The Client-First Mentality: Why You Need to Serve the Client First, with Drew McLellan.

Episode 32

podcast photo thumbnail



Drew McLellan is a 25-year marketing veteran who helps clients create authentic love affairs with their customers. In 1995, Drew started his own agency — McLellan Marketing Group. He also helps other agency owners learn how to take their business to the next level through the consultancy — Agency Management Institute.

Drew is also one of the world’s top marketing and branding bloggers, according to AdAge’s Top 150 index. He’s written the book 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing and co-edited the Age of Conversation series of books.

He has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Businessweek and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.

Click to tweet: Drew McLellan shares his outstanding experience and insights on Onward Nation!


Subscribe to Onward Nation!

rsz_itunes-button-300x109     Stitcher icon button


Secret — timesaving technique

Wunderlist is an excellent application that can be used to optimize your schedule. ONWARD!

Daily habit that contributes to success

Drew believes in maintaining a level of gratitude during the workday — return the kindness.

Could have ruined your business — but now —  an invaluable learning experience

Drew once took his eye off the ball for a split second — and Drew tells the whole story here.

Most critical skill you think business owners need to master to be successful

“A business owner has to focus — prioritize their schedule — and pursue the long-term vision.”

Most influential lesson learned from a mentor

“Simply help others — go into every situation with a service attitude — serve the client first.”


Final Round — “Breaking Down the Recipe for Success”


What systems would you go back and put into place sooner?

“I would have implemented a system to help me with the sales funnel because the family and friends pool dries up.”

What one strategy or “recipe” would compound into big wins for business owners?

There has to be new business at all three levels — micro — macro — and even at the nano level.

How to exceed expectations and add the most value?

An individual who has an attitude of gratitude — and understands that our absolutes have deadlines.

What strategy would you recommend new business owners focus on to best ensure success?

  1. Ignore the noxious individual
  2. Believe in yourself

How best to connect with Drew:


Get ready to find your recipe for success from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation, with your host, Stephen Woessner.

Stephen W.: Good morning Onward Nation. I am Stephen Woessner. We all know that building and scaling a business is hard work, but when you have the right strategy, the right recipe for success to follow, the action steps become more like ingredients, and can be added systematically into your business one ingredient at the time. That’s why I am so excited to introduce our guest today, Drew McLellan.

Drew has worked in advertising for 25-plus years, and started his own agency, McLellan Marketing Group in 1995. He also owns the Agency Management Institute, which offers agency management training, consulting, and facilitates agency owner peer groups for small to mid-sized agencies. His first book, 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, was published in 2003. Drew and Australian marketer, Gavin Heaton, created The Age of Conversation series of crowdsourced books in 2007. Today, the AOC series has raised over $50,000 for charity. The Wall Street Journal calls Drew of one of 10 bloggers every entrepreneur should read. Welcome to Onward Nation, Drew.

Drew McLellan: Thanks very much. It’s great to be here. I’ve enjoyed the series so far, and it’s fun to be among your guests, so thank you.

Stephen W.: Well, I’m honored and grateful that you would take the time. Drew, I’ve only given Onward Nation a very, very brief glimpse in your background, so take a minute or two and tell us more about your business, your experience, and then we’ll dive in.

Drew McLellan: Well, you certainly hit the highlights. My whole career, I’ve been in advertising. Either I’ve worked in advertising agencies, and then I started my own 20 years ago. Then more recently, in the last decade or so, with Agency Management Institute, I’ve turned what I’ve learned in running an agency into helping other agencies. The common thread through all of that and one of the things that I know about myself is what I really love to do and what I’m grateful that I get paid to do is help other people be better.

For our agency clients, that’s helping them build their business, grow their client base, create love affairs with their customers, so their customers become their biggest advocates of word of mouth, referral sources. On the AMI side, really helping dedicated business owners build bigger, stronger, better businesses, so they can take care of their families, and their employees’ families. That’s kind of the common thread for me, is I get really jazzed up about being helpful.

Stephen W.: This is going to be an amazing conversation for a number of different reasons, but what I love is that you’re bringing the perspective of not only a multi-business owner, owning multiple businesses, but the fact that you’re a great marketer, and you really see the world through the lens of the avatar, the customer of your clients and so forth. I think you’re going to be able to offer some amazing perspectives. Let’s dive into this first section that I call focus in preparation. Preparation, because it’s so true that greatness is available to all of us if we’re willing to do the common things uncommonly well, which is a powerful lesson I learned from one of my mentors, Don Yaeger. Drew, is there a secret or time-saving technique that you can share with us that helps you focus and prepared to tackle your most vital priorities each day?

Drew McLellan: Yeah, and this is going to sound ridiculous, and all of your listeners may have already figured this out, but I have struggled for years. Because I have lots of responsibilities and lots of to-dos in all of my companies, my challenge was always how do I keep track of everything to make sure nothing is falling through the cracks, that I’m doing the most important things first. Back in the early part of my career, I had a day timer. I’ve had the Franklin Covey planner, and I’ve had all these other tools. What I ended up doing was keeping all of this stuff, all this really important stuff, lists and to-dos and contact names and numbers, and they would be scattered. Some of them would be written on paper. Some of them would be written on Post-it notes. Some of them would be on my phone or my iPad, or my computer.

I never could take a breath, because I never felt like it was all in one place. I searched and searched, and tried a bazillion different tools. Finally, I landed on a tool called Wunderlist. It’s W-U-N-D-R-L-I-S-T. If you go to, it’s an app. It’s also a website, so it immediately syncs to my iPhone, iPad, my Apple computer, but you can use them on the dreaded PC as well, if you haven’t come over to the dark side yet. What it does is it all syncs together. It allows me to have separate different lists. It allows me to sort by … I have an MMG list. I have an AMI list. I have a stuff I have to do at home list. I have a stuff I have to do for my daughter lis. I have a stuff I have to do for my mom list. I have a grocery list. My whole life is contained in this one application.

I can sort it by priority. I can sort it by things that take 15 minutes or less. If I am sitting at an airport, I have half an hour, I think, “What can I get done in 15 minutes?” I can do that, and go, “Oh, you know what, I forgot, I needed to call that guy. Great. I’ll do that.” I can sort it by priority, by day that it’s due. It finally, it’s sort of my electronic brain. It allows me to relax and know that I know exactly what I need to get done today. I know exactly what I need to get done tomorrow. I can also create list that I share with other people. I have a list that I have tied to my employees. If need them to do something, or they need me to do something, we can put it on each other’s list, and that shows up in that same way.

It is finally a one place where all of my vital priorities, all of my responsibilities are together. No matter what device I have in front of me, it automatically syncs in the cloud, so it’s always current. I travel a lot, as you know. I run into an airport. I might only have my iPhone. I might be sitting at my desk two days later, and I have my laptop in front of me, and it’s all right there. As simple as it sounds, just having a way to keep track of all of that stuff in one place realtime has helped me be much more efficient and effective, and also relieves me of the constant worry that I’ve forgotten something.

Stephen W.: Simple, but amazingly powerful. Again, that’s Is that right?

Drew McLellan: Yup, but it’s Wunder, W-U-N-D-E-R-L-I-S-T. It’s actually a German company.

Stephen W.: Okay. Perfect. Thank you for that, Drew. Let’s take that a little bit deeper and now transition over to daily habit. Is there a habit or habits that you think strongly contributes to your success?

Drew McLellan: Yes. I think there are a lot of them, but the one that bubbled up when I thought about this question is I am a firm believer that in one way, shape or form, the level of gratitude that we experience and share triggers the level of success we have in the future. I believe the more grateful I am for what I have today and what I’ve gone through and the people around me, and I don’t want to get New Agey, or religious on anybody, but I believe that sets the stage for me to be more successful. I also believe that people like to help people who appreciate when they help them.

One thing that I do every day is I fire off what I call a gratitude email. It’s as simple as I think about somebody in my life. It could be a business partner. It could be a vendor. It could be a client. It could be someone in my personal life. I just send them an email. I start my day this way, because then my whole day is framed around this idea of gratitude. I’ll send an email, and I’ll say, “Dear, whoever the person is, just a quick email. I just wanted you to know that I was thinking about you today, and I’m grateful for you. I’m grateful that you help me in this way or that way, or whatever. I just wanted to say thank you.”

It’s pretty short. It depends on the relationship, how in depth it gets and all of that, and how emotional laden it gets. Sometimes it’s very matter of fact, but it reminds me that every day, no matter how bad the day is, if a client fires us, if I get a flat tire, if it’s raining, it doesn’t matter. I am blessed, and I have a lot to be grateful for. I find when I focus on that, it allows me to live my life and my business the way that I want to.

Stephen W.: Amen, brother. Wow. That is awesome. It doesn’t take much time to do that, right? It could be just two minutes, and you could change the course of somebody’s day by giving that message of gratitude. That’s amazing. Let’s transition now into overcoming obstacles. Everyone love stories, Drew. You know this as well as anyone, if not better than everyone. It’s truly part of our human DNA, so tell us, Drew, about that, a challenging time or situation that could have devastated or maybe even ruined your business, but you persisted, you made the tough decisions, and now that once painful memory serves as an invaluable learning experience. Tell us that story, Drew.

Drew McLellan: Well, for most people who have been in business for a while, obviously, I have several of these stories, but probably the most profound story is when I started my agency 20 years ago, I started it with a business partner. For the first five years or so, we were really in sync. Our vision for the company is very aligned. I don’t want to get into a lot of detail, but all of a sudden, we got really sideways. She was going through a lot of personal things, and all of a sudden, the business was not a priority for her. She was missing client meetings. She was not honoring promises and deadlines, which for me is an absolute. Then there was some funny business with some money.

I was really faced with this difficult choice, because at that time, because of some decisions that she made that I didn’t know about, we were in a very precarious financial position all of a sudden. I had taken my eye off the ball. She was my 50-50 partner, so I trusted her. We each did our part. I took my eye off the ball. By the time I figured out what was going on, we were in trouble. I had tough decisions to make. At the end of the day, what I did was I realized that I could not in good conscience be her business partner anymore. I could still care about her as a person. I could still try and be helpful to her in terms of getting her life back on track, but I couldn’t risk being in business with her anymore. I didn’t want my brand and my company aligned with some of the decisions she had made.

I consulted an attorney, and I got all the legal documents. Basically, the conversation I had with her was I can no longer in business with you, so we have one of two choice, either you can buy me out for a dollar, and I will step away from the business today, but that means you assume all the debt, all the responsibility for the employees, the building that we co-own together and lots of other things, or I will buy you out for a dollar, and I will assume the risk of all of that, which was significant, several hundred thousand dollars, but one of us is leaving today.

That was one of the scariest conversations I’ve ever had to have, and it was also a scary thing, because I was putting everything I had at risk. I was risking my house. I was risking any savings I had, and it was all based on what I knew was right. Anyway, she decided to walk away. Then I had to say to the employees, “I have no idea how this is going to turn out. We could be bankrupt in three months. This is how bad it is. Let me show you everything. If you need to leave or find another job, I totally get it. I’m hoping you’ll stay. I will do everything I can. I will make sure that I keep paying you until we decide we can’t do this anymore.”

Really, long story short, nobody left. They all stayed. We rebuilt the agency. It was bigger, better, stronger, more focused, but it came from a … I mean, it was really one of those phoenix rising moments where we were in the ashes. We were almost down for the count. We were able to do it together. Some of those employees are still with me today 10 years later, more than 10 years later now. Again, very blessed that people believed in me, and the vision, and what we could do together that they then took personal risk and put their families at risk by saying, “I’m not going to leave this company even though it’s holding on by some spit and a string. I’m going to stay and see what we can do.” A painful memory, but also a really, really awesome memory in that we pulled together and did it, and we’re good today. We’re healthy. We’re very healthy.

Stephen W.: What an incredible story. How did you muster the courage to have that type of honest, open, transparent conversation with your employees? How did you do that? That had to have just been so painful.

Drew McLellan: It was painful, and it was scary, but they deserve to know the truth. My business partner was a very close friend, so this was personally devastating for me that I had to do this. I got to tell you. I broke down and I cried in front of them. It was so overwhelming. I knew I needed to just lay it out on the table and let them make their decisions, and support them whatever that decision was. If they knew they had to leave, okay, then I’ll help you find another job.

I’ve always believed that I have a commitment to my employees. If I expect them to have a commitment to me, I certainly owe them the same in return. We just had the very honest conversation. The good news is we had a culture already where there was that honesty and that transparency. They had seen the problems, and they didn’t realize how bad it was, but they knew there was something really wrong. I think it was also a relief to them to just finally know the truth.

Stephen W.: Wow. That is amazing, and a really great lesson to Onward Nation business owners, some of whom may be struggling with the exact same thing that you just did a great job of articulating with full transparency. Amazing. Thank you for that. It’s difficult. I think that we could probably agree that it’s difficult to be successful today without some level of personal mastery. Drew, what would you say is the most critical skill you think business owners need to master in order to thrive today?

Drew McLellan: I think there’s a short-term skill, and I think there’s a long-term skill. On the short-term, I believe the most critical skill that we all have to master is focus. There are so many things around us, so many distractions, so many “Oh, I could do this,” or “I could do that.” My God, you can lose two hours on Facebook or on the internet. Business owners, as a general rule, are idea people. We gravitate to new ideas and cool things. It’s so easy to have shiny object syndrome. It’s so easy to take your eye off the ball. I really believe that in the short-term, doing the things that need to be done well and on time and with a passion, and really staying focused on that is the short-term thing.

We can’t fix everything in our business at once. I’m a firm believer in let’s identify, for example, the three things that are most critical in my business success. If I don’t change these three things, grow them, change them, eliminate them, whatever it is in the next 12 months, we’re not going to be as big and strong as we could be. Great. I’m going to take the number one thing, and I’m going to focus on that until it’s gone. Now, I’m going to go to number two, but it’s very difficult for business owners today not to be scattered and pulled in a million directions. You’ve got to figure out ways to stay focused.

Maybe that’s you get up early and you do a couple hours of work before anyone else is at the office, or as you know in my case, maybe you’d get a couple hours worth of work done from 10 to midnight, when no one else is around, because that’s when you can really focus. Maybe it’s one day a week you work outside of the office where you can close off all the distractions, or you just learn to focus in that. I’ve always said I can fit in a McDonald’s play land, with all that screaming and chaos, and write, because I can just tune it out. I think that’s one of the skills that allows me to be so productive and so successful.

Stephen W.: Love that. Love that. Love that. I’ve heard an acronym for or a breakdown of the word focus in acronym form, and it’s from John Lee Dumas, who runs Entrepreneur on Fire Podcast, and it’s follow one course until success, which syncs up really nicely with what you just articulated there and explained.

Drew McLellan: Yup.

Stephen W.: Oh, I’m sorry. What were you going to else add there?

Drew McLellan: Long-term, I think the one thing that requires mastery, and I think many business owners get caught up in the “I’m too busy to do this,” but we have to have a vision for our business, a long-term vision. At the end of every day, we have to say, “Am I one step closer to that vision?” Every morning, we have to look at our to-do list and say, “Which one of these things is going to get me closer to that vision?” That vision is pretty simple. It’s why do we exist, what do we do different or better than everybody else, who do I need around me on my team to get to that vision, how can we help the vision that we serve, and how do I build a machine and automate or systemizes much of this as I can? If we can figure that out in our head, and then start moving towards the goals inside each of those questions to our ultimate vision, if we do that every day, we’ll get there. If we don’t, then we take a lot of detours and missteps.

Stephen W.: Let me make sure that I’m capturing this correctly, because I really jumped in there, interrupted you. Sorry about that. Short-term, focus.

Drew McLellan: Right.

Stephen W.: Long-term, vision.

Drew McLellan: Yup.

Stephen W.: Okay. Perfect. Thank you for that. Drew, the lessons that we need to learn as business owners can seem overwhelming at times, but sometimes, a mentor can step in and help us see a situation from a completely different perspective, or help us accelerate and compress our learning. Tell us about the most influential lesson that you’ve ever learned from one of your mentors, and how it helped you become the business owner you are today?

Drew McLellan: Yeah, I’ve been fortunate I’ve had a lot of mentors in my life. I think, probably, the lesson that serves me best every single day is help first. Always be mindful that the more I am helpful to others, the more they will help me in return. Helping me in return may be giving me their business. It may be being a referral. It may be inviting me to an event where I could meet a bunch of people that I need to meet. It’s a plethora of things. Sometimes it’s not that direct. Sometimes it’s more indirect. Sometimes it’s with feedback, or sometimes it’s with encouragement.

I truly believe that as a business owner, if I go into every situation with a question on my head, how can I help and serve this person, whether it’s making an introduction, whether it’s giving them some feedback, whether it’s offering to have coffee with them and listen if they’re going through something, whatever it is, if I come into it with a service attitude, then everything else falls into place. Again, that’s me assuming you have a good strong business, you sell a good product or service, so all the basics are done. How do I go to a different level, and I believe the reason that I’ve been so successful in both of my business is that I serve first, and then I worry about what’s in it for me later.

Stephen W.: In the interest of full disclosure to Onward Nation, Predictive ROI, one of my companies, is a member of Drew’s Agency Management Institute. We have been the beneficiary of that service attitude. He does exactly what it is that he just articulated there, which makes him such a wonderful business leader and somebody to learn from, because he just exemplifies that attitude. That is phenomenal. Drew, this has been a really, really powerful start. I knew that you would bring incredible lessons, very transparent, very generous, or generosity-based stories. This is incredible.

Now, let’s transition into the final round, what I like to call breaking down the recipe for success. I’m going to ask you four more questions, so you can help Onward Nation break down your recipe into those tactical ingredients to help you along your path. Heads up Onward Nation. I suspect the result outcomes here will be those things that you can take and apply into your business right away to make it more systematic, more predictable, and more repeatable. Drew, if there was a magic reset button as it relates to starting your business, what systems would you back and put into place sooner rather than later and why?

Drew McLellan: Boy, that’s a loaded question, isn’t it? When I think back to the beginning of our business, like most business owners, I didn’t … I was really good at what I did, but running a business wasn’t what I was trained to do, a lot of it was very seat-of-the-pants. A lot of this was … We did stuff when we remembered to do it, or when it occurred to us to do it.

Part of it was really just mapping out systems in general and understanding we needed to have systems. I believe the biggest system that businesses need to have is there’s one magic elixir that makes any business run better and feel better, and that’s new opportunities to serve customers. If I were going to put one system in place faster, and honestly, it’s also, I believe, the most important system for any business, it would be to have a new business machine. You’re constantly filling the sales funnel all of the time.

What happens for most small businesses is that in the beginning, we get our clients because we know people or people refer us or whatever. After we dry up the family and friends pool, then hopefully we’ve done some good things. We get a couple referrals from clients. We live off that referral machine. At a certain point in time, that pool is not big enough anymore, and you’ve got to go out into a bigger pond and fish for bigger fish. What happens is business will go out, and they’ll put out some effort to get new clients or customers. That effort is successful at some level, which means they are busy fulfilling the needs of some clients or customers.

Typically, what happens at that moment is they stop the new business machine, not because they want to, but because they’ve run out of a time, and because it is not a system, right? Then, all of a sudden, they get bigger, and they hire some more people, and everything is great. Now they have capacity that they need to fill, or a client fires them, or something happens, and they need new clients. Now, they have to re-fire up the new business machine and go back at it again. It’s that stopping and starting, and that episodic hurry up and chase after clients when we desperately need them, and then do nothing that many business owners fall into.

I believe that it is one of the things that causes the most stress in a business owner. It causes stress in a business owner. It causes stress on employees. It doesn’t allow you to invest in your business in terms of infrastructure, equipment, people, tools, whatever it is you need. I wish I had built our new business machine, the one we have today, I wish I had built it 10 years ago, or 15 years ago when we first started, but I also believe it’s the most important thing for every business to have.

Stephen W.: No matter what industry you’re in, got to have it.

Drew McLellan: Absolutely. Absolutely, and recognize that sales and someone wanting to buy what you sell always takes longer than you want it to, so even when you’re super crazy busy, you’ve got to be filling the funnel, because it takes people a long time, unless you sell toothbrushes or something cheap, which I’m assuming most of your listeners are more of a considered purchase, it takes people months or years, literally, years to decide to buy. If you don’t keep them in the funnel, and keep that funnel churning so that you always have opportunity, and you always have people down towards the bottom end of the funnel, boy, that can put you in a world of hurt.

Stephen W.: This first answer, fantastic, can’t wait to see what your next answer is going to be for this one. What one strategy or recipe that business owners and their teams could consistently apply every day, you think will compound into big wins for them?

Drew McLellan: I think it’s an offshoot of what I just said. I think there has to be new business activity every single day. I think it needs to be at three different levels. You’ve heard me talk about this before, but I think the new business has to be at the macro level, which is what are you doing to get on someone’s radar screen who has never heard of you before? I think you need to be at the micro level, which is how are you communicating to people and adding value to them, and helping them long before they’ve pulled out their wallet? How are you doing that with people who are somehow you’re on their radar screens? They’re in your funnel somewhere. You’ve met them at a trade show. They get your electronic newsletter, whatever it is. They are somewhere in the funnel. How do you connect and help them?

Then at the nano level is you’ve got a list of 25 companies or potential clients or customers that you would kill to have, and what are you doing to pursue them every single day. Then the fourth additional piece to that is, and what are you doing to reinforce the buying decision of your existing customers every single day? How are you reminding them how valuable you are as a partner, how smart they are to be partnered with you, so that they never question that buying decision. You can’t just have a new business machine for prospects. You also have to have a new business machine for your existing customers.

Stephen W.: You take those four points, Onward Nation, and you systematize that, just like Drew’s earlier answer. That’s like putting lighter fluid on your business.

Drew McLellan: Absolutely.

Stephen W.: Drew, let me ask you to fast-forward one year. I know that you’re a student of culture, and that you have really focused on creating the right culture within your business. You’re looking back on the hiring decisions you’re considering making now, and imagine the people you hire today exceeded your highest expectation. What recipe or strategy did they consistently apply that deliver the most value to your business?

Drew McLellan: Let’s assume that the people I’ve hired have the technical skills that I need them to have. I’m not training them on the actual mechanics of doing their work. That’s only half the equation of a great employee that serves clients in an exceptional way. The other half is that they have the heart for the business, and they get your organization’s brand and how you do it. I can take a person who’s got the greatest technical skills in the world, but if their beliefs and behaviors don’t align with my company’s beliefs and behaviors in the way I want us to be perceived by our clients, in the way I want us to make decisions that impact our clients or your coworkers or whatever, they’re still going to be a bad employee.

If they have exceeded my highest expectations, then I have invested time in and with them. I’ve spent time with them, talking to them about the business and our clients. I’ve modeled my attitude about gratitude and about how we serve clients first, and we help first, and we don’t ask, “Oh, by the way, that’s going to be $12.” We help, and then we know that we’re going to earn their business over time. I have taught them our way of looking at the business, and clients, and our deliverables, and our absolutes, like a deadline is a deadline. I don’t care if you have to stay up two days in a row all night because you mismanaged your time. By all means, yell to the team and let us help you, but we don’t miss deadlines.

Those kinds of beliefs that are absolutes, they know those. I’ve also conducted one-on-one meetings with them. I believe that every supervisor should meet with their employees one-on-one for about 20 minutes once a week or at the most, once every two weeks, and the employee owns that meeting. They drive the meeting, but there’s a set agenda. We make sure we talk about everything before it gets to be a big hairy deal. They know that they have my time and attention. If they need to run something by me, I am encouraging them to pursue the growth goals that we’ve set for them, and I’m asking them about their progress, so that there’s this constant but small incremental improvement every week, so that by the end of a year, they’re a rock star.

Stephen W.: I love how you put into the context that the employee drives the meeting.

Drew McLellan: Yeah, they have to. You know what? I can’t make them want to be a great employee. I can’t make them want to exceed my expectations. Very quickly, if they own the meeting, and they don’t really leverage that meeting and use it to their advantage, that’s one of the red flags for me that I haven’t don’t a good job hiring.

Stephen W.: Oh, love that. Great, great litmus test, and as you said, red flag. I suspect a lot of Onward Nation business owners’ ears just perked up when you said that. That’s a telltale sign. Okay, Drew, here is my last question for you. Imagine you’re standing in front of a room of brand new business owners, people just like you when you were starting out. They’re batting their way through the fears and the worries and the doubts and the struggles to find their footing. What are two or three strategies that you would recommend that they focus one to best ensure success?

Drew McLellan: Okay. I think the first thing I would say, and this is not one of the strategies. I believe there are a lot of people out there who are sort of Negative Nellies and who always are focusing on what can’t be done, or who’s complaining, or whatever. You cannot listen to the naysayers. You have to believe that you can do this, and you can do it well, and you can be successful. I think if you go into a business proposition as the owner, and you focus on all the boundaries and hurdles and blah, there’s no way you’re going to be successful, and you teach your team to do the same thing. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Believe in yourself.

Here’s the success strategies. First, you have to understand your true value proposition. What is it that people actually want to buy from you, and why? You really need to know yourself and your business, and understand how you are different from everyone else. Everyone talks about that, but very few businesses can actually articulate how they are different from everybody else out there who does the same kind of work. Understand the value proposition and why someone would and should pay you for what you do.

Then be grateful every day. Recognize that no matter what stage of business your business is in, it is an incredible opportunity and privilege to be a business owner. I’ve owned my own business for so long that it’s hard for me to remember what it was like to be an employee. When I think about if I ever had to be an employee again today, A, I’d be a horrible employee, but, B, yuck. I don’t ever want to be that beholden to anyone else again. It’s a privilege for us to own our own business, make our own choices, chart our own course. We use whatever analogy you want, we’re in charge. We get to decide how well we do and what we get to do. That’s a privilege. Be grateful about that. Make sure you are spreading that gratitude, again, to clients, employees, partners, vendors, whoever it may be, but make sure that you come from that place, because, I think, that sets the tone for your business.

Then the other one is, I would say, be helpful every day. Make sure you feed that funnel. I believe you can feed your sales funnel by looking for opportunities to be helpful. If you do that, and you have metrics that you measure, again, it’s fine to do all of that, but again, with that long-term vision that we talked about. If you don’t know where you’re going, and you don’t measure your success, the odds of you actually getting there are nil to none. Really, know what you sell and why it’s valuable, and stand up for it. Don’t discount it to death. Don’t give it away. Be proud of what you deliver, and get a fair price for it.

Come from a place of gratitude. Fill the sales funnel every day by being helpful, and have three or four, five at the most, metrics that are measuring your steps towards your long-term vision, check them every single month, and make adjustments every single month. If you do all of that, you will weather the storms, because there are storms when you’re on a business. There are storms when you’re on a business. There are going to be times when clients bale on you. Your best employee is going to leave. You’re going to have a power surge and all your equipment is going to fry, and you’re not going to have insurance. I mean, crap happens. That’s the reality, but if the ship is solid, then it can weather that storm, and get you where you want to go.

Stephen W.: Oh, my word. Drew, I don’t know if you intended that last piece to be like this super motivational, kind of inspirational answers to the question, but that is exactly what it was for me, and my guess is, for Onward Nation too. Onward Nation, I hope that you were taking notes, and that you will go back to not just that last question, but this entire conversation. Drew just laid it out for you, the blueprint, the master blueprint. Drew, you have given us so much today, but before we go and close out the conversation, is there any final advice that you want to share, anything you think we might’ve missed, and then tell us the best way that we can connect with you my friend.

Drew McLellan: Yeah, here’s a piece of advice that you don’t hear people share very often. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you connect with somebody, if you hear a podcast, and I will extend this invitation in a minute, and connect with somebody in some way, shape or form, and you think they can be helpful to you, don’t hesitate to ask. You have no idea if they’ll say yes or no. If you ask them a respectful way and you give them an out, then I think the risk to you is very small, and you have no idea who you can connect with, and who can be helpful to you.

With that said, I’m very easy to get a hold of. On Twitter, I’m Drew McLellan. On Facebook, I’m Drew McLellan. My email, the best one to reach me at is probably [email protected]. On LinkedIn, I am Drew McLellan. I am very easy to get a hold of. If anybody who’s listening thinks that a conversation with me or showing me something would be helpful to you and your business, please reach out and find me. You can also find me at I’m all over the web. I’m easy to find. I try to be accessible. If I can be helpful, reach out and ask.

Stephen W.: Wow. Thank you for that, Drew. Okay Onward Nation, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back and relisten to the wisdom that Drew just shared with you, the key is not only do you have to copy down that blueprint, those recipes, but you have to put them into action. As I learned nearly 20 years ago from the late Dr. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we are responsible for our own lives. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.

Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility, so be proactive Onward Nation, and take action on the decades of incredible knowledge that Drew just shared with you, and then use what you learned to accelerate your results. Drew, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day. I am truly grateful that you would take time out of your busy schedule to share some of that time with Onward Nation and me, so that we can move our businesses onward with gusto. Thank you my friend.

Drew McLellan: My pleasure, anytime. Thanks for inviting me.

Speaker 1: This episode is complete, so head over to for show notes and more food to fuel your ambition. Continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation.

Fill Your Sales Pipeline Q&A

LIVE Wednesdays at 1:00 pm Eastern / 12 Noon Central

Sell with Authority Podcast

The Sell with Authority Podcast is for agency owners, business coaches, and strategic consultants who are looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality.

Follow Us