Ecosystem Culture

Episode 22: Ecosystem Culture, with Pamela Slim

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Ecosystem culture, is our topic for this episode. Learn how Pamela Slim drives her global work through her sustainable ecosystem culture.

Ecosystem culture can be helpful in propelling both you and your client’s potential to greater heights. We’ll cover every details with Pamela Slim to ensure that you’ll be able to understand her ideology behind it. 

Pamela Slim is an award-winning author, speaker, and business coach who works with small business owners ready to scale their businesses and IP. She is the author of Escape from Cubicle Nation (Penguin Portfolio, 2009), Body of Work (Penguin Portfolio, 2014), and The Widest Net (McGraw Hill, November, 2021). Pam and her husband Darryl co-founded the K’é Main Street Learning Lab in Mesa, Arizona, where they host scores of diverse community leaders and regular small business programming.


What you will learn in this episode about the ecosystem culture:

  • How Pamela’s journey in different adventures launched her work into the world
  • The idea behind peanut-butter and jelly partnerships
  • Pamela’s relentlessly helpful ways to create a community with layered components and a bigger purpose
  • How it’s possible to build an ecosystem culture
  • How Pamela’s focus on capacity-building results in unlocking her client’s potential and leaves an enduring legacy




Ecosystem Culture: Full Episode Transcript


Ecosystem culture is an interesting topic to talk about so welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI. And my team and I, we created this podcast specifically for you. So if you’re an agency owner, a business coach, or a strategic sultan, and you’re looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality, then you’re in the right place.


If you want proven strategies for attracting a steady stream of well prepared, right fit prospects into your sales pipeline, then of course we’re going to cover that. You want to learn how to step away from the sea of competitors, so you actually stand out in on the ground you’re standing on. Well, yeah, we’re going to cover that, too, if you want to future-proof your business so you can navigate the next challenges that come your way.


Absolutely. We’ll help you there as well. I promise you, that each episode of this podcast will contain valuable insights and tangible examples of best practices, not theory. From thought leaders, experts, owners who’ve done exactly what you’re working hard to do. So I want you to think practical and tactical. Never any fluff. Each of our guests have built a position of authority and then monetize that position by claiming their ground, by growing their audience, by nurturing leads and, yes, converting sales, but all the while doing it by being helpful.


So every time someone from their audience turned around there, they were with a helpful answer to an important question. So their prospects never, ever, ever felt like a prospect. I also promise you every strategy we discuss every tool we recommend will be shared in full transparency in each episode. So you can plant your flag of authority, you can claim your ground, and you can fill your sales pipeline with a steady stream of right fit clients.


Learn ecosystem culture in our open-mic Q&A and optimize your sales pipeline!


Ecosystem Culture: Pamela Slim’s Introduction


Okay, so I am super excited for you to meet our very special guest expert today, Pamela Slim. In case you’re meeting Pam for the first time, she is a 30-plus-year business veteran, great coach, and award-winning author with a depth of expertise in building communities. Let’s call those ecosystems, which is where we’re going to focus the majority of our time together today.


Her latest book, The Widest Net, is all about helping companies just like yours and mine reach their audience candidly behind the curtain. We’ve learned and applied lessons from Pam and our mutual friend Drew McLellan. When we thought through how we could double down and be as helpful as possible to you and all of the owners inside our community, we asked questions like, “What should we teach?”


We ask questions like, “How can we introduce and connect people within our community? How can we be of better service and relentlessly helpful along the way? And how do we find, uncover, nurture, and grow what Pam calls peanut butter and jelly relationships?” These are relationships that are highly complementary but not competitive. We’re going to break all of that down in this conversation because here’s what Pam and I want for you as a result of listening to this discussion.


Pam will show you how to embrace her ecosystem culture strategy and how applying that model to your business and building a community around it will give your clients and prospects the impression that you’re everywhere around them so that every time they turn around with the question, there you are with a helpful answer, or you’re able to connect them with an expert from within your community who can solve their problem.

And as a result, guess what? You create a win-win. And that’s a beautiful thing when a business grows because you consistently demonstrated your authority position without ever saying, Hey, by the way, I have an authority position. So, without further ado, welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast. Pam, I am so happy to be here with you today. Well, I am so happy that you said yes. Thank you for taking time out of your compressed schedule and getting tongue-tied because I’m so excited for this conversation. Thank you for saying yes. Before we dive in with all the things we’re going to cover, which is a big, meaty conversation, actually, take us behind the curtain. Let’s go beyond the bio and give us a little bit more context around your path and journey and then we’ll dive in.


You can download this PDF for a mindmap of the ecosystem culture


Ecosystem Culture: Getting To Know More About Pamela Slim


For sure. I think what’s been fun. This year, in the coming month of August, I’m celebrating 26 years in business, which is why I’m like, “How is that possible when I’m only 27?” But somehow, somehow, it’s possible. One of the things that’s been really interesting, especially in writing this book, is realizing my 18-year-old self in some wildly unpredictable way, knowing the future of what was going to happen later.


Because my degree in college is actually community development, it’s economic development. Looking specifically, my focus was the use of non-formal education as a tool for social and economic change in Latin America. I lived and studied in Mexico and Colombia when I was in school, and so I learned a lot of those frameworks, and I was always passionate and excited about what it meant for communities, especially those who have been marginalized, who didn’t have access to capital and resources to build the skills and competency in order to really make a change in their community.


And that’s always been a huge driver and so my path was all kinds of twists and turns. In my last book, Body of Work, I talked about it. I’ve worked in just about every mode you could imagine nonprofit, corporate. I was a volunteer executive director of a martial arts organization for 11 years. I did Capoeira, which is a Afro-Brazilian martial art.


I did mixed martial arts in my forties. So I have this interesting journey. My kids sometimes are like, “What, Mom? Where did that story come from?” Like what I got from a rich, exciting life before I had wonderful kids. But the journey really, I think that’s always brought me through everything that I’ve done with a really clear thread in the last 26 years on the human side of business is in this combination of really looking at capacity building, how it is that we as humans learn how to be better, stronger, more effective, more clear with ourselves, more capable, grounded. 


Just that good feeling that you get when you really know what you’re doing and you get excited about doing work mixed within the context for me, which aligns with my values of putting our work in the world in a way that’s going to be helping the greater good, really helping our community grow. And those are the things that get me weepy when I’m looking at videos of communities come together. It’s why my husband, and I created the Main Street Learning Lab, which is a brick-and-mortar community-building learning lab here in Mesa, Arizona.


Those are the things that get me excited when I have people walking in from the street and, you know, talking, beginning to connect, and finding out what they’re about. So that’s probably, I think, the most significant thing about the journey that I’ve had that’s been so fun and adventurous. It’s really amazing to me that there were seeds of that that I saw as an 18 year old in choosing my career path.


Learn ecosystem culture and download your free Kindle copy of Sell With Authority today.


Ecosystem Culture: The Build a Better Agency Summit Experience


So I’m very grateful for that. Amen. Okay, this is going to be such a fun conversation. And so when you were describing that, toward the end of that, I was thinking, I bet she had a blast, then when she was at the Build a Better Agency Summit that our mutual friend Drew was hosting and his team was hosting in May in Chicago because that was like a living, breathing, like manifestation of everything that you just described.


Right? Like, in person, there it was, this community that had all of those attributes. That’s it. And it’s a sense, I imagine people you might know you like. We have people who are like the stylish people. That was where the great clothes at and they picked out whatever bag and even know what bag it would be.


They’re the stylish people. They’re the people who might understand graphics and really have an aesthetic and point of view about it. For me, I get a sense, a visceral sense, when I walk into a place about what the actual authentic vibe is. And having been in so many different work environments over the years, there are many ways one can be bamboozled with words, with proclamations to believe that, “Ooh, this is a place where I should really feel good.”


The body does not lie, right? And that’s the part that I love. When I walked into that setting and we had mutual friends, Carly was there, Drew, who I know and love. Susan Beyer, longtime dear friend of mine and yours. And so I knew that there were people who I loved who felt at home there. But when I came in, and I attended the event, and I was sitting at the tables, it was just really feeling very viscerally surrounded by this vibe of, there’s something that’s happening here that’s not normally what you would find in a business situation. And it was lovely and wonderful, and I made so many first-time connections. It was just amazing. 


You can download this PDF for a mindmap of the ecosystem culture


Ecosystem Culture: A Shared Purpose


And I know that when you and Drew connected for a conversation on his podcast, Build a Better Agency podcast. You know, he introduced you to his audience as like the two of you have this in common: this sense of community and how to properly build one.


And I know that he’s learned a lot of lessons from you, too. How to properly build one and why it’s so important in going back to some of the things that you just said in the introduction about path and journey. You mentioned capacity building because so then the question to you is because when we do that right, and our intent is pure and when we truly have the members of our community, their capacity at heart, like we’re trying to do everything we can to build their capacity like that is what creates the community, right?


It absolutely is. Itt is an example, I think, in the layered components of what it is to create community and be in community. That the focus in the center of it that goes back to my point of view that really is related to body of work and the fact that we’re gathering together, maybe we share values, we have a good time.


There’s an interestingly designed event or an amazing online forum. The containers of community that we often look at are critical to how we can help facilitate really good connections. But the heart of it is what we’re creating together or what we’re connected to in terms of a bigger purpose and mission.


I think that’s the thing that can keep people excited. When I tell my clients with complete and total sincerity, I call my clients agents of liberatory change, not just agents of change, but they are really building things. The infrastructure for the future, like new ways of looking at medicine and data science and reducing bias and creating more equity and really doing things that are building the structure for the future where everybody can really thrive.


That shared purpose, I think, is the thing that each of us can connect to. And when, as you’re saying, we provide experiences in our community building where people can share what they know, learn from each other, have opportunities to be gaining skills and, you know, and learning. And then they’re surrounded by an amazing online experience and fun zoom calls or great conferences.Those are the things that make it even better. But the heart of it is the shared purpose to creation. 


You can download this PDF for a mindmap of the ecosystem culture


Ecosystem Culture: Community Development


I love this. I love how you just said the agents of liberatory change because, again, going back in my notes, you mentioned looking at capacity building. I’m like, okay, because when we help somebody grow and build capacity, that is liberating. It helps them break past any boundaries and all of that.


And if you can be part of that journey again when the intent is a pure part of that journey, what an amazing position to be in, right? It’s the best ever. I’ll speak for myself at midlife. It’s been 55, almost 56, that it just becomes so much more clear how important it is to have a focus and a purpose in the work.


And so for me to know that there were certain things that I worked with people on, where I helped them gain skills, and confidence in their business that has really allowed them to unlock things in the future. That’s the kind of enduring legacy that makes such a difference. And one of the things we talk about a lot here downtown, I’m involved informally.


I call myself the professional unpaid busybody downtown. By day, I’m on Zoom coaching my clients all over the world. But then, when I have breaks, I’ll pop out the front door and just get my nose in everybody’s business, trying to connect and learn what’s happening. It’s so much fun, and we have amazing partners down here for what we’re doing downtown.


But just as an example for folks that might relate to local ecosystems, like a main street that’s developing, yeah, we have almost $1,000,000,000,000 worth of investment that’s coming down our main street in this year. Trillion buildings are being built. There’s just been a huge focus with what’s called an innovation district, where we have a focus on the creative economy as a thread for what we’re building.


And we have all kinds of development happening. So within that, in the context of looking at community development and making sure people who have been here a long time are not pushed out like happens in a lot of places. One of the things that we talk about a lot with partners is you can never totally control when an area when a physical area begins to improve economically. You can’t guarantee that everybody will still stay.


You do everything you can to make sure folks can own their buildings and they have all they need. But when you think about doing specific work in capacity building and communities, so for us locally with local community members, people who live in the neighborhoods, people who are entrepreneurs who own brick and mortar businesses, that is something nobody can ever take away.


Learn ecosystem culture in our open-mic Q&A and optimize your sales pipeline!


Ecosystem Culture: It’s All About Supporting the Development of a Person


So even where there’s a physical move of geography, you can take your knowledge about running a restaurant or having an amazing plant store. And that’s the thing that really can give me hope. It’s not an all-or-nothing that like either everything has to stay the same or my work is not the same thing happens for online communities.


Some people get so stuck, but for many years I was the community builder and people looked at me as the authority. But now they’ve left and gone somewhere else. My point is that you’ve done your job, you supported them where they were, and they may be going elsewhere to extend their knowledge. But what’s deeply seeded in them with your help is something that will never go away.


Yeah, because it goes back to something that you said a few minutes ago when you said unlocking is in the future. Like, if we truly believe that that is part of our role, then we will have some relationships come in, transition out or whatever. Because you’re setting them up for success, you’re helping them unlock things in the future, and maybe they will go on to do different things, but that doesn’t diminish what you’re doing, right?


It has a very specific application when you think about the internal play for it. In our case, agency owners who have employees are coming in. I just did a talk after the one that I did in Chicago and Philadelphia to a bunch of tech partners. I was telling the story about how I have had this weird ability to predict the future in a way. I think it was when I wrote Escape from Cubicle Nation, my first book in 2009 and then wrote Body of Work in the early days of the Creator economy and The Widest Net as tech partners have been talking about ecosystems forever.


We’re kind of catching up. But one of the things that I realize in this work contract that we have with each other that I’ve been talking about literally since the nineties is we need to really shift the way that we think about our relationship with folks who work with us, and that can be contractors, that can be our own employees.


Yeah, not in any way underestimating how much work it takes to attract great talent and how painful it is if somebody goes somewhere else. Yeah, but if you really look at it in the bigger picture of, as you were saying in the beginning, if your job is really to be providing great support development for somebody, creating a really wonderful environment where they can thrive, they can help your clients, where you maintain that good relationship. 


If it’s a better move for them to go somewhere else and where you’re really clear and liberatory right in the way that you’re not trying to trash talk them or smash it or tell everybody not to talk to them, I call it mafia culture with an escape cubicle. 


They said, We’re family, we’re all one. We’re all together at the barbecue and they’re like,.” Hey, boss, I’m going to go take another job.” You’re out of the family. Don’t talk to that person. Block them on text. Like that doesn’t make any sense. That’s not a very adult behavior. So I think it forces all of us to really, like, refresh our vision.


It goes all the way through our own internal and client ecosystem. The same thing is true where you have a beloved client that leaves and goes somewhere else. How painful is that? It’s like somebody breaking up with you in middle school, right? It’s horrible. But if you really look at it in an enlightened way, it can mean that there are a lot of opportunities for the future, either with them or for them to refer somebody else to work with you 100% in how one manages that transition also impacts, you know, what gets unlocked in the future or what stays locked in the future.


Learn ecosystem culture and download your free Kindle copy of Sell With Authority today.


Ecosystem Culture: Peanut Butter and Jelly Relationships


So, let’s think about like the first time that I heard your definition of peanut butter jelly relationships again. And you and I were laughing in the green room and I confess, I’m like, peanut butter is like my one of my favorite foods. So, like, you had me a peanut butter when I heard this. I’m like, peanut butter jelly.


I’m all in on that. But it is a really, really cool metaphor. So, take us into what it is and why you named it that because I don’t give us some really good context. I think to step into the ecosystem culture and break that down. Perfect. Yes. So, the specific definition of a peanut butter and jelly partnership is where you are looking at people who have a highly complementary but noncompetitive relationship with a shared ideal client.


You and I are an example, right? I do certain things as a business coach to help people develop skills, create business model frameworks. They might come to you for very specific work that they’re doing around regeneration, really improving their sales skills, etc. And so we can absolutely refer business to each other, lean in, rely on each other’s IP.


So I don’t have to create everything that you create. You don’t have to create everything that I do because we see ourselves on a shared mission of trying to solve our beloved clients’ deepest problems. And that’s the focus. I love that you highlighted that in the beginning of really approaching your work from the perspective of being relentlessly helpful because that’s the thing I think that clients just end up having this amazing experience where you’re doing exactly what they’re hiring you to do, but then you’re introducing to them.


Have you listened to this podcast? You need a CTA. This is somebody who totally understands agencies. You have an IP attorney, let’s hire Sharon Turek, right? She specifically works with them. So you become somebody who is a valuable resource and they get the sense that you really have my back because you’re looking beyond just the narrow way in which I may be paying you to do a particular service.


So what? This might be really simplistic, but why did you call it peanut butter jelly? I like it. It’s so funny because I wrestled with my friend David Moldauer, who is a former senior editor at Portfolio, my first publisher, and he was like, “Peanut butter and jelly, really?” And I was like, “Yes, because first of all, it’s what it is.”


It does have a very American context, and my son’s best friend is not allergic. So we could say sunflower butter jelly, right? We have people who may not eat bread. So, you know, insert your combination. But I usually like to use terms in explaining complex business strategies that just make sense to people where it’s a cultural norm, where we’re just saying, you know, it’s just like peanut butter and jelly.


It goes together. And those are ways for me to have fun with myself, which is important as I go through the excruciating path of writing a book. But it also is where somebody can have an immediate visual and immediate understanding of like, yes, even just thinking about that. These are two different flavors. Many people in the world know that even though they’re different, they naturally go together.


That’s often why I choose metaphors that I do well in. And so that’s why I asked because I had a hunch that there was a business strategy behind it, which you just explained. And I think that that is a big golden nugget, a big takeaway, a big lesson that our audience should learn from you.


And that is I think sometimes we are like overly creative or cute or maybe a little bit like too tightened up in business or whatever. And we come up with these terms that might mean something like inside baseball language and it might mean something to our team or whatever, and about optimization, something or other and us.


And really, what is so cool about peanut butter and jelly relationships is that you can immediately understand what they mean. Yeah, and that’s really, really cool. And we should do more of in business because it’s like, I like totally get it. And it’s really smart. I appreciate that. It’s the little side tangent for people who are who create IP, which I know is a huge part of what your audience looks for it, right?


You can download this PDF for a mindmap of the ecosystem culture


Ecosystem Culture: The Empire Culture Explain


Aren’t there ways in which you’re really monetizing your IP? And that’s the example, I think, of the creative flavor that you have in the work that you do, a rich use of language and being really deliberate with choices. I do have somebody who I’ve traveled a lot. My husband is Navajo, so we have a cross-cultural marriage.


I’m embedded in so many different environments, so I’m really conscious about the things I use, and I realize that is a bit of an American view. It might put me a little bit in a hole that way, but in choosing the kinds of terms that you use, it’s really thinking about the audience is thinking about your own focus and vibe.


And if you are somebody who is very buttoned up, who’s working with a lot of very buttoned up organizations, it probably makes sense for you to use metaphors that they can relate to, but nothing beats clarity. And I think if there’s a little bit of levity, that is a winner for me. Yeah, I know. Many years ago, Dr. Philip McLaughlin from Mac Labs and Marketing Experiments said to me, “Stephen, clarity trumps persuasion.”


Now, it could be that I’m biased because I love peanut butter and jelly. But when I heard about peanut butter and jelly relationships, I was like, “My gosh, clarity trumps persuasion. That’s like, cut right to the core.” I knew exactly what you were speaking of and referring to. So, let’s take this piece a little bit deeper.


And so let’s say that our audience is like, “Yep, totally get it.” But peanut butter, the relationships, I need to develop those. What’s their first step like? How do they start identifying what could be or maybe already is and they just maybe need to go deeper with it? But what could be a peanut butter and jelly relationship for their business?


So let me zoom out just for one second to give a little bit of context that is really related more to the business model in which a peanut butter and jelly partnership works because the main contrast in the ideas for The Widest Net is contrasting what I call Empire Culture with Ecosystem Culture. So, Empire Culture, we know, is one that is commonly used in business.


People literally will talk about building their own empire, and as we can tell from that language, there are certain things about it that are not very community collaborative friendly, even for clients where we talk about people in more transactional terms, we’re just getting leads and numbers. We’re focused on conversion. I’m always shocked sometimes being backstage with, you know, with speakers sometimes and just hearing people like, “Yes, you know, I closed this percentage of the audience,” and I’m sitting here in my little bleeding heart community self like these are real people, you know, what are you talking about?


So there’s a part about Empire Culture that requires a concentrated amount of resources and a specific focus, often from a positioning perspective around authority, that you really are the one. You are the person who can answer all the questions. And sometimes, that’s the way that things are presented. In one case, especially in the online training world of which some people may be part where, you’re just really trying to differentiate yourself, saying We are the one that has the complete solution.


It’s contrasted with ecosystem culture, which is a deep belief I have from doing work for so many years. No matter how smart we are, we all need to be 100% anchored in our own expertise and show up in a way that clearly demonstrates and or authority where we can be helpful, but we can never solve the complete problem for our clients.


Learn ecosystem culture in our open-mic Q&A and optimize your sales pipeline!


Ecosystem Culture: The Watering Holes of Ideal Clients


As a business coach, I would be in school all the time. I would constantly be learning everything from new tax laws to SEO changes to Facebook algorithms for advertising. In order to support my clients, I need to really rely on looking at who are all the people surrounding my ideal client who have specific perspective expertise, and that includes other service providers, which is in the slice of what I call the ecosystem wheel of one place in which you can find people as partners.


Other places are companies that might sell products to that customer. So it could be a software as a service company. I work with a lot of companies, GoDaddy or Keep or Progressive Insurance, where all of their clients are small business owners. If I’m doing a partnership with them, I’m really reaching other people. So the idea within that, if you think of it, is the context of a marketing and a business development strategy. You first want to look at the big picture of all the opportunities.


That’s this Widest Net really going out and looking at the big picture of all the places, call them watering holes where large amounts of ideal clients have been gathered by somebody else. The very key thing, right? Yeah. When I show up on your podcast, you’re automatically introducing me to people that you have carefully and slowly cultivated over a long period of time.


All I need to do is show up, and I can have a warm introduction into all kinds of people. So in that context of looking at all the possible places where you could operate, then you really want to zero in on a quarterly or annual basis and say, “What are the most strategic areas in which I want to be focusing?”


So within that, often a PB and J strategy is a perfect first place to start, and that is where you look at for yourself. If you’re an agency and you’re working with your clients in order to grow their business, you could ask the question, preferably of your clients themselves, who were other amazing service providers. Who you work with that really help support your growing business?


You can download this PDF for a mindmap of the ecosystem culture


Ecosystem Culture: Start With a Small Talk


Usually, there is somebody in some kind of financial capacity, someone providing financial advice. Some folks are providing legal advice. You might work with business coaches, you know, business coaches or some kind of advisory services, something like agencies or associations, something like where you’re part of a bigger group of people. This is the place where you begin to ask that question and begin to identify some of these partners.


And so there’s like the research part beginning to get a lay of the land, figure out where you want to land, and then you can begin to dig in. And slowly over time, in connecting with people and I’m a big fan. Let’s say you want to discover that half of your clients all love a specific CPA that they work with.


And you’re like, “Who is this person? This person is really amazing.” The first approach is not to send them an email and say, “We share a lot of clients in common. Let’s do a joint venture. Let’s partner.” I actually had that happen. It was very awkward, and it was an interview. It was on a face-to-face, zoom-to-zoom face-to-face conversation. It was the first time we ever spoke.


And they were like, “Let’s do a joint venture.” And I just noticed first I’m like, “I’m the community person, so I shouldn’t show in my face that I’m a little bit awkward.” But it is. We don’t have enough information at first to know who we want to partner with so well. And doesn’t it feel like empire-building?


it’s very much transactional versus relational culture, right? Relational. It feels awkward because of that. You wouldn’t go in a café and there’s somebody who you’ve never met before online and just turned and say, “Excuse me, would you like to partner with me on growing my business?” Like you would never do that. You’d be like, “Nice weather today. The caramel frappuccino is taste and good, right?” That’s what you do. 


You have a little awkward small talk. You notice the vibe, you might see them a number of days. You begin to pick up conversation. So that’s the part of discernment that is really important, which is why I always give a bit of context at first as we look about this business strategy.


Every single business tactic and strategy is always housed within a theory of change, a set of values. And so some people can just say, well, like “Why would you ever not just focus on only sharing your expertise or why would you ever really partner, refer somebody else to someone who might do a similar thing? Like, are you just risking your business?”


Why would you do that? And that would make sense if you’re in this worldview, where everything is about you, just focusing on how you are the best expert. If you have the worldview, you want to be an amazing expert and you want to find other partners, then it totally makes sense. 


You can download this PDF for a mindmap of the ecosystem culture


Ecosystem Culture: Identifying With Your Ideal Clients


Okay, so let’s go back in because it really was a simple question, but I want to make sure that I’m capturing in my notes correctly and so that it doesn’t feel like awkward Empire Building.


So, when you said, you know, who are other amazing service providers you’re helping you grow your business? I want to make sure I capture that correctly in the notes. Is that the question? Because like when I heard you say something like that, that’s why I want to make sure that I got it correctly.


Yes, I’m like, that’s actually really simple, which is good. Yeah. Right. So, yes, it’s that simple. That is a starting place.That is one way that you can immediately begin to identify with your ideal clients. This is a really important part because where you’re asking the people who you already love to work with, the people who maybe you don’t love as much is probably not the right.


Yeah, because the ones you do are usually aligned with your best work with values, with that attitudinal kind of effect that you really relate to your team likes to work with. Yeah. So when you ask that is where you get this more of a discerned pool of people who you can start to talk to. But that is the starting place.


That can be as simple as that. And, I laugh a lot with my clients because humor is a big value for me. You have to laugh so you don’t cry when building a business sometimes. But often, I like to suggest strategies that are sometimes so simple and small that they’re almost insulting. Yeah, I really like that. Actually, the first step to building community is to do that.


Learn ecosystem culture and download your free Kindle copy of Sell With Authority today.


Ecosystem Culture: Introducing Yourself in A Non-Overwhelming Way


One of the case studies I used in the book is Heather Kraus, a data scientist in Toronto. I worked with her from the very beginning of her creating an initiative called We All Count, which is a specific method to reduce bias in data science. She’s super smart. She had this amazing body of work, and she wanted to create this whole training method and platform.


She is such a self-professed introvert. I love introverts, my whole family. Ah, I love working with introverts. But she was like, If you want to know how much I don’t want to build community. if I go to Starbucks and they begin to know my name, I will drive ten kilometers away just so that I don’t. Wow. You just like this.


I love my work. I love the clients I work with. So we started with a very specific focus on these peanut butter and jelly partners on just really specific people who already connected with the audience she wanted to reach. And we went through very specifically designing just a 15 or 20 minute call that she would initiate.


So she’d reach out, introduce herself in a non, you know, overwhelming way, and set up a conversation where she could simply learn more about them. They could learn about her. And when she began to really get rolling with that method, it ended up ceding all kinds of opportunities in I don’t know, it’s maybe three years or so ago since we launched that business.


She’s now working with the largest, you know, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, all the big foundations. She’s trained thousands of people with her method. She’s amazing, but she already is a fantastic expert in what she created. But I point to it because I know from her specific conversations with her, at first it was like, “How in the world will I ever get in this ultimate impact by starting here??


I just think you always have to start somewhere. And this is the fastest, most strategic way to begin to build a channel of people who can refer business. This is so great, and I love how you’ve used this word multiple times and what you’ve shared in the last few minutes. You’ve used the word discernment, and I think it’s a skill that is so underutilized.


And because, and I know this happens to you, it happens to anyone who has a level of success, people come to you with an intent that is not pure. They’re not discerning. They’re coming to you to sort of build an empire. What can I try to get from Pam? And they just feel so yucky. Yeah.


Because then it’s not a peanut butter-jelly relationship. It’s trying to wrap something up in something that might seem palatable, but it feels gross. It really does. And it doesn’t align with the steps that we need to go through in order to do due diligence on real folks we want to work with. And it has a very applicable business-focused strategic perspective, right?


You can download this PDF for a mindmap of the ecosystem culture


Ecosystem Culture: Be Thoughtful to Your Clients and Partners


When you are introducing new folks to your beloved clients who I know, if you’re anything like me, there’s a lot of work and nurturing and relationships and conversation and trust that gets built up to have the kind of passionate community that you have. And so you really want to be thoughtful about who you’re bringing into that community.


And you also want to be thoughtful to other partners of making sure that they have a good experience. And so it really is that the discernment to me is there are far too many tactics. We often and I could be guilty of this myself, just try to grasp for something. Let me just get the hack for how I can get 10,000 new people on my email list.


Like I just know I haven’t had the right hack in the past, so let me just do it. Sometimes under wild hair, those things work. Very often, it’s just creating a Frankenstein of all of these different tactics that none of which are housed within a framework, in a strategy, and that’s the part to me where I know I probably get annoying to my clients and everybody else because I’m constantly trying to put it in this bigger picture of we really need to do a needs analysis, identify what the problems are, clarify who you are and what your mission is.


We don’t all have to be the same. Some people are going to totally reject Empire Culture and Ecosystem Culture and love empires or power, too. You know, I’m not a fan, but that’s okay. People are going to do what they’re going to do. But within the context of the tactic that you choose, that’s where you just really want to be discerning.


And that requires a little bit of work upfront. And most of us can just be so harried and in a rush to just get results that we don’t take the time to really do the preparation. Love that. So while we’re zoomed out here and I know that we’re quickly running out of time, there’s just like sand rapidly falling through the hourglass is crazy because there’s been so much fun.


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Ecosystem Culture: The Ecosystem Wheel


So when we zoomed out and then we were having that conversation, you mentioned the ecosystem wheel. Yes, which is a cool visual, and I know that this is obviously audio, so we can put a visual into the show notes, everyone. But when how would you describe the ecosystem wheel and then what sits at the center of that wheel?


So the wheel is the way that I have visualized as a tool of a way we can dig into understanding the different areas in which points of connection, where we can find people and organizations who are aligned on the mission that we’re solving our client’s problem. So in the center of the wheel is your definition of your ideal client.


I infuse Susan Baier’s Audience Audit method. In fact, in the chapter where we talk about defining your ideal client, I use Susan’s method in that we were mastermind partners for five years. I am such a passionate fan for those and we can put shownotes as well. Write to Susan. 


For people who are not familiar with Susan, she really focuses a lot on saying that your ideal client does not start with demographics. If they’re 55 and they drive a Subaru, it is really based on what that core problem or challenge you’re trying to solve. Yeah. So, for me, when I’m looking at something like, you know, my clients who are thought leaders who have amazing IP, who want to scale their business through their IP, which is a common thing I do with folks around the segments of the ecosystem culture.


We are these specific places where they can look for people who are doing work. So it’s everything from service providers like we just discussed. Two media hubs are podcasts, television shows, magazines focused on that information. Are there companies that are building products, services, apps, and software to address that problem? I know for a lot of the local work that we’ve done, sometimes there can be local governmental initiatives.


We have tons of stuff around ecosystem-building entrepreneurship, where I often partner with governmental and academic partners. So, there are ten overall segments in the research that I did for about seven years. In the book, they just were the main areas I found helpful to get people grounded in where they can look for audiences that somebody else has already built.


And we can put a link to it in the shownotes. I have a whole workbook that has every exercise in the book, which is free, no email trade, that we can put a link to as well. That sounds awesome. 


You can download this PDF for a mindmap of the ecosystem culture


Ecosystem Culture: Using The Right Channel for Your Exposure


So, let me make sure I’m tracking with you here. I heard you describe the things that are around the center and at the center of the wheels, which is the ideal client definition.


It’s really cool that you just did a peanut butter and jelly relationship there, full transparency with  how you talked about Susan’s work and how complimentary it is. It’s just a really, really great illustration of the strategy. So then the things that go around the ecosystem will be those partnerships or are those the watering holes that you were talking about before?


They can be a combination. And here’s what I mean by that. Okay? In any marketing strategy, we’re looking for a couple of different avenues and vehicles for things that we activate in marketing. So some can be visible. So media hubs, things like being on podcasts, and being featured in the media are good brand-building things. Occasionally, they can lead to a flow of prospects, but they’re part of the picture of what it is that you need to activate to have a strong marketing strategy.


Another specific channel can be in partnerships. You might have people who are referring folks to each other, in which case these peanut butter and jelly partnerships are absolutely a place where you could meet individuals watering hole content to be placed in person or online where you have a great number of people who are gathered. And so to segments of the ecosystem culture will relate to watering holes.


One of them are event just like we found in Chicago, right? I can walk into that room and I can’t step one foot forward or backwards without bumping into somebody who potentially could use my services or read my book or use my IP for what they do. So that’s an example of a place that’s very efficient and effective.


Events are great for many reasons, one of which, if the audience are your ideal client, fantastic fellow speakers, very often peanut butter and jelly partners sponsors are often the companies that serve the market, which are great for brand partnerships. As I said, I’ve done lots of brand partnerships in the past doing webinars, creating ebooks for these companies to reach the market.


So the other the other example of a watering hole could be associations. So you might show up either virtually doing a webinar for, you know, a group or you might do work with an association where they’ve done the work of gathering their audience for you. So it’s really in looking at creating your specific marketing strategy, each person is going to make choices about how it is that they activate it.


The basic idea at first from ecosystem building really places where you’re going. And I always say to my clients, “If you could just speak at two conferences in one year that would just be filled with the perfect partners, what would those be if there are two or three podcasts? That would just be the ultimate for you to get the best exposure.”


What would that be? If you could imagine a referral partner, that’s the very best referral partner, who would that be? For some businesses like that, it could be more than enough, right? For others that might have more of a B2C play where you need to have a bigger audience, you need to have other strategies in place. That’s more the outbound marketing and advertising strategies funnels, right?


It’s much more massive lead generation, but that’s the watering hole concept. Go places where some kind of person has already organized and cultivated a great community of ideal clients. This is so brilliant. It’s so, so good. It is also really clear that we’re just scratching the surface. So I’m going to go ahead and make the invitation.


You can download this PDF for a mindmap of the ecosystem culture


Ecosystem Culture: Making The Interlocking Puzzle Pieces Work Together


I would love for you to come back for an encore. Of course, I thank you. It’s going to say, gosh, I hope she says yes because I really, truly believe that we are just scratching the surface here. And this is not only a big meaty topic. Yes. But also such a helpful one. In our next conversation, I want to take the wheel even deeper in understanding the various things that go around the wheel and then also how somebody knits all that together for the benefit of the community.


The person in the center-right in the community is a bunch of those people coming together to be able to actually behave and act like a community and help one another in that raising everybody’s capacity in that process. Going back to some of the earlier words that you shared in the introduction. Before we go, before we close out and say goodbye, if you have any final advice or any other recommendations that you’d like to share in, then please do share with our audience the best way to connect with you, Pam.


For sure. So I know it’s every author everywhere who will say this, but really the concept, the overall method for The Widest Net is really based on these interlocking puzzle pieces that conceptually work together to understand how they work. So it will really help to read the book to get the framework for how do these pieces fit together then in the implementation of it.


As you’re saying, it can be overwhelming whenever you have this overall business strategy that has multiple layers to it. The approach I recommend for clients in any situation is really leaning on our friends in the Lean Startup. Like often, the software startup industry has spent the first ten years of my business as a consultant in Silicon Valley, and I really love this idea.


I call it the accordion effect, where you might go out big, you know, you get a little overwhelmed with all the possibilities. Then, you have to discern and make some choices of places to start. That’s where you narrow in, and you say that for the next quarter, I’m just going to be focusing on P.B. and J. Partners. So I’m just going to put some focused energy into, you know, leaning in, having conversations, noticing where that goes.


In addition to the ongoing marketing I am already doing, I am testing and trying and taking things in small chunks is the thing over. I think that’s going to lead you to have a good awareness about the kinds of new or honed marketing strategies that you can really implement overall into your marketing. So that’s the best advice is I know sometimes people just get a little overwhelmed with the big picture of it, but we need to see, especially in those moments where it can be scary if things slow down or your best client goes away, or you get worried that there really is a tremendous opportunity and we have it.


It usually even scratches the surface in terms of places, but we always have to start somewhere, start small, and that small can really lead to very powerful places. And the experience I’ve had with many of my clients was awesome. Our audience should absolutely and will of course, include the link. Absolutely. Get a copy of your book.


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Ecosystem Culture: Closing Remarks


Our best ways to connect with you are and LinkedIn. I’m a big, big fan of LinkedIn, so feel free to reach out and say “Hi”. Let me know that you came through this amazing podcast. It sounds fantastic. Okay, everyone, no matter how many notes you took—I think I took six or seven pages of notes—the key is not to just take notes.


The key is to take everything that Pam so generously shared with you. Take it and apply it. And that’s how you accelerate your results. And Pam, again, thank you. Not trying to sound silly or trite or whatever the right word is, I take it as a real honor to have you come on to our show, to be our mentor and guide, to help us improve our capacity and raise our businesses onward to that next level.


Thank you very much, my friend. I appreciate it. It is my great joy. Thanks for inviting me into your community.


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