Join hosts Chris Goede and Perry Holley as they welcome renowned brand expert Scott Wozniak back to the studio to unlock the secrets of building an iconic brand. Drawing from his vast experiences with industry giants like Chick-fil-A and Harley Davidson, Scott shares invaluable insights on understanding customer needs and values, as well as the importance of operational excellence and how it cultivates trust among customers. They uncover the power of creating unforgettable moments and forging emotional connections, leading to positive word-of-mouth and sustainable growth. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to uncover the key ingredients to crafting a legendary brand.
Welcome to the Maxwell Leadership executive podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holly, a Maxwell leadership, facilitator and coach.
And I’m Chris Goede, executive vice president of Maxwell Leadership. Welcome and thank you for joining. If you’re listening to us, you might not be smiling right now, but if you’re watching on YouTube, you are probably like, what are those two big old guys sitting next to each other? Well, we are doing this because we have the privilege today. This is part two. And so let me just stop real quick because if you missed part one, you need to go back and listen to that last week, the foundation of really just getting to know Scott Wozniak, our guest today at Maxwell leadership, we got to hear a little bit about his personal journey, his personal story. And what was fascinating is how do you have a legendary career?
What was fascinating was he skis down mountains on a helicopter.
And we’re not going to tell you about that, but you got to go. Listen, there are many, many other things that this guy does, and I think he’s just an adventure junkie, which you and I are not, right? And so this doesn’t bode well for us. But what we wanted to do was we wanted to now kind of dive in and say, okay, he talked a little bit about, man, maybe what you’re good at is not what you should be doing to have a legendary career. And so not only did he take all the lessons that he learned from that and what he went through, but then now he put it into and he said, okay, how do you now have a legendary brand? So let’s say you’re leading a team. Let’s say you’re leading an organization. By the way, I believe as individuals, we have our own brands and I think my team has a brand. So don’t check out on me if you go, I’m in marketing. I’m not in charge of brand.
Don’t check out on me because I believe that there’s something here for all of us to learn. And so, Scott, thanks for joining us again as we dive into the book, which, by the way, let me just say thank you on behalf of Maxwell leadership and John Maxwell, allowing us to partner with you and to publish that book. We’re going to talk a little bit about this, how to build a legendary brand, the customer experience engine. Talk to us a little bit about that from an overview.
Yeah. So I started by working on helping individual leaders. And really quickly, some of those leaders said, well, if you really want to help me, help me build my organization, help me build my company. What are we doing here? And it turns out that some of my high school friends had a really cool opportunity for me. So I happened to go to high school with the Kathy family that owns this little bitty restaurant chain. I don’t know if you guys have heard of this place. It’s called Chick fil A.
Heard of it? If they had stock, I would probably own a lot because it’s very expensive in my household.
That’s exactly right. We’ve helped fund a lot of their activities in my family as well. Andrew Cathy, who’s the current CEO of Chickfila, and I went to high school together. So good buddies. But back then, 25 ish years ago, I was like, hey, good luck with your little mall restaurant. Hope you guys make it. Yeah, they’re going to make it. About 15 years ago, I’m doing this consulting and helping people build companies and learning how to learn and all this cool stuff we talked about last time.
And the folks at Chickfila said, hey, will you come work with us? So I was visiting my friends and family here in Atlanta, and they’re like, Wait, talk to us about this new thing you’re doing, leadership and strategy. And so, long story short, I ended up at a really unique job, which leads directly to the stuff I’m doing now for Career and Book. They said, Listen, we’ve kind of got the fundamentals figured out, because I said, I don’t know how to run a restaurant at the time. I’d done none of that. They’re like, We’ve got the basics down. We want to just keep growing, learning how to learn, figure all that stuff out. So here’s my job. My title was Organizational Effectiveness Consultant, which is incredibly vague, right? Just make the organization effective.
What I functionally did was they literally said, hey, half your time, just travel the world. Go inside the great brands, figure out what they did, how do they do it, how do they operate. What about this, what about that? We’d pick a topic, and I’d go find who did it, and I’d get five certifications and go work on their teams and join behind the scenes. And the other half the job was, okay, take all the stuff you’re learning, come back to Chickfila and upgrade that part of the company for us. So I had a team there’s, a team of us. We would go do this and run around, and, man, it was a blast. I got a master’s in business. I learned ten times more doing this job than I did in my degree.
Not because my degree wasn’t awesome, just what an amazing job. So we learned a lot, and I would say Chickfila grew a lot. I can’t claim credit for it, but I say I was in the room while we figured out a lot of this stuff, and I was like, oh, that, and that and that. Well, then I wrote a previous book. It was an individual. Like, helped me grow as an individual. Leader wrote a leadership fable. That’s fun.
But that started getting me attention and people started saying, hey, what about this? And can you help me speak here? And so I’m doing speaking on the side. And long story short, the outside opportunities became so big that a lot of prayer. It’s actually my mentor at Chick fil A said, maybe you should go do some of that. And so I felt called to leave the safety nest of Chickfila, go build my own consulting company to help companies build legendary brands. Of course, the first client that signed me was Chickfila. So I keep working with them. I’ve worked with them every year ever since. But now I’ve got a team and we’ve got 18 folks, and we help build legendary brands and all the systems and tools.
And so in the early days, I would just say, hey, here’s this, here’s that, here’s this tool. And then eventually we drew this diagram of an engine and said, here’s the pattern. And what I found is, every great brand, whether it’s a manufacturing company or a software company, legal firm, whether you’re retail or whether you’re kind of business to business, all of them have a general pattern that the engine describes. Now the application gets different, but it was like, oh, look at this universal thread. This is what the greats did to get their unique position, where everybody says, man, for example, like in Chickfila, people will say, I want to be the Chickfila of my industry, right? Well, I want to be the Apple of my industry. I want to be whatever the HarleyDavidson, the brands that kind of become amazing. There’s a pattern. And so that’s what this we’ve been doing this training, consulting, helping companies build that for 15 years now.
Finally wrote the book, said, Let me describe all this. I’ve been talking about it and doing it and sharing this with clients all over the place. And so we finally turned that into a book that here’s the pattern, here’s what the greats do, because it’s not magic, it’s not luck, it’s not, gee, we were in the right place, right time, or we have a special kind of product. There’s a pattern. And if you put the right systems in place, you get the same outcome.
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So the book is The Customer Experience Engine and this idea that you can replicate what people do, legendary brands. I’ve personally been speaking on leading through Change recently, and one of the examples I use when I picked up your book, I was reading a laugh because one of the examples I’ve stumbled on recently was I asked people, do you have any Lego blocks around your house? And everybody in the room says, yes, I have Legos. I said, how is that possible in 2023 with all the technology and video games and all this? How is this little plastic block a worldwide phenomena, still growing? It’s bigger than anything else on the planet, and it’s plastic. It’s a toy. And I thought you called it out in your book. It’s part of the legendary brand. About how they did that.
Tell me more. They lost their patent on that. I mean, anyone else can make the exact same blocks now, and we’ll pay two to three times amount for Lego plastic than we will for anyone else’s plastic. Yeah. It’s remarkable.
It’s a great story, and I love you called out some of the you called out Chick fil A, but one I had to smile was if anybody’s traveled much in Georgia, now we’re starting to see it. Bucky’s is this legendary following, and you called out what would make somebody tattoo the brand name on their body? So harley Davidson. So a lot goes into how do you have these raving fans, people that follow you to your legendary brand? So can we jump into the components of this engine? I’d like to just maybe get you to talk a little bit about those I love. The first one you start with is the first part of the engine is customer insight, and you call it the fuel for the engine. Tell me more about the importance of insights for the customer.
Yeah, it all begins with this assumption that I know my customers, right? I’m an oversimplified business, or really any organization. This engine actually works in nonprofit leaders as well. We don’t call it customers. We might call it members or patients. But whoever you’re serving, here’s the basic idea. We provide something that they value enough that they give us their time and money to engage with. So that assumes you know what they care about. Do you really know your customers? And honestly, what we found is most companies don’t have customer insight.
They have customer data. They know facts, what they buy, when they buy, maybe their zip code. Right. But we don’t actually get the next level of depth where we understand what’s going on in their life. How do we play a role? What do they really use us for? It’s not our thing. Maybe the classic old example of this is the idea of we sell drill bits we sell quarter inch drill bits. No, they don’t want a drill bit. They want a quarter inch hole.
In fact, they don’t even want a hole. They want to hang something. The drill bit is merely a means to the end. And if all you know is they buy drill bits, you don’t actually understand where you play. So insight is this next level understanding of who do we serve and why? Why do they care about us? Not what the why? And there’s systems and tools from surveys to salespeople, to mystery shops to industry research. There’s a lot of different ways different businesses go about getting this. But that’s why I love this as a fuel. The more you understand what’s going on with your customers, the more effective and efficient every other part of the decision can be.
And the less you have that, the more kind of raw it is, the more inefficient every other decision you make is because, frankly, without insight, you’re guessing. And sometimes you waste time and money and your staff time guessing wrong. Right.
We all have an emotional connection to those businesses, positive or negative. Right. And oftentimes it really falls for me as I go in to experience something like I think about son is, my son is going to school right now over in Mississippi. And so I get excited every weekend to go visit him, to go visit him. But also, I know halfway there’s a bucky’s and that’s where I’m stopping. But what I love about is there’s an emotional connection with us and all kinds of brands. And oftentimes for me, that’s tied to your second point, which is the operational excellence. Talk a little bit about that and why that’s a key component as part of your engine.
Yeah. So this fuel feeds in and there’s three big gears if you want to visualize it. This one’s the biggest. And then two little gears. So this is the heart of the deal. But man, Chris, this is not where most people expect me to go, right? Customer experience, raving fans. We’re going to talk about parties and handwritten notes. We’ll get to all that.
The first most critical thing you have to do is show up with Operational Excellence. I mean, get the fundamentals right. And the mistake most people make in this is we start thinking about how good we can be. I mean, I do this, our instinct is like, well, how good is my team? How good is my software? We have really unique content, right? Yay, that’s nice. But that’s not really what your customers are asking. They’re not asking how good can you be? The question they’re asking is, Can I trust you? Can I trust you? Will you be there when I count on so, actually, let me warning, I’m about to pick on McDonald’s. I actually don’t dislike McDonald’s. They’re a good business.
I will probably always enjoy a Big Mac. It tastes like childhood to me, right? I mean, there’s something I love McDonald’s, but, man, they’re easy to pick on when it comes to operational excellence. And it’s because they’re ah, you can’t count on them. It’s sloppy. Here’s the thing. I’ve talked I’ve got friends who’ve worked at the headquarters. They’re great people. They’re smart, and they’ll say, honestly, it’s not fair, right? We’re not always bad, and they’re not wrong.
Like, I don’t know if you guys have ever gotten lucky and gotten McDonald’s fries when they just happened to come out, right? Just the timing. The fresh batch hit right when it was your turn. I mean, no offense to my friends at Chick fil A, but Dang McDonald’s might have the best fries in the business.
It’s not that they’re never good. It’s that they’re inconsistently good. It’s not that they never have good fries, and that’s what we’re like. Oh, and my fries can be awesome. No, it’s that I don’t trust them because I’ve also gotten unlucky, and the fries have been sitting there for 30 minutes, and they’re cold and chewy. And so this is the big idea of operational excellence. This is the hard truth, is that being inconsistently excellent. Earns you the same amount of trust as being consistently bad.
You don’t get partial trust for partial excellence. They either count on you or they don’t. And so this is the tragedy. McDonald’s is they’re not bad even most of the time. I would say the majority of the time, McDonald’s is okay, but they’re just bad enough that we’ve lost trust. And because of that, now we think they’re all bad. So, operational excellence, if you don’t get this right, nothing else matters. We say this is first in sequence and in priority.
Show up with excellence, do the hard work, get the fundamentals down tight. I mean, some of why we love Bucky’s, right, is because the bathrooms aren’t nasty. That’s it, right? They have fancy stuff. But if the bathrooms are nasty, I wouldn’t care. What do you know? I never have to worry. Their bathrooms are always clean and shining. That alone sets them in a whole new category. We’re like, guys, why else would I stop anywhere else?
Yeah, I thought that you could get a brisket. Biscuit was the reason to stop.
I mean, that’s part of it. But the wife says we’re going to that bathroom.
Which is why there’s more than one gear in the engine. Perry, I’ll tell you go ahead. But if the bathrooms were nasty, it didn’t matter how good the brisket is, right? That’s where the problem is. If the floor is sticky when you walk on it, then you distrust the brisket sandwich.
That’s exactly right. One thing I was speaking in Charlotte a couple of weeks ago. I drive back to Atlanta, and there’s this billboard. I love it. It’s a Buckies billboard, and it says, 288 miles to the next Buckies. I go, what a marketing campaign to say 288 miles. It’s like, okay, just another 6 hours this way. It’s worth it.
Near my house, there’s a sign that says, next bucky’s 88 miles. You can hold it.
They’re not wrong, right? Like kids, cross your legs. I’m not stopping. This is where we’re going.
So the operational excellence and Trust is such a big deal. I won’t give it away here. You need to get the book. But Scott goes into five levels of trust that are important there. So you want to see that. But the third component of the engine, once we had customer insight, we had this operational excellence. I love this. It goes to personalized.
Excellent. Personalized service. Tell me more about it. Can’t just be up here. It’s got to be personal.
Yeah. Well, if you just want satisfied customers, you can stop at operational Excellence. This is fine, right? Good. You can build a decent business off that. But if you want raving fans, then you got to get them to love you and have this emotional interaction with you. And the best way to get somebody to love you is to love on them first in a personalized way. See, the first question they might be asking is, can I trust you? But then they start asking, do you care about me? I mean, this is a fundamental human deal. Do you see me? Do I matter as a person to you? Or am I just another transaction? So this is a little gear in the diagram.
It doesn’t take a ton of time and effort the way we say it is. Once or twice a year, do one or two things to say, I see you. I notice you. You matter. And it’s got to be personalized. It’s got to say, hey, Perry. Hey, Chris. Right? It’s got to have something that meets me.
Specifically. It’s communication. Now, it changes. You can do high touch things, right? Where I’m sending a personal note or a personal gift. It can be high tech things. I mean, if you’re not using a CRM or customer relationship management stuff, you’re missing out on tons of really easy ways to just send little personal notes and messages and, hey, you head up to the beach. And now we put that in the system, and somebody says, hey, Chris, I heard you just went to the beach. These little touches that I see what’s going on in your world, you matter to me.
Those are super powerful. And so, again, the question they’re asking is, do you notice me? Do you care about me as a person? What we like to say is, listen, we’re all in the people business. You might do construction, or you might do ministry, or you might do education. That’s fine. That’s your tool. It’s just your tool to make people’s lives better. It’s not the thing. It’s the thing we use that bless people on the other end.
And so let’s not miss that. There are real humans that are using our stuff, real humans interacting with us, who have a story, who need to be seen. And again, we don’t have to be lifetime best friends with everybody all day, every day. But once or twice a year, you do these systematic little touches to say, I see you. I get you. You matter. And man, it can unlock a whole new level of interaction with them.
But this really speaks to us on five levels and five levels of influence. And John Maxwell is always there’s three questions everyone’s asking about you. Do you care about trust? Are you trying to help me? Do you care about me? And can I trust you? You just hit those and say as part of your personalized service, it really is about how you connecting with people. So I’m sorry.
No, you’re good. And I love the overlap and the principles even just tied to leadership outside of a brand experience, to what Scott’s sharing with us. Again, let me go back to I said something as we started our personal brand. It’d be interesting for people to take what Scott’s created and just thinking that, man, what are the gears, right? And you look at this because when I think about and you talk a lot about this, we talk about people want to now more than ever, they want to feel seen and they want to feel heard. And so anyways, I have all these thoughts going in in what Scott’s sharing with us about this experience and this personalized service and the interaction with leadership. So anyways, that might be another podcast when we don’t have a guest. You got to create the content. You can figure that out.
Hey, I want to go to the fourth thing kind of in this engine that you lay out. And we talk a lot about we got to deliver a good product and good service and all kinds of stuff. But then we talk about you got to have a great customer experience. Those things that people remember, the memorable moments, whether it is we’re sticking on this Bucky’s thing sorry. Whether it is a clean bathroom or the fact that I was there with my nephews a couple of weeks ago and out comes Bucky and right in the middle of the store, and it’s chaos, and they’re taking pictures and they’re like, Uncle Chris, get in the know. And so you create these moments, talk about the importance of that in this engine, and just give us a little bit of teaser of what you have in the book around this content.
Yeah. So if you did everything else but this last part, gear memorable moments, right? They love you, right? You got to know them. You showed up with trust and excellence. You made them feel seen and heard. But there’s a difference between loving fans and raving fans. Just because they love you doesn’t mean they’re going to talk about you. And this might be the most valuable business part of it, or mission part of it, is when your people bring you more people who bring you more people, that’s exponential growth, right? So this is about how to activate people that love you. So if you just skip to this and don’t do the first part, it’s not going to do you any good.
But if you’ve already shown up and they love you, then what you do is you create a memorable moment. What makes a moment memorable? It’s got a story. People don’t tell facts. They tell stories. So something that pops, some little event or activity that gives them a chance to talk about it. And this is the key insight. The mistake most businesses make here is they try to tell a story about how awesome the business is. We want to be the hero of the story.
The metaphor I’m going to use is Star Wars, because maybe I’m into crazy hella skiing. See last week, right? But I’m also a bit of a nerd, so I want to be a Jedi, right? I might have a Jedi robe and lightsaber in the closet for the kids. For the kids, right? It’s for the kids. So I keep wanting to make a story about how I’m Luke Skywalker, right? I’m the hero. Hang on. Young Luke. Not depressed, deadbeat dad, old Luke. They wrecked that guy.
Okay, so I’m Luke. I’m Rey. I’m a Jedi, and they might even believe I’m a Jedi, but they don’t want to tell people about me. They don’t want to tell my story. They want to tell their story. The mistake is to make you the hero of the story. Instead, make your customers the hero of this memorable moment. Now, we need to be in the story to kind of get some value out of it and float.
So we play instead of Luke. We play yoda. We’re the mentor. We’re the guide. That helps our customer realize you are pretty stinking awesome. And so you find a way this is where customer insight comes back, right? What do your customers actually want to be like? What do they dream of? What do they value in their life? Find a way to give them a chance to feel like that, and your brand becomes an excuse to prove to yourself and the world, I really am this kind of person. Harley Davidson. Right.
When they tattoo your logo on your body, you might have Raving fans. That’s a little clue. So what do the guys love about Harley? They got to have operational excellence. They got to have a personal touch. It’s all custom jobs. There’s no standard Harley. But really, the guys who go nuts have the jackets and do all that stuff, it’s because how they feel when they’re on the bike. And the research would say they feel wild, dangerous, and free.
Right? It’s not the bike. It’s I’m awesome. Not just the bike’s. Awesome. I’m still listen. The rest of you guys might be domesticated, but I’m still a bad, right? Like, that’s the feeling. But Chick fil A totally not about wild and dangerous. Chick fil A’s focus is, man.
I’m a good parent. They do daddy daughter date nights and mother son deals and father. It’s like, Man, I’m the kind of dad who would take his daughter to cool events. I mean, pictures of me and my girl Apple. Apple does their ethos. This is my language, not theirs. But it’s all about listen, I’m not a jerk about it, but I’m a little more creative and cool than everyone else, right? Like, you mean, boring folks, but I’m the cool guy. Think about their commercials.
It’s not about how cool our product is. Their product is just in the background as a way to prove I’m one of the creatives. Right? 1984, famous commercial. Or do you remember the old, like, two people standing up, and you’d have one guy who says, I’m Mac, and he’s all, cool and young kid, right? And then some old dude who’s overweight and a bad dude, I’m DC, and we’re all like, I’m the cool kid. The product is just an excuse to I really maybe I am the kind of person I always dreamed of. I’m this kind of person because I associate with these guys. So you create a story worthy moment that makes them feel like they’re the kind of people that really are your kind of people. And these little moments, I mean, once or twice a year, do one or two memorable moments, and the buzz goes nuts.
I mean, people talk and talk, and nothing is more powerful for your business than getting people to talk about you. So that’s the last thing that just tips it over the edge, and then your business takes off in this crazy exponential growth.
I love that. Did you show them your Bucky’s tattoo?
I did not. Okay, not on camera.
All right, so as we work toward wrapping it up, scott, I want to get number five in there. So we had customer insight, operational excellence, personalized service, those memorable moments, storytelling. Love that. And then number five. Don’t know. I should be concerned that it’s number five, but it says, a healthy leadership team. I know, as I read in your book, about having a highly engaged workforce, and we talk a lot about employee engagement and that sort of thing, but take us home with the healthy leadership team.
Well, I got to confess, Perry, this wasn’t in the early versions, but it’s not because I don’t love leadership. Right? If you remember the last discussion we had last week, I am all about leadership. I grew up on John Maxwell stuff. I’ve got a master’s in organizational leadership. But I’m thinking, hey, I’m talking about the customer experience. I can’t put everything in the book that everything in the diagram that you should probably also pay. Your taxes. That’s probably important for success, but that’s not in the book.
Right, but here’s what we did find is I go to do this and we kept running into the Walt. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn’t. And when it wouldn’t, we try to figure out why, like, they’re doing most of this. And what it came down to is they didn’t have a healthy leadership team. If the whole team doesn’t align and work as a single group with one shared score, that’s the keywords. Healthy, right. A lot of smart people, but if they don’t feel like they’re a true team, they’re really not functioning with that collaboration and shared resources and challenge and encouragement, then what happened is we’d find like, some part of the engine would take off and some part would stall. And if you install half the engine, you get none of the benefits.
That’s why the team is not a separate gear. It’s a belt that runs behind and keeps all the stuff flowing and sinking and it’s just like a loop of continuous improvement. That’s the team’s job. And so what we now do is if we’re going to work with a company and do kind of a long term process to help them build their engine, the very first thing we work on is, let’s stop and talk about your leadership team. Because I don’t know if you guys have heard this quote before, but one guy once said, everything rises and falls on leadership. We know that guy Maxwell, right? I think he says that once a month somewhere, but I think it’s true. Even your customer experience assumes you’ve got good leaders. So yes, this is the belt that just assume if you don’t have this, you’re going to try to build all these parts and the engine won’t mean if you know much about kind of engines and belts, they’re these overlooked little things that actually end up making the whole engine synchronized and smooth.
So, yeah, that’s the last piece of the engine is, man, don’t try to do this on your own. Bring your team along. Bring the whole team along. And what do you know when you stack all these things together? No one of these things is ridiculously hard or costs a ton of money. Each them by itself is like, oh, I could do that, oh, I could do that. And then when you stack them together, they produce what looks like magic to everyone else. Like, whoa, how do these guys do it? This is how they do it. Everyone can build this.
And when you do, the predictable result, the normal output of your engine is you’ll just have raving fans.
Fantastic. Well, the book is Customer Experience Engine. Scott, tell us where our listeners can learn more about you, more about the book and more about your services.
Yeah, so you can get the book on Maxwell Leadership’s Book Resource page so we’ll have links and all that stuff there. If you want to find out more about me and the stuff I’m doing, you can go to Scott Wozniak.com. That’s Scottwozniak.com. You’ll see my blog and newsletter. I just started a podcast trying to learn from you guys and keep up and so lots of fun stuff going on there. Plus my company, you’ll have links to all that fun stuff. But yeah, Scott Wozniak.com is probably the best chance to kind of see what I’m doing and maybe even get pictures of me jumping out of a helicopter.
Yes, of you jumping out of a helicopter. This has been fantastic. Thank you so much. And just thank our listeners for following along. If you want to learn more about Scott and to get the Learner guide for this episode, if you want to leave us a comment or a question, you can do all that at MaxwellLeadership.com/Podcast. We love hearing from you. We’re very grateful you’d spend this time with us today. That’s all today from the Maxwell Leadership executive podcast.