Minter Dialogue with Stan Phelps

Stan Phelps, who is known for his distinct pink glasses and vibrant approach to marketing, has spent decades refining the art of standing out. He has been a prolific author, with his “Goldfish” series, qualified by a spectrum of colors, each representing a different aspect of business and marketing. In this episode, Stan delves into the importance of customer experience over the product itself, the power of prioritizing employees to drive engagement, and the significance of catering to your most valuable customers and employees. He shares his journey from “Purple Goldfish” through to “Pink Goldfish 2.0,” highlighting the evolution of his ideas and the necessity of updating his work to reflect the current business landscape.

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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).

Full transcript via

SUMMARY KEYWORDS: pink, people, stand, imperfection, idea, customers, minter, dave, weakness, stan, book, goldfish, meaningful, business, employees, write, put, mentor, wanted, story

SPEAKERS: Minter Dial, Stan Phelps

Minter Dial  00:04

Stan Phelps, I think I’m nearing on 600 interviews, and I haven’t had many repeat guests. But when I saw you provoked me into having to get you back on when you finish the Pink Goldfish 2.0 Which of course in the back of 1.0, but who the heck is a man who writes Pink Goldfish and wears red glasses?

Stan Phelps  00:34

So, Minter? Great, great to be here as a repeat guest. I’m an author, and a speaker, I come at it from a couple of decades in marketing. And just about 12 years ago, launched my first book in the goldfish series, which was called Purple Goldfish.

Minter Dial  00:59

And was that purple any hat tip to Mr. Godin? I don’t remember when Purple Cow came out?

Stan Phelps  01:08

Yeah, Purple Cow was in the early 2000s. Certainly, I think purple has become kind of the color of differentiation. And so, a little bit of a hat tip to set an amazing mind. And Purple Cow was really about the idea that you needed to make your product unique and remarkable. And my my point, when I came out with purple goldfish, there’s a bit of a metaphor behind goldfish, was the idea of little things that you could do to stand out, given the experience that you provide to your customers.

Minter Dial  01:49

Right, different than just the product?

Stan Phelps  01:51

Correct? Yeah, it’s, it’s not about what you do. I think we live in a pretty flat world, where it’s hard to truly stand out on the product or the service that you provide, if we’re being honest. And I think the way that you stand out is is why you do it. And maybe just as important how you do it. And that that was the that was the that was the Purple Goldfish.

Minter Dial  02:22

Nice. Well, I have to give a hat tip to use, Stan, because from the time I think it was one of your TED talks or something, yes. You, you talk about the four phases of business? Or what cycle or style of business are you? Are you are you in making profit, are you and that’s great, you know, I need me to make profit, but maybe move along. And it turns out that the customer pays you and then you can get the profit from what the customer pays you. And then the third phase was what actually turns out that the employees are feeding the customers or making the customers happy. And if the customers happy, then they make profit. Well, then actually, what is it that stimulates the employees? And that’s purpose. And I love that model. I mean, I kind of lived it. And so, it was a such a very clear way of presenting it. So, I’ve long and I’ve always credited you, Stan, for that? That sort of model. Alright, so you write the purple one, and then you go through the cycle? And are you right, the Pink Goldfish, as I understand it, first version in 2018. Right. And then the second one, so I mean, and you’re just finished the blue, blue 2.0. I’m wondering, what was the process that goes into why and when you do a second version? Is it more like a cycle through? Or does this is the God knows I have to do? Blue 3.0 Next, or you know why and why pink? 2.0?

Stan Phelps  03:50

Yeah, so the real quick progression is, you know, pink was the sixth color in the series. There’s now 11 colors. And then there’s to your point 2.0’s. And there’s even some industry specific versions of the books. So, blue 2.0 is the 19th book in the Goldfish series. But to answer your question, I mean, I wrote purple thinking, Hey, I was a marketer. I thought marketing should be focused on the customer and their experience. But then I realized, and you just made it the point is that the companies that truly got it mentored didn’t put the customer first they put their employees first. And that led me to write the green goldfish, which was the same concept of, of how do you do little things for your employees to drive engagement and reinforce culture in the organization? And then I wrote that book and I thought, I’m finished there. And then I realized, not all customers and not all employees. are created equal. And that lead to the third color, which was gold. And gold is based on the idea that 80% of your profitability typically comes from just 20% of your customers 80% of the value that’s generated in an organization, just 20% of the employees. So, I used to think you treated everyone the same. No way. And then very quickly, I don’t want to go through all the colors. In 2000. In 2016, I did blue goldfish, which is about technology, data and analytics, and how that was impacting the experience you provide. That was followed by red, I think we talked about red a while. Yep, yep. Reds all about purpose, the 4.0 version of business that was followed up by pink, and pink, the color pink? Well, red is purpose blue technology, there’s some symbolism behind that. Pink is is an ode to my co author, who’s about right now meters two meters tall, Dave Rendell, who wears head to toe pink. I mean, if you’ve seen a guy who’s two meters tall, six foot six, with pink pants on. It is on forgettable mentor. And so, Dave had this amazing book called The Freak factor, the freak factor and the idea that every weakness has a corresponding strength. And that what makes us weird, is also what makes us wonderful. And so, I saw how that could apply to branding and to marketing, and positioning. And I approached Dave, who’s a very good friend. And I said, Let’s collect a couple 100 Few 100 examples. And let’s write pink goldfish. And it came out in 2018. And to get back to what you asked is that that book got such a great reception. And we got more and more examples, that in 2021, just three years later, we’re like, we need to come out with the 2.0 of the book. And we added an additional way. We added an additional how, and just it is such a vibrant book compared to the first one.

Minter Dial  07:47

Well, I didn’t read the first one in total, honestly, but I certainly devoured the second one. And it I mean, it speaks to me on so many levels. And I wanted to thank you also for I saw a little acknowledgement with my name in the front. I mean, no, that was a surprise gift. And I asked you to come on the podcast now because I knew that you’d done that. So, I really appreciate that. So, when we talk about the pink goldfish to your job, first of all, which is speaking, and I’m wondering, to what extent how do you apply the pink goldfish in the world of speaking to the extent that the world has changed in between 2017 and 2023?

Stan Phelps  08:35

Yeah, it, it has changed immensely. One. I try to live a lot of the principles in the book. I tell people, it’s you got to eat your own dog food. And so, the idea of a pink goldfish is how do you define normal and exploit imperfection. And so, there’s eight different ways we talk about it in the book, but I’ll give you an example of things for me as a speaker. So, typically people who do what I do write and speak, also do consulting and coaching, facilitating. I am I try not to do a lot of different things. And so, one of the things that sets me apart mentors, all I do is keynotes and workshops. If you want coaching if you want consulting, I’m happy to refer that that’s not what I get energy from. So, instead of trying to be normal like everyone else, I use a principle of lop siding that we talked about in the book, and I try to double down on the things that really are meaningful to me. Eat, that I get energy back from and then I’m really good at. So, that’s, that’s a couple of things. There’s, there’s another principle in the book. It’s called micro-weirding. And so, I’m wearing pink glasses, which I love to wear.

Minter Dial  10:18

They look red to me, by the way, so yeah, sorry,

Stan Phelps  10:23

Reddish pink, I guess you could say. And so, that’s one of the things that sets me out. I’m also a big fan of I don’t have an ordinary business card. So, I actually give people a mini book, when I meet them, which is something that’s different, that makes me kind of stand out. And I also like to think from how I dress and how I show up. As opposed to just being you know, the every speaker in a navy blazer, you know, a buttoned down shirt that I try to stand out from appearance and how I deliver my content so very much to your, to your question, I try to live what I what I write about.

Minter Dial  11:09

I pose that question in a world where white males of our age are not highly sought after, generally speaking, in fact, the reverse at some level. And so, this idea of leaning in to standing out, at least makes you an abnormal or non-typical white male speaker. And the choice though, and I want to get into this with regard to I mean, I want to get to the meaningful story, but with your co author, David, this choice of wearing pink six foot six, standing out, and I felt unsatisfied by the choice of pink in his choice of pink. Okay, and I’ll tell you why. Because what I was looking for was a little bit more like, why Pink Floyd is called Pink Floyd. I mean, Pink Floyd, was a band of blues musicians, which is kind of ironic, to the blue / pink story, the half of what they chose pink, why? Because what Pink and Floyd, were the names of two amazing blues musicians. And while it doesn’t talk to the color pink, it it certainly has gravitas to the choice of the words Pink Floyd. And, and while there may well be a story within and of course, you’re not Dave, but the idea of choosing something to stand out at some level has to be meaningful.

Stan Phelps  12:47

Yeah, and maybe we didn’t go deep into it in the book. But Dave has a beautiful wife, Stephanie, who’s tiny, tiny, he would tell you that in their relationship, that that deodorant is much more important than breath mints. I mean, she’s way shorter than Dave, he has three daughters, even his dog is female. And so, even though after a certain amount of time, they, he was convinced they were trying to turn him into a woman and I think they may have given him something pink. And he embraced it. And he started out with something small. And that’s important. He started out with something small and it resonated with people. And then he actually doubled and tripled down on it. And if you see him now he has a beautiful tailor, you know, three piece pink pinstripe suit as just one of many things he just showed up recently in Las Vegas. And the whole theme was around like kind of the 60s. He looked like Austin Powers like head-to-toe pink.

Minter Dial  14:02

Well that that is a great comeback Stan and I thank you for explaining that at the end of the day what I’m getting at and and obviously is you know, I would say a tribute to standing out but it’s to make sure that when you wish to stand out it’s not just because you want to say fuck maybe that’s going to make you stand out on stage but it’s sort of a gratuitous sometimes these this notions of standing out and you can see that a lot this need to stand out, Scream louder, and do something more ridiculous more odd. And I feel like it’s there’s a kind of a, a drop to the lowest denominator, lowest form of being when it’s just about screaming to stand out. And the need is to have some more meaningful attachment to that. So, you know where I to listen to Dave and speech and he talks about, you know, they tried to make pink and that bringing that storytelling component into it just makes it totally real. And finding that link into it, because you talk a lot about meaningful differentiation. So, I’d love for you to just expand on expound on how people should seek meaningful differentiation. If they’re a startup and working in a company, what are the sort of routes without having to spend, you know, hours on it, but what routes would you take to try to find meaningful differentiation?

Stan Phelps  15:38

Yeah, we talk about, there’s a process of how you need to do it. And it starts with the six A’s and kind of our framework. And the first A is assess. And so, we’ve got a great, no pun intended assessment in the book that has 40 strengths and 40 weaknesses. And it’s the idea of kind of looking at those things, we have people kind of x, the strength or the weakness that they think applies to them, and we haven’t rank their top five of both. And then the second part is, of that process is what we call the appreciate phase. And what we do is actually line up the strengths and the weaknesses next to each other. And what they come to realize is maybe what they saw as a weakness or an imperfection for who they are, actually has a corresponding strength…

Minter Dial  16:42

Which may not be one of their strengths, but is a strength, or does it have to be one of their strengths?

Stan Phelps  16:48

Well, it’s the idea through any lens, what we can see is a weakness. And we’re taught that we need to actually correct and fix weaknesses, right, on some or that we should double or triple down on strengths, and avoid what makes us and a lot of times what Dave and I both say is that those little imperfections, the things that we try to tamp down, right and try to be more normal, they may actually hold the key to what makes us unique, and different. And so, that’s the process. And we also talk about this idea of appreciate is that you need to go out and talk it’s not only what you see, mentor, it’s getting feedback from those that work with you. Right, or that know you really well, to go what, what stands out, when you look at our organization, right, what you I love this process we talk about, yeah, talk to your customers. But you know what, talk to your employees. And you know, what, if you even want to go deeper talk to your vendors. Because your vendors not only do business with you, they do business with your competitors, they have an insight that very few people have. And so, once you go through that assessment, and then you start to appreciate, and you start to maybe zone in on a few things that really can make you stand out. Then we talk about this idea of align, which is, you know, how are you showing up? Are you showing up like everyone else does? Or are you actually embracing your uniqueness? And there’s alignment between how you show up? And what your website looks like your collateral, your office, right? Don’t look at my end, once you once you get to that align point is where really the fun begins in the last three, because we have what we call the amplify strategy. And amplify is once you create alignment, how do you even double and triple down on some of the strategies. And then there’s augment which is the idea of you can use multiple strategies of the eight blossom strategies or this idea of attack. So, your competitors have potentially strengths. But those strengths also have corresponding weaknesses. So, how do you actually attack and go after them?

Minter Dial  19:53

So, I wanted to circle back because I mean, I like connecting kind of somehow sometimes disparate Some ideas. And I recently had on my podcast a man who is the coach of the winningest collegiate sports team in the history of United States Sports. And his name is Paul Assaiante. And he coached the men’s squash team at Trinity College.

Stan Phelps  20:20

Connecticut, I’ve been to Trinity before beautiful.

Minter Dial  20:22

Yeah, I also know you went to Villanova, which is where my mom was, or it was from Israel. And I asked him what whether you should focus on your strengths as a squash player, your competency of striking the ball and your skill at squash? Should you focus on what you’re good at? Like I’m really good at hitting boasts or something more, should you improve on the things your weakness what how do you approach that sort of exactly the same question. Right? And he said, I used to think well, of course, you had to have skills, and I prefer to augment the, the strong points. But what I discovered was the most important characteristic is character. And I’m feeling like there’s a connection between embracing your weakness imperfection as opposed to trying to dissimulate it, hide it, you know, improve it make it good. Let’s say the character flaw is what makes any personality or character in a film attaching, right?

Stan Phelps  21:37

It makes them what we call flaw awesome. There you go. The idea that your flaws are actually the things that make you awesome. So, apt to steal a French phrase, portmanteau. The idea of putting two words together to make one is Yeah, I think I and I come from being in the world of marketing. I think one of the worst things that we do in marketing mentor, is this idea of benchmarking. Right, we look at whoever the leader is within a category. And then we start to break down the things that we think make them stand out, and as a leader, and then whether we want to admit it or not, what do we do next? We start to copy records, of course, top things. That doesn’t lead to that that’s not a recipe for differentiation. That’s the recipe for sameness. Exactly, exactly. And the whole goldfish metaphor is this idea that of the five things that make a goldfish grow, those same five things apply to any organization. And if we’re honest, the only thing that you really have control over is how you differentiate not just what you do, but how you do it. And why you do it.

Minter Dial  23:20

You talked about the house before. And that’s something I haven’t really zoned in on. I mean, at the end of the day, how you do things in business for me relates to your culture.

Stan Phelps  23:33

Yeah, that’s, that’s foundational. When I say how I think it’s about the experience, that you wrap around that product or service, what is it, not just what you do, but how you do it, and how it makes not only your customers feel, but more importantly, what they tell others about their experience.

Minter Dial  24:01

The word of mouth. You know, it’s one thing to say what you do, but it’s a whole other thing to have other people say what you do. Well, I want to sink into another story. And again, probably a little bit on a different, maybe awkward path. Sure the book cover you you chose the book cover and the way you chose it you you went to the your community and say which ones these read like and it was all over the board. And yes, it knows and bad. And I hate this and love this. And you ended up choosing the one with 10% preferred as opposed to 30 and 50, or whatever it’s like that. The question I have, at some level, you talked about benchmarking. We could also talk about customer services, or surveys. So, is that there’s an element of pleasing the customer. Right. In this case, sometimes displeasing the customer within the pleasing there’s the I freaking love this product feeling, you know, get the 10% that are just horny and absolutely attached to in the biggest way that right? And then there’s the element of what a you as the founder or owner actually beliefs? Because it’s something I’ve been sort of struggling with at some level is the flexibility, adaptability, wish to learn, listen to everybody else. But then what happens to your backbone when you’re in constant mode of pleasing others, you know, whatever everyone else says I’ll do or not do. And just sort of trying to figure out between the flexibility story, right, and the backbone story?

Stan Phelps  25:52

Well, I don’t think it’s an order question. Between flexibility or backbone, I think it is important to, to listen to your customers. And to understand, you know, one of my favorite quotes comes from the late Jack Welch, warmer, CEO of GE, he said, going forward, there’s only two elements of competitive advantage. It’s one, learning about your customers faster than your competition. But he said that only gets you knowledge. He said, The second part is putting that insight into action faster than your competition. And he’s saying going forward, that’s the only thing that’s going to allow companies to stand out. So, I think there needs to always be a flexibility where your understanding your customers, but here’s the thing, I think most people and this relates to the backbone mentor, is that they want to please, everyone. And by trying to please everyone, you please water it down. And they please no one. And so, there’s actually one of the strategies we talked about this idea of antagonizing or flaunting, right, if you’ve got something that’s core to what makes you unique, and you know, it resonates with a core base of your of the marketplace, then don’t be unapologetic. In fact, if people are outside of that core, sometimes you can be antagonistic towards them. So, one of one of the one of the fun stories in the book is about a movie theater in Texas called the Alamo Drafthouse. And, you know, Entertainment Weekly named this theater chain, there’s about 50 of them in the US Minter, the best one in Austin. Oh, yeah, that’s where they’re based. We actually have one in North Carolina. Right near not too far. From where I live, you can order…

Minter Dial  28:23

…you can order your food. I mean, it’s amazing experience personally,

Stan Phelps  28:27

And just where you going best place to see a movie in the in the country. But here’s the thing. They are fanatical about movies. And so, one of the rules that they have is that once you walk into the auditorium, you can’t talk and you can’t use your phone. You can’t text her or check your phone. Right now you’re giving them a thumbs up, right? They will warn you one time and then the second time, they toss you they ask you to leave they don’t give you your money back. And there was a woman that that got tossed out. And you know, probably had a few too many. No judgment. I’ve been there. And when she got home, she left she called and left a voicemail mentor that and you can look it up on YouTube Alamo texter that is just about a minute and 15 of her blasting the theater. And so, the theater you know, most theaters we go that’s the customer, right? What do we got to do? We’ve got to call and apologize. We got to offer a refund. Maybe give them a coupon because they’re afraid of getting a bad review. That’s not who the Alamo Drafthouse called. They called their attorneys and they said, Hey, can we use this? And it didn’t take them a minute they go she knew she was being recorded. And the Alamo Drafthouse created a PSA like a trailer that they play before the movies with the texter. And that message, they put it on their blog Minter went viral, they got national press, right? They’re like, You know what, this is not a place for you, we’re going to get rid of you. And we’re going to make the experience better for those that are our people, those that actually take movies seriously. And so, that’s being unapologetic.

Minter Dial  30:38

I would like to apply that on a whole number of other things, Stan, and maybe we should create a manifesto. Here’s the first one is reject all people who have to use a phone without earphones and start talking in public places on public transport to a person who’s also on loudspeaker. We should just, they should not be allowed on public transport. I’m not going to get any votes for friendliness on this one.

Stan Phelps  31:09

All in favor, aye. Come up with a whole list. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, you think that, that there’s a sense of common being common sense about things or decency. And so, as, as I read one time, common sense. ain’t all that common.

Minter Dial  31:35

No, I write about that. And the other thing about that word is sense. And what I feel is missing in our world is enough sense. In that sense, Amelia, though, that’s another story, but senses in meaningfulness. You know, can we make sense of what’s happening? And, and too often, we’re in a transactional approach. It’s about the results. It’s about my title. And then there’s so much burnout, so much loneliness, doing shit, that doesn’t matter. So, the sense that I’m talking about as mattering, like John Viki talks about. And so, I really enjoyed how you lent into the scene, you quoted, Theodore Levitt, with the search for meaningful distinction is essential to the marketing effort. And while some people may have a an idea of meaningfulness, my impulsion involves differentation.

Stan Phelps  32:38

Differentiation, differentiation, yeah.

Minter Dial  32:41

But my feeling is that you can also do differentiation that is meaningfully different. But the issue is, is it meaningful to you? Right? And in that there’s both at an organizational and a personal level, often some sort of vapid sadness, emptiness, lightness, superficiality with actually who I am, and what is truly deeply meaningful to me.

Stan Phelps  33:09

Yeah, and, you know, this one followed, read goldfish, which is all about understanding your purpose, understanding that there, there are eight different archetypes of purpose. And that you’ve got to find, you know, purpose shouldn’t be something that hangs on the wall. purpose should be apparent from how you deliver the experience. And how you bring that purpose to life is vital. And so, you know, paint came along, I think, the right time mentor, because it really allowed people to have a vehicle of well, how do I actually do it? And Dave, and I studied over 300 companies that truly achieved separation. And we talked about this idea that it’s not common. There’s good research that says only 3% of people in organizations actually have the ability to think and act differently. Only 3%.

Minter Dial  34:21

So, in this model of the other zone that I frequently talk about, and the idea of standing out standing up for something, being different is obviously something I’m, I’m super interested in. And yet I’m deeply cognizant that and I write about this supreme paradox, the supreme paradox, it really is the number one paradox and there for them but this one is the one that stands up as an out as the hardest and most important one, which is the need to feel unique and yet belong because if you create this unique product, that’s totally weird, but that doesn’t have enough of a market. Ooh. Right. So, you’re really you’re a loner, loser otherwise, because at some level, you know, you do need to have a crowd. So, then you then you belong, right? So, the crowd of weirdos and where I wanted to go sort of as a, let’s say a starting pitches. There was a time when to be upper middle / upper class you had you had matching curtains matching livery where everything was sort of all wonderfully and sort of bourgeois and upscale. And then enough people sort of said, well, I don’t like that. No, I’m not, I’m not like them. So, I’m going to have a African mask on my wall. That’s sort of not perfect and actually imperfect. And so, then this whole Bobo existence, Bohemian bourgeois, right, that thing came out and the idea was, well, I’m not like the others. I’m Bobo. I’m a bohemian. And by definition, that means I’m different. I’m weird. And then that became an entire class of people who became Bobo. And you know, then all of a sudden, you have the same African style. Oh, it wonky. So, the issue is the notion of needing to belong and be different or unique. How do you what in your mind as you’re listening to that, how do you square that round peg or peg or round square or round the square peg, whatever round peg in the square.

Stan Phelps  36:55

So, one of one of the one of the stories we tell in the book comes from Japan in the 16th century. It you had heard of Ashikaga, Yoshi masa. So, Japanese Shogun he had he had like a favorite like tea bowl. And he was so proud of this thing. And one day wasn’t paying attention. And he knocked it over. And it was like stoneware, so it’s smashed into pieces. And he would do what you and I would both do if our favorite coffee mug or a teacup, right? You would, he sent it out to get fixed and glue it back together and it came back. And it was they use kind of a black horse glue. They even use metal staples to put it back together. And he held it in his hands and his heart sank. And he was like No, that this isn’t good enough. So, he was from the Osaka region. He called all the great craftsmen in the region. He brought them together and he gave them the bowl. And they said you need to fix this. And it took over a week. But they went out and they I mean just meticulously cleaned it. And then they ended up putting it back together with lacquer and gold. And when they came back and presented it to him and he held it in his hands. His heart kind of lapped. This broken bowl was now even more beautiful than when it was exactly perfect. It had these kind of golden seams through it. And here’s what I think is the message is that we all have a bit of brokenness in us, right? And many times we try to cover up that because we think it’s a scar. Right? We think it’s something that we should hide. And in this case of it it’s become an art form called Kintsugi, which means golden joinery. But here’s the thing, it wasn’t beautiful because it was broken or scarred. Right that that would have been the case it would have been fine. When it was first brought back to Archie Kaga It wasn’t until they actually focused on the imperfections and instead of hiding them actually highlighted them and shined a light on them and brought them to life is when that imperfection really started to shine. And that’s the overarching message in the book. Look, we all have things about us that make us unique and instead of trying to hide that and be more like everyone else to fit in, we want people to fit out. You know, the irony is that weird used to be a compliment. Right? If you go back into the etymology of that, it was like, what people actually saw you as and complimented you because you stood out. For some reason. A lot of people go weird isn’t good. Weird means that I must be doing something wrong. As opposed to realizing what makes me odd. And is the thing that makes me unique. And my hope from both either an organizational or a personal perspective, that people read this book and have a greater appreciation for what makes them unique in this universe.

Minter Dial  41:06

It’s a great story. And, you know, it’s think of the Marilyn Monroe festival as the pink of Marilyn Monroe. But though the mole of Marilyn Monroe and, and allowing that to exist and flourish and to understand we all have these imperfections and leaning into that, as opposed to sort of trying to hide them, because they end up somehow, like a chip on the shoulder resurfacing at some point. And yet, we I mean, so we still need to belong, right? So, maybe I could, I could just preface one thing, which is talking about how to create a club, for example, or community. Because if you’re just a community of weirdos, then what links you is weird enough? To link?

Stan Phelps  42:06

Yeah, that’s, that’s a great question. I think it goes back to we can’t be all things to all people. We can be true to what, who we are, and what makes us different. And the hope is, if we have an organization, we find the people that we resonate with, as an individual. And again, the world is flat now because of the internet, that we can find people that are like us and find community.

Minter Dial  42:51

Essentially, I was just listening to Jonathan Haidt, who’s written a new book. And, and he borates Society of finding people like us, like mindedness, I mean, at some level, and from a business standpoint, you’ll appreciate you don’t want to have 12 like-minded individuals on the board. Right? So, you want to have the discrepancies and what he’s saying is that well, if you have anxiety, oh, the great news is the internet allows you to meet other people with anxiety. With no psychologist or psychiatrist in the house, that’s not going to go well. So, you just, yeah, just connect that little dot there.

Stan Phelps  43:32

Yeah, and unfortunately, the you know, the algorithms are built towards trying to put us only show us things that resonate or are like we are or like our behavior suggests we are and that’s dangerous as well.

Minter Dial  43:51

I’m in the process of doing this startup stand and, and around Paddle Tennis is sort of a new sport. When most of the world not in my life and then in the world and trying to create a club and you love this new sport. You’re a pioneer because it’s a new sport. And that that seems to be a sufficient link for some people. But it’s not for me. Because you know, let’s say no longer is a new sport. Well, what is it that’s going to link you because like, just like being weird, you know, makes you different and then as a community you’re a bunch of weirdos right? But then that’s not enough ultimately to link you together. I want to talk stand in the in a tight little time if I can ask one more question which sir, because I love this whole topic of weird and meaningful and imperfection and when you’re in business either wanted to uh, you didn’t mention them but I felt for sure you would. I think you did. The bananas the bananas baseball team. Yeah, because they felt like you’re the counterpart kind of points of pink but, and great success. And I’ve had the guy who founded that on my show as well. But governance so you’re running a company, and someone comes back to you and says, you know, big customer says, you know your product sucks. Oh, well hey, dude, that’s just a weakness, you know, but we like our weaknesses and imperfections are great. I do that’s provokes them. But you’re how do you figure on look at governance and these issues of and tolerance for imperfections, because let’s say, you’re, you know, you’re a parachute, you kind of want it to work. Right? There’s some areas where it’s got to be 100%. design or design doesn’t always happen, unfortunately. But that’s life. But in this idea of accepting imperfection, you know, hiring for imperfections, or allowing for more of the weaknesses to show and come through is and you’re trying to think about from a governance standpoint and your league, your lawyers are probably going to lean into it as well. What comes to mind about that?

Stan Phelps  46:23

Yeah. So, we’re not advocating that you should create faulty product.

Minter Dial  46:33

I thought I thought you wanted to two wheeled car.

Stan Phelps  46:37

So, the great one of the fun examples we have in the book, do you remember when the documentary Supersize Me came out? Yeah, of course. So, for those that maybe haven’t heard of that Morgan Spurlock the documentarian breakfast, lunch and dinner at McDonald’s here in the US and the end the the trick was if anyone asked him if he wanted to supersize, like extra large fries, extra large Coke, he could only say yes. And we didn’t realize that here in the US, but he saw that his health just in one month really started to decline. And so, McDonald’s got rid of supersizing they started to actually put healthy foods on the menu…

Minter Dial  47:31

or healthier foods?

Stan Phelps  47:35

Healthier foods.

Minter Dial  47:37

Such as cooking, as true Frenchmen.

Stan Phelps  47:39

And, and in literally every other quick serve restaurant fast food followed the example of McDonald’s because they were the leader, except for one and it was a company called Hardee’s and at the time of Supersize Me they were closing down restaurants Minter they were in kind of a jack of all trades and master of none.

Minter Dial  48:08

That’s escapes me, by the way.

Stan Phelps  48:12

And in the movie comes out. Are they do they go the healthy route? No. They actually create a thing called the thick burger. Now the thick burger is two thirds of a pound of meat. One of them had an entire quarter pound hotdog on it. Potato chips in it is they cheese? I mean crazy amounts of cheese. They took something that was unhealthy. And they made a nasty and they made it unhealthier and nastier. And when everyone started to follow the leader, they went in a different direction. You say guy zag. And they said, Yeah, you shouldn’t eat fast food all the time. But if you do it every once in a while, don’t mess around. And at the time, they literally reversed and McDonald’s and all the others that started to go and do something that they weren’t struggled to the point where a few years ago, they’ve actually McDonald’s is actually dropped. Salad salads, and fruit and yogurt, you can still get water there. And they’ve actually followed in the footsteps of what parties did. And so, again, to get back to you can’t make faulty stuff. But at the end of the day, you have to understand your why and why you started The organization what makes you different, who you want to serve, and who you’re for. And realize you’re not for everyone. And so, don’t be apologetic to those that are never going to be a fit. double down on what makes you unique. And this is a way I think a lot of people don’t realize you can stand out by doing less. So, it’s a strategy that we call withholding. Right? And if everyone does A, B, C, and d, the fact that you only do ABC makes you different, and has you stand out. So, either do more of what makes you unique or less of what everyone else does is normal.

Minter Dial  50:49

So, I love that example. It’s very interesting. And it comes back down to another thing where there are two things one is making yourself different, fine, but to what extent do you believe what you’re doing? And in the governance component of it, there are ethics. And I was looking at a documentary about the way that the lawyers and in management dealt with the backlash that cigarettes aren’t great for your health. And to what extent do you need to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say, this is actually what I believe, and it’s okay. So, in that, because I mean, I’m not saying you perfect, you create a faulty product, there’s about a quickest ways you can to go out of business. And there’s this nuance piece, where, you know, you eat one, absolutely filthy, really fun and yummy burger, every once in a while shit, that should be written into the Constitution as something we should do. I mean, as in, we should all be allowed to have these funky way off things because this idea of living in ascetic monk like life with full discipline 100% of the time, will inevitably break down. But at the end of the day, within the governance piece, is this knowledge of is this right or wrong? And how do you integrate that into the way you operate, recruits, create products. And obviously, ethics was deeply personal, but there has been a movement, a field with the media, universities, right? bashing certain styles and principles that might be considered old fashioned, possibly have integrity, but not appreciated?

Stan Phelps  52:57

Yeah, I hear you on the governance piece, because I think, you know, they say culture, culture is really cultures what’s what happens when the leader isn’t in the room? Right? How do you operate? And how do you create an organization that’s truly different. I think a lot of it comes down to leadership, it’s, it’s being able to bring the right people into the organization that buy into the purpose, and giving them giving them enough of enough freedom to bring their whole self to work. And that’s the key thing. You know, a lot of times I think we get lulled into a sense of sameness, because we hire people that are like us, or think like us, or look like us. And we lose an opportunity to bring a greater perspective and a greater sense of everyone’s talent into the organization.

Minter Dial  54:20

So, I want to I want to just excuse me for adding one more piece which is when you talk about the integrity or authenticity of the bring your whole self which is basically the integer you are as the same individual at work as you are at home with your family as you are with friends in a pub. It will be at perhaps a little bit more inebriated, which is fine. And your ethics at some level are inevitably personal and therefore must be constructed through your life experience, including your parents and how you were treated as a child and an old sudden you’re the CEO of the company. And I had one CEO who said, Well, you know, at our company, we are family. And I was like, oh, that’s bad news for you, sir. Because I know how you run, you’re married for children and two messages, one of whom is deeply unhappy from the way you treat her. And I happen to know her. So, the idea of family, in this regard did not seem to have integrity. So, in terms of having a governance model, there’s the outside of life story, which is rendered much more transparent and accessible, outside of personal knowledge. But, you know, how do you bring that in, and how much of your personal life you know, like I wear pink, at work, I’m the CEO of this company, I wear pink, because I have only girls at home. Very few CEOs, very few business leaders to your point, will actually bring in those personal details for fear of too revealing, or, you know, showing a vulnerability, right? And other things. Anyway, that’s sort of where I wanted to rumble. Just the last little piece with you, Stan.

Stan Phelps  56:10

I think you, I think you’ve touched on something that you need to be authentic. You need to do stuff that that resonates. But isn’t, doesn’t feel contrived in any way, or forced. And again, one of the things I love about this book is that we give people kind of a process and an assessment, to kind of hold them hold themselves up to kind of a mirror, and start to understand things that they may have never seen before. And that’s, that’s a can’t it’s sometimes that’s not comfortable. But it’s revealing. I mean, you are who if you’re the CEO, you are who your employees say you are. And your organization is who your customers, especially your most important one, say you are. And you’ve got to understand, you’ve got to understand that and, and hopefully show up in a way that’s authentic, and allows you the ability to stand out in the marketplace. As one moves to being in what I call the sea of sameness.

Minter Dial  57:38

Well, there’s consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds, I think it was Waldo Emerson, look, there’s also are you not also what your friends say? You are? What your family says you are? Because is it? Is it okay to put a wall between those, you know, what your customers say you are what your employees say you are? And then how your thought of outside of look.

Stan Phelps  58:04

I think the most authentic people bring 100% of who they are to work. There is no Chinese wall. And yeah, that’s just my opinion. But I think that’s always a struggle. But I think the more that you can act in a way that’s natural and authentic, the better it is, for you and for your employees, your customers and even your family, and friends.

Minter Dial  58:38

And the key to that, Stan, is actually getting to know who the hell you are. Because if you don’t even do that path work, then whatever you’re being authentic with isn’t necessarily revealing of the truth.

Stan Phelps  58:50

Well, well, here’s the thing. I think a lot of people try to be perfect. There’s a lot of pressure. And I think in today’s world, to portray yourself as perfect. And so, we talked about Kintsugi, which is the idea of embracing imperfection. But we also talked about another Japanese concept called wabi sabi. Which is the idea that nature is imperfect. But that’s what makes nature beautiful. So, if you’re making a piece of furniture, you might select a piece of wood that has a knot in it because that knot gives it character and makes it different as opposed to trying to make it absolutely perfect.

Minter Dial  59:47

Goes back to Paul Asante hire for character Stan it’s been an absolute pleasure I’ve thank you for standing up for your coauthor, by the way, in his pinkness and for handling all my sometimes weird questions! How can people track you down? Check out your speeches hire you get your books, what are the best links to send people to?

Stan Phelps  1:00:10

Well, I want to wrap up what people learn today is one, there shouldn’t be a law against people talking in public on their speaker with their phone to that we should all have cheat days where we can kind of go a little nuts. And three, how important character is one of my favorite examples from Green comes from an agency in Connecticut. And their whole entire hiring philosophy was called FBNA. Free Beer. No Assholes.

Minter Dial  1:00:51

Love it.

Stan Phelps  1:00:52

And let’s hope we can live in a world if people want to look me up. I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn, Stan Phelps. They can go to and learn more about the books and the keynotes in the workshops. Minter. It’s been a pleasure to be back here.

Minter Dial  1:01:11

Stan, thanks again. Have a wonderful day and I look forward to staying in touch. And one day we need to have some free beer without all souls around us together.

Stan Phelps  1:01:23



So, a really heartfelt thanks for listening to this episode of The Minter Dialogue podcast. If you liked the show, please remember to subscribe on your favourite podcast service. As ever, rating and reviews are the real currency of podcasts. And if you’re really inspired, I’m accepting donations on You’ll find the show notes with over 2100 blog posts on on topics ranging from leadership to branding, tech and marketing tips. Check out my documentary film and books including my last one, the second edition of “Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence” that came out in April 2023. And to finish here’s a song I wrote with Stephanie Singer, “A Convinced Man.”


I like the feel of a stranger

Tucked around me

Precipitating the danger

To feel free

Trust is the reason

Still I won’t toe the line.


I sit here passively

Hope for your respect

Anticipating the thrill of your intellect

Maybe I tell myself

There’s no use in me lying.


I’m a convinced man,

Building an urge

A convinced man,

To live and die submerged.

A convinced man,

In the arms of a woman


I’m a convinced man

Challenge my fate

I’m a convinced man

Competition’s innate

A convinced man

In the arms of a woman.


Despise revenges

And struggle to see

Live for the challenge

So life’s not incomplete

What’s wrong with challenge

I know soon we all die


I’m a convinced man

Practicing my lines

I’m a convinced man

Here in these confines

A convinced man

In the arms of a woman.


I’m a convinced man

Put me to the test

I’m a convinced man

I’m ready for an arrest

I’m a convinced man

In the arms of a woman.


I’m a convinced man… so convinced

You convince me, yeah baby,

I’m a convinced man

In the arms of a woman…

Minter Dial

Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.

👉🏼 It’s easy to inquire about booking Minter Dial here.

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