately involved in the delivery of of that process is critical.

[00:03:09] Let's go back because I'd love to understand where kind of your background and how you don't get into this because I think that's important to the conversation.

[00:03:15] So tell us about. I mean I know you're running conferences I know you're writing books I hope you have a couple of different businesses. Give us a sense of how all that works and how you got there what were you doing before this.

[00:03:25] Absolutely. So in essence so I'll start at the end they go backwards in essence what I do is the summary of it. Bruce is influencer marketing. So brands such as well large brands as AP Salesforce you know Microsoft all these big brands AT&T Verizon they have the money they don't need Ramon ego to boost their brands they could do a tenth Super Bowl commercials if they want you know what it's some time where they're looking to go very granular very niche especially to small businesses two things are looking for one. They want to reach new markets which again they can do with the Facebook app but they want that authenticity and that organic credibility for their business. And that's right come in. Hey Ramon’s using us or maybe not. Ramon speaking at our event. So it must be pretty good if Ramon there because Ramon is blah blah blah blah blah. So that's really the market I mean working with these brands to do blog post to do Twitter chats to do as you've seen with a sponsor by then. So that's that's kind of what I do. That sounds pretty good.

[00:04:19] So yeah no it makes sense to and and tell us about the companies or tell it. Tell us about you know how you kind of develop your content and develop the events. I mean what is what is your business look like.

[00:04:29] Absolutely. So there's two sides to. So for example as you know I have an annual conference that I've done for about 14 years and that one really has no magic to it but every year I put together the agenda put together just what I think people want and then from there put a call that I have a list of hundreds of of brands that might be a fit for it. And it's really Bruce going back to sales it's about eight out of five hundred brands who may possibly want to attend. Would you like to attend to. I'm blessed to say that it narrows down to about 3 5 10 year after year to raise their hand and ceremony we love to be a part of it. So that's the conference side of it. The second part of that of course is the content. For example one of our clients is a rental car company. They said her mode were launching a survey a study of course to benefit their brands and all that a study and a survey. Can we work with you and I'm sure they're working with 10 to 15 other influencers to promote that content. So we'll do a blog post about it Twitter about it so I team we have a team of about five consist of a designer video editor a web developer two or three writers and then my project manager so I don't add very well Bruce.

[00:05:28] Maybe that was more than five but you gotta focus on your strengths you know. Yes that's good.

[00:05:33] Even though it's great and that's helpful because I think that you know this is interesting conversation not only talking about the service market but also as a service person yourself. I mean I would say that you're your you're part of the mix here in terms of growing our brand groaning a business around the service that you provide. So let's talk about some of the challenges so you know as service business owners leaders what are some of the challenges that you typically see companies run up against when they when they start to think about growing it. You know I think we're you know we could talk about getting traction in the beginning but you know what is what are the growth challenges that you see in there is of course a lot.

[00:06:07] I'd love to hear what you think on this Bruce but I think from what I'm saying is that I think it also of course in fairness it depends on the size of the company you're dealing with a 1 million to 3 million business or even a few hundred thousand you're gonna have different struggles of course in dealing with 20 50 other million dollar business a whole scale that I work with but I think some of the pains could be similar I think one is when you're first starting out.

[00:06:26] Often Bruce is you know it's just you. Yes. So you and maybe a small team well you're the smartest guy or smartest gal in the room which is not fun. People may think it sounds fun but it's not fun. So that's one how do I stop being the smartest person in the room. Yeah I think too. And what we're going through what I have to constantly work at. Because again that's not the strength of mind. So much is how do I make sure things are repeatable scalable and that other people can do it. So systems and process I think is to. Third thing I can go on and I think I'll stop the third thing I'm saying Bruce is just sales. I talked to many my peers they're like Ramon. We need to hire people. We have to train people. We have to get them to fit our culture and get them into the model so those are three things that I think I find a not being the smartest person in a room to getting a repeatable process and building the whole building what you do. Building that system I guess the engine and three I got we got to generate sales and Mark Cuban says Bruce sales cures all.

[00:07:21] Yeah let's listen. Let's go through them in reverse order. Let's let's do sales. So I've got a phrase which I think fits into your philosophy or a story is really you know when the FAA was looking at all the airplane accidents and mostly in the 70s and 80s and they were coming in with all the checklists in everything. The one thing they found in just about any situation you know the one thing that would help is for the pilot to throttle up to add the rust because it would give them control it would give them options. And so I find the same thing in business and say if you're up if you have any doubt sell having inbound leads gives you options. And so I think that's. And I think that's hard. I think that you know a lot of folks struggle with that. What do you think. I mean what do you think the the underlying kind of challenges are around sales when companies are starting to grow particularly when they're kind of slow moving past a high watermark and they're trying to get bigger than they've been before. What do you think the challenges are in sales or what do you see in the company you work with.

[00:08:17] Yeah that's a great point. I think you're right. We say you know sales cures all but I think you're right. Bruce you touched on something else if you don't have a lead generation machine that's where you're problematic. And so I know even in light much smaller business I know people kind of make fun of me my church and other places remote. Why do you doing these videos why you're showing us You're making pancakes Why are you telling us at 4:00 a.m. to be positive when you do quite a bit of content Bruce.

[00:08:39] For me it works. These small subset of brands that I need to power my business the Fortune 500 who are selling to small businesses I'm being chased. I am being my my doors are being beat down can you work with you. So my point is I think for service based businesses I work with a friend of mine in Hoboken as an I.T. services. Yes you can do word of mouth Bruce. For sure you can do cold calling for sure. But again everybody speaks. Now why would they say a carpenter only speaks with the voice of a hammer or whatever that saying this. So keep in mind for me Bruce I think service based businesses it's about content people they roll their eyes but I think that business that is showing them as a thought leader that business that is doing some video that business that is out there showcasing their staff their customers you're not going to get a sales from it but the lead pipe and the and the mind share not wallet share. Yeah but my chair Bruce man I think that's the name of the game again. It's not the. I don't know Tiffany's was founded but 70s 80s whenever it was you know not those areas are gone but with Facebook and all the noise we have. You have to build a fan base a community then make sales through that. That's what I think.

[00:09:45] Yeah I tend to agree. I mean I think that the the interesting thing you know you mentioned Tiffany's.

[00:09:51] You know I think we've definitely kind of moved into an era especially for these kind of niche service based businesses and niche. You know it still could be a multimillion dollar like this a billion right. Well yes. Yeah it's it's just a different strategy I mean you know doing brand awareness or some like Tiffany's is a very different strategy than you know as a particular lawyer or accountant or consultant or media advisor. You know these these folks you know you're really developing this nation how do you get your position and your personal cloudy out there I think is really important and I think a lot of people talk about the kind of thought leadership of the ideas.

[00:10:24] I think that personality is important too. Yes and I'm not I'm not kind of an expert in this space but what.

[00:10:29] How do you see this kind of balance between putting out kind of influential ideas were you know important big ideas versus just putting yourself out there as as a personality as you know who you are. Sure. How do you how do you do that. Like what's what's your what's your strategy or what are your guidelines.

[00:10:47] Yeah I think it's a very good point because I think both can be done very well and both are the same coin different side. Here's what I mean. Let's take the I.T. services sector I had a friend of mine it as a company doing it. I had a call from a gentleman who's starting doing I.T. services. When I looked at the Web site Bruce all with the same meaning. This is more your typical what is a brown skinned guy. He had the same the same stock images that the guy was a light skinned guy white guy Caucasian guy point is I.T. services there's no difference. We do manage services we do backup. You got this document from the same place touting the same stuff so to your point Bruce A I think there is room to consider and test cutting your face out there saying hey I'm Joe I'm whoever you are Hakeem whoever here's who I am. As you kind of hinted I think we are in the green room. We're off like that might be a bit dangerous as you're growing because to sell the business and scale it. But for sure Bruce your thoughts and ideas how are you doing managed services.

[00:11:44] What's your DNA of your company. What's your special software stuff mojo. So I think Bruce as companies are looking to be different and maybe that's the biggest thing again there's so many things I'm sure you talk about with your clients but I'm seeing one thing Bruce is that people have to stop being afraid of being different I was talking to a m now. Health fitness company and I'm not a consultant but people call me a paperboy. Can you I should send them to you Bruce. People Health is company and they're saying this. Everybody else Instagram videos look like this I was like I get it but if you want to make some noise and get attention in the market I'm not saying be crazy not to shave your head over the toilet or something but do something different. And I think you're right Bruce to go back to your point I veered off a bit here though is that not fun how what is your thought leadership. How is that different than everybody else's and more maybe why should I care.

[00:12:36] Yeah I think that's true. And I think I mean not to get too kind of couch therapist or couch psychologist on this. I think there are some fears under there and I think that most people you know it is it is a risk for them to kind of be different and to kind of put themselves out there.

[00:12:52] But I think as you mentioned that that's that's also the opportunity right.

[00:12:56] The more that we can differentiate the more that we can we can sort of discuss the quote unquote authenticity idea. Do you know for me it's just it's about being a clear choice a different option and yes you're going to turn a whole you're gonna turn off a whole bunch of people but that's okay.

[00:13:11] In fact that's what you want because you want to attract you know what you want a strong attractor to a smaller set of the market and you want to actually repel a bunch of the market because that's going to help with your feed sort of funnel and you're filtering so that you can focus on the right people.

[00:13:24] So true. And Bruce I'd like to ask you maybe just to touch on that point about repelling I think those people who make a conscientious decision to do it. I think it's fair I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm sure you have friends I have friends of course quite a bit. If I'm going way off reservation let me know. No it's fine. That's part of their brand. Meaning not to me in a silly way. That's just who you are and a friend of mine you may know her. She said Ramon This is who I am. This is how I am and people who don't like it. It's not a condemned way. It's just not a fit for me. She's made a clear stand and she's embraced it part of her brand. If you can take some spicy sauce we can do work together. So I don't know if that makes sense.

[00:14:01] I think that's true and I think you know I think it's a considered process. I mean I think you do need to look at the market and figure out what what what part of the market do you need to serve and right or do you want to serve and that you know that is profitable before you that you know is works well for you from a business point of view and then kind of dial in you know that part of your you know kind of presence that you're going to kind of enhance or accentuate you know to be able to attract those folks and then and then repel the other folks. It's one of the things that I think is kind of somewhat counterintuitive mostly service based companies is that you know they have limited time and limited limited capacity so if you start working with non ideal customers you know that doesn't hurt you just in the fact that you're working with a non idea a customer or maybe that are not super profitable or not at you know easy to serve but you're actually taking up a slot for someone else so you actually have to turn away a future ideal customer with that and I think that opportunity loss.

[00:14:53] It's hard for people to stomach because they can't you know they want the they want to fill their pipeline and they want to stay busy but I think can actually hurt them.

[00:14:59] No you're exactly right. And it leads me back and I bet you know I'm a fellow one of the sensations you with Brian's got a more guilt when he got junk in his book willing to fail you know so I think people it's maybe not quite what he's talking about in his book but I think the principle level are willing to let go to get something better. And am I willing to take a little bit of risk. And it is it again 20 19 from from whether the president to a comedian to a rock star everybody is distracted and how are you gonna get your clients to write Klein to paint as new especially as you scale your business.

[00:15:29] And I think Bruce how can you. Especially for me I'm very small but those who are growing it's not just a CEO's job to do it. How can you train your employees and even get your customers on the right messaging to share what you do to grow even more because you can't do it alone.

[00:15:43] Yeah well it's so and I'm gonna keep it on that one because I think one of the one of the things that I've found or one of the things that I kind of teach or promote or philosophize on is is that you're your customer relationship journey like if you do a map are also down with clients we'll do a map. How do you generate the lead you know. How do you nurture them what is the sales process. How do you start the engagement. Well we keep going to what do you need to do to them to have them become an advocate for your business. You know most people start with Oh well I find that they stop with I've signed a contract they're a customer now like that that needs to continue you know for potentially months even years. In terms of how you're nurturing that customer and you're working with them to be an advocate for you and that's that's one of the I think biggest missed opportunities. Mostly service based businesses is to actually put in place a process a system for nurturing existing customers to become advocates.

[00:16:30] Yeah you're right. I think that it's interesting I had a big who I won't mention telecommunication company come into my home to fix my router my Wi-Fi and this may not be the exact same thing but to me it is their brain I think has been tarnished like 20 years ago 10 years ago but the point is when this gentleman came in going back to companies that are bigger scaling up huge companies it's not the brand so much anymore. It was how this gentleman represented himself when he came to my home representing that brand. He put his little booties on each time he touched my light colored carpet that Bruce met a lot of me that clearly he knows the speeds and feeds is going to fix it. He's a guru of tech. But clearly he's sensitive also to that small desire the customer. So that meant a lot to me because if the company can spend all the money they want the CEO can do it the customer service rep. But at the end of the day this dude is in front of my house. That's all that matters.

[00:17:19] Yeah well I love that kid. It's the detail and it's about it's having a process that has really thought about what are the concerns and needs of the customer that we're serving and how do we you know how do we really delight them in that. And the beauty is is I think a great a great little detail that's super important you know not only needs a real need but actually these a real impression. Right. Right. My wife happy so well which is their customer do you like that. Leave me they think through that. Good. You see you mentioned another one earlier too. You mentioned something earlier. I think you mentioned you. You stated it as not being the smartest person in the room so I won't say that you should be the dumbest person in the room but that idea comes up a lot.

[00:18:01] What do we mean when you say one of the things you need to do as you grow is not not be the smartest person in the room what is that about.

[00:18:08] Absolutely. Listen Bruce here's what I'm realizing in my own business but I think even for those who are growing and starting out. If you're the smartest person in the room if you know it all you're not doing a service to your company because let's take for example that you have to do finance technology and marketing. You can't do all three. You can't know all three. You need to find someone who knows technology better than you. So your company can grow because you have limits. And hopefully they're getting people who are smarter than them. That's the thing I mean design. We can all go take him for very very small businesses go to canvas somewhere and do your design. But is that your way your time should be Bruce. Is that what you do best. So I think that companies that are growing you will always be the leader. Calm down. Be humble. Don't worry. Nobody is taking away your business. So you'll always be the leader you always give direction. But man if you're not surrounding your people the people who can kick your butt who can tell you what to do can help you grow. Who can get your vision and teach you you're just going to slow your company down. You're going to be the one the company's only going to go as fast as you're going. And that's not good sense but that's all I see.

[00:19:09] Bruce I think it does make sense I think. And I think it's a transition or a mindset shift.

[00:19:15] I think for a lot of leaders a lot of owners a lot of leaders that not all of them make and I think you know that were the ones that don't. It becomes a really kind of hard ceiling for the growth of the business because you know they become the bottleneck they become the boma to the growth to getting things done to the capacity that a company has so sort of getting getting out of your own way and that sense. But it it is it is a mindset shift and I think that you know it's sometimes it takes some time and it's re kind of evaluating or re positioning yourself in your own mind as where you create value and you have to go from kind of being the expert to really being the mastermind and the coordinator and the keeper of vision and the developer culture and the finder of talent and letting some of those things go.

[00:19:56] One thing I say to folks in that position is particular ones that are coming out of that are experts that are CTO so you know technologists or marketers or something where they really are exceptionally good at what they do. Right.

[00:20:07] You know if they hold onto this idea that while the other person can't do it as well as they can. I tell them they're right and that might always be the case. The problem is is that you know that is not the constraining factor of business you may need to let someone else do it.

[00:20:21] You know 98 percent as good as you. But allow you to then focus on something else which the company really needs and that only you can do to grow the company. And that's that's a challenge. And sometimes we talk about kind of local versus system optimization. You know if you continue to focus on local optimization you won't achieve system level optimization. And I think that's that's an important one. And I think it's a lot of fun. Like I said not everyone gets it. Not everyone kind of moves through that. But I think that's that's a big challenge.

[00:20:47] I think that's the power of coaching as well I would tell people that are growing their businesses I must say that for me as well you know as a CEO's executives you are. Even if you don't maybe have the people around you you're struggling with it get help. Join the organization get help. So I just want to throw that in there because sometimes we executives and especially those who are growing five million dollar ten million dollar three million dollar businesses maybe you feel a bit a little maybe feel you have nowhere to turn. You could always get help.

[00:21:09] So I want to add that in there yeah I would strongly agree. So and whether it's a coach or you know professional organization you know business group entrepreneur organizations I think that we like to say this idea of when you're in you know when you're in the soup or you're inside the bottle you can't you know you can't read the label and so you need folks around to you to kind of tell you what's going on because when you're in it it's impossible to get perspective it's possible to sort of see see what's happening from the outside to get that perspective. And that's going to help you a lot. Let's talk about branding because I know that's that's kind of a focus for you in terms of developing your personal brand. I mean you've you've done an amazing job of positioning yourself in the market in terms of reputation in terms of presence in terms of content. You know I think that service based businesses you know can benefit a lot from this kind of personal branding side.

[00:21:56] What are some strategies or recommendations that you might give people who are looking to kind of amp up their personal brand or develop their personal brand and get themselves out there for reputation and getting leads things like that.

[00:22:07] Absolutely and I'm a firm believer in personal branding. I think for very very small businesses Bruce. It's a must. You have to do that because the end of the day you can have the best logo and images and all that in the world that people really buying you from larger companies. I'm finding a lot of people and some of them are peers that we know they would invest in personal branding one as a as a marketing add to their company.

[00:22:25] They're already doing ads and all that. They have a sales team but you know they have a nice face. Maybe it isn't they want to get it out there and or they want to do new areas they want to have a book out or do a little side thing. So there's some reason to do it. So personal branding for me Bruce is a few things. A I think everybody should be sharing some sort of content. You've heard me say this but I'm a firm believer. Build your own thought leadership. No. Very few people will tell you as well as you tell yourself that's one content too. I believe the way to do that is it can't hurt to have events. Why don't you have your customers have the market have somebody to your office if you can. Or if your offer isn't big enough once a month have a meetup. That's one way to build your personal brand. You're hosting it assuming you sit well and etc.. 3 I'm a firm believer in the power of video it kind of goes back to content but video I put in a category by itself so important. Do a show be a podcast or otherwise. So those are a few things I think Bruce. I'm a firm believer a book. So those are some things I think that as you're doing that putting yourself out there be careful of course make sure that although Papa John's moment but assuming all goes well because you know that you're tagging yourself to your company I think there could be a lot of benefits.

[00:23:32] If people are interested in it but they're not quite sure how to kind of start.

[00:23:36] What are the what are some of the things they can do to kind of take a first step or make it easy. I think a lot of people kind of freeze up think about creating content or creating video. How do you how would you help them kind of get through break through a little bit.

[00:23:47] Sure. Two things that I would say that's a tactical thing. You can let me know if I'm answering the question Brooke but I think as a simple blog now many of you have a corporate blog Jacki. Bob two floors down and whatever is doing it I'm saying you take the time put it in your calendar do your own blog post your old thought leadership once a week once every two weeks. If that is even hard for you have your content team interview you. Yeah. So those are one of two ways to do it I think. Bruce let us know when you think would you do content but I think that that's a simple way. Some people don't like video. Some people don't even like to hear their own voice and you can go out from there. But at least eight put your thoughts on paper and hit that button if you don't have a corporate blog. You can even use to like medium. Yeah. But somehow that oiling did. Yes. You know discipline yourself. So people know what you don't hide behind you know V corp.

[00:24:35] Yes. You know I agree. Yeah. I would say you know I've got to figure out your content style.

[00:24:40] I mean what some people are more comfortable writing or video or audio only. You know I think that's one is kind of figure out where you're comfortable and then I love the idea of interviewing either you know having someone interview you for the content or interviewing other people. I mean I think the conversation ends up being a great way to create really interesting insightful things and gets your brand out there get your personnel out there. So all great suggestions. So we're gonna hit time here Ramona people want to find out more about you about smart hustle about the work that you do. The content you develop what's the best way to find out more.

[00:25:09] Yeah. Thank you Bruce. Listen, smarthustle.com is where I live and breathe smarthustle.com. You can find out more about me at RamonRay.com and I welcome people to check it out and I can help let me know I'm a friend of Bruce's officially now.

[00:25:23] I'll make sure that those links are in the show notes and Ramon this has been a pleasure. Thank you so much for taking the time.

[00:25:28] And as a Bruce thank you so much.

[00:25:56] You've been listening to Scaling up Services with Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt. To find a full is a podcast episodes. Download the tools and worksheets and access other great content. This is a Web site that scaling up services dot com and toll free to sign up for the free newsletter scalingupservices/newsletter.