Love as a Growth Strategy

EPISODE 23

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This week, we are joined by best-selling author of "Banking on Digital Growth" James Robert Lay to talk about what successful growth looks like within an organization. Why do processes and technologies often fail and why might being purpose-driven be the answer? Find out the answers to these questions now.

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Feel the love! We aren't experts - we're practitioners. With a passion that's a mix of equal parts strategy and love, we explore the human (and fun) side of work and business every week together.

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Jeff Ma
Host

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James Robert Lay
Author of "Banking on Digital Growth"

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Mohammad Anwar
President

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ChrisProfile

Chris Pitre
Vice President

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Transcript

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Jeff Ma
Hello and welcome to Love as a Business Strategy, a podcast that brings humanity to the workplace. We're here to talk about business, but we want to tackle topics that most business leaders shy away from. We believe that humanity and love should be at the center of every successful business. I'm your host, Jeff Ma, I'm a director at Softway, a company that helps businesses connect with their people to build resilience through culture-building products, leadership development, and technology. Today, I'm also joined by President and CEO of Softway, Mohammad. Hey, Mohammad.

Mohammad Anwar
Hey guys.

Jeff Ma
And also our vice president, Chris Pitre. Hey, Chris.

Chris Pitre
Hello, everybody.

Jeff Ma
And as we know, in each episode, we like to dive into one element of business or strategy, and test our theory of love against it. And today's topic is love as a growth strategy, and specifically, talking about organizational growth. And our guest, is one of the world's leading digital marketing authors, speakers and advisors for financial brands. As the founder and CEO of the Digital Growth Institute. He's guided more than 520 financial brands on a mission to simplify digital marketing strategies that empower banks and credit unions to generate 10 times more loans and deposits. His insights have been featured in outlets including US News and World Report, The Financial Brand, American Banker, Credit Union Times, and Credit Union Journal. I'm super excited to have you on the show today. Welcome, James Robert lay,

James Robert Lay
It is good to be here with you guys. Thank you so much for having me, Jeff.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. And something we have to do, unfortunately, is some icebreakers. So before we can dive into anything else, I have to open the envelope here and read the questions that are prepared. And it looks like our executive producer has graciously put Mohammad first again and saved James Robert Lay for last and Mohammad, this is easy, which do you prefer to use desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile?

Mohammad Anwar
Laptop.

Jeff Ma
And why? I'm adding that.

Mohammad Anwar
I, I just love the ability to type fast. And you know, and do it anywhere like the keyboard is a huge plus, for me, I feel I'm more efficient. When I'm with a keyboard versus trying to do it on a tablet or a phone. My as you know, when I send messages, I'll do one word at a time. And that's because of the inability to type fast and type a full paragraph before I hit enter. And so I really appreciate a laptop. Even if I had to send iMessages or chat messages, I would rather do it from a laptop than my phone just because...

Jeff Ma
I'd rather receive it from your laptop as well.

Chris Pitre
For the record. That does not mean that he actually sends complete paragraphs on a laptop. He still sends one word.

Jeff Ma
Mohammad is notorious for typing one word and hitting send between every single one so you will read his messages vertically when you receive them. Chris, have you ever met a celebrity?

Chris Pitre
Yes, but let's define meet. Is there a conversation involved? Is it just a handshake? If it's just a handshake, Beyonce met her. But if it's a conversation, then Patti LaBelle. Let's see The Black-Eyed Peas.

Jeff Ma
What did you say to Patti LaBelle?

Chris Pitre
What'd she say to me?

Chris Pitre
Oh, okay.

Chris Pitre
She came to do a performance at our university for like, parents weekend. And so I was there to make sure that, you know, her rider was taken care of and that she was greeted in terms of the show. And so, you know, she was like, she was on a diet because I think she was like, pre-diabetic or whatever. And so there was a very strict diet that she had to follow. And you know, she didn't like any of the food. She was like, she was spitting everything out. And she was like, I'm gonna cook for you one day, she just looked at me and just started talking to me about wanting to cook for me. She's known to be a wonderful cook. And then from there, I started asking her about her set. And there was one song that I really wanted her to sing that she was not going to sing and she apologized and she was like, I'm so sorry. I wish I would have known that you want it to hear that song, I would have definitely included it in the set. So that was a memorable moment.

Jeff Ma
I thought your story about that and with and then she's saying for you just privately right there the song for you.

Chris Pitre
I feel like my eardrums cannot handle it because she's sings at that such an intense volume without a microphone and she hits notes that you know, dogs can pick up, so...

Jeff Ma
All right. Well, Mr. James Robert Lay, last but not least, what TV show and I'll just, I guess I'll modify this to any show streaming or otherwise, are you currently watching?

James Robert Lay
Hmm, that's an interesting question. I don't watch much TV. I actually just cancelled Netflix, recently.

Jeff Ma
Whoa. Pulled the plug.

James Robert Lay
Yeah, I did. And so that leaves me with YouTube. I mean, maybe the one that I'm just clinging on to still is The Walking Dead.

Jeff Ma
Okay.

James Robert Lay
And that's about it. YouTube, well, I might have to renew Netflix because I hear Cobra Kai has moved from YouTube over to Netflix. And we got to pick up that season three, in Cobra Kai, so I might have to renew Netflix for a month, binge it, and cancel it again.

Jeff Ma
'll loan you my login for it.

James Robert Lay
Please.

Jeff Ma
Alright, so let's jump into this. Love as a growth strategy. And I guess I'll start basics. start with the basics. James, when it comes to organizational growth? Where do we begin? Where do we start?

James Robert Lay
All future growth in today's post COVID digital world is going to stem from an organization that is driven by purpose, a purpose that puts the transformation of people over the commoditized transactions of dollars and cents.

Jeff Ma
Powerful. Succint. Where do we go from there?

James Robert Lay
I mean, you know, purpose is the foundation. And it's it's hard because a lot of organizations are driven by, you know, this is what we do. This is the products that we bring to bear in the marketplace. They're driven by this is how we do it. This is our experience, if you will. But I think where things get tricky for organizations is, who do we do this for? That's the hard question to ask, that's the hard question to answer because it requires some courage to say we're gonna focus on creating value for for this particular market segment. And it's not that we're saying no to the others, it's just that we're saying yes to this one, which gets us really, really clear. And then from there, we can move into that higher existential question of why are we doing this? And it has to be all of that thinking focused around that group of people with the hoop.

Jeff Ma
So even maybe even backpedaling a little bit, what is growth? What is organizational growth? Define it for us.

James Robert Lay
What is growth? That's a that's a great, that's a great question. Growth, to me is a journey. It is a journey from good to great, it is a journey that is never ending. It's one that often starts in the mind of the individual that then is disseminated and communicated to the team. And then ultimately accepted and adopted by the organization at large. Because an organization is made up of teams and teams are made up of individuals.

Mohammad Anwar
So James, I know that you talk about in your book, Banking on Digital Growth, you specifically speak about digital growth. Can you set context to digital? And then and then why banking?

James Robert Lay
Yeah, so digital growth, academically defined is what we would look at is systems and processes that align really four key players within an organization, marketing teams, sales teams, IT teams, operational teams, and we align these four teams around the modern, what we would call the digital consumer journey, putting people at the center of all of our thinking, and all of our doing really with three primary goals. Number one, we want to create awareness about the organization, we want to drive some traffic, we want to capture some leads and nurture those leads and make them feel really good about that experience. And ultimately turn them into customers and love them enough to where they feel good about that experience. And then they want to tell the world how great our our particular brand is. And and so so that's that's what we define digital growth is really just systems and processes centered around people to improve their lives in some way shape form or fashion. But why banking? I love that question. For me this idea of purpose, it's driven by what I call 1BxBTR. That's my purpose. And that's to make the world a billion times better by getting a billion people beyond the financial stress that's taking a toll on their health, their relationships, their overall sense of well being. You know, money is the thread that connects really, I think, three points, what do we want at the end of the day, right? It's, it's, we want to, we want to feel healthy. We want to feel wealthy. And it's not that we all want to go out and be bazillionaires, it's just we don't want to have to have that financial struggle and worry, the anxiety that so many of us feel. I mean, I have four kids, and just the grocery bill alone. It's intense. And so it's kind of always in the back of my mind.

Chris Pitre
Everybody's on a diet.

James Robert Lay
Yeah. Well, into that point, Chris, like my kids, you know, they eat very clean, my wife is really big into health and fitness. And so not a lot of carbs, and not a lot of filler. It's like a lot of vegetables and a lot of protein, that's a whole nother conversation. So people want to feel they want to feel they want to feel healthy, they want to feel wealthy, and they want to feel happy. And from all of my experience over the last 20 years, banking has the opportunity to really elevate and transform how they think about themselves. As we take in deposits and we give loans to something even bigger, we transform people's lives for the better. Because we we help fix their wallet. And by fixing their wallet, we can help them get a sense of control, and then they're going to get healthier physically, and they're getting healthier mentally. And there's all these different connecting points. That's why banking, Mohammad.

Mohammad Anwar
Got it, I appreciate that. Um, so, in banking, with respect to their digital growth strategy, I mean, you talked about commodities and, you know, purpose, how does a bank differentiate itself with their growth strategies? What what are the things that you think banks can do? Because I look at it, as you know, a bank is a simple institution that holds your money and gives you loans. So how much of a difference or impact can they really make?

James Robert Lay
That's, that's the old, the old world thinking, which, which I think, really keeps a lot of people stuck in what I call the cave of complacency. It's where people feel safe. It's where people feel secure. But, you know, it's a false sense of security, when you look at the cave of complacency. Look at all the other corpses that are lying around that that didn't realize what's going on in this world, all the transformations that are happening from consumer behavior, really driven by technology, new competitive threats. And so when we think about this idea of banking on a purpose, that's bigger than dollars and cents bigger than loans bigger than deposits. There's a lot of great examples, particularly in the FinTech space, because because FinTech I see, they're really being driven by this idea of purpose of love, of empathy of putting people at the center of all of their thinking and doing, I'll use off the top of my head, Aspiration. Aspiration is a is a new neobank that is really purpose driven around some social causes. So for example, the deposits at Aspiration would never go to, say, fossil fuels, or other what we would call maybe more politically charged initiatives, there was a lot of heat that some of the big nationals took Wells Fargo in particularly and because of that Aspiration, was able to, you know, attract a couple hundred thousand new account holders, because they were able to position around this idea of of be well and do good and, and a lot of is being well and doing good for the environment. And that idea of purpose is even disseminated through the communication, both marketing but even their products as well, because a lot of this comes back to, you know, doing good for the planet, planting trees even whenever you open an account or swipe a card or they have their IRAs tied into funds that won't harm the environment. So that's just one of many, many examples of how you can take a bank who might to your perspective, be traditionally thought of, as we take in deposits we'd give loans, no, for Aspiration, it's it is that it is driven by a much larger aspiration of making the world a better place.

Mohammad Anwar
Got it, okay.

Jeff Ma
I know I personally have this mental personal stigma, when it comes to banking and finance that inherently labels it as evil, if you will. And, you know, at, I was really excited to have this conversation with you because you know, as Love as a Business Strategy, you know, it's something that we firmly believe in, we're constantly focused very broadly out in workplaces and things like that. But when it comes to, I guess, connecting the dots to the banking industry, or, you know, your experience in general, you know, where do you see that connection more clearly?

James Robert Lay
You know, this could this could be applied to almost any vertical. And the reason I say that is, is I look out at the world, and whether it's in the banking space, or in retail, education, healthcare, almost every single vertical has been commoditized, because of digital in some shape, form or fashion. And, like this idea of love, I'm gonna come back another, you know, just thought that popped into my head is a is a platform called Honeyfi, it's another app, it's a FinTech app. And if we think about this idea of financial stress, taking the toll on health, but also relationships, I mean, you know, think about the the stress that money causes, whether it's with, you know, a spouse, or with a partner. That's the problem that Honeyfi is solving, which can help increase to kind of what the whole conversation, it helps create, increase the love between a couple, because they're fighting less about money and, and reducing that, that conflict. So Love as a Business Strategy. It really, I look at it, from the lens of what I call the the pinnacle of human relationships, every relationship that we have, there's three key elements for that relationship, to thrive at the foundation of the relationship, it's all about respect. And what I mean by that, it's helped me when I, the individual, whether that be the employee, or whether that be the customer, the prospective customer, help me when I have a need, not when you have a need as the organization. And that's a big transformation of thinking, because, and we can come back to this point in a little bit. But I think there's a lot of narcissism, particularly through the lens of the world, my world of marketing and sales, but it's all about respect, get the respect, we can start to level up. Because at the pinnacle of this relationship is what you guys are talking about. It's about love. And what I look at is love from a growth strategy. Love is, whenever an individual makes a commitment to an organization, whether that be an employee, internally, whether that be a prospective customer externally, to make a purchase, to take that to take that job. But what has to happen to bridge the gap between respect and love at the top of this pyramid of human relationships. It's trust. And trust is built on two things, what you say, and what you do. And in today's digital world, trust is a little bit harder to build than it was back when we could actually get and sit down face to face.

Mohammad Anwar
Interesting.

Jeff Ma
It's a lot to unpack.

Chris Pitre
And so that's a really great concept. And going back to your cave of complacency. Why do you think it is that you know, banks, which controls so much of you know, the world's wealth and sort of transfer of money? What is making it if I can say be so bold to say what's making it so hard for them to make this connection and build these types of true relationships with their customers? And even those who, you know, I know, there's a huge class of people that are underbanked, as they call them, like even building into relationships with those folks who you know, are living without bank accounts.

James Robert Lay
What makes it hard? It's, it's a really deep, deep question. It's what I call the bankers brain. And what I mean by that, the bankers brain is a very smart, left-driven, analytical brain that hates to take risk. And that's a good thing, because to your point, yeah, they are controlling the wealth and people's money, and we don't want them to hear, we don't want to wake up one day, and where did my money go. But at the same time, that strength is also the Achilles heel. Because the bankers brain is very different from the brain of the person, the consumer, even to your point, the underbanked, they're driven by those three things of, I want to feel healthy, I want to feel wealthy, I want to feel happy. And so that, it's going to create some natural conflict internally and externally. And when we look at what holds them back into that cave of complacency, it's really I it's, it's four fears. It's, it's like, yeah, you know what, I get this idea, philosophically. But I'm held back by the fear of the unknown. Can we even think like this? Can we even do and operate around a business model of love? Okay, great. So what do we do we have to provide clarity to help the the unknown, feel a little bit less scary, then it's the fear of failure. And we've been successful up to this point, why do we need to make this change to begin with in the first place, which is a very dangerous thought, because what got us to where we're at today, will not get us to where we need to go tomorrow, as an organization. We're making decisions in the present moment, informed by the past, when we should be future thinking and the be future thinking, we have to be thinking about the problems that people have, and solve those problems for people. And that'll help our organization continue to grow from good to great. And then we have the fear of the fear of change. Which is, to me one of the hardest things, because that fear of change is really rooted in the fear of the unknown and fear of failure. And change is hard for any of us. And it requires courage. It requires commitment. And it requires us leaning into that. But if we put our focus on other people, not on ourselves, but if we put our focus on other people, and makes that change. And I think I think that's the thing we don't want to we don't need to talk about change anymore. Because change has a negative context to it, we need to begin to talk about transformation. because change is hard transformation is much easier, because what is transformation, transformation is growth, transformation is growing from good to great.

Chris Pitre
Yep. And I think in my experience in working with banks, like they will spend a lot of marketing dollars chasing heightened high net worth individuals, they won't spend that money building high net worth individuals, which to me would be like, if you build somebody into a high net worth, high net worth individual loyalty is there, right? Like, then you actually have an unlimited supply of customer base, and you're not spending to chase after a very limited pool that is not growing or expanding?

James Robert Lay
Absolutely, like I see such a tremendous opportunity for financial brands, to educate, to empower to elevate people, because then it's this upward growth for for everyone involved in this conversation. And, you know, it's not just about taking people's money taking those deposits and making loans, it's also about helping to create income for them, showing them new opportunities helping the the unaware, become aware of, you know, I talk a lot about, you know, incubators, for example, with banks, and that's a great way to create. And to me, I think that the opportunities for the local community banks to apply a lot of this thinking because the community institution can be the backbone. They're the financial conduit that connects that small local business with the consumer, and it's this, we keep that money in the local community, and that community can grow stronger and stronger over a period of time.

Chris Pitre
Absolutely.

Jeff Ma
Where does any of this I guess, just zoom it out for a period of time? You know, how does this kind of loving the perspective around banking and financial institution? Where does this kind of find his way back to just growth in general in terms of like, take like kind of takeaways on the side of general growth or digital growth for other organizations?

James Robert Lay
Well, I would look at this through the lens of business experience. And what I mean by that if we're going to define growth as growing from good to great as helping other people, what experiences are we crafting, creating, delivering to these people, because it's through those experiences that we bridge that, that gap between respect and love at the at the pinnacle, it's through those experiences that we establish and reinforce trust. Once again, trust is two things. It's what you say. That's your marketing. It's what you do. That's the experience that people have, through a brand, whether that be in person, whether that be digitally speaking. So I think experience, we have to define, as once again, the systems and processes that have been defined, applied an optimized over a period of time, resulting in one of two things, a positive emotion, or a negative emotion. And when we look at this idea of what leads to growth, it's two types of experiences. It's what I call the DX or the digital experience. And on the other side, we have the HX or the human experience. It's not one, it's not the other. It's both working in conjunction, to elevate the organization by putting the focus on other people that that organization is creating value for through those experiences.

Mohammad Anwar
So James talk to me about the financial institutions and their culture inside of their organizations, how can that help with this overarching goal of digital growth or growth for that business?

James Robert Lay
Well, let's take the human experience. Let's take that that part of the formulaic equation of Dx plus HX equals growth. And the human experience is made up of really two key elements. It's made up of offering help and providing hope. Because if I think about banking and money, people feel confused about money, people feel frustrated about money, people feel overwhelmed. And people are looking for two things when it comes to this situation. And this thinking can be applied into other verticals too. But, but help and hope and hope often has to come long before someone is even willing to receive that sense of help. Now, that's a big transformational shift in thinking and mindset. Because a lot of financial brands are driven by what they're driven by the product. They're driven by the profit, which is then really reinforced by the process. So it's efficiencies and who gets squeezed that it's the people, it's the customer. And so when you begin to put your focus on people, and you say, you know what we're going to, we're going to be a purpose driven organization. And so we might not necessarily be as efficient, but the profits will follow the purpose. And we're seeing that play out now. And so help and hope, all of that is multiplied by this word that we heard a lot more about now, post COVID. But it's empathy. It's being able to put yourself in another person's shoes. And what does that what does that require? It's a it's a mantra that I teach. It's, it's it's really four words, help first, sell second.

Mohammad Anwar
So how does a banking institution that may have been, you know, in the cave of complacency, how can they easily get out of the cave of complacency and empower or teach their employees to have that empathy? What advice would you give to a president of a financial institution like that?

James Robert Lay
I really call it the predictable journey. There are four way points on this predictable journey. We touched on one of them before, which is to begin to exit the cave of complacency and come out and face the, the monsters that surround us. We have to gain clarity. That's our flashlight that says, you know what, here's the path. It's not so scary. Other people have taken this path before, and that clarity is gained through training and education. I'm a big believer that training is at the foundation of any type of transformational initiative, whether that be the quote unquote, digital transformation that we're always hearing about, whether that's cultural transformation. Training has to be at the heart of any type of transformation because because training provides clarity into the unknown, helps overcome the fear of the unknown. The second way point on this journey is really two things that go hand in hand together. It's it's, it's the increase of courage, along with an increase in commitment. And a lot of that is it's taking what we've learned through that training, and then being able to distill that down into some new strategic thinking models. So it's taking the the education and the insight and applying it through strategy, because now that becomes our roadmap to point us forward. So we have our flashlight with training education, then we have our roadmap with strategy that helps to build our courage to commit to move forward on whatever this transformational journey is. And then the fourth element of this waypoint or this journey, it's the it's the increase in confidence. Because as we begin to set out on this journey, what do we look? What do we look for? How do we measure success? And, and traditionally, we would measure success by, you know, this is where we're going. But a lot of times on these big transformational initiatives, it can feel like the impossible journey. So I think we have to reframe What does success look like we don't measure success by where we're going, we measure success by where we've come from, looking behind measuring that progress and not perfection. And, and that will increase our confidence, we can also increase our confidence through a couple of other elements, we can increase our confidence by gaining new capabilities, and a lot of those new capabilities come through what I'm seeing digitally speaking, it's collaboration, we have to let go of the old world view of everyone's a competitor, maybe not, maybe our competitor is a collaborator. And when you put one plus one together, that actually equals 10, through a collaboration opportunity, with it's a mindset of abundance, and not of scarcity,

Mohammad Anwar
I was gonna just summarize that what what I'm taking away from all of this is like, those four steps, or that you just mentioned, all of it has to do with people, whether that's training and development, whether that's confidence, whether that's defining success. And lastly, collaboration. So nothing from that was about process and tools. Everything is about how do you empower your organization and your people to be better equipped to be successful? So all of that digital transformation stuff? Everything you brought it back home to is like, how are you going to focus on people?

James Robert Lay
Put people at the center of all of your thinking and doing. Because why do you know 60 to 80%, of quote unquote, digital transformation projects fail, it's not because the technology, it's because the people who have to apply that technology, there's a gap in their own, like, their own clarity, you know, they don't understand the purpose of why we're doing this to begin with as an organization. And so the individual gets stuck in their own cave of complacency. And so that's why when we put people at the center of all of the thinking, doing the tools, if you will, the technology, that's just a capability multiplier, right?

Chris Pitre
Yeah. And I was just gonna say that, as you've been talking, especially about that last part, looking back at people, and being the reason why, you know, digital transformations have have failed is the people aspect. A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a friend of mine, we went to school together, she is the VP at a major US financial institution up in New York City. And, you know, I was just talking to her asking about, like, what does it look like inside of her environment. And the word that she used to describe the relationships internally is transactional. She said that we are very transactional with each other. So I work with you, in return to get something for me. There isn't a true relationship beyond that transaction on an employee level. And as you think about, you know, the mindset that banks have with their own customers, it seems that that is also internally what is happening. And so when you talk about human experience, I would love for you to expound on the fact that human experience might need to start internally before it could be effective externally.

James Robert Lay
Absolutely. You know, this idea of, I think, the conversation, the soup du jour, if you will, has been about CX about customer experience. The problem with that thinking is that's externally focused and we need to transition that conversation back in internally, because it's like, you know, remember those days when we would use to be able to hop on a plane and and fly somewhere. What was the very first thing that they would come on and say? You got to put your oxygen mask on first, before you put your oxygen mask on those that you're traveling with. And when we think about this, organizationally speaking, we need to put the oxygen mask on our team members on our employees, first take care of them. Because when we take care of them, they can then feel empowered to go take care of other people, because it's created a for lack of a better word, it's created a psychologically safe place for them, that they're not having to worry about that transaction of I need this. So you need to do that. It's it's, it's it comes down to that pyramid of human relationships. It's about respect. How can I help you? How can I elevate you. And by doing so we will all grow together. So that that's a really good point, because it's not about transactions, about putting the transformation of people over that commoditize transaction transactions are easy transformations are maybe a little bit uncomfortable for some.

Mohammad Anwar
So human relationships is pivotal for digital growth, even right? It's not as simple as just go get an amazing marketing campaign, and you'll get all these customers, but to truly unlock growth, you have to start with your own organization and your employees and investing into them into their relationships, is what I'm gathering.

James Robert Lay
Yeah, you do. And when we think about that, like, what, what is technology? If we look back, as we're entering now, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the age of AI. That's making a lot of people feel really uncomfortable, but there's a lot of anxiety right now, people are confused people what's going to happen to my job, you know, I don't think I think people are just the energy level is is very off. And so when we look at the age of AI, and technology, technology is just a tool. It is a tool that brings and connects people together. I mean, I think there's a lot of correlation of what's going on right now, in 2020, in relationship to say, like video technology, zoom, zoom is to what is the COVID, as the telephone was back in the 1918 flu pandemic, because the telephone had an exponential explosion of growth and adoption, because that's the way that people kept the human connection. Well, now we're saying the same there, we're seeing the same thing, post COVID. We're keeping that human connection via platforms like zoom or WhatsApp, or FaceTime. Because it does come down to technology is the tool that brings people together for good.

Mohammad Anwar
So ultimately, we might use technology to help a digital growth. But technology is a means and a way to help with human experience. So we're really coming back to HX, at the end of the day because you're using the technology and the tools to help the human experience. And if you can use it in the right way to help with your human relationships and enhance your human relationships still going back to that pyramid. I mean, that's what the purpose of technology is. But technology is ultimately not the root solution or the silver bullet for your digital growth. It's still coming down to people.

James Robert Lay
It is and when you keep that, that perspective of keep people at the center of all of your thinking and doing internally and externally use that to inform your decisions around technology. Because you might realize either a, we're making this way more human beings love to make simple things very complex. It's a pattern to have. It's a trend that I see, to where simplicity, is the pathway to escape complexity. And what is simplicity. It's about letting go of, or it's about saying no to. It's not about adding more and more and more into the mix. And so when we think about that idea of technology, it's about bringing people together.

Mohammad Anwar
Another thing you mentioned early on this podcast is the bankers brain when we asked what is stopping the the banking executives from taking the risk and changing and going down this path. So if you take it back to the human aspect, we're talking about change. And we're talking about behavior change, essentially, right? How do you change the behaviors of your consumers, but now we're focused internally on employees. And when you talk about the bankers brain and how you're going to change their behaviors, it's it's it's coming back to mindsets and behaviors inside of the organization. That that's probably the biggest obstacle that you have to overcome.

James Robert Lay
It is. And that's why I say, you know, this idea of digital growth is a journey, it's a journey from good to great, it's a journey that really begins into in the mind and it's one that will take time, it's one that will probably be a little bit uncomfortable for some, and, but it doesn't mean that all hope is lost, because you can help the unaware once again, become aware through that training and education. And, and, and patience, having a lot of patience and providing some grace. But I really believe if an organization and this really takes the conversation full circle now, of where does this begin, it begins with purpose. Because if you can identify what that organizational purpose is, beyond the products, or the services that has really driven a lot of the thinking up to this point, it's much larger, it's easier for people to attach to that, when things get tough. We can lean back and lean into that purpose and say, You know what? We're doing this for this reason. And it's not just to make a buck. It's because we're transforming the lives of other people.

Jeff Ma
What do you say to people or organizations or leaders who when you ask, what is the purpose of an organization, they say, to generate revenue for our shareholders? Like, what do you what do you say to them?

James Robert Lay
There's nothing wrong, there's nothing wrong with generating revenue for the shareholder. I mean, that's, that's the that's exactly why we're all in business to begin with in the first place. But at what point does that idea of we'll call it just capitalism at all cost, become a cost. And, you know, you're taking advantage of the employee, you're taking advantage of the customer. Yeah, the shareholder is going to win. But I think if anything in this world, we have so many more choices available to us, that we can take our dollars and go elsewhere. If we're feeling that we're, we're being and we're starting to see some of that. So I've been doing a lot of thinking about this perspective of conscious capitalism. And you know, it's really that that idea of the triple bottom line of profit of people of planet, and all three of those must work hand in hand together, because if it's profit, for profit sake, it's going to be a cost in the long run.

Mohammad Anwar
Good point.

Jeff Ma
Very insightful. I'm curious, how, how do you in these contexts that we've been talking about, how do you define love?

James Robert Lay
Love. I'm going to lean on Thomas Aquinas, for this one, love is willing the good of another person. Love is willing the good of another person.

Mohammad Anwar
That's, that's very succint.

Jeff Ma
So helping, I guess, is a powerful way to help to to love others, I guess.

James Robert Lay
Yeah, you you. I want. When I think about love, I want that person to succeed. I want that person to grow, I want that person to be happy, I want that person to feel fulfilled. I want the good for the other person. I want to help them.

Mohammad Anwar
So what do you think is an obstacle or a barrier? Besides the mindsets and behaviors in helping organizations unleash this digital growth? How do you convince someone I think we keep coming back to it to what is that silver bullet? How do we get organizations to jump on this journey?

James Robert Lay
There's two ways to approach it. One could be through fearmongering. And going down the negative path of if you don't make these transformations, there's a very good probability that you will cease to exist. You will die as an organization that is and we're seeing that play out now. You know, we can look at the retail apocalypse, right? All of these major once very well known brands, no longer with us. But then there are other brands who have been around for a very long time. I think one that pops off the top my head is like JOHN DEERE, the tractor brand, the farming brand. JOHN DEERE has been around since the 1800s. And they still are continuing to grow today. And it's because you know, back then they had a transformation in their thinking of their go to market strategy was, we're not just gonna sell another plow to these farmers, we're going to really educate and empower them. And give them the the knowledge that they need to grow their farms, regardless of if they buy a plow for us. And that was through the publication of what's called the furrow. The furrow is still with us today, although it's not in print, it's now digital, the concept and the premise stays the same. So it's that idea of helping first and selling second through the furrow. And when we look at this, this this commoditization brought about by digital, it's, it's like I said, we can go down the path of if we don't make these changes, you will die or, or we can say, you know what, here's an even better way for you to continue to grow yourself to continue to grow your organization. And if you do this way, not only do you grow yourself, your organization, but you can help these 10s of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people. Let's focus on that. Let's focus on the good versus focusing on the negative because I really believe whatever your mind is set to, that's what's gonna become your reality.

Mohammad Anwar
So all in all, what you're telling is, ultimately, you're getting them to help others for their own benefit. And that's Love as a Business Strategy.

Jeff Ma
That is Love as a Business Strategy. Just rewording, it's like a math problem.

James Robert Lay
Yeah, let's, let's address everything that's gone on over the last, you know, year, which has felt like a century. It's so easy to turn inwards. When times get tough, when things feel uncertain. But from my own personal experience, and having worked with, you know, almost 600 financial brands now, those that have had the courage to lean into the pain points of others, have come out better on the other end of the spectrum. They have been the ones that have grown, when times have been tough, because they didn't necessarily focus on themselves. They focused on other people, they put Love as a Business Strategy.

Mohammad Anwar
Nice.

Jeff Ma
So, you know, I guess from a listener perspective, now I'm wondering, you know, where do, where do I go from here, I guess? wWhat's the takeaway? Or maybe all this sounds like, well, I work for a business that does not do any of these things you're talking about. Where's the hope? I guess, where's the silver lining for me? Where do I go?

James Robert Lay
It all starts with you, dear listener, it all starts with you. Have have the courage to put other people at the center of all of your thinking, and all of your doing, and you can begin that right now, at this moment. And it's a commitment that you can make, but it's often a habit that you have to keep coming back to, and catch yourself and give yourself grace. If you find yourself falling off the path and reverting back to the old patterns and behaviors. That's okay. It's human nature, forgive yourself. But have the courage to put people at the heart of all of your thinking and all of your doing and, and really what it boils down to is, is be the rock in someone else's sea of chaos, be the rock that they can cling to, be the light that can guide them on their own journey of growth, because we're all on a journey of growth, be the light that guides someone else be that flashlight that I was talking about, to help them come out of their own cave of complacency. And really, ultimately be the hope because I think at the end of the day, sometimes that's just all we need is that there's hope for something better. But that hope begins right now.

Mohammad Anwar
Awesome.

Jeff Ma
Exclamation point. James to share a little bit about your your book, your podcast, share a little bit about what what you have going on.

James Robert Lay
Yeah. So, I mean, I would love for the dear listener, just to connect with me on LinkedIn. And ask me a question. You know, if you want to dive deeper on the subject matter from my own perspective of the world, let me be that resource. Let me be that light for you, I guess. And, and one of the ways that I'm doing that is through my podcast, which is Banking on Digital Growth, and answering questions from people that come in. And, and then also as a way just to get everything that I know out of my head into the hearts and minds of other leaders at scale. I wrote the book "Banking on Digital Growth", which, while it is written through the lens of, of growth for financial services, the models, the methodologies, the thinking insight, and can easily be applied and transitioned into other verticals.

Jeff Ma
Sure. Awesome. Well, Mohammad, Chris, anything else you want to you want to pick out of James head right now while we have him?

Mohammad Anwar
I do have a question. So James, I know you for many, many years. What got you to go in this direction? Because I know, I met you and you owned a digital agency. So I just want to hear your your purpose, how did you change your purpose? And how did you get into doing what you're doing today?

James Robert Lay
The dark night of the soul. You know, it was 2012. My agency was right at 10 years old. And it was we were from the outside, people thought, man, you're doing great, you know, you're growing, you're making a lot of money. You're getting all this press these awards, these accolades. And then it was October of 2012, my wife is like, she had we just had our second child earlier that year, she said, It's either me and the kids, or it's the business. And I had to make some tough choices and tough decisions. Because I was self absorbed, selfish, it was all about me, and not a very good person. And so I had to come in and get some outside help. Because I was too far into that cave, if you will, it was so dark. And so I brought in someone that had worked with other firms like mine, and his advice, and his recommendation was, you just need to blow it all up and start over. And so I took that 10 years of doing, if you will, and then transitioned into the next iteration, which is really framed around training and education trained around thinking trainer on it formed around strategy. And, yeah, it was all because I didn't want to lose my wife, or my kids. And, and since that time, we had two more children. And the business has grown in a much more healthy direction for myself, personally, for my family. But I feel like the value that I'm creating is much larger than the old marketing campaigns of the past, but really, really transforming people's lives through through the thinking and the teaching that we're doing for these these banks.

Mohammad Anwar
Awesome. I appreciate you sharing that. And thank you for giving us that insight. Appreciate very much. Very powerful.

James Robert Lay
Absolutely.

Jeff Ma
Yeah. Well, I'll echo that. Thank you so much for joining us today. You've given so many golden nuggets of wisdom and insight here. And yeah. Mohammad, Chris, also, thank you for for joining us today. It's been a really great conversation.

Chris Pitre
Yep. Thank you. And thank you, James. I think a lot of the things you're talking about, while, yes, is focused on the banking world, it can be applicable to so many other lines of business, so many different industries. So if you're listening, I hope that you were able to take some nuggets that you can apply to your business no matter what that is in.

James Robert Lay
Absolutely. And thank you so much for having me. I wish everyone well, be good.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. And here at Love as a Business Strategy. We're posting new episodes every Tuesday. And if there's a business topic, or any topic you'd like to cover, drop us a line softway.com/LAABS, and if you like what you heard today, please do consider giving us a five star review or subscribing on Apple or Spotify, it would mean a whole lot. So with that, we will sign off and see you next week. See you later.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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