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Unlocking the Power of Soft Skills and Why it Matters

Published by Summit Marketing Team on 10 Aug 2023

The Virtual CPA Success Show: Episode 92


In this episode, Jody and Joey interview Dan White, author of the Soft Skills Book, which focuses on the importance of soft skills in business success. They discuss the importance of leadership and communication skills in building successful teams. Dan emphasizes the power of listening skills and the GROW framework, which involves asking questions about goals and actions to help individuals and teams solve problems and achieve their objectives.



[00:00:18] Jody: Yeah, welcome back and super excited today co-hosting with Joey Kenny.

[00:00:24] Hey Joey. How's it going? 

[00:00:27] Joey:Hey, Jody. Doing well. How are you? 

[00:00:27] Jody: Pretty good. We, you and I were talking off stage a little bit about this book right here. I dunno if you've seen the book here. I. Yep. The book. And this book was great and we just happened to have the author of this book, which is Dan White. Dan White's with us from the UK.

[00:00:40] And Dan is more well known for a book he’d wrote earlier called the Smart Marketing book and just recently had written this book and was telling us that it started outselling his previous book, which is awesome. And so we're gonna touch a little bit, we're gonna touch a lot about this book and why you should be actually ordering this book because when I was reading through it, it was like, wow, this is a game changer.

[00:01:01] A lot of nuggets in here. I thought, man, this makes a ton of sense and a lot of things that we were doing already, maybe, and it's oh, I didn't realize we were doing this. And so I'm gonna let Dan kind of introduce himself real quick here, and then we'll take it from there. Dan, welcome to the show.

[00:01:13] Dan: Thank you. Thanks, Jodi. Yeah a bit of introduction. I've worked in business, for 34 years the first 30 of which were in a corporate life, a big organization. 

[00:01:38] Jody: So sorry for you. 

[00:01:13] Dan: Exactly. No, I'm free now. I'm fine. I escaped. But I think- The background to the book is that over that time, obviously I learned a lot of technical skills.

[00:01:38] It was in marketing and market research in the marketing world. And I realized though that over time that you can go so far with technical skills, but if you haven't got the soft skills alongside you reach a plateau. And the most successful people in business I believe are the ones who have very strong soft skills.

[00:01:58] So right through that [00:02:00] time I created notes about everything I've learned about both the technical side of marketing, but also the soft skills and then when I left corporate life or rather, was ejected from corporate life more accurately. 

[00:02:11] Jody: We're all there, we're working. 

[00:02:15] Dan: I thought right now's the time to write all this stuff up.

[00:02:18] And I literally, my first two books were written in parallel, as in all my notes. Oh, this is a soft skill. I'll put it into this book. And this is a marketing piece of marketing knowledge I'll put into this book. Literally it took 30 years to write. I suppose. Sort of. You know what I mean? 

[00:02:34] Jody: Yeah and you made it so hard to remember called the Soft Skills Book. Ingenious.

[00:02:40] Dan: I know. The whole series is like that. It's a series of books that are meant to be the basics. The kind of essential knowledge in core areas.

[[00:02:51] Jody: Yeah. Joey, I'm gonna start with you just reading through the book. What was like the- I could go on and on. There's every chapter in here I can say. There's something really cool about it. But what was the one chapter that really stood out to you? I'd be kind of curious. 

[00:03:02] Joey: There's two things that stood out to me, Jodi. The first thing was, and Dan this is- I'm hopefully gonna flatter you with this comment cuz it's very hopefully praiseful of how you wrote your book. What I love about it is it's very linear and it's very well organized.

[00:03:14] There's a table of contents at the front that kind of allows you to figure out like, “Hey, I'm strong here. I'm strong there. Oh, here's something I'm not strong.” I can go right to that piece and get really well parsed out bits of information. So really enjoyed that about the book. The thing for me that I think is interesting is, as someone who is still in the- I would consider it the building phase of my career, Early in your career, you spend so much time, as you mentioned on the technical skills, but we don't learn those other things that kind of take you from maybe a B player to an A player, get you from somebody who's in a, for lack of a better term, a cog in the machine to somebody who is able to help organize and maybe lead that machine someday.

[00:03:57] There was a chapter in particular that I think was [00:04:00] really difficult for me and that was the growth mindset chapter. I thought that was really helpful for, I like to say I'm a recovering perfectionist and we're trying to recover a little bit more every day, but talking about the growth mindset I think is important for all organizations.

[00:04:14] Cuz sometimes we just get stuck and we don't realize that failure's not a bad thing. It's part of the process and that was really insightful for me. Can you talk a little bit about kind of the background of how you developed your thesis in the book?

[00:04:27] Dan: Yeah. I think you've touched on that actually.

[00:04:31] The most important thing that I learned was that having a growth mindset is almost like the secret of success. If you believe that you're in it for the long haul and that if you are open to learning, you will learn more and more.

[00:04:48] You will succeed and that's my experience. Every year in my career, I learned more. And actually it was the soft skills that I learned that I think helped me most to progress in my career. So yes I would say a growth mindset. It's interesting, I think you can foster a growth mindset.

[00:05:08] As in you have to believe. You have to think about the concept that you can always develop and improve, and once you've got that mindset, that will help you right through. 

[00:05:18] Jody: Yeah, I think growth mindset's ginormous. For you, it's in chapter one of your books you're really starting off really strong, going through and explaining, “Hey, here's what we need to do,” what's important.

[00:05:27] And I again, I love the idea that you can skip around the book, and that's how I read it, which is the first time I think I ever read a book. From middle to end to beginning, which was really neat. It made the book fun, which was cool. Question about the growth mindset.

[00:05:40] A lot of us, culture is so important in a business world, right? And culture is, top down. The culture, it starts at the top and it's spread out through the entire company. And growth is important. That growth mindset's important. The learning and growing individually, and then you talk about presentations.

[00:05:57] Hypothetically speaking I'm gonna be talking in [00:06:00] front of our team retreat in a couple weeks from now and talking on this topic here. How would you break that down and how would you convey that to your team? Not to other entrepreneurs out there, but to the team that you really want to keep and continue fostering that growth?

[00:06:17] Dan: You might have to clarify what you mean there, because there's a bit of a leap, isn't there? Between inspecting on yourself and how you are gonna improve. And then later, the content is intentionally organized to be approximately in order of the things you need to develop over 10, 20 years. I think it's important to start with yourself, as in fostering a growth mindset and thinking about your career. And then you need, obviously when you are a little more experienced, you often have someone who works with you or for you as part your team.

[00:06:50] And in which case you need to help. You need to learn how to interact and inspire those people. And then later you might have a bigger team and become a manager et cetera and run projects. 

[00:07:02] Jody: And what I'm getting at is people like, friendship's, important people like a purpose when they're coming to work. They want to be behind something, they wanna rally behind something.

[00:07:11] And I truly believe it starts internally and as an owner of a company trying to then talk to the team and say, “Hey, this purpose really start within you. What's the best approach of getting that across the finish line?

[00:07:26] Dan: I think it starts with recruitment, doesn't it?

[00:07:30] The best recruitment is saying, “look, this is our company. This is what we are trying to do. This is what we believe in. Are you up for that?” And selecting on that basis. And I think some of the most successful companies have built a team who all believe in the same thing and want to do the same thing.

[00:07:48] Jody: So rallying 'em around it. Cuz I know like for my purpose, I guess if you wanna say purpose was changing the way that people think about accounting. Doing things differently from the inside out and bringing people on with that mindset that, “hey, I wanna be part of [00:08:00] that ride.”

[00:08:00] And I think reinforcing that more and more. What it sounds like from what you're saying there is just reinforcing my personal belief and how we're going to really grow and go forward is something that kind of related to them so they can relate and join the bot.

[00:08:15] Dan: Exactly.

[00:08:15] That's why the role of the leader is so important. They set out the kind of vision. They define what they believe is important and what the company's going to do. And people talk about this is the train and this is where the train's going, and are you on board or not?

[00:08:31] And it's really important. It's important to not only make sure that you're motivating the people who are on board, but also to make sure the people who are not on board go, “you know what, this isn't right for me.” And in so many businesses, especially in our western society where it's a lot of service industry, et cetera, the people side of things is essential.

[00:08:50] If you've got the right set of people, you can achieve anything. I know it's a cliche to talk about Apple, but I'm gonna talk about Apple.

[00:08:57] Jody: Go ahead. Talk about Apple. We'll listen. 

[00:08:59] Dan: I was watching some old videos from I guess it was the 80’s I think maybe 90’s.

[00:09:08] Jody: Were you born back then, Joey? 

[00:09:10] Joey: I was around. I was here. 

[00:09:13] Dan: You were born. You existed. But I love those videos cuz so many people got involved in the interview process and say, “can I work with them? Will they, inspire me and can I inspire them?”

[00:09:29] And if it was a yes, we want them. Obviously he had to be smart and et cetera, and I thought that's really important. I've been in charge of teams before and you just want- the more people who are part of where you're going, the more successful the team's gonna be, and the more you've got people who aren't really that bothered, the less likely you are to succeed.

[00:09:51] Yeah. That's why leadership is crucial, I think. 

[00:09:54] Joey: So Dan, you hit on something there that I think is important to talk about, which is, [00:10:00] and I'm sure you've seen this in other industries, I see it in accounting all the time, which is you're a young person, you're moving your way up through the organization, and a lot of times

[00:10:08] Dan: I'm not a young person, I'll say exactly.

[00:10:09] Jody: I'm a young person too. 

[00:10:16] Joey: Jodi's young at heart, as we like to say. As you're working your way up through the organization, you tend to get promoted based upon your talents as an operator. Your talents as an accountant or an engineer. 

[00:10:29] Dan: Early on, yes. Early on, absolutely, yes. 

[00:10:33] Joey: But I feel like in management, there's a big gap that needs to be filled, which is sometimes the skills you need to be a good accountant or a good engineer, or a good marketer aren't the same talents that you need to be a good manager? How can this book help somebody who's trying to fill that gap between “I know I'm a good operator, I know I'm a good doer, but now I gotta figure out how to get other people to be at that same level and do it in a manner that doesn't destroy culture, that keeps our people happy, keeps everybody around and engaged?”

[00:11:01] How can we use this book to help?

[00:11:02] Jody: Or is that person fatally flawed and can never be that? 

[00:11:01] Joey: Also true. 

[00:11:09] Dan:  There are some people who are so passionate and interested in the technical side and they can build a career about becoming the very best at that specialism. Yeah. They're aren't that many. You don't need that many. A typical organization doesn't need that many.. There's more opportunity sometimes for people who understand the business and the technical sides well enough presumably because they've started off in a technical area.

[00:11:38] But then they can motivate and bring together specialists from different disciplines to make the business succeed. And I guess that the soft skills book is all about that. It's not about technical skills at all. It's about saying, you start off to understand yourself and how to motivate yourself, and then how to engage in, motivate other people, and then manage them, and then I build a team.[00:12:00] How do you build a team?

[00:12:01] You need certain things. You need to have a common vision. You need to express that vision. You need to make sure everyone's on board like we just talked about. But then even beyond that, you need to be able to run projects. You're gonna have to deliver against certain projects.

[00:12:15] And then after that, when you become much more senior, you have to be brilliant at presenting your vision and projecting your confidence and communicate what your team or even your whole company is gonna achieve in a way that is compelling and memorable. So that's the flow of the book. Literally from probably typical 20 something through to someone who is likely to be in their forties or fifties when they're running a big team or a company. That was the idea of the book. It is very chronological, essentially.

[00:12:49] Jody: Can I just look at the book itself? And I'm gonna take you just a second here to explain.

[00:12:53] If you look at the book, the first section is you, talking about you. Physical health, mental health, time management, growth mindset, all that kind of stuff. Then other people would be the following up, listening skills, personal motivations. Then we talk about managers. Again, just as we're talking about, the growth of that person delegating, giving feedback, coaching, and then we talk about teams working with the team approach projects, like you had mentioned, networking.

[00:13:17] Then it gets into the storytelling, which is great. Storytelling I think is one of the most important things for people to remember people by, to get your message across and it talks about that. And then the presentation skills. And of course, what's storytelling without presentation other than workshops and pitches and so it goes through the whole thing which is great. And it's a super easy read, which is even better. It's one of those things a lot of times you'll get lost in books like this, and you'll have to reread it and reread it before you really understand what the meaning’s behind it.

[00:13:45] And Dan, you make this super simple to read and understand.

[00:13:47] Dan: Well that's always been my goal. It has to be super simple. I have a lot of business books behind me. I dunno if you can see. And I have read, [00:14:00] or at least skim-read most of them.

[00:14:02] But the point is, I find it hard to just go through a book with just words, 800,000 words. I'm not that kind of person, I'm a visual person . I like things to be summarized. I like things to be visualized, et cetera. So that's why, hence all of the diagrams and visualizations and also acronyms. Actually, I just flicked through this is my favorite of all, for example, is this one. I dunno if you came across it. It's the best framework for coaching I have ever come across. I do a lot of training and I ask people, “have you come across the grow framework?”

[00:14:36] And it's only about 30% of people who've come across it. And I think this is something that everyone in business, well in life, should know about because it is so powerful. So whenever I've come across something I think everyone should know about, or just it's helped me hugely in my career, I've tried to describe it as clearly and simply as possible in the book. You touched earlier on listening skills. I would say listening skills and the growth framework. If you just picked up those two things, most people would be more effective.

[00:15:09] Jody: Oh, a hundred percent agree. And for those that are listening and can't see, he's got it spelled out. GROW meaning Goal, R meaning reality, O meaning options, and W will do, and then goes into detail about each one of them. That's how the book's done. Very simple.

[00:15:23] Dan: What I tend to do is, here's a framework, a process you can use, and then I describe how to use it. The growth framework's the best because it's really simple. Like I said, all you do is you start with okay, someone's got a problem, a challenge, something they want to overcome.

[00:15:41] Now you as a manager or whatever or even just a colleague may know nothing about the area. It doesn't matter. You could still help that person find a solution using this framework. Cuz this is what you do, okay. “What's your goal? What are you trying to achieve?” [00:16:00] Even asking that question can help people solve their problem by just helping them clarify exactly what they want to achieve.

[00:16:10] Already, you're helping them because often it's vague in people's heads. And then you go, okay, the R of GROW is just, “what's the current reality? Where are you now?” And they go, “I'm here now and this is not where we need to be. This is where we are.”

[00:16:26] So they're articulating their current situation and the always options as in “okay, that's where you are now. You've just told me where you want to be, your goal. What could you do?” And again, that's stimulating creativity. Actually now I say it, what we could do is we could either do this or that, or I suppose we could consider that, but that sounds crazy. You get helping them think about potential solutions. Now you've helped them clarify the goal and the gap. And then the final one is easy. It's like, remember, so far you haven't said much at all.

[00:17:02] You just asked a few questions. The person with the challenge has come up with all these options and ideas and they go, “what will you do?” And they go, “actually, now we've talked about it, it’s really obvious.” In my experience, that is what normally happens. Sometimes they might go, “we can either do A or B,” and then you can probe a bit more.

[00:17:20] So how can you decide whether A or B is the right option? I need to talk to X or Y. You get the drift, and that's why that's why this kind of soft skills is so powerful. You don't have to have any knowledge to apply them. It's just a process. 

[00:17:34] Jody: Yeah, it's a great point cuz a lot of people think that in coaching you've gotta go in and tell people how to do it in a reality.

[00:17:40] Dan: I dunno,  Usain Bolt just came into my head, I dunno why. But probably cuz he's the fastest man ever. His coach doesn't know exactly how to run a hundred meters in. Does anyone know? Nine point something quick.

[00:17:58] 9.4. 9.5, something like that. He doesn't actually know, but he can coach Usain Bolt into the things that will help him go faster and faster. Coaches are not necessarily more knowledgeable or experienced. It doesn't matter. You don't have to. You use the Grow framework and you can help anyone.

[00:18:22] I'm passionate. I know I've gone on about this, but for me, that framework and listening skills are just beyond valuable. 

[00:18:32] Jody: Yeah. Let's talk about the listening skills. So you talked about the- let's jump to listening skills now.

[00:18:40] Dan: Yeah. So listening skills. You probably notice I need to flick to it because my I understand this stuff, but I need a little memory jog. I think listening skills are really important. 

[00:18:51] Jody: Yeah. Cause you've got, with listening skills, you've got probing, pausing, playback, present possibilities.

[00:18:57] You're going paying attention, all the different areas with listening that a lot of people just don’t do.

[00:19:01] Dan: It's like a process. I've done this a few times. If you get a group of people in a training session and you pair them up.

[00:19:10] And you say, “just have a conversation for two minutes and have a conversation.” And you asked them to say, “what proportion of the time did you personally speak?” Secretly, just write on a piece of paper. And you take all the pieces of paper back and you average all the percentages.

[00:19:28] Guess what percentage? You guys, what do you imagine the average percentage is?

[00:19:35] Jody: that they thought that they spoke? Probably low. I'd say probably 20%. 

[00:19:42] Joey: I was gonna go different. I think people would perceive that they talked 50% of the time. Cuz that's what they feel like they're supposed to do in a conversation.

[00:19:48] Dan: Yeah. They feel like they should have spoken 50%. Yes. Cause that feels like a conversation, doesn't it? That's a socially acceptable thing. But often people go, “oh yeah, I didn't get to talk as much as I thought so.” So actually [00:20:00] Jody, you're right, the average tends to be well below 50.

[00:20:02] And of course, anyone with any mathematical knowledge will know that's impossible. But it just goes to show people don't realize how much they're talking. And actually you learn so much more by listening than talking. You can figure out exactly what people really care about. And also the act of listening, showing that you are listening builds rapport. Because if you you could demonstrate your listening, people go, “oh my God, this person's listening to me. My God, I don't get that from my partner.” You know what I mean? 

[00:20:34] And also, weirdly enough not weirdly enough, but the more you actively listen, you try and listen, you tend to remember the conversation without having to try. 

[00:20:45] Jody: Yeah, cuz you’re not thinking of what you wanna say next.

[00:20:47] Dan: Which is the classic thing.

[00:20:49] Bad conversation is when you're going, “yeah. Oh, they're talking. I'm not really listening. I'm ready. Just wait for the pause. I'll say what I'm gonna say.” But therefore, I think the process, there is a process to listening. And the more people who know that, the better.

[00:21:03] And that's what you were referring to earlier, Jody, which is okay. It's five P's just to make it memorable. The first one was to pay attention. So I'll do this now. It's eye contact. And what other things? Nodding. Little sounds that people, “oh.”

[00:21:20] These are really important. And that really helps. Then the next P is probing. So if they pause you, the best follow up of all I feel is “why'd you say that?” They've just said something. “Why'd you say that?” And that helps you get to a deeper level of understanding.

[00:21:35] “What was that?” The best one, another good one is just, “Tell me more.” Because people will tell you something and usually the first thing they tell you is, what do you call it? Not superficial. Can be superficial. It can be factual or non-emotional, let's say.

[00:21:49] But if you say, “tell me more,” then they are almost forced, not in a bad way, to tell to explain another level of depth [00:22:00] about why. So it's another way of understanding the motivations, which is what you're trying to get at. And then you can probe in, “Are you comfortable with that?”

[00:22:08] That's a lovely question. “No, not really, because, if Jeff does that then Sandra won't be happy and whatever.” And then, what do you need from this is another one. So all of these probe that’s listed in the book, it's these little useful prompts is to help you.

[00:22:23] All you're doing is to understand exactly what's going on in their mind. And the more you can do that, the better you can do that, the better you can help or whatever. The next one, is it okay to just go through all of these? 

[00:22:36] Joey: Absolutely. This is awesome. 

[00:22:38] Dan: Okay, cool. The next one is pause. You know pause. Pause is brilliant, right? My dad was a GP, right? And he said, always the real reason they came to the surgery was after the pause. It's like they come in and say, “oh yeah, I've got a bit of a cough and whatever go, do I need antibiotics or whatever.

[00:22:59] And then a pause, “is there anything more?” Pause. “Yeah, actually I've got this itch.” I won't go into details. It doesn't matter. 

[00:23:12] Or even the classic as they leave the room and say, “oh, just one more thing,” that's when the truth comes out. The truth tends to come out, especially on things people aren't happy to articulate after a pause. So always pause. Don't fill a pause. If you're a good listener, never fill a pause because what comes after a pause is gonna be probably more important than what came before. 

[00:23:36] Jody: Oh, that's interesting.

[00:23:37] Cuz a lot of times people get nervous with pauses and they want to fill. Or they think it's just an awkward situation. I think pauses are so important. And if you fill the gap, you basically are just getting rid of, you're not listening like you point out. No, not at all. 

[00:23:53] Dan: And you don't give the other person opportunity. It's gone. The opportunity's gone to say what they really feel. 

[00:23:59] Joey:I think it's the most important tool [00:24:00] we can use in a consultant's tool belt. Jody is sometimes saying, “we're just gonna get uncomfortable with the silence here,” and get comfortable with the silence because that's when the truth comes out.

[00:24:06] Jody: Yeah.

[00:24:08] Dan: If you can hold out longer than they can, they will tell you the truth. They want to say, but they needed enough of a gap to be able to say it. 

[00:24:19] Joey: Or even just time to organize their thoughts and say, I don't know how to verbalize this thing that I'm feeling and I just need to explore the space.

[00:24:26] Dan: Exactly that. Again, that's a good point. It's not just that they're holding back, sometimes they need the pause to think about it, don't they? They need the pause to realize. And how many pauses do we have in our everyday life to actually introspect on what really is bugging us, or we need, very rare. And even if it's 34, 30 seconds a minute, try it honestly.

[00:24:50] Just to finish the framework the final two P’s one was playback, playback’s easy. Because it's basically saying, once you've been told something, if you play it back in your own language, you've got two massive benefits of doing that. One is if you get it right, the person you are talking to goes, “oh wow, they really listened to me. I love,” well love is too strong. You know what I mean? “They get me.” Which is again, building a relationship. Or if they go “yeah, but that's not quite right.” They can then clarify, can't they? And therefore you want some even better where they're coming from which is gonna be useful. So playback is absolutely brilliant. And then the final one. Oh yeah. It's not always relevant, but sometimes at the end you might have some thoughts on what they've told you and you can present possibilities. Yeah. I always think, to never tell someone what they should do, even if you want to.

[00:25:49] Jody:What do you mean by that? 

Dan: You've listened to someone. You've used the listening skills to understand completely where they're coming from. But even if you [00:26:00] feel you know exactly what they should do, don't necessarily tell them because they're more likely to resist it. But they may resist it depending on the relationship. It's more powerful to say, “okay, given what I've heard, here's an idea. Here are, or maybe two ideas, I guess maybe you could do blah, blah, blah, or maybe you could do blah, blah, blah.” In that way, you are allowing the person you're talking to to retain power and control over their decisions and destiny.

[00:26:33] It's just, it's a subtle difference, but it's actually really powerful. Yeah, my kids are 27, 25 now, but I must admit, telling kids what to do, teenagers what to do never works. But if you say, “okay, given what you've said,  I guess here are some ideas.”

[00:26:53] “Here's some ideas of what you could do. You could do this. What do you think?” Yeah. People are smart. 

[00:27:00] Joey: It allows them to maintain agency over their problem instead of anything else. It's their solution, not yours. 

[00:27:06] Dan: I wish I'd articulated it quite as clearly, but yeah, exactly. 

[00:27:11] Jody: Dan, I can talk, we can talk forever about this. Great job on this book, I love it. But now is the time for the true question and Joey, let's go ahead and bring on this question for Dan. 

[00:27:22] Dan: Okay. I'm ready I think. 

[00:27:23] Joey: Okay. So I've been practicing my listening skills during this call and I want to call back to something cuz I'm sure there was a moment, Dan, in your life, and it might have happened earlier, it might have been more recently, but I imagine there was probably an inflection point in your life that you can point back to and said, “this is the thing that put me on the path towards writing this book.: Is there an inflection point that you can think of that was the most influential inflection point of your life?

[00:27:54] And I'd love to hear a little bit more about that.

[00:27:55] Dan: No, you are right. There absolutely [00:28:00] was actually. I worked in a company that was part of WPP for a long time, so they're the company that owns a lot of ad agencies and research companies and branding companies, that kind of thing.

[00:28:12] That was our holding company. The good thing about big part of that organization was that they had some fantastic training that they applied across their mid-level and senior people. And the course were called [00:28:28] Maestro. So WP’s Maestro course. I went on that course. It was quite intensive. It was like, I think it was five days residential. This is back in the day, we're talking about 15, 20 years ago. But you know when there was money for this kind of thing, if you were part of a company like that?

[00:28:46] There were several exercises we did around listening skills, it was all about listening skills and it was like a huge revelation. Oh my God. Listening. The whole course wasn't about listening skills, but the bit I picked up was listening skills are pivotal.

[00:29:06] And actually, when you look at an interesting fact about the soft skills book is that, I completed the writing and then realized that I'd referenced back to listening skills like 20 times in the book. I was like, “Oh, now that must be important.” In other words, in order to do this, you need to be good at listening. In order to achieve this, like pitching, presenting, and pitching.

[00:29:34] If you just present just top down, just talk for 40 minutes or whatever. You're not gonna be that effective. If you incorporate an element of asking questions and listening to responses, you're gonna be 10 times more effective. That's just one example. 

[00:29:51] That course about 20 years ago changed the course of my career and I [00:30:00] realized that soft skills and particularly listening skills are crucial if wanted to progress beyond, I was technically pretty good, I'd done well on the technical side after that and it worked. 

[00:30:13] Joey: Thank you for sharing that.

[00:30:13] That's an incredible thing. And Jody, I'd like to hear from you too on what that big inflection point in your life was that got you from where you were to where you are. Like that's an important thing to think about. 

[00:30:23] Jody: Oh, geez. Yeah, I don't know if there was actually one inflection point.

[00:30:27] I think there was like many. Cuz I tried, like Dan was mentioning earlier, I tried the corporate world, it wasn't me. I tried the public accounting world. That really wasn't me either. And so then it was like what do I do with my life? I got this accounting degree and I don't like either. There might be a problem here.

[00:30:45] And so it was like made me think, “hey, what do I really wanna do?” In reality was being an entrepreneur, that's what I really wanted to do and didn't even know about it. I didn't know about it until I failed at both areas and when I started the entrepreneurial thing, started my own accounting firm because at that point, that's what I knew best.

[00:31:04] I knew how to do it. I didn't know how to run a business. I didn't know how to do any of that. But I had a good idea. And when I started this, it's “hey, I wanna do it differently. I wanna do this differently. I don't want people working a bunch of hours. I want pay structure to be different.

[00:31:17] I want billing to be different. All these different things that at one point there was a really good reason why it was done that way. But in my reality world, I didn't care. I'm creating my own reality. And that was I think the inflection point there was just simply failing, and realizing really what I truly enjoyed the most.

[00:31:38] And it wasn't doing the work in public accounting. It wasn't being in the corporate world. It was actually creating something myself and getting it to a point where I could eventually sell it. That was the whole thing and you might ask, okay, I sold it, right? I merged in April, so now what? Now it’s little different, the way that I arranged everything now it's getting it from this 10 million baby [00:32:00] here, which for a lot of people that would be a pretty successful business and it was for me too. But now, can we get this to a $50 million and can we scale it in five years?

[00:32:08] And can we do it super profitable and can we bring up a lot of great people inside of it that we could never have done before? Can we pay them more money than we could never done before? Could we give them more enjoyment, what they're doing, sense of purpose, all that kind of stuff.

[00:32:22] And so my journey from zero to 10 was great. Now my journey from 10 to 50 I think is even gonna be funner and better. And so I think it all came from just realizing really what my passion was. And not doing the day-to-day stuff, not just getting the paycheck, but I could get a paycheck just doing tax stream if I wanted to.

[00:32:45] And that's not what I wanted to do. I could get a paycheck working in a business, and that's just not what I wanted do. My thing is I'm creating something.

[00:32:53] Dan: Whose dog is that? Jody, you were saying, I thought you made a really important point and if you can make it work economically, financially then the biggest recommendation I could make is to follow your passions, obviously. Sometimes people can't and that's sad because they can't make it work. These days I'm most happy when I'm doing my little diagrams. In the book there are lots of cartoons and frameworks and diagrams.

[00:33:31] When I'm doing those and when I'm trying to visualize a concept, through drawing, that's when I feel I'm at my most happiest and most fulfilled because I dunno why. That's what it seems to be what I want to do. There's no logic and I make less money from doing those things than I do from my more technical areas and training and stuff about around marketing. But if you can, I would recommend to anyone to try and make it work if you can [00:34:00] around the things you enjoyed the most. I know it's a cliche, but it's true. 

[00:34:03] Jody: A hundred percent agree. Dan’s been great.

[00:34:05] Love the conversation. Thanks Joey for being a part of it. Again, for those out there. Thanks again. Dan White creator and writer of the Soft Skills book. It's a must read. Definitely get it. Where can you get it at, Dan? 

[00:34:18] Dan: Amazon or Book Depository. So Amazon is not in all, it's in most countries, but Book Depository is truly global. 

[00:34:27] Jody: Okay, perfect. So it's super easy to get to. Highly recommend the reading. Thanks again, Dan. I appreciate it. 

[00:34:31] Dan: Thanks a lot. Thank you both. Thanks. 

VCPA - EPisode 92 - Dan White




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