Sally Hogshead is a branding expert and pioneer of the groundbreaking Fascination Advantage® system. Sally skyrocketed to the top of the advertising profession in her early 20s. By age 24, she was the most award-winning advertising copywriter in the U.S. Her campaigns for brands such as MINI Cooper, Nike, Godiva and Coca-Cola have fascinated millions of consumers. At the age of 27, she opened her first ad agency and her work still hangs in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

A master communicator, Sally has conducted extensive research into the most common personality traits and has discovered how people and well-known brands can use their strengths to provide value and set themselves apart from their competition.

Sally Hogshead On Fascination, Marketing, and Personal Challenges

In life, where you start is definitely not where you stay. Our guest is possibly one of the greatest living examples of a person who has so completely re-crafted her life, generated a worldwide following, and even owns a word in the English language. At 24 years old, she had already won awards for her Mini Cooper, Nike, Godiva, Coca-Cola in amazing campaigns. At 27, she opened her own agency. In fact, her work is in the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and I might add that’s a first for the show, so I’m delighted to announce that. I told you she owned a word, and that word is fascination. She developed an algorithm to measure the fascination advantage which charged the success and effectiveness of personal brands. She’s a frequent guest on national TV and press. She was named the number one brand guru in the world. Please meet Sally Hogshead, the author of her newest book, Fascinate: How To Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist. Sally, welcome to the show.

Mitch, I am so excited to be able to talk with you. Over the years that I’ve known you, every time I talk with you, I’m the one taking notes and thinking about how to apply it. This is a huge honor to be able to join you in this conversation.

YFTC 19 | Fascination
Fascinate, Revised and Updated: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist

I want to ask you about something in your book because you were so kind to send me some books. One thing stuck out and it was in the beginning of the book. It kept me thinking almost all night. You said, “Your most fascinating traits are your most valuable traits.” When I go look that up in Merriam-Webster, the definition of fascinating is, “extremely interesting or charming or captivating.” Where does that leave the rest of us who don’t know what it is about us that is interesting or charming? Clearly, a car crash on the highway is interesting but it’s not fascinating.

It certainly isn’t necessarily valuable. When I first began studying fascination, I wanted to understand what exactly are the qualities that allow somebody to add value, to become irreplaceable, to stand out and avoid becoming a commodity. I had the same question that you did which is, “Are some people more fascinating than others, and does everybody have the same potential to be fascinating?” By now I’ve researched one million professionals and what I’ve learned is that one person is not more fascinating than another. It’s simply a matter of being able to identify how you’re most likely to immediately earn attention from your listener or from your audience, and then focus on those qualities as a specific benefit, just like a brand would, to be able to identify what your specialty and how do you over-deliver in one particular way.

The problem though is it’s hard to know what it is about yourself that others might think are fascinating. I don’t know that we’re that good of a judge of ourselves. How did you discover it for yourself?

By looking through the lens of branding, I was able to think of the way that I could bring the exact principles of world-class brands, like my former clients, to be able to apply that to individuals. I was part of the team that launched the Mini Cooper in the United States. One of the things that we learned from talking to focus groups is people weren’t interested in performance. They were not interested in cargo space. They actually weren’t interested in the numbers or the rational experience. What they wanted was a sense of participation like going on a road trip, that experience that they could share with other people or create memories. Mini Copper’s entire positioning is around the tagline and it’s still their tagline, “Let’s motor.” I thought to myself, “I knew how to do this for clients. We have a focus group, we get some research and then we translate that into a creative concept. What if we could do that for people? What if we could create a system of focus groups for individuals to be able to gather the words, the qualities, the examples of how an individual is most likely to add value?” I built an algorithm. I built a way to measure an individual just like a brand is measured by a focus group.

I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a statistician, but I do have a lot of experience with helping brands identify their most differentiating qualities. Instead of focusing on DISC or Myers-Briggs or StrengthsFinder or Kolbe, those other great gold standard assessments, I thought, “Instead of looking at how you see the world, what if we could measure how the world sees you? How does the world see you at your best so that you’re consistently seen at your most impressive and influential?” Out of that research, my first 100,000 people became that focus group that I’m describing. When you take the assessment, it isn’t measuring how you see the world. It’s measuring how do other people see you at your best, which is especially important for high-end entrepreneurs or anybody who wants to grow their business. You can see how your team sees you at your best, your prospect, your client or customer. It makes it a lot easier to just focus on what you’re doing right.

You mentioned when they take the assessment, you must have a way to maybe get others to experience that themselves. Is there a place they can go to take that “assessment” you talked about?

There sure is, Mitch. I have a little surprise for you. We’re going to be giving all of your audience the full version of the Fascination Advantage Assessment. They can go to and put in their magic code which is 1000clients.

In this show, we do focus on helping entrepreneurs. I know people like you and me who’ve already experienced so much in life and success love to give back and love to help others. In that vein, I would like to go back to the beginning. I want to get to the point where you went out at the age of 27 and started your own agency. We have so many people listening who are in the beginning stages of building something which they believe and they hope will be great. It’s so much easier to learn from others’ mistakes. What did you learn? Help us help us grow with that.

I was 27 when I first opened up my agency. I was terrified because the lease cost more than my mortgage payment did. My then partner said, “That feeling you have in your stomach, get used to it because if you’re ever going to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to start getting very comfortable that just because you’re nervous doesn’t make it wrong.” In a way, it’s almost over-empowering because now I’m like, “This is scaring the crap out of me,” and they’re like, “It’s not wrong.” Sometimes it is but on a macro level you have to be able to have those opportunities to give yourself room to fail. As an entrepreneur, typically when you have a success, you have a huge success that are the combination of the so-called failures that came before.

I was interviewing another brilliant gentleman named David Neagel. David spoke about the fear you feel leading you to your success. How do you feel about that?

The fear that you feel can be interpreted as excitement and anticipation. The feeling I have before I’m about to walk on stage in front of 8,000 people is a very good thing because it creates a hyper focus, calls me to play my A-game and pushes myself beyond my comfort zone. What I find is I’m too much of an optimist. I tend to not look at the details. I tend to not look at how something could potentially go wrong. I’ve learned that I have to surround myself with people who are not necessarily negative but who are going to say, “Before we launch that product, what’s the distribution channel? Who’s going to buy it? What’s the price point?” and so on. I’ve developed an antenna of fear that can be very healthy and that keeps me from being overly enthusiastic about every opportunity that comes along. There is no shortage of opportunities but there is shortage of space to fulfill the key opportunities, so now we tend to be much more selective.

YFTC 19 | Fascination
Fascination: The fear that you feel can be interpreted as excitement and anticipation.

What I heard when David said it to me was that particularly when you’re starting out, our natural instinct is when you feel fear to back off because somehow your body is trying to keep you safe or your inner voice is trying to keep you safe. What I hear you saying is that get comfortable with that feeling of fear because it’s part of that journey to success. If you can’t get comfortable with fear, you can’t take the next step.

Fear that comes as a result of something that has happened to you over which you have no control is different than fear of that sweaty palm feeling of taking a leap. My second advertising agency that I opened up with a major international agency, I opened up a West Coast office. This was fearful on many levels. Our first opening date was September 10, 2001. The next day was September 11th. The world was terrified. I was terrified because people had quit their jobs to come work with me, to come be part of the vision of this agency, this big creative thought leadership tank that was going to change the world. That kind of fear was a result of something terrifying that was happening to us all. It might be good to have subcategories of the word “fear.”

The fear we’re talking about here is knowing that you need to do something, about being afraid before going out on stage. Everybody feels that. I feel that to this day. Before I walk out on the stage, I take that deep breath to suppress it. I have to tell you a story about Chet. I worked with Chet for so many years. Chet was absolutely unbelievable from stage but his stage fright was epic. He had the prescription drugs as well. I remember one time when he said to me, “You’re going out on stage. Here, take one of these first.” I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll take half.” I took half and I go out on stage, I almost fell asleep. The thing was so powerful and I had to fight my way through that talk because I was on the stupid drugs. That’s how strong they had to be for him to get out there. When he was on stage, it was brilliant. We’ve heard of famous actors who still have stage fright even to this day. Let’s continue back at that beginning. Here you are under the worst of circumstances. You just opened a new office of your company and 9/11 happens the next day. How, as CEO, did you handle that?

Fear. If you are the founder of any organization that people have put their trust in you, you don’t have the option of not taking action. Sometimes taking action is the decision to not take action, but it was my job to make sure that the people I worked with are safe. It became my job to say, “If we’re an advertising agency, our job is to create messages that help shape feelings, emotions and actions. How can we help other people out in the world shape feelings, emotions and actions when the world needs it most?” It was out of that that I began to understand that great messages don’t live in a printout or a social media profile. We all have a great message. We have a critical message that matters. It doesn’t matter if you have the best idea in the world if nobody notices or cares. It was through that period of time, the two years that I worked with that company, that I decided that I wanted to become an author. It’s great to talk through a brand, talking through a Mini Cooper to people, but I wanted to talk to people. That’s when I made the transition that I wanted to be an author and a speaker rather than giving the specific words to a company to use for commercial reasons.

You said something I want to just focus on because many of us are founders. You said, “If you’re the founder, you don’t have the option of not taking action.” That is such a true statement. I remember once I was with my daughter. She was fifteen years old and we were at Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within and it was time for the firewalk. My daughter came to me and said, “Dad, are you going to do the firewalk?” I turned to her and I said, “Of course, I have no option.” Can you imagine the present CEO of Business Breakthroughs, a Tony Robbins company, not doing the firewalk?

In that moment, is that courage or obligation?

It comes from that feeling of understanding your role in this world. Just like you understood your new role in the world that you were in at the time, the day after 9/11, I understood mine as well. I don’t know if it was courage. I’m not even sure what it was. All I knew is that I was determined to do it and I didn’t even care what the outcome would be because I knew Tony Robbins was standing there watching me as I did it. I had no choice.

It was commitment. It’s commitment that when you’re in the face of a difficult situation with a client, when the product doesn’t show up on time for you to be able to deliver or the flight is late or your team flakes, you have to have that same level of commitment that it’s going to get done. You can’t have it not being fulfilled. That’s hard. It shows you what promises to make when you know you have to over-deliver no matter what.

I’m going to go one step further than that and say that for someone like you, I know commitment is a core value. Would you agree?

I would agree. I was giving a high-level keynote to CEOs and we were in a Victorian Hotel. There was a huge storm and a massive 500-year-old tree fell and crashed on the hotel and the entire electricity went out. I knew that they were sitting there waiting for me to get my message, they had flown in and so I did the whole speech by candlelight. You don’t have slides, let alone being able to show videos and stuff. That was one of the most passionate speeches ever because it took commitment to do it. The audience had to be committed too. Those CEOs had to commit that they were going to be okay that we only had ambient light for them to be able to take notes.

That reminds me of the time that I went through almost exactly the same thing. I was at the time the CEO of Timeslips Corp, my software company, and I flew to California to stand on stage in front of 500 people to demo my software in the auditorium of a major university. I got there and I set up everything and I tested the connection. The power went out. I am standing in a dark theater on stage to do a software demo. At that point, I had that same feeling. I said, “I’m here, they’re here, I’m going to pivot a little bit here and I’m going to tell stories about the company and about clients.” I even went through some overview of how the software works. By the time I was done, people were clapping. When you show up, you’ve got to show up and you’ve got to deliver. The show must go on, as they say. You’re an example of that. That story you told is a perfect example. The lesson here is that when you commit, you must deliver, and don’t ever forget that. No matter how you feel, no matter what’s going on in your life, when you commit particularly to a customer or to your employees or to your certified consultants or to anybody else on your team, you must deliver. I know you agree with that because I know you live that as well.

I do. I’m extremely careful about which commitments I make. You know how after there’s been an amazing presentation or you deliver the results of something that you’ve been promising and everybody has this happy bubble, high fives and, “We love it.” It’s like rapture and then you fly home. Suddenly, somebody has to start collecting all the receipts and the happy bubbles popped because the back and forth becomes about the receipt for the Cinnabon that you ate in the airport. I realized that it was getting in the way of my commitment and my brand and my highest level of contribution to have those conversations taking place at all. It’s not a good use of my time or their time. It’s definitely brand-damaging to have the discussion go from happy bubble to Cinnabon receipts. I decided we’re just going to take it off the table. We’re never going to do another expense report ever again. Everything we do that has to do with transaction is always a flat fee. It’s set up in the very beginning. Nobody ever has to talk about it.

YFTC 19 | Fascination
Fascination: When you commit, you must deliver.

Every time you communicate, you’re doing one of two things. You’re either adding value or you’re taking up space. When you add value, your clients love you, admire you, respect you, refer you, stay loyal to you and best of all, they pay more for your products or services. When you take up space, people start to file you away in the mental spam filter. It’s like the guy in the meeting who keeps talking but doesn’t contribute anything to the conversation and so people start tuning him out. In the same way, if you, as an entrepreneur, send out messages that your customers don’t want or you scream in their face with direct mail that they can’t wait to just throw it away or you call them or you have lunch with them but you don’t deliver some type of specific, tangible takeaway value, then you are just taking up space and you’re a human spam. That’s one of the things that I learned. Our company, we don’t communicate with anybody unless we’re ready to add value.

In a way, it’s so sensible. It makes so much sense and I love the term ‘human spam’. For me, it goes a little bit deeper than that. It goes to understanding what the customer or what the client really needs and eliminating what they don’t. That’s the way I interpret what you said.

Either you as an individual or your product or your service, figure out how you are going to add value, focus exclusively on that and then subtract everything else. This is a conversation that’s going on passionately in my company right now. The system of fascination is about helping people identify what their most valuable traits are in the eyes of others, not what they enjoy about themselves but what other people are most likely to appreciate and pay more money for. We have a team of specialists. One person does coding, one person does analytics, one person does customer service, but the lines had gotten blurred. The people were responsible for deliverables that were not their highest value. What I had done by not having very clear systems or standard operating procedures, I was bleeding people of their highest value and damaging the company and getting in the way of people feeling fulfilled in their jobs and our clients getting massive over-delivery. This concept of adding value and taking up space or being able to make sure that you’re at your best and highest use, you can’t sell a riverfront real estate for a parking garage if you could sell it for high-rise condominiums. We look very carefully for each person’s highest and best. What is the way in which you are going to add value that is your kind of value, because not all value is created equal?

You’re bringing me to the point where you had built your agency, you grew it. At some point in time, did that agency transition or sell or convert to being what you are today? Tell me a little bit about the beginning of the current company that you’re running now.

Unfortunately, my time with that company has a painful conclusion. I got pregnant with twins. I lost one of the babies. When you’re pregnant with twins and you lose one, you have a very high likelihood of losing the other one. I had to go on complete bed rest and I wasn’t allowed to work because work got me so excited and fired up. I was stripped of my identity as an entrepreneur. When I was put on bed rest during that period of time, it was a real depressing time because so much of my identity had been wrapped up in being a successful creative person who led massive clients. All of a sudden, I felt like a vessel just lying in bed all day, gestating. I started to write. The more that I wrote, the more I realized that writing about what makes someone fascinating is far more fulfilling than writing about what makes a specific brand fascinating. I had the laptop on my belly and when my son would kick, the laptop would jiggle. Right around the same time that my son was born, this concept was born. That’s how I decided that I wanted to transition from advertising to becoming an author. I could own concepts and spend the time building out ideas that excited me that I could use to excite other people, to show them their highest value and what makes them fascinating. The greatest way to empower someone is to show them their highest value.

When you talk about that time when your son was born and when you were writing your book, you chose to be an author. You did not choose to be an entrepreneur. Explain that a little bit to me.

I think of entrepreneurs as the macro category and being an author is something that tucks underneath it. I wanted to start a lifestyle brand around showing people what makes them fascinating but the book was the spearhead. The book was going to be the calling card. My first book came out and it flopped and it broke my heart. My first book came out in 2005. The publisher was disappointed. After a few years, the book went out of print. We were talking about fear. Part of the fear is when you fail at something that you felt so confident about, then it’s like, “What do I do next? I put all my eggs into that basket.” I took a step back and I realized that I needed to re-approach it. I decided I was going to take a sabbatical and I was going to do the research to find an idea that nobody has ever written about before. I was looking at an old medical journal in a library. There was a line that caught my eye and the line said, “One of the oldest words in written language is the Latin word fascinare.” It’s ancient Latin. It means to bewitch or hold captive so your listener is powerless to resist. I thought, “That’s cool.” The original meaning of fascination is to bewitch or hold captive so your listener is powerless to resist.

When I looked throughout time and I saw that throughout the globe across cultures, this concept of fascination was almost like an evil eye. It was the ability to transfix someone. Freud talks about it as the hypnosis of love. Salem witch trials weren’t about witchcraft, they were about the crime of fascination. In the twentieth century, we stopped thinking about this instinctive primal hardwired force and instead, we started focusing on marketing. Marketing is different because for 100 years, it was all about reach and frequency and the number of times you could pound a message or a logo onto someone’s head. That’s how IBM, Kellogg and AT&T, those brands that invested billions of dollars over the course of decades, that’s why they had a competitive advantage because the awareness was so high. Awareness equaled preference because it wasn’t a competitive landscape. As the attention spans are shorter, people are distracted. The competitive advantage is not the number of people who know you. It’s the number of people who are rabidly advocating for you.

There’s another part of this which I know you touch on in your book is today the quality of your message is more important than ever. The reason I say it that way is because 20, 30 years ago, everybody had quality messages because they were crafted professionally.

The standards were lower, if you didn’t have anything better to do. It’s called paying attention. People would pay in order to be able to have something keep their attention but now it’s what you’re saying. We have to earn attention because they’re not going to pay attention.

The other side of that is that there’s so much noise from so many amateur marketers who don’t know what they’re doing but they have a credit card and could get in front of you whether you like it or not. This is where a skill such as understanding what makes you special and how to communicate that seems to be very important.

The world doesn’t need another tweet or another product or another startup. What the world needs are highly-differentiated experiences that feel so individualized that they can’t be replaced by anything else. I’ll summarize it like this. You have a choice. You can either have the biggest budget in your category or you can be the most fascinating. If you don’t have the biggest budget, you must be the most fascinating. A wonderful example comes from New Smyrna Beach where my husband and I have a little surf shack in this sleepy little town. One of the key defining factors of this town is it has a huge drawbridge that’s enormous and incredibly noisy. When the drawbridge goes up to let the sailboats go through, all the cars are blocked up for blocks and it becomes really toxic.

There’s a little bar named Gnarly Surf Bar that is right at the base of that drawbridge and it was becoming a huge problem for them because as the cars backed up, everybody was coughing inside. The drawbridge was the bane of their existence. They did something brilliant for marketing to make themselves fascinating without spending more on marketing. They created a program named Bridge Up, Beer Down. When the bridge goes up, the price of beer goes down to $0.25. Suddenly, something that had become a major competitive disadvantage became an advantage. Instead of spending money on doing cheesy postcards or having a flashing neon light, Gnarly’s created a reason for people to want the drawbridge to go up. That’s what fascination is all about as opposed to traditional marketing. Finding a way to make yourself or your product make people powerless to resist what you’re communicating.

What you’re doing is you’re taking lemons and making lemonade which is what Gnarly’s Bar did. It’s a great story and it makes me smile because I could visualize the little bar sitting there as the drawbridge goes up. If we go back to the purpose of your work, it’s to uncover these types of situations and opportunities to identify them as potentially very valuable and important. I would like to go back to the beginning of your company because we’re all here starting companies. What did you do? What mistakes did you make? What actions did you take to try and be successful and how did that work out in the very beginning?

As a pet project, I created an assessment that would measure somebody’s personal brand, which we now know ultimately came to be the biggest driver of my company. We’ve had a million people do the assessment with all the data. At the beginning, you can’t know what’s going to be a great success. I created this assessment and all of a sudden, the next time I turned around, 30,000 people had done it. I wasn’t charging for it. I wasn’t asking for their email address. I had no way to communicate with them after they did the assessment. I had no way to track if they were posting it on Facebook. After about a year, I felt very insecure about saying, “This is my gift. It’s not my brand to be salesy so we’re not going to charge for it.” Eventually, I thought, “I’ve created a body of intellectual property that is valuable. If we can get this funded, we can automate it, we can scale it and we can create more meaningful content to serve our clients.” On a specific day, we reinvented the entire model and on January 1st of 2012, we were going to start charging for it. I thought, “Nobody’s going to want to do this. We’re going to get a ton of customer service complaints of like, ‘How dare you take away something that has always been free.’” I set up a folder that every time we would make a sale, the folder would chime so I could know that a sale had just come in. Hours went by, it was silent. Then, while my kids and I were eating dinner, there was a chime, and a couple of minutes later, another chime. By the next morning, there were more chimes.

I had to turn it off. My kids called it the dinner bell. It was like Pavlov’s dog. I would run over to my computer, bounding over, drooling because it was such an a-ha for me to think, “It’s not just about monetization, which of course is important. It’s about creating something that’s so valuable to people that you can overcome price objection.” Immediately, if somebody financially invests with you, even if it’s just $1, research shows over and over they’re going to be far more likely to come back to you, to talk about you and to have greater value for your services. It was through that realization that I saw we had to stop thinking like an advertising agency. In an advertising agency, the client owns all the intellectual property. You create ideas for the client, the client owns them and the client has complete decision-making, a carte blanche authority, on which ideas are going to get produced. If they don’t produce them, there’s nothing you can do about it. You have to come up with new ideas later. It’s a crappy model because as soon as the retainer is over, you have nothing to show for it.

I started shifting over to an internet marketing model in which it was all about scale and it was all about automation. How do you make creativity automated? If you think of creativity as something like a Fabergé egg, there’s only one of it. An algorithm can’t create creativity. I thought, “I’m going to invest all of my creativity for one year to create the ultimate assessment that would be exactly what I would want to know in the way in which I would want to know it.” It was completely transformative for my business. 43% of our revenue comes from something that I have absolutely nothing to do with anymore. I don’t touch it. It is frictionless. There are no charges other than a little bit of bandwidth and customer service. Something that is important for us as entrepreneurs to be thinking about is, “What can we do that can be replicated and is so valuable that even if we’re not involved in it, it can continue on and grow with a life of its own?”

YFTC 19 | Fascination
Fascination: System of fascination is about helping people identify what their most valuable traits are in the eyes of others.

What you’re saying is so key to business, to find a way to create recurring revenue passively. You spent so many years perfecting something to make it exactly what people need and to serve them at the highest level before you began charging for it. A lot of us make the mistake of coming up with an idea and going out and putting a price on it and trying to sell it. What I see over and over again with the most successful people out there is what they do first is figure out what’s missing. The second thing they do is come up with a solution and test it, test it, test it to be sure it’s fully delivering what people want. Only then does it become a business. Thank you for sharing that. That’s an incredible lesson. I’m really glad you told that story.

The late great Steve Jobs had an interesting point of view on this exact thing. He said, “People don’t know what they want so you can’t ask them what they want because they don’t know.” They themselves don’t know what’s missing. The creative opportunity for us as entrepreneurs is to identify what’s missing even if our customers or focus groups don’t know it. If you can give something that they didn’t even realize was missing, that is massive differentiation because nobody else has figured it out either.

That’s the key to the most successful businesses and to some of the most successful consultants and coaches out there too. They’re able to see what typically can’t be seen by the person who they’re involved with or working with. I just love to be in a position where I could help people that way. Let’s progress because we’ve gotten to 2012. We’ve gotten the assessment out there and it’s doing great and everything is coming along and the dinner bell is ringing. Tell me more about what you do now. How does the business generate revenue today?

We research what makes individuals most fascinating so they can rise to their highest value to grow their business and to become intensely valuable to the people around them including their customers and their clients. We do that through proprietary analysis of the information that we learn from the fascination advantage, and then we turn that into extremely creative products that are founded upon the belief that, “You don’t need to fix who you are. You have to become more of who you are.” Most entrepreneurs think, “If I want to grow, I have to spend more on marketing. I have to hire more people. I have to get a new location. I have to reinvent something about the business.” The problem is that along the way, they lose themselves. They lose that wellspring of energy that had them get into the business in the first place. We’ve measured 200,000 high-end entrepreneurs inside some of the greatest entrepreneurial organizations like EO and YPO, Joe Polish’s group and people who are out there inventing and doing cool stuff.

What we found is if the entrepreneur isn’t operating at their highest value, then the overall value of the organization will fall. Entrepreneurs tend to hire to replicate themselves, not optimize themselves. Once you show an entrepreneur how they’re most likely to make a big difference in the world, to get and keep people’s attention, to earn that loyalty and become irreplaceable, and then build a team around themselves, suddenly, it becomes so much easier because they can do more of what they already do right. A mistake that I made in the process of growing the business was we expanded into so many different areas both geographically and media-wise that I became spread so thin that I couldn’t be involved in them. It became like a game of telephone where my direct team knew the concepts and understood how we show teams how to lower conflict or how entrepreneurs can make more money, but then when the team would go out and spread that message, it was getting diluted. There are certain parts of your message you can’t outsource. You can’t outsource the soul of the company. You have to bring it as the entrepreneur.

We have 100 Fascinate Certified Advisors. We have a whole group in Germany, a whole group in Singapore. I published two New York Times best-sellers. I’m a keynote speaker at 50 events a year. What ended up happening was I was driving myself crazy but the value of what we were doing was dropping and we were not staying ahead of the curve. I was spending time juggling management and issues instead of keeping us ahead of making sure that we are constantly introducing new ideas and new tools. I had this big, almost like a crisis of confidence that the very things that I built the company around, of being differentiated and being so fascinating that people don’t want to work with your competition, I had let that start to fade. Now, what we’re doing is completely changing my calendar. Three days a week are going to be content days, one day a week is going to be phone call days, and the other day of the week is going to be absorption days where I talk to the team and talk to our clients. We just started doing this and already I feel such a sense of creative freedom. Also the freedom to release things that may hypothetically be profitable but they’re not fulfilling, so it’s watering down the purpose of the company because I’m not able to be invested in any way.

When you are so focused on what the soul of your company truly is and on your passion, then that’s where the true value comes through. Sally Hogshead, you deliver amazing value. I want to remind everyone that Sally was amazingly generous to give away something that she told you she charges for: and the magic code is 1000clients. Go there and definitely download and have fun with that assessment. Sally, I have a few other questions for you. I want you to think about something because this is a great question and I always love the answer because it’s always different. If you had the choice of spending an hour, a walk, a quick lunch with anybody, in all of space and time, who would that be?

It’s hard not to go to Mr. Jobs. One of the downsides of being a creative person is having so many options in your brain and the difficulty of narrowing down to make decisions. I had dinner one time with Malcolm Gladwell and he was talking about what he was working on his next book. He said, “I’m working on a dog trainer named Cesar and he’s called the Dog Whisperer.” In my mind I was like, “That sounds boring.” It goes on to be his next big concept. I want to sit down and hear Malcolm Gladwell’s next concept so I know not to say inside my head, “That sounds boring.”

Sally, Steve Jobs is the person that I would choose as well. I have been an admirer of Steve for many years. Here’s the second question. In some ways, this is called the grand finale. This is the change the world question. What is it that you are doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?

I love this question because I am working on my new project and, in fact, what I would like the rest of my life to be about. I discovered that women don’t think they are as fascinating as the average person. In other words if you said to people, “Are you more fascinating than the average person?” 39% of women said, “No, I’m not fascinating.” When a woman understands what makes her fascinating, she becomes so empowered that she is able to get that promotion, have strength in the relationship and make a bigger difference. I’ve said to women, “If you could pay to be the most fascinating person in the room, how much would you be willing to pay per month?” Women were willing to pay more to be the most fascinating person in the room than they pay for their car payment. Rationally, what this research says is women don’t think they’re fascinating but it’s extremely important to them to be fascinating. What I see is that there’s a huge gap in women and girls not understanding their potential. Once you give them their potential, then all of a sudden it’s an a-ha of what they could do and they can move forward with purpose and with strength. My next project is named You Are Fascinating and the beta test is at It’s going to be a book. I’m working with Harper Collins on the concept, giving people the tools to tell someone else what makes them fascinating. If I were to give you the book, Mitch, it would tell you exactly how to tell the women and girls in your life what you think is fascinating about them. Once you do, when a woman understands that, she can light up the world.

As a dad to a 22-year-old daughter who just graduated college, this is exactly what I believe the world needs. I see it every day. I watch her as she’s grappling with being a new adult in a world as a graduate. It would be great for her to have these tools. Thank you for doing that for my purposes. I know the world will greatly benefit. This has been so much fun.

Thank you, Mitch. It’s so good to talk with you as always.

I’m glad we had a chance to do this. For everybody, Sally is an unbelievable leader. She is a leader of people. If you get her book and you start understanding this whole process of fascination, it will change your life as it has for me. Thank you, Sally. We’ll talk again soon.

Thank you, Mitch.

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