Katrina Burrus coaches global leaders in multinationals such as Nestle, CERN, UNAIDS, and United Nations. She is the founder of MKB Conseil & Coaching. She has a TV show and two podcasts: “Excellent Executive Coaching” and “Global Nomadic Leadership”. She is an author, speaker and blogger on leadership for a prestigious magazine.
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3 Key Points:
- Build relationships through continuous communication.
- Top leaders are lonely and they crave straight feedback.
- Don’t just participate in a conversation, drive it.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:59] – Katrina is a Swiss/American married with 2 kids
- [01:16] – The prestigious magazine is Bilan, a French magazine
- [01:50] – Katrina’s expertise is coaching brilliant and abrasive leaders on thought leadership and how to be more emotionally intelligent
- [02:26] – Value Bomb Drop: While working, keep marketing and building relationships
- [03:50] – Katrina has 30 target clients in a day
- [04:13] – Katrina is making one call to a past client and one call to a potential client every day
- [06:05] – Katrina attended a conference and met a CEO of a big company
- [11:08] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Be comfortable in talking to top leaders
- [12:50] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? Katrina is now creating webinars and traveling the world
- [15:00] – The Podcasters’ Paradise Cruise when Katrina met JLD’s parents
- [16:15] – Katrina’s takeaway is to constantly create content; drive a conversation
- [18:10] – Katrina partnered with Bilan because they have the same target market
- [18:30] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – The amount of politics in big corporations and gender discrimination
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – You can do anything if you put your mind into it
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – The Freedom Journal
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Grammarly
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Leading Change
- [22:32] – Get in touch with Katrina through ExcellentExcutiveCoaching.com
- [22:45] – Don’t just participate in a conversation, drive it.
Katrina Burrus: You bet I'm prepared to ignite!
John Lee Dumas: Yes! Katrina coaches global leaders in multinationals such as Nestle and the United Nations. She has a TV show and two podcasts: Excellent Executive Coaching and Global Nomadic Leadership. She's an author/speaker/blogger on leadership for a prestigious magazine which will, at least for now, go unnamed. Katrina, take a minute, fill in the gaps from that intro, give a little glimpse of your personal life.
Katrina Burrus: Oh, well, I'm married, with two kids. I'm a Swiss and American and I fluctuate between the States and travel around the world to speak, also have a house in Las Vegas.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! Love that, love that. What's this prestigious magazine? I have to ask.
Katrina Burrus: It's called Bilan. It's really a magazine that is printed and online, and addressed to leaders in Switzerland. Of course, the French speaking part because it's written in French.
John Lee Dumas: What I wanna do right now, Katrina, before we dive into your journey as an entrepreneur – which, by the way, Fire Nation, is a fascinating one – give us what your area of expertise is. Tell us what you have become specialized in. Then, share with my audience, with Fire Nation, two value bombs: two things that you think that we should know that we probably don't.
Katrina Burrus: My expertise is, of course, I coach leaders and managers. I speak on my expertise around the world and I'm creating webinars. My expertise is really coaching brilliant and abrasive leaders to be more emotionally intelligent. Also, global nomadic leaders, as I call them, highly mobile leaders that travel around the world for their companies, on thought leadership.
I was a banker and left the Swiss banking system to do my own business. The first year I left the bank, I had a colleague that called me and said, “Hey! Look, I'm working on Levi Strauss as a client, come and join me!” So I was delighted, I just started my own business. This was a huge contract; I was absorbed and worked so hard for a year. The second year, I was so absorbed in the business that, in fact, I had no business in the pipeline, not one red cent. What I learned is that while you work, you must keep marketing and building relationships, otherwise you might go dry.
Even if it means sending an email to a past client or potential client, or just giving one call a day, that really is super important. That's what I learned in the beginning of my entrepreneurial experience.
John Lee Dumas: Katrina, what do you do today to make sure that that doesn't happen to you? What are some activities you're taking day to day, week to week, that are making sure that you're keeping your pipeline full?
Katrina Burrus: Well, I have 30 clients that I'm targeting. When I write – I've written two books in French, I'm writing another in English. I have those 30 clients that I'm targeting during the day. Again, I do one call to a past client and one call to a potential client, and I try to do that every day.
John Lee Dumas: One call to a past client, one call to a potential or future client, Fire Nation, you have to be building relationships and staying in touch. I had the founder of a great software called Contactually which really allows you to do this, on some levels even, passively. You can set these things up where it's reminding you to say, “Hey, you haven't spoken to so-and-so in a long time. You've identified this person and somebody you wanna have a good relationship with. So hey, tap, tap, why don't you go ahead and reach out to this person, find out is it their birthday this month? Is it an anniversary? Do they have something going on? Can you reach out and be personable to this person to help build a relationship?”
There's great software out there, there's great opportunities. You don't have to keep everything in your head, Fire Nation, but you have to have a system and automations in place so that you're building relationships with the right people.
Katrina, that's my big takeaway from what you're saying, that you made the mistake, back in the day, of not doing that so now you're very purposefully and intentionally doing that every single day now, on some level. What do you want to make sure our listeners get from your story?
Katrina Burrus: I'll tell you a little story how I got on a huge mandate, as well. Go back to the second year where there was no business in the pipeline. As a banker, I promoted stocks. Stocks have a premium if the management and the leadership is good. Since I had no business, I went and listened to speakers and leaders speaking. This time, I went to the University of Geneva to listen to a leader that was the CEO of 225,000 people at the time – much more today. I listened to his speech and analyzed it, looked at the audience, saw the pros and cons, then I sent him a letter. Marketing. I sent him a letter and offered my ideas and what was his reaction? He wrote me a thank you note and I thought, “Well, that was it, thank you. I got a thank you note.”
But, life had it that I met him at a party. Of course, he was surrounded by a mass of people at the party. Being a powerful man, he drew a crowd. I am not a groupie, so I ignored him. It was a buffet dinner party and I was at a table of my girlfriends. One of my girlfriends left – a girlfriend of mine left to get more food – then I see the CEO in question. This tall, very handsome man sitting down next to me. He thanks me for my note, but then justifies why he didn't have enough time to prepare his speech.
I thought, “Why in the world is this top-notch leader justifying his performance to Mrs. Nobody.” I mean, I was nobody; I'd just started my business. I told him, “Look, I can help you with your speech. I can review it according to the four psychological approaches and make sure that your speeches address all these profiles.” Guess what? He agreed. He hired me. Then, I got, “Wow! I'm trembling! God, I gotta perform!” Then, I did do his first speech to his top 200 leaders. I would have paid to read it because it was a strategy over a year-and-a-half. But he was offering to pay me!
The first year, he looked at my speech – I worked hours and night to make it perfect. Then he said, “Please, send me your invoice.” I answered, “Look, tell me, did you use my suggestions? Did you use it before the speech?” He said, “No.” So I said, “I'm not sending you an invoice.” Now remember, I was starving, it was the second year, no business. I asked the second year, same thing. Finally, the third year, he used all my feedback. He asked me for his invoice, and I sent it.
So my lesson learned was you need to have the courage to tell people what you think. Now, if I had thought I was selling to him, I would not have said anything. I really thought I could help him. 1.) If you can help somebody to create more value, then I think it's also in your duty to say so tactfully.
The other learning I had is that top leaders are lonely. They're surrounded by many “Yes” people. These type A personalities, they love the challenge. Of course, you have to do with tact. They crave straight feedback. I think a lot of friends of mine said, “You're crazy not to invoice him, he's a CEO of a multinational, he has all the money in the world.” I do think that the fact that I was really honest with him and I really wanted to be useful – obviously, I showed that by not sending him the invoice – I created a long-term relationship of trust. Today, he just recently was on my TV show, I don't have to go through the communication department, I go directly to him.
I think, 1.) You need to have the courage to say what you think with tact. 2.) Don't underestimate – top leaders want straight feedback. They're surrounded by many “Yes” men. 3.) Even though – what could create a long-term relationship of trust? Being purely commercial? No, you have to really feel that you're adding value. Those were my take away from that experience in that second year.
John Lee Dumas: I think you summed that up wonderfully, Katrina. For you, Fire Nation, I just want to make sure that you really just get this point – because this point is so true and so important – top leaders are lonely! We might not think so, but they're lonely. They're surrounded by “Yes” men and “Yes” women and they just crave straight feedback. Have the courage to give them that. Build trust, then execute.
Katrina, let's shift to one of your greatest AH-HA moments that you've had to date. Of course, what we just talked about was an amazing AH-HA moment you've had, but you've had a lot of those. Tell us a story of a time that you just had this wonderful idea that you executed on, and take us there.
Katrina Burrus: I have a TV show and I interview very powerful people. What I realized based on – I know that they're lonesome and all and they also have pretty big egos, I must admit – is to have the courage to talk to them. Sometimes I see these leaders that just went through a presentation and people don't come up to them. Sometimes, they come up to them and they surround them because they're powerful and they want something from them. Really having a conversation that's one-to-one, normal, and knowing them as a person is really something that creates a relationship. I've noticed these leaders – they present with a lot of other top leaders – there are ones that just wanna leave because they don't want anyone to talk to them, or they're sitting there and a coffee, or drinking a glass of wine, and no one's coming up to them.
Really, create relationships. I come back to that. Create relationships; make people feel comfortable, even if you think that you're uncomfortable. If you're concentrated on making them comfortable, you will become more comfortable. So that's another learning of mine, by constantly asking these CEOs and leaders to be interviewed.
John Lee Dumas: Katrina, let's talk about today. I wanna bring things to the present moment. What are most excited about now? What are you most fired-up about today?
Katrina Burrus: Being coaching leaders for the last 20 years – wow, 20 years, it doesn't make me younger, does it? I constantly research on the subject, but what I love to do is constantly learn and get out of my comfort zone. After creating podcasts, which is not – I'm not the internet generation – after creating two podcasts, a TV show, now I've just started creating webinars in my area of expertise. I love it because it provides flexibility.
I travel constantly, speaking. I'm gonna go to Russia, Moscow, and St. Petersburg to talk about brilliant and abrasive leaders. I can do this, with these webinars, anywhere in the world, and I can travel anywhere in the world. Of course, it does passive income. The venue to share the experience that I have – at this point, I really wanna share my experience. Learning how to do bite-size, something that's very digestible, and applicable, and across cultures.
I'm Swiss-American, so it has to adapt to both cultures. I'm very fired up about that. Maybe once I do many seminars like you, John Lee, I will not be as excited, it'll be something else.
John Lee Dumas: You know, if you lose the excitement, then it is time for something else. I can honestly say I wake up every morning when I'm going to interviews with people like yourself, Katrina, and I'm excited. I'm nervous, and I get fired up. This is what I love to do. I love talking to successful, inspiring, enthusiastic people. When that becomes not exciting, it's gonna be time for me to shift into something else. Honestly, I hope it never happens, but if it does, I'll be willing to do so. Fire Nation; keep your finger on your own pulse. Is that fire still burning?
Now, Katrina, when we first jumped on, we had a little chat and you said to make sure that I told my parents I said “Hi”. Can you tell that story? What's the Art and Celina Dumas story that's brought us together?
Katrina Burrus: Oh, the paradise cruise! I am so disappointed it's not gonna take place again!
John Lee Dumas: I know!
Katrina Burrus: That was so exciting and I had the pleasure of meeting your parents and talking a long time with your father. It was thoroughly enjoyable and the paradise cruise was two days where podcasters came together, shared their experience, they're learning, and at the same time we had a fabulous time visiting the islands and creating rapport, which was very exciting.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah, and we have such a great video that encapsulates that, they just did such a great job. It was so much fun. That's kinda what I wanna share with you, Fire Nation. When you see opportunities to jump on board of things like a cruise, where it was just myself and really, just other incredible top podcasters – we're talking Andrew Warner of Mixergy, Chris Brogan, Chase Reeves – amazing, amazing podcasters and then amazing attendees. You gotta jump on it, whatever your industry or niche is, you gotta take these opportunities.
Now, we are going to be taking a great opportunity to crush the lightening round in just a minute here, Katrina. First, we're gonna take a second to thank our sponsors.
Katrina, are you prepared for the lightening rounds?
Katrina Burrus: Yes!
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Katrina Burrus: Because I worked for a bank, a Swiss bank, and the amount of politics in Swiss – in a big corporation, not just banks, a big corporation – and the gender discrimination at the time, I thought I could do more. I'm a hard working person; I thought I would have a lot more enjoyment doing things myself. I wasn't scared of putting in the time and the energy to get results. But I'm very happy I had that experience.
When I'm coaching global leaders and they're working in big corporations, I really am very thankful that I had that experience. I was a hypo in this corporation so they gave me a tremendous amount of training, which I'm also thankful for.
John Lee Dumas: What's the best advice you've ever received?
Katrina Burrus: I think it's from my mother.
John Lee Dumas: Yay!
Katrina Burrus: She allowed me to go to university. She was not allowed to go to university and her brothers went to MIT and Yale. She made me think that I could do anything if I put my mind do it. I was dyslexic, so I didn't read until I was 16. Today, you know, I've got three Masters and a PhD. That's the influence that she's had on me. She was my blessing.
John Lee Dumas: What's a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Katrina Burrus: It's the Freedom Journal!
John Lee Dumas: Yes!
Katrina Burrus: I really love this Freedom Journal. You know that they found research that when you put down what you're grateful for, it does something to your brain that puts you in a more positive state of mind. Plus, you have more long-term and short-term goals. You're already – in the evening, if you had any struggles – trying to resolve it. Putting it down on paper really makes the difference. You can think about it just before you go to bed in the evening.
In the morning, first thing, I use the Freedom Journal, and in the evening, I analyze what I did, what I could have done better, and what I wanna do the next day. It's terrific.
John Lee Dumas: I love it! And you know, actually, I'm in the process of printing my next journal, which is the Mastery Journal, which is completely different than the Freedom Journal. It's gonna have a whole different focus. The one holdover from the Freedom Journal within the Mastery Journal is starting your day off with “What are you grateful for?” There's nothing more important, more uplifting, more mind-shifting than just putting that down on paper first thing, Fire Nation. It's so critical. If you haven't ever done it, you owe it to yourself, believe me.
Now, Katrina, share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation.
Katrina Burrus: I would say Grammarly. You know, when you put it on the internet, it stays. Grammarly is a software that corrects not only your grammar, but also your spelling, and how you construct a phrase. I've found that extremely helpful.
John Lee Dumas: If you could recommend one book, what would it be, and why?
Katrina Burrus: John Kotter, it's his book on leading change. It's not a new book. You know, we're constantly encountering change, and John Kotter gives a seven step process for managing and instigating change as a leader. Not only is it helpful for yourself, but if you coach leader or other entrepreneurs, it's very helpful for them to sort of take a certain rhythm of the change. I found that very helpful for both myself and the leaders I coach.
John Lee Dumas: Katrina, let's end today on fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say goodbye.
Katrina Burrus: You can connect with me on www.excellentexecutivecoaching.com
John Lee Dumas: And a parting piece of guidance.
Katrina Burrus: Remember that if you want to be a thought leader, don't just participate in a conversation, drive it. Create content constantly.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You've been hanging out with KB and JLD today, so keep up the heat! Head over to EOFire.com, just type Katrina – that's Katrina with a “K” – in the search bar. Her shownotes piece will pop up with everything we've been talking about today. These are the best shownotes in the biz, time stamps, links galore. Of course, head directly t excellentexecutivecoaching.com, get over there Fire Nation, check out what Katrina has going on.
I wanna say thank you, Katrina, for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you, and we'll catch you on the flip side.
Katrina Burrus: Thank you John, you're terrific.
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