I attended Podcast Movement in Nashville in August. As usual, this conference was phenomenal. Yes, I learned a few exciting tips to improve my podcast and listenership. But I gained so much more in relationships. In fact, I'd say that the biggest reason I went was to grow my network and boy... did I!
I met Rich Jones (Paychecks & Balances Podcast) and Kwame Christian (Negotiate Anything Podcast) at the 2019 Orlando Podcast Movement. Kwame is the one that challenged me to start this podcast and held me accountable. Have you heard that story? Go listen to the very first episode of this podcast! Rich interviewed me on his podcast shortly after meeting him in Orlando. We talked about my corporate America experience and how badly I botched it. It was super fun and I even got Rich to spew some coffee. The episode was called, "Out of a Traditional Job and Into a New Industry". Rich and I have kept in touch and obviously I've stayed accountable to Kwame! So I was excited to see them both again after 2 years due to Covid. The meetings did not disappoint.
Kwame and I had a few chances to connect. He was so proud that his podcasting protege was almost 2 years in with nearly 50k downloads. Rich and I also had some opportunities to connect, especially at the end of the conference. But the first meet up could have gone totally sideways. Here's what went down. I walked toward Rich on my way to another place and stopped to shake his hand. He was talking to a friend Chris. Rich was glad to see me, so I stuck around. I was immediately taken a back by Chris. He is a christian, running a podcast to rescue Christians from toxic and wasteful things. He had just completed a well-researched documentary style multi-episode study on multi-level marketing and how they are pyramid schemes doomed for failure. His conclusion was that these pyramid schemes feed on Christians with the promise of lifestyle that often returns tons of debt. I listened for a few minutes and got very angry. I couldn't take it any more, so I did something that I rarely do. I fought him heavily on his conclusions. He held his ground based on solid Federal Trade Commission research as the success percentages are not good. Rich just observed with great interest as two Christians duked it out. Rich isn't a christian, by the way. I shared my story of being in Amway. It changed the course of my life. I declared with certainty of experience that I became a Christian through Amway, we have a successful marriage and business owner's mindset as a result of the 10 years of mentorship we received. Go back to "We All Need a Coach" for some background here. The upline in our Amway business were our first mentors and coaches. They helped us in so many dimensions of our life to become successful. I argued this point. Then I argued another point that Rich totally agreed with. "Chris, is it true that not all podcasters succeed? In fact, only a very small FTC-sized group of podcasters actually make it to the million dollar mark." Both agreed. I shared how we each see 3 groups of podcasters. Those that are doing everything they can do, learning, being mentored, implementing, making mistakes, monetizing to grow to a million dollar podcast like our mutual friends John Lee Dumas (JLD)and Kate Ericson of Entrepreneurs on Fire. There are very few of this level podcaster. The second group are the ones that know what to do in order to become like JLD, but either don't follow all the steps or put the work in or have the full belief. Many of these podcasters have personally witnessed friends soar into the first group. They know it works, no matter what the stats show. They just don't have the follow through. The third group are the naysayers and doubters. These are the ones that write the Wiki articles and slam podcasting as a waste. These are the ones that slam the MLMs. Rich totally agreed and Chris was skeptical, ready with his retort. In the end, I shared that I was a group 2 MLM'er. I gained a tremendous amount of lifetime benefit, but never earned lifestyle through the MLM. However, I am earning it now as an indirect result. I personally witnessed friends get started in Amway after me and succeed to the highest level. I never said a cross word about MLMs in my life. In fact, I am a promoter for some people as it's an excellent way to grow.
My arguments were strong. Rich agreed. But Chris did not budge. He was a stats man and determined to rescue Christians. This is where I pivoted from what appeared to Rich as anger and division to finding common ground. I simply said this to Chris. "I see that we don't see this eye to eye. We have different life experiences and therefore different perspectives. I cannot say that you are wrong for what you see backed by your facts and you can't say that I am wrong. We are both Christians and have the same commission. I appreciate what you are trying to do to serve our community, even though we disagree. I'd love to talk this through more another time to see if we can find more common ground and maybe find ways to help each other."
Chris smiled and shook my hand. Rich was floored. You see, Rich works at Google in diversity and sees the Ken and Chris scenario play out a gazillion time. He said this to me privately after. "Ken, when you started going after Chris I was curious how it would go down. I assumed it would turn into a typical argument where both believe they are right and division occurs. I see this in religion. We all see it in politics and it's all over Facebook. But I shouldn't have been so surprised because I knew the type of person you were. You turned your disagreement into an opportunity for unity. If only more of us could do this..."
I have to admit that this may be one of the best compliments I received all year. Rich trusted me even more after this encounter and our friendship and mutual respect grew another rung. Find common ground and unify upon that. The opposite and common path is division. This is why there are a gazillion christian denominations. We can't agree, so we divide. This is why we have so many political factions and opposition. It's THEM and US. It's division. How can we look for ways to unify? I love this quote from the Psalmist King David in Psalm 133.
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing— Life forevermore."
Where there was unity amoung the people, there the Lord commanded the blessing. I like that. I want more blessing in our land. How about you?
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