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In this episode, we have a great chat with Marty Vids, an entrepreneur, mentor and podcast host, about building rapport, empowering customers and owning your job.
Marty has had quite the eclectic career and life, having started out in his parent’s milk bar as a kid, and then moving into the comedy scene as an MC. He has a few great stories from that past life, that’s for sure!
A career change beckoned and he landed up at Westpac as a mortgage broker, before leaving that to co-found Mortgage First, which he sold in his mid-30s. But the itch to build another business didn’t go away, and he started Mortgage 500, a company he eventually sold in 2016.
These days, Marty is also a mentor, life coach, MC, and hosts his own podcast, The Marty Vids Show.
You can connect with Marty Vids on LinkedIn.
In this episode, we talk about
- How his first careers in retail and comedy helped him learn how to build rapport with people;
- The lessons he learnt as he navigated from being a drifting employee to having an ownership mentality to leading a business;
- How to ask the right way for a pay rise; and
- How empowering your customers will win the game, in the long run, every time.
On his Formative Years…
- My early days really were a place of work. I would go in with my dad even on a Sunday and help him collect the newspapers and I'd be serving clients probably from the age of around six or seven. From a very young age, I was developing social skills, emotional intelligence skills, but also financial skills.
On what comedy taught him about building rapport…
- One of the projects I did was run a comedy night because I always loved stand-up comedy. I brought that to my country town and I brought in the audience; I'd go to all the shops and say I was running it, I went on local radio. I really went into that promotion phase but I was doing too much, I didn't delegate. I was MC-ing the night, I arranged the comedians, got all the audience in, and I had my mates helping me.
- This guy comes on a bucks night and I was last on stage as the main act and he was just … Their party was giving each comedian hell and I'm thinking, “What am I gonna do? I can't get on this guy's bad side because they're just gonna come up on stage and actually kill me.” I had to think on my feet, but I got him on stage, we skulled a beer together and I said, “Congratulations mate, your life is officially over as of this moment,” and I got them onside and they were the best audience after that. It didn't matter what I said.
- I think that's the sort of thing you go, “How do I build rapport in a situation that's very challenging?” You think about that in business negotiation, I mean that's an extreme story there, but it's like how do you build rapport when something's not going well and be able to shift direction?
- There's a big difference between agreement and unconscious rapport. How you can tell – and why this is important – is you can pick the body language. If they're in a similar body stance to you, like let's say you have your arms crossed and they have their arms crossed, people might misinterpret that as just two people that are cold. But what you're looking for is to get physical rapport and that will show up in the body. If someone makes a move like let's say someone moves their right hand and puts it up to their chin, you don't do it simultaneously, but you give it about 15 seconds and then you manoeuvre into that same position while you're having the discussion. What you're looking for on an unconscious and physical level is whether they break that rapport.
- If someone is very auditory rather than visual, you can speak to them with your body posture to the side, not facing them, because that's too impactful for them when you're right in their face. Other people are very kinesthetic where they like to be in each other's face and are more sensitive. It's not a fake thing, it's good communication and really allowing them to converse with you in a way that's comfortable for them.
On effective leadership…
- I found that the managers that were more light-hearted and you could engage with, you could really learn from. So you'd have the dictatorial types that you're more fearful of, but they were never as engaging and never got as good a result as the people that were structured but also had this light-heartedness, and were able to mentor and engage you beyond the transaction they wanted you to get for them and the bank.
- They would think through a problem and then come to me with their thoughts around it, so I could then provide additions to it or steer them in a direction that was more beneficial.
On career drifting to having an ownership mentality…
- Andy Meikle, who's an ironman who competed against Trevor Hendy, came in and gave a speech at Westpac. I'm not sure if I was the only one listening, but he was saying about people finishing seventh in life and floating through the corporate system, and really looking at taking your role, taking responsibility for your role as a business owner and as an owner of that role. That shifted my whole perspective on just having a job, as opposed to going, “Well, how can I be a leader within my job?”
- I started to come in early. I started to realise the top performers would come in early, they'd go and see clients, and in the afternoon they would leave fairly early to go and see more clients. I started to really tap into the people that were doing well and started modelling what they were doing and I was fortunate I had three job promotions within a six month period and pretty much doubled my salary in that time from someone that was floating.
On how to make the leap from employee to business owner…
- We kept getting pulled towards the move. We had good jobs, we were earning good incomes, we were 29 years old, going places within the bank. But this just kept calling out to us.
- One of the things I'd say that we did that helped us a lot, was we gave ourselves six months of income in order to make sure that when we started the business, we weren't in financial distress from day one. This was really important. Some people say, “Look you gotta jump off the cliff.” And yes, that's right, you gotta jump off the cliff in your mind, but I think it's more savvy to have a parachute on the way down, because it's not going to end as badly.
On the lessons of his first business, Mortgage First…
- We saw an opportunity in the broking market where we could empower clients to really take control of their financial circumstances and save them money on their mortgages. When we were in the bank, we were always encouraged to really get the most profit in regards to the products we were selling.
- Philosophically, I struggled with that a little bit because I go, “Yes, it might have created great revenue, but here was a better product, given how we could serve the client.” And what I recognised by giving that better product was I would get more and more clients.
- Did I stuff up? Of course, but I was always honest and said I think I've done something wrong here, wasn't intentional, how can I rectify, because I was hungry to keep learning. It's really important to have that authenticity and be humble when you don't know something and ask the question.
- The rest of the market saw a broker as somewhere you go where you can't get money from the banks. We saw this as a relationship management role. We saw this as encouraging the clients to understand the system, keep it simple, empower them with choice.
- We came from an education-based marketing platform of giving up our time, because we could never compete with the banks on marketing. What we did was a momentum build. When we did the accountant’s loan, then guess what? He got so much benefit out of it, he would tell his clients. When we did the real estate agent's loan, they would tell anyone they dealt with.
- We really got ourselves out there, talking to people. We'd hand out three business cards a day. We said we never wanted to do that from a point of view of just handing out free business cards; we wanted to have conversations so people would ask us for our business card. That was always our theory. How can we provide value and connect with people so they asked us what we do. And that's how we started and we built momentum and that turned into something that we were even surprised it turned into!
On wellbeing as a business owner…
- What we didn't do is look after ourselves well enough. We were running so hard for so long and even in the bank, we were running really, really hard to get our careers going. We got really tired and we really should've delegated roles and done that more effectively.
On the pitfalls of selling a business…
- We thought we got offered the cheque of a lifetime. We had a team of about 14 people and we really developed a fantastic culture and we thought when that opportunity arrived to get that cheque, Craig and I looked at each other and went, “Well, we might never see this again in our lives.”
- For two country boys, this was a big moment and we decided to take it because we thought it would have a real impact in our lives. But you know what? At the end of the day, money is an interesting thing, because what I love was the people in the business. I loved the clients, I loved the culture, I loved the innovation. We got the money and I went, but it felt so numb afterwards because this was our baby.
- Because I wasn't feeling as well as I had been and I missed the business, I made some financial decisions and invested in things I would never have invested in because of my usual structures.
On taking these lessons into a new business…
- The second business was a lot better because I really knew who I was within that business and the circumstances around that was all different. But it came from a place of real joy, where I think the first business still was me needing to prove my value, which comes back to not being very good at school!
- Our clients were our best sales force. They loved what we did and they just kept driving opportunities to us because we were looking after them.
On how to get a pay rise the right way…
- I would never go to my manager and say, “I want a pay rise.” I would go to my manager and say, “Here's the ideas I have for my role. Here's how I'm going to generate more business. This is the value I'm going to add to the client base. This what I think I could bring to the team.”
- I always instigated this within our own businesses. When people came in and said, “I want a pay rise.” I was very quick to ask, “Why do you want a pay rise, because you're 70% of target at the moment!” “Oh, we want to start a family.” “Alright. Fantastic. Let's now work on a plan in order to enable you to achieve the results, so I can give you this pay rise.”
- I wanted to work with them to really instil this sense of confidence and leadership and a call to action in order to then really feel great about their pay rise. In doing that, I said, “Alright we'll increase your pay by $10,000 and work on this vision in the next six months and achieve it.”
Marty Vids’s final message of wisdom and hope…
- I think sometimes it's just important to listen. I think very much we want to jump in with what we know a lot of the times, but sometimes when someone says something to you when they're under challenge, just listen and when they're finished say, “Thank you,” and then you can work on a response and a solution to it. I would say as managers, that's something I've learnt over time; just being really appreciative of when people are being vulnerable.
Resources mentioned in the episode
- Book recommendation: Simplified: Leadership is Simple. You Lead People, by Dave Clare.
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