Transcript How to use Vulnerability for Business Growth

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Mitch Simon 0:10
Welcome to another episode of team anywhere where CEOs, leaders and experts at building teams, companies, organizations, and amazing cultures

Ginny Bianco-Mathis 0:22
share how to lead from anywhere in the world. I’m your co host on the east coast. juden Bianca Mathis, and

Mitch Simon 0:28
I’m your co host on the West Coast. Mitch Simon. And we invite you to join us team anywhere.

Today on the podcast we interview Trevor Rappleye, CEO of Trevor’s strategy to lead remotely has been a treat his customers as friends and harness the power of stories. He shares several strategies he uses to stay close to his clients, which has led him to the best year of his company’s history. He al so shares how transparency has been the key to building a team that is 100% committed to the company and their clients. Much of this comes from his greatest tool to choose new business, asking his team what types of clients they enjoy working with, and which clients they have had the most fun with.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of team anywhere. And today on the podcast. We’re really excited to have Trevor rapidly CEO and storyteller at corporate Now, Trevor, I met on a call with a sales leadership organization I think was the field management and leadership.

Trevor Rappleye 1:44
The SLA the sales marketing, Ken’s gonna kill him. Gentlemen, it

Mitch Simon 1:49
will kill us.

It’s SMM, a sales, marketing and Leadership Alliance. There we got it. And I was I remember I was driving around packages for to give away to my synagogue, and you are on the phone. I’m like, this guy is really, really great, because I was I was impressed with how you made everything about story, how we all need to be great at telling our story and how we need to build our businesses based on our unique story. So Trevor, What’s your story?

Trevor Rappleye 2:17
I love that. Thank you for having me on, Mitch, man. My story is I started filming since I was 13. Back in 2001, you had the VHS to DVD. And I was converting those I film with my dad’s big VHS camera, you know, that thing you put on your shoulder? You know, when you looked around? And, and all that. So I’ve been filming since I was a kid and I i love it.

Mitch Simon 2:43
That’s great. And so let’s just go into, we really wanted to focus today’s conversation on how to support companies like your own. You know, as I mentioned, you’re CEO of corporate filming comm if you could tell us a little bit about, you know, how many people are in your company? And what’s been your personal story facing down COVID? with, you know, gosh, Trevor, you’re in the filming business, that’s a business that really requires being with customers of how have you done that? And what words of wisdom would you have for the listeners?

Trevor Rappleye 3:19
It’s been a intriguing time, right now. I mean, with COVID, we had about 60 days of no new revenue, and we were letting partners not paying we’re letting them we just really wanted to be a friend, right? Because I’m a big fan. I’m a big believer in I think we’ve talked about this last week, but budgets are like sinks, they will eventually fill right back up. So I wanted to be that person that was just there for them. So, um, during this time, we kind of had to take about 50 steps back or like, why are we not getting any new leads wire wire deals not closing and Mitch, it’s because we didn’t show that we can work from home and that we were being safe on site. So the minute that we stopped we began showing my team and masks and we have a COVID safety officer. Our sales shot right through there, right

Mitch Simon 4:18
so you’re telling me is you’re using video, the the the industry that you’re in, to be able to make people feel safe about the industry that you’re in?

Trevor Rappleye 4:31
It’s actually really funny. That’s exactly what we did. I took Mitch, I took 50 steps back my god why? Of course it’s a virus going on. But we can still film like people need marketing videos. This is this is insane. And I said oh, so I put extra budget towards one shoot. And I said guys, your job is to film the film crew being safe. And it just took off. You now see on our website. It’s a big banner at the top senior We aren’t being safe. And it just it just people feel safe as a third of people still don’t feel like they can leave their house. So being able to to show we are being safe and you’re going to be safe. It worked really well.

Mitch Simon 5:15
Okay, immediate question, have any of your clients copied what you’ve done using you as the as the film crew to film, how to be that they in fact, are being safe?

Trevor Rappleye 5:28
So yeah, we’re getting so deep on this topic, but I love it. Because, yes, they’re like, Oh, I’m like, Yes, let’s film your tech walking into an office with a mask on, let’s film your people at the office, wearing a mask. More importantly, let’s also interview people over zoom in their home. And we can still create a marketing video from that, like, I just, I just was people don’t wait until this is over to film, because we thought this would last two weeks. And now we will look at where we’re at. So and

Mitch Simon 6:04
I know this is not a commercial, a commercial for corporate filming. com. Maybe it is. But you know, sponsored by corporate No, actually, Trevor’s paying me nothing, too, too, too. I record this podcast. But I’m wondering is is? Is there a message that you have to two companies out there on? You know, the benefits, let’s say of connecting to their customers by actually filming them on zoom? You know, do people really Trevor want to see that?

Trevor Rappleye 6:37
So I think the minute that we realize it doesn’t matter what I want, it matters what your prospect wants to see. That’s when we realized, you need to still create video. And more importantly, nobody trusts anybody anymore. You’re not meeting people at the bar, at expos, at the trade show floor. So for the ability for your sales people, for your CEO, to be able to tell their story in a concise 60 to 92nd film that you then email out with every lead that you send, it just makes you a human. It makes your story. It’s like, who’s this guy email in the neck? Oh, it’s Mitch, he has. I don’t know how many dogs you have. But he has 10 dogs and he loves to kayak on the weekend. I just totally made those facts up. But it just makes you a human because they know your story. Great. I’m

Mitch Simon 7:33
gonna go get nine more dogs and start packing. And then I wanted to know, tell me about how you’ve been able to lead your company virtually? And what would what would you tell our listeners? Because again, you’re like, you know, many of the listeners, actually many of the guests we’ve had as has been knowledge workers, and your your crew is not well, knowledge workers, your crew is a crew, and they are out there. So how have you been able to fire them up? How have you been able to use story to, to influence motivate them and keep them together?

Trevor Rappleye 8:15
So I listened a lot. And I read a lot of stuff like what did you do during this time? Right? What How can you lead people? I just lead with transparency. I just thought with Hey, guys, I don’t I don’t know what to do just like you, but we’re gonna figure it out. Like I I don’t know that. I mean, it sucks that our biggest clang just, you know, lessen their contract by half. We’re gonna get through it. And I’m doing XYZ and I and I need you to do XYZ. I feel like I became I just got more transparent liking guys that six figure deal. I thought I was gonna win. That’s, that’s done. But hey, I have 220 thousand dollar deals that were like I was just more honest with them. And, and I and I read I listened to a lot of the entree leadership with Dave Ramsey, and I always forget love him. And he was like, just being honest. And you have to be the voice of reason. Because your team will always think it’s 10 times worse than what it actually is. So you have to come in and be positive and say, we’re going to get through this. And my team left hopefully with me. I was like, Guys, we’re not sitting still like we’re going to rebrand. Make a new website, we’re going to tell all of our stories, because now we have time to and we’re going to get a new logo. We’re going to redo our membership model. We just didn’t sit still and I think that really showed them like Tom and I lost that hold on. You know, this is gonna be edited right?

Mitch Simon 9:56
It is now

Trevor Rappleye 9:57
it is now sorry. Well, you know what, that’s authenticity. Keep, let’s keep on going. It really, that’s really funny. It showed, it just made me a more honest and transparent leader. And I think that’s what COVID really taught me what to do. And I wish I would have lived that way for the past five or six years.

Mitch Simon 10:18
It’s really interesting, Trevor, that it is taken a pandemic, to really transform us as leaders to do what leaders are supposed to do. True. What I wanted to know, What, What impact did it have on your employees to not only tell their story, but to actually have their story filmed? And to have their stories online for everyone to see. Mm hmm.

Trevor Rappleye 11:01
So I think I first had to had to do it. Myself, like I first had to tell my story. And then they realized, Oh, that’s really not that bad. How I sold it to them because I wanted to get their buy in, right? Yes, I could have said I need your video. I’m not asking, but I never do that I wanted to buy in with it. And I said, Hey, guys. How, like I lead with this. I said, Guys, we’re bound to do something wrong. Like, we are literally bound to royally mess up with someone once, once each year. But if they have seen one zoom, if they know your story, if they know that you have kids, and you love dogs, and you love to go to the movies, and it’s it’s in this concise humanizing video, I believe that someone’s like, Ah, man, but they’re so nice. I’m, I’m fine. And I feel like that’s what the story does it just as I mean, we all mess up. But if that person doesn’t know you, you’re now just a vendor, you know what I’m gonna move on to to another vendor. But once it kind of instills loyalty, it’s like, Trevor, hey, I saw in your video that you’re a triplet and you referee D, one soccer and you started this business when you were 13. I’m now different than the other 20,000 videographers out there, because everyone else films, films outward. But I turned the camera on us and film us. And that’s really why I believe we’ve scaled because I’ve let the prospect see the real us. Wow.

Mitch Simon 12:42
Tell me a little bit about I hate to turn it a little bit. But it’s just so so powerful. I really wanted I wouldn’t really want the listeners to hear about this. Something else that you didn’t cover that you you mentioned was you started to connect to your customers every month, no matter what. Tell me Tell me more about that. I was really fascinated about that change in your practice.

Trevor Rappleye 13:12
So it’s so funny having to articulate the thousand ideas that I have in my head, right and, and we used to be very one off videos, people would pay us every three years to make one video, they wouldn’t see 95% of the content. Because we film for seven hours, they make one short video, it didn’t make sense. And I thought to myself, why aren’t they coming back? And I said, Well, why would they they made one video, that’s what we recommended. So why would they they’ve checked the box. So I got the idea from a marketing a PR firm that we use. They started it years ago and I never really did it. They did this by monthly column like kind of seems like a lot like that seems like a lot of time like to just sit there and talk about updates. But then I forgot about it. And then when COVID hit I’m like guys, we need to hop on a monthly call with every single person that we film for. And Mitch, what that did is it made our phone calls just became getting to know them. Hey, we know COVID Oh, you mean you have no sales. Now we have no sales. So how’s your month go? It just became a friend. We just became a friend. When I got so we as a team got so ingrained. Like I tell myself, how do I get on someone’s calendar as much as I can. And that is the that is the monthly call. It’s a monthly call where we talk about updates future data, but during COVID they saw our face I mean, it was really hard for me at the at the front. I’m like an extrovert. I was seeing no friends. My team was all from home. I’m like, I’m going insane. I need to see people and part of that was how do we be their friend. And that’s what story and that’s what these monthly calls did, is now we’re no longer a vendor that they pay. It’s now we’re friendships and that instills loyalty and more importantly, that instills repeat business.

Mitch Simon 15:20
That’s great. That’s great. That is just that’s a great practice that I you know, I hope that many people many of our listeners would we consider are already already doing. Tell me about how you are choosing your clients in this COVID time. Cuz this story you tell me again was like, You got like, Are you kidding me? So how are you choosing and listeners this is this is amazing. How do you choose your clients?

Trevor Rappleye 15:56
Which when I first began when I took everyone’s money, like we all do, when we first begin, we’re like, give me all the money. I don’t care if you’re low revenue. If you’re my dad’s neighbor, like I just need money, right. But the minute that I realized one of the main reasons, Mitch, why we got out of weddings. At our peak, we did 100 weddings a year. That’s I can’t do math. That’s five weddings a weekend, like about hopefully that math is sort they

Mitch Simon 16:20
kind of right. Just for our listeners we have we haven’t said that. But yes, I’m 30 I’m sure 13 you weren’t doing weddings. But before you really became corporate filming. com, you are a wedding videographer.

Trevor Rappleye 16:32
Yes. So I shot over, like 300 weddings. I love it. And then as we scaled, I stopped filming, but we scaled too fast. I was the lowest price video team out there. So we got a ton of wedding deals. We’re like, wow, we’re scaling. What I found out is it was hurting. It was hurting my team. They were not happy. Like with the wedding world. It’s really, it’s really hard to do everything right. And it’s it’s it’s if you don’t feel one second of one thing, and half the time be like what are you talking about? I didn’t know how to film your third cousin from Europe at your wedding. You didn’t tell me to do that. So it was like, it was just my team was frustrated or weak. Our weekly meetings were two and a half hours where it was like, Who’s gonna make her happy who’s gonna make and we had a lot of good people, right that we filmed for. But I say all this, Mitch, because I now in this very COVID world, I want. I choose clients that I know, my team will love to work with. Because I’m not in the day to day today, right? Like they are. So after every single time we finish something I go, Was that fun? And half the time they’re like, Oh my god, that was so fun. I’m like, why they’re like, oh, because we got to write the script. And we got to tell the story and finger bug us and they didn’t micromanage us. And I was like, Okay, so now I do, I want to bring on partners that I know my team will love. And I can kind of tell on the first call if someone will be difficult or not, like, people don’t ever change, right. So for the first call, someone’s been kind of short and rude. And it’s this just happened last week. And this was a six figure deal. And every meal is like, why is that? And why is that? And I want a seven minute video on why don’t you offer stuff to us, like you should be doing and like I backed off, I want I kind of knew it wasn’t going to go through, but I knew it would infuriate my team, they would not have fun. And if they’re not passionate and having fun, they will quit. So in essence, I’m saving money on, on on turnover and then leaving if I didn’t do things that make them happy.

Mitch Simon 18:58
I just I just love that. You know, you got a definitely a book there on you know, choose your clients by what your employees tell you. It’s fun. Yeah. Great.

Trevor Rappleye 19:12
Thank you and I want to save, of course people are sitting if we are really hurting for money, I would go to my team and I would actually leave it up to them. Hey guys, this guy might be kind of might be able to work with but I’m gonna be transparent if we don’t sign him we’re gonna have to cut back hours. I would just be transparent. And we’ve never and of course they would say, Let’s sign him and now I have their buy in on that.

Mitch Simon 19:38
So Wow. And so. So tell me tell me. What other practices Do you have at work like what types of meetings you have at work where you are bringing this trance this additional transparency and how are you bringing this traditional trance this this transparency to your team

Trevor Rappleye 20:00
Yeah, so I used to hide armor numbers on my goal, we got a $4,000 wedding deal, they’re gonna think, why aren’t I getting 50 bucks an hour. And then my business coach was like, Trevor, if they think that way, then they’re not right for you, like, a good employee will be like, Oh my God, that’s great. Let’s get 10 more. So with this whole world, like, most of our partners, we sign now spend anywhere from 30,000 to 100 to 100,000 a year just on video, right? I used to kind of hide those numbers like cuz I’m gonna think man, they’re gonna come and ask for a big raise or something. And that hasn’t happened because I have the right team now. So I think transparency wise, I am letting them control their budgets. First off, this is something I’ve never done when she just began doing it like a month ago, where they know how much it costs their department to run. And it’s just so they know, wow, it’s everyone a $40,000 deal. But they were meant took 32,000 to produce it, the office cost is 3000 a month. It just they just realize there’s so much more involved in it. So transparency wise, it started opening up the books, and I stopped hiding how much top line revenue we made. But I had to make sure I didn’t just show top line. I flipped the book at the end. And I said, Yeah, but look how much we actually kept. So they just they just see that. Trevor’s not off buying a house and buying a Lamborghini. So yeah.

Mitch Simon 21:42
That’s great. And how do you? How do you stay in touch with your employees week to week since you are I think, you know, I see. You know, for those of us who are listening to the podcast, we see that Trevor has a plaque. Right, right above his coffeemaker almost, which is like the world headquarters of corporate corporate filming calm. So how do you stay in touch with him during the week?

Trevor Rappleye 22:05
So I read, I read a lot. And I was in a lot of podcasts when COVID first began. And Dave Ramsey said you cannot communicate enough during this time. Like, over communicate over ask about weekends over figure out like have have empathy during this time. Um, and and I just realized, how do I check in with my team without having this be this half hour meeting? So we began a supposed to be a five minute daily meeting, but it turns into 15 because I it’s honestly on me, I ramble. But it everybody says what they did yesterday, what thing we’ll do today. And more importantly, we have a big win a big one on Monday. So everyone comes and they talk about their big win from last week. And it’s just a great way to stay in touch with them. I require video, and I was very upfront about that. I’m like, if you don’t have makeup on, I don’t care if your hair isn’t done. I don’t care. But I need to see your face. Like we need to stay in touch more and more. And that I honestly think we have built more of a friendship checking in every day. Because it’s happy, it’s great. And they’re doing things that they love. And I’m it’s that is something I wish I would have done years ago is just having a five minutes in a meeting and reading at the same time. And it just brings that transparency. But Mitch, more importantly, I’m telling them what I’m doing. Because people have no idea what CEOs do. Half of them think that we probably do nothing, we just book a sale and we go like but it’s so it’s 12 hour work days. So I’ve just begun to be transparent with them more and more so. Well.

Mitch Simon 24:03
That’s great. So final question. Trevor’s has been, you know, this has been the Dave Ramsey love our trade. He is what you know, do you have hope for for 2021? Are you scared about 20 2021? You know, what’s happening to you personally as we end this year and go into the next one?

Trevor Rappleye 24:26
So I love that question. It’s actually a very deep question. I think Mitch, I don’t think because we didn’t wait to pivot. We will be fine. We will be great. We actually had our best revenue of our entire company’s history, which I just found that out. Yes. Today, through. Thank you through this literally through this year. And that’s with three months of like, no revenue, and that’s because we didn’t sit still we pivoted I said what do my prospects actually want, what pain points can we solve? And more importantly, how can we be a friend and tell their story and know little details like someone had a cat. So I got them, our team got them a bowl with their cat name on it. And it’s just like, it’s just those little things that when it comes down to the budgeting of what vendor to use, they’re so loyal to us. Like, if someone’s 10,000 bucks less, I bet they wouldn’t even go with them. So I say all that because we really prepped for this, we knew, I mean, expos are not going back to normal life as much as I wish that they are. We are we planned for this. And more importantly, I think I let go of control. There was a quote, I heard I love. I love quotes, and it was you can have sterile, or you can have control, but you can’t have both. And that was really eye opening. So I’ve just let my team just operate. And if I feel like I’m in the way, I’m like, Am I in the way? And if they say yes, I’m like, awesome. What? What do you need, so I can get out of the way? And then they just tell me. So I’m really proud of our team and Mitch, to answer your initial question to me, it’s just we prepped for this. And more importantly, we’re on a annual investment fee. So I’m closing deals now that we’re going to be getting for the next 12 months just automatically.

Mitch Simon 26:38
Wow, that’s great. Yeah, I guess my big takeaway is, is to really make your, your clients or friends

Unknown Speaker 26:45

Mitch Simon 26:46
and then also to, to, you know, be fully transparent and fully appreciative of your employees. And and then I guess there’s no telling what’s gonna happen to your company next year with, you know, God willing this, we have a vaccine and you can do your work without worrying masks and washing your hands every two minutes.

Trevor Rappleye 27:07
Yeah, and I and that’s the thing, this could be done next month, it could be done in I mean, I think massive and be around for three years, there’s no way it’s gonna suddenly go away. So people in marketing, you need to show your staff in masks. There’s literally no way especially if you’re an at home business, or you’re something you you have to like use your iPhone, you got it, you’ve got to get relevant is what it ultimately comes down to. That it’s really telling your story and more importantly, Mitch, I like how he said the word, friend a lot is just, it literally does no harm to be someone’s friend. And if somebody ever gets upset at you that you’re trying to get to know them. They were never going to sign with you anyway. It’s like, that is that is what tears people over. They were never going to be they were never going to sign they just were too afraid to tell you that they didn’t have the money. So there’s literally no harm in being someone’s friend. In sale. Ryan.

Mitch Simon 28:03
Yeah. Great. So how can people reach you? Where can they find you?

Trevor Rappleye 28:07
Yeah, so corporate . You can search my name Trevor rappleye on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. and shoot me a message Trevor at corporate All right. Well, thank

Mitch Simon 28:23
you, Trevor. This has been an incredible interview. And thank you to our listeners. And we look forward to seeing you next week on team. Anywhere. Have a great day. And for all of those of you listening I have a great new year. Bye bye

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