Adam Witty is the Founder/CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks. Adam Witty is a thought leader, influencer, and risk taker, and provides the vision and energy that has inspired the creation of Advantage|ForbesBooks. Adam Witty joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has awarded Advantage|ForbesBooks as an Impact Company of 2019, and we are delighted to have Adam join us for our Leader Round Table Interview. The Advantage|ForbesBooks story is very interesting, and we are very excited to not only interview Adam about his very successful business and entrepreneurial spirit, but also put Adam through our popular speed round as well.
Adam, thank so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview, and answering some questions about leadership, your vision, and your passion.
1. Can you describe what the “elevator pitch” for Advantage|ForbesBooks is?
Customers prefer to spend their money with the authorities in the field. The secret sauce in the equation is that authority can be manufactured. Over the past 14 years, we have worked with over 1,300 CEOs and entrepreneurs around the globe to strategically and systematically position them as the leaders in their industries through the publishing and marketing of a book. Publishing a book is one of the most significant authority-building tools available, creating the perception of expertise. Through intentional marketing of their book, we help our members build their authority and thought-leadership and, in so doing, significantly grow their businesses.
2. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give CEO’s just starting out regarding keeping a company moving forward, and please tell us the key to your company’s success?
Listen and adapt to your customers. I started the business as a publishing company for CEOs and entrepreneurs, but less than a year into it, I saw that the business people I was reaching out to who wanted to author a book had neither the time nor the focus. If I didn’t address this issue, I’d be out of business. That was the genesis of the Talk Your Book® program which requires as little as 24 hours of the client’s time. The editorial team interviews the client and transforms their stories, challenges and successes into a book. That was a seminal moment in our growth. Then, about five years later, we saw that our authors were asking how best to capitalize on their books. They needed marketing guidance so we launched a marketing service. The same with public relations. We saw the need and we filled it with a PR division. So, my advice to other entrepreneurs: Observe, address and fill the niche.
3. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as Advantage|ForbesBooks, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
The issue isn’t making mistakes—it’s learning and growing from them. There was a time when we were just two weeks away from being completely out of cash. We were rapidly growing and spending more and more on marketing and sales and I was not keeping a close enough eye on our balance. We were literally two weeks away from being completely out of cash. It could have been all over. Thankfully we were saved by the bell when three big contracts came in and all paid up front.
I was not getting in that situation again.
The lesson: I needed payment up front. That was something I didn’t understand initially. I thought people only paid you as you went along. We came up with incentives to get people to pay us in advance, including a discount on the fee and additional marketing services. Today 52 percent of our customers pay their entire fee before we lift the first finger. That money has allowed us to fund our growth without relying on banks or credit cards or outside investors.
4. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at Advantage|ForbesBooks, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once said, “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department. It should be the entire company.” That’s how we feel at Advantage|ForbesBooks. Yes, we have a department that’s on the front line of customer service but all employees are empowered to listen to customers and fix problems as quickly as possible. The key to any interaction with a customer is sincerity. To create loyalty, you must show customers that you not only are grateful for their business, but that you value their relationship. We’ve adopted a “No Questions Asked” program as a component of our client experience in which employees can send any gift to the client of their choosing, any time, for any reason. If a client believes that they’re nothing more than a monthly check, it’s just a matter of time before that client will be gone. A personal, well-thought out gift goes a long way in creating, maintaining and cementing a long-lasting and mutually-beneficial relationship.
5. In today’s fast changing business environment, what do you do to keep up with the changes? What do you read to stay abreast of things?
My days are busy. I do a lot of traveling—lots of speaking, conferences and networking. But I put aside at least an hour a day to read, whether it be newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, magazines such as Forbes and Inc., or industry blogs and podcasts, like EntrepreneuronFire.com, AllBusiness.com and, of course, Dotcommagazine.com. The best leaders are readers, so it’s imperative that I carve out time to update myself on the latest industry trends.
6. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead Advantage|ForbesBooks?
The quick answer is that I love what I do. I love the challenge of business and I love being in the position where I can help others grow theirs. Mentally, I keep myself at peak performance first by reading and second by talking to as many people as possible. Only by listening to other people’s ideas and absorbing their perspective can I learn and grow. Physically, I’m up at 5:30 a.m. every morning, going to the gym. Physical activity should be integral to everybody’s daily routine.
7. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
My favorite book is American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company. The book chronicles the story of Ford hiring Alan Mulally and his single handedly saving the company, literally saving the American automobile industry during the recession of 2008. If you want to be a better leader, the book is filled with great stories about how Mulally brought people together to accomplish things that were far bigger than they ever thought they could accomplish on their own.
8. In one sentence, can you tell us what the most important thing about being a leader is?
My philosophy was handed down to me by my mentor (sales management guru) Jack Daley who said, “Adam, as the CEO your job is not to grow a company. Your job is to grow people that grow a company.”
9. In one sentence, can you give some advice to fellow entrepreneurs wishing to build a company as exciting as Advantage|ForbesBooks ?
If you spend your entire life comparing up, you’ll always be disappointed. If you spend your entire life comparing down, you’ll always be grateful.
Adam, we would like to have some fun and do our famous “First Reaction” round with you!
We will ask you ten more questions that we want you to answer in just one to three words only.
Here you go!
1. In three words or less, What makes a successful CEO?
Vision, Curiosity, Decisiveness.
2. Describe Advantage|ForbesBooks in one word?
3. Describe Advantage|ForbesBooks customers in one word?
4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee for Advantage|ForbesBooks?
5. What is the one word you want your customers to say about Advantage|ForbesBooks?
6. In three words or less, describe your passion?
Entrepreneurship, Adventure, Growth
7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
Fearlessness, Patience, Resilience
8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at Advantage|ForbesBooks?
Challenging, Eye-Opening, Exciting
9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you?
Grateful, Adaptable, Strong
10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English Language?
Adam Witty, thank you so much for sitting down with us at our DotCom Magazine Impact Player Round Table. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping others to learn more about your company and what it takes to be a leader. We we wish you, your family, and of course Advantage|ForbesBooks, nothing but the best. Thanks again!
The Adam Witty Roundtable Interview brought to you by DotCom Magazine.