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[Feature Friday] CEO Todd Cherches on Visual Thinking: The ROI Online Podcast Ep. 78

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Are you struggling with leading your team and yourself to higher levels of performance?

Everyone communicates in different ways, but we’re all very visual, so maybe that’s a great place to start. On this Feature Friday episode of the ROI Online Podcast, Steve talks with expert Todd Cherches about how you can use visual thinking tools and techniques to thread the needle for your business.

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Todd is a consultant, executive coach, TEDx speaker, professor, author of VisuaLeadership, CEO of BigBlueGumball, and thought leader in the field of leadership and visual thinking. Todd’s engaging and entertaining approach enables business professionals of all levels to become more innovative and effective thinkers, communicators, managers, and leaders.

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As science shows, the use of visual imagery and visual language gets people to focus. It increases understanding and enhances memory and recall—all things we could use to grow our business and have a much better performance.


Among other things, Todd and Steve discussed:

  • Todd’s background in the media and entertainment industries 
  • How visual thinking works
  • Todd’s book VisuaLeadership
  • What being a thought leader means
  • How often messages get lost in translation and why
  • Why visual  information is way more effective than other communication forms


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Also available wherever else you get your podcasts.

You can learn more about Todd here:

https://www.toddcherches.com/

Follow Todd on LinkedIn

Read the books mentioned in this podcast:

The Golden Toilet by Steve Brown

VisuaLeadership by Todd Cherches


Enroll in the QuickStart Academy today to learn how to develop and implement a proven growth strategy that grows your ROI, your business, and your confidence. Learn more HERE.

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Topics: Marketing, Podcasts

Todd Cherches: 

But what's interesting is the Superman Batman thing someone said to me was because when I told that story, they said, Well, you don't have X ray vision like Superman, but you have the power of Visual Thinking. So that's my equivalent. And Batman had his utility belt. And they said, you have your coaching toolkit with all your Visual Thinking tools, tips and techniques. So that's my equivalent of my Batman utility belt. So in some ways, I still have that, you know, Clark, Kent, Bruce Wayne thing happening, but my alter ego is that Superman Batman combination, but you know, applying it in the visual, and the executive coaching and a teaching context these days.

Steve Brown: 

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the ROI Online Podcast where we believe you, the courageous entrepreneurs of our day, are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown and this is a place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together. Todd Cherches, welcome to the ROI Online Podcast.

Todd Cherches: 

Steve, thanks for having me.

Steve Brown: 

I'm really looking forward to this conversation. Because the folks that listen to this podcast, their business leaders are entrepreneurs, they're the folks that are researching and looking to improve. And I think the biggest challenge that everyone faces as a parent, as a coach, a teacher, a leader of an organization, a boss, is that getting what's in your head, put into a consumable way that makes sense to everyone you're trying to communicate to, and guess what you have a book about?

Todd Cherches: 

That's exactly what it's about. And my mantra is, how do you get people to see what you're saying? It's all about Visual Thinking, visual communication and visual leadership.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, so I love this visual leadership is the name of your book, leveraging the power of Visual Thinking and leadership in life. And I was like, really, this is really right up my alley, I watched your TED talk, you have a TED talk as well. People need to go and listen to but what in the world inspired you to start sharing this passion with folks in helping folks be better leaders by by using visual powers?

Todd Cherches: 

Yeah, I'm a very visual person, as many of us are, in fact, we're all wired visually. Like some people say, Oh, I'm more of an auditory person or more of a kinesthetic person. But the brain science shows that we're all wired visually. Like, if you hear a noise, what do you do you turn and you look to see what that noise is the rustling in the bush or whatever, right? So it's kind of like that's just the way our brains are wired visually. And and, and getting people to see what we're saying is one of the hardest challenges we all face in business and in life, right? How do you get people are not mind reader's? Right. So when someone says to you, oh, that's not what I meant, or you should have known. You know, it's, it's one of my stories I tell in my book, I call it ice rice or mice. I was in a restaurant and I asked for some more ice for my soda. And they ended up with a bowl of rice. So they I said ice they brought me rice. So the question is, whose fault was that was it could be my New York accent. I know, I talk really fast. But um, but if I had held up my glass and pointed to my glasses, I could have some more ice, he probably would have would not have put rice in that class. Right? So but people hear what they think they want to hear and need to hear what they thought they heard. But our job, it's the I always say the burden of communication is on the communicator. And that's something that you know, the marketing person, you know, that it's about how you get your messaging across to our audiences.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, imagine that one day, you're asked to take a new concept to a new country, that you don't speak the language too. And you show up there and you realize you have to lead a team all of a sudden, but you guys don't speak the same language. What in the world would you do? Hmm.

Todd Cherches: 

Well, I faced that exact situation. I talked about it very briefly in my TED Talk. And so basically, long story short, I was 30 years old, I was hired as a theme park production company out in LA to manage oversee a project and they said, oh, by the way, you need to go to China to oversee the installation. I was like, wait, what it's like, first of all, I have extreme fear of flying. I didn't even have a passport. I had never been out of the United States before. I'm 30 years old. I was hired as a project coordinator. And now they're shipping me across to China to oversee this installation of these life sized robotic animal fingers for cultural theme park in Shenzhen, China, just over the border from Hong Kong. So the picture life size elephants, sheep and cows, robotic so the trunks go up spray water and make that elephant sound. So we had to pack them up. We had to have them engineered and designed and built in LA put them on a shipping container across the Pacific Ocean. It took like a month to get there. Got there. Got on the ship. I and I'm that first of all, I'm there it was 110 degrees of 100%, humanity, humanity, and I'm wearing a business suit, like cuz I'm the project manager. So yeah, what do I know I'm 30 is all shopping my my double breasted business suit, and I'm just sweating through this suit and everyone else is wearing shorts and T shirts. And I figured I have to meet the clients often look really professional. The client executives, they didn't even show up, they were gonna come to the grand opening. But so anyway, so I show up there. And it was me and two, two guys on my staff, a mechanical guy, engineering guy, and the Chinese counterparts, but they didn't speak English. And we didn't speak Chinese. So we're literally standing there staring at each other. They gave us a translator who spoke no English, right? So I don't know how full that was. So he knew a few words, but not enough. So what happened was, we needed to get stuff installed. So we needed tools and things like that. So what did I do? I said, If I can't communicate with words, maybe pictures, so I started picking up and I know for the people listening to the podcast, he won't see this. But if you're watching the video, this is the drawing of sketches that I did. So if I needed if we needed a hammer or a screwdriver or a tape measure, I literally had to draw it. So that's not so bad, right? For someone who can't draw that well. Yeah. So I would say draw a picture and point to when they go get the hammer the screwdriver. So then hit me later on. It's like, Hey, this is almost like playing Pictionary, or charades like with your family or your friends, right? It's like two words sounds like screwdriver. Right? So it's kind of like we're using hand motions and trying to so it hit me that hey, we communicate not with body language, facial expressions, and a smile is universal, right smile translates into any language. So my background is working in the TV industry in the theme park business. So a lot of my my mindset is around storytelling, and character development and, and beginnings, middles and ends. So that's that's informed my approach to management, leadership, training, and coaching is my visual leadership approach, which is all about, again, creating pictures and mental movies in other people's minds so that they can see what we're saying.

Steve Brown: 

Yes, it's such a challenge. And I talked about a little bit in my book, but it really struck me that there was a time, not long ago, were silent motion pictures were more than norm. And if you think about it, you could put any body from any culture, any age, any language and sit them down in front of a silent movie, and we would giggle at the same things, we would tear up about the same things. And it's, it's so amazing that this we have this universal language there is math. And one of them is visual or, or

Todd Cherches: 

our eyes. Yeah, think about two of the words, you just use motion pictures and movies, right? movies, if you think about movies look like they're moving. That's why we call them moving pictures, right? There are pictures that move at 60 frames a second. So these are all still frames, but they go by so fast that they create the illusion in our mind's eye of movement. Right? So if you're watching a silent movie, or really any movie, it's still pictures. So again, the power of Visual Thinking is our mind creates this, this, it puts the pieces together mentally, but those are still frames going by we don't even think about that. Right. But that's why we call them movies. They're moving pictures, literally. Wow. So

Steve Brown: 

you think about I, you know, people say we're in the attention economy, but I disagree. We're in the focus economy, meaning that you can, I can drop a book on a floor and everybody will stop talking and look, but then they go right back to what they were doing. And I got their attention, but I lost it just as fast as I got it. But it's important that you learn to take the opportunity to get their focus, and we're yet we're competing against highly weaponized platforms that are designed to grab our attention, and then pull our focus in four hours, and we look up we go, Oh, my gosh, I've been on Instagram for an hour and a half. Yeah, yeah. As leaders, that's what we're competing against as parents, as business owners. And, and so by taking the concepts in your book, the concepts that you teach about at Columbia University and NYU, it's important to put this in here, because that's what you're up against.

Todd Cherches: 

Yeah, yeah. I talked about why visuals, but people say why visuals, what is about visuals that make it so impactful? And without getting into all the neuroscience of the brain? I used to be where it's attention, comprehension and retention, right? So when use a visual image or visual language, right, we paint pictures with words as well, right? where people can create an image in their mind's eye. When you use a visual image of visual language, it gets people's attention, and it gets them to focus, just like you're saying, right? It's like, it's not just the attention, but the focus on that thing, comprehension and it increases understanding because when you're looking at something, it's like if I explained how to get to my apartment in Manhattan, from, you know, JFK Airport, I could describe it to you verbally, but isn't it better if I just send you a map and you look at and say, Oh, now I see where your apartment is relative to the airport, I have to go, you know, this direction in this direction, right. So Attention is first comprehension. The second and retention is third. When we see a visual image, it's it's stuck in our mind's eye. And what I was as I was preparing for our talk today, I was thinking about I know you were in Amarillo, right? That's where you're located. So I was flashing back. And the other day I was listening to a Bruce Springsteen mix on Spotify, and the song Cadillac ranch came on. And so are you not far from there? I'm guessing. Exactly. Yes. So when I lived in LA for 10 years, grew up in New York lived in LA for 10 years, I worked in the entertainment industry for Disney and CBS number of other countries. But when I moved back to New York, my brother flew out from New York to LA, we jumped in my car and we drove cross country. So we took route 66 that's knocked off on all those small towns along Route 66. And one of our stops was a Cadillac Ranch, right? So every time I hear the Bruce Springsteen song, what do I think of it comes rushing back those cars, those colorful cars with the spray paint headfirst in the ground, and my brother and I spray painted our names on them and took pictures. So that one song by Bruce Springsteen, who's from New Jersey, by the way, right near me in New York, but that song Cadillac Ranch, takes me back to another place in time in my head, where I'm almost watching a video in my head, a mental home movie, of being at the Cadillac ranch and what that was like, what it looked like what it felt like, and that's the power of Visual Thinking, right? We hear something auditorially as an A song, but it takes us back to a visual memory in our mind. So that's like just one example of the power and it connects us because again, the New York Amarillo connection right there. Absolutely. And it also takes you to an emotion you remember an emotion from there, and that's why it sticks

Steve Brown: 

and resonates. And that's helps you compete against all the other messages that are trying to get in at the time.

Todd Cherches: 

Yeah, the power Williams Wordsworth. I've majored in English literature as an undergrad. So the poet William Wordsworth had an expression called the poetry is the recollection of powerful feelings. And he called it emotion recollected and tranquility. So you hit it right on the head marketing is not just facts, it's emotions, facts and figures and feelings, right? So when you take someone back, like Marcel Proust had that Madeleine cookie that when he tastes, it just brought him back to his childhood, of sights and sounds and songs. And imagery, basically takes us on a mental journey and recreates those mental movies in our mind's eye. And again, that's the power of Visual Thinking. So what do we have a dream, and remember it, whether we're picturing what our day is gonna look like or envisioning our future? Those are all examples of using Visual Thinking, to, to basically, you know, process information and make decisions.

Steve Brown: 

You know, there's, I talked about, we're living in a world that's industrialized in many ways, including our communication, and everything, it defaults to a text first communication assumption. And you think about all the energy it takes your brain to read an email, we'll read a short one, but we won't read a long one. And the beauty of what you're talking about is a shortcut around all these hurdles that our industrialized society has put in front of our, our brain 1.0. We, we have these phones that are like 12, point, iPhone, 12, point, whatever, but our brains are still 1.0. And yet, we need to be smart and adapt our communication to accommodate our brains rather than what we were been industrialized to. Project.

Todd Cherches: 

Yeah, I mean, that's why a picture's worth 1000 words is one of those expressions in every single language. Have you think about that cave drawings, which we're we have cabe. We've seen cave drawings going back to 45,000 BC, or 540 5000 years ago. So cave drawings existed long before the written language, right. Well, long before math long before the Egyptian hieroglyphics. If you think about just Egyptian hieroglyphics, they're basically pictograms, right? So basically, pictures evolved or morphed into leathers, right? So we're just again, that's just another example of how and now we use emojis. Right? So our emojis of today are the cave drawings of 44 45,000 years ago,

Steve Brown: 

nothing's new. So, you know, great communicators. This is how big of a competitive advantage This is, is because great communicators, the people that we follow, think about it, the thought leaders you follow the books that you read, that you really appreciate, you get something from and they help you see something more clearly that was a little bit fuzzy before is they really succinctly packaged, what was in their head and presented it to you and you go, Oh, that makes sense. But so you use acronyms a lot of times you you you help us see these pictures, and for whatever reason it endears us to you.

Todd Cherches: 

Yeah, one of the things we were taught is actually the meeting I belong to the thought leaders group of authors and speakers were talking about they say how do we make our to get a thought leader? If you think about the word thought leadership, right? It's the thought as to leadership, right? So Part one is formulating ideas in your head and the leadership side is getting out there into the world and getting other people on board with those thoughts, right. And those ideas, and that's one of the biggest challenges we face, especially when we're communicating something that's never seen before. So when we use visual language and metaphors, and for example, golden toilet we could talk about as a powerful visual metaphor. Right? They they make the unfamiliar, familiar, the intangible, tangible, and the abstract concrete and the invisible visible, right. So if we use visual language, people will say, if you say, Oh, this is kind of like that, you have to people have to know what that is. And you're making the connection. Right? So one of the stories in my book, I tell us about the creation of Southwest Airlines on a napkin sketch, right, where they were sitting in a bar once said, Hey, wouldn't it be cool if there was an airline that just connected Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, and they drew a triangle? And it's like, wow, that would be amazing, right? And Southwest airline was born from that napkin sketch. Right? So that's the legendary story. So again, in order for that idea to resonate, that person has to have a mental image of a map of Texas and see that triangle. So you can actually describe it, as I'm doing right now. Right? I didn't draw it right. I'm not using it. But I'm sure you're picturing it in your mind's eye. Because you can picture a triangle, you can picture those three cities in a map of Texas. That's like, wow, that's how Southwest Airlines was born. Right. So think about how often our messages are lost in translation, because we can communicate them effectively, so that the other person can really get it and see it.

Steve Brown: 

You're listening time churches, or maybe you're watching, we're we're honored to have Todd churches. on our show today, TEDx speaker, he's an executive coach, CEO, and big blue Gumball, he's also the author of visual leadership, leveraging the power of Visual Thinking, and leadership in life. So I, you know, as humans, we have these eyes that are on the front of our heads, they're tell us tell us what's the word I'm wanting to come up with? Anyway, our eyes are on the front. And so they're looking forward. But our brains are so big, because we have a unique

Unknown: 

optical.

Steve Brown: 

Our brains are designed to help us see almost the best in all the animal kingdom. And so therefore, we're very centric about seeing and that's why we say I see what you're saying, Oh, I get it. And that's why we're so centric on this visual thing.

Todd Cherches: 

People say I see. Also, I'll believe it when I see it. In fact, in my in my book, I have a whole bunch of I go down like with common, you know, out of sight out of mind. Right? Thoreau said, it's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see. Napoleon said, a good sketch is better than the long speech. Every picture tells a story. So the list goes on. I picture this, Disney, if you could dream it, you could do it. If you can see it, you can be it. Right? So the whole there's a whole list. So it's like that's the focus, do use that word of my work is using visual see, you know, seeing as a metaphor. So it's it's looking, it's seeing, it's noticing, it's watching, and basically taking information visually. One of the things someone asked me the other day is like, how does this apply to people who may be blind or sight impaired, we can still use visual language like so if I was describing the Southwest Airlines triangle before. Even if you couldn't physically see with your physical eye, you can still see it in your mind's eye. And Shakespeare, actually coined the term to see something in your mind's eye and Hamlet, with Hamlet said, I think I see my father. And the ratio says where Hamlet says, in my mind's eye, because he wasn't sure if he saw the natural ghost, or if it was a figment of his imagination. So when he said, it's in my mind's eye, think about that we don't have an eye in our mind. But we pick when we picture something, and we're not sure if we're seeing it physically. That's the metaphor we use. So and Shakespeare was the one who popularized that phrase. So it's just so ingrained in our culture. But this really does apply to everyone in all contexts, in work and in life.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, binoculars was the word I was trying to think of there. So you know, when you're leading people, you need to help them see where you're going and in the future, and the horizon. And so you literally have to draw a picture with words with images, but they need to be complimentary. And here's the thing that I think is broken about marketing is that we focus on the words but we don't realize how the visual can be so powerfully complimentary and empowering to communicate way more than a stupid sentence.

Todd Cherches: 

Yeah, I mean, again, as we mentioned before, Attention, attention spans are so much shorter these days, right? There's so much clutter we as marketers, we need to cut through the clutter. Also, think about different mediums we use like if you're driving like a picture of billboard, right? a billboard like a good PowerPoint slide is meant to convey an an idea in an instant, right in the blink of an eye, if you're driving 80 miles an hour down the highway, you're not gonna pull over and stop to read a whole page of text, right? You might do that in the magazine, or online, but you're not going to do it on a billboard. Similarly, with your PowerPoint slides, I'm sure we've all seen those death by bullet point, PowerPoint slides when people just put up paragraphs or just and then they start reading one bullet after another. And what happens is, while you're talking and presenting, people can read so much faster than you could talk, maybe not as fast as I could talk because I talk. But there but while you're presenting to them, what are they doing? They're reading ahead. So they're until you're like a bullet point, well, you're still on number three, right? So we need to use our visuals to combine with our words to get our message across. So there's two principles that I often talk about. One is the picture superiority effect, which is a scientific principle that says that if pictures and text are doing battle against each other, the picture will always win. And one example of that, again, for the people watching this on the video, this is the bucket list from my NYU course, this is the same list, right? So it's the same information, but where is your eye drawn in terms of attention, comprehension and retention, which one is going to get you, you know, your eyes are magnetically drawn to the visual image. So that's the power of that's the picture superiority effect in action. And the other theory is called dual coding theory and dual is into is that when you use pictures combined with text that's more powerful than either text or images alone, right? So for example, would you buy something on Amazon or eBay? If there was not a picture of the item just from the description? Probably not. If someone sends you a LinkedIn invitation, and there's no headshot, and you don't know who that person is, are you gonna accept it? Maybe not. Right. So if you have a blog post, if it has a visual image attached to it, you're more likely to eat it, then if it doesn't. So those are all just three practical real world examples of how visuals just get our attention, and hook us in. Right. So again, they have to be appropriate visuals have to be relevant and relevant to your audience as well. But you know, just to get more examples of how visuals help to get our message across.

Steve Brown: 

Hey, I wanted to pause right here and tell you about a book that you need to get today. It's the funniest book on marketing. It's called the Golden toilet, stop flushing your marketing budget into your website and build a system that grows your business. And guess who wrote it? That's right, I wrote it. And I wrote it just for you. Because I want to help you get past the last hurdles of setting up your business and getting it squared away. I wrote it so that you can avoid time wasting time wasting money, wasting frustration, get the book on Audible, you can get it on Kindle, you can get it on Amazon, but get the book, take advantage of the insights in there. And let me know what you think. And now back to this excellent episode. As a salesperson, I really struggled with communicating concepts because what we do as an agency is very conceptual, removing people from the physical world that we you innately get, how to set up a shop and make it accommodating and a good user experience. But to translate that into a virtual world is very difficult. Okay. And so you've heard that saying, like, you got to tell people something seven times before they hear it. And so my struggle was as a salesperson, how do you tell someone seven times and when you only get to talk maybe 10 minutes in an hour long conversation, and that's when it hit me to create a visual of a perspective of how to look at a website, and that's where the toilet metaphor came from. And when I when I wouldn't say to you, Todd, your website's just a toilet, then, you know,

Todd Cherches: 

I learned that personally, I'm not gonna I spent a lot of money. And my designer Nancy Segal. I don't think she would love to hear that. But I'll let you keep going on that.

Steve Brown: 

But there's some insecurity that goes with you going, Wow, I hope it's not right. And so, but when I would say that you could literally hear their brains skidding the little tires on their brain skinning on it, but why, what did you just say? And it's like, Look, you know, you wouldn't move into an office. If it didn't have one. You wouldn't build a house if it didn't add one. When people come over, where do you hang out? You hang out in the kitchen, you hang out on the patio, by the pool by the fireplace, but it's just a piece of very important piece of a bigger system. It helps you grow the value of your business. And so that's where that book image comes from. What's absurdly universally iconic example of wasted money. It's a golden toilet.

Todd Cherches: 

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's a great metaphor. It's visual, and it's memorable. It's sometimes with visuals who want to be a little shocking or use some humor, right. So one of the things I talk about in my book, I break it down into four categories so we could tie this back to the golden toilet metaphor is, there's four different ways to think and communicate visually. category one is using imagery and or drawing, right. So use a picture, it could be a PowerPoint slide, it could be a physical demonstration of something, it's like here, let me show you this, right. So your golden toilet would be example of visual image. But you can also do a workshop and how people draw one draw, you know, pick up a pen and draw a toilet, now color, then gold or whatever. Right? So that's category one. Category two is using mental models and frameworks, right? So a mind map, a storyboard a process, diagram, anything, where you're basically framing out a schematic of any kind, right? Those are all frameworks and models, that's category to category three is using metaphors and analogies. And that's the golden the golden toilet, using this analogy for flushing your money down the drain you spend all this money, but is it going to quote waste, right? And category four is using storytelling and with bonus points for humor, right? So again, the golden toilet has some humor in it as well, right? So you're using basically all of these right? You have a visual image, you have a model or framework you use to get people to understand your process, using a great metaphor. And you use a lot of storytelling, as you just did, you told me a story about how you know your website is could be a toilet, because you may be flushing your money down the drain. So it's not any one of those things. But when you use any combination of those four things, that's where it becomes really powerful. So Golden Boy, that's a great example of that.

Steve Brown: 

Well, thank you. So what does one learn when they attend your executive coaching courses?

Todd Cherches: 

Sure, well, my executive coaching tends to be one on one. And then my training programs, groups basically are in groups. And as they as in my NYU and Columbia classes, they basically learn to use the skills. So I just said, may I just talk about those four categories. What I teach people is how to use those four categories more effectively. So a real life example. I just had my first article published in ink magazine two months ago, I just had my second one published two days ago. So my first one was called, can you draw what your company does, and it's based on exercise I do with my clients, where I had one of my clients was a pharmaceutical company, where the business development salespeople who were out in the field, they were all using always using different stories and metaphors to explain what they did, what their products were, how they were better than the competition. So we did this, we brought all the salespeople together on 20 people. And then we had them on a flip chart, we gave them colored markers. And I always have my colored markers with me and flip charts. So they had to pick up a pen that five minutes to draw out a visual image that representative how they explained to the their potential clients what they do and how they did it, then they had five minutes to present it. In the course of doing it. If we found that everyone was using different stories, different metaphors, and many of them were not only inaccurate, but really wrong. So one example, I tell him that in Caracal, I think it's called Can you draw what your company does? One guy said, Oh, our company is like a whale. And our competitors are like goldfish, and we eat them alive. And then we'll see. And then the VP said, No, no, not Not really. It's more like our competitors, because we're not bigger than them. And there's not more of them than us. So the whale versus goldfish didn't work. He said, What if we say our competitors are sharks, because they're cutthroat and they just care about closing the deal and then swimming off after they beat your leg off? Right? We are like dolphins. We are warm, friendly, smart, cuddly, empathetic, caring, compassionate. So then they agreed on Yeah, so that's our metaphor now. So we are dolphins, our competitors are sharks, and boom, that's the story that we tell our customers. So it was so we spent like 1015 minutes just debating what kind of fish or aquatic mammal they were. So it became fun and kind of goofy. But the point was when we walked out that meeting, saying we are dolphins, and that became like a mascot for them and a metaphor, then they said, it's just a dolphin like thing to do or to say right when our customers come to us. Remember, we're not the cutthroat shark, like our competitors were the cuddly, friendly, caring dolphin. And just that one example, I tell them that, in that in that article, right there illustrates the power of drawing storytelling metaphor and create ends up creating a framework for how they were going to go about doing this and their sales process. So that's just one off the top of my head real life example of how we could use this to be more effective and have many more. So

Steve Brown: 

I can imagine some some of the folks that show up to these courses, maybe not so jacked up about attending, like, Hey, I can't color I'm you know, I'm embarrassed in my drawings. But after they leave, I bet you see a big transformation.

Todd Cherches: 

Yeah, I mentioned that in the article. A lot of people suffer from what I call ICD, which is I can draw syndrome. Right. So but if you ask the question, yes, the question of kindergarten kids, right? How many of you could draw who raises their hands? Every one of them, right? You as business people who were to draw? You got a few? I'm not really sure. So when we talk about drawing in this context, it's not about your test of your artistic ability. It's a test of your ability to convey your abstract concepts like you were just talking about, into an image that you could use to communicate as a metaphor, what it is that you do so people can see Okay, now I get the I'm sure everyone here, again, you're not seeing the picture that was drawn, but I'm sure you can picture a dolphin on the shark and say now i guess i got why we're more dolphin like than shark like like a competitor. So that's the thing we need to get over that I can draw, but we can't we don't have to always draw. We could use images we could use. Here are a couple of things I keep on my desk here what I'm talking about always being curious. I have my Curious George. All right. So keep this on my desk. I talked about being flexible. I have my Gumby right. So here, I didn't need to draw anything. But I'm using a visual image that we're all familiar with. Again, even if you're listening to the podcast, you can picture Curious George in your head, you can picture Gumby in your head. And you know that what, you know what kind of traits each of those characters symbolizes. So again, another example of using Visual Thinking to get an idea across.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, there's a great book conversations. And when the complex sale that really helped me see that using handwriting, your brain is naturally attracted to that as opposed to fonts or text. Yeah, yeah,

Todd Cherches: 

yeah, it's again, it's the it's the it's called vark, visual, auditory reading and writing and kinesthetic. So those are for basically learning and communication modality. So when you use all of those kinesthetic, like you're talking, when you're drawing, it actually activates another part of your brain, right. So that's what we're trying to do, just like with the dual coding theory, where you're activating both the left brain and the right brain, when you're drawing using pictures, you're not just using the text and numbers part of your brain, you're using the creative visual part of your brain. And, again, getting your ideas across more effectively.

Steve Brown: 

I think one of the things that your program can really help with is you know, as, as a person who's wanting to improve or really transform themselves, you have to draw a picture of what you want to be in the future to hand that way. What is what's some of the concepts that you have in your book or your your teaching that helps us accomplish that?

Todd Cherches: 

Yeah, well, one of the one of the images and metaphors I use in my TED talk, and I also talked about in my book, and in my classes is that the leadership journey, so I have a picture of a picture, that's your inside the car, looking out, right? If you look forward through the front, through the front windshield, and the road ahead, pictures up on an open road with no other cars around, it's blue sky, blue skies up ahead. That's the future, right. So the windshield, the road and the blue sky that represents the future. Now you can only see as far as the horizon. And similarly, you don't know what's over the horizon, the weather, the obstacles ahead, the detours, whatever. So we can only visualize as far as the eye can see. But as leaders, we need to think what's beyond that, right? So we need to strategize and plan. The rearview mirror represents the past, how we got here, where we came from our successes and our failure stories. But also reminds us because it's a mirror to pull over and look in the mirror and reflect on ourselves, look, internally, we may be tired, maybe exhausted, maybe hungry, but we need to look in the mirror to say it's re examine who we are and who we are, how we are as leaders and an introspective way. And our dashboard represents the metrics, right? How do you measure success? So just like in a car, it tells us how fast we're going? Or how many miles are on the car? What How do you measure success in your business? Right? What's How do you measure the ROI? How do you measure costs and expenditures and revenues? and all those kinds of things? Those are the three the concepts. Then, when you're in the car, you think about Alright, when am I in the driver's seat with my foot on the pedal? My hands on the wheel? When do I move over to the passenger seat? let someone else lead let someone else drive where I'm navigating? When do I sit in the backseat and let someone else navigate and drive. But I'm there for support if needed. So as a leader, you want to think about where are you sitting in that car. And sometimes you do have to say, let me drive you let me take over. Other times, it's like I'm here. If you need me in the backseat, I'm gonna take a nap. Right? So just right there. That's the metaphor, the leadership journey. And each of us has our own individual leadership journey. But as a team or an organization, you're on this journey together. So that's one of the things how we can get from point A to point B, effectively as a unit. So again, that's just one metaphor, I often use to think about past present future. So again, we have your mirror as the past. The dashboard is the present that tells us where we are, and then the windshield, and the road ahead represents the future.

Steve Brown: 

I love that. You're listening to Todd churches, he's the author of visual leadership, leveraging the power of Visual Thinking in leadership and life. He's also a TEDx speaker, executive coach, CEO of big blue Gumball, so Todd, what's the one question nobody ever asked? That, that you would love to answer?

Todd Cherches: 

Oh, that's a that's a great question. In fact, that's, that's a that's that's an interesting question. And people often ask, like, how the why visuals, like, why did you latch on to this? That's your thing, right? So that's something that people kind of tiptoe around, but now people tend to not really ask that and, you know, growing up as a kid, I'm a baby. I'm on like, Gen X baby boomer. CUSP. So I grew up as a TV Yeah, watching TV. So in my TED talk, I talked about that when I was a kid, people would say, Todd, you know, what do you want to be when you grow up? And I would say I want to be Superman. And they said, Well, what if you can't be Superman? You need a backup plan in case that doesn't work out. And I said, All right. All right, Batman. So in my five year old mine, those were two of my top career options. But then I realized that those jobs were only fictional. But then I said, All right, I'm gonna try to get a job in the TV industry. So when I was like, around 12, I realized that Superman Batman was not realistic. But everything I did was geared towards working in the TV industry. So I was obsessed with TV Guide and programming, shows and all that kind of stuff. So my first job out of college was in advertising. And then I ended up packing up at age 24. And moving out to LA and getting jobs for I worked for Aaron Spelling. For a while putting scripts together. I was in casting Columbia Pictures. I was in comedy at Disney and I was in drama program development at CBS before I left television and gotten to the theme park business, where I manage that project in China, as I talked about before, so But what's interesting is the Superman Batman thing someone said to me, was because when I told that story, they said, Well, you don't have X ray vision, like Superman, but you have the power of Visual Thinking. So that's my equivalent. And Batman had his utility belt. And they said, you have your coaching toolkit with all your Visual Thinking tools, tips and techniques. So that's my equivalent of my Batman utility belt. So in some ways, I still have that, you know, Clark and Bruce Wayne thing happening, but my alter ego is that Superman Batman combination, but you know, applying it in the visual, and the executive coaching and a teaching context

Steve Brown: 

these days. Mine was Spider Man and Batman.

Todd Cherches: 

Yeah. Yeah, I love speaking of spider man, one of the quotes I use is Yeah, with great power comes great responsibility, right? That's in the movie Spider Man. But in the original Spider Man comment from 1962. That's the very last panel. He's walking down the street, and it shows that so you know, Spider Man. And that's the thing when you think about superheroes, whether it's Spider Man, Superman, Batman, what are they? They're visual icons that represent certain character traits, right? So Superman, truth, justice and the American way. And Batman was the one who was you know, avenging the death of his parents that haunted him from his childhood and, and Spider Man, you know, again, dinging the death of his Uncle Ben, right. So when you think about it, think about what your superpowers are, right? If you're a superhero in your business, and you had a cape, what would be on the cape? You know, what, what's the one of the powers that you bring to the table? And I love that metaphor, because what superheroes do they save people? Right? They make the world a better place. So in that way, in what ways in your work? Are you a superhero to other people, to your customers and clients? How are you saving the day? How are you, you know, but we also have our justice, Superman has his kryptonite, we all have our Achilles heels to mix metaphors. Right? So what are your weaknesses? What are the things that maybe you're not that great at? Or is a weak spot that maybe you need to improve on? Or maybe you partner with someone else? Who can make up for your deficiencies, right? So that's another way to think about because we can't be grateful, even Superman or Batman, everyone had their arch nemesis, or they have their weak spots? That's something we need to think about for our businesses is, what can we do? Who can we partner with to help save the day for our customers? Yeah, I

Steve Brown: 

love that. And as you know, as a marketer, you need to be thinking, what is the Nemesis of the folks that you're wanting to help because that reveals an internal struggle that they have an insecurity about. And if you can convey in a beautiful way succinctly that you understand them and that they're safe with you, then immediately they bond with you. And that's the beauty and the power of what you're you're teaching folks. Yeah,

Todd Cherches: 

that's one of their pain points, and how can you make things better for them? So that's exactly, and we need to do that through listening. Right? So this is one of my concepts that we haven't talked about yet, on the cover of my book, visual leadership. It's a rainbow color lie, right? The rainbow represents two things innovation and diversity, right? The fact that no one in the world has this rainbow I, no one in the world sees the world exactly the way you do. So we need to remember that, that we're seeing it through our own lens based on our background, upbringing, culture, its life experiences. Another concept and also the rainbow represents innovation of creativity, because we need to be innovative and creative and colorful in how we come up with solutions for each client. The other concept we haven't talked about yet is what I call flipping the eye. And that was my second article in ink magazine that just came out the other day, flipping the eye is two ways. One is turning that eye around looking inwardly at yourself, but the others flipping it around and looking at the world through the lens of other people who are different from you, including our customers, right, we could come out and just throw solutions against the wall. But if we don't listen to our customers, if we don't see the world through their lens, then we're just throwing up stuff out there and hoping it sticks, we need to really put our shell mixing metaphors, put ourselves in the shoes of our customers and view the world through the lens of our customers to help see the world and see their pain through their from their perspective. And then together we can partner with them and come up with solutions. So what are your thoughts there in terms of that flipping the eye concept to see things to see the world through the eyes of your customer?

Steve Brown: 

No, I love it. Because I always say that, you know, our challenge as as business leaders is that we need to figure out how to excel in a unique environment that's new and that The virtual environment, the digital environment. And the way that you do it is by being more human, and less robotic or digital or analog magical, right? And so what you're talking about is the secret. Here's what's crazy. being human is a competitive advantage in the virtual world. And that's what you're talking about by looking in, and also understanding them. And if you can just communicate immediately communicate, I get you, and I understand you, and I'm going to help you resolve the issue that you're researching to resolve. And we're in this, we're going to do this together, but I'm going to support you. That's a competitive advantage. And that's being human that everybody gets tripped up on the technology and they want to, we put in the keywords, we're gonna do this robotic stuff and chat bots and all these things. And they missed the whole point. There's a human with a name, and a family and hopes and dreams are evaluating your solution as a potential answer to what they need.

Todd Cherches: 

Exactly right. Yeah, empathy, compassion, human skills, basic fundamental people skills are so key. Yeah, we call them soft skills, because lack of a better word. So the hard skills are like the technology and the nuts and bolts of the business. The soft skills are the people skills, but as we all know, that emotional intelligence and the soft skills is often as like you said, a competitive advantage and can make or break a relationship. Oh, another question that we haven't, that I often talk about is like, not only Who is your customer, but who is your customers? customer, right? Who are they serving? So we need to not only see the world through the lens of our customer, but through the lens of our customers customer, right? So if you're working with let's say, a sneaker company, or an athletic wear company, yes, you want to see the world through their lens, but who are they selling to? Right? Who were the kids or the sports teams or the parents that they're selling to? So it's not just so it's almost like two eyes, right? One lens is one is for the customer. And one is for the customers customer, because you want to see things from their lens, as well as from the lens of the basically the end user, right? So a lot of times we just stop at the customer, and we don't take it that extra step, which is crucially important. So if he wants because that's who our customers are thinking about, right? They're thinking about their customers. We're thinking about our customers. So it's taking that extra step. A lot of times we lose sight of that, like he said, because we're so focused on the coding and the look and feel of the functionality. And we forget that it was a real human, that's going to be looking at it. And that's another thing too, I use a lot of metaphors. I'm a big baseball fan Yankees. And that's mainly what I think what two concepts one is, you could dislike someone because they root for another team, or you can like them, because they are also fans of the same sport, right? So a lot of times we're very competitive with people. But a lot of times we need to, we can collaborate with our competitors to benefit our customers. But one of the concepts to think about is when we're using metaphors analogies, a lot of my students, for example, are international students, many of them from China, right? So if I use a baseball analogy with a 25 year old female from Beijing, that is not going to resonate, right? So we need to think about the stories we tell the examples we use, and the metaphors we choose need to resonate with our audience. So what might resonate something like maybe dance or theater or a sport that they play, right? So if I'm talking to someone from from Australia, I may talk about rugby, if I'm talking to someone from India, I may reference cricket, cricket, or England, football, soccer, right? Although they get upset if you call it soccer, they want you to call it football. I learned that the hard way through talking to a friend on another podcast. But that's the thing too. It's like we're always speaking in terms of our interest and our knowledge. But we need to think about from a customer's point of view, what do they know? What do they care about? Because then you really connect with them. Right? So that's another thing to think about. So using metaphors from say nature is universal, right? So if I say, Let's plant the seed for an idea, let's go out on a limb. Let's get to the root of the problem. Let's see what bears fruit. And there's no telling if this grows, that, you know the sky's the limit. I just use five tree related nature metaphors that anyone can relate to, regardless of where in the world you live. So again, you want to be speaking the language of your customer. So your message resonates with them. Yeah, I

Steve Brown: 

love that. I, I think one of the things I use as an example is marketing's broken because the people that are writing the copy for the product and whatever I have in mind, basically like that dillards mannequin has. It's a nameless, faceless, you can hang men's clothes on it or females clothes on it. But you're missing the point there. It's a human there. And that's why marketing is broken. Good point.

Unknown: 

Definitely.

Steve Brown: 

So Todd, how do people reach out to you? Obviously, they can get your book everywhere. It's on Amazon Kindle. Audible. Well, how can they reach out what's the best way to connect with you hire you and you

Todd Cherches: 

thank you the two best ways just go to my website, Todd churches.com. And you could sign up for my mailing list if you'd like and download for free my list of the Top 52 books that will help make you a better visual leader. And the other way is just to LinkedIn. I live on LinkedIn, I'm there all the time. So connect with me like, comment and share my post. I'm happy to do the same for you. And that's a great way to learn about each other and build the relationship.

Steve Brown: 

So that's time churches, you spell churches, ch, EC, I'm sorry, CH e. r ch. e. s, correct. All right, Todd, you've been an awesome guest on the ROI online podcast.

Todd Cherches: 

Thank you, Steve, you've been an awesome host. This is like you said, it's a great conversation between friends talking business and other things. And it's great. So thank you for having me.

Steve Brown: 

Thank you for so means such a great value to my listeners. And that's a wrap. Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI online podcast. For more, be sure to check out the show notes of this episode. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn where we can chat, and I can help direct you to the resources you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better. Be sure to pick up your copy of my book, The Golden toilet at surprise, that golden toilet.com I'm Steve Brown, and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI online podcast.