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156: How to Be Listener Directed – Featured Interview with Jay Sullivan

Author and Managing Partner of Exec|Comm

Jay Sullivan talks with Bill Ringle about listening, connection, what it means to be an effective communicator.


Key points that you’ll learn from this interview:
  • What it means to have Executive Presence
  • How to address large audiences in a way that connects with each audience member
  • What factors raise or lower your standing on the scale of effectiveness
  • How to communicate in a way that’s listener directed.
  • How to diffuse situations of anger in the workplace

Interview Insights

Click to Read the Show Notes

1:26 “People automatically think we’re going to teach them how to talk better and share information, and in fact we spend most of our time teaching them how to listen.”

1:38 Sullivan recounts his experiences working in a convent in Jamaica, and the leadership examples he saw put in place there.

3:20 [Working with Covenant] – “Again I had to listen really carefully to what their concerns were.”

3:51 “I had to explain concepts to them in a way that they could grasp the idea, the basics of the idea, and understand what to do in terms of next steps.”

4:37 “I didn’t make assumptions. You couldn’t. You couldn’t assume any background knowledge. You couldn’t assume any background problem solving skills.

6:19 [On addressing large groups vs. being one on one] – “The challenge there tends to be that if you’re in front of a very large group, chances are you’re not having a conversation. You can create the illusion of a conversation, but chances are you’re just talking at the audience.”

6:47 “People who are less comfortable asking questions, being open to whoever they’re talking to might change course, might change the agenda, might end up trying to control the conversation, very often those people have a larger challenge with smaller groups.”

7:05 “But even when you’re speaking to a group, you shouldn’t be talking to everybody in the room, you talk to one person at a time.”

7:59 [On his ideal ExecComm client] – “I don’t think of it terms of my ideal client. I think of it in terms of, who can I be helpful to?

9:09 The scale of effectiveness, and how ExecComm helps its clients go from good to great.

10:36 Why recording a person’s speech patterns and behaviors can help them overcome small issues with communication and presentation.

11:35 “People tend to think that the value of the videotaping is the physical, watching the physical stuff, but it also gives you an undeniable recording of what was said.”

12:15 “When you’re talking to someone you can talk about one of three things: 1 – you can talk about yourself, 2 – you can talk about your content, or 3 – you can talk to the audience about the audience.”

12:36 “Nobody cares about your content either. They only care about how your content affects them.”

13:02 “If they simply get away from that language of what I want, and instead use language such as, what I thought would be helpful to you today.”

14:37 The impetus for writing the book, Simply Said

15:20 “You’re more effective as a communicator when you’re less focused on yourself.”

17:27 “And that’s the thing you want people to do: build simple habits that make them more effective communicators.”

18:58 “The most important thing about communicating effectively is to be true to who you are. You’ve got to be you.”

19:48 “Nobody is paying you to be a comedian. They’re paying you to deliver a clear, coherent message.”

20:04 “The thing about working on your communication skills is that you can bring the better part of who you are to the room.”

21:00 “When someone is emotional in a professional setting, you have to acknowledge the emotion that’s being expressed, otherwise it becomes this undercurrent.”

21:38 The problems that arise when anger is acknowledged in the workplace

22:14 “So with anger you simply reframe the anger as concern.”

23:48 “Giving feedback is a touchy subject for a lot of people because they don’t feel entitled to give the feedback.”

24:02 “Your job is to grow the future talent of your organization.”

24:25 How emotions get in the way of feedback.

25:14 “When feedback is done entirely by looking backwards, it’s not helpful.”

25:46 What it means to have a performance review and goal setting meeting

27:31 “People need to take ownership of their own professional development.”

28:23 Why it’s essential for you to carry yourself the way that you want to be perceived.

Expert Bio

Jay Sullivan is the Managing Partner at Exec|Comm, and leads the firm’s Law Firm Group. He is an award-winning author and columnist, as well as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law Center. His book, Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond, was released by John Wiley & Sons in 2016. As a contributing writer for Forbes.com, Jay brings relevant and timely advice on enhancing one’s communication skills to the business community.

Whether working with groups or in one-on-one coaching arrangements Jay helps professionals have greater impact by teaching them to focus on the needs of their audiences. Jay works closely with the learning and development professionals at many global law firms and financial services firms to customize communication skills solutions.

Jay joined Exec|Comm after nine years as a practicing attorney. He received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 1989. That year, Jay was named among the first class of Skadden Fellows by the Skadden Foundation. As a Skadden Fellow, Jay acted as in-house legal counsel at Covenant House, a crisis shelter for runaway and homeless teenagers. Following his Fellowship, Jay spent seven years practicing insurance law on behalf of Lloyds of London.

After graduating from Boston College in 1984, Jay spent two years in the Jesuit International Volunteer Corps, teaching English. His book about that experience, Raising Gentle Men: Lives at the Orphanage Edge, was named the 2014 Best Book by a Small Publisher by the Catholic Press Association. Jay was a featured columnist on communication skills for the New York Law Journal, and has been published in Readers Digest, Catholic Digest, Parents Magazine, The Golfer, and The New York Times.

For more information, visit Author’s website.

Contact Info for Author Name

Web address: http://www.exec-comm.com

Travels from: New York, NY

Phone:(212) 252-5855

Contact: Karen Rodriguez – (212) 252-5860

LinkedIn Facebook Twitter YouTube

Resources Mentioned by Author Name:

Jay Sullivan’s Forbes Author Page 


113: The Perpetual Wealth System – Interview with John Jamieson

Best-Selling Author and Successful Businessman

Detroit, MI

Listen to this interview to learn:

  • An insider’s view of how to make money like your bank does
  • How you can make monthly payments to yourself to earn tax-free income
  • Why it is better to buy a car than to fund your 401 K when you follow the right system
  • How putting together an action plan makes you more productive
  • The 4 wealth drains to plug up in your personal finances

Expert Bio

John Jamieson is a successful businessman and has launched several companies from nothing more than an idea and a goal. He has spoken to hundreds of audiences all over the United States and Canada on the subjects of Business, Real Estate, and Wealth Creation. John has spoken in almost every major city in the United States and Canada and is a sought after speaker and trainer.

John started in business with no money, no job, and no credit and bought his first piece of investment real estate at the age of 21. Since then he has gone on to purchase tens of millions of dollars of real estate. John also has been involved with tens of millions of dollars of real estate transactions as an agent working with investors from all over the world. He has a unique ability to train people how to start with very little and achieve amazing results. He is currently the owner of Perpetual Financing Systems which is a national company working with people and businesses on a better business model for automatically and systematically creating tax free wealth.

John also is part owner of a real estate investment and sales company in the Metro Detroit area that works with out of area investors to help them build what he calls “real estate cash flow machines”. John has been a lifelong resident of Metro Detroit and puts his years of experience with that real estate market to use for investors from all over the globe. John is a former top selling agent and corporate sales trainer for the Century 21 and RE/MAX franchises.

John is also the author of several training programs on wealth creation and has several live events throughout the year in his home town of Detroit Michigan. He is the bestselling author of the book entitled “The Perpetual Wealth System.”

For more information, visit John’s website.

Contact Info for John Jamieson

Travels From: Detroit, Michigan

Web address: ThePerpetualWealthSystem.com

Books by John Jamieson  

the perpetual wealth system


83: Innovation, Courage, Connection – Interview with Jason Howell

Jason Howell

Arlington, VA

Listen to this interview to learn:

  • The formula you can use to make your contribution.
  • Why Walmart was interested in Patriotic Contribution for its employees.
  • Historical examples of how individuals band together to make a difference.
  • How innovation, courage, and connection combine to create the environment for you to leave your legacy.
  • Other creative ways you can leave your legacy.

Expert Bio

Jason Howell is the founder of the Jason Howell Company, a consulting firm that teaches people how to create a legacy of success for themselves and others. He is committed to the principle he calls Patriotic Development, which envisions a world where people identify progress in their business life as a civic duty as well as a human necessity. It is a concept that redefines the traditional values associated with patriotism (bold action, innovation and a sense of connectedness) as business imperatives. He shares his ideas with a broad audience through his audiobook, titled America: Still the Land of Opportunity, Always a Home for the Brave.

Jason is also President of Accenture Toastmasters in Reston, VA.  In October of 2010 he became President of the Washington, DC chapter of ALPFA, an organization invested in enriching the lives of Latino professionals across the country. For more information, visit Jason’s website.

Contact Info for Jason Howell

Business Name: Jason Howell Company

Business Phone: 703-867-2387

Email: jason@jasonhowell.com

Web address: JasonHowell.com

Travels From: Washington, D.C.

Follow Jason:



64: RubySpeaks – Interview with Ruby Newell-Legner

Founder, RubySpeaks, Inc.

Littleton, CO

Listen to this interview to learn:

  • Ruby’s journey from swim coach to trainer of world-class companies, organizations, and associations, such as the Olympics, US Open, and the Superbowl.
  • The loyalty and retention trend impacting many industries in the recovering economy in the United States.
  • The connection between rose water and a memorable hotel visit.
  • What premium suite ticket holders really value.
  • Why organizations that treat their staff well have happier customers.
  • How staff can inadvertently upset a customer by using the wrong word that is a near-universal hot button.
  • The two-step process Zappos uses to define job criteria to ensure good hires.

Expert Bio

Ruby Newell-Legner is a Certified Speaking Professional, a designation bestowed by the National Speakers Association to less than 400 speakers in the world. She founded RubySpeaks, Inc. in 1994 with a singular mission: to provide the hands-on training employees need to create a more productive work environment where everyone can excel on the job. Over the last decade, she has presented more than 1800 programs in nine countries and has shown tens of thousands of participants how to quickly improve workplace performance.

An award-winning and nationally recognized training expert in the Leisure and Hospitality Industry, Ruby is also a facilitator with a proven ability to create environments where groups can brainstorm effectively, share perspectives and come to consensus-while enjoying the process. Ruby’s high-impact trainings are based on 25 years as a front-line service provider and manager in parks and recreation; she has been presenting training programs in that area for the last 13 years. With “in the trenches” practical know-how, Ruby has an uncommon level of experience that gives immediate credibility with conference attendees and allows her to offer suggestions and recommendations based on actual hands-on experience. Her clients range from NFL stadium management staff to leaders in municipal government to Jumeirah International, the Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based luxury hospitality group that has the only seven-star hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab.

For more information, visit her on the RubySpeaks website.

Contact Info for Ruby Newell-Legner

Business Name: RubySpeaks, Inc.

Business Phone: 303-933-9291

Web address: RubySpeaks.com

Travels from: Boulder, CO

Follow Ruby: Twitter



38: Capturing New Markets – Interview with Stephen Wunker

Managing Director, New Markets Advisors

Ipswich, MA

Listen to this interview to learn:

  • How success in embarking on new ventures leads to its own momentum.
  • What a South African bank did to expand its opportunities through looking at the problems its customers were facing from their perspective.
  • What it means to assess what doesn’t exist in the marketplace and how it might present a growth opportunity.
  • The viewpoint of a company evaluating a new market strategy and the risks they have to weigh.
  • Whether your best bet is to take a superhighway or a country road or a combination of the two as you innovate towards growth.

Expert Bio

As a specialist in new markets, Stephen Wunker combines world-class strategy consulting and entrepreneurial skills. Since 2009, he has led New Markets Advisors, which is dedicated to helping companies find, enter, and win in new markets. He has a long track record of creating successful ventures for his own companies and on behalf of clients, including developing dozens of new growth platforms for clients in a decade of consulting for both start-up and large firms across six continents, establishing new growth businesses for Africa’s largest cellular network, creating the first mobile Internet device marketed outside Japan, and pioneering the use of cellphones as marketing tools.

Stephen is the author of Capturing New Markets: How Smart Companies Create Opportunities Others Don’t, and has published frequently in journals such as Forbes, BusinessWeek, Managed Care, and US Banker. His press and television appearances include the New York Times, Bloomberg and the BBC, and he has also been a guest lecturer at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

Prior to being the Managing Director of New Markets Advisors, he was Managing Director of Celpay, a start-up created by the pan-African mobile network Celtel, and he served as Celtel’s Business Development Director. He was also CEO of Brainstorm, a developer of mobile middleware software that acquired a start-up he founded, Saverfone. Additionally, he was responsible for bringing the leading British electronics firm Psion into the cellphone market, creating joint ventures with Ericsson and Motorola.

For more information, visit Stephen’s website.

Contact Info for Stephen Wunker

Business Phone: 617-337-3060

Web address: NewMarketsAdvisors.com

Travels From: Boston, MA

Follow Stephen: Twitter

Books by Stephen Wunker


Expert Guest Welcome

Welcome to My Quest for the Best! We’re looking forward to your interview.

For your preparation, here are some of the questions Bill regularly asks. We also encourage you to send several questions of your own to us that will help Bill get to the heart of your expertise.

  1. Tell me how you got started in your business or current career.
  2. Describe your ideal client or audience.
  3. What problem do you solve for them?
  4. Give a recent example of success one of your clients had from working with you.
  5. What trends are you noticing from your conversations with other business leaders?
  6. What’s a common misunderstanding or myth that people outside your industry have and what’s the reality behind it?
  7. In the evolution of your business, what’s a milestone that you look back on and recognize that this particular engagement, project, or decision you made helped you make it to the next level? [It might be a first big client, a new hire, a move to a new office, your first radio interview, book, etc.]
  8. What are 2-3 things you do daily to stay on track?

Please consult the PDf files we sent for more details and for a list of the information we need from you in order to make your interview experience as smooth as possible (bio, headshot, book or product, phone number, etc.).

At the time of the interview, dial in to our bridge line at 712-432-3066 x797553#. If another interview is in progress, please stay on the line. Your line will be muted until Bill checks in with you.

If you have any questions about your interview, contact Hannah at prep[at]myquestforthebest[dot]com.