Why Old-Fashioned Hard Work Still Works w/ Michael Shepherd

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Today on The Sage Executive Podcast, join our host Robb Fahrion and his guest, Michael Shepherd, as they talk about hard work and using your strengths for client acquisition. Michael is the Managing Partner of Shepherd Group, a branding and marketing agency that helps companies build their brands and corporate reputation. They get into his perspective on servant leadership, knowing what your clients need, and having discipline. Stay tuned!

Learn the lost art of working hard! Listen to the podcast now on The Sage Executive Podcast!

Things Don’t Come Easy

The greatest rewards come from good old-fashioned hard work. With the modern age bringing us instant noodles and instant messaging, people tend to go for the path of least resistance. When other people face obstacles with their strategies, they think that they should pivot already. But if you think about it, dreams that are easy to reach might not be worth your time! Your end goals should be beyond your reach, and you can't be frustrated if you can't get it the first time. Being open to other options is wise, of course, but it's also foolish to avoid a method just because it hasn't worked well for a short time. Like sports, it's inevitable for you to fall down, it's part of the game! Before giving up, make an effort to stand again and execute better first.

Using Your Strengths for Your Clients

In business acquisition, you have to identify what you're after and align your strengths to those needs. If you have potential clients are looking for something different than what you offer, then it's logical for you not to give them something you don't have! While it seems to play a little differently when we talk about strengths and weaknesses, it's still the same. Many people get upset about why they can't seem to come together with some of their clients without realizing that their strengths don't align with their customers' needs. For example, when customers look for a great burger and a decent milkshake, but you offer a decent burger and a great milkshake, you're not the people they're looking for! But don't worry, because other customers are still after what you serve.

About Michael Shepherd:

Michael Shepherd is a former journalist who took his passion for finding the ‘why?’ and became a trusted advisor to the C-Suite. The award-winning communicator has developed PR and marketing communications programs for some of the world’s most recognized brands, including Alaska Airlines, AT&T, Bank of America, and Westin.

He has led public relations for WPP & Omnicom agencies in Seattle and Atlanta. He also taught post-graduate communications courses offered through the University of Washington and Seattle University. A former corporate director, Michael is often asked to share his insights on stakeholder issues & advocacy with boards and senior management at middle market companies across the U.S.

Michael is the '20-21 Chair for the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) - Pacific Plains Region. He serves in the same Board capacity for Junior Achievement of Orange County. 

Outline of the Episode:

  • [00:18] A recovering broadcast journalist from the dark side of PR.
  • [01:15] The servant leadership model and helping your team achieve their goals.
  • [02:00] Using your strengths to align with what your clients need.
  • [03:35] The importance of recognizing that you’ll have obstacles to get over.
  • [06:30] Leaders developing better leaders and creating experiences for clients.
  • [09:25] Celebrating through camaraderie and friends.

Resources:

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      michael shepherd the shepherd group

      Robb Fahrion: 00:06: Hello everyone, this is Robb Fahrion, with the Sage Executive Podcast, where top executives share their sage advice. It is six questions in nine minutes because the wise speak in a few words. We have an awesome guest here today that I'm really excited to introduce you to. So let's get right into it. For question number one in a few sentences, would you mind telling us who you are and what it is you do?

      Michael Shepherd: 00:30: Well, my name is Michael Shepherd. I am the managing partner of the Shepherd Group. I'm a recovering broadcast journalist who went to the dark side of PR and corporate communications about 25 years ago when I started my firm after working for some big four agencies. And Robb, what I really do, our firm specializes in content marketing, social media, and PR. But what at the end of the day, what I really do, I'm a builder of brands and a builder of corporate reputation.

      Robb Fahrion: 01:07: Awesome. Yeah, I love that ability just to boil that down into that's what we do. We say to, what do you guys do, we generate leads and exposure for you really, at the end of the day, right? How we do it that kind of doesn't always matter. Great, thank you, Michael. Second question, what would you say is the best part about being a leader and being a managing partner in your organization?

      Michael Shepherd: 01:28: Well, for me, I really am a big believer in the servant leadership model. I'm really not into the command and control top-down kind of School of Management. And I think that seen its day. I just feel very strongly that what my role is with my team is to make sure that I give them the tools, the resources, and the guidance that they need to achieve their goals. They know where they want to go, my job is to help them get there.

      Robb Fahrion: 02:01: Awesome. I love that. I will take that back with me for sure. The third question, so we hear a lot of time from entrepreneurs, owners, executives, that new business acquisition, acquiring new clients, can be very challenging. There's obviously a lot of competition, a lot of noise nowadays. So I was just curious to get your thoughts on business acquisition and kind of what goes into your methodology for acquiring a new business?

      Michael Shepherd: 02:27: Well, more than anything with new business acquisition is being able to understand what it is that you're after. And then figuring out, how do your strengths, your skill sets and competencies align with what those needs are? I mean, that's the simplest explanation that I can provide you. And as you know, in life, sometimes the simplest things are the hardest. And I think that people struggle with that, in the trusted advisor ranks, where they feel that they have strengths and know that they have them. But sometimes, they're trying to give them to people, who they may not fully understand their needs well enough to know if there's alignment there. And then when it doesn't come together, they're frustrated. They don't know why, and usually that's the root cause.

      Robb Fahrion: 03:20: Yeah, no doubt. We were just on a call the other day to where the client gave us kind of, hey, here's what we're looking to do. Boom, boom, boom, and right away, I'm like, I don't know that we're a fit. And so instead of trying to fit round peg square hole type deal, was hey right away. I don't know that this necessarily works, but we do have some referrals that we could move you, move on to.. but okay, great. Question number four. And this is where; feel free to open it up. What piece of sage advice would you give to other executives, business leaders, and people in a position like yours?

      Michael Shepherd: 03:55: I have come to kind of discover over the years that people want things to be easy, sometimes too easy. And I think that we do ourselves harm when we lapse into that kind of thinking because it devalues those things that we really want. The greatest rewards, I think we know come from good old fashioned hard work. I mean, that's what gives them value. It's that quest for something that you're reaching for. And if it's the right goal, in my opinion, it should certainly be beyond your reach. At least initially, it's something that you've got to get to because the higher  and farther you have to go. I again, I think the more valuable it is. And I see this frustration that seeps in when it turns out not to be easy, and then there's self-doubt that creeps in, and then people start to question well, maybe that wasn't the right goal. Maybe we need to do it this way. And I see a lot of people sort of getting tied up in Gordian knots over that. In marketing, you see it a lot of times with corporations where their strategy is sort of fuzzy, they haven't really dialed it in, because they're constantly.. They’ll run into an obstacle. Instead of maybe anticipating that they would run into that obstacle and have a specific response to it, It's like, oh well okay, that means we can't go there. So let's pivot over here. And you and I were chatting a little bit before we went on air, about our background and mutual love of sports. And I always say that everything I ever needed to, to know in life, I think I learned on a baseball field, a basketball court, or my kids growing up in Alaska on a hockey rink. And I know that I mean there's just sometimes you're going to get knocked down, and you have to challenge yourself to get back up, it doesn't mean that you weren't supposed to get knocked down. It’s part of the game. And you have to have the ability and the discipline; I really think it's the discipline to understand. Okay, that doesn't mean because I got knocked down that my strategy was wrong. I just simply need to make sure that I execute better.

      Robb Fahrion: 06:23: Right, right. I love that. Yeah. The growth, grow through adversity and that's great. We'll definitely have to have a little conversation about hockey after the fact. Because Flying V Group, I'm sure you could maybe connect some dots with where that might come from.

      Michael Shepherd: 06:38: Yeah, I can.

      Robb Fahrion: 06:40: Anyways, okay, moving on. Question number five, we’re doing great here. So obviously, we're trying to add new guests to our show to provide some new value. What other top executives like yourself, would you like to acknowledge as leaders in their space and individuals that might be a great guest and great content for our viewers?

      Michael Shepherd 07:01: We talk about leadership a lot in business; you and I've touched on it. When I think of a guy who really represents the best of leadership, who understands it structurally, and knows how to instill it into the degree that you can install it. It's more like he would probably cringe at that word because it's not the right word, but let it come out, and help you with the tools to open it up. His name is Tony Rezac, R-E-Z-A-C, and he's an author. He's got a podcast called Basecamp for Men, and he really focuses on developing men into being really better men, better leaders. It's somewhat, I think counter-intuitive. We oftentimes, and we spend rightly so a lot of energy, trying to help women in their quest, to develop their leadership skills to help them, better position themselves for success in what had been, at least to the business world, a male-dominated world. We need to continue that focus, but there hasn't been historically as much work focused on men. Tony does a great job and would be a fantastic guest on show. Another individual that comes to mind is John Brown. He's the CEO of an orange county event experience firm called the Showpros. He's definitely someone who sees the marketing world, the branding world, I think in a very special light. He's an ex, and I think he's a theater major, I think he came from a theatrical background. And then when you understand what he does, how he does, how he creates these rich experiences for his corporate clients, they're doing events, and he's done them all over the literally the world. He's got a wonderful feel and insight for the power of the brand and how that is translated through an event experience.

      Robb Fahrion: 09:27: Great okay, perfect. I will definitely take note of that, and I might be asking you for a couple of introductions. I appreciate that. Michael, so to wrap up and a fun one here. After a win and can be a sports win, personal win, business win. What do you like? What do you like to do to celebrate?

      Michael Shepherd: 09:46: Well, first and foremost, I'd like to celebrate with the people that were with me every step of the way. All right, I'm not too keen on one person celebrations. But when I do get together and celebrate, I guess I probably would ask for maybe a nice dinner, out restaurant and ask for maybe an 18-year-old scotch.

      Robb Fahrion: 10:11: Yeah, there we go.

      Michael Shepherd: 10:13: Not the 18-year-old girl, but definitely a great steak and a wonderful drink. And again, good conversation and camaraderie with friends. That for me, that fills me up.

      Robb Fahrion: 10:30: Perfect. I love that. Well Michael, hey, thank you so much for being on. I really appreciate it. Just a close, how can people find you, find out more about you and more about your business as well?

      Michael Shepherd: 10:42: Well, our website is the shepherdgroup.com Shepherd can be a little tricky on spelling. I don't know if you can provide that for folks. But it's.. As I like to say the Good Shepherd, S-P-H-E-H that second H trips people up, E-R-D. All right, shepherdgroup.com and you can find us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and probably down at the local store. You know, looking for soup.

      Robb Fahrion: 11:17: Perfect. Yeah, we'll definitely; we'll get that in text. Make it really simple for people to find you. Thanks so much again, Michael. My name is Robb Fahrion, with the Sage Executive Podcast. For more insights and to check out more episodes of our show, visit us at flyingvgroup.com/podcast. Thanks so much again for being on Michael.

      Michael Shepherd: 11:39: Thanks for having me, Robb. It's fun.



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      Robb Fahrion
      Robb Fahrion, Partner
      Flying V Group