Learn how James, a longtime business owner, has built credibility for his business and dealt with self-promoters in his own workshops and events.
How we met: James attended an event I facilitated called Collaborative Coffee.
James is passionate about “cracking open” the inner walls of his corporate clients through unique workshops and experiences.
The company summary from the Be Legendary website reads:
We are a true social enterprise that ties philanthropy with every service we offer. Giving back to the community cannot be separated from what we do or our service is not possible. We have intentionally stayed a for profit company to show that companies can be for-profit, for purpose at the same time. Being a social enterprise means we can continue impacting the world and share our best without requiring outside funding.
James’s business has weathered the ups and downs of the last decade.
James has been in business for over a decade. When we met the first time, he told me how much his business has been affected by the changes in the U.S. since 2001. The most recent change that impacted his business was Google’s algorithm changes in the spring of 2013. His company website disappeared from the first page of Google, and with it, much of his business disappeared as well.
James is a reluctant in-person networker.
He has spent the last year networking and marketing, and says that if he had grown his network before the Google change, his business probably wouldn’t have suffered the way it did. A strong network doesn’t disappear the way a first page Google rank can.
He doesn’t attend networking events unless he thinks he is going to learn something of value there. He hates the idea of networking as going into a room and handing out business cards. He knows this is a limiting perception.
He has had a lot of success in expanding his network via LinkedIn, and has established relationships with influential people through LinkedIn contacts.
Talking to James about “networking” made me realize how negatively many people perceive networking events. James has built up a wide network over the past year, but he still sees networking events as shallow experiences.
Even though James doesn’t go to many networking events, he is skilled at running workshops, and gave Danielle and myself some ideas for how to set norms in a group.
One problem with giving workshops for entrepreneurs is the person who inevitably shows up to self-promote or give off critical or negative energy. James said he addresses this in his workshops by cutting off the behavior, naming it, and showing the person what he or she is doing.
It can be really tough to call someone out on unhelpful behavior, and my first instinct is to just try to keep self promoting or negative people from coming to my events. James made me realize that, as a group leader, it’s my responsibility to welcome everyone in, but then be diligent about maintaining a positive, respectful tone in the group. If someone is contributing negatively, instead of seeing that person as a thorn in my side, I need to see him or her as a valued member of the group who can learn to be redirected.
James has a lot of “shiny credibility stuff which doesn’t mean shit” like being a coauthor of books with Deepak Chopra and Steven Covey.
My business is still in its fledgling stage. We struggle with charging clients the money we truly deserve for the work we do. I asked James how he gained the courage to charge what he does – sometimes over $45,000 for a weekend retreat.
He talked about the credibility he has from being a coauthor on books with Deepak Chopra and Steven Covey, all the while shaking his head and saying he wished people cared more about value than about “shiny credibility stuff.”
Even after being published with these writers, he needed to hire a coach for $17,000 to tell him to start charging twice what he had been initially. Essentially, this coach gave him permission to dream bigger.
It makes me wonder – do I need to get some “shiny credibility stuff” or do I just need to give myself permission to charge what I’m worth?
James really wants to help kids, and is doing so in a lot of ways.
He has a number of “passion projects,” including providing bikes for kids in the U.S. (and, hopefully soon, Africa), building soccer fields in Africa, and providing needy children with shoes. In each project, he looks at it from all angles, including how it will effect the local economy, and how to treat kids with respect even while giving them something. For example, when he gives kids bicycles, he doesn’t just hand them out, he has them participate in an essay contest to “win” the bikes. When kids in Africa weren’t able to use the soccer fields he built because they didn’t have shoes to go the schools where they were located, he figured out how to provide them with shoes for life, so that they could always go to school and always use the fields.
When James started talking about these projects, it was hard for him to stop. It was clear that he is deeply passionate about giving back and making a difference in the world.
“Networking” often has a negative connotation, even for people with large networks.
A strong, wide network is clearly a huge asset. It is interesting to see how different people build theirs, like James with LinkedIn.
Being successful in business can sometimes just be about giving yourself permission to kick ass.
James is a passionate helper of corporate clients and third-world children alike. Even though he is wary of networking events, he has built a strong network via LinkedIn. He helped me think about how to structure my workshops. Event though he doesn’t appear to be an “ideal client” for me, he provided a lot of value in our conversation.
James wants to connect with:
People who are addicted to making a difference
Do you want to connect with James? Check out his LinkedIn profile here.
1 step you can take to grow your network today:
Give yourself permission to kick ass. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people and ask for help. Or to charge what you are worth.