Cody Lowry is the President of the Automotive and Retail Division of the Intermark Group. He’s also the author of Schmooze, What They Should Teach at Harvard Business School. Listen to Cody share:
Transcript:Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services
The Leadership Hacker News
In today’s news, we explore the concept behind hybrid working, or as it’s often referred to, flexible working. Since the onset of the pandemic, a myriad of corporations have overhauled the way they operate. Now with the possibility of return to office on the horizon, only two thirds of workers are wanting to remain working from home, according to a recent survey by Gallup, their research has found that organizations need to develop a long-term hybrid work strategy that meets the needs of both employees and businesses. In determining these approaches, leaders should keep one concept at the top of their priority list, and that’s flexibility. So remote working is no longer an added benefit, but a requirement for happy and productive people.
So, here’s some tips and ideas to help you think about your hybrid strategy. First things first, people come first. Support and organizations don’t make assumptions about the way they think their employers currently work and want to in the future, you need to know exactly how your people want to work so that you can plan and putting the necessary steps in place, by gaining better insights and asking the right questions of your team, you can adapt and think about getting the best out of them so that you benefit as an organization. Create a number of different spaces and when I mean spaces, not physical spaces, but workspaces. Of course, some permanent desk spaces will still be needed, but your organization might want to start thinking about hot desks, video conferences, called pods or remote collaboration spaces that will help you get the best out of people working differently at different times, and from different locations.
Create a truly inclusive workplace. There are obviously huge benefits of embracing the world of hybrid working, but it’s also important to avoid that any inclusivity issues may arise when you kind of move to this model, there are concerns by some that it actually might lead to a creation of a two-tier workforce. Those who are constantly present in the office and those who designed to work more remotely, and as leaders, we need to make sure that people understand that whether they’re in the office or not, their work is equally valued, you also need to be thoughtful around how and when meetings are held so that everybody feels included.
Health, safety, and wellbeing are at the absolute heart of this activity. It doesn’t matter whether your people are working from home or in an office. As a leader, you have a duty of care over your team. For those in an office, it’s important to ensure that all the necessary steps are taken to create a COVID safe environment or those working from home need to be informed of the ways in which to protect their physical and mental health. And remember mental health is just as important as physical health, especially at the moment. And there’s lots that we can do to make sure that we keep our physical and mental health employees at the front of our conversations.
So, in summary, let’s think about what needs to happen. We need to be thoughtful about the people, their environments, the choices that they make, and tapping into technology that helps us do that the best, whether we’re in an office or whether we’re working remotely. What’s most important is, without your people being motivated, focused, and engaged, it doesn’t really matter where they are. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News, if you have any insights, information, please get in touch with us.
Start of Podcast
Steve Rush: Cody Lowry is a special guest on today’s show. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s the President of the Automotive and Retail Division at the Intermark Group. He’s also a speaker and author of the book Schmooze. Join me in welcoming Mr. Schmooze himself, Cody, welcome to the show.
Cody Lowry: Well, thank you so much, Steve. I am delighted to be with you today and your folks out there, don’t know how popular you are, but Steve and I actually had a conversation nine years ago and I finally got an opportunity to be on his show. So, I’m tickled to death to be here.
Steve Rush: Schmooze and accent already, and we’ve only just got started, huh?
Cody Lowry: There you go. There you go.
Steve Rush: So, Cody, you have an amazing backstory and I will be really interested for the listeners to get a sense of kind of where you came from and how you’ve arrived to do what you do?
Cody Lowry: Yeah, Steve, I really got a different story. We always hear about the rags to riches, while I’m actually a riches to rags kid. I was born into a family of wealth and blue blood, and by the time I was five, it was all gone. We lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and with a seven-year period in a seven-mile radius we moved 32 times. So, it was you know, the lights were turned off. St. Vincent De Paul was my favorite Saint because he used to be there Christmas day. But, you know, just backtracking a little bit. There’s a high school in Detroit named after my grandfather, there was a book written. He was the first President of Wayne State University. My mother was, actually, I call her the debutante mom because she made her debutante and went to a finishing school in Washington and, you know, had all the trappings of, you know, just a great life and a good life to come.
She met my father, they were both camp counselors, swimming coaches at camp Chicopee in Northern Michigan. And he came from a pretty well to do family, but for whatever reason, they got married, had four beautiful children. And I was one of them. And they came to Florida and ran through whatever money they had. My dad became an alcoholic. My mom was an alcoholic. It was kind of a Helter Skelter childhood, was screaming and hollering and, you know, no food, the lights being changed and then moving 32 times. We actually lived in two places twice.
Steve Rush: That’s incredible.
Cody Lowry: I can remember coming home with my little brother from school and we didn’t live there anymore. So yeah, I had kind of a different childhood at age 11. I started selling papers and you’re from across the pond there. So, you know who the Artful Dodger is.
Steve Rush: Sure do.
Cody Lowry: And at times I felt like the Artful Dodger, you know, my mom and my other siblings have been very successful. And I credit my mom. I can remember her after, you know, a few martinis looking across and say, you know, we may not have anything now, but you guys, you kids have blue blood in your veins and you can do whatever you want and blah, blah, blah. So, she instilled a confidence in us, I don’t think otherwise would have had. And one of them was, you know, you got to get out there and make it happen. And, so at age 11, I started selling papers for the Miami News. Now I’ve got to ask you a question, Steve.
Steve Rush: Go for it.
Cody Lowry: And I want you to be real honest with me here. Would you buy a paper if I told you where you got your shoes, what state you were born in and how many birthdays you’ve had?
Steve Rush: Pretty neat, yeah, I would think.
Cody Lowry: Of course, you would, for a nickel. You got your shoes on your feet. You were born in the state of infancy, and you’ve only had one birthday the day you were born.
Steve Rush: Nice.
Cody Lowry: So, when you look at you know, where I came from and then I was raised with the doctors’ kids and the lawyers’ kids, because my mother made us believe that, you know, we were as good as anyone. And so, with that said, we always worked. And I think selling papers actually gave me a pretty good foundation for my life in general.
Steve Rush: It’s really interesting that 32 moves in such a short period of time is just a huge amount of disruption, isn’t it? For a young person, young family,
Cody Lowry: Christmas day, we moved.
Steve Rush: Wow.
Cody Lowry: And then my my mom is screaming at my father about you know, what about the Christmas tree? What about the Christmas tree? And the next thing, you know, Steve, he runs in the house, grabs the Christmas tree, lights, Tencel, and throws it on the back of a pickup truck. And with some expletives said, get in the truck and we’re leaving. He did leave by the way my mother raised the four of us. And yeah, I can’t tell you how much she really means to me. And, I think my siblings would pair at that comment.
Steve Rush: Sure, I did some research a few years back, actually around resilience and what are the foundations and what could cause resilience and ingenuity and irony is, those people who are brought up in a service background who move a lot consistently in childhood have greater and deeper resilience.
Cody Lowry: Really?
Steve Rush: Because they’re used to having to adapt. And I wonder if some of those foundations that you’ve got in your adult career and being successful around that resilience and that grit and determination come from that learning to adapt in those 32 moves?
Cody Lowry: I would guess it did, you know, not everybody is obviously wired the same. And I can tell you that, I mean, I love people. I engage people at restaurants, the waiter, by the time that food is delivered. I know everything about that person and, you know, where they’re from? What their dad did? And I just find that terribly interesting. And there’s so many people in this world that we’re never going to have an opportunity to meet. And I kind of regret that, and so, you know, I think when you’re young and you’re going through all those kinds of things, you learn how to make friends easily, or, you know, I say easily, you learn how to make friends. And with that, you know, you ask a lot of questions and I always ask a lot of question. I ask a lot of questions today.
Steve Rush: Now you were affectionately known as the king of Schmooze. For people who have not heard of schmooze or not familiar with that, how would you describe what schmooze is?
Cody Lowry: Well schmooze actually comes from the Yiddish word, which means to chat ideally, or to chat in a friendly persuasive manner, especially to gain favor in business or connections. And what I have done Steve is, I’ve redefined the word schmooze. And for me schmooze is a lot of things. The publisher put up 25, you know, different attributes for schmooze. And it’s about building relationships. It’s about a winning smile. It’s about, you know, looking out after the little guy. It’s about being contrarian and it’s about, you know, having a heart and you know, it’s about appreciating and there’s 25 of them. I could list them, but it would you know, take a while here.
Steve Rush: Sure, now you recognized at an early age that, we would call it, in the side of the pond, gift of the gab or the schmooze was the key foundation for you to be successful. What was it when you realized you were onto something around using this as a positive to help you become successful?
Cody Lowry: So, I guess I learned, you know, the school was difficult for me because you know, moving around like that. And didn’t, you know, live up to my own expectations. And so when I finally realized that, you know what? I got something here, I actually transferred from one high school to another high school. And it was transferred in my senior year. And I wasn’t there, you know, probably six weeks and they were doing the superlative, you know, for the seniors. And somehow, I made it to my senior year, I don’t know how. And they nominated me for the most talented, how did I get nominated? You know, I’m not even in the school two months and people are nominating me. Well, you know, that turned out to be a pretty pivotal year for me, Steve, because I was, you know, I was master of ceremonies of this, master of ceremonies of that. I got really heavy into, you know, theater and speech productions. And I think that’s when I really found myself. And, you know, it obviously helped me once I got into college,
Steve Rush: You managed to use schmooze in a number of different situations. And there are a couple you call out in the books. I’d love to explore them with you.
Cody Lowry: Absolutely.
Steve Rush: One was, how do you set up the meeting with the President in just one week from nowhere?
Cody Lowry: Yeah, that was really something. At the time I was general sales manager for a large Chevrolet store and Jimmy Carter was coming into town. And he was running in for President and we were having a management meeting with the dealer and the General Manager, and what have you. And I just started thinking about him coming into town. I thought, oh my gosh, wouldn’t that be a great PR move? If we could somehow set up a meeting with the President of the United States. Now I got to tell you, I had an angle. And my angle was, is that our dealer, Anthony Abraham. He was a very conservative guy, but he really thought that Jimmy Carter was taking a lot of heat at the time. He ran an article in the Fort Lauderdale news.
I’m sorry, the Miami Herald, The Tampa Tribune and The St Petersburg Times. And it was called A Summer of Discontent by Walter Annenberg, another, a very conservative guy. And the thrust of the article, Steve, was that, you know, no matter how much you dislike the President or whatever issues you have, he’s the only President we have, and we’ve got to support him and coming from two very conservative guys, you know, that was, you know, quite a tribute to put those full-page ads in those newspapers. So, I did have an angle and I said, the President coming in next week. Why don’t we set up a meeting and see if we can’t get a little PR out of it? And the dealer laughed and the general manager who was always watching his back thought I wanted his job, you know, he kind of ridiculed me somewhat, but they said, well, go see what you can do. And I did, the office I called was Jody Powell. You may remember Jody Powell, but he was the President right-hand guy. And he threw me to one guy, and then they threw me to another office and this office. And finally, I got ahold of the scheduling office and you know, my persistence was, you know, on full charge. And I was really wanting to make this thing happen. And the guy let me know really quickly. He said, Mr. Lowry, do you realize how many people want to set up a meeting with the President of United States? And I immediately shot back Steve. I said, well, that’s probably true, but you could count on one hand, how many men just spent $20,000 in three of Florida’s largest newspapers in a state that’s going to be critical to the President in the upcoming election.
Steve Rush: Wow, yeah
Cody Lowry: And then he started “hoobadda habbada hubbadda wheeer!” you know, who am I talking to here? You know, and next thing, you know, I get a meeting with Kesha Grant and let her know what’s going on. And we have a meeting with the President of the United States and that, by the way, you can Google that. Cody Lowry, President Carter or Tommy Abraham, and it shows, you know, the President’s schedule back then, and today. They’ve got every little minute, you know, logged in, what he did? Who he talked to? And so, yeah, so we set up a meeting with the President of the United States and that did not hinder my progress with Abraham Chevrolet, I did very well after that.
Steve Rush: Awesome. And also, there’s a couple of whacking, great leadership lessons there isn’t there? That whole kind of persistence and resilience and never let up is a really big one for me. But you know, the other is the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
Cody Lowry: Absolutely.
Steve Rush: And you know, if you’re really passionate about something and you want people to know that you’re passionate, if you stop squeaking, you’re not going to get the oil.
Cody Lowry: Well, that’s absolutely true. Yeah, I agree with that.
Steve Rush: So, the other one I was really fascinated by, is you ended up carrying the Olympic torch for the Olympic games, and that again was because of your schmooze. Tell us how that came up?
Cody Lowry: Well, you know, in the book I talk about mentoring and the importance of mentoring. I can remember when I was in college driving a Corvair, unsafe at any speed that used more oil than gasoline. And I was, you know, robbing Peter to pay Paul as they say. And you know, I was a big brother, and that’s not in the book, but for those out, in other parts of the world. Big brother and big sisters, where you take on an individual, a young child who’s comes from a, you know, a really difficult situation and, you know, you mentor to them. And so, carrying the torch was just that. As you pointed out in the beginning of the show, I’m in advertising.
And at the time we represented all the Chevrolet dealers in the Tampa Bay area. And one of the gentlemen that was in charge of Chevrolet at the time was Kurt Ritter and just a wonderful guy. He lives in Bel Air California now. And he is, I think, chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, but at the time he was moving up the ladder with a Chevrolet and he had moved out of the Tampa Bay area, went to Detroit. He was head marketing manager for Chevrolet motor division. And I get a call one day, and while we were close, we weren’t, you know, I mean, we talked, you know, maybe every six months if saw each other at a meeting, but his son was living in in Tampa and struggling at the time. He graduated, just graduated from college and was having a real difficult time getting a job.
And, and Kurt called me and asked if I could spend some time with him, and I said absolutely. So, we did kind of like, you know, Tuesdays with Morrie’s right. It was Tuesdays with Kurt’s son, and he was, you know, flipping hamburgers at Friday, that’s a hamburger joint. And would he just couldn’t get his footing in the segment he want to get into, and that was a film, and what have you. And so, I remember after about six weeks, he called me up. He says, can I come in and talk to you? And I said, sure. He was excited. And I kind of thought maybe he had a job. And he said, I got a job.
And I said, really, where is that? And he goes, he says, well, it’s with Campbell Ewald. And all of a sudden, a red light went off. Campbell Ewald was a national agency for Chevrolet. And I know how he got that job, and that’s not the job he wanted. And after he was done telling me about, you know, being a junior account executive, and I just looked across the table from where we were, and I said, you know what? You don’t want to take that. I said, that’s not what you want to do. Your dad can pick up the phone today, tomorrow, a year from now and get you that same position. I said, you’re passionate about the film industry. You’re passionate about, you know, what you went to school for. I said, stick with it. And don’t, you know, he took my advice and a week later he got his dream job out of Miami.
Well, now I start becoming very close to the family. I’m invited to weddings and, you know, when he’s in Florida, you know, we go to the football games together. And I think the mentoring is what really makes it happen in life and being able to give something back. Then the next thing I know out of the clear blue, he calls me up and said, Cody, he said, how would you like to carry the torch in the Olympics? He had reached that level at Chevrolet motor division, where he could pick a couple of people. And I must tell you, he had relationships with agencies that were huge, right, the dwarf mine.
Steve Rush: Right.
Cody Lowry: He knew all the big Chevrolet dealers in the country. He called me and asked me, and I credit it with the mentoring.
Steve Rush: Yeah, it’s fascinating, isn’t it? And it just goes to show that if you’re not open to opportunity, because you’ve been directed or you’ve been following a path that you don’t believe to be true or purposeful. You miss out on that natural occurring opportunity, right?
Cody Lowry: Absolutely.
Steve Rush: Yeah, so when was it you thought, right. There’s definitely something in this schmooze, so I’m going to write a book about it. How did that come about?
Cody Lowry: So, you know, I knew I wanted to write a book because some, you know, obviously crazy things have happened to me. If you’ll indulge me here, you know, getting a baseball signed by The Pope, getting a super bowl ring from an NFL hall of fame coach, auditioning for Saturday Night Live within a 48-hour notice. And, you know, I just felt like I was wired a little bit differently. And you know, I was living this journey, this eclectic journey that I’m still living. And some really wonderful things have happened to me as a result of, you know, reaching out and being there for other people, and my personality, I don’t know if your pre notes show it, but I was actually born with a lampshade on my head. So, you know, the humorous aspect of my personality didn’t hurt. And I just decided that I was going to write a book, and that was 2017. And, you know, I’m still working full time. And so, you know, I did it at night and put together what I thought was a really good life story, not a biography for sure. But you know, life lessons from somebody who’s walked the walk.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Cody Lowry: So many times, I’m in a situation where I see a speaker, great in front of an audience, or I’ll read a book and so much of it. And I say this respectfully is, regurgitated, internet stuff. And then I hear the same thing this guy said, and this person says this. And, you know, every story in the book that I have, I mean, it’s me, it’s real life. It’s, you know, it’s really, you know, it’s from somebody who’s walked the walk.
Steve Rush: Did she walk the walk or did you schmooze the schmooze?
Cody Lowry: I think I probably did a little bit of both; you know, I was schmoozing and when I didn’t know what the word meant.
Steve Rush: Exactly, yeah. So, in the book, you call these out as schmooze essentials. So, what are they and how as a leader might I use them?
Cody Lowry: So, yeah, the last chapter is schmooze essential. And it’s a collection of things that I wanted to leave people with that are just real important and you know, paying a compliment. There’s actually 10, so I won’t go over all 10, but paying a compliment. You know, you go into a restaurant, somebody gives you a great service and you throw down your money. And I know in some countries that’s not required or not the custom, but in the United States, you know, we leave a gratuity. And one thing that I have learned over the years, it’s much more important than a gratuity is to pay a compliment. You know, John, that was maybe the best service I’ve ever had. And I mean, they light up like a Christmas tree.
I mean, it’s amazing. So, you know, paying a compliment. It’s about laughing at yourself and, you know, some of us take ourselves way too seriously, and I’ve been with some movers and shakers who are, you know, they wouldn’t put a smile on their face if they had to, but, you know, it’s about actually not taking yourself too seriously. I’ll tell you a real quick story, if I may. I’m charging and I come home, I’ve got three little kids and I said, little kids, they’re ten, nine and eight. And my wife and I had just bought this brand-new suede couch, green suede couch. And, you know, I really felt like I had arrived, Steve, you know, to have this couch. And so, I walk in and I look at the couch and there’s a big stain on the couch, and I almost can’t believe it. What happened? Well, immediately I called the three children. Cody, Chelsea, Kit, get up here right now and up they come, you know, and I look at that couch, the stain, and I said, I want to know who did it? I want to know now, and I want to know the truth. And young Cody looks up at me. He said, dad, you can’t handle the truth, from the movie, you know? He disarmed me and I started laughing. How stupid? Why am I getting so upset about a stain? And so, you know, it is about laughing at yourself. It’s about making sure that you understand that, you know, not just, Coca-Cola not just Nike, you have a brand. Who are you? What slags do you waive? If a hundred people had to say something about you, what would they say? And think for young people starting out in business, I think it’s so important that you establish who you are and build your brand.
And so, you know, that’s in there, it’s about appreciating what we have, you know I told my kids when they were growing up, you know, bemoan the fact that maybe they didn’t have the latest and the greatest this or that, because I didn’t believe in giving it to them. You know, you have it better than 99.9% of all the people that have ever lived on the face of this earth. And you know, I think that actually connected with them, you know, in the book, I’ve got all kinds of things. In the last chapter, there are 10 different things.
Steve Rush: I resonate with that. I had very similar conversation with my youngest son just this weekend actually.
Cody Lowry: What happened?
Steve Rush: Well, it was a case of just not recognizing the value of what he had versus the value of what he didn’t have.
Cody Lowry: I gotcha.
Steve Rush: And sometimes it’s just about helping people who have been, and I class myself to be very fortunate in having the spoils of a successful career behind me. And he’s been born into a life that I wasn’t born into with lots of spoils and lots of other things that I would have never had at his age. And just sometimes helping to reframe how fortunate they are. Isn’t all about either material things. It’s about the surroundings and the environment they’re in too, right?
Cody Lowry: So true. So true. You know, one of the things in the last chapter is, I tell people to be a pushover, you know, I’m an easy mark for these people on the street. And I mean, I never say, no, I feel guilty if I look down and, you know, I’m in my car and I don’t have some change or some whatever to give them, but I’ve done my homework. And most of these people they’re hungry, 85% of these people are hungry. So yeah, there are some people that are trying to put you together. And in the book, I talk about being a pushover and I actually talk about a story when our whole family went to a West Virginia and the airport was closed down.
And I went downtown with my kids and my bride and we were going to get some food and it was a cold night and the kids were probably right around that, you know, 7, 8, 9 ages. And all of a sudden somebody grabs me on my shoulder and I turned around and, you know, I see this guy with all his hair going on and, you know, kind of, you got some money or something like that. And I said, no, I don’t. And, you know, I kind of shoot him away, I thought, and then, you know, about a minute later, there he is again. And now I get in his face, because I’m really upset. I’m very protective of my kids and I don’t want this guy, you know, endangering my family. And I react like, I guess any father would. So, you know, I got in his face, tell him to get out.
I was going to call the police, so on and so forth. I got to the restaurant and my son Cody remembers this. And I said to my wife, I said, you know, I didn’t really treat that guy too well and who knows what’s going on in his life. And so, I gave her my watch. I gave her all of about, you know, 50 bucks that I had. And I said, I’m going to go find him and see what’s going on. So, I left the restaurant, I walked up this alley and down the street and there he was, he was sitting on a park bench with his significant other, and they had a blanket around them. And I came up to him from the side there. So, he didn’t really no I was coming and I said, Hey.
And he looked at me, he almost jumps, you know? And I said, no, no, no. I just want to tell you, I apologize for the way I acted. And I said, are you guys hungry? And they both looked at me and they said, yeah. I said, well, come on. Let’s go. And so, I was actually thinking about taking them to the Mexican restaurant and there was a McDonald’s across the street, not too far from where we were. And he said, well, how about McDonald’s? And I said, sure. So, we went into McDonald’s and, you know, his girlfriend was first and she looked back at me and I said, go, whatever you want, just get it, you know? So, she got two big Macs, she got an apple pie, she got the big fry, whatever it was.
And I thought she was ordering for both of them. And then he got up there. He said, I’ll take the same. But, you know, my kids learned a big lesson, as I said, Cody still remembers that day. And all of my kids have followed me as it relates to being, you know, maybe considered overly generous to these people. But you know, when you look at what’s been the stowed on me and my family and, you know, everything, even talking to Steve here, you know, it’s you know, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, you know, I know that everybody does,
Steve Rush: It’s a great lesson as well, isn’t it? So, the one thing that struck me in the book as well, that you call out was called the what if syndrome.
Cody Lowry: Oh, the what if syndrome? Yeah. Everybody is always, you know, what if this happens? What if that happens? And it’s about, you know, when I talk about stepping out of your schmooze zone and I tell people that I’m not going to, you know, I’m not going to jump off the Skyway Bridge or the San Francisco Bay bridge or bungee jump. But, you know, in life I have looked at things, I’ve looked at challenges and, you know, I’ve always gone for it. And I think a lot of people are held back by, you know, their peers and people that, you know, their bosses and what have you. And they have this fear of people. Well, I’ve never really had that fear. So, if I thought maybe, I could do something, you know, I just went out and did it.
In the book I talk about, you know, running a marathon, somebody bet me a hundred dollars that, you know, I couldn’t run a marathon. And I said, well, yeah, I could run a marathon and they laughed. And, you know, I’m really in great shape today, Steve. But back then I was a little sloppy, right. And I remember Steve Chapman, he was President of the DuPont Registry and he was running the Marine Corps marathon. And I said, well, I could probably do that. Maybe I’ll do that with you. And he started laughing because it was the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. And I got to tell you in high school, I think the most I ever did from an exercise standpoint, I think I had to run a mile to actually get my diploma.
So anyway, I took him up on it. And it’s a great story, it’s a fun story. But I got to tell you, when I started off the first the first week trying to, you know, kind of get into this thing, I thought, boy, I had really made a big mistake. I couldn’t get a quarter of a mile before I was gasping for air. I was going around this Lake Hollingsworth, was three and a half miles. And I went, dear God, I can’t even get around this lake. And but, before all was done, I had run around that lake eight times. And I did, I competed in the Marine Corps marathon. And so, I would say my advice is just, you know, go with what your gut tells you. And don’t listen to some naysayers out there. And you know, we’ve got a lot of great people, have accomplished a lot of things in this world by taking that advice for sure.
Steve Rush: Definitely, so. I’m going to ask you to step out of the schmooze zone now, Because I’m going to turn the lens a little into your world of leadership. So, you’ve been a successful leader of a number of different businesses. So, I want to really tap into that leadership mind of yours now. First place, I’m going to go Cody, is to ask you what your top three leadership hacks would be?
Cody Lowry: So, you know, a big part of the book and a part of my background in business. And then, you know, my whole life has been building relationships, building relationships that last, you know, Steve and my business, if you have an account for two or three years, you know, you can be very, very thankful. We have accounts on the book that have been there for 30 years, plus 30 years. And I always tell people it’s about the secret sauce. You say the three things, number one, build the relationship. And I think a lot of people get this wrong. They say, oh, it’s going to take me years to build a relationship. You build the relationship within the first 60 seconds that you meet somebody.
Steve Rush: Sure.
Cody Lowry: And I’m well aware of that. If I go into a meeting, I know more about that guy than probably the people that work for him. So, it’s building the relationships and then it’s earning their trust, okay. That’s the foundation of every relationship. It’s the foundation of every business relationship, earning their trust and being there for them. And then number three, endeavoring to never let them down. And you know, I’ve got clients, I’m their blankie. I mean, they call me on the weekends, you know, Sunday, you know, and a lot of times it’s not even related to you know, the business necessarily it’s, you know, something that’s happening in their life. And if I have been with them for 20 to 30 years, I’m also their friend, right?
Steve Rush: Right.
Cody Lowry: So yeah, so building the relationship, getting them to trust you and then never letting them down.
Steve Rush: Awesome tips and ideas. Thank you, appreciate you sharing that. The next part of the show we’ve called Hack to Attack. So, this is typically where something screwed up. Hasn’t worked out well at all, but as a result of the experience, you now use it as a positive in your life and work. So, what would be your Hack to Attack Cody?
Cody Lowry: Yeah, my Hack to Attack. I mean, you know, one of the quotes that’s in the book and it’s a Japanese proverb and it says fall down seven times, get up eight. And I can tell you I’ve done that, you know, many, many times in my life and no one is you know, everybody’s got adversity in their life. And so, when I get people that kind of get carried away with it, I remind them of this deal that you know, you have to get up and you have to keep charging and early in business. I was, you know, I got taken by a guy that was, you know, I thought he was my mentor, right. And he was the big shot in the Tampa Bay area as far as advertising, I’m not going to mention his name, but he brought me on, he wanted me to work for him and that didn’t work.
So, he made me kind of a quasi-partner, if you will. And we became partners. And after about six months I realized that he had been going to the accountant and taking money out of the company to buy a home in St. Croix and this, that, and the other. Well to make kind of a long story short. When I finally realized that this guy needed to be out of my life, I had the accounting people came in and they said, well, Cody, you’re in the hole about a half a million dollars. I almost couldn’t believe it, right? Half a million dollars, me? Little Cody Lowery, you know, paper boy. I’m in debt, half a million. So, the attorneys got together and they decided the best thing for me to do would be to just file bankruptcy, you know, in our country, you can file bankruptcy.
You can actually start the next day in another job. And they said, this is our only way out, your only way out. And I looked across the table at you know, three people that went to pretty good law schools. That’s not what I’m going to do. And I said, I’m going to go to the suppliers. I’m going to talk to them. I’m going to tell them exactly what happened. The reason it got so big, we were dealing with TV stations and, you know, TV time, and it’s very expensive, but I went to maybe six TV stations where the bulk of that was, and I met with the General Manager or President of the TV station. And I told him exactly what happened. And I said, I can’t pay you today, but I will pay you over time. I believe I’m going to be successful. And you know what, there wasn’t one that said no, and every one of them got their money, so, yeah.
Steve Rush: It’s a lovely story. Many people would have taken the easy route out and, you know, file for bankruptcy, but that just shows a kind of character that sits behind the man. So, congratulations for you.
Cody Lowry: Thank you. Thank you.
Steve Rush: The last thing we want to do today, Cody is give you a chance to do some time travel. So, you now have the opportunity to go back in time, bump into Cody at 21 and give him some words of wisdom, some advice, what would it?
Cody Lowry: I would say, and not to rehash what we’ve already talked about, but if you have a dream, if you have a goal, don’t put it on hold, find a way to, you know, go after that dream or that goal. And I would say, you know, get rid of the naysayers in your life. And, you know, when I was starting out at age 21, Steve, I mean, I got to tell you, I was a little naive and I don’t think being naive is really so bad because you go down avenues that maybe other people would know or can’t, what are you crazy? You know, and so I think part of my advice would be, you know, it’s okay to be naive, you know, just, just real quick. Auditioning for Saturday Night Live within a 48-hour period, I was doing standup comedy and I went to New York.
I had, you know, enough money to last, maybe a week. And, you know, I did catch a rising star and the improv and what have you. And I decided just you know; I’ve got two days left. I know what I’ll do. I’ll audition for Saturday Night Live. Oh, really? How are you going to pull that one off? Well, I was naive, you know, and it worked for me. And, you know, two days later there, I was for Saturday Night Live doing my Jimmy Carter. My name is Jimmy Carter, I always tell the truth. If I could tell lie, I grow another tooth. It’s okay to be naïve, and you know, so that would be my advice.
Steve Rush: Awesome, So Cody I’ve loved schmoozing with you, but for our listeners who might want to continue the conversation beyond our show today, where’s the best place for us to send them when we are done.
Cody Lowry: mrschmooze.com, that’s mrschmooze.com. My book Schmooze, what they should teach at Harvard Business School. It’s obviously available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon. There is also an audio book out there, which is I hear pretty good. And so yeah, the website’s good and wherever books are sold.
Steve Rush: Awesome, we’ll make sure those are all in our show notes as well, so that people can literally stop listening to us and start listening to some more of you. So, Cody, thank you so much. I know you’re incredibly busy and it’s a real privilege and an honor for us to have you on our show. And thanks for being part of The Leadership Hacker Community.
Cody Lowry: It was an honor speaking to you, truly it was.
Steve Rush: Thank you, Cody.
Cody Lowry: Thank you.
Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.
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