On this episode, we’re talking about the skills that separate good communicators from great communicators. Of course, those skills are knowing your audience and communicating your value – but when you stack these skills, you’re able to manage your message.
Since starting out of the back of a coffee shop in 2008, Heidi has guided WebPT through several milestones, including multiple funding rounds, five acquisitions, and seven-times honored in the Inc. 5000. Fast forwarding to today, WebPT supports over 85,000 members at more than 15,000 practices and can be found in all 50 States.
Today, Heidi advises the strategic direction and product innovation at WebPT while advocating for the rehab therapy profession as an international subject-matter expert. Some of her honors have included recognition as Phoenix Business Journal’s Most Admired Leader, one of Health Data Management’s Most Powerful Women in IT, AZ Tech Council’s Business Leader of the Year, a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year, and one of the Most Influential Women in Business.
So, let’s get after it! Check out Dr. Heidi Jannenga on the full episode right now by clicking the Play Button above!
If you enjoy this episode, please share the show with someone you think it would help and if you listen on Apple Podcasts, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a review for the show. Otherwise, you’re always welcome to send your thoughts and feedback to me directly by emailing [email protected].
New episodes of Ignition Point are available every Monday, so be sure to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts!
To catch up on all the Guest Features from Season 1, you can click here to check out the Season 1 Recap.
Dr. Heidi Jannenga
Hey! What’s going on? I’m Steven Miller, and this is Ignition Point – the show that gets you fired up and ready to win the week.
Before we dive in, I want to remind you that throughout this month, my guests and I are sharing perspectives on identity and communication. Including this episode, we’ve got two episodes left to close out 2019 before we take a week off for the holidays, but trust me, you don’t want to miss these shows. I'm so excited to introduce you to these special guests, so be sure to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts to be notified when new episodes drop.
By now, you’ve probably got a good feel for where identity and storytelling overlap, so today I want to talk about the skills that separate good communicators from great communicators. Of course, the two skills I’m talking about are knowing your audience and communicating your value – but when you stack these skills, you’re able to manage your message.
The way you manage your message determines whether or not your message is received, how it's remembered, and whether or not it resonates. But what drives me crazy is that these skills are overlooked all the time. That’s why to really drive these points home, I’ve enlisted the help of the Co-Founder and Chief Clinical Officer of WebPT, Dr. Heidi Jannenga.
WebPT gives every rehab therapy business an end-to-end solution designed specifically to maximize performance, revenue, and patient outcomes.
Since starting out of the back of a coffee shop in 2008, Heidi has taken WebPT through several milestones, including multiple funding rounds, five acquisitions, and seven-times honored in the Inc. 5000. Fast forwarding to now, WebPT supports over 85,000 members at more than 15,000 practices and can be found in all 50 States.
As Chief Clinical Officer, Heidi advises the company’s strategic direction and product innovation from what is absolutely one of the most badass offices I’ve ever stepped into. Whether she’s in or out of the office, she also advocates for her profession and is respected as an international subject-matter expert whose earned some really high praise. Some of her honors have included recognition as Phoenix Business Journal’s Most Admired Leader, one of Health Data Management’s Most Powerful Women in IT, AZ Tech Council’s Business Leader of the Year, a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year, and one of the Most Influential Women in Business.
I’m so excited to welcome her to the show, so let’s get after it! Here to give you her thoughts on how you can manage your message, this is Dr. Heidi Jannenga.
THE WEEKLY MONOLOGUE WITH DR. HEIDI JANNENGA
I think that it's absolutely incredible to understand how to manage your message, but also an audience that is incorporated into what we call your brand - of who you are and what you represent. Knowing that audience is essential to really building an authentic professional relationship at any stage of your career, whether you're an entrepreneur or you're an entry level employee into a new business.
It's all about relationships and it's about building connections with people and at the heart of that is building trust. And from previous experience for me - you know - switching careers, which I had to do, I started out as a physical therapist and then jumped into the SaaS industry. Having to understand the different audiences and how to communicate with them were really, really important.
I remember a meeting that I had when I was a physical therapist and I had just been starting out working for this new boss and I had gone to meet with him a few different times. He had given me a few projects to do and every time I seemed to walk out of his office, I would think to myself, "gosh, my boss just hates me." And that thought would just enter my head whenever I would go in and talk to him and walk out of the office and I never really understood why I felt like we didn't seem to connect.
I got lots of promotions, I got lots of accolades, but I just felt like I never really had that connection that I was looking for.
As I have evolved as a leader, I have come to really learn that - in fact - he didn't really hate me. He just really had a different type of communication style than I did and I have learned over time that in order to become an extraordinary connector with people; first, it's really critical to understand your own voice, your own value that you come to the table with. And once you are comfortable in your own skin, it will then become clear how to really understand others.
I can't tell you how important it is to take a moment to go through this type of reflective analysis and there's lots of tools out there to be able to do these assessments. Such as Myers-Briggs, which some may say is the gold standard. We've used Strength Finders in the past as well with a lot of success. It allows us to have sort of this shared language of understanding each other's personalities and how to actually better communicate with each other.
I'm sure we've all heard the term, "fake it till we make it," and I think that it only leads to short term positive effects and if authenticity is not part of that conversation, trust is not something that will bring any kind of merit to that relationship.
I really feel like a true leader with influence starts at a place of vulnerability. I'm a huge fan of Dr. Brene Brown who famously said in one of her TED Talks, "vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage."
I think that's a great place to start. That common language of vulnerability is why people are able to connect and the authenticity and vulnerability portion is why that becomes so important because you might pull the wool over their eyes the first few times, but people see through bullshit.
When people can relate to you on a personal level, it really drives the ability to gain loyalty, especially as you continue to grow as an organization and the culture evolves over time. As an example, we share our company financials - whether it be good or bad - with the entire company so that every single person feels like they're involved and are a part of the success of the organization.
In crafting any message, it should really have multiple parts. So, you need to think about your audience. You need to think about how they're going to receive the information. You need to think about the position that you're holding in which you're giving the message, and finally the implications of what the message has on the audience, whether it be positive or negative.
We've had to make some very tough decisions along the way as we've grown as a company. A good example of that is when we made the tough decision to outsource some of the transactional work. That meant that we had to lay off about a third of our workforce in that team.
Having to make that decision was difficult, but once we made it, we set out a plan that I can truly say we were proud of as a leadership team.
We gave all of the people that we would have to let go nine months’ notice. We gave them stay bonuses if they were willing to stay and walk through what we needed them to do over the next nine months, which was actually training their replacements, but through that nine months we also brought in resume writers. We brought in Dress for Success to allow them if they needed to go on interviews during that time that they would have awesome outfits to wear. We had three different job fairs in our office of companies locally that had job opportunities that were similar to the ones we were letting go. And we are happy to say that we had all 23 of those people placed in positions before it was time for them to leave.
In my example, the implications were very negative. Coming to them with a message that was going to be completely unexpected, had to be done in a way that was true to our values. Staying consistent to those core values and demonstrating that we were consistent, allowed people to continue to trust because they saw that it was a struggle - that it was a difficult decision - and that we truly did it based on our values.
We've dropped a few quotes here, but Maya Angelou also has one of my favorite quotes. The gist of it is that people, will not remember what you said, but they'll remember how you made them feel.
For those that are new to how to craft a message and what is the best way to do that - whether that's in a one on one conversation or it's a public speaking opportunity - I think the priority actually lands on the audience that you're sending the message to.
So, my last lesson is understanding your audience shouldn't be a skill set that remains only with you. Part of being a leader is being able to help and teach others and I think it's important that young leaders understand the opportunities for growth and how they can expand their influence both within the company and with those that they are starting to network with.
I think too often people always associate leadership with having to manage people and that's totally not true. There are many, many, many great leaders out there who pretty much suck at leading people, but they are great at building relationships and leading in other ways.
But for those who are in management positions, you have the opportunity as a manager to manage your employees, but also to manage up; and I think that this is an incredible part that we don't think about sometimes.
Being able to build relationships with those leaders above you, making sure that you have those opportunities to build partnerships and communicate the value that you are adding to the business, adding to your team as you look at the trajectory of your goals within an organization and even beyond that. Making sure that you have others advocating on your behalf who are supporting you and singing your praises to others as you try to move up the proverbial ladder.
And just one point on that, I am not actually a huge advocate of the ladder. I'm a huge advocate of what we call the jungle gym, where broadening your skillset early in your career can add to your tool belt to then have more opportunities for higher levels of leadership and management.
If you interviewed a bunch of CEOs from successful organizations, what you will mostly find is they've jumped around and had experience, whether it's operationally as a COO before they became Chief Executive Officer.
So, this journey and lots of lessons along the way all easily boils down to trust and relationship building.
STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS
Whether you want to command trends, move up in your organization or have your voice be heard, you need to pay attention to the way you manage your message.
Just as Heidi said, that’s got to start with knowing your natural communication style and allowing yourself to add personality and authenticity into the mix. But in a lot of ways, this invokes what we focused on last week in building brand identity. So, let’s put our attention toward tailoring your message to your audience.
What I would keep in mind is that you can’t just use your standard playbook. Whether you’re speaking to a group or an individual, you need to modify and vary messaging based on your audience. This all starts with answering a single question: what does the audience care about?
If it’s a group, you need to look at what their collective goals are, what unites them, what divides them, and what stories they can best relate to. Consider what Heidi said about managing up.
In this situation, you’re used to speaking to your peers or a team that you manage. The way you manage your message with them takes an informal delivery, and often looks at things like tasks and current goals – because you’ve got to focus on progressing tactically. When you pivot your messaging to higher ups and people who rely on your follow through, you have to formalize your delivery and talk about how your team is moving the strategic vision forward.
Now, if you’re talking one on one with an individual, you still keep in mind what they care about, but it takes a little bit more finesse. You need to craft your message to meet their needs, consider their perceptions, and identify what makes them who they are. You’ve got to answer questions like, how has their culture shaped their perceptions? What influences have shaped them? What are their strengths and their preferred communication styles? Where are they coming from?
Questions like these help you to define what makes your audience unique. Once you’ve got a profile of who they are and what they care about, you can shape your message to what they’re most receptive to, while avoiding what might put them off or lose their interest.
Think about giving your message the same type of treatment you give your photos before you post them on Instagram, but start by thinking of your audience.
I'd be willing to bet your audience has a natural preference for one or two filters – probably Juno or Gingham – so you've got to make sure you put your message through one of those filters. Then you can fine tune the message before you share it to make it really memorable.
Ultimately, when you tailor your message to your audience and communicate your value, you elevate your impact potential and have more opportunities to build relationships.
I’d like to give a big thank you to Heidi Jannenga for contributing to this week’s show.
Have you ever heard about STEM Education? STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math; and in today’s era of innovation, STEM Skills are now found in nearly every industry and are vital for problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.
Heidi believes that all those skills and what we talked about today should really be taught beginning at a young age, and STEM education helps with these skills. While organizations like Girls in Tech, Galvanize and the Arizona Science Center are doing great work in STEM, WebPT has sponsored a WebPT “Storefront” at Junior Achievement BizTown, so that kids can learn about STEM Careers.
At the WebPT's BizTown location, students learn what it’s like to be a graphic designer, a software engineer or an entrepreneur.
If you would like to support STEM Education or learn more about the Storefronts, you can check out Junior Achievement of Arizona at JAAZ.org.
But if you’d like to connect with Heidi, go check out this episode’s Show Notes at DecisiveLeap.com/IgnitionPoint. There you’ll find links to her social accounts, her contact info and more bonus content.
If you enjoyed this episode, please share the show with someone you think it would help and if you’re listening on Apple Podcasts, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a review for the show. Otherwise, you’re always welcome to send your thoughts and feedback to me directly by emailing [email protected].
New episodes of Ignition Point are available every Monday, so be sure to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts.
But, if you’ve got questions about Brand Messaging or Personal Branding, I help people and businesses with their brands, and I’d love to help you with yours. You can find out more about my process and services by visiting DecisiveLeap.com or you can always reach me directly by emailing [email protected].
Well, that’s going to do it for this episode!
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!