Join us today for the Interview with Ben Guttmann, author of Simply Put: Why Clear Messages Win - and How to Design Them...

This is the interview I had with speaker, coach, and author Ben Guttmann.  

In today’s podcast I interview Ben Guttmann.  I ask Ben about his journey to delivering a message about how to deliver clear messages.  I also ask Ben about why communication is vital, and why it’s so hard. Ben also shares with you a bit about how his faith journey intersected with his life.

Join in on the Chat below.

Episode 1405: Interview with Ben Guttmann about Simply Put: Why Clear Messages Win

[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: Thanks for joining us on episode 1, 405 of the Inspired Stewardship Podcast.

[00:00:07] Ben Guttmann: I'm Ben Guttmann. I challenge you to invest in yourself, invest in others, develop your influence, and impact the world by using your time, your talent, and your treasures to live out your calling. Having the ability to communicate our message with simplicity is key.

[00:00:22] And one way to be inspired to do that is to listen to this, the Inspired Stewardship Podcast, with my friend, Scott Maderer.

[00:00:35] Complicated can be

[00:00:36] used

[00:00:37] for evil, right? You know, for lack of a better term. It can be used, if you look at these, talk about privacy, you look at like the user agreements. And every bit of software and hardware that we use on a daily basis, they're thousands and thousands of words long, they're rated at like college or higher level reading.

[00:00:56] Well, okay, you know, what are you hiding in there?

[00:00:59] Scott Maderer: [00:01:00] Welcome and thank you for joining us on the Inspired Stewardship Podcast. If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent, and your treasures for your true calling. In the Inspired Stewardship Podcast, you will learn to invest in yourself.

[00:01:18] Invest in others and develop your influence so that you can impact the world.

[00:01:30] In today's podcast, I interview Ben Guttman. I asked Ben about his journey to delivering a message, about how to deliver clear messages. I also asked Ben about why communication is vital and why it's so hard. And Ben also shares with you a bit about how his faith journey intersected with his life. I've got a new book coming out called Inspired Living, assembling the puzzle of your call by mastering your time, your talent, and your treasures.

[00:01:59] You can [00:02:00] find out more about it and sign up for getting more information over at InspiredStewardship. com Inspired Living. That's InspiredStewardship. com Inspired Living. Ben Gutman is a marketing and communication expert and the author of Simply Put, Why Clear Messages Win, and How to Design Them. He's an experienced marketing executive and educator on a mission to get leaders to more effectively connect by simplifying their messages.

[00:02:30] Ben is the former co founder and managing partner at Digital Natives Group, an award winning agency that worked with the NFL, I Love New York, Comcast, NBCUniversal, Hatchet Book Group, The Nature Conservancy, and other major clients. Currently, Ben teaches digital marketing at Baroque College in New York City and consults with a range of thought leaders, venture backed startups, and other brands.

[00:02:56] Ben Guttmann: Welcome to the show, Ben! Thanks for having me, Scott. It's great to be [00:03:00] here. Absolutely.

[00:03:02] Scott Maderer: I shared your intro and the way I've started asking people this now is I think intros and bios are like the Instagram photos of our life, right? We make sure we frame it just the right way so that the dirty laundry is not in the background when we take the picture.

[00:03:19] So can you talk a little bit more about your journey and why is. Simply put, why is this message around communication and messaging? Why is this what you're putting out in the world? What brought you to this

[00:03:32] Ben Guttmann: point? Oh, definitely. So my background is I ran a marketing agency for 10 years. I started that basically out of college in an old professor's basement.

[00:03:43] And we, he had a marketing agency and came up to me after class one day and says, no, you want to start something? We need some help with digital. Maybe we can figure something out. So drove, I was in Manhattan at the time and their office was just outside the city. So I did the reverse commute, jumped in my [00:04:00] 94 Honda Accord slapped our logo on the wall.

[00:04:02] And we were there for the first year of our business. And we started to cut our teeth with the local ice cream shop and local camera shop. And a lot of these. Kind of small businesses, but then bit by bit, start working at bigger clients hire some more people, you get a bigger office, you move to another location, you get more people, you get more clients, and 10 years later, we're working with the NFL and with Comcast and I Love New York and all these really great brands and

[00:04:32] It was a really fun journey.

[00:04:35] But then we decided to sell it. We decided, we woke up and we said one day, doing this for the last 10 years, do I want to do this kind of for the next 10 years was really the question. And there was no gun to our head, right? We had great clients and business was good. It's just you want to start to explore things at different points.

[00:04:52] And that was a good opportunity. So we put, we went out to market, found a home for our clients, found a home for our employees. And that was about a [00:05:00] year and a half ago, almost two years ago at this point. And it was it was really a great ride, but after selling the business. One thing kind of your mind doesn't stop working on this stuff.

[00:05:13] Like the clients may no longer be there. The deadlines may no longer be there, but you're still thinking about marketing. You're still thinking about the stuff that you're doing and the question that you hire a marketing agency to solve, which is how do I say something that people care about?

[00:05:31] Why do some messages work when others don't? That kept rattling around. And when I had the freedom and the time to think about it more I said, okay, I want to start to, to get this out there in the form of a book and had the opportunity to really look into this stuff in a way that wasn't just the war stories, but I wanted to look into the research.

[00:05:53] I wanted to look into the history. And I found, and, that the answer is simple.[00:06:00] It's like literally the answer is simple. Like why does some message work and others don't is that the messages that are more effective are simple. The ones that are less effective are complicated, but that wasn't enough, right?

[00:06:10] The why behind that was surprisingly deep and the how was surprisingly hard. And so putting those two together, I realized there was something interesting story to tell. Here,

[00:06:23] Scott Maderer: so a couple of things I want to dig into their, the first one is so you fell into the marketing.

[00:06:31] I'm not going to say by accident, but by invitation, it wasn't like you had this deep, it sounds and you tell me if I'm wrong, you, you had this childhood dream of running a digital market. You felt like this was the thing that you were put on the earth to do. We talk a lot about calling and passion and trying to find the thing that you're meant to do.

[00:06:54] And yet, obviously, if you did it for 10 years and you. Had clients like the NFL and I love New York and great [00:07:00] clients like that. You did something well it's not like you were terrible at your job and got the NFL as a client. That's not going to happen. So how do you see that kind of intersection between Was it, did it turn out to be your passion after you got into it?

[00:07:17] Yeah. How did that part happen?

[00:07:20] Ben Guttmann: I am a little bit weird. We're actually, so in high school, my favorite class that I took was a sports marketing class.

[00:07:27] Scott Maderer: A little bit. So I,

[00:07:31] Ben Guttmann: I I was president of the, there's a club called Deca, which. It's some folks may know it's depending on where you are, you it's a big deal or you've never heard of it.

[00:07:40] And so we had, that was the biggest club in our high school. It was like the business club, the marketing club. I ended up being the president of that when I was in high school. But part of that was really the social aspect of it, to be honest, too, was like that's what my friends were doing. And I did it.

[00:07:51] I just found that marketing. Was interesting at that age because it was [00:08:00] applied in a way that a lot of other stuff wasn't. I still I like lots of theory stuff. It was interesting way to it's probably the place where kind of marketing and business in the humanities, like most closely intersect is in the marketing space.

[00:08:15] And now I teach marketing, by the way, at Baruch College where I went to school. And I always try to emphasize how it's really about connecting psychology and culture and business in the same Venn diagram. How do you put all those things together? That's ultimately what good marketing ends up being.

[00:08:33] So I, I did have a little bit of that

[00:08:36] It's more than like in many ways, like marketing is like what I was good at. I enjoyed running like the business. I enjoyed the working with these great clients. I enjoyed their problems that I solved. But I enjoyed, but I, as through that, I enjoyed the act of doing it.

[00:08:53] I enjoyed the act of marketing and I enjoyed really learning about what that intersection was. And so that led me to. majoring in marketing, that [00:09:00] means running a marketing agency, to teaching about it, to writing a book about it. And I think it's one of those skills that is broadly applicable to anybody who has to do anything.

[00:09:11] If you have, if you're, if you want to inform or persuade, which is. probably about 90 percent of people in terms of what the work that they do in some way. You're a marketer, right? And so how do you get better at doing that? And that's what I'm curious about. And

[00:09:28] Scott Maderer: I think yeah there's some things there I definitely want to dig into as well, but You mentioned earlier that this idea of it, simple messages are the ones that stick, and you just talked a little bit about wanting to persuade people. We want to influence people. We have that marketing is one of those things that, I, it's one of those with great power comes great responsibility, right? It's cause really good marketers [00:10:00] and, think about politics, think about other things. It's this interesting weird thing of it can be used for good, it can be used for ill kind of thing. It's not it's not that marketing is bad, but it can be used to convince people. I think sometimes we're attracted to simple messages and By watering something down to a simple message, we also lose nuance and detail and reality sometimes.

[00:10:25] How do you see that responsibility of marketers between influence versus manipulation or that kind of, of

[00:10:34] Ben Guttmann: dichotomy? Oh yeah Scott, I'm really glad you brought that up because that's one of those things. I mentioned I teach. Marketing, and I've been doing that now for almost about 10 years.

[00:10:43] That is, by the way, my absolute favorite thing. It's so great to be in the classroom. I love it. I added to my curriculum not terribly long ago, probably about three or four years ago, I added an ethics section to it because I, this was at the moment where [00:11:00] a lot of, as a digital marketing course, a lot of these like data privacy things were really coming to a head.

[00:11:05] You talked about like the Cambridge Analytica stuff. We talked about Facebook coming in front of. Congress many times now, TikTok stuff in China. So I felt like it was very important to add more emphasis to that as part of the curriculum. And I came, I come down on the same side that you do, which is that the tool is neutral, right?

[00:11:24] The tool of telling a good story and of connecting producers and consumers, which is like the fundamental definition of marketing is connecting somebody who has something or make something and somebody who wants something or needs something. It's that's what marketing is. There's no kind of value judgment in that, but.

[00:11:43] If you look at the most kind of favorable or unfavorably viewed industries in America marketing and advertising, like pretty low down. That's not the worst. It's not the word. I think we're like, last time I saw it was like sandwiched between like airlines and [00:12:00] like lawyers. So like it was, it's not necessarily a great

[00:12:05] Scott Maderer: company.

[00:12:07] So it we got a hole to

[00:12:09] Ben Guttmann: dig out of, and I think that's because there's not enough people who. are interested in kind of the social good aspect for it. I think that you're 100 percent right. It is the tool set that is used by by propagandists as the tools that are used by con artists.

[00:12:27] But I have always been more drawn to the the folks that have used that as more of kind of the cautionary tale rather than that's the goal of marketing. So there's a book I read years ago It's a famous marketing book called Influenced by Robert Cialdini. One of my favorite books.

[00:12:50] One of the things that kind of really pushed me further in the in this universe and also something I tried to base my book off of because it has a lot of science in it and it's [00:13:00] but what's, what is interesting about that book, it's completely framed by Dr. Cialdini as being about. How to defend against these tactics of influence, not about here's how to manipulate people, but a lot of people took it the other way, used

[00:13:15] Scott Maderer: the other way, presented

[00:13:18] Ben Guttmann: a friend of mine.

[00:13:19] He wrote a similar book called the hype handbook, Michael have shine and great book, great guy, and it's, and he also has the same attitude where you we can look at the people who have used marketing. For wrong and use that as how do we, when we see, okay, that's the bad example, how do we build practices at codes of ethics just our own attitudes in a way that helps us prevent that.

[00:13:46] So you're right. It is like a great power, great responsibility type of thing. And that's my hope. with the work that I did too, is that something that it's about how do people make a positive change less so than selling more kind [00:14:00] of like murder widgets or whatever they're doing.

[00:14:02] Scott Maderer: Or just convincing people folks that have listened to the show for a while I talk about influence as that's one of the things I talk about influencing others, influencing yourself, and. But I contrast that with manipulation. And to me, the difference, and there's different words you could use for this, but to me, the difference is manipulation is when I'm convincing you to do something because it's good for me and influence is when I'm convincing you to do something either because it's good for you or it's good for both of us.

[00:14:32] It's okay to be a win too but and that to me, ethical marketing is that more influence. It's yeah, I may get a win out of this. But so do I'm not selling you a lemon. I'm used car salesman mentality, right? I'm not selling you a piece of junk.

[00:14:49] That's going to fall apart. The day you walk out of here, I'm actually giving you something that's valuable and serves you well and whatever it's okay that you give me value in exchange, but it's not about. [00:15:00] Take the money and run, mindset.

[00:15:04] Ben Guttmann: And that's so in the book I talk about simple versus complicated, right?

[00:15:09] And they're absolutely not quite opposite. It's simple and complex are opposites. Complicated is artificially created complexity, right? It's, you complicate as a verb, right? It's something that could be simple, but you chose for some reason, either by lack of effort or by intention. to make it complicated.

[00:15:26] Figuring out how to actually

[00:15:28] Scott Maderer: appeal your property tax rating and going through the bureaucracy. That's complicated. Yeah. And so complicated can be used. for evil, right? For lack of a better term, it could be you, if you look at these, talk about privacy, you look at like the user agreements and every bit of software and hardware that we use on a daily basis, there are thousands and thousands of words long.

[00:15:54] Ben Guttmann: They're rated at like college or higher level reading. Okay.

[00:15:59] Scott Maderer: What are you [00:16:00] hiding in there? And that's what they're built for.

[00:16:03] Ben Guttmann: They're built so that you don't. Immediately or slap. You're not slapped in the face by saying, Hey, we can use all this data and all your images and all your whatever.

[00:16:11] It's meant to be. Let's bury that on like page 18 of this thing. So so that I think is one of the things that I purposely want to try to bring us away from.

[00:16:24] Scott Maderer: that artificial part of it. So I think too, as we were talking about ethics and influence and manipulation in these things, talk a little bit about your faith journey and how that has influenced and intersected, where you ended up

[00:16:39] Ben Guttmann: in life.

[00:16:40] Oh, certainly. So I'm Jewish, and I I'm not super religious, but I am certainly informed by my personal history, my family history, the general philosophy behind it. And the one that always sticks in my [00:17:00] mind when I think about that is this idea of tekkun olam. I don't know if you've heard this before, but tekkun olam is basically heal the world, right?

[00:17:07] The world is broken. Your responsibility is to go fix it. And that Is a mindset that I try to bring to everything, right? If it's to work, if it's to personal stuff, if it's to like cleaning the house, right? If you pull the science part into this and say entropy increases in, in, in a system, right?

[00:17:24] That's the what was it? The second law of thermodynamics, second law of thermodynamics. Yeah. So

[00:17:29] Scott Maderer: everything, sorry I was a physics teacher. I know that one. . Yeah. . So everything gets. gets chaotic, everything breaks down, everything

[00:17:38] Ben Guttmann: gets messy,

[00:17:40] Scott Maderer: but

[00:17:41] Ben Guttmann: it's our job, if you look at it from an alum perspective, to put things back together, right?

[00:17:46] And that, that could be cleaning up the kitchen, or that could be something in social justice that can be doing the work to create interesting art, or whatever it is, that that's for me is the one thing I always come back to.[00:18:00]

[00:18:00] Scott Maderer: You're messaging and simply put, I think most people hear that at a surface level and go, okay, yes, simple messages.

[00:18:08] Yeah, that makes sense. And yet again, I worked in a corporate environment for 11 years where that I got yelled at one time for putting together a PowerPoint that didn't have enough bullets on the slides it's no, you need at least 13 bullets on every slide. I'm like, why nobody understands this.

[00:18:28] Why are we doing this? What do you see is, what do you see is that kind of fundamental principle that makes you say that communication is simple? Easy, but simple. And that's what wins. What is the psychology behind

[00:18:47] Ben Guttmann: that? So I'm glad you mentioned that example, because that's a really good one.

[00:18:51] That's one of the things that pushes back the other way. So I'll back up for a second. When we are communicating, if we strip away all the other [00:19:00] titles and we're advertiser, politician, advocate, teacher, and we just say that there are senders and there are receivers voters, donors. Customers that's, those are the receivers.

[00:19:11] Employees. Yeah. The, when we're where we both wear both of these hats all the time in this conversation, we're going back and forth on that, right? When we're a receiver, we prefer things that are fluent. And so the word fluent is something that we know from everyday language. From English or Spanish or Mandarin with cheese or beer or whatever other things are interesting to you where you're fluent things are flowing.

[00:19:38] That's the Latin root of the word is flowing. So we get that. But if you ask a cognitive scientist about the word fluency they're going to describe that as the suite of experiences basically boils down to is something easy. to take from out in the world, stick in your head and make sense of, right?

[00:19:56] The things that are easier to do that, that take like less mental [00:20:00] cycles to do that, those are more fluent and those are almost universally associated with more, all these positive things. More likely to trust it, to buy it to like it. That's all associated with things being fluent. On the other hand, the opposite is also true.

[00:20:18] Less fluent, less likely to buy, to trust to choose, to like. So that's where we want to be as receivers. We want things that are fluent, but when you're a sender we're faced with pressure from both internally and externally, like what you just talked about. So externally, you're facing the boss that wants more stuff.

[00:20:39] You're facing the societal pressure to add more stuff so you can get the press release. So you can your colleague wants their section on the website, all these different things. Internally, you're also facing what's known as an additive bias, where you're, we're more likely to add than subtract when we're faced with a choice and asked to improve something.

[00:20:57] So

[00:20:58] Scott Maderer: there's

[00:20:58] Ben Guttmann: this gap there, right? Like [00:21:00] we, we want things one way, that's, but when we're in charge of saying things or sending things, we have a really hard time getting there. We're all the way in the other end of the spectrum. And

[00:21:10] Scott Maderer: I think, yeah, it's, and if you're the sender, a lot of times you have a higher level of fluency with the material.

[00:21:18] Yeah. in many cases too. So what seems oh yeah this is easy. Everyone should understand this. And yet you're the world's expert on that topic. So everybody in the audience is going, I have no idea what that man just said or what that woman just said.

[00:21:35] Ben Guttmann: Do you see that effect too?

[00:21:37] That, that's a huge piece of it. And I, to bridge that gap, I've identified five design principles that help us get there. And one of them is empathy. And I talk about, I say, welcome the enlightened idiot. The enlightened idiot is the con is your audience and this is not to be like mean or anything.

[00:21:58] Idiot means common man, right? When you're good, [00:22:00] but it's to get us out of our own bubbles, because it's very easy. If I'm sitting. In my seat to be like, Oh, everybody understands what like what a target market is in a demographic is everybody understands what I mean by KPIs and this and that

[00:22:15] Scott Maderer: in reality, most people don't, right?

[00:22:16] And when

[00:22:17] Ben Guttmann: you talk to your audience, you'll be surprised by how many people are maybe unfamiliar with something you find very fundamental. We are, there's a number of studies that, that back this up to Where we are very bad at putting ourselves in other people's shoes in terms of what are their, what's their preferences, what are their motivations, what are their desires we overestimate how much our opinions reflect the general population.

[00:22:44] Because there's two reasons for that. One is that we spend a lot of time with people like us and because that's just how society filters out. It's called homophily. We end up working with people who have the same [00:23:00] general job, the same general education, same location. It just, that's what happens.

[00:23:04] And number two is we spend the most amount of time with ourselves, right? And so we understand what we're talking about, but we don't always we're not always able to translate that. In a way that connects with other people. So the way you solve that is by talking to them. It's by testing. It's the most kind of no dub piece of the book, really, is that you have to go out and you have to talk to your audience.

[00:23:24] People don't like doing it because it's awkward and they, because maybe it costs money. Maybe they're going to get feedback they don't want, but all of that is, is so valuable that it's worth getting past that those roadblocks.

[00:23:39] Scott Maderer: So empathy is one of the principles and I believe there's five in the book.

[00:23:45] Go into a little bit more empathy is one. What else do you have as those pillars of the communication?

[00:23:53] Ben Guttmann: Yeah, certainly. So the first one is beneficial. What does it matter to the receiver? And if you've ever done something [00:24:00] and kind of sales or marketing, you understand this, the features versus benefits breakdown.

[00:24:03] The second one is focused. Are you trying to say one thing or are you trying to say multiple things at once? Is it three ideas in a trench coat or is it one thing? Salient, yeah. Is the next one, does your message stand out from the noise? Does it stand out from the crowd? Does it rise to your attention?

[00:24:20] Does it zig when other people zag? Is there contrast? The fourth one is empathy, which I just mentioned. Are you speaking in the language that the audience understands? Are you meeting them where they are? And then lastly, it's minimal, which is, have you cut out everything that isn't important and kept what is everything you need, but only what you need.

[00:24:39] Scott Maderer: And that last one minimal. And you mentioned earlier that additive bias. And again, I was in a corporate environment. I saw this a lot which was the you started with the simple presentation. Had five bullet points there's five things we want to cover. And by the time the committee meeting was over it was a 55.

[00:24:59] slide [00:25:00] deck, each of which had 13 bullets on it kind of thing. And you're like, why do we have to have all of this? We tend to, I think, feel like it's if we just add more facts and more information, we'll convince them they'll believe what surely they'll see the obviousness of this message.

[00:25:18] How do we fight against that idea of adding to the message versus what you just said about pulling pieces out.

[00:25:27] Ben Guttmann: Oh yeah, so what you said reminds me of, there's a quote that's misattributed to Mark Twain, just like every quote is misattributed to Mark Twain. Mark Twain

[00:25:36] Scott Maderer: said everything. It's

[00:25:38] Ben Guttmann: like Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, or Winston Churchill, like if just pick one at random and see who said it.

[00:25:44] But. It is. I wrote you a long letter because I didn't have time to write you a short one, right? It's a joke, but it is hard, right? It's hard to do that because the default again is four more so but minimal you mentioned that [00:26:00] the idea of minimal here is not Actually about the fewest number of words or sentences or paragraphs or sorry pages or slides it's about the least amount of friction if you put the user experience designer hat on That's what UX designers are doing every day is trying to eliminate friction, getting somebody from A to B.

[00:26:22] If there's more kind of bumps in the road, somebody says, screw it, I'm not going to do this anymore I'm going to go pull off and do something else. I'm not you don't need my credit card info, whatever it is, more friction, the less you get at the end. Higher drop off, right? Exactly. That's what we're really trying to optimize for when we talk about minimal.

[00:26:41] And sometimes that means more slides, right? So you mentioned having 13 bullets on a slide, slides are free. Go ahead

[00:26:50] Scott Maderer: And add more, and if you have a

[00:26:53] Ben Guttmann: 50 slide deck, but it's more digestible, there's less friction on there, that is simpler than having the [00:27:00] two slide deck that has every single word in the universe crammed onto it.

[00:27:03] Scott Maderer: Yeah, that was actually one of the things I. Fought about is 'cause I wanted the one, maybe two points per slide. Yeah. That we get more than two. Forget it. You've lost it. Yeah. at that point it's, there's no hope of them understanding it. And interestingly by the way I worked, I was a educator for years and then I worked in the industry as an assessment person.

[00:27:27] So literally it's full of educators. And yet we wanted to complicate them and I'm like, I'm looking at people going, this is what we did to your students. This is not what you did to your students, right? But it, I think, but like you said, I think there's a natural bias to it too of it feels like the more complex message.

[00:27:49] Is more persuasive, even though the simpler less friction, easier to understand is a lot of times more persuasive that seems to [00:28:00] be that gut feeling of that.

[00:28:02] Ben Guttmann: Yeah, exactly. And that. That is that is the default assumption. Bigger words, I'm a bigger brain, I'm more persuasive, right?

[00:28:13] We often think that, that complicating, adding more means that we cover more ground and we're smarter. There's an interesting study. about, about this exact idea. So what these researchers did was they took a pile of grad school applications and they had some evaluators look at those applications. They had another group of evaluators look at another stack of applications.

[00:28:37] Those essays in that second stack, what they did was they took them and they made them more complicated. They ran them through and they said, okay, every word we're going to go for something bigger out of this is the source. And then they compared the results across the board. What happened was that the first group with the normal essays were rated as more intelligent and more likely to be admitted than the second group, [00:29:00] which had the same essays, but with bigger words in them, they were rated as less intelligent and less likely to be.

[00:29:08] And this happened when they looked at we looked at high school students and when they translated works by famous philosophers, when they flipped it and they said, we're going to take the regular essays and simplify them. The results still follow that same line, which is. The bigger words will ultimately make you look dumb in a way that that you are trying very hard not to do.

[00:29:30] Scott Maderer: It's almost like we presume that person must be quote, hiding something or they're trying to get something over on us now. Oh, yeah. And on,

[00:29:39] Ben Guttmann: on that note, it's almost like a status game too sometimes. So there's another bit of research that I love. This is like my favorite, one of my favorite things I found as part of it because it's, it sets like an interesting little way to let look at this.

[00:29:51] So in the U. S. there's 150 ish international airports. And these range from where I am in New York, you have JFK International [00:30:00] Airport, hundreds or thousands of flights on a daily basis on a weekly basis. To small airports, like my grandmother lived in Great Falls, Montana. I went to Great Falls International Airport and there's a stuffed bear in the middle and it's one hallway long.

[00:30:17] There's the entire spectrum between these big airports and these small airports. So what these researchers did is they looked at them and they divided them into two groups, the big ones and the small ones. And they looked and they said, how did they talk about themselves? So the big airports they looked at their website, their marketing material, and they said do you call yourself JFK?

[00:30:38] Do you call yourself JFK international? JFK international airport? And how often do you use the word international to describe yourself? And there's some status that comes with that, right? And it feels like you're elite, you're worldly, you've got international. The big airports called themselves international about like 28 percent of the time, 31, [00:31:00] something like 30 percent of the time.

[00:31:01] The small airports. called themselves international 70 percent of the time, right? So

[00:31:07] Scott Maderer: it did the exact

[00:31:09] Ben Guttmann: opposite with it. They want to look big by putting on kind of the stage dressing of being this bigger fancier, higher status entity. But what happened was it did the exact opposite.

[00:31:20] The bigger airports wouldn't prefer to themselves with that type of more complicated language. So

[00:31:25] Scott Maderer: that makes me think of something. So I work with a lot of small business owners many of whom are solopreneurs. And there's this messaging out there that Oh never admit that you're a solopreneur always put we in the messaging and talk about your team even if your team is kind of thing.

[00:31:45] And I've always gone the opposite way and said, no I'm fine telling people it's my, my business is me, myself and I and I occasionally work with a VA or something like that, but that's it it's, it, that's what it is and that's what you're. [00:32:00] How do you see that kind of push pull between that small business owner trying to appear to be big when they're maybe not yet?

[00:32:09] Ben Guttmann: Oh the version of that, that I see a lot is the CEO, right? When it's a one person business, two person business, and somebody has a chief executive officer not even CEO of

[00:32:23] Scott Maderer: who a CEO of who I I, I, since I left

[00:32:27] Ben Guttmann: my, since I sold my agency I've been doing some consulting on my own.

[00:32:31] I just say, I'm me, or I say principal cause that's like the little slightly bougier, but still completely honest way of saying it. Just print the principal of my thing it's like the one person that's it. The,

[00:32:46] Scott Maderer: The thing in this I

[00:32:48] Ben Guttmann: see a lot of anybody who started their first business.

[00:32:50] They do the CEO thing I had a business card that said CEO before I changed it the partner on my old company The version I think that's [00:33:00] probably best is Give yourself a job title. If you're in that, if you have to give yourself a job title, give yourself one that is something like creative director, something like that, where it's okay, it's still a senior thing.

[00:33:11] It's still okay, I'm dealing with the creative director. But CEO doesn't mean anything in a small business. Use the job title as something that kind of carries some meaning as part of it. Because then it turns into an asset actually.

[00:33:26] Scott Maderer: Ben, I've got a few questions that I like to ask all of my guests, but before I go there, is there anything else about the book that maybe we haven't touched on or that you think is really important for the listener to hear?

[00:33:38] Ben Guttmann: Oh I there's lots of stuff, right? But the one thing that I'll just wrap it up with on the book front is I mentioned the senders and the receivers before. The fundamental. A mindset shift if you forget everything else is that the sender, just as if they were sending something for the mail they're responsible [00:34:00] for paying the postage, right?

[00:34:01] They're responsible for the literal and the figurative cost of communicating. And so it's their responsibility to make sure that they're heard. Receivers woke up today and they had a lot of things on their mind and we cared about a lot of things. Our friends, family, our sports teams, our work deadlines.

[00:34:16] We didn't have click on your ad. On my to do list, right? We didn't have open your spam email. We didn't have even respond to your fundraising call, and so you have to respect that they have other things that they want to do and it's your responsibility to fit into their lives more so than it is their responsibility to, to hear what you're having to say.

[00:34:40] Scott Maderer: So my brand is Inspired Stewardship, and I run things through that lens of stewardship, but yet speaking of messaging, I've discovered over the years that's a word that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So I like to ask people, when you hear the word stewardship, what does that word mean

[00:34:57] Ben Guttmann: to you?

[00:34:59] [00:35:00] You're

[00:35:00] Scott Maderer: It is one of those words That does have it's

[00:35:03] Ben Guttmann: a kind of a mirror in some ways, right? You're trying to see whatever you try to see yourself in a little bit. It's multifaceted and it splits the light. For me, it's about exhibiting care in general. And I think that I mentioned some of the Takuna alum stuff.

[00:35:17] What one thing. That, that I see as part of the way which I exercise that is I teach and I've been doing that for a long time. I love it. It's only one night a week. It's not a, it's not a huge commitment, but I'm going to do it. I keep telling the chair there. I'm going to do it. Please kick me out. Because it is so rewarding to see these students come and there's their senior undergraduate seniors.

[00:35:40] So that there's really interesting kind of pivotal moment in their lives. And to be able to leave some sort of positive. Imprint on them and to maybe connect them with people that are going to help launch their careers or build their businesses that's the version for me that I think is very satisfying.[00:36:00]

[00:36:00] Scott Maderer: So this is my favorite question that I love to ask all of my guests. I imagine for a moment that I invented this magic machine. And with this machine, I could pluck you from where you are today and transport you into the future, maybe 150, maybe 250 years. And through the power of this machine, you were able to look back and see your entire life and see all of the ripples, all of the connections and all of the impacts you've left behind.

[00:36:26] What impact do you hope you've left behind in the world?

[00:36:29] Ben Guttmann: I hope it's very humbly, I just, I hope it's a small positive difference. I hope that being here left some left the world a tiny bit better than not being here. I'm sitting up upstate in our house in the Catskills and I'm looking at all these trees here.

[00:36:45] If these trees are still here in 150 years, I'll be very happy about that. Like something as small as that would make me overjoyed.

[00:36:54] Scott Maderer: So what's next on the roadmap? What's coming up the rest of this

[00:36:57] Ben Guttmann: year? I'm excited to [00:37:00] continue to spread the word about this book and to be on more great shows like yours and to do some events and doing some consulting work on it.

[00:37:08] I've got a couple other projects in the hopper, which are exciting. And I'm also excited to, to begin, I believe, what is my 11th year teaching. So to bring that whole full circle every single one of these is. these parts of my portfolio life is really just wonderful.

[00:37:28] And I'm very grateful to be able to have that experience. You can find out

[00:37:32] Scott Maderer: more about Ben over at bengutman. com. That's B E N G U T M A N N. Of course, I'll have a link to that over in the show notes as well. Ben, is there anything else you'd like to share with the listener?

[00:37:47] Ben Guttmann: I really appreciate it.

[00:37:48] Thanks for having me on, Scott. This has been a ton of fun. If you go check out bengutman. com you'll find obviously links to the book, but also there's a free chapter there. So if this sounded interesting, go grab it. [00:38:00] And then if you like the book or read it, let me know, send me an email.

[00:38:03] If there's something I do to help, if there's something I can do to, even if you just enjoyed it, I'd love to hear that.

[00:38:13] Scott Maderer: Thanks so much for listening to the Inspired Stewardship Podcast. As a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen, but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoyed this episode please do us a favor. Go over to inspiredstewardship.

[00:38:37] com iTunes rate. All one word. iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a rating and review and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every episode as it comes out in your feed. Until next time, invest your time, your [00:39:00] talent, and your treasures. Develop your influence and impact the world.

In today's episode, I ask Ben about:

  • His journey to delivering a message about how to deliver clear messages...  
  • Why communication is vital, and why it’s so hard...
  • How his faith journey intersected with his life...
  • and more.....

Some of the Resources recommended in this episode: 

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Complicated can be used for evil for lack of a better term. Look at like User Agreements in every bit of software that we use all day long they are thousands of words long rated at a college level or higher reading level, what are you hiding in there? – Ben Guttmann

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About the Author Scott

Helping people to be better Stewards of God's gifts. Because Stewardship is about more than money.

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