Episode 310

How to Create a Referable Brand for your Education Company with Michael Roderick

Learn how to create a referable brand for your education company with Michael Roderick in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Michael is from Small Pond Enterprises where he helps thoughtful givers become thought leaders through the creation of referable brands. He helps people take their ideas and package them in a way that will get people to talk about your brand.

There are three core fundamentals to creating a referable brand Michael shares, and they all follow the acronym AIM: Accessibility, Influence, and Memory. Accessibility focuses around how easy it is for someone outside your brand to understand your idea. Influence is built around convincing your users to take action and share your business or idea. And Memory is how easy it is for someone else to retell your story.

If you can nail those three components, you will be able to create a very referable brand. That’s a high-level overview of the way to build a brand, but Michael has a framework diving into each part. A great question to ask yourself is around the acronym SAD: Solve a problem, Alleviate a pain, or Decrease friction. If you don’t have one of those three things that’s easily identifiable, it will be very hard to convince people to purchase your product.

Often problems that people and businesses have are around Time, Connections, or Money (TCM). If you can map whether you solve a problem, alleviate pain, or decrease friction to the specific aspect of time, connections, or money in your customer’s life, it will be a lot easier to understand how you help your audience and what they’re looking for.

One mistake many creators make with their brand is that they focus it around themselves too early and talk about how good they are as a person, coach, etc. They’re focused on how they can impress people instead of focusing on what problem they can solve.

You can find more information about Michael at SmallPondEnterprises.com, and he’s also on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Feel free to reach out to Michael and let him know you saw him on the LifterLMS podcast. And he has all kinds of great resources and services available as well if you want to check those out further.

At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett:
You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett:
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a special guest, Michael Roderick. He’s from Small Pond Enterprises and many projects. Michael, what’s your elevator pitch?

Michael Roderick:
Sure. I help thoughtful givers become thought leaders through the creation of referable brands. I help you take your ideas, package them in such a way that people will talk about you when you’re not in the room, in a good way.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome.

Michael Roderick:
Thanks.

Chris Badgett:
What’s in the DNA of a referable brand? I know that’s a big question. But what’s inside that?

Michael Roderick:
Yeah, so the way I like to frame it is that basically to have a referable brand, you need three things. And there are three things that you have to focus on. It’s easy to remember because it spells the word, AIM. You want to think about taking aim when it comes to you creating a referable brand. And that’s Accessibility, Influence and Memory. From an accessibility standpoint, you want to think about how does somebody outside of your industry understand your idea?

Michael Roderick:
Because most people basically sort of live in what I call the echo chamber of the enlightened, where everybody is sort of saying the same thing and talking, using a lot of the same words. You want to think about what is the way that somebody who is outside of your world would understand it. That’s the first hurdle. Then, from an influence standpoint, the thing that a lot of people get wrong about influences, it’s often thought about from the angle of persuasion, sort of getting other people to do things.

Michael Roderick:
And what I found is probably the most powerful aspect of influence is, will people actually do things for you? Will they share your ideas? And what I’ve learned is that they’ll share your ideas if it makes them look good. A lot of time, we sort of focus on being like, “Hey, here’s our cool, you know here’s my cool thing. Do you want to share it?” As opposed to, “Here’s something that’s going to help you that’s going to make you look good. Do you want to share it?”

Michael Roderick:
And then, people sort of share that as a result. And then finally, memory. If we can’t remember somebody else’s material, then it is likely not going to be shared. And what I often like to say is it’s not how well you tell the story, it’s how easy it is for others to be able to retell the story. If you can’t craft those memory elements into your work, then you’re going to have a lot of challenges with that.

Michael Roderick:
And I have a whole framework that I get into. I can get into around memory. But I’m giving you kind of the 30,000 foot view of those three points right now.

Chris Badgett:
Wow, that’s awesome. Accessibility, like what is, I mean, I know every market is different on what they want and what they expect. We hear a lot of talk these days about authenticity. And just do you, be you, and that. That seems to really work, but what does that mean? How do we make ourselves more accessible to our markets? Whether that’s in fitness or business or health or relationships? All these markets have different preferences of what they want to be guided by.

Michael Roderick:
Sure.

Chris Badgett:
Or who they want to show up. And even the sub-niches within them could be completely different. How do we unlock accessibility?

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. A lot of the time, that’s a great question. A lot of the time what you’re talking about are the variables of all of the ways that we basically act on our core desires, right? If we really just boil it down to absolut brass tacks, every single person has what I like to refer to as a TCM index. An index of Time, Connections, and Money. And there is a concern, whatever business you’re in, whatever it is that you’re working on around one of those three things, or all three. For different types of people.

Michael Roderick:
A lot of the time, if we’re trying to get at the accessible part of our message, we really have to ask about how what we’re doing is actually affecting those three things for the people that we work with. And then, the other piece of it, and I tell this to all early stage like new entrepreneurs, you want your business to do at least one of these three things or you’ll be sad. S-A-D. And that’s Solve a problem, Alleviate Pain, or Decrease friction.

Michael Roderick:
If your business isn’t at the very least solving a problem for somebody, getting rid of pain, or making something that’s normally a five-step process a three-step process, it’s probably a nice to have as opposed to a need to have.

Michael Roderick:
And what you can do is then for yourself, you can ask, how am I solving a problem for my client in terms of time? And what that’s going to do is it’s going to just completely strip the jargon out of whatever your message is. Because you’re going to be able to say, “This particular tool saves you X number of hours.” Right? And it’s going to be very, very clear what it is you’re actually doing for the client. That’s what I always go to. I always go to these core things. And the variables are all across the board. But ultimately, it comes down to time, connections and money. And are you solving a problem, alleviating pain, or decreasing friction in one of those areas?

Chris Badgett:
What does connections mean?

Michael Roderick:
Connections has to do with the aspect of your relationship to that you either have, want to grow, or need. In a business scenario, for some people, if they are struggling from a connection standpoint, it may mean that they’re not meeting the people that they need to meet who could actually buy the service that they’re interested in selling, right? They might be selling to the wrong market.

Michael Roderick:
It could also be for some people, it’s about actual connection. And the feeling like they have a community or if they have people around them. There are people who will pay to be part of a community because that gives them something on the connection side. They feel a part of something. And that’s valuable. People are willing to spend money on those types of things.

Michael Roderick:
A lot of the time, we don’t look. We look at the variables that you were talking about, right? We get into the weeds of, I help with conversion optimization on this particular website platform for these types of clients. And only those people in our industry get it. But then, if you say, “I send people to websites that, and I structure it in such a way that they buy more stuff.” Well, everybody gets that, right?

Michael Roderick:
Everybody’s like, “Okay, well, tell me more. Like, how does that work?” Then, you can get into all those other terms that you already use. But people have to at the very, very beginning get that you’re solving some kind of problem for them, getting rid of the pain, decreasing some friction. And it’s going to likely be in their time, connections or money.

Chris Badgett:
And is money just more of it? More money?

Michael Roderick:
It depends. For some people, it is about more money. But for others, it’s about the aspect of saving money, right? It can sometimes be about the concern of losing money, right, so if somebody is offering you a service that helps you not spend that much on a particular thing and you realize that you’ve been spending a ridiculous amount, you’re going to pay money for that service. Right, so you don’t end up in that particular scenario. There’s lots of different ways that people will think about money in terms of that concern.

Michael Roderick:
And the natural sort of marketing message is like, I want to make more money. But there are tons of people who also, they are not necessarily concerned with making more money. They are concerned with keeping the money that they have, or they’re concerned with diversifying the investments that they’re making, and making their money work in different ways. There’s a whole rabbit hole that you could really go down if you were talking to somebody about what their concerns around money actually are.

Chris Badgett:
Oh, this is awesome. Well, if we look at influence and making other people look good, like let’s use an example of somebody who’s teaching some kind of business thing to a certain niche of business people. How could that business coach make their clients look good?

Michael Roderick:
Sure. Ultimately, it comes down to a concept that I like to refer to as the magic trick. Every magician that you’ve ever seen has at least one trick in their repertoire that they could literally show you exactly how it’s done. They’ll show you a bunch of really cool tricks and you’re like, “I never knew how to do that.” And then, they’ll show you like the how to pull the coin out of the ear or how to make the card disappear behind your hand or something super, super simple.

Michael Roderick:
And then, what’s the natural thing that most people do? They then go out to a part and do that trick for others, right? And they’re like, “Hey, look at me, I’m so cool. I made the card disappear. I pulled the coin out of there. I made the you know, salt shaker go from one side of the room to the other.” Whatever it was, right?

Michael Roderick:
The thing is, most of the time when we’re thinking about our stuff as consultants, entrepreneurs, et cetera, we’re trying to create something and be like, “This is going to be, you know, this is so cool, I want you to share it.” As opposed to saying, like, “This is so useful. And if it’s useful, we’ll totally share it.”

Michael Roderick:
I was having a conversation with somebody in the travel industry, right? And the travel industry is having a heck of a time right now with everything that’s going on. And regardless of whenever this episode airs, the travel industry is probably still going to be hurting, right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
They’ve got their challenges. The thing is, we were talking about the fact the actually other parts of the world, there are places where COVID has been completely eradicated for the most part. There are places that are opening up in a much more substantial way.

Chris Badgett:
Like Iceland, maybe? Did I hear Iceland is like that? Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. I think Iceland and is it New Zealand, right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:10:58].

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. I think New Zealand is doing really well. There are places that are less affected that if you were trying to do like a destination wedding or some sort of planning type thing, it would be really useful for you to know where you could go, right?

Chris Badgett:
That’s a bright spot.

Michael Roderick:
Exactly. Exactly.

Chris Badgett:
And that’s useful. Especially right now.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
The thing is, if a consultant, like let’s say I was a travel consultant, and I came up with a destination road map for you that helped you understand which parts of the world were less affected by COVID so that you could actually plan out your calendar, you would share that guide with everybody. Right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
Because you look really cool for having that. Right? Most of the time, that’s what we have to think about. We have to think about, what is this cool thing that I could give somebody to do on their own, that then they do it and their friends ask, “Where did you learn that? Where did you do that?” And then, that refers back to us. And that’s what creates this level of influence.

Chris Badgett:
And that’s how you become the guy or the gal or whatever, right? You’re like, oh, this is the-

Michael Roderick:
Exactly.

Chris Badgett:
This is like the travel bright spots guy or gal.

Michael Roderick:
Yup.

Chris Badgett:
What do people do wrong when it comes to actively trying to cultivate influence?

Michael Roderick:
I think a lot of the time what they do wrong is that they spend too much time trying to prove their value, right? A lot of the time, they’re trying to tell us all of the things that they’ve done or like I can’t tell you the number of free books that I’ve read that the first 15 or 20 pages are literally just bragging and then somebody saying like, “This is how to work with me,” before they get to the actual content that we need. Right?

Michael Roderick:
A lot of the time, that’s going to turn people off. Because we don’t want you to tell us how good you are. We want you to show us how good you are. Right? I think that a lot of the time when people are creating opt ins. When they’re creating even course content and material, they’re thinking, “How do I impress people?” As opposed, to, “How do I help them solve a problem? How do I make sure that they’re doing something on their own?” As opposed to, “This environment in which I’m doing it all for you.”

Michael Roderick:
It’s like a good teacher doesn’t sit there at the front of the room and say, “Here is all the knowledge. Go away my little minions and do.” A good teacher says, “Here are the ideas. Go off and do the work and come back to me with your questions and your concepts and let’s build something together.” And I think that influence is about this aspect of building something together. We trust somebody who’s helping us become better. We have questions about somebody who is basically seeming at least, to be in it for themselves, or just sort of telling us that we should follow them or that we should listen to them.

Michael Roderick:
And we’re seeing a lot of that emperor’s new clothes kind of stuff in the whole influencer space. Because we’ve had instances where people have millions of followers or even a billion followers, and those people aren’t actually buying things from them, right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
You don’t actually have influence. I think we’re heading into a time where that’s going to be called into question more. It’s not just going to be about how many people. It’s going to be about how active are those people? And are they willing to do something for you? And they’re only going to be willing to do something for you if what you give them is useful enough that they want to show it to their friends, because it makes them look good.

Chris Badgett:
How do we leave the memory imprint where somebody can retell our story?

Michael Roderick:
Sure.

Chris Badgett:
Or a story about some training we do or something?

Michael Roderick:
Yeah, so the way that I like to frame it is if you want people to remember you more, focus on less. It’s L-E-S-S. And that’s Language, Emotion, Simplicity, and Structure. I’ll start with language. Language is often a challenge for people. Because we tend to just grab what other people have said and sort of slap our names on it. Because naming something is hard. Right? To come up with a name for something, is a mental exercise. Like, it takes time to come up with a name for something.

Michael Roderick:
You want to make that even harder than just coming up with a name for your course. Try coming up with a word for what it is that you do. Try coming up with a name for a process that you’re trying to teach people. Try coming up with another way to say something that everybody else has already said. And the way I like to think about this is if you go all the way back to Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare were writing at the exact same time. But most of us study Shakespeare. Very few of us are reading any Marlowe in high school.

Michael Roderick:
And the reason is that Shakespeare added new words to the English language. We have words in the dictionary that are there because Shakespeare created them. If you think about it, those new words, that language, became part of the lexicon as people were sharing information and thinking about ideas and it was always being referred back to Shakespeare. Its was not being referred back to any of the other writers at the time, because those writers weren’t coming up with their own words.

Michael Roderick:
And we see it again and again and again. There were tons of Sci-fi things, but there is only one person you’re going to think of when I say, “Use the force.” There is only one name that is going to go into your head, right? And there is only one name you’re going to think of when I say the word muggle. And it goes on and on and on. Right?

Michael Roderick:
As creators of content, as people who are building thought leadership, if we do the hard work of coming up with our own names for things, our own language for things, we’re going to have more people talk about us. We’re going to have more people reach out to us, right? If I’ve just said that I’m a branding expert, nobody would care. Because there are hundreds if not thousands of branding experts, and nobody knows what branding means. Right? Everybody’s got a different definition of branding.

Michael Roderick:
But when I say that I focus on referable brands, it’s super clear what I’m talking about. I am talking about referability, right? I am talking about the fact that people are talking about you. That that is coming back to you. It’s super, super clear, but it’s my language. And as a result, it always circles back to me. I don’t ever have to worry about brand confusion, right? Nobody is going to mix me up with another brand expert because I use the words referable brands. Makes sense?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah, that totally makes sense. It reminds me of Tim Ferriss, actually, the whole lifestyle design thing. He had a bunch of language in there, I was like, “Why did that guy’s book take off so much?” But it had a lot of that.

Michael Roderick:
Exactly.

Chris Badgett:
New names for things.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. And once people like a cool new name, they’re just going to keep using it. And then, everybody is going to be like, “Well, where did you learn that?” And what are they going to do? They’re going to refer back to that person’s book. They’re going to refer back to that person’s content. They’re going to refer back to that person’s material, right?

Michael Roderick:
Coming up with your own language for things, and especially language that hearkens to something else that’s recognizable, that’s easier for people to think about. If there is an anchor there, it’s going to be even easier. Right? If I’m saying something that reminds you of something else, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to remember it easier than if I just come up with the most random word in the world, right?

Michael Roderick:
If I take two words that you normally wouldn’t expect to be together and I put them together, they become something new, but I’m using two familiar words. Right?

Chris Badgett:
Like lifestyle and design.

Michael Roderick:
Bingo.

Chris Badgett:
Or he did like-

Michael Roderick:
Right.

Chris Badgett:
The muse business or whatever. There were all these like phrases.

Michael Roderick:
Exactly. Where those things were pieced together. What I often tell people when they’re trying to create names for things, is one of the best things that you can do, it’s an exercise I call container versus content. There are tons and tons of what I like to refer to as container words in the world. Where basically, they’re words that everybody uses, everybody deals with them, et cetera. And we see them over and over again. Leadership, strategy, branding, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Michael Roderick:
But if you open up that container, you’re going to see what’s inside, and those are the contents, right? You words that you already think of when you think of those particular words. And those words are tied to things that you’ve experienced in your own life. They’re tied to ideas that you have.

Michael Roderick:
What you do is you take those container words, you open them up and find the content, and you just start writing all the random words, and you’re like, “If I couldn’t use this word, which word would I use?” And you write down all of those different words. And then, you have basically a word sandbox. Right? You got your word sandbox, and now all you got to do is play Mad Libs to come up with your titles for things, right? You just start mashing those words together and seeing like what sounds interesting?

Michael Roderick:
And if you do that enough, you’ll start to do it more often in everything that you’re doing in your content. You’ll start to see the world in that way. You’ll notice something, you’ll be like, “Oh, well that interesting. But what if I changed this word? Or I took this letter off?” Right? You just add these little things. And these little shifts sometimes can completely change the way that somebody used something. Or thinks about something.

Michael Roderick:
My favorite story about that is Hair Club for Men, right? Where when in essence, what you were getting was a toupee, right? Like of your own hair. At the brass tacks, that’s what you were getting. But if they told you, “We’re selling a toupee,” you wouldn’t spend any money.

Michael Roderick:
But when they called it the Hair Club for Men and they called it their strand by strand method, you’re thinking of this like very exclusive, very important thing. When really, they were just making a toupee out of your hair.

Chris Badgett:
That’s awesome. Well, what about the emotion part? How does that? I mean, does the Hair Club for Men have the emotion part in it?

Michael Roderick:
Yup. Because basically, emotion solidifies memory, right? If you can trigger an emotion, what you’re going to do is whatever you’re talking about during that time is likely going to be embedded in the person’s memory, because they’re going to remember a moment that also is similar to that emotion. Right? For example, let’s say I was writing an article and I told a story about going to a funeral. And I gave you all the details and it was really, really intense. Then what’s going to happen is whoever is reading it is going to have their own flashback to whatever moment. And even people listening to this right now, the fact that I said the word funeral, triggered a memory in their brain.

Michael Roderick:
And they’ve thought about some funeral somewhere, like somewhere in their world. See, now what’s happening is, the emotions are heightened, which means that absorption of the idea is going to be that much more powerful. This is why with very, very emotional movies, you can remember the exact phrases and taglines and moments in those movies. Right?

Michael Roderick:
For all those folks who basically weeped over Titanic, if say, “I’ll never let go.” They’re going to know exact, like their going to recall the exact image with what happened with, “I’ll never let go,” right? You can do that with your own content if you tap into your own emotion. If you think of an emotional moment for you and you describe that. And then, you talk about how this thing ties to your lesson. Whatever it is that you’re teaching, people are going to relive the emotion, they’re going to have that experience and then they’re going to be like, “Oh, my God. You know, I remember this particular event.”

Michael Roderick:
Going back to your question about the Hair Club for Men, basically, there were tons of testimonials in those infomercials about the shame and embarrassment that this guy felt when he took his hat off and he was bald. Right? This kid’s, this guy’s kid poking his bald head. All these things, right? All these men who are watching, are having that emotional moment and saying, “Oh, man, I remember when somebody called me baldy.” Or, “I remember when that girl that I hit on basically said, you know started laughing because I didn’t have a full head of hair.” And everything will come up in their head.

Michael Roderick:
So then, what do they start to think about? They think about the solution. They think about the Hair Club for Men. The emotional part of the basically helps solidify that product in their memory. And this has been across the board, like if you look at anything in popular culture that has really taken off, there is likely an emotional trigger behind it that caused everybody to sort of have that same feeling.

Michael Roderick:
One of my favorite examples is Stranger Things, right? Stranger Things basically taps into what it was like to be a kid. And what it was like to be a kid during that like ET, Steven Spielberg magical, magical time. You’re basically reliving moments of your childhood and if you were already, you know, if you’re at a certain age where you remember riding your bike and pretending to build forts and all of these different types of things, you’re following along on this particular journey. You are going to remember that show.

Michael Roderick:
And then, you’re going to go to your friends and you’re going to tell them, “You’ve got to see this show.” All these other elements that are at play is because it basically ties to this concept of emotion.

Chris Badgett:
Is there any difference between positive and negative emotions? Like fear, sadness, like funeral stuff versus like elation, happy? Or it just doesn’t matter? Just in the emotion?

Michael Roderick:
That’s a great question. I think that is really depends on the individual. Right? If you are more of the person who cries at a movie or if there like if you are more leaning towards the having a real emotion. When like that’s in those types of things, I think you’re going to be affected more by the sad stuff. It’s just going to probably hit you harder.

Michael Roderick:
But if you’re not that type, right? It’s possible that something comedic could keep it in your head, right? And perfect example is all of, we can recall lots of funny commercials. Right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
And if you think about it, the emotion that we felt was laughter, right? I always go to the Geico commercial where Boyz II Men are singing about incontinence and flatulence in the middle of the pharmacy, right? Because I laughed hysterically at that. Because I watched Boyz II Men when I was a kid, right? I watched Boyz II Men and I listened to their songs. Having them sing about flatulence instead of making love to you, that like stuck in my head. It instantly creates this recall.

Michael Roderick:
I think to answer your question. I think if you are more geared to sort of the more intense emotions. If you are the type to cry, then it may basically solidify faster for you or you may remember the stuff more. But I do think across the board, if you’re feeling some kind of sense of heightened emotion, you are much more likely to remember the content.

Chris Badgett:
But what about the simplicity part?

Michael Roderick:
Yeah, so simplicity is a really interesting one. I like to refer to this as the piled apples versus the bag, right? If I told you, “Here are the 27 points to how to create a referable brand,” everybody would stop listening to this episode by about like number five. Or number six, right? Because if you think about it, the brain can only hold so much information. The metaphor that I used, the pile of apples, is if I handed you a pile of apples, and I basically said, “Take this pile of apples, there’s 15, 20 of them, carry them across the room.” Then you are likely to drop an apple. Because they’re all over the place and you’re trying to sort of hold them, and you’re trying to sort of keep them in your arms.

Michael Roderick:
But if I said, “Here’s a pile of apples and here’s a bag to hold them in,” you can walk across the room and never worry about that. And our brains are the same way. We can’t hold everything in our brains that is coming up. We can only hold certain things. If we give people a simple way of understanding it, then they’ll retain the information.

Michael Roderick:
But if we make the information way to complex, they will not retain the information. And the way that I like to think about this is think about academics, right? Academics reward complexity. If you were in school and you wrote a very, very complex paper and you had all of these big words as part of that paper, then you are considered the smart kid, and you got the good grade, right?

Michael Roderick:
Because it was so hard to understand you, you must have been a genius. But the memory rewards simplicity. We remember the simple stuff. We do not remember the super complex things. We have to always go back to our notes to figure out those super, super complex things.

Michael Roderick:
When you’re creating your content, you got to ask yourself, am I making sure that this is simple enough for somebody to share? The example that I like to use is there are tons and tons of TED Talks out there on the topic of leadership. But there is one TED Talk that gets shared all the time that is very, very popular and basically has become sort of the main talk that most people talk about in leadership. And you can probably guess which one I’m going to say. Like most people-

Chris Badgett:
Is it-

Michael Roderick:
Usually guess it.

Chris Badgett:
Is it Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek?

Michael Roderick:
Very close. It’s the first one that he did, which is, it’s considered the start with Why Talk? But it’s got a very verbose title and [crosstalk 00:30:23].

Chris Badgett:
The Golden Circle and everything?

Michael Roderick:
Exactly.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah, okay.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. And the thing is right[crosstalk 00:30:29].

Chris Badgett:
But that’s why that went viral. Because it’s… and I shared the heck out of that thing. I remember when I first saw it. I’m like, “You all got to see this. Like, we were doing it wrong.”

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. Yeah. Because everybody can draw a circle and look smart in front of their friends.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
There is nothing complex about explaining that particular principle, but it’s a complex principle that he made simple. Right? The thing is, there’s a lot of information there, but what he did was he packaged it in such a way that other people would share it and like you said, you shared it because you wanted to be like, “Hey everybody, I found this cool thing.” Right? “Hey, everybody this is like how we need to think about things now.”

Michael Roderick:
A lot of the time, it’s that simplicity that causes us to want to share it because it’s easy, right? It’s easy to share. If it’s hard to share, if it feels too complex, we have a concern about messing it up. Right? If I were to tell you a story and it was a very, very complex story, I would be worried about getting the story right.

Michael Roderick:
But if I were to tell you a joke, I would need to remember the punchline and I would need to remember the set up. And it wouldn’t really matter if I got all of the details correct, as long as I got the set up and the punchline somewhat fine, you would laugh at the joke. Right? The thing is, our brains, that’s how we work. We need simplicity in order to process a lot of the time.

Michael Roderick:
If we’re going to share something, we’re going to talk about it, we’re going to remember it, we’re going to remember the simple thing. We’re not going to remember the super complex thing. We’re going to remember like the basic brass tacks thing that somebody said. We’re going to remember the funny quote. We’re going to remember the one-liner. We’re going to remember the Venn Diagram that somebody showed us. Because that’s simple.

Michael Roderick:
All the complex stuff is going to go out the window if we’re talking about the idea of just sort of sharing the concept.

Chris Badgett:
Is the structure just Simon’s circles? And the Venn Diagram and stuff? Is that what you mean by structure?

Michael Roderick:
What I mean by structure is logic. Right? Basically, we don’t read a book by starting in the middle and then jumping to the front and then jumping to the back and then bouncing all around, right? We read a book by starting with whatever the thesis is and we sort of go through the particular process of the thesis.

Michael Roderick:
A lot of the time, we forget about that when it comes to creating our own content, right? We don’t think about, is there a structure here? And whether that be like is it a story? Is there a step one? A step two? A step three? Is there a logical progression? This entire conversation follows a structure. Because, if I started by talking about memory, it wouldn’t really land in the same way. Right? Because we can talk about how to make your stuff memorable. But, why would we then talk about making it influential, right? It doesn’t even follow.

Michael Roderick:
And then, getting to accessibility, it doesn’t follow. But if we start at accessibility, which is sort of the natural concern of like, can I get people to get it? Then, can I get people to share it? And then, if I can get people to share it and I make sure that they remember it, it’s a logical progression. A lot of the time, structure is far more important than we give it credit for in terms of people remembering material.

Michael Roderick:
And if we say, “This is the logical structure and this is the way it works,” then people will remember it easier. Right? It’s why we create lists. We don’t randomly write on different parts of paper. It’s like, here’s all these five things. We do, we write, one, two, three, four, five, because our brains crave that structure. We need to know, I do this first. I do this second. I do this third, I do this fourth. If we’re even talking about sort of from a course creation standpoint, you are probably not going to be like, “Hey, here’s the last module of the course and here’s module number two. And oh, by the way, here’s module number seven.”

Michael Roderick:
No, you’re going to start at the beginning, the baseline stuff and you’re going to take people through a process to achieve a certain outcome.

Chris Badgett:
That structure is really part of your brand. It’s not just part of curriculum design. If you nail it right.

Michael Roderick:
Exactly. Exactly. And that’s the thing. A lot of the time, the issue that I see is that we don’t take the time for these things that seem insignificant in many, many cases. When I was student teaching, I was also directing a show for my senior year. Right? I was in the middle of not only student teaching, but also directing. I was working on all these different types of things. And as a result, my grading got really backed up, right? I ended up with like this pile of paper to grade.

Michael Roderick:
And my cooperating teacher said to me something that has always stuck with me. Where she says, “You know, a lot of people tell you don’t sweat the small stuff. But I got to be honest. You’ve got to sweat the small stuff.” And a lot of the time, it ends up as you’re looking at messaging and as you’re looking at your content, you do have to sweat the small stuff. You do have to ask yourself like, “Am I making sure that people can remember this? Am I structuring this well? Is this something that people are going to share?”

Michael Roderick:
Before you try to come up with all the like, “Oh, this is the model that I’m going to use and these are the new ideas,” and like all this other stuff. You got to ask first, “Will people understand it? And will they be able to share it?” It’s those nuts and bolts things that end up becoming very, very important. And a lot of the time, people forget about that.

Chris Badgett:
Wow. What’s another example of a really referable brand? Let’s say, in the entrepreneur space.

Michael Roderick:
Probably in, I would say if you’re dealing with entrepreneurs and you’re dealing with something that would be instantly recognizable amongst that community, probably something like Ask Method.

Chris Badgett:
Okay.

Michael Roderick:
Right? And to core thing about it, if you think about it, is you’re able to sort of see the process, right? It’s a logical structure, it’s memorable, the emotional piece is in there because you have the entrepreneur’s story of how they were struggling and now they… This method helped them sort of solve that particular issue. But it’s super, super easy, right?

Michael Roderick:
And going back to just popular culture, right? Amazon starts with an A. What shows up all the time in searches? And what showed up before Amazon became Amazon? Right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
Think about sort of that level of logic. Right? For a lot of people in the sort of entrepreneurial space, that one’s going to come up pretty quickly. Especially, if you’re dealing with like course creation and digital products. Because A, it’s the first A.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
Right? And B, it breaks down a very simple process. And brings something to the industry that the industry had not necessarily thought about before, right? Market research has been around forever, right? But it wasn’t in this course creation space. And it wasn’t in the form of quizzes, right? Like that side of it didn’t happen. It was, you have something that ended up being really easy for people to kind of remember and look at. And that’s the one that’s sort of immediately like when I think about, what has been out there quite a bit and folk have looked at?

Michael Roderick:
But another one that is very popular that is really recall is Product Launch Formula. And it basically, think about it, we remember things a lot of the time because we’re able to abbreviate them. How many people are running around saying, PLF?

Chris Badgett:
A lot.

Michael Roderick:
Right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
It’s that type of thing. Even if you think about something like as basic as soda, right? It’s much easier to say, Coke than it is to say Pepsi. Right? It’s a simple, like Coke is like a nickname. Pepsi it’s a whole other syllable. There’s this aspect of, if it’s not easy to share. If it’s not something that it’s like it’s just simple to put out there, we’re going to table it for something that’s simpler.

Chris Badgett:
That’s cool. And Ryan Levesque has been on this show, if you’re listening and you’d like to check out the Ask Method and his new Choose Method, go look for Ryan Levesque in the podcast. What in your story, Michael, got you so into how the mind works and how society and relationships work, where did this come from?

Michael Roderick:
Sure. I went from being a high school English teacher to becoming a Broadway producer in under two years. And a lot of people were very curious as to how I was getting into a lot of these rooms, right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
Like how it was all working. I was getting my Master’s at the time in educational theater from NYU. And educational theater is all about bringing theatrical techniques to the world of teaching. Basically, you have kids act out vocabulary. And you have them create monologues from reading and things like that, so it’s incorporating theater. And one of the things that we learned was about simulations, and how if you get people to act out a scenario, very, very often, even though they’re acting, they do what they would normally do in real life, for the most part. Right?

Michael Roderick:
What I did was I started hosting workshops where I would simulate networking experiences. I actually had people act out one-on-one meetings, job interviews and cocktail parties. I had them perform as if they were that person stuck in the corner at a party. Or a person who’s nervous about a job interview or whatever.

Michael Roderick:
And when I watched all these people do many of these things, I saw a lot of patterns. And patterns are always the precursor for frameworks, right? When I noticed these patterns in terms of how people interacted, I started to say, “Okay, based on these patterns, I think that this concept overall is something that I could go with.” I started teaching those concepts. I started teaching these relationship building concepts where I would sort of help people understand why others would say yes to them versus say no to them. And I really got into the psychology of the whole thing. Did a lot of reading on that side of things.

Michael Roderick:
But what ended up happening was, people kept coming to me and saying, “I still remember that thing that you taught me three years ago.” I kind of had this moment where I was like, “Okay, I understand the relationship building piece is really important and getting into the room is really important. But it doesn’t really matter if nobody will let you stay there.”

Michael Roderick:
What I realized was, you have to craft your message in this referable way in order to achieve that level of interest from people. Right? Because most people think about things from the standpoint of access. They think like, “How do I get access to people? How to I get somebody to listen to me? Get my foot in the door?” It’s actually not about access, it’s about interest. You want them to be so interested in whatever it is that you’re creating, hanging on your every word, that they seek you out. And if you package your stuff in such a way that people are talking about you and they’re talking about your ideas and they’re sharing your concepts, then what happens is, everybody asks, like, “Well, where did you learn that from?”

Michael Roderick:
For me, that’s what I noticed. I was teaching one of my networking workshops and I took about 15 minutes. And I just said, “Guys, I’m going to throw out this idea and I think that there’s something to it where I think I’ve gotten in a lot of the rooms that I’ve gotten into because I’ve come up with these really interesting anacronyms and I’ve come up with these fun phrases or ways to say things. And I think it sends business your way.” And it was literally 15 minutes. I kind of covered this. And at the end of that workshop, everybody who was up for a hot seat, asked to have their hot seat be on referable brands.

Michael Roderick:
And so, when I saw that, I said, “Okay, this is the thing that people want to learn. This is the thing that’s most interesting.” And that’s what brought me into saying, “Okay, well, I’ve built all these relationship building framework, I need to build one around referable brand.” And that’s where Taking Aim came from, and that’s how I started sort of looking at this concept of like, how do we become referable? How do we start to take up that real estate in people’s minds? And where do we go from there?

Chris Badgett:
If the listener, you out there was in a hot seat with you, what would go down? How would you help tease out this referable brand and clarity on that?

Michael Roderick:
Yeah, so often what I would do is I would ask them to tell me what they do in their own words. And what would happen is they would word bomb. They would have probably some tag lines, right?

Chris Badgett:
Right.

Michael Roderick:
And most of the time I’d say, “Okay, fine. What else?” Right? And I would just let them talk. Usually, for a couple of minutes. And most of the time what’ll happen is when people feel uncomfortable, they’ll just keep talking, right?

Chris Badgett:
Right.

Michael Roderick:
If you just say like, “Here’s the question. Just like keep going.” They’ll just keep going. I let them go for a while. And what I do it is I write down any word that I hear or any concept that I hear that actually gets my attention. And I treat it the same way that like when I used to raise money for Broadway shows, it was the same thing. I would literally sit in the audience and ask myself, “Did I care?” Right? If suddenly I was watching a show and I was like, “Oh, my God, I care. That’s so interesting. I want to pay attention to that.” Then, I knew that there was something there.

Michael Roderick:
But if I was sitting there and being like, “I don’t really care.” Like, “What are these people doing?” I knew that it wasn’t a fit. If I was listening to somebody in a hot seat scenario, they’re going to say a bunch of stuff that I don’t care about. They’re going to say a bunch of stuff that’s like, “That’s not interesting. That has nothing to do with solving somebody’s problem, any of those type of things.

Michael Roderick:
And then, they’re going to say something, usually a throw away thing. And then, I’m going to ask them, “So, I’m just curious, have you ever used that phrase before in your marketing?” And they’re going to be like, “No.” Right? Because to them, it seems simple. It seems too simple a lot of the time. And I can’t tell you the number of times it’s been, they have this side thing, like I often say. A lot of the time your side dish becomes your main. Right? A lot of the time, you end up in the scenario where it’s like this thing that you throw away or this tagline, this thing that you say that you don’t really care about becomes the thing that everybody wants.

Michael Roderick:
And the thing that you’ve slaved on forever, becomes the thing that nobody really cares about. Right? A lot of the times, you’ll sort of like, unload all of that, let’s find the words, and then dig deeper and start to say like, “Okay, now that I’ve gotten this handled on what’s interesting, and if you’re interested in using that language, well, let’s explore how that language ties to your offer. And let’s make sure that that language that you’re using is actually congruent with the offer that you’ve got for people and what you’re really selling.”

Michael Roderick:
A lot of the time, we think that we’re selling people one thing, and we’re actually selling them something completely different. And a lot of the time, we’re just too close to our own stuff. It’s like there are colored pixels on the TV and our face is pressed up against the screen, so all we’re seeing is colored pixels.

Michael Roderick:
We need somebody in back of us to basically be like, let us know what’s on TV, and then most importantly, let us know if we need to change the channel.

Chris Badgett:
Good stuff. Good stuff.

Michael Roderick:
Thanks.

Chris Badgett:
How about the intersection of the personal and the corporate brand or the business brand? Which one is it? Or is it both? Or for like specifically for somebody building a training platform online as kind of an expert on something, are they building a personal brand or are they building the equivalent of Product Launch Formula?

Michael Roderick:
Yeah.

Chris Badgett:
Like Jeff Walker and Product Launch Formula, which one’s the referable brand?

Michael Roderick:
Yeah, so in Jeff’s case, it’s probably Product Launch Formula. Because that’s the thing that gets shared more than his name. Obviously, over the years, he’s become more well known, so it just kind of changed a little bit. But if you think about it, people weren’t saying, “I want to go to a Jeff Walker event. I’m going to a Jeff Walker Mastermind.” It was, “I’m reading Product Launch Formula.” Right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
Most of the time, it was that. Right? And ultimately, it’s up to us how we want to do it, right? There’s a choice that you make where you decide like, am I going to be the wizard? Or am I going to be the person behind the curtain? If you make the decision to be the wizard, you are engaging what I like to refer to as the Faustian bargain of the personal brand. Because everything’s going to be built on you. If you decide, and you’re the wizard, it’s going to be your name and you want people to know you and you want to be famous in that particular context, then you get all of the extra crap that comes with becoming a celebrity, right? You’re making a choice if you decide that’s like what you want, right? That you want to be known for you.

Michael Roderick:
And everything that you do is now up on the radar. Right? And Tim Ferriss even wrote about this, right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
It’s like his personal brand got so big that he had people stalking him and he had all of these challenges, right? And there are lots of instances where people go through that if they decide that they’re going to be the wizard. Right? And if they decide like, I want personal brand to be the front. If you decide to be the person behind the curtain, then what you do is you put the focus on your ideas and your concepts and your frameworks and you leave yourself kind of out of the mix. Right? And what tends to happen, a lot of the time with those people, is that people then kind of seek out the wizard. Right?

Chris Badgett:
Yeah.

Michael Roderick:
They’re like, “Who is the person behind all of this? I need to know who that person is.” But it’s a personal choice of what you want to put out into the world. And it can change. Right? When I was teaching high school and running a theater company, I was the guy who ran Small Pond Entertainment, right? I was the artistic director of that company and that’s how people knew me. But then as a Broadway producer, I was Michael Roderick, right? It didn’t matter that I ran Small Pond Entertainment. It didn’t matter that I had that entertainment company. It was, I was the producer and that was my name. And then, it was, I was the guy who ran Small Pond Enterprises when I started all the consulting work and I was doing all the stuff there.

Michael Roderick:
And eventually, it turned into my name ended up becoming out there, going out there more and now that I’m talking about referable brand, there’s way more focus on referable brand and people are reaching out to me from a referable brand standpoint. And I’m not on all of the platforms showing you what I’ve had for dinner or taking… I’ve got a three-and-a-half year old and a seven month old, so it’s not like I’m living the laptop lifestyle on some beach somewhere. Right? I’m busy. Right?

Michael Roderick:
I’m not going to be the one to showcase everything that’s going on in my life right now, because I don’t have the time. And who wants to watch 30 hours of me live streaming coca melons, you know? It’s just like, it’s not going to happen.

Michael Roderick:
I think that that’s the thing that you have to think about. You have to ask yourself, like which of these directions do I want to go? Do I want to go wizard or do I want to go man or woman behind the curtain?

Chris Badgett:
Well said. That’s Michael Roderick from Small Pond Enterprises. And before we leave, could you just tell us how to best find you on the Internet? And also, if you could real quick take us through that container contents exercise? If somebody is teaching leadership or they’re teaching dating or they’re teaching some health and fitness thing. Just take us through that exercise one more time and let us know how to find you.

Michael Roderick:
Sure, sure. Sounds good. Let’s say they’re health and fitness, right? And normally, wellness is your container word, right? But inside of wellness, there’s all sorts of very, very specific things that are happening. Let’s say, from a wellness standpoint, you are somebody who has managed to really just become really, really built in a very, very short period of time, right? You’ve just like, you’ve done it over the course of like a couple of months and people are like, “How the heck did you build this much muscle?” Or whatever the scenario is, right?

Michael Roderick:
You’re likely not going to use words that are soft and wellness-y if you’re trying to sell people on the fact that you’re going to help them build muscle. Right? You’re probably going to have some like-

Chris Badgett:
Seven minute ads or whatever, right?

Michael Roderick:
Exactly. Builder buster kind of crazy type type of thing, right? And then, you’re going to think about all the words that tied to who you are, right? Let’s just say for example, you are like your background is that you were a gymnast. Right? You might call your program like the Rings of Gold or something. Bodybuilder Blast Program or something. It’ll tie to who you are and it’s going to be your language. It’s going to be your words. It’s not going to be somebody else’s. It’s not going to be somebody else’s phrase. Or somebody else’s idea.

Michael Roderick:
It’s like, I could talk, you know, so another example just of my own, right? Is that I could tell you that when people reach out to you and they want something that you should find ways to basically give them something to do in order to not end up having to take that call right away. Right?

Michael Roderick:
And that would be basic advice. But the second that I turn it into, have you ever read the book, Give a Mouse a Cookie? And most parents have. Right?

Chris Badgett:
I have not read that one.

Michael Roderick:
If you get, the concept of the book is if you give a mouse of cookie, he’ll ask for a glass of milk. If he asks for a glass of milk, it’s going to make him tired, he’s going to want to sleep in your bed. If you let him sleep in your bed, he’s going to sleep in your bed, he’s going to want a cookie again, and the whole cycle is going to start again. For a lot of people who are popular, when people reach out, they’re give a mouse a cookie people. Where it’s like, if you tell them, “Yes, I’ll met with you.” Then, they’re going to ask you for all sorts of different types of things, et cetera.

Michael Roderick:
But literally, if you say, “Yeah, I would be happy to meet with you. Could you just write a small description of what it is that you want to talk about?” 90% of the people will leave. Because they don’t want to do any of the work. Right? You can figure out which people are the give a mouse a cookie people, right? And which people are really clients. Now you see, like I just gave you two scenarios, right? But one was total container words and one was content.

Chris Badgett:
Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Well, how could the good people find you, Michael.

Michael Roderick:
Sure, sure. I’m all over the socials. On the web I’m just at SmallPondEnterprises.com. But I am also on the Book of Faces as Mike Roderick, as opposed to Michael. And the reason for that is that my Michael Roderick account got hacked. I ended up in the scenario where I had to actually create a whole other account. But yeah, if you look me up, I’m on the Book of Faces and LinkedIn, Twitter, all those types of places. You can always just feel free to reach out and happy to be helpful in any way I can.

Chris Badgett:
Awesome. Well, Michael, thanks for coming on and sharing your wisdom with us today. We really appreciate it.

Michael Roderick:
Yeah. Thanks, very much for having me. This was an absolute blast.

Chris Badgett:
And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to LifterLMS.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.

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