North Fulton Business Radio, Episode 500)
Business RadioX® North Fulton Studio Partner John Ray, Stone Payton of Business RadioX, Bill McDermott, host of ProfitSense, and Anthony Chen, host of Family Business Radio, were in studio to celebrate 500 episodes of North Fulton Business Radio. Stone and John talked about the Business RadioX philosophy of serving first and the rewards which come from being a Studio Partner with the network. Anthony and Bill talked about their own shows, why they started a show with Business RadioX, and how their shows have moved the needle in their respective businesses. John offered thanks to his team, his Business RadioX colleagues, the show hosts he’s privileged to work with, and the North Fulton business community.
North Fulton Business Radio is broadcast from the North Fulton studio of Business RadioX® inside Renasant Bank in Alpharetta.
John Ray, Business RadioX® North Fulton Studio Partner and Ray Business Advisors
John is a Studio Owner, Producer, and Show Host with Business RadioX®, and works with business owners who want to do their own podcast. As a veteran B2B services provider, John enjoys coaching B2B professionals to use a podcast to build relationships in a non-salesy way which translates into revenue.
John is the host of North Fulton Business Radio, Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Radio, Alpharetta Tech Talk, and Business Leaders Radio. house shows which feature a wide range of business leaders and companies. John has hosted and/or produced over 1,500 podcast episodes.
John also owns Ray Business Advisors, a business advisory practice. John’s services include advising solopreneur and small professional services firms on their pricing. John is passionate about the power of pricing for business owners, as changing pricing is the fastest way to change the profitability of a business. His clients are professionals who are selling their “grey matter,” such as attorneys, CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers, consultants, marketing professionals, and other professional services practitioners.
John Ray is the host of The Price and Value Journey, a podcast aimed at solo and small firm professional services providers. The show covers pricing, business development, and other key aspects of building a professional services practice, as well as interviews with industry leaders.
For over 30 years, Stone Payton has been helping organizations and the people who lead them drive their business strategies more effectively.
Mr. Payton literally wrote the book on SPEED®: Never Fry Bacon in the Nude: And Other Lessons from the Quick & The Dead, and has dedicated his entire career to helping others produce better results in less time.
Bill McDermott, Host of ProfitSense
Bill McDermott is The Profitability Coach and Founder and CEO of McDermott Financial Solutions. McDermott Financial helps business owners improve cash flow and profitability, find financing, break through barriers to expansion and financially prepare to exit their business. When business owners want to increase their profitability, they don’t have the expertise to know where to start or what to do. Bill leverages his knowledge and relationships from 32 years as a banker to identify the hurdles getting in the way and create a plan to deliver profitability they never thought possible.
Bill currently serves as Treasurer for the Atlanta Executive Forum and has held previous positions as a board member for the Kennesaw State University Entrepreneurship Center and Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity and Treasurer for CEO NetWeavers. Bill is a graduate of Wake Forest University and he and his wife Martha have called Atlanta home for over 40 years. Outside of work, Bill enjoys golf, traveling, and gardening.
The ProfitSense show archive can be found at profitsenseradio.com.
Anthony Chen, Host of Family Business Radio
Anthony Chen is Investment Advisor Representative at Lighthouse Financial Network. Securities and advisory services are offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. (RAA), member FINRA/SIPC. RAA is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products, or services referenced here are independent of RAA.
Anthony Chen started his career in financial services with MetLife in Buffalo, NY in 2008. Born and raised in Elmhurst, Queens, he considers himself a full-blooded New Yorker while now enjoying his Atlanta, GA home. Specializing in family businesses and their owners, Anthony works to protect what is most important to them. From preserving to creating wealth, Anthony partners with CPAs and attorneys to help address all of the concerns and help clients achieve their goals. By using a combination of financial products ranging from life, disability, and long-term care insurance to many investment options through Royal Alliance. Anthony looks to be the eyes and ears for his client’s financial foundation. In his spare time, Anthony is an avid long-distance runner.
The complete show archive of Family Business Radio can be found at familybusinessradioshow.com.
North Fulton Business Radio is hosted by John Ray and broadcast and produced from the North Fulton studio of Business RadioX® inside Renasant Bank in Alpharetta. You can find the full archive of shows by following this link. The show is available on all the major podcast apps, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, TuneIn, and others.
Renasant Bank has humble roots, starting in 1904 as a $100,000 bank in a Lee County, Mississippi, bakery. Since then, Renasant has grown to become one of the Southeast’s strongest financial institutions with over $13 billion in assets and more than 190 banking, lending, wealth management and financial services offices in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. All of Renasant’s success stems from each of their banker’s commitment to investing in their communities as a way of better understanding the people they serve. At Renasant Bank, they understand you because they work and live alongside you every day.
Special thanks to A&S Culinary Concepts for their support of this edition of North Fulton Business Radio. A&S Culinary Concepts, based in Johns Creek, is an award-winning culinary studio, celebrated for corporate catering, corporate team building, Big Green Egg Boot Camps, and private group events. They also provide oven-ready, cooked-from-scratch meals to go they call “Let Us Cook for You.” To see their menus and events, go to their website or call 678-336-9196.
Intro: Live from the Business RadioX Studio inside Renasant Bank, the bank that specializes in understanding you, it’s time for North Fulton Business Radio.
John Ray: And hello again, everyone. Welcome to another edition of North Fulton Business Radio. I’m John Ray. And, folks, we are broadcasting from inside Renasant Bank in beautiful Alpharetta. And if you’re looking for a bank that’s big enough to handle pretty much any need you can throw at them as a business, but small enough to deliver their service in a personal way, I recommend Renasant Bank. And I know of what I speak because I’ve used their services before and they do great work. So, go to renasantbank.com, and find their local office and give them a call. I think you’ll be glad you did. Renasant Bank. Understanding you. Member FDIC.
John Ray: And, folks, if you hear fireworks in the background, we’re celebrating a special episode today. This is episode number 500 of North Fulton Business Radio and we’re excited about that. And I’ve got three fantastic guests, I would say guests but they’re actually great colleagues of mine and associates of mine who I value their relationship immensely. And the first guy I want to introduce is Stone Payton, and Stone is with the Business RadioX Network and also Cherokee Business Radio. Stone.
Stone Payton: Well, good afternoon, sir. Thanks for having me. What a fantastic way to celebrate your – am I allowed to say? – 500th episode of North Fulton Business Radio. Fantastic.
John Ray: I know it. You knew I was old, but you didn’t know I was that old, right? So, yeah, this is pretty exciting. I was telling somebody this morning that if I hadn’t counted them, I wouldn’t think myself I had gotten to 500. But I surprised myself here on this one. So, it’s pretty cool. Pretty cool.
Stone Payton: So, what kind of folks have you interviewed? What kind of businesses have you had come through here over those 500 episodes? A little bit of everything I suspect.
John Ray: A little bit of everything. So, I’ve had a whole lot of attorneys, a whole lot of CPAs, a whole lot of the usual suspects, but I’ve had some unusual guest over time. I think the most interesting guest I had was a professional mermaid.
Stone Payton: Oh, my.
John Ray: Yeah. She didn’t come all mermaid it out, though. But a great business and she apparently does events and her thing is water safety. So, she uses her skills to holding her breath underwater to demonstrate water safety, and she does that as a mermaid. So, it was pretty – yeah. So, as you know because you have been involved in Business RadioX much longer than I have, we celebrate everybody. And it doesn’t matter how big they are or small they are, we celebrate them.
Stone Payton: And so many such interesting stories. And what I love about our format and the way you’ve chosen to conduct the shows that you do here, you really get to know the person behind the business, the why behind the business, where they’re trying to take it, what they feel like they’ve learned, and you get to know the person. That’s part of what makes it so special, I think.
John Ray: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, people love the opportunity to talk about their own business because they don’t get that opportunity, and that’s what we provide. So, I mean, it’s pretty gratifying, but you know that better than I do, right?
Stone Payton: Well, I’ve been doing it. I was speaking with one of our guests earlier, Bill McDermott, who we’ll get a chance to visit with some more here in a few moments, when I started this, when I met Lee Kantor, I had black hair. So, I mean, this has been some minutes.
John Ray: It’s been a minute, yeah.
Stone Payton: It has. But Lee advised me early on, he said, “Cast a wide net.” We want to live into that mission of supporting and celebrating local business and community leaders. There will be people who come through the studio that do fit the profile or at least qualified to be potential clients for the Business RadioX system. And for those folks, we will be able to help them help others and grow their business and give them a very substantial return on their investment, whatever that might look like for them.
Stone Payton: So, I don’t know that I necessarily immediately believed that. Because I came from the world of sales and marketing, I was all about targeting your ideal profile client. It turns out, like on so many things, Lee was right. And doing that, I think, has given us what I feel like – I know I’m a little biased – a pretty well deserved reputation in all of the communities that we serve that we’re the real deal. We’re serious about living into that mission. And, oh, by the way, if you want to grow your business, particularly if you’re in the professional services B2B space and you want to own your backyard, you ought to at least sit down and talk to us.
John Ray: Yeah. Well, that’s the thing, we tell our show hosts that if you make it about others and you make it about the tribe you want to serve, the tribe will serve you back, right? Well, what you’re describing is we really do the same thing, but we eat our own cooking. And that’s how we build studios at the local level is we start by serving first and we just serve the market. And guess what? The market serves us back.
Stone Payton: I am so excited about and challenged by that part of our mission, because we’re in 37 markets now, we continue to grow. I feel great about that. I feel great about the work that we’re doing in all of those communities. And, boy, is it moving to slow for me. We can’t get to all the people we should be getting to. We can’t get to all the stories we should be sharing. There are so many communities. I mean, they’re not all going to have a John Ray, okay?
Stone Payton: But there’s going to be somebody there that can do a really good job with the benefit of these tools, these resources, the magic of this platform with that heart of service, that mindset, genuinely wanting to invest in their local community. There are so many other communities that we can and should be serving.
Stone Payton: So, that’s what gets me up every morning, is trying to figure out, you know, where can we place the next one? How can we help them get up and running? So, yeah, anybody out there that has a cousin in Dallas or Houston or San Diego or Pittsburgh, or some of these markets where we’re not, how about reaching out? We’d love to talk to them.
John Ray: Absolutely. Absolutely. And you’ve got a great support system with you, and Lee, and Abbe, and the other great folks that are in our network.
Stone Payton: Well, you had a good support system until about a-year-and-a-half, two years ago. Then, Lee’s wife, Abbe Kantor, retired from Coca-Cola – a little company some of you may have heard of.
John Ray: A small little out of the way beverage company. Yeah.
Stone Payton: Now, we’ve got some brains over there at HQ. So, we are really well-equipped to help you run your own studio and, certainly, to help you execute on your own show if you’re that kind of client. But, yeah, I think we get better and better. But, yes, you know what I think the secret sauce is? I think it is John Ray, Karen Nowitcki, Mike Sammond, Beau Henderson. We got Roger Manis up in Rome. We’ve got all these folks around the country that there’s a great deal of overlap in the value system, or they wouldn’t be part of the team anyway.
Stone Payton: And so, you have that consistent mindset value system approach, but then, also, we’ve given them the latitude – thank goodness – to sort of do things their own way and then they return the learning to the organization. And we all benefit when Karen discovers something or when you find something that’s really serving a client. So, yeah, I feel so blessed to be a part of it.
John Ray: Yeah. And that’s the pretty cool part of what we do because we’re not a franchise organization where, you know, there’s some wisdom from on high that comes down, right? I mean, everybody’s pretty collaborative on sharing what they know.
Stone Payton: Oh, very much so. We’ve gone to great lengths to date to avoid the F word, franchising. And there’s some reasons for that. Some of it’s just, you know, there’s expense and regulation and discipline and rigor that just doesn’t suit me and Lee.
Stone Payton: But, also, we wanted people to have that latitude, but we get a lot of the same benefits because there are so many repeatable processes, transferable tools, best practices. And our crowd, by definition, the folks that are attracted to us, are the kind of folks who, they’re not just willing, they’re compelled to share what we’re learning. So, I love this about our crowd.
Stone Payton: And I’ll tell you where else we learn so much, is from our clients. I mean, anything that you’ve seen at HQ share with the rest of the group, we learned it from either someone else in the group and/or a client. It wasn’t me or Lee, I’ll tell you that.
John Ray: Well, speaking of clients, we’ve got a couple in the studio.
Stone Payton: Well, let’s tee them up. We’ve got Anthony Chen here with us. Good afternoon, sir. How are you?
Anthony Chen: Hi. Good afternoon. I’m doing well. Thank you for having me. It’s an honor and privilege to be part of the 500th episode.
Stone Payton: Yeah. We’re delighted to have you. And we have Bill McDermott, who I mentioned a moment ago. Good to see you again, man.
Bill McDermott: Well, it’s great to see you as well. And excited about 500th episode of North Fulton Business RadioX.
Stone Payton: So, I’ll ask you first, Bill, and I’ll come back to you, Anthony, because I’d love to hear from you both on this. What was the genesis, the catalyst, how did you kind of come into our circle here at Business RadioX?
Bill McDermott: Well, there’s a saying that goes, “Luck is where opportunity and preparation intersect.” And so, my grandfather was an editor for The Chicago Daily News. He was a great storyteller, and I think I inherited that storyteller gene. At the same time, I had the opportunity to be a guest on John’s show and we talked, and I think he even invited me back after the first time, so that was encouraging.
Stone Payton: There’s a win.
Bill McDermott: Yeah, there you go. And so, he said, “You know, Bill, you really ought to consider your own show.” And I thought about it and I said, “Well, let’s talk more.” And so, three years ago, ProfitSense, profitsenseradio.com, was born out of the opportunity that John Ray presented me in my preparation and inheriting that storyteller gene from my grandfather.
Stone Payton: So, what kind of folks are you interviewing? Is there a guest profile, a certain kind of story that you try to share?
Bill McDermott: Yeah. So, ProfitSense is born out of I believe every business owner is a hero. And that hero has a story. And along the way, that hero meets several guides that advise them in their business journey. And so, ProfitSense is really about telling business owner’s stories and telling the stories of the professionals that advise them in order for them to successfully run the business. The idea is really to inspire those who are slugging it out in corporate America, there’s really a better way, and I’m proof of that.
Bill McDermott: And secondly, these business owners need a source of inspiration. Can we share information with them to inspire them to go above and beyond what they’re already doing? So, it’s very much a pay it forward idea, which I think is very consistent with the mission that Business RadioX has. And as a professional services advisor myself, the way it started and the way that it has turned out has really been interesting and incredibly beneficial.
Stone Payton: So, I got to ask you, because I feel like I am absolutely unqualified to do this properly, and it’s a skillset or a discipline that I need to cultivate because I certainly appreciate and admire and thirst for good quality counsel on a number of fronts, because there’s just so much I don’t know. That’s why all the questions come to me so easily. How do you go about interviewing, engaging, speaking with someone that you think you might want to bring on to give you counsel? And how do you know what advice to follow and what advice to leave alone?
Bill McDermott: Yeah. That’s a great question.
Stone Payton: You know, hey, it took me a minute to get it out, but I thought that was fantastic.
Bill McDermott: I did, too. So, my first two guests were actually existing clients of mine, people that I had worked with. They each had their own entrepreneurial story. One was a successful IT CEO who sold their business. The second one is a very successful entrepreneur in the manufacturing space who had built his business over time. And the idea really was to tell those stories of those business owners of how they were successful. And in promoting them and promoting their businesses, it was a great opportunity to pay it forward.
Bill McDermott: The inspiration then came to have a business owner, and a business owner that maybe I’d like to get to know better, and an advisor like a banker or a CPA or an attorney all in the room. And the dynamics of building those relationships have really morphed into them doing business with each other. And the byproduct, which was a pleasant surprise, is some of those business owners have actually engaged me in a meaningful dialogue and have become clients of mine.
Stone Payton: What a fantastic format for a show. And if and when you seek counsel, you’re talking to a group of people that it goes beyond know, like, and trust. I mean, we’ve heard that. But I mean, you’ve really gotten to know these people.
Bill McDermott: So, it’s really interesting, during COVID, I worked with a very successful architectural firm. When COVID hit, architectural business in some sectors really stopped. And, unfortunately, this owner had brought on a very successful professional, but all of a sudden was faced with having to lay that person off and wanted to do it right. And dealing with terminations, dealing with benefits issues can be very complex.
Bill McDermott: By the way, this architect was on the show and an ERISA benefits attorney was also on the show. So, this architect calls me and says, “Hey, Bill, do you know anybody, you know, an attorney?” I said, “Do you remember Nancy?” “Oh, yeah.” And so, Nancy and Bill got together, and Nancy was able to help Bill navigate those waters. And another professional relationship was built because they had originally met on the show. It’s all about relationships, and I know you know that.
Stone Payton: Well, I continue to learn and relearn that every day and have that reaffirmed. And I do find that at least in my business and personal life, it is about relationships. Anthony, I’m sorry you have to follow that act because that was incredibly articulately eloquent.
Anthony Chen: That’s going to be really hard, but I’m going to try.
Bill McDermott: Well, you save the best for last, I’m just saying right now.
Stone Payton: But I’d love to hear a little bit about your backstory. What compelled you to get involved with Business RadioX and some of what you’ve been experiencing in hosting your show, man?
Anthony Chen: Oh, similar story with Bill’s in terms of luck and chance. Having moved down to Georgia here from New York, we started all over, knowing absolutely nobody. And I figured, “All right. There’s got to be a way to really market myself, not just being an advisor, but a small business advocate.” And then, by chance, running into you and being a guest on John’s show, and all at the same time, the firm’s broker dealer were kind of opening their doors.
Anthony Chen: Well, to go back a little back in time, several years ago, we weren’t even allowed to have LinkedIn profiles. Talking about really being in a dinosaur age when it comes to social media. But then, when they started opening up a little bit more and realizing, “Hey, our advisors kind of need to market themselves, they need to be in the 21st century,” and they kind of loose – well, not fully loose, but allowed advisors to, “Hey, if you want to have kind of a YouTube channel or a podcast as a way to differentiate yourself in the market, we’re going to run a couple of tests with certain advisors.” And I thought, “All of this happening at the same time, someone’s dropping some hints for me, I should probably jump on that.”
Stone Payton: Yeah. So, the universe was conspiring to help you out a little.
Anthony Chen: In a way, yes.
John Ray: So, you’re clearly enjoying it. What are you finding the most rewarding? What are you enjoying the most about hosting your own Business RadioX show, you think?
Anthony Chen: Seconding with what Bill mentioned, it’s being that advocate for the business. Kind of the concept running the idea with John was giving the business owners an opportunity to kind of share their backstory. Because I’ve kind of got a little bit about my story, and my parents story, and how they got here and how they kind of achieved their American dream. But we don’t get to see much of that really highlighted in the news. It’s always negativity. And I want to be able to change that tune.
Anthony Chen: And if I’m going to be talking about being an advocate for a small business, I need to walk the walk and give them the opportunity to share how they started, whether it’s one major life event or after 10, 20 years of 9:00 to 5:00 of corporate. There’s got to be a better way of doing this and making that leap and giving them a voice as the first half of the program.
Anthony Chen: And the second half would be kind of sharing a highlight of what does it actually look like running a business behind the scenes. Because for those who haven’t made that leap yet, they see kind of a brick and mortar store or a shop and think, “Oh, they’re very successful. They’ve got bags of money raining from the skies.” And most people kind of heard this pitch before. And reality, any of us who have been in business for a while, we know the first three years is really more invoices than bags of money coming from the skies. But this is really building at that culture and a community of small business owners really coming together.
Anthony Chen: And, again, seconding what Bill mentioned, is, sometimes just after the show was done, someone would ask, “Hey, do you know someone who does this and that?” And just last show or last week, someone was having an issue in terms of getting a contractor specifically for concrete. And right away, Sam, the banker said, “Oh, I got like two or three people for you. And I think John might have already also made an introduction.” So, here’s really building a community of not just giving them a voice, but letting them know, “Hey, there’s resources out there and I’m not alone.”
Stone Payton: Don’t you just love being the guy who knows the guy? And I think being involved with Business RadioX helps you do that. So, John, so far we’ve established that your entire business model is built largely on luck.
John Ray: That’s right. That’s what I’m hearing.
Stone Payton: And it’s working beautifully anyway. So, you’re in the studio most of the time, much of the time when these folks are doing their show or you’re on some of these shows.
John Ray: Oh, yeah.
Stone Payton: So, from the cheap seats, talk about each of the shows and what you’ve seen and what you’ve observed in watching these guys do their thing in this context.
John Ray: Yeah. Well, again, Bill has ProfitSense – let’s shout it out here, profitsenseradio.com.
Bill McDermott: Thank you.
John Ray: Yeah. And then, Anthony has Family Business Radio, family businessradioshow.com, I think is it. So, we’ll have a link in the show page, folks. And I think what both of them do is they’ve selected the tribe they want to serve and they serve the tribe. And I mean, they make it about the guest, and that’s why they’ve been successful because everybody likes to tell their own story. It’s funny how that works. It’s a human thing. We all like telling our own story. And they make it about the guest and they make the guest comfortable to be able to do that.
John Ray: And both of them have a way of interviewing a guest where it’s non-threatening. They’re not coming at it like 60 Minutes or The New York Times. They’re about celebrating the great work that the business leaders they feature on their shows do.
Stone Payton: Well, let me ask you about that and, again, I’d like to hear from both of you. I’ll start with you, Anthony. Do you find that at least initially, sometimes guests, while they might be excited and really appreciative of the opportunity to come on and share their story and promote their work, do you find that maybe sometimes they’re a little bit nervous when they first come in? And if so, what kind of things do you do to mitigate that?
Anthony Chen: Oh, in the beginning, especially for those who are for the very first time putting the voice on air or even doing a podcast, “Oh, I’m not so sure about this all.” “Just come here experiencing it.” And after it’s all done, the whole, “Wow. Did I do okay?” I was like, “Well, you did perfectly fine. No one noticed.” And I kind of had my own trepidation as well when I was first on the podcast as a guest and then became on the other side doing the interview. It’s just the public can’t tell. I remember my first two, I was shaking in my boots. But everyone was, “Oh, no. You did great.” “Okay. Great. Don’t let them see me sweat.”
Stone Payton: So, Bill, do you think is it something about the mechanics that you employ? Is it more about heart and mindset, your ability to kind of set people at ease?
Bill McDermott: So, I think a lot of it, for me, my background was in banking prior to being a business guy.
Stone Payton: I’m sorry.
Bill McDermott: I know. But bankers develop the ability to ask questions because they’re constantly interviewing people for loans. And so, the power is in the question. I think it’s also important, to what Anthony was saying, those questions need to be rooted in curiosity. I also think if you can figure out a way to interject humor at the beginning of an interview, humor always has a way of disarming people, making them comfortable. If you can talk about some of their accomplishments, the things that they’ve done, their successes. Anybody that I’ve found that is maybe a little bit nervous to start once you get into the conversation after about 30 seconds, maybe a minute, it’s just two people talking back and forth.
Stone Payton: Yeah. Well, it just occurred to me – and maybe it’s been accentuated by hanging out with John Ray and using this platform – in your line of work, you guys are professional facilitators. You’re not necessarily radio personalities. I guess you could be if you wanted to be. I mean, this is your skillset as a financial advisor. Right, Anthony, you have to really be good at facilitating a conversation and uncovering what folks really need and want.
Anthony Chen: Yeah. Even before that, looking back at my childhood, even on a nerdier side of things, most people, when they listen in or learn a bit more about me, they are surprised that I’m a natural introvert.
Stone Payton: What?
Anthony Chen: Yeah. I just go, “Whoa, you got a voice for me?” Getting back to your original question, how I even got into even thinking about podcasting and kind of the skillset, believe it or not, for listeners just finding out about me now, is that, I used to be what they would call a DM or Dungeon Master for Dungeons and Dragons. Who would have thought a tabletop game would have prepared oneself for being a professional, I guess, podcaster and being a facilitator. So, from that, I became a financial advisor and now doing podcasting is a surprise. Or in this case, more luck on my end than John’s luck on being successful.
Stone Payton: That seems to be a theme here.
John Ray: Yeah, absolutely.
Bill McDermott: I will jump in and say, one of the things I remember starting is John was great at giving me a structure and a framework to work with, also guiding me to the pro business tips, which are on the North Fulton Business Radio website. I think the combination of the structure and the framework, how he went about asking his questions, I think, again, really helped me get started.
Bill McDermott: And so, for someone who might be thinking about doing a show, well, it’s got a great framework. John is a great radio show host to work with. Business RadioX has the Pro Tips, which you can listen to that are on the show page. And the rest of it is up, but I think there’s a lot of resources that can help someone who is interested in getting started.
Stone Payton: Yeah. Okay. John, 500 episodes, that’s just for that show, North Fulton Business Radio. You have other shows within North Fulton Business Radio. Sometimes you have multiple guests, is that accurate? But you don’t have 500 clients. So, I mean, this must be bigger than just about you going out and getting a handful of clients. Can you speak to that a little bit, the thinking behind that? Or you’re just not very good at selling your work or what’s the deal?
John Ray: I’m good at hitting a button. No. You know what? Here’s the deal. So, we were talking about this before we came on the air. My story is similar to yours. You talked about you liked the idea so much, you bought into the company, in this case, the network. It was the same deal for me.
John Ray: I mean, you know, Mike Sammond was the guy who started this studio. And I was his sidekick. And, you know, we were having fun doing great work. And he decided, “You know, I really can’t spend the time in North Fulton that I need to spend to develop the studio.” And he said, “John, you’re going to take it over or we’re going to have to shut it down.” Well, you know, I had a decision to make, so I did the same thing.
John Ray: I mean, it worked so well for me and my brand and gave me the opportunity to network and build my basic business, my business advisory practice, that I was like, “Why not? I’ll take it over.” And I made a business out of it, right? And I’m really a professional services business development guy. I found having a mic is the most elegant, nonthreatening, easiest way to build your business if you’re in the professional services world that I think there is. And so, I got a taste of that and decided, “Hey, I’m going to get in the business of doing that and helping other people.”
Stone Payton: But in all of these cases, I think you’re probably pretty hard pressed to hear John Ray on the mic talking a lot about John Ray or Bill. It’s a little different than just having the mic. Part of it is the approach –
John Ray: The mindset. Yeah. No question. So, I mean, people that come in as guests on this show, they don’t know that I have another business. Most of them, they think I just do this show and that’s what I do, and that’s fine. And then, some of them say – which is typical in the studio – “Well, this has been such a great experience, how can I help you?” “Well, you know, here’s what we do.” And so, you create reciprocity with people in the studio that’s pretty cool.
Stone Payton: Well, it’s back to what Bill was talking about. It’s all built on a foundation of real relationship, genuine trust. You’ve chosen, and it sounds like these two gentlemen have, too, to cast a net that’s a bit wider than just the folks you’re hoping to do business with necessarily. Because you genuinely – like I try to do over in Cherokee with my little studio in Woodstock – do want to support and celebrate the local business and community leaders. And you don’t need or want 500 clients.
John Ray: Correct.
Stone Payton: Well, I’m not going to tell you who you want to work with. Who do you want to work with? I mean, I know two of them are right here.
John Ray: Two of them are right here.
Stone Payton: But how would you describe the folks you really want to work with in this capacity?
John Ray: Well, I want to answer that question, but I want to underline what you said. If you are constantly about yourself, even if you’re trying not to make it look that way, people smell that. And that’s why I think it’s so important to have a studio where you’re serving everybody, the whole market. And even the folks that will never be able to pay you back, but all they can do is say good things about you, that’s worth it.
John Ray: And so, being the voice of business in North Fulton or in Sandy Springs or Gwinnett, where Mike is, or what have you, that’s priceless. So, it’s really important to be that.
John Ray: But I’m always happy to answer your second question, which is the kind of people I love to work with. The kind of people I love to work with, are professional services people that can’t figure out how to move the needle in their business. Maybe sometimes they’ve hit a lull. They built it as far as they can build it. And, you know, they want to build it further. Or sometimes they’re doing okay, but they’d like a little more elegant, nonthreatening way to build relationships as opposed to, you know, work in the networking floors or whatever.
John Ray: And, again, this is my background is a professional services. I’m not going to tell you how many years, but I could share that with you privately. You and I would have the similar number. So, you know, I love working with professional services people. I’ve done it a long time. And I’ve never found another way to build a business that’s so elegant and has clear ROI is this way of doing it.
Stone Payton: So, this halo that John wears around town, have you guys found that you also have a little bit of that reputation, that standing within the ecosystem you’re trying to serve?
Bill McDermott: Well, some of that runs downhill, but we still aspire a lot to be more like John Ray. You know, before we leave that point that you made about relationships, my experience, first is I’ve found people have to get to know each other and like each other before they try each other.
Bill McDermott: And so, my relationship with John is we kind of knew each other, and then we found we had a lot in common, and so we started liking each other. And then, he extended the invitation and I tried it. Now, I trust it. And actually gotten to the point of, you know, try, trust, then refer. I have referred him, you know, opportunities for other people that I think would be great show hosts.
Bill McDermott: And I think the other thing happens during the show with being the show host and the guest, I get to know these people. They like me, maybe I like them. And so, those opportunities to try, trust, and then refer are the natural evolution of those relationships. And those relationships all go at different speeds and at different ways in different times. But they do follow the progression in this show, and the interviewing opportunity really gives us an opportunity to know and like people, which then leads to try and trust.
Stone Payton: Yeah. Is that consistent with your experience, Anthony? I think I know the answer is yes, but say more.
Anthony Chen: Yeah, absolutely. It also gives us an opportunity to kind of showcase that we walk the walk. We don’t just talk about, “Oh, we’re here for small business. We’re here for small business.” But, no, we’re invested in building that culture around us.
Anthony Chen: And kind of seconding not just what Bill said, but I also observed and kind of why I lean towards John and really trusting him in helping me start this whole journey of doing podcasting, because I would observe what people’s actions are as opposed to what they say. And kind of what John impresses me most was by his actions on, I think it was my first evening event at the North Fulton Chamber that we met, and here is nobody, a new guy from New York, and he gave me, like, ten minutes of his time. And at the time, I didn’t even know how big John Ray was.
Anthony Chen: And then, on top of all, here’s a guy who was always showing up almost every single Wednesday morning at the Chamber’s pro meeting. When he’s so big, I think he doesn’t even need to show up anymore. But here he is always committing, giving back to the small business community, when at the time he’s grown to the point where he really doesn’t have to kind of hang with a small fry down here in the valley of the hill. And so, when you’re really looking at John and everyone on the show and the people that he works with, I’m thinking, “Yeah. This is my tribe. I belong here.”
Stone Payton: So, let’s talk about me some more since my mic is still on. So, my day job is I own 40 percent of the Business RadioX Network, and a big part of my job really is finding other – I don’t know that we can find a John Ray, but someone like a John Ray to run studios and other communities.
Stone Payton: But also, my wife, Holly and I, we moved to Woodstock a little over a year ago. And it was interesting to compare the two different experiences because I had quite a bit of experience executing at the studio, the Atlanta Business Radio Studio. And it is a great way to meet hard to reach people, to build those relationships, to capture and distribute really authentic, compelling, relevant content. I mean, it’s a content factory, so it really does grease the skids for all of those efforts.
Stone Payton: One of the things that I loved about being involved with Atlanta Business Radio was because of this platform and the framing, it really was pretty darn easy to meet hard to reach people and get a chance to build relationships with folks that, in other contexts, you know, it might be a really long, hard road.
Stone Payton: Then, when I went out to Woodstock, the dynamic is a little different, right? So, if you are a resident of Woodstock or just driving through Woodstock and you want to have a cup of coffee with the mayor or the president of the local bank, all you got to do is ask. You don’t need a radio show to do that. But in Woodstock – and I grew up in a small town as well – we have what I call the sweet tea barrier. Those of us who have been raised in a small town, we’re all very cordial and all that, you know, “You all come over and have some sweet tea sometime,” you say that when people walk by your front porch. But we’re pretty good at keeping people at arm’s length.
Stone Payton: Where, having this platform in little Woodstock, Georgia, it goes well beyond having a cup of coffee with someone or you get past the weather and the kids really quick, and you really do get to know the person. And without having to wag your own tail very much, they get to know you and you establish a great deal of credibility.
Stone Payton: I don’t know if surprised is the right word, but one of the things that feels very good about executing on this business model and capitalizing on this platform in a community like Woodstock is it’s a way to break through that sweet tea barrier in a small town and build substantive relationships with the folks that you really want to get to know better and want to serve.
John Ray: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I think people are polite. They’re very polite. And they’ll let you in at one level. But if you want to take it to another level where you’re wanting to maybe do business, but at least try to be helpful, it helps to get to a point where you have – again, I keep using the word nonthreatening – a nonthreatening place to get to know each other. And when you have somebody on a show, you’ve given them something of tremendous value, and they appreciate that and remember that.
Stone Payton: Well, I think both of you mentioned this a little while ago. I can’t tell you how many times it’s got to be an overwhelming percentage at a time when someone will come through to one of our studios where I’m involved, and almost the first question out of their mouth is, “This was great. Thank you so much. What can I do for you?” I mean, that’s human nature. And that should be the case because we have genuinely reached out and served those folks.
Stone Payton: Okay. So, there’s luck. It’s fun. It’s good. It’s right and just and true. It checks all those boxes. Is it producing meaningful business results? Are you getting some sort of return, whether it be financial or goodwill or market? I don’t know, I’ll ask you both. I’ll start with you, Anthony. Do you feel like it’s having a positive impact on your business?
Anthony Chen: For being the financial guy here, I wouldn’t keep doing it if it wasn’t. Right there, that’s the short answer of it all. But the longer answer, absolutely, this definitely shortens the length of time in terms of building that relationship. And being the new guy here on the block three years ago coming from New York, people don’t know me from anyone else. And if I’m going to find a way to differentiate myself as being the go-to guy when it comes to family business and understanding it, what better way other than using this platform to highlight and give service to other people.
Stone Payton: If I didn’t already own 40 percent of this company, I’d write you a check, John.
John Ray: You still can any time you want to, man.
Stone Payton: All right. Bill, impact on your business, man.
Bill McDermott: Yeah. Impact, certainly in terms of building relationships, the emotional currency, certainly financial as well. And in being a former banker, I’m interested in the ROI, too. So, I will tell you, the North Fulton Business RadioX show that I do has become the linchpin of my marketing plan. And the reason it’s still –
Stone Payton: Are you recording this?
John Ray: I hope I hit the button when we started this.
Bill McDermott: I can say it again. No. The reason it has is because, first, it’s building relationships. Those relationships for me have become clients. I would say my hit rate probably for every eight guests I may have on my show, I’ll usually get a client. So, do the math, that’s maybe 12 clients a year. And so, when I look at my ROI of the cumulative effect of that business, you know, it’s hugely rewarding. So, it is a great way to build relationships, but it’s also financially rewarding as well. And it’s financially rewarding for my guests because they have the opportunity to do business together, too.
Stone Payton: John’s chest is sticking so far out over the edge of this conference table right now. Well, congratulations, man.
John Ray: Well, that’s the whole point, right? I mean, because what we tell people is it’s about hard dollar ROI. I mean, at the end of the day, you start with service. And if you serve first, you’ll create hard dollar ROI. And I think that’s what we’ve done here. And these two guys have done a tremendous job at that.
John Ray: I remember Bill asking me – I don’t know if you remember this, Bill – because you asked me, “What’s my biggest risk?” And I said, “Your biggest risk is having too much fun, and you think you’re a radio star. And you start having people on the show that really don’t help you in your business. I mean, people that feel good and maybe give you a warm feeling sometimes that you had this famous book author on your show, but they really aren’t going to help you move the needle in your business.”
Bill McDermott: And that’s a great point. I don’t remember saying that, but I am a big believer in that concept. And I think the reason for that, John was very helpful in helping me be strategic about inviting specific people.
Bill McDermott: For example, I do a fair amount of business exit planning right now, because the baby boomer generation is retiring, they’re exiting their businesses. So, the opportunity to have a show that maybe has a CPA on it that talks about taxes and the taxable impact of a business sale, having an attorney on the show that can talk about the structure of the letter of intent, the asset purchase agreement, is it a stock sale, is it an asset sale. And then, also that business owner, they’re also listening and understanding, “Okay. I haven’t thought about these things because I’ve had my head down running my business.” And so, the power of that dynamic and what’s going on is incredibly valuable.
Stone Payton: So, John, what’s next, man? You’re going to Disney World? What’s on the horizon?
John Ray: Dr. Ray always wants to go to Disney World, my wife. She always wants to go to Disney World, that’s for sure. Well, you know what? We can’t look ahead. I can’t look ahead without looking back first and just saying thank you. So, we talked about Mike Sammond – Mike, I love you. You’re the guy that kind of got everything going here. And we got hooked up somehow, I don’t remember how, but we got hooked up and we had a great relationship. And then, you abandoned me, and so I had to do something. I’m just kidding.
John Ray: But he wanted to spend 100 percent of his time in Gwinnett, and he’s done fantastic job in Gwinnett. But he’s the one that planted the flag here, and so I just got to come along for the ride for a couple of years and then take it over from there.
John Ray: But then, to the network, Lee, you, Stone, Abbe, you all just been tremendous support. And, you know, we couldn’t have gotten this far without you, and that’s for sure. And then, I’ve got a great team behind me. See, everybody sees John Ray, but I’ve got a fantastic team. So, Arlia, Mildred, Angi, Heather, you all do fantastic work. John couldn’t do it without you. Thank you. I appreciate you. So, I have to say, I have to look back before we look forward.
Stone Payton: Fair enough. Well, it’s absolutely been our pleasure to be a part of this. And I hope it’ll just continue to grow. And I look forward to watching your stories unfold, Bill and Anthony. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to watch what you guys are doing to flourish and help you build your own business, and we get to come along for the ride with the great work these guys are doing.
John Ray: That’s right. And that’s the other thing I have to say, is, without clients like Anthony, Bill, I could go on and on, Roger Lusby, Frazier & Deeter, Mike Blake, Brady Ware, Dr. Jim Morrow, Stuart Oberman, Patrick O’Rourke, Dental Business Radio. I mean, I could go –
Stone Payton: Maybe he does have 500. Wow. You just rattled those off.
John Ray: Yeah. And the great folks at R3 Continuum in Minneapolis, that are just delights to work with. They’re the ones that create opportunity for us to grow and expand because of the business they do with us and it’s just a delight to work with them. I’m blessed, man. I can’t complain. I wake up every morning and I’m excited.
Stone Payton: As you should be. Well, hey, I didn’t tell you everything I know, but I don’t want to wrap before we make sure that our listeners know how to reach out and have a conversation with you guys, if they’d like to speak with you or someone on your team. So, I’ll start with you, Anthony. Whatever you think is appropriate, LinkedIn, email, phone number, that kind of thing, what’s the best way for someone to reach out and connect with you, man?
Anthony Chen: Yeah. Definitely. Either my email or LinkedIn. It’s simply just my full name, Anthony Chen. The last name is spelled C-H-E-N. Or you can reach me at my email, which is also my full name, just email@example.com.
Stone Payton: Well, thanks so much for coming in and sharing your story, man. It’s a delight to see you in person again. And I’m already loving hearing your show, but it’s fun to catch up and have you join us and join us in celebrating John’s 500th. I just don’t have that work ethic, so it’s just a little bit beyond me, but maybe one of these days. All right. Bill, let’s leave them with some coordinates. What’s the best way to reach out to you, man?
Bill McDermott: Yeah. Call me at 770-597-3136. You can also hit me on my email, which is firstname.lastname@example.org. My website is theprofitabilitycoach.net. And LinkedIn, I’m Bill Jay McDermott. So, a bunch of ways.
John Ray: Terrific. Wow. And, Stone, for the folks over in Cherokee that might be listening, tell them how they can get in touch with you, buddy. We got to let you shout that out.
Stone Payton: All right. Well, you can have a peek at a little bit of our work at cherokeebusinessradio.com. We’re very excited about a new program that we have that’s enabling us to provide more programming for some of these underserved populations, veterans, minorities, nonprofits, and youth. It’s called Main Street Warriors program. And so, go check us out at mainstreetwarriors.org. And, yeah, text me, give me a call. Come and have a beer with me under the elm tree behind Reformation, my direct line is 770-335-2050. Or you can reach me at stone – that’s S-T-O-N-E – @businessradiox.com.
John Ray: Stone Payton with Business RadioX and Cherokee Business Radio, Anthony Chen with Lighthouse Financial and Family Business Radio, and Bill McDermott, the host of ProfitSense and The Profitability Coach, thanks to all of you for joining me today and honoring me with your presence to celebrate. This has been the best way I could think to celebrate.
Stone Payton: My pleasure, man.
Bill McDermott: Great, John. Thank you.
Anthony Chen: Thank you.
John Ray: Thanks to each of you. Hey, folks, just speaking of celebrating something, if you are looking for a great team building event – and, for me, that involves one that does not involve broken ankles and mosquito bites, okay? – I’m referring you to a&sculinaryconcepts.com. So, yeah, they’re an award winning culinary studio and they do corporate catering. But Executive Chef Andrew Traub has developed a team building activity in his culinary studio that is fantastic. So, if you’re looking for something unique for your team, go to a&sculinaryconcepts.com to learn more. Or just pick up the phone and call Andrew, 678-336-9196 and tell him that we sent you.
John Ray: And, folks, just a quick reminder that we are at show number 500, but we’re heading to 1,000, that’s our next stop. And we have only gotten this far because of your support. And if you would do me a favor and share the show, like you’ve always done. So, if you’ve heard something here on this show that makes you think, “Hey, I want to share that with somebody,” please do that. And do that for any of our shows. We are here to celebrate business, as you’ve heard. We’re the voice of business in North Fulton, and we want to celebrate the great work of business leaders like Bill, like Anthony, like Stone. That’s what we’re all about here on North Fulton Business Radio.
John Ray: So, for my guests, Stone Payton, Anthony Chen, and Bill McDermott, I’m John Ray. Join us next time here on North Fulton Business Radio.