Black sheep has always been associated with oddity, outcasts, and disgrace. But rockstar Brant Menswar begs to differ. Together with Jesse Cole, he dissects his concept of Flock of Five Black Sheep Values from his book, Black Sheep, which is centered on the non-negotiables of our lives. He explains how these values must not be seen as negative facets simply out of our control, but instead, as unique points that define and separate us from the flock where we belong. They also talk about some tips on how to ‘keep track’ of these black sheep, as well as how to determine if they are still grounded in reality.
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A Case For Black Sheep: Redefining Values And Decision-Making With Brant Menswar
Our guest is Brant Menswar. He’s a former guest on our show. Neen James introduced us and I’ve been blown away by his work. Brant is a legitimate rock star, who rocks stages for years playing in the Big Kettle Drum band in front of thousands of fans. He is rocking stages after being named one of the Top 10 Motivational Speakers in the world. His story and his new book, Black Sheep challenge us all to look at values and decision-making in a completely different way. I am fired up to have you on the show, my friend.
Thanks, I appreciate it. I’ve been looking forward to this.
We rescheduled about thirteen times. We finally made it happen, which is exciting. Black Sheep is a game-changing book, but before we go into that, I want to go back into your former life. There are a lot of interesting similarities to being on stage and trying to create fans. Tell me a little bit about Big Kettle Drum and how you became that well-known for what you guys were doing.
We got started late in the rock and roll game. I didn’t even start until I was 30, which for most is when you’re done and when you’re washed up. We decided that we had this opportunity, so we recorded a record. We signed a record deal. We were Southern rock. They call the genre Red Dirt. Unless you’re from Oklahoma, Northern Texas, you aren’t going to know what Red Dirt is, but think of it like Southern Swampy AC/DC. That’s where we got started and had a lot of success.
That album has produced the most amount of licensing opportunities for television and movies, and that people have used our music over the years, but we got old quick and decided we were tired of lugging around 70-pound amplifiers. We shifted gears and became that Mumford & Sons before Mumford & Sons hit. We did suitcase kick drum and slide guitar, banjo, a little bit of everything, and released a couple of Americana albums. Here we are almost twenty years in the music business and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I retired. We only do the shows we want to play era, which is nice, not the shows we have to play, but the ones that’s mostly charity gigs and a few Blues festivals. It was awesome. It was an incredible chapter in my life.
I’m fascinated by the idea of musicians creating fans. Is there something that you could share, some of the things maybe you guys did? Your music was unique. That was a nice touching point, but what are some things you did to create fans?
The biggest problem is that most fans of bands try to go wide and you shouldn’t try to go wide with a fan base. You should try to go deep with a fan base. It’s a little bit different approach in that way. We got our start in the college market where we were playing 75 to 100 colleges a year, which is great from a financial standpoint because they all have budgets and you’re getting paid way better than you would be going to play the local bar. However, it’s awful for trying to build a dedicated fan base because there is no going back every 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 2 months where you are constantly growing a fan base.
You’re there, you’re gone and you aren’t going to come back maybe ever, or at the minimum, would be a year before they ever bring you back again. That made it hard to build a dedicated fan base. We switched our model to instead of trying to gather as many as possible, let’s find the uber fans and let’s cater to that. We are doing live records, exclusives, merch, all these different things that were designed to find that. For us, the goal was 1,000. Can we find 1,000 uber fans that will buy every single thing we put out and all of the exclusives? They care. The music matters to them. It’s not just they happen to stumble upon us. They are people who supported us. That’s what we did, and it is the only way we were able to survive without being a household name for many years.
I know we’re going to get into this, but that’s fast because it’s better to have 1,000 people that love you than thousands of people that like you. It’s a huge difference because those Uber fans, those diehard fans will go above and beyond on everything. They will buy everything that you have. They don’t care like, “Whatever you have to sell, give it to me.” Were there anything unique you did to help foster that growth?
We did some projects that engaged them. Back when Kickstarter first started, we had done that and engaged people with some additional merch things and this limited-edition stuff. We went to PledgeMusic to fund another record that we did. We signed a couple of record deals, but it’s never what you think it is. You ended up walking away, owing more money than you made. It’s one of those things that we decided to take it into our own hands. The biggest mistake that we made over the course of that time was we worked hard to generate momentum and then we handed it over to a label who doesn’t care. You’re one of the however many horses are in their stable and they don’t care as much as you care.Farmers don't value black sheep because a black sheep's wool cannot be dyed. It cannot be twisted or changed into something that it's not. Click To Tweet
For us, twice different record deals, and twice we made the same mistake of all the momentum we got to get that first deal. We were like, “We made it. Let’s do this.” We handed everything over and it tanked because they had other things that were going on. We weren’t their only band. We lost a lot of momentum. It took years to build that back up. Our second record deal was with a smaller boutique label in New York City. That one worked out better for us because we tried to maintain some control. When there are more hands in the pot, it makes it hard to arbitrarily make decisions on what you want to do, including other people who are now responsible for your success. The idea was we ended up leaving that second deal and taking everything back to ourselves and determining our own fate. That was what allowed us to stay relevant to our career.
There’s huge value to that. I’ve always been a big Dave Matthews fan because of their live shows. They spent 4 or 5 years touring without any signed deals. They were building their fan base organically and owning the fan base. Everyone was going through them. It’s smart. You talk about how we foster fans. It was interesting. In 2019, we had a secret game for our members. We didn’t know that no one knew.
Finally, the media people at the games were taking pictures and videos. They’re like, “What is going on?” There was a secret game for them without announcing it and they felt special.” I’m sure at a private concert, you do that special thing and in speaking, there are huge opportunities for that as well. I had to go back into that lifestyle. You had some big moments that changed your path in regards to developing this whole Black Sheep. When you get a tattoo of something, you believe it more than anything. Tell us how you pivoted from rock star travel and doing all this to where you are now.
Forced innovation. In 2012, my oldest son was diagnosed with rare cancer, a blood cancer that was going to require a bone marrow transplant. It didn’t go as we thought it would. That made me take a year off of touring. We spent 263 days in the hospital with him battling. When we got through that, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to stay on the road as much as I had been. I had to pivot and try to find something else to do. I had a buddy that also was coming out of the music business and had started a team-building organization called Banding People Together. They would write original songs with organizations. They’d go in and break up an organization into several bands and the bands would write these original songs.
They’d take them back to the studio and record them as you’d hear on the radio. I got involved with that. I transitioned from one stage to another and started to do the opening keynote of those sessions, where we’d give the overview of collaboration. What does that look like in the music world and how does that translate to the business world? I did that for years and years. A few years ago, I decided to go my own way, still maintaining a partnership with Banding People Together and the amazing work that they do. I started to get heavier into core values and purpose and what that looks like.
The research led to me deciding to try to write a book about what I went through with my son in that time and how I made horrible decisions because I didn’t have these things defined in life that were my non-negotiables. I allowed my emotions to drive the decision-making process at the worst possible time when you should be making decisions that sound into things that matter most to us. I don’t want people to ever be in that situation that I was in and have to look back with regret for years that you could have done something different. That’s what led to Black Sheep.
The story about your son, I need to share a person on that. I’m reading in bed and all of a sudden, my wife is next to me and I’m like, “I can’t tell you this. I can’t read this.” She’s like, “Okay.” I immediately started watching, I searched for the video and I watched the video. She’s like, “What is this, Jesse?” I was like, “Just read it.” For 40 minutes, my wife is crying. You’re to blame for a headache that she had all day because she was crying and she stayed up until midnight. That defining moment, and I’m sure you share it on every stage, it was one of the most powerful moments I’ve read in a book but it was that that brought you to your real purpose.
It did. We faced this scenario. His name is Theo and he was fourteen years old. When Theo received the bone marrow transplant, it was a non-related donor, but it was a perfect match so we were feeling pretty good about it. We are in the hospital for two weeks’ worth of chemo to wipe out his immune system. They finally give him the bone marrow transplant, which in my head was like, “I made it up to be this giant thing. They’re going to come in with some machine and it’s going to jam the marrow into Theo.” It looks like you’re getting a blood transfusion. They hang a bag of marrow and it drips at its own pace. When it’s done, you go for a bone marrow transplant. You can’t imagine how uneventful it is. He got it and went fine.
Everybody who gets a bone marrow transplant gets something called graft versus host disease. It is where the marrow that’s inserted into the body doesn’t recognize the environment that it’s being placed into so it begins to attack the body, but there are four different levels. You hope that you get level one or level two. What happens is the marrow starts to produce new cells quickly and when the engraftment period is over, the body accepts these new cells as what is happening. Your blood type changes to that of the donor. All of a sudden, your body accepts it. He had level four, which is not rejection. It’s more of a fight.
The idea here was they had the super suppressed immune system so that it wouldn’t kill him because that’s what ends up happening. It attacks the organs to the point where the body shuts down. It was mummifying his body. He couldn’t move. They suppress the immune system. During that process, he contracts this deadly fungus. That treatment is to super-boost the immune system. We had two things that were threatening his life with opposite treatments. We get called into the parent’s lounge after a couple of 100 days in the hospital. There’s a row of doctors in there and they looked at my wife and I, and they said, “We’re sorry, but there’s nothing else we can do. No matter which one we treat, the other is going to take his life. We don’t think he’s going to make it through the night. You should say your goodbyes and call who you need to call.”
We weren’t prepared for that. We knew it wasn’t great, but we didn’t think it was dire. We ended up coming back, get his younger brother, and walked to the room. His brother is three years younger than him at that point. We sit on the edge of the bed and try to find these words to say goodbye. I’ve said it 100 times, but when you hear your child say, “I’m going to miss you, daddy,” it’s something that never leaves your psyche ever. I’m sitting there trying to be present. I’ve got to call my family. I’ve got to call my relatives who live 1,000 miles away and say, “You’re not going to have time to make it.”
I called my younger brother, who’s three years younger than I am then, and said, “I’m sorry, bud, but if you’re going to say your goodbyes, you’re going to have to do it over the phone.” He did, and he was incredibly distraught. He’s a school teacher up in Manchester, New Hampshire. He’s feeling helpless. He decides he’s going to sit on his couch and hold up these poster boards describing the events as to what was happening at that moment, “My nephew is dying. We’re running out of time. He’s got this and we’ve tried that. If you have any ideas, please help us.” He never said a word. He played the song, Fix You by Coldplay. When the song was over, the video was over and he turned it off and uploaded it to YouTube.
I stayed on the edge of the bed all night with Theo. He made it through the night. We’re waiting to see what’s going to happen. My phone is ringing off the hook and I’m trying to ignore it and be present at the moment with him. After a few hours, my phone is hot from vibrating. I pick up the phone, I look at it and there are all of these messages and texts from numbers and people that I don’t know. I did not know that my brother made the video and uploaded it to YouTube. By the time I picked up my phone, it had already been seen over 500,000 times. I don’t know what’s going on, but I had a voicemail from a doctor at MD Anderson in Houston who said, “I saw this video and there’s this new experimental treatment that I don’t know that your doctor is aware of. I think it might be able to help and allow you to treat both things at the same time. Would you mind if I had a discussion?” We were like, “Yes, absolutely.”
I got a call from Dr. Tim Johnson from Good Morning America, who said, “You tell your doctor or anybody.” He wants to talk to in the next 24 hours. “Get me a list and I’ll see if I can make it happen.” That’s exactly what he did. We made a list, talked to someone at Dana-Farber up in Boston. A research scientist at Cornell University is doing some cutting-edge work. The four doctors put their heads together and they came up with this crazy plan to try to save Theo’s life and it worked. We went from, “Say your goodbyes,” to 24 hours later going, “I think we have a path to him getting through this and beating this.” Theo turned 23 years old and he’s going to college for graphic design. He designed the cover of the book the sheep head logo.
The takeaway of this is, even though we had a fairy tale ending, you can’t live in a pediatric oncology ward for a year and not see the realities of pediatric cancer and how many don’t survive but we got through there. Even though we had the ending that most don’t for the next 4, 5, or 6 years, I went to bed every night with one question in my head, which was, I wonder if he thinks I gave up on him. It nods me. It sent me swirling into a deep depression. I didn’t have the things figured out in my life that were my non-negotiables. Now that I had years later, I look back and go that moment where I sat on the edge of the bed and I tried to find the words to say goodbye.
That discussion would have been completely different if I would’ve known then what I know now. I could have slept no matter what the outcome was afterward, but I didn’t. I let those emotional tornadoes suck me into it. I hate the fact that I made that choice. I’ve spent the rest of the time since then trying to not only define those non-negotiables for my own life. Making sure that everybody I know does the same so that when some giant storm rolls into their life, they have the tools necessary to make good decisions at that moment and not spend years regretting bad decisions as I have.
Thank you for sharing that. As the readers know, it’s the longest I’ve ever stayed quiet on the show. That story was well worth it and powerful. I’m happy for you and Theo and the impact it’s making. You think about people led by emotions and you’re led by purpose. Everyone talks about purpose. Find your why and all this, and you challenge. You say Black Sheep is a little bit different. I want you to share how you came about yours, and then how you’re leading everyone else to know it too.
I was 47 years old, Jesse, before somebody told me why black sheep is not valued like the rest of the flock, the real reason. Hundreds of years of demonizing black sheep, I figured there’s a reason, but I never knew it. When I found it out, it shocked me at such a level that it was the spark that started this idea for the book. The reason that farmers don’t value black sheep is because a black sheep’s wool cannot be dyed. It cannot be twisted or changed into something that it’s not. It’s 100% authentically original. When I heard that, I’m like, “That is my life’s goal. Why are we demonizing this? This is what everybody should be aspiring to.”
What I realized is that we all possess this, what I call a flock of five black sheep values. These are the values that no matter how much someone wants to try to influence, twist or change you, they simply aren’t going to be changed. These are your non-negotiables just like black sheep wool. You’re not going to change these things into something that they’re weren’t meant to be. Our personal core values are developed over the course of our lives, and they rarely change outside of a catastrophic event in your life. The idea that we possess is one thing, the idea that we can discover them and use them to live a better life is something completely different. That’s what the book touches on.
You talk about how many people are unconscious creators, which I love, and the idea of winging it. Share that because you’re right. We go through the motions of every day going from thing to thing.
I think you experienced this being at a higher level. Especially in sports, when you’re at a professional level.We can only control the deliberate intention that goes into making decisions. Still, our non-negotiable values are useful. Click To Tweet
You played baseball too, right?
I had one goal in life, and that was to pitch, to play baseball. I got hurt and ended that career. The whole reason that I went into the rock and roll was experiencing that feeling of what it’s like to be in control. Similarly, in the business world, I’m incredibly competitive. I want to win. I don’t just want to win. I want to destroy, crush, and make somebody not ever want to play me again. That’s the level that I’m at. The hardest thing for me to accept is that we don’t control outcomes. That was a difficult thing for someone who’s a control freak to admit the fact that we don’t control outcomes.
We can only control the deliberate intention that goes into making decisions. How do we do that? We have to discover these non-negotiables because they become the filter from which we launched these decisions. If you don’t have those things defined, then you’re winging it. To hear that the first time for me as I’m reading and doing the research for this book, and I’m sitting here going, “I’ve been winging it my whole life, but I’ve been fairly successful. What’s the motivation to try to define these things if I’m already successful?” What I realized is that, there’s an entirely different level of success when you stop weighing it, and you start being deliberate with your intention.
The impact that you have is exponential compared to what you think is possible when you’re winging it. That was difficult for me. Ninety-nine percent of us are winging it. If you can’t tell me, if you can’t identify what your black sheep values are, then you’re winging it. I can promise you, I’ve asked the tens of thousands of people in 2019 what their non-negotiables are. They give me a couple and then they have a list of 30 and it’s like, “Those aren’t non-negotiables. Those are things that are important to you, but they are not things that you draw a line in the sand and say, ‘Not today.'” That requires serious work that most of us start.
It’s hard. In 2018, I developed my energy list and I was like, “What are the things that give me energy?” I started saying, “It’s creating, sharing, and growing.” Those three things, if I’m in that mix, it’s giving me energy. I went through your assessment. I have hundreds of words to choose from. I’m like, “There are a lot of words on here.” I narrowed it down to 30 and then I picked five. I’m looking at this and I turned to my wife, Emily, and I’m like, “Emily.” She’s like, “I don’t know, Jesse. You’re this and that.” It is difficult, but it’s important. Share it because everyone should go through this exercise because self-awareness is one of the best things to be successful. How do you break it down? For me, I have five and I’m still like, “I’m not sure if those are the five. I know what gives me energy, but I don’t know if those are my black sheep.”
The way that the assessment works and anybody can take it. It’s free. It’s at FindYourBlackSheep.com and simply click on Find Your Flock. What it does is it’s an assessment that works in three parts. The first part is it presents you with 125 commonly held personal core values. It asks you to say, “I want you to read these words quickly. Don’t think too hard, just read them quickly. If the word resonates with you, if it’s important to you, go ahead and select it.” After doing this for a couple of years and having thousands of people take the assessment, we have some interesting data. What we know is that the average person selects at least 30 words out of those 125.
These are things that they deem important to them. That’s where the challenge starts because when there are 30 things that are incredibly important to you, there’s nothing that’s incredibly important to you. You can’t honor 30 things on a daily basis. You’ll find in this methodology that you have to honor them on a daily basis if you want them to be there when you need them. The idea of these values is we need to narrow it down. You take that bucket of the subset of 30, 40, 50 words, however many you selected, and you have to put them into five different buckets based on likeness.
Things like empathy, sympathy, caring for others that will all go in one bucket. Things like achievement, success, accountability, those go into another bucket. Before you know it, all of those words are separated into five different buckets based on likeness and you get to pick one word from each bucket. What’s the one word you can’t live without? That’s where it gets difficult. People don’t get what non-negotiable means. It doesn’t mean that you don’t like it anything other than the answer is no, without explanation. If it violates that, it’s no.
People have a hard time getting to that because they’ve got all of these things wrapped up in their history as to why they feel this way. These are things that have been developed over the course of their entire life. We know when you get to the 5, 2 or 3 of them are a 100% authentically real, and 2 or 3 of them are a complete fabrication. They’re either who you want to be or they’re who somebody told you, you should be or they’re somebody else’s sheep altogether. You’re caring for someone else’s sheep and that’s normal, but that’s why it takes this work to discover which ones can you find proof of in which the proof simply doesn’t exist.
What’s the one word you can’t live without? You are going to start with 30, but if there’s one, you can go backward and reverse engineer that. I’m thinking too, Brant, it’s those times when you’re at your best. You’re singing loud and you’re dancing. You’re not paying attention like, “What is happening?” I think about those moments. Is it some ways have you seen people reverse engineer that way too, to say, “The best moments in their life, what was all coming together?”
That’s what Maslow would call peak experiences. Peak experiences can be both positive and negative. It could be a horrible scenario that you experienced and said, “I never want to experience that again or I’m never going to be that type of person,” or whatever that might be. Those peak experiences, that’s the long road. To be honest with you, it’s the more accurate road, but it requires an enormous amount of vulnerability and being willing to have a bone-crushingly, honest conversation with yourself. Most of us are not at that level where we can do that. We can have a partially honest conversation with ourselves, but not a completely honest conversation. This assessment is like dipping your toe in the pool so that you can get an idea to start the conversation and then be able to dive deeper at your own pace rather than being overwhelmed by having to remember a potentially negative experience from your past.
It’s starting to become aware. We’re going to go into a game because I want the potential peak experience here. We got deeper which I love. We’re going to mix it up. We’ll call this game the second inning stretch. We’ll call this, truth and dare. Which one do you like first?
Let’s go with dare.
A game we do at the stadium, Brant, is called the Sing-Off. We have 2,000 people in one grandstand versus 2,000 people in another grandstand and the song stops. You have to finish that song lyric. You’re a rock star so I’m going to go your way. This might even fit with the theme of what they shouldn’t be doing and winging It.
“Whoa, living on a prayer.” I was going to full blow the mic out because Jon Bon Jovi’s got a high voice.
You hit it and the audience is wow. You are blown away. It was strategic, Living on Prayer. You had got to go with intention, Brant. There was a method to the madness there. You belt it out. I could have sold one of your own songs. It sounds like I’m going to go big time here. Are you ready for your truth?
Let’s do it.
What is something that’s still holding you back from greater success?
The willingness to be 100% honest about what it’s going to take to get to the next level with myself. Sometimes, the people who get you to where you are, are not the people to take you where you want to go. That is an incredibly difficult crossroad for entrepreneurs, especially to face. You love these people. They’ve done a phenomenal job, but they don’t possess the skillsets that you need to take it to the next level. That requires a shuffling up of your time of how much time you’re going to devote to those relationships. It can be a painful process of pruning your life in that way. I’m loyal when it comes to the people I love in my life. I know that it’s going to take something more than I have right now to get to that Brené Brown and Simon Sinek level. It’s a tough one.
It’s good because in your book, you talk about the fifteen closest people and narrowing it down there and it is this pruning. In the upper limit problem, do we have this upper limit that we don’t feel like that we deserve that? How does the black sheep fit into this mindset of getting around the people that you should be around to help get you to the next level?
The interesting part of the farmer’s story while they don’t value black sheep the same way as they do the rest of the flock, that doesn’t mean that they don’t possess value at all. They do. They just have it in a different way. Farmers use one black sheep for every 100 white sheep in their care as a marker. Every morning a sheep farmer will wake up, they’ll look out over the flock and if they’ve got 500 sheep in their care, they should see five black sheep. It’s the black sheep’s ability to stand out from that crowd that gets the farmers first look.By leading with our black sheep values, you get the people's first look. Click To Tweet
The idea here is you need to be leading with those black sheep values because when you lead with those values, you get people’s first look. I think you are the perfect case study for showing what that looks like to get someone’s first look. You have to lead with the things that matter most to you because it makes you stand out from the 495 other sheep that look exactly the same. You’re able to lead with those values and when you do, you get everybody’s first look. That’s my goal. I want your first look. I want my client’s and my family’s first look. That only happens when they see and recognize those black sheep values. That’s why I have it tattooed on my arm. It’s a reminder that if I’m not leading with those values, I’m not going to get anybody’s first look ever.
With that, you’ll attract the right people. You’re trying to get to that right circle. The people that’ll help you there. We may be trying to attract the wrong people because we are not shouting from a rooftop or from the mountain top, “This is who we are. Someone that’s crazy enough to wear a yellow tuxedo all the time, someone that gets a tattoo of a black sheep on it.” That’s what you’re saying.
That’s exactly right. The idea here is that people recognize authenticity. They also recognize when you’re faking it. When we’re winging it, most of us are faking it because you’re not doing anything on purpose. The only time they experience authenticity is by accident or this rare occasion where things align and that’s not ever going to get it done. It’s not going to get you to a consistent, sustainable high performance ever. You’ve got to define these things if you want to do anything in your life on purpose. When you start doing stuff on purpose, people recognize and respond to that like nothing you’ve ever seen.
You’ve talked about action steps that people can take about writing down their words before they go into meetings. I have a trigger that every door I go into, I say, “Bring the fun, bring the energy.” That’s my trigger. I’m not saying fun and energy in my words. I have to reimagine all that. Is that how you use them? If you’re going into an important meeting if you’re going to speak to a group, do you recite those in your head? What do you do?
Yes, I plan prior to it, if possible. Every night before I go to bed, I look at the calendar that I have for the next day. Whatever I have for appointments, you will see not just who the appointment is with the time, you’re going to see 1 to 6 words written in there and those are the black sheep values that I am bringing to that conversation. I’ve thought through how I’m going to engage those things. I don’t leave it up to luck or chance. I’m speaking them into existence. I’m choosing when and where they appear.
By doing that, I’m taking far more control over influencing a potential outcome. Even though I can’t control it, I’m going to influence it by the deliberate intention that I’m using to make these decisions. That is how I do it. I knew coming into here, one of my black sheep values is creativity. I have to show up with creativity. If I’m going to be doing an interview with you, those are the things that I have to think through. How am I going to do that? That’s how we bring our unique contribution. If you want that success, that unique contribution only comes through the filter of those black sheep values.
Let’s lean on that creativity. You set it upright on a tee for me. Let’s look at the creativity from a marketing and business standpoint, doing it differently. How can a black sheep lead to or towards marketing and doing business differently?
If I can’t see your black sheep values in your content creation, you’re winging it and it’s never going to resonate, not like you want it to. The idea here is, I work a lot in this space with creatives. I deal with interior designers, photographers, and all these different organizations that have thousands of people that are required to take X amount of hours of classes to keep their certifications over the course of a year. As I’m working with them, one of the things I say to photographers is this, “Do you understand that if you don’t discover what your black sheep values are, you’ve never taken an original photograph your entire life?” You’ve given me a reflection of what matters to somebody else.
That’s the same way with your content creation. Are you showing us, are you leading with those black sheep values that are 100% authentically? It’s what makes you, you, and nobody else, or are you giving us a reflection of what matters to someone else? If that’s the case, it’s only going to reflect to the people who resonate with that, but it has nothing to do with you because it’s not you. It’s a reflection of someone else. You’ve got to use these values to curate content that resonates as authentic, or it’s simply not ever going to connect them a level that creates uber fans. It will create fair-weather fans who come when it’s convenient.
All the content we put out on our team, we don’t want it to be generic. We don’t want to be boring. We want it to be completely dramatically different than anyone else’s doing. We want it to create an emotional reaction of, “What is happening now? This is bizarre, crazy, wild, outrageous, and fun.” We want to make people feel like they want to be there with us. If that’s how we try to do it, we’re doing it but we maybe haven’t narrowed down on this 1 or 2 words, even though we do have our core beliefs, but maybe go a little deeper on that. Is that what you would suggest?
The idea is, you don’t have to have all of your black sheep values in every content piece that you put out, but you want it to resonate with at least one. The idea is what are you going to focus on? What you’re going to find is that the ones that are most successful, it’s like a buffet for your black sheep. There’s much there that they’re hitting on all cylinders. Because of that, it resonates at a different level as opposed to maybe showing one of those things that matter most to you.
What you’re doing and what’s powerful is the story you did with the Black Sheep is it’s creating emotional connections. Brant, the stats are staggering. Everything we look at and how do you go from being unremarkable unforgettable and the companies that are unforgettable, create three times the amount of emotional connection that any other, Brant. They’re getting people talking about it. When you talk about the values, that’s what you do.
The interesting thing in the music business, I relate these values, and organizations have their own black sheep values. We have our own personal values, but then organizations have their values. The challenge becomes, can we build bridges between the two if they’re not shared? The idea becomes, “How do you do that?” These to me are your hit songs as an organization. If you look at that in the United States, a hit song is played about 10,000 times a week. That’s where a hit is at if you’re looking at the spins on the radio. When you look at 10,000 spins, that breaks down to about once every 3 to 4 hours in every market in the United States.
When you look at that and understand that, there are only two reasons why a song becomes a hit. The first is the responsibility of the songwriter. The second is the responsibility of the promotional. The song writer’s job is to do one thing, connect the head and the heart. If you connect the head and the heart, it engages your limbic brain and your limbic brain is where all of your emotional long-term memory is stored. It’s why you remember song lyrics. You want somebody to remember something after the first time they hear it. It has to connect your head and your heart. If that’s done then great, your job is done.
Now, it was the radio station who’s got to get this stuff out on the air. If we look at that 10,000 number and know that it’s once every 3 to 4 hours in every market, let’s look at how that translates to the business world, which is, are your organizational values seen, heard, experienced once every 3 to 4 hours at work? If the answer is no, it’s not a hit and it’s never going to be a hit. You’ve got to not only understand that the frequency of which these things are experienced is super important but how are they being experienced? How are those black sheep values being represented because that’s what people will connect to? If you say one thing and do something else, you’re creating this dissonance. If you’ve ever heard dissonance, you know it’s not pleasing to the ear.
Focus on what you can control. That’s powerful. You can say it over and over as a leader. You can keep coming back over and over again and sharing it. What’s great is the greatest speakers, the greatest motivators, the greatest authors, they get you to think and reflect and go back and say, “Are we doing this right? How do we do it better?” When I get to pause, I’m usually jumping around high energy. I’m like, “You’re at the right place.” I’m going to let you grill me because I’ve been grilling you a little bit. This is flip the script and you are now the host. You can ask me one question.
I want to know what your flock of five is.
I wrote this when I was still going through the book. Some of them may be aspirational or not. I wrote progress, creativity, happiness, freedom and optimism. Those were my five, but when I look at it, you said you have six, which I want to get into your sixth. I’m an Enneagram Three. For me, success drives me and achievement, but I wrote progress because I’m against standing still. Optimism is something I carry around with me every day. Those are my five or six. What about your six?
Mine are creativity, hope, impact, empathy, family and authenticity. I have an extra.
Yes, you do. Which one do you lean to the most? Have you noticed it?
Hope. The interesting thing is, our values exist in a hierarchy. There are certain values that possess more weight. For me, the very top of that hierarchy is hope. The idea for myself is every interaction I have, whether that’s online, creating content, a meme, having an interview, and a discussion. If I don’t leave that with hope, either providing hope for someone else, then I have not fed that sheep, and shame on me.Discover how your black sheep values are being represented, as this is what people will connect to. Click To Tweet
It’s powerful for someone that’s inspiring people on a daily basis having that word.
When I look at yours, here’s the interesting thing. The idea is, once you figure out what you think is real now, you have to prove that they’re real. The way that you prove it is you have to track these sheep. We call it counting sheep. Every night before you go to bed, you’ve got a workbook and you are going to be looking at these things. You’re going to go back through your day in your head and you’re going to say, “Did I experience these organically? Did they just show up in my life?” Every time they show up, you make a hash mark and you talk about, what was the scenario? Where did it show up? Who was it with? When you start to track these things, you see that some of them appear all the time.
They’re ubiquitous. They’re everywhere. That means not only are they real, but they’re also probably towards the top of your hierarchy. If they don’t show up all that much, we have to find out why. Are they not your sheep at all? Is this someone else’s sheep? Did you grow up having to care for our siblings or elderly grandparents or something like that, where you’re used to caring for other people’s sheep? Are you self-sabotaging yourself so you’re not even going to allow this to come to the surface for whatever particular reason? We have to look at those reasons sometimes, it’s because we’ve gotten too narrow with our focus. When we get narrow, unless we have a specific circumstance, we’re not going to experience that particular value. We have to do what I call leveling up. If you told me that community, faith, and family were three of your black sheep values, I would tell you that none of those are your black sheep values. The value is connection and you gave me three powerful ways that you experience connection.
I’ve got a question there. I had fifteen of them which were all achievement, success, growth, progress, wisdom and knowledge. They were all in one and then you said you want me to take one from that. That was a challenge for me because I only had a couple in the other boxes. What did that also show that there’s a big flock there of black sheep in that main section?
That shows that something in that deal is going to be way higher on your hierarchy because it’s obviously something that’s way more important to you than some of these other ones that didn’t have even the words to choose from over the course. The shift that you have to make is understanding that you don’t control outcomes, which will change. I love that you picked progress because progress doesn’t necessarily mean winning and incredible success. It just means moving forward. That is not only realistic. It’s something that you can find evidence of in small doses all day long. That is important.
If I’m looking at a couple of these things, happiness, freedom, and optimism are three that I would challenge you on to find proof. I believe progress and creativity are without question a 100% authentically real. You can give me 50 different examples for each of those over the course of your life. When I look at these, it’s not that they’re not incredibly important to you. I believe they are but when you say freedom, I have no idea what you mean by that.
One of the things that we do as an exercise in this next wave of proving what’s real is you have to define what you mean. Freedom to someone might be being able to live in a democracy, but to others, freedom might be, “I’m going to go to Chipotle later because I want Chipotle.” It’s such a huge word that you have to define what you mean by it so that you know what you’re looking for. Otherwise, it’s difficult, the same thing with faith. I get that a lot and I get what you mean by it but at the same time, I have no idea what you mean by it.
When I think of freedom, for me, it’s independence, the ability to do what I want when I want with the people I want. I’ve never worked for anyone ever. I don’t think I could because I’m unemployable. That’s still a big word. This is a complete shift of Business Done Differently. I like it and you completely challenged it. You asked that question, but I want to know there are other questions that you’re asking people that help you find a better answer and help them find a better answer.
There are two things for me here that I work on. I try to get people to discover what these non-negotiables are in their life. That’s the first part. The second part is, in service of what? Why are you doing this? It’s not just discovering these non-negotiables. You have to figure out what they’re in service of. What’s that thing you’re striving for so that you can figure out this plan to honor them on a daily basis and find proof that it’s working. When we have proof, we don’t need belief.
Most of us spend a lot of time trying to convince ourselves of something that we need to have a belief because we don’t have proof. When you have proof, you just acknowledge proof. You don’t have to believe anything. It’s there, it is right there. Can we find proof? For me, when we discover our black sheep, it allows us to choose our purpose, not find our purpose. We do that by activating those words for me, creativity, hope, impact, empathy, family and authenticity. My purpose is to creatively impact others by authentically providing hope. It sounds familiar because it’s loaded with those values. The what and the why are in alignment with each other, and when they’re in alignment, it makes me incredibly adaptable and resilient on how I’m going to honor those things. That is the in-service of what.
I want to share one quote with the readers, “An aimless how can keep you busier than a mosquito at a nudist colony.” Well said. We don’t have to explain that. We’re going leave that there, Brant, because that made me laugh considerably. Well-played. Final four, what’s one thing someone can do now to put this into play with their actual company?
They can sit down with their black sheep and the organizational values and draw bridges to each as to how you’re going to use your value to amplify the organizational value.
What’s the best advice you would give to someone maybe coming out, graduating from college, Theo getting out of college, or a graphic design. What would you tell someone that helps them stand out in business and in their life?
The most valuable thing you possess in your life is these things, period. There is nothing that you can compare them to. They are the most important thing in your life. They are what hold your brokenness together. Until you recognize that’s the case, you’re going to make a ton of bad decisions until you decide to swing it.
The non-negotiables. You talked about a great hit you’re talking about it comes on once every 3 or 4 hours. How often are you talking about these black sheep values? Probably more.
It’s a lot, but here’s the thing. Once you do this, there’s a five-week program that we run through to get, not just discover them, but teach you how to speak them into existence and program them to your day. It becomes a lifestyle. It becomes a habit so that I don’t need to track anymore because I know what I’m doing. I’m naturally approaching every meeting with these things at the forefront. When that becomes the way that you start telling your life, it’s easy, 6, 9 months, or a year later to do a gap analysis when you’re not feeling quite great about what’s going on in your life to see which sheep are not being fed. That helps right the sheep quickly.
Living in the moment. Speaking of the existence, the other quote I saw you shared was from the Chinese philosopher, which I love, “If you are suppressed, you’re living in the past. If you’re anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you’re living in the present.” I love that, Brant. This one you’ve never been asked before, but I’m going to ask it for you. What does going bananas mean to you?
To me, it’s unabashed excitement and energy.
What makes someone unforgettable?
Leading with those things that make you the 100% authentic, original that you are.
Keep staying strong, keep repeating, and staying true to the values. You killed it. I am glad Neen introduced us. I’ve been following you. Is there anything you want to leave my crazy readers that would be like, “Jesse, this is a serious show?” It’s important. We need to get it right. Brant, I am excited and thrilled to be able to talk with you and become a friend and share this. Is there anything else you want to leave our amazing readers with?
Just encouragement that no matter what you’re going through, we were told that we were facing an impossible situation, but that wasn’t true. The truth is when you have hope, anything is possible. Keep that hope alive, figure these things out, and I promise, what’s possible in your life will change.
About Brant Menswar
Brant Menswar is a core values activist, former rock star and one of the country’s “Top 10 Motivational Speakers.” His books and podcast expand on the ground-breaking work around values-based leadership described as “disarmingly simple and incredibly powerful.” He has helped to change what’s possible for industry-leading organizations like Netflix, Verizon, Anthem, SunTrust, Microsoft, ESPN, Hilton, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and dozens more.
Passionate, engaging and transformational, Brant encourages audiences to discover their “Black Sheep Values” and move forward with deliberate intention. His interactive and entertaining techniques of defining what matters most compels audiences to dive deeper into their lives and start living on purpose.
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