Podcast

Episode: 517 |
Mahan Tavakoli:
Leadership Consulting, Coaching & Speaking :
Episode
517

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Mahan Tavakoli

Leadership Consulting, Coaching & Speaking

Show Notes

Mahan Tavakoli is a consultant, leadership coach, and host of the podcast Partnering Leadership. He talks about his podcast, the incredible guests he has had on his show, and his time at the Dale Carnegie Leadership Institute. Mahan has been an avid podcast listener for over a decade, and he decided to launch his own podcast in 2020. His podcast focuses on the journey of CEOs and leaders in the Greater Washington DC region. He has interviewed some impressive names and his show is now in the top 1% of podcasts in the leadership category. He credits the pandemic for allowing him to make his podcast more antifragile, as he is now able to reach a much wider audience.

 

Promoting a Podcast and Crafting a Compelling Story

As the host of the podcast Partnering Leadership, he  has conversations with CEOs from the Greater Washington, DC DMV region on Tuesdays, and leadership book authors on Thursdays. He has interviewed authors such as Seth Godin, Ken Blanchard, John Kotter, Stephen Covey, and Ciaran. He offers tips on reaching out to authors, including using the momentum of the podcast being in the top 1% of podcasts, and often the agents for the authors who want to promote their book reach out to help promote the book. CEOs he interviews are often people he knows well enough to invite on to the show. He shares what he has learned from the CEOs he has  interviewed and notes that they have a tremendous sense of humility and confidence, as well as a growth mindset, and are constantly looking to learn.

Mahan talks about the importance of storytelling for CEOs. He believes the key to a great story is to focus on one moment in time and draw inspiration from Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. He suggests that the leader be the guide of the story, not the hero. He also sends stories of successful storytelling to CEOs, so they can learn to do the same. This will help them communicate their story both internally and externally, which can strengthen the organization. 

 

Podcast Promotion, Content Development, and Distribution 

Mahan and Will discuss strategies for promoting a podcast. Mahan offers valuable tips, including creating micro content, posting on other places, and getting guests to send out notes. He also suggested posting on LinkedIn as a way to raise awareness. He suggests creating multiple pieces of content from each episode to promote over a six month period. His team focuses primarily on promoting on LinkedIn, but also shares content on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Mahan discusses how he has focused his content development on LinkedIn to get the most traction. He also explains how videos from his interviews go up on YouTube, even though less than 1% of his audience actually watch them. He shares a story of when he got a great client, where he believes they discovered him from his website, podcast, and personal relationships and networking. Overall, he has seen great benefits from his podcast, including building relationships and learning new things, as well as landing new clients. He explains how his team repurposes content to post on social media over a six month period, and how this is important to reach people who like to consume media in a variety of different ways. 

 

From Salesperson to Chief Strategy Officer at Dale Carnegie

Mahan shares his experience of working for Dale Carnegie, emphasizing the importance of sincerity and genuineness when building relationships with others. Mahan has found that his podcast has helped build his reputation and credibility throughout the business community and has received many referrals who know him as an authority in business leadership. He is currently working with CEOs and senior leadership teams. His practice also involves individual coaching sessions and consulting services.  Mahan started as a salesperson  but eventually moved up to helping start franchises internationally as his board of directors sought to expand their operations. Despite the busy travel schedule, Mahan was able to successfully contribute to the CEO’s strategic vision and was eventually promoted to Chief Strategy Officer. Through this position, he has been able to lead the organization in constant reinvention and adaptation. 

 

Success As a Business Executive

As a business executive Mahan was constantly on the road, but he realized that his values of family could not be seen in his lifestyle. As a result, he decided to stay in DC, and he started a youth-serving organization to help underserved youth gain access to college and internships. Mahan believes that it is important for the right people to take the right kids to work, so that they can see the opportunities available to them. He has dedicated his life to providing these opportunities to young people and inspiring them to look at the world differently. He has also been active in the regional community, serving on the board of directors of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the executive committee of Leadership Greater Washington. His regional focus allows him to take advantage of the relationships he has built in the area, while also allowing him to spend more time with his family. Mahan stresses the  importance of developing relationships and differentiating oneself in the business world. He highlights the importance of building trust, which can be accomplished by showing genuine interest in the other person, and having genuine conversations. He also discusses the importance of brand names and noted that he has been warmly received in various countries because of his affiliation with Carnegie. Finally, he stresses the importance of focusing on differentiating oneself rather than trying to be better than others.

 

Timestamps

01:24 Mahan Tavakoli’s Journey to Becoming a Top 1% Podcast Host

03:16 Insights from CEOs and Leadership Book Authors

10:05 Analysis of CEO Storytelling: Examining What Makes a Great Story Resonate 

16:32 Exploring Strategies for Promoting Content on Social Media 

18:17 Exploring the Benefits of Content Development for LinkedIn and Other Platforms

24:52 Mahan Tavakoli’s Journey from Dale Carnegie Training to Chief Strategy Officer

29:06 Regional Focus in Consulting and Coaching 

33:05 Leveraging Regional Relationships and Trust Building with Dale Carnegie

39:07 Building a Leadership Brand

41:26 Appreciating Hard Work and Giving Back 

 

Links:

Website: https://mahantavakoli.com/

Podcast: https://www.partneringleadership.com/

 

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SPEAKERS

Mahan Tavakoli, Will Bachman

 

Will Bachman  00:01

Hello, and welcome to Unleashed. I’m your host will Bachman and I am so excited to be here today with Mohan Tavakoli. He is a independent consultant, a leadership coach. And he’s also the host of partnering leadership, which is a podcast that has incredible names on it. We’re going to talk about the folks that Mahan has had on his show. He also worked at Dale Carnegie leadership for a long time, the Institute. Man, welcome to the show.

 

Mahan Tavakoli  00:32

Well, Bachman, I am thrilled to be on the show for so many reasons. Most, especially since I’ve been listening to your podcast from early on, when you launched it, I have learned from you. So it’s an absolute pleasure and joy to be on with you.

 

Will Bachman  00:47

That is very kind of you to say. So the kind of way I’ve gotten to know you is you post on LinkedIn pretty regularly about the shows that you’ve done, and a lot of names that I recognize of your guests, which I’m always like, wow, that is amazing to learn to land those names. And now I believe your show is in the top 1% of podcasts in several categories made the leadership category, which is incredible. Let’s let’s start with your podcasts and how I got to know you tell. Tell us a bit about how that came about. And if you need to give the backstory. Go ahead.

 

Mahan Tavakoli  01:24

Yeah, so we’ll I’ve loved the audio medium, and I’ve been listening to podcasts for at least a dozen years. David Mcrainey, you are not so smart, which is an outstanding podcast is probably one of the first ones I fell in love with. As I mentioned, I’ve been listening to your podcast that I found out pretty early on when I wanted to launch my own consulting business. So I’ve loved that audio medium. And I’ve also for couple of decades been pretty active in the Greater Washington DC region, interacted with some magnificent CEOs and leaders, and thought podcasting would be a great way for me to share some of their journey with a broader audience. And that’s why I planned on launching my podcast. Early in 2020, I had recordings booked at a local radio station for us to do recordings with a series of CEOs, the pandemic hit, which ended up in a weird way being positive. So I loved nucynta Labs anti fragility concept, and I thought about how can I make this anti fragile become better as a result. So with the pandemic, I was going to be interviewing the guests through zoom, which then gave me a chance to reach to also a broader audience. That’s why on Tuesdays, I have conversations with CEOs from the Greater Washington, DC DMV region, many of them I’ve known for years and some for decades, and then on Thursdays with leadership book authors, whose work I’m interested in whose books I’ve read. So it becomes a great opportunity for me to learn and grow and then share their insights with the broader community.

 

Will Bachman  03:16

And tell us about some of the authors that you’ve interviewed. I think that I saw you had Seth Godin, Ken Blanchard, John Kotter, Stephen Covey ROM, Ciaran. So talk to us about some of the names and how you typically book those because those are like, you know, pretty big name, pretty big name authors, how do you typically reach out to them and get on their radar?

 

Mahan Tavakoli  03:39

Yeah, so part of part of the reaching out to the authors is the momentum has built will over time. So at this point, the podcast is in the top 1% of podcasts globally. That’s why a lot of times the agents for these authors who want to promote their books, know that podcasting is a great way of reaching a broader audience. So they reach out, they said, their books, and I read their books and get a chance to interview them. Initially, it was a combination of things. A lot of the people, the CEOs in the region, David Rubenstein, Gene case, billionaire, philanthropists, and other CEOs are people that I had gotten to know. I knew them. They didn’t necessarily know me, but I knew them well enough that I could ask them and they agreed to be on. And then with those names on, it gives additional credibility as the podcast started gaining more audience. And I reached out to other authors. And as the podcast audience grew, as I got more people on, it becomes easier to get people. There have been very few over a period of time that have said no, but it’s The same thing that you talk to some of your guests about with respect to sales. If I don’t ask them, I won’t know whether they’re going to do it or not. So there have been authors that I’ve asked, and they haven’t responded, it’s okay. They’re really busy. And there are some that I have asked that have politely declined, and vast majority have been gracious in sharing their thoughts and perspectives. And what I try to do is before having an author, I am sure I have read not only their most recent book, but their past work. So when I’m asking them to be on the podcast, I don’t want them to be on the podcast. So I asked him to tell me about your book. And the initial call, the pitch email I send them is not, Hey, Rob Ciaran, or Ken Blanchard, I’m a big fan, can you be on the podcast, I refer specifically to some of what I have learned from them. And what I look for, for the conversation. That’s the most sincere compliment any of these authors can get when they know someone is a fan of their work, and wants to talk to them as well.

 

Will Bachman  06:16

Talk to me about some of the learnings that you’ve had from the CEO side. So some for some of the CEOs that you’ve interviewed, you’ve been in the leadership field for a while, you’ve probably already had a lot of little leadership learnings. But what are the some of the things that you’ve learned from these live interactions you’ve had?

 

Mahan Tavakoli  06:37

I will tell you the positives, and I’ll tell you the opportunities for improvement as well will, the positives are that there are many people doing incredible things whose stories we don’t typically hear. They’re some of the same outlier entrepreneurs whose stories we end up repeatedly hearing. And I think they serve as bad models for most organizations and most leaders, whether it’s the geniuses like Steve Jobs, or Elon Musk, who is making a mess out of Twitter. But still, we have to give him his due for what he has done. Those don’t serve as great examples for most of us, most leaders, most CEOs in organizations. So one of the things I’ve learned is that there are repeated patterns and behaviors. So some of the repeated patterns and behaviors I’ve seen is that the CEOs have a tremendous sense of humility to them. It’s very genuine. As I said, many of these people I know, I’m not just having a conversation with them on the podcast. And that’s combined with tremendous confidence as well. So it’s unique, but that humility makes them constantly want to surround themselves with people that they can learn from, as well as they nurture a growth mindset. So they are constantly looking to learn. So I found those to be pretty interesting. I mentioned David Rubenstein. It is incredible. That man is a billionaire trying as fast as he can’t give all of his money away to all kinds of different things, including the patriotic philanthropy that he does. He still reads over 100 books a year. And I know he does, because he also interviews people for the Economic Club of Washington, he knows their books better than sometimes the authors do. When he interviews, CEOs, he knows their annual reports better than they do. So the CEOs that I interview, have tremendous growth mindset, that sometimes I run into people that say I don’t have the time to listen to read, so on and so forth. The CEOs seem to defy that. So I’ve learned that from them. And then on the opportunity for improvement side, it’s interesting, because the podcast has a very fat long tail. And based on that, I can tell which stories of CEOs resonate best with audience, because those are the ones that people end up sharing with others. Those are the people who can tell the best stories. And it’s incredible. What a big opportunity many of the CEOs have in learning to tell the story, their own story, the story of their organization, the story of where they are looking to guide the organization. So that’s the biggest opportunity for improvement that I’ve learned from them, which is why some of the authors that I’ve interviewed on the Thursday series have focused primarily on storytelling, so I can use those episodes and send them to some of the CEOs and say, listen to this, it might help with A storytelling that you have to do, both inside your organization and to external stakeholders as well,

 

Will Bachman  10:05

what makes a really great story from a CEO? What are some of the patterns that you’ve seen where a story will really resonate and you know, have more shares and more and more lessons.

 

Mahan Tavakoli  10:21

So I’m a big advocate for a couple of things will number one, focusing people on one moment in time. So, a lot of times we speak in generalities, thinking about one moment in time, I was standing in front of my team, I was interacting with them. And one of the people started disagreeing with me, and then telling a story based on that. So focusing on one moment in time, rather than generalities. I’m also a big advocate for Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. Hero with 1000 faces was the book, it’s very hard to read. There are a couple of people that have written great books on it, that leaders can learn from, but in essence, communicating stories, where the leader, or the consultant and the coach is the guide, not the hero of the story. So being able to communicate the story in a way that conveys that and elevates the people that they’re communicating to. So those are a couple of things that I think are important for people that want to learn more about storytelling. Donald Miller, building a story brand does a great job breaking down the hero’s journey in an applicable way for brands, I think that’s also relevant for leaders. Park Howell has a great podcast of his own talks about the abt framework, and therefore, and the power of that in storytelling. And Paul Smith, also, he has a couple of best selling books lead with a story and the 10 stories, great leaders tell, which can help leaders think through the stories that they can tell, practice it in most instances, it’s not as if we need to just off the cuff be telling stories, we can rely on some of the same ones. So those are great references if people want to look up, and I’ve interviewed the authors on my podcast as well, more than welcome to listen to that.

 

Will Bachman  12:38

And of course, we’ll include a link to your show here in the in the show notes. Tell us some tips of it’s one thing to create great content, right. But really, you know, do what you’ve done and create a podcast in the top 1%. There may be some additional tips you have beyond just having a great show a great product. How have you gotten the word out to help raise awareness of your show, I see you posting on LinkedIn, other tips that you have, you know, micro content, posting in other places, getting your hope getting your guests to send out notes, give us some tips that have worked for you.

 

Mahan Tavakoli  13:18

Yeah, there are lots of different strategies. Many people talk about having guests promote, so on and so forth. The reality is the biggest guests come to the platform to take advantage of the platform. They are not there to promote the podcast. So I don’t necessarily expect Ken Blanchard or Stephen Covey, or David Rubenstein, for that matter to be promoting their conversation on partnering leadership. The reason they’re coming to on partnering leadership is to reach this audience. So I think some of that, that people talk about, get your guests promoting it. Sure, if the guest is not very well known, they might want to use the platform to promote, but it typically, you need to focus on the promotions yourself. And I think we live in a very noisy world. And there is a professor out of Georgetown, my business school that I love, Cal Newport. He talks about do great work that’s impossible or hard to ignore. I don’t think that’s really possible anymore. Therefore, you have to have a strategy for it. And in my mind, the strategy was a few for one, yes, great, create great content that people want to share with their networks when possible. Now the CEOs in many instances end up sharing the content more than some of the authors do. Secondarily, every piece of content that’s created, like an episode on the podcast, I don’t assume assume the anyone is going, or a lot of people outside of the subscribers to the podcast, are going to listen to the entire conversation. So I have a team that takes out video clips, makes images, with quotes that are then promoted over a period of time. At times, I’ve gotten comments about an episode that people had seen on social media, six or seven months later, they listened to it. And these are timeless conversations to certain extent, I’m not doing a podcast on news the same way you are not. So our conversation hopefully will be as relevant a year from now as it is today. Therefore, every episode, my focus is for us to create lots of different contents, to be able to convey the message in different ways. And different pieces of content that resonate with different audiences. Some people end up liking, short video clips, some like images, in many instances, some like little audio clips. So you can see which ones get the most traction with different people. But with every one of the episodes and episodes, my episodes are typically about an hour long, we at least have 15 to 20 different pieces that are produced from that episode to promote it over a six month time period.

 

Will Bachman  16:32

Wow, over six months. That’s very cool. And what social what social networks? Do you focus on primarily LinkedIn? Or do you also try Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, others?

 

Mahan Tavakoli  16:46

Yeah, so my personal focus, and the team’s focus is on LinkedIn, in big part, because that’s where our audience is, we do have, we do share the content, also on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, but we don’t necessarily have strategies for any of those. So if you want to have content, for example, that resonates on any one of those platforms, you have to rethink your approach to content. And we don’t do that. At this point, my focus is, let’s make sure we get as much traction on LinkedIn. So let me give you another example. For example, because I do my interviews through zoom, and we have video, we also put the video up on YouTube, I don’t expect many people to actually go and watch the video, actually, less than 1%, or half a percent of the audience watches the videos, however, we have the content, we might as well put it there. If we ever wanted to have a YouTube strategy, then we would need to totally rethink the content development. At some point we might get there. But at this point, my content development for partnering leadership is focused on LinkedIn, then it ends up being put in other places, just since we have the content without a specific strategy for those other platforms.

 

Will Bachman  18:17

And what sort of benefits have you seen other than, you know, building great relationships and learning cool stuff? Have you seen any, you know, inbound leads or, you know, new clients discovering you from your from your show?

 

Mahan Tavakoli  18:34

So here is an interesting story, something I ran into a few months ago will, in that I got a great clients. And if you ask me, Did she come to you? And did the organization come to you from your website? I would say yes. Did they come to you from your podcasts? I would say yes. Did they come to you from personal relationships and networking? I would say yes, so on and so forth. So here’s a woman, she’s the chief operating officer of a company. I have known her for years. And we run into each other and business networking functions have a positive association, and relationship with each other. They had an issue in their organization, which is core to part of what I work on with clients, which is collaboration of the senior team in executing strategy. And she had been, she had also been listening to my podcasts. She had passed along some of the episodes. This is without conversation with me, to her CEO and a couple of other people. And then she had gone on my website, and she had looked specifically at the types of things I do. So when she set up the meeting for me to meet with their seniors leadership team and their CEO, they all knew me. They all knew what I advocated for what the kind of leadership I value is like, and they saw credibility in me. So the podcast, in my view, helps primarily in that respect, in that it continues to build my platform with people that have other connections, there have been outreaches of people that want to work with me primarily, though, more on the individual SEO basis, purely from the podcasts that I worked with, through zoom. But that is less of where my focus is. My focus is primarily on nurturing these relationships and in the business community that I interact active in the Greater Washington DC region, to be seen as the go to person on leadership, which is why a lot of referrals come my way. In some instances with people I don’t work with, but they are CEOs that I have interviewed or CEOs that know me and listen to the episodes. And when someone is asking them for someone else to recommend, they say you need to talk to Mahan,

 

Will Bachman  21:24

let’s use that as a transition to talk about your, your work or your your your firm. Tell us a bit about your practice.

 

Mahan Tavakoli  21:33

So I break it down to a bunch of different things that focus primarily on leadership. Most of my work starts out as leadership coaching of CEOs, and then transitions to leadership, consulting and coaching with the senior team. So for example, one of the clients that I’m working with right now, really smart guy, very driven, CEOs been CEO for about five and a half years, super stressed beyond belief, and was frustrated with the results that the team was getting. I first initially, he had reached out and I connected with him through recommendation of another client that I’m working with. And in talking it through, I realized that his ability to hold the senior team accountable, and the chance for them to work collaborative. Ly together isn’t there. They spend time on strategy. They don’t have effective measures and follow through processes, they in many instances didn’t work well together. So then it evolved into more of a consulting coaching role, where I did assessments with the team that involved in individual and group conversations, some conversations with a broader audience in the organization. So I’m working with that senior leadership team, in helping them both refine their strategy, and work on executing their strategy. So it’s a combination of consulting, and coaching. A couple of other types of clients. I serve somewhat as a sparring partner or leadership advisor, which is one of the fun parts of the podcast episodes and with these authors, I constantly have to read and keep myself up to date with leadership, whether it is right now I have a tremendous fascination and added for six months with a eyes influence on business models and organizational strategy. So I work with the CEO in coaching the CEO, on their strategic thinking and working with their team. And then along with that, there have been opportunities, I call it a leadership fixer, where there is a CEO, where the board engaged me to work with the CEO. Those are tougher assignments, because usually, it ends up being a last option, last resort when they engage me. And then all of these also lend themselves to speaking opportunities, where I get a chance to talk about leadership, organizational leadership, personal leadership within the organization, and then specifically collaboration and organization.

 

Will Bachman  24:52

Tell us a bit about your past life at Dale Carnegie training. You’re the chief strategy officer and before we started You mentioned to me that you’re traveling quite a bit. Tell us about what you learned there what you did there, and how does that play into your coaching practice.

 

Mahan Tavakoli  25:11

So I started out in Dale Carnegie as a cleaner salesperson than a Corporate Solutions person, which in essence put together in house company programs for companies, training on management, leadership communication skills, then ran the Washington DC office, here in Greater Washington. And then post 2001, our board of directors cashflow for a lot of organizations stop. So our board of directors decided we needed to focus more effort on expanding internationally and go on an aggressive international expansion. Since I had training sales and running an operation background, I was a great fit for helping start what in essence, were franchises internationally, expanding helping handhold those franchisees to become successful. So did that along with serving some international clients, but I was living life on the road, one foot in DC, one foot in all kinds of exotic places all around the world, I did have the opportunity because of my fascination with strategy and the CEO. Both saw that and saw my contributions, I had the opportunity to be the chief strategy officer, which meant leading the organization through strategic thinking of how we needed to constantly reinvent ourselves. That’s a business that has had to reinvent. But part of what I tell people will on leadership is leadership is example. And whether it’s for teams and organizations, the values that they put up on a wall are absolutely meaningless. You should be able to bring someone from the outside. And when they observe how that team behaves, how people interact with each other, should know what their values are. So if you had asked me, Mahan, what are your priorities, and what are your values, I would have said, of course, my family comes first. But I was living on the road. And as my girls were noticing me being gone, I realized, if someone had looked at my life will, they would have said, Sure, he might like his family. But he’s spending more time in India and Brazil and Dubai and Beijing than he is back at home. So that’s why I decided that enough time on the road. Stick back to DC. Because I was running the strategy of the organization, I had a non compete that kept me away from consulting, coaching training work. That’s when I started a youth serving organization here in the greater Washington DC region serving underserved youth first generation college fee, lunch giving, giving them access to internship opportunities in organizations, interns internship in technology, so then we supported them with their college access college applications, and getting them to aspire. A different view of the future of the world. Part of what I used to say is, a lot of us when we talk about take your kids to work day, it’s the wrong people taking the wrong kids to work, right? It’s the professionals taking their kids to the fancy office buildings, or when it’s in person fancy office buildings, as opposed to the kids that have never been inside those office buildings and seen those opportunities. So it gives me a chance to contribute that way. And then six or seven years ago, get back into the consulting, coaching and training world.

 

Will Bachman  29:06

Tell me about how your decisions around focusing your practice on the regional Washington DC area in terms of the CEOs that you interview are, are relatively local, it sounds like that’s the focus of your of your coaching and consulting, which is that geographic focus is not something that that every person does.

 

Mahan Tavakoli  29:30

Yeah, and part of the challenge initially was the fact that I had a lot of international relationships. And I was transitioning back to DC, even though I had relationships in the CNS maintained it. I think it’s a matter of, in my mind priorities at that point. Now, post pandemic, a lot of clients have become more comfortable interacting over zoom. But part of the decision will was a personal Priority, I said, I don’t want to step on an airplane. And by the way, I’m a great flier, I love flying, I enjoy flying. But I want to do it just for vacation with my family, I don’t want to pack another bag. And my, my bags were always packed, I don’t want to pack another bag to go on a consulting assignment, I didn’t want to, I loved the economy, I didn’t want to change the organization to now be traveling the world on my own. So that was one element of it. intentional focus on the region. And then secondarily, as I mentioned, I’ve, for decades been involved, very actively involved in the community. So I served on a board of directors of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and was on the executive committee. That’s the Regional Chamber of Commerce for the largest organizations in the region. I’ve been very active in leadership, Greater Washington, which pulls together top business, nonprofit and government leaders together to go through a signature program and then stay involved with each other to address regional issues. I was on the board, I actually served a couple of years as board chair of that organization. So I also had a lot of relationships that helped with my regional focus, it was a combination of, that’s where I wanted to spend my time. And that’s where the opportunity was, then the final thought is, we all need to have a differentiator. I love Christopher Lochhead. He has a great podcast, he has a couple of great books, pretty spicy language. With Lochhead, if I ever get him on my podcast, I would have to blank out sort of, or be proud half of the episode or put explicit explicit explicit on it. But the guy is brilliant. And part of the point that he makes is focus on different, not better. And a lot of times, whether it’s in leadership, development and consulting, people focus on better, you know, I am better than that person in the coaching that I do, I’m better on the leadership development that I do. He says focus on different. And one of the cross differences that I want to own is a regional understanding regional relationships and regional connections. So when I’m working with these senior teams and CEOs in the region, I am also adding value to them, introducing them to other CEOs connecting them with other resources, in part because I’m deep in the region. So it makes me different than if they talk to someone that doesn’t know the region doesn’t have as many deep relationships in the region, which can get almost any of the political leaders or any other business leaders to return their phone calls. So I add a different level of value than a typical coach or business consultant would to an organization.

 

Will Bachman  33:05

Yeah, that’s different. A lot of people might have an industry focus or functional focus. But lack that’s, that’s rare. I can’t think of other people I know who would have that very deep regional set of relationships. And that’s, that’s a differentiating, tell us about maybe two or three tips that you would want to share from your long experience at Dell Carnegie, there’s probably a lot of things that Dale Carnegie teaches that maybe a lot of listeners, this show would probably maybe already know or already do. But there’s probably some that you think, okay, these are ones that I want to share, because they’re maybe less commonly practiced. So what are what are some of the secrets from Dale Carnegie that you think more of us should know?

 

Mahan Tavakoli  33:53

I think one of the important things for anyone who’s read Dale Carnegie’s books will, is that sometimes people read the title, How to Win Friends and Influence People. And they’re like, ooh, and it was written almost 100 years, back 90 years ago. But one of the things that Dale Carnegie emphasizes a lot is the sincerity and genuineness in the relationships. And I think one of the most important things that I valued in my experience there and I learned is the fact that when we are with a mindset of adding real value to other people, developing genuine relationships, showing sincere interest in them, then that will be the basis of more positive things. So a lot of times, as I mentioned to you, part of my work is with the senior leadership teams. It’s incredible at how shallow many of the relationships are. So they know lot about each other, they don’t necessarily deep down inside, like and respect each other. So part of sometimes what I have to do is to first get them to overcome those barriers. So the second wheel says something, I don’t go into the mode of Aha, I know why will is saying that. Right. So relationships are a big driver, whether it is in our personal lives, or in our organizational lives. And they build the basis of the kind of trust that is needed. So we talked a lot about trust in Carnegie and I continue working quite a bit on this. And I think about an easy analogy to think through is that if someone on the street comes up to you and complements you, you would probably immediately think what does this person want from even they see something really nice. If someone you know, complements you, you might wonder. But if someone you know, deeply loves and cares about your compliments, you, you take it very differently. Same thing for if they share an opportunity for improvement, same thing if they share their perspective that ends up being drastically different from yours. And I give an example of a former colleague of mine, we politically, vehemently disagree, but we adore each other. Therefore, we can have conversations that again, we still disagree, we end up voting very different ways. However, we become better as a result of those conversations. So I think relationships are core, because relationships contribute to trust. And that’s one of the most important things that I learned from my experience in Carnegie, one of the thing is that brand names matter. So a lot of times as I know you were with McKinsey, part of what people don’t realize is there’s tremendous value and brand names. And weather I was in Bangalore in in Bangalore, India, in the airport, this woman hugged me, when she found out I was with Carnegie because her father had given her a copy of the book, or I was in Shanghai, right outside of Shanghai doing a talk. People had me copy. I mean, had me sign copies of knockoff versions of the Carnegie’s books. But it meant so much to them. Or in Brazil. You know, people have talked about how there was a war with Paraguay and the two generals came together because they both love Dale Carnegie. So brand names, matter, add credibility, which is part of to circle back to the partnering leadership concept is that, to a certain extent, I want to build the brand name. It conveys a concept by itself. I believe in partnering leadership, no disrespect to servant leadership. I think I’ve had conversations with Ken Blanchard and others and I love how they present servant leadership. But I don’t think most people expect their manager or their CEO or whoever it is, not to coach them, not to push them, not to guide them and to be their servant. They want a partnership, they want mutually beneficial relationships based on a positive respect. So that’s where I continued focusing on building this brand. So brands matter. Carnegie 100 years after the company started is riding on that value brand, which is why partly in conveying partnering leadership, and the podcast and all the content that you see, I want to build a brand specific on leadership.

 

Will Bachman  39:07

So smart, so smart behind for listeners that want to find out more follow up, share, share some links with us, where should people go?

 

Mahan Tavakoli  39:20

Easiest way is partnering. leadership.com has a link to my name as well. Mahan tavakoli.com It’s these days people can google and you you find out more about people than you want to know well, so anyone wants to reach me? They can. I am on LinkedIn, and I’m more than happy to be a resource for others. As you have been for so many will. I started the conversation with the joy I haven’t having this conversation with you. Because you have been a voice in my ear for years. I have learned from you. You have given me Have yourself, you have taught me through your humility and through your curiosity, think about this conversation we just had. People can listen back to it or do a little time stamp on one of these AI tools. You probably spoke for two minutes on I have spoken for 58. Because with genuine curiosity, use ask questions. Tell me more about this. Some more of that. So I have learned from you, you have contributed to me. And I’m more than happy to contribute and help others. There are no easy routes. There are so many I know you get this and I’m sure every listener gets messages on LinkedIn and elsewhere with all these people that say, we can get you clients right and left the million dollar clients in a month. No, it takes hard work. It takes listening to will Bachmann’s podcast, it takes learning from him. A takes learning from the great content you’ve produced on Umbrex, the PowerPoint, visuals, everything else, and slowly building up. So I’m happy to do that for others, and give to others. What will Bachman Do you have given too many people including me?

 

Will Bachman  41:26

Thank you for those very, very kind words. That’s, that’s so thoughtful of you to say and I’m glad that some of those were helpful though some of those episodes. Man has been fantastic. I’ve been a great fan of yours. And this was a real thrill for me to speak with you. So thank you so much for being on the show today.

 

Mahan Tavakoli  41:43

Really appreciate you. Well, thank you for having me.

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