205: Build Human Capacity with Robert Glazer

Robert Glazer, five times entrepreneur, six times bestselling author, keynote speaker, founder of Acceleration Partners, which is a leading global partnership marketing agency. He is also the author of the Friday Forward newsletter, read around the world by 200,000 people. We discuss about his Capacity Building Framework, his approach to choosing projects, and the purpose of the Friday Forward Newsletter, culminating in Robert next-level ventures focusing on core values and growth in business.

Listen to the podcast here


Build Human Capacity with Robert Glazer

Our guest is Robert Glazer, five times entrepreneur, six times bestselling author, keynote speaker, founder of Acceleration Partners, which is a leading global partnership marketing agency. He is also the author of the Friday Forward newsletter, read around the world by 200,000 people. Robert, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me, Steve.

Well, let’s start with the beginning. How does one, be it five successful companies, writes multiple best-selling books when they still look much too young for my eyes? Do you see that?

Maybe not five successful companies, but I had the failures first, so maybe that was a good learning. But yeah, look, I probably unsustainably burned it at all ends for almost a decade. And so I’m doing some revisiting of my own physical capacity and trying to be more sequential in some of my work and not do everything at once. But a lot of it was really tied together, right? I was building, when I was building the business and acceleration partners, because I was a lot of sharing a lot of those stories and doing the writing. And my role in the organization evolved over time to be more of the sort of strategy and the culture. And I had a great kind of partner who took over the operation, the pieces that they often found in different people.

So what does it mean, Partnership Marketing Agency? What does partnership marketing look like?

Yeah, we’re a big fish in a small pond. So we focus on what partner and affiliate marketing, which is a form of digital marketing. And unlike kind of people Google, which is per click or Facebook or things that are impression based. Uh, this is where brands partner with publishers or affiliates who agree to promote their product or services, have everything tracked, and then they only get paid, uh, when it performs, sort of cost per action. So you could imagine, you know, you could be a partner of Amazon or affiliate and, you know, after this podcast and a recap and say, here are Bob’s five best books.

And if people buy those, you make 5% or 6% on each book. So it’s actually a big part of e-commerce. It’s probably about 20%. I think it’s not as talked about in public because people writing these lists and bestsellers and influencers, and they’re not doing all this stuff out of the goodness of their heart, but they may not want to make it super clear that anything you click on and buy from them, they get paid a part of. But this is basically how the content world is marrying up with the commerce world online.

A lot of people talk about influencer marketing and how influencers are so critical in promoting products, especially more mature products. 

Influencers big. And again, it depends on how you pay, like influencers are also affiliate. Some get paid $10,000 to build content and run a campaign, and some are actually just paid based on what they sell. So it’s just sort of the model around that.

So it’s all about finding the balance of providing the content and the advertising and how do you not burn out your followers, I guess.

You have to be authentic. You can, for a while, get away with just promoting things because you get paid for them. But I think the people who are actually most successful at this have huge fallings, a lot of authenticity, a lot of trust with their audience. And what’s happening today is that people trust other people about what to buy more than they trust the brand telling them. So it’s kind of distributed.

Makes sense. So going back to this, your track record building companies, several companies, and one of the things that struck me in our pre-interview was that you put a lot of effort into what you call capacity building, helping other people. I mean, you’re working through other people, obviously, and to help them be more successful. So tell us a little bit about your capacity building framework and how do you come up with it and what does it look like?

I came up with it by accident because actually I was writing these Friday Forward. I went to write a book. I went to write a compilation book and a bunch of people really liked the writing, but they said people don’t buy compilations. And so the agent that I eventually connected with said, look, what is the what is the theme behind these stories that you’re sharing? And when I went and sort of looked at it and like, how had I gotten better and how would I improve myself?

And then later, how are we improving our organization? It was kind of this concept of capacity building. So capacity building definition is the method by which individuals seek, acquire, and develop the skills and ability to perform at a high level in pursuit of their innate potential. Complicated, simply, I think this is the magic formula for how we get better. And every kind of high achiever or person that’s successful I have looked at, kind of follows this in some way. And think of it as four sort of sections of a ball that are intertwined, right?

Capacity building definition is the method by which individuals seek, acquire, and develop the skills and ability to perform at a high level in pursuit of their innate potential Click To Tweet

And if they’re growing, it’s going to grow and have a lot of mass, and it’s going to roll really fast. And if one’s really big and one’s really small, that ball is going to, like, fly all over the place. So those four components are – and they kind of go in a specific order, but they’re interconnected. They’re spiritual capacity, intellectual, physical and emotional. I’m happy to sort of explain each if that would be helpful.

And especially because they are sequential, how does it be, how do they be within each other?

So spiritual capacity, it’s not religious. It’s about understanding who you are, what you want most and the standards you want to live by. So for most people, that is their personal core values. And as an individual or a leader, you are going to do well when you are aligned to your core values and things you believe in most, and you are going to really struggle when you don’t. The difference between 1% of the population and 99% of the population is 1% of the population knows them, has them on their desk, can articulate it, understands those boundaries.

So spiritual capacity, it's not religious. It's about understanding who you are, what you want most and the standards you want to live by. Click To Tweet

The others probably just kind of do it by feel and recognize this feels horrible or this feels good. So once you know sort of what you want and the direction you want to go in, intellectual capacity is about how you improve your ability to think, learn, plan and execute with discipline. So this is your personal operating system. How do I get better? How do I improve? How do I do things faster and with less energy? It’s not about more.

You know, someone’s listening to this podcast because tomorrow maybe they’ll know something different or know how to do something different and better. Right. So, yeah, when you upgrade an operating system, think about it in theory, you know, it gets better and faster and smoother and runs the hardware in a more efficient way. So we know what we want. We’re getting better. Physical capacity is your health, well-being and physical performance.

You are going to do well when you are aligned to your core values and things you believe in most, and you are going to really struggle when you don't. Click To Tweet

So obviously your mental and physical discipline are huge components in how you’re going to be able to carry forward and how you feel every day. And then those three are really about the person. The last one, which is difficult for a lot of people, which is emotional capacity. So this is how do you react to challenging situations, your emotional mindset, and the quality of the relationships.

Once you know what you want, you’re working towards it, you maintain your physical mental health, then you need to like gravitate towards the right people away from the wrong people and focus on the things that you control. I always say if they were like a sports car, spiritual would be designing it, intellectual would be building it, physical would be testing it, but that car is going to perform very different when you put it on a track in the real world and there’s a bunch of other cars driving 200 miles around you.

So, you know, some of us have the first three all together, but then we suck when we, you know, go out and have to interact and deal with it or otherwise. So, I mean, I can give numerous examples of what it looks like to when one of these is super diminished. But I say they go in an order because if you haven’t nailed your values, if you haven’t figured out what you want, and let’s say you’re just really good at the other three things, this looks like a lot of people who end up in a midlife crisis where they climbed the wrong mountain.

They climbed a mountain that wasn’t important to them, that was someone else’s dreams, and they get to the top and they’re like, this isn’t what I want to do. I’m a world-renowned surgeon, and I want to be like painting on a lake in Canada, and I feel like this isn’t my success. So that’s what happens with that alignment. I mean, intellectual capacity, if you’re never getting better and making the same mistakes all the time, we know what that looks like.

When our physical and mental health deteriorates dramatically, we know what that looks like. And again, if I can’t work with other people or deal with the world around me, that’s there are a lot of geniuses out there. Their lack of emotional capacity means that their brilliant ideas and the things that they want sort of stay with them and don’t get shared with the rest of the world.

So maybe oversimplified. I mean, the way I think of it perhaps is the spiritual is why you’re doing these things. And then you’ve got your mind, your heart, and your body, essentially.

And then your relationship, those things around you.

Which is maybe the heart piece. So maybe the mind, the body, and the heart.

There’s the physical heart that you need to make sure it works and otherwise, and then the relationship heart, right?

The emotional heart. Yeah. I love it. That’s a great favor to keep in mind and to work on.

And I think most people who are struggling, right, or in some area feel like could probably really point to one of those things or do a diagnostic, and I have one on my site, and be like, this is where, again, I’m stuck in a rut, I’m just not learning, I’m not improving, or I’m constantly sick. And they can understand which areas are sort of holding them back.

Or you don’t have a purpose, maybe you’re physically fit and you’re reading and doing stuff and you have good people.

You got a really nice boat that’s just floating around in the water with no direction.

I love it, that’s great. So let’s switch gears here a little bit and let’s talk about what you do. You’re investing in companies and, sorry, you’re investing time in different companies, you’re obviously developing concepts, you’re writing books. How do you pick the projects and the topics and the companies that you invest your time in?

I mean, I really use my sort of core value rubric. So again, I, part of the framework we’re talking about, we spend a lot of time helping leaders figure out their personal core values. So I have five values, health and vitality, finding a better way and sharing it, which is kind of my dominant one, self-reliance, respectful authenticity, and long-term orientation. So when I look at different opportunities, to me, I think your values are the ultimate decision-making rubric.

And in my next book, I sort of talk about the big three, how you apply these things, your career or vocation, the community you choose to live in, or your partner, right? If you don’t have alignment on a value standpoint in those areas, there’s a very low chance of success. So when I think about the people that are involved, the type of work that I’m going to be doing, how can I help? Is it the fun thing that I would do when it feels like the clock isn’t running or it feels painful or otherwise? Usually I can tie it back to one or more of those things.

Your values are the ultimate decision-making rubric Click To Tweet

Okay that makes sense. So what about this Friday Forward Newsletter? What drives you to do this? I mean, you said that the biggest value is sharing with people.

Find a better way and share. If I figure something out, I inherently want to share it. So I’ve identified my core purpose as sharing ideas that help people and organizations grow. That’s what I find exciting. So I tinker with something, I test it. If I figure it out, I inherently don’t want it to be a secret. I want to sort of like open source it. So Friday Forward actually came out of a leadership retreat that was very focused on improving kind of the morning routine and writing and reading. And one of the suggestions was to sort of read something positive or uplifting.

And I didn’t like some of the stuff we were given. It was a little, I say like chicken soup for the soul type stuff, it wasn’t my cup of tea. And so I decided to combine those activities, kind of take some quotes and some articles I had saved and just, I started a note to my 40 person remote team every Friday, I think it was called Friday Inspiration or Friday Food for Thought. And I sent it for a couple months. I didn’t really know if anyone was reading it or cared. I enjoyed writing it. Sort of forced me every Friday to think of something to say. It wasn’t about our business.

It was really, they were all stories of capacity building, even though I didn’t have the vernacular at that time. And then I was actually at an event for Entrepreneurs’ Organization. I was kind of sharing this as a best practice, like, hey, I write this note to the team, and by the way, people are starting to write me back, and they’re saying it’s really helpful, and they shared it with their wife, and they shared it with their brother, you know, or something like that. And they were like, oh, that’s interesting, send it to us, you know, and we’ll take a look at it.

And I was sort of encouraging them to do the same thing. So one of them did the same thing. The other three were like, this is great, we’ll just send this to our teams, you know, every Friday. And so at that point, I thought maybe people outside the organization would be interested. It was being shared. I kind of redid it onto a list because it was just BCC and people were asking me, where’s the one from three weeks ago? And I had to dig out an email and I made a little index and I dropped 300 people on it. I thought I was going to get a lot of hate mail. I didn’t. Those people shared it. I ended up calling it Friday Forward because it was forwarded a lot within organizations. And I woke up three years later and 100,000 people were reading it in 60 countries.

That’s pretty cool. That’s pretty cool. So that’s one way of building capacity for people is to inspire them. What are other ways of building these four capacities, the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, for other people? Are there other methods that you use?

I talk about them in a personal or professional context. So my latest book, Elevate Your Team, actually took the capacity building framework and kind of applied it to an organization, right? So in an organizational context, if we go in order again, spiritual capacity relates to kind of helping other leaders figure out what they’re good at, what their values are, you know, I think there’s a lot of assessments out there. What’s their zone of genius?

Because a lot of people don’t know that. And I think they’re gonna lead differently when they know that. Intellectual in an organizational context, I think companies and cultures with high intellectual capacity, they build cultures of learning and feedback and strong habits and discipline. And this whole thing is about building people up holistically. If I build a culture that’s about learning, and maybe we can talk about good morning routines and taking time off.

Cultures with high intellectual capacity build cultures of learning and feedback and strong habits and discipline. Click To Tweet

And all of these things benefit the employee beyond just in that stated role they have today, but they help them holistically and they get them ready for the kind of role of tomorrow. It also helps people achieve their personal and professional goals and kind of coach each other to improve. So they’re just voracious learning cultures, right? There’s book clubs, there’s pod class clubs, there’s how do we do this better? And again, feedback is critical. How do you, cultures that know how to give feedback well and receive feedback, it’s not personal, but it’s about getting better and not relating mistakes.

Physical capacity, again, organizationally, like the first thing an organization do is not diminish people’s physical capacity, right? Which making them work 14 hours a day, having a horrible boss that sort of destroys, you know, physical and mental health. You want to make sure that people show up energized and focused each day. They’re effective in stressful situations. They stay in balance, that they’re not burning it to the kind of point of a breakdown.

And I think in the last 10 years, we’ve moved away from the Marissa Meyer and celebrating 130 hour work weeks while you had no increase in the value of the company over five years and just this like, let’s all work all the time. I mean, there’s an 80-20 rule and you can’t get around it. So, one of the biggest benefits of an organization in physical capacity is focus on outcomes, focus on the 80-20 rule because just doing is proven to get outcomes. And I think the last thing in an organizational context for emotional capacity, this I’ve most seen with organizations that have really high psychological safety.

They have open lines of communications. They have trust. People are willing to talk about the difficult things, disagree. They kind of disagree and commit in the Lencioni world. And you just have this trust at scale. So the trust that you and I might develop on a personal basis, you walk into a team and you can just tell that that exists. And what happens when you have that is people are willing to share ideas. They’re willing to speak truth to power and be like, Steve, we’re about to lose our shirt on this. And no one wants to tell you.

And I’m willing to say that because Steve is not going to fire me or ostracize me in the meeting. He’s going to say, well, thanks for speaking up on that. You know, I appreciate it. So it’s also a lot about ownership, kind of agency and control. You’ve probably seen this over the years. I’ve seen it most with sales teams. There’s a lot of sales teams. They never lost a deal that was their fault. Like never. It was the partner’s fault. It was the client’s fault. It was the other people’s fault. In an organization with high emotional capacity, leaders don’t let the team focus on the things that they don’t control. They have discussions and they, okay, we lost that deal. What could we have pitched better? What could we have priced better? We are not gonna sit here and complain about all the things that we don’t control. We’re gonna figure out how we do what we do better.

In an organization with high emotional capacity, leaders don't let the team focus on the things that they don't control. They have discussions and figure out how we do what we do better. Click To Tweet

Okay, well, I love it. So again, switching gears here, what makes you excited? What are you working on that is gonna be a next level thing for you?

I’m excited about helping people understand their core values more. I think it’s a very often used term, but people don’t know what it means and they don’t know how to do that. And I’ve been spending a lot of time with our teams over the year and then building the course and opening that up and kind of working on a book on that. I just watch the epiphanies people have and see how it sort of unlocks for them.

Because these things run really deep, because they run to childhood and formative experiences, people have been leading these ways, manning around it, thinking it was a negative, maybe in some ways for a time when they learn how to identify it and to lead into it and communicate their team. I think they show up as that sort of level four or five authentic leader that Jim Collins talks about. But yeah, I’m excited about that. I’m excited about kind of getting back to companies that after this 10 year of being of, you know, free capital and hyper growth, getting back to companies that are growing because the people are growing and doing well.

And that’s what Elevate Your Team was about. It was kind of this new playbook. How do we grow the business by growth of people? Not say we’re gonna grow 10,000% and we’re gonna burn and turn over all the people five times, which you could do in the last five years, ten years. I think after COVID and sort of the societal burnout we have, I just don’t think that’s going to work. In fact, if you’re privileged enough as an organization to be having a year where you’re like, we’re going to grow 50% this year, I think a lot of the staff like groans. They’re like, we’re tired. Like, we don’t want to do that. If this is going to burn us out, we’re not interested in that. Because that’s what they’ve associated. I love growth and I love growing things, but people have this negative association with growth after this sort of steroid decade of free money and growth.

Well, you know, growth is definitely painful. And there’s a certain amount of pain that you can bear and a certain amount of pain that crashes people. And you don’t want to crush them, you want to keep them in that golden zone of having fun and being inspired and being energized and definitely overgrowth. I mean, I see some of my teams, even I make this mistake, probably this month I’m taking on too much and I’m feeling a little bit burnt out by my goals, which are too big for this month. And I see my clients as well, if they get the right kind of goals that keeps them in, working at the stretch a little bit.

It will feel like they’re riding that growth wave, not drowning under it. And the best way I have to explain this is an analogy. So let’s imagine that NASA sends a crew and a capsule to Mars, right? And it lands on Mars, and they’re like, we’re going to Mars, we’re going to Mars. And it lands on Mars, and they open up the thing, and all the astronauts are dead. I don’t think people are gonna be on TV cheering and shouting. Like, the point wasn’t to just get the capsule there, right? It was to get the team there and have everyone be part of the goal. I think it’s an interesting analogy when we think about a lot of these companies have gotten to these hollow growth goals by basically killing the team along the way. And they’d be much better off if you had a lively group of astronauts jumping out of the thing when you get to the mission and saying, we all did it.

That’s definitely better. All right, so how can listeners sign up for Friday Forward or connect with you or learn more about your projects and what you’re doing and get engaged with your organization?

Sure, yeah, everything is at robertglazer.com so they can sign up for Friday Forward. The course is there, the books are there, all the stuff that I do is there. If you’re interested in partner affiliate marketing, you can go to accelerationpartners.com and we have a whole bunch of great content there to get people started. All right.

Well, Robert Glazer, five-times entrepreneur, six-times best-selling author, author of the Friday Forward. Thanks for coming and sharing about building up human capacity in organizations. That’s super important. And yeah, thanks for sharing that on the show. And for those of you listening, stay tuned because as you can see, we have more and more exciting entrepreneurs joining the show and with great topics and great frameworks spilling out here. So thank you and have a great day. So thank you and have a great day.


Important Links:

This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.