Breaking the Bottleneck: Lessons in Thinking Differently
Last updated: March 12, 2020
What’s one thing you’ve always dreamed of doing but aren’t doing because you think you don’t have the resources? That’s the central question that Sean Keener, CEO and co-founder of the BootsnAll Travel Network wants people, and companies, to ask themselves. Sean is on a mission to help people find the right question to ask, rather than search for the right answer to the wrong question.
In this episode, we discuss the ways that Sean is redefining the boundaries of what is possible, in life and in business.
Top 3 Takeaways
- Rewire your brain to see the possibilities, not just the obstacles. Sean spent 18 months traveling around the world on six thousand dollars. Upon hearing this, most people immediately begin to erect barriers between them and this idea — they can’t leave their job, or can’t live off such little money. BootsnAll works precisely to dismantle these barriers, helping people do what they want with the resources they have.
- Business can be counterintuitive sometimes. Things that seem crazy, like referring customers elsewhere, might be best for business overall. As a general rule, only about 7-10% of the people who visit your website or interact with your business will become part of your core customer base. On the flip side, this means that about 90-93% of visitors won’t help move your business forward. By understanding who lands in that 7-10%, you can save your time and resources for real customers, not window-shoppers.
- Differentiation is only getting more difficult. Thanks to the world wide web and the diversity of the modern marketplace, competition is growing fiercer and fiercer by the day. At the same time, new bottlenecks are cropping up just as rapidly as new competitors. The easiest, most effective way to differentiate is by “breaking the bottleneck.” Finding something that you can do 10 to 100 times faster than your competitors, and leaning hard into it might mean the difference between mediocrity and huge success.
You can read the full transcript here:
Cameron Madill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Remarkable Credit Union Podcast. We created our podcast to help credit union leaders and marketers think outside of the box about technology, community impact, and marketing strategy. Each episode we bring on expert guests from inside and outside of the industry for conversations about innovation. Our goal is to challenge your preconceptions about business as usual and provide you with actionable takeaways that you can use to grow your membership, improve the financial health of your cooperative, and magnify the positive impact in your community.
Cameron Madill: All right, today’s big question, how can credit unions turn their membership base into a tribe that is passionately promoting them in the market? Today, I’m very excited to welcome my friend Sean Keener. Sean is one of the most interesting people I have ever met in my entire life, I can say without hesitation. He is an entrepreneur, an investor, and a micro philanthropist.
Cameron Madill: His title is travel servant. Most of us would think of it as something like CEO, and majority shareholder at BootsnAll Travel Network. He’s invested in a number of other companies. He’s a founder of a really fascinating nonprofit called the Travel Access Project, which he may tell us more about, but their kind of big hairy audacious goal is to put a gap year on every person’s resume around the world, not just Americans, every person. All inspired by the belief that we have so much to learn by leaving home. And then personally, Sean is a proud father of three beautiful kids, a lover of quiet time in nature, and shares with me the quirky habit of enjoying 30 mile long day hikes.
Cameron Madill: All right, Sean, thanks for joining us today.
Sean Keener: Oh, I’m honored to share time with the Cameron, and thank you for introducing me so glowingly.
Cameron Madill: It comes from the heart. It comes from the heart. Yeah, I’m just excited to share your story. I think it’s got a lot of power and a lot of relevance for our audience. I’d love to actually start, as we are all curious, where do you come from, what’s your story of origin, and how you came to ultimately own a travel network?
Sean Keener: Totally, totally. Well thanks. As I was listening to you introduce me, it felt good to be loved, so thank you for that. When I think about my story of origin, Cameron, there’s a bunch of them over time. Probably the one that launched me to, I suppose where I am today, was in 1996 in Chicago. I was a life insurance agent on a hundred percent commission for the Mass Mutual Life Insurance Company in Chicago, Illinois. And I worked there for a year after I graduated from college, and we had our first sales meeting at the downtown Chicago office, in I believe it was October of 1996. And I had just run the Chicago Marathon the day before. This was like my third marathon, so I was feeling pretty good having done that.
Sean Keener: And I remember looking around the office, and I had already been there for a few months, and I looked at mostly older men and women. Actually at the time it was mostly a male-dominated industry. I don’t know if it is today. But I was looking around the room at all the people in there, and these were… They had all sorts of life stories, but a lot of them had kind of big bellies. They liked the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and beer, much like I did. And I thought to myself, am I going to stay here? Is this it? Will this be my future? And I had already, luckily studied overseas for a year in Australia, and I had a dream of traveling around the world.
Sean Keener: Just a few months later, I ended up going around the world for about 18 months and about $6,000, and it really just taught me so much about myself and the world around me, and really continues to teach even 25 years later, looking back at that experience. And that led me to starting a company just a few years later, and wanting to continue to learn from travel and help others connect with themselves and the world around them, through leaving home, whether it’s an hour away or around the world.
Cameron Madill: I love that phrase, leaving home. It’s such an emotionally loaded phrase. I’d love to move on from that, to tell us a little bit about… I know you’ve had a lot of iterations over the years with your primary company.
Sean Keener: Sure.
Cameron Madill: But I think one thing that’s impressed me is what seems to have held really strong and consistent is the core values and the purpose. And I think it’s something that probably the travel industry is pretty detached from on the whole. Tell us kind of what’s the concept behind your company and what’s the big why? What’s the big purpose?
Sean Keener: Sure. You mentioned it with the Travel Access Project, it’s really the same mission, which is to help people connect with themselves and the world around them by leaving home. One of the ways we do that is by helping young people do gap years. But it could also be midlife people traveling around the world. It could be families traveling around the world, just leaving home to see things and challenge our expectations. And this came to a point, Cameron, probably about nine years ago, when Rolf Potts and BootsnAll, which I was the main producer, that we produced something called the Indie Travel Manifesto, which is hosted at IndieTravel.org. That’s I-N-D-I-E, Travel.org. And we just have some values and ideas around travel.
Sean Keener: Things like replacing broad expectations with nuanced realities, things like discovery over escape, things like private transformation over social status and bragging rights, which seems especially relevant today with so many people using travel on Instagram and Facebook to show look at me, versus what’s really going on inside of yourself and what are you learning about the host culture and things like that.
Sean Keener: Those are probably the biggest reasons. And as I look at my children and all the other kids in our community and around the world, having a more nuanced view of the world, versus a black and white world, which it appears as our mainstream media gets more and more black and white versus nuanced. I think travel helps cure and see the subtleties of different perspectives, and maybe more appreciation for it.
Sean Keener: I don’t know if that was too long of an answer for you?
Cameron Madill: No, that’s great. And I have certainly been guilty of focusing too much on the social status from travel, instead of the personal journey, so I love that you shared that. Then sort of similarly, I think a key piece of your success, at least at BootsnAll has been… That you seem like you’ve had a strong sense of your core customer, of your tribe, however you want to think about it, throughout many different business model iterations.
Cameron Madill: And so I’d love to hear a little bit, how do you think about having a tribe, or owning a tribe, or focusing on a community as part of a business strategy? Because it’s something that gets talked a lot about at a surface level, and obviously can be very powerful, but it can also backfire. And I think it can also just be something that people don’t… They don’t actually really engage in with depth or commitment.
Sean Keener: Yeah, good question. I’ve been thinking about this for 20 plus years. One thing I came to probably about 10 years ago, is that community or tribe, no one owns them. Sometimes I’ll see people say, “This is my community.” And people just go where they want to go and they’re not owned. You can quickly lose the access to your community through some unintended words or action that you may have taken via social media as well. As you can tell, I don’t know if you watched LeBron James, said some things recently about China and Hong Kong. I don’t know if you want this on your podcast, but he may have felt like, “Oh, these people love me no matter what.” But he said some things that are probably disillusioning his tribe.
Sean Keener: And I’ve definitely said some things that have disillusioned my tribe. I would say no matter what brand you’re representing, I’m cognizant of who am I trying to reach, and actually saying something that can be a bit divisive also shows the true believers in our brand, that hey, this is the right place for you too. There’s a light side and a dark side to that as well.
Cameron Madill: Yeah. I’d love to hear, how do you define your tribe. And you told us a little bit about the downside, which I totally agree with. But of course you have been very successful at it, how do you define your tribe, and how do you keep… As you said, you don’t own it, but how do you keep earning the right to participate?
Sean Keener: That’s a good question. I’m thinking about some of the successes we’ve had, and also some of the failures we’ve had too, Cameron. Number one, we definitely keep trying, and we try to be transparent, and share the light sides and the dark sides of our product.
Sean Keener: For example, right now, BootsnAll purchased AirTreks six years ago, so we do around the world tickets. We may have one of the only around the world ticket online travel agencies. A few other people are coming into the space. But really being clear with our potential customers about the value proposition of our product.
Sean Keener: In fact, about 92% of the people that come to us, Cameron, we actually refer them to competitors because we know they’re not a good fit, so that is an incredible trust builder. Some people are expecting to be sold, and we definitely have values and benefits in our product, but we know that there’s about maybe seven to percent of the people that contact us, are going to be an excellent fit for our product. And some other people really should just go to our competitors. And we’re happy to see them go because they’re still achieving, in some way part of our mission, which is to leave their home and go have an experience that might open their eyes to a different part of the world.
Sean Keener: I’d say that’s probably the biggest way to-
Cameron Madill: So, being willing to say no.
Sean Keener: Yeah, be willing to say no and that’s okay.
Cameron Madill: Yeah, that’s really powerful.
Sean Keener: Yeah.
Cameron Madill: That’s like the Progressive Insurance case study, right? Where you’d go to their site, and they’d say, “Look up rates, and oh look, you’re going to get a better deal from Farmers. Here’s a link.” And it actually was a huge driver of success.
Sean Keener: Yep, totally.
Cameron Madill: And you touched on something else that I know you and I both believe in, that I think is really important, but this concept of profit pools, or the seven to percent of the market that you can really focus on, and really just be the true like expert and leader in. Do you mind sharing a little bit about that?
Sean Keener: No, not at all. You’re reminding me of probably the biggest transition in business model we’ve had in the past 20 years, started about nine years ago. BootsnAll was a media company. We rode the Google wave of growth. And I saw in 2008, we were competing favorably with companies like TripAdvisor. I mean, just really doing well in competition with them. And I saw the writing on the wall, if we’re going to keep doing this, we’re going to have to continue to publish like listicles, and get into Facebook, and all this… The beginning of clickbait was happening even back then.
Sean Keener: And I thought to myself after you and I both went to the MIT course, and met Barrett Ersek, and seen his X factor presentation on how to look at your business or your market, and how can you create a ten to a hundred times advantage over the competition?
Sean Keener: And I saw in the media world it was going to be challenging to do that. And also not really where my heart was. We found a market we were already in, which was helping people travel around the world, and I’d seen that no one had built and around the world ticket engine. You could buy maybe four or five legs on Kayak, but it was really sloppy. They’re really focusing on round trips to Vegas or Hawaii with hotels. They weren’t thinking about this smaller market, though there was a big need, so we ran through Barrett’s exercise and came up with building this engine, which has worked out well the past eight years. And just talking about it now with you, Cameron, I’m realizing as we just finished a year in planning, it’s probably worthwhile for us to do it again because it’s a… What was an X factor or still is, will become table stakes one day.
Sean Keener: And I’m sure that’s the same thing in the credit union space. There was probably a time where you could not log in to see your account details. Now, if you don’t have that, people are not going to sign up for your credit union. What is the next piece of technology or value proposition that we can offer our customers that may give us a ten to a hundred times advantage? And I’m curious the same thing for credit unions, what would be that big of an advantage for them? I don’t know. That’d be a fun exercise to do with a strategic team from a credit union though.
Cameron Madill: That would be a great exercise. And I’m curious… I mean, yeah, I think we’re all familiar with that conveyor belt, from like a really unique differentiator, to like solid value add, to table stakes, and how quickly that can change. And I know you’ve had good luck with your current model. You guys have been obviously actively iterating and improving. But how long did you have to work at? I mean, you had this idea, you had this aha moment, as you said around the world travel engine.
Cameron Madill: Because I remember when I first heard, I was like, well that’s not interesting, like Kayak is out there. Then it’s like, well, but try to fly from Portland, Oregon to Rio de Janeiro, to Cape Town, to Istanbul, to Cairo, to let’s say Seoul, South Korea, to somewhere, let’s say Hawaii, and back to Portland. And all of a sudden it was like, oh, there’s nothing out there. It’s a great idea, but there’s lots of great ideas. How long did you guys have to work at it before you made it into a viable?
Sean Keener: I ran the exercise in a November of 2010, and saw the opportunity, and started investigating it right away, but it took til 2013 to actually get it launched. Now I didn’t really know what I was doing. Looking back at it, Cameron, I could have shortcutted that by at least 50%, knowing what I know now. And also, yeah. Yeah, it took us-
Cameron Madill: But it’s not just a brilliant idea. Right? It took a lot of perseverance.
Sean Keener: No, no. A lot of investment. We had a lot of CapEx there to build it. We were spending money on something that we didn’t know would produce anything in the future, though we believed it could. Yeah, yeah, looking back at that. Geez, I could have shortcutted it.
Cameron Madill: Benefits of hindsight. And I love… Folks that are interested, you can just… I believe you can just Google, “X factor, Barrett Ersek.” We’ll put it in the podcast notes. But his story is also great from this program at MIT that Sean referenced, that we’d both done. And he was supposedly sitting in a session kind of hearing about this idea of what if you had a seven to ten X advantage over your competitors in some area, and it could be expenses, revenues, speed to lead, all sorts of stuff. And supposedly it’s like the last day and you just got up and left. He was like, “Later I’m out. I got it.” And he had a lawn repair, or not a lawn repair. What do you call it, a lawn maintenance company. It’s a fascinating story of, I think it was in the ’90s. Probably I guess 2000s, right?
Cameron Madill: And so Google Earth had just become a thing, and he was the first guy to realize that the bottleneck… Because he always talks, it’s all about breaking a bottleneck. And the bottleneck in his industry was the time to get someone a quote to take care of their yard. If Sean calls them up and says, “Hey, I’d like to have you take care of my yard.” They say, “Great, what’s your address? When will you be at home?” Schedule something, probably three weeks out. Probably half the time, Sean forgets, or Sean goes with a competitor, or just backs out and decides he’s onto something else. And then of course you’ve got to pay for gas and you got to go to his location. And then they’d probably give him hopefully the quote on the spot, and then Sean thinks about it. It just goes on and on.
Cameron Madill: And they realized, hey Sean calls, we can say, “Great. Sir, what’s your address?” And if they can figure out how to keep him on the phone for five or ten minutes, they can just call up his house on Google Earth, get a good enough estimate, get his credit card and just like that, the cost to turn him from a lead into a sale just drops by probably a factor of a thousand, as does the time to get him an initial quote. And it was just a wonderful business model they rode for many years. And then of course today, something like that’s completely table stakes, right? There’s nothing innovative about that. But I always love these sort of thinking by analogy.
Sean Keener: Yeah, yeah. What a great story.
Cameron Madill: Yeah, no kidding. I’d love to hear maybe just a little bit about how you think about marketing. I know that’s one of your particular areas of expertise, and it’s something that you help other folks out with, and just kind of maybe, what’s your philosophy? How do you think maybe you think about it differently than other people? Maybe common mistakes you see, or opportunities you’re particularly excited about? You can just kind of take this question wherever you want.
Sean Keener: Yeah, thanks, Cameron. I think about it a lot because there’s so much messaging getting in front of us today, right? I don’t know how many thousands of, let’s just say advertising oriented messages come up on our phone, on our computers, on our commute, everywhere we go. I think it’s been proven too by some PhD somewhere, that we are more distracted than we ever have been. The sort of things that I’m thinking about when I’m thinking about marketing are, what is my unique marketing difference? Why should people care? Because I suggest that they don’t, they do not care. Everything looks the same to them.
Sean Keener: I’m saying this is in general because folks have mobile phones, they’re able to access you and your competitors within minutes. What is going to be a compelling logical reason to choose your brand? What is a compelling emotional reason to use your brand? And if you can answer those two questions, there’s probably one more. The three parts of your… What is it logos?
Cameron Madill: Yeah, was it ethos, logos and pathos?
Sean Keener: And pathos. Yeah. If you can answer those three questions about your brand, I think you’re onto something. Probably the person that I look to the most over the past few decades, Cameron, is Seth Godin. He’s written 20 books, he’s got a podcast every week, and he doesn’t interview anyone. He just talks about a concept around marketing. I think he’s spot on as far as how to market your product or service in a modern world that is so distracted.
Sean Keener: It’s those sorts of concepts, and really it’s not… I think you and I’ve talked about this before, it’s not about, what’s the answer? It’s, are you asking the right question? Are you asking your customers the right questions? Versus what’s the right product for them? Are you engaging with them in a way that matters to them? I would say it’s as confusing as it ever has been in many ways, or maybe as muddled as it ever has been because you have Facebook and Google really… In many ways they are the internet, they own the forest and we’re just trying to find light through them.
Sean Keener: Yeah, and it’s going to continue to change too, isn’t it? We don’t know what Facebook, Google, and some of these other huge media companies that are sucking up bigger and bigger budgets of people’s advertising dollars than they ever have been. Continue to be aware, I think awareness, and continuing to try to really speak and build that trust with your customers.
Cameron Madill: I’m working with an innovation team through Filene, the credit union think tank, and it’s a really high caliber group, and I’ve really enjoyed working with them. And we’re maybe five months in, and I’m still not sure we’re asking the right question. I mean, I don’t think any of us know. And I always think that concept of how fast we jump to solutions, and being problem finders instead of solution finders is pretty powerful.
Sean Keener: What is something that a credit union can do from a marketing or branding perspective that’s different from the big banks? Right? I’m curious, how can they differentiate themselves outside of maybe their core charter?
Cameron Madill: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the biggest challenges is most credit units have undergone a business model shift to being community chartered, were they used to be chartered around a very specific group. It could be a church, it’s most often like an employer group. And so that focus was really baked in from the beginning of the model. Like everyone at this credit union is a member of XYZ Steel Union, or is an employee of AT&T, or whatever. And there’s a whole bunch of reasons why it shifted. But as they’ve shifted towards community charters, there’s very few credit unions that I see that have anything resembling a tribe. It’s just kind of a, we serve people in Chicago, or we serve people in Houston or Southern California.
Cameron Madill: And so I think it’s a big… I think they get caught up a lot in what our friend Jeff Stephens, who we both know quite well, and worked with the credit unions, community banks for many years. He used to talk about, most of the time when we talk about differentiation, we actually mean betterentiation. And what he meant by that was just doing something two, three, five percent better than someone else. But because differentiation, the root of the word differentiation is different. And being different is uncomfortable, right? We have core needs to belong as humans. But I think that willingness to be different and be a little uncomfortable, as you already raised, in a fairly polarized, and I don’t know, kind of like soundbite, headline driven environment, can be hard. But I think, certainly one of things, there’s obviously some opportunities around technology. There’s certainly opportunities around products. There’s kind of a generic standard suite of products.
Cameron Madill: But just like you’ve done with your company, there are interesting… All kinds of interesting things being done with behavioral economics, payday lending alternatives that are ethical, and use coaching and all sorts of other things to get people back on the path to financial health. And then I think of course there’s the opportunity to really focus a brand around a particular cause. I think similar to… There’s probably a big element of freedom in your brand, of that freedom and exploration or travel. And I think there’s no shortage of causes out there. I mean, a really obvious one that I keep wondering about is, there’s this movement around divestment from fossil fuel companies. And pretty much by definition, no credit union invests in anything related to fossil fuels. I think there are definitely some opportunities to engage people for whom climate change or the environment is their tribe. A whole host of opportunities.
Sean Keener: Yeah. Because when I think about credit unions, their main products. My guess are loans of various sorts and accounts, and the differentiation between a credit union product like that, and a big bank, it might be two to five percent different. Right? It’s not that different.
Sean Keener: My question is, is there new products that a specific or credit unions in general can come up with that basically it’s blue ocean? You’re not competing with the big banks. Is there? I don’t know, it might be fun to explore.
Cameron Madill: Totally. They’re definitely out there. All right. I’d love to know, I know you do a lot of facilitation, strategic facilitation and coaching. If you were the CEO of a credit union, tah-dah, surprise, what are the first three things you would do? You’ve got this new job, this is your portfolio, this is where you show up every day, where do you go from here?
Sean Keener: Well, number one, I would just do a lot of listening with all the colleagues. Both the management strategic team, as well as frontline people, and look for opportunities, and build basically an issues list from internally speaking.
Sean Keener: Number two, I would do the same thing with customers. Like try to identify who are our… I don’t know how a credit… Who are our top 50, top 100, top 1,000 customers? And listen and learn from them. Why are they choosing our brand? Where are opportunities we can improve? And basically just start using the frameworks that you and I have been using for years, Cameron, which is strategic planning from traction, or Rockefeller habits. And just start running that process from a strategy standpoint, looking for opportunities to improve the credit union space, and / or bottlenecks that are really tripping up colleagues and customers, and trying to unstuck those, so that the wheels of commerce and joy can be more easily accessed.
Sean Keener: The good thing is I didn’t invent what I just said there. I’m just basically copying what I think is a tried and true method for running a company or a strategy, something around that.
Cameron Madill: I love it. The wheels of commerce and joy. That’s a great quote. All right, so I’m going to do some rapid fire questions now, so we can get to know you a little better. If you had a different career path, what would it be?
Sean Keener: I always wanted to be a high school teacher and coach. I thought by age 40, I’d be doing that. I think that’s a lot of fun, to coach young people.
Cameron Madill: Yeah, makes sense. You’re a great coach. What’s your favorite movie?
Sean Keener: Shawshank Redemption. I just love how… The friendship between Morgan Freeman and Timothy Robbins, and how our friend Timothy crawls through half a mile of poop to get to freedom. It just kind of inspired me as a young person, for hope and trying, and building meaningful relationships with people around you.
Cameron Madill: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Sean Keener: Oh, Cameron, we practice gestalt, so advice is so challenging. Probably, the sorts of advice that impacted me the most, or when I was younger, was just… It was kind of like Vince Lombardi’s quote of, “If someone just stole your groceries and you have no money and you’re chasing after them, that’s tackling.”
Cameron Madill: Yeah, that’s great.
Sean Keener: And I kind of take that as far as advice, it’s like try and give it your best shot. It’s like the resiliency advice of get up and try every day to do your best. And that’s probably what I do. I’ve pushed a lot of energy in areas that maybe I shouldn’t have looking back, but that’s maybe as I approach 50, that’s wisdom starting to speak. I don’t know.
Cameron Madill: Didn’t you say you had a water polo coach?
Sean Keener: Oh, yeah.
Cameron Madill: Who wasn’t happy with the effort you guys were giving, and he just jumped in the pool full uniform on?
Sean Keener: Totally, yeah. I was a freshman in high school and playing water polo. Boy, I liked that game. That was a fun game. And he was watching us. We do these things called drives, where you… It’s kind of like cutting towards the basket, but you’re in the pool, and we were kind of doing it half-assed. And he just jumped in, and with all of his clothes on, showed us how to drive with so much effort and determination. And when you see someone give it their all, it kind of… For me, it helped me know that there’s always an extra level of giving my all.
Cameron Madill: I love that. All right, last quick fire question. I would love to know if you could have dinner with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Sean Keener: It’s a shame I have to only pick one. Probably the part-
Cameron Madill: It can be a group dinner, if you want to invite three people. I’ll break the rules for you.
Sean Keener: The first person I thought of was Gandhi. Really liked reading his biographies and stuff like that. I always appreciated Ernest Hemingway too, even though he came about his own demise. And then I’d probably like someone from the times of yoga and Buddha. Someone back then would be really interesting, some ancient wisdom person at the table.
Sean Keener: I think there’s a lot of wisdom out there that’s right here in front of us, but we’re not using it today. We’re thinking the newest book is the answer, when there’s a lot of wisdom from thousands of years ago that is still true today.
Cameron Madill: No kidding. I do have to say though, that would be a very difficult meal to cater. I feel like the dietary and drinking habits between Hemingway, and Gandhi. I don’t know. Anyway, but I’m not that familiar.
Sean Keener: Yeah, that’s a good point.
Cameron Madill: All right, so awesome having you on. I’d love to just know, any final take, anything you want to reiterate, or anything you didn’t get to, you want to leave our audience with that?
Sean Keener: No. I’m interested in being your friend, and I don’t know if we call ourselves colleagues, but maybe peer, Cameron. I’m just really interested to see how credit unions can innovate and really relate to a market, to differentiate themselves from the big banks. Because I don’t want to have my accounts at the big banks, but it’s… I do for some of my companies, but I would love to be able to have a business account, and have a reason to do business with a credit union.
Sean Keener: I’m really interested in what you’re trying to help credit unions do, and I’m not sure how I can help, but I’d love to continue asking questions.
Cameron Madill: All right, well having you on the podcast is a great first step. Thanks so much for joining us, and hope you have a great rest of your week, and continued success.
Sean Keener: Cheers, Cameron.
Cameron Madill: All right folks, another good episode. I always love chatting with Sean. He’s such an interesting and curious person, and he knows so much about the world of business and life in general. I wanted to quick share some of my key takeaways. The first one was, I think I knew this somewhere, but hearing that he traveled around the world for 18 months on $6,000, and it just left me saying what am I not doing that I could be doing because I think I don’t have enough resources?
Cameron Madill: My second takeaway was the power of building a manifesto, of really being comfortable being clear and being bold. And as he mentioned at IndieTravel, I-N-D-I-E, Travel.org, they’ve got a manifesto of these core principles and filtering their customers through that.
Cameron Madill: Probably the thing that struck me the most, which I was not aware of, is referring out 92% of all the people who visit their site because only seven to ten percent of their visitors are their core customer. And I think that’s fascinating. It’s a concept that I know Filene talks about in their strategy area of focus, center of excellence. It’s in Blue Ocean Strategy. It comes up in all these books, and again and again, that that only seven to ten percent of a market is going to be the ideal fit for you. Figuring out who they are and being the best in the world at serving them. And just how powerful that is to build trust by being comfortable referring someone to a competitor.
Cameron Madill: Next thing I really liked was this concept of the X factor and just reminding myself of that phrase, breaking the bottleneck to do something ten to a hundred times faster than competitors. So, that we really think in terms of innovation, we really think radically different, not just incremental improvements, and how powerful that can be.
Cameron Madill: I also loved that Sean talked about, not what’s the right answer, but what is the right question? And I’ve been thinking about this a lot in my life and my business. And another phrase that Sean didn’t use, but I find really helpful, is he’s fond of just saying, “What’s the mountain we’re trying to climb?” And then getting really clear in one to two sentences, whether it’s for our marketing team, or it’s for our relationship, or it’s for our personal finances, but what is this mountain we’re trying to climb? And getting really clear on it.
Cameron Madill: And then I loved just the reminder, I think it’s Aristotle’s Rhetoric, but as Sean mentioned, just when communicating the whole ethos, pathos, logos. There was a talk I saw years ago, where the guy said basically, anytime you’re trying to convince someone, just answer these three simple questions. What’s kind of one logical reason? Which would be some kind of study. What’s an emotional reason? Something that tugs at the heart string. And then give me some credibility, some sort of third party that can transfer their credibility to you, and just how powerful that simple framework could be.
Cameron Madill: And then lastly, as Sean said, I loved back to the right question, just give me a reason why. I think the more we think about that in all of our businesses, but especially for credit unions who are listening. And the more clear we can get, the more success that we’ll have, both doing good and doing well in the world.
Cameron Madill: All right, well, thanks for joining us and join us next time for a conversation about kindness and how credit unions can use kindness to make a difference in the world and improve their financial performance. Until then, I wish you the best of luck in making your credit union remarkable.