The Power of Networking
Tell me a little bit about Clarity Management.
Clarity management is a full-service consulting company focusing on improving profitability or bringing you back to good financial health.
If a bank has a customer that's going to go out of business and they don't want to lose their money and loans, they'll call me to come in there and try to fix it. I come in and help owners make more money and improve profitability. I'll put systems and procedures in place for fast-growing companies, so they have a structure to grow on.
I also remember you said some CFO services are involved.
Yeah. I'll do a fractional CFO, fractional, COO. I've been a part-time CEO. I'll fill a leadership position, and it doesn't even have to have a title. I often act as a mentor for the owner so they could gain control of their own business.
What's the difference between like a mentor and a coach?
I'll look at it as looking at a mafia family. That concierge is the number three ranking person in the mafia family. They are the only ones who could tell the Don that he's wrong. He runs the risk if he screws up, he's shot. So, a mentor is in the shoes of an owner, suffers the consequences, gets the games of the opportunity, and has done almost everything that he's asked the owner to do.
For example, if an owner is going to go broke, I could tell him what to do because I lived. A coach might've never gone broke. How could he tell the owner what to do? He's never sat in those shoes.
Is it hard for the average entrepreneur business owner to hand over the reins to you in that situation?
Absolutely. That's why everyone has a core market. My market is a business owner who will let me tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. If I find that business owner, we have a long-term relationship. Sometimes they'll even fire me. However, they're still friends, and I still talk to him. If you're fired as a coach, a mentor, and they still want to be your friend and talk to you, it's more in the mentor quadrant than because part of mentoring is wearing people's shoes and being in their environment, being their friend.
Another critical difference. I usually have an email address at the companies I work with. I would bet most coaches do not get an email address of the company they work with. I'm ingrained in their culture. I'm going to change their culture.
I was on your LinkedIn profile, and I wanted to read what Pat Miller said because I was blown away when I think about this type of testimonial.
Pat Miller, the idea coach, says, "Lori has x-ray vision in a 15-minute conversation. He succinctly identified the core problem with my business and challenged me to fix it. It wasn't one of those problems that you asked for help on. It was one of those problems you cover-up, and nobody notices Lori brought it to the surface, pinned me down, and gave me the tools to fix it. I've never had an experience like working with Laurie. And I would recommend him when you need a truth-teller to cut through the clutter in your head."
What core problems in business are you focusing mostly on the financial side, Lori?
No, actually, even though I'm a CPA, I got a master's degree in accounting. I don't focus on that side. But it's a rear-view mirror process, accounting. I'm a windshield guy. I'm creating realities that don't exist. But I do use that financial structure as report cards.
So, I want to go back to something Pat Miller said because I didn't realize I had this. It is an X-Ray, and now I realize I'm going to give another difference between a mentor and a coach. Mentors have x-ray vision, and in 15 minutes, they could cut through all the BS. That's not the value of a mentor, though. The value is then once I cut through it, what do we have to build to have a foundation to have success after we get to the root problems? That's the value the 15 minutes cuts through to the problem, but the real work is taking what the problem is, building it in a way you're taking that problem, and turning it into an opportunity.
When you question people and ask the same question, two different ways at different times in a conversation, and the answers are the same, that's an indicator that something isn't right. The person doesn't have a hundred percent alignment internally, and that's where a mentor picks that up instantaneously and starts questioning. And I've been trained in the power of questions. And when you do that, have that cascading waterfall of hard questions, your core answer pretty quickly.
As a coach, if I'm sitting with somebody and I see something, and they've given me the approval to help them come alongside them, it's crazy how defensive people get right off the bat. So how do you work with that?
Because I'm a mentor and I wear their shoes. I was defensive to the max for 50 years of my life. All this power from my mentors came in and started changing me. So, I would go to that person, point-blank, and said, "I've been in your shoes. I know why you're being defensive. Let's just step back a second to see what the real issue you're in. Let me help you because I was defensive for 50 years and screwed up." People can never change our core personality, 100%. All I ask people is to modify at 5% to 10%.
So, if I was sitting with you and my business was struggling or trying to uncover that, are there some universal questions that you start with, or are they solely specific to each individual?
The first question we're going to ask you is, "do you want to fix this business, or do you want to let it fail? Move on with your life?"
If you want to save the business, okay, Let's figure out, then what are the core issues here? Or it could be that we have no cash. We can't worry about core issues. We have to worry about making payroll for the next month and done. We can work on core issues. So, it is really peeling back the onion, getting to that core. I'm working with people now where the core might be that the owner is the problem. And so, we might have to do a bottom-up fix versus a top-down fix.
So those questions bring that out plus something else. It's not only the questions; I love failure happening in front of my eyes so I can see where the weak spots are in an organization. It's like stress testing for organizations. I'll tell an owner to do something and watch how he does it. Then I'll get three calls from employees and saying, that was terrible. And then I say, now I know that we can't do it that way, here's the system. We're going to build to compensate for that.
When you identify that, are most people pretty open to moving forward and trying to fix things, or do you get stuck in that blame game?
Here's the thing you've got to add a time element. And I learned this the hard way. There are times when that message will be received, and then there's times that won't be received. You have to learn that if it's going to be received, you have to say immediately, I will help you fix it. So, you have this problem, but I already thought about it and here is the solution. When you identify a problem for somebody, the first thing they think is, "Holy shit. Now I got to fix it. How am I going to do that?" Then you say, here are two or three answers. We could start work on it tomorrow. They'll listen to you more if you have an answer.
How do you build trust with your prospects that eventually turn into clients?
It goes back to the mentor. I've lived in their shoes. I tell them the stories that I've had to overcome. I've been exceedingly vulnerable in my business consulting class. You're not going to find one of my competitors who put their vulnerabilities out there like I do. And so, I am vulnerable, but being vulnerable allows me to grow. And I've always said the cost of goods for success is pain and failure. And when I opened myself up to pain, good things started happening. So, I would give that owner example another example of how sometimes you have to fix things from the bottom up. You create a system that it's necessary for the owner to follow it.
Do you find that that's hard for the average entrepreneur that you're working with to start to delegate?
I'll give you an example for me. I never wanted to scale my company because I didn't want it. My personality is not good for delegation. So, I hesitated on that, but now I'm partnering with people, partnering on podcasts, partnering with potential other businesses. I realize you reach a point where you can't do it all. And so, I can make good money being a single person, but I can't get scalability. To get scalability requires others, either partners or employees. So, I'm taking the personal risk. I'm living it. So, when I meet that owner that says, "they just can't do it as good as me." I would say that's right. But the scalability overcomes the negative part of not doing it as good as you. And that's what I'm doing things now. I have multiple podcasts running, multiple events. I'm not running them all myself. So yes, would I like to do it my way? Yes. But I won't be able to get there. I have to let other people be involved.
It was very difficult, but here's the thing: It was finding the right partners. It wasn't a search form. They were in my network the whole time. I just didn't realize that I could use their power, and they could use mine. It's a two-way street.
How did you create your brand?
When you help people many times, they'll help you back. I changed Pat Miller's business mindset, and 15 minutes, he changed mine in 15 minutes. He gave me Lunch with Lorry. He said I'm giving you this under one condition. You have to use it to build a brand.
What is Lunch with Lorry? How did that get started?
Launch of Lori is about you. It's about the gift I learned. I wrote a course about networking, "networking from the trenches." And I realized everyone's view of networking is always, what do I get out of it? I realized it's the opposite. Networking is how much can you give your network? And so, Lunch with Lorry is the give. I take people out to lunch, ask them questions about their life, get their life story. And then I publish it on LinkedIn and say, this person is now part of the Clarity Management network because I know them as a person. I trust him as a person, but not because of their business. I don't ask any business questions in that meeting because 95% of the people come to Lunch with Lorry want to tell me about their business. I won't let them tell me about their business.
So now I launched virtual Lunch with Lorry events where you have to participate. So, the evolution of an idea is a critical part. You need mentors along the way to nurture, kick you, and make you unleash the potential in you. So, I had almost 150 physical Lunch with Lorry's, but then COVID came. I started virtual ones very slow. Then I said, you know, this is crazy. I'm just going to take it full-blown. Now I'm hosting podcasts, virtual Lunch with Lorry events. And the funny thing is the events sell out. I sold two events out in 48 hours, and now I got to do a third. I'm going, Oh my God, I'm onto something. And people have to do homework to even come into the event.
So how do you hold them accountable in those types of virtual situations?
You can't even come into it unless the first requirement is to come into the room. You have to connect with every other participant who's coming into the room.
That's a connect on LinkedIn. Second, I'll force participation. I have, I believe it was eight questions they had to answer as part of registration. Now your third is going to be that after the event is over, I'm going to do a post. You've got to share about the event. So now you've got three participants. And again, I've been in probably around 70 zoom meetings the last few months. None of them have any of the three as a requirement.
So how has networking changed for you in the last couple of years?
Well, let's go back. Why I would ask you, why do people network? Hoping to grow themselves and to grow their business and to help other people?
So, first, I figured out my definition of networking. Mine was that I'm going to give to my network and not ask for anything. And the KPI of success in my networking is the number of one on one meetings. My network gets me. So, I looked at networking as a funnel for one on one meetings. And the one on one meeting, as I said, my, my whole marketing program is we're not going to talk business at the first meeting. I want to learn from you. So, I looked at it as a networking concept; how do I build long term relationships? Not just from my business. People look at it just for your business. I get people to work on my house and property from my network. So now that's not for me to sell, it's to get good suppliers.
Then I work on my networking to just help people. So, I help my son and his friends from UWM because they don't teach networking in college. Out of that, I have gospel people out there, spreading my word. So, I look at networking differently than most people. Networking is to help my whole life, not just my business.
What tips can you give the listeners that they could implement right away at their next networking event?
Don't talk about business period as a number one rule. Tell people what you do, what you like, your dreams, and your hobbies. Find that common ground. If you find common ground, it's a lot easier to talk to people.
So how do I find common ground with somebody?
Well, first, if I wasn't as busy as I am right now, you would take my networking training course. But I'm going to give you one of the secrets is I have like ten questions that you could use to ask them. So, I would ask, "So when you're not as is this event, what do you do for fun?" Now I'm going to learn about their hobbies. "Tell me about your family?" I'm going to find common ground, find generic questions to start a conversation. And you notice, I didn't ask, "what do you do in your business?" If you don't talk about business, people lower their guard a little bit.
Certain personality types struggle with crossing that personal and professional line. So, there are people that love to talk about their emotions and talk about their feelings. They love to talk about their family. They'll talk about anything that you want.
Have you ever run into somebody that is hesitant to answer that question when you're not here at this event, what do you do for fun?
Absolutely. But here's the key: If there's 40 people in the room, I only want to find the ten will answer my questions. Here's the analogy; Think about the cereal or cookie aisle at a grocery store. There are a hundred different ones. They each have a different audience. So, find your audience and ignore all the rest. When you go down to the cookie aisle, you don't put a hundred cookie bags in your cart. You put the one that you like. If that person doesn't want to talk to you, stop right there and move on to the person who will because you only have an hour. Find the ten people who will talk to you, ignore the other 30 ones.
What do you do on LinkedIn to further your brand?
I promote everyone I meet, and that could include organization events. If I go on a zoom call, I do a postdoc. I mention all the people that came. I put a blurb in there for clarity or my mentoring lunch with Lorry, and I put a ton of hashtags in there. So, it was always promoting the people that I have and that I come in contact with. So, the funny little thing on that is I have become the unofficial PR arm for many organizations because I have built my own personal machine to pound out posts very quickly with templates. I'm first to market. So, if you're going to go on LinkedIn, have content. And out of doing that, you will create a brand that people will come to.
Now that I've done that and this, it does work, but I will tell you, Dave, 95% of the people are too lazy to do it. And that's why I'll give away the secret. Now I have a constant stream of people coming to me. They want one on one. The only benefit of having a brand is people come to you. So, if you're going to go on LinkedIn, come up with your brand, your differentiator, be consistent, write original content, and always think that people you meet and then do that for three years. Finally, people will come to you.
So, my last question is what's one thing that most people don't know about you that you feel comfortable sharing.
One of my hobbies is a real, strange hobby. I love metal detecting for golden nuggets and in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
I like the Mojave Desert because there's an old gold mine there. And the funny part, I never find them, but I always want to go. The hunt is more powerful than actually getting the reward.
Get In Touch With Lorry:
claritymgt.com/ (Company Website)