611: Calling All Leaders: A Lesson You Need to Hear in 2018 w/ JT McCormick

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to JT McCormick, President and CEO at Book in a Box and Author of I Got There.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jtmccormick/

Wouldn't it be nice to have severalfault leaders in your industry know and Love Your brand? Start a podcast,invite your industries thought leaders to be guests on your show and start reaping thebenefits of having a network full of industry influencers. Learn more at sweet fishMediacom. You're listening to the B tob growth show, podcast dedicated to helpingbe to be executives achieve explosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategiesor tools and resources? You've come to the right place. I'm Jonathan Green, I'm James Carberry. Let's get it into the show. Welcome back tothe BEDB growth show. We are here today with J t McCormick. Heis the president and CEO at book in a box. Jt, how youdoing today? I am excellent, sir, appreciate you having me on. Iam excited to chat with you. JT. I heard you on Noahkagan'spodcast a few weeks ago and as soon as I soon as I finish theepisode, I reached out a camera, if it is on twitter, Linkedinand and and asked you to join us on B tob growth. You justwear our wealth of knowledge around leadership. I think your story is fascinating.We're going to be talking about leadership and and a little bit of bb marketingas well some things that you guys have planned in two thousand and eighteen.But before we do that, jt, I'd love for you to just tellour listeners a little bit up book in a box and what you're innerty teamerup to over there. So what book in a box is? We havecome up with a new way for people to publish their book. You,you and I both know you've met so many people that have said I've beenwanting to write my book for the last two years, five, seven years, and so what we've done is made it easier for people to publish theirbook and we've done it through a series of interviews. So, high level, what we ask of you is to sit back, grab your beverage ofchoice, let us interview you, pull that information out and structure the bookfor you and it the book is done in your content, your voice,your tone. So we're not ghost riders. You don't come to us and sayhey, jt, we go off and write a book about the IPHONE. No, that's not what we do. We use your content, your voice, your tone. I love it. I love it. I've been fascinatedwith the concept and you guys have have been growing like crazy really since, since, since they started the company, Zach and and Tucker Max started thecompany. I think three, three and a half years ago, somethinglike that. Is that right about? Yeah, a little over two anda half years ago. So we're just just right at three years. Thatis that is wild. Can you speak to some of the growth that youguys have experienced? Oh Gosh, so. So one thing that we're incredibly proudof. That that it's a little cocky, but we're really proud ofit, is that we're just at three years old and we have no debt, no loans, no private equity money and no VC money. And,most importantly, we are profitable. So...

...we we like to joke that weare the other UNICORNS. Everybody celebrates the billion dollar valuation, this mythical number, but we can actually show you a bottom line. So yeah, thatit's our growth is just been incredible. Right now, we're just the greatestunknown. So many people don't know about us, and so in two thousandand eighteen, that's a big part of our focus. is to get theword out and let more people know about it. So thus far, rightnow, we've worked with six hundred and fifty plus authors. That's like yeah, and three years. That's insane. That is that. That's phenomenal.So, JT, you've got a bit of an interesting journey because you youcame on board a little bit later in the book in a box story.Can you talk about and of what? What led you to the team andand ultimately, you know you're that you're the CEO now, but talked togive us a little bit of context as to how that came to be.Yeah, so I was at the time I was president of a software companythat we had grown from I was there five years. We had grown fromthirteen people to well over a hundred people and I wanted to reach out andfigure out how to write my book. Truth be told, I can't tellyou an adverb from a pronoun. So I knew there was no way Iwas ever going to write the book. So I got introduced to Tucker andZach and I started writing my book. And so as I went through theprocess, I realized wow, this is a great company, and Tucker itasked me. He said Hey, can you give us feedback on our companyas you go through the the process? I said Yeah, sure, whynot? One thing led to another. I called Tucker up after my firstinteraction with the company. I said, Hey, do you still want thatfeedback? And he says yes. I said, okay, you all aredoing this great, this great. Keep doing this over here. This ishorrible, this sucks and I don't know why you ever thought about doing this. And so he goes, Damn you, you got that out of the emailand I said yeah, it's. So one thing led to another.He invited me to one of their executive meetings. He had invited me tosit on their advisory board. Next thing I know, I wake up onemorning and I'm CEO of the company. So that's that's the high level.Over, and I'll say this to to U as well, I have therare luxury to know the company from the outside in and now the inside out. So when when we approach anything, I'm able to sit there in viewit from okay, how will the author view this? How will the authorperceive this? And and what's the experience going to be like from the author? For the author, because, well, I was an author with the companybefore I became the CEO. Yeah, now, I love that data,I love that story. I remember the blood post that Tucker wrote whenever, I think, they officially announced it and I've been following along ever since. And and love the growth you're experiencing,...

JT, something that I took noteof whenever I was I was listening to the episode with Noah Kagan.It's just you. You are just a wealth of wisdom or around the leadership, when you're talking to a young leader or when you're you know, whenyou're when you're coaching. You know other companies. I'm sure you sit on, you know, some advisory boards. And what are some of the biggestleadership principles that you find yourself talking about over and over and over again?You know, I would say first and foremost is leadership is not three letters. So just because you receive a CEO title, that does not make youa leader. That's a role. What makes you an actual leader are thepeople that you are working with. They choose to make you a leader,they choose to allow you to be the leader. You receiving three letters afteryour name, that's nothing but initials. Hell, I already had to andjam I didn't eat three more so the biggest piece that I expressed two peopleis in leadership. Eliminate the word I in my stop making it a possessionno one. I'll give you another one that I share with with individuals.No one works for me, people work with me. I'm no more importantin the organization than those who are, let's be honest, doing all thework. And if you go to our website you can actually see that.You go to most company websites and the first thing you see on the aboutUS page you see the sea sweet executive, Ceeo, Blah Blah, Blah Blah. If you go to arts, I'm at the bottom of the page. Why? Because I support the organization and in fact, it to beyou know, we're talking marketing. I want you to see all of theindividuals in our tribe who actually do the work before you get down and seeme. I love it. I love it. That's a concept that Ithat I hear, that I've heard before, and so I'm glad you you reiteratedthis idea that you are you are not. You know, those initialsdon't make you a leader. It's the team choosing to to follow you.That makes you a leader. What were some things that you did kind oftaking over an existing temp team, jt? What were some of the things thatyou made sure that you wanted to do in those first maybe three tosix months to to get a pulse of kind of what what the experience wasgoing to look like and and like real practically speaking? Just what were thethings you implemented early on that our listeners could learn from? You know,it's it really comes down to in so many companies, the relationship. Andso for me I realized early on that we are not only a product company. Where a service company, and what I mean by that is you havethe actual author experience. What is that...

...experience like as you go through writingthe book? In the book is the product. So our service is theauthor experience and the product is the book. The worst thing that could happen forus is that you go through our process, you come out with thisphenomenal book that you're proud of, but when someone says to you, hey, how was the experience, you go, Oh my God, it was horrific. Well that that's horrible. So we have to perfect both sides ofthe house. The experience has to be great, and the product has tobe great, which is the book itself. So immediately when I came in,I asked, okay, what's the number one touch point for our authors, and I went and served in that role for about ninety days to understandall of the different touch points that would go on with the authors themselves.So I came in with this again, three letters after my name, butimmediately I went into our publishing manager role because I wanted to work hand inhand with our authors in understand all the different touch points. Got It.You so you were working alongside those the those publishing managers, or you justkind of took over their responsibilities for the freestream months? How did that work? Oh, it was great because I got firsthand knowledge of what it waslike. I said, I was an author first with the company. Yeah, so I knew it from the outside in and now I was understanding itfrom the inside out. So I literally came in and became a publishing managerand some of the authors I worked with knew I was the CEO, somedid not. So I got to approach it and really walk the authors throughthe process, guide them through this author experience to ensure the we published anincredible book for them. And so when you went through that process, youwere in that role for, you know, the the first ninety days. Whatdid it look like then to assess, okay, this is this is wherewe need to shift, these are the things that we need to do? How? How did you communicate those changes to the team and a waythat actually made them want to implement it, as opposed to just kind of beingthe Iron Fist that came in and said, okay, I've I've gone, you know, I've experienced kind of the front lines and this is whatwe're doing now. Is there any nuance to that, or is there anapproach that you took so that you could kind of take what you gathered andthen implement changes that actually make the product and experience better? So I soI believe there's a combination there. When you're talking leadership, now, veryeasy to come in and play dictator and say, okay, this is whatwe're doing, and there's the Iron Fist, as you said, but there's alsothe combination of okay, here's what I've seen through the process. Youall tell me where we can enhance this.

What am I not seeing? Isthere anything additional we can do here and lay out the facts of whatI've taken from from going as a publishing manager. And let's be honest,there are certain things that, yes, you just come in and say,okay, we're not doing this anymore, and that really happened more within theoperational aspect of the company. We needed to put a dashboard together, thingsof that nature. So there are certain pieces that you just come in andsay, okay, this is going to happen, and then there's other piecesthat you're going to say, okay, how do we collaborate and tell mewhat I'm not seeing, what don't I understand, or, from the perspectiveof the people already with the company, the other tribe members, where doyou all see that we can improve? What's your relationship been with with Zachand with Tucker, that the two founders of the company, with you comingin and and now being the CEO, what's that dynamic been like? Who? Well, anybody, anybody that knows Tucker well? That in itself tellsyou some some thing. But you know, I will I say this to everyonefull transparency. It was a struggle early on because I had two foundersthat now I'm coming in as the CEO and their expectation was okajt tell uswhat to do and I am many ways treated them as the Prima Donna Cofounders. Didn't want to step on their toes. So it took time forme to realize that, okay, I'm the CEO, they're the CO founders. And the other dynamic that was interesting as well is is Zach and Tuckeralso provided me equity in the company. So that really change the dynamic aswell, because now we had three owners and it it enabled me to putthat relationship together a bit faster. But I again full transparency. It toa time because I had these co founders, one who has experienced incredible fame andsuccess, one that's a twenty seven year old millennial. So you've gottwo different dynamics and what I expressed to everyone, and this is so important, it was incredible for me to see two founders willing to swallow their prideand say hey, we don't know how to do this, we don't knowhow to scale a company. You know as well as I do so manypeople can't get out of their own way and it's very hard for someone torelease that quote unquote. CEO Title and in many ways that's all it is. It's a title. Do you want a title or do you want asuccessful company? Which one? That's so good. That's so good. Sojt with obviously a lot of marketers listening to this. As we were talkingoffline, you mentioned that they're there's some marketing things that you guys are doingat book in a box in two thousand and eighteen that you're really excited about. Can you give us a bit of...

...a peek into what you guys areplanning for this year and hopes to give some some inside to maybe some ideasfor the marketers listening to this interview? So, you know, it's interesting. What we have found over time is that we are a brand, andwhat I mean by that is we don't actually sell anything. I can't callup Jamie diamond, the CEO of chase, and say hey, Jamie, youwant to write a book. You know he's going to. What theHell is this? So people either understand what we do and want to writea book or they don't. We can't cold call people in in, youknow, sell our quote unquote services are our process in what we do.Either you want to write a book, you like how we will. Wewill take you through our process to publish that book or you don't. Soours is brand awareness and one of the things that we're doing this year iswe're doing more conferences so we can get outspread the words sponsorship. What wehave found between the the EO YPO, some of the professional services conferences,financial planners, things that that nature, is that many of these people don'teven know that there's a service out there available for them to be able towrite their books. So ours is really getting the word out, because there'sno real, quote unquote, hardcore cell with what we do. Okay,so you're looking at more, you know, sponsoring more, more conferences and andreally building building the brand and got a top of funnel awareness so thatpeople know that hey, there's there's actually somebody out there that can take theideas out of my head and turn it into a book exactly exactly. Andfor me to do a lot of these conferences it helps as well because,like I said, I actually get to go out speak and say, Hey, I can't spell, can't tell you an advert from a pronown, buthere I created my book, Here's how I did it. Know, bythe way, I just happened to be the CEO of the company, andhere's why. So that that in itself has lent itself as a great marketingtool. I love it. I love it. Would have been jt fromyou know, you've worked you know you guys have worked with six hundred andfifty plus authors. What have been the most strategic ways that you've seen authorskind of leverage having a book? There's there's the obvious, you know,of you know, if they want to speak at more conferences and can ofbuild thought leadership. But are there other benefits that you've seen that have comeeven yourself having a book now, but particularly, you know, the sixhundred and fifty plus authors that you guys have worked with, is there anythingthat you've noticed that you have man that's a really strategic way to leverage havinga book? You know, the great majority of the authors that have cometo US use the book for three reasons thought leadership, credibility, Lee Generation. Most use it for all three,...

...and I'm going to steal this.I told him I would. There's a financial planner that we work with,that we worked with, he did his book with us and he goes,Oh, this is gold, and I go, why is that telling ushow you're going to use the book? He said. Well, when Ihave a high net worth client my office and we're wrapping up and I handthem to business cards and I say, Hey, can you you know anybodyyou can refer over to me, can you give them my card? Hegoes. I know before they leave my office they probably throw my cards inthe trash. But if I hand them two of my books and I sayhey, if you know anyone, can you give them a copy of mybook? He goes, now they're incentivized because now they look good to sayhey, my guy wrote the book on retirement planning, he says. Sonow they're incentivized to give that book out because it makes them look better.Handing a car are doesn't do anything from this is just another card. Butto be able to say my guy wrote the book on retirement planning, hegoes. That incentivized them. When he told me that, I go wow, that is pretty powerful. Now that's that's super powerful. JT. Iwant to close with a question that I've been asking for the last few weeksand and I are really been enjoying the responses that I've been hearing asked todo with legacy. Jt, what would you say is the legacy that youwant to leave? So the legacy I want to leave, interesting enough,is how I actually got to book in a box. I was traveling alot and I realized if something happened to me, my children would not knowwhere I came from, and I wanted my children to understand that we don'tknow where our last name came from because my mother was raised in an orphanage. I wanted my children to understand that my father was a black pimp anddrug dealer in the s, the fact that I had been in and outof juvenile three different times, that I've been sexually molested, that I've beenleft with my half brothers and sisters, that I've got twenty three half brothersand sisters, all of those things. I wanted my children to understand whereI came from, that I've gone to bed hungry, I lived on welfare, I was homeless, I barely have a high school diploma, there isno college degree. I wanted my children to understand where I came from and, more importantly, in that book, I wanted them to also see thatI want you to hustle in life. But I also want you to giveback, and one of the big pieces of the legacy for me is togive back to that very community of which I come from. I am hellbit and I have this massive responsibility that I believe we can change the lowereconomic part of our society. People just don't know. If someone understands that, hey, you can be an entrepreneur, you can be a stockbroker, youcan be a financial planner, but if you don't know those things evenexist, how am I supposed to aspire to be those things? So that'sthe legacy I want to leave is to...

...one give back to my children,let them know where I came from, but to change that lower economic community, regardless of race, and let them know you can be whatever you wantto be in this country. You really can. But if you don't know, how the Hell am I supposed to do it? That's so powerful,so powerful. JT, how you know, if for the person listening to this? First off, you just dropped a lot there about your background thatthat I knew that we weren't going to be able to get into in thisinterview. But if you're interested, if you're listening, this you're interested inhearing more of JT story, go check out the two interviews that he didon Noahkayan presents know as podcasts. Is Incredible. You're going to get waymore insight into into a lot of what jt just mentioned as far as hisbackground is, dad being a pamp and and I mean it's a fascinating story. So make sure and go subscribe to know his podcast, listen to thoseepisodes. But if folks want to check out your book, JT, orthat want to, you know, follow you on social stay connected with youor learn more about booking a box, what's the best way for them togo about doing those things? Oh Wow, book of the box is easy.Book on a Boxcom tell you everything you want to know about us.Phenomenal tribe, phenomenal company. So we're going like crazy. Like you said, me personally, easiest way to find me as on Linkedin. That's that'sa great place. In the book itself, it's called I got there, howI overcame racism, poverty and abuse to achieve the American dream. Thatyou can find that on Amazon. I love it. Wonderful. All right, JT. Will thank you so much for your time. Today. Thishas been fantastic and I've really appreciate it. Oh Man, I appreciate you havingme on. It's always fascinating to me that the people actually want tohear what I have to say. To ensure that you never miss an episodeof the B Tob Growth Show, subscribe to the show and Itunes or yourfavorite podcast player. This guarantees that every episode will get delivered directly to yourdevice. If you or someone you know would be an incredible guest for theB tob growth show, email me at Jonathan at sweet fish mediacom let usknow. We love connecting with be to be executives. We love sharing theirwisdom and perspective with our audience. Thank you so much for listening. Untilnext time.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (1634)