Episode 80: Clarify Your Message through Storytelling with Karl Becker

I think books have a purpose for an author, and mine is about impacting change, helping people take what they want, and hopefully making their life or their team’s lives better.

Karl Becker

I’ve been lucky to work with Karl Becker on his three books, Set Up to Win, Sales & Marketing Alignment, and Iceberg Selling. After the publication of his latest book, I realized it was way past time to invite Karl to chat! In this episode, we talk about his experiences as an author and how they have transformed his business and life. We also share what it’s been like to work on these projects together and how the writing process has taught us both that surprises, sometimes pretty big ones, are inevitable when you create a book.

In this episode, we cover…

  • What Karl’s expectations were before writing a book and how his world has changed since becoming a published author.
  • How the process of writing three books has helped him understand his own work better, form deeper connections with more people, and serve his customers better.
  • The eye-opening possibilities that come from writing with a partner whose expertise differs from your own.
  • A story about ditching your head trash and getting out of your own way from Karl’s latest book, Iceberg Selling.

Guest Bio

Karl Becker has founded and run numerous companies over the last thirty years and now runs Improving Sales Performance, a consultancy that supports sales organizations to build high-performing teams and achieve their revenue goals. He is the author of Set up to Win: Three Frameworks to a High-Performing Sales Organization and Sales & Marketing Alignment. He has a BA in economics from Colorado College and an MBA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. You can learn more about him and his work at improvingsalesperformance.com.

Cover of Set Up to Win by Karl Becker. Orange print that says "Set Up to Win: Three Frameworks to a High Performing Sales Organization"

Featured above are Karl’s books, Set Up to Win, Sales & Marketing Alignment, and Iceberg Selling. You can get more info on their contents and my role in bringing them to life on my portfolio page. You can also learn more about Karl’s work at improvingsalesperformance.com.

Transcript — Episode 80: Karl Becker

Emily Einolander  00:21

Welcome to the Hybrid Pub Scout Podcast, with me, Emily Einolander, where we’re helping you navigate indie publishing. Today’s guest is Karl Becker. Karl Becker has founded and run numerous companies over the last 30 years, and now runs Improving Sales Performance, a consultancy that supports sales organizations to build high performing teams and achieve their revenue goals. He is the author of Set Up to Win: Three Frameworks to a High Performing Sales Organization, and Sales and Marketing Alignment. And now the new Iceberg Selling. He has a BA in economics from Colorado College and an MBA from the University of Colorado Boulder. You can learn more about him and his work at improvingsalesperformance.com or just ask me because we’ve been working together for three years, right?

Karl Becker  01:11

That’s right, at least three years. And it’s been amazing. It’s been a heck of a journey and a heck of a friendship. And I think we’ve done some really fun, great, hopefully inspirational and impactful work.

Emily Einolander  01:24

Yeah, and I’ve been wanting you to come on and talk for a long time. But I felt like after Iceberg Selling, Okay, well, we need to talk about this, because this is a really good book, and you’re going on other podcasts talking about it. So I can’t let you just do that without coming on mine too.

Karl Becker  01:41

Absolutely. You know, I love talking about all this stuff. I’m a huge fan of what we’ve done together, and I love talking about the books and the message. And you know, with Iceberg Selling, we have a business book, but we’ve got drawings, a walrus and polar bears, and that’s in it. So it doesn’t always have to be buttoned up. It’s super fun.

Emily Einolander  02:00

And the person who did the polar bears and walruses, the illustrations in your book, also did the branding for Hybrid Pub Scout. So that is that crossover Leigh Thomas, thank you for being awesome. So we have three books that we did together. Why did you want to do that?

Karl Becker  02:20

Well, it was like one of these life moment stories. And I think if you read Iceberg Selling, if you hear me in other podcasts, you know, I’m all about possibility. I don’t always know what’s going to happen. No surprise right there. My crystal ball isn’t perfect. But I’m always open to like, well, what is going to happen? I’m kind of open to the yeses in the world. And, so when we met, we were working together, doing kind of different things. And then we just started to get to know each other more. And I think that’s, there’s kind of a hint there, right? Like, I wouldn’t have known that you would have been such an exceptional writing partner. And I wouldn’t have you wouldn’t have known I had a book in me if we didn’t just become friends and start to talk. So I think that a big part of everything is just trying to get excited about the people you’re with and learning. 

But the story I want to tell about these books, and why I wrote them is, when we first started writing, I was convinced this book was going to be a workbook, I was convinced, oh, I’ve got all these kinds of exercises I use, and I’m going to put them all together, and it’s going to be a book. And it’s going to be very businesslike and very practical and pragmatic. And I think it was probably the first or second meeting was certainly early on as I started to share my vision. And you were like Karl, you’re all about change. This book isn’t about worksheets, this is about change, and how to help people change and navigate that. And that was such this pivotal moment of my life, because I knew I had books in me, I love to create, but you don’t always know what you don’t know. And sometimes having a guide that sees things differently is just an amazing thing. So I am so grateful that you are open to hearing what I thought I wanted to do, but also reflecting back the deeper the deeper thing that I was trying to communicate the deeper book that was in me. And I tell that to numerous people, because I’m so proud of the books we’ve created, and that first one Set Up to Win, wouldn’t have been what it was if you didn’t understand me and see deeper why I wanted to write this book and what it was really about because it wasn’t about what I thought it was gonna be about. It’s in there. But that wasn’t the main vibe, the main story.

Emily Einolander  04:39

Yeah. And I didn’t start out thinking that either. It wasn’t like I saw you and it was like, aha, he thinks all of these things about business and I’m gonna make him admit it. It was okay, we’re working on these worksheets here and that’s what I was planning for. And that’s what I was, you know, asking around about and as we were talking you were like, well Got to be able to make organizational change, you have to have this kind of person working. And this is the way you have to communicate with the leadership. And I’m like, This is not a worksheet that you’re talking about here. This is an approach. And you have all of these stories, you’re telling me because that’s how you talk. In general, like I, it’s, I try not to laugh when it happens. But I’ll be like, asking you maybe what I thought was a yes or no question. And you’ll be like, let me tell you a story.

Karl Becker  05:27

But it also be like, and the story needs to start with another story. You know, first the Earth cooled, and then the dinosaurs came? Far back. Karl, just tell me yes or no.

Emily Einolander  05:39

But also, that’s where the good stuff comes out. So you set the time aside, because it’s not going to be, go right through this form and answer every question uniformly. It’s, let’s see what happens. So that’s why it’s so hard to plan a book, exactly what it’s going to be like, from day one, unless you got this really kind of rote thing going on. It’s like, we got to leave room for the surprises, because I don’t think there’s been a time that you and I have worked on something where that hasn’t happened.

Karl Becker  06:12

You know, I would even say the most recent book, I think if we look at how it started, we were gonna write a book about sales stories. And this was our third book working together. And so you know, we play around with stories, you’re so good at pulling what you need out of my head and helping me see other things. And it’s just, it’s such a true partnership. But, you know, we had done that. And I think we were almost 50-60% through this vision of this book. And I read it one day, and I called you and I was like, “You know, I think this isn’t the book, I think we need to do a different book.” And so sometimes where you start, and where you end isn’t the same thing. But it’s the journey, and I think that’s been so good, it’s helping me truly go on a book writing journey to get, I’m gonna call it the gold. 

But for me, it’s really like getting the stories, the emotion, the message, the essence of what I’m really trying to communicate out. And I don’t know what that is, it’s like, if you just say, what’s the what’s the vibe you’re trying to get? What’s the main message? I might be like, I don’t know. But if we start to talk, it starts to kind of appear. And I think it’s so cool in that last example because of that kind of first draft of a different book, we became so incredibly efficient. With Iceberg Selling we cranked that out in a short period of time, and I think it’s the best work we’ve done yet. But I think it’s because part of writing that book was understanding what we were really doing and what I really wanted to bring forward. And I think that’s the beauty of a writing partnership. Like I knew I had books in me, I know I have stories and lessons I want to tell. But like so many things in life, just having a guide and a partner enables people to bring different strengths forward. And that one plus one equals three, when it happens.

Emily Einolander  08:07

Yeah, I find it extremely difficult to write by myself and I’m doing a blog series on that right now. Because people think that writing is this big solitary endeavor. And you know, you have those stretches of time where you’re all by yourself with your own brain. And that’s terrifying, and spelunking without a cave light. But the more that you interact with other people, especially ones who are passionate about writing or passionate about your subject, then you’re probably going to find things in there that you didn’t before. And we created an entire repository of your stories before we even started on this book, which was a lot of work. And I was like, oh, no, well, what if that was all for nothing? And then it was not for nothing, because, we just plucked those out of there when we were working on Iceberg Selling, and we made it teeny, tiny, but in a way that makes it easier and more accessible for people to read. Why don’t you tell us about that book a little bit. We’ve been referring to it this whole time. But if you want to give us kind of an overview.

Karl Becker  09:08

Karl, talk about what you love the most right now.

Emily Einolander  09:12

Yeah, talk about your favorite thing ever that you’re currently going around and talking about on other podcasts? Like maybe just tell me about it.

Karl Becker  09:18

This is not just in case you’re like, “What is an iceberg?” I am not in the business of selling icebergs. Icebergs sell themselves.

Emily Einolander  09:26

Thank you for saying that when I had coffee in my mouth.

Karl Becker  09:30

So, you know, I think this gets back to you know when we decided to write this book, I first said I want to see myself on stage. I want this book. I’m envisioning myself talking to a group of salespeople. Now, the book is also for anyone that’s not in sales. Like I’m going to tell you what it’s about. And you read it. I have been on numerous podcasts. I’ve done numerous workshops where somebody has stood up and they’ve said, these are life lessons. These are things that I can take as a parent. Whereas a leader or a manager, it’s awesome. That’s awesome. So when we talk about sales, just know if you do any communication at all, if you talk to other people at all, this actually might be fun for you to read. And so it was kind of this purpose driven book. I know, I haven’t told you what it is yet, right? Look at this guy. So it’s this purpose driven book. Like I envisioned myself talking to a bunch of salespeople. And I said to myself, what’s the one thing that if everyone left with would change their life, if it was just one thing? And the whole idea with Iceberg Selling is—I’m an iceberg. Emily, you’re an iceberg. Every problem out there is an iceberg, every client’s an iceberg. Your teenage boys are icebergs. Your older parents are icebergs. Everybody’s an iceberg. And what I mean by that is, most of the time, like an iceberg, you only see about 10% above the surface. Yet we act like we know everything about people. And, you know, if you want to get kind of funny, and it’s not that funny, but you know, the movie Titanic, right? That’s why that big boat hit that iceberg because they couldn’t see it.

Emily Einolander  11:13


Karl Becker  11:15

I mean, of course, you’re king in the world? No, I’m the top of the world and then you’re not. But you know, I digress. But to get real, to get really real? Imagine that, right? People only see about 10% of who you are, and you only see about 10% of who they are, even your family members. And think about how different your life would be. If you could see the 90% underneath—what is their backstory? What’s really going on for them? In a term, I like to say, what is their world? How can I get their world? And if you’re in sales, I believe in sales, you’re a guide, I don’t believe all this stuff, Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room. That’s entertainment. People who are really great at sales, that is not who you’re going to deal with. You’re going to deal with someone that truly cares, listens, tries to understand you fully so that they can bring the solution that solves your problem. That’s why you’re in a conversation already anyway. So I just kind of put it out there in your imagination. You know, if you’re trying to solve somebody, or you’re trying to connect or trying to understand their world, meet them where they are, but you’re only seeing 10%, you’re at a great disadvantage of getting it wrong. And in the world of sales, that could mean a really good customer ends up not becoming a customer because you missed something, or you missed a lot of things. So I get back to, the whole idea with Iceberg Selling is if everyone and everything you’re only seeing 10%, how do you start to kind of give yourself the muscle memory or the skills to get better at showing up to be able to learn more about the iceberg? And then what are some best practices to actually uncover it as well. So that you can truly understand someone and meet them where they are and start to connect and bring solutions. And so that’s the high level. That’s the whole as I said the other day, that’s Iceberg Selling in a nutshell.

Emily Einolander  13:03

And that’s about as long as the book is actually. 

Karl Becker  13:07

Yeah, we wrote the book to be super fast. The Audible version of it’s about two and a half hours. So it was designed to be fun, fast, easy to either read all at once or in bite sized pieces. And I just commend you in helping me design it that way. Because I didn’t want it to mimic. If I were on stage, or I was working in a workshop and talking to people, could I take them through a very short, impactful “Aha” driven journey, where at the end, they feel equipped to do something and the book matches as if I was talking to you. And even the way it’s written is very, very conversational. It’s like I’m in your head talking to you.

Emily Einolander  13:47

I hope that’s what I mean for me. Yes. But that’s that’s because I have a very intense experience of actually writing the book. And I remember kind of using I’ve talked to Jesse Kwak before on this podcast, the book from Chaos to Creativity. So, you know, if any Microcosm Press people are listening right now, or just if you’re listening, I literally took your book out and was like, we should make it this size. And kind of like stagger the illustrations in this way. And Karl was like, that’s the one. So shout out to y’all, thank you for the influence. But also, I kind of wanted to touch on the fact that as a writer and as someone who collaborates in writing, how valuable the framework that you just gave us was, because if you’re interviewing someone, and it’s all just the top level stuff, who cares? Like that’s what everyone’s seeing all of the time. It’s not interesting, but when you’re really digging into something, that’s when all of the gold comes out, you know, otherwise, it might as well just be like a clickbait article. And I remember actually, when we first started working together on Set Up to Win, which is your first book, we were talking a lot about, you know, going through the sales process and the marketing process. And I sent you a meme. And I’m going to describe a meme like this is a Star Trek episode. It’s the one with the astronaut putting a gun to the back of the other astronaut’s head as he looks at the planet Earth. And I just put a diagram of the sales process and was like, it’s four act structure, always has been. So I found that my ability to think in terms of story, and that kind of trajectory really helps with me talking about the stuff that you like to teach. So that’s been a really eye opening experience for me, too. So if you like nerdy structural things like that, as I do. This has been great. I’ve learned a lot about writing copy and talking to people and growing my business. So it’s been a really valuable experience for me. 

Karl Becker  16:04

Yeah. Thank you. I mean, I think what we’re also bringing to the surface here, much like what we’re talking about an Iceberg Selling were a part of Iceberg Selling, when you when you get to – how do you do it? And I’ll get there, I think it’ll make sense when I get here. The first one is to do the research. What do you understand about the situation already? And then the second one is helping that other person you’re working with. Like, hey, where are we going to go today in this conversation? The third is starting to kind of get into rapport. How do I really learn about you? And one of the things around that, just as a quick pro tip is, the more you share about yourself, the more that other person’s going to share, and then from there, you can start to co-create. And I think those two pieces are actually why you and I’ve worked so well together and why I think the books we’ve created are so exceptional. Because what I envision in this rapport building is you learn some big things about me, you know, my family, my past, what I believe in, and likewise, we know very deeply about each other in our lives. Which to me, is we are as a writing team, learning more and more about each other’s iceberg so that we find these commonalities, and you’re teaching me things I don’t know. And I’m teaching you things you don’t know, which then for the reader, in this Iceberg Selling kind of concept, we begin to co create, I’m taking an inspiration from you, you’re taking inspiration from me. And then it’s kind of like, like morphing together into the content. Right. And even though this is my book, and I’m the domain expert, the way you interpret it and see it and share back to me enables me to build it, or us to build it together in a way that I think is more universal. Like I’m taking your skills, your experience, and mine and it creates a better product. And so I think that’s what’s so interesting about creation, right? Like, I could go and build this on my own and get an editor and clean it up. But it wouldn’t be half the book that it is because we’re co creating along the way. And like I said a second ago, like the pieces of your life that helped me see things differently, and vice versa. Just create a better product for the reader.

Emily Einolander  18:28

Yeah, because otherwise you’re kind of in your own head, and you have no idea whether what you’re saying makes sense to someone other than you.

Karl Becker  18:38

Right. And I think there’s an interesting lesson there. Like, I’m a business guy, I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve done it my entire life. And so to have a writing partner, your background isn’t the same as mine. Right? So for you to be able to understand what I’m communicating is a gift, because I think it enables the book to be written. Like if I wrote it just for business people, it wouldn’t be as universal, right? And I’m so close to being a business person, I’m so close to it, I may very well be suggesting or writing in a way that I think is super basic, and everyone understands, but it’s not. So I love the fact that you’re not a domain expert. You’re a domain expert in writing and understanding and interviewing and taking my thoughts and putting them together versus Oh, I know how to write a business book Karl, we’ll write it together. I think something would have been lost there because you’re learning and seeing it with fresh eyes and ears. And that’s enabling it to be really powerful and more accessible. And I think that’s one of the reasons team based writing works so well.

Emily Einolander  19:55

And I would also say that even if you are just writing a business book, most human beings enjoy the story aspect of it so much, because the first part of it was all that stuff you and I were talking about, where it’s about the people and it’s about, you know, your baseball story with your sons. But everybody talked about how much they loved the first five chapters or something like that before you got into the business part of it. And these were people who do the things that you were teaching them and they’re just like, I really liked this baseball story. 

Karl Becker  20:43

So I’ll tell the baseball story real quick. That your point is fascinating, right? Like it, I will tell a different story actually.

Emily Einolander  20:49

This is how our conversations go.

Karl Becker  20:52

Yes, welcome to my world, right? And your world. So I think a lot of times, Okay, I’m gonna put myself out there. So so my dad and I have the same birthday. He turned 80. And we had this birthday party, and you know, it kind of a nice restaurant. There was maybe 14 people there for my dad. And I don’t know if this is right, it’s not really fair. So if he’s listening, I kind of apologize. But that’s okay, hopefully you love me unconditionally. But I feel like, for him, that day was about the dinner, a nice dinner, literally the food. And yeah, he wanted to have his family around. But for me, it didn’t matter about the food. For me, it was the experience of being around family members that I don’t see that often and celebrating my dad’s 80th birthday. And the fact that we have the same birthday, same event, very different goals are very different outcomes that we’re playing for. Sure, my dad wanted to have a nice time, but I think for him, in his mind, it was like, Okay, we have a nice dinner, and everyone’s there, and we’re gonna have a dinner, and I’m gonna pay for it. And for me, it was like, we’re all gonna be there, and we’re gonna laugh and celebrate my dad. And we’re gonna open some fun presents. 

So I guess the reason I say that is, in this book, in all of the books we’ve written, but especially Set Up to Win, it’s not only about the content, but it’s about the journey the reader goes on. It’s about their personal experience with the stories and the lessons and seeing themselves in it, not just, Oh, these are the five things I’m supposed to do, or the meal that I just got. And so I do think even if you’re listening, and you have a book in you, and you have all this really great, pragmatic, smart thought leadership, I’d say yes, and awesome. But it’s also going to be about how it’s packaged and received. So that it’s more digestible, it’s more entertaining, and people want to be in it more. And that’s why instead of when, to tell the baseball story, we start with a story. 

We start with a story about a friend of mine giving me some baseball tickets. I live in Colorado, I’m a Colorado Rockies fan. And so at this point in time, my kids were pretty young. And my wife and I didn’t have a chance to go out that often. Because we had young kids, one of us always had to kind of watch them. And you know how hard it is to get a sitter, if you have children. Like it’s not, it’s not as easy as it looks on TV. So I was like, Oh, I’ll take these tickets. They’re great tickets. And there’s just two of them. And I’ll take my wife, and all week we tried to get a sitter, couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t. So my oldest son, I think, was seven or eight at the time. And I said, Guess what, buddy? We’re going to a baseball game tonight. And it’s a night game. And I know you’re eight or nine or seven or eight, but we’re going to be out really late. And then he goes, Dad, are we going to catch a ball tonight? And for some crazy reason I go, yes. And if you’re a parent out there, if you promise anything to a kid, you know, I just made a big mistake. Yes, we are gonna catch a ball. So the rest of the day, I’m like, Oh my gosh, how are we gonna catch a ball? So we get in the car, we’re about to leave. And he’s like, stop. I slam on the brakes. He’s like, we forgot our mitts. And I’m like, Oh, he is like for real about this. He runs and gets this little eight year old kid mitt and my mitt, because we would play catch often, then we go to the game. And we’re there early. I’m trying to soak it all in as being a dad with a son at a baseball game. And he keeps pretending like he’s gonna catch it. And I start to believe this is really going to happen. I start to think, once the game starts, well, what if the ball does come to me, and I don’t want to be the dad that clocks, his kid and I drop the ball and someone else takes it. I’m on SportsCenter and I’m the blooper reel for the week, if not the year. So I’m like, I’m gonna stand up. I’m just gonna put my arm out. I’m gonna look up. I’m not going to take my eye off the ball. And I’m gonna catch it with my mitt and then I’m gonna make sure it’s there and it doesn’t bounce out, and I’m gonna grab it. Return to my son given this ball. Well, sure enough, it’s the third inning. He turns to me because we were going to catch up on it. Well, how about now? And Michael Dyer is at bat, and sure enough, this pop fly ball comes right to me exactly like I planned in my brain. I stand up, put my arm out, look at the ball, catch it, hold it there for a second look at my son and give it to him. And it was like this amazing moment. And of course, he asked me the question afterwards, Dad, when are we going to get the next one?

Emily Einolander  25:29

Because he’s got a brother.

Karl Becker  25:31

And so I start the book with that, because there’s a lot of intentionality to that story, right and faith in yourself and belief and possibility. But then fast forward. The second part of that story is, and Emily, you kind of told them, I have a second son. So I’m speaking at a conference in Dallas, and the Texas Rangers are out of Dallas. And we like to go to baseball stadiums when we travel. It’s kind of a way to kind of show my kids America and kind of what they’re like in that city. So I go, what if I wanted to catch another ball? What would I do? And I was like, Okay, I bet I could systematize this. I’m gonna sit off at third base. I’m going to dress my kids up in local team garments. So we look like Texas Ranger fans, all four of us. You’re gonna bring a kid because baseball players love kids. And if the ball you know, is a foul ball, and I don’t catch it, but it rolls on the field, I’ll probably throw it up to a kid. When I’m also just going to keep this positive. Nice, I’m gonna believe. And sure enough, it’s the ninth inning that it’s tied up. My family’s looking at me like we’re not getting the ball. I’m like, No, we are going to get one today. I believe that with all my heart. It goes into an extra inning and sure enough this pop fly from the Mariners comm hits, like the nearest pops into the field, this golden glove winner, last name, Beltray comes over, picks it up, looks up, sees me and my son, and throws it to me. And so we start the book with that story. Because one, it’s just a fun story. But the whole lesson is, Chance favors the prepared. There’s all these little steps you can take towards success and in sales. It’s not one thing, and in most of life, it’s not one thing. And so I could have told the story of like, hey, sales isn’t one thing, you got to really be clear on who you are and who you sell to and how you sell it. And what’s the process? And oh, my God, I already got bored. And this is my book. So we took the idea of, how do you catch a ball, knowing that there’s all these steps? Planning where you’re going to sit is a lot like, you know, what’s the strategy I’m going to do when I talk to a customer, right? So we tried to create these ways to bring the content into an accessible way of being received and stories are so good like that. And, Emily, I guess that’s kind of where we’re going with this right is, in these books, when you can find different ways, potentially through stories to connect with the reader, it does become a journey, and it becomes a great way to engage and get your message across.

Emily Einolander  28:10

So kind of like pivoting a little bit, but not really

Karl Becker  28:12

You want to go play. You want to go to a baseball game with me? You got it anytime.

Emily Einolander  28:16

Okay, thank you. I’ll take you up on that sometime. Um, so in the span of time that we’ve done these three books, there’s been a lot of evolving, and we’ve gotten better at working together. And we’ve gotten familiar with all of the stories that are in your arsenal. How has your experience of creating a book changed over time? And not just your experience of making the book, but of having the book as part of your professional portfolio?

Karl Becker  28:51

Well answer that one first. Because gosh, it’s like night and day, it is so different. And a friend of mine once told me that maybe three or four years ago, there’s a consultant, and then there’s a consultant with a book. And it’s totally different. As soon as you have a book, you are, you are seen so differently. And your credibility is so different. And I guess I would say it’s a yes and there too. Like, yes, it is, but one of the hidden jewels of having a book is my own personal clarity. Like when we wrote Set Up to Win. When we were done, I was so much more clear on how I wanted to be in the world, how I wanted to communicate what I do for a living, how I support people, how I build teams. And then I also had a framework that I could give people so that they could get a preview of it or digested in their own time to go. Yeah, I want to work with him. And so, having a book internally is one of the most amazing things is, at least for me, I got so much more clear, because you got to write like, you can’t just have a book that’s rambling. And no, it doesn’t work. And so being able to get clearer has been one of the biggest benefits because I’m just a more effective consultant and communicator or Keynote or running a workshop. I’m just clear. 

The second is amazing things happen, like, with Set Up to Win last February. In all my books, I have an invitation. Hey, if you want to talk, reach out, I love supporting people, I love talking about this stuff. So I always have an open invitation if and the same with the podcast, like if you want to reach out, reach out, I will gladly communicate with you. So I get this LinkedIn message from a guy named Jason at Semester at Sea. And he goes, I just read your book, and I’ve ordered it for my team. And I love it. And I’m wondering if you could speak at one of my events? Like, wow, okay, this is amazing. Like, wow, I don’t know who this person is, and they’ve reached out. So I got on a call with him shortly, took his LinkedIn invite, we became friends and spent the next couple months just kind of talking about how we could work together. And then I said, Hey, I’ve got this new book, would you be open to reading it? Because he’s like, I love your other two books. I was like, well, guess what, I’ve got one almost ready. And he read it, and he’s in the acknowledgments as a thank you because he gave me such great advice. And then he brought me in to do a workshop with his team for over around Iceberg Selling. And so how would that have happened if I didn’t have a book, right? And so now, not only do I have a friend, but I have a client. I’ve got a great story to tell. 

But I think having a book, I talk about possibilities, right? Like it just creates possibilities that I could never have imagined. Like, I’m going to run a workshop for a bunch of people at Semester at Sea, which is a college on a boat that travels all around the world, helping people become global citizens. How blanking cool is that? And so I think it’s a credibility thing. I think it’s a focus thing. I think it’s a possibility thing and it’s a legacy thing. I have two high schoolers now, two boys that are in high school, and they’ve heard the audio book, they’ve heard me talk, they’ve read it, they’ve seen it, they know they’re in it, there are stories about them. And that’s never gonna go away. And so as a father to know that I’ve got two boys that at any point in their life, they can open up this book and see themselves or see them their father and how I was showing up in the world, then. That’s, that’s worth the price of price of admission right there. That’s blanking cool, too.

Emily Einolander  33:05

Yeah, and then, have you had fun doing it?

Karl Becker  33:16

I did it three times, because I hate it each time.

Emily Einolander  33:22

Well, look, some people like to do CrossFit. Okay. We love doing things we hate to ourselves. 

Karl Becker  33:28

You know, it has been fun, because it’s my time. Like, it’s my time to get what’s out of my head when I’m passionate, when I might be processing through and share it with somebody, in this case you, that cares about me and cares about the product? And yeah, it’s work. It’d be like, Oh, wow, we’re gonna have an hour and a half to two hour session where we have a general idea. We’re going to talk, we’re going to record it, we’re going to transcribe, you’re going to ask me clarifying questions. And then you’re going to cycle on it. And go, Hey, does this generally capture this? That’s work, but it’s work that when you’re done, you can see it and feel it and touch it. And it’s real. And I like so much of what many of us probably do for a living, to quote to quote like an 80s commercial for all my 80s kids out there. Where’s the beef? Where is it? And once and once you kind of start to see another piece evolve and evolve and evolve and kind of come to life and read it. It’s it’s so fun. Oh, my God, I said that this is my book. This is really cool.

Emily Einolander  34:36

And it can be a little emotional sometimes too.

Karl Becker  34:42

Absolutely. Yeah.

Emily Einolander  34:43

When I was talking to this person named Amanda who does something similar to what I do, she was like, I try to prime people for the emotional experience of creating a book before we get started, because you always have these, even if it’s not actually exploring the story that does it to you. Like the waiting. And the revisions, where you go and look back over what you did and go, is this really what I want to say? Or like, Is this my life sitting here in front of me? 

Karl Becker  35:15

Well, the other part is, I would like to think this is about our relationship. You see, I can show up very raw. And I think it’s because you’ve built a really safe place for me to feel that I’m heard and understood. And I can explore something. And if I’m, if I’m tweaked, or I’m having a rough day, I’m sure there’s some recordings where I would probably be like, Oh, wow, I said that. But I think if you’re going to write a book, number one, and if you’re going to write a book with somebody else, as a teammate, as a writing partner, like you are to me, Emily, it’s not going to be right. Every time there’s going to be some, there’s going to be some times where you have to throw away all the work you did. Because, at least for me, I process out loud a lot. So part of the experience is being able to be vulnerable, and share and know that your writing partner, you, Emily, you have my back, you’re going to allow me to maybe unpack some things that I didn’t even know I was going to that’s really that. And I couldn’t do that by myself. Like if it was just me and a, I want to say typewriter.

Emily Einolander  36:28

I mean, people still use them. Sometimes. 

Karl Becker  36:32

But yeah, I mean, and so I think you’re right that in writing, there’s a lot of things that show up. It’s an emotional journey, because sometimes, I don’t want to do this today. But that’s where a writing partner helps, right? We’re gonna get on a call, and maybe the first 30 minutes, we’re talking and you’re a therapist for me. And then I process through whatever that was like, before we start, I want to tell you the story, you know, and, and then I’m at a place where I can get back on point and focus. And yeah, the waiting is kind of hard. And the reveals are cool, too. When the book cover comes out, when I see the illustrations, when I read a chapter that I forgot, I told a story and I’m like, Oh, my God, that was a great story. I remember that. The last part, I’ll tell you, just because I said that I was listening to the audiobook of Iceberg Selling on my way, on a trip recently. And I just turned to my family. I really liked this guy, he gets me, but that’s fun, right? Like, that’s fun to kind of see the thing you put into the world and it comes alive.

Emily Einolander  37:41

And the actual collaborative process is not a performance. So I think that there’s an expectation for some people that I’ve heard talking about collaboration, where it’s like, I show up to talk to this writer, and I have everything planned out in my head in advance, and they interview me and I answer the questions flawlessly with a totally clear mind. And I always look at people describing the process that way. And I’m like, is that really what happens? Is that how other people think, and I’m not sure. Maybe someone does, but you know, if they have an entire talk planned out in advance and it’s basically just transcribing it. But you know, for us, it’s just sort of been like, let’s wade through this, like unconscious mind stuff. That’s coming out.

Karl Becker  38:33

But I mean, I do think when I wrote the first book, and I had an outline, because people come in, and they’re like, oh, you know, you have this thing called the Revenue Equation. And, you know, there’s three stages, and each stage has five questions. There’s three chapters of your book, each one I’m like, Oh, yeah. first three chapters. Yeah, and then the fourth chapter will be the summary. Got it? Yeah. And then you and I start to talk and it’s like, wait a minute that’s dry. That’s like, we don’t need a book, we already have a worksheet. And so I think, even if you’re listening on Okay, yeah, I think I know that eight chapters or 10, or 12, and maybe you do and that’s great. I’m definitely not discounting that, but at least my experience has been those are starting points. Those are inspirations. Those are kind of directional landmarks, if you will, yeah, I think I want this in the story or, Yes, I think I want this in the book. This is the point I really need to get across. But for me, getting clear of the message was something that we worked on together and we process through. And for me and how my brain works, having a partner that helps me say it out loud and reframe it and keep asking for clarification. That’s how I was able to get clear.

Emily Einolander  39:44

Well, it’s been really fun. It has been emotional for me too. I will say to anyone who’s going to be doing this kind of work, you have to be emotionally open and prepared to hear sometimes stories that may remind you of something in your life that happened. It’s never not going to be an emotional experience. But if you are able to go through the entire process, then I think there are really big rewards to it. And I think that’s the entire metaphor for creating a book in the first place. Because there are so many steps to it. And it takes such a long time, even outside of the actual writing, that you kind of have to have a lot of emotional fortitude and determination to be able to finish it up. And we did it. Is there anything else that you want to share with the listeners?

Karl Becker  40:38

This story in Iceberg selling about Tim just keeps coming up again, and again, and again for me. And so if I’m going to really honor myself, today, I’m going to tell that story, do it. But in typical fashion, where I tell you that story. 

So I’m out to lunch with a Vistage chair, who’s a friend of mine. This is a peer group for business leaders where they have a coach and there’s usually 10 or 12 people and you’re talking through things. So I just wanted to give the readers that context. So I’m with my friend, Tanya, and she runs a group. And I said, Hey, I’d love to give you a book for all your members of Iceberg Selling, I just think it impacts things so powerfully. And I would love to give it to you. And I think it would be of service to your members. Yeah, if one of them wants to call me and maybe there’s an opportunity, that’s great, too. But ultimately, I played for change. And I am really proud of this book, and the more people I want to share it with, hopefully it affects people’s lives in a positive way. She said that would be great, but I need to ask you a favor. What’s that she was? What do you want me to say when I give this book to everyone? And I go, Oh, well tell him that Karl is your friend and he’s a sales consultant. This book is really great to help build salespeople and sales teams. Karl, that’s boring. And that’s going to fall flat. I need something that gets them to understand why they should read this book. And I said, Well, there’s a great story in there about a guy named Tim.  And Tim has a bunch of stuff in his head about selling and what does selling mean? And I said, you really should listen to the story. And I’ll tell it to you right now. But tell everybody in the group. Hey, there’s this great story in there. And this is what it’s about. And Karl and I were talking that many of you in the room might have a similar baggage and head trash around this where your sales team does. So if this story resonates, read the book, and if you like it, give it to your salesman, because that’s it. That’s what I want to tell him. I’m gonna listen to the audiobook. 

So that was the story before the story. Here’s a story about Tim. 

I’m speaking at a workshop of about 30 early stage CEOs and founders in Houston, an early stage doesn’t mean they’re all 20 years old. We had young folks in there all the way to people in their 50s, they had all gotten funding from different angels or venture groups to build a company. And this was a workshop to help them understand how to sell. So I’m running this workshop. And one of the things I like to do as an icebreaker is just going to say, what’s the, what I call the name game, people share how they got their name. So this one guy, Tim jumps up, and he kind of shares his name game. And in the name game story, he tells the background about his father being a fighter pilot, and a bunch of really great stories. And so he introduces his father and that’s how I get to know him in this name game story. Clearly, his father’s really important to him. 

So later on in the day, he tells another story about trying to close a deal. And then he has this great presentation at the end, when he goes to move to a next step. He doesn’t get the next step. And he’s never heard from the people who presented to before or again after it. And he’s really frustrated about it. So we all kind of talk about that as a group. He brings up another story before the session is over. Very similar theme, like he’s in front of people. He’s doing a presentation. They love this product, but then it never goes anywhere. This is this recurring theme. It never goes anywhere after he presents, obviously super frustrating to anyone, especially an early stage CEO who’s trying to get his company off the ground. So I wrap up and he comes up to me, he goes, Hey, do you do personal coaching? Like could you help me? I really like what you said today. Could you help me through some stuff? I said, Tim, I’ve got four hours before my flight. Let’s do it right now. He said okay. 

It was a nice day in Houston. It was spring. So we go outside and we’re just sitting. And he goes, I think I have a sales problem. I hate to sell. I said well, what is sales like for you? And he’s like, Well, you know, at the end of the end of the presentation, I ask for next steps. I move forward and I saw him, and I tried to close. And I’m like, that’s not sales. That’s the stuff in the movies. We don’t need to do that. He looks a little relieved. I said you really want to work through some stuff here. And he goes, Yeah, I really do. And I said, Tim, you mentioned your father numerous times in our session today, but whenever you tell stories, you have this grin like you really admire this guy, but you also talk like he’s probably not around anymore. Like you might have lost him recently. And he kind of gets a little choked up when he’s like yeah, Yeah, my dad passed away this summer. Okay, I’m really sorry to hear that. I want to ask you a couple more questions. But they’re gonna kind of go deep. Are you sure you’re still good with this? Because if you’re going to do some consulting, you got to get permission or it ends up kind of being abuse, right? 

So I said, Tim, you’ve told a couple stories about how your dad owned a mechanic shop, and he would tell stories about the sales guys who come in there to sell tires and stuff. I’m kind of picking up that your dad kind of messed with the salespeople and might not have liked him that much. He’s like, Oh, yeah, my dad, he would mess with those salespeople all the time. He really didn’t like salesmen. He doesn’t like anyone telling them what to do, which kind of tied back to this fighter pilot story where he ended up punching his superior officer to get out of the military. That’s a whole nother story. And that’s his story, not mine. I said, Tim, this is where it can get intense. I said, when you start to sell in your presentations, do you feel like you’re letting your dad down? That your dad sees you as the salesperson that he just doesn’t like? And Tim paused. And you could tell by his eyes that I was right. 

And I said, Well, here’s the good news. Tim, that’s not sales. Sales is being a guide. You’ve been really good about developing this, this tech product for people in the DevOps space, and you used to do their job. And your whole reason of doing this is to make their lives easier. Can you stay in that place? Can you keep telling your story about why you invented this, why you developed this product? And then instead of feeling like you need to convince somebody, just invite them to try it? Can you just say, Would you be willing to demo this? Would you be willing to take a trial, it can be 30 days, 60 days, early stage company, right, he’s still improving because he needs people to start to use it. I said, if you do that, they’re going to see your authenticity, they’re going to see how much you care about helping them in their solution with his product. And he kind of wells up a little bit. It was an emotional afternoon for me and Tim, he goes, that’s all I need to do. Yeah, that’s all you need to do. I said, and sure enough, that’s what he started to do. And he’s emailed me and messaged me, and it’s working. And it changed his life, because he changed his mindset about what it was. 

And I think, at least in my books, I’m hoping people find something that I’ve experienced in my life, whether it’s personally or as consulting, and they can apply it to theirs, and go on a journey of change or improvement, whatever it is that they want. So I appreciate you sharing, you know, asking if there’s anything else I want to share, because I think books have a purpose for an author. And for mine, it is about change and impacting change, and helping people you know, take what they want, and hopefully make their life or their team’s lives better. And in that story, when I tell that story about Tim, in a keynote, the whole audience gets quiet, they all see their dad, their mom, their whoever it is from their past that might be in their head when they do a certain job when they learn to do a certain thing. And I think that’s that shared human experience. It’s so powerful in books, when you can bring things like that forward, where my experience becomes universal or Tim’s becomes universal. And therefore the message really resonates and so I love the story about Tim, I love you let me share that. But I think that’s what good books do. You know, connect? 

Emily Einolander  48:32

Yeah, and that one’s been really powerful for people based on all the conversations we’ve had. And I mean, me too. As a business owner, it can be really scary to put yourself out there and there’s all the voices in your head telling you that you’re not good enough or that you’re a big phony. And everyone’s going to discover that you don’t know what you’re talking about, actually, and seeing that in other people and then going hey, they actually do know what they’re doing. Why am I thinking these terrible things about myself? It’s very helpful.

Karl Becker  49:04

There’s that clarifying piece, there’s that piece of self exploration in whatever story you bring, because it is a big part of you that is manifesting in words and phrases and sentences and paragraphs. But yeah, thank you for letting me share that. I really appreciate that. 

Emily Einolander  49:24

Yeah, no, absolutely. And I really believe in this book, and it’s been really fun to do and the illustrations are fantastic. And the cover is fantastic. And I’ve been enjoying promoting it with you as well. Where would you like people to find you?

Karl Becker  49:41

Yeah. Well, if you’re curious about me, there’s two places you can find me pretty easily. The first is we’ve talked about the book Iceberg Selling a bunch so if you just remember Iceberg Selling and you type in Icebergselling.com Or you Google Iceberg Selling and my name you’re gonna find a web page around that book. And there’s forms there and ways you can contact me on my LinkedIn profile, stuff like that. But from a kind of bigger brand, my company is called Improving Sales Performance. Same thing, you can find pictures of me there, I’m there, you can see the LinkedIn, you’re gonna be like, Oh, that’s this guy. And then reach out if you’d like Improving Sales Performances, the company side of things, and either of those avenues would be a good way to get in touch with me if you’re curious. 

Emily Einolander  50:30

And that leads you to the books as well. They will lead you to the books. Karl, thank you so much. I’m so glad we finally did this.

Karl Becker  50:37

Yeah, thank you. It’s always fun talking to you. And I appreciate the way we can just kind of keep exploring what we’ve done together and share it. So thank you too.

Emily Einolander  50:47

You can find Hybrid Pub Scout online at hybridpubscout.com, on LinkedIn, or on Instagram at Hybridpubscoutpod. Please leave a rating and review on your favorite podcast platform. And thanks for listening.

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