Curiosity is not always a death sentence for the cat, sometimes curiosity can lead to very fun and unexpected positive life event. In my social media and local personalities peripheral vision I had been noticing for a while this guy named Rick Dancer who was utilizing aspects of social media that no one else was daring to dabble in. Even now that there are some experimenting with tools such as Facebook Live, few of them approach it with the personal touch and the collaborative spirit that Mr. Dancer does. Curiosity drove me to I reach out to Rick and he graciously agreed to meet up with me for coffee one fateful day at the Washburne Cafe in Springfield, Oregon, sparking a friendship. Anyone who has seen him in action with Live with Rick Dancer knows he is a rather transparent person, I was glad that he was willing to go even deeper for this interview.
Jon Isaacson / IZ Vents: Your past life was as a successful local journalist, when you look back on that leg of your journey, what are the key lessons you learned?
Rick Dancer: Television News taught me how to think on my feet. I naturally react quickly but you make a few errors publicly and you quickly learn how to avoid pitfalls and holes. I also learned to take my love of storytelling and put it to work for me. For a few years I tried to mimic news people and write textbook type stories. However, what really changed my style was covering stories of great pain and humanity. Soon, I chucked the journalistic style for my style which was telling a story from the heart perspective.
A significant portion of your story includes some road bumps which include phasing out of journalism not completely of your own accord, an “unsuccessful” run into politics and beating cancer, how has what many may look at as failure brought you to where/who you are now?
Failure is my greatest teacher but many discount the value of failure or the pain one must go through in order to discover their true story, their true self. In news I won a lot. I got awards, had honors and lots of attention from the public. Running for public office humbled and tried to destroy me. It took every ugly thing in my life and put it right in front of me. Ego lost much of its power over me. I no longer care as much what people think of me. Losing has given me freedom and I don't think you can be truly free without loss.
How is it that a nearly 60 year old man 1) looks so handsome and 2) is leading the charge in the state of Oregon to optimize the new media? How did you get into Facebook live and launch that into a growing local business?
At 58 years old my thought is we must redefine what it means to age. I surround myself with younger people, not on purpose, but because they are the ones who are the most help to me. When I ran for office my young staff had me on Facebook the day after it started. Social media is a natural for me and I use it well. Young folks kept me ahead of the curve.
We are using Facebook in a way many can't, won't or fear. Live has always been my weakness....I mean I thrive on it. A day after the live feature came out I was on there doing video's, figuring out how it worked and looking for ways to make money off it. Part of that desire is born out of desperation. Video production is easier and many don't need people like me to produce a video for them so I needed something to bring in the money. I found people who trusted me and launched "Get Real with Rick Dancer." Now we have "Live with Rick Dancer" and in November will begin "At The Car Wash, Live with Rick Dancer."
You must never get stale and that means being willing to jump on the next thing before others do.
You have a unique talent for drawing out stories, what is it about stories that are so compelling and how have you learned to bring those out of people?
I have always been a storyteller but the gift began as a listener. I was the kid who sat with the old folks at family gatherings and listened to the stories. Growing up I now believe I had some learning issues. Spelling was and still is very tough for me. Proper sentence structure and understanding the ins and outs of grammar have never been natural. For years that kept me from using my gift. I would not write because I didn't want people making fun of my technique. In the news business I discovered my heart and use of real language, real words, pauses, points and percussion in a sentence was much more important than punctuation, spelling and sounding acceptable to the masses.
This is what set me apart from others. Journalists used to poke fun at my techniques but none of them could match my ability to grab, squeeze and rip at the heart of a viewer. Learning to ignore them and winning numerous awards for writing, didn't silence the critics, but it made it so I didn't care, I understood what worked and used it.
For those who are looking to market their services and products, what are some key principles they need to understand about interacting with the current economy?
People today aren't just buying a product they are purchasing something from a person. They can buy a video from anyone but what makes my video better. It's not the equipment we use but the heart we bring to the story. People want to buy from people and yet many in marketing still look to the sell, sell, sell, in order to sell. What people want is you. They want to have a relationship with the person they are buying from. Purchasers are buying your brand. If a video producer wants to be the "Big Equipment Dude On The Block" that's their brand. Pretty pictures are nice but a story that helps you understand why the person serving you is serving you is far better than another drone video of your business.
People don't care what you sell or what you do they want to know why you do it. But to understand the customers why you have to first understand yours. Storytellers are curious people who are not looking for happy endings or even an ending but instead the passion of a life.
What projects are you working on lately that get you excited to continue with what you are doing?
My dream is to travel the country, the world and video the stories of everyday people. I want to visit the small towns, the nowhere towns, the overlooked "spots on a map" and unveil that place for the rest of us. I believe we are tried of the fast-paced get it done life. There is something soothing, sobering and peaceful about simplicity. But the problem is we are complex or at least we've create a complex way of life. In order to reveal simplicity in each of us, there is a process that only great storytelling can release. No one wants to be told how to live, but show me, show me how to do it through the words and actions of another person, and I may actually see it. So, while I love what I am doing I hope it blossoms into the next thing. I hope my world takes me on the road to the places less traveled. And of course, the trip won't be any fun without people like you to follow me.
As you look back on your life and the new chapters you are carving out what are some key things you believe are important for entrepreneurs?
Life is not about being comfortable. No, it's about learning to be comfortable with discomfort. Life is not about you. Yes, you have value and purpose but those around must always be treated better. What you do doesn't matter at all. Why you do it is all that counts. Most people will never get to the why. Oh, they say to help people but the real story is deeper and too many of us stop just outside the door of discovery. Challenging our perceptions and our lives is like walking on a sore foot that is tormented with a sliver. Instead of stopping to dig at it, cause it to bleed, drain the infection and pull the sliver out, we continue to walk on it until we get used to the pain. After a while we don't even feel the sliver but it's still there.
I am not the best father, husband nor am I the best businessman in the world but that's not my goal. I longed for freedom and now I have it. I longed to do what came natural to me and by learning to do things that are un-natural (vulnerability) I have found me. Cancer, losing, failing and struggling are my best teachers. While I would never purposely sign up for their classes, these educators continue to serve me well. Instead of trying to chase difficulty out of our lives what would happen if we look for it?
One parting comment: I learned during my political run for office that I can't please everyone, not even myself. But I can please God so now I live for an audience of one....or should I say, "The One." Thanks for listening.
You can find out more about Rick Dancer through his website, see him in action via Live with Rick Dancer on Facebook, as well as LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter (@RickDancer).
Trust is currency in the business world. How them can an individual optimize trust into professional advancement?
Whether you are in the hunt for a career or looking to advance in your profession, the currency with the highest rate of exchange for both employment and advancement is the same – trust. Trust requires hard work and consistency to establish but is even harder to regain if you have devalued your trust ratio with poor or inconsistent performance.
At the core of proving your trustworthiness are three simple concepts (many parents will resonate with these values):
1) Do what you’re told
2) Do it when you are told
3) Do it with the right attitude
Regardless of where you are at on the ladder, there is usually someone on the rung(s) above you. Trust in its most basic form is the transaction of turning a request/order into an action. For example, your boss instructs you to do something and you do it. There was trust that you could understand the instruction, trust that you were a person that may be capable of accomplishing the task and trust that you would be a person that would follow through to completion.
When you are hired by an organization, they trust that you can fulfill certain functions. If you have the desire to move upward within the organization, you need to communicate that you are capable of additional responsibilities. Your ability to move forward is proportionate to your ability to master your current tasks. As you desire to communicate your advancement potential, take an inventory on how well you have completed your current functions – doing what your are told, when you are told and doing so with a good attitude.
If you have never been asked to do something outside of your everyday functions, this should be a red flag for you. What are the options? Is there really nothing outside of what you’re already doing that the organization needs help with? Not likely. Are you so important in your current functions that they cannot spare you for any other task? You are important, probably not that important. The lack of interest in you likely means you haven’t communicated that you are capable or trustworthy in some fashion.
If you haven’t been asked in a while, you may want to rewind the tape and see how you performed the last time your were approached with an opportunity. So often when our vision is on the big assignments, we miss the small steps that get us there. A good organization will give you chances to grow through a process. This process of maturation in an organization better prepares you to grow at a pace you can maintain.
Regardless of what you are being asked to do, as long as it’s not illegal, recognize this as your moment to do what you are told, when you are told and to perform with a good attitude. Every opportunity to perform a task outside of your regular duties is an opportunity show the leaders in your organization what you’re capable of (often times a few small steps/tests at a time).
What if you have been doing all this and you are still getting all the crap assignments? Either the organization is telling you what your communicated value is – you will have to judge whether this perception of you is accurate or not. If you believe you deserve more then you may want to request a review and ask some questions about your performance as well as what your opportunities are within the organization. The other option would be to walk yourself through an honest self evaluation and enlist the feedback from people you trust to give you sincere constructive criticism. If your self evaluation and the input from those you trust have led you to a place where you are confident that you have done all in your power, it may be time to find another team to work with.
Professional advancement is built one step at a time, establishing trust by mastering the tasks you have been assigned as well as taking advantage of the opportunities for additional responsibility that come your way. We often counsel people that life is about opportunity not convenience, as often the opportunities you will get to move yourself forward will likely come at many of the most inopportune or inconvenient times. You need a big picture perspective for setting your goals, but don't have your head so far in the clouds or your heart so far down the track that you can't see or take advantage of the opportunities that are right in front of you.
If you have found something to be true from your professional experiences and then find a respected publication that echoes those concepts, is this still confirmation bias?
The reason many industries fail to innovate or self-disrupt before it's too late is that they only look for industry insiders to add to their organizations. We want the books of business and the low hanging fruit of a professional who is ready to hit the streets from day one. Many leaders know from painful experience, hiring carry overs from a competitor carry their own challenges and/or baggage. Hiring from a short list within an industry bubble does not create a lot of room for introduction of new ideas, perspectives and strengths.
While I strongly believe that an organization should promote from within they also should be looking to extend their pursuit of quality individuals beyond the industry bubble. A company that spends all those resources to build a culture and a team that rallies around core values are too valuable to thin or disband through the lack of local progressive opportunities for people who have earned such through building the team. This commitment to internal growth does not mean that an organization should only build itself from those who are already versed in the field of operation.
I am glad to hear a respected publication promoting this idea of recruiting candidates who either have no direct experience or who may be a bit of a gamble as they are not industry versed prior to joining your team. Author and CEO/Founder, Liz Ryan shares this challenge and insight, "When you hire someone who lacks industry experience, it challenges you as a manager. You get to see your new hire encountering your world, and that is an instructive thing to experience. You have to train your newcomer differently. You have to ask and answer questions you may not have considered for years — or ever."
Too often we come to a point in our career where we are confident, if not comfortable, with what we know and we begin to first assume that everyone should know what we know (we got our elbows deep in the mud earning our experiences) and secondly that we forget to re-invest those nuggets of wisdom into our teams. We forget that it took many years for us to get where we are and we want immediate results from those who are working on our teams, we lose a bit of our patience when we lose our connection to the ground floor.
We want a mix of backgrounds, perspectives, ideas and strengths on our teams so that we will continue to challenge each other to be the best that we can be every day. Business is sport, its a competition against our opponents as much as it is against ourselves to not settle in the victories already won. Unfortunately, in the current climate you are either growing or you are dying, there are no other options.
So what do we do? Do we just hire the next ugly duckling that comes along and turn them into the star quarterback? That's not the concept as this should not be about bolstering our already inflated egos but rather a means to challenge and build our organization by infusing it with new perspectives, strengths and potential.
In our experience we believe the criterion has been fairly simple, is the candidate 1) honest, 2) hard working and 3) willing to learn? If they can bring these three character traits, items that we cannot give them, then we can train them to have the opportunity to be successful in our industry. Anymore we are looking for relevant as opposed to direct experience. Someone may not have the technical skills in our industry but if they have the work ethic, relational strengths, a track record of team building, or other strong qualities that will help our team, we want to bring them in. "You will shake up your own thinking," states Liz Ryan, "When you hire outside your industry -- and that may be the best gift of all!"
Liz Ryan - https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2017/09/24/five-reasons-to-hire-someone-with-no-industry-experience/#720b80656de3
More from izvents - Attracting Talent, What To Look For and Hiring, Three Character Keys.
Part 1 of our IZ Ventures interview with CEO coach and author of Organizational Physics: The Science of Growing a Business, Lex Sisney.
It's not everyday that you 1) find a business book that speaks intelligently and practically to your professional development needs and 2) get the opportunity to follow up with an interview with the author of said literature.
Our humble thanks to author, practitioner and CEO coach Lex Sisney for writing Organizational Physics and for taking the time out of his schedule to share his life's work and lessons. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did and take something from it.
Stay tuned for more with Lex. Read some prior mentions of Mr. Sisney's work in our articles - HERE (Tips from entrepreneurial leaders - Write it down) and HERE (Business Jenga).
The DYOJO is the Do Your Job Dojo. In The DYOJO we want to help each other develop intentionally.