Shelli Ryan 0:00
If the leadership team and if those that from which they, like the operational team are working together to make something happen, and you know that you can trust that person, and when you call, they’ll pick up your phone, that that is worth its weight in gold, especially when the world is going around so quickly with technology and AI and this other stuff. It comes down to the basics.

Anne B 0:26
Welcome to Unexpected Journey, the show where each week top professionals share work wisdom and life lessons about their careers and what they have learned about human experience in the workplace. I’m your host, Anne Bibb. Shelli Ryan is founder and chief executive of ad hoc communication resources, an international on demand marketing services firm serving the technology sector, Shelli has managed hundreds of complex b2b go to market product and service launches in 69 countries. She has received a hefty number of awards, including Pro Progressive International Business Tiger Best of Show, Pinnacle Award, and gold excellence from the American Marketing Association, as well as bronze and honors awards from Vision awards. A frequent author and business speaker on business to business marketing, Shelly earned her master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma is a graduate of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, WB E and C executive program, and is a fellow of the Public Relations Society of America. Before we begin, don’t forget to subscribe and leave your comments below. Now, let’s get started. Welcome, Shelli. How are you?

Shelli Ryan 1:51
I’m doing well. Thanks for having me today.

Anne B 1:53
I you know what we have kind of run in the same circles for a long time. We really just connected directly recently, and I invited you to be on the show. I’m thrilled that you’re here. This is one of those situations where we just kind of kept missing each other for years, and we never really got connected until last year. And I find that very interesting, especially considering what you do.

Shelli Ryan 2:19
Well, I appreciate that, you know that that circle you mentioned is kind of a small circle. You go to LinkedIn, and someone has an invitation for you. And you go, Oh my gosh, we got 200 mutual connections, why are we not connecting?

Anne B 2:33
Exactly. So it was great to actually connect you I think we actually met in person at a CX outsourcers event that Peter Ryan does. And he’s phenomenal. He’s our mutual like really close connection. And so it was really great to meet you in person. And now here we are.

Shelli Ryan 2:49
No, that’s exciting. I can’t wait for the conversation.

Anne B 2:54
Well, we never know where these go. But I am curious. So as we said in our intro, you are the CEO and founder of Ad Hoc communications resources.  What exactly what is that? What do you do? How did you come up with it?

Shelli Ryan 3:16
Yeah, all of that and more. So I’m sitting in my little cubicle at an online banking software company, which was my last corporate job back in, I ¬†suppose 95. And I thought, you know, this internet thing is going to take off. And I was launching products and services around the world for that software company. But I wanted to do something for myself, right be be the person where the money was coming to me and not shareholders of a big large company. So I launched ad hoc and 96, for agencies, for tech companies for BPOS, to utilize a communication company that can be on demand just in time, provide you with specialists around the world when you needed it. And then you wouldn’t have to pay for it when you didn’t. And so that’s ad hoc. And that’s been Gosh, a good 28 years ago. So I thought there was a need, and I guess I was right, because, as you know, fractional is very important nowadays. And as we move into this crazy economy that we’re in now, a lot of technology companies and BPOS are going man i i just need to have marketers who can get the job done, not just someone who’s sitting in a seat. So that’s really where we came about with that with that with that idea. And it’s a woman owned business by the way.

Anne B 4:42
You really saw the future. Fractional is very, I mean, I’m a partner in another fraction organization. We don’t do fractional in the same area that you do, but there are a lot of fractional organizations you you were If you were cool before you were cool,

Shelli Ryan 5:02
what? Oh, right. Well, we work from home when it wasn’t cool, either. I have I

Anne B 5:06
know you and I both We are some of the pioneers. Right? We were working from home 25 years ago, and people didn’t understand that concept

Shelli Ryan 5:15
they didn’t know. Well, I think it was Forrester back in the day said, the marketing organization of the future will have hybrid teams where you might have a contractor here, and agency there FTE and they all come together. And while that’s logistically it makes sense, sometimes culturally, the internal team just can’t get their head wrapped around that a contractor could be a part of that team. And I think that’s probably the number one challenge. Maybe the obstacle of fractional is to be welcomed in the team to say, you’re just like, she quack like us. And that sort of thing. I don’t know if that’s what you’ve seen as you deploy,

Anne B 5:57
oh, my goodness, yes, not just fractional, but if you’re a fractional and a consultant, they’re, they’re different. But the same. And, you know, I look at and tell me, if you think this is different, a fractional is almost a consultant that comes in for a longer period of time, but a shorter number of hours there, they know, they’re going to be there, maybe for a year, 18 months, two years, that consultant is somebody that may be working almost full time or for a specific project, they may only be there for a month or two months, maybe three, they come in to work and accomplish a goal and that that goal needs to be completed. And when that goal is completed, they may be assigned to a different goal. Fractals are omni channel, you know, they’re Omni, they’re there to help the entire business and look at the holistic view of what needs to be accomplished. That from a marketing standpoint, they’re looking at the whole company, they’re maybe looking at employee marketing, they may be looking at client marketing, company marketing, there’s just a whole lot of stuff. But if it’s a consultant coming in, that they’re assigned a project from a marketing standpoint, so there’s two different viewpoints here. Curious if you kind of look at it the same way, we

Shelli Ryan 7:21
see that very similarly. Yes. And when I was deploying this type of business model, what I found was that, and this is this is important. 95% of our clients need some sort of project manager to be the hub, so that the spokes can make the wheel go around. And so not only are we deploying these fractional or hybrid specialists, there’s a very big need for someone to say, right? Y’all are developing social demand gen brand, all this. But there’s no plan, there’s no governance, there’s no structure, there’s certain there’s not a process, you don’t have technology tools. And so what we find is that not only are we delivering services, we’re also building the department. And so from time to time, BPOS, in particular, and a lot of technology companies say we need to come in and have you build our department from the ground up, or maybe refresh, just to make sure that we have that structure to be to be successful. Not only are we delivering services, we’re also building the department in which we serve. So 95%, that’s huge, you know, that you would think that they’ve got that all figured out. But as we pull back the covers and kind of look like the I don’t know how you guys are being successful, because there’s really no structure there. So I think that’s just a best practice that we see that, you know, going into 2024 If your pipe isn’t filled, and it’s kind of bumpy and use friction within the various entities of brands arguing with demand gen demand gen is not sharing their plan with content, you know, take a look at the structure or is there good governance and play for the entire team to have an integrated marketing plan? And look, we’re right now in the myths myth of putting together a structure a governance, a Policy and Procedure Plan and implementing that plan for a fairly large organization that has a department but it’s just not working. And so we’re putting that together not only for marketing, but for corporate communications.

Anne B 9:42
And that ties back into what our original conversation what a perfect loop that does, and that is as a fractional or consultant. I have found that if I’m introduced as a fractional member of the team versus a consultant, it is easier to become integrated and get the team to trust me, because I am a member of the team, albeit a fractional member, I am a member of the team, and they allow me access to items, they allow me into the inner circle, I can then see and then provide advice and recommendations as to what is needed to change. To your point, just now, those individuals have probably been there for a while, they may have built all of these things. And then business changes. Business is a living, breathing thing. And as time goes on, as the world changes, so does business. And sometimes you need to bring in somebody from the outside to look and see the trees for the forest, because they’ve been living in this forest and didn’t realize all of the sudden, some new species have now come in. And they need to adjust how they are now making sure that their forest is healthy and fruitful. And that’s what you are there to do. You

Shelli Ryan 11:14
know, open mindedness seems like it’s uncommon. At this moment within teams, I think probably because I see a little bit of apprehension, maybe a concern or safety concern for their job. So at all costs, they don’t want to share information. And and I’m not being negative, I’m just saying this is what we’ve seen in the last 28 years where they hold information, they hold information that is useful for consultants for actuals, whoever to get the job done. So I think that’s best practice number two, you know, if you’re if we’re talking about how do you how do you build teams that are normal

Anne B 11:54
to I mean, think about last year when literally 100 to 300,000 people were laid off in the matter of a few months, and is absolutely normal for people to have fear for their jobs.

Shelli Ryan 12:07
Exactly, exactly. Well, I’ll give you a good point. There was a BPO, I won’t name it. But I got a call early in the evening of one night and says, Hey, we’re going to do a downsizing tomorrow, how quickly can you get to this state, it was cross country. And I said, well, there, you know, there’s a red eye. So I’m on the first plane to the state to help them figure out what the next next is. And I’m sitting in the conference room and hadn’t slept yet. And it’s 730 Eastern time. And I’m seeing the people walk out with their boxes. And we actually bridged that BPO, which was a worldwide BPO for three years, bringing in a fractional but also supported by services, demand gen and all the rest through the delivery mechanism of ad hoc, meaning that we have, you know, website, masters and UX UI and content writers. But you’re but you’re spot on to say that. I think that we all have to be open minded about what the next next is to say maybe it’s not we’re putting out job requisitions for FTEs. But rather, let’s think about maybe I just need a little bit, a little bit of hump to get over the hump. And maybe it is a fractional maybe it is a specialist and we want to open up an office in Australia. Can they support us in Australia, even though they’re in, for example, Las Vegas? And the answer is yes. So we might want to just as, as people, and as leaders, be open minded. And look, I know that you’re probably not the first to say, sometimes these technology companies think you have to be on premise in their environment to get the whole gist of what’s going on, and know the locale. But I have to say that both you and I are global executives, we have the pulse on a lot of different things and a lot of different geos. And so we have to think outside the box, this world is becoming more global than than ever, and to have have a business here in the States or have a business in Romanians and serve other GIOS is not a far fetched idea.

Anne B 14:20
And I think the biggest thing while it’s not I wouldn’t say the biggest thing I need to be careful with my wording. I think one of the larger items that I open people’s minds to when they are when I come in is Have you considered your team’s thoughts and feelings. Have you talked to your team? You know, there’s so focused on the numbers and what’s happening and what they’re seeing on the p&l and the bottom line, top line, right whatever is their important number EBITDA, what? They’re focused on that. And opening their thoughts up to there are people behind the numbers? And thinking about what to do at that point? Yeah, I’m realizing when they start thinking about this. And some of the things impacting the individuals and the human beings are driving those numbers. Yes. Let’s really dig into the processes, the procedures, the policies, what is impacting emotions, and then and therefore, the activity and the performance. And on your employee side, then flowing through to your customers, your clients, that is directly impacting your p&l, you

Shelli Ryan 16:02
know, you make a really good point, because part of the process that we go through to onboard some of our clients is to do some interviews. And I was sitting in Boston, interviewing some of the frontline employees saying, you know, what do you do all day? Or what, if you were CEO, what would you do? And I had to tell you that there’s this very meek and mild frontline agent, she said, You know what? I would do X. And I heard that idea. Oh, impressive. tastic. You know, what I did is I walked right in the CEOs office, and I said, Hey, what would you think about this? And he goes, I never thought about that. And that saved that company, literally $8 million dollars, year over year, because of that one idea of that frontline employee is like, Oh,

Anne B 16:52
you’re like, you don’t need to hire me. You need to listen to your team.

Shelli Ryan 16:59
zactly. Exactly. You already have great people. You just need to listen. That’s right. Or walk around. I mean, when I

Anne B 17:09
talk to them, You hired the right people. That’s right. That’s right. And then no, you just need to talk to them. Yeah, it’s eye opening. Yeah. And it’s just amazing. Sometimes not all companies, but sometimes, again, caught in the forest, not seeing the trees, built these amazing organizations. But pigeonhole people into roles and forget, yeah, they want to move up. They have amazing ideas. And they want to contribute to the success of the organization because they believe in it. And they want it to get better. Talk to them walk around, see what ideas they have ask questions. Don’t just talk to him in all hands. Listen to them in an all hands.

Shelli Ryan 18:03
That’s right. That’s right. shut the mouth and open the ears. Right.

Anne B 18:09
It’s hard, especially as you grow. And that’s that’s the important thing. As you grow. It is hard to keep those doors open. It is it is a talent. And it’s a difficult skill. Yeah, an important one.

Shelli Ryan 18:25
But you raised a good point about talking, you know, having a conversation. And as we build a sales pipeline for a number of different organizations around the world, what we find is a lot of these business development folks are hiding behind digital marketing and social and LinkedIn to try to get their connections and it’s just not working I keep saying to them you’ve got to make that personal connection one on one because people buy from people they don’t necessarily like oh, that’s a fantastic campaign I think I’ll buy from you. You know, or, or hey, you’ve got the best chat bot in the world I think I’ll buy from you maybe but it’s oftentimes about if the leadership team and if those that from which they like the operational team are working together to make something happen. And you know that you can trust that person. And when you call they’ll pick up your phone that that is worth its weight in gold especially when the world is going around so quickly with technology and AI and this other stuff. I am when it comes down to the basics in my opinion. I might be showing my age a bit afterward. I have to ignore you can do it

Anne B 19:36
with me. We’re the same age Go ahead. I’m right there with you.

Shelli Ryan 19:41
It’s truly comes down to and this is why trade shows and conferences and summits are are back in vogue now because people want to talk to people

Anne B 19:52
along those lines you now you bring up a really good point. Can you share some insights, if you have a specific one, great if you’re just if they’re generic, that’s great, too. But your approach to building those trusted relationships, you’ve talked a few times about how somebody has just called you up and said, Can you be here tomorrow? That is something that is necessary in today’s world, people buy from people, not companies, clients want to work with individuals, people want to work for people, how did you build those relationships with clients, and lead a team of senior consultants that want to work for

Shelli Ryan 20:38
you? Yeah, I probably don’t have a really good answer. But I’ll just explain the story a bit, you know, 80% of our business comes through referrals of, you know, clients that have worked with us in the past have moved on to another company and want to bring us with them. And I think it comes down to and this isn’t rocket scientists science, and I’m a blonde. So it can’t be that complex. But the point is that you have to treat each other civilly. And as well as have a win win with that, with that relationship, what is it that you can bring to the business, that would be a value, and I often find that it’s more like, Hey, I know that they need this service. And that, here, here, we are, helping them supplying it. But there’s just something else that they need, and you go above and beyond. And then above and beyond certainly is not forgotten, as they think through all the various vendors that they have, who went above and beyond. And so that’s point number one. Point number two is that you can charge an exorbitant amount if you want to, but you’re probably not going to get hired again. So our philosophy is via good value. From a price point perspective, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at other

Anne B 21:57
you just appreciate you’re singing my song right there. Go go go, Shelley, go go.

Shelli Ryan 22:03
Well, and oftentimes, we get asked, Who’s your competitor, and I’m saying everybody, you know, from from a freelancer or to a small team to a very large agency in Manhattan, everyone is our competitor. But the point is that you have to develop those relationships. I guess, point number three would be that sometimes people just want to have one throat to choke. And I know that’s from a context center perspective. But a lot of these various vendors and agencies in my world will have layer upon layer upon layer of people. And they’re all doing something I don’t know exactly what they’re doing. But honestly, clients just want to have one person that they know that they can pick up their phone, and that person will answer and they get an answer immediately. You don’t have to go through a project manager and account manager, a traffic controller and all of that. It’s important to have just one person that you can rely on now, is that scalable? Yeah, because I’ve done it. I’ve got 200 senior consultants around the world that are plugged in and playing. But back to what I talked to you about moments ago, the project management perspective of leading business campaigns is so important that there’s one person that you can go to, and at a moment’s notice that person can be the air traffic controller, seeing the planes land and plants planes taken off. You know, that’s key,

Anne B 23:30
because you can’t, you’re in a beautiful.

Shelli Ryan 23:33
Exactly, exactly. So those are some of the points. I mean, that’s kind of how I built it, you know, and to the extent that I can build it a little further, all good. I would also say that I’m kind of in business just to not make a ton of money, but just to be a resource that people can go to. And it’s, it’s a value. It isn’t pretentious, but it’s a company that can integrate, that can relate to what’s going on within the business and not be it’s our way, or it’s no way but rather, how do we integrate as a hybrid team as one?

Anne B 24:19
That is a really great segue to something that I wanted to ask you. Can you provide a specific campaign or project where your team was embedded or integrated? is a great word within that client’s organization and helped them win business and stand out? What strategies did you employ? What? What results were you able to directly tie to your organization and tell and show the client? You were able to help them?

Shelli Ryan 24:54
Yeah, there’s just so many fun stories. One that I love that story show every time I’m always equity, right i I’m one that comes to mind is that one of my colleagues from the Midwest had just joined an organization that was $22 billion, Ito BPO organization and the BPO side of it was kind of struggling. Because they didn’t, they didn’t quite have their services, branded vetted out message, which is important to me out there. It always starts with messaging. And so he asked me to meet with the new executive that had taken on this line of business at the time, it was 250 million in revenue. And they were trying to get it to a certain threshold. So we came in, and we actually within six to eight months, repositioned 12 of their services, from social analytics to speech analytics to the call center component, and had them all messaged and then put together a plan to get that done in a variety of different gos from America to care the Caribbean to lat AM. And then we help them with a few acquisitions in Europe, all in all sudden, then they’re about six for four to six acquisitions that we help them with around the world to help build and scale. But as far as some of the KPIs from that specific strategy, and by the way we were, we were embedded into their organization, they had three or four marketers, but they were tactical, they were tactical, in that this lady does the bumping mailer campaign, and that guy does content and this person does playbooks. And so it wasn’t a wasn’t in team per se, they have their own silo, if you will, and they wouldn’t go out there out of their silo. And so back to the analogy of the air traffic controller, we literally were the out air traffic controller that helped to put the planes together so that we were all going off at the out of the various runways and not hitting each other. But as far as KPIs are concerned, I remember one, one can one campaign in particular, where we had launched a social CRM service, that was a white label of another organization, but of course, BPOS, bring it into their own in the first, the first year, it was 20,000,020 $5 million in revenue, and then times three, for the second year. So it’s, you know that there has to be some goodness there where you say, just because of marketing, there was some good ROI there. The other BPO, I might mention is one in Colorado, where they were having a little bit of time trying to figure out how do they build their pipe. And it wasn’t just dialing for dollars, they actually physically needed a integrated marketing plan. And because of what we did, they were able to capture into their pipeline, about 32 million in potential prospects, and a contract with one of the largest cable providers at the time. And just as to throw a good measure some of the frosting on the top, I was able to coordinate with their court comm and their legal department, asking them to issue a press release about this deal. And they never did that ever. But by the grace of God, or maybe some of my negotiating skills, they said yes. And so we were able to physically name that very large cable company that begins with the sea. So we were able to have that opportunity to have that on the wire and to for this BPO that was a huge feather in their cap to say that we represent this company. I

Anne B 28:40
love that, that’s great. So this is actually a great point for us to kind of give everybody an opportunity to get to know you a little bit better. So this is this is the time for us to play this or that and give everybody an opportunity to get to know Shelley. I know you’ve seen the show before so we play this or that I give you a couple of phrases or words I play to and then we figure out you know which one we would go with and we talk about it. So are you ready?

Shelli Ryan 29:11
I’m ready. Let’s do it.

Anne B 29:13
Alright, so the first one and these are random and the rules of the game you have to pick one you can’t say none and you can’t go another way those are the rules I didn’t make them that’s just how it is. Actually maybe I made them I don’t remember we’ve been doing this all right, first one sushi or Thai food sushi I really do not like Thai food

Shelli Ryan 29:38
you know it’s a little bit spicy for my taste as sushi is kind of cool where I can pick well this is this is this is a this is a personality show their minds like I actually like that but then I want half a role here a third of role there and I want the other role so I smush them all together and of course these sushi chefs about red kill me like Oh really, you want to have this and one of that and three of that like yeah actually do.

Anne B 30:00
This one was actually hard for me because So as our as our viewers know, I’m a celiac, so I can’t have gluten. What I don’t know if everybody knows is that when you have sushi, there are some if they have to use the right type of vinegar in order for sushi to be gluten free. I didn’t if it’s a malt vinegar, it is no longer gluten free. It has to be the right vendor. Also Thai food a lot of Thai food uses rice noodles or glass noodles. And so those are gluten free soy and they can make it mild. That said, you know, there are some Thai food I like but I love sushi. Yes, I love sushi. So I had to go with like this was actually a debate in my head as I’m sitting here looking at these going. Like it’s easier to go with Thai food because I know glass noodles, rice noodles, all of these things I’m pretty safe with but sushi I always have to ask, you know what kind of vinegar did you use? Do you have gluten free soy sauce? Did you put soy sauce? Some places just automatically put soy sauce on their? On their sushi? Like I have to ask a lot of questions when I go to a sushi place. I love sushi and it’s sushi all day long every day. Sounds like we could go out for sushi sometime.

Shelli Ryan 31:25
We absolutely I’m there thinking there

Anne B 31:27
we go. Okay, so I think I know where you’re gonna go with this one. I don’t like that. This one came up, but it’s what popped up. tattoos or piercings.

Shelli Ryan 31:42
Wow. Piercings but I have to tell you I’m this is a maybe it’s a true confession for my pierced ears. I was 35 when I got my ears pierced. I no late bloomer. No tattoos. I can’t get into it. Sorry. No, no, no.

Anne B 32:04
My daughter has like 12 or 13 tattoos. Oh, wow. More power to her. She loves him. She and that’s okay. Everybody has her. And they’re all in places that are covered. When she goes to work. And some of them are incredibly beautiful. It is a skill and a talent and art. I actually went to go get a tattoo one time. No way. One time. Yeah, I was 17 Oh, boy, I looked like I was 23. So I walked right into that tattoo shop. And I they were like, Okay, pick out what you want. And I did and I was ready to go. And they’re like, Okay, we just, you know, it’s it’s the law, we have to ask for your ID and I’m like, Here you go. I did not know you had to be 18 to get a tattoo. Oh, okay. So I did not get my tattoo was I was making,

Shelli Ryan 33:01
you know, speaking of tattoos I am. I am really surprised at how business has evolved. I’m a I’m a child of the 80s. And if you had a tattoo, and they could see it, whether it’s this or whether it’s this you know, sleeve, forget it. You’re not getting the job. Now it’s now exactly, I mean, some servers have tattoos on there, which is fine on their face. They can you know, when I was your age, I would not have gotten a job. Now. So back to your point about being open minded, you know, business are making changes as they see fit in the society. And like you say it, some of it can be super beautiful. And you know, some of it tells a story and some of them are milestones of your life. Get a tattoo at a certain point in your life. And it’s all good. So needless to say,

Anne B 33:52
I never ended up getting a tattoo ever still don’t have any. I would probably go with piercings. Although I did get ear piercings when I was little they have since closed. But Well, I wouldn’t have to go with piercings now. Just because at this point, I’ve never had a tattoo. I have an old lady body. You know, it is what it is. I probably stick with the piercings. But like you said, I actually love looking at people’s tattoos because the artwork, the stories behind them, almost everybody that I’ve seen. And there is just something about a smart dressed businessman who has his sleeves rolled up. And you can see there’s just a very nice tattoo right here. But he he’s he’s, he’s a business. I mean, you can tell and there’s just something like, you know, like after work, he’s gonna go ride his motorcycle or he’s gonna go do something else. But yeah, he is all business during the day. So I don’t know. I like the tattoos. But not for me. Yeah, Yep. So I love this game you learn so much about people.

Shelli Ryan 35:07
I think it’s great. It’s kind of interesting that we’ve got a lot in common. Who knew?

Anne B 35:12
All right, last question. What’s coming up? We’ve got, oh, swimming in a lake or swimming in a river?

Shelli Ryan 35:27
Yeah, that’s a really good one. I’m gonna go with lake just because I know that there’s an end to it

Anne B 35:37
be told I, I say nothing. I would if I had the choice. I would say neither here just so you know. Well, okay,

Shelli Ryan 35:45
so growing up, we would be swimming in lakes. In fact, that was that was summertime, we would be swimming in lakes and no big deal. Now that I’m older, I go back to those lakes. And I’m like, man, they’re, they’re their fish. They’re biting on my ankles. And you know, who knows what I’m like, It’s dirty. It’s dirty. I know. The rivers analogy, you know, you can be swept down river. And I’m not the strongest swimmer in the world. So you know, at least a lake I can see that there’s a perimeter. And there’s an intuit the river who knows I could be in Tijuana at the moment, you know, come from Las Vegas and go down to Mexico because

Anne B 36:28
you know, free travel. True. Right? Blaming. glass half full Shelly. Right. Exactly. Exactly. Like you. We used to go to Lake Texoma. Oh, when I was little, and I remember we used to rent a cabin. Well, and we we have pictures of all of the cousins and everything playing on the show. In the lake in that muddy red water. And but you know, I, I’m okay. It’s on. I’m okay. In the ocean. Oh, yeah. Ocean, but not in the lake. It’s just kind of it’s brown and icky. Yeah. So I would I would, if I could, I would pick neither. But I agree with you. If I have to choose, I would go with like,

Shelli Ryan 37:26
a same reason. Yeah, the same reason. Ocean, you know, just sometimes. And maybe it’s just the time of year where it flips and the seaweed goes on top. That then is a no, no one. Oh.

Anne B 37:42
Well, thank you for playing our game and letting us get to know you a little bit more. So all right, so back to our questions. We’re gonna flip the script a little bit. Because what our viewers don’t know is that aside from being the founder and CEO of ad hoc communications, you are also the founder of the CX blockchain Institute. Yep. And this is just an a new thing for me. I will tell everybody, I just don’t know a lot about it. So I may ask some questions that are fairly kindergarten. So could you explain the concept of blockchain transformation? Yep. In the context of the customer experience industry?

Shelli Ryan 38:35
Yeah. And it might be worth just a couple of sentences. Just why in the world, I would ever do such a thing. Yes.

Anne B 38:44
Yeah. Why in the world, you had a successful business? Why?

Shelli Ryan 38:47
Why? Exactly. Yeah. So wine back to things. 2018. I’m in London at a pewter run event. I’m sitting in the back of the theater again. I know. It’s everywhere. At worst wall, though. So we’re in this meeting. It’s a CXO. London actually lives in Windsor. I’m in the back of the room with Steve Weston. And the speakers are trying to figure out why omni channel doesn’t work particularly well, us as marketers, we say oh, it works fantastically. It’s just change changing. But you know, things get dropped and people get frustrated in the channel, all that. And so on the flight home, I’m thinking what would fix omni channel and I come to the realization that it will be blockchain. blockchain can help to put transactions on the private registry, where it’s all safe. As far as data security, it helps agents get things right at the ready. You don’t have 15 screen pops, you have one or two. So average handle time goes down. And then of course, because we’re able to get it on the blockchain which is unchangeable, and and it is private to the organization. It’s an easier faster transaction and helps to increase CSAT. So when I come back home, I think this is a business and I call Steve West and it’s a Saturday I say, What do you think he goes? I think it’s a fantastic idea. So I we we spent spin this up, it’s a sister company of ad hoc, where only call centers is where we implement that blockchain. I’ll just say that’s why it’s called the CX blockchain Institute. Because as I did my research, really, the context center is the ugly, redheaded stepchild of blockchain. And quite frankly, any technology projects where they don’t get the funding to fix things, by and large. So call center needs blockchain to one help with digital identities. They’re coming down the pike and a lot of murder here. Digital passports, digital healthcare records, all of this will be digitally encrypted. And I mean, look, 80% of fraud is identity fraud, and a lot of times it happens in a call center. So we need to figure out how we harden and fortify a call center and blockchain I think, in my personal opinion, is it.

Anne B 41:23
So what I’m trying to think of how I’m gonna say this, what potential benefits does blockchain and tell me if I’m wording this incorrectly? What potential benefits does blockchain bring to customer experience? And and how does your institute contribute to its fulfillment? Yeah,

Shelli Ryan 41:47
I can think of three benefits right off the bat. One is faster transactions. So it’s number one. Number two is a safer environment where data security is pretty key, we’ve got a lot of hacking going on, we’ve got a lot of spoofing, we’ve got a lot of fraud, and blockchain because as I say, it’s on a registry. It’s unchangeable, and it’s encrypted. And as we bring in AI, and some others, as a layer in the call center, blockchain can be on top of it, just to fortify it. And then number three is, a lot of us. A lot of millennials just don’t want to talk to people. And so blockchain helps to facilitate that with having another channel that they can go through to get their answers in an environment where they know it’s safe to comment. And so just a lot of different areas where blockchain can be deployed, you know, call centers, one where we, we we thrive, but there’s also art smart contracts supply chain, just a number of different areas. But what what our Institute does is we go into an organization and largely its captive call center right now who who wants to implement blockchain BPOS haven’t fully gone onto the bandwagon. That’s why we need more education. But we go into the environment, and we do the CX transformation audits. And then we figure out where blockchain can be implemented, you know, here, here and here. And then we implement, we bring in our software providers, and they make it so But while they do that, the two businesses the CX blockchain has to do an ad hoc work together on the training and the curriculum and the marketing of blockchain so that the brand will be blockchain ready, with how do you sell it? How do you train folks to not get freaked out that their jobs will be eliminated? And then we work with HR, how do you level up maybe some call center agents to be blockchain agents, for example, and then we launch and then this is really where the value prop comes into play or the differentiator and this is kind of important. The last part of our journey is that we certify the call center to be blockchain ready? It is a certification very similar to PCI compliance. i So the, you know, all of those certifications, and I’ve been lobbying a lot of the procurement managers and your policy in 2024. Were another box in the RFI RFP is are you blockchain ready? And if BPOS don’t have that in their quiver, if you will, they may get passed over because the more certifications you have to keep a brand happy and they feel trusted and they feel secure, the more certifications you have The more business that you will have, because you’ve just gone that extra step to make sure that it’s fortified and protected. And all these transactions are, are protected.

Anne B 45:11
You’ve mentioned the BPO industry a few times specifically talking about blockchain. Let’s focus on that for just Just a second. You said they’re not really embracing blockchain yet. What if they were to start thinking about this? What are some of the things that they need to start thinking about in order to become what was the term use blockchain ready so that when that starts becoming a question in the RFI, or RFP, they can click Yes. What what are those? What’s that checklist? Yeah,

Shelli Ryan 45:51
and before I get to the checklist, I’ll just say, Look, I’ve been working with BPOS majority of my

Anne B 46:00
life, right?

Shelli Ryan 46:03
We are. And what I found is that a lot of the technology projects are on the first of the list, you know, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, just kind of where I have seen them go. And look, that $22 billion BPO, I mentioned a moment ago, was at the forefront of implementing RPA robotic process automation. And, you know, a lot of BPOS could benefit from that. And a lot of them don’t do it just because of maybe cost, they don’t have a client who’s actually calling for it. And why be proactive having this and if the client won’t pay for it. You know, AI is another one where they’re looking at it maybe not implemented. And I know, years ago, when we were implementing speech analytics and some predictive and prescriptive analytics, they’re going, why would we need that? Well, you would need that because it helps to grow your business. So back to your question, which is, how do you have a checklist of being ready for when blockchain is a thing? You know, in 2024, security is going to be an issue. We’re already seeing that foreign actors are hacking. I mean, MGM just had a huge house office. Well, the point was, I mean, largely it was human engaged, right? Apparently, they they the hackers called into the helpdesk that hey, phishing attempt, yeah, I can’t I can’t find my password. Can you add me or something like that news, human born. But blockchain could have been there to say is this person, truly an employee and a moment’s millisecond would have figured out through the digital identity that yes, he or she is one and grant her access? So so the checklists list kind of goes like this. Security is going to be on the checklist, digital transformation with digital identities, digital records, digital processes, all of that is going to be on the on the checklist, it’s going to be about agent empowerment, because as we mentioned, you don’t want 15 pops on your screen, you want one to get the client on their way, their customer on their way consumer on the way, they don’t want to spend a day with an agent trying to figure out what the heck’s going on. They just want one answer, and then they go, and then processes processes where maybe you can join a lot of the implementation, a lot of the workforce management, a lot of the CRM onto the blockchain to make it more seamless. And, you know, since night 2019, we have done a market Intel report that gives BPOS and captive call centers, the market intelligence to see where there are impacts within their call center for blockchain to make a difference, but also around the various verticals like healthcare and financial services and telecom, who is actually implementing it. So you could take it to the board, take it to your leadership team and say, Look, in 2024, we have to implement blockchain. Here’s the data. We had hired GBS worldwide to help us with that research under Mark anguses of leadership. And so there’s a lot of good data, a lot of good research that they could take to their leadership team to say we actually need to implement this now. There are players in the business that can help us do that. They already know call center, they’re in the know and away they go for a pretty robust 2024.

Anne B 49:55
So I I view you as a leader in kind of the intersection between customer experience and technology? What are some of the emerging trends or advances in the industry that really excite you most?

Shelli Ryan 50:17
Yeah, I mean, that’s a that’s a good question. I, look, I got into technology, because every day is different. Every day is different, or every day is different. And there are so many different column product launches, but launches of services tweaks of something, I do think that AI is going to be an instigator of rapid change. And I know that, and I know that the government is looking at it pretty seriously, as the Biden administration gets ahead of this and tries to regulate it, I think that’s probably going to be an innate and enabler, if you will. But I also think along with that the digital currencies are going to be something we’ll all have to figure out. I mean, when’s the last time you paid cash to cash just for a lottery ticket? Exactly. Not in the flow anymore. You know, and, you know, China and some other countries have mandated digital currencies, and people are kicking and screaming, because, you know, it’s it’s not quite secure at the moment, because at any time the government can say, I’m going to tell you how much allowance you can have today to spend. So digital currencies are important. And you know, digital currencies, a play in the CX world and in the technology world. Cx needs to have digital currency as a form of payment when they’re taking, you know, airline ticket reservations or whatever, you know, an agent has to be very versed in the different cryptocurrencies that are available and in as a method of payment. So those two in particular, I think, are are fairly important. But I do think that as we think about Metaverse, some folks are saying, Man, that’s just a smokescreen. It’s, there’s no there there, there might be vaporware. I do think that it’s coming around again, and and back in I think the 90s it was virtual reality. And now they’ve read coined it renamed it whatever. I think there’s some possibilities there in CX. And I think there are a lot of might have been Uloric, or some others that are using that for training purposes, to have the virtual reality virtual scenarios for training agents. But also, I think they’re also using that for not all orca specifically, but other BPOS and CX companies are using that for Help Desk. So a good example of that is I saw a demo where I think it was either Samsung or Philips get brings you into the inside of the refrigerator, like Hey, is it this part that you’re trying to fix? Or is it that part, and you’re pointing in and looking at it physically, because you’re inside the refrigerator, if you’re not physically inside the refrigerator, it’s virtually inside that refrigerator. So I think it has a lot of good potential within CX and technology to be a technology of change those three in particular,

Anne B 53:37
that’s great. So as you know, I always like to ask one question where you can speak directly to the audience. So I’d like to open it up to you have you just speak directly to them? What advice would you give to startups, enterprises, VCs that are seeking to optimize their marketing and branding efforts? Yeah,

Shelli Ryan 54:05
great question. So my advice number one is don’t wait until it’s perfect. Number two is believe in yourself and have others in your circle your inner circle, keep your circle small that you can bounce ideas off of have some sounding boards. Number three is and this is this is Shelly advice that might not be good for everybody but don’t think that you need to scale right away. And in my in my experience, I didn’t take VC money I didn’t take any funding from other folks who wanted to give us money to scale but with that comes consequences right? You can I mean, in my opinion, kind of sell your soul sorry, I said it but I I built it with my own money. If you can, I think that’s probably the better. Because one, you keep control. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen founders, where they, they take money, and then they get booted out. For whatever reason, look, I’ve had people offer us money, and we’re saying, you know, I just, I want to build it myself. And then And then the fourth is, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. And it’s back to that sounding board where some folks just want to do it their own way. But as you and I both know, that there’s so many other people that can give you just an itty bitty piece of advice, and that itty bitty piece of advice just kind of compounds as you think through it. So those are kind of the four best practices that you know, as a startup, that’s how I would do it. And, and I don’t know if you know, and, but I do help mentor and guide some of the startups within marketing, communications to help build them. We have, you know, templates that they can use and mentoring and coaching and all of that it’s not just a hybrid or a fractional that they get use of, but it’s rather, you know, ask us anything we will, you know, we’ve been around the block have been around the rodeo, so maybe we could help or maybe we know someone who could be in touch with. And I think that last in touch with is pretty important to know that you probably shouldn’t burn bridges. And I try not to, because you never know when that person is going to come back into your life like, oh, man, I remember her know when you’re going over that bridge. Exactly.

Anne B 56:44
Exactly. Shelly, why would somebody get in touch with you? And how would they get in touch with you?

Shelli Ryan 56:53
Yeah, so usually we the why is pretty simple. One is they don’t have enough pipe. They’re trying to expand their business, and they don’t have the folks in house or maybe they have people in house, but they need some specialized help. Maybe they’re a foreign company that needs some ground coverage. And in a different Geo, like I said, we’ve got 200 of us around the world. A typically in the Americas is where our majority is, but we’re in Europe, in Australia, delivering services to AIPAC. So just the growth aspect, if you want to grow and not spend a lot of cycles and money doing it, that’s when they call out that’s when the phone rings, the red phone. And how they get a hold of us is they can pop on onto our website, which is ad hoc car.com Or on LinkedIn, they can find us just searching or you know, call the red phone. I’m always happy to have a conversation conversations free.

Anne B 57:57
All right, thank you so much for joining us today. It has been a great conversation.

Shelli Ryan 58:03
Oh, it’s good to have a conversation with you don’t don’t be a stranger. Same

Anne B 58:07
same. And for everybody else. Thank you so much for watching, and we will see you again next week. As we wrap up the episode we would like to take this time to thank you for joining us this week on unexpected journey. Our guest information will be linked in the episode description along with a link to our host’s website, annebibb.com and our sponsors’ websites, remoteevolution.com. ethossupport.com, your cohort.co. Please don’t forget to like, subscribe and share on your favorite podcast app and on our YouTube channel so that you never miss an episode and we can continue to bring them to you. Let us know your thoughts on what we discussed in the comment section. And once again, thanks for joining us. We hope to see you again next time on Unexpected Journey

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