We often think of loyalty in the context of family and friends, but loyalty can play a big role in your work, in organizations, and in your experiences as a customer. But what is loyalty? Loyalty is built on mutual support and trust. It’s having someone’s back regardless of the way it benefits you and being good to your word.
I believe you should put your people first, but you need to be able to distinguish between loyalty and what it feels like to be used because you can’t afford to be surprised or caught off guard when someone isn’t there for you in your time of need. That starts with surrounding yourself with likeminded people, so you can stay loyal to your supporters.
Today, we’re talking about why you need to teach loyalty in your tribe and tell the difference between when someone is using you or being loyal to you with our special guest – the cofounder of apparel brand State Forty-Eight, Mike Spangenberg.
Mike started State Forty-Eight with his friends Stephen and Nicholas out of a shared passion for the great state of Arizona. More than just apparel, State Forty-Eight is about redefining the status-quo by inspiring others to stand for their beliefs, proclaim their passions, and never forget their roots.
Listen to the full episode right now to hear Mike’s story about how State Forty-Eight continues to stay loyal to their supporters, and as a special promotion for Ignition Point listeners, go to StateFortyEight.com today and use the promo code “LEAP” to get 20% off your next purchase!
Ignition Point is all about making a positive impact, so please share the show with someone you think it may help. We designed this weekly podcast for ambitious Young Professionals and aspiring Leaders who want to stay motivated and keep moving forward. Throughout Season 1, we will be connecting fresh perspectives with practical strategies to help listeners feel empowered all week long. You can help us improve by joining our LinkedIn and Twitter Community by using #IgnitionPoint, submitting a review on Apple Podcasts, or emailing feedback to [email protected].
Welcome to Ignition Point – the show that’s here to help you take the leap, conquer your week, and achieve your goals. If you’re looking to amplify your mindset with a fresh perspective and spark your momentum – you’re in the right place.
Hey! What’s going on? I’m Steven Miller. Thanks for joining me for another Ignition Point – the show where we cover an influential speech or feature a Guest Keynote to get you fired up and ready to take on another winning week.
You may or may not realize that throughout the last 20 Episodes, there’s been a common theme. When I think about bringing this to your attention now, I can’t help but laugh because most of the time, common threads are addressed at the beginning of a journey, not the end. But that’s just it. You rarely know when you’re starting a new adventure. You only really know it once you’re far enough along to recognize it or you’ve looked back on a successful journey.
All through this first season of Ignition Point, we’ve been talking about a journey. A journey to success. A journey to finding out how to make it through the week without questioning the process. A journey to finding out how we can make the most of our lives. A journey to find out what fires us up so we can inspire others to find what lights them up.
I’m calling this to your attention now, because I want you to think about where you’re going to go when you achieve your big ambitions. How do you know you’ve made it in the first place? Once you have made it, what happens then?
When you reach the peak of your mountain, things become a little uncertain, a little scary, and a lot less clear. But the first thing you have to do is look down. Look down the mountain to see how far you’ve come. Take the time to value all the growth you’ve experienced on the way up. All the relationships that supported you along the way. That’s what can ground you and give you a renewed sense of clarity.
As you evaluate and determine where to go next, your relationships will continue to be one of the most important drivers of your future success. That’s why today, we’re talking about why you need to be able to teach loyalty in your tribe and tell the difference between when someone is using you or being loyal to you.
Loyalty is one of those priceless traits that can make your relationships unbreakable and today’s guest – Mike Spangenberg, the cofounder of apparel brand State Forty-Eight – has experienced the amazing impact that loyalty can have when building a brand.
Mike's greatest ambition is to make a difference in the world by giving back and being a part of improving the community he grew up in. Through State Forty-Eight’s collaborations with local charities and organizations, he’s been able to bring that dream to life.
Mike started State Forty-Eight with his friends Stephen and Nicholas out of a shared passion for the great state of Arizona. More than just apparel, State Forty-Eight represents a lifestyle, a sense of community and an expression of pride. Above all else, State Forty-Eight is about redefining the status-quo by inspiring others to stand for their beliefs, proclaim their passions, and never forget their roots.
So, Let’s get after it! Here to tell you his story and share how State Forty-Eight continues to make an impact by staying loyal to their supporters, this is Mike Spangenberg.
THE WEEKLY MONOLOGUE WITH MIKE SPANGENBERG
I was born and raised in Arizona, and I always had a passion for Arizona and clothing.
The only thing that was representing Arizona - in any way - back then, was three for $10 Walgreens shirts. Like, there's a reason why so many people want to live in Arizona, and there's so many beautiful things about Arizona... We needed to show that off.
Something had to change, and I wanted to take action. So, when I was legally able to work at 15 years old, I gladly accepted my first job in the hotel industry, washing dishes on the weekend. I passed up playing sports because I loved business and I always wanted money of my own. I loved working with people and eventually worked my way up to become a GM at the peak of my career in the hotel industry.
But during my entire time in the hotel industry, I was constantly thinking of a way to do something of my own. I had a notebook filled with terrible names of a potential clothing brand. Nothing ever stuck. I was stuck until I shared my idea and passion with my childhood friend, Stephen. So, we decided to create something together.
We were living together at the time and it was then when he came out of the bathroom brushing his teeth and said, "what about State Forty-Eight?"
I honestly asked, "what is State Forty-Eight?"
I'm from Arizona and I did not know the Arizona was the 48th State. So, after he explained that, the light bulb instantly went off. I knew we had something special.
So, now we have a perfect name and a concept, but now we needed a graphic designer. Nick Polando - Stephen's younger brother - was a self-taught graphic designer and quickly became our third partner. After a year into starting our business, we were slowly gaining momentum until our first major collaboration came about.
At this time, we understood that our brand was so much more than selling Arizona inspired products. That first major collaboration was with Bruce Arians - the former Cardinals Head Coach - and his foundation, the Arians Family Foundation. The reason this collaboration was so special was because $5 per shirt went back to the Arians Family Foundation, which helped neglected children in the valley.
Fast forward ahead to today, we're working with all our major professional sports teams - which is a dream come true - and incredible organizations in Arizona, which is probably the most rewarding feeling ever. To give you context, just this year alone, we've worked with 80+ organizations on a co-branded design. That can range from nonprofits, to sports teams, to breweries, to restaurants. Any organization in Arizona, we support.
People often ask me, “how do you gain all these awesome connections?” At the end of the day, people want to work with people they like and trust. Things do not come easy and it requires building genuine relationships. So anytime you hear me talk about our business or lend advice, the focus is always community and relationships. Our community is home, and the passion is real.
So, for anyone venturing off into a new niche, get out there, you have to meet people, you have to connect with people. Like, there's so many events that we went to that led to the next big opportunity. We did everything possible. I mean, we went to First Friday, we sold at apartments, we sold out of our home. We started, you know, selling on our website.
You have to put yourself out there, and that was one big thing that we learned. If you're not out and about in the community and trying, you will not succeed. So, anything you can do to show off your products or your pride or your services, do it.
Something I feel we do a good job of is engaging with our community and listening to them. For example, we do a good job of designing and releasing new products based off historical data and our customer demographic. Also, we ask questions often on social media in order to include the opinions of our community.
I love positive and negative feedback so much because people care enough to bring a concern or a problem to us.
Positive is great, but we have to look ourselves in the mirror and say, "are we doing everything we can to treat people right?"
There have been numerous examples of us making a mistake on an order, but we show empathy and resolve the matter in a special way. It gives us the chance to overcome that situation and turn them into a lifetime customer.
If you're not open minded to listening to all feedback - no matter what you're doing in life - it's not going to work out. Without listening, you will never be able to understand what value you need to add or what you already are doing in the community. I personally make it a priority to respond to all questions via email and social media so I can fully understand the needs of our community.
State Forty-Eight evolved to so much more than just selling t-shirts and hats and showing off pride for Arizona, and a big part of that is because we know it's about you and not us.
You get more when you give more. What I mean by that is when you put love into your community and are proud of where you're from, that love and support will come back to you tenfold.
When you put that type of love into the community, you better be putting that same type of love into your team. We invested a total of $1,500 into this business and have sold over $3 million of t-shirts and hats in lifetime sales. That doesn't happen without the skills and the passion of our team. Today, we have a total of 16 team members, but still only six of us are full time. I'm pumped to continue to take care of the people that take care of us by putting them in the roles they exceed at.
We live in a world where everyone wants to connect and fit in. We all struggle with that, but I think the key to that is finding your passion in life. Once you find your passion in life, you find your purpose, and everything will work out.
STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS
Most often, we think of loyalty in the context of family and friends, but loyalty can play a big role in your work, in organizations, and in your experiences as a customer. In Mike’s case, loyalty is the virtue that propelled State Forty-Eight to notoriety and ultimately, forming a community.
Similarly, a tribe is empowered by aligning to these types of core values. As I said earlier this season, I’m a firm believer that you need to surround yourself with the right people, and the best way to do that is to purposefully build your tribe around traits like integrity and loyalty.
If loyalty is important to you and you want to surround yourself with people who act the part, you need to study their motives to determine their loyalties.
Who are their actions serving? Are they motivated to only serve themselves or others?
You can be there for someone through their struggle and they’ll appreciate it, but will they back you up when you’re in a tough spot? It sucks, but some people get really bent out of shape when they don’t get that same support when they need it. It’s not fair, but you can’t let yourself be surprised or caught off guard when that person isn’t there for you in your time of need.
You may not like what I’m about to say, but loyalty is rare because most people are only interested in supporting others when it benefits them. These same people want an audience, because it serves their ego to hear that they’re right or that they have good ideas.
If someone doesn’t return loyalty, they don’t deserve loyalty, but if you always have to question someone’s loyalty in the first place, it may be a sign that it’s time to move on. When you can distinguish between loyalty and what it feels like to be used, you will know who has your back regardless of the way it benefits them. Then you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and be better prepared to walk away if necessary.
If you’re loyal to someone, it’s likely because they’ve made an impression on you and earned your trust. If someone shows loyalty to you, they’re someone you can count on, come hell or high water. If you’re loyal to a brand, it’s because they’ve made you feel a certain level of connection to whatever it is that they do.
Jeff Bezos once said, “your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” But, if you’ve built up trust and credibility, you shouldn’t have to worry about what others say about you when you’re not around.
Someone who is loyal to you accepts you for who you are regardless of your faults or the differences in opinion you may have. In fact, it’s more than likely that the people who are loyal to you have been there from the early days of your relationship with them.
So, be open and approachable with your people, and encourage them to voice their ideas, suggestions, and feedback. We all want to know if we're doing a good job and if there are areas for improvement. Someone once said that feedback is the breakfast of champions, and as a leader, it's up to you to give feedback honestly, sincerely, and often.
You’ll also need to focus your energy toward building your tribe around a specific set of core values. Loyalty and integrity are at the top of my list, but the values you choose will attract like-minded people to your tribe. These shared standards will expand your inner circle over time creating deeper, genuine connections.
That’s because loyalty brings out strong emotions. Maybe you survived a struggle with a close friend, and it brought you closer together. True loyalty comes from the heart, and many brands have loyal followings because they sell emotions on top of providing consistent experiences.
For example, State Forty-Eight may seem like it sells high quality apparel that showcases Arizona, but it’s actually the leader in selling community pride.
Likewise, Nike is in the business of inspiring you to become an athlete and celebrating your athletic achievements. They just happen to sell some of the best shoes on the planet.
While you can buy a more efficient or high-tech motorcycle from Korean and Japanese brands, most buyers choose a Harley because they see it as buying freedom and becoming a member of the Harley-Davidson Family.
And probably my favorite example, the ever-expanding coffee brand, Dutch Bros. Sure, they serve up some of the best coffee around, but you come back to Dutch because the people who work there make you feel like you’re a part of their family.
While all of those companies are technically using a marketing tactic called emotional branding, there is no better way for a business to build a loyal following.
At the end of the day, loyalty is free of signatures, user agreements, and other contingencies. Personally, I think loyalty is the direct result of trust. Without trust, loyalty isn’t possible. Receiving the support of your tribe hinges on you being dependable. That means you must always be willing to give that same support to the members of your tribe.
As Mike mentioned, State Forty-Eight would be nothing without its team. That team trusts in Mike, Stephen and Nicholas because they do what they say they’re going to do. That trust builds support within the business and creates a really positive culture for the brand. So, by being good to your word and following through on your commitments, you can organically earn trust and build mutual support in your tribe.
So, this week, evaluate where your loyalties lie, align your tribe around core values that inspire loyalty, create more genuine connections and build trust by being dependable.
Simon Sinek says that real leaders eat last because leaders put their people first. Be ready to put your people first, but always be sure that they would be willing to do the same for you if the tables were turned.
I’d like to thank Mike Spangenberg for taking the time to contribute to this week’s show.
State Forty-Eight was born out of a shared passion and appreciation for the great state of Arizona. More than just apparel, State Forty-Eight represents a lifestyle rooted in a sense of community. With modern and uniquely designed T-shirts, hoodies, decals and beyond, State Forty-Eight offers a stylish way to show home-state pride. As a special promotion for Ignition Point listeners, go to StateFortyEight.com today and use the promo code “LEAP” to get 20% off your next purchase. That’s StateFortyEight.com and the promo code “L.E.A.P.”
State Forty-Eight. Clothing for all, inspired by Arizona.
If you’re interested in learning more about Mike or want to connect with him, you can check out this episode’s Show Notes at DecisiveLeap.com/IgnitionPoint for access to all the links mentioned throughout this episode.
Ignition Point is all about making a positive impact, and your feedback helps Ignition Point to keep moving forward. So, send me an email to [email protected] or write a review for the show on Apple Podcasts to let me know what you think of the show.
Once you carry your own water, you’ll learn the value of every drop.
So, stay motivated and keep moving forward.
If you put in the hard work right now – one day – you could be the one motivating the world with your story.
I’ll look forward to speaking with you next time on another Ignition Point.
Now get on out there and win the week!