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0:00:00 - Keith Smith
Yes, but when you're working with top leaders right, it is a focus on business results. You can't ignore that at the end of the day. But it's recognizing that you can't start with the business results and to get the intended return if you're not focused on the other two legs of the stool. Right, because then you're off. You're off calibrations.
0:00:22 - Betsy Jordyn
Welcome everybody to this week's episode of the Enough Already podcast. This is the show for consultants and coaches who want to forge their own paths to success in their careers and their lives. I am your host, betsy Jordan, and I'm very excited to have on the show today Keith Smith. So Keith and I worked together a million years ago when we were at Disney and we had reconnected over the last couple of years when he started getting the idea to start his own business and we worked through his branding and his messaging and his positioning and through that whole process. And I really want to have him on the show for a couple of reasons.
You know one his journey to entrepreneurship is inspiring. I've never seen anybody, say take such an intentional, thoughtful approach to this whole transition. So I want to unpack all of that and I'm really excited about his business because he's really focusing on such an underserved community when it comes to consulting, which is really the entertainment industry and a lot of those vision. Well, a lot of us want to serve visionary leaders, but not the way that he wants to do it. So I really want to unpack just the unique vision that he has for his consulting practice. So, without further ado. Welcome to the show, keith.
0:01:30 - Keith Smith
Thank you for that kind introduction.
0:01:34 - Betsy Jordyn
Well, I am so glad to have you here and before we get into all of the conversations, I would love for you to share a little bit more about your Disney leadership career. And you know what did you? What have you really valued about being a Disney leader, and the Disney principles that you know just have inspired you in your past career that you want to carry forward into your business.
0:01:58 - Keith Smith
Yeah, I I really had an amazing 30 plus year careers with Disney for 31 years and most of that time about 95% of it was in human resources. But I think the piece that I have found most valuable was I didn't start out in HR, I started out as a frontline cast member employee, as we say, and that was invaluable experience for me to be out in our operation, to be one of the individuals delivering that Disney quality service to our guests, interacting with guests but also interacting with management and leadership and seeing how things worked and what the experiences were like in that frontline. Because I was able to carry that with me throughout my career and, excuse me, especially in the operation side of the organization where we have people whose their job is to be out operating our business, delivering the service and the expectations to our guests and to our cast members. And it brought me credibility to be able to understand what that world was like so that when I was in a HR position I could understand what the day to day was for those individuals and that I wasn't making requests. Then they would look at you kind of silly and say don't you know what I'm supposed to be doing every day? I'm not at your back in fall HR to transact or to fulfill these requests.
So that was really great and the opportunities that I had throughout my career really gave me the chance to work in such a diverse area of businesses that I would have had to. I don't even know how many companies I would have had to work for to get the breadth of experience that I got, whether it's in the hospitality side, through hotels and theme parks, and the operational side and understanding all of the different operational components within those businesses, whether it's merchandise or housekeeping, or attractions or food and beverage. I just was able to pick all these pieces up. I was able to support diverse businesses like technology, consumer alliances, real estate. I supported HR. I was able to support a financial services industry, all under the Disney umbrella. So I really feel like my breadth of experience within those varieties of organizations and businesses really helped me, especially now as I'm moving forward into the consulting area.
And then I had the good fortune of really working in an organization that was sophisticated about how HR was positioned, how we were used. We truly had a seat at the table. We were provided with tools and resources to help grow our areas of expertise, specifically in organizational development and the work that we did to help to support changing organizations. Just like any organization, change was constant at Disney and I really was able to support businesses as they looked at their goals and objectives and decided that maybe they needed to structure differently, they needed to organize differently, they needed different approaches with their employees from an engagement perspective and to be at the ground level with the top executives of the company to help to develop those plans, to help to understand those plans and really taking it from a place of knowing their business first.
And that was a great opportunity for me. And I've been fortunate to have varying levels of responsibility up into including an executive position with the head of HR for the credit union at Disney. So really taking the HR strategy and roadmap and putting that together and executing on it. I feel very fortunate to have all those experiences but they're really going to serve me well now as I venture off into the world of consulting and I look to use that experience in my future.
0:06:09 - Betsy Jordyn
So what business line did you come from? What was your line of business as an operations cast member?
0:06:15 - Keith Smith
So I started out in attractions and then moved into entertainment, yep.
So the entertainment piece was great because my background my undergraduate is in theater and I've always had a passion for arts and for culture and I really felt like I was able to marry my passion for that along with my passion for aligning people and supporting people on the HR side of the business. So when I was in entertainment it really gave me the opportunity to take that experience and then I was able to support the entertainment line of business as an HR business partner at one point. So you know, it was really kind of a full circle moment for me to take all those experiences and then leverage them.
0:06:55 - Betsy Jordyn
So I kind of have a vague rock election, and maybe it's because you're wearing the Hawaiian shirt. Did we meet when you were like an HR manager for Polynesian or am I just making that up in my head because you got it Like when did we meet? I got to Disney around 1999 and I remember meeting you and I think you were at in resorts. Am I correct in that memory?
0:07:16 - Keith Smith
Yeah, Well, I'm glad you said the date, because I had to calibrate. But yes, I would have been. I probably would have been the HR manager at Disney's Polynesian resort at that point. So that's probably where we met.
0:07:27 - Betsy Jordyn
So I'm correct. Oh, I'm so glad you wore the right shirt. That is where we met. I'm not crazy.
0:07:34 - Keith Smith
Even intend to do that. But look at it, it served a purpose, so that's great, it's amazing.
0:07:39 - Betsy Jordyn
You know what I love about you. What you said it's like you know I love you're a little ghost like, because it put a little like aha moment for me is like one of the things that I think brings a strength for me as a business mentor and as a brand, a branding person. Specifically as a branding person, is our Disney experience because we had so many lines of businesses that we worked with I think you're accurate is we would have had to work with so many other companies. And it's interesting because, like a lot of people ask me all the time like, well, how do you have empathy for somebody who's not in the room right now? Like, how do you know who my clients are? Like, well, it's because I met a million of them. You know I, you know similar to you.
We worked with merchandise, we worked with, you know, entertainment, we worked with operations, we worked with marketing technology Every single business unit, because there's all those different business lines, but what would you say underneath it? So let's just say we have all of these different business lines, but there's a through line of the Disney leadership principles that are consistent across all the areas. What do you think is like the commonality in terms of like the Disney leadership that has really inspired you, that you believe that you're going to carry forward not just the experience of all these different lines of businesses, but that Disney philosophy that carries all the way through. That's consistent.
0:08:53 - Keith Smith
Yeah, yeah, and that's it's really important because it is a consistent in in, not only in, you know, parks and resorts, which is where I've spent most of my career, but I also had an opportunity to work in corporate and really look at different business units across the globe.
That had, you know, very different businesses than a hospitality or parks and resorts perspective, but I think it was the strongest in parks and resorts and that culture is very strong because of the focus and orientation on service and I think the the the piece from a leadership perspective that was so consistent was the expectations around how we treat each other as employees and cast members and how we deliver excellence to the end customer, whoever that may be, whether it's an internal client or it's a guest that's coming to experience parks and resorts.
And you know those expectations are made very clear from the first day you start with the company when you attend the orientation program traditions and having the opportunity to not only teach traditions but then be on the leadership side of the traditions program and do a revamp of traditions and train a traditions team and coach them. You know the focus that we put on the clarity of purpose and the clarity of what we're each here to do. Regardless of what your job is, regardless of what your role is, we all share a common purpose, which is to create that magic right, and how we do it is is the, the secret sauce part of it. So, you know, helping leaders with the expectations whether they've got an organizational challenge or a challenge with an individual on their team is to ground back to those expectations and to ground back to what are we here to deliver as leaders in the organization and what is our role in enabling that to happen.
0:10:54 - Betsy Jordyn
I think it like really boils back down to like that three-legged stool. Like if I were going to summarize what you said is like everything's about, like there's like I, when I was there, like no initiative got approved unless it showed the business case for the guest cast and the business results. Like I had to hit all three and I see a lot of consultants focus on one of the three and not all three. You know where I have some of my some people that I work with. They're like it's all around the employee, like if you can empower the employee and help with creating a learning culture and all of that, that's what your organization's purpose is.
Or somebody else might say your organization's purpose is just all about, like business results and making money and all of that. Or it's all about the customer. You know, customer, customer, customer. And at Disney it was like, yes, it's about all three simultaneously. Everything that we do has to serve all three is what I I'm hearing you like. I'm just kind of like that's how I'm hearing like the principle that really made a difference, like how do we treat everybody? Would you agree with?
0:11:50 - Keith Smith
that Is like one of the one of the key foundational things that you still might be thinking about is is there something else, another Disney principle that's even more significant to no, and I think the you know the point that the guest cast and business, the other piece of that is starting with the cast, which is, you know, reinforcing what you just said, is it started with the cast experience, right, and we, and if that cast experience was strong, then it led to a strong guest experience and then that gave you the business results. Now it's challenging, especially when you're working?
Yes, yes, but when you're working with top leaders, right, it is a focus on business results. You can't ignore that at the end of the day, but it's recognizing that you can't start with the business results and to get the intended return if you're not focused on the other two legs of the stool, right, you're off your off calibration. So I agree with that 100%. I think the the other pieces is around, just the leadership. The culture of no one is greater than anyone, right, and the value that each individual brings, regardless of the role that they sit in. We all have different roles, we all have different expectations, but the fact that the leadership plays such a key role in enabling those cast members or those individuals to do their jobs and to support them in that and it wasn't always easy, right, and you bump into leaders that don't always follow that and the reason that my role as an HR professional was to really help remind those leaders of what they're there to do and grounding them back to those key principles.
0:13:37 - Betsy Jordyn
It's like we're the first name company, like I love that we always had our name tags on and I had our first names, and like when I was there as the hometowns and at some point you know you had to put like your favorite ride or you know whatever that kind of thing. And I love that because it is about that relationship, but just like human to human rather than title to title, which I think is a very different kind of communication.
0:14:01 - Keith Smith
Exactly exactly. And again, it's a big, every big company right has its bureaucracy, has its processes, has its hierarchy. So it's not to say you know there was without any of that. But at the end of the day it is again going back to those core principles. And that's where you know my role. Many times played that kind of conscience, sitting on the shoulder of the leader or the employee to really remind them of, you know, the expectations and the role and the deliverables that were each held accountable for.
0:14:34 - Betsy Jordyn
Well, let's be honest, like if there weren't organizational dysfunction, there would be no need for us consultants and coaches. So those organizational dysfunctions keep us in business. So you know, if it's fine, but it's like, yeah, they will all have it and that's why we're here. You know we have it.
0:14:52 - Keith Smith
So I don't know if yet it's a similar experience.
0:14:54 - Betsy Jordyn
So when I left Disney, people thought I was like crazy. They're like why? You know? Like, why would you ever leave a company like this? A lot of people look at, especially with what you've accomplished even longer than I have because you, you ascended higher in the organization than I did and people would say this is the pinnacle, like why would you ever leave? You know like, so what was it that inspired you to say you know, this was a great career, but my next step is really to have my own consulting business.
0:15:22 - Keith Smith
Yeah, it was an interesting path and I felt like the the last several years just set me in a perfect light path for realizing this goal of mine. So I was like you at one point in my career, you know, I said I will never leave. I just can't see myself leaving. I love what I'm doing, I love the brand reputation of the company, I like what we do and it's a great place to work. And as my roles changed and involved, it felt like it was a glide path to the point I'm at today. Right, so moving to over to the credit union was kind of one step removed from that core Disney brand and it was a different industry is an industry that I really enjoyed. The credit union industry is phenomenal. The collaboration and the support of people that that industry has is wonderful. But it also was a little bit removed from the core Disney, so that kind of helped to peel some of that away from me.
And then I was looking at potentially early retiring and I was at the end of a cycle of strategic planning and my role to credit union and I really sat back and said what do I want to do if, if, I was only going to have a year or two left in my career here. What. What do I want that to look like? And I really wanted it to be something where I felt like I could give back to the organization and I could be in a role that wasn't so demanding of me personally. And I moved into a corporate role and supported up an enterprise wide project and again felt like kind of one step removed. And it was to work from home role. So then I wasn't going into the office every day, I wasn't having that connection to the office. So it kind of felt like I was yet another step removed from that core connection that I had into the, into the brand.
And then, when the opportunity presented itself, I really thought about doing my own consulting business. I love what I do. I'm not someone to just sit around and, you know, twiddle my thumbs all day long. I will stay busy. I have a passion for volunteering. I'm deeply involved in arts and culture and nonprofit organization.
So I knew that there was something that I could continue to do to give back what I had learned over my 30 years in the corporate world and I also had seen granted through the course of coven, but beyond that I just had so many people, both in my personal life and my circle of friends, that just got taken down out of the blue by something random and I thought you know what a shame to work this long for a goal and you know, suddenly something comes out of the blue and just takes you down and out and all of that together, kind of said I'm going to make this happen and I'm going to take advantage of retiring early when I'm eligible.
I felt like everything I had done up until that point got me to the place where I felt okay doing that and it wasn't as difficult to walk away and I've. I've been really fortunate and really blessed that that pathway played out and it's weird that it kind of happened exactly as I wanted it to and I think some of that's by design. But the stepping into the consulting world for me is really been exciting. Just getting getting my business up and running, working on my website, articulating what I do and how I do, has been really energizing. So I'm excited about the next steps.
0:18:49 - Betsy Jordyn
So what I'm hearing you say is it sounds like there was like three things.
That was like conspiring, you know like one is is that you know that there's definitely a clarity that like I love what I do, you know, like I love that you know advising, you know senior leaders and guiding them and you know, being that little Jimny cricket on their shoulder like love that I've done all I can do here, you know like.
There's that other part of like I've done all I can do. I've been in all of these business lines like I've done all I can do and that's as much as I can. And then there was like a third part is I've been doing this other stuff on the side for these particular nonprofit arts, arts and cultural type of organizations, and it's like, well, like can I just take I've done all I can do here? I don't want to, I don't want to something to happen to me. Take what I love and apply it to here and I'm bringing more of like my full self together into more of a complete picture and then just be getting more practical of saying, alright, can I take advantage of early retirement, and all of that. But it seems like the driving force is taking more parts, bringing more of you into your work than where you were at the time.
0:19:57 - Keith Smith
Yeah, exactly, and it's. It's interesting. You know to your point about what, what drives me and what I'm excited to be doing. And my mother said this to me when I was taking care of her. She she had a criminal illness and I was really able and again because of the job that I had, I was able to be with her and the support that I had from my team and and the opportunities where it was phenomenal and it was amazing. But she said she said you're a fixer.
And it was interesting because, as I look back, that's kind of what drives me right is I see something that's broken and I want to fix it, want to make it, I want to make it right.
I've got five strengths, I've got restorative right. I want to get things back to the way they were. So I kind of have this theme that drives me when I see something that's not working, I want to fix it. And I felt like the opportunity to continue to do that in my own consulting practice would be phenomenal because it would give me an opportunity to work with organizations or to see things that needed to be fixed. And I use the word fixed, it doesn't mean something's broken per se. So I want to want to throw that in as a caveat, because not everything's broken and not everything needs to be fixed, but you know where where systems don't align or where people don't have the opportunity to be successful or not treated right. It just just gets under my skin and I think the opportunity to continue to do that kind of work outside of the corporate structure is really exciting.
0:21:38 - Betsy Jordyn
And the thing about what you said to is those. That is what makes a great consultant. You know, honestly, like just seeing problems as opportunities for growth and wanting to get in there. You know, like I think that it's fine to say that there's things that are broken or not, that are not really exciting, but it depends on how you perceive it is. Do you look at through a lens of shame or do you look at as an opportunity for growth and improvement?
And I think that your mother's right is like, yeah, fixing it, you know, but it's not just like fixing it. To like I think I'm restorative is fixing. It would be like I'm just going to triage the situation versus I'm restoring it to all of its full potential. And I think that that's a lot of what you're I'm hearing you say in. That is like you know, and even know, with that caveat, it's like it's not like it's broken, it's just some of these are just consequences of growth. You know, like you reached out to help from me when you were going through transition. It doesn't mean that something was like fundamentally broken, but there was something that was missing that you needed help with. So you know clearly what was the value that like why did you reach out for mentorship in the first place when we connected? What three years ago was it that we started working on your business? Was it three years ago?
0:22:48 - Keith Smith
Yeah, three or four, yeah, somewhere in there, I don't know the exact date, but it's been a long path, but it's been here quite early, or really purposeful and planned, and I, you know, I knew it was going to happen at some point. I just wasn't sure when.
0:23:02 - Betsy Jordyn
And so it's really what made you decide to reach out for mentorship instead of going in alone.
0:23:07 - Keith Smith
So I value different perspectives and I think that's at the core of how I think about what I do too. In my logo is some people look at it and say, oh, it's a microphone, but it's a ghost light, which really, for me, ties together my passion and my background in the arts and my passion for what I do from an HR perspective. And a ghost light is simply that bare light bulb that's on a stand that, when a theater is not in use and all the lights are off, it sits on the stage and it's illuminated and it's there to create safety. So if someone's walking into the space, there's light keeps people from walking off the edge of the stage or bumping into scenery or sets or things. So it creates safety. But it also illuminates the shadows and for me that is such a parallel to how I approach what I do, because for me it's about illuminating the shadows and finding out what's really going on. Because, especially in higher levels of organizations, you know the higher up you go, the less and less truth that you get from individuals that work around you. And if we can uncover what the truth is or what is hiding in the shadows, then the ability to move forward and bring people along on the journey is it's much more. The opportunity for that to be successful is greater than to just blindly kind of move forward with the plans and assuming that everybody's marching along and they're in agreement and their support above it, right. And I think that's why, for me, the the kind of the fixing it is that the approach of you know, finding out what's really going on and not just stepping into what someone thinks the problem is or what thinks the solution needs to be, but taking the opportunity. And you know, you and I we've worked with a leader at Disney and I live by this concept, which is, you know, if you can meet with a client and just get them to let you go in and get more information and, like, don't have all the answers in the first meeting, go find out what's really going on and then come back and provide them with a better recommendation or a better solution, because now you know more than you did during the first meeting.
And it's rarely the first person that comes to you in that story. It's generally not that right. It's maybe it's 50% of that, maybe it's none of it, but there's always something else that's going on. And if I can get in there and find that out. That's helpful. So that's why the ghost light for me is part of my logo and I wanted to include it.
0:25:49 - Betsy Jordyn
You know, what I love about what you're talking about too, is just like the whole, like it does go back to that being that fixer, you know, and it's like illuminating it, protecting it, and also just like that value, like that bigger picture, like the light gives a bigger picture, like what you're seeing versus like right in front of you. I recently interviewed on the show I don't know if her show is going to come up before after years I interviewed Matt Crofton, who was the Disney president.
She's amazing. I wish I would have known at the time what an amazing leader she is. She's just unreal. Like I just sat there and like can I just listen to you all day long with all of your wisdom? But she talked about, like, some of the value that a lot of times consultants overlook around. What we're creating. We get so obsessed with our tactical rather than our strategic perspective that we're bringing that. Doing an assessment and helping these leaders see this data more broadly, you know, is such a competitive differentiation.
I would love I don't know if you already have it in your website copy, but one of the misses that I had when I was starting my consulting business is really leaning into that. You know. Is that not just to say, well, I do assessments? Like I wouldn't even say that, it's just more like I, I'm the one you know.
Like I could see, like the copy I wish I would have put is like you know, do you have a senior leader and everybody's on completely different pages on what you need to do to solve the problems and move the organization forward?
Work with me and I will corral all those perspectives into a unified whole so you guys could see exactly what you need to do, you know, to move forward. You know, and really lean in, leaning into that, and I love what you're saying here, because the perspective is I'm going to see the I'm not just going to see the issues more clearly, but I'm going to see what everybody else thinks more clearly and bringing in. You know, this is going on. Another thing I know about you, though, is just your ability to connect heart to heart with people, to really draw out their perspectives and align. That. You know, is it that fixer side of you that allows you to do that, or is there something else that you do that allows you to connect with those stakeholders at a deeper level, where they trust you and you can corral a whole executive team?
0:27:52 - Keith Smith
Yeah, two things I want you to just said. One of the activities that you had me do and we were working together, which was so valuable, was to reach out to some executives or leaders that I had worked with in the past, who I really worked very well with, and find out you know why, why we clicked so so, so well together, and I found that the ones that I clicked the best with were the ones that were collaborative, that did not have to be the one with all the answers in the room and actually wanted to hear the different perspectives, right, or to your point of illuminating the shadows and finding out, you know what's out there that I'm not aware of, and those are the leaders and the style that I really worked best with and seem to click with. And I think you know, I think the the important piece there is. I lead with relationships and you know I think it's important to build a relationship and to have trust.
Trust is foundational because you don't have trust, you know I it really is difficult to advance from there in. Trust is built on. You know, a lot of different foundations in terms of being able to be open and honest, and I think about the illuminating the shadows and sometimes you're going to hear a conversation that you don't want to hear, or maybe you know there's things out there that you don't want to know about. But to create that environment where it's okay to do that and when you have agreements, and that goes into really all of those upfront conversations. For me it's building that relationship up front, having a level of clarity around who I am and what I'm there to do and who that leader is that I'm working with and what they want to accomplish, and aligning on those goals, but then having clarity on you know what, what am I allowed to do, what am I able to do, and making it safe for them to be able to be vulnerable.
0:29:42 - Betsy Jordyn
I think that is. I think a lot of us would say, oh, we could be thinking partners or what have you. But I think that your ability because you have all of those business lines and you've had all of that experience it's almost like you got this built in hack that you know because of your experience, like you know how different kinds of people think and you know how to adapt. You know, rather than like I just grew up, like I you know, like, let's say, you are a merchandise executive, all you know, and you're a salesman. Then you left the company and you became a consultant. It's like, yeah, you know about merchandise, but really understanding, like how merchandise people think and how operations people think and how marketing people think and how credit union people think like you know how how people think. So I think that does give a differentiation for you that makes you stand out, and that you have that ability to illuminate more because you have that bigger perspective. So I want to switch switch directions for a minute.
One of the things that we talked about when we worked on your branding is like there's a lot of those business units that you worked with, but in your personal life you really were spending time in the entertainment, the theater, the arts and all of that. And we went back and forth to say, well, you know really focusing, because you're, you know entertainment people would know what a ghostlight is. Automatically, you know you're, you're going to work with a lot of different companies, but there's this particular industry. You know that you're going to you're pursuing with greater focus. So what is it about this industry that's special to you and why is it not as served as? Perhaps like the more revenue focus, you know that you know the more left brain kind of industries, like it was special about entertainment, arts and theater.
0:31:15 - Keith Smith
Yeah, other than the fact that I've just had a passion for theater, you know, since I was a young child I would do puppet shows in my garage growing up and you know there was always kind of this entertainment theme going on in my life. So I mean other than that and my own personal passion for it, I've specifically noticed because of the work that I've done in the nonprofit space is, in general, you know, nonprofits really of all sizes, unless there's some of the top, you know, large nonprofit organizations don't have the infrastructure, the resources to be able to support like an HR or an organizational effectiveness type of role or consulting. So and I've really found that the those organizations are so welcoming and so appreciative of any work that could be done to help them to align strategy, to align people, to give, you know, input on people side of the business and you know, being able to to provide that insight really fills my cup from the ability of. It's an industry that I have a passion for. It's creative people. Right and creative people have the same needs and the same desires and the same outcomes as people in the corporate world and at the end of the day and I think this is where sometimes the connection isn't made. Theaters of business, right, and it has the same principles of how it runs.
But because theater a lot of times is run by creatives and it's the, you know, it's the old story of the Walton Roy right, the creative mind and the business mind.
They think very differently, their focus is very different. The focus is on the art, presenting the art, but there's a business side that you have to maintain to be successful, to pay the bills right, to do whatever it is that you need to do. So I think for me, I was always even though I majored in theater in college, my undergraduate degree I was always more interested in the business side of theater and I think it's how my mind works. So I can see the business side of it and I can also see the creative side of it. In pulling that balance together, being able to talk the language of the creatives but also understand how we can focus on the business side of it. It's been something that's just been unique to me and how I think, and I don't know, you know, I don't know where I got it from, but it's just been a trade of you know my, my whole life of. You know my interest in theater, but my also my interest in the business side of it.
0:33:56 - Betsy Jordyn
And that is what's going to make you special, because creative people, you know, like they're these big picture visionaries and like they have a message and they have all of that. Like I know, when I was working at the animal kingdom, like working with the Imagineer who thought of the animal kingdom and all the stories, and it's like you know he's all about like story, story, story, and I remember being in some of those branding sessions and he's like you know this, the parking lot represents the urban industrial, the contrast between the urban industrial and the natural world, and like that is a really important story. But the operators are over there and like yeah, but the guests just feel like it's just hot, I'm just hot, I'm hot, I don't see this story. And bringing those two things together is like you, you know, I imagine if I were an entertainment executive and having somebody who dismissed or did not understand my creative vision, I would listen to your great ideas.
But if you can come in and you could say I've got a major I was a major in theater, I have a Disney background I totally validate that. And not only do I validate, I want to be able to get this message out stronger. So now I'm going to give you system, structures and processes on the business side to make it happen, and so that you're also profitable as well, so that you could do more shows. You know, and, and really going back to that and I love that I think that that is that's really powerful. You know art. It could just be I'm a Broadway, you know. I'm a theater.
0:35:17 - Keith Smith
I'm a theater geek to know, it's how I actually how I ended up at Disney is you know I I had never thought of working at Disney growing up really it never even crossed my mind and my husband had said to me you know, you ever thought of working at Disney and thought, well gosh, their business is entertainment.
Right, I had never intended in my life to be an HR manager at a hotel or a restaurant, right, even though I did that in my career. At the core, I was always working for a company whose main product was entertainment and for me that was the connection right I was. I was working in an industry and it was the entertainment industry. It was never, oh, I'm going to leave Disney and I'm going to go work at this major hotel chain as an HR manager. Right, it was never part of that. It was always about the connection to the entertainment side.
0:36:07 - Betsy Jordyn
You know that would be fun to taking some of the Disney principles of like that, because, you're right, all the roles play a role in the show, you know, and all of it. So if you're at the Grand Floridian, everybody's dressed in the Grand Floridian and like I don't know if this is silly idea, but it's like I would love if I were a consultant. I just saw a jagged little pill, which was awesome. Have you seen Jagged little pill?
0:36:29 - Keith Smith
I've not seen it yet now.
0:36:30 - Betsy Jordyn
Okay, bring tissues. I didn't know it was going to be like this. Emotional was so good.
But it's like it's an Alanis Morissette show and I'm like, well, that would be. I was kind of thinking to myself like maybe that would be something that you would advise. Like, well, how do you extend this to the whole? You know all the, all the employee experience like it would be fun of. Like all the ticket takers you know we're dressed in like 90s grungy kind of outfits because you know it's Alanis Morissette like that would be fun. You know, if you're doing like, you know you could have everybody in the, in the whole area, the whole performance theming, like there's a thousand things that you can do to offer your clients ideas that they might not have thought of. That would even make the theater itself like just an interesting experience. I don't know if that you know, those are the kinds of ideas that you would be bringing the table to help your clients. Or would it be more strictly on? You know, strategically, you know here's what we need to implement. Or like, how do you visualize your consulting going?
0:37:24 - Keith Smith
Yeah, and it's. You know you talked about theming, and no one does it like Disney, and I find that bleeding into every aspect of my life, whether it's work that I'm doing or you know something I'm doing putting on a party you know there's always got to be a theme and it's got to tie us the way through, right. So I think that's important, though, because it talks about for me, theming feels like culture, and culture is such an important part of any organization and you know you, culture happens whether you think about it or not, right? So I think you know most, most organizations, whether they're large corporation or a small nonprofit, want to be very intentional about their culture, creating the culture that they want to have. But culture is all around you and it's pervasive.
So you know how can you create a culture that works, whether it's your audience members coming to see a show, the performers on the stage, the volunteers that are supporting the organization, the employees, right, whatever it might be, and I think that speaks to what you're just saying about. You know that that entertainment piece of a theme, it translates very directly into business, right? And you just call it something different. And that's the ability of you know, taking those concepts and being able to translate them, whether I'm working with someone that's, you know, a creative executive or someone that's business focused on the business side of the organization and marrying those ideas together so that it it ends up, at the end of the day, supporting their out there overarching goals, in, in, in helping to, you know, advance their business, and that's what really excites me.
0:39:03 - Betsy Jordyn
So we're talking all vision, vision, vision and all the excitement, but there's a lot of people are sitting there saying, okay, well, keith, good for you. You know you got 30 plus years in this. You know world class organization probably already have a built in network and you know all of that. I don't have all of that. You know, like, what would you say to someone who's like I? You know, like that they don't think that they have all these things that you had in place in order to enable you to make this transition. What would you say to them? You know who might be saying, well, it's not, you know, I don't have all the great stuff that you have that's going to make you so all vision focused. Or did you have any fear along this journey?
0:39:44 - Keith Smith
Um so it's a good question because, you know, we each have our own experiences and that's what we know. But I just I felt very fortunate. Since I was little right, I always felt fortunate that I knew, like I knew what I wanted to go to college for. I knew what I wanted to do and I've kind of had this very clear understanding. And I know that that is not the same for everyone. You know, people sometimes take years and years to figure out you know what it is that they want to do or what they want to go college for. They change majors several times and I think that's fine.
I think it is finding a place where you feel like you can contribute and that can be through a variety of ways. It doesn't have to be in a job, you know, especially in the nonprofit world that I'm in, it could be volunteering. Um, you know many of the nonprofits I've supported find resources through the volunteers that are just in there, maybe helping them to do something, and someone discovers they have a skill that's needed in the organization and that then gives you the opportunity to build that and make connections. For me, I think it's just been about like taking the opportunity to learn where I can, to make connections where I can, like you know, reaching out to you to say, hey, I'm thinking of doing this and going down the journey, um, you know, I still today, um, don't know. I don't know how I'm going to do in terms of, you know, the area of focus that I have identified for my business. I know you and I talked a lot about niching. It's a horrible thing to look at. Oh, I don't want to just do this, right, because I want to do all of these other things, but for me it's, it's the realization that all of the other things are still there. It's just not where I'm leading, right, it's not what I'm starting with.
And um, having curiosity and just asking people questions and I have found you mentioned Meg Crofton right, people can be very generous with their time.
I was taking a listening class as part of my master's program at Rawlins and I had to speak to a leader as part of that class about listening and I asked Meg she wasn't in a role at the time. She was still in HR, um, but she spent time with me and um was generous with her time. And I have found that throughout my career, if you just reach out and you ask people if they could spend a few minutes. You want to talk to them about their career or you want to learn more about you know what got them to where they are today. And then just taking all those things and piecing them together and figure out what works for you, and I think that's the difference for me is I've just not been afraid to do that stuff. I know for some people that might be more difficult. But finding someone that maybe can help you or to push you a little bit in that direction, um, but reaching out and just making connections with people, and you never know what that will lead.
0:42:34 - Betsy Jordyn
So it sounds like like a big life skill that you've had is that you do lead with curiosity, you know. And then, but the other thing that you also have is a lot of intentionality. I'll tell you when you so we started talking, like three years ago. So we worked on your brand direction, we worked on your visual branding and we worked on a lot of different things. And then you said, all right, well, now I got all this in place, now that I'm clear. And then you said, but I'm not going to retire for like three years or something like that. And I'm like all right, good luck.
You know, like, as I, usually, when I have somebody who doesn't like pull the trigger at that point, then fear kicks in. But it didn't free you, you know. You checked in with me a few times, like throughout that time period. It's like, yeah, I'm still, I'm still on track. I never really experienced you saying I'm not going to do this. You know like, but three years later you followed through on exactly what you said you were going to do. You know, and is that something that's just unique to you, like that, because in the between it doesn't seem like you want to went through all of that imposter syndrome, all of that anxiety that a lot of people go through.
0:43:38 - Keith Smith
Yeah, I think for me it's one of the pieces of feedback I hear from people all the time is I put order to chaos, right? And I think for me it's I always put a plan together. One of the nonprofits that I work with they're like put one of your matrixes together, right, because I just I just throw things onto paper and it's always in matrix form.
I don't know why, but it's got, you know. It just lays out here's the next steps, here's doing who's doing what, here's the timeline. And that's how I think. And I applied that same model to my own journey and I have a handful of trusted advisors that I constantly reach out to, like you know. He said I would check in with you here and there. I always check in and I just want to find out, like you know, check my thinking or help me understand this, and then I put a plan together and I work the plan and that's how I work, and I think that's going to serve me well in my consulting business too, because the ability to have a clear plan with whoever I'm working with and work that plan is just it's how I think in my life. So I've used that and it has proven to be, you know, successful for me.
0:44:50 - Betsy Jordyn
I love that because what it is is that you were the first consultant, first consultant client you landed was yourself and you were consulting to yourself using the exact same processes that you might have done with other people. Like that's brilliant. Like that's brilliant. I love that the first consultant client you will ever land is yourself. Apply the consulting principles or the coaching principles, if you're a coach to yourself before you go out and do your business. I think that's awesome.
0:45:24 - Keith Smith
Thank you, I hadn't thought of it that way, but yeah, you're right.
0:45:28 - Betsy Jordyn
I mean, we did have to wrestle through to get to the niche thing you know around, like getting clarity, because you do have to deal with the scarcity fears and all of that.
But even as you talk about your career at Disney, is you still looked at all of those other lines of businesses through the entertainment lens? You still saw it as part of all of the roles that they were playing into the overall show that Disney was producing for the guests. That was a 24 sevens show. It wasn't just, you know, the two hours or the one hour or actually it's not 20 minute show that they went to at the theme park. It's a 24 seven show and you saw it through the lens of an entertainer. Like, well, what's the whole show? So kind of makes sense, because if you were working for a company that had no element from that standpoint, it might not motivate you to the same, the same level. So I think that there's something there, but just kind of like owning this part of like yeah, this is who I am and this is where I'm going to have a lot more fun.
0:46:25 - Keith Smith
Yeah, anything I've accomplished in my life that has been my approach is you know, I've put a plan together, I've worked the plan. I'm excited by creativity, I'm excited by ideas and I find that even in my you know my business recommendations that I make, I try to apply some, some creative approach to it right and think about the way that it will be, it will be played out, so that we can get to the end goals of whatever that plan is.
0:47:00 - Betsy Jordyn
So one of the things that's big at Disney is storytelling, obviously. So how do you see storytelling play out in your business, like how do you see yourself using storytelling as part of, like how you track clients or how do you make a difference with clients, or how do you see that?
0:47:19 - Keith Smith
I think it's critical in you know, even again back to the creative side, think about what arts and culture or do in theater specifically. It's still. It tells a story. You know, right, you go to the theater to see a story and it's at the core of what that product is. So, for me, where I see the challenge is narrowing down and identifying the stories, and we've we've had tons of them throughout our career, but at the moment you just don't think of it. As this is a story, you have to kind of put it into a context of a story, right, and think about, you know, how a story evolves and what are the components of the story, and there's a protagonist and an antagonist, right, and there's sometimes there's a happy ending. Sometimes there's not a happy ending and it's.
It's trying to understand how to take those stories and now fit them into my new world and what I'm going to be doing.
So I have recognized that I need to start paying attention more to stories and gathering stories. And even, you know, yesterday someone was telling me something that happened to them at work and I said that is a fantastic leadership story. Can I use that? You know, change the name, but can I use that at some point, because I think there's value there and I that's a new lens that I have to to continually remember, to put on as I'm going forward. But I have to look backwards too and be able to tell stories from the work that I've done in my past as well. So it's an evolving skill, but I think it's a critical one because that's you talk about the storytelling, storytelling culture at Disney is so important because it makes that connection, emotional connection for people and it makes something real. So, rather than talking, you know, in abstracts or theories, make it tangible and tell a story and share an example and help people connect to it, and that's something I'm just going to have to continually focus on.
0:49:12 - Betsy Jordyn
Well, you told some really powerful stories today. I mean just the, the story about your mother and saying that you're a fixer, like to me. I'm visualizing oh well, that's your why story on your about page. You know like I could see your. Your story is how I went from, you know, the Disney executive to a consulting entrepreneur, you know, and your story starts out, you know, with this theater kid. You know who got his first job and, as you know, his now husband says why don't you go work for Disney? And because of that, I had a chance to sit in every single role in the show and lead and help everybody in that role in the show.
Now my business is all about helping other people who have a show that they want to produce, but they need all the roles to align. You know. And now, why I do what I do is my mother told me. You know, as a reflection of my mother's, I've always been a fixer. You know where you all see problems in your organization, I see opportunity, especially because you're a creative person and this is just not your jam. But this is mine, you know. So work with me. You know my best clients tell me they love my matrix of of a plan of action. You know, and here's what it is book a call.
0:50:15 - Keith Smith
So now we just wrote your about page, but I'm just taking a video clip and it's going to go right on my homepage.
0:50:22 - Betsy Jordyn
No, but this is your about page. This is your about page. Your homepage is going to be different, like some of the other stories, but you're about stories like like you've just told them all and it's really powerful. But what I love about it is it's not just telling the stories, it feels like you're just really owning your stories. You know you're owning your experience. No apologies. And no apologies of like yeah, you know I was at home and just you know I kind of got removed and like I'm trying to figure out what's next. Like no apologies, this is what I'm doing.
0:50:52 - Keith Smith
Yeah, and it's the interesting thing, there is we. I would I would tell this story often when I was facilitating the orientation program at Disney, but it's so true because it applies in every aspect of life is something that we do. That's just part of our daily routine, right? It's just something we do every day.
You never know when that one thing has an impact on someone else right or it means something significant to that other person, even though to you it's just another thing you did on your day, right? If you really don't even think of it again. And you just did that for me, which was? You know, I'm just sitting here talking, but you're making the connection back to like he's really far it's me, right, I'm. There's nothing exciting about it that I'm thinking about as I'm talking. But you know, what you just said made that flip to say, have to start thinking. This is where I said I got to put that lens on. I have to start thinking about just the things I've done and who I am and my experiences and how to translate those into what you just did about the importance of it's not just something that I'm doing day to day and it means nothing.
0:52:01 - Betsy Jordyn
I think that what is really interesting about like, as you're looking through this, is like yeah, I have a story, I have a story, but it's also a universal story, you know. So it's making that connection to say, well, here's my story. My mother said I'm a fixer, I'm always been a fixer. You know, like as a universal story, like that's a story of the consultant archetype. We're all fixers. Consultants and coaches were fixers. You know, that's what, that's what we do, you know that's what we're here for. You know, like, make that connection. But then connecting to the creative, it's like but that's not you and that's totally fine, you do your thing, I do my thing. Together we're going to make the show, you know. And and just you know, all of that is beautiful. And so we're speaking of your website. Could you be more explicit around? What is your website address? What will people find when they get to your website and if, if, somebody wants to work with you? You know what are those first next steps.
0:52:58 - Keith Smith
So I've really had it. It's been a lot of work, but I've really enjoyed the process of putting my website together and really the copy. You know, starting with the blank page, it's really scary, but using templates like you've provided and you know other websites that I like is, you know, kind of going into fill in the blanks, and I'm sure that it's going to evolve as time goes on. Right, this is kind of the first iteration coming out. So really putting together the different pages about you know, the homepage, the about page, the services page, and then you know how do I start to cultivate people that want to follow me or learn more, and that whole process has been really, really helpful in just getting more and more crisp about articulating who I am, what I do in the services that I offer. So when people go to my web page, they're going to, they're going to land on the homepage and URL is URL is it's really tough.
It's Keith Smith consultingcom.
0:54:06 - Betsy Jordyn
You mean that little ghost light logo right there?
0:54:12 - Keith Smith
consulting. I did a lot of focus groups to come to that, that name.
0:54:17 - Betsy Jordyn
I know it's like.
0:54:20 - Keith Smith
It's just the best one.
It's more about the ghost light for me, even though people think it's a microphone. But that's okay, because on my website you will find in the about page that it has a section about the ghost light I have actually written about. You know what is the ghost light? What does it mean? Why is it my symbol? So you know, I think for me it makes a nice connection. But really my web page I want it to have the feel of. I told the web designer to have a casual sophistication right because the casual pieces who I am. I talked about relationships and how important those are to me and being casual and approaching people and working with people, but the sophistication comes with. I want people to know that when they work with me, they're going to get a good product right, they're going to get professionalism, they're going to get a desired outcome.
I want to have that feel yeah, I want to have that feel when they come to the website. So you'll learn a little bit about who I am, my background, what I do. There'll be some overviews of the services and then you can actually click in and take a deeper dive in each of my services and why you would want to use that service. What is that service? And then a way to contact me. Either, you know, set up some time to talk or get on my mailing list. I'm a blogger for a blog. I've never done a blog before. I'll have to figure out whether that's a routine I want to get into or not but I'll help you with that.
0:55:41 - Betsy Jordyn
We'll go over that one, because that's that's one of my favorite things to do, like if it wasn't for my content, I would not have my business. You know like that is the best way. We'll chat about that one.
0:55:50 - Keith Smith
All right, perfect, so we'll chat about that, but but yeah, I'm really excited about the launch of it.
0:55:56 - Betsy Jordyn
So somebody books time with you, so I assume that that's free, that you know the intro call is free. Is there anything specific that people are going to get out of that intro call? You know that, like, what are the takeaways from in a jumping on a call with you?
0:56:10 - Keith Smith
Yeah, I'm going to go to the hat of myself as a consumer. Right, we've all gone to websites and they want you to give your name and your email and your phone and you're like, oh great, you know, here it comes.
I'm going to get hit up with all the marketing and the phone calls and, you know, it just kind of sets you back. So I want people to feel like this is a opportunity to just sit down and have a conversation, whether it's, you know, 20 or 30 minutes. Just see, is this something that we can even work together? Right, what is the issue? And again, the issue may not be the real issue, but to have someone who you could just have a trusted relationship with, to just have a quick conversation, talk about what your challenges, where are you today, where do you want to be tomorrow, and is it something that we can work on together and then take the next steps from there?
and that's really all it is. It's, you know, it's a no obligation chance to do that and I want to hopefully give people that feeling that there is no obligation, you're not going to get hit up with spam and marketing calls and emails. It's just a chance to talk and see if this is a relationship that we want to forge together.
0:57:18 - Betsy Jordyn
So they're going to walk away with creating a connection with someone like you, you know who? Could you know, validate, understand what they're going through? But then it sounds like you're also going to give them like a roadmap. Like here you are today, here's where you want to be. Let's talk about how you can, you know, at least get started on bridging that gap and if we're the right fit for each other, like if I'm your person, cool, we can continue. We can continue if I'm not your person, I just want to give you this gift. Either way, it's cool.
0:57:46 - Keith Smith
Yeah, yeah and I.
I don't yet have, although you know, I know it's something that's important and probably be in my future of my roadmap here is you know, have kind of the take a ways. Or you know, let me send you a quick tool that you can use. I do have them. I just got to customize them, you know kind of. You know judge them a little bit to make of my own, but those are things that are coming. So you know that would be a hope for me at some point in that conversation to say, look, you know, here's something I can send you to at least get you started happy to help. Maybe we work together, maybe it's not me, like you said, but here's a tool that might help you a little bit.
0:58:23 - Betsy Jordyn
That's great and I think that that's a great way to create those tools and, by the way, to create that content that you might want to have for your blog is you get those actual real world content on you know a context of information from people and they'll tell you. You know, your audience will tell you what they need from you and I think it's great that you're not overly pressuring yourself until you actually start getting out there and you start again. The curiosity leading with the curiosity and finding out whatever that is I think a lot about, like your Disney career, your transition from that career into your own business. We talked about entertainment, why it's such a cool place for you to focus websites and storytelling and so much more. Is there anything else that you'd want to tell me and I'm just not asking you the right question?
0:59:08 - Keith Smith
Oh gosh, that's the proverbial. Is there anything else question, and it's a great one. I don't know. No, I, you know, I'm just at the beginning of this journey and you know I've said to people this could be the best thing ever, or it?
may go nowhere right, but I think for me it's again having the plan, working the plan and doing everything I've committed to do. I'm very excited. I think there is great opportunity and, you know, as I start to put myself out there more and see kind of where this leads, I know it'll grow, I know it will evolve and I know it may look a little different than it does on day one. And I think being open to you know maybe just didn't get it 100% right at first and making those changes and evolving and being flexible, I'm excited. You know, I don't know, we'll see where it goes.
1:00:11 - Betsy Jordyn
Well, I'll just tell you, if anybody who's listening in, who's a creative executive. I've worked with Keith for, I don't know, 30 years or so. It's been 30 years since 1999. Oh God, I'm feeling old.
1:00:22 - Keith Smith
I don't want to talk about that, let's just say Okay.
1:00:25 - Betsy Jordyn
So for anybody who's because I've known Keith for at least like 15 plus years, let's just believe it at that. I'll be okay with that one. But you're the real deal. You know like what you're talking about. You actually have delivered and I've seen you deliver it time and time again.
And creative executives and you and I both know, as our Disney experience are very different types of executives and you need to. You need support from someone like Keith who gets your creative process and is not going to stifle it. You know and I think that that's what's really cool is like you could just take that creative process, not stifle it, and make everything that is wanting to happen happen. So I love that. And then, for everyone else who's listening in, I just love for you to take Keith's advice about your first consulting client or your first coaching client is yourself. Take all the things that you know.
If anybody who's like afraid of you're on the fence and you're trying to figure out like well, should I start my own business, take that advice, go within and figure out like, well, how do I, how do I help my clients? Go, help yourself that way. How do I coach my clients? Coach yourself to get that way, you know, and same goes if you're trying to scale up to the next level. I think that that's really great advice. So thank you so much for being here, thank you all for listening, and I will see you all next time.
1:01:39 - Keith Smith
1:01:42 - Betsy Jordyn
Thank you for tuning in. If today's episode lit a fire on you, please rate and review. Enough already on Apple podcasts or subscribe wherever you listen, and if you're looking for your next step, visit me on my website at Betsy Jordancom and it's Betsy Jordan with a Y and you'll learn all about our end to end services that are custom designed to accelerate your success. Don't wait Start today.
Transcribed by https://podium.page