Innovation Junkies Podcast

Innovation and Client Relationships with Doug Weaver

The Jeffs chat with Doug Weaver, founder and CEO of Upstream Group. Can’t-miss topics include:, “Ecosystem leadership” & how innovation happens in sales departments, the sales process of checkup, diagnosis, prescription & qualification/closing, & what separates successful sales teams from ones that struggle.

Jeff Standridge: This is Jeff Standridge and this is the Innovation Junkies Podcast. If you want to drastically improve your business, learn proven growth strategies and generate sustained results for your organization, you’ve come to the right place. Over the next half hour, we’re going to be sharing specific strategies, tactics and tips that you can use to grow your business no matter the size, no matter the industry, and no matter the geography. We’ll be talking about everything from sales and marketing to organizational, operational, and leadership effectiveness, to innovation, digital transformation, and everything in between.
Weekly, we’ll bring in a top mover and shaker, someone who’s done something unbelievable with his or her business. We’ll dig deep, we’ll uncover the specific strategies, tactics and tools they’ve used to help you achieve your business goals. Welcome the Innovation Junkies podcast.

Announcer: Hey, guys. If you’re looking to put your business on the fast track to achieving sustained strategic growth, this episode is sponsored by the team at Innovation Junkie. To learn more about our strategic growth diagnostic, go to innovationjunkie.com/diagnostic. Now, let’s get on with the show.

Jeff Standridge: Hey guys, welcome to the Innovation Junkies podcast. My name’s Jeff Standridge.

Jeff Amerine: And this is Jeff Amerine.

Jeff Standridge: We are glad you are with us. Right, Jeff?

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, glad to be back on another episode. I learn something new every time.

Jeff Standridge: Every single time. Well, today we’ve got a great guest, it’s our pleasure to welcome Doug Weaver. Doug is the Founder and CEO of the Upstream Group. Upstream Group empowers sales leaders and their teams with the clarity, perspective, knowledge and motivation to grow both personally and professionally. Over the last several years, couple of decades, Doug has worked with over 600 leading companies, including companies like Facebook, Hulu, Viacom, LinkedIn, Apple, Twitter, Axiom, USA Today, NBC Universal, and many, many others. He’s trained thousands of internet media and technology sellers focused on sales strategy and digital landscape perspective.
Doug, it is fantastic to see you again and great to have you with us today.

Doug Weaver: Great to see you, Jeff, and great to meet you, Jeff.

Jeff Amerine: You just got to remember one name, it’s a benefit.

Jeff Standridge: That’s right, we are the Jeffs of Innovation Junkie. Well-

Doug Weaver: Love that.

Jeff Standridge: Doug, before we dig into it too much today, we always like to have a random musing. We have a little bit of fun the first part of the episode and we somewhat randomly select a musing to discuss at the first part of each episode. Today it’s favorite things to do on a day off. What’s your favorite thing to do on a day off?

Doug Weaver: Well, my answer a little more than a year ago might’ve been different, but it’s got nothing to do with the pandemic. My favorite thing to do on a day off is what I did with my afternoon off yesterday, which was to go to the country store here in Shelburne, Vermont, with my one-year old grandson, Henry, and spill soft serve ice cream all over each other out on the front bench. That’s a pretty perfect day for me. Spend as much time as I can with that dude, he is the bomb.

Jeff Standridge: I guess so. How old, again?

Doug Weaver: He’s one year old now.

Jeff Standridge: One year old. Man, that’s fantastic.

Doug Weaver: Yeah, yeah. Real blessing to have that kind of new energy and life during the pandemic. To have him close by is just a double blessing.

Jeff Standridge: I’m sure and I know Jeff, you feel the same way. You were involved with a grandson today, weren’t you?

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, I was indeed. Number one oldest grandson of the four grandkids that I have was graduating from kindergarten.

Doug Weaver: Oh, wonderful.

Jeff Amerine: Which we never did when we were kids, but they had the whole cap and gown ceremony and it was pretty cool. I would say the same thing. When we do have time off, having the four little ankle biting grandkids over here. Their ages are four through seven, three boys and one girl. It’s a big time, out on bikes, out just having a good, fun time being around them. No doubt about it.

Doug Weaver: Fantastic, fantastic.

Jeff Standridge: No grandkids yet in my life, but I suspect in the next year, 18 months or so they’ll be either on the way or something. But right now I get to care for grand dogs. I have a couple of those. Not my favorite thing to do on a day off though. My favorite thing to do is probably go do something outside. Whether it’s get on a bicycle or go hang out on the pontoon, float around on the lake, those kinds of things. Good stuff.
Doug Weaver: That sounds pretty perfect, as well.

Jeff Amerine: Absolutely.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah. Doug, let’s jump right in. I know you spend the vast majority of your time challenging organizations and I know this firsthand because I’ve been on the challenging end of some of your work before as a consultant with Axiom Corporation, where we first met several moons ago. I won’t say many, many moons, but quite a few moons ago. Let’s talk a little bit about Upstream Group and your perspective on innovation and on client relationships and maybe we’ll kick off there.

Doug Weaver: Yeah, yeah. I’ve had the honor and the privilege to work, as you said, with a lot of companies. With over 600 companies over the years. But the pattern that continues to re-emerge is that so many of these companies are going from mature marketplaces where they’re selling known products to known buying channels, to becoming disrupted. To then moving into a place where their sales people have to call on new customers, they’re fielding products that are unfamiliar to them. They’re having to do an enterprise sale, where they used to have a fairly regimented, structured sale to a known buyer population. Really, a lot of what I do is around change management within the sales process and the mentality of the sales team.
It’s like I say, I’ve been fortunate to be doing this all within this digital advertising and marketing world, which is why you and I met a few years ago during your time at Axiom, Jeff. It’s been a market that’s been fascinating because I like to say the last 23 years that I’ve been doing this at Upstream Group, I’ve had about six or seven different careers. I mean, the market has changed that much. Everything from the technology to standards around privacy, to user identity. I tell people all the time, it’s like, “Don’t get too in love with your experience, because in this world experience doesn’t age like wine, it ages like fish.” Everybody’s got to reinvent about every three years or so, or else you’re the walking dead.

Jeff Standridge: That’s a good one, I like that.

Jeff Amerine: I’m going to totally steal that.

Jeff Standridge: Absolutely, absolutely.

Jeff Amerine: Fantastic.

Jeff Standridge: There are a number of innovative companies out there that produce truly innovative products, truly innovative services. I know you like to talk about the Steve Jobs versus the Willy Loman, right? They’re very innovative in the lab or very innovative in the product development side, but innovation stops when they get to the sales function, the sales department, how they innovate with clients. Talk a little bit about that, if you would.

Doug Weaver: Yeah, I think a lot of engineering driven companies, and I mean, there’s so many brilliant people out there. There are a lot of brilliant engineers and technology people in our industry. I think there’s a conceit that takes root pretty early on that if we just get the product right, if we just nail this. Obviously, everybody thinks their baby’s beautiful. They fall so in love with the product that the assumption is that this will sell itself. All we really need to do is we’ll wait. We won’t integrate sales into the process too early. We’ll create the perfect product and then we’ll hire a sales leader and sales people that have contacts first and foremost, because all we really need to access to the customers. If they’re able to show this to the customers, well of course, the rest is history and it’s going to sell itself.
That’s a flawed strategy that’s bordering on the tragic because even the best products don’t survive in the wild. They have to be sold, they to be nourished, they have to be brought along. Selling in this environment of ours is a very nuanced process. I think too infrequently do the engineering driven heads of any of these companies really consider that process and think, “Hey, sales is as much of a process as our engineering process or our QA process.” When I get a chance to access the C suite and offer people advice on bringing in sales leadership and hiring the sales function, I’m constantly pushing them to slow down and to really consider how they’re going to integrate those people into the company and its values and so there’s a real two way street.

Jeff Standridge: Very good. How do you see companies that do that best? How do they go about that?

Doug Weaver: Well, one thing I’ve been talking to a lot of organizations about, is this concept, I call it ecosystem leadership. It’s a really simple concept and it’s really just me cobbling together a few different things that I’ve learned along the years. But it’s the idea that too many companies try to develop systems and structures and protocols. Lots of borders, lots of rules, with the idea that we’ll break down silos by building better bridges between those silos. We’ll come up with the protocols, the rules, the meetings, the meeting structure in order to communicate things well with each other.
Really, what I preach to the sales leaders that I coach and to the company leaders that I coach, is you’ve got to start to ignore those bright lines and ignore those borders between people because if my sales team and my account management team or my account management team and my product team are not communicating well and there’s a lot of finger pointing, then we’re pretty much done. That’s not going to get better. So instead, what I talk to them about, it’s a really simple process; three things. Number one: everybody needs to buy into the fact that you’re in an ecosystem together and every manager, every leader that’s attached to that ecosystem, no matter what department they’re in, is taking care of the health of the ecosystem. Because if the ecosystem dies, everything within it dies.
Essentially, there’s three components to it. Number one is that empathy has to be present. Empathy is oxygen in the ecosystem. You have to have managers constantly challenging their people to take the position of the other to understand where the other person’s coming from while decisions are being made. Our coworkers, our bosses, other departments, our customers, you name it. Anybody that’s attached to the ecosystem, we’re empathizing with them and we’re really driving that forward.
Once empathy is present, once we’ve got people connected with each other empathetically, there’s two things that the manager is trying to do. They’re trying to connect and empower. Drive connection and empowerment in the system. Connect people to the values of the organization, connect people to others who can help them, connect people to better processes and shortcuts, et cetera and constant empowerment. Jeff Weiner, the former CEO of LinkedIn, had a piece of advice that I always thought a lot of. Which was, “If you think somebody can do it 60% as well as you can, delegate,” 60% is the new perfect. Keep pushing that opportunity and that authority out and down so people can feel empowered. The cost of disempowering people is actually much more costly than the cost of the incremental mistakes that they make.

Jeff Amerine: Hey, folks we’ll be right back with the episode. But first, we want to tell you about a limited opportunity to take advantage of our strategic growth diagnostic. For a short time only, we’re offering a free strategy call to see whether or not our unique diagnostic tool is right for you. Go to innovationjunkie.com/diagnostic, to learn more.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, actually I wanted to follow up a little bit. A little more elaboration around this idea of empathy and what not. I’ll talk to it from the buy side. When I was in an organization, ran about half of an IT organization for a large, publicly traded company, one of the things that always struck me was I seldom made the connection empathetically with the sales leader and account engagement lead. It was normally with a sales engineer. Somebody that was trying to understand what problem it was that we needed solved and wanted to really get into the depths of the pain that we were experiencing, rather than pitching product. So the best experiences I ever had when I was trying to acquire innovation, were in situations where they worked really hard on the front end to truly understand what we were trying to solve. Rather than trying to force fit our set of problems into the solutions they already had in mind.
I’d just be real interested, you’ve seen so many different companies. The companies that do this sort of thing well in terms of selling and promoting innovation and getting it into the hands, talk a little bit about what makes them successful, versus those that don’t. A little bit more elaboration on it, I think would be helpful.

Doug Weaver: Yeah, absolutely. I can draw a straight line, Jeff, from the example you just talked about. Being with that sales engineer who truly recognized, understood and was able to play back your pain and identify with your position. I think drawing a line from that, the actual sales process that I teach, which helps sales people, sales organizations manage really far flung enterprise sales opportunities, lots of confusion, lots of multiple decision makers and so forth, it’s a real simple process. There’s four steps to it. Number one is what I call the checkup, number two is the diagnosis, number three is the prescription, and number four is the qualification and closing.
Let’s go to the beginning. I teach people to create this thing called the checkup slide. The checkup slide is hey, as you’re going to begin your time with this customer, the first thing you’re going to show him or her is a slide with a few short balloons of copy on it that reflect insights that you know about their company. Not things that you fact checked a million times, it’s not a perfect picture of their company and their situation. But you’re identifying their key competitors, you’re talking about potential milestones that they have on their calendar. The major events, what’s disrupting the market, things like that.
If I were calling on you, Jeff, I would put that slide up literally before I did anything else on the call. No happy chat, no Bon Ami, none of that stuff. Just right away, “Hey, Jeff. Thanks for seeing me. Before we get started, let me put up a slide and here’s a few things that we learned in the research we did on the company. Before we get started, tell me what I missed. Tell me what you like here and what’s most important to you. Above all, what don’t I know that I should?” Then I shut up because I’m giving the customer a chance to take the mic, feel engaged, see the homework that I’ve done, feel the empathy and the identification with their position. That gives me the permission to go forward. I’ve actually based a lot of the build out of this work on the Aristotelian logic of persuasion. That establishes the ethos, which is the first step of persuasion, the character, the empathy.
Once they’ve had a chance to soak in the process a little bit and feedback on that, then I flip to the next slide. That next slide is my diagnosis. Jeff Standridge, you’ll remember that when we talked a few years ago, we talked a lot about the challenger sell approach. It’s something that’s influenced me. This is a very simple approach to a core component of that philosophy. Something that they call the commercial teaching statement. But the diagnosis is simply a slide that says, “Here’s why we’re here.” We literally write in plain English, simple language, second person verbs. We tell the customer what is the problem that we are here to help solve. Very specifically, no features, no solutions. Just like, “Hey, can we agree on the problem? Is this the way you see it? What would you add to it? How would you nuance this?”
I’m giving the client two hypotheses to begin with. Both of which, I’m asking them to identify with, work with. I’ve got a customer who feels heard, understood, consulted, they’ve spoken. That’s really a big part of the sales process. At that point, then they’re ready to hear my prescription. Now they’re ready to understand the product, services, capabilities, our company history, our background, the specific tech recommendations I might have if I’m your sales engineer. But you see, that’s the logos. We go from ethos, which establishes the trust, to pathos, which makes them feel really connected to solving the problem or realizing the opportunity. Then finally, comes the logos. That logos is the details.
What you see from traditional organizations where people have operated in a captive environment and they just, forgive the expression, they show up and throw up, they come in and want to tell you everything they do. They want to give you the entire contents of the truck and take you through every product and every story and a million slides and tons of claims and stats and figures and so forth. Especially in today’s sales environment, nobody’s got that kind of time so it calls for a leaner approach. That’s the approach that I’ve built.
One more thing I’ll say before I shut up and end this stream of consciousness, is having someone feel heard and understood doesn’t solve everything. But without those two things being present, nothing good can happen after. That’s what makes all other things possible, including the sale.

Jeff Standridge: You said your checkup, your diagnosis, your prescription and your fourth element then was?

Doug Weaver: Is the qualification and closing process. The exit strategy, if you will. I’m doing between one and two workshops now every day all via Zoom, all around the world. This has actually been an incredible bounty for our company to be able to do this through the pandemic and now be on. But one thing that I tell them frequently is, great sales calls don’t just end. You have to have a strategy, you have to have an end. I teach them to ask a very specific closing question that includes a verb, a number and a date, because I want to pivot the end of the meeting off of a very specific ask. I might say to you, Jeff, “Hey, Jeff. This has been a great meeting, I appreciate all the input. Based on our conversation, will you make the recommendation to your finance department to release $600,000 in funding for the next step in the process? And can we come to agreement on that by May 30th?”
That’s a really specific ask and I’ve structured it that way because I want to now listen to what you say. Because if you push back on the timing or if you push back on the dollar amount or some of the terms, those are all buying signals and I can work with those. If you push back on the actual taking the action, then I know I’ve got work to do in terms of figuring out what’s really going on. The last really five minutes of time that I’m going to spend even in a half hour sales call, is going to be focused on the detective work. Gathering of the evidence. I’m prepared with a handful of follow up questions about alternative budgets, about decision making process, about missing capabilities. There’s a whole host of things. But the truth is, that whether it comes to the close of a sales call or a negotiation, there’s not a lot of things that customers say that really surprise us.
It’s fairly predictable, so the idea that sales people get gob smacked and feel stunned and deer in the headlights when a customers says they don’t want to pay as much money or they want more favorable terms or they act evasive and non-committal in a sales situation, you have to have a plan for that. That’s really the last quadrant of the work that I do with a lot of sales teams, is look, here’s how to develop that plan. You’ve got to practice this stuff. If you don’t practice, then it’s not going to go well.

Jeff Standridge: Leading into that first conversation, prior to the checkup, you say you come there with a checkup and you share some information about the research that you’ve done. How do you prepare for that, how do you teach your sales clients to prepare for that checkup?

Doug Weaver: Yeah. The first thing I tell them is you’re not looking for agreement with this slide, you’re looking for engagement. This doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s okay if there are areas that are dated or off base or if you don’t get the magic combination. It’s not about the customer telling me like, “Yeah, that’s a perfect analysis of my business. Now tell me your story.” I really want them to get in and make some changes, to tell me more, or even to redirect the conversation. Because if I show a customer my take on their situation and they tell me five minutes into the meeting, “You know what, Doug? That’s not what we care about at all. What’s really obsessing us is this thing over here,” that’s not a bug, that’s a feature. So I want that to happen.
Where do they get the information? I tease people a little bit and I say, “I’ve heard of this thing called the internet and I think it’s really got legs. I think it’s going to be big someday. It turns out there’s a tremendous amount of information out there.” So where do they go? I mean, well, most of my clients are studying different marketers and they live very public lives. So everything from what that marketer is saying about itself on Instagram, to the company website. I’ve had a lot of sellers over the years look at the company’s financials, understanding where they’re making their financial bets and so forth. God forbid, I have some people who even say like, “Hey, I’m going to go to a store and talk to the store manager about how that business runs and what the hot products are.”
There’s lots of places, there’s so much information out there. But what I find is that many sales people in my industry at least, are so focused on being just the experts in advertising or programmatic trading or whatever, that they forget that you know what, that customer wants you to be in the beer business. That customer wants you to be in the retail business. That customer wants you to be in the hamburger business. I’m constantly pushing them to get upstream and to get closer to the actual business of the customer and the situation, that’s where it gets interesting. If you don’t do that then you’re just another vendor and you’re going to be subject to the pricing pressures and the commoditization and all the stuff that happens to vendors who only know their own stuff and not the customer’s stuff.

Jeff Standridge: Very good.

Jeff Amerine: I mean, such great input because often times it’s been my experience that when you’re on the buy side, you’re buying something way different then what the vendor or maybe your partner is trying to sell you. Your motives are completely different. You’re looking for specific benefits that you’re going to derive that are either going to drive revenues or reduce costs. But you’re often times buying something way different than the tangible thing or service that they think they’re selling. The best sales people, I think they learn to figure that out and it sounds like your process decodes an awful lot of that for them.

Doug Weaver: Truth be told, even if you and I met on our first sales call and we got a line it’s like, “Okay, yeah. It looks like Jeff really wants to buy this thing,” by the time that a couple of months go by, this is a dynamic, fluid marketplace and you might need something else. Your needs will change, your specs will change. The approach that we’re taking is we’re not starting with what. To crib some stuff from Simon Sinek, the author of, Start with Why, it’s like if you start with what, it’s like, “Here’s what I’ve got to offer. Jeff, what do you want to buy? What do you want to pay for it? Here’s what I want to charge for it,” and so forth. So we’re already in a very small space. It’s like, “Oh, you’re selling widgets. Well, I really wanted cogs,” or, “Yours turns right to left. I wanted ones that turn left to right.”
The product conversation, if you start with the what, what am I going to sell, what are you going to buy, which is where many sales conversations start, we’re already occupying a very small space together. And it’s fraught, it’s going to be very difficult to recover. But if, Jeff, if you and I start our conversation around the why, like, “Hey, Jeff. I’ve looked at your business and here’s why we’re here. We think you need help solving this larger problem. Let’s talk about that. Tell me more about that.” Once we’re aligned on that, once we’re connected at the mission level, once we’re connected at the why, at the story level, well, our relationship has a lot of room to move. We can adapt. By the way, six months from now both of our companies might be in a real different business because your needs will have evolved, my capabilities will have evolved. But we can keep it together because we’re connected on the most important thing which is the mission, the why.

Jeff Standridge: Doug, I know you have ongoing relationships with numerous, dozens even of sales leaders in this digital advertising space that’s very ever changing, very dynamic. You’ve touched on a little bit of this, but could you maybe clarify or codify, if you will, some of the things that you see that great teams have in common? Particularly in this space versus maybe teams that struggle.

Doug Weaver: Yeah, absolutely. It’s actually one of my favorite themes and I’m looking at groups through slightly different lenses. I mean, I get to work with a lot of sales leaders as I train their teams and their middle managers. I also have a number of organizations where I’ve done management workshops and leaderships workshops with a group of their managers. Then the third bite that I get at the apple is I have about 35 or so direct coaching relationships with managers who are ascendent in different organizations.
Let me start with the ones that really struggle, what are they doing? They’re playing a daily game of whack a mole, they’re constantly reacting to the latest crisis. You’ve got managers who are getting sucked into every tactical decision by every sales person. You’ve got sales people and other employees who are not feeling empowered to make good mistakes, to take good risks, they’re not attaching any deeper, so they’re elevating everything to the boss. Hey, let me escalate this problem I have with this other department. I need a price change to drive this deal, I need a difference on policy, create an exception for me, boss. And the manager’s just getting eaten alive by this.
If you think about it as an upside down pyramid, this is the broad, heavy part. There’s no shortage of individual tactical decisions. The daily transactions, the daily back and forth and they’re getting sucked into all that. As you go deeper, as you go to the skinny part of the pyramid at the bottom, that’s where the values are. The values are the base and it’s a small base. I preach to people all the time to go ahead and get your values profile in line for your organization, whether you’re running the whole company or whether you’re running a team within the organization. You’ve got to have a conversation with people about controllable values that really define what it means to be in this organization.
I’ve actually got my team’s values right here. I keep them in a crystal frame right behind my desk. Optimism, grit, respect, ownership, service, courage and connectedness. Those are the seven values on which we do everything. We serve our customers, we make strategic decisions, et cetera. If the values are there, then your team has an absolute bedrock on how they can make decisions. But between those two points, between the daily tactical stuff and the values, you’ve got the strategies, you’ve got the policies, you’ve got the agreed upon processes.
What the best organizations are doing is they’re putting the authority where the information is. I said earlier, it’s like in the ecosystem you want to create that empathy and you also want to connect and empower. The great managers are constantly empowering. They’re saying to people, “Look, you understand the core values of who we are. You know the general policies, go make the best decision you can. You’re close to it. Does it support the values? Is it in line with the policies? Get out there, be a problem solver, figure it out.” What you have is suddenly you have instead of one guy making the decisions, and it’s usually a guy, you’ve got dozens of people who are out there thinking, reacting, negotiating with customers. Creating value in the marketplace, figuring stuff out, working with each other. But how are they doing that? Empowering them doesn’t just mean leaving them alone and letting them run amuck. Empowering them means that you’re grounding these people though in something deeper.
Think about that inverted pyramid. The values have to be there at the bottom, everything sits on that. The strategies are what help us empower people to make good decisions about things on a daily basis. That’s how organization’s scale and how we drive retention and excellence and engagement among employees. Because they feel seen and heard, they feel important.

Jeff Standridge: Great. Great stuff. Tell us a little more about Upstream Group in terms of your ideal clients. What’s your sweet spot client and your sweet spot engagement with those clients?

Doug Weaver: Yeah, it’s a great question. I got involved in digital advertising when it was brand new, so my team at Wired Magazine actually sold the first ads on the web back in 1994. So I got to be a ring side seat at the beginning of this industry. After one more stint after Wired and a couple years working at big companies, I decided that what I really wanted to do was to have influence and consult and work with lots of companies. Plus, I wanted to live in the middle of nowhere up here in Vermont, which was part of the deal as well. What I decided on back then was, look, I’m going to keep my business focus within this digital and integrated advertising and media and technology world.
Jeff, when you and I got to know each other at Axiom, it was because Axiom was really a key player in that world. My clients range from the big platforms, the Spotify’s and the Twitter’s of the world, so forth, through a lot of the publishers that you know. The Meredith’s, The New York Times, The Washington Post’s, companies like that. Snap, Hulu, you name it. Then on over into ad technology data companies. But the thing they have in common is they’re all part of this world, they’re all connected to this industry. The most frequent thing that I do with them, I call it the recurring unit of value, which is a good thing for anybody in a small business to have, is training. The training product itself, used to be that I would fly to Little Rock and meet with that whole team at Axiom. Or I’d go over to London and work with the BBC, or come to New York, or LA, or somewhere else.
My business up until 15 months ago, was entirely in person. I was spending a lot of time in cities, in conference rooms, in hotel ballrooms working directly with sales people. That all came to a grinding halt, as you can imagine, back in early March of last year. What’s been really exciting for me is we were able as a team, we were a very small team, but we were able as a team to look at our situation and say, “Okay, this is going to be deep and long.” The question we were able to ask ourselves was what’s possible now that wasn’t before? What can we invent right now? What we invented was a whole new way to do business for us, which was completely building our training process out over Zoom and also over Google Meet and Webex and Teams. Being able to teach and engage with sales teams like you would a college class. Instead of one big gathering, it’s an hour and a half this day. A week later, another hour and a half. Reading and working between and using all the tools of the platforms.
I got to tell you, anybody that says, “This is virtual. This is not real, it’s not face to face. I miss being connected to people,” well, they’re just not doing right.

Jeff Standridge: Well, I know I’ve learned a lot from you over the years and appreciate your perspective and you’re unique view. It shouldn’t be unique because I think it’s very effective the way that you approach the client relationship. But it does end up being unique in a lot of instances because it’s not… What do they say? Common knowledge does not always equal common doing. I really appreciate the things I’ve learned from you.
If people wanted to reach out to you and connect with you, what’s the best way for them to find you?

Doug Weaver: Really easy, two URLs. My website is upstreamgroup.com and every two weeks I write a blog called, The Drift and that’s at getthedrift.com.

Jeff Standridge: Get the-

Doug Weaver: Getthedrift.com and you can reach me easily through either of those places. I put something out every couple of weeks just to put something good into the universe and have people connect with ideas. That’s been a really good marketing platform for us. I’ve been writing that blog in some form or another for the past 22 years. It’s been very helpful.

Jeff Standridge: Super. Jeff, anything to add?

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, Doug. Just a final question for you and I think it’s interesting given your journey. Is if you could roll the clock back 20 something years to when you were at the beginning of this journey, but you had the benefit of the knowledge you have today, what advice would you give your younger self as you begin to undertake this really interesting path you’ve been on?

Doug Weaver: Hmm, wow! First of all, great question. You guys started off, you come in hot at the beginning with the question to mix it up and then right at the end, as well. No, it’s a terrific question. I’m not sure that it would have led to necessarily a different outcome, but I probably would have challenged myself to say, “Figure out a way to do all this that is more conducive to being there much more of the time with your family.” Being able to have the business life, which for me meant 100 plus nights on the road every year, figure out a way. I probably would have embraced some form of distance learning and connectivity with clients from a fixed location a lot earlier.
Now, having said that, it may not have made a difference because technology wasn’t where it is now and it wasn’t as accepted for us to connect in the ways we are today. But I guess what I’m doing now is spinning that around and I’m giving advice to all the men and women who are starting their careers today. I would give them the advice to say, “You know what, the world’s been disrupted. There’s never been a bigger set of changes thrust on humanity, we’ve all been put on this forced diet of Zoom and Teams and Webex, so figure out a way to invent something for yourself that is more connected to the core of who you are as a family.” I mean, I’m very lucky. I’ve got an amazing, wonderful wife who is the best person I know and I’ve got two terrific daughters, so lots to be grateful for there.
But you’re not going to have to miss as much time as I did. So plan your life, use the technology, don’t accept every opportunity to go on the road. You don’t have to go to every conference, you can stay connected to people quite well, but still maintain a sane lifestyle. How’s that?

Jeff Amerine: Great advice, great advice.

Jeff Standridge: Doug, pleasure seeing you again. And even greater pleasure to glean some wisdom from you once again. As I said, I’ve learned a lot from you over the course of the last few years and really appreciate the work that you do.

Doug Weaver: Thank you so much, Jeff. And Jeff, thanks for having me and appreciate both you guys. I love your work.

Jeff Amerine: Absolutely, thanks for coming on.

Jeff Standridge: Fantastic, thanks so much. This has been an episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. We’ll see you next time.

Jeff Amerine: Hey, listeners. This is Jeff Amerine, we want to thank you for tuning in. We sincerely appreciate your time. If you’re enjoying the Innovation Junkies podcast, please do us a huge favor. Click the subscribe button right now and leave us a review. It would mean the world to both of us and don’t forget to share us on social media.

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