“In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
Our guest today is a Hall of Fame keynote speaker, bestselling author of 10+ books, and is in high demand from some of the world’s most recognized companies to help them transform their customer experience.
But you probably know Simon T. Bailey from the Goalcast video that went viral in 2018 and has since amassed almost 100 million views:
Simon’s SPARK framework is based on 30+ years’ experience in the hospitality industry, which included working as Sales Director for the Disney Institute, based at Walt Disney World Resort. He was recently awarded a Doctorate of Science in Business Administration for his global impact.
Simon’s purpose is to disrupt people’s mental habits so they can lead countries, companies, and communities differently.
And, as I’m sure you’ll notice (if you're watching this episode on YouTube), there’s a level of authenticity, positivity, and calm in Simon that creates an immediate connection.
Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Simon T. Bailey does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. 🚀
In this interview, we’ll go through:
- How to find your purpose in an instant
- What business owners can do to deliver an amazing customer experience every time
- The biggest mistakes aspiring keynote speakers make
- The #1 decision that led to his prolonged success, and
- How to identify and leverage the power of relationships to supercharge your life.
Before we begin, remember that the right bit of inspiration can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend or loved one who needs to hear this episode, share it with them right now.
Let’s WIN THE DAY with Simon T. Bailey!
Great to see you my friend, thanks so much for coming on the Win the Day Show.
Simon T. Bailey:
Good to see you as well, thank you for having me.
Also, a big shout out to Dave Wildasin and the team at Sound Wisdom for reconnecting us. I know in addition to an amazing energy, there's going to be a lot of great insights from you today!
Can you take us right back to your teenage years? How was your experience at high school and what did success look like to you growing up?
I was a total failure! I was in the bottom half of the class that made the top half of the class possible, if the truth be told. My freshman year I failed all the classes. I went out for sports, got cut from the football team, cut from the basketball team. Went out for track and field, they said, "You're too slow, maybe try cross country." If I was in Texas right now, even though I live in Florida, they would say bless my little heart!
I ended up moving to another school, because my parents decided I needed a fresh start. That's where I met my English teacher Miss Rita Lankes, and she said to me, "Young man, I want you to write a speech and give it before the entire school." And that changed the trajectory of my life.
So that was the foundation for the speaking career, right then and there!?
Wow. It never ceases to amaze me how having one person believe in you can completely change the the course of a life.
We put so much pressure on kids at such a young age to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their lives, when there's a very good chance — it sounds like it was for you, it certainly was for me — that they don't even know who they are at that point. How did your personal experiences in high school shape the way that you parented your own children through that phase?
Well, I'll be the first one to say, I was guilty of that. I've been saying to my children, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And I recently had to apologize to them and say, "That's the wrong question." In a world of artificial intelligence, automation and Alexa, the question is, "What problem have YOU been created to solve?"
The question is, "What problem have you been created to solve?"
I had to apologize to my children because I was doing that very thing to them. And I think for me, what happened in high school, once I found my swim lane, number one, it built my confidence. Number two, it gave me the ability to wake up every single day to say, "This is something that I'm really good at." And then number three, I stopped comparing myself to everyone else. And that has really informed who I've become as an adult.
Can you take us into that moment when for the first time you truly felt like you could do anything that you set your mind to — that you actually had so much more power than you had ever given yourself credit for?
I think when I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself about following the traditional path of finishing college in four years. It took me 10 years. And once I realized I didn't have to do it the way everyone else had done it or the way everyone else said it should be done, I woke up and said, "Light bulb moment. That's it! When everybody zigs, I should zag." Conformity robs you of creativity. It's recognizing I had that power when I had the epiphany to say, "I'm good, I'm okay."
How much of an attribute is having a creative mind, even if you maybe are not doing the right things as far as your teachers or parents are concerned? Is that a really valuable skill for people to move forward with in the world that we're in?
Yes. In fact, LinkedIn says the number one skill that's required by entrepreneurs and individuals right now is creativity. Number two, adaptability. Number three, collaboration. But that creative ability gives you the choice to figure it out, to say, "How can I see what others don't see?"
Conformity robs you of creativity.
It taps into your imagination, that invisible world, where you begin to ask questions and become curious. And the moment you say, "How can we? What if?" It opens up a whole array of options to you.
You served as sales director for the Disney Institute based at the Walt Disney World Resort. What magic did you learn being part of the renowned Walt Disney family?
I learned three things:
- It's all about plussing up the experience. Plussing up the experience, as you know, is that when the animators are creating things, they look for that little something extra that's phenomenal.
- Train for success. Training doesn't fix what an entrepreneur, leader or business owner doesn't catch. So, Disney takes twice as long to hire someone because they realize that families have saved thousands of dollars to maybe come to Disney for once in their lifetime. So, they got to get it right.
- Never, ever settle for anything that's less than excellent. If you can't do it right and you won't spend the money, don't do it at all. Because if you try to cut a corner here, cut a corner there, it ends up catching up with you. Make the investment on the front end, and it'll pay off in the long run.
Yeah, it reminds me of that mantra "Everything is everything" which I'm sure you've probably heard about as well. It's so powerful.
Your SPARK Formula is really interesting, and you created it after spending more than 30 years in hospitality and specializing in the customer experience. When it comes to the customer experience today, what are the biggest mistakes that you see business owners make?
I'll give you an example. I took my car to be serviced at an auto dealership. When I completed the service appointment, the gentleman says to me, "Hey, you're going to get a link with a survey, if you can't give me a five, don't fill it out. Call me back and let me know." And I was like, "Dude, dude, that's not the behavior that they want you to have!"
You might go out of business, but they're going to have all five stars on the survey!
But think about it, the five stars was tied to him probably getting a bonus, getting his paycheck. And if it wasn't a five, his boss would have a meeting with him. That's wrong. That's not the behavior or mindset you want.
What about business owners out there who say, "Look, I just don't have the money or the resources to be able to focus so much on that customer experience."? Is having an amazing customer experience almost a prerequisite for anyone who wants to be in business in 2021 and beyond?
Absolutely. Every business owner has to begin to embed the chip of what great service looks like. Because if you don't, you pay for it in the end. Here's why. You become very transactional in dealing with customers. And customers can easily sense that they are seen as a dollar sign, not a long-term relationship. Because when it's a long-term relationship, you're looking for opportunities to exceed their expectation and make sure that they come back and that they Yelp about your brand.
Every business owner has to begin to embed the chip of what great service looks like.
The second thing is, everyone that works with you realizes you have a 'don't care' attitude, just give them whatever. And that's the attitude that they're going to have. Because it's not important to you, it's not important to them. And then sadly, customers begin to tell their friends about the experience that they did or did not receive from your brand.
Yeah, and it's much easier to spend that time on retaining an existing customer, rather than go and find a new one, right?
Yes, that's what all the research says.
You mentioned a bad example before. Aside from Disney, what other companies out there do you see who are doing it really well from the customer experience side?
I think T-Mobile does it right. I learned from T-Mobile that customer service is a department, but customer love is a mindset. And that customer love mindset looks for a way to say how do I own the customer experience? If I hear it, I own it. And I solve their problem quicker and faster and do it with a smile. I think the other thing that I learned from T-Mobile is finding a way to say yes, instead of no. Because when you find a way to say yes and go above and beyond, that customer's forever grateful.
How do you go about injecting the human as early as possible in the customer experience side with balancing profitability? There are some companies out there who drive me completely bonkers because I know a human can resolve the issue in five seconds, but sometimes the automated voice, the machine, can't even figure out what you're saying or where to direct you. You can spend 45 minutes waiting, when the very reason you're calling is because they billed you incorrectly in the first place!
Obviously the companies need to be profitable. How do they balance that profitability with providing a great customer experience?
They've got to listen to the voice of the customer and then actually do something about it. It's not as if customers don't give feedback digitally and online. Some companies just don't care. And they don't do anything about it. So, they kind of do the window dressing of, "Hey, we're concerned about customer satisfaction." That's a smoke screen. Underneath it all, they don't do anything about it. And then eventually it catches up with them because you realize online reviews are kind of on there forever. Then people really say, "They tell us they believe in great customer service, but they don't live it." And customers will see that disconnect and stop doing business with that business.
I believe companies who are really committed and businesses that are really committed, they are the ones who will win in the end.
Yeah, and I bet they're led by great people. People like Keith Ferrazzi, who joined us on the show for Episode 30, he's the number one New York Times best selling author of books like Never Eat Alone, talks about that often.
If you had to really narrow in on the Simon T. Bailey brilliance, what one or two attributes would you say have made you so successful and contributed to that prolonged success that you enjoy today?
First of all, I really care about people; I really care about those that I serve. It's just not lip service.
The second thing is I still operate with that Disney mindset. And it's look for an opportunity to create a magic moment, whatever that might be for the customer. It's in delivering consistency. It's in delivering consistency and I know that's not some big a-ha, but it's delivering consistency every single day. Not because I have to, but because I want to. And our team, that's just how we roll. That's what we do.
Yeah, and that builds trust. It means that if anyone is looking for someone else and you have an opportunity to fill that, they're going to say, "Simon and his team are a perfect fit to come on board." Without you having to do anything, you've got a whole bunch of frontline brand advocates out there to start driving business your way.
As we mentioned earlier, you're an incredibly skilled speaker. Yet, people see the end result, but they don't see the reps behind the scenes. They don't see the years it takes of mastery of that craft to get to being able to seamlessly deliver a presentation in front of tens of thousands of people.
How did you turn yourself into a masterful speaker? And how has that skill aided your career?
One day I woke up and I decided to be myself. I realized that I had listened to Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Mark Victor Hanson, and Les Brown and all of the greats. And there was a piece of them in me, but you never got to me. So, one day I had the epiphany, and I said, "You know what, I'm just going to be me. I'm going to be my authentic self and I'm going to show up and tell my story and be in that moment." That's when everything totally shifted.
There comes a time when you no longer want to be an annoying echo, but you want to be an original voice.
John Mason, who wrote the book An Enemy Called Average, says, "Most people are born originals, but they die copies." And I was tired of being a copy, or as I said at the National Speakers Association almost 15 years ago when I was blessed with the opportunity to be the opening keynote speaker, I said, "There comes a time when you no longer want to be an annoying echo, but you want to be an original voice." And that was my wake up call to really begin to understand how to be my authentic self.
What is your process to get in your optimal state before you walk out on stage?
I think remembering what my therapist told me a few years ago as I was on this journey. Her advice to me was, "Whatever you don't deal with will eventually deal with you and will show up on stage!" And I was like, "Hmm." So, a part of my process is to always go within and say, "How do I serve, how do I connect and how do I leave it all on the stage?" Literally that's the process that I'm going through in my mind.
I don't know if you've ever been to Italy before and gone to the Sistine Chapel. But when you walk into the Sistine Chapel and you see what Michelangelo did, you're kind of like, "How in the world did someone do this?"
And the reason I share this with you is because after I saw the Sistine Chapel, I just said a little prayer. I said, "God, before I go on this stage, would you simply speak through me like you painted the Sistine Chapel through Michelangelo?" That's my prayer. And I just release it and every place we go I'm never disappointed. Because it's not me, it's the light, life and love of God that comes through me.
Yeah, and I bet that removes any element of ego that you have a result of that?
Totally! It's so not about me.
People often think, "How do I get in the state to be the hero?" But on stage, and in many other forums, it's not about being the hero. As you said, it's about the opportunity to serve, to connect, and to give people valuable takeaways that they can use in their own way.
And I bet that probably removes a little bit of the nervous side too, since you're out there as a conduit to serve, to help people help themselves. It's going to be a much better outcome when you can step into that energy.
Totally. I've had opportunities when the PowerPoint didn't work, where the mic was cut, and I had to switch to a handheld. And what I realized in that moment, you know what, here I am, this is real time. I'm perfectly imperfect, I'm flawed, I've made more mistakes than I can count on both hands. And when I decided to come alongside the audience from that standpoint, it made me more human and more relatable. Because I wasn't trying to stand up and be so perfect.
Things will happen. How do you show up in the moment, in that human moment, and still be real with individuals?
Being a leader on stage is about the best thing that you can do, I believe, to build your influence at scale. What are the biggest mistakes you see amateur speakers make who want to get to that next level?
Number one, trying to tell the audience everything you know. If it's Googleable, they don't need to hear it from you. But what's your insight into what information you are presenting?
The second thing is trying to do all that those who have gone before you said, "You got to do this," and, "You got to do that." What happens is you end up being a floor lamp of diffused energy that's pulled in a million different directions. You never become laser focused. And I made that mistake, so I'm not saying anything out of school here.
And I think the third thing that amateur speakers make is they feel that they have to say yes to everything in order to get established. There are some things that you should maybe turn down and pass onto others who are truly that subject matter expert. And because of the law of reciprocity, what goes around comes around, you give it away and another door will open for you to walk through that was meant for you. I can't tell you how many times we have just turned things down. I said, "That's not my fit, that's not what I do. But let me refer you to someone." And totally being okay and letting that go.
You've spent decades shifting people into their brilliance. How can someone find their purpose and how important is that purpose in long-term success and happiness?
Finding your purpose is starting with what's right in front of you. So many times people think they have to do something really big outside of themselves. And it could simply mean walking outside your door and asking your neighbor, "How can I serve you? What is it that you need?" That's where your purpose starts.
Purpose is so critically important because purpose gives you hope that wakes you up to live better tomorrow than you did yesterday. I think everyone has to really begin to think about am I living on purpose, have I tapped into my universal assignment? And if I haven't, why not? And that's where people have to start.
Purpose is so critically important because purpose gives you hope that wakes you up to live better tomorrow than you did yesterday.
Because the moment you find a purpose, you are never late, you're always early. When you find your purpose, everyone that comes into your quantum field, they know that you're in the zone. When you find your purpose, it's not about what you can get in the form of money, but it's about what you can give.
When you find your purpose, you tap into kindness, love, and goodness. Because any person that is truly living their purpose, they realize that I can eradicate evilness and hatred on the planet by coming from a place of love. Because love starts with you. And when you're in your purpose, you have found your deeper love and people can feel it and connect with it and sense it every time you open your mouth or whatever you're doing.
A big part of my work is moving people away from wanting to be a spectator in life into being more of a participant in life. In your experience, do you feel that the thing that holds people back from really wanting to serve others and lean into their purpose is because they're so caught up thinking that changing the world is an insurmountable task so why bother?
That little task that you mentioned of being able to walk outside your door, and whether it's your neighbor or a friend or someone else in your network, just being proactive about asking how you can serve them. That's a really great way that they can start to participate.
Absolutely. It's taking that bold action to say, "I start with myself, I ask my neighbor, then together we impact the community, the community impacts the city, the city impacts the state, the state impacts the nation." But so many want to change the nation and they haven't started with themselves. But if I start with myself, we may change the nation. I believe that that bold action every single day consistently in a straight line, one direction saying, "Here's what I'm going to do today."
Bold action every single day, that's why you're on the Win the Day podcast, Simon! I love it, my friend.
One of my favorite quotes of yours is, "Brilliance is a decision." What is your process to get someone out of a victim mindset (e.g. "I can't") and into more of a growth mindset (e.g. "I can")? How can we shift people to actually be accountable, to empower themselves to take ownership of their circumstances so they can not only unlock their potential, but they can also sustain it for a long period of time?
Everyone listening to us right now should go and get a sheet of paper and imagine that a story is about to be written about you because your picture is going to be on the cover of Time Magazine as one of the top 100 most inspirational people in the world. What would you say in this interview?
And I want you to write out all the questions, all the answers. If you have photos, incorporate that into this story of you. The moment you do that, what you're actually doing is you are reframing whatever you've been through, to get a snapshot of what you're going to. Because the moment you begin to focus on what you're going to, you stop worrying about what you're going through.
The moment you begin to focus on what you're going to, you stop worrying about what you're going through.
Every person listening to us right now, you rewrite and reframe the story, as James Allen talked about hundreds of years ago, as if it's already happening. Because this life is not a do over, this is not a dress rehearsal, you can't get back the last year. It's gone. However, it's informed who you are becoming. And I believe when you come for this mindset, you literally live on fire every single day to say, "I can't wait to attack the day."
Powerful stuff, Simon!
Out of all the people that you've worked with, is there a particular transformation that you're most proud of?
Oh my goodness, I have had almost a dozen people who have reached out to me over the last few years to say that they have increased their income to six figures, many have increased their income to seven or eight figures because of something they read, saw, or some coaching that we did. And I've just been humbled by that.
When I started this journey and left Disney, I wasn't sure this was going to work. I believed that it was going to work, but I didn't know these people would show up with these results. And I think what's even more powerful, many of them have understood the power of a good mitzvah, the ability to give a deed, to help someone else, to give a hand up and not just a hand out. And that just absolutely blesses my heart. Because I think that is so important to reach back and pull somebody forward.
In 2018, a video of you on Goalcast absolutely blew up. In it, you spoke about the relationship with your family and how the wrong focus almost cost you everything. How did it feel to see that video just with such a powerful message just spread like wildfire?
It's humbling because it was totally organic. No boosting, no strategic meeting to say, "Guess what? We're going to make this go viral." It's humbling because when you tell the truth, you don't have to remember what you said.
I have received thousands of comments from men who say, "I now understand what my wife was trying to tell me." And guys who perhaps they're a little bit further down the path and they said, "You know what, I wish I would have done something differently." I had a guy reached out to me, he says, "Hey, I'm on the verge of divorce. I watched the video." We were trading Instagram messages back and forth, and I said, "Make sure you get in counseling, try to save your marriage. You don't have to go through what I went through." It's been very, very humbling because I didn't see it coming.
I double down on being a better dad first, a business person second.
But one of the things that even to this day, I double down on being a better dad first, a business person second. Because it makes no sense to stand on a stage to tell anyone anything, and your house is jacked up. I think it's so critically important every single day to continue to do the work. I just want to be a better dad. That's my focus.
A metaphor you use in that video is that people put their ladder up against the wrong wall. In a digital world that's moving at such a frenetic pace, how can people figure out what wall they need to put their ladder up against? And how often should they check in to make sure their ladder is still up against the right wall?
I think number one, it's starting with what are your priorities: what's most important to you? Is it quality time with family?
Second, being intentional every single day to check in, to ask, "How are you doing? What's going on? What can I do?" And schedule an appointment. I know this sounds so crazy, but block your time to say, "You know what, this is family time. That's it." Point in case, my daughter who just finished her first year of college started a job. We decided that it's not time for you to get a car yet, so I'm going to take you to work. And I've had to fit it in my schedule between everything that I've got going on. But can I tell you, it's that ride to work that she and I get a chance to talk and catch up. And she's telling me about her world. That's what it's about right there.
There's a quote that I've seen you post that says, "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists." What does that quote mean to you?
First of all, let me give credit to Eric Hoffer, who is a noted philosopher, that is his original quote that I share. What that simply means to me is that wherever we are right now, we have to continue to learn and unlearn. And begin to ask ourselves, "The learning that I had last year, I may want broadband results, but am I using dial up methods when it comes to staying on the edge of where things are going?"
I'm constantly channeling, saying, "Okay, we got to move in this direction." And the team knows that I have probably an idea a minute because of something that I learn or something that I'm interested in! And I'm like, "Okay, let's blow up what we're doing and let's do this." Because I think you understand, in the words of John Maxwell, how to fail forward by learning and trying something, not just sitting and waiting for it to come to you.
On this show, we like to keep it pretty real from a mental health perspective, especially because of what's been happening in the world recently. If you're open to answering this question, is there a particularly dark day that stands out for you, where you really questioned who you were or what you were doing on this planet?
Yeah. Obviously when the pandemic happened, I lost six figures worth of business within seven days. And it becomes very real when you have two kids in college and you're paying alimony. And it's kind of like okay, "Uh oh, what are we going to do here?" And the phone's not ringing, leads were not coming.
For a moment, if the truth be told, I got bitter. But then I said, "I got to live out what I teach and it's time to get better." So, we decided to host a series of virtual events free of charge called Spark Hope. And we had almost 1,000 people show up over the course of just a few weeks. And we decided that we would give to the World Central Kitchen and a number of nonprofits. We said, "Hey, here is the link, go and donate."
So, even in the midst of feeling like my business has just disappeared, I said, "How do we lift others up? How do we care and share?" And the moment we did it, all of a sudden, something just happened inside of me to say we're going to get through this. Because hope is a super power.
On your best day, when you're in your most optimal state, what is an affirmation that you would write on a flashcard that you could show yourself on your worst day?
I am Simon T. Bailey, I am brilliant, I am loved, I am cared for. And every single day, in every way, I am brilliant.
Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Simon T. Bailey does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. 🚀
As we mentioned earlier, relationships have been the single biggest forced multiplier for you and I to get to where we are today and all of the opportunities that we've attracted and continued to attract. What can people do to start identifying the right relationships to focus on, and how can they leverage them for long-term, mutually beneficial gain?
I think if there's a relationship you really want to connect with, think about the value that you can bring to that relationship. Just don't go up with hat in hand saying, "Can you help me?" Coming from that place to say, "How can I be in service to you?" That's the first thing.
The second thing is when you're looking to establish a relationship, do more than what is asked for. Find a way to go that extra inch. I had someone who I've gotten to know over the last few years and he has more money than he knows what to do with. But his birthday was coming up, so we decided to make a donation to a charity that he supports. And we just did it and a note was sent from the charity to him that we made this donation, we heard from him, he was elated. He reached out and said, "What can I do for you?" It's always just looking for another way to build that relationship.
When you're looking to establish a relationship, do more than what is asked for.
And I think the third thing to consider is to go back to a relationship who has given you feedback or advice and say, "Here's what I did, here was the impact," and, "Thank you. What can I do to return the favor?"
We have two questions now from the Win the Day community. We've got Danny in Sydney, Australia who asked, "What did you do with your children from a young age to build positive relationships, establish resilience, and put them on the right path?"
I took my children as many times as I could, on trips with me, to expose them to the world. The kids have been to Hong Kong, they've been to Singapore, and just exposing them to what's possible.
The second thing is a couple summers ago, I actually hired my kids to work for the company. They had to listen to podcasts, read books, read articles, watch videos that I had sent to them already curated, and then write a report. It was my sneaky way of them hearing the best of the best from others, instead of dad telling them! And I paid them.
We had another question from the Win the Day community, from Will in Brisbane, Australia. Will asked, "How do you make time for the special moments, when you've got both work pressures and life pressures and you know you can't drop the ball on either of them?"
Yeah. I would say well first of all, I love Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney! I've been to all three places. Australia is one of my favorite places in the world. Great food in Melbourne, by the way.
Great food and coffee, too!
I have an app called the Day One Journal that I use. And in that app, I'm constantly tracking how am I doing? What am I going to accomplish that day? And I might write down a word or two, but it informs my state of thinking and it sets the tone for the day. I just looked at my Day One Journal app, and I have almost 1,000 entries in it. Because it's that habit of going to it and seeing where I was this time last year, the year before, that allows me to say, "Here's how we're getting better." But then the second thing, it also holds me accountable to say, "You know what, you've been stuck in this rut of thinking and it's time to shift gears and think in a new way."
Final question, what's one thing you do to win the day?
Every single day, wake up and I take a deep breath. And I say, "I am so glad that I have this day in front of me." Because somebody laid down last night and they didn't wake up this morning. So, the ability to pay attention to your breathing and getting centered, that's how you win the day, every day.
Resources / links mentioned:
⚡ Simon T. Bailey website.
📙 Shift Your Brilliance by Simon T. Bailey.
✔️ Simon T. Bailey on LinkedIn.
📝 Simon T. Bailey on Facebook.
📷 Simon T. Bailey on Instagram.
🚀 Win the Day group on Facebook.
📚 An Enemy Called Average by John Mason.
💚 The Go-Giver by Bob Burg.
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