Making Waves at C-Level

September 30, 2014 was the day that episode #1 of the Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do Podcast launched. In three years (and 293 episodes) Thom Singer has interviewed over 250 entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, business leaders, and intrapreneurs. Some have accomplished amazing levels of success, while others are just starting their entrepreneurial journey.

Along the way Thom has learned a lot of things, both from the guests and via the experiences of hosting a show twice a week. The people he has met has changed his life forever. Friendships have been made that will last a lifetime.

In this episode he marks the 3 year milestone with 5 things he has come to know true for anyone looking to do more in their career:

1. You need to focus.

2. You need others to hold you accountable.

3. You learn more when you are part of a community.

4. Taking action beats sitting around thinking.

5. You have to assess your progress.

Listen to this episode and share in the celebration of the shows reaching nearly 300 episodes, and get ready for some positive growth and changes coming in the future of this podcast.

Direct download: CTED_293.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Mike Belsito thought he wanted a career in sports management, but found himself loving starting new things. His first job was working as employee #1 for a startup, and he has never looked back.

Today he is the co-founder of Product Collective. They founded the company in 2014 as a way to help product people all over the world connect, collaborate, and generally be inspired. As product people themselves, they found they were wanting to find places where they could meet other product people. They looked around and were surprised to find a lack of a product community that gathered in one place often, especially outside of Silicon Valley.

And so Product Collective was born.

Product Collective’s first initiative was INDUSTRY: The Product Conference, which initially took place in 2015. In its first year, INDUSTRY attracted 250 attendees from 21 states and 7 countries. Just one year later, attendance nearly doubled — with attendees from both years represented from larger enterprises and venture backed startups alike, including IBM, Intuit, Oracle, Shopify, GoDaddy, LeadPages, and others.

Today, Product Collective educates and connects product people in many more ways, including through Product Brief (our weekly newsletter) and Product Lunch (our monthly webinar series).

Their mission is to redefine and shape the future of product management, and it’s one that they know they can’t do alone. Mike and his team hope you’ll join Product Collective to be a part of this evolution.

Check out this episode of "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" to hear Mike's journey.

Direct download: CTED_292.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38am EDT

Chris Mefford has done it all, from starting his own company to working for churches, and most recently as a former VP at the Dave Ramsey organization (planning live events and more) and EVP for Dr. Henry Cloud.  Currently, Chris is the acting COO for Standard Behavior Digital. In his many roles, Chris has had the opportunity to change people’s lives by providing clear, actionable strategies to help people make smart business decisions and turn a fledgling department into one of the best in
the company.

Chris has coached leaders from businesses and nonprofit organizations nationwide. He offered his expertise and insight to assist senior executives and small business entrepreneurs to build better cultures, turn around underperformance, hire the right employees, know when to let people go, implement efficient processes, manage finances, and implement the organization’s mission all while making money and changing lives.  Chris even played a part in helping the Ramsey Organization win the“Best Place to Work in Nashville” award for 8 straight years. Chris is a former high school teacher and holds an MBA from the prestigious Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor.

In short, he knows a lot about business, communication and leadership. Chris is passionate about sharing his experiences and using his teaching skills to help others create amazing cultures and places to work.

Direct download: CTED_291.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

I recently heard a story of a person who was listed as a reference by a job applicant. Upon hearing about this great job (big opportunity for a small town) the reference pitched herself as a better option for the job. And.... the company hired her, leaving the applicant they had put through weeks of interviews on the sideline.

Now, this story has several elements. First, I only heard one side of the story (and stories have a way of being told from the point of view of the storyteller). Yet, no matter how you slice this tale is has some ethical issues that can be called into question.

The woman who took her friend's opportunity and spun it into her new career admitted to the original applicant that she was jealous of such a great job and wanted it. She also was crying when she told him the details, clearly showing she was not fully proud of her actions. 

They were good enough friends (former co-workers) that they would hang out together on occasion with her spouse and shared many mutual friends. I imagine that friendship is now over.

Then there is the company. While checking references decided to hire the person who applicant listed as a reference. Now I have no way of knowing if they would have gone all the way and hired this guy (they had gotten to the calls to references), but either way I wonder if this is the right hiring technique. Also, they had worked through a headhunter, and it now sounds like they are bypassing paying the placement fee since they did not hire the search firm's candidate. Afterall, they found this person on their own....right? (I don't know if they are skipping out on the placement fee, but I would think the headhunter is owed their part based on the series of events that lead to this hire).

What do you think? Do ethics matter in love, war and business? Or is all fair?

The moral of this story is to think twice about who you list as a reference on a job application.

Direct download: CTED_290.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

My career as a speaker was built during the "Great Recession". Before the crash I was advised that if my desire to be a professional speaker was real, I should change topics, as teaching people how to engage, network, build connections, etc... was "fluffy and nobody would pay" for that topic.

Enter 2008 and 2009. The economy plummeted and people were being laid in near record numbers. Business professionals were scrambling either to find their next job or to show their extra value to their employer to avoid being the next one to be let go.

Those who were finding success attributed their career stability to their networks. All the news outlets were running stories about the power of networking, and the topic was considered anything but "fluffy". While I had not had years of experience as a speaker, my take on how to make, grow, and keep your business relationships touched the problem faced by so many people. Associations who were hungry to provide real value to their members hired me to present and I created win / win relationships with several organizations that have continued to work with me or refer me to this day.

Over the last two years I have again begun to see the eye rolls from meeting planners (and more so from the conference committee members) about the topic of connecting with people. The reality is in our busy and tech crazed business world the need to establish long-term and mutually-beneficial relationships is more important that ever, but in a strong economy people do not see the immediate need to connect. 

Yet we live in very uncertain times. While the stock market and job numbers are showing strong gains, there is little trust in what is ahead. The division in our society over the current state of affairs in Washington DC (and the world) leaves our economy vulnerable, and people are talking about when the bottom may again fall out. 

If people are worried about the economy, they should be taking steps to recession-proof their careers now. Too many of us (myself included) did not adequately understand what 2008 / 2009 was going to be like and how long it would take us to regain our previous income levels. Conversations these days are often full of questions about what is coming, but I am not seeing many people actively making plans to be ready for the less favorable economic possibilities. 

All opportunities come from people and there is nothing better to ensure that you will bounce back in the face of adversity than having established a network of people who will be there to help out in good times and bad. The problem is that our social media crazed world has lead people to think they have more powerful connections than they really do. A like, link, share, or follow means nothing if there is not a real relationship behind it.

Earlier this year I spoke at a conference of successful business leaders who were among the most "self confident" people I have worked with in my career (read that as: nice, successful, and arrogant). While my presentation went fine, a few of them complained to the organizer that my focus on the importance of connecting with people was "old fashioned" and "dated". They voiced their belief that this was not top of the list to take their companies to the next level. My belief is that when you choose people you always find victories, especially over the long run. When I think about the business sector where these CEOs operate, they will be among the hardest hit if their is a correction in the economy. To lessen the importance of the relationship side of growing a business will leave many of them struggling or bankrupt. 

Everyone is vulnerable to the possibility of a stall (or fall) in the economy, and business leaders and associations should be exploring what is next. Cultivating a culture of connecting is not only good for today, but will help prepare everyone for any bumps in the road. 

Choose people everyday, as there may be a time when you need them to help you. When the economy stalls is not the time to start networking.

4 Tips to Recession Proof Your Career:

1. Do not assume a like, link, share, or follow is equal to a relationship.

2. Start participating in your industry trade association (and other networking groups) now. Do not wait until the economy falters.

3. Find ways to help others. Networking has to be about give and get.

4. Work to position yourself as an expert in your industry.

Direct download: CTED_289.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:51am EDT

Growing up an engineering student in India, Rohan Kale made some bad decisions in his 20’s and ended up gambling. He was dissatisfied with his job and disillusioned with the way things worked. So - to distract himself - he hung out with some people he really shouldn’t have… who were obsessed with betting.

He lost a lot of money. €25,000+, to be exact.

Luckily, he had the support of incredible family and friends who never gave up on him and who helped him get back on his feet. Anyone who’s been through this kind of thing always says ‘I don’t know where I’d be without them’ - well, he knows where he would be (and it is not a good place).

But even though they helped him get out of debt, he didn’t come out without a scratch. Getting into so much debt when you’re still just maturing, and in so short a time (this all happened over 6-8 months) leaves you mentally and physically drained. He needed to heal. He needed a fresh start.

He decided to go for one final gamble. -- He took out an education loan and traveled 6,700km to Germany to pursue his MBA and forge a career, away from home and all his old temptations.

His had work paid off. He got a job in Daimler’s Sales and Marketing Department, and within a short amount of time he was able to pay off all his debts - including his education loan, and the money given to his by my parents.

But the biggest difference was that inside, he was a totally new person. Rohan had realized that if you put your mind and your grit to a plan, live consciously and take responsibility for everything in your life, success is automatically yours (comforting, huh?).

He spent three years at Daimler before the realization crept upon him that it was time, once again, to move on. Rohan Kale wasn’t meant for a 9-5 desk job - it was simply a transition period.

He desired make a direct difference in people’s lives, by working with their businesses.

(And enjoy the freedom and flexible working hours of being an entrepreneur, of course.)

At this time video was booming in every marketing sector.

He began to explore different possibilities - and it wasn’t long before he realized there was a gap in the market for professional-looking animations that could solve every problem from explaining how to use a piece of software to telling a brand’s story.

Not only that, but there were others who were wondering the same thing, and today those awesome professionals he know - sound designers, video editors, artists and animators - are all part of his my team.

Together they help global brands across industries like software, financial services, web development, app companies, non-profits, retail and more to present their brand stories in a way that resonates with their target audience - and entertains as well as informs.

According to CISCO, consumer internet video traffic will go up to 80% by 2019, compared to 64% in 2014.

What does that tell you?


At his agency that shares his name, Rohan Kale, they want to be trusted storytelling partners. They connect you with your audience in a more meaningful, provocative and entertaining way than ever - without breaking the bank.

They believe in story.

To date they have served hundreds of businesses all over the world. Animated millions of frames. Produced thousands of scripts - and they are just getting started.

Direct download: CTED_288.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:28pm EDT