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IAM1920 – Keynote Speaker Helps Organizations Navigate Through Disruption

Podcast Interview with Offner Gregory

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode, the guest is Greg Offner Jr., a keynote speaker, emcee, and workshop facilitator.

Key Points:

Greg Offner Jr.'s Background: With a unique combination of 17 years of experience working in corporate leadership roles, including an expat assignment with Fortune 100 organizations, and 12 years as a dueling piano bar player, Greg brings insights and perspective that few others possess.

Navigating Through Disruption: Greg helps organizations deal with disruption, which has been a part of his life since he was very young.

CEO Hack: Greg suggests doing mental gymnastics to achieve goals.

CEO Nugget: Greg advises individuals to (i) learn more and know less, and (ii) worry more about what they can learn, rather than focusing solely on their skills.

CEO Defined: Greg defines a good CEO as someone who can figure things out, especially in terms of three 3Ds – Develop, Deliverables, and Don't do everything.

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Offner Gregory Teaser 00:00

One of them I got from Tim Ferriss, from a guest of his, and that's that we should all learn more and know less. Especially the higher we climb in the corporate ladder, we tend to think we have to know everything and we're best served actually by consistently learning.

Don't worry about what you know, worry about what you can learn.

Intro 00:20

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:47

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast, and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners. Or what I like to call CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations

This month we are focused on innovation, disruption, women entrepreneurship, DEI, gig economy, remote economy, even the cannabis industry. Think about these industries and these disruptive technologies that really sometimes aren't as disruptive, but there are people that are just paying attention to what the market needs, and they're providing that. So really think about the things that are quote and quote outside of the norm, but really help entrepreneurship to grow and fully develop.

I think it's an extremely exciting time when you're talking about any type of innovation or disruption, because I think that there are so many opportunities and needs that aren't felt that are starting to be filled by different groups, different organizations, or even different industries. So what I want you to do is sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Gregory of gregoryoffner.com. Gregory, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Offner Gregory 02:09

Gresh, awesome to be here, my friend. Thank you.

Gresham Harkless 02:12

Definitely super excited to have you on. I want to read a little bit more about Greg so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing.

Greg is a keynote speaker, emcee and talented workshop facilitator. Greg's experience is a unique collaborative combination of 17 years working in corporate leadership roles, including an expat assignment with fortune 100 companies and 12 years as a dueling piano bar player.

This unique combination helps Greg to bring insight and perspective that few others possess. Disruption has been a part of his life since he was very, very young.

Greg, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Offner Gregory 02:44

Let's do it.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:45

Let's do it then. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit, hear a little bit more about this background and all the awesome work that you're doing and what I like to call your CEO story.

Offner Gregory 02:54

Yeah. So unintentional CEO, really wanted a kind of Kevin Spacey and American beauty. I think when I first started the corporate world, if you remember that scene where he goes to the drive-through and he says, I want a job with as little responsibility as possible. I think that's how I thought of myself initially in the corporate world. I wanted a job where I could just make some money and be left alone. And I think that came from not knowing what I wanted to contribute because when I got out of school, I had this background in music and philosophy and psychology and had worked a lot in the service industry.

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So I was good at talking with people, good at sizing up customers, but I had never done any internships and I had no idea what I wanted to do in the world. So I fell into a sales role and very quickly started making a lot of money. And the more money you make theoretically, the better you're doing. And the better you do in sales, the more they leave you alone. So it seemed like this great job. But the more I did it, the more I made, the less it mattered. You habituate to things all around you, good or bad.

Humans are really resilient in that standpoint that we get used to anything. You put us in a crappy situation, eventually, it becomes normal. You put us in a lavish lifestyle, eventually, that becomes normal. So when you fast forward the clock a little bit, Gresh, I had this job that was very financially rewarding,  but very unfulfilling and I felt as if I wasn't allowed to feel that way. Who am I? When I look around the city of Philadelphia where I live, where we don't have a lot of people that are earning what they probably could be and maybe should be earning, it's a fairly impoverished city.

So who am I to look around and say, I don't like this job? I should be so grateful for this job. What I wound up doing to fulfill scratch that fulfillment ditch, was I started working at piano bars and I didn't know the path of that would take me. I just knew that I had this day job that provided the money to pay the bills. And then I had this nighttime job that paid the emotional bills. It really fulfilled me that got me an opportunity really to be in front of other people and to lift them up to make them a little happier. Because it's rare Gresh, that a salesperson calls their prospect and gets a warm reception. Normally you have to work your way into it. That's why they call it cold calling.

But I got warm receptions from crowds all over. So I had this sort of bifurcated life. Two lives if you will. And then in 2015, everything changed. I had a visit with a doctor because I had lost my voice while I was performing and they use this scope. It's a very uncomfortable process Gresh where they go up your nose and down your throat to look at your vocal folds. And when they looked at mine, they gasped and they said we've never seen vocal folds as badly damaged. And if you continue to sing and speak on them, you're gonna break your voice. You basically will paralyze your vocal cords. Once that happens we can't restore your vocal function. That'll be it.

So I said what does that mean? What do I have to do? He said ideally stop using your voice for a number of weeks and let the swelling subside. But then we need to do surgery. We need to repair all the damage that's been done to your vocal cords. Gresh, you're probably already putting this together and your listeners are too, that a guy who speaks for a living during the day and sings for a living at night has just been told that he can't or shouldn't use his voice. He won't be able to use it ever again. So the emotions running through my brain were too many to describe, but they pointed me in a path of needing to do something different with my life because the day job was going to be unsustainable.

If I couldn't go to loud breakfast meetings to network loud evening events, sporting events to entertain clients, I couldn't compete in this very high profile world of selling that I was in, selling a very expensive insurance product. If I couldn't use my voice for four and five-hour performances each night, then I couldn't have that emotional fulfillment. So I found myself in a place of deep depression, feeling financial lack and not really sure what my contribution or what my value to this world was going to be. I was in probably the darkest place that people find themselves in. It was there that someone saw something more in me, saw that all those experiences that I had, the background in selling and psychology, the interest in music and entertainment, the ability to quickly relate to people the interest in helping them.

That could be used for somebody stronger for a different purpose. And so I unintentionally became the CEO of this business, which we call Global Performance Institute and I'm hired by corporations and associations all over the world to speak at their kickoff events to be the lead keynoter for their large conference, to work with their executives when they need help navigating their way through disruption, through change. Unfortunately, I haven't been that busy lately. There hasn't been a whole lot of change going on in the world. Gresh, there hasn't been a lot for me to do.

Gresham Harkless 07:37

Smooth sailing.

Offner Gregory 07:38

Wild. It's been a wild time. And It's been very gratifying to help these organizations find a way to continue to deliver, to continue to deliver the performance of their lifetime in maybe the darkest part of their lifetime. This situation where we're all working from home, where we've had to lay off or riff, hundreds if not thousands of employees, depending on the size.

And, where some organizations have had to make the hard choice to shut down. It's a tough place to be, but I get to do a lot of cool work.

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Gresham Harkless 08:05

I love that you've been able to do that, and you do that with your clients that you work with. I know you touched a little bit upon like how you serve your clients, could you take us through anything additional?

You may not have touched on and of course, what you feel is what sets you apart, what I like to call your secret sauce.

Offner Gregory 08:17

Yeah. I told you my secret sauce. Would it be secret? Am I allowed to do that? Of course, it's just you and me.

Gresham Harkless 08:21

It's just you and me.

Offner Gregory 08:22

We'll check with my attorneys. I'm like, I have attorneys. So to the extent that it would benefit your audience, Gresh, I think it's important that I talk about what I do being short term. I'm not the type of guru that you're going to bring into your company and I'll work with you for years and years and years. Maybe I will be in the future but right now what I really look for are organizations that one of three things- they're either approaching a change in their organization and they want to make sure that it goes as well as it possibly can. Two, they're in the middle of a change. And I'm not really sure if it's going well, or maybe they know it's not going well, and they don't know what they need to do to make that change go better. The third is that they've just gone through a change, and they're facing resistance.

These are my three favorite scenarios, and the three scenarios I work best with. Because invariably changing the inspiration, the inputs or changing the expectation, what the output is, what can help these organizations or individuals find their way. There's are couple of processes that I use. One of which I'll share, it's a really fun takeaway for your audience. And if they want to write this down, this is a good time to grab a pen and paper, is called the goal of your goal. The purpose of this exercise is to help break this pattern that all human beings have.

This pattern is that we all have two reasons for everything that we do. Everything that we do has two reasons, a good reason and the real reason. Most of us don't talk about the real reason, we talk about a good reason. When I work with high school kids and college kids, my favorite example to use is that of becoming a millionaire. Dang that sounds like a good thing. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find somebody that would argue that becoming a millionaire would be a bad thing. So, when I ask these kids about becoming a millionaire, I ask them why they would possibly want to become a millionaire. I get all sorts of answers. I get a lot of crazy stares too. What do you mean? Why would I want to be a millionaire? Who wouldn't? Why would I not? Yeah.

But Gresh, what it ultimately comes down to is that they equate being a millionaire with having freedom. So, the logical next question that you or I would ask them is, if you could have freedom without being a millionaire would that interest you? Was that something you'd be interested in? And that really sums up this goal of your goal process. You might be a sales executive and say, I want to double my revenue next year. The question that I ask is when you double your revenue next year, what will that allow you to do or to feel? So this is the part your listeners wanna write down. After any goal that I've decided I would like to achieve, can I answer the question what will be achieving that goal allow me to do or to feel, if I can?

And most of us can. Then that first thing we said isn't the goal, it's the second thing. But then we apply the formula again and again, and again and again, and it can feel like a never-ending ladder that we're climbing here. But what we wanna arrive at is what philosophers call an autotelic goal. An autotelic goal is a goal that just is for itself. It is in its own being the goal. Give you an example because it's a really loosey-goosey heady concept. If you enjoy playing music, you probably have a hard time describing why. It's just something about the way you feel. If you're a singer, the way your body feels when you resonate, if you're a drummer, the way it feels when you drum out that beat, if you're a guitarist and the way it feels when you strum that court, you can't really describe it. It just is. That's an autotelic goal.

So when your listeners arrive at that autotelic goal, they've identified something that's going to drive them through any obstacle because being a millionaire is hard! If being a millionaire is a good goal and not the real goal, when you realize that you're going to have to sacrifice family events, you're going to have to make tough choices about hanging out with friends or working on your business or working on the revenue-producing idea, you may opt to take the easy route because being a millionaire isn't really the goal. It's something else. Once we identify that real goal, the autotelic goal, that's power. That's power we can use and leverage through those hard choices through those tough times. That's just one example of what I do with my clients.

That's been a pretty powerful tool for them.

Gresham Harkless 12:32

Yeah, it sounds extremely powerful. And that definitely sounds like that could be what I was going to call a CEO hack.

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Offner Gregory 12:38

Absolutely. There's nothing tougher. Then the mental gymnastics that are expected of many CEOs. I was speaking to one that I advised the other day and he said, COVID has been a real punch in the face for him because he realized he doesn't do much. He makes a lot of decisions. He gives a lot of orders, but at the end of the day, he doesn't actually do most of it.

It's his troops. It's the people that work for him. And so as a CEO, when things are going wrong or when things aren't going as well as expected, the mental gymnastics that they have to do can be really, really daunting if they haven't identified the true goal, the autotelic goal, the goal of their goal.

Gresham Harkless 13:20

Awesome. So, I want to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. This might be a word of wisdom or piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client, or if you hopped into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Offner Gregory 13:31

One of them I got from Tim Ferriss, from a guest of his, and that's that we should all learn more and know less. Especially the higher we climb in the corporate ladder, we tend to think we have to know everything and we're best served actually by consistently learning.

Don't worry about what, worry about what you can learn.

Gresham Harkless 13:49

Awesome. Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping out different quote and quote CEOs on the show.

So Greg, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Offner Gregory 13:58

It means figure it out. Being a CEO is the chief everything officer. You've got to figure it out. And the most important thing for individuals to figure out are the three D's. So number one is you got to develop. People that are CEOs, especially if you work for yourself, meaning you're a sole proprietor or you are one of a very small team. The most important thing to your business is development. Developing customers and I say development, business development, revenue coming in. You got to develop your pipeline. You have to develop your existing customers to produce more revenue.

The second is deliverables. Once you sell the client, you better deliver. You better get that deliverable, right? Getting bigger is not why a business exists. A business exists to get better.

Then you got to get rid of the dumb stuff. Oh, you don't have to use the dump button. I'll say dumb stuff. You know what I mean? You got to understand that your job is to figure it out, but not to do it. You're the chief everything officer. It doesn't mean you do everything. That means you need to know what you are great at doing and what you can outsource, offload. That is what it means to be CEO.

Gresham Harkless 15:07

Greg, truly appreciate that definition, and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is just pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know.

And of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Offner Gregory 15:20

Sure. I think a really important conversation that's happening right now is a conversation around income. Income inequality, and what we should do about the minimum wage. And this really is a passionate, it's an area of passion for me because for a long time I relied on my employer to develop me. I thought that my manager was the one who was going to groom me for the next role and that my company was going to make sure that I had all the resources necessary to be successful. And while that is true for some companies, what's more true is that individuals need to take control of their own development.

You can't wait for your boss to do it for you. You can't wait for the world to do it for you. You've got to develop and make yourself more valuable because you'll be paid exactly what you're worth to the person paying you. If you go and you get in touch with me there and you have a question, I'm happy to help.

I'll take 15 minutes and meet with anybody that wants to chat. You can actually book it through my website. So to the extent that your listeners feel like I can be a resource for them, it would be a privilege for me to be able to leverage some of my value to help them and I'm so thrilled that you invited me on this podcast.

Thank you so much for having me on.

Gresham Harkless 16:21

No, I'm definitely thrilled as well. And I truly appreciate you for all the awesome work that you're doing. We will have the links and information in the show notes as well, too.

I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:29

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation in Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation at blue16media.com. This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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