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Success Is 80% Who You Are And 20% What You Know - Screw the Naysayers

I remember the day I recorded my first interview for my yet to be launched Screw the Naysayers Podcast. I was terrified. Things that an average 8 year old could do while riding a bike seemed beyond comprehension for a brain that was now more than 60 years old. You should have seen the look on my face the day I downloaded and opened Audacity on my Macbook. My head hurt just trying to understand the menu bar. Then the folks at Itunes told me I needed to have a podcast cover designed to certain specs. Somebody said I should get Canva. They made it sound easy. Then I need to record an intro and get some music in the background. For most of you these tasks will sound insanely simple. Early on I was convinced that the software had been created by aliens that spoke another language. And that was just the technology side of things. 

How would I market the show? What if I recorded all these episodes and nobody listened? I couldn’t exactly ask my friends here in Nova Scotia. They all looked at me as if I had 3 heads when I told them I was starting a podcast. Some asked “what’s a podcast?” The rest just shook their head no doubt thinking there goes Tim again. Off on some crazy adventure.

In preparing for my first interview I spent days reading articles, listening to podcasts on how to create a podcast, and scouring YouTube for the secret sauce. Determined to get everything right I decided that I had to rearrange my furniture. The table that held my laptop and mic faced a bay window overlooking a green forest. Perfect for getting work done, but what if my microphone picked up a wisp of wind or some other sound of nature. I put the table in a corner with my chair facing a cement wall. The view sucked but such was the cost of a professional quality recording.

Somewhere I’d read that I should try and pad the walls with some form of sound barrier. I carried the cushions from our RV into the house, down the steps, and positioned them on the walls around me. Feeling as if I needed more I decided to prop cushions against furniture I positioned behind my chair. By this stage even my German Shepherd was giving me puzzled looks. I tested my microphone and my recording software 3-4 times. Don Wettrick, at the time an innovation teacher at Noblesville High School (now President of the StartEd Up Foundation) had agreed to be my first guest. The call came through. I heard  Don and all sorts of other people speaking in the background. He and his daughter Ava were leaving a pitch competition and Don was calling on his cell phone. We chatted while they walked to the car. Ava drove and Don spoke. Somehow I got through that first interview. Turned out the sound was fine.

Flash forward 20 months and my workplace is back where it belongs, in front of the bay window. I do all my interviews while enjoying the nature that drew me back to this community. The RV  cushions are in the RV, and recording a podcast is second nature to me. 

Here’s the thing. I didn’t know a thing about podcasting but I figured it out. I also discovered something new about myself. I’m good at interviewing guests. It seems to come naturally to me and in truth I’ve come to love the time I spend in discussion with amazing people from all around the globe. And it turns out that people can sense my love for podcasting and also for my mission, which is to inspire people of all ages to shatter self-limiting beliefs. I do that by amplifying the voices of my guests and using the power of story to educate and motivate listeners on how to live the life they want. The thing I want to emphasize here is that people don’t listen to my show because I studied how to become a great podcast host. And guests don’t agree to be on my show because I mastered the technology. They’re here because of me.  

Zig Ziglar famously said that success is 80% attitude and 20% aptitude. I’m not going to argue with the logic of a man like Zig, but I also believe that success is at least 80% who you are and 20% what you know. Take JT McCormick for example (my guest on Episode 86 of Screw the Naysayers.) JT was born the mixed-race son of a drug-dealing pimp father and a orphaned, single mother on welfare. He was raised in the slums of Dayton, Ohio, suffered sexual abuse and racism, and had multiple stints in the juvenile justice system. He barely graduated from high school and has no college degree.

Today JT is the CEO of Scribe Media, a company that in 2018 was acknowledged by Entrepreneur Magazine as having the best company culture in America. Impressive right? Especially when you consider that JT still can’t tell the difference between a verb and an adverb. Oh did I mention that Scribe Media is a Publishing Company! If you’re lucky enough to hear JT speak or spend even 15 minutes chatting with him you are guaranteed to come away feeling empowered and a little bit smarter. JT is generous with his time and his knowledge and is arguably one of the best servant leaders I’ve ever spoken with. People love working with JT because of who he is and how he acts. I don’t imagine they spend much time looking up his educational background or grammar checking his words.

Want another example that proves my point about who you are being more important than what you know? On Episode 94 of Screw the Naysayers, my guest Cory Warfield made a bold claim when he said that “you don’t need an MBA or know how to code to start a software business.” 

I get the MBA part but how do you start a software company if you don’t know how to code? And this advice coming from a man who 20 years ago was homeless and living on the streets in a small ski town in Colorado. I guess technically not on the street. Cory was sharing a garage with another guy and no running water. Then he got off his butt and started washing dishes in pizza joints. 

Today Cory is Co-founder and CEO of Shedwool, a fast growing Employee Scheduling SAS provider.  For those that don’t know SAS stands for “Software as a Service.” Believe it or not Cory met his co-founder through an ad that he placed on Craigslist. The headline read, Make $1Million Join A Startup”.

Aside from the obvious height difference (sorry Cory!) Cory and JT have a lot in common, especially their commitment to servant leadership. For those of you that spend time on LinkedIn, Cory should be an absolute follow. He selflessly shares his knowledge and insights always without the expectation of getting something back from you. Despite being at the 30k limit of connections, Cory follows anyone that follows him, and clearly spends significant time engaging with people. As the boss, Cory knows that when he’s out with the team they turn to him to pick up the tab. He doesn’t stop there, often checking with his team to see if they want to bring something home for a family member.

Bottom line? You’re going to be hard pressed to meet two people who are living proof that who you are is way more important than what you know. Love to hear your thoughts. Til next blog, remember Screw the Naysayers, They Suck Anyways!  Tim…

Tim Alison

Tim Alison

Business Mentor, Harvard Speaker, Magnify You Facilitator, Author x 3, Podcast Host at Screw the Naysayers

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