Episode 3 – Ryan Reisert – From fear of failure to future-focused motivation, being a “connector”, building a growth focused network and using the Platinum Rule

Episode 3 of The Talent, Sales & Scale Podcast is here! Host Bryan Whittington is joined by Ryan Reisert, Author of “Outbound Sales No Fluff”, serial entrepreneur and Sales Director at Connect and Sell. Ryan is a masterful networker and “connector” and Bryan digs into how Ryan has built his massive network over the years.

Here are some key takeaways from Episode 3:

-Identifying a “North Star” set of goals is key – everything you do in building your network should point towards it!

-Be incredibly intentional about the people you spend time with – growth and positivity mindsets only!

-Exercise the “Platinum Rule” when connecting people inside your network

Connect and Sell’s website:

Ryan’s book:

Ryan’s book recommendation, “The Obstacle in the Way” by Ryan Holiday:

You can connect with Ryan on LinkedIn here :

Read Full Transcript

Bryan: Hey, everyone. Bryan Whittington with “The Talent, Sales and Scale” podcast. Today we have him back. We originally connected up with Ryan Reisert in a Web&R that we did in “The Math of Sales.” And who would have thought that a math guy is super-outgoing and connected? And so what I wanted to do is to reach out to Ryan today and have him share with us a little bit about, you know, how does he stay so connected and make connections, and really leverage that resource even as we’re shut down here? So welcome to the show, Ryan.
Ryan: Thanks, Bryan. I’m so excited to have this conversation today; I appreciate you bringing me on the show.
Bryan: Yeah, absolutely. So give us a little bit of background. I mean, how did you build up this expertise? And I’m hoping that you’re not going to tell me that “it’s all natural; it’s just who I am.” How did you build up this expertise of being a connector?
Ryan: It’s a good question. I mean, you’re the first person to tell me this, by the way. This expertise, is it going to count? (Laughter) But you know, looking back at my background, you kind of hit the nail on the head there.
I came from a traditional background that you would look at, saying, “Well, how the heck are you in sales?” I’m a math guy in sales; what’s going on here?
But if you go further back throughout my life, I’ve always been in a position where I’m trying to do something new. I’m trying to stay busy. There’s not just beef to my background.
So for those who don’t know me I grew up in a pretty rough family. My parents were both janitors. I was the first one to go to college in my family. Both my brother and sister are felons. You know, there have been murders in my family, things like that; a lot of drug use, things like that in my background.
So from a young, young, young age I’ve always been trying to be busy. And whether that’s sports or the student body, or I was in an orchestra, I was in a choir; I was in everything, right? And I think that’s a big part of my personality, which is that I’ve always got to find new people to keep myself busy, and maybe escape from other things in my life.
And I think a lot of that translated into going into college. Although I studied math, that was what allowed me to get into school. I was always a little bit ahead in math. And that’s just why I studied math. I always had the interest of being a teacher and a coach. And so when you’re actively involved in a lot of things, when you want to be a coach or a teacher, you tend to have a knack for wanting to get to know people, understand their drivers and then try to give, right? That’s kind of the whole industry.
So when I found myself in sales it was pretty natural to not be afraid to get out and ask questions and get to know people, and you know, passionately and genuinely be interested in trying to help them. And that’s just a big part of it.
Bryan: There’s a lot there. So I did not know that background, Ryan. So technically speaking, whenever you find people that want to connect, one of the assessments we use is called a high need for approval, right?, that they would rather be liked than respected. There’s a whole joke that we could go on there. But the thing about you is that even with that background you’re not just looking to be liked. You really bring a lot of value to everything that you do. So talk to me a little bit about that motivation. I mean, how did you keep things going?
Ryan: Again I don’t really know. I think it’s more of just like a fear that I don’t have a backup, right? My failure is like a real failure, which is kind of funny. I finally got to this realization in my life that, you know, I can’t really fail. The way I used to define failure, my life would be impossible for me to get there, unless I started to shoot up heroin and was in the gutter somewhere. I can’t get there; it’s just not going to happen. But I’m past that. So that fear of failure is what really drove me. I didn’t want what I had at home and I always wanted to be “successful.” I wanted to be able to never have to lean on someone else to get what I needed.
And in order to do that you’ve got to know people, right? And in order to get to know people, you know, the more you read. And this is the truth, because if you give more than you take, you’re generally going to be ahead. And I’ve kind of taken that as a part of my personality and my approach.
And I’m usually getting a lot more than I take. And I don’t really ask for much, and it seems to come back to me. That’s just my process.
Bryan: So how do you keep that up? Because a lot of times you give and you give, and you feel like you give and you never get anything back in return. How do you do that with an authenticity?
Ryan: That’s a good question. So during this whole crisis it becomes—it’s becoming—it’s weight on me a bit, right?, because just like everyone else, what the hell is going on? And you know, you get to a point where you’re like, well, I literally had a slack communication this morning with one of my colleagues. And I was saying, “Man, a lot of this is just a waste of time.”
And it’s the wrong mindset to have, but I had it this morning. I was talking about it. And it’s like yeah, but you realize that all stacks on itself. You know, you’re totally right; I’ve always had that mindset. I feel like I’m always helping someone else and I’m not helping myself. And you’ll start to get that mindset. I don’t know if this just happened, Bryan, but I’m having an issue with my mike. Can you hear me?
Bryan: Yes, it just came back in, so you’re good.
Ryan: There. Sorry about that. That’s the wrong mindset to have, by the way. As soon as you start having that mindset it’s not going to be authentic anymore. So you have to passionately and genuinely believe that, you know, what you’re doing is because you want to do it, not because of some other reason.
If you’re doing something in order to have financial gain, it’s just not going to work out, right? You have to kind of be there and then not expect something. If you do, it’s just not going to work out. And from time to time I find myself in that position where I’m like, hey, I don’t know if doing this is really worth my time.
And every time I find myself doing that it’s when I’m in the wrong mindset, right? I have it wrong. I’m expecting more than what I’m really trying to do. And then that’s the situation you shouldn’t be involved in.
What I mean by that is, if you’re trying to do something with the expectation that you’re going to get something back from that, then it’s not going to come off as authentic. And ultimately it’s probably not going to work out for you. So don’t play those games. Do it because you want to and don’t expect an outcome. And you’re going to have a much better life in that regard.
Bryan: So it’s really interesting, Ryan, because you stack your deck. You have your day planned out; you know what’s going on. Every minute has a purpose to it. So you can only do so much. So how do you know when to cut something off? How do you know when to build it up? Any tips or tricks for those who are listening here in not just really being taken advantage of?
Ryan: Well, that’s the conversation I was having this morning, right?, where I’m like, I do all of this stuff, and a lot of it is “a waste of time.” And to answer your question specifically, you have to understand the value of what you’re doing, and not in the lens of the short-term outcomes you’re looking for. You have to have a north star. There has to be a purpose for what you’re doing. Purposeful inputs produce purposeful outputs. And so you’ve got to be aware of the work that you’re doing through the day and how it’s going to help you accomplish the goals that you have to accomplish.
So if it’s sales, you cut it to your calls. You have to have your meetings, and you have to be able to push deals through to hit quota. But you also should be thinking long-term about, you know, other things that are going to impact ten, twenty years down the road. And that’s hard to see today because everyone is so short-sighted. But all this stuff is like compound interest, right? The deposits you make today will have significant value in the future.
You know, there are a lot of arguments around social selling and if it works, and so on and so forth. And I think the reason why most people don’t believe it works is because they’re so short-sighted. Where is my revenue today? Where is my money today? If you’re using social media, you’re spending time doing these types of things—webcasts, Web&R’s, putting videos out there,--and you expect to get an immediate result, it’s not going to happen. You know, you have to put those deposits in, and you’re going to have to look five, ten, twenty years down the road. And those little tiny improvements, those little extra followers, the extra person that you helped that you didn’t even know, it will pay off at some point in the future, even if you’re not expecting it.
And you know, I’ve been blessed to have started a few different companies all around the same concept, which is trying to help salespeople have the best career possible. My first company was a recruiting firm. My second company was in sales training, basically a recruiting firm. My third company was a business sales training company, an out-source firm. And it’s all around helping salespeople be better at their job, to make more money, all of that stuff.
So all along the way I’m just building this audience of people that eventually are going to be in sales leadership, who eventually are going to be running their own companies. And at some point, if I help them today, they may be interested in working with me in the future. And that’s the value I get from these types of deposits that I’m making today.
Bryan: So let’s take this down to the tactical, right? I’m the sales leader. I’m the head of sales, the founder. And I have a salesperson who listens to or watches this video here.
And they say, “Hey, I’ve been listening to Ryan. He said that I have to have long-term vision and just keep at it. I know there aren’t any results right now. But you know, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.” What would you say to that person?
Ryan: If it’s the rep?
Bryan: Yes, the rep.
Ryan: Yeah. Do your job first, right? If you’re getting paid to do the job, make sure you do the job. Now that means that you should be doing this other stuff in the hours that you’re not getting paid for, right? My schedule, as you’ve seen before, is that I’m up at 4:00 a.m., getting to work by 4:35. And I’m working till at least 5:00 p.m. every day. And with the hours that I’m getting paid by someone to be a salesperson, there is a good solid eight hours in there. But I have those other hours to do stuff like this that are not directly contributing to my immediate paycheck, but have an opportunity to, maybe.
But more importantly I’m investing in my future. And so you’ve got to put in those extra hours that are not directly related to your job. You can’t say, “I’m going to build my own long-term future on your dollar.” That’s not a good strategy. (Laughter) That’s not a good strategy.
Bryan: It’s almost stealing, right?
Ryan: It is stealing; it really is, yeah.
Bryan: Okay. So a couple of things coming out of that, then. If I’m the salesperson,--and typically, what I’m finding; you might disagree with this,--but typically what I find is that whenever I’m brand new in sales I have a week-or-two viewpoint. And as I get a little bit more experienced then maybe that viewpoint goes out to maybe thirty days. And if you get really good salespeople, maybe they’re looking out at a quarter. But it doesn’t seem that that’s what you’re looking at. That seems like that’s all short-term. To me it looks like you’re executing in the present but looking to the future. I don’t know; was it three, five, ten years out? I mean, what’s that north star? Where are you at there? So that’s the first question. Where’s your north star right now? How far out are you looking?
Ryan: For me personally?
Bryan: Yes.
Ryan: Oh yeah; I mean, I’m ten, twenty years out right? I mean, I want to be done having to work this hard when I’m in my mid-50s. And so I’m laying all that groundwork today to be in a position to do that. That’s my north star. And I have a vision for what that looks like, and I’ve always been driving towards that vision.
My stints at entrepreneurship and the relationships I forge and the time that I spend is all driving towards that future state of where I want to be. And the deposits that I make daily are aligned with the roles that I take, the jobs and the companies that I have worked for, as well as the failures that I’ve had as an entrepreneur, right? Those failures are all stacking up towards the same long-term vision.
Bryan: Well, so let’s touch on that, because I’m glad you’re bringing up a failure. And I would encourage you, and I would encourage everybody listening here, that you only fail when you give up, right?
Ryan: That’s right.
Bryan: These are really lessons learned, because you know, I had a great mentor, a guy by the name of Bruce Bickel, an F-4 fighter pilot in the Navy, a phenomenal guy. And he said this, that success only leads to failure, because somebody is going to get faster and figure something out. But if you strive for excellence—and it seems like that is what you’re really saying here, Ryan,--is that you’re striving for excellence. You have a clear vision of where you’re heading, and nothing is going to throw you off.
And we are all going to get knocked off the game. And really, the level of excellence that we exude is when we get knocked down, how quickly do we get back up? And what are we going to do about it? I mean, that’s kind of what I’m hearing you say or seeing you do. An I off on that?
Ryan: No, you’re spot on. I mean, you can’t find success without failure. Unless you have some sort of obstacle or issue or problem that is in your way, you’re not growing, right? So that’s the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. Or I’ve been reading a lot about stoicism, right? There’s a good book by Ryan Holiday that was recommended to me called Obstacles In Your Way. A fantastic read. It talks about every single time there’s an issue it presents an opportunity. And you cannot be successful without failure; it’s just not possible, right? It’s just not possible.
Bryan: And I don’t know if you did this whenever you were recruiting. But when I’m hiring people onto my team I want to make sure that they failed, because the first time they fail I don’t want them to be on my dime and then over in the corner sucking their thumbs, not being able to get back around again. So that grid, that background that you had growing up and coming out of that is awesome; I love that.
So now let’s get back to the connection piece, then. So you’re connected; you’re doing all of this with a vision in mind, with authenticity. And so how do you leverage that network? Are there any special tips or tricks or hacks, do’s and don’ts about not alienating your network, but then also building out your network?
Ryan: Yeah. I mean, I think there’s a lot to unpack there. You know, this is just my opinion. I haven’t put a lot of time, energy and effort into strategically trying to engage with this exact person in this exact way; that’s just not how I’ve done it. I basically have a vision of where I want to go. It’s like The Secret, right? As I have a vision of where I’d go, the relationships come in front of me.
Getting this to you, for example, you know, it has opened up a lot of doors. We have conversations and it leads to other introductions along the way. Our connection has led to me introducing you to people and you introducing me to people. And I never envisioned that I was going to meet you, Bryan, at your specific company. I just know where I’m going and that people like you are going to be along the way, right? And so when I make those connections, I’m trying to understand where you’re going. I try to share as much of my path because it’s aligned if I can with you, and I just basically open up the book. And if you see the value in some of those things you begin to ask questions. And I just keep trying to give you as much as I can while I’m still going in that direction.
So it’s not like I’m secretly saying that I want to be engaged with Gary Vainer; I don’t do that. I’m not trying to say, “How do I go and get a meeting with Jeff Bezos,” right? That’s not the path I’m taking. It’s connecting with people that are in the similar paths. And then when I make those connections I’m attempting to introduce them to people who have also expressed a vision towards a direction.
And I understand that., Because when you’re on that path and you have that mindset, it works; it’s just almost weird. When you read those books like Think and Grow Rich, and The Secret, and The Instant Millionaire, it’s just like stuff happens that way, right?
That’s the one thing. It’s to have that vision, visualize it and go, and do the work you need to get there. But then also again, give more than you take, and it seems to come to you. So when you’re connecting, take the time to understand the person. It’s not about you, it’s about them, just like in sales, right? Tell me your problems. Are they really problems? Are you prioritizing them now, and can I help? If I can’t, can somebody else help?
Bryan: Yes.
Ryan: In my book the first chapter is always try to help, even if there’s not a dollar amount attached to it. It’s not a bullshit thing. It’s like I’m more valuable to you, Brian, because if you have a conversation with me I’m going to try to help you if I can. Even if I don’t make a dollar out of it, I’m going to try to help you.
So I’m surrounding myself with people who are on the path towards the problem I’m trying to solve. And because of that they’re going to be complementary. If you tell me your problems, I’m going to go and find people who solve that problem. And I’m going to go and do the same thing. And you just start casting this nice wide net around the market that you’re trying to dominate.
And you’ve got a market domination. It’s like oh, if I don’t know somebody, I probably know someone who will. And by doing that I’m making myself ten times more valuable. They’re at least going to want to have the conversation with me. If I don’t know someone, I might know someone who does. And I’m not trying to make money out of all those engagements; I’m just trying to help all along the way.
Bryan: So breaking this down, one of the things that I find is that people that are talented at something or gifted at something, they have what are called “non-transferable skills.” So whenever I’m working with other entrepreneurs or other business owners, and there are some salespeople and they say, “Hey, I want to sell like you. Can you teach me?”
And they go, “I don’t know, kid. You just go out there and do it,” right? And they don’t know how to transfer those skills. So that’s really one of the goals of this podcast.
From what I just heard you say there, Ryan, it’s that we need authenticity. You know, you just scream authenticity. So whenever I’m there, not only am I authentic with everyone I’m reaching out to, but then it’s also aligning myself with other growth-minded individuals not with what they can give me, but aligning myself with others, because my sense is that you’re not going to spend a lot of time with energy socks or pessimistic people. You’re going to be around other like-minded, growth-minded individuals that are driving to get better.
And then not only that, but whenever you’re on the call, that you’re present, that you’re absolutely present, listening to everything that they say. And then whenever you’re out and about in the community or in the marketplace and you hear something, because you were present, you go, “You know what? You should talk to so-and-so,” and you connect that person. And you’re always looking to bring value, no matter if it’s your parents that started off at that janitor level. Because my sense is that you’re going to treat the janitor, the waiter or waitress or whoever it is, the Jeff Bezos or whatever, you’re likely going to treat them the same exact way. That’s my sense.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely; you’re spot on. The big thing about who you decide to spend your time with, the concept of growth versus fixed, and making sure you’re not spending too much time—especially right now—with pessimistic people, you know, folks who have a strong positive outlook with a vision that doesn’t have to be the same as yours, but is at least growth-minded in nature.
And getting back to your question around tips, tricks and things to avoid, one of the things that I get in trouble with (and I’m starting to get better at this), most people who network aren’t this way, right? They’re networking and they want some sort of value. It’s kind of like when you set appointments for somebody. It’s like “Oh, that was unqualified.” It’s like “Why didn’t you just have the f---in’ conversation?” (Laughter)
You know, that person doesn’t get it. They’re always like “what’s in it for me?” And so realizing the rules of engagement, a lot of folks are as open to “Oh, let me just introduce you to the email.”
So sometimes—not sometimes; you always want to ask permission. If there’s somebody that you believe that you want to help—and Bryan, you were the result of it!—I’ll say, hey, if I know somebody, how do I introduce them to you, right? “Do you like email? Do you like social media?”
“Oh, I like any of it,” right? I always ask that question because if I don’t, and I assume, you can get yourself in trouble, especially as you get into folks that are a little bit more successful than you. A lot of those individuals want to have some sort of screening, right, and they respect that. You send them the information first. You can get in trouble ,right? I started to network with VCs and things like that. I got myself into trouble just making introductions without getting approval first.
And so understanding how people prefer to network and the rules of engagement are important, because the last thing you want to do is to make assumptions around how others want to engage with other people.
Bryan: So be others-focused and use a platinum rule when connecting or making introductions.
Ryan: That’s right.
Bryan: Got it; okay. Love it. So draw in a little bit about you being future-focused. So what gets you out of bed every day? Is it still the fear of failure? What gets you out of bed?
Ryan: No. So I’ve had this transformation, this mental transformation during this pandemic. To be honest, it has really helped me move away from that being my motivator to now—the future state and the success. But more importantly, it’s actually being a little bit more present and getting excited about, you know, that it doesn’t really matter about the past, it doesn’t really matter about the future. It’s where am I at today? And having a really solid north star developed has been helpful. But I’m no longer driven by fear. I’m more energetic, you know, about what problems that I have today that I can work on, and seeing those incremental improvements, right? So it’s that daily commitment to the process. And being able to check off those little milestones that I know are getting me to the next phase have been a little bit more motivating than worrying about am I going to wake up with a needle in my arm in a gutter, right? (Laughter)
It’s a different motivator. And then more recently, I’m trying to be a little bit more present. I’ve struggled a bit because of all those other kind of false stories I’ve told myself in the head, that I need to be working so hard and doing these things because it’s going to make sure that we have what we have for my family. But I’m starting to make that happen; I’m not there yet. But I’m trying to make that transition to being more present for my wife and my kids. I’ve got a three-month-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old. So I’m trying to find time to spend with them and not just working all the time. But also I’m spending time with my family and making sure that they’re a part of that future by being here today for them now.
Bryan: Yes. It is a hard, hard thing to do, so I get that completely. So how about any suggestions of recommended books or podcast that you’re listening to? Let’s give a few. Pick up your book if you have it there. I was going to do that as a background, but I couldn’t. (Laughter)
Ryan: Uh-oh. No, I’ve got a ton that I’ve been reading recently. Again I’ve already mentioned a few of them. But “Obstacles in My Way by Ryan Holiday, The Instant Millionaire by Mark Fisher, Think and Grow Rich, all of these books, if you go and read through them, are really good for the present. It talks about issues from the past, whether it was the recession (which is when Obstacles in My Way was prevalent when that book was being written), or the most recent recession, or Think and Grow Rich which was coming out of the Depression. There were a lot of things that were happening. And there are things that you need to do now to get a way in the future. And it will surprise you how it’s kind of just repeating itself.
And then outside of that I do try to pick up books that are more I guess like psychology stuff, right? The Mindset is another book I just started, which is all about—
Bryan: What?
Ryan: What’s that?
Bryan: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Duecker.
Ryan: Yes, exactly.
Bryan: Okay.
Ryan: So I just started that book. But it’s all about, you know, the fixed and growth mindset stuff, and the power of the growth mindset.
Bryan: Right. And you’re living that out. And then a couple of others, like The Things We Say When We Talk to Ourselves. I can’t remember the author of that. But it goes to what you were saying. Whenever I go back and I’m dwelling on the past, I’m focused on my failures. Whenever we talk to ourselves, you know, whenever you and I are talking we might be a little bit faster than others, so we might be at 120 words per minute. But when we talk to ourselves we’re 800 to 1,000 words a minute. And whenever we’re talking to ourselves it’s typically 80% negative. I mean, you would beat the snot out of somebody that spoke to somebody else the way that you speak to yourself. So we have to really be careful of that. And that growth mindset that you’re talking about is so helpful.
And I think another piece that you spoke of—and I can’t recall, so forgive me if I can’t give a proper reference!—but it really goes to practicing that living out who you want to be, right? So if I’m seeing myself practice perfectly (and we see this with Olympic athletes all the time), they practice it out perfectly. So instead of reliving the past, it’s seeing yourself relive the future state of who you want to be. So Maxwell Maltz wrote it. The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. And he talks about practicing in the theater of your mind—doing that; seeing yourself practicing that perfectly. So whatever you’re doing and executing, you can have that growth mindset. And when you get thrown off, you realize it and get back to it, so I love that.
So who should reach out to you, Ryan? How should they do it? And why should people reach out to you?
Ryan: Yeah. I mean, I think that I’m open to anybody who wants to learn from stuff that we’ve talked about today, if you want to pick my brain. So whether that’s a rep or a first-time manager, or someone trying to figure some stuff out, a first-time entrepreneur trying to figure stuff out for the first time. Those are all interesting conversations where I can bring some perspective. You know, I always welcome those conversations.
Organizations which are trying to build out a sales engine, that’s really where my sweet spot is—the emergence of sales and marketing and geeking out. It’s all about channel timing, technology, people, process. You know, those are the things that I like to talk about, and that provides perspective. So if you’re in any of those boats I welcome a conversation.
And if they want to reach out to me, my phone number is posted on my social channel, LinkedIn. Sales Development Representative is my handle. Twitter@R. Reisert or any of those channels you can reach out to. But my phone is usually the best way. It’s:


Bryan: Give that one more time.
Ryan: 415-994-0110.
Bryan: Perfect. So what we’ll have is this recorded out. So there’s a lot of good stuff. Obstacles In Your Way, read that book. Read that book by, who is that again?
Ryan: Ryan Holiday.
Bryan: Ryan Holiday; good first name. Close to mine, but we won’t hold that against him. So Ryan Holiday. Be authentic, keep a growth mindset. Be present, always looking to bring value. And be others-focused and use the Platinum Rule. So Ryan, I can’t thank you enough. As always, boy, I could spend all day with you. But I can’t thank you enough.
Ryan: Yeah. Thanks for having me, Bryan.
Bryan: My pleasure. We’ll see you.

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