How to Create an Amazing Brand with Michael Roderick

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Michael Roderick to discuss brand strategy and his work around creating “referrable brands.” This conversation covers a wide range of topics related to brand strategy, including his AIM model which stands for Accessibility, Influence, and Memory. We apply this framework to a variety of business examples, including my own efforts at Zander Media. I hope you enjoy!

Podcast Notes:

3:30 Michael’s background
Robin refers to:
Made To Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
6:30 How Michael and Robin know each other
Responsive Conference
Responsive Org Manifesto
10:30 Teaching and learning
15:30 Transitioning from teaching to starting a business
Michael mentions:
Linchpin by Seth Godin
18:15 Michael’s talk at Disrupt HR
20:45 Referrable brands: Accessibility, Influence, and Memory
24:00 Michael’s podcast
26:30 Applying AIM to Zander Media
30:15 Influence
34:00 Memory
40:00 Lin Manuel Miranda, Geico, and Apple
46:15 Find more about Michael:
Small Pond Enterprises
47:45 Find more about Robin:
Zander Media
Responsive Conference
Robin Zander Show Podcast
Newsletter – Personal
Newsletter – Responsive

Perfectionism | Financial Freedom Workshop

Perfectionism can limit your creative fuels. The fear of failure can be crippling, and the pressure to execute consistently can paralyze you from trying at all. To help combat this, try making a list of 10 ways you can do any specific thing unsuccessfully.

The idea is to find ways to do something incorrectly, on purpose, in order to get your ideas flowing and remove your self-judgment. You are intentionally making a list of rough drafts, instead of stressing about any of those thoughts being perfect. We only become good at things after failing at them repetitively.

This was recorded live at a Financial Freedom workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area. This, and other workshops, are put on by Motion, which offers online and in-person events on money, mental health, and self-awareness.

Take a look at the next Financial Freedom workshop or join the Motion newsletter for more information.

What’s Your Purpose? | Financial Freedom Workshop

We all have a myriad of beliefs, and it is useful first to recognize your beliefs. But it is also possible to amplify them, and use your beliefs as fuel to create more of what you want.

In this exercise, we looked for the earliest memories of a specific belief, and then turned the belief into a statement of purpose. This process took an abstract memory and created an action that feels tangible and possible.

This was recorded live at a Financial Freedom workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area. This, and other workshops, are put on by Motion, which offers online and in-person events on money, mental health, and self-awareness.

Take a look at the next Financial Freedom workshop or join the Motion newsletter for more information.

How to Ask Better Questions with Daniel Stillman and Robin Zander

In this episode, my friend, Daniel Stillman, interviews me for his podcast, The Conversation Factory. We discuss how to ask better questions, the value of loving, non- judgmental questions, and my story.

I hope you enjoy today’s podcast as Daniel flips the script and interviews me on the art of asking questions.

Line Notes

1:15 How Robin describes himself

5:15 Responsive Org


10:00 How do you define learning?

14:30 Asking loving questions

17:45 Practice versus performance intervals

22:30 Physical and emotional pain


Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini

24:30 Asking loving questions

29:00 Robin’s interest in asking questions

32:30 Anat Baniel

37:00 The Option Institute

40:45 Categories of questions


Larissa Conte at Responsive Conference

45:15 Robin’s Cafe

47:00 Find Robin:

We are in Control of our Own Reality | Financial Freedom Workshop

We are each in control of our own reality. If you feel that making money by selling your art or your work is impossible, go find other people whose work you admire that are successful. If someone else has done it, you can do it too. Find roll models that have something in common with you to help you believe in your own abilities.

This was recorded live at a Financial Freedom workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area. This, and other workshops, are put on by Motion, which offers online and in-person events on money, mental health, and self-awareness.

Take a look at the next Financial Freedom workshop or join the Motion newsletter for more information.

How To Tell Your Story – Robin Zander at HR Transform

This is a talk that I gave at the HR Transform conference in Las Vegas to the Heads of HR of some of the fastest growing tech companies you have definitely heard of. The context for my talk was storytelling. I pulled on my experience at Robin’s Cafe and Responsive Conference to help others tell their story.

In today’s world, it’s not enough to just have a great company culture – you have to share that story with the world.

The aspects that make your organization unique create incredibly compelling narrative. It has never been easier to get your ideas out – to your company, your customers, and the broader world.

Find the reason you do the work you do, and share that out with the world.

What Brings You Joy? | Financial Freedom Workshop

If you want to save more money, adopting principles of behavior change will be important. What areas of your daily life can you cut back on spending?

It’s important to be thoughtful on what you spend money on in conjunction with how you want to live. That being said, if something in an unnecessary expense but brings you immense joy, don’t cut it out. Whether that’s a $5 latte or traveling with family, don’t starve yourself of the things that make you happy. Look for other areas that could be cut instead to help coordinate what you want with your long term goals.

This was recorded live at a Financial Freedom workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area. This, and other workshops, are put on by Motion, which offers online and in-person events on money, mental health, and self-awareness.

Take a look at the next Financial Freedom workshop or join the Motion newsletter for more information.

The Story of Robin’s Cafe | Financial Freedom Workshop

This is the story of how I came to own Robin’s Cafe in the course of 3 weeks with no initial intention or experience in purchasing a coffeeshop. The mental and emotional growth I gained through that experience was instrumental.

From that experience, I also found that when we show up humbly and ask for help, people are extremely receptive. People who love you will want to see you succeed. I was able to raise $40,000 to open the cafe, ran it for 2.5 years, and sold it for $140,000. I left satisfied with many lessons learned and a new understanding of money.

This was recorded live at a Financial Freedom workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area. This, and other workshops, are put on by Motion, which offers online and in-person events on money, mental health, and self-awareness.

Take a look at the next Financial Freedom workshop or join the Motion newsletter for more information.

50 Ways to $50,000 | Financial Freedom Workshop

50 ways to 50k is a game you can play to come up with ways to make extra money each month.

The first step is to choose an amount of money that feels really achievable for you to make additionally to your normal income each month. The second step is to brainstorm 15 ways to make that amount of money for next month. The third step is to decipher whether each job you came up with will make money continuously or just one time.

When thinking through job options, look through your skillset and your range of experiences to pick out several different, practical ideas. It may not be a job you feel totally confident in or very excited for, or it may be a job you feel more than overly qualified for. Regardless, any of those jobs will help motivate you and get you moving towards what you want. Often times, we are so stuck in not knowing how to get where we want to go, that we remain completely frozen. This game helps you move towards more certainty and gives you the emotional security to know that you can provide for yourself. That list of jobs may not be how you want to do things permanently, but it teaches you that if you need to make money in a bind, you can.

This was recorded live at a Financial Freedom workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area. This, and other workshops, are put on by Motion, which offers online and in-person events on money, mental health, and self-awareness.

Take a look at the next Financial Freedom workshop or join the Motion newsletter for more information.

Find Your “Why” | Financial Freedom Workshop

One consideration about money that we don’t talk about enough is establishing a clear “why”. The reason you want something can be highly motivating, and the absence of a clear “why” can limit you from taking direct action.

Be specific with how much more money you want, why it is important to you, and what it is for. Defining that can be a driving force to achieving your financial goals.

This was recorded live at a Financial Freedom workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area. This, and other workshops, are put on by Motion, which offers online and in-person events on money, mental health, and self-awareness.

Take a look at the next Financial Freedom workshop or join the Motion newsletter for more information.

An Interview with New York Times Best-Selling Author, Lindsay McGregor

I recently sat down to chat with Lindsay McGregor in New York City.

Lindsay is the co-author of The New York Time’s best selling book Primed to Perform and also spoke onstage at Responsive 2018.

She and her husband co-founded the company, Vega Factor, which works with fortune 500 companies, fast growing start-ups, and a wide variety of other organizations to improve performance. In this interview, we discuss her life, her work, and her personal journey to peak performance.

Building a Great Place to Work with Cindy Gordon, Head of People at Policygenius

I took a 36 hour trip to New York City recently, and among other meetings, I had the pleasure of 30 minutes on camera with Cindy Gordon, Head of People at Policygenius.

Cindy spoke at Responsive Conference 2018, and Policygenius has been heralded as one of Inc’s Great Places to Work. We discuss her work and the tactics Cindy applies to build a great company.

Learn more:


Having Intentional Relationships (and Clear Boundaries)

Friendship isn’t something that most people do intentionally. Ordinarily, we “fall” into and out of relationships and friendships, without thinking through what we want or why we are there.

In this video, I tell the story of how I became friends with Michelle Love, my co-founder at Motion ( Michelle brought a level of clarity and specificity to what our friendship would look like that could help with creating many types of different relationships.

To make any strong connection with someone, you should get to know them deeply and then invite towards something that is in your mutual interest. Being thoughtful about your needs and intentions sets up a strong foundation for your future time together.

How to Get Over Childhood Resentment With Your Parents

One day, after my first year of college, I came home and proposed to my parents that we have a real relationship. I had always been grateful to have them, but I had never really made the choice actively to have a relationship with them. I promised to always be loving, speak my truth, and not hide pieces of myself from them, and I invited my parents to do the same with me. It made a huge difference to show up like that for each other, not because we are obligated to as family, but because we were all choosing to do so. Who in your life do you want to have a better relationship with?

How To Relate To Anybody

My father’s ability to speak to different audiences in a language that was familiar to them has always stuck with me all of my life.

Individually, we all have the ability to chose how we relate to the people we are with. Prioritize connecting with others. Demonstrating that desire to meet people where they are goes such a long way.

Entrepreneurship, Business, and the Freedom to Work On Your Own Terms

Running your own business isn’t about throwing around stacks of $100 dollar bills. It is about taking ultimate responsibility, doing the work necessary, and making hard decisions.

When you run your own business or work for yourself there an essential element that we don’t talk enough about. Freedom. It gives you the freedom to set your own hours, to call the shots, and to be your own boss. It gives you the ability to live the life you want and provide for the people you love. But that also comes with the freedom to fail if you don’t do the necessary work. 

What is freedom for you, and how can you take steps to getting more free in your professional life?

What Is Resistance?

Steve Pressfield coined to term “Resistance” in his incredible book “The Way of Art”.

When it comes to any job, you have to do the work. If you are putting on events, you have to sell tickets. If you are writing a book, you have to sit down and write. Everything else, in many ways, is just busy work.

Whatever your end goal is, do what is actually needed to accomplish it. We often do everything but what we need to do – and that is resistance. It is a hesitancy to own your truth. Avoid resistance by doing whatever needs to get done, if you want to do the best work of your life.

What’s Your One Thing?

We are all so busy, distracted, and distract-able. We are surrounded by social media and news pulling us in a million different directions.

The solution to that is very simple: identify the one thing that you need to do right now to move forward whatever you are trying to accomplish, and do that one thing.

This is true in relationships, building a business, and even fitness. We get caught up in the little things and the judgment of not thinking we are doing enough, when all we really need to do is just one thing to move us towards the end goal. It really is that simple.

How I Came To Love Learning

One of my earliest memories at 8 years old, is trying to keep up with my father as he ran his very first marathon. I was heartbroken that I could only make it about 200 yards compared to his 26.2. 

All of my life, my identity has really been tied to my physical exploration. I have tried many different domains of movement very intensely – gymnastics, juggling, fencing, ballet, surfing – and found that even if these forms are all very different, they all have something in common. The excitement of learning is the same, no matter how different the exercise.

For me, movement is less about doing something physical, just for the sake of doing it, and has become more about my interest in studying and training. Learning can be fun, addictive, and internally motivating. My passion for exploring has led me to try many different forms of movement.

Learn to Move by Going Small

If you want to change a behavior long term, make sure you celebrate the small victories. Reward yourself for your success – no matter how tiny or ridiculous – and you will be more likely to repeat that action again in the future. Even if it feels silly to do, the first step to make a new habit stick, is to celebrate yourself bigger.

How to Change Your Behavior | Step 1: Start Small

There are things for each of us that we want to improve, behaviors that we want to change. The first and most important step is to start small. Whatever new habit you want to establish is, make it as small as possible (and then smaller still).

BJ Fogg, PhD, uses the example of flossing. If you’d like to begin flossing your teeth, set the new goal to be flossing a *single* tooth. And then, even though it seems silly, celebrate the success of flossing that one tooth.

The smaller you make the initial goal, the more likely you are to succeed, and the more likely you are to continue growing the habit over time! 

How to Start the Fitness Habit? Take small easy steps to make it stick

“Behavior design”, a term coined by BJ Fogg, PhD., means how to design behaviors to them easier to adopt.

I think about this a lot in fitness and in movement. Like most people, there have been many times that I have joined a new gym and then only gone one time.

These days, I almost effortlessly get up at 5am most morning to train for 2 hours, and I love every moment of it.

This transformation hasn’t come about by judgement or sheer force of will, but by applying the principles of behavior design and taking tiny steps over time.

The Fitness Habit

We have all been told to exercise more. “Just do it”. Get more fit. Fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry built around shame.

And yet, wellness is the foundation upon which our emotions, intellect, and spirituality all rest. Getting physically strong allows us to better support ourselves and everyone in our lives.

I recommend you search for your “why” to your personal fitness or wellness journey. Exercising solely because you want to look a certain way is usually not enough of a motivation and often is not addressing the underlying issue – insecurity. I move because I love moving and find joy in physical exploration. 

Before entering the gym, ask yourself what is your “why”? It will help you to help create longterm, lasting changes.

Brave New Work with Aaron Dignan

Our most trusted and important institutions – in business, healthcare, government, philanthropy, and beyond – are struggling. They’re confronted with the fact that the scale and bureaucracy that once made them strong are liabilities in an era of constant change.

Welcome back to another episode of the Robin Zander Show! I’m thrilled to share today’s interview with Aaron Dignan, author of the new book Brave New Work, as well as founding member of Responsive Org.

In today’s interview, Aaron and I discuss his work with The Ready, supporting the growth of some of the biggest companies in the world, how he came to co-found Responsive Org, and the idea of an organization’s “Operating System” – the driving principles and practices which shape an organization.

We dig into two specific aspects of the OS Canvas: strategy and compensation. How does any company – from AirBNB to Robin’s Cafe develop and hone a strategy that supports the company, and its people. But then, more tactically, Aaron lays out specifics approaches to compensation and pay that decrease stress and uncertainty at work and allow everyone to focus on doing work that matters.

I hope you enjoy this conversation with Aaron Dignan!

Show Notes

2:20 How Aaron found himself looking to change the future
7:00 OS Canvas
10:00 Strategy
14:00 Correcting course to find control
17:00 Finding purpose and serving that purpose
20:00 Compensation
22:15 Compensation model for new companies
27:00 Inspiring companies:
Everlane, Inspiral, Bridgewater
– Mentions Principles by Ray Dalio
31:00 Returning choice back to the local environment
34:00 Amazon and Whole Foods
40:00 Future of education
– Adam Pisoni podcast part 1, and part 2
42:00 Tactical takeaways
45:00 Find Aaron:
Brave New Work
The Ready
Twitter: @aarondignan

How To Sell (By Only Selling To People Who Are Already Bought In)

I would like to share some great advice I once got from Professor B.J. Fogg at Stanford. He told me to never sell to people who don’t already want what you are selling. Trying to persuade people who don’t want what you are offering is a waste of time. Instead, focus on selling to those who are already bought in.

How to Sell Anything – What Most People Get Wrong about Sales

Selling has a bad reputation.

Most us think about “used car salesmen” kinds of selling and there is plenty of that! At Robin’s Cafe, we used to get dozens of calls every single day from start-ups trying to pitch us on “We’re Yelp, but for Cafes” or the like. My baristas would have to answer, because that was the same line customers called to place orders.

But selling is also something that each of us does every single day – enrolling, persuading, inviting. Asking a friend to come to the gym with you, planning a lunch, asking someone out of a date, trying to persuade you kid to put on their shoes before going outside.

I have an unusual approach to sales. Actually, I think most long-term successful salespeople do.

The first step, in any call or conversation, is to establish clear boundaries:
–How long is the conversation going to last?
–What’s the purpose of the meeting?
–Even if it was previously scheduled, ensure that now is (still) a good time to talk

Then, I set a clear intention for this call. For me, frequently, that is to love the person I’m with. But if that’s too vague for you – it could be to be present, to help them, to support them. Whatever your goal *for the other person* is in this meeting.

The next step is some amount of guesswork. I take my best guess as to what is in this person’s best interest. I have, many times, sold something other than what I set out to talk about because I realized that what I was offering wasn’t in this person’s best interest. There are more than 7 billion people in the world. It is totally fine if this isn’t somebody who should buy what you’re selling, or if they don’t want to go to the movies with you tonight, or if your kid just won’t put on their shoes.

If what I’m selling really is in their best interest, then I invite powerfully towards that outcome – be it to the movies, putting on shoes, buying avocado toast or tickets to my Responsive Conference. A part of this is also sharing personal stories – the reason why I’m excited to spend time with them, the consequence if the child doesn’t put on their shoes, or who else will be at the event that I think they’ll enjoy meeting. This requires a clear invitation: “I would like for you to ______________.” And the question: “Will you come? Will you purchase a ticket? Will you come with me to the movies?”

Finally, end with celebration and excitement. I will frequently close with something about the person that I’m grateful for or admire about them. End on a good note, no matter the outcome.

Fear Is My North Star

I’ve realized recently that fear is my North Star. Whereas most people shy away from things that they are scared of, I frequently go towards my fears or use them to adjust course.

In the same way that the literal North Star is guide, showing travelers which way is north, what I fear provides me a sense of direction. I don’t always go towards it, but I do always know where it is.

Fear is a tool I use to navigate and choose my direction.

Instead of being driven by what you fear, can you learn to choose where you are going based on what we want, and what we’re afraid of doing, instead of avoiding altogether? What is your North Star?

Memento Mori: Remember Death

How would you live your life differently if you knew you were going to die tomorrow?

We’re all so busy rushing through our lives that we sometimes forget to pause and remember that we have fleeting time on this earth. Watch this short vlog for a reminder to be grateful for what you do have in your life, and the time you do have available now.

Memento Mori. Remember that you will die.

I’m Scared to Start (Doing The Only Work That Matters)

Even though I’ve run Responsive Conference and various other events with more than a $1000 ticket, this February is the first time I’m running workshops entirely by myself, on topics that are very personal.

I’m nervous. So, I’ve been doing busywork: setting up landing pages, working on website copy, creating videos, revisiting the workshop content. All these things are useful, and necessary, but none of them matter alongside the real work of getting the right people to attend the events.

Realizing I was hiding from the real, necessary work to make an event successful, I made the definition of “success” much smaller. In this short podcast, I share the simple change I made to make the barrier for success much lower, and thus easier to achieve.

Give it a listen!

If you’re interested in learning more about my upcoming workshops:

Finding Financial Freedom
Feb. 9 – 10, 2019

The Fitness Habit
Feb. 24, 2019

What I Learned Going from $50,000 a Year to $50,000 per Month

Money is not a topic that we discuss easily. It’s not something that I was taught in school or that we talked about around the kitchen table in my family. But I have learned that money is a skill that can be learned and practiced.

Prior to opening Robin’s Cafe, the most I’d ever earned in a year was under $50,000 – before expenses. By 2017, through the cafe, I was earning almost $50,000 per month.

In today’s podcast I share three lessons learned as a result of earning $50,000 a month at Robin’s Cafe.

Finding Financial Freedom

Money is one of the topics we teach at Motion. Together with my co-founder Michelle Love, we’ve put together some of our tips on earning money into a 3-part YouTube series.

Finding Financial Freedom Workshop

I’m pleased to announce my first in-person workshop on money, which will be taking place on Feb. 9-10 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Learn more here!