Use Your Platform to Add Value to Others

Paul Gray Ironhold Capital

As building relationships is integral to achieving success in your career, today, we talk about how we can do this by using our platforms to add value to others. In this episode, we are joined by Paul Gray, the co-founder and managing partner of Ironhold Capital, the chairman of Leaders in Business and Investing, and the president of the Capital Allocators Roundtable. We discuss how meaningful building relationships come from adding value to someone else and how to go about this in a genuine way. Paul started a podcast two years ago, and he shares how he has built and leveraged this platform to add value to others. He explains the investment this requires and how he receives no monetary compensation, but some of the connections he’s made in the process and how this translates into ROI. Tuning in, you’ll hear why Paul hates the advice that you just have to work hard, and he explains why this is not true. Find out the importance of being a constant learner, why you need your own style, the value of practice, how to nurture a relationship once you have made a connection.

Key Points From This Episode

  • Paul Gray reflects on the benefits of building meaningful relationships and his relationship with Alex as an example of this.
  • How building meaningful relationships come from adding value to someone else and how to go about this in a genuine way.
  • How adding value to others means that there may not always be something in it for you.
  • Paul explains how having a podcast has helped him build relationships and some of the connections he’s made through it, including Anthony Scaramucci & Chet Holmes.
  • How Paul doesn’t derive monetary benefit from the podcast, but the relationship-building aspect makes it worthwhile.
  • How Paul frames ROI when it comes to building relationships.
  • The challenges of meeting people at in-person events.
  • Advice for a young person looking to connect with more senior people in business.
  • The power of creating and leveraging media.
  • The importance of a high-quality finished product and putting your best foot forward.
  • Why Paul hates the advice that in order to be successful you just have to work hard.
  • The importance of being a constant learner.
  • How you can’t copy someone else, you need your own style.
  • How to nurture a relationship once you have made a connection.
  • Why you should keep your social media profiles updated.
  • Paul’s advice is to truly progress forward and reach your goals.
  • Paul’s final words of advice are to build your profile, leverage technology, and get out there and do it.


[0:00:04.5] AD: Welcome to Branch Out, a connection builder’s podcast, helping middle-market professionals connect, grow and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.

[0:00:21.0] AD: Hey everyone, welcome to The Branch Out Podcast. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today we welcome Paul Gray who is the co-founder and managing partner of Ironhold Capital, chairman of leaders in business and investing and president of the Capital Allocator’s Round Table. Paul shares how he has built and leveraged his platform with the focus of adding value to others and his network. I hope you all enjoy.

ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders.


[0:00:52.9] AD: Paul, welcome to the Branch Out Podcast. Excited to have you here today.

[0:00:55.8] PG: Alex, thank you so much for having me, I know we’ve been speaking about this for a long time so it’s a great pleasure to be here.

[0:01:00.5] AD: Absolutely. Talking to our listeners for a minute, Paul and I, as Paul just alluded to you, we’ve been in contact and built a relationship a little over a year now, a year and a half now. In most of our relationship, the conversation we’ve had is around building meaningful relationships and what that means and how to be effective at it and what the value of that is to professionals and really, to anybody, in building a network and building those relationships.

Paul, what I want to start with and really just asking you, kind of an open-ended question around this, when I say to you, it’s really important to build meaningful relationships and it could be really beneficial to you. What does that mean to build a meaningful relationship, more importantly, why is it beneficial to you and what have you seen some of the benefits to you and your career and in your life?

[0:01:43.9] PG: Absolutely. Well, I think to give you a very good example, Alex is, the relationship that you and I have. If I could recall every phone call that we ever had together, you always ended it by saying, Paul, is there anything that I could do for you today?

Being that you were starting your very – we’re starting his hedge fund, it’s quickly growing overnight, it was always two or three things that I needed and you were so kind to be the first guy to say, “Here’s what you need to do, here’s who you could reach out to.” With that being said, I always believed that the best way to connect with people and build long lasting meaningful relationships is by adding value.

[0:02:20.1] AD: I want to dig into that a little bit, I completely agree with that. It’s this idea of, you look to see where I can help someone, not what you can get  for yourself but where can I help someone else, where can I add value to someone and as you said, the number of calls and interactions you and I have had, we’ve both helped each other in many ways, we both looked and said okay, well, what can I do for you, how can I help you out?

One important element of that though is recognizing that it’s not just saying it, it’s not just saying, how can I help you, right? It’s being genuine in what you mean there, right? Do you have any thoughts around there, anything you can share and how to make sure you’re really approaching it from a genuine perspective?

[0:02:54.4] PG: Absolutely. First and foremost, you really have to care about the individual to really put yourself out there and help them, whether it be directly or especially indirectly. Because, if I’m referring you to somebody, I’m really putting my own stake and reputation at the line. You definitely want to meet it.

You also want to follow-up. If you do promise somebody something, you want to make sure you carry that out because it says a lot about you. To the extent that you do, it’s more likely that that person is going to help you out in anyway they can. Now, it doesn’t happen all the time, believe me. You and I probably both know that, we serve more free brunches than we got. To the greater extent of things, with most people, it will.

Going back to you and I, Alex. I know that, you know, you’ve helped me so much. If I ever got a call from you, one or 2:00 in the morning, I’d be the first guy to be there. Maybe be myself for the bail bonds man but depending on who you call, I’ll be there.

[0:03:51.8] AD: So true on that. Now, I like what you said there, you’ve given more free lunches than you’ve gotten, right? I like kind of t he thought process behind that, of recognizing that when it comes down to it, building meaningful relationships and genuinely looking for ways to help other people means that there might not always be something in it for you. You might do something without getting anything back, right?

[0:04:16.5] PG: Absolutely. I actually heard that from Anthony Scaramucci. When we got him on our show. That was what he said in reference to building relationships and I couldn’t agree more with it more, obviously.

[0:04:25.8] AD: Let’s dive into that a little bit, right? You are a host of your own podcast and that was actually some of the original impetus of how you and I connected, you and I have shared some of what we’ve learned in our own podcasting process and the relationship building that comes from that. You’ve been very successful in building an audience around your podcast but more importantly, around building a strong staple of guest that have come onto your show, that you’ve built relationships with, right?

You just mentioned Anthony Scaramucci and having him. Obviously wildly successful individual, that is a great individual to have on to your podcast. Talk to me a little bit about how you built a relationship there and what you’ve had to do along the way to really build up your podcast but really, again, those relationships around those individuals that have come onto your show?

[0:05:11.3] PG: Absolutely. Really goes back to what I was saying in reference to building value or giving value. We found that we were able to connect with a lot of amazing people, whether be Anthony Scaramucci, the president of hedge fund association, the Jackals, the chief investment officer of Galvin Capital, one of the largest hedge funds here in New York, Mr. Joel Greenblatt. Mr. Bruce Greenwald for Columbia University and so many others.

The reason why is because, we were able to leverage the show and provide value in that regard. It took a lot of time, it took a lot of effort. Today, we’re at about 20 to 25,000 viewers per episode, depending on who the guest is but that’s our way of providing value to them. It pays off amazingly. Not necessarily monetary, obviously but in reference to the value that I get back. Questions I always have for these given investors or even some of the marketing people that we had on, like Chet Holmes’ daughter, Amanda Holmes. The 20-billion-dollar man, Mr. Jay Abraham. We had the opportunity to sit across from them and ask some questions that we had in reference to our own business and I’m sure there were a lot of questions there that are own audience had. By sharing our platform, we were able to kind of give them something of value to them.

[0:06:26.6] AD: Now, I love that you said there – I want to go down this rabbit hole a little bit. You’re talking about – you have worked to build a platform, that platform, being your podcast and it’s a platform that gets a meaningful amount of tension and views and what you’re able to do with that is build relationships with others by allowing them to ultimately be part of that platform, right?

To create the content that allows them to push that out and ultimately take some of the value and benefit of being part of that platform but along the way, you said, it’s very clear, it’s not necessarily directly monetarily that you’re making off of every one of those episodes but the thought process in it, I’m speaking a little bit from my own experience but I assume it’s similar in yours here. You’re building those relationships, you’re learning, you’re gaining knowledge and you’re sharing that knowledge with others and you’re allowing your guest to gain the benefit of being part of that platform.

From a networking, relationship-building standpoint, you’re really adding a lot of value along the way. None of it though are you getting paid for – not you’re getting direct reimbursement, direct compensation, direct monitory benefit from necessarily. Really, you’re able to do all these things that are adding value to others around you and you’re gaining knowledge yourself and underneath all of that, you’re building meaningful relationships that will help you and your business and your career in the future. Is that a fair way of looking at it?

[0:07:50.5] PG: Absolutely. You know, so many other people could do this as well. I will tell you, it’s a lot of work as you already know, Alex, because having a show is like having a separate business in its own right, you got to worry about the marketing, the advertising, the graphic designing, the audio engineering. There’s so much that goes into it.

I could go into Hollywood production as much as I’m sure you can, after doing this. Yeah, to that extent, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a podcast. We also have a blog that’s wildly successful, gets thousands of views, we have LinkedIn live show that we started where we speak to some of the largest family offices in the country and recently, we just started doing private events here in midtown New York. We just started out so the ROI is not there quite but I heard a lot of amazing things and you can imagine why, right? You’re meeting people in person.

ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a connection builder’s podcast.

[0:08:43.7] AD: What’s interesting behind all of that is recognizing that the ROI is a great way to look at it, the ROI is first off, when you first start any process of building a meaningful relationship, trying to build a network, build connections with people, the ROI is not going to be immediately noticeable and the R of the ROI might be something other than money.

Frankly, it’s likely, in many cases, to be something other than something that’s measurable in the form of monetary compensation or monetary reward, right? It takes time but some of what I heard I think is really important there and interesting, it’s, how do you think about ROI, how do you look at that, maybe a question for you is, when you talk about building relationships and think about the platform, the content, everything you’ve done around this, when you think of ROI, how do you frame that in your mind, how do you think about that?

[0:09:32.9] PG: For us, because we’re starting – our business has grown overnight as well. Obviously, have the hedge fund here in New York, Ironhold Capital. All the questions that we had pertain to that kind of business. My partner and I are both entrepreneurial based on our own backgrounds but we never started something as large as this. Some of the portions that we have from the get go were, how do you do marketing and sales? How do you advertising, how do you build a team? Because our experiences were mostly in finance.

That’s how we benefited from it and I would imagine, we probably did a lot better than just taking an upfront payment. To that extent, that’s why I tell a lot of young people that I meet today Alex is, every time you go to a networking event, you see these young people passing out their resumes but how many senior people at those events are collecting so many different cards, so many different resumes. There’s only so many people they could help. To really stand yourself out from the crowd, you have to figure out how you could give back. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to start a media company overnight but for instance, if you want to break into the real estate industry, you should know off hand a couple of buildings that a developer can buy or make money on. If you want to break into the fund world, perhaps you should know a couple of people that a fund manager could speak with if he’s looking to raise capital. Somebody did that with me, you’re going to be the first person that I remember when you come back to me with a request as supposed to somebody just reaching out cold.

That was everything I practiced early on and it was a lot of work because it takes a lot of effort but the effort does pay off, believe me.

[0:11:09.2] AD: What I’m hearing there is, it’s looking for ways to be unique and add value and stepping back and say, okay, who am I trying to get in front of, who am I trying to build a relationship and how can I uniquely add value to them? How can I reach out in the right places or know the right places that I can add insights or in your case, you said, you’re leveraging media is a way to allow someone to expand and use a platform that they otherwise may not have access to. In all of that, underlying all of that is looking for ways to add value, is that correct?

[0:11:42.4] PG: Exactly. If you think Alex, how most people try to connect with someone is usually at an event, right? If you think about that, an event is in my opinion, one of the trickiest places you could connect with somebody because what often happens is, when you go to in person event, you don’t really know who is there and in my experiences, it’s always somebody trying to sell me something, much as I’m trying to sell them something. What’s best I would say is, before you go to an event, you really want to know ahead of time who is there so you have an understanding of who you want to speak with.

I don’t want to hone on this point but just very quickly, what I would also say is, what often happens as well is a lot of people just want to speak with the speaker itself, right? Because they’re the star that night but the problem with that is, there’s usually a line behind that person. What you want to do is you want to try to find out who are the other senior people in the room, that are of equal importance but probably don’t have the right attention just because they were on stage that night. I can give you hundreds of examples where I practice this myself and I can’t tell you the amazing people I connected with.

I tell this to the young folks that I meet all the time. You know, when you go to networking events, don’t speak to somebody that’s in the same age group as you, right? Because, if you’re 25, 20, whatever it might be, it’s very unlikely that person’s going to be able to help you, right? Because they don’t really have the authority in their own firm and also, they’re competing against you because you guys are in the same level. You do want to find the guys with the gray hair or the girls, you know, that a little bit more professional in their firm and those are the people you want to focus on and then, when you do connect with them, that’s when you provide value, and that’s when you follow-up.

[0:13:20.6] AD: Let’s talk through that for a minute. You are – just put yourself for a minute in the shoes of a young professional. I’m a 25-year-old professional, looking to advance my career so I’m going to, whether it be show up at a networking event or reach out, however I get in touch with someone, I’m reaching out to someone who is for a lack of better way of saying it, a gray hair.  It’s someone more senior, further along in their career. I think the two things that come to mind is one, I don’t feel like I have anything relevant to say and I don’t know how to add value. How am I supposed to do those things? Then also, how am I supposed to even get in front of that person to begin with? Do you have any thoughts around that and what you’ve done in your own career to be successful there?

[0:14:02.6] PG: Well, based on what I learned today, if I could go back to my college days, what I would do Alex is, I would start a school newspaper and I would reach out to these given individuals in considering that I want to break into finance, I would reach out to some of the top – not necessarily the biggest hedge funds but some of the more notable ones and say, “Listen, I’m a student at this given school, I have a newspaper, we’d love to interview you for these couple of questions.”

It’s very likely they’re going to help you, right? Because you’re reaching out generally, you’re indicating you’re a student and also, when you think about it, a lot of people, I think this is true of every given industry, they like being in front of the media because it helps promote their own fund or maybe themselves as a person because by increasing my value in the market, it’s more likely another firm is going to want to hire me or maybe the same would want to promote me. That’s what I would do in that kind of scenario.

[0:14:56.8] AD: Now, let’s talk through that for a minute. The media comment in particular because what I’m hearing from you, I think you and I agree on this, there’s a lot of power in leveraging media, creating media and whether that be a podcast, a blog, or any form of media-like content that you can disperse on a large scale to a larger audience can add value behind that. Am I hearing right on that?

[0:15:18.6] PG: Absolutely, but with almost to say, based on some recent experiences I’ve had is it’s really up to you to take advantage of the opportunity. What I mean by that is, you’re going to love it Alex, I had a couple of people who ask me to come on their show which I gladly did, right? Because just like how people help me, I want to go back and help them. They forget to post it or perhaps, if they do post it, they post it once, you never hear about it again, perhaps they don’t even edit it. Somebody’s really putting themselves out there for you, you really have to take advantage of that.

[0:15:49.6] AD: I couldn’t agree with you more and let’s continue down this train of thought for a minute here. I’m going to speak a little bit from my experience around this and this is in some ways, just reflecting on a little bit of the work that I’ve done on our podcast and I’m sure you have a lot of these same thoughts. At the time of this recording, I think we have 60-ish episodes done, something like that. I look back at the start of that in some of the challenges and stress that went into figuring all that out but recognizing that my mentality very early on was all about producing a high-quality finished product that myself and the guest would be proud to share, proud to put out there because if we do that, then we’re able to really leverage the power of the platform, of the media behind it.

The whole thought behind all of that is, yes, that’s a big investment, yes, it takes a tremendous amount of time to effectively do it and to stay up on the process of not only finding, sourcing guest, and then ultimately recording, but also producing that high quality final product but the reason you need to do that and do that well is because ultimately, that’s what makes your guest gain value from being part of it, right? That’s why a guest wants to be part of it. It’s because you’ve created something that is added value to them. Is that fair?

[0:17:12.2] PG: My God, so much true. I guess what you’re basically saying is you really have to know what you’re doing and you have to put your best effort forward.

[0:17:18.2] AD: There you go. Underneath all of that, with the mindset of, I’m looking to add value to other people, I’m looking to, because let’s step back and again, I’ll just speak from the podcast from my perspective around hosting and developing The Branch Out podcast, we do leverage it as a marketing and media tool and the branding tool for our business but, truthfully, one of the biggest underlying benefits out of it is the relationships aren’t able to build with individuals like yourself, right?

As I said, we’re around 60 episodes, 60 individuals that I’ve been able to spend time, I get time to prep with them, I get time to actually record with them. All of this is an opportunity to talk to someone, share thoughts, and build a relationship and then you’ve got to follow-up with them and send them the media, the final file, and promote it on LinkedIn, promote it on your email, all these things that are all touch points. All places that I’m building a relationship and I’m learning from that person during the conversation, right? All of that is the value that I think is building that relationship behind and that’s by far the number one value for us.

To predicate all of that, if I want to do that successfully, I have to put my best foot forward. I can’t create something that’s of subpar quality. I can’t create something that I’m not beyond proud of because I know that if I do that and I do put my best foot forward, there is an opportunity to even more so, solidify that relationship and build that respect with the guest in which you have on the show, right?

[0:18:43.2] PG: So true.

[0:18:44.7] AD: Now, let me ask you this? From your perspective, where have you seen or what have been some of the challenges around that, where have you seen some of maybe the hidden benefits around building relationships this way?

[0:18:55.9] PG: Some of the hidden challenges? You know, I would say, you don’t want to put so much responsibility on the other person. You know, if you want to get into – let’s just come up with an example. Say, there is somebody out there that wants to break out to the venture capital space, you don’t want to just hope and pray that you find this given person and all of a sudden they’re going to make you a venture capital manager. You have to put a lot more effort on your part because you could build a great relationship, they could maybe potentially hire you or refer you somewhere, but you really have to be ready to step into that role.

One of the most common questions that I get, I’m sure you get this a lot too, Alex, is how do you become successful? I’m not saying that I am exactly where I want to be, but I do get that question a lot and what I notice is a lot of the people expect the same response that they get from most successful people, which is “You just got to work hard,” and I hate that advice. I think we were speaking about this last week and the reason why is because telling somebody that they just have to work hard is like telling somebody all you need to do to fly a jet is put gasoline in it but that can’t be further from the truth, right? Because in order to take the plane off and keep the plane in the air so that it doesn’t crash you need to know how to use the control panels.

In the case of Ironhold Capital, we need to know how to invest. We need to know how to do marketing and sales, we need to know how to build a team, how to do product development. Then, you know, learning all of this really comes from, number one, putting yourself out there, gaining valuable experience, and then surrounding yourself with the right people.

If I want to know anything about marketing, sales or accounting, I’m going to go to Alex Drost. I’m not just going to go to some random guy in the street. If I want to learn about investing, we can go to Warren Buffett and that is how we would approach that, sorry to go down the rabbit hole.

[0:20:42.6] AD: No, I think that’s excellent and let me – so you put yourself out there and this is something that I know you and I talked about a little bit last week as well, being a constant learner, right? I mean, let’s back up. When did you start becoming a podcaster? When did you start producing media? A year, year and a half ago?

[0:20:58.6] PG: Probably a little bit over two years ago and if you told me that three years ago, I would laugh at you.

[0:21:04.6] AD: There we go, that’s exactly what I wanted to dig into. Say three years ago, someone says, “Hey Paul, you’re going to become a podcaster and a blogger and you’re going to leverage that media to build the hedge fund that you’re building today” right? You probably would have looked at someone and say, “You’re crazy, how could that ever work” right? You didn’t know any of that. That wasn’t your expertise. It wasn’t necessarily your core skillset at the time. You learned it, you figured it out, you became a constant learner and you looked for new things that you could learn along the way and gained that knowledge for yourself but also shared that knowledge and the value you can create with others and the others being the guests in those that you are able to highlight through your production. Is that fair?

[0:21:40.5] PG: It’s so true. I am still trying to get better with interviews and stuff. You know, you would think after doing hundreds of myself I’ll be better, but that can’t be more true. For instance, to give you a good idea, when we want to learn about marketing, we started [Inaudible Chet Holmes and [Inaudible 21:55]. We read everything they did, we watched the interview they did. Same thing with investing, you know we want to be great investors so we watched and read everything Warren Buffett puts out.  Seth Corbin, Joel Greenblatt, Lewis Greenwald. Besides following your idols and creating your own style, because nobody can really mirror Warren Buffett exactly, you obviously have to come up with your own style, but besides doing that, you really want to put yourself out there and gain your own experience.

Then next you want to surround yourself with mentors. Even if you can’t reach out to these people directly, there are a lot of amazing people out there. Whether it be Alex Drost, if I have a question in reference to marketing or sales. If I have a question in reference to investing, I want to connect with Joel Greenblatt, Anthony Scaramucci, Bruce Greenwald and however you choose to do that, there is so many different mediums out there, so many different ways. It is just really up to you to go out there and do it.

[0:22:49.0] AD: I like that you said you can’t just copy someone else. Everyone is going to have their own style and ultimately we’re all unique individual humans that will create our own approach to things, right? We’re never going to be able to completely replicate something, however we can look to those who have done it and those who have done it well. We can read research and learn everything we can from there or even better yet, if the opportunity presents itself we can find time to communicate with those people.

Exactly what we’re talking about with leveraging a podcast or leveraging a blog or any kind of media creation where you are saying, “I want to identify those people that have done something that I’d like to do or have a skillset that I would like to do and I want to learn and consume all that I can from them, knowing that as I consume that knowledge, I will slowly learn and develop my own style and my own approach but yet with the foundation of the knowledge that I am able to gain by learning from others,” right?

[0:23:46.7] PG: Absolutely, there is really no other way. If you pursue the other route, which is essentially just relying on experience alone, you’re going to go through a lot of pain and a lot of trouble that thousands of people have done already for you. There is no reason to recreate the wheel, it’s already been made. You just have to figure out how it’s done.

[0:24:03.4] AD: I couldn’t agree with that more. Now, the flipside of that I also think is important to highlight, you have mentioned that you want to continue to improve your ability to interview and that’s same with me. It is something that I constantly am looking, “How do I improve my ability to be conversational or my ability to communicate with someone? My ability to communicate the message that I want to communicate?” What I have learned from my experience and I am curious your thoughts around this, at some level it does takes reps, it does take experience, it does take practice and I can read and I can learn from other people.

I can continue to morph my knowledge and avoid some of the simple mistakes that others may have made that I can learn from and simply just advance my knowledge by consuming that other content from others to learn but at the end of the day, it also requires you to, as you said, put yourself out there, try, practice, do it again and again and again because that’s how you’ll get better.

[0:24:54.3] PG: Absolutely. Yeah, I haven’t found the right person to mimic my own style on. I just haven’t met them but if you ever come across Joe Rogan Alex, let me know.

[0:25:04.2] AD: There you go, but you know, the point that I think is really important behind all of this is if you really – you know, our entire conversation from the beginning is around how do we build relationships? How do we really build and leverage meaningful relationships? And what we have said is that you have to look for ways to add value, but also understand that it will take time, you yourself will continue to get better at whatever you do the more you do it.

If you really do place an emphasis and a focus on “I want to go out and build meaningful relationships, I want to look to add value to people because I know that the long-term ROI will be beneficial,” then the way to do that is just knowing, “Okay, I am going to spend that time. I am going to continue to look and learn wherever I can and, overtime, I will improve,” right?

[0:25:48.5] PG: Yes and then just to tag onto that, you know, now you just mentioned that you’re connecting with so many different people and trying to build relationships with them, right? How do you go about nurturing those relationships? Because if I connect with you in January, Alex, the chances that you to remember me in September is going to be very slim to none. What you and I have done very well, and the same is true for most of my relationships, is that we stayed in touch.

What I found to be most effective, and this doesn’t have to be true for everyone, is really taking advantage of social media. If you look on LinkedIn, we have a thousand folks out there and there is a reason for that. You know, it is not because we’re pompous or anything but it is just that I want to make sure I’m at top of mind every day. When I look at a lot of people’s social profiles, even if they are very active on Facebook, Instagram, whatever it might be, you know, I should look at it once and know everything about you. You know, it is not really the case for a lot of people.

If you are trying to become the best accountant or the best lawyer out there and gain more customers, you want to write there on your LinkedIn, “Here’s everything that I’ve accomplished and here is everything that I am looking to do,” so I know from a first glance if I should reach out to you or not, but —

[0:27:02.9] AD: Well, you said this a little bit earlier, you want to make it easy for people. Whether that be building relationships or people looking to connect with you or anyone looking to do business with you, the more you can simplify things, the more you can be clear and concise in what you are trying to accomplish or what you’re trying to communicate or who you are, where you add value that makes it easier and I guess life is hard enough, the world is enough, we all have enough on our plates and enough going on that anytime we can simplify something, the probability of someone else moving forward with it or following through with it or remembering you, those things just simply become easier if we really do try to just to make it as easy as possible for whoever else we’re communicating with or connecting with.

[0:27:40.2] PG: Exactly. It is kind of a former prospect if you think about it, right? Because not everybody is meant to connect so it doesn’t make sense for you and I to spend 20, 30 minutes together if neither person is going to get value from it. When you find that out in the beginning, there’s no point of really taking it further.


[0:27:56.1] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle-market professionals.


[0:28:04.1] AD: My last question to you Paul is you had earlier you had mentioned it’s not just hard work, it is frankly the terrible answer when someone says, “How do you succeed?” “Just work hard.” If you could look back and you say, “Okay, the advice isn’t to just work hard” what is the advice? What is the advice to truly progress forward and reach your goals?

[0:28:23.2] PG: Number one, you want to surround yourself with the right people. If you want to be a mechanic, you got to hang out with mechanics, you can’t be around barbers. The same is true as if you are becoming a fund manager or a banker, whatever it might be, so that’s rule number one.

Rule number two is, you want to learn everything about that given industry that you’re going to need. As we touched on earlier, you want to find out who are the idols in the industry that you want to mirror after and read everything that they put out and watch every video that they create.

Next, you really want to hone in on your time. You know, time is so important and to that extent, what I found to be most effective is to plan out your day and events every day before and then to also wake up early because if you are just doing a nine to five like most people are, you are going from appointment into appointment into appointment to the point where you’re falling at dinner and now you’re in your bed. The problem with that is you don’t really have time to strategize. From all of those successful people that I heard of and all of the ones that I’ve meet in person, they all wake up very early in the morning whether it’s five, six, sometimes four so I mean that’s just incredibly important.

Then I mentioned the fact that you want to be a constant learner. You want to surround yourself with the right people.

Last but not the least, you need to put yourself out there. One of the biggest problems I hear from a lot of entrepreneurs is that they constantly plan too much. You know, being an entrepreneur is essentially jumping out the airplane and building your parachute on the way down and you’re not going to know what you need until you get to a certain point. You could plan all you want but I promise you, you’re going to toss the plan out and rewrite it a million times, so you’ve just got to keep going.

[0:30:00.0] AD: I love it. I think that it is excellent advice and certainly sometimes easier said than done but something we always have to keep top of mind when we are thinking through how we approach our day to day life and routine.

Paul, let me start from the top down. I am going to give a quick summary of what we talked about today and feel free to jump in and add anything if I missed anything along here.

We started our conversation out around the importance of building meaningful relationships and how do you effectively do that an as you eluded to, you and I in many ways have been able to build that relationship overtime by staying in front of each other and really genuinely looking and saying, “Is there anything I can do I for you? How can I help you? How can I add value?” and really as you said, you have to care about other people. You have to really genuinely care about wanting to help other people and that’s for twofold.

One of the best ways to help someone out is to make an introduction or to make a connection and when you do that, you are putting your own reputation on the line and making that introduction so you need to care and genuinely understand both people that you are making the introduction to and know that it’s truly going to add value. Again, the mindset of “How can I add value?” is simply the best way to build those more meaningful relationships.

Now, you also mentioned I love this saying, you’ve given away more free lunches that you’ve received and this is really about recognizing that when it comes to building relationships, the ROI that the true measurement of success is going to be sometimes difficult to measure and the return may take a while to ultimately come to fruition and it may never come to fruition in many times. But you have to know that you have to step back and say, “Okay, I know over the long run the then affect is I will come out ahead if I approach this with the right mentality of just looking to add value.”

Now, when you are adding value and when you are looking to meet people, you want to really ask yourself, “How can I be unique? How can I answer something or bring value or know a piece of knowledge for that individual?” and really being thoughtful about that because otherwise, you may blend in with the many other people that are out there trying to build relationships but you, if you approach this being unique, it is going to help you ultimately drive and really be more memorable behind it.

Now, another key component of that is you want to make it easy for others. You want to really make it so that others know how to get a hold of you, how to get in contact with you or make it easy to connect with someone. Or as we talked about in the instance of the podcast, you want to make it easy for that individual to be on the podcast or to be a contributor to your blog or whatever it might be, the real goal here is you want to again, think about others, look for ways to add value and make it easy for whoever you’re communicating to.

Now, underlying all of this and we talked about this right at the very end here, it is really what sets you apart for success. How do you get there and it’s not just hard work, right? The hard work myth is a myth. It doesn’t exists, it is not just hard work that doesn’t diminish the value of hard work and it doesn’t mean that hard work is not necessary for success but to your example, if I said if all it takes to fly a jet is to put jet fuel in it well, it is a lot more complicated than that.

Something you hit on that I think is just so important behind all of this is, one, surround yourself with the right people.  Think about who you’re surrounded with, think about the people that you spend time with knowing that if you surround yourself with the right people you are going to gain the greatest knowledge and learn the most in that process and that really leads into being an expert, right? How do you really become an expert in what you’re doing and the way you do that is by being a lifelong learner. You constantly look for ways to learn and gain knowledge and have a mindset that it’s on me to keep learning. I want to always learn and become an expert in whatever space that I spend my time in.

Beneath that is, I need to focus on how I spend my time, knowing that to be successful, I have to have time to strategically think. I have to have time and be thoughtful with time because it is my most limited resource that I ultimately get that I can’t renew and I need to be thoughtful about how I spend my time day after day but also being thoughtful about, “Do I get up early?” Do I make sure I create extra time and extra space in my day to really be thoughtful about what I’m doing.

Then if I do those things, if I surround myself with the right people, I constantly focus on being a lifelong learner and being an expert in my chosen field, and I focus on how I spend my time, the last real variable is just putting myself out there. It is getting out there and saying, “Hey, I’m willing to do this. I am willing to take a risk and go outside of my comfort zone and go beyond that.”

I say all of that to really tie this back to this idea of where you and I, in our own ways, of leverage media and podcast or a blog in different content forms to build meaningful relationships and all of that took learning, it took putting ourselves out there, it took an investment that you couldn’t measure a direct ROI behind and it all really is around the mentality of relationship building and knowing that if I do these things that we talked about and I put myself out there and I spend this time and invest this energy and really have the mindset of looking to add value, then that effect is things will work out. They will get better and I will gain value along the way, right?

I ask this kind of as a final question to you, reflecting back three years ago where you said you never would have imagined doing what you are doing today, do you see that value? You’ve been doing it for two years now, do you see that value starting to build on its own?

[0:35:18.7] PG: Oh my god, so much. You know, in so many different ways I can’t even tell you, we would need to take a couple of hours just to explain it.

You know, just to tag on to everything that you just said because I don’t think I have mentioned earlier, if I hadn’t just give away a couple more pieces of advice before we wrap this up for your audience, I would say at this given age you really want to build your profile today, you know? Because that is something that you could take with you no matter where you go.  If the recession finally hits and you lose your job but you have a huge following behind you, you could carry that anywhere you go, along with the relationships.

The second thing I would say is you want to really leverage technology whether it be social media, email marketing, text messaging, try to figure out how you could leverage all of those to really build your profile and manage your relationships.

Then last but not the least, like you said, you’ve really got to put yourself out there, right? Much like a fighter, before you can become a great fighter, you kind of got to get beat up a lot right? Or even a little, right? Even Mike Tyson admits that he lost his first few fights so don’t be afraid of going out there and finding that person and really taking that chance because this can be intimidating at times but you got to do it.

[0:36:28.5] AD: Well, great advice, Paul, and to our listeners for the call to action for this week, I would like you all in the next seven days to look for an opportunity to put yourself out there, to go do something that is going to step you outside your comfort zone and going to put you in a place that is beyond the limits of what you’re doing today, knowing that you are going to be uncomfortable, it may not be enjoyable, you may fall, you may get beat up and the example there.

But what this comes down to is knowing that every time you take that step outside of that comfort zone, you are getting one step closer to expanding your comfort zone and reaching that ultimate goal that’s beyond where you are today. So you have to take that initiative and I really encourage all of you listening in the next seven days find something, anything, that you can do to step outside that comfort zone, to take that step and put yourself out there and know that if you do that again and again, week after week, day after day it is going to add up and you will continually find yourself reaching new heights along the way.

Paul, for our listeners, how can they get ahold of you?

[0:37:27.5] PG: The best way is to find us on our website or to find us on LinkedIn. I’m very approachable there. If you send a message, I usually reply within the next few days.

[0:37:36.5] AD: Awesome, we’ll make sure to link to both of those in the show notes and to our listeners, make sure to reach out to Paul and make sure to head over and check out and listen to their podcast, subscribe to their blog and Paul, I appreciate you coming on here. It’s been an awesome conversation and I think we’ve gotten to some really insightful pieces there.

[0:37:51.9] PG: Alex, you’re the best. Thank you so much again for having me.

[0:37:54.4] AD: Awesome, thank you so much.


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