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Marketing Agency Exposed Podcast

Feb 19, 2020


In today’s episode we break down how increased self-awareness has had a positive impact on the way we do business. But what does self-awareness really mean? With a plethora of personality tests available these days, there is little excuse for having low self-awareness. When you know your personality type, your strengths and weaknesses, you have a more accurate picture of how you can improve and grow. Today's episode discusses the pros and cons of self-awareness, how better understanding yourself leads to greater understanding of others, and how self-awareness can lead to greater, more lasting success in business and creating companies that have a positive impact on the world. 


Resources Mentioned: 


Top 3 Curtain Pulls in this episode:

  1. Having self-awareness is KEY to knowing your true strengths and weaknesses as well as what gives you energy versus what drains your energy.
  2. Being aware of your personality type’s strengths and weaknesses allows you to be a better leader, a better parent, a better human! This makes you more effective and have more enjoyment. You have more empathy for others and it changes the reason that you do the things that you do, and gives you insight to the same for others in your life.
  3. The more self-awareness you can have, the better and more impactful your company can be. “If this company became great when you’re unhealthy, imagine how great it could be when you are healthy!” 


About The Guys: 

Bob Hutchins: Founder of BuzzPlant, a digital agency that he ran from from 2000 -2017. He is also the author of 3 books. More on Bob: 

Brad Ayres: Founder of Anthem Republic, an award-winning ad agency. Brad’s knowledge has led some of the biggest brands in the world. Originally from Detroit, Brad is an OG in the ad agency world and has the wisdom and scars to prove it. Currently that knowledge is being applied to his boutique agency. More on Brad:

Ken Ott: Co-Founder and Chief Growth Rebel of Metacake, an Ecommerce Growth Team for some of the world’s most influential brands with a mission to Grow Brands That Matter. Ken is also an author, speaker, and was nominated for an Emmy for his acting on the Metacake Youtube Channel (not really). More on Ken: 


Show Notes:

[2:06] Ken reflects on last week’s episode with Hannah Paramore Breen, and speaks on how it ties into this week’s episode: “She even talked about the topic for today, her personality type and how personality types play into what you do and knowing how you’re made up helps you navigate business a little bit better.”

[2:27] Bob asks: “When you guys were starting out, do you all feel like you had a strong sense of self-awareness going in? How much did that play into your business?”

[2:41] Brad: “I think I had zero self-awareness, it felt like that anyways. I had awareness in my talent, but not who I was outside of my talent. That’s been the biggest struggle, and is something I think we all deal with… Every day I learn more and more about how I deal with people, and how I deal with stress, and things that I’m learning about myself. It’s hard to sometimes see things that are kind fo ugly about yourself… that’s the beauty, that you can make a change and work on things about yourself that are not positive to other people or your business or yourself.”

[3:44] Ken: “I would say when I was growing up I had no self-awareness or very little. God, the way he’s led my life... there were so many cliffs that I could have gone off… and if I didn’t it wasn’t because of me because I wasn’t self-aware… I did have personality traits that were advantageous for doing business… 

  • …”But as I’ve become more self-aware it’s like reverse-engineering what’s good and also what’s bad and keeping that in place.”
  • Attending events and gaining more tools have allowed him to be more proactive in adjusting course and making decisions based on growth and self-improvement, but it all starts with self-awareness.

[5:35] Bob: “We need to define self awareness… the ability to look at why you do the things you do, why you see the world in the way that you do, without any attachment to it being right or wrong… it just IS… and then move forward in the best lane with that awareness?”

[7:17] Brad: “Sometimes I look at the things that I’m not and think… I don’t have that in me, that’s not how I’m built. And I spend a lot of time shaming myself with it, instead of trying to align myself with people who ARE that…”

[8:23] Ken speaks on how a lack of self awareness can make it seem like things are never working out in your favor, when really you’re walking into a wall over and over again, waiting for a different result that could come from some self-reflection and self-awareness.

[8:42] Bob: “The biggest problem [with a lack of self-awareness] is that you don’t understand why you see the world the way that you do, and so you think everyone sees the world the way you do.”

[9:18] Brad: “I always struggle because I find myself hitting walls a lot, and I wonder if I need to do hard things and get through it or am I just not the right person to be doing that? It’s just not in me, sometimes I feel like I can just overpower it, but I definitely get hit by that self-doubt a lot.”

  • Brad asks: “Do you guys feel like when you do that too many times, it's time to take a different road? It’s time to get away from that wall?”

[10:42] Bob and Brad ask Ken if this experience feels any differently with a business partner. In their businesses they wear many hats and have to do things they’re not good at naturally because it’s the only option. Does throwing an additional “boss” into the mix change that dynamic?

[13:05] Ken: “Bob Strachan is my business partner… and for us it works well. And I’ve looked at why because there’s always a downside, and an upside. There’s never a perfect scenario, right? We’re actually complete opposites… we’re literally the opposite on every personality test and I think that’s actually why it works- also I think it takes respect and humility. I think ego is a lot of times what gets in the way of most business partnerships. Everyone wants to be ‘The Guy’ for the reason of ego rather than what’s the best thing.

  • “It’s taken a while to get here for us, but we realized our giftings and sort of stay inside of those and so Bob is extremely personal...he gets energy out of being around people and caring, all to the nth degree… those are things I can do but they don’t give me energy… My personality is more geared towards visioning and growth and I have a passion that I can see and I can bring energy to the team by doing that. And it works, because it would wear me down to be doing everything, for sure.”

[15:17] Bob: “You hit on one thing that I ''ve been trying to keep in front of mind. What gives you energy versus what drains you or exhausts you? And I think we would be remiss if we were to say, ‘Don’t ever do things that drain you’ because in business, especially as agency owners, you’ve got to do the hard stuff. You’ve got to do the spreadsheets and the balance sheets and the things that I hate.”

[15:48] Brad: “I like those things.”

[15:49] Bob: “I know you do! But it drains me. However the point is that you should gravitate toward those things and be self-aware enough to say, ‘I don’t feel tired when I do this, in fact I get energized when I do it. It gives me creativity and motivates… be self-aware enough to note that and say ‘What is it about this? I need to be devoting my time and my energy to this. And the things that drain me, I need to surround myself with people that it does give them energy to do this.’ “

[18:34] Brad speaks on his own introversion and how sometimes he feels out of his own skin because of the social anxiety that impacts his business decisions. 

  • “I think it makes you very prepared. Because it drains you, and it’s exhausting. And you have that anxiety. It’s like you work harder to show up.”

[19:35] Ken: “Personality is really more about what gives you energy than what you’re good at. Because you could be good at something that drains you. But that personality is more about positive and negative energy. I feel like there’s two categories of things- you have your strengths- the things that give you energy would be smart, would be strategically smart to align yourself with those things. And then there are OTHER things that are universally draining… that 1% of things that everyone hates, everyone hates to get up at 5am, so if you’re the guy that gets up at 5am you’ve got an advantage. You do those and you can do those with consistency and repetition. And all of a sudden the hard things become just how you operate and that’s how you operate at a high level. 

[21:01] Brad: “So one thing which has been really helpful for me is I know that my energy level is great from like 8am till about noon, and I can run hard and do all the things that I’m not built to do but do them anyways. But after lunch if I’ve had to talk to a lot of people or really had to interact with people, I lose a lot of my energy because I’m drained… mentally I’m just spent.”

  • “And so what I do is I actually divide up my work and I do certain types of work… in the afternoons that actually fill me back up, not drain me more. That way, when I get home Im not so exhausted that I can’t even function and spend time with my family because I don’t want my family to get leftover Brad, right? Understanding yourself and actually putting boundaries, you can still do the things that drain you, but only during certain times of day.” 

[23:01] Ken adds: “If there is one action item from this podcast it would be- be intentional about your schedule based on when you’re at your best.” 

[24:15] Brad speaks about the Enneagram: “I’m an enneagram five, which is considered to be the investigator right, so I get completely in my head...there’s certain things that exhaust me and if I overthink and I think too much on something I can also get burnout where my brain just won’t shut off.” 

  • In this way, it is even more important to recognize your limitations and strengths/weaknesses within your personality type, and use those things to your advantage. 

[25:38] Ken asks: “Given a person of that type… is that something you have to be more aware of defending against? Overanalysis like that?”

[25:53] Brad: “Yes, overthinking. And once you’re aware of it, it’s… my silver bullet, but it can also be my kryptonite.”

  • Brad goes on to point out that this often gets in the way of being present in the moment and having good, soul-filling conversations. So blocking out periods of time to give him an extra cushion so he doesn’t have to feel so rushed would be very beneficial. 

[27:32] Brad speaks on the power and importance of exercise with his personality type: “The thing about exercise is that it’s not just for my body, it’s for my head. It’s so that I’m thinking more about my body and not about things in my head.”

[27:54] Bob gives a quick synopsis of the Enneagram Personality test and how it differs from others. 

  • Personality identification based on 9 personality types. It includes areas of growth for each personality type, and how they show up in the world based on stress and growth. 
  • “It helps ME to know what your personality type is (as a co-worker, peer, boss, etc) so that I can not only engage with you but also know how to bring the best out of you and the best out of me.”

[28:40] Brad: “As an enneagram five, you know every type has their kryptonite, and mine is avarice. And I had to look it up, what the heck does avarice mean? And it means that I feel like I won’t have enough of something, typically its time or money… I realized everything I do all day is trying to maximize time so I can get everything done.”

  • Brad gives an example of how he plans things that he’s done before to be as efficient as possible. And while in some situations that’s a good thing, he’s also realized that it is a manifestation of anxiety. 

[30:50] Brad continues: “That’s avarice… now that I have awareness of that I can be proactive and when I notice it, I think ‘What can I do differently’ and sometimes that’s just putting myself in the position that I don’t know what’s going to happen next, and that’s okay. And just allow things to happen as they do, and love that, and enjoy just being in the present, without having to care about what will happen tomorrow. Today has enough challenges of its own, why are we caring about the challenges of tomorrow, or the next day? It’s a constant anxiety that I’ve lived with my whole life and I’ve just never dealt with it. But now that I am, it’s hard. It’s hard work. But worth it.”

[31:55] Bob asks: “What about you Ken? What is your kryptonite?”

[31:57] Ken: “I’ve taken a lot of personality tests, and they all seem to align. On the enneagram I’m an 8 with a 9 wing. And 8 is ‘The Challenger’. And on the DISC test I’m a D-I, D-C, something like that… Enneagram 9 is the Peacemaker… The challenger is typically someone who is pushing forward and challenging things… there can be a dark side of that that...”

  • The dark side meaning getting into arguments with people for no reason, badgering someone as a test. Someone who enjoys a good argument and doesn’t run from it. 

[34:00] Ken continues: “The benefit for me is that I get energy out of running after something, I enjoy figuring something out, I have this basic premise in my life that nothing is impossible. I don’t necessarily believe that I can do everything… but with the right resources you can… I really think that for a challenger, that dark side really depends on whether your intention is in the right place… Generally I’m pushing forward for what I believe is better for everybody. When I’m leading a team or my family… it’s not out of my ego. In the past it has been, when I was more immature.”

[35:31] Bob interjects: “Another quality of an 8 is that they root for the underdog, do you find that to be true for you?”

[35:36] Ken: “Yeah, I would say that that’s accurate for me. I’m also a 3, 1 point off, which is I like performing. Which is another part of my personality.”

[35:40] Brad: “My brother is an 8 and one thing about him is that he always wants to take care of everyone. And that’s kind of their main motivation, they really do care about everyone. Sometimes it’s a ‘my way or the highway’ kinda thing, but they do it because they want to protect their clan. And that’s an honorable thing- that’s a lot of responsibility.”

[36:15] Ken: “I tell my wife all the time, it doesn't always come across the same way, but I feel like I’m made to provide and protect… Those two words resonate with me and I’m not saying I’m best at them, but I’m driven by leading a charge for justice, for a better way, especially when there’s people that I care about inside of that. That leads me to do business, to be the best I can be in health. There are positive sides.”

  • Negative sides are frustration with lack of progress, which may not be obvious or measurable. That is his downside, that he gets frustrated with people’s lack of progress. But he holds himself to a high standard, and commits to his word. A 21-day fast earlier this year was bolstered by telling others what he was doing, and holding himself accountable in that way. 

[39:10] Bob: “I’m an enneagram 7… the Optimist, the Visionary. It’s somebody who alwasy sees the glass half-full. Experiences are everything, as a visionary and a builder with an 8 wing, entrepreneurial spirit. Relationships and people skills are strong. I get energy from rooms full of people, and I don’t mind speaking in front of people.”

  • The dark side of that is that because the glass is half full, 7’s can run on that optimism without actually having gas in the tank. The kryptonite is not dealing with things as they happen. 
  • “Part of self-awareness for me over the years has been to have awareness when something is bad, and just letting it be without having to spin it into something good. That can be destructive in business, not acknowledging that there’s something going on.”
  • “The enneagram tells you who you are when you’re healthy and who you are when you’re really stressed out, and to be able to recognize those things is valuable.”

[41:14] Bob continues: “In stress, the 7 goes to a 1, which is the perfectionist… so I know when I start getting frustrated with people… for not doing things right, I know I’m not in the right headspace.”

  • “In the direction of health, I go to a 5. When I’m healthy, i can be calm, I can sit and contemplate things. I can think through things rather than always running ahead for the next experience.”

[42:00] Ken asks: “What was it like for you guys before you were aware of these things, and after, in the context of being a leader? Because over the years, I get to interact with lots of leaders of big businesses, and things that are just viral. The ones that are aware of this stuff are able to lead a team that actually makes a positive impact on the world. The ones that are not aware often are the boss, not the leader, the guy that hurts people and doesn’t lead through example. Doesn’t know it, but they’re not full or healthy, and are actually doing a disservice to people. There is such a difference between a leader and a boss.”

[43:57] Bob: “The value of self-awareness isn’t just for yourself… because then you begin to see other people in the same light.”

  • There is power in being aware of the way that others are processing the world and their work, it allows you to slow yourself down if necessary, it allows you to show grace and mercy for others as well as yourself.
  • “With team members, with clients, I can stop expecting things from them that they shouldn’t be giving me, or they don’t have the capability to give… or at least I know their WHY.”

[45:30] Brad speaks on human complexity: “We’re all one number, but we’re all so different within that… I spent so much of my career thinking everyone should be every number, or thinking that we should all have all types of personalities… it’s putting too much on one human to do… I want to work with superhumans because for some reason I think I’m a superhuman… but the reality is… you think everyone’s an idiot but they’re just gifted in certain areas…” 

[46:40] Ken speaks on the importance of understanding that a team is made of people with different strengths- that’s the beauty of it. Being aware of those and working together in those strengths (and weaknesses) is what makes being a part of a Team so great.

[47:11] Brad: Sometimes you find those gifts… later on. They start taking on other responsibilities and you realize their strengths lay somewhere else.... You have to be patient, #1, you have to SEE  the value in it, #2, and then you have to #3, pour into that and grow it and encourage it in them”

  • It takes a certain kind of person with a keen eye to see that and say “How do we craft an environment and a team where everyone is using their gifts the best.”
  • “I want to make sure everyone in my organization FEELS at their best, that’s important to me. And it’s hard.”

[49:00] Ken: “Just being aware and valuing that is so much further down the road than others… it creates so much more success even if you think you’re not good at it. Just be AWARE of that.”

  • Everyone at Metacake takes the DISC test, standing for Decisive, Influential, Stable, and Cautious. “So now we all have tools to better understand one another.”
  • Even those who interview take the test, just so that they can get a snapshot of how they will integrate into the organization.
  • Learning how clients fall on this scale is also helpful.

[51:40] Bob: “Interpersonal relationships and conflicts, and getting the most out of employees… as well as asking how to engage with certain clients…” allows you to speak with clients in a better way. There is potential to eliminate a lot of stress and issues by attempting to identify their personality type.

[52:38] Brad: Speaks on having a client that asked a lot of questions and it appeared that he was attempting to find fault within the organization, but he was strong-willed and curious and an Enneagram 8. “And now that we’ve earned his trust, we are part of his clan. And he protects and defends us as a client.”

[53:37] Ken can relate: “Are you here to help or hurt me? That question has to be answered, but how you go about answering can be really different from person to person.”

[54:37] Brad: “Some people who are the toughest upfront end up being the people that care the most for you… they’re just trying to vet you and make sure you’re the real deal.”

[55:00] Bob speaks on the difference between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. “From what we understand of his biography, really for most of his career Steve Jobs lacked a lot of self-awareness. He drove a lot of people away but made a great product.” 

  • Compare that to Bill Gates, who is steady and consistent, he has made billions to give it away and make lasting changes for humanity. He has truly left the world a better place. 

[56:50] Brad: “You can be in something and not be the best version of yourself and still grow a successful company.”
[57:19] Ken: “I would argue that the more you are aware and the better that you can be, how much better could that thing be? If this company became great when you’re unhealthy, imagine how great it could be when you are healthy and what it could do.”