Making Molehills Out of Mountains, with Adam Outland – Episode 403 of The Action Catalyst Podcast
- Posted by Action Catalyst
- On November 8, 2022
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- Business, CEO, coaching, entrepreneur, leadership, motivation, Southwestern Advantage, southwestern consulting, success
Adam Outland, Partner at Southwestern Consulting, Elite-Level Sales and Leadership Coach, and host of the “Inside Great Minds” Podcast explains the importance of learning how NOT to be and how to let go graciously, the equation for creating a personal mission statement, nurturing youth leadership and teaching emotional intelligence, the virtue of deferred gratification, debunking antiquated psychology, and being a grown-up baby.
With more than 15 years of sales and leadership experience, Adam is a top producer in his field, with the conviction and proven ability to lead his clients to do the same. As an Elite-level coach and Partner for Southwestern Consulting, he thrives on awakening others to their potential and inspiring them to create powerful impact.
Since joining SWC, Adam has become an integral team member, maximizing the opportunity to serve clients at every level and across a wide variety of industries. His coaching offers the advantage of crucial accountability while equipping others with the knowledge to begin making key decisions and become more effective both personally and professionally.
The path to coaching began early for Adam, as he spent all four college summers developing one of the largest-producing sales teams for Southwestern Advantage at the time. Adam would sometimes work more than 100 hours per week to consistently be a top sales producer while managing his representatives in the field. During his last few years with Southwestern Advantage, he pioneered a mentor program for college students across the country, allowing them to access the same principles and concepts that he learned throughout the Southwestern summer sales and leadership program.
Adam’s proven performance as a top producer has consistently spanned his history with Southwestern. He was ranked #2 in team production and was a President’s Club Member (representing the Top 1% of the company) eight out of nine years. He also received the distinction of Platinum Certification in Sales and Recruiting, the highest level of achievement possible. In addition, Adam developed a method of leadership development and recruiting within the company that has since been adopted by half of the U.S. sales managers. He is also founder of Southwestern Consulting’s Student Coaching division, a 1:1 coaching program specifically designed for students ages 13-19.
Adam enjoys giving back, serving on the board of a local non-profit and also produces a podcast, “Inside Great Minds”. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Adam resides in Texas with his wife, Tina, a field hockey coach and club owner. They share a passion for coaching and changing lives.
The Action Catalyst is presented by the Southwestern Family of Companies. With each episode, the podcast features some of the nation’s top thought leaders and experts, sharing meaningful tips and advice. Learn more at TheActionCatalyst.com, subscribe below or wherever you listen to podcasts, and be sure to leave a rating and review!
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(Transcribed using A.I. / May include errors):
Intro: Today’s guest is Adam Outland, partner at Southwestern Consulting, elite level sales and leadership coach, certified trainer, speaker, and host of the Inside Great Minds podcast. With over 15 years of sales and leadership experience, Adam is a practitioner and top producer in his field with a conviction and proven ability to leave his clients to do the. Adam is a sought after coach, skilled in awakening others to their potential and inspiring them to create powerful impact, a perfect fit for the action catalyst. We hope you enjoy.
Dan Moore: Welcome to the Action Catalyst. Yeah, thanks. Having known you since you were a We College student, it’s really fun to have you as a guest here on the show. So glad we get to talk. I think it’s amazing. You know, you’re a husband, you’re a father now, you’re a business leader, you’re an innovator, you’re an entrepreneur. You kind of put everything together in such a great way, and I’d love it if we could backtrack a little bit, maybe share some of the most important pivot points in your life, culminated in your position as you are.
Adam Outland: Yeah, there are a lot of pivot points, but I, I’m, I’m gonna get to, uh, embarrass you as the host today, Dan, because a couple of those get to be about you. , uhoh over the, the first four years of selling books with Southwestern, we, we got to spend some, some special time together because you would often travel to Washington DC to help us on the hill, um, and advocate for, for a lot of the things that are important for our company and our people.
And, uh, I asked to tag. And, uh, we, we got to have a really awesome, I think it was breakfast or lunch. I, I just remember that conversation as being a pivot point because I respected you and your ability to motivate and inspire people from stage, uh, how you delivered that and, and how authentic you were when you spoke.
So I, I wanted to pick your brain on, you know, how does one get that good and then how does one get a stage to deliver from, if I remember right, what you shared. You know, you said Adam, you know, first of all, you gotta have a platform where people want to give you a stage and, and you really have to develop that platform.
You have to be able to have clarity around your message. And then the second thing is to be able to motivate and inspire people. You, it really starts with learning how to motivate and inspire the hardest person to motivate and inspire and that’s yourself. And I was like, there it is. I took that lesson to heart and I think that was a pivot point because I spent a lot of time building topics that would matter and would be I.
Dan Moore: I think that’s fantastic and thank you so much for being so gracious with that. I know you were Southwestern Advantage for many, many years. You built a great sales organization and you also were involved in a program called lead, which was on campus development and mentorship for students. I have a feeling that Lead was a big, big part of the pivot point that led you to develop the student coaching program that you had up today.
Adam Outland: Yeah, so when I was working with Southwestern, I, one of the things I valued so much from, from that experience personally was the application to life that I took from the. My very first summer, you know, I had a, a great mentor. He really, uh, invested a lot into me that the first, you know, really through my entire career, but in particular, those first couple of, uh, summers and I learned a lot from his mentorship and I learned a lot from the application of, you know, getting rejected, uh, over and over and over again.
And peeling back what I call the layers of the, the onion, um, on who I am as a person and my ego. And so I obviously wanted to recruit people to have that same experience and have them sell books, but I also wanted it to be an available lesson, uh, for, for those that might not ever join us in, in working in that, that summer job.
And I saw a lot of the student managers, the people that I would recruit, develop, and bring with me to go sell during my college summers. Would go back to school and, and, and wouldn’t really apply the lessons. They, they would just kind of isolate their work ethic and drive. They were learning from our program and their persuasion skills and their discipline to the two and a half months over the summer.
And then some of them would just forget. They learned that lesson when they came back to to college. And so I built a little program called Lead. For myself, I, I needed it. I, I wrote a whole book, a notebook for goal setting, creating a vision, developing a greater vision, not just for our selling career, but in life in general.
I first applied it to myself. It was really helpful in having me, some of helping me have some of my best GPA semesters and most involved semesters in college. And then I turned around and, uh, modified it a little bit and started giving it to, to my student leaders when they got back from the summers so they could self apply it for themselves.
And then we expanded that to providing it freely on college campuses to equip young people with those skills. And we were doing it freely and not monetizing it necessarily, but I think that, um, that actually ended up being a, a really big part of the experience.
Dan Moore: I’m sure that it. Now along the way, Adam, have you hit any brick walls in your career trajectory? Something outta nowhere just floored you and stopped.
Adam Outland: So as a part of my role today is still doing professional one-on-one coaching and consulting, and I literally was just having this conversation yesterday with a client who had, uh, lost a number of his team members. They switched careers, switched jobs, you know, he prided himself on, on being a great leader.
And when you have 2, 3, 4 people leave to go do something different than work with you, it can be very easily easy to. Quite personally, and I found I was able to draw from some of my, my sales management experience that I personally had, and I, I related to my client and I told him I’ve done a really good job at at that and I’ve done a really, a horrible job at that I specifically recalled a time where I, I think I had a lot of, as a leader, I was kind of at a low point and I was very. Focused on myself, on my success, and when people were leaving my organization to not necessarily return, to continue to work with me, I was coming at it like to, to literally beg them to stay because I was, I was in a spot where I was like, oh, I, I need you.
I, I, I gotta have you here. And it was really unhealthy, you know, mentally to, to be in that place. And it obviously didn’t do any service for, for the people I worked with. And I’m still close with a lot of those people today. But it was a great lesson because it, it taught me how to not be, and I was able to share that lesson with a client and I said, you know, we.
We have an opportunity to develop people. And I have the benefit, having started my career as an 18 year old, to see already as a 36 year old, how much impact it can make in some of the people that we’ve managed to develop while they were still in college. And once you see that, you really understand, I think, a lot more about what leadership is.
It’s not about them having to work with you their entire career. It’s about equipping them and watching them be better parents, um, better spouses, better leaders in. And, uh, everybody is gonna leave at some point for retirement, for passing on to move to another business. And so we have to be able to let go graciously and, and wish them the best in their journey and realize that, um, we can build and not need every single person to stay.
Dan Moore: It sounds like you shared a lesson and perspective then. That’s right. Yeah. Now, Adam, you have a great thirst for learning, a great thirst for entrepreneurship. What causes you to grow and keep growing instead of just being stable? Cuz as, as a, as a business coach, you’re highly successful. You know, you can have a very financially stable, successful career, but there’s something in you that drives you to keep growing and not get complacent. Can you share any insights on that?
Adam Outland: I think it comes back to developing the, the lead notebook. One of the big questions I asked myself, and I wish I could quote the right author here, um, I think it was planted, but the book was called Success Principles and it’s a tome filled with really good principles.
But there was one chapter I read on developing a personal mission statement, and that was one of my primary exercises. And I spent a couple of days in my room, kinda locked in my room just. Brooding and redrafting this mission cuz it needed to represent something really important that had to represent my life, and my life’s work.
And, and try to get that down to one line is no easy task. But he gave a simple formula to do that. He said, you know, the first question you ask yourself are, what are different qual two, two qualities or two strengths that you possess that are fairly unique to you? And then the second question was, how do you enjoy using those qualities in service of others?
Right? How do you enjoy using those strengths? And the third is to imagine a world that’s a little bit more perfect than it is now in terms of how people interact and engage and, and to describe that world as you see it. So your community, how would your community be a little bit different if you could make it a more ideal place?
And then you combine those to, to create a mission. And I finally landed on a mission that to this day I still lean into, and that’s to use my charisma and creativity to help others realize that they can have a greater impact in this world. That mission statement led me to to work with Southwestern Consulting as a coach, cuz I realized they could both sell and deliver that mission to the world, which is one-on-one coaching as a way to equip people with their potential and, and help them see they can have a, a really large impact.
And then the second thing, Implementing that strategy to a younger age demographic. I said, you know, we, we do great work with, with adults. What if we caught someone in ninth grade or in eighth grade and we equipped them with some of these lessons and they still had all this life in front of ’em? What could we do?
And so that led me to, to, to growing into developing the student coaching, uh, curriculum that we have in, in Southwestern Coaching.
Dan Moore: Well expand a little bit on that curriculum and, and the number of lives that you guys have changed and impacted the coaches that you have, but then also how you, how you expanded it and the number of lives that you’ve been changing. So, riff for me for a minute on that topic.
Adam Outland: Great. Uh, 200 little over 200, um, students. We’ve. Coach now for, uh, quite a period of time. Our longest standing students have actually been coaching from day one, and they, they’re still trucking and that’s, that means they’ve been in coaching for over two, over two years now.
Really exciting. So we, we took the curriculum kind of an amalgamation of what we’ve taught students. We call it on the book field at Southwestern selling books. And then some of the, the work that we’ve done coaching over 18,000 now, over 18,000 professional clients one on one. We’ve learned a lot about how to help people make better decisions by modifying their decision making process, how to make, inform better habits in their daily life.
And that was the application that we built into youth. So we work with them on confidence. Not just the psychology of confidence, helping them define how they can possess confidence, how it’s a controllable attitude to take and what they need to put their confidence in for it to be consistent. Um, goal setting, vision, emotional intelligence. The list goes on. We keep adding to it every quarter. That’s been our curriculum.
Dan Moore: You talk about emotional intelligence, a lot of times people feel like that’s not something that can be taught, that the people either have it or they don’t. I think you disagree with that, but what are some examples of how you can help somebody become more emotionally aware and sensitive in those regards?
Adam Outland: Yeah, I mean, that’s such a big part of, um, why I feel sales is truly, uh, When done correctly is such a noble profession to have because it requires an education and emotional intelligence to be successful at it, right? And when you boil down sales, sales is about a trans, not just a transference of emotion in your conviction becoming someone else’s, but sales is really just about building relationships.
And I feel that someone who’s well equipped in emotional intelligence, You could say that same person’s well equipped in sales. They have an ability to build relationships and trust with people quickly, and that includes the ability to listen and ask good questions, to be able to speak and be aware of how your words impact others.
And so to be selective in your word choice in terms of influence influencing others. And then there’s the self-awareness component, which is that you can’t do any of what we just said. If you’re not good at managing your own emotions first, because your emotions tend to control your word choice. So if you manage your emotions through self-talk, through meditation, through breathing exercises, then you can begin after that’s established as a habit to influencing others.
Dan Moore: You know, the first time I heard the term emotional intelligence was when Daniel Goman wrote his book 30 something years ago on the subject, and he talked about the famous marshmallow experiment with little children at at Stanford. Do you think it’s possible to teach teenagers this concept of deferred gratification and postpone rewards?
Adam Outland: Yes. You know, and I wish I could just just totally say yes with every bit of conviction. I think the answer is yes. I think that, I think psychology, Relative to human history is still a very new topic. , that’s what I’m coming to realize. And as, as much as there are studies, um, that a lot of our, the books we really enjoy, they quote a lot of scientific studies.
We’re starting to find out more and more that some of those studies were not great studies. , you know, that were done a hundred years ago. And, uh, I actually, in fact, one of them from, uh, uh, uh, Stanford. Um, I believe he’s a Stanford psychologist who wrote on, um, habits recently. Uh, uh, he did a podcast episode on Tiny Habits.
He brought up how a lot of past studies on habits, as we talked about emotional intelligence and other things, uh, were were built on the, the role of 21 days. And while repetition does play a role, he said a much more important facet that we’ve recently learned, um, that deviate from some of the old studies that weren’t quite as sound.
Is it actually as important to feel really. About the thing you’re doing for the first time and to, so it’s, it’s actually healthier to set lower minimum goals because how you feel matters. And so when we talk about young people, um, the way that relates to emotional intelligence is the way we can help pe uh, young people learn anything, whether it’s the lessons from EQ or anything else, is it’s helping them feel good in the short term about any little action they might take in that direction.
Cuz if they start to associate. With that behavior. At the end of the day, we’re all grown up babies and that that still works. , if we good with something, we wanna do more of that.
Dan Moore: Right? Yeah. I think that’s, that’s so important. It also goes along with helping somebody develop any new skill. If you could help them become successful quickly and feel good about what they’re doing, they’re gonna be more eager to learn more and eager to grow and continue to progress, which is so cool. Yeah. You know, a lot of our, of our listeners, Are really doing really well in their lives. They’re, they’re productive, they’re happy, things are, are going well for ’em. The momentum is good. We’ve got some other listeners though, that, uh, are really kind of at the end of their rope. What advice could you give to somebody that is just stuck just dead in the water right now?
Adam Outland: The advice that I could give in this time that we have that would be most effective cuz it makes them do something, I guess would be to print out. Tape it onto the wall, frame it, but print and keep and read every day the poem. If by Red Kipling I have yet to find a more consolidated advice on how to deal with failure and also the makeup of a balanced man or woman.
Um, he wrote that poem, I believe, to his son who posthumously cuz his son had passed in in war in one of the world wars and. It was the poem he wished he had, could have read to his son. So, but it’s so good because he talks about what it really means to be balanced and successful in life. And it’s, it’s so articulate about the ability to watch something you’ve built, broken and build it up with worn out tools.
That’s one of the, uh, one of the wines. And, um, for me it’s, I read it all the time because there’s always a challenge. And then 10 years later, you look at that challenge and you realize that we tend to make mole hills into mountains. And once we’re on a little bit of a higher mountain, and you look down all these problems that have been. Sizeable in the moment just seemed to be quite small with perspective. And so take in perspective, read the poem if, and, uh, be motivated by the idea that we all can and are capable of building something all over again with worn out tools. Um, you know, with our passion and, and our mission. And sometimes that’s what’s required and it takes reaffirming that mission and not giving up.
Dan Moore: Persistence, perseverance. These are such important things. One of the lines that always stuck with me from H is when he said, if you can keep your head when all around, you’re losing theirs. That’s right.
Adam Outland: That’s it. Uh, well, well quoted. It’s such a powerful, such a powerful poem. Mm-hmm.
Dan Moore: Certainly is. Well, Adam, you’re accomplishing a great deal with your life. You’re achieving well. You’re living in harmony and balance. It’s just inspiring to spend this time with you. So thank you so much for sharing with our guests on the Action Catalyst. Now you got a podcast of your own. Tell me a little bit about your own podcast and how that came to be and what your themes are.
Adam Outland: Yeah. Um, the, the podcast is Inside Great Minds with Adam Outland Inside Great Minds with Adam Outland. But we, uh, we started it a couple years ago, uh, just before Covid hit with, um, with really the concept that as I coached a couple hundred executives and managers and, and sales people, all different levels over my career, I, I felt that while I was able to. Quite a bit to them through the coaching relationship. I also got quite a bit in return. Um, I, I used every coaching relationship I’ve ever had to learn something and I found that a lot of the lessons that I had the opportunity to learn are probably worth sharing with others. So while I have a lot more than just my clients on as guests at this point, but there’s always just great lessons with people who’ve achieved and how they’ve made decisions. And that’s really been the focus, is to try and unpack the decision making process so that it’s something others can. And that’s, that’s been rewarding cuz they’re conversations I’d already love to have with someone. We just get to record ’em and make ’em available to everybody.
Dan Moore: That sounds fantastic. Adam, thank you again for being so unselfish and sharing of your wisdom and your insights. So happy for you and all the good things going on in your life, and please continue to be who you are.
Adam Outland: I appreciate that, Dan. Thanks for the time.