Let me start by emphasizing that when I use the term ‘boring’ business, it’s not intended as a disrespectful remark. In various discussions, there is a prevailing notion that businesses like dry cleaning may be considered ‘boring,’ but they can also be remarkably profitable. As you’ll discover in this episode, it doesn’t matter how unexciting your business may seem; you have the potential to distinguish yourself and have a significant impact.
In this thought-provoking episode, Jason (Jason S Bradshaw) sits down with Paul (Paul White), the author of the best-selling book, “The Answer Discovery: How to Change the World by Helping Others and Ourselves.” Paul shares his incredible journey and the powerful life lessons that inspired him to write the book.
The conversation revolves around the core themes of encouragement, respect, and love. Paul emphasizes the importance of appreciating and respecting team members in the workplace, creating a culture of positivity, and inspiring employees to make a difference in their unique ways. He highlights how encouragement is a powerful tool for building self-confidence and achieving greatness.
Paul’s experience in running a dry cleaning business serves as a practical example of how to stand out in a crowded market by focusing on customer experience and team empowerment. He shares insights on how to make employees feel valued, foster a non-competitive environment, and create an atmosphere where everyone can succeed together.
Listeners will gain valuable insights into how encouragement and appreciation can lead to a more fulfilled and joyful life, both in personal and professional contexts. This episode is a reminder that every life matters and every individual has the potential to make a positive impact on the world.
Don’t miss this episode full of wisdom, inspiration, and actionable advice to enhance your personal and professional life. Join the conversation and learn how to inspire positive change through encouragement and employee appreciation.
You can get Paul’s book – https://amzn.to/46X3fP9
Paul’s Website – https://www.theanswerdiscovery.com
Paul Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/theanswerdiscovery/
Paul’s LinkedIN – https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-answer-discovery-inc/
JASON: Hey, Paul, it's so great to have you on the show today.
PAUL: Yeah, privileged to be here. Thanks so much.
JASON: Well, first of all, before we get into the hard hitting questions, congratulations on your book, The Answer Discovery, How to Change the World by Helping Others and Ourselves. What a great title. What a great book. Congratulations on it being a bestseller. Thanks for taking the time to write it.
PAUL: Yeah, it's a funny story of how I came to write it. And I'll share with you that at the end of 2020. Think of, you know, the impact the pandemic had on all of us and everything. And I kept listening to all these people tell me over and over 2020, worst year of my life, 2020 worst year of my life.
And I was thinking to myself, I could have said the same thing. My business had been decimated and everything. And so right at the end of the year, I said to myself, what could I do in 2021 so that I would look back and say 2020 best year of my life. So what would have happened in 2020 that frustrated me so much that I could do something that I wouldn't have done otherwise.
And that's when I wrote the book. I started in January of 2021 and came up with this idea, this really unique idea, that could communicate the opportunity for people to help themselves by helping others. Something I really believe in.
JASON: Yeah. Being in service to others is rewarding, but also very much where our growth comes from, I believe, because we get to see a side of ourselves that we don't necessarily always see ourselves.
PAUL: Yeah. And it's interesting. If you think about it, we all spend a lot of time trying to make ourselves happy. And we typically are able to maybe do that on an inconsistent basis for a very short period of time. But one of the things that I've come to realize in life is that when we're helping others, the people I see that are helping other people on a consistent basis and stuff, those are the happiest people I know.
Consistently happy. And it brings such joy to people, to help other people, but I needed a tool, a way to communicate stories that would give people an opportunity and a perspective of, so how do I go about doing that? And I've written nine unique stories that all fall under this umbrella, and the umbrella is really this building called the Answer Dispensary, that when people are in trouble, or they have a challenge, or they're frustrated with their life, Because of a specific thing, they go to this building and they ask for help.
And what the building does is the building connects them with someone who is already previously experienced what was bothering them and they solved it. And they have time that has gone by that the solution has worked over the course of time. So it wasn't a, you know, quick fix that then the problem came back later.
And when they found the solution through someone else, then they wanted to share that solution. So, this person goes into the building, they get matched up with someone who's already solved the problem they have and they get together. One person who's already solved it helps them. And then the expectation down the road is, you know, we're going to be sending someone to you because now we've solved what you wanted to have solved. And the expectation is you will help others.
JASON: Yeah, paying it forward and continuing that chain (PAUL: Correct) of service. Now, there's a fairly, fairly bold claim around your book. There's over a hundred life lessons that you've baked into the book. Now, help us understand a little bit of your background. Have you always been this great penmanship where, you know, have you always had this great penmanship, just pumping out books and writing for a living or where do these hundred lessons come from?
PAUL: Yeah, the hundred lessons have come from my life. So two things about me. I think I was born with a natural exuberance and I've just always been a positive individual my whole life.
And people, you know, have asked me, you know, geez, how come you’re always so positive? And I'm thinking to myself, is there any other way that someone would want to be, you know what I mean? I just love being a positive individual and trying to see what's right. And, I, you know, have the saying, see the good, feel the joy.
When you see the good, you feel the joy. And so being positive. And the other thing is I've always had an insatiable curiosity. And that curiosity has always led me to want to know why. And so, you know, someone told me one time I was given a speech and they asked a question and they said, what if you don't like the people you work with?
And I'm like, well. Interesting. I said most times we're quick to frustration. So if someone does something that irritates us and it was really during the pandemic that this really came to help me, I would sit there and I would first think to myself, I'm really curious what happened in your life that you would be treating me this way.
Something happened. Something led you to where we are today. And then the second thing I did was I had compassion. And compassion really helped. It's like, you know, I wouldn't say these words, but in my mind, I'm saying, I'm so sorry that whatever led you to today, did. And it was at that point that I could sit there and just have a positive reaction and try to help that person rather than, you know, what would be typical is like, well, you're treating me bad. So I'm going to treat you bad.
JASON: I think it's so important to remember that we can have compassion in everything we do business and in our personal lives. Now, before the show, you and I having a great conversation, a great catch up. You were telling me about, dry cleaning businesses thatyou used to operate.
And what I didn't share with you is that my husband has made me endure countless, countless YouTube videos about how dry cleaning businesses operate. And I swear to you, if I walked out of my office today and said, guess what? I've just bought us a dry cleaning business. He would be tickled with excitement because for whatever reason he just finds them fascinating, but I can just feel from our conversation already in this show that you really had a sense of not just doing the transaction of cleaning the garment, but creating an experience for each guest or each customer that came into one of your stores and making it memorable for them. So of course you weren't the only dry cleaner and dry cleaning isn't your invention. So I'm wondering, considering, you know, business, how can you elevate your business that might be the same as, you know, you're no offense.
I didn't know your dry cleaning business personally, but you know, dry cleaning is dry cleaning. The guy or girl a couple of miles down the road that has a dry cleaning business is doing fundamentally the same thing. So considering about the customer experience, how can you elevate your company, whatever it is in whatever market? How do you think you can elevate their company over the competitors?
PAUL: So let's get back to something you said. Dry cleaning is dry cleaning is dry cleaning and everyone looks at it as an apples to apples comparison. And one of the things I learned early on is that someone would ask me, who's your competitors?
And you even said, well, there must have been other dry cleaners in the area that people could choose from. That wasn't who I was competing against, and I came to realize that the experience that someone had when they came to our store had to be unique. So we did a lot of things. I started focusing on all five senses.
And when you think about the five senses, when people would first walk in, we would have some artwork, not original, but we would have some Monet or Kandinsky up on the wall and some local artists that were good and had art. We had soft lighting. We had, instead of a counter like most dry cleaners have that's Formica and it's chipped and it's dirty and everything else, we had these maple block tables with stainless steel legs that look like they came out of Saks Fifth Avenue that they would have something like that there. I mean, people were putting their garments, their treasures on that table. It should be something nice. And then we had these little ovens and all day long, we'd be baking fresh baked cookies. And it was funny when I'd be engaged with the customer, I would never say, would you like one of our cookies?
I would always say, would you like one of our stress reducers? If you think about it, and I had this experience walking into a hotel once where I smelled fresh baked cookies that they offered. And I was stressed at the time and instantly that smell, you know, reminded me of grandma baking cookies and stuff.
And it reduced my stress. And I'm like, that's pure genius. We need to do that. So that was the smell. The sound, I would have really light, like coffee shop music playing in the background, not loud enough that it would interrupt the conversation. Or anything and touch, you know, the floor they were standing on had these beautiful rugs on them that they would come stand on.
And I told you about our counters and stuff and taste, you know, the cookies were incredible. And there was 1 additional thing that we added, and it was the encounter. It was interesting because we became friends with our customers to the point that we would have long conversations, and I never limited the people are customer service representatives from a time standpoint.
It's like, hey, we got work to do. Get back there or something. Never would I do that. In fact, it's funny. I learned early on, I went, this consultant, I went to a seminar and this consultant said, how many here, who's your lowest paid employee? And everyone said, oh, it's the counter girls. And first of all, calling them girls was rude and insensitive.
They weren't girls. They were women and you needed to respect that. And so, I learned early on, that's not what you call them. They are professional customer service representatives that you have trained and stuff. And they were always the lowest paid individual at a dry cleaner. It's like, well, the silk presser and the cleaner spotter, they have skills.
And so I'm going to pay them the most. And this consultant said, those are the face of your company. They're the ones interacting with the customer. They don't see the other people that you think you need to pay more to. They should be the highest paid individual because they're representing everything else to the customer.
And I bought into that. I really believed in it. So getting back to the competitors, I realized that the experience that someone had when they came to one of our stores had to be better than every other experience they had that day. It had to be better than the experience they had at a restaurant, at the bank, at the gas station. If they were filling up their car, it had to be better than the grocery store that they went to. It had to be the very best. And the way we would measure that is if someone walked out of our store and there was someone interviewing him and they said, did they do anything bad? It's like, no, no.
Did they do anything exceptional? No, I guess not. Then they're satisfied. And satisfaction is worthless. We weren't going after satisfaction. We were going after loyalty and loyalty was defined by the experience they had with us was better than every other experience they had that day. So that when they were sitting at the dinner table with their family, they were going, you wouldn't believe what happened at the dry cleaners today.
And you know, one thing we had an advantage with is that dry cleaners have pretty low expectations. Wouldn't you and your husband agree? They do. I mean, you know, it's like not, not that big a deal. So, you know, I just could feed off of that and say, we are going to wow you. And it was amazing. There was someone that moved to our community from Canada and I happened to be at a fundraiser and I was sitting next to her.
And when she found out who I was and that I own the dry cleaners and stuff, she said, I don't, you know, I don't know how else to tell you this, but when we have friends come from Canada to visit, I always take them to your store. Sometimes I don't even bring anything in, but I want them to, you know, experience.
And I tell them you won't believe what you're going to experience. You know, I can't pay for better advertising and marketing in that. And I think that's what gave us so much success. Realizing that it wasn't our competitors in our industry, every other experience they had, we were competing against and we had to be the best, the one that they would tell others about, and if we accomplish that, we were going to accomplish an awful lot of success, which we did.
JASON: Well, there's so much gold in the, what you just shared with us. The first thing I want to highlight is a point that is so important. The respect of your employees. Not the girls, not the front desk person, but your employees deserve respect.
They're professionals regardless of their pay packet. They are your team members and they deserve respect. The other piece of gold that I want to call out is not once did you say you were competing on price? Not once were you trying to outdo your industry competitors by putting up a big sign saying get, you know, your fifth dry cleaning garment free or anything like that.
You were who, how can I compete in a different way? How can I create an experience that they will be likely judging me against, which is not the dry cleaner down the road. It's everything else that they're experiencing in their day. And then the third part, which my good friend Jay Baer would call a talk trigger, is you created a reason for people to talk about their experience with you after they had it.
Now, the cookie, for example, Double Tree by Hilton is the chain that is famous for doing the cookie. It doesn't have to be a cookie, but just that unexpectedness that you were able to systematize and repeat regularly is gold. And then the other thing that I was thinking of when we were talking and we were talking about Oprah Winfrey before we hopped on the recording and a presentation she gave that I was at around intentionality, that in that intentional design that you had around why the counter couldn't just be any old counter?
No, that it was something that you wanted to put that extra attention or intentionality into. So already like blowing my mind. I like seriously people listening and watching along today just do everything that Paul just said in your own way and your business will stand out now I'm wondering, and you've been involved in all different industries in your career, you've got lots of experiences.
I'm wondering, what do you think the goal of a team member is though? What's going through their minds when they're on their way to work? Because so many of us, especially now, are struggling to really connect with our employees and to retain and attract great talent.
PAUL: Yeah. So Jason, one of the things I loved about your book, is that right on the cover. You not only talked about the customer experience, but you also included the employee experience. And I had the great fortune of working with, an individual. Her name was Hallease Sparky Bridges. And she was this wonderful woman that I brought in from California to do an assembly at a middle school about bullying and everything.
But I had a chance to spend some time with her. And she told me Paul, every day us human beings wake up craving three things. And I'm like, wow, okay, what are they? And she said, appreciation, respect and love. And I realized, you know, I had gone to some Disney seminars, which are wonderful. And you know, Disney is the master of culture.
They create a culture that is phenomenal, that I think we can all model after. And so I attempted to do that. And that appreciation, respect and love became so primary for me. And so every day the first thing I would do when I got to work is go to all of the people that I had the privilege to work with and let them know, number one, how much I appreciated them and number two, how much I respected them and the love kind of comes from those two.
Okay, so appreciation and respect. And the biggest thing, you know, at first it was like, Yeah, yeah, Paul, you said that yesterday. It has to be sincere. And so I had to come up with valid reasons that I appreciated them. Let me tell you what I appreciate about you. You know, you show up every day early. I think that's awesome.
You know, and that really says something about your character. And I really respect that. You know, I have a lot of respect. Plus the skill sets that we've trained you on that you have become a master on, you know, people don't know, but when they put on a pair of pants and it doesn't have a double crease going down the leg.
You know, that means something because you took pride in pressing that pair of pants and that little tiny thing that not everyone can deliver. That's what makes you so good at what you do. So the goal for our culture that we developed is that people would be driving to work excited about the day ahead.
I mean, it's like, I'm going to make a difference in the world today in my own small, unique way. And that was just so incredible that they'd be driving to work excited. I mean, they wanted to get there. And when they walked through the door, they knew regardless of what was going on at home, because, you know, we weren't the highest wage industry in the world, and in a lot of times people at home, they their home life and of course that doesn't matter with money. I mean, there's abuse at all kinds of homes and stuff. And they knew, though, that when they walked through the door, they were appreciated and they were respected. This was a place that they felt good about themselves.
And then on the way home, it was always a goal that they would drive home knowing that they had made a difference that day. In some way, they had made a difference in the lives of other people. And you know, when you feel that way, and it's sincere, what a great way to live life. And what a great way to celebrate the company you work for by being excited, coming to work and driving home, knowing you made a difference today in the lives of your coworkers and in the lives of your customers. And you know, I get really excited about, there was a book written called the power of giving away power. And, I just really enjoyed the concept that the guy had when he said that in corporate America, a lot of times people are walking into these meetings and they're competing against that other person.
They want to compete because they want the promotion that's coming up and stuff. And so they want to make sure that their idea is the one that everyone rallies around. And so they've got to make the other person's idea look bad and stuff. And it's like, let's throw all that out the door. What if we came through the door to a meeting recognizing that we're all unique.
We all have a unique set of skills. I don't have the same set of skills that you have but we're coming in together and what can we create together utilizing the uniqueness that we all have to offer each other because collectively we are an incredible group and we can create incredible things together. You know what, when you work in an atmosphere like that?
The things that get created and the things that occur are phenomenal. They're not at the other ones where people are pitted against each other and competing against each other. And, you know, I, we have four sons and we raised them and athletics was a part of them. But scouts was also a big part of us raising our kids.
And one of the reasons was that scouts allowed a non competitive environment where you were allowed to fail and try again. And if you think about that, there aren't many instances when we're raising kids to offer the ability to fail and try again until you got it. In school it's like, well, we can't go back you obviously didn't learn that material. We can't go back and try it again. We're moving on. And so kids get further behind. But we really utilized scouts in forming our kids to be adults who could work really well with other people. And that was important. And, you know, I just, I really love that teamwork and stuff.
And people say, oh, athletics is teamwork. And it's true. It is. There's some great teamwork skills that you can develop through athletics, but working together for the betterment of all, became so important and especially in corporate America, you know, what can we do together? And everyone feels good about that.
There's no winners. There's no losers. Everyone's a winner instead of individual winners and losers. And I love that.
JASON: Yeah. I really appreciate the emphasis on encouraging your employees to make a difference in their small way showing them, through showing them appreciation and respecting them.
And I'm sure they would go home at the end of each day with this sense of gratitude from you, from their leader for their contribution to the business. And as leaders, I think we need to do more of that. To show appreciation more, would you agree?
PAUL: Well, I just gave a speech that half of it was focused on encouragement and I use the example when you have a child and everything you think about after they're born, you're encouraging them.
It's like, come on, you can do it. Come on. And they're learning to crawl and walk and talk and everything. And we are the greatest encouragers in the world by age seven, data shows the kids are hearing 10 negative comments for every one positive affirmation. And as adults, we think, well, it's because of safety.
So we start using the words, don't, stop, no. And that's what they hear over and over and over. And we're concerned about their safety and everything else. And we think we're doing them a service, but we forget about the encouragement. And when you realize with adults, even myself, I crave and I love encouragement when people encourage me, it's amazing what I can do.
And, you know, we're all that way. And if we started adding a lot more encouragement, you know, one of my taglines in my book, and it's on the back cover of my book. The hard cover, and it says, hey, I believe in you. And you know, it's amazing what we can achieve when other people believe in us. There's so many of us out there that just believe that no one believes in us.
And that's a really lonely statement. We've got some real mental health challenges out there that we're facing right now. And here, when you look at a business and the people that have our attention. And that we're able to influence and stuff. Encouragement is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.
We should all be professional encouragers. And I worry that we've lost that somewhere. We're more inclined to see what someone's doing wrong than we are to focus on all of the things they're doing right. And there's a lot of power behind that.
JASON: So it's been great chatting with you today, Paul. Of course, for our listeners, a reminder of the book, the Answer, discovery, how to Change the World by helping others and Ourselves Filled with Over a hundred Life lessons and So much wisdom.
And now I'll have a link in the show notes to where you can get the book. Of course you can get it from everywhere great books are sold. But I'll also provide links to how people can stay in contact and follow your work. Paul, I know you've got another number of projects, in the works, but before I let you go, what's one thing that you would like to leave our audience with today?
One thing that they could start doing almost immediately that you think will make them have a more enriched, more fulfilled, more joy in their life.
PAUL: Well, the first thing I'd like to have them believe is that their life matters. Every person's life matters, not just to them, not just to the people close to them, but to all of us.
Every life matters. And when people realize that the things that they say matters and the things that they do matter to all of us, you start realizing that every person has the ability to do great things in their own way. We're all different. No one on this earth is exactly the same. And I just have such this great belief in individuals.
And sometimes all we need is one person to believe in us. And if someone feels they don't have anyone that believes in them, I'd like to be that person. They can utilize me. Please, I believe in you and you can accomplish great things and we're all going to accomplish great things together and we're all going to move in a positive direction.
And you know, that believe in yourself, you just have to believe in yourself. And it's amazing what you'll be able to do.
JASON: Well, Paul, it has been an absolute privilege and an honor to have you on the show today. Thank you so much.
PAUL: Thanks so much, Jason. Take care.