December 25, 2023

Authentic Leadership and the Power of Evangelism with Leslie Greenwood

Leslie Greenwood joins Alper to explore her journey from tier-one support to leadership and the role of community and evangelism in business.

Meet our guest

Leslie Greenwood, Founder and CEO at Chief Evangelist Consulting | Co-Founder at Wednesday Women

Leslie has over 20 years of leadership experience in community, customer success, support, client services, and sales. Her professional passion is bringing the power of connection, community, and evangelism into startups.

Key takeaways

  • Be authentic and accept yourself fully, embracing your uniqueness in a world that often demands conformity.
  • Establish clear boundaries to prevent burnout, both in personal and professional life, and commit to honoring them to maintain balance. 
  • Recognize that success and failure are part of the entrepreneurial journey, and strive to find a middle ground to avoid extreme reactions.
  • Focus on building genuine relationships with customers, employees, and stakeholders, prioritizing human connections over transactional interactions. 
  • Recognize the power of community building in business, whether through strategic initiatives or grassroots efforts, to cultivate brand evangelists and foster loyalty.
  • Lead with empathy, authenticity, and a focus on the human aspect of business, prioritizing the well-being and satisfaction of both customers and employees.

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Shaping experiences and early career

The conversation starts with Leslie talking about her background, from growing up in rural Indiana, her early career in retail management, and to her transition into entrepreneurship while raising her children. She discusses her evolution as a leader, acknowledging past shortcomings and emphasizing the importance of authenticity and self-acceptance.

"I am definitely a square peg in a round whole world. And I am done shaving off my edges. I've spent my whole life filing the edges, hoping to fit in, and it's just not gonna happen and I am completely okay with it and embrace it."

Throughout the conversation, Leslie also touches on the significance of mental health awareness and therapy, advocating for stigmatization and self-care. She shares her passion for building strategic communities and her involvement in initiatives like Wednesday Women, which uplifts executive women leaders.

Getting into the startup world and leadership journey

As Leslie dives into her career journey and the pivotal moments that shaped it, she recounts her unexpected entry into the startup world, starting with a chance interview for a tier-one support role at a SaaS company.

”The two VPs out of the room that were interviewing me and said, you know what, that's not the right job for you, but I have one that is. And he made up a job on the spot and I was basically tier-one support.”

Despite starting in tier-one support with a modest salary, Leslie later played a pivotal role in building essential programs for the company, which later sold for $250 million. This experience sparked their interest in startups, despite the modest financial return.

“I was an early employee, ended up building out the retention program, the onboarding program for employees and customers. A training program on board and most of the core members of the team and the company ended up getting purchased for 250 million a couple of years after that. So, that was my first ride in startups, the journey that no one gets.”

Leslie reflects on her evolution as a leader, acknowledging past shortcomings and the challenges she faced in understanding the distinction between management and leadership. 

The conversation also delves into Leslie's involvement with Pavilion, a community for revenue leaders, and how she transitioned from being a member to a key contributor within the organization.

Struggles of a founder and the importance of evangelism

Later in the conversation between Alper and Leslie, they delve into the challenges and struggles faced by founders, particularly in the startup world. Leslie candidly discusses her recent diagnosis of ADHD and the mental journey of navigating success and failure as a founder. She highlights the importance of setting boundaries, managing time effectively, and addressing the pressure to constantly achieve.

“I think a general founder challenge that I'm experiencing is that this is mine. So success is mine and failure is mine. And not putting too much weight on either of those scenarios. You know, like when I'm, and that's very much my personality. “

They explore the concept of evangelism in business, stressing the significance of building genuine connections with customers to create brand advocates. Leslie emphasizes the human aspect of business and the value of authenticity and human connection in the revenue community.

“The thing that I would diagnose the revenue community… is that we've just really forgotten about the individual consumer. We've forgotten that it's a person that somehow connects with our product, that purchases it for a reason. We call people MQLs and SQLs and clients and customers and leads and prospects and all these… they're human and we don't treat them like humans.”

She advocates for a shift towards recognizing and nurturing brand evangelists among everyday customers, underscoring the necessity of fostering genuine connections. As Alper seeks clarification on the distinction between evangelism and other forms of promotion like word-of-mouth referrals, Leslie explains that true evangelism arises from genuine connections and positive experiences with a brand, which inspire customers to share their enthusiasm with others.

The conversation concludes with a reflection on the universality of human experiences and the importance of vulnerability in professional interactions. Leslie underscores the value of authenticity in leadership and the power of genuine connections to drive business success.


Full episode transcript

Alper Yurder: Today in the therapy chair, we have Leslie Greenwood, who is the co-founder and CEO of Chief Evangelist Consulting, which helps founders, startups, and community builders bring an evangelist-led growth strategy into their business. Now I know everyone's already thinking, okay, what is a chief evangelist officer? And what does evangelism mean? It might mean different things to different people. And that's part of the reason that attracted me to have Leslie as a guest today. But she has over 20 years of leadership experience in community, customer success, and support. So all those good things that we love at Sales Therapy. And we'll talk about her success, the joy, the pain and the journey as usual. So welcome to Sales Therapy Leslie, and how are you feeling today?

Leslie Greenwood: I'm feeling very, uh, ..therapized. You're gonna warm me up for my real therapy session tomorrow. I'll be all ready.

Alper Yurder: Excellent, yeah. This comes up usually like when you go to therapy like psychologists, like DCS psychologists etc and I'm like this is the best gift you can give sooner the better. Go to a therapist.

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah, get rid of the stigma. It's mental fitness. You go to the gym. Just go to therapy. Everybody has a great Well, you may have a great copay or you may not have a great copay or if you're likely to be in Europe You don't have a copay. So there you go

Alper Yurder: There you go. So was my intro, I tried my best with the intro, but I'm sure people would like to hear you from yourself, Leslie, do you want to give a little teaser of who is the person we're talking to today?

Leslie Greenwood: Sure, sure. Well, the quick near term answer is you said, what is evangelism and what do I do? And basically it boils down to, I help both companies and membership-based communities build strategic communities. Looking at it from the very bottom all the way up to, which is one reason why I was excited for this, up to the psychology of human connection and how do we get people to connect and to create the bonds that I know will make a sticky community. So that is what I do. I love that part of my job. I do have a second job, which is the co-founder of Wednesday Women, which is an organization that uplifts and shines a spotlight on executive women leaders. Just to give them more of a platform, we are not a community, but we are building community around our mission. So it's a little bit different application of community. And so that's been really interesting as well.

Alper Yurder: Love it. Love the title, the person, the energy, the various things that you're doing. So we'll talk about all of that. But any good therapy starts with childhood and growing up. So let's hear a little bit like I really love understanding how the growing up experience shapes the person that we are in our lives today, our business, how we act in business. Some go, I mean, I'm going to share, overshare today a little bit. Like, for example, your leadership style, you know. If you have a very disciplined childhood, you might go like everything has to be perfect. You might tend to be a micromanager sometimes. I've seen all of that. I've been there, et cetera. As I said, I'll overshare today. I'm just curious, like, tell us about your younger years and how was growing up for you? What kind of an experience was it for you?

Leslie Greenwood: You know, I, we grew up in very rural Indiana. So, you know, outside of the big city of 40,000 people, literally surrounded by cornfields, there were 88 people in my graduating class, very blue collar, farm type of community. I am definitely a city girl. So I was basically a fish out of water my entire life, a very non-diverse community. We had a Catholic. That's how diverse we were, one. So it is just a very different experience in the way that I have chosen to live my life now. I was a really smart kid. And so smart wasn't really cool. And I kind of went through the ups and downs of accepting being smart and then saying, screw it. Being smart isn't doing me anything. Let me go drink beer in a cornfield and skip school. And none, I think how this shapes what I am now. And granted, I'm older now. And I think my leadership style has changed over the years and matured as I have. But one of the things that I've really, and I've talked about this on LinkedIn lately, is like I am definitely a square peg in a round whole world. And I am done shaving off my edges. I've spent my whole life filing the edges, hoping to fit in, and it's just not gonna happen and I am completely okay with it and embrace it. And just like, you know what? I had a podcast with Ravi Rajani and he said it's both attractive and repelable. I'll attract the people that are like me and repel the ones that don't need to be in my life. And I need to be, I'm working on being okay with that. And that I don't, if you don't like me or you just are tolerating me, like be gone with yourself. Like I don't need you.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, that's your choice. Live your life without me and happy days. Wonderful. I love how at some point in our lives, we all come to those points, some sooner, some later. And I think that has a lot to do with growing up too. I even see it with my co-founders sometimes or people I speak to, my very close friends. And the sooner you get to that point that you are right now, Leslie, the better for people, I guess, I don't know if you agree.

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah. Peace out. And I hope that like this new, you know, it was because we're more open to talk about therapy, we're more open to talk about our troubles and that everything doesn't look, everything that looks perfect is not that I'm hoping, you know, that people will come to it earlier. And honestly, part of my story is sharing that so that people are like, oh, how do you do it? How do you manage this? Like, dude, I'm a hot mess. And you know, don't try to emulate this. You'll get there.

Alper Yurder: Okay. Well, great segue. Boy, did I train you in the podcast before? I didn't. Let's disclaimer. It's a great segue because part of the reason why I'm doing this is to show maybe more junior folks. I don't want to say younger folks because you can be any age, whatever. People who are a bit earlier in their career who need this experience like to achieve, they look at the leaders of today, they look at you and they see, wow, you know, Lesley's done this, that, and wonderful, et cetera.

Leslie Greenwood: I'm out.

Alper Yurder: We weren't always that, we started somewhere, we had our highs and lows. So maybe let's talk about that a little bit. Can you share with us a little bit about your career journey? How did you start work? And let's take it from there.

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah. I think my main working experience after college, I came out, didn't know what I wanna be when I grew up, went to Korea to study international business and decided it was much more fun to drink beer and party and teach rich kids English.

Alper Yurder: Drinking beer seems to be a common thread. This already came up twice.

Leslie Greenwood:  I don't even like beer. Here's the thing, I don't even like beer. And teaching rich kids English, but I just decided after the first semester I wasn't going back so I moved to Chicago. I got a job in retail, rose through the ranks, ended up being a store manager and I was really terrible, I called myself, I was even a terrible manager. I wasn't even a terrible leader. There was no leading. It was managing and I didn't understand leading. I didn't understand the influence. It was to do what I say because I said so. And then I'd get all mad and hurt about it. But I was 25 and I was leading people who were 40 and things like that. It was my first journey and I just kind of stunk at it. And then after that, I worked for my parents. My parents were entrepreneurs as well. So I worked for them for a had when I had my first daughter, I said, okay, well, my parents just let people bring their baby to work. That's just what it's going to be. And they changed their policy and I will, I ran your business, so I'm going to run mine. So at five months old, I started my first business, took purchase order numbers, wrote them on a diaper with a crayon. With my Blackberry, I thought I was so cool and ahead of the curve. So that was my first journey into entrepreneurship.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, may I ask how long ago was this?

Leslie Greenwood: Um, that was, she's 23. So 22 years ago, I had all three of my kids while I had my business. I had my business for 10. Oh yeah. I had my business for 10 years.

Alper Yurder: Wow, wow, you started. Wow. Okay. So your career grew with your children. Wow. That's quite inspiring, I think. I mean, yeah, I think something dropped for those listening, just not watching. It's fine. Excellent. And then can you maybe

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah. Oops, sorry.

Alper Yurder: Talk to us a little bit, like I know that you are advising, you're an advisor, you're kind of a consultant at the same time. Maybe talk us through the different hats that you wear and how you got to that point.

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah. Can I tell you my startup story before that? I was getting ready to, I'd been a stay-at-home mom for a couple of years. That's in my headline. I make fun of the ex Googlers and I put an ex stay-at-home mom. I called a friend who was working at this new company and I said, you know, house after school care. I guess the vice president of sales was walking past and said, oh, you have a friend that needs a job. Can they come in tomorrow for an interview? I'm like,

Alper Yurder: Please do.

Leslie Greenwood: Okay, sure. And so I show up in kind of a shady part of town and it's what you think of as a 2014 startup. You got the ping pong table, you got the developers working in the dark on their Amazon boxes. And then the founder can't talk to me until he finishes his stew that the chef cooked. And I'm like, what the freak in his holy jeans. You know what I mean? Like, what the freak is this? And basically, he told me I was a terrible fit for that job. Excused the two VPs out of the room that were interviewing with me and said, you know what, that's not the right job for you, but I have one that is. And he made up a job on the spot and I was basically tier one support. So for all of those out there, I mean, that was at 44. I started in tier one support. I was making $40,000 a year as I just wanted to get out of the house. But I was an early employee, ended up building out the retention program, the onboarding program for employees and customers. A training program on board and most of the core members of the team and the company ended up getting purchased for 250 million a couple of years after that. So, that was my first ride in startups, the journey that no one gets. Now granted, it wasn't stupid money. It was to remodel your kitchen money. But that's how I got the startup bug. It was completely accidental.

Alper Yurder: I love it.

Leslie Greenwood: that I ended up in the startup world and I haven't looked back since.

Alper Yurder: Isn't it quite cool when people see the light in you and they shape something around that? Like we tried to do the same a little bit at Flola. Like when we hire people, yes, we need like a million different skills. But who are you? What do you like? What are you capable of? And then shape a role according to that as much as possible. So what did he see in you and what did you shape? What did you guys shape that role into?

Leslie Greenwood: I answered all the phones. It was a SaaS platform for real estate tech. I basically answered the phones. They called me the voice of Commissions Inc. And so I answered tier one questions. I would get people to their success manager at some point, but I created these great relationships with our customers. I knew every in and out of the product. And so how I… First promotion from there happened because a new president came in and he sat in front of my desk and he came out one day and said, I think we're under utilizing your capabilities. And he's like, you want to move to sales? I can double your pay. I said, okay, peace out. So I mean, yeah. And so then that role actually ended up moving us to Dallas. And I was the VP of client services taking over a Department of 30 People. Again, going back to the challenges, I still wasn't a great leader then. I didn't understand it. And so, I mean, even at 46, I still wasn't a great leader. So I just, I made it way too hard on myself.

Alper Yurder: What's a great letter in your mind that you weren't that thing?

Leslie Greenwood: I think I had the leader and manager confused. I didn't fully understand, and I think that's very, like you kind of intimated, it's fairly common. I didn't understand that my job was to lead and coach and train and level up the people that were with me instead of diving in and doing. So that's one thing, I am a doer. I get a lot of satisfaction from doing. And so that's one of my leadership challenges is that I still want to be hands-on and scrappy. But yeah, no, I just didn't understand. I didn't take the time to make the relationships that I came in with because I did what a lot of people taking over a department do. I came in and wanted to make an impact quickly instead of learning everything I should have and made a slower entrance into the flow.

Alper Yurder: Okay, I love that. By the way, just a little quick here for Boosie. Do you wanna close your door or something? Like with the dog is everything fine?

Leslie Greenwood: Oh, the door is closed. I guess my thing, it's done. I think that there's somebody at the door. I thought my AI thing must not be working. Sorry. Should be done.

Alper Yurder: Okay, great, fine. That's fine. No worries. In just in case, if you wanted to. Great. Cool. We can continue. All right. So that's, that's really, that's really nice. And then did you, how did you learn to become a better leader as your roles progress? I guess, what kind of skills did you add to the toolbox that made you feel like you're a better leader now than before?

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah, I think it was on the job training. Obviously, I read books on leadership. I went to workshops on leadership, et cetera, but I think it was seriously just a maturity level and also given the freedom to lead the way I wanted to lead. And I had that when I worked at Pavilion. I was able to lead a team which grew to 18 and I would say the best team I ever had was that team. And we really did it in a different kind of way that made a huge difference.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, for anyone listening and not familiar with Pavilion, Pavilion is probably, I mean, there's a lot of communities out there. It's probably one of the best that I've seen in my entire career. It's for, you know, commercial leaders, revenue leadership roles, et cetera, where sales, client success, marketing, all of those people exchange great ideas. And it's a wonderful community of really strong professionals and people who are genuinely kind, et cetera. I mean, the purpose is not to promote them, but... I really love them. So when I love something, I just say it. And also the opposite. How did your relationship come about with Pavilion? Like how did you start working with those folks?

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah. So once I came down here and moved my family across the country and got fired eight months later, by the way, let me tell you that was guilt, shame. You know, what have I done? I've moved my family across the country. I have teenagers, blah, blah. It didn't matter. I got hired back by them, they gave me a three month severance and I got hired back by the parent company the next day. So it was cool. I got double paid for three months, but it still really hurt my psyche. And so after I left that job and I was interviewed, I met someone who was a Pavilion member. And so I'm like, okay, I finally got a new job and I was going to work for a VP of Sales. I'm like, I don't know what an MQL is, an SQL, a BANT is. What are these people talking about? What is this knowledge that I'm completely missing? And so I ended up joining Pavilion because he'd recommended it and it was all SaaS leaders and I could start understanding what this VP of Sales talk was. And so I was a member first and then they tapped me to help grow the Dallas chapter. I actually did a lot of what I tell people to do in the community, which is to be visible. Get to know the community manager. I would give suggestions. I was probably too bossy. I made their quick start guide before I worked there because I was like, I can't find all your resources. This is confusing. Here people use this quick start guide. Still use today in a different form. And so then eventually Sam posted that he wanted to hire a super junior customer success manager to manage a community. And I slacked him and said, I don't think you should do that. I think we should talk. And he told me he can't afford an executive. And I said, well, I live in Texas, not New York, and customer success is at least a paid role of all the go-to-markets. So maybe we should talk. And we did. And a couple of months later, I started. And then I...

Alper Yurder: And the rest was history.

Leslie Greenwood: Yep. And then I, but I, even now that I've left Pavilion, so I've been, um, had my own business now for 14 months and really excited to have crossed that one year mark. Um, I'm still a member. I love it, thank you. I love the people there. That's where all my people live. You know, my friends, my confidants, the people that give me support, that helped me with questions, um, that tag me in posts, that send me business. They're all in, they're all there. I'll probably never leave.

Alper Yurder: Congratulations. Excellent. Yeah, absolutely. I was going to ask you about some of the lowlights to success, like on the way to success and you already mentioned there. And I was laughing when you say you got fired, which isn't something that, but that's how I cope with basically like, you know, difficult situations. I try to laugh through them. I'm still working on it for anybody listening. Um, so how did, yeah, can we go there a little bit? Like what, that was a low light, obviously, but you recovered quickly from it, it sounds.

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah, I mean, it took a little time. I mean, I definitely spent some days in bed, you know, with some tears and, you know, pity partying and all that stuff because at that point, I couldn't see what a blessing it was. Like, I definitely, here's a life mantra that I have. When a door is open and the path is clear, you're meant to walk through. That's what that job was. I did know that there were obstacles that I was climbing over. So I knew that it wasn't quite right when I was leaving to move here, but...

Alper Yurder: Yeah, great. Love it.

Leslie Greenwood: My kids have thrived in Dallas. You know, the education system is better than Atlanta. Like we were so meant to be here. Like it's been such a great opportunity for my family. So even though the mode was a struggle, the result was meant to be. And I truly believe that we were meant to be here. So, yeah. So it just, yeah, it just took some time. I mean, now that I'm, yeah. And now that I've been in SAS, everybody gets fired.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. Action. There's some good in every kind of low light. Yeah, definitely. It's just life.

Leslie Greenwood: Everybody gets fired every 18 months. So like, I'm just joining the club.

Alper Yurder: I think the average tenure for a CRO is about 18 months. That might have gone down in the last six months since I… So that fact, that data, because it's difficult. Well, coming to today, let's come to today a little bit. Let's talk about some of the more current issues you're dealing with. I mean, you're a founder, obviously, you've just passed the one year mark. Congrats on that. I think we're in the same boat there. So I like to ask this question in one way, like what problems are you solving for in your business today? In other words, what brought you to therapy today? Like what are the challenges we should talk about being a founder?

Leslie Greenwood: Thank you. OK, awesome.  

Alper Yurder: How are you? What are the struggles? What are the problems you're solving? And do you have any secret tips to tackle those things?

Leslie Greenwood: Well, the current challenges. One, I was just diagnosed with ADHD, so I'm working through strategies for that. I think that's why a lot of people get attracted to startups because there's like stimulation all the time. Like things are breaking, let's fix it, all the exciting things. So I'm working through that. I think a general founder challenge that I'm experiencing is that this is mine. So success is mine and failure is mine. And not putting too much weight on either of those scenarios. You know, like when I'm, and that's very much my personality. When the high is high, oh, I'm going to kill it. I'm going to be a millionaire. I'm going to be successful, blah, blah. And then lose a deal or make a mistake. I'm like, oh my God, I'm going out of business tomorrow. How did I ever think this was going to work? So like that, the whole mental journey is really rough. And I'm just trying to ride the middle, which I'm… That's not my personality. I don't know if you can tell that from our conversations so far. Um, so that's, that's one thing. Um, also, um, time management and boundaries. Um, and it's not other people imposing their boundaries on me. It's me trying to hold the boundaries that I set. So I say, if I'm not taking appointments on this day, that I don't put appointments on my calendar, that I don't. Push myself to burn out because that's just, I'm 110% kind of person all the time. 99 feels like failure and that's just a personality trait that I'm working on. Probably deep rooted in childhood and having a pleasing personality and all this kind of stuff. So that is also one of the things because I will burn myself out in a hot minute. I mean, heck, I now have two businesses. Like who the freak decides to do that?

Alper Yurder: I'm just letting you speak, Leslie. You're just speaking what's in my mind and all the feelings that I have. I'm letting you spill the beans on my life. I think these are things that any founder struggles with and any founder tries to find their way around these things. Every month I promised myself, I'm not going to burn myself out. And then, you know, I was on a podcast once and somebody asked me, so how do you manage like, you know, it's so stressful. You work a lot, you know, all day, every day, blah, blah. How do you mention? I told them, well I discovered this thing where I just tell myself one day a month, that day I'm not going to think about work, that day... And they just told me, we all have it, that's called a weekend helper. 

Leslie Greenwood: See, the thing is my brain is like 100,000 miles an hour all the time. So even if I say I'm not going to think about it, there's always the wheels turning in the back thinking about it. So I never feel fully rested. Therefore, trying to work on some meditation and just things to be present and grounded so that I can turn my brain off for a little while.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. Okay, well, you might not have an answer for this, but I'm just going to ask anyway, like, are there any books, people, influencers, this, that, leaders, you look up to who have helped with that? Like even with some inspiring commentary or whatever, anybody can look up to.

Leslie Greenwood: Um, you know, one, this is kind of on this and then kind of on some other topics that I'm passionate about, but I follow Meeta Malik, M-I- Um, she, I think she's at CARTA, I believe. I don't know high up at CARTA, but she posts a lot of inspirational posts, talks about boundaries, talks about diversity, um, talks about, you know, women taking their place and she's just really great, she's a great follower.

Alper Yurder: Okay, excellent. I didn't know her so I might check out and follow. Thanks. And as we approach the end of the podcast, the last section is mostly about putting you on the therapist chair now. So what I'm going to do is if you are the therapist, What are some of the challenges? What are some of the struggles, problems that you see within the community, all the revenue community, commercial roles? And what are you trying to improve? What's your platform?

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah, I think we have lost, and I talk about this all the time, and lost the connection with the individual consumer. So we forget that we don't have MQLs and SQLs and things like that. Can you hear my dog again?

Alper Yurder: Um, I do. That's fine. Um, maybe let's give him her, they, them, time out. Yeah. That's fine. Don't worry. I don't know if anybody else can hear. I can hear him, but it's fine. Yep. You know what? Let's give him a minute. That's fine. Because this is the meaty juicy section. We talk about evangelism. So, yeah.

Leslie Greenwood: Okay, so the thing that I would diagnose the revenue community that you and I both live in either directly or peripherally is that we've just really forgotten about the individual consumer. We've forgotten that it's a person that somehow connects with our product that purchases it for a reason. We call people MQLs and SQLs and clients and customers and leads and prospects and all these… they're human and we don't treat them like humans. We group them into segments and personas and all this kind of thing. And that is truly something I believe in. Like Chief Evangelist Consulting is about creating evangelists out of your everyday customers. Like you and I, we can't afford to go hire some fancy evangelists, you know, or an influencer to talk about our stuff. We have to create, we have to create them. And we create them by having a great product and then for you it's like, how do I make the service? What's the experience of being a customer of Flola like? What does it feel like? And how do I attach my customers to that so that they love it in a way that they're gonna go tell their friends about it? And I've seen companies blow up like that and actually that's how Wednesday Women is growing. We have zero marketing. We're working a couple hours a week as part-time founders and… We have 3,500 followers in seven months on a business page. It's only because the people that we serve talk about us and share about us and share a post and things like that. So that's something I'm super passionate about. I think people really underestimate the individual consumer sharing about their product and they lose track of that. That is my big, that's my big platform.

Alper Yurder: So when I, the first time that I saw your name and your profile on LinkedIn, et cetera, that was basically I shared a post saying like, there's too many men on my feet. I wanna follow some women leaders in this space. And a lot of people were taking you under that post, which is how I came to know you and et cetera, et cetera. And your title was Chief Evangelism Officer, Chief Evangelist Officer. I'm sorry if I'm saying that wrong, one of those. And I thought, what a title. That's amazing. That's kind of what I'm trying to do with my business now. That's what I'm trying to learn. That's quite new and fresh. At the same time, there's all this literature about true fans, allies, people who promote your business, da, da. But as you say, I can't pay for the fanciest influencers. Actually, I don't even believe in that. Why am I paying anybody? That's not outside notes, sorry. But how is… Evangelism is different from all those other things that we know of, like word of mouth, referrals, truth and all. In your mind, how clear is it, this evangelist thing?

Leslie Greenwood: Well, I mean, all of that word of mouth referrals, none of that happens unless you've created an evangelist of some sort. I'm not gonna tell you, just like you said earlier, you said it, you're like, I will talk about the things I love, me too. I will talk about the companies I love, I will talk about Grove Cookies, I will talk about us in tech, I will talk about all the things that I love for free forever because I'm attached to their product, their mission, the founder, something like that. So you can't do any of that unless you've created the evangelist and actually not created you've earned the right You know by giving Something that's valuable to them without expectation Then you've earned the right and potentially so what you saw in that post with people tagging me, those are just regular people. They're evangelists for me and Wednesday women there. That's how we grow I didn't ask anybody to post under there um that just happened because of

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I love that.

Leslie Greenwood: You know, the way they feel about the company and the brand.

Alper Yurder: Okay, so I'm very curious, like, do you want to share a little bit about, you know, what kind of engagements you go into now in your business? Like, how do you preach or teach or handhold towards evangelism? Like, do you want to give a few examples?

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah, yeah. Well, my main business is community strategy, building communities. And that I think is an integral part of building a really strong community is building evangelists for your brand. That starts with connecting, creating relationships, the psychology of what that feels like. I mean, the psychology for you, it's like, why do you feel so attached to the Pavilion? What does it feel like when you enter the Pavilion? What is that experience? It's more than just another community because all of us are in 17 Slack communities. And so, you know, we interweave that into the basics of community building. So all of that is everything we do is in order to create an experience that is beyond expectation for the member so that we can earn that evangelism. We can grow organically without paying, you know, SEO and… You know, Google ads, which are so much more expensive and less effective that everybody's talking about. Um, so yeah, I think it's the easiest return on investment. It's not easy. I lied. Totally not easy to build a community. It is a great return on investment. If you can, if you will invest the time, energy, and love into your product or service.

Alper Yurder: Yes, I agree. Yeah. And it's sticky and sustainable. I think one of the themes for 24 is definitely going to be, you know, helping overselling retention. Um, You know, everyone's talking about AI and like whatever AI gets in so far other than chit-chit-pity, it just messes things up. You know, whenever I even feel the smell of AI, I'm like, okay, thanks. Take me out of this relationship. So I think relations are more important. Trust is the base of anything in sales. So communities are built around trust. So I think the very essence of things is human interaction, that relation, and why do I care about polio? And all this, because I feel the trust, I feel that people care about each other. I don't feel like I'm in a pipeline and then ultimately something. So all of those things, I have a specific question for you. Maybe you want to throw in a few examples. Do you feel like there are companies out there who really crack this evangelism thing or, or who have built communities that are quite interesting and sticky?

Leslie Greenwood: Companies that have really done evangelism. I would say, goodness gracious, well, I mean, one, it's totally different, you know, kind of totally different, it's a B2C. So Sephora, you know, the beauty brand, I mean, they have an amazing community. I mean, you log in, there's 50,000 people on there day or night, 24-7, easy. And it's because people… It's not, of course they use influencers, but it's not all influencers. It's the everyday user that they've enjoyed their community experience. B2B brands, I will probably struggle to come up with ones off the top of my head, but there are definitely ones that people love and will talk about and refer. So yeah, they're the usual. I'm like, I could name them, but you're like, ugh.

Alper Yurder: Hmm. Probably they are the usual suspects like the big names that we all know of. I'm not very familiar with them actually, to be honest at home, but I think people throw in like Chili Piper all the time and I have, probably I shouldn't admit this, but I have zero idea why, because I don't use their product and I don't know them, but everybody loves them. So maybe I should go and check it out. All right. That's great. And final question emits all this noise and automation and that moves away from the humanity of things in this industry. There will always be a closed mentality, etc. Do you think there is hope? Do you see hope? Do you think there is a move towards a better future, let's say?

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah, I think what's old is new. I think we are starting to see that and people are starting to understand that. Like I go bring my neighbor a pie when they're sick. I go to the mailbox, they're at the mailbox. They say, did you go to the amazing restaurant, you know, the new restaurant in town? I'm like, oh, what's the name? And then I go to the restaurant. Like I think there is this thought that these human relationships will take us farther. I think you're going to see it with the plethora of events this year. So not just human connection, but in real life, human connection is going to... I think we're going to see a lot more of that. And I think those will propel... Obviously, it propels relationships, it propels business. I'm more likely to go, if I need your software, I'm going to come to you first because I like you. And I'm going to give you the opportunity to talk about your product, even if it's not the best fit or I can't afford it. But I will love the opportunity. And so those are the people I'm going to go to first. The people that I like, respect, and maybe share some of my values.

Alper Yurder: Hello there. What's old is new. Is that a saying really? Because obviously English is not my mother tongue, so.

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah, yeah, yeah. What's old is new. I think that's probably a saying. Maybe it's a part of a bigger saying, but yeah.

Alper Yurder: Okay, for me it's the same from now on. I really like it. What's old is new. Great.

Leslie Greenwood: Yeah. I mean, think about your grandma. How'd your grandma do business? You know, she was still selling, influencing in all different kinds of ways, no matter what her job was. How did she do it?

Alper Yurder: Exactly. Okay, next time anybody tells me like, what's your sales methodology? I'll say, grandma, that's my sales methodology. There you go. Okay.

Leslie Greenwood: Grandma, yeah, I'm gonna get you to love me and I'm gonna get you to like my product and service and feel a connection to the brand. And I would say that's probably what Chili Piper did. Like when they were smaller, that was probably their strategy. People love them because they have that attachment to the brand or the founders because they're very visible founders. And so yeah, so you have, Alper, you have so much opportunity. You should definitely do that.

Alper Yurder: Exactly. I think that's what we're trying. Now, Leslie, our time is over and I need to cut it on the clock just like any good therapist. Any closing remarks?

Leslie Greenwood: Any closing remarks? I think I said everything. Closing remarks. You know what? Everything behind, just like what's old is new and it's about the person. Like what you see, and I know everybody talks about this, but like anybody that says life is perfect on social media or on, you know, you're talking to them and they seem untouchable, they are just like you and me. You know, it's always weird to me when someone says, how did you do it all? Or, you know, like you said, how did you do it all? What do you mean? I'm not doing it. And I just think people probably aren't as open and vulnerable about that as maybe you or I, but...

Alper Yurder: I love that you say it. Yeah. But, you know, I approached you, we spoke and just as I was popping the question, would you come to my podcast, Leslie? And you said, you know what? I would love to come to your podcast just as I was asking the question. So I think that's exactly that. Like we're all humans at the end and, you know, nobody's like an untouchable leader and whatever. OK, wonderful. So that's a wrap on this episode of Sales Therapy. If you enjoy the show, subscribe to us on YouTube and your favorite podcast.  My lovely guest, Leslie. Thank you very much for being with me today and see you on the next episode. Bye!

Leslie Greenwood: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

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