Have you ever felt like you needed to do something else but didn’t know what that was? Jason Treu is the CEO’s secret weapon. His work as an executive coach revolves around helping entrepreneurs, executives and rising stars increase their leadership and performance. He helps them map out their business blueprint, either starting their business from scratch or taking them to the next level. Working with over a hundred high performing individuals, Jason learned that 75% of people’s challenges are not external. He realizes that getting to know his clients on a deeper level helps him get that level of trust and transparency to start delving deep into their psyche and help them beat the business mind games to get to where they need to go and move the roadblocks standing in the way of their success.
I’m very excited to have Jason Treu joining us. Jason, welcome.
Thanks for having me on the show and speaking to your fantastic tribe.
For those who aren’t familiar with your work and what you’re up to, tell them what you do.
I’m an executive coach. I work with entrepreneurs, executives and rising stars to help them increase their leadership and performance. Also I focus on a big set of my clients on their career blueprint and either starting their business from scratch or taking it to the next level.
Before you got into executive coaching and the whole consulting realm, what were you up to? Where do you get started? What your first job or two look like?
I started out going to law school and I thought I wanted to practice law and I realized that just wasn’t for me. I decided to go west because I was in New York at the time and go out to San Francisco and Silicon Valley and do technology and marketing. I was out there during the gold rush, so it was a lot of highs, a lot of lows. I got to work with Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban; a lot of well-known people in Silicon Valley in a variety of ways. It was an interesting time to be there and exposed to being in a whirlwind.
Do you remember the buildup when you decided that you wanted to go off on your own and run your own show?
I started in over a period of time to realize that whenever I was externally focused in working on product launches, talking to other people, working with them in some capacity, I was operating at my highest level. Whenever I was off cycle and being in the corporate office and just work internally, do a lot of documents, and be by myself, my productivity went way down and I became bored. I realized exactly that I needed to do something else, but I didn’t know what that was. By chance, I had built a pretty great social life, meeting people and a couple of my friends asked me to help their friends move from one city to another. I just did it.
Within three months, people that were introverted and having a really hard time with the move, we’re doing better at work than they ever thought, had way better social life. I thought to myself, “Maybe I might have something here.” I decided to bring the idea to someone in an existing business about just something super small, like how to build a great social life in 30 days or less because there wasn’t anything out there. I was like, “If I can take this and turn it into something, I then can probably steer this in a business direction.” That’s ultimately what I did.
What form did that take initially when you developed? Was it a product? Was it a service?
I did a book on it because it’s easier to crystallize everything. I went to someone, I sold them. Basically someone I knew literally did a PowerPoint because it’s the quickest, easiest way that I could do it. I didn’t spend a heck of a lot of time on it, honestly. I just put something together. I just started to roll a book out of my head and all this stuff I was doing and work with him on it and just do that and then worked on a product, some services, did something pretty ad hoc and then just went with it. I didn’t spend a lot of time on the infrastructure part of it. I just threw it out there and saw what would stick.
It’s like ready, fire, aim. It’s imperfect action at its best. Just putting stuff out there and going with what you believe will work, and then optimizing, adjusting based on the feedback that you’re getting from the marketplace. At what point then did you transition into working with high performers and leaders? I know you worked with leaders and nine-figure companies, so fairly large organizations.
A couple years after probably, I had some people come to me for business things, even though personal things or an issue, and then I was like, “I need to go out and find a few people.” That’s what I did. I hung packed some people who are having some challenges, more I think psychologically that were affecting their business and their future decisions on what to do. Then focused on those clients and way I will serve them because I needed to prove to myself that I could work with people like this and get them results. Until I spent like six months and my income went way down from what it normally was, but I was like, “I’ve got to be able to do this so I can take it to other people and confidently go in.” Because the thing that I’ve found, executive coaches don’t do and most coaches don’t do, is that 75% of people’s challenges are not external.
They’re not leadership, they’re not performance, they are issues such as, “Mommy and daddy told me to shut up at the kitchen table so it’s difficult for me to be vulnerable and talk in front of other people.” When you get down to the nitty-gritty, it’s all those things that start to happen, patterns and blind spots are the things that hold you back. You got to be able to get those quickly with people. You don’t have a year with a therapist. You’ve got to get them in six to eight weeks of people and get people honed in and laser focused on what it is that they need to do and why they are where they’re at right today. I realized that and then I got help from coaching, I found a lot of knowledge in systems and tools, and then I’d been implementing them along the way.
One thing that you said that’s important, and that’s that you, in some people’s eyes and maybe you felt yourself, were making a sacrifice by having your income dip so that you could really work closer with clients, get in there, do what you need to do to create results. You had a long-term mindset, you weren’t just trying to make the quick buck. It sounds like you saw the benefit that would come to you later on by putting in this work right now.You have to get to that level of trust and transparency for someone else to help you get you where you need to go. Click To Tweet
The relationships with my clients are way different. I get to know them on a deeper level. I think every client would tell you I know them as well as a spouse, as their best friends, as anyone else, and probably even more in some instances. Because you have to get to that level of trust with someone and transparency, for someone else to help you get you to where you need to go and move beyond the roadblocks because you have the biggest roadblock standing in your way to success. That’s anyone, that’s me, that’s any person. Once you understand that, you realize that you need to get coaching, mentoring and support from other people in order to get to the next level.
If you look around, every high performer in the world has a coach as a mentor, has someone to support them. Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man ran and won many Olympics. When he won his first gold medal, he didn’t stop having a coach. He continued to get coaching and support to become even better and even faster. One thing that you’re saying, Jason, that stands out to me and I know that resonates with a lot of consultants, is that you made a pretty dramatic shift in ideal client selection and focus. Working with people more on the personal, the social, the relationship, not so much business focus, initially, maybe and now working with high-performance executives and leaders.
How did you make that shift? Did that just naturally evolve? Was it the fact that you deep down felt like, “I want to get more into the business space,” and once you realized that you said, “I’m going to have to do what I need to do,” and that’s what you just shared with us, that you then played the long-term game. Can you be a little more specific? Paint that picture a little bit more of what was going on in your mind and how you decide to make that shift from the personal to more of the business-focused client.
I looked at the addressable market, I look at people who are willing to pay, and I look at the impact that got to have and the dollars that I could bring in for people. The problem with the personal is that it’s not quantifiable for people. They tend to push it out and think it’s less important because there were no dollars in productivity and things attached to it. That part of it is difficult to lead with. It’s difficult to build a long-term relationship with someone because the ROI is much more difficult to prove. I found people who that worked and then I looked at people who have businesses and I said, “What business would I want to emulate that’s significantly larger?”
I had a tough time looking at them and struggling to find it because I found that those people probably were not even producing the value. I thought to myself, “Now I need to look in another direction,” and that was the business market. Then the other part of it, it was like, “I can withstand the ups and downs because people are going to always need something. They’re going to always need to get the next level or start a business or do something else. If I can make myself get credibility, a brand, help people and get great client results, I’ll have a lot more longevity, stability in order to build this over time.
That folks on value certainly resonates with me. We focus exclusively in working with consultants and we do that just because that’s the market that we know and we worked in for so many years, but also demonstrating ROI and creating value for us is a lot easier. That just works for both parties well. How about your marketing? How has that changed as your businesses have grown in terms of your marketing tactics or your sales approach? Just comparing to when you go out started to where now your business is much more developed and successful. What shifts have you made in your marketing and sales?
Getting referrals is a strong piece of the business because I have a lot of people who got a lot out of it. There are things that I’m trying right now that I think to myself as I was talking to coaches and mentors and other people that you’ve got to start laying down bigger bets, finding wedges or Trojan horses or things that you can do. One of the things that I did was a TED Talk. and I focused my TEDx Talk on a how to speech, which is probably a pretty rare speech, and it was how to get co-workers to like each other. It’s how to build team performance super quickly. I created a game out of it that I could go in and do for a very low cost or free if I wanted to somewhere and share it to people. They could use it and leverage it. That was something that I’m using going about because the thought processes is that once I can get in and show value, right then it’s a lot easier to upsell afterward. That’s an easy in.
Any team can use this and essentially they just download it and play. It’s a card game called Cards Against Mundanity where you sit in a circle and ask each other questions. The point of it is that when you get shared empathy with people and emotions, you can build deeper relationships in the people that you’d like, you work harder with, you communicate, you want them to succeed and people performance gets raised. I practice it with a half dozen companies and people and saw the results too. I knew that now it’s a functional marketing. That’s part of it and then I’m working on another book. It’s focused more on this and that’s going to be a lever point.
I’ve done a podcast and focusing on following up with some of the people on that to get in with some decision makers because that’s a great way to get credibility. You’ve just got to try a variety of things over a longer period of time and find wedges, opportunities and see the things that are going to work. If you can warm up people, it’s better than a cold approach. You’ve got to get creative in how you warm those people up.
You started a podcast. It helps to build authority, create greater visibility, but the end game is helping you to generate more business. What approach are you then taking to leverage and use your podcast to win more clients?
What you can do is you target the people that would be your ideal clients. You pitch them on doing a podcast. You do obviously a good podcast, and then afterwards, marketing and doing it. You can follow up and just make an ‘ask’. You can say, “If you know anyone that might need coaching,” or it can also throw out that I have this TEDx and the game, and saying, “If your HR department or somewhere else who would like to use this, go ahead and I’m happy to help them do it for free.” The more that you give away, Law of Reciprocity, people want to help you. That’s how you follow up with it right in a podcast, which is pretty simple to do and you can do them low cost.When you get shared empathy with people and emotions, you can build deeper relationships with people. Click To Tweet
We’ve had a couple of clients do this as well. You’re essentially identifying ideal clients for you and then interviewing them on your podcast, which obviously is building the relationship with them, and get you to be very visible. Most people like to go on to podcasts because obviously it helps to build their brand and helps showcase their accomplishments so that’s smart.
I’ve been doing it in person to a lot of them, which is different too. I’m interested to see some of the results because I’ve flown places when I’ve been doing other stuff and interview them. That part of it also is something that I’ve taken a more unique angle on. We’ll see as I go through this, whether that pays dividends or whether it’s the same thing as doing something audio or even just audio in person, I’m doing audio and video. I’m trying to test out some stuff for the longer term and see what comes out of it.
It’s all about, testing and seeing what the feedback is. It’s a great point because a lot of people out there just get paralyzed by the fear of, “If I do it wrong,” that perfectionism and then, “I could do that but, I need to have this done first before I start this.” They end up not trying things that ultimately they could learn a lot from, and I think you’re sharing some great examples here.
People get stuck up in the ‘how’ too much. You’ve just got to figure out the ‘why’, that’s the drive. It’s like running. It’s 20 degrees here in Dallas. I know for some people are like, “That’s not that cold.” Here it is. The difference is because I have goals and I have drive, and I’m going out there and doing it. If you have motivation, you wouldn’t go outside and run here, that’s the difference. You got to find your drive that’s going to ignite you going forward. That comes from the ‘why’, not the ‘how’, because now you’re getting bogged down in unnecessary details of asking questions, that literally if you just started, you’d figure them out.
Let’s explore that drive and talk about your book, because you’ve driven sales of, over 40,000 copies of your book, Social Wealth. What was the biggest factor in selling that number of copies?
I spend a lot of time researching and speaking to people. The quality and the depth of the book and what I was doing, I spent thirteen months writing, coming up with it and that was helpful. The other part of it was that I realized that there were people out there that knew how to market this book, because I had done one before and it had done okay, but not near as well as I thought that it should have done. I went out there and just Googled and found great people that had marketed books that were more up and coming, young and hungry. I spoke to them, signed up for a class. I negotiated a deal with one of them just to do the marketing part because I had already written the book so I didn’t need that part of it.
That made a significant difference because I got a lot of tips, a lot of help. They were hungry too because they had to prove their business out, so then they were going to try to help me more than someone else in an established business who had significantly less. They’re motivation and drive because they’re already established business. I realized that’s important too is that you can pay someone a lot of money and there was a point for that, but oftentimes it’s finding people who are on the way up that are your best bet. Because while they might not have much knowledge, they’ll give you a lot more and they’ll help you because their business is hanging on what you do. If you do well, that is going to potentially create significant revenue for their business.
Jason, can you share with us maybe one or two tips in terms of marketing your book that you just found made a big difference?
The things that probably will still work is getting people to write reviews on your book. In Amazon, part of the algorithm is gamed into getting reviews. I went out and try to get people to review it, and it’s hard. It’s not as hard as getting people to review your podcast, but it is pretty hard to get people to do it. I worked diligently. I gave people an advanced copy. I gave a bunch of people 30 minutes free consulting on top of it if they did it. That was helpful and that took a lot of my time, but I knew that every review that I got would impact the sales of the book. That’s how people look on Amazon. I also put everything on Amazon because I knew that if you spread the book sales, it would hurt your overall credibility. I said I’m going to go all in on Amazon in doing that. That to me was probably one of the most helpful things that I could have done at that point. It’s still highly relevant. You can get your friends to share it on Facebook and doing all that stuff, but that’s still hard because you’re dependent on all that stuff.
Right now, while writing the next book, there are two thoughts that go through my mind, that the market is saturated. Writing a book, you’d better off to write a 30, 40-page book that’s very niched, very specific, and very how to, that is going to be helpful. If you want to write a book that’s over 100 pages, you got to have a lot of meat in the book, because I find that’s the problem. The difference between mine and a lot of the other ones were like, I didn’t put a ton of examples in because I was like, “I don’t need a 300-page book to overwhelm people to prove to you that I know what I’m doing.” Either you take the advice and you use it because it works or you don’t. I did it in a different way, but I put a lot of meat in there. I didn’t do the typical 30% content, 70% sales. I gave 90% content and the best content I had that I would teach clients and they would pay for. Literally, you were buying a $7 book that people you’re paying thousands of dollars for and getting the exact same information. It’s in a different form, but you’re getting it.
It’s not like I’m telling someone different information in the book than I would if they were sitting in front of me. People get a lot of value on it, I think that’s the problem. The third thing is that you’ve got to spend enough time doing it. I know there are a lot of people that say you can just write a book in three months. If you do a niche targeted small one, you probably can because of enough knowledge in your head with doing some research to do it. If you want to do a bigger book, you’ve got to spend some time and write it and dedicate yourself to it. There’s so much noise out there, you’ll never break through to get to the next level, and I think that’s a problem of a lot of people.
There’s the time to write the book and get help with editing and all that stuff, but there’s also the time that a lot of people don’t consider, which is as you’ve talked about the time to market the book. Creation is one element, but if you don’t promote it heavily, and even a lot of trade publishers these days won’t promote your book, they’re expecting you to do it. Be prepared to hustle to really get the word out there if you want it to be seen. Your book has definitely played a role in building your business. The podcast is something that’s making some things happen in your experimenting there. What else has had a big impact in helping you to land clients and grow your business?You got to go where the puck is going, not where it already is. Click To Tweet
I don’t know yet but the TEDx Talk I think will have a significant impact on it. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to do the talk. I sat down with one of my mentors and he was like, “You got to do something that could be viral. You may be wrong, but you’ve got to do something that’s viral and you’ve got to do something that 99% of people are not going to want to do, because you got to go where the puck is going, not where it already is.”Then I sat down and looked at a lot of stuff and I was like, “What if I do a TEDx speech?” Then I was like, “If I do that, I got to do a how to speech where people walk away and they get something and they actually utilize.”
Then I can start marketing without having to create something beyond because most TEDx speeches are big ideas. They’re not specific ones because it’s way harder to go and do that talk. That’s why there’s very few of them, percentage-wise. That’s what I started to do and it’s a great wedge, and it built a speaking topic, and a platform for me to leverage and use. It’s for corporate America or it’s small businesses or anyone else that has a team of people at any size. Just working with them or even people who are a consultant that want to work with outside people can leverage it. I thought to myself, “This is a great way to try to do something,” so then I put all the stuff together. I spoke to a lot of people. I found a great speaking coach, but also I found a speaking coach who was running a TEDx in one of the top ones because then I was like, “They can help me figure out how to get into them,” and with the mind of the organizers.
I strategically placed this thing. I was doing my slides, I hired someone not only do the slides for the TEDx, but I had them do the slides for what I could do for a corporate presentation because some people want a lot of slides. They still are fixated on that. I was like, “I got to build out all this stuff.” I sat down and thought through the process from front to end before I got started, and thoughts on myself, “Who are the decision makers? What is it they’re going to want? How can I potentially leverage this? What would be the outcome?” Then also sat down and run on other things I could do and thought to myself, “This probably is one of the higher value things I could do overall.”
It’s a great idea and certainly a big thing to take on, but could certainly pay some very big dividends. I do want to ask you one more question, and I’ll put you on the spot here and ask you to share your response. You work with a lot of high performers, people making things happen and leading large teams, generating hundreds of millions in sales and so forth. What are the top characteristics, principles, or mindsets that an executive, independent consultant or a small consulting firm owner for them to achieve more, for them to realize greater potential. You talk about blind spots, but in terms of things that people should be focusing on, are there some specific ones that often reappear? What stands out to you when I say that?
It’s being courageous, and the core part of being courageous is being vulnerable. They go hand in hand together and I think that that’s a huge piece of it. When you can be that way with people, there is significant more trust and transparency in that. The other part of it is mastering your emotions, being able to do that will set you apart from other people. It’s building out your social communication and collaboration skill sets with other people too to the next level, and a lot of that has to come down to building on empathy.
When you say building on empathy, what exactly do you mean? How will that look like?
When you can start to understand why people are doing what they’re doing and their fears, their challenges, how to make them successful, what’s going on in their business, their organization, their people, you can serve them a lot better and you hit a lot less roadblocks. People appreciate that because you know that you have their best interests at heart, and they know that you care because people who do things like that just care, because the only people who do are typically the closest people in their lives. It works extremely well. It’s just very hard because most people are thinking about, “What’s in it for me?” You have a taker society or matching. Very few people are giving and that has to be a giving mindset and it can’t be something that you’re trying to get something from someone else.
That’s an important share because it can be applied both to when you’re working on landing new clients, as well as when you’ve engaged that client and then you want to serve at the highest levels and create the most value during that relationship. It comes back to what you shared which is that long term mindset versus short term. It’s relationship building and value providing over just transactional. Just an important lesson for people to hear, so thank you for sharing it. Jason, thank you again so much for coming on here. I enjoyed this conversation and exploring your journey. I know there’s so much more that people can learn from you, so what’s the best way for people to connect with you and learn more about your work?
They can go to my website, JasonTreu.com.
Jason, thanks so much.
Thanks for having me on.