Rob Weinhold (@FallstonGroup) is the CRO (Chief Reputation Officer) of Fallston Group and co-author of The Art of Crisis Leadership: Save Time, Money, Customers and Ultimately, Your Career.
“Crisis is a growth strategy — you have to expect it.” -Rob Weinhold
What We Discuss with Rob Weinhold:
- What four motivations are found at the core of any damaged reputation?
- Why bad press spread faster than the speed of truth can damage a person or brand’s reputation forever.
- Understand the Resilient Moment Communications Model and how can it help us answer to an issue of sensitivity, adversity, or crisis.
- How to identify the warning signs of a crisis about to happen and prepare against them ahead of time.
- How to react to a crisis in a way that spins it into an advantage.
- And much more…
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Crises cost time, money, customers, and careers (usually in that order) — and, in the worst of scenarios, lives. Whether a data breach, social media attack, bad press, litigation, investigation, civil unrest, or scandal, great leaders understand how to be predictive and create organizational muscle memory to combat these crises.
In this episode with The Art of Crisis Leadership: Save Time, Money, Customers and Ultimately, Your Career co-author and Fallston Group CRO (Chief Reputation Officer) Rob Weinhold, we explore some of the warning signs of a crisis, and how to prepare yourself and react when a crisis happens in a way that sets you and your organization or family up to spin that crisis into an advantage. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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More About This Show
In his past lives, The Art of Crisis Leadership: Save Time, Money, Customers and Ultimately, Your Career co-author Rob Weinhold has been a public affairs director for the Baltimore Police Department, chief of staff at the Department of Justice, and a spokesperson for the Maryland Governor’s office.
Now, he’s the CRO (Chief Reputation Officer) for Fallston Group, a company that specializes in building, strengthening, and defending brand reputations and turning short-term adversity into long-term advantage.
“We spend a lot of time on defense,” says Rob. “So if you can think about some of the issues that corporations deal with: data breach, bad press, social media attack, investigations, litigations, sex scandals, rumors, sudden death, terrorism, and riots — all those things really do impact businesses, and many of them are just not prepared. They don’t have organizational muscle memory, which I speak of very, very frequently.
“These days, what we say is anyone with an Internet connection and a recording device can certainly wreak havoc on your brand and do it very, very quickly. No one needs to wait for the news anymore; everyone’s a citizen journalist.”
In other words, bad press against any brand — from an individual or a company to a city, town, or country — can be fabricated and distributed around the globe at light speed before it can be verified — and even if it’s verified later to be false, the damage caused to the brand’s reputation can last forever.
When a reputation is damaged — or someone makes the effort to damage a reputation — Rob says at least one of these four core motivators is to blame:
- Power and control
Magnifying the impact of any one of these reputation-damaging motivations is the fact that video proof can be captured on anybody’s smartphone camera and uploaded to YouTube to enrage people in ways that even the most sensationalist newspaper stories of decades past never could.
“A great example of this would be police-involved shootings,” says Rob. “Right now, there’s been just a spate of shootings. And every time you turned around — it seemed — six months or a year ago, there was a new police-involved shooting on camera. At that point, citizens then had an opportunity to take a look at how ugly police work can be in a life and death circumstance.
“It doesn’t mean the shooting wasn’t justified, but it does mean that people are shocked by what they see versus what they read; video has changed the way that we consume news and changed the way that companies need to plan for crises.”
As criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos explained in our last episode, condemnation by the court of public opinion may carry a lifelong sentence — even if the condemned is officially cleared of all charges. But certain transgressions are especially damning — such as public declarations of racism, child or elder abuse, and sexual misconduct. Obviously, it’s even worse for the transgressor if it’s caught on video or audio. But should someone caught in such an act of bad behavior abandon all hope of ever regaining their reputation?
“I tend to think that America is a fairly forgiving society,” says Rob. “As long as they believe that someone truly is apologetic and they have the absolute intention not to let something happen again, people seem to get a second chance.”
It’s when we witness repeat offenders — driven by their own pet core motivators in identifiable patterns — that we’re less likely to be forgiving.
The Anatomy of a Crisis
Rob says the anatomy of a crisis involves a triggering event that affects people, assets, and brands. But this triggering event is more often than not something that can be foreseen; studies show that nearly 70 percent of crises are smoldering versus sudden — which means leaders know about them ahead of time but fail to address them.
So how does Rob and his team get ahead of such a triggering event before it can damage a brand’s reputation?
“What we do is we will put together a report and prioritize maybe eight, 10, or 12 different points of exposure which we think are of highest priority — not just based on what people in the organization say, but also what our industry research yields.”
Turning Short-Term Adversity Into Long-Term Advantage
Recently, slow-cooker manufacturer Crock-Pot ran into some negative publicity when the plot for an episode of NBC’s This Is Us killed off one of its characters in a fire caused by a faulty Crock-Pot. Reportedly, this resulted in a wave of doubt — fueled by fans of the show taking to social media — as to the safety of products this venerated American company has been making for half a century.
Rather than sitting back and letting the court of public opinion condemn the brand and sink its stock value, Crock-Pot took it as an opportunity to educate the public about the rigorous safety testing its 100 million slow cookers have endured before being released into the wild.
“Crock-Pot was masterful in how they handled it,” says Rob. “They tweeted, they went out to the public and they messaged, ‘Oh, my gosh! We understand! It’s terrible that this lead character died!’ But they were very empathetic. And then they highlighted the legacy of Crock-Pots, how they’ve been around for 50 years, have had no issues, that they research and quality control relentlessly — and so on and so forth.
“So they had — well, no pun intended — a simmering and smoldering issue which just blew up quickly! And they were able to mitigate it. And now I would say that their reputational equity is much higher than it was before the episode.”
The Resilient Moment Communications Model
According to Dr. George Everly of Johns Hopkins University, if you answer these five questions when discussing an issue of sensitivity, adversity, or crisis, more than 95 percent of the questions that people have will have been answered.
- What happened?
- What caused it?
- What are the short- and long-term effects?
- What’s being done about it?
- What needs to be done in the future?
“I see leader after leader after leader hold a press conference,” says Rob, “and don’t come anywhere close to answering the questions that many people have — and often rely on the ‘no comment’ approach. But this Resilient Moment Communications Model, I hope, will help your audience.”
Organizational Muscle Memory
As Greek poet Archilochus once said, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.”
Organizations, like people, will perform how they plan and train under duress. This is why the military and law enforcement train relentlessly — and why Rob believes organizations that want to be resilient against crises (whether they’re schools, private corporations, or government agencies) need to do the same.
Rob says this planning and training pays off by developing organizational muscle memory — resilience that makes an organization capable of weathering rough storms that would devastate its weaker contemporaries.
When it comes to planning and training under duress, Navy SEALs are famously adept at knowing how to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Interestingly, Dr. George Everly discovered the single most important predictor of success for a Navy SEAL: optimism.
“If you think about it, think of who’s in your life,” says Rob. “We all know those people that we call; we say, ‘Hey, how’s it going today?’ And they say, ‘Oh, the world’s on my back,’ or, ‘You know, the sun’s out right now but I know it’s going to rain in a little while.’ And then there’s other people we call, ‘Hey, how’s it going? I need a favor.’ ‘Oh, what is it? Yep. No problem. I’ll be right there and we’ll climb the mountain together…’
“Optimism is so incredibly important. I’ve talked to teams of doctors at shock trauma in Baltimore and many other leadership teams and I have found the most creative, optimistic teams are often the most high performing. I think that’s really important when we take inventory of who we hire and who we surround ourselves with in this life.”
It makes sense when you really think about it: a natural pessimist is more likely to be a moper than a problem solver when times are tough. The optimist sees past the tough times because he knows they’re temporary; he’ll find ways to reach the other side and inspire those around him to help bridge the way.
So an organization that wants to strengthen its muscle memory should hire for optimism.
Another quality this organization should seek out is leaders who will shoulder the blame when something goes wrong rather than pointing fingers and finding fault with others.
“You also have to develop a resilient culture,” says Rob, “and what that means is there’s interdependability on success and failures: so your success depends on mine and mine depends on yours, so you don’t have the ‘me first’ attitude or you don’t have organizations that operate in a silo.
“Last but not least is really behavioral body armor. Dr. Everly talks about this, and he says ‘You have to take care of yourself during a difficult time. You have to eat well, sleep right, exercise so that you are able to take care of other people who are depending on you to sound decision make and lead this organization through a very difficult time.”
Crisis As a Growth Strategy
“The most successful people I’ve seen navigate their own worlds,” Rob says. “They embrace the fact that they’re in crisis. They acknowledge it. They admit it. And then they leverage the resources around them to get help. I always say that success is systems-driven, not hero-driven.”
The problem is that a lot of us — because of ego or embarrassment or some other reason we tell ourselves — won’t let other people know when we’re dealing with a crisis.
No matter how perfect you think your life is going, and no matter how successful your company seems to be doing today, Rob warns us to be prepared because crises are inevitable.
“I don’t care what organization you’re in; there is always crisis lurking. There is no doubt about it. Again, that crisis could take on many shapes and sizes. You don’t have to go looking for it. It will knock on your door — it could be discrimination, it could be an HR issue, it could be legal, it could be a data breach, it could be bad press, it could be a social media attack, consumer complaints — the list goes on and on and on about the myriad of issues that corporations need to deal with.”
If you don’t think that sounds optimistic, Rob sees crisis in a different way.
“I do believe that crisis is a growth strategy,” he says. “I don’t believe that it’s something to be afraid of…because it’s going to happen, and that’s where true leaders earn their money.”
THANKS, ROB WEINHOLD!
If you enjoyed this session with Rob Weinhold, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- The Art of Crisis Leadership: Save Time, Money, Customers and Ultimately, Your Career by Rob Weinhold and Kevin Cowherd
- Fallston Group
- Fallston Group at Facebook
- Rob Weinhold at Twitter
- How This Is Us Became a Matter of Life and Crock-Pot by Alex Abad-Santos, Vox
- The Strange Story Of How Tide Pod Eating Went Viral by Emmad Mazhari, Forbes
- 5 Resilience Programs and Interventions, National Academy of Sciences
- Wells Fargo Fined $185 Million for Fraudulently Opening Accounts by Michael Corkery, The New York Times
- A Cybersecurity Breach at Equifax Left Pretty Much Everyone’s Financial Data Vulnerable by Gillian B. White, The Atlantic
- 15/70/15 — The Bell Curve of Life by Sam Thiara
- The Saga of a YouTube Family Who Pulled Disturbing Pranks on Their Own Kids by Abby Ohlheiser, The Washington Post
Transcript for Rob Weinhold | The Art of Crisis Leadership (Episode 2)
Rob Weinhold: [00:00:00] Power and control really are roped into one than money, sex, and revenge. All very, very strong core motivators. If you trace back to why people do bad things and generally, they fall into one of those four categories.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:16] Welcome to the Jordan Harbinger Show. I’m Jordan Harbinger and as always, I’m here with my producer Jason DeFillippo. On this episode today, we’re talking with my friend, Rob Weinhold. He is the author of The Art of Crisis Leadership: Save Time, Money, Customers and Ultimately, Your Career is the tagline on that one. At first when I met Rob, I thought this is a really interesting guy. I’m excited for the show because this is an industry I didn’t even know existed before now or before I met Rob. I wanted to get an inside look at how it works. Today we’re going to discuss crisis management. Whether we’re talking about some sort of data breach, a social media attack, bad press, litigation, investigation, a scandal. Great leaders always understand how to be predictive and create what Rob calls organizational muscle memory. Clients call Rob their CRO — their Chief Reputation Officer.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:03] So his job is to kind of come in and try to clean things up when things go really bad. But ideally, he gets there first. He was the Public Affairs Director for the Baltimore Police Department. So you might just imagine how much needed to be cleaned up in a place like that. He was also a Chief of Staff at the DOJ, Department of Justice, Spokesperson for the Maryland governor’s office. So this guy who’s used to dealing with some ish when it comes up in companies and people face crises all the time from YouTube pranks gone wrong to product liability coming out in some sort of viral video. And these situations are, as you’ll hear on the show, sometimes they’re life and death because of how they affected the people involved. So today we’ll explore some of the warning signs of a crisis, how to prepare yourself and how to react when a crisis happens in a way that sets you and your organization or family up to spin that crisis into an advantage. So enjoy this episode here with Rob Weinhold.
Thanks for doing this. I know that you are a busy guy. You help other people when they need you. Worse than pretty much anyone. So I can imagine your schedule being pretty hectic. Not only do you have to deal with your own life, but you have to deal with everyone else’s crises, which is literally your job.
Rob Weinhold: [00:02:11] Well, when you say manage your own life, usually that comes last. So we’re putting in a lot of hours these days. No doubt about it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:16] Tell us a little bit about what you do because before I had spoken with you at the event where we met. I guess I’d never really thought about the fact that someone like you needs to exist. I mean nowadays, now, I mean we met a couple of years ago. Now it’s completely obvious that you have so much work, that you’ll never be bored. But when I first met you I thought, “Oh yeah, so public relations crisis that happens to big companies once in a blue moon, the occasional celebrity.” Now I feel like you probably have, you could quadruple your staff and you’d probably have a waiting list a mile long.
Rob Weinhold: [00:02:50] Well that’s true. It’s kind of interesting. I mean, we’re a trusted advisory firm out of Baltimore, Maryland. What we say is we build, strengthen and defend reputations each and every day. We spend a lot of time on defense. So if you can think about some of the issues at corporations, deal with data breach, bad press, social media, attack, investigations, litigation, sex scandals, rumors, sudden death, terrorism, riots, all those things really do impact businesses. And, many of them are just not prepared. They don’t have organizational muscle memory, which I speak of very, very frequently. These days, what we say is anyone with an internet connection and a recording device can certainly recap on your brand and do it very, very quickly. No one needs to wait for the news anymore. Everybody’s a citizen journalist.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:37] That must be a little scary because regular journalists in theory, in theory have ethics whereby they don’t just make stuff up out of whole cloth. But when you say citizen journalists, as good as I believe that free information to be, there’s a lot of people who are perfectly fine recording a conversation, editing out and rearranging it. And making somebody sound like they said something that they didn’t do and then that goes up online. It sparks outrage and everyone’s all outraged and then it turns out to not be true and it gets a retraction in eight point font at the bottom of the next month’s newspaper that nobody reads and that person’s reputation is damaged for life even though maybe it’s all a bunch of BS or maybe it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. So I can absolutely see why someone with your skill set is in demand and you’re the former Public Affairs Director for the Baltimore Police Department.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:27] I would imagine any police department has, it’s just loads and loads and loads of public relations that it has to do and problems that come up and things that happen that are just causing the public at large to be not just outraged but perhaps angry, scared. Chief of Staff at the Department of Justice, Spokesperson for the Maryland Governor’s office. I don’t want to say you’re attracted to drama. Your job is dealing with drama, but does that not take a toll on you at some point? Personally, it seems like that would just be extreme.
Rob Weinhold: [00:04:56] Well, that’s a really good question. In fact, people say, you know, what really, really makes you good is that you’re very empathetic and you immerse yourself into other people’s issues and you really go on that journey with them. And so it gives us a point of view and perspective to really, really help our clients. But at the end of the journey, it is exhausting. There’s no doubt about it. So I would say the one thing that makes our team really, really good is kind of our immersive approach. But then again, we all need to take a break and you know, reset the deck before the next one comes along. You talked a little bit about, you know, people getting online and posting fake news or rearranging the facts or revision history or whatever the case may be. And we always say that crises costs, organizations, time, money, customers, and ultimately their career.
[00:05:45] Candidly, in the worst case of scenarios lives, you talked about the police department days and there’s no shortage of issues. In fact, Baltimore is a pretty good example of that right now. Just a couple of years ago, you had the riots that occurred and you know, being on CNN for many, many interviews, Fox news, MSN, NBC, whatever the case may be, when I travel around the country and I say, “Oh, I’m from Baltimore”, people go, “Man, are you kidding? Are they done fighting in that town?” And then later on to that a very high homicide rate. And now there’s a major, major police corruption scandal that’s breaking and then Amazon didn’t choose Baltimore. So it’s just not, people or corporations, cities, towns, countries, can have all of these forces that negatively impact their reputation and a lot of work needs to be done. And it’s just not changing the narrative. It’s providing sound advice from a leadership strategy and communication standpoint.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:39] Yeah. You certainly have your work cut out for you and your clients refer to you as their CRO, their Chief Reputation Officer. It sounds like this is the kind of thing that people need to get ahead of, and I can see this working in personal lives too. I know that a lot of people think, well, I don’t work for a major corporation or I’m not the CEO. I’m not a public figure, so I don’t need this. I think this applies to people in general. I think this applies to the public at large as well because everybody goes through something like this at some point in their life, even if it’s not necessarily something that’s going to damage their shareholder value per se.
Rob Weinhold: [00:07:14] That’s a really, really good point and it doesn’t matter whether you are a large public company or a small restaurant tour or individual. I talked about some of the issues that creep in on the professional side, but personally, you know, addiction, divorce, financial issues, health related issues, or just getting up each and every day and swinging away and trying to make a living. That’s tough on a lot of people and many times what happens is folks personalize creep into the workplace. You know, I often talk about the core motivating factors on why people do bad things. And it’s been my experience over, you know, more than two decades in working with organizations or people through crises. The core motivators generally come down the power and control, money, sex and revenge. And if you look at the major issues that occur in the world today, whether you talk about Matt Lauer or Tiger, Toyota, Martha Stewart, Goldman Sachs, Penn State, BP, Ray Rice, the NFL, we could go on and on and on. United Airlines, Equifax, Uber, if you take a look and trace back to what the core motivating factors of all those bad deeds are, generally they fall into one of those four categories.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:24] That’s interesting. So the types of crises are sex, money, power, what did I miss? Those are the ones that landed in my brain.
Rob Weinhold: [00:08:32] So power and control really are roped into one than money, sex and revenge. All very, very strong core motivators. And if you trace back to why people do bad things, and, generally they fall into one of those four categories. And by the way, if you know people in your life who are motivated by a few of those categories, you better take inventory of you hang around with.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:56] That’s interesting. How do you find out if somebody is motivated by those sorts of things? I’d like to get into that because that is a hard lesson for us to learn.
Rob Weinhold: [00:09:05] It’s a very hard lesson. And so you can take a look, let’s say, at the NFL, right? So whether or not you believe they’re in crisis or they’re dealing with just an issue of adversity, whether it’s the anthem protests or people might not be interested in the sport as much or maybe they’re not comfortable with the off field behavior of the athletes. At a certain point, the NFL may be making decisions based on their revenue lines. So their revenue lines for any professional sports team, generally ticket sales, sponsorships, food and beverage and merchandise and maybe special events in and around the stadium. But go back to the Ray Rice example with the Baltimore Ravens several years ago, and I had an opportunity to speak with the Ravens about their handling of Ray Rice. Ray was their most popular athlete. Very, very driven to succeed on the field and off the field.
[00:09:59] Everybody loved his presence. He was anti-bullying in a lot of different schools. So when the first video came out in the casino about him helping his girlfriend at the time who was being dragged off the elevator, a lot of people had questions. And Baltimore Raven’s leadership said, “You know, we wanted to believe Ray. We asked Ray what happened. He told us, we didn’t think about another video at that time,” which was kind of hard for me to believe anyway because I’m not saying that they weren’t telling the truth, but there’s a little bit of a lack of judgment when you have an industry that’s built on instant replay and you’re not thinking about, you know, that camera being in the elevator in a casino. But they wanted to believe Ray, they gave him the benefit of the doubt. They lobbied with the NFL to give them a two-game suspension.[00:10:41] And there was a tremendous amount of public outcry and rightly so because it was a horrific incident. But when the second video landed and I think TMZ broke the news and you saw the actual assault within the elevator itself. It sparked a whole new reaction. Ray was cut immediately and the Baltimore Ravens had a tremendous amount to manage as a result of that. And so were the Ravens driven by money and wins and keeping an athlete on the field? Well, I would suggest that that’s part of the equation for sure. And with an any sports franchise that had been a newspaper story versus a video story, things I think would have turned out a little bit differently.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:20] Because of the impact that video has. And because of the way that that just viscerally impacts people. Is that why?
Rob Weinhold: [00:11:27] Well, yeah, I mean the video for sure brings to life incidents that many people otherwise would have read about years ago. A great example of this would be a police-involved shootings. You know, right now there’s been, you know, just a spate of shootings and every time you turned around and seem a six months or a year ago, there was a new police involved shooting on camera. And at that point, citizens then had an opportunity to take a look at how ugly police work can be in a life and death circumstance. It doesn’t mean that the shooting wasn’t justified, but it does mean that people are shocked by what they see versus by what they read. And video has changed the way that we consume news and change the way the companies need to plan for crisis.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:11] You mentioned that if somebody is motivated by greed of money, power, sex, we should steer clear of them. How do you even find out if it’s that type of person before you see a video of them in an elevator or assaulting their girlfriend?
Rob Weinhold: [00:12:23] Well, I would say that with Ray Rice as an example, I mean that was something that no one ever expected. But there are people over time and all you have to do is take a look at the Weinstein incident. You take a look at Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and all of a sudden there was this pattern of behavior which occurred over time. Whether it went reported and not listened to or unreported. All of a sudden, you know, there’s an explosion of incidents that come to the forefront and people lose their jobs. And again, time, money, customers, and ultimately your career. Take a look at Michigan State. Here you have years of abuse, which finally came to light. Penn State is another example. So you have these smoldering issues which occur over years and decades. And it’s not until the tipping point is reached that ultimately the bad deeds are exposed and ultimately heads row and rightly so.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:17] So one of the things that I know you and I had discussed pre-show was that you like to turn the short-term adversity into long-term advantage. And that’s a great slogan, but it really seems hard for me to wrap my mind around how someone who gets a video of them saying something racist in the subway or something like that could turn that into an advantage in any way at all.
Rob Weinhold: [00:13:43] Well, you’re talking about some of the most egregious examples. I mean, the racist remark, the Paula Deen example. I mean economic estimates are that she lost $12 million based on that story breaking. But there are some absolutes, you know, child abuse, abusing an elder, obviously racist or discriminatory behavior that’s caught on video is a really, really tough thing. Time and distance along with a remorseful approach can at times repair the reputation and earn the public trust back. Although it may never happen depending on how egregious the example is. I mean, I tend to think that America is a fairly forgiving society as long as they believe that someone truly is apologetic and they have the absolute intention not to let something happen again. And then people seem to get a chance, a second chance. But then you look at someone like Congressman Weiner who apologizes, you know, his wife is with him.
[00:14:40] The next thing you know that bad behavior surfaces again and again and again. So, getting back to your question, I would say that you’d never really ever know someone’s heart, but you can see patterns of behavior of people in your life. You have to use your instincts. You have to use your experience, and you have to say to yourself, listen, if this person is always motivated by money, you have to wonder whether they’re making sound decisions within the life that you expect so to speak. Or are they going to be driven by money all the time? Or are they driven by sex all the time? And does that go ahead and allow them to disrespect other people if they’re motivated by power in control? You know, one has to wonder if that’s the strongest a force multiplier if they’re making the best decisions in the interest of a company or their reporting stream. So it’s a very, very complicated issue. But once these crises are revealed, many times they can be traced back to one of those four core motivating factors.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:39] Huh. Okay. So can we talk about sort of the definition slash anatomy and then of course the warning signs of a crisis. So can we walk through some of these, because it sounds like you having dealt with these and also being essentially in part an investigator. It sounds like you probably see these things coming and if organizations are, if people in general were a little bit more screwed on tight or paying more attention to this, they might also see these things coming down the pipe. Would you agree with that?
Rob Weinhold: [00:16:09] I would agree. In fact, I agree wholeheartedly, which is why the forward thinking leaders in this world ask firms like ours to come in ahead of time and do what’s called a crisis assessment. And then we do the planning ahead of time because we know we have to create that organizational muscle memory. The issue isn’t if crisis will occur is when you don’t need to go looking for it. It’s going to knock on your door. It’s just a matter of when. I do believe that an organization, simply by the way that they handle it, can be bigger, faster, stronger than they were before, but the anatomy of a crisis really, ultimately what happens is there’s some type of triggering event. And that triggering event could be someone who, you know, reports discrimination. It could be the data breach. It could be in the bad press. It could be the social media attack.
Rob Weinhold: [00:16:55] But it generally impacts people, assets and brands. So the people could be personal safety or emotional resiliency. And if you think of it this way, if there’s an active shooter situation within a company, obviously the people that were shot or injured, they’re going to be physically impacted. But everyone else who hears about the story and everyone in the organization, they’re going to be impacted emotionally. So what does a company do to embrace the concept of emotional resilience and make sure the company gets back up on plane very, very quickly so people are not afraid to come to work or do their jobs without distraction. Protecting the assets is another very, very important part of the equation here. It could be your intellectual property, your trade secrets, those types of things, your physical plan and brand last but certainly not least. Brand is a very interesting concept to wrap your arms around because think of Tony Hayward, the Chief Executive of BP, there’s probably not anywhere that Tony goes, somebody doesn’t say, “Hey, that’s the BP guy.” So he has a personal issue to deal with for the rest of his career. And certainly BP has a corporate issue to deal with. Or when the mayor of City of Baltimore gets locked up for stealing gift cards, yet the City of Baltimore takes another hit and the mayor personally takes a hit as well. So there’s genuinely a triggering event which impacts people, assets and brands.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:35] So how do you smell that triggering event coming? Is there a way to sniff it out? Because it seems like there’s going to be touchpoints on how a crisis typically unfolds before the triggering event comes through. Because maybe they get caught stealing gift cards, but was it like Wynona Rider back in the day. She got caught shoplifting, but then it turned out that she’d just been shoplifting a bunch or something like that. Right. And it just came out and then it was like, Oh, and she’s got these other issues that had contributed to it and it just, all the house of cards comes falling down.
Rob Weinhold: [00:20:09] As Warren Buffet says, there’s generally not one cockroach in the kitchen. No doubt about it. So it’s interesting though, because we, through this crisis assessment process, what we do is we go in and I’ll just tell you a little bit about the process because the best leaders are often very predictive leaders within their organizations, which also have the same mindset. And we talk about the time, money, customers and ultimately your career. I get people to think about their end of year goals. So when the clock strikes midnight, for example, at the end of the year, what are those things that could prevent you from hitting your annual goals? When we do this and we interview people, executives, for instance one by one, I mean they regurgitate all over the table and tell us all kinds of things. Like, you know, the marketing isn’t 100 percent accurate or we have some HR issues or the chief executive says things that he shouldn’t say.
Rob Weinhold: [00:21:01] We’ve got some product recall vulnerabilities and all of these facts begin to come out. What we do is we will put together a report and prioritize maybe the eight, 10 or 12 different points of exposure, which we think are of highest priority. Not just based on what the people in the organization say, but also what our industry research yields. And that’s a very, very telling story. And from there, I’ll give you an example, a very, very large public company, Fortune 500, we did this for them. And as a result, they didn’t have a crisis communications plan. So we put that in place. They didn’t have redundancy in their supply chain network. So we help them with that and put together about three or four other elements within 30 days. They had to activate those plans because of something that happened.
[00:21:47] And so if you have a B to C business or you have a product that you’re selling, you’d need to be planning for that product recall or someone to go out and say, “Hey, listen, this doesn’t work right? I’m going to take a YouTube video, or excuse me, post a video on YouTube”. And the next thing you know, you’re off to the races. So the Institute of Crisis Management says of all the crises that occurred last year, 68 percent were smoldering versus sudden. They also say that of all the categories of crisis, the largest category and the reason that most companies found themselves embroiled in crisis was because of mismanagement. So if you marry those two statistics and rightly so, there’s a lot of things that we as leaders or managers know about, but we fail to confront. And that smoldering issue becomes an inferno very, very quickly. So these issues are very predictable, but again, it’s about leadership strategy and communications. Let me address very quickly the sudden issues because there are things that you can predict and there’s two items in the news right now, which I think are very interesting. One is the Crock-Pot controversy and the other one is a Tide Pods and if you want to talk about those for a second, I’d be happy to do it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:01] You’re going to have to fill me in on both of those. Shows you what I know. I have no idea what either of those things are.
Rob Weinhold: [00:23:07] So the Crock-Pot controversy came about very quickly. There’s a show on television called “This Is Us”and the lead character died in a recent episode. And the reason he died in the recent episode is because a Crock-Pot suddenly sparked and burned and then ultimately burned the house down. All of a sudden, there was this big consumer pushback. Well, wait a minute, Crock-Pots the reason that the lead character died in a This Is Us episode and everybody’s emotionally connected to the show and they’re, you know, tweeting about it and going on Facebook and texting one another. The next thing you know, Crock-Pot, who’s been around for a long, long time without incident is embroiled in a controversy because people start to think that Crock-Pots can spontaneously combust and burn their house down. So you can imagine working at Crock-Pot going, what in the world?
[00:23:57] Why are the phones ringing? Why are people tweeting about us? Just to show you, I mean, they didn’t even have a Twitter account, but they learned about everyone’s response. So Crock-Pot was masterful in how they handle it. They tweet it. They went out to the public and they messaged, Oh my gosh, we understand. It’s terrible that this lead character died. But they were very empathetic. And then they highlighted the legacy of Crock-Pots. How they have been around 50 years. Have had no issues that they research and quality control relentlessly and so on and so forth. So they had, well, no pun intended, a simmering and a smoldering issue, which just blew up very quickly and they were able to mitigate it. And now I would say that their reputational equity is much higher than it was before the episode.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:41] That’s an interesting way to flip something around and have it become an advantage. Now Crock-Pots are in the zeitgeist. “Oh, yeah. It’s going to burn down your house and kill you.” “Actually, we’ve been running for 40 years with no incident. Try Crock-Pots — just make sure you unplug it after you’re done. The end.” You know, whatever.
Rob Weinhold: [00:24:58] So Crock-Pot had a decision to make. Do they come out and say, “This is ridiculous. This has never happened in 50 years. All of our research — ” and take a very, you know, academic, corporate approach, or do they go a little bit more mainstream? Say, “Oh, my gosh, we’re upset too, that the character died and we can’t believe that happened in such a great show. But let me tell you a little bit more about Crock-Pots and our history and so on and so forth.” And you know, they partnered with the event versus gave them the Heisman or the stiff arm. And so that really, really worked well for them. And Tide Pods is another example.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:33] Yeah, let’s talk about Tide Pods. Because these, it’s such a miracle because usually you think, wow, when this brand gets this hit, they’re so screwed. They’re going to take a huge sales dip. And it’s not even their fault. I mean this is a fictional scripted show and they just happen to use a Crock-Pot because they didn’t, they thought probably that it doesn’t matter what the appliances could be a toaster, who cares? And it just, that ruined the lives of some poor bastards over in the Crock-Pot PR department for months, right?
Rob Weinhold: [00:26:02] No doubt about it. But again, they’re turning adversity into advantage. You know, here are the strains coming down the tracks and they handled it, I think beautifully. Tide Pods, you know, another example tied in and out of itself, I think they actually had a child very tragically choked to death a few years ago, on one of them. And they were able to manage that. But very recently, a lot of young people are putting them in their mouths and trying to get a sensation or a high off of the Tide Pods. And it took off
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:33] Oh my goodness.
Rob Weinhold: [00:26:34] Yes, the viral news story took off and then mainstream media picked it up and Tide really had a decision to make. What do we do here? Do we pull the pods off the shelf? They really had an opportunity to either embrace the crisis or act a little bit more standoffish and accuse the young people of bad behavior and being somewhat stupid and putting these pods in their mouths. But they actually have embraced the crisis. They put out some PSAs. They work with Gronk actually who came out and made a PSA to encourage kids not to do this. They responded to every individual message that came into the organization. They provided health advice, whether it’s called poison control or 911. They even asked people who called with health questions to follow up after they saw their doctor or you know, called poison control. They showed a very humanitarian, interest and approach to this controversy. So I think Crock-Pot who did the same thing by the way, they responded to a DMs and they were really, really very responsive and showed a lot of connectivity and relational brand building through these controversies. And so I give them both very, very high marks. These are two controversies that are in the news at this point.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:49] I can’t believe you can put a Tide Pod in your mouth. And get a buzz, Ken. I mean, that’s ridiculous. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
Rob Weinhold: [00:27:56] Well, YouTube actually took some responsibility here and they started to pull the videos off of the platform because they knew that kids were just replicating what other kids were doing. You know, way, way back in the day, it’s kind of like the pop rocks, you know, brand and everything just takes off as you can imagine, bad behavior, right? It’s contagious.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:15] Geez, did you know that if you listened to the Jordan Harbinger Show, it makes you taller. That’s what we need to get going viral. Don’t put detergent in your mouth, knucklehead. Listen to something that’s healthy. Yeah. I’m like, gosh, what a weird, how do people even think of this stuff, man. You already need to be on some kind of drugs to put a detergent pod in your mouth and say, wonder what happens when I do this?
Rob Weinhold: [00:28:37] Well, let me tell you something. I have three boys and I am routinely amazed of what they’re capable of doing and it defies all logic. There’s no doubt about it. But you know, you talk about organizations and what should they do? Number one, they need to be predictive. But number two, when something happens, I embrace a model, the resilient moment communications model, and this was articulated by Dr. George Everly out of Hopkins. This model basically says that if you answer these five questions, then more than 95 percent of the questions that people have will have been answered. And those questions are what happened, what caused it, what are the short and long-term effects, what’s being done about it, and what needs to be done in the future. And I see leader after leader after leader hold a press conference and don’t come anywhere close to answering the questions that many people have and often really rely on the no comment approach. But this resilient moment communications model, I hope will help your audience. What happened? What caused it, what are the short and long term effects, what’s being done about it, and what needs to be done in the future. So that’s the communications model that everybody should be embracing when they talk about an issue of sensitivity, adversity, or crisis.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:51] I love how this has been studied. This must have been an interesting research and that 70 percent of these crises are smoldering versus sudden, which means that people know in advance and they just forget to or avoid addressing it, right? That sounds like what you’re saying here.
Rob Weinhold: [00:30:05] That’s exactly it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:06] You’ve got to have this crisis planning as you call it, the importance of organizational muscle memory comes into play during a crisis. Can you explain what that is? Because it sounds easier to say, yeah, you’ve got a plan for this stuff, but the fact is it’s not just a plan, it’s actual training. It’s like the military. We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, but we default to the level of our training is a common phrase among special forces personnel because a lot of people think when this happens, we’re going to do all this great stuff. When the truth is, if you’re not training for it, when something happens, everyone runs around like a chicken with their head cut off, your key people call in sick or start looking for other jobs and nobody wants to show their, you know, they’re pulling their shirt collar over their face as they walk in the office. Cause the press is outside and it doesn’t look good.
Rob Weinhold: [00:30:51] Jordan, you hit the nail on the head. How you practice is how you’re going to play. That’s why the military law enforcement, they relentlessly train. So they’re ready to meet the moment. I’ll talk about the military very quickly and then I’ll answer your other question if that’s okay. The same professor that I was talking about, Dr. Everly, did a generational study on the Navy seals and he wanted to know why it is that some Navy seals, you know, were selected and they ascended through the ranks and they were very, very successful in their careers and why others were not. And how is it that a blue chip athlete out of high school who has 12 varsity letters goes to the Navy seals and fails miserably. But yet the socially awkward person may have had a couple of a JV letters, maybe a varsity team or whatever the case may be.
[00:31:42] Not only goes to the Navy seals and flourishes, but ascends through the ranks and become, you know, a great leader over time. What Dr. Everly was able to do was isolate the single most important predictor of success for a Navy seal. And oftentimes when I speak about this, I’ll ask the audience and they’ll throw out, you know, answers like teamwork and grit and perseverance and resiliency and toughness and all these different descriptors. After I asked the audiences, I’ll say, ” Listen, if someone walks through your door right now and they had all of these attributes, including smart and responsive, would you hire them?”. And everybody without question says, absolutely. But the single most important predictor of success based on this research is optimism. And everybody goes, “Wow! Optimism.” And if you think about it, think of who’s in your life. And we all know those people that we call or we say, “Hey, how’s it going today?”[00:32:40] And they say, “Oh! The world’s on my back” or “you know the sun’s out right now but I know it’s going to rain in a little while.” And then there’s other people we call, “Hey how’s it going? Hey I need a favor.” “Oh what is it? Yup, no problem. I’ll be right there and we’ll climb the mountain together and all those types of things.” So optimism is so incredibly important. I’ve talked to teams of doctors at shock trauma in Baltimore and many other leadership teams and I have found the most creative optimistic teams are often the most high performing. And I think that’s really, really important when we take inventory of who we hire and who we surround ourselves in this life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:18] Do you think people should hire for optimism or do you think that it’s trainable? How do you look at that or are you just kind of like well here are the people in the organization. It doesn’t matter what they are cause they are what they are.
Rob Weinhold: [00:33:28] Well I’m sure they are. There are tests for it, but I would have to say that 100 percent need to hire for optimism. I don’t necessarily think that that’s learned behavior over time. If it is, I think it’ll take a long time. I’ve done a lot of work with corporate teams and they want to hire happy, right? Happy people who are responsive, they’re results oriented and they’re committed to the team and the mission. But this concept of optimism, I challenge leaders on a weekly basis and I say, listen to me at my age, there’s two kinds of people in this world. Those who give me energy and those who take it away. So they fall into one of those two buckets. That’s it. And so I challenged leaders, particularly those in crisis, to go home and look in the mirror and say, which one am I?
[00:34:11] What bucket do I fall in? Because the shadow of a leader is alive and well, and you have to be able to lead through really difficult times who can’t lead. When profits are up and culture’s great and the sun is shining, anyone can do that. But real leaders emerge during difficult times and the resilient leadership model that I’ve talked about in the past that Dr. Everly refers to is resilient leaders all over the world do these things and they do it really well. One is they operate with integrity and they never do anything to interrupt their integrity. The underpinning of success in my view is the ability to communicate effectively. And if you are not able to communicate effectively, it doesn’t matter how high your IQ is, how many vowels and consonants you have after your name. You will never be able to mobilize teams and groups in the direction that you need them to.
Rob Weinhold: [00:35:02] They have to be decisive. Research shows that people would rather follow a leader who makes a wrong decision than no decision. We’ve talked about optimism and how important that is. We also need to make sure that the leaders or organizations put their hands up and take responsibility that they don’t point fingers at other people. We saw this in the Wells Fargo controversy, and I would say a full blown crisis a couple of years ago where the phony accounts were being opened and so on and so forth. And the chief executive, yeah, you may remember he went before Congress, his name was Stumpf, I believe. He went before Congress and really almost differed accountability and responsibility down to the line level. Well, he soon resigned after that and it was just an ugly, ugly, you know, cycle for Wells Fargo. But the bottom line is you have to be able to put your hand up and take responsibility.
[00:35:55] You also have to develop a resilient culture. And what that means is there’s inter dependability on success and failure. So your success depends on mine and mine depends on yours. So you don’t have the me-first attitude or you don’t have organizations that operate in a silo. And last but not least is really behavioral body armor. And Dr. Everly talks about this and he says, “You have to take care of yourself during a difficult time. You have to eat well, sleep right, exercise. So that you are able to take care of other people who are depending on you to sound decision make and lead this organization through a very, very difficult time.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:35] It sounds like something that cannot be as effectively mustered and I’m not trying to say that you can’t do it. Of course this is your job, but it seems like this type of planning, this type of getting ahead of this is where it’s at, right? Planning policy development, assessing, what did you call it before? It’s kind of like sniffing out the smoldering crisis that’s inevitably going to fall out when you least expect it or come to light when you least expect it. That seems much more crucial than reacting in the moment. And I guess that Wells Fargo CEO is kind of the definition of that. There’s no way he didn’t know about that because he would have seen, wow, we’re getting so many new accounts. I’m really smart even though I’m not going to ask what policy it is that created all this explosive account growth. No, of course they investigated that and he knew and it’s just easier for him to point at the masses and the retail banking side and shrug his shoulders and say, yeah, it looks like we got to send a memo down. Instead of saying, yep, we did this or the wrong way and we got to figure out how to do this. So I remember, I think it was maybe Elizabeth Warren or something like that that just skewered him and it was so awkward. It was just, he just walked right into it.
Rob Weinhold: [00:37:42] I’m sorry. Yeah, he walked right into it. And think about that 2 million fake accounts and as a result, $185 million in fines, $5 million in remediation to customers and a downgrade in credit rating. So if you’re telling me that you had no idea that there were fake accounts and your profits were being inflated and these numbers and metrics were off, many people just hope it goes away or gets unnoticed. But the bottom line is, there’s a heavy, heavy price to pay for sweeping things under the carpet.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:16] So what does it mean to create or get ahead of policy, crisis assessment and training? How can we apply this to maybe even our personal lives if we’re not the HR department or the C level suite, the C suite of a major corporation, how can we apply some of this to our personal life? Because I feel like in my personal, there’s certainly been times where I’m thinking, “Oh, I should’ve figured out how this was going to play out”. Or you’re making a job change maybe and you think, huh, I should probably examine how this is going to look and what I’m going to say. What am I going to tell my family and what am I going to tell my office coworkers, my former colleagues? What am I going to tell my friends? The public, if you’re any sort of public facing figure, you have to think about all these things.
Rob Weinhold: [00:38:58] You have to think about them all and we are our own worst enemy, but we’re also our own best hidden asset. And I kind of equated to this on the personal side. You drive down the road in your car or truck, whatever it is, you drive and you hear a noise that just doesn’t sound right, but you ignore it and you ignore it because it’s a hassle to go get it checked out. It’s going to cost you money. Nobody’s got time for that. But it becomes an emergency when you’re broken down on the side of the road or that plumbing issue in the house. So yeah, we’ve got a little bit of a leak, but now it’s Thanksgiving and we’ve got water gushing all over the carpet. So we know what the issues are. And again, they could be a mental health oriented, they could be addiction, they could be a health related and some other, a manner of financial.
[00:39:41] We know what the issue are. Issues are in our lives that we just fail to confront. We fail to confront because we feel like we’re not in enough pain or we don’t have the time or whatever the case may be. But when we feel enough pain, that’s when we address it. And by that time, we hope that is not a full blown crisis. And it’s not irreparable, whatever the issue may be. Then when something does happen, all right, and I find this with leaders in corporations and I find it many times with people personally, we always don’t want to admit that there is actually a crisis that’s occurring because nobody wants to believe that they’re in some type of crisis. So we failed to embrace it. And the most successful people I’ve seen navigate their own worlds. They embrace the fact that they’re in crisis, they acknowledge it, they admit it, and then they leverage the resources around them to get help. I always say this, success is systems driven, not hero driven. And many of us think, you know, we might have an ego, whatever the case may be, or we think we can handle it by ourselves or we’re embarrassed to let people know that we’re dealing with one of life’s most difficult issues. What I have found is many people are often willing to help, they truly understand, but they need to know about the issue. And so a lot of self preservation goes on and by that time it’s often too late.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:06] One of the things we discussed pre-show is you have your clients create this preliminary crisis assessment to identify smoldering issues. And he’d kind of take one or two days onsite where dozen or so critical members of an organization are interviewed singularly. And then you go through all of the, like you said, the annual goals, the things that are going to cost them money, time, careers, whatever. And you used an interesting word in the prep here because you’ve mentioned this internal research is used combined with recommendations and proactive steps to reduce exposure and plan for the inevitable. You used the word inevitable. So would you say there’s almost always something simmering inside any organization?
Rob Weinhold: [00:41:50] I don’t care what organization you’re in, there is always crisis lurking. There is no doubt about it. And again, that crisis could take on many shapes and sizes. You don’t have to go looking for it. It will knock on your door. It could be discrimination, could be an HR issue, could be legal, it could be a data breach, could be bad press, it could be a social media attack, consumer complaints. The list goes on and on and on about the myriad of issues that corporations need to deal with. When we do the crisis assessments, many times those issues come out and they go from concept to, “Oh my gosh, there’s a real issue.” There’s reality here because we’ve seen a pattern of complaints over a couple of year period. And it wasn’t until the Matt Lauer incident or Harvey Weinstein that we took a hard look at our own sexual harassment or discrimination policies.
[00:42:43] And by the way, these very broad, notorious issues that everybody seems to know about. Let’s just take the me-too campaign and all of these folks getting fired. All these executives are taking a hard look within the ranks because all of a sudden women who have been abused or harassed for years now have the courage to come forward within their own setting. And those organizations need to be prepared to deal with it. You can’t tell me that, you know, NBC didn’t learn from other terminations on how to deal with Matt Lauer. Okay? So you have to take a look at what’s going on in the marketplace and say, “Could that happen to me?” Data breaches are another example, whether you’re Home Depot or Equifax, I mean Equifax is an example of an organization sitting on a data breach for more than six weeks before they notified their consumers in the public. That is entirely unacceptable and very predictable. So you know these things can happen within your marketplace and if you are not preparing for them, then to me, you have failed your leadership post.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:52] So when you’re doing these interviews inside an organization, are you using kind of your investigative police techniques to sort of uncover these issues? I mean, it seems like more than just a questionnaire that you hand out and read and go, “Yep! We’re all good here.” Or this person might have a real big problem. Keep an eye on them. It seems like you’re really, it seems like a mixture of my job. Plus maybe detective work to go, this person seems a little cagey or this issue seems like it could be bigger than they’re letting on or something like that. That’s where these come out to light, right?
Rob Weinhold: [00:44:21] I started my career more than three decades ago in the Baltimore police department. So I was very used to dealing with people during high stress situations, investigating crimes and really getting information out of people that they didn’t want to give. And I would not be forthright if I didn’t tell you that those skills come in very, very handy when we do those assessments. And so we interview executives one by one and give them about a 10 to 15 minute overview of what we’re taking a look at and kind of give them the whole time, money, customers and careers and talk about what resiliency means and that we’re all on the same team. And our goal here is to identify the points of exposure for an organization so that we can put in the strategies and tactics to reduce the points of exposure and save time, money, consumer confidence, and the careers of the people who sit at the highest posts.
[00:45:15] And there’s no questionnaires. It’s more of a free-form interview. I can generally tell when people are a little bit evasive or they may be going into the three feet, but we need to get into the 12 feet and it’s amazing. After about an hour, an hour and a half, I feel like we’ve got everything on the table. We interview executive after executive after executive and after about eight to 10 to 12 interviews, I’ve got a very, very good picture of what’s going on inside of an organization. And so when I then meet with leadership after the exercise, and by the way everyone is anonymous, we don’t say, Joe said this, Sam said this, Sally said that. We make it agnostic and just present the facts as we’ve found them. Then from there we give our recommendations on how to deal with the eight to 12 points of exposure. That’s typically the average that we find and it’s been a very, very useful tool for organizations as they try to batten down the hatches and preserve their valuation. Because I do believe that crisis is a growth strategy. I don’t believe that it’s something to be afraid of. I believe it’s a growth strategy because it’s going to happen and that’s where true leaders earn their money.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:24] That’s an interesting point. So you should be looking at this — or we should be looking at this — as an opportunity and not as a thing that is victimizing us in the organization. Even if it might be super inconvenient and possibly costing us millions of dollars in lost Crock-Pot sales. You’re saying, no, no, no. This is an opportunity for the organization to get better and for each to even grow as a result of this.
Rob Weinhold: [00:46:47] This gets back to short-term adversity turns into long-term advantage by how you handle crisis. Any leader these days who doesn’t think that crisis is going to knock on their door, and many times, digitally, their head is in the sand and we know what sticks up when people’s heads are in the sand, right? We get that, but crisis is an opportunity. It’s a growth strategy. That’s kind of the big idea I’ve had. You know I speak to a bunch of bank presidents next week and I’m going to talk about this very concept because when I say that eyebrows raise and people look at me like I’m crazy and I said, no, no, no, you don’t understand. This is a growth strategy. You have to expect it and if you are able to go in and analyze your firm, make sure that you’re predictive, you have organizational muscle memory and you show the public and embrace the resilient moment communications model and the leadership tenets that I talk about. You are going to enhance public trust, hence valuation over time.
Rob Weinhold: [00:47:43] This is really, really important that you play the long game and whether it’s Crock-Pot or United Airlines or Facebook or the NFL or whatever. You can have a short term dip in market cap, but over the long term, you are going to earn the trust of consumers. This gets into a model that I talk about and it’s called the 15-70-15 model and what I always say is this, our loyal customers, 15 percent of them, we could go up and we could punch them square in the nose and it will be the best punch in those that they’ve ever received and they want another. They are going to be our ambassadors no matter what the other 15 percent, it really doesn’t matter what we say or do, where we hand them the winning lottery ticket or the bar of gold or whatever analogy you want to use, they’re generally going to remain in the negative column and it’s going to be a hard time to bring them to neutral.
[00:48:34] We’re really fighting for that 70 percent in between because they’re watching to see how we handle crisis and they’re watching to see if we make the right leadership decisions and we’re able to articulate it properly and we’re able to earn their confidence back. That model becomes really important because a lot of times what happens when organizations are in crisis is leaders react to the micro communities that are the loudest and they’ll go ahead and decision-make based on people squawking. And so they start playing whackable with their decisions versus making the decisions that will impact that middle 70 percent that I’m talking about.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:13] So tell us about some of your clients. I know that you have to keep them anonymous and the names don’t necessarily matter at all, but I’m curious how this plays out down to all the way from corporations, all the way down to maybe there’s a family going through some stuff or even just a singular person that isn’t just an A-list celebrity. Somebody that we can relate to.
Rob Weinhold: [00:49:33] It’s kind of interesting. There was a YouTube presence and a family that branded themselves as DaddyOFive. And it was a family of five. Five kids that is, and the parents, and they were making videos that were very, very controversial. In fact, I can tell you as a parent, a long time coach or youth mentor, when I looked at some of these videos that really turned my stomach, but they play practical jokes on their kids to the point where some of the kids were crying and so on and so forth. They were attacked by their own community, the YouTube community. Then, the issue made it to mainstream news and they were really being barraged at all angles. And I got a call one day from an attorney who said, “Rob, I have this client.
[00:50:18] I don’t know what to do with them. They need help. They’re in crisis, they’re destabilized. And there’s five lovely children inside of the home and we just don’t know what to do.” And by the way, everybody we’ve talked to, whether their PR firms or life coaches, whatever the case may be, are running the other way because of how egregious these videos are. And so I interviewed the attorney. I interviewed the family over the phone, and then I went to their home and spent nearly three to four hours with them. Really, really diving into what was going on. I interviewed the kids and they were very distraught. They didn’t know where to turn, who to trust. They had no hope and they were very, very desperate. You know, our firm was founded on helping people during life’s most critical times and there’s no doubt that we could provide stability through all of our instincts and experience and working with his family.[00:51:07] So we made a collective decision after a lot of, you know, back and forth to go ahead and work with this family. We knew that because they were very public. They were superstars in their own community. They had a lot of fame, but they were caught up in their fame. They were caught up in the number of subscriptions and their popularity and all the fan mail they were getting and the money that they were making from YouTube. They lived in an impoverished community. And the money they made on YouTube allowed them to move to a nicer neighborhood. So they got into home, the kids had their own rooms. They developed college funds and so on and so forth. The problem is every video that they created was more outrageous than the last. And between making the kids cry, many viewed it as abuse and neglect and then investigators got involved and everything came unravelled and spiralled out of control.[00:51:59] So before we made the decision to work with the family, I knew that there were a lot of touch points and I really looked at this as opportunity. You know, my view on life is, you know, people intersect other people’s lives at times for a reason. And in some small way I thought, you know, we have the resources to help this family to walk away would really be a disservice. And if you’re service-oriented, like I feel that people here in this firm are, will always question that decision. So when we got inside the home, we really unpacked what was going on. There was a need to give them recommendations in terms of counsellors and criminal attorneys and civil attorneys and investigators that were showing up to the door, child protective services, school administrators, neighbors who were, you know, gawking at the family.[00:52:45] The YouTube community was on fire. You know, many, many were supporting the family and many, many more were against the family by the nature of the videos that they created. They had death threats. There were security issues. They had news media. They were on Good Morning, America. But through all of that, I really felt an obligation to be a solid life coach and to help this family over the next 30 days make the right decisions for their children. And so we took that responsibility very seriously. And, they, to this day and all the service providers around them have been very complimentary of us being able to dig in and help them during their critical time. And again, I want to reiterate, I, in no way, shape or form approve of the videos that they made. And in fact, many of them turn my stomach when I watched.[00:53:35] But what I knew behind the scenes and what I saw was a family that loved one another and they lived in a good home. And I’ve been in many, many homes as a law enforcement officer. I can tell after interviewing and going inside of a home, whether it’s as disruptive as it appeared on YouTube, it was not. And, you know, as a result, child protective services made some decisions about a couple of the kids in the home. But the family is much better off today and they’ve learned a tremendous amount. I really believe that we were able to make a positive difference in their lives. That’s an example of a family who was in crisis and just didn’t know where to turn. And they were emotional. Of course, they were distraught. Many clients I have had, by the way, you know, they will say to me, I don’t want to be in this world anymore.[00:54:21] They’ve lost all hope. So we have an opportunity to go into people’s lives. Whether it’s a chief executive or a family, and really make a positive difference and identify where their navigational fix is, where they need to go, whatever their goals happen to be, and then chart the course for them to get there. Again, I go back to instinct and experience and I talk about the family DaddyOFive and I talk about all the different elements that were occurring in their lives. Again, whether it was family counselling or investigators or the school or the news media, they didn’t know how to handle any of that. And to help them from a life coach perspective, looking back was a rewarding experience because I truly believe that we helped other people during their most critical time. And I will tell you, they’re a better family now than there were six or eight months ago.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:11] That must feel pretty incredible, especially if someone says, “Hey, look, Rob, you know, I’m being attacked on everything from Twitter to Facebook to TMZ, to YouTube.” I just want to, you know, end it that must make you feel, one, it puts a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. But two, it really puts your job in perspective because you’re not just sitting there writing press releases at that point. You’re trying to make a situation change such that the person who’s at the center of it caught whether it’s their own doing or not, you’re trying to save this person’s life.
Rob Weinhold: [00:55:47] It’s crisis leadership at the highest level. And when you’re dealing with literally life and death and whether or not a person sees the way out or sees hope in some way, shape or form, and you are the one who’s in essence, the wing person, trying to get them through just a horrific time in their lives or their career. It is an awesome responsibility. And the reason I’m in this business, because when you’re wired to help people, no matter how high the stakes are, and the stakes are very, very high. You come out the other side and the person says to you, and we’ll get emails, like you know, I don’t know what I ever would have done without you. I don’t know how to thank you. You guys were like angels that dropped down from heaven. That is the most rewarding day in the world.
[00:56:33] There’s no paycheck. There’s no after hours party. There’s nothing that can compare to someone thanking you sincerely. When you see the spirit of defeat in their eyes and the one day you work with them, it might be after a couple days, a week, a month, whatever. Now they have hope and you know that you’ve taken them to a new plateau. I can’t think of a more rewarding experience in life. By the way. I will tell you this as well, working with that family and some of the other clients that we’ve worked with, we’ve taken a hit ourselves. In other words, how in the world could the Fallston group work with a family like this? You know, they’ve done these terrible things, the children, but these people don’t see what we’re seeing. They may not be wired within the spirit of service and looking at the big picture, knowing that you can somehow, some way make a small difference in someone’s life and lead them to a much better place for years to come. That’s an awesome responsibility. We embrace it and that’s why we’re in the business.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:33] Rob, thank you so much. I have a really interesting look on the inside of crisis management. Something we never think about. Something I didn’t even necessarily knew existed until recently. So it was really great to run into you and be able to discuss this sort of at a deep level here because I really, it is one of those niches or industries that is completely unimportant to us most of the time because we don’t even, we don’t experience this at all. And then when you need it, you cannot live without it. It’s like a drug for a disease you don’t have or that you think you don’t have and then you find out one day that you need this thing desperately and you’re just praying that it exists and here you are.
Rob Weinhold: [00:58:10] I don’t know one person in this world that’s never needed help professionally, personally or both. And I’m just glad that we’re in a position to do that with our careers. And Jordan, it’s really been my pleasure to speak with you today. I really respect your show and wish you many more years of success.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:26] Jason, this one was interesting. Then I got to say I, when I met Rob, he was really interesting, but a lot of what he was talking about, he was like, I can’t talk about this on your show. But, and then there’s a story and I can’t talk about that on the show. Some of that has passed, but we were talking about that YouTube family, the prank family, that was just such a bad situation because although some of us saw it and went, this is fake. Hundreds of thousands, billions of people thought they’re abusing their kids and it just destroyed. I mean, it had the potential to destroy that family. They thought they were going to lose their kids. I mean it’s something we never think about. Like I said on the show, this is that cancer drug that you think, Oh well, you know, I don’t even know if this exists or that drug for a disease you didn’t know. And then one day you find out you have and it becomes central to your life. He’s like a lawyer in that when you need them, you need them bad. And before that you never think about it.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:59:14] Yeah, definitely. And you know, thinking about the YouTube family and how some people didn’t quite get it. I also think about the Crock-Pot scandal and the Tide Pods and then you just can’t really react to how some people are going to see things on the internet or on television and take them to heart even though they’re fiction sometimes. And you still have to spin it your way. And, yeah, I wish I had Rob as a mentor back in my early days. I definitely could have used some chief reputation officer on my staff a couple of times in my youth.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:45] Nah, you wouldn’t listen to him. We both know that.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:59:47] That’s true.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:48] The book title is The Art of Crisis Leadership: Save Time, Money, Customers and Ultimately, Your Career / family / life. That cannot be overstated. All right. And if you enjoy this one, don’t forget to thank Rob on Twitter. I’d love to hear from you via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram. I’m @jordanharbinger on Instagram. That’ll all be linked up in the show notes for this episode, which can be found at jordanharbinger.com. This episode, as always, of the Jordan Harbinger Show is produced and edited by Jason DeFillippo. Show notes are by Robert Fogarty. Booking, back-office, and last minute miracles by Jen Harbinger. And I’m your host Jordan Harbinger. Jason, we need some reviews. This is a new show. We need some iTunes ratings, we need reviews. And frankly, we need you, listeners, dear listener, to share this show with anybody that listened to our old show that you’ve think would like podcast or this type of podcast because we are starting from the ground up once again.
Jason DeFillippo: [01:00:44] Yeah, yeah. Please star and rate in iTunes. We will love you forever.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:49] Yeah, we already have a handful of iTunes reviews and it’s great to see. I love seeing these new reviews rolling. You guys have a special place in my heart. It’s very daunting starting from where we’re starting right now. I just thank God we can take the skills and some of the team with us and I would love it. I would love, love it if you share the show with those you love and even those you don’t. We’ve got lots more in the pipeline. We’re excited to bring to you. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so that you can live what you listen and we’ll see you next time.
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