Episode 141: Fun & Creative Communication Strategies with Dr. Stephan Zavalin – Transcript
Rennie Gabriel 00:10
Hi folks, welcome to Episode 141 of the Wealth On Any Income Podcast. This is where we talk about money tips, techniques, attitudes, information, and provide inspiration around your business, and your money. I'm your host, Rennie Gabriel. In past episodes, we spoke about how to understand the numbers from your business, how to measure the level of pleasure based on where you spend your money, how to track your money in 5 to 10 seconds, what determines how close you are to Complete Financial Choice®, and how to run your business without being in your business. Last week, we had Brad Barrett, the author of Retire Right: Secure the Right Path to Your Retirement, and the host of two podcasts. Today, we have as our guest, Dr. Stefan Zavalin. Stefan is the "Professional Unicorn" after losing his vision in graduate school, Stefan not only finished his degree, but went on to work in the clinic, start a business, write a book and give a TEDx talk. He now empowers entrepreneurs with creative communication in their business, which eliminates any chance of competition. Stefan, welcome to the Wealth On Any Income Podcast.
Stefan Zavalin 01:33
Thank you for having me. It's a blast. I love the enthusiasm with which you do the intros. It really sets up such an awesome energy for the whole episode.
Rennie Gabriel 01:40
Thank you, Well, and I like to have guests like you who've got energy as well. So it's a perfect fit.
Stefan Zavalin 01:48
Rennie Gabriel 01:49
Let's get right to it with some questions. It's not clear in the bio what you do, so tell me what you do and why you're doing what you do.
Stefan Zavalin 01:59
So what I do is creative communication assessments. And what that really is, as business owners and entrepreneurs, a lot of people don't know how to communicate what it is that they're actually doing. It sounds very different on different platforms, their website looks different than their social media, and then their elevator pitch does not reflect them as a human being at all. And so what I do is take a look at all of that and say, 'Hey, this is what it all sounds like and I think this is what you're trying to make it sound like, let's rehash these things and assess how we need to communicate differently.' And the creative part comes from the fact that each one of us has something special and unique. And that's my real "why" I do all of it is because in business, we tend to just shove that down and say, 'Well, this is how everyone else is doing it. So I'm going to look at that, and always do it just like that.' But you have your own unique creative way of doing it. Even this podcast has its own different unique way of doing a podcast. So each part can be communicated creatively and differently for each individual. And that's why there's no competition, because nobody can truly be you the way that you can be you.
Rennie Gabriel 03:00
Thank you. And that makes sense. Now, one of the things that you said, and this not only is a podcast for audio, but it also goes on YouTube, so it's visual. And one of the things that struck me when you were speaking knowing that you're blind, is you said something about when you see the different things they have on different platforms. And my being, I don't know, because I've lived under a rock, whatever. How do you see the different things on their different platforms?
Stefan Zavalin 03:37
Sure. And this is part of this is that when I say blind, it's not pitch black. It's not that I see absolutely nothing. It's that things are generally a little bit blurred. And now with technology, it's fantastic that we can have things read out. But overall, and this is the interesting part, is there so much about not what people say, but also how they might say it. Because one of my favorite things that I always love, and you've been on networking events, and people have heard this is when somebody goes, 'I am so passionate about helping people...' And you're going, I know you're saying the words you think are right, but you're dead in the eyes. What are you doing? You can hear it. You can . . . you don't even maybe have to see their face, but you can you can hear it. And so there are so many different other ways that they might communicate it, in the colors that they choose, or the fonts that they choose that sometimes it doesn't have to be a 100% seeing eye person for you able to communicate clearly what it is that you're doing.
Rennie Gabriel 04:33
Thank you. Thank you for that. And, and I apologize for laughing right in the middle of what you were saying because it was so obvious to anyone the disparity in what someone is saying and the tone that they're using. Thank you, Stefan. That's terrific. Yes, I'm very passionate about . . . that's beautiful. Let me ask you this now, you know that I donate 100% of the profits from the work I do, my books, programs to various animal and veteran charities. Tell me about any charities that you support. You know, whether it's something local to you, tell me what you like.
Stefan Zavalin 05:14
Well, we love animals, not to make half of the population hate me for some apparent reason - but we are vegan. And so we love going to the zoo. That's one of our favorite things is because if I'm blind, the animals are brought closer to me where I get to see them. And so the zoo consistently, local zoo, we lived in Nashville, now we're in Los Angeles, the zoos always have some sort of way that they're helping out and you can donate to them, it can be in time, or it can be money. And so I find that the zoos are absolutely one of the best. We were actually just walking in Griffith Park a couple of weeks ago, and there was the zoo, picking out invasive species as a way to help out the community. So that's our biggest kind of contribution.
Rennie Gabriel 05:54
Thank you, thank you so much. Well, tell me who are your target markets.
Stefan Zavalin 05:59
It has come across that a lot of people in tech, and entrepreneurs, have a hard time communicating what in the world they actually do. They tend to get way into the weeds and the rest of us go, Huh? Because we're so unsure about what it is that they actually do. And in that part of the communication piece is very important, because their websites might have all the right colors, but I'm looking at it I'm going I don't really know what you do, or what sets you apart. So in a large way, it's those tech entrepreneurs that I really tend to work with the most. But anybody who feels that their industry is boring, or they feel like, I don't know, nothing makes me different. Those are the kind of entrepreneurs that I really like to work with. And I do work with small companies. It's really more solo entrepreneurs or little tiny companies, because the big ones, there's so much red tape and all that stuff. I want you to be able to express who you truly are. And you can.
Rennie Gabriel 06:49
Thank you. That's terrific. And as you were speaking, it reminded me of when I owned a pension administration company. And this is not a knock on engineers, because I have similar ways of behaving. But I remember I didn't enjoy working with engineers, because they would ask me what time it was. I would tell them what time it was. And then they wanted me to tell them how the watch was manufactured that gave them the time. And I realized, well, I do have some some of those tendencies, you know, just telling me the time is not good enough, I want to know how you arrived at it. And, but as a salesperson for the pension company, I was the marketing person. I just got kind of tired of explaining how our computer came to the numbers that it came to for their retirement plan. But anyway, the point is, I would think tech entrepreneurs could fall in the same space where they are so in the weeds that, yeah, you have no idea where they've gone.
Stefan Zavalin 08:00
Absolutely. It is always interesting, because they think that everybody does that, because, and they think that's what everybody wants to know. And they will communicate that to you. So when you ask the time, they would communicate all those things. You go, I just asked the time. You didn't need to give it to me to the millisecond. We're good.
Rennie Gabriel 08:18
Yeah, yeah. This is one of my favorite questions. Tell me, it's a two part question, what your biggest failure was - personal or business - and then what insight you gained from that?
Stefan Zavalin 08:31
So I have an interesting answer to this, because I think my biggest failure was getting my doctorate. And that can be baffling to many people. And there are a slew of reasons why. Firstly, that kind of resulted in me losing my vision, because it was during that time that I ended up in Philadelphia. And as a result, I got a parasite in my eye, because I was, I have not been blind my whole life. This is a very rather recent occurrence in my lifespan, speaking-wise. So there was that, and yes, that's a huge difficulty all within itself. But then I came back, I finished the doctorate, like we said on the intro, I went into business. I went into the clinic. I started working in the clinic, and then I started my first business, which was all about helping people reduce the amount of their sitting, so they can be healthier. I held on to that degree because I was, I fought tooth and nail to get it. My whole entire existence in life was get this degree, you have to get it. It's what your parents told you you have to do. And bless them, they let me choose whatever I wanted to do. They don't force me to get into physical therapy. I got to choose that. But I let it identify me for so many years. And then until relatively recently, when I said, my degree doesn't identify who I am and what I do. My title doesn't have to identify that, my company name doesn't have to identify that. I can choose kind of what I do and why I do it from a variety of other sources. And so in a way it was a failure because it held me back for so many years. One could argue at the same time it jettisoned me into all of this. But in other ways, that was kind of a failure, because I let it define my existence for such a long time.
Rennie Gabriel 10:12
That makes sense, I can understand that. And that's pretty clear. The people who work with you follow your advice, whatever, do you have a case study to illustrate, you know, how someone you work with can produce a result?
Stefan Zavalin 10:24
Absolutely. This is almost, almost, like the, "I'm so passionate" case study. And this is one that I'm sure a lot of people go, What do these people do? And it's from a life coach. They go, Everybody's a life coach. All right, great. So I was at a networking event, this woman gets on to do her 30 second, 40 second, part and she goes, I'm a life coach, CBD advocate. I do horse therapy, yoga, meditation. Okay, I don't really know what that means. I'm like, I know what those words mean, I kind of put her in a box of like it that's what she does. There was something about the energy the way she delivered it, I said, Let me have a one on one. Let me learn more about this person. So we set up a one on one. Before I got on, I looked at her LinkedIn, and it said, Life Coach, CBD Advocate, Horse Therapy, Meditation. All right, great. We get on and say, 'Hey, great to catch up with you again. I've looked at your LinkedIn. I would love to learn more about what it is that you do.' Without missing a beat. She goes, 'Yeah, yeah. CBD Life Coach, like horse therapy...' I'm like, 'Okay, that's great. But what do you do with your clients?' And she goes, 'Well, you know, I use CBD, I do some meditation and yoga, to help the . . .' 'Okay, I've given you four times to communicate to me what it is that you do. And I have no idea what you actually do. Like, what are the results that you get out of it. So let me ask you this way. Who do you love working with? If you didn't even have to get paid, what are the clients that you went, Oh, my goodness, this was the right person'. And she paused and said, 'Divorced women'. I went, 'Wow, that was kind of quick, and kind of specific. Why?' She said, 'Well, I got divorced early in my life and so I can really connect and use these various therapies to help women that got divorced earlier in their lives'. I was like, 'perfect. What are the things that they tell you? What do they get out of it?' she goes 'you know, they they always say the same three things. They say I feel calm, confident, and peaceful.' So I went, 'Okay, instead of saying all of those labels, how about you just say, I support independent women in finding calm, confidence and peace in their hectic lives. Because that tells me a lot more than Life Coach, CBD Advocate, Horse Therapy throughout all of it'. And ever since she started doing that she's booking twice, if not three times as many one on one calls from a lot of these things, because people go, I understand what you do a lot better, and the kind of people to send your way.
Rennie Gabriel 12:44
Yeah, that makes so much sense. Because I'm trying to figure out as you were describing her talking about what she does, I was trying to figure out, well, wait a second, how does she get a horse to do yoga?
Stefan Zavalin 12:56
So in her case, it's you do yoga and meditation and then there's a horse generally around and horses can feel. There's a great book called, Think like a Horse, where this guy shows how much horses can feel the energies of people, and they use it for therapy. So the horse doesn't do yoga, and you don't do yoga on the horse. It's not like goat yoga. I know people do that. But the horse is nearby, if you would.
Rennie Gabriel 13:19
Got it. Okay, thank you. So now, I'm sure that there are people who are listening who will want to connect with you, is there some free resource they can take a look at that allows them to connect with you?
Stefan Zavalin 13:34
Yes. So there, I've shared with you a link. And it's to, you're getting this book for free. I wrote this book, when I was first starting out these kinds of creative ideas. And it's, 101 Creative Content Ideas for Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners. And it goes through a slew of different industries. And it gives you this idea of how you might be thinking differently about creating social media content. And that it doesn't have to be a chore, it doesn't have to be this crazy thing. It's just showcasing you, but that you just haven't thought about it this way. And so there'll be a link, and then you can connect with me through that email easily the same way or find me on any of the social medias because I'm constantly talking about this stuff.
Rennie Gabriel 14:12
Perfect. And so I do have that link. It's your name forward slash free book. I will have that in the show notes for people to just click on. And is there a question that I should have asked you, that would also give some great value to those who are listening?
Stefan Zavalin 14:29
I think my latest soapbox that I wasn't on for a while is that difference between authenticity and humanity and that we actually, even though we're told to be authentic in our business, we shouldn't be authentic in our business.
Rennie Gabriel 14:42
Stefan Zavalin 14:45
Well, so here's the reason. And I think you'll agree with this because at first I was like, 'Oh, how dare, how dare these people say we shouldn't be authentic in our business. They're just trying to crush our souls'. When we say authentic in our business, what we're saying is along the lines of show us that you, you know, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Show us how things are made. Those are good things. What we don't want is, for example, we don't want Beyonce to be authentic. We don't want to come to a show, and then all of a sudden, she goes, you know, my voice kind of hurts. I'm not going to sing today. So we're just not going to do a concert. That would be horrible. We don't want that. What we want to hear is, My voice hurts, but I'm still going to deliver. You're going to get the best show ever. We want humanity. We want to see that that person is human, but not authentic in the sense of I didn't feel like doing this today. So I'm not doing stuff for you today. That's not what we want from from our businesses and the people that we end up doing business with.
Rennie Gabriel 15:36
I got it. So the difference between being human versus being authentic. Okay. Stefan, thank you for being on the Wealth On Any Income show.
Stefan Zavalin 15:48
My pleasure. This was a blast. This flew by. I love it.
Rennie Gabriel 15:51
Terrific. Yeah, I have to keep them short because I have a short attention span. So for those of you who are still listening, if you'd like to know how books, movies and Society programs you to be poor, and what the cure is, then log on to wealthonanyincome.com/TEDx. You'll hear my TEDx talk, not Stefan's, and you can request the free 9-Step Roadmap to Complete Financial Choice® and Philanthropy, and receive a weekly email with tips, techniques, or inspiration around your business or your money. And if you'd like to see how you can increase your wealth, and donate to the causes that touch your heart, please check out our affordable program, Wealth with Purpose. To my listeners, thank you for tuning in. You can listen to the Wealth On Any Income Podcast on your favorite platform, and please rate, review and subscribe. Until next week, be prosperous. Bye bye