021: Developing Relationships That Pay Again and Again

021: Developing Relationships That Pay Again and Again

 

Strong for Performance Podcast

 

021: Developing Relationships That Pay Again and Again

by Axel Meierhoefer

How do you get your foot in the door of large organizations if your firm is a small operation? My guest Axel Meierhoefer, Ph.D. describes how he has consistently gotten work with global companies…and continues to find ways to deliver value over time once he’s there. Axel also explains how to form such strong relationships that when key contacts leave the company, they engage you for projects with their new employer. And Axel shares a unique question that he poses to clients to ensure they have listened to and understood what he has said.

You’ll discover:

  • The secret to landing work in large organizations when you’re a small operation
  • How to turn a single assignment into 3 years of work in a big company
  • Why it’s important to build trusting AND memorable relationships with your internal champions
  • How to make your fee a non-issue
  • The power of connecting heart-to-heart with clients

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Axel’s Website

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Read the Transcription

Welcome to another addition of the Strong for Performance podcast. I’m your host Meredith Bell and I am so excited to have with me today Axel Meierhoefer. Axel, welcome to the program.

Hey Meredith, nice to be here. Thank you.

Well, thank you. Axel and I actually met on LinkedIn. We had a fascinating conversation and I knew instantly that I wanted to have him as a guest on my show because there are so many insights and experiences that he has had as a coach and consultant with corporate as well as his experience inside the corporate world that I know will be fascinating for our listeners.

So, let’s get started, Axel. Would you first give us a little bit about your journey to the U.S. from Germany and how you came to be here for the past, I think it’s 25 years, right?

Yeah, exactly. It’s pretty much a little over 25 years now. So yeah, how did it happen? I had joined the Air Force out of school almost immediately and went to a flight training which got me a first little taste of being in the US. Then later in the military career, it got to a point where I was a part of the flight test team. And all those little black boxes that go in a plane and make magical things came from companies here in the US. So there was a need, if you needed to be trained and see when it’s in the plane does it really do what it’s supposed to do. How do you get the training? You go to the companies who make them.

So my wife and I always show this little bundle of two-year old daughter, came frequently to the US for four, six, seven week type of stays, where I basically got to learn the stuff and my wife and daughter spent time at the pool and in the mall and stuff like that.

So out of that came the notion, is there may be a way to stay here longer for a longer project or for a longer assignment? I did some research and found out that there’s actually an exchange program. I believe that still exists today between the US military and, for example, the German military, where you literally exchange jobs.

So my job, I was this deputy commander for a flight school in my official role. And I got out of that and became the assistant director of operations for a US fighter squadron and the guy who had that job went and took my job in Germany.

Cool.

And so, after almost two years in that job, I got a notification from the German government that they would like me to consider running a project of a new construction on a US base to combine US and German flight operations on one base. Partially because I was pretty close already. So out of that, we basically got the opportunity to extend the stay from initially expecting it to be two to three years to pretty much six or so.

And then I got pretty close to retirement and looked into, okay, would there be work for me because when you look and say, okay sky in, and at that time, New Mexico, sky in Germany, it’s not a competition, right? It’s basically pretty clear. We go for blue and sunny every day, right?

I let the note drop a little bit that I would be available and immediately a company from Santa Barbara said, “Okay, we’re looking for an executive to help us.” And I got that job, moved to Santa Barbara, then four, five years later, I started my own business in 2005.

So here we are, 25 years later, still rocking and rolling and living basically between two cultures. I think for your audience that might be an interesting and important aspect to realize. I’m really, really grateful to have so far, it’s tilting a little bit, but so far about half of my life lived in Germany and Europe and half here in the US because there are a lot of differences and being aware, especially when you do the kind of work I do, it’s really, really helpful.

Well one of the things, to me, that is special about what you’ve done, is you’ve worked with really large international companies. And you have found some amazing ways, to me, to really go deep and wide inside those client organizations. So, there are two aspects of this I’d like us to get into.

One is about approaching large organizations as potential clients when you are a small operation. Some of our listeners are a one-person shop or small, not very many employees. So that’s one piece.

And then once you’re inside there, how do you go in a bigger way to develop relationships across the organization. So why don’t we start with approaching a large company and getting them as a client to begin with.

Right, yeah. I would have to say from a systematic approach, it’s basically a two-step, rather than a one-step, that has worked for me. What I mean by two-step is when I initially realized, okay, I would like to do business with larger organizations, my first approach was on reputation because I had a lot of connections into companies that actually serves the military.

So when I first started out with my business, those relationships transferred but they exhausted themselves very quickly because there weren’t that many and it was very, very specific and not really that much into the normal corporate world.

So then for me, the question became exactly like you said. How do you go from here? How do you continue to have business? What I realized, the two-step is, first take a look at which organizations that offer what you know or what you can provide as a service to these large organizations and let them basically take you as a resource.

So I have by now, four companies and still maintain that relationship where they have existing relationships to the Boeings and the Visas and the Genentechs of the world and provide all kinds of stuff. It’s not so important if it’s a perfect match but that they have that relationship and they introduce you, if there’s ever a learning and development requirement, or e-learning requirement. Or in my case, if there’s ever a big project that someone needs to do in the pharmaceutical industry and needs some help, or some management, or some strategy help or whatever. Then you should be aware that I exist. And that helped me through the first few relationships like Bayer, for example, I told you about in our previous conversation, and a few others like Genentech.

And so I did a little project with them. Little meaning, they got me a deal basically for three months. And the deal was, figure out a strategy. How the company that does this one product in on location in the world happening to be in San Francisco at Berkeley. They want to build another factory for the European market in Germany.

They realize they need to teach the German employees how to do it, they need to get systems, their documentation needs to be in both languages and on and on and on. “So can you come and look at this, you speak the language, you know the two cultures, and help us find a strategy on how we can go about it?”

So that’s how I got the foot in the door. That is maybe the answer to your first question. How can somebody who is small, I often times use this analogy: I’m the little ant walking down the beach with my fellow ants and then there’s this huge elephant that we feel is coming. It hasn’t really quite arrived yet and we’re all afraid that it might squish us.

So rather than engaging the elephant, we are scaring it away to make room. Basically my suggestion and answer in a nutshell to your question and for your audience would be, try to find somebody who is part of the elephant community. In the sense of having already a relationship. And say, “That little ant there is somebody that you should become familiar with and it should always ride on your trunk a little bit.” And when you need it, you just give it the word and let it come up a little bit higher to eye level.

So that’s the one part. Then the second part as far as expanding from there: So I went in three and a half months, came up with a strategy and presented it to the leadership team. And they were happy, they said, “Wow you really looked at a lot of things. Especially a lot of things we never even thought about.” Which is I guess why they wanted me.

But then they also said, “What is your recommendation to implement this strategy?”

I said, “Okay, I put a slide that shows you a cascade of the steps and the type of people that you need and the management you need in my view to make this happen.”

And they literally looked around and said, and this was pretty high level already, “Anybody here who thinks you have anybody who could do it or want to do it yourselves?” And they were all sitting there like statues.

So ultimately the site manager, the site lead guy, titled like senior director, almost vice president. He became vice president a little later. He said, “Okay, we have nobody to do that, what’s your suggestion?” Like I’m the consultant strategist.

I said, “Well, if you don’t have anybody and I created it, how about you let me do it?” Literally you could really see, “Oh, that’s a brilliant idea.” And they didn’t say it out loud but you can read peoples’ faces.

Then there was a little bit of machinations but I didn’t even get enough time to take a break. They literally said, “Okay, can we then start that the first of the next month or so?”

It was like 10 days away. And then I did that and that turned into many other things I could tell you about but in general, it turned into a three year project.

What’s interesting about it is I was ultimately the one who dialed it back. Because the one negative thing about it was that the three months I went there, I worked for them, stayed in a hotel, no problem. Three years staying in a hotel all the time gets pretty old. You’re not seeing your family, it wasn’t right outside my house or anything like that. So I then dialed it back and again, this might be interesting for your audience. For me the question was, how do I keep that relationship for two reasons I’ll explain in a second.

Number one is to keep some revenue coming in for small business with this already existing client. So I suggested to their management, that it would be probably helpful for their organization and employee development to consider some self-growth and improvement things. My suggestion was peer coaching.

Having known and gotten to know the organizations and the things they struggle with, I felt that they don’t take enough advantage of each other’s strengths. So by teaching them how to do peer coaching and then basically holding their hand for a little while, not only will I get to know even more people, but am also leaving a service where I don’t need to be there all the time anymore. Where I can help them and holding their hand through Skype or Zoom or something like that.

So they approved that, I did the workshop for one day and then for the next little while, kept in touch for about six months until they felt comfortable. “We now know how this works.” And by the way, they’re still doing it and we’re almost three years after the workshop now. And out of that, there were other little things that came, still with Bayer.

Now the other thing that is important is by developing these relationships, is that people, and I’m sure that’s true in every industry, start moving around.

Yes.

Right? So some of the people that I started working with, even from day one for the strategy, through all these things in the three years, have gone through all kinds of other companies. Through Pfizer, to small pharma companies, to Genentech and what-have-you. Then these relationships that you build and formed get you to step two of that picture. I’m going back in the cycle. I said there are two steps. The first, find somebody who is on eye level and let them convince the elephant that you should ride on the trunk.

The second one is, when you get people relationships in the industry and they move around and then they face a similar issue or a need or looking for somebody who can do something that they knew from their previous employment. I mentioned this earlier to you, there are relationships that are trusting and then there are relationships that are trusting plus memorable.

And when you have trusting plus memorable and somebody says, “Okay, you’re here, you’re new and you do all the stuff we expect you to do.”

And you find out I can do 90 percent but this 10 percent is not my thing. Who do I know? I believe in your audience, there are probably plenty of people who would say, “Yep, have been there as well.”

The hope, and that’s always my hope and what I’m working for is, the answer to the, “Who do I know that can help me with this other 10 percent,” is me, because I developed that relationship while we were working together.

That then takes the elephant conversation out of it because then it’s really people to people. So step two is have trusting and memorable relationships with as many people that have decision power as you can. Because then when they call and say, “Hey, I just started doing what you’re doing.”

You say, “Yes?”

And they say, “Okay, well we have this issue, could you come and help us?” The fact that I’m an ant is completely irrelevant at that point.

Then it’s, “I have a need, I know you can do it because I’ve seen you do it. Even to the point we’re contracting NDAs.” They typically, rarely even ask how much it costs because the need drives the issue.

Yes. That’s such an important point, because the fee becomes a nonissue when they see you as the one who can provide the solution. That’s worth a huge amount to them to not have to be worrying about, “Who can I trust?”

And I love what you said about being trusted and memorable, so why don’t you speak to those two areas in terms of what you feel you are able to do to establish each of those in a way so that you’re the name that pops up in their head.

Right, yeah. For the trusted part, I would say, people underestimate how much self-confidence and expertise is valued. And that might sound a little dubious, but what I mean by that is when a company brings you in for an external coach, for an external mentor or for an external project manager, consultant, any one of those things.

They have, in my experience, a clear expectation that they brought you in, somebody made that decision to be brought in. And it’s not only the person who literally signed the documents, but ultimately the team and the people that you’d been introduced to.

And again, they all run around with the assumption, “This person must’ve been brought in because we don’t have that expertise handily available anywhere close to us.”

So now, then the other part of that expectation is, “Does this person live up to what somebody who is brought in from the outside should be able to live up to?”

And that’s where the self-confidence part, for me, comes in. So hiding what you know or playing this, “I’m just going to move around and see what happens and hopefully someone is going to tell me what they need.”

No, that, in my experience, doesn’t work. You’ve got to go in and hopefully, have a pretty clear understanding of what they’re looking for. And even if you don’t understand the exact problem, or the exact need or issue, which is quite frequent in my world, it evolves.

It’s like, the person that initially talked to you told you that they have discovered they have a flower bud in their garden. And they describe their flower bud and when you get in there and you start digging a little bit and time goes on, even just a little bit, like a flower, the bud opens into a nice bloom. And only when it’s open can you really see the full extent to what it is. But even so, you only know the bud and not really what the whole flower is yet.

What you can do is to say, “Okay, here are the principles of how I work,” especially when they ask you to take charge of something. What is important for me or not? Can you come to me all the time? Is punctuality important?

You know Meredith, I’m German so you can assume that’s one of the big issues. If you want to have meetings with me and you don’t show up then it’s not good. And I’m also always trying to make sure that I tell people if something happens, which happens to all of us, to at least let them know. So that’s just a little example. And then a whole list of things of how do I tick. Because they don’t know you yet, you don’t know them yet. But if you at least know the expectations and principles are, that’s a huge builder for relationship and trust.

Then the other thing is, you’ve got to under promise and over deliver. And not just say it but do it. Because if you actually do it, when you say, “Okay, well we agreed to do this, it looks like you’re really busy. I could do this for you if you want or with you.”

Yes, I could go on my little pedestal and say, “Well no, I’m just the consultant, I’m just supposed to tell what you should do.”

No, if you get in the trenches and do some stuff, that’s a huge relationship builder and trust builder. I am basically saying I always give people the indication, “Always feel I am ready to get my hands dirty. You need to know I’m happy to do that.”

Now this is not a forever concept because your audience members will say, “Well that’s fine but then I don’t want to work 80 hour weeks.” It’s the relationship and trust building phase. It’s going through this storming, norming, performing, adjourning kind of thing. In that early part, doing a little more than you would want to do long-term to build the relationship and build the trust is what I recommend.

And then the second aspect is, now we know the bloom is in full bloom. We know pretty much what it is and what we need to do to actually really keep it going and get to become a seed, basically. If you want to stay in that analogy.

Then it becomes a matter of memorable. Because what I then do is go away from offering help and be involved in every little nitty gritty thing. But then convey trust to say, “I trust that you can do what we all agreed we need to do.

Now I want to basically focus on what are the important things where I can either support you as a person or make really important milestones on time, on budget within the project. Those then, get drummed up like crazy. I have not been shy to say, “Okay, we do a pizza party.”

Some people said, “Is this really worth it?”

I said, “To me it is.” You know what?

They don’t just see you and say, “Meredith was really cool. She really did the thing and we got it all done. Remember the pizza party she threw?”

That’s the memorable part because other times you make a connection that is emotional.

Exactly.

It’s not a matter of can this person do step A, B, C, all the way to Z. It’s what my emotional memory is with my factual memory. And the emotional memory is never you delivered on time or on budget or you saved this amount of money or blah, blah. The emotional memory is the pizza party and the nice sitting around the fireplace at the end of a busy week, that kind of stuff.

That is such a key element. You’ve said so many great things in that chunk there. I think that’s really important. This idea that when we get involved with a client, we don’t want to just be factual and competent. You need to find a way to connect with them heart to heart. And shared, fun experiences are a keyway to do that because you are breaking out of what they expect of you when you do something really different like that. I can see why that would cause you to be memorable in that situation.

Yeah, absolutely. There is a little bit of an arc, at least I would describe it that way from my military service time to my work now, that might be informative to your audience. In the sense that, in the military, I hope at least, everybody would agree and that has always been my view, is we are serving a purpose. Whether it’s defending freedom or whatever you use as your purpose.

When I look at how does that translate to relationship building, trust building and memorable trust building, is the attitude that you take especially in the early honeymoon stages of a new project or a new relationship with a client is this kind of servant leadership. The description I gave about, be confident about your principles and communicate those until people have understood that you also have some subject matter expertise.

But it also goes constantly communicating in a way that is in service. One of the most important questions that I use in my daily practice is, “How can I help you?” Or, “Is there something I can help you with? Is there something within this that I can help you with?”

You develop this understanding that nobody ever has to be afraid to ask for help. I am not going to blame them because they don’t know something. I’m only going to blame them when they know they don’t know it and didn’t say anything and that harmed the project. Or that lengthened the time for them to have a breakthrough in the coaching or mentoring.

So this kind of attitude of, “I want to demonstrate in the way I communicate that I’m always of service to you or to the team, to the project, to the client.” That is a little bit more on the left brain mental side of people remembering from a factual side. But then also how does that make me feel?

Yes.

And then I sit there and munched on my slice of pizza and I know this guy is helping me, not just by providing me pizza but in any way. It almost goes to the point, if you ask yourself how do I differentiate people that I have a good relationship with in my family versus extra.

It’s the depth of the relationship and most of that depth comes from emotional side. Not necessarily from, “Yeah, this particular guy has a cool job and on top of it he is a family member.” It’s always the other way around. We have an emotional relationship first and then I can admire the job that somebody has or the cool thing that they did or that we did together.

Well one thing I want to also tap into that ties in with that experience in how you make people feel. One of the best ways is listening and really being fully present. I know one of your superpowers is really having that inquisitive mind where you’re asking questions.

So, I think that probably also goes a long way for building that trust component as well as the memorable component. So, talk a little bit about how you go about asking questions, inquiring and demonstrating your interest?

Yeah, thank you Meredith. It’s the superpower of “big picture.” So in a nutshell, seeing the big picture evolving before most other people even see anything that looks foggy and might turn into something. That’s in a way, what I mean by “big picture.” And to get there, this inquiry aspect is, from my perspective, the most important.

I, for example, preach pretty much that people in roles like mine, not just coaches, but in general or people in leadership positions, should try to adopt an approach that’s about 75-80 percent open-ended questions. And the rest, statement, presentations, stuff like that.

Then the other component to that is active listening. Interestingly enough, active listening, most people see in the way to say, “Okay, I want to make sure that I understood something correctly so I’m paraphrasing it in my own words and feeding it back.”

If you tell me something and I say, “Hey, Meredith, can I have a minute to say to you what I understood you asking me?”

That’s where most people keep it. What I say, the additional component that you should adopt if you don’t do it already is, be inquisitive with this to the people you talk to. So for me it’s a standard when we have a meeting, a conversation, anything that comes up in a project or with a person is to say, “Please do me a favor and give me back how you understood what I asked you.”

And the shocking revelation is, in the beginning when the relationship is not that deep yet, I would say it’s not uncommon 70-80 percent of the time, they got barely half of what I wanted. When they feedback to me what they thought I said or they thought what I asked.

Which then means, “Okay, I can then in a gracious way say, “Well kind of, but not quite.”

And explain it in a slightly different way and say, “So just before we part, can you summarize one more time, just to make sure?” Literally walking and guiding them.

What’s interesting is there’s really an evolution just like with a relationship there’s an evolution with that because when you train people into the habit to expect that. So they expect from me that I will ask them to summarize, it’s interesting because they pay closer attention.

Boy, that is huge.

Yeah, exactly. Because initially, like I said, 70-80% of the time it’s between the two of us kind of crap that you hear. But over time, it goes down to at least 50 percent of the time or more, where pretty much what you wanted and what they gave back to you, so active listening, in their own words, is pretty much right. Then also, if I may, I think you would not mind a little cherry on the icing of that cake.

Of course.

The cherry on the icing of that cake, it goes to conflict.

It sounds weird, but it goes to conflict because I’m very, very convinced, whether it’s in coaching relationships that go sour, mentoring relationships that go sour, but even more so, in any good sized project or large sized project; is interpersonal relationships that are based on interpersonal communication that are ultimately prone, it’s just normal human nature that we have misunderstandings.

Why do they go to conflict? Because that interaction that I just described, the active listening in both directions, is not done. Which means a misunderstanding festers. And it festers, literally, into a conflict where you say, “Okay, what’s with these two guys back there?”

And somebody says, “Oh yeah, yeah, everybody here knows that since two years ago something happened and they don’t talk to each other anymore.”

And if you’re willing to dig a little bit, you’ll find out that it was a ridiculous thing in a meeting where they had a misunderstanding, they just left. They were pumped up and angry. Nobody facilitated for them to come back. So that ultimately was most likely a misunderstanding.

Because if you bring them back, I don’t know if you have mediators in your audience. But a mediator would say, “I bring him back. I basically do a mediation and I say okay, without any holding back, just tell us how you remember what happened there and then the other person remember what happened there.” Then, this is the really cool part, just say, “What was the trigger for the reaction and the way that you’re describing what happened.”

And either they can barely remember something completely ridiculous or they can’t remember what it was. If you really think through that, relationships, trust, memorable, using you’re, in my case, superpower of big picture. While that includes to me, to say, “I want to do the active listening in both ways,” like describe.

But I also want to be the person who says, “Okay, sometimes I have the benefit of not having to live within the politics of your organization.” I want to get these people back to being friends and useful members of the community.

So, whenever something sounds or looks like it could become or is a misunderstanding, bring him in and cut it off right there and let him get clear again through the active listening process.

Or if they’re already at the conflict, the resolution is to bring him and let them actually really find out what was that minute that got them off. You know how that goes, we then have the tendency to put all these attributes on people that they don’t deserve.

Oh, absolutely. Really what you’re talking about there with that example is a way of being of service. A way of helping that goes above and beyond what your contract says. You’re paying attention, you’re noticing the dynamics that are preventing really high performance from happening.

So, you’re taking the initiative to suggest doing something about it instead of letting it continue to fester. And I would have to think that contributes a lot both to the trust side and the memorable side.

Absolutely, there’s also another component, I mentioned, the storming, forming thing… There’s a component, at least in my experience, where I honestly have to admit then that I have general expertise. For example, in the life science and pharmaceutical industry. But by no means, every single little issue.

So those things that we discussed, in the trust building and the relationship building are all things that can take a lot of space while you’re learning what the real stuff is that’s going on in this particular project. Because it helps me at least to overcome this point where people say, “Is this guy really experienced enough or know enough to be of help to us?”

So if you can put the interpersonal component first and it suppresses more and more and gets more and more out of the way as the relationships form, then you don’t need to spend much energy and time on that anymore. Your understanding of what exactly is the issue that I’m trying to help and work and solve with this team can grow.

So I always use two things. One for that is almost always in the beginning phase starting my conversation or any kind of interaction with people by saying, “You know that I’m not an expert in this, but…”

And in communication training, everybody would say, “Don’t do that because you just reduced your initial part of the sentence in value by 50 percent.”

Well guess what? That’s exactly what I want. I’m saying, “You know that I’m not an expert in this… fill in the blanks, but,” for example, “help me understand why these people don’t deliver on time to the promises they made?” Or “Why this particular thing that is obviously in need of being supported by this other thing is not happening?”

So in their mind, they’re going to say, “He has acknowledged that he’s not the expert so he’s elevating me, but then he used ‘but.'” So that conscious says, “Well maybe not quite that much.”

But here’s a better question. Actually the second component to that, and I’m always proud when that happens, is when people say, “You said you’re not the expert but you are dangerously close.” Which is their recognition and acknowledgement, and I by the way, even to the very end of doing two years projects I still pretty much always say, “You know I’m not an expert in this, but…”

Because it’s also from a psychological perspective, and I’m not a psychologist by the way. But to me, in my experience it has shown that it’s a little bit of like humility to say, “Hey, you guys are the experts, it’s your company, it’s your project, it’s your deal, it’s your money. I’m here to help.”

Which goes back to what you said about service. But I want to help in a meaningful way. So I’m using humility and communication and I can tell you in projects that I’ve been in if you asked me purely or if we had to take a test, I could probably have really good scores in the test.

But what remains in the memory is the person was humble. The person has never said, “I’m the expert now and you know nothing.” Which is a little extreme.

So communication in this context of how do I build the trust, keep the trust, build the relationship and end the project and end up with a situation like I had that I cited at the beginning of our conversation. We said, “Who in this room can do that?” And they were all sitting there like statues. Shortly after he became a vice president at the site at Bayer in Berkeley. And then he became a chief operating officer at a company on the east coast, then he came back and became the CEO of a company and that company had a similar problem. Guess who they called?

So the relationships actually have sometimes decades of longevity if you do it right.

That’s such a great point and a good way to wrap up here. Because what you were saying, the big picture person taking the long view of things where you’re not just looking at a tactic and doing something on the immediate side to get a certain result. You’re really looking at the full spectrum and that’s why I’m sure you’ve been so effective at doing program management, project management, because you’re able to see things from so many different sides. That conveys so much to the person you’re working with and I think it contributes a lot to your being memorable. Because you’re really looking at a lot of things beyond just the scope of what they’ve defined for you, because you know there are other aspects going on inside the organization that are going to impact that project.

Yeah, absolutely, I would agree with that. I mean you could even argue that there might be a third step from where we started. The first one where you try to get on the trunk of the elephant and then the second one where you’re basically being called directly from the elephant.

The third one, in a way is that, over time, I’ve been doing this for almost 15 years, there comes a point where people say, “Not only do we know you but you have done something.”

But even if they don’t know you and they’re looking for somebody with expertise. It’s not me personally, it’s not the person that him or her said but, it’s somebody third person, who says, “Okay, I was told I should call you.”

And where the conversation then is, “Okay, you don’t know me but now I can tell you in a very brief way, a little summary of the last 14 years. And all the different things I’ve seen.”

So that is then basically saying, okay, you know the guy who has said, ‘you need to call me,’ here is all the evidence I have developed over time which is most likely going to comfort you to say, “I’m not going to go super wrong if I engage this person or this company.”

One more really great, valuable point there at the end. Because one of the things I think we need to recognize, for anyone doing this external consulting and coaching is how important it is for the person who is making that decision to not be wrong.

Absolutely and that is why you want to have testimonials, right?

Absolutely.

And there can be, in all kinds of fashions, whether they’re on the website or otherwise, and I always ask other people that I’m in projects with along those lines too. I say, “Can I have permission to give your email and phone number to select people who I think would benefit from being in touch with you?”

Either because I send them your way but more importantly, if somebody wants to question, “Is this guys for real.”

“Here are five names, they all have given me approval, you can call them.” Most people don’t, but just to know that it’s possible and that I have gotten permission deliberately. It’s huge in that context and I think it fits altogether. I hope that we basically filter spaces for the different puzzle pieces so it makes a whole picture of how I do it and it’s worked for me.

Well this has been extremely valuable, Axel. I just love the various points that you’ve made about becoming trustworthy, becoming memorable, how to get on the elephant, stay on the elephant. Those were all great visuals that I think our listeners can really take away and ask themselves, how can I find others that can help me get on those elephants that I’d like to really be associated with? Then what do I need to do in terms of my delivery to really have the impact to cause them to think of me when that particular project might be completed?

Yeah, exactly.

So, thank you so much for your time today, I appreciate it and you’ve just given great value to my audience. Thank you.

Yeah, you’re welcome. You have all my contact info so if you want to put that in your show notes or something that’s good.

Oh yes, I’m sorry. Yes, why don’t you go ahead and share before we wrap up how people can find you online and if they would like to connect with you and learn more about your services or just be connected to you.

Right yeah, so for just be connected, LinkedIn. Just put in my name and you’ll find me on LinkedIn. Otherwise, I try to keep it simple. So it’s Axel Meierhoefer, first name, last name at Outlook.com.

Or Axel Meierhoefer is the website. So those three ways are probably the easiest ways to get in touch with me.

Great, and let me just spell that for folks in case they aren’t visiting our show notes page where we’ll have that information. It’s A-X-E-L, M-E-I-E-R-H-O-E-F-E-R. So, thank you again, Axel. It’s great to have you with me.

Awesome, Meredith, I really enjoyed it. I hope we can do it again sometime.

I would like that, thank you.

All right.