IAM1959 – Podcaster Speaks to the Workforce Professionals

Podcast Interview with Dan Smolen

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode, the guest is Dan Smolen, an author, podcaster, and advocate for people who want to do meaningful work. He is the founder and executive producer of The Dan Smolen Experience, LLC, and host of The Tightrope with Dan Smolen podcast.

Key Points:

The Tightrope with Dan Smolen: Dan's podcast speaks to the hopes and dreams, as well as the fears and anxieties, of workforce professionals. This program aims to help individuals navigate career and life challenges.

Background: Apart from being a podcaster, Dan Smolen is also an author and advocate of individuals aspiring to do meaningful work in their careers.

Fall 2019 Season: As of the podcast episode's release in March 2020, The Tightrope had just finished its Fall 2019 season.

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Dan Smolen Teaser 00:00

One of our experts explains the importance of emotional intelligence and personality types and how you can use those to advantage yourself, especially when it comes to doing meaningful work.

So we bring on guests who have first person experience. We also bring on guests who are experts in their own fields who impact and work for the better.

Intro 00:21

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:49

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 were repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month, we are focusing on it finishing it out, fighting the good fight and closing out the job. I think just as important as it is to start something, it's even more important in how you conclude it or finish it out. So if you think of the different things that you can finish out, it'd be everything from a project, it can be from a day, it could also be from a business in and of itself, and it can also of course, be for the year. So when you think of finishing out, I want you to really think of these episodes because what we're going to really focus on is the last question that we really ask, which is defining what it means to be a CEO.

All the creative, innovative, and I think truly insightful questions that we received from this question is really what we want to highlight during the show. But of course, we want you to enjoy the entire episode and think about how you're going to finish things out and how you're going to finish things out strongly. So 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 and have a very special guest on the show today at Dan Smolen of the Dan Smolen Experience.

Dan, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Dan Smolen 02:20

Thank you, Gresh. Great to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:22

Yeah, super excited to have you on. What I want to do before we jump in was to read a little bit more about Dan so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing.

Dan is an author, podcaster, and advocate for people who want to do meaningful work. He is a founder and executive producer of the Dan Smolen Experience LLC and host of the TightRope with Dan Smolen, a podcast that speaks to the hopes and dreams, but also the fears and anxieties of workforce professionals.

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The TightRope just finished its fall 2019 season. Dan, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Dan Smolen 02:54

Let's do this.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:55

Let's make it happen. So I wanted to kick everything off with what I call your CEO story, hear a little bit more about your background. We'll let you get started with all the awesome things you're doing.

Dan Smolen 03:03

My CEO story is going to be probably different than most CEO stories you run on your podcast. I am into my fourth career act. I've been in the work world about 40 years if you count my freshman year in college started off in radio broadcasting after college got into the advertising world as an expert in digital and direct marketing then spent 20 years as a headhunter in the recruiting business. I went to work for somebody that I had worked with in my sales and marketing years in the agency space and helped her build one of the leading digital marketing executive recruitment companies.

Then in 2005 went off on my own. Then for the next 13 years I ran my own boutique executive recruitment firm, which I closed one I'm sorry, two years ago, beginning of 2018, I just ran out of gas. I didn't have any recruiting left in me and decided I wanted to focus my energy more on the people that get recruited and not the companies that do the recruiting.

That was the genesis behind the Dan Smolen Experience, where we focus on the idea of meaningful work. Work that's profound, often protects the planet and empowers people in the communities and it's fun to do.

Gresham Harkless 04:34

Absolutely no, I love that. I love like the evolution of that, and it definitely sounds I don't know, usually this is not according to plan, but it sounds like when you look back, you explain everything science, like everything kind of fits in this perfect spot and improvised.

This is I guess foundation for the work that you're doing now.

Dan Smolen 04:51

There are no mistakes. There are no coincidences. I wouldn't change a thing.

Gresham Harkless 04:56

Awesome. Awesome. I love that. I know we touched on it a little bit when I read your bio and you did as well too. I wanted you to take us through like the Dan Smolen Experience, what exactly you're doing, what you're covering on your podcast and some of the awesome things we can find.

Dan Smolen 05:11

What we do is, on the podcast we allow amazing storytelling. So our guests are often people who have made a transition in their work. I'll give you some examples. One of our guests this season top Attorney in New York City covering traffic law and by just a chance meeting, Matt Weiss met up with the dad of a 911 hero, a guy who during 911 Helped rescue 10 people out of the World Trade Center. When that happened to make a long story short, Matt went from being a guy who made his living helping people to deal with traffic Law situations, speeding tickets and other types of things to becoming a film producer.

And it's really those kinds of stories of transition where it's not always somebody being unhappy with what they were doing prior, but then something comes along and the meaning just pours out of it. So in Matt's case, he became a filmmaker and it's just stoked his passions. It brings him great meaning. So we tell those kinds of stories. We also interview experts in all sorts of fields relating to work and the work world. One of our experts explains the importance of emotional intelligence and personality types and how you can use those to advantage yourself, especially when it comes to doing meaningful work.

So we bring on guests who have first person experience. We also bring on guests who are experts in their own fields who impact work for the better.

Gresham Harkless 06:52

Yeah, that makes so much sense. I think that when you and everything you're doing is bringing light to that and helping people to understand it from different perspectives and different vantage points, so to speak. So that we can understand our work, understand what we're doing, understand why we're doing everything that we're doing from a greater level,

Dan Smolen 07:09

For so many years, work was the means by which ordinary people could attain upward mobility. My granddad came from Eastern Europe 117 years ago with lint in his pockets. He had nothing. Came with no family, just dreams, and little by little, he went from pushing a push cart to becoming an entrepreneur who ran his own furniture store. 25 years after arriving in this country, building a gorgeous custom home, that happened because work back in the day was a means to create not only personal wealth, but a wonderful life story.

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It's not so simple nowadays for many people. Work isn't upward mobility. It's just the means of staying afloat or not underwater. And so that's fertile ground for us to talk about on the tightrope because many people suffer some aspect of meaninglessness or disengagement on the job. Actually our research from the Gallup organization says that 66% of people in the workforce suffer some degree of meaninglessness or disengagement on the job. That's 145 million people.

If you extract it out against the entire workforce, that's a huge portion of the population. Not just the workforce, but the population of the United States that is suffering at work. And so we feel we Gresham, have an opportunity, but also a responsibility to help people take the reins of their careers and restore some meaningfulness to it so that the work that they do really inspires them. It's not just a paycheck.

Gresham Harkless 09:03

Yeah, absolutely. And, me being a millennial, I feel like that from whatever they are read about millennials, not to say I'm an expert or anything, that's something that we're craving and we're thriving for is not just to work just for work safe, but to work, to have a mission and value and meaningful work as you said as well.

I love how everything you're doing is bringing those stories out because I think that a lot of times, again, work is something that doesn't have life. Sometimes it doesn't have life, it doesn't think, it doesn't do those things. But when you add those stories and that aspect to it, I think it brings everything to light.

So I wasn't sure, if that is what you would consider to be what I call your secret sauce. The thing you feel sets you and you know your organization apart. But do you feel like it's the stories and bringing that work together that sets you apart?

Dan Smolen 09:49

The podcast is the main feature of the Dan Smolen experience. We are a work in progress, as we, unlike a lot of companies that write a business plan and they chart out, okay, we're going to be a media company and we're going to have this lane of programming and that lane of programming, and we're going to do this and we're going to do that. I actually did what probably any business school would tell you not to do which was start as a blank slate and figure it out from there.

I'm actually okay with that, so we're for all that by all intents and purposes a media company the center of that is our podcast. So that's available wherever people get podcasts by keywording the type of podcast. We provide these stories to people to inspire them Beyond that, we're going to be doing other things. We have a newsletter where we offer insight and tips and hacks to people so that along the way they can get better at recognizing meaningful work opportunities and then go about seizing them.

What I hope in time to happen is that our work touches people more directly maybe through training, maybe through other types of things or community. I don't know though and we'll figure it out, and that'll be okay.

Gresham Harkless 11:11

Definitely appreciate you for mentioning that. I wanted to just switch gears a little bit, and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So that could be like an app, a book or a habit that you have, or what's something that you feel makes you more effective and efficient?

Dan Smolen 11:26

I am constantly writing and updating lists and prioritizing what I need to get done in a day. I also try to put as much early in the day as possible. I never realized I was a morning person, but my dogs get me up at 5:30. I get them fed. Then my wife who teaches, she's got to get ready for school and get her out the door. So she's at the door by 8:30 and that's when I'm hitting the ground running.

As a podcaster, I'm doing a lot of editing, a lot of production work. I try to do as much of that early in the day as possible when my energy level is the best. As the day goes on, I do less taxing pursuits.

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Gresham Harkless 12:10

Definitely, I appreciate that. I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. That could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice or if you can hop into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Dan Smolen 12:22

If I told my earlier business self to do something and it changed the course of my destiny I wouldn't be speaking to you right now. So I don't know, that's really the case. Yeah, you could say, I wish I did this, I wish I did that with all the disappointments and all the career changes that I had. I really wouldn't change a thing. But I think that the word that I use is persistence.

Don't give up. Be consistent. Be constant. If you have a focus in your life, if you have a mission, even on days when you don't have a lot of energy, just give what you can, give it a daily effort.

Gresham Harkless 13:04

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

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

Dan Smolen 13:20

My take on it is going to be different than anybody else. I didn't go to business school. I think that today's CEO is the chief storyteller of their brand. They're the chief storyteller of the company's revenue stream and scale potential. But at the end of the day he or she is the person who tells the brand story, weaves the story for relevance and makes the consumer of their brand, the person who drives the storytelling.

If you do all those things today, I think you're an effective CEO.

Gresham Harkless 13:58

Nice. I love that definition. I love that perspective because a lot of times, we forget about the stories that we're living on a day-to-day basis. But also we're living, of course, in our businesses, in our lives, in our families, so on and so forth. And that you often can lose perspective and forget about that.

I think that if we are cognizant of that and continue to live that and figure out how best to articulate that, I think that we truly are being our best CEOs.

Dan Smolen 14:22


Gresham Harkless 14:24

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Dan, I truly appreciate that definition. Again, I truly appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and listeners know. And then of course, how they can find out about the podcast and all the awesome work that you're doing.

Dan Smolen 14:40

I appreciate the opportunity Gresh. So I encourage your listeners to give us a listen, find us where you get your podcasts by keywording the Tightrope podcast. You can find us on Apple Podcasts, on Google, on Spotify, on Pandora, on Stitcher Radio, on Tune in. Goodness knows other types of places as well.

We are also As of this past friday on youtube. So for a different type of experience you can keyword the Tightrope Podcast Channel and you'll find you'll find video representations of our weekly podcasts and also come to see us at dansmolen.com, pull down the podcast tabs and you can find information about our podcast.

But also click on to episodes, read our story notes and at the top of the page, each page, you can find our player, just press the forward triangle button and you're on your way to listening.

Gresham Harkless 15:45

Awesome. Thank you so much again, Dan. We will have those links and information and the show notes as well too, so people can click through and subscribe and of course listen to the podcast and see all the awesome work that you've been doing.

I appreciate you again for talking about meaningful work, for helping us to figure out how we can have meaningful work and understand exactly what that is. I just hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 16:07

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by 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. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts, subscribe and leave us a five-star rating.

Grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you 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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