with greg layton

The Inner Chief is for leaders, professionals and small business owners who want to accelerate their career and growth. Our guest chiefs and gurus share powerful stories and strategies so you can have more purpose, influence and impact in your career.

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In this episode, we meet Joe DeMaria, founder of Teach To Scale on the art of learning, career excellence and value creators.

Joe DeMaria is the creator of “Dynamic Ascension Training” which is an 80/20 teaching system that focuses on breaking down even the most complicated skill sets into simple digestible training programs.

He is one of the most sought after course creation consultants on the planet — having worked to create dozens of Dynamic Ascension Training Programs for high-end entrepreneurs, coaches, and consultants.

His company Teach To Scale also creates corporate learning and development programs to minimize training costs, recruiting costs, and ramp-up time for new or transitioning employees.

If you are involved in COURSE CREATION or want to start your own side-hustle then check out Joe's offer for our subscribers here: https://www.teachtoscale.com/chief/

In this episode we talk about: 

  • How an illegal soda can business at the age of 9 ignited his early entrepreneurial spirit;
  • The art of learning and how he researched his theories which he put into practice;
  • How creating toy problems aligns with striving for career excellence; and
  • The importance of being a value creator. 

Connecting with Joe DeMaria

You can reach Joe via LinkedIn. Otherwise, if you have any questions for Joe, sign up at his website, Teach To Scale.

Our greatest thanks go to Alex Mandossian for connecting us to Joe.

Books and resources mentioned in the episode

Art of Learning – by Josh Waitzkin


“I had a lot of clients in Silicon Valley and if anybody knows anything about the Valley, an 80 hour plus workweek is expected. It's like a bragging right to work the most.

On how his business came to be

  • When I was getting started, the way guys like me learned was through courses, through books, through trainings, that bigger, better marketers had put out. So it was always a seed in my head that if I wanted to reach more people without selling or trading my time for dollars, I would need to do a programme. But the issue was there was no blueprint for that. I mean, I tried and I blew thousands and thousands of dollars trying to figure out how to make a programme that was workable, teachable, effective, engaging.
  • I'm listening to Sean Stevenson talk, and he gave this great concept about hitting these three different learning modalities. He said, “Every time someone's talking, they should have a visual component, a kinesthetic component and an auditory component.” I immediately ran inside and reorganised everything the way Sean said. 
  • So I started studying cognitive learning theories and the way that people learn things and build things in their minds, these kinds of building block constructs that we all have. And that's how I created the Dynamic Ascension Training theory. 
  • And it's been something that we've used to teach everything from internal learning and development programmes. So how do you make your sales team close better, perform better across the board. How can you clone your best people so that you're not paying tonnes of money every year to try to replace them when they leave or retrain people from different sides of the org. All the way down to teaching people how to do ju-jitsu. I mean, we've taught everything with this theory. So it's part of why I'm so proud of it.

On how toy problems enable career excellence

  • There's always the student level and the teacher level. From the student level, if you're trying to level up what you're doing, one of the biggest things that we always recommend people do is create toy problems. In our careers, we don't like making mistakes because our mistakes are usually pretty public. So we have a fear around trying new things. 
  • If you create what's called a toy problem, it's usually something that you do in your personal life that is intentionally challenging or intentionally difficult. That gives you a better relationship with learning new skills, failing, experimenting, being more comfortable with that process, and it usually changes that relationship significantly.
  • Remember that there are connections between all of the skills that you learn in your life. And I've seen that happen over and over and over again. I work with some of the best entrepreneurs on the planet and those guys do the same thing. And they notice the biggest amount of growth in their skill learning, in their personal development learning, all comes from taking on new things that are out of their comfort zone.

On being a value creator

  • Joe Polish says things like, “Little hinges swing big doors.” It's just little ideas, if you can improve, 3%, 5%, in five or six different areas, you can swing a pretty damn big door open. People like Joe and Alex Mandossian focus on what they bring to the world and how they can influence people without necessarily having an ask.
  • A value creator is somebody that is really focused on who they're working with and in their ecosystem, what's going on in their universe, and not necessarily in their own world. So one of the most special things that you can do is to step out of the transactional business model of, “you give me money, I give you value”, and move into relationship models, which is, “I give you value, you give me money.” It changes the dynamic, it changes the order in which we deliver.
  • The cool thing about value is there's a lot of different kinds of value. So right now, if you have one product and you're transactional, you take money, you give product. But if you wanted to switch to a relationship model, you could splinter that product in a million different ways to create value first.
  • Education is the number one way to be a value creator. This podcast is you being a value creator. You're going out there, you're bringing the best people in and you're interviewing them and you're getting the knowledge out of their heads and you're delivering it to your community – that's creating value. There's a lot of people that are going to listen to this and they'll never pay you a dime, will never pay me a dime. And that's totally fine with both of us.
  • If you think about how you can be the trusted advisor to the people around you, whether that's the clients, customers or whoever, or if it's people within your organisation or cross-organisation. If those people can rely on you, if you can be a trusted advisor, if you help those people get what they want, you will have everything that you want. You can get anything you want in your life if you help other people get what they want.

On what companies get wrong when training staff

  • I think the funniest part of that is the thing that most of them get wrong is that they have no system. They're just asking somebody in the organisation to turn around and train another person in the organisation, but they've done none of the work to figure out what the system is in which they train people. How should we be training people? What are we training people on? What are the skills that are key to being successful in that position? Who in the organisation already has these? 
  • What happens when we model only the number 1 person is that we glaze over all the inefficiencies that they may have for the sake of their overall productivity being better. But if you were to find the number one person in say six key categories that you identify in that role, there could be things you uncover, like, maybe your number 20 salesperson is actually your number one follow-up person. And if you were to take their skills and you were to apply it to the training along with everything your number one person does, you could not only up-level the new hires, you get into exponential growth instead of just linear growth.
  • Linear growth doesn't make sense in a corporate environment when you have two-year staff turnover. Because by the time someone grows linearly to the rate that you need them to be in order to ascend in the org, they're gone and you have to hire a new person.

On the Dynamic Ascension Training theory

  • The most important part is the research. Once you have your categories clearly defined and that entire team agrees on it, then it's easier for you to go in and identify, spend time with those people in each category and document what they're doing well that other people aren't doing. This is the big mistake most people make is we document what people do well, and we don't document what they do well that other people don't do at all.
  • We run the recordings through artificial intelligence programming to pull out all the keywords. So we take all of the language from each of those peak performers in each category and we pattern out all of their language across what we call empathy triggers. So those are frustrations, it's self-doubt, it's misconceptions, it's fear, it's hope, it's the things that if we pull those triggers, it creates those thoughts in the prospect’s mind.
  • With the research, I’m able to say my number one closer use more empathy trigger words then my number one follow-up person, for example. Now I know that when I'm creating the script and training the team, those empathy triggers need to be part of that closing script more than the follow-up script.
  • The other important thing is how you actually structure the training. I see a lot of people on LinkedIn calling themselves thought leaders. Well, I don't need a thought leader, I need an action leader. So the training programmes that you create need to be action-leading programmes, not thought-leading.
  • How we do this is we take what we call a mastery goal and we throw it at the top of our organisational structure. This actually forces you to really look at whether or not your training is successful. If you're a thought leader, then it doesn't matter, you can just put whatever you want there as you don't actually have to measure whether or not it's working.

On receptiveness to learning

  • A lot of your peak performers being willing to learn new skills comes from the way you're framing the training in the first place. So if you want to stay number one, then you should look at exactly where your weak spots are too.
  • When we take over a client company, the first thing I look for is receptiveness to learning, and if someone's not receptive to learning or improving their skill set, that's one of the first things I note down as a person to replace.
  • Sometimes you just have people that are, they're so stuck in misery that there is nothing that they want to do besides suck the life out of everything else that's good. Receptiveness to learning is a great indicator in the people in your C-suite. If you have four or five guys, and everyone increases productivity, everyone feels better, just the general energy around everything's better, and one person isn't, well, then it's a pretty good sign that maybe that's not the right person for the culture.

On investing in people

  • If you started investing in training internally, rather than investing a tonne of money in recruiting, what does that do for morale? It allows people at lower levels to feel like they have a chance to ascend. Now they have something to really strive for. It gives them the notion that if they really practise their lifelong learnership, that they can move up and up. And if you do that at every level of your organisation, you create an actual culture.
  • You have two choices, you either pay them a lot more, or you invest in them in other ways to make them feel like their time is actually valued. And one of those things is training. I mean, you're seeing every big corporation here starting internal universities basically. It’s a genius idea. As an organisation, start with what are the top five things that you are weakest in when it comes to recruiting that cost you the most money.

On the future of learning

  • Right now, kids probably have an iPad or they're doing homework online. They're doing all of their curriculum online in normal everyday schooling. Whenever an industry is about to explode or be disrupted, it suddenly becomes democratised. If you want to look at the taxi industry, it exploded when it became democratised by creating Uber and Lyft.
  • So these internal universities are happening and they're happening online, because it's cheaper. It's not cost-effective for me to train everybody every three months when I'm hiring 10,000 employees a year. Doesn't make sense, it's not a viable, scalable model.

Final message of wisdom and hope for future leaders 

  • For you to take the next step in your career or even for you to train people to take the next step in theirs, it is not these massive shifts that need to happen. You don't need to retrain, reprogram and rebuild everybody. You just need to identify what are the little hinges that swing the big door wide open and you need to come up with a plan to successfully oil those things. 3% to 5% in five areas is a huge boon for every business. So I would always recommend you never forget those little hinges.

Remember, If you are involved in COURSE CREATION or want to start your own side-hustle then check out Joe's offer for our subscribers here: https://www.teachtoscale.com/chief/

Stay epic,