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 several fault 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 the benefits of having a network full of industry influencers. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the B tob growth show, podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategies or 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 to the BEDB growth show. We are here today with J t McCormick. He is the president and CEO at book in a box. Jt, how you doing today? I am excellent, sir, appreciate you having me on. I am excited to chat with you. JT. I heard you on Noahkagan's podcast a few weeks ago and as soon as I soon as I finish the episode, I reached out a camera, if it is on twitter, Linkedin and and and asked you to join us on B tob growth. You just wear 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 marketing as 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 tell our listeners a little bit up book in a box and what you're innerty teamer up to over there. So what book in a box is? We have come 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 been wanting 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 their book 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 of choice, let us interview you, pull that information out and structure the book for 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 say hey, 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 fascinated with 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 the company. I think three, three and a half years ago, something like that. Is that right about? Yeah, a little over two and a half years ago. So we're just just right at three years. That is that is wild. Can you speak to some of the growth that you guys have experienced? Oh Gosh, so. So one thing that we're incredibly proud of. That that it's a little cocky, but we're really proud of it, 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 we are the other UNICORNS. Everybody celebrates the billion dollar valuation, this mythical number, but we can actually show you a bottom line. So yeah, that it's our growth is just been incredible. Right now, we're just the greatest unknown. So many people don't know about us, and so in two thousand and eighteen, that's a big part of our focus. is to get the word out and let more people know about it. So thus far, right now, 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 you came 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 and and ultimately, you know you're that you're the CEO now, but talked to give 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 company that we had grown from I was there five years. We had grown from thirteen people to well over a hundred people and I wanted to reach out and figure out how to write my book. Truth be told, I can't tell you an adverb from a pronoun. So I knew there was no way I was ever going to write the book. So I got introduced to Tucker and Zach and I started writing my book. And so as I went through the process, I realized wow, this is a great company, and Tucker it asked me. He said Hey, can you give us feedback on our company as you go through the the process? I said Yeah, sure, why not? One thing led to another. I called Tucker up after my first interaction with the company. I said, Hey, do you still want that feedback? And he says yes. I said, okay, you all are doing this great, this great. Keep doing this over here. This is horrible, 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 email and I said yeah, it's. So one thing led to another. He invited me to one of their executive meetings. He had invited me to sit on their advisory board. Next thing I know, I wake up one morning 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 the rare 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 view it from okay, how will the author view this? How will the author perceive 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 company before 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 note of 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, when you'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 biggest leadership 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 you a leader. That's a role. What makes you an actual leader are the people 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 after your name, that's nothing but initials. Hell, I already had to and jam I didn't eat three more so the biggest piece that I expressed two people is in leadership. Eliminate the word I in my stop making it a possession no 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 important in the organization than those who are, let's be honest, doing all the work. 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 about US 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 be you know, we're talking marketing. I want you to see all of the individuals in our tribe who actually do the work before you get down and see me. I love it. I love it. That's a concept that I that I hear, that I've heard before, and so I'm glad you you reiterated this idea that you are you are not. You know, those initials don'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 of taking over an existing temp team, jt? What were some of the things that you made sure that you wanted to do in those first maybe three to six months to to get a pulse of kind of what what the experience was going to look like and and like real practically speaking? Just what were the things 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. And so 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 have the actual author experience. What is that...

...experience like as you go through writing the book? In the book is the product. So our service is the author experience and the product is the book. The worst thing that could happen for us is that you go through our process, you come out with this phenomenal 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 of the house. The experience has to be great, and the product has to be 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 understand all 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, but immediately I went into our publishing manager role because I wanted to work hand in hand 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 just kind 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 was like. I said, I was an author first with the company. Yeah, so I knew it from the outside in and now I was understanding it from the inside out. So I literally came in and became a publishing manager and some of the authors I worked with knew I was the CEO, some did not. So I got to approach it and really walk the authors through the process, guide them through this author experience to ensure the we published an incredible book for them. And so when you went through that process, you were in that role for, you know, the the first ninety days. What did it look like then to assess, okay, this is this is where we need to shift, these are the things that we need to do? How? How did you communicate those changes to the team and a way that actually made them want to implement it, as opposed to just kind of being the 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 what we're doing now. Is there any nuance to that, or is there an approach that you took so that you could kind of take what you gathered and then implement changes that actually make the product and experience better? So I so I believe there's a combination there. When you're talking leadership, now, very easy to come in and play dictator and say, okay, this is what we're doing, and there's the Iron Fist, as you said, but there's also the combination of okay, here's what I've seen through the process. You all tell me where we can enhance this.

What am I not seeing? Is there anything additional we can do here and lay out the facts of what I'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 the operational aspect of the company. We needed to put a dashboard together, things of that nature. So there are certain pieces that you just come in and say, okay, this is going to happen, and then there's other pieces that you're going to say, okay, how do we collaborate and tell me what I'm not seeing, what don't I understand, or, from the perspective of the people already with the company, the other tribe members, where do you all see that we can improve? What's your relationship been with with Zach and with Tucker, that the two founders of the company, with you coming in and and now being the CEO, what's that dynamic been like? Who? Well, anybody, anybody that knows Tucker well? That in itself tells you some some thing. But you know, I will I say this to everyone full transparency. It was a struggle early on because I had two founders that now I'm coming in as the CEO and their expectation was okajt tell us what to do and I am many ways treated them as the Prima Donna Co founders. Didn't want to step on their toes. So it took time for me 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 Tucker also provided me equity in the company. So that really change the dynamic as well, because now we had three owners and it it enabled me to put that relationship together a bit faster. But I again full transparency. It to a time because I had these co founders, one who has experienced incredible fame and success, one that's a twenty seven year old millennial. So you've got two 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 pride and say hey, we don't know how to do this, we don't know how to scale a company. You know as well as I do so many people can't get out of their own way and it's very hard for someone to release 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 a successful company? Which one? That's so good. That's so good. So jt with obviously a lot of marketers listening to this. As we were talking offline, you mentioned that they're there's some marketing things that you guys are doing at 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 are planning for this year and hopes to give some some inside to maybe some ideas for the marketers listening to this interview? So, you know, it's interesting. What we have found over time is that we are a brand, and what I mean by that is we don't actually sell anything. I can't call up Jamie diamond, the CEO of chase, and say hey, Jamie, you want to write a book. You know he's going to. What the Hell is this? So people either understand what we do and want to write a book or they don't. We can't cold call people in in, you know, sell our quote unquote services are our process in what we do. Either you want to write a book, you like how we will. We will take you through our process to publish that book or you don't. So ours is brand awareness and one of the things that we're doing this year is we're doing more conferences so we can get outspread the words sponsorship. What we have 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't even know that there's a service out there available for them to be able to write their books. So ours is really getting the word out, because there's no real, quote unquote, hardcore cell with what we do. Okay, so you're looking at more, you know, sponsoring more, more conferences and and really building building the brand and got a top of funnel awareness so that people know that hey, there's there's actually somebody out there that can take the ideas out of my head and turn it into a book exactly exactly. And for 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, but here I created my book, Here's how I did it. Know, by the way, I just happened to be the CEO of the company, and here's why. So that that in itself has lent itself as a great marketing tool. I love it. I love it. Would have been jt from you know, you've worked you know you guys have worked with six hundred and fifty plus authors. What have been the most strategic ways that you've seen authors kind 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 of build thought leadership. But are there other benefits that you've seen that have come even yourself having a book now, but particularly, you know, the six hundred and fifty plus authors that you guys have worked with, is there anything that you've noticed that you have man that's a really strategic way to leverage having a book? You know, the great majority of the authors that have come to 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 us how you're going to use the book? He said. Well, when I have a high net worth client my office and we're wrapping up and I hand them to business cards and I say, Hey, can you you know anybody you can refer over to me, can you give them my card? He goes. I know before they leave my office they probably throw my cards in the trash. But if I hand them two of my books and I say hey, if you know anyone, can you give them a copy of my book? He goes, now they're incentivized because now they look good to say hey, my guy wrote the book on retirement planning, he says. So now 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. But to be able to say my guy wrote the book on retirement planning, he goes. That incentivized them. When he told me that, I go wow, that is pretty powerful. Now that's that's super powerful. JT. I want to close with a question that I've been asking for the last few weeks and and I are really been enjoying the responses that I've been hearing asked to do with legacy. Jt, what would you say is the legacy that you want to leave? So the legacy I want to leave, interesting enough, is how I actually got to book in a box. I was traveling a lot and I realized if something happened to me, my children would not know where I came from, and I wanted my children to understand that we don't know 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 and drug dealer in the s, the fact that I had been in and out of juvenile three different times, that I've been sexually molested, that I've been left with my half brothers and sisters, that I've got twenty three half brothers and sisters, all of those things. I wanted my children to understand where I came from, that I've gone to bed hungry, I lived on welfare, I was homeless, I barely have a high school diploma, there is no college degree. I wanted my children to understand where I came from and, more importantly, in that book, I wanted them to also see that I want you to hustle in life. But I also want you to give back, and one of the big pieces of the legacy for me is to give back to that very community of which I come from. I am hell bit and I have this massive responsibility that I believe we can change the lower economic part of our society. People just don't know. If someone understands that, hey, you can be an entrepreneur, you can be a stockbroker, you can be a financial planner, but if you don't know those things even exist, how am I supposed to aspire to be those things? So that's the 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 want to 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 that that I knew that we weren't going to be able to get into in this interview. But if you're interested, if you're listening, this you're interested in hearing more of JT story, go check out the two interviews that he did on Noahkayan presents know as podcasts. Is Incredible. You're going to get way more insight into into a lot of what jt just mentioned as far as his background 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 those episodes. But if folks want to check out your book, JT, or that want to, you know, follow you on social stay connected with you or learn more about booking a box, what's the best way for them to go 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's a great place. In the book itself, it's called I got there, how I overcame racism, poverty and abuse to achieve the American dream. That you can find that on Amazon. I love it. Wonderful. All right, JT. Will thank you so much for your time. Today. This has been fantastic and I've really appreciate it. Oh Man, I appreciate you having me on. It's always fascinating to me that the people actually want to hear what I have to say. To ensure that you never miss an episode of the B Tob Growth Show, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. This guarantees that every episode will get delivered directly to your device. If you or someone you know would be an incredible guest for the B tob growth show, email me at Jonathan at sweet fish mediacom let us know. We love connecting with be to be executives. We love sharing their wisdom and perspective with our audience. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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