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EP002: Perspectives of a Deep Thinking Futurist with Jared Nichols


Welcome to the podcast, Entrepreneur Perspectives, building and protecting your business one podcast at a time, a KazSource family production. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the future perspectives on running a business in 2017 and competitive cycling.

Eric: Our guest today is Jared Nichols, president at the Jared Nichols Group and a bike enthusiasts. Jared is a deep future strategist, a faculty member at the University of Tennessee, the host of The Road Ahead podcast presented by the NSPA and author of Waypoint and a friend. Jared lives in Charlotte with his wife and two kids. Jared is focused on making all those around him better from his friends to the high powered business owners he deals with. He has many connections that were built through him giving him incredible insight into the future of their business. Jared brings perspective of someone who is able to think differently about any subject or business matter. He’s focused on his close relationships and we love having him around the office. Let’s get into it. Jared, welcome to the Entrepreneur Perspectives podcast, great to have you.

Jared: Thanks Eric. It’s great to be on the show. Can I just get a copy of that intro that I can play over and over again when I go to sleep at night?

Eric: That’s right, it’ll help you sleep better.

Jared: Just to hear your voice say all those wonderful stuff.

Eric: That’s great. Alright, we’re going to get into the show now so we’re going to start as you know with about ten questions requiring a little bit more thoughtful response and end with ten rapid fire questions. Are you ready to get going?

Jared: Ready, shoot, go.

Eric: Alright, let’s go. So you’ve heard the intro of course I can’t do it justice in one opening statement even though maybe I just did that. Is anything left that you can tell the audience that they don’t know? We want to hear that now.

Jared: Anything at all? Does it have to be business related?

Eric: No, anything, anything.

Jared: Well, I’m an army brat. So I grew up moving around my entire life and now here in Charlotte since we have two kids, we’re planning on staying in this area and because of my new best friend, Eric Kasimov, and thank you for acknowledging that on this podcast. Moving around and living all over the world and knowing that lifestyle, I feel like it’s really prepared me for the field that I’m in now as a futurist looking at how to anticipate change and disruption, how to adapt to change, I find there is a lot of parallels from my own upbringing and personal life. Either that or that’s just the story I tell myself so I can sleep at night.

Eric: That works. Either that or you can just re-listen to what I said to you at the beginning, right?

Jared: Yes, I’m going to every night.

Eric: There you go, and you can just tell yourself that we’re best friends and that will help you as well. Whatever it takes, whatever it takes. So in your work that you’re doing now at the Jared Nichols Group, what is your focus and your ultimate goal for the business and yourself?

Jared: Yeah so if I go from a big picture perspective, the ultimate end goal of my work is to create a larger impact in the world around me. I know that sounds silly because a lot of people talk about that but for me, what I’ve realized is that in my line of work as a futurist, as a deep future strategist, the ability to anticipate change and disruption and vision alternative future possibilities, this is not simply a plug and play process where it’s like okay, that’s just one more tool on the shelf, this is a way of completely looking at the world completely differently. So what I’ve realized is that this has the impact not only for somebody’s business but even more importantly, their personal life. The folks that I’ve worked with over and over again especially those that have gone through the Executive Foresight Program soon to be The Foresight Academy coming out this fall is that the biggest impact for their organization was the change that it made to the leadership and their ability to envision possibilities for themselves as well as their organization that they never would’ve thought of before. So I’ve realized that the larger goal for my work and my business is to empower people to truly create the future that they ultimately desire.

Eric: And we see that with the work that you’ve done with the different businesses that we know. So we know you’re obviously doing a good job of that within your company, The Jared Nichols Group. Now, stripping away what you do at The Jared Nichols Group, besides being best friends of course, what is your passion?

Jared: My passion oh man. There’s the right answers and there’s the honest answers. So I look at it in two ways: my passion in my work is watching people transform before my eyes, right? Watching them realize and recognize things about themselves they never would’ve thought possible. My passion in my personal life is of course my family. I’ve got two small boys and they just capture my imagination and I’ve got a beautiful wife. I got the better end of the deal here for sure. So inside the family and then in my personal side just me is writing and creating music. I can’t read music, I never have been able to but I’ve been composing music since I was in the eighth grade and thanks to advancements in technology, I’m able to start composing all kinds of stuff with instruments I had no idea how to play. So I’d say those are my biggest areas of passion.

Eric: That’s awesome. Now the music that you’re creating, are you putting that out there for us to listen to?

Jared: It is out there. I don’t market it, I really don’t. In fact I’ve got the same goofy business picture as my profile picture on Sound Cloud just because I hadn’t put much time into it. But yeah, my music’s out there and of course if your people want to hear it, they can. Don’t worry. I’m not saying its all instrumental pieces of music.

Eric: It’s pretty amazing what musicians can do today; they can create music and put it on Sound Cloud within moments, right?

Jared: Yeah.

Eric: So it’s changing the way you can market yourself which takes me to the next question about perspective on marketing today. You’ve been in business for a while. You’re a Gen-Xer like myself. I think we’re on one side of the Gen X movement versus the other side of it and maybe you can tackle that in a second. What’s the difference, obviously there’s a big difference, what’s the difference today with marketing say from 15 – 20 years ago?

Jared: I’ll say that marketing– and again let me just practice this by saying, I’m still a student of marketing. I’ve learned it’s starts with the Gen X question too but I continuously look for blind spots in my own marketing. In fact I mean Eric, that’s one of the areas obviously you and I talk about quite a bit because you’ve become a real master at understanding the new landscape of business and how to really effectively market to individuals as opposed to large demographic generalities. So in the past, obviously it was always about eyeballs on a television set or on a billboard so there was really no key targeting beyond age, maybe income or political preference but now you have tools at your disposal. A thing like Facebook is a perfect example. You’re the one who really enlightened me on this and I’ve just been diving in more and more but you can get so granular on who’s actually seeing what it is that you’re offering so marketing has become much more personal I think and will only continue moving in that direction especially as artificial intelligence and big data become much more in sync, utilize together being able to really understand things about your target audience group. I mean the reality is that Facebook knows more about us than we know ourselves because of our habits. They know exactly when we’re on, what we’re checking and what we’re looking at and what we’re watching, who we’re connecting with. They have so much information and if they make that information available in one form or fashion to marketers, that completely changes the game.

Eric: Yeah, and it’s a hard shift for a lot of people to make. Do you think business owners in say their fifties and sixties, do you think they’ve adapted?

Jared: No. I mean well and again I don’t want to be the guy that–

Eric: Generalize it.

Jared: Yeah, generalize because I know some people that are in their seventies and eighties that are some of those forward thinking people that are constantly pushing the boundaries but yeah generally, no I don’t and I think this is where you and I can also speak to the fact that we’re Gen-Xers on the bottom end of it where we were raised in the baby boomer mentality–

Eric: The hip-hop generation they like to call it nowadays.

Jared: Now we’re talking. Yeah man, we’ve got to save that for a whole other segment. So yes we were raised in this, this is how the world works, these are the hierarchical structures, this is how business works, this is how marketing works but then everything changed as we were just getting off the ground in our careers and starting to build and so we’ve had to really relearn things so I can look at the mentality of the older generation and things like Facebook, Twitter, this is an issue that I struggled with as well is that we were starting to utilize these things the same way that we used traditional marketing so when you have an opportunity to get very personal with somebody and target an individual as opposed to a collective group of people, then you have to speak to them in a completely different language. You’ve been really good at this. I won’t even go on unless it comes up but you’ve killed it with my Instagram account. That’s a platform I don’t understand but you certainly do and so you know how to connect with people there because you speak that language and that’s how I told folks about what you do. Yeah, that’s the big difference is that it’s another language that we don’t really understand because we’re very face to face personal. If I can reach out and touch you and talk to you and have a conversation with you, that’s how we build our networks and market whereas this new type of marketing is very non-personal and this is the duality, right? Or this is the– what’s that clever word where it just seems like it shouldn’t be this way but it allows us to get much more personal and granular at the same time from person to person, it feels like we’re more disconnected than that.

Eric: Yeah, but you can use it as an opportunity to engage with people you never otherwise would have been able to engage with and then take it to that personal level so you combine the social media world that we live in today and take it back to the roots of business in the 60’s and 70’s for example when it was all face to face.

Jared: Well yeah you’re right and that’s the thing that I think makes it difficult for a lot of folks that are older and even other Gen Xers is that we’re able to connect with people that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to connect with and therefore I think in our own experience what we’ve believed about the world is that we shouldn’t be able to connect to them. So we have to get over that hill of recognizing that I can connect with somebody I’ve never actually face to face and that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing. I think you could sum it up like this: the difference between the generations is that the first point of contact is typically face to face for us, for the older generation, for Gen Xers. The first point of contact for the younger generation is through technology, through social media. I just now thought of that, I’ve got to write all of that down. First point of contact, that’s the new book.

Eric: This show is over, you’ve got to go and start writing.

Jared: There it is. Yeah, we’re done here. But you’re still my friend, right?

Eric: Yeah. Well, I mean it’s a culture shift in many different ways and it is also we talk a lot about culture and business and you come into our office quite a bit and you’re on the road, as we talked about, you’re a faculty member at the University of Tennessee, but you come into our office and you have a way of lighting the mood in the office. Now of course that doesn’t work for every business. You go to a corporate facility and they might have a different way about it but speak about a little bit on culture in the workplace.

Jared: Well yeah, so I’ve worked around in a number of organizations both in the career that I’m in now and my previously line of work in the insurance industry and of course spent a lot of time on site meeting with employees, employers and you kind of get the feel and the energy of an organization. Culture, you know that’s changing so much and that’s a conversation we probably can’t fit into this entire podcast but overall, one thing that I’ve recognized where you see a greater degree performance or of output productivity from organizations is when there’s a good balance between serious and also having a good sense of humor. If everything is so structured in a way where people aren’t able to connect and relate which is the best way to do that is typically through humor, through light heartedness, being able to connect and find certain things that you have a common. If that type of environment isn’t present then what you end up having is a lack of productivity because there’s a great deal of energy spent on trying to avoid rather trying to engage and engagement really is about finding that common ground not just similar interests but what makes us laugh? I mean the reality is the endorphins that are released when we’re laughing or having a good time are far more beneficial to us for overall health, for our mental health, for our productivity than following a rigid structure 24/7. So when it comes to company culture, I think as it relates to you talked about me coming here to the office, you guys are really just my entertainment. I come in here to get my own endorphins released is what it is. I think that’s the most important thing is to have an environment that encourages engagement.

Eric: At the right time, there’s a place for it.

Jared: At the right time of course.

Eric: It’s amazing with laughter does. It’s funny this year, my son started middle school and some nights are harder than others. There’s a couple hours of homework and one of things that we started to do at night is we turn on Netflix and we’d find standup comedy and if you find a good standup comedian, you can’t help but laugh and you can’t help but go into bed with a smile on your face and there’s nothing wrong with that and maybe we didn’t read a book that one evening but we laughed and there’s a lot to gain from that so it’s a good way to keep it going and keep a smile on your face, right? And it’s funny to talk about that and talk about school and the two hours of work and I know we like to talk again about this a lot. Obviously we do talk a lot since we’re friends but we’re going to talk about education. How it is or perhaps isn’t working and you have two kids like you discussed and you are always on the look for the right schools. How do you think education’s going to impact business leaders in the next five to twenty years?

Jared: Five to twenty years?

Eric: Or pick your own range if you’d like.

Jared: Yeah, so you’re talking about education in general or higher Ed or?

Eric: Any education, education at all levels. However you want to address it. Let’s say kids today, they’re growing up and they’re so fixated on it’s still the regurgitating what the teacher said. There’s a lot of lecture series and then kids are coming out to the workforce and there’s not the same jobs. We have an intern in our office right now and he’s in here for one week and says I’ve learnt more working with you guys than I have in three years in college. I said, “Well, you still got to do your school work, you’re almost there so finish it off,” but how do you apply what you’re learning in school to the business world when a lot of the stuff might not even be applicable?

Jared: Well, a lot of it is not applicable anymore. And of course being on faculty with the University of Tennessee, the department I’m in at the helm college of business is the Graduate Executive Education Department and these are just wonderful folks and we’re actually tackling this issue ourselves. We’re having this conversation which seems ironic, right? Institute of higher education looking and recognizing our relevance–

Eric: But that’s what they need to do and that’s where you come in.

Jared: Absolutely. That’s why I love working with them. They’re great at this and so when it comes to education, again this is a change that we’ve seen from the 20th century to the 21st century and I think will continue is it’s all about our access to information. The way that civilizations have been built has really been in the dissemination of information: Who has access to what? I mean you look at the implications that the printing press had on progress in the modern world, I mean it just blew things wide open. The fact that more people could now read or had the ability to read one or the more books were being printed. More access to information launched so many different revolutions and ways of thinking that again we’re not going to get into all that but that was a major tipping point in human history. The internet’s very much the same way, the way that we have access to information. Now, all information isn’t created equal, you can get much more granular about these types of things but the perception of value is what has changed. When we were growing up, the idea was that you had to have a college degree and I’m sure you were told this many times before, I was as well. Doesn’t matter what you major in as long as you finish a four-year degree and the reason why is because our entire workforce was structured around the idea of compliance. If you can complete something then that shows that you can take orders and you’re a good worker and you’re somebody worth having. It wasn’t that you had a degree in history. I’ve got a degree in history and English creative writing. It wasn’t well he’s got a history degree, we should bring him into our business, and it was about the fact that you could complete something. Now what we’re realizing is that education hasn’t evolved. The reality of this is that institutions no matter what they are, institutions are always going to be bent toward self-preservation and so this is the difficulty we’re seeing in our education system right now. How do we prepare for jobs that don’t exist? Well, first we have to have the right imagination about what kind of jobs may exist and again this goes back to a lot of work that I do and envisioning alternative future possibilities and education needs to grab a hold of this right now more than anybody else because their relevance is geared towards the types of people that they’re able to put out into the workforce that meet a demand that employers have to fill jobs to continue being successful but the problem is that everybody’s kind of shaking their heads saying well, we don’t know exactly what type of workforce we’re going to need and so we’re seeing a shift in the sense of value from completing a four-year degree to being competent in an actual skill or expertise. You need to be able to apply your skillet, you need to be able to bring something of value rather than just being able to take orders and this is a huge and wonderful things. Employers just need to understand that your life can be a whole lot easier, especially millennial, if you just let them participate in creating what it is that you’re trying to– don’t try to micromanage them.

Eric: I remember having an internship when I was in college and I worked for me a pretty well-known bank that’s prominent here in Charlotte, North Carolina and I was doing data entry. They didn’t want to, and I get it you know I probably walked in there like we don’t want this guy doing anything great but we bring an intern in here and we definitely gave time to helping him understand what it is we’re doing but we’re putting him on the front line. We’re allowing him to create and come up with ideas because we realize we don’t have all those answers. I believe you can learn from many different situations which are a big reason as you know that our blog exists is we can create analogies from sports. I can watch a football game and turn that into a business lesson somehow and you with your avid cycling that you have, when you were doing your competitions, did you learn a lot from that and did it apply to your business? I’m sure did but can you just give an example?

Jared: Yeah, you know competitive cycling, again I was an amateur, I wasn’t professional and I’m the amateur and nuts. Here we are a bunch of grown men owning our businesses or we work at least in a position that we have a lot of free time because training to be competitive required a lot of free time so that you could get out on the road and train any type of endurance where you’re pushing yourself, that’s one of the biggest things that you learn is that you have to continue to push and go and go but at the same time get really good at conserving energy. In road cycling, you’re spending a lot of time in a group unless you’re one of these guys that’s always breaking up front but in general, you’re riding a peloton so very much like in our backyard here at NASCAR. The same concept apply; bikes can get into the draft of another group and you can sit in and you’re doing less work and you’re conserving energy. The ideas of momentum for example as I look back in retrospect, I’m a bigger guy so -at least for cycling.

Eric: I was going to say.

Jared: Exactly, I’m not that big. You put me on a football field, I’m twerp but for cycling I’m a bigger guy and so when you’re climbing, your power to weight ratio is really important. I’m heavier so it means I have to put out more power in order to keep up with these skinny little guys, they’re 115/120 pounds who can go flying up a hill and what I started to learn in competition was that rather than trying to push harder, work harder to stay up with them, I realized that if I use my momentum because I’m heavier going down, pedaling down getting much more of a faster start to the bottom of that hill, that I would get up ahead of these guys and by the time they’re catching me I’m rolling back I fall right back in line of the peloton not getting dumped on the hill. So you have to be smart, you have to be creative and you have to look for ways to utilize what you have, where your strengths are; these things that can be seen like weakness in certain terrain. Find out ways to anticipate that terrain or that change and learn to take that weakness and make it a strength and that’s how I do it in cycling.

Eric: Yeah, that’s it. The way you’re trying to cut through it. I mean not cut through the noise in cycling, you’re trying to cut through the wind or get around your competition.

Jared: I’m trying to reduce my pain. I’m trying to reduce having to suffer to keep up with guys that are faster when we’re going up a hill.

Eric: yes, I can’t imagine. It’s not easy. You would not find me out there. It’s very different but it is similar in a way to marketing that we’ve talked about already but a specific tactic in marketing is email marketing which I think there’s a lot of people out there that say they are providing value with their email marketing but are they? I know you’re one that’s in email marketing and you’re giving it away. You’re giving insight and ideas away that someone can take and they can apply to their business right away without having to pay you any money. That to me is valuable. What do you think of email marketing as it is today? I know you want people to opt into your newsletters that you have but do you opt in, do you sign up, when you do sign up if they’re not providing any value do you unsubscribe because obviously you’ve seen the ratios of the amount of people reading it is going way down. Probably that trend will continue, what’s your perspective on that?

Jared: Yeah, so this is a conversation you and I have had a lot off the recording here. I’m kind of stuck between these two worlds. When I think about email marketing, what I think about is the end user, the recipient of those emails; and my goal is to provide them value and be able to stay in touch with them regardless of whether they purchase anything from me or not. I want to be able to have a way to a continuously get to those individual people even if it’s been a year or two since the first time that we made contact. Social media in a number of ways you still have people that are out there seeing your stuff but then again even if it’s a mass email but it speaks to you directly and you reply back to me and say, “I really appreciate this, this is nice,” now that gives me an indicator that you and I have a direct line of contact and for email marketers what it really is about being able to stay in touch with people that have either purchased your product or downloaded your stuff. Now, the difficulty of this idea, I think what it really comes down to in email marketing is moving more towards a preference model and I may be calling it the wrong thing. There’s a buddy of mine that runs an organization and in that other organization, they’re working on something like this. And it’s where you can– when you opt into something, you have a preference page. They ask you how you want to be communicated with. To me I think this is brilliant because I could have a million people on a list but if only a hundred of them are actually engaged, well that’s just a wasted list and I’m spending money to maintain that, that’s not necessary. But if I can have people that actually select how they like to be communicated with, two things end up happening: One, I have a better understanding of how I can provide them value at the right time and what it is they’re looking for. Two, it’s an immediate sign of interest in what it is that I’m providing because they’re taking the time to actually answer that question and like many people on the same way, I get so many bulk emails all the time, a great number that I don’t read but there’s maybe two or three where if I get them, I’m going to open them up and even if I don’t have a chance to open them, they’re always top of the line. So you’ve got to find that balance between overdoing it but at the same time keeping enough frequent where you’re still top of mind and you’re providing yourself an opportunity to engage with them.

Eric: Yeah, you’re getting your story out there in front of these people and if you do it in the genuine way and they are listening to you or at least once in a while checking your stuff out and you come up with a new idea or a new product, they might be there on the other end but you have to have that unique story that we’ve talked about quite a bit. You actually did a podcast, The Road Ahead podcast I believe with a friend and associate of yours, Cynthia K, and it was an article actually we wrote on the [00:25:08] on a content marketing site and you guys talked about why you need to tell a story in business and obviously as the title suggests, we discussed the importance of telling that story. Why is telling the story in business today so important?

Jared: Because that’s what has been important throughout human history. That’s what makes us really unique is that we tell stories. Oral tradition history, passing down information, this is how we connect and communicate. We’re vicarious creatures. This is why Facebook is so popular is that when people are going to look at other people’s pictures or photos, we’re looking into other people’s lives or we’re looking to connect the same with movies or anything. This is the way that we are geared so if you’re going to tell a story in business, business is all about people. It’s not just the transaction, that’s the bottom line. So if you’re really connect people, you have to be able to tell a compelling story that they can relate with that they can say, “Oh yeah, me too,” or “That’s interesting. That’s something I want to learn more about.” If it’s just transactional, buy this, don’t buy that, I’ll give you 20% off blah blah blah then you’re not really telling a story, you’re just throwing out information.

Eric: Well if you’re taking the B-B thought mentality in many ways and turning it into more of a B-C approach but you’re just telling stories and your statement’s so great because it’s always been the way. You know take back to caveman they were drawing on walls and we used to be read stories to and we read stories to our kids and we tell stories and that’s what it’s all about and so the only thing that’s changed is the mediums in which they’re delivered be it Facebook, Instagram, listening to a book, reading a book on your iPhone, whatever that might be, that’s the only thing that’s changed.

Jared: You’re right and to add to that, storytelling is really important. The problem I think for a lot of organizations is their primary mode of storytelling is talking about their past and what got them here. Now, that’s important but if you really want to reach out and connect people, you need to talk about the future. What I mean by that is that you have to be able to create a compelling vision of what the future might be and how you see the folks that you serve, the people that you serve with your products or services a better understanding of what the future might look like for them and it gives a huge advantage over other companies, other organizations to be able to talk about a world that may be unfolding in a positive light and how you’re already thinking about these needs that may arise. I mean, look General Electrics are great at doing this. IBM is great at doing this. You look at the best most compelling marketing when it comes to long term customer retention. It’s those organizations that can create compelling vision about the future, those that can tell a story about the future, something that hasn’t happened.

Eric: And they’re setting themselves. Those companies you mentioned all set themselves up to deliver in other areas that they weren’t originally built to do in many ways and you’re talking about disruption. I mean we mentioned this before but there’s so many different industries that they just went out of business because of government regulations, a competitor came in there, a natural disaster, you name it and had had they told the unique story beforehand, they would have had eyeballs on what they were talking about and they could’ve pivoted much easier and look at health insurance agents who aren’t able to sell health insurance anymore because they can’t get paid for it so what are they going to do? What if they had created a unique audience around their thoughts- who knows what could have happened?

Jared: Yeah, insurance is a great point, right? It’s either transactional or relational. So if your whole value of your business is that you get somebody a better price on an insurance policy, well you don’t have any staying put power in that client’s mind. But if your value extends beyond that because of your ability to solve problems, think differently, advise them, in other ways now you’ve created the ability to generate revenue in other ways outside of commission-based products.

Eric: Well, that’s a big concern for businesses right now, the big fear so let’s tap into your fear of what is the biggest fear that you have in your business life?

Jared: In my business life, I would say that something that I always keep in the front of my mind is getting off track and what I mean by that is like most entrepreneurs- I’ve told somebody this before- I’ve never collected a salary in benefits ever. When I got out of college, I started working for myself, went into the insurance industry and so that’s all I’ve ever actually known and so the fear or the concern that I keep in front of me is making sure that the end goal, what it is that I’m trying to accomplish, what my purpose actually is and not to sound cheesy but that everything that I’m doing is leading towards that angle. I don’t always have to know exactly what it looks like but it’s very easy to get off track especially as new opportunities start to arise and in the irony of course is the more on-purpose or on-point you are knowing very clearly what it is you’re trying to accomplish, the more that that starts to take shape; the more these newer opportunities start to show up both that are in line with that but also a ton that are outside of that because you’re generating excitement. You’re getting people excited about what it is that you’re doing and other folks are looking for that, they’re looking for inspiration so to be very just vigilant if you will but making sure that I’m not putting time and energy into things that are not working towards the ultimate goal.

Eric: Yeah I know. It makes a lot of sense because there’s so many distractions. More so than ever. You know, you could be just looking on Facebook as an example and you could get sidetracked very easily with something that’s going on or a new idea but it’s also on the flipside, it could be a concern because what if you walk past the greatest thing that could have happened to you because you were too fearful of that side thing that was going on. It’s a balance.

Jared: Yeah, it really is. I’m not really afraid and I guess fear’s one of those words that different people have different definitions for. I think the main thing is just always saying okay, what is it you need to watch out for that could trip you up? Fear can be debilitating but being vigilant is empowering.

Don’t go anywhere because we are going into some rapid fire questions right after we thank our sponsor. Wes Connor insurance is a leading property and casualty agency in Charlotte, North Carolina. Thanks to their love of entrepreneurialism and insurance, they have sponsored this podcast. You could find the office of Wes Connor insurance on Providence Road in South Charlotte, North Carolina near the new developments of Waverly place and Ray farms. If you’re looking to get a quote on your auto or home insurance policy, give Wes and his staff a call at 704-665-5340 or you can find them online at

Eric: Those are the thoughtful questions, I think you did a great job so now we’re going to the rapid fire around and this is going to go quick. You’re the goalie, I’m going to fire some pucks at you. And a few may be a little bit more difficult so if you have to take your time, we’ll give you a pass on that. What book are you reading right now?

Jared: Right now, so I’m reading a few different books but the one that I’m reading right now and really enjoying is a book called ‘Give’ by Nicholas Kusmich. I think I’m saying his name right. Nicholas, I apologize if I’m getting that wrong. He is recognized as the number one Facebook ad strategist I think right now the world and just reading his book is incredible. So that’s what I’m reading.

Eric: Excellent, how are you reading that?

Jared: How am I reading? I’m reading that on Kindle.

Eric: One Kindle on app or the actual Kindle device?

Jared: No, on my phone.

Eric: Okay, very cool, I do the same thing. What is your favorite social media network and why?

Jared: My favorite, that’s a tough question. I don’t know that I have a favorite. I probably have to go with Facebook right now. At least I’d say that’s where most my time is invested just because you can get so granular with it. Obviously in liking Nicholas’ book, Give, is an indicator that I think that’s what a greatest opportunities are. LinkedIn and has a long way to go but Facebook seems to really hold the market.

Eric: Yeah. What social media app do you just not get?

Jared: Snapchat, don’t get it. But that’s just me.

Eric: What phone app do you have on your phone that’s most important to you?

Jared: Cloze. It’s a CRM system I use called C-L-O-Z-E. I think it’s part of the most close to the way that I look at managing relationships. It focuses tasks, projects and everything else around people rather than around all these other arbitrary factors that so many CRM’s have. On top of that it utilizes artificial intelligence to scan all of your documents, photos. It’s a little big brotherish but it’s pretty incredible.

Eric: That’s amazing, that’s good. We’re going to put those and some of the other things in the description here. So, what is one thing you would tell an up and coming entrepreneur to focus on if they’re getting started?

Jared: Do not focus on immediate market need, that’s a late entry game. What I would say is if somebody is really looking to getting started, start to identify where needs may begin to arise. Give really good envisioning how the implications of trends and issues that we see today could start to create different types of future outcomes for the type of people that you’re willing to work with, the type of people you’re trying to serve. That’s really the key. If you can start to talk about or focus your time and energy on a market that may or may not exist yet then you’re going to have a huge advantage over others otherwise you’re going to be chasing the big companies and the well-established organizations.

Eric: What’s a personal story that got you where you are today?

Jared: Personal story that got me where I am today?

Jared: It could be something your kid told you this morning even.

Jared: I would say that for me where I am today, a personal story is I’ve had some really amazing people in my life personally, professionally that have encouraged me, have assisted me to help me get where I am today. I think that all too often we buy into this myth that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and be ‘do it on your own’. That’s just not true. It still requires hard work, I’m not talking a free ride but I’ve had people that have invested time and energy into me and they continue to do so. That’s been the most important thing to me is that the value of relationships and people are huge and never ever forget who helped you get to where you are. I think too often people do that and think that they just got there on their own. That’s the quickest way to fall off a cliff so on a personal side, yeah it’s that I have wonderful people that have helped me get to where I am and I’m eternally grateful for that.

Eric: Yeah, it’s important. In twenty seconds or less, do you think business owners are properly planning the future of their business be it their legacy or the future growth of their business generally speaking?

Jared: Generally speaking, no. There’s too much fear and uncertainty and they’re allowing that to be an excuse to not push themselves beyond what they think is possible. I don’t lay the blame there, I mean that’s why I created the Executive Foresight Program- The Foresight Academy will be coming out in the fall- is to empower leaders in organizations to be able to envision what these futures may look like so they can make better decisions about their business, their products and where they’re going. So I would say that they’re not, and a lot that’s just due to the fact that uncertainty is so high and there’s a high degree of disruption so no.

Eric: Was that 20 seconds, I don’t know. It was a good answer regardless. Alright so knowing you’re not a huge sports fan although you are a cyclists but you do have great thoughts around the future of all sports and we talk about this a lot. I remember you and I playing golf one time and you were saying how ridiculous it is how long the game of golf takes. If you could, doesn’t have to be anything exotic, what’s one thing you would change in the game of golf to make it more 2017+.

Jared: I would put technology in the balls and then introduce augmented reality into this so that when the ball is hit, you can actually track it on your phone or some other type of device with that effect. It helps to increase engagement but it also creates a great amount of data about your swing, your hit, anything and everything, the trajectory of the all, the wind; all of that that can dramatically improve somebody’s golf game.

Eric: I’m in, let’s do it. Alright, who’s going to win the Super bowl this year?

Jared: What’s the Super bowl? Gotcha. I have no idea.

Eric: Who would you root for? Local team?

Jared: Of course I’d root for the local team if they got there but unless of course they were going up against Cleveland Browns. Completely unrealistic possibility but that’s how I was raised, I was raised in the Browns.

Eric: I love it. So how could we connect with you on whether it’d be social, email, phone, what’s the best way people can get in touch with you?

Jared: The best way for people to get in touch with me I said is email. Email me, [email protected]. Of course I’m on social media, LinkedIn is another way to connect but I always enjoy hearing directly from folks so that’s usually the best way.

Eric: Well, Jared, it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you, talking to you.

Jared: Thanks man, likewise. This has been fun.

Eric: It was absolutely awesome having you on this podcast. For those that don’t know, Jared is a direct reason why this podcast is happening right now from the encouragement of creative ideas and putting yourself out there to his excitement about the work we’re doing at KazSource. The idea he comes up with and the work he does matters and it motivates KazSource and myself specifically to create new ideas which in turn leads to content like this podcast. The perspectives he brings to our business all the time and on this podcast specifically are now perspectives you as the business owner and entrepreneur can use for yourself and for that, Jared, thank you.

Jared: Thank you Eric.

Eric: And for any business owner or entrepreneur that is looking ahead to the future of their business be it concerns around disruption or creating a better future for you, your employees or your business, I would encourage you to watch a person like Jared Nichols. He is someone that has impacted many businesses with his direct one on one consulting to his classroom work at the University of Tennessee to his weekly videos and his podcast. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to Jared as we discussed or you can contact me directly. You can contact me on Twitter at Eric_kaz or at the same name on Instagram or you can find us at With links to us on the different social networks. Thank you for listening to our KazSource podcasts, Entrepreneur Perspectives, building and protecting your business one podcast at a time. Until next time, we’re out of here.

A big thanks to Wes Connor Insurance for their support to the insurance community and for sponsoring this podcast. Thank you so much for listening to this podcast, it’s a big deal to us. We hope you found value in it and if you did, we would be incredibly grateful if you gave us a review on iTunes. Remember to subscribe to this podcast and feel free to share it with anyone you know. More than anything, thank you again for listening, we appreciate it.