Episode 262: Robert Glazer on how to push beyond your limits
April 15, 2020
Our guest today is Robert Glazer, an entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and best-selling author.
Glazer writes Friday Forward, a weekly email that goes out to 100,000 subscribers. That started as a weekly inspiration email to his team, they forwarded it to friends, and – boom.
He is also the Founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, an award winning global affiliate marketing agency – and on this episode he explains what an affiliate marketing agency does.
Glazer was selected by Marshall Goldsmith as one of the 100 coaches that Marshall is mentoring – an incredible honor to be part of that select group.
AND he is the author of Elevate: Push Beyond Your Limits and Unlock Success in Yourself and Others, which we discuss on this episode.
You can find links to his podcast, his books, his columns, and sign up for Friday Forward at his website, https://www.robertglazer.com/
Will Bachman: Hello Bob, welcome to the show.
Robert Glazer: Thanks Will, glad to be here.
Will Bachman: Bob. I love your new book, Elevate, that talks about building capacity, spiritual capacity, intellectual capacity, physical capacity and emotional capacity. Tell me a little bit about what led you to write this book.
Robert Glazer: Yeah. I actually didn’t intend to write this book. The story of this book started with sort of my personal leadership development. I had gone through a pretty intensive leadership training program. I had spent some time working on my values. I improved my morning routine, and one of the core tenants of morning routine was sort of read positive stuff.
And some of the books that were given to us, they fall under, I’d categorize under the sort of rainbows and unicorn area. And while I wanted to read something positive in the morning that got me going, I said that didn’t do it for me.
So a couple of weeks later, a month, I decided to start writing a note to my team on Fridays and I pulled together some quotes or stories I had, and it would be about kind of improvement or a great story or something to push them a little bit. And I didn’t think anyone was paying attention to them or reading them. But then I started getting notes back from people saying, “You know what, I did this or I really liked this, or my husband shared it with his company. I sent it along to him.”
I was at a conference with some other CEOs and I was sharing sort of from a best practice thing that I had gotten great feedback about sending this email to my team. So a bunch of them said, ” All right, well send us an example.” And I did and one person kind of created his own and like good entrepreneurs, the other three said, “This is great, we’ll just forward this to our team every week.”
So that’s how I realized there might be some external value outside of our organization. So I moved from a BCC to a newsletter system. I created a little website that had all the old ones on it, because they were only in my sent email. And I threw a few couple hundred friends and family on it and colleagues and I’d all thought they’d say, “What the hell is this,” and you know, unsubscribe.
But same thing happened. I got great reaction. People said they were forwarding it. And a couple of years later, I had 100,000 people in 60 countries now signed up for this weekly Friday forward. And a lot of the people receiving it were kind of in the out years. And so I decided I’d write a compilation book of some of the best and most impactful posts.
And I set out to do that, and I talked to some agents and they all said, “Hey, people don’t like compilation books.” And I heard that two or three times, “really love the writing, clearly you have an audience, but people don’t like compilations.” And then I met an agent who said, “Yeah, same thing,” but he said, “I think there’s a story here.”
And so I took the compilation book, I read, and then I sort of stepped back. And at this point our business, it kind of doubled or tripled over a few years since I had started this email and my life had gotten a lot better.
A lot of the way we were growing as a company was investing in our people, holistically. I was also meeting a lot of other kind of world class performers and high performers and seeing what they did well, and it sort of all realized that it was all the same thing when I dug in, that what we were doing was building capacity in our team through very specific ways.
I was sort of following the blueprint. It was the same blueprint that I had seen in a lot of other high-performers that I had been associating with, and that sort of led me to this framework and the four elements of capacity building as sort of a way for people to tap into that.
Will Bachman: One area that I liked with in the intellectual capacity section is you talk about setting goals and you lay out talking about one year, three year, five year, 10 year goals, which I love. And then you got one, which I haven’t seen in a lot of other books around setting some annual family goals. Talk about that a little bit.
Robert Glazer: Yeah, I mean, the spectrum of goal setting that the most, I would say complete performers, I know, I mean there’s some high performers, right who are great at business, but don’t talk to their family or kids, and things that it would not be my definition of success.
But the people I know the sort of Renaissance men and women I know, tend to set goals across four quadrants, so personal, family, business and community, and to also just to make sure that they’re pretty balanced in that area.
So that’s sort of the rubric that I use, and I have a whole category of my goals that are family oriented and I carry that same process through, “What do I want for myself and my kids and my family and my wife and I, in five or 10 years?” And then that impacts the decisions that we make today.
So, I just recently did that, one on one of my goals is to either climb with one or more of the kids Kilimanjaro in the next five years. And so, then that’s just not going to happen. There’s some specific things that we need to do to make that done, but it’s on my radar. There’s a bunch of reasons that tie into my core values of why that would be meaningful for me and for them and for our family.
And there’ll be some goals sprinkled around probably, climbing some other smaller mountains in the next couple of years to try to warm up for that. So it’s really an alignment. Let me step back for one second. I think it’d be helpful just to define the four elements maybe, and then-
Will Bachman: Yeah. Let’s get into that.
Robert Glazer: … we jump into it for everyone.
Will Bachman: That’d be good.
Robert Glazer: So spiritual capacity is not religious. I would like to caveat. It’s about understanding who you are, what you want most, and the standards you want to live by. It’s really being able to articulate your core values, ideally, and then for some people kind of their core purpose and why. So it’s the direction you want to go in. And I think these are in a logical order because that comes first.
I think there are a lot of people we might call successful out there who are doing things really well, probably with intellectual, physical and emotional, that don’t actually make them happy or fulfilled. So intellectual sort of starts to get to how you get that? How do you upgrade your processor? It’s about your ability to learn, think and plan, execute with discipline, things like being proactive, setting your longterm goals, which align to what you want most, establishing your routine habits and accountability.
: So I think people are most invested in their intellectual capacity when there’s something that they really want and they want to go after it, and the more they know that.
So then physical is your health, wellbeing, physical performance. I mean there’s no greater thing that I think can act as an accelerant or a drag on our ability to build our capacity than our health. We’re all running our fight or flight mechanism kind of all day long, well more than it was biologically designed to do, and we’re not sleeping and we’re over-working. And then, that carries into everything we do.
And then the last one is emotional, and emotional is really to me is external. How do you react to challenging situations outside of you? What is your emotional mindset, and what are your relationships and the quality of your relationships look like?
Because all those things will either, I use an analogy in the book around a sports car where spiritual, intellectual and physical are sort of designing the car, building it, testing it. Emotional’s like putting it on the road with other drivers at 200 miles an hour. And at that point it could either really over-perform or underperform it’s specs.
And I think these are very inextricably intertwined, these four things. If they’re all improving, you’re really going to see massive increase in what you’re able to accomplish in your life. If one gets really out of whack, it’s going to affect the other area.
Will Bachman: One that I liked in your book on emotional is getting yourself out of the rut that we so often can fall into by intentionally saying, “Okay, how am I going to change my daily routine, to maybe walk a different path to work or just try new things?”
Robert Glazer: Yeah.
Will Bachman: Talk about that a little bit.
Robert Glazer: Yeah, I mean that’s just really part of reacting differently to different situations is getting yourself off autopilot. You know, traveling, go to a new city, if you walk the same route to work for five years, just change it. Do something different. Put yourself in unexpected situations.
I think I give an example in the book, people know about Tony Robbins like jumping into the ice cold bath. First thing it would like just shock the hell out of system. Well I think part of the reason he does that is because like once you do that, other things don’t seem so difficult.
So I think the more that I’ve seen that people get carved into a path, it becomes a rut and then anything outside of that becomes a disturbance that they’re not able to deal with. Versus people that have high emotional capacity don’t expect everything to work out. They don’t expect it to go right. They just adjust, they move on, and two people can have the same experience for the same five minutes, and for one they never think about it after that interaction. The other, it ruins their entire day and brings them down. Right? That to me is the exact difference of an example of a differential in emotional capacity.
Will Bachman: Yeah. And even just working in a different spot, so to take a flight to a different city and rent a hotel room and work there, or work on the train and getting yourself out of the ordinary and planning for that.
Robert Glazer: Yeah, I’ve had my best business ideas in other countries or other situations where fundamentally the assumption or challenge. Like in Australia they just, they’re offended by tipping. It just got me really thinking about all kinds of aspects of tipping, and business models and perception.
And I’ve noticed that again, people who live in a bubble where everything is the same every day. I think you’re seeing this now in society, they just can’t react to any changes in their environment
Will Bachman: And you don’t have to fly to Bali to get out of your normal thing. You can intentionally say, “Okay, what are some places that I’ve never eaten lunch before? Let’s go there.”
Robert Glazer: Right. A popular one is go to a Toastmasters thing in your own town, if you want to get uncomfortable. It’s not that expensive and you don’t have to go that far.
Will Bachman: Yeah. Or there’s probably 5,000 meetup.com going on in New York city this week. Check one of those out.
So in the intellectual capacity, there’s one that I want to ask you about there, which is a mastermind group. Talk a little bit about the benefits of that and for someone who maybe doesn’t qualify for Vistage or were in the YPO, how can you go out and create your own mastermind group and get some of the benefits of that?
Robert Glazer: Yeah, so it’s really, it’s interesting. The mastermind groups I think are attributed to Napoleon Hill from his book, Think or Grow Rich, probably almost a century ago at this point. And it’s this notion of a group that collectively is working together to get better. And it’s actually the framework of Vistage and YPO and EO, the forum concept. It’s also the framework of AA, a lot of self help organizations around, just it’s really about everyone getting better and setting standards.
I think with the internet and meet up, there are all kinds of groups in this area. One thing, there are a lot of people out there, in YPO, a lot of these places offer spousal ones. My wife joined a EO spousal forum, and it had that same thing. I think there are tons of opportunities with technology meetup to find these groups or set them up these days or find one that operates in this.
It’s just not an advice giving group. It’s a group that sort of, listens, pushes each other, is trying to push the individuals and the groups forward together. One of the core tenants, and I think this is hard for people to understand, is that you need to do this with people outside your core friendship and day to day, because that gives you the safe space to do that.
I think if a bunch of people that all hang out together or a book club tried to do it, it’s too hard because they’re just to intertwined. They know each other’s story. There’s too much bias.
One of the tenants of these things that you you don’t give advice. People present challenges. You talk about opportunities, you work on things together and it just helps to have some distance from your day to day.
So you have to look a little harder outside the business world. But I think with technology these days and communities coming together, you’re finding a lot more of these in different places, and people are understanding and using the word sort of like a forum structure, and applying that to different things.
Robert Glazer: I mean, my wife is actually in one now kind of with another one with sort of a religious oriented group that was about leadership and they didn’t know each other, but they’re all looking to kind of advance and so they’re out there. You just have to look a little harder outside the business and self-help world.
Will Bachman: Yeah. So a lot of the listeners of the show are independent consultants. So let’s say number one, that someone, a listener to the show is able to identify other independent consultants maybe in the same industry.
Robert Glazer: Yeah.
Will Bachman: So, okay, so we’ve got that set. We’ve identified some folks. What would you, in terms of real practically do you need to do these in-person? Is a Zoom video conference good?
Robert Glazer: Yeah, I think from the trust factor you really need to do them in person, and what you do is you go around the group, you give updates, you talk about your challenges and then different people present.
And again, this is probably very similar. And when someone presents about a challenge or an opportunity, other people share their experiences based on the present. They do not give advice. And then you might do a retreat. So you can imagine a whole bunch of them. And a friend of mine was in this, they got a whole bunch of law firms in the same sort of industry together and they met and it was about growing all their business together and opportunities. But you need a fair amount of confidence. And I think that I’ve been on, we do updates on Zoom on ours before we meet, but this is face to face, sit down, human interaction type stuff.
Will Bachman: Yeah. So what’s the frequency and what would the duration be? What’s the agenda like? How many people is the ideal?
Robert Glazer: Eight to 10 is ideal, because groups tend to fall apart below six. So you want to sort of maintain a safety level. If you’re talking about people that are really busy and travel on business, eight or less is probably ideal. And then they’re not local because when you start trying to calendar, it becomes very difficult. But yes, I think eight is the ideal number and you probably have a couple of hours and people can look this up.
I don’t want to get too tactical. I think how YPO and EO and Vistage do this is pretty public, but there’s typically maybe a best practices section or outside speaker. There’s an update where people go on, on what’s going on. The update helps flag anything that should be kind of presented that meeting. And then there’s typically prepared or unprepared presentations based on something important that someone needs help on that’s going on in their business or life.
And so everyone rotates. So if you’re in a group and it’s monthly or it’s longer and it’s quarterly, I think the expectation is everyone would cycle through presentation. Some would jump up but everyone … and one of the benefits of not giving advice in these things is that there is value in the takeaway.
So let’s say that, make a personal issue, a mother-in-law declared they’re coming to live for the summer, something like that or let’s say maybe it’s easier than this. A key person is looking to leave the firm and start a competitor. And this is in a business forum. Well, when the person presented this situation and people asked questions, they then don’t go around and say, “Here’s what you should do.” What they can say is, “We had this happen and here’s what we did. I had this happen, here’s what I did. We never had this happen.” But so the experience, and that way everyone is getting value in case studies and best practices, and it’s not a competition for advice.
I think one of the things I’ve learned is to bring that phrase outside of forum, which is, “in my experience,” when talking about something to someone rather than saying, “Here’s what you should do.”
Will Bachman: Let’s talk a little bit about your own kind of production function. So you’ve got your Friday forward email that you send, you’re a in demand speaker, you’re running a successful business on affiliate marketing, you’re writing, and you’re also writing columns for Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur, Thrive Global. Talk to me a little bit about your kind of daily routine, your weekly routine, and some of the, just kind of how you managed to get this done.
Robert Glazer: Yeah, so I mean, I’m really living the principles that I’ve [inaudible 00:17:03] in the book, which is the constant realignment synchronization to what’s most important to me, surrounding myself with those people, those activities, those activities within my business, getting out of the activities in my business that I don’t want to be doing or I’m not the right person to do, and doing the things that I’m good at and bring me energy and that are very aligned to my core values.
So while all those things might not be so obvious, they’re very tied to my purpose and mission, which is to share ideas that help people in companies grow. So I spend a lot of time trying to figure out a better way to do things within our organization, help build our leaders that the strategy really help. I enjoy watching people improve and build their capacity.
And then when something works right or I think we’ve found something in our company that really is beneficial to other organizations it’s kind of like open source software. I mean, that’s where my writing and a lot of it comes in there. I want to kind of share that idea or frame it for other people so that they could use it, because it gives me joy to see that out in the world and making a difference for businesses.
So all those activities are really aligned around my core values and those principles. And what I do inside the company, I do outside the company, is almost the same. And what I’ve stopped doing inside the company and trying to stop doing outside the company is also the same.
Will Bachman: So, walk me through your morning routine, and then I’d love to kind of have you walk me through a typical day.
Robert Glazer: Yeah. So I used to be like a breakfast meeting person and then I actually came to this discovery myself before I read Dan Pink’s book, When: The Science of Timing, but it really cemented it for me, which is I’m cognitively best in the morning, like reading and writing.
So I typically spend the first hour of my day on a morning routine that’s outlined in the book based on sort of the miracle morning. I have a tool I’ve built, called the whole life dashboard, which is available in the book or just for free at Robert glazer.com on the Friday Forward site.
And what I do, is I recalibrate every day. I kind of spend a few minutes, I look down the core values. I look down at sort of the goals, I have some images on there, some visualization. I look down at quarterly what I said I want to do. I think about what I have to do that day. I spend about half an hour reading, writing and planning in the morning, and maybe some exercise before I turn on the TV, turn on the email stream, anything kind of coming at me.
So that constant recalibration, I think one of the biggest differences with people who achieve and not, is, everyone has the same hours. So I think a lot of people are lying to themselves about not having the time. I just don’t think they have an honest accounting of their time, and they do the things that are easiest each day, not make down payments on the things that are maybe important but not urgent.
So that recalibration process each day has me looking at that yearly goal, at that quarterly goal, picking the three things in the morning that I want to get done for the day, ideally before noon so that if I start meetings and stuff in the afternoon and my day goes to hell, then I still have gotten the three most important things done.
And then after 90 days, in a quarter, I mean, they’re not all work days, but so I’ve gotten 200 and let’s call it 50 specific things done towards that quarterly objective, which is a down payment on my annual objective. And so while someone’s saying, “I don’t have the time to write a book,” while they’re on Facebook half an hour everyday looking at what other people are eating for food, I said that book is important. I’ve written 30 minutes a day, and I have 22,000 words at the end of the quarter and I have a draft of my book.
So each day adds up, and so I try to be as kind as I can to recalibrate every morning and make sure that I do the best job I can with that day. And there’s a compounding effect on that.
Will Bachman: Let’s talk a little about your business. I don’t know a lot about affiliate marketing. Could you talk a little bit about just, kind of, explain what that is, and-
Robert Glazer: Yeah, nor do most people so that puts you in the majority, not the minority.
Will Bachman: And I did some research about it, but I’d love to have you fill me in, and-
Robert Glazer: Yeah. So affiliate marketing or increasingly it’s being called partner marketing, it’s a simple concept. It’s about 20% of eCommerce spend. And rather than buying an ad on Facebook or buying a click on Google, or buying something else and hope it works, you enter into as a brand, like a digital partnership with any sort of publisher or someone who controls content on the internet. And, they agree to the terms, and when they send something to your website, it is all tracked, and then they are paid a commission on an outcome basis, whether that’s a sale or a lead or otherwise.
And so it’s like a large network of partners, business development partners, but who are operating on sort of a system that makes it more scalable in a standard program. Amazon is the easiest way to understand. Amazon is one of the biggest affiliate programs in the world.
If you’ve been on a product review site, if you’ve been on a mom blog, people are linking into Amazon, they are an affiliate. It’s very common for podcast hosts, like if you were to list my two books in the description, you could sign up as an affiliate of Amazon. You can list those two books and say read Robert’s books. And if people click and buy through Amazon, you’ll get a percentage of that sale.
So we help build and cultivate those programs, like large global programs for enterprise brands. And we’re sort of a big fish in a small pond. It’s a niche for sure, but we’re one of the biggest that does that for large brands.
Will Bachman: And talk to me a little bit about, you may or may not be able to name the clients that you serve, but maybe you could give sort of sanitize an example and talk about what your firm does for them.
Robert Glazer: Yeah. So we help recruit the partners, we manage those relationships, as opposed to like buying ads, which is sort of just a machine thing. You’re managing maybe a hundred or thousand partnerships with partners who want campaigns, maybe want a commission increase, want a discussion. So there’s a lot of technology there, but it’s also very partnership driven.
Will Bachman: So you would work with a brand that wants to increase their sales on let’s say some online and then you would go out and-
Robert Glazer: Yeah, like a Target, and let’s say, Target is a client of ours. They have thousands of partners, mom bloggers, comparison sites, deal sites, loyalties, coupon sites. We work with, we will manage that partnership and work with all of those partners on their behalf.
Will Bachman: So you’d help go help recruit the partners that are appropriate for Target. You’d help get them set up and so forth and then manage them.
Robert Glazer: And then they have ongoing needs. It’s kind of like managing a distributor channel.
Will Bachman: And, how do you see the business evolving?
Robert Glazer: I mean we’re seeing a ton of growth, because as more and more brands go direct, it’s bringing more dollars to performance budgets, where they used to do brand advertising and now they’re not looking to do brand advertising. It might’ve been Gillette doing a banner ad years ago, and now they have a direct subscription service where they’re competing with Dollar Shave Club.
So now they want to spend their money on actually acquiring customers. So as more and more brands go direct to consumer, budgets are really shifting into this type of marketing.
Will Bachman: You’re also doing public speaking. Tell me a little bit about that, about what kind of events you’re speaking at and maybe what you’ve learned through that.
Robert Glazer: Yeah, so I speak sort of across two things. One is about our core business and performance partnerships and all of the industry stuff, and I’ve written a book on that. The other is more aligned to culture and building great organizations and trying to share some of the blueprint that we’ve been fortunate to win over 25 best places to work awards.
I’d love to see all businesses become better places to work. And I think it’s a real win-win to get higher performance while treating people well. So I’m asked to speak a lot, and speak to company events or organizations or some trade groups around kind of building a world-class culture.
Will Bachman: Amazing. Bob, where can people go to find out more about you, more about your company?
Robert Glazer: Yeah, so if they’re interested in learning more about what we do, again we work mostly with larger enterprise clients. They can go to acceleration partners.com or just Google Acceleration Partners. And then all of my information is now consolidated at RobertGlazer, G-L-A-Z-E-R.com. There they can sign up for Friday forward, learn more about the Elevate book, listen to the Elevate podcast. It’s all in one place.
Will Bachman: Fantastic. And we will include links to both. Or not affiliate links, we’ll include links to both in the show.
Robert Glazer: You should include affiliate links. It’s a good opportunity. Yeah.
Will Bachman: We can talk offline. You set me up as one of your partners. We will include both those links in the show notes.
Bob, it has been great having you on the show. I really enjoyed your book, Elevate and it’s a short, quick read. I know you designed it that way. Another thing I like about it was the resources in the book and then you have QR codes, where people can go and find out a lot more online, so kind of a 21st Century book that kind of expands online.
Robert Glazer: Yeah and I think, it’s designed a little bit for a societal ADD and a lot of people are like, “I read it in a day,” and they feel, I think you’ve seen some shorter books where it’s more action oriented and you feel good that you actually read. Most people read a third of a nonfiction book, so you feel like it’s not repetitive, and you can read it in a little over an hour and get a lot of value from it.
Will Bachman: And that’s what I did. You read it quick, but it has a lot and it’s a book that’s worth really returning to, to kind of continue to digest and explore. And I got a lot of value at it, so I love your book. Thanks a lot for being on the show.
Robert Glazer: Thanks, Will.