Pink Headphones | On Being Helpful, Humble Humans w/ Phil Gerbyshak

unsplash-logoMay Lawrence

I’m so excited that I was able to convince Phil Gerbyshack to be on this show. I know a lot of you do know him, but for those of you who don’t know him yet, you’ll get to know him during the course of the podcast. He is an amazing, amazing person. One of the most giving-est people I’ve ever met in my life. He’s a virtual sales trainer, Zoom and GoToMeeting expert. He is a pinball wizard and sales guru.

You’re going to be learning a lot today. I encourage you to take notes if you can. Phil doesn’t know this, but we’ll share this story a little later on how he revolutionized the way that I do business (from a speaking engagement where I heard him speak). We’ll get into that a little later, but for now, Phil, thank you! I am honored. Welcome.


Thank you Berta. It’s great to be here. Thank you so much for having me on your show. I’m honored.


I’m so excited to have you, Phil. Again, guys, you’ll get to know him throughout. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him and I’m just blown away that I am sitting across the screen from him. Phil… if I looked you up in the dictionary what would it say?


It would probably say orange-glasses-wearing smart aleck. Kind-hearted and always-learning sales geek.


You’re always dressed super sharp. Your glasses and everything matches. I really am grateful. I want to get right into what we’re facing right now. I know that – because you’re in the sales world and you’re able to adapt so well. A lot of what we do as speakers with the engagement has to do with the Zoom world. A lot of people have had to learn it by force. Can you talk a bit about what we’re going into now and how you see it affecting people in sales?


Sure. I think, first of all, the focus has never been more clear that it’s about how much value you can add – not how loud you can be. I don’t mean just physically loud; just obnoxious, and not sharing. But because you’re frequent and you’re hitting people often, sometimes they give up and just say yes. Sometimes, that’s not always in their best interesting. I would say that right now, more than ever, the focus is in the value that we can add. Being as helpful as possible is really underrated.

We’ve had marketing that’s told us that we need one thing – organizations that tell us another thing – we read the paper, we see another thing… seldom is the focus on the good stuff. Now we’re really craving the good stuff – the good value that we can have.

I have Three H’s that remind me and that I help my clients focus on. The first H is to be human. Acknowledge that right now it’s an uncomfortable new time. Even if you’re used to working from home… even if you’re used to working with Zoom like I am, there are still challenges. Today, it took five minutes for the program to load. I’m pretty technical. I know how to use this stuff. There’s nothing I can do. Just acknowledge that humanity. We’re all struggling and we’re all in this together.

The second H is helpful. That’s where the value comes in. Just be helpful. Try as best as you can to help other people. Try to be an encouragement to them and show them how they can do more than they think they can – or that it’s okay to take a nap; to slow down and bring the pace down. Life is not as synchronous as we thought it was. It is not just an eight-hour day. A lot of times our day is sixteen hours with waking time. That means pick your spots. Where do you have the most energy? Help them see that it’s okay to not have energy all day long… I sure as heck don’t.

The last H is to be humble. A little bit of humility goes a long way. C.S. Lewis said that humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but really thinking of ourselves less. That’s really important. As we’re in this together and we’re humble about who we are…

I appreciate that you’re glad or honored that I’m here. I’m just me and you’re just you. I don’t mean that to say that I’m less or you’re less or that anybody listening is more or less. I’m just here. I’m present with the world. You are, too! Everyone listening and watching is, too. I think we forget that sometimes. We think we have to puff up our chest and talk about how great we are. In reality, it’s better for other people to toot our horn. It’s better for other people to say how good we are.

Not in our marketing, certainly not when we’re talking to customers, certainly not when we’re doing outreach. If somebody says that we’re the best, include that in your marketing. But there’s no need for you to specifically say that “I’m the best.” I could say, “Berta says that I’m the best.” Some of my clients say that I’m the best. Some folks that have never hired me might think that I’m the absolute worst.

That’s okay, right? I’ve had people complain about my orange glasses because they think they’re weird and unusual. Other people are attracted to them. That’s okay… it doesn’t make them the best or the worst; it just makes them different in the eyes of that person, and that’s okay.


I see each of these Hs so much in you. It’s not something you wear -- it’s part of your DNA. Particularly the humility piece. For those of you who don’t know, I met Phil at a presentation at one of our FSA meetings. He was a tremendous blessing to everyone in the audience. I’ve never seen people take notes like that in any meeting ever. It was just chock-full. He was giving of himself and giving of his expertise and that element of humility was the undertone of the entire conversation. I believe it’s something that you can work on, but you’re sort of born with it. Can you tell me a little bit about how you started to notice that that humility component was a big part of your success?


I’ll tell you that first of all it wasn’t always part of me. It’s a learned trait. Admittedly, I was pretty arrogant. I thought I was pretty good at a lot of stuff. I had a lot of arrogance. When I was sixteen, the day I got my driver’s license, I got in a car accident. Broke my shoulder in 12 places, broke my leg in six, put a corn stalk through my arm, split open my head. I was in a wheelchair for about ten weeks.

I thought I was invincible and I realized really fast that I wasn’t. I continue to be humbled throughout my life, but I recognized then that I’m not invincible. I recognized that in one of my first jobs that I got fired from. I wasn’t that good at it. I wasn’t as hard-working as I could have been. I got humbled that way. My first sales job, my boss fired me – probably because I was pretty arrogant. I walked into her office and basically demanded more money. She didn’t see that I was giving enough value. She said, “No.” Then I found a new job. She didn’t seem to be put off by it, but I can tell you when I turned in my two-week notice… I turned it in at eight o’ clock. By ten-thirty, she said, “We’re just going to pay you out. You should just leave.” At first, I was really excited. Yay! I get two weeks of pay! But then I recognized the reason why she wanted me to go was because I wasn’t really good for the team. I was kind of a jerk. I put all that together. That took me until I was almost thirty years old to recognize that I wasn’t invincible, that I wasn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, and that frankly I was kind of a jerk. It started right then that I recognized I needed to be more humble.

Really the big tipping point was that my mentor – someone that mentored me to be a speaker (his name was Kirk). Kirk asked me two questions at his program. Kirk is all about learning. First, Kirk asked me, “Have you actually read all these books that you’re talking about? That I’ve talked about? Have you read them?”

I said yes. Then he said, “So who are you sharing them with?”

It really struck me, because I wasn’t sharing them with anybody. I thought it was enough to be the smartest person in the room. I was like, “Wow, that’s a really good question.” I scratched my head and I was like, “Nobody.”

He said, “Well… what good is all that knowledge if you don’t share it with anybody?”

Right between the eyes, he hit me. I recognized right then that if I didn’t share – if I didn’t open my heart and share my humanity, helpfulness, and humility – I wasn’t going to go anywhere. I would just always be the smartest guy in the room. I realized then… I want to say I was probably thirty-two at that time. Between thirty and thirty-two I did a lot of growing and I’ve done a lot of growing over the last fifteen years as well. I just recognized that it wasn’t enough for me.

I would say that now I’m very intentional about it. I’m aware of it. It absolutely does come much more automatic to think about other people. That’s not what I’m saying, but it is intentional – it’s purposeful to really think of myself less and to think of other people more. Without that, people don’t care. They don’t listen. It’s not about shouting from the rooftops or about being the smartest person in the room. It’s about being the most interested person in the room and being willing to share and help.

That’s really changed my life. I know that’s a long answer to your short question, but I hope it gives you some insight into me.


Yeah! And it is a great answer, actually. I heard a quote yesterday that said, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” I believe that. I love how you shared how that helpful component came into being and came into existence. There’s no way anybody that doesn’t know the previous Phil would have ever felt that it could have been a thing. It’s so organic for you to just be in the service of others. I’m going to interject and share this little story. The day that you spoke at the FSA that I was there, you were talking about LinkedIn and the potential of LinkedIn. I’m someone who, when I was in the corporate world, I had LinkedIn because you sort of had to have it.

I had ignored it for years. When I became a full-time coach and speaker, I changed my little things that I could changed on LinkedIn, but never really paid attention to it. I had all these connections of realtors and mortgage-brokers because I was a title-insurance agent for twenty eight years. I never was intentional with it. I heard you and took really good notes. I came home that day and revamped my LinkedIn. Right after that, I started following you on LinkedIn. I love the generous spirit. I believe that the world and success revolves around generosity. I was blown away with how much intention you have for being helpful and the time and production and the resources that you have to pull together to be that beacon of help. Number 1: thank you. Number 2: it completely changed the way that I viewed LinkedIn. My commitment to be that resource for people on a platform I had ignored for so long. And particularly how you recommended that we connect for the sake of starting relationships, which is what I talk about with networking. If you’re networking for any other reason than to start a relationship, you’re doing it wrong or wasting your time.

It’s almost like you gave me permission to be who I am on LinkedIn too. It completely revolutionized my business, Phil. I want you to know. I have made beautiful, amazing friendships from connections that I’ve made on a platform that I’ve totally ignored for years. Now I echo what you said. I always give you credit because I realize how important it is in anything that we do – whatever platform it is – to really start from that foundation of being of service, adding value, and building those relationships.

So, again, I am grateful because I know what a difference it’s made for me. Tell me how you’ve been able to convey that message and not keep it to yourself.


Well I think the first thing is that I do my best to demonstrate it by action. I don’t just talk about it. I actually live it. I have to put it out there. I think about that intentionally. To your point; every time I go on LinkedIn (and I thank you for saying what you did) that is really foundational to the way I transact business for lack of a better term. I really believe that to sell is to serve and to serve is to sell. If we’re not being of service, no one is going to buy. If there’s no value exchanged there, why is anybody going to give me any money. When I think about how I demonstrate that – first I know that I have to demonstrate it. I can’t just say it. That’s the first thing – that acknowledgement. I must demonstrate this. How do I demonstrate it?

First, I look about my network intentionally. What would be of value or of service to them? I have speakers and authors and consultants and coaches in my network. I also have sales managers and sales leaders and VP of sales and executives in my network too. I recognize that not everything resonates with everybody. With that, I know that sometimes I have to serve the left hand – my speakers, my authors, my coaches, my consultants. Sometimes, I have to serve the right hand of sales professionals, leaders, and executives. What I share is for one of those two audiences typically. I’m just intentional about that.

That also means that I’m going to cross-pollinate. I don’t believe that I’m the only person with ideas. In fact, to even say that would be ridiculous. I share other people’s content. It means that I give other people credit. It means also that I get off of my profile, which is where a lot of people stay. They spend so much time – they want to build their platform. What they don’t realize is that you have to fill in the holes in your platform with other people and other ideas. Otherwise, you’re just shouting in a vacuum in the closet. So I’m intentional about that. I go out and try to add what I call fifty cents. I give my fifty cents. Some people give two cents, I want to give fifty cents. Five times every day I try to leave a good comment, share somebody else’s post, give some encouragement, ask a question…

Sometimes I might disagree with what somebody said. I’ll add a different spin on that. Somebody posted the other day that, if your CEO isn’t a marketer that your organization is never going to be good at marketing. It’s really interesting to read that, because I don’t agree with that. I think the goal of the CEO is to surround themselves with people who are smarter than him or herself. It’s interesting to me because, as I shared that, I got several people who sent me messages like, “Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re talking about. That’s really leadership.” To be of service sometimes is to disagree in an agreeable way. I’m not attacking him, I’m simply not agreeing with their premise.

I’ll be honest. I’m not always as delicate as I’d like to be. I strenuously object about some things, but that’s how I do it, right? I continue to demonstrate that through my profile first while trying to be as helpful as I can. Second of all, through sharing other people. Third of all, by sharing my opinions, my feedback, my encouragement with the world by intentionally cross-pollinating my network with others in my network so I can raise others up.


I see that. I’ve shared your stuff. I always encourage people (especially if they’re new to LinkedIn)… sometimes my clients have avoided LinkedIn like the plague. I tell them that they need to be able to play here. If they want to learn how to play correctly, just follow Phil. I do that because we need to learn how to do it if we’re new. That’s the best way to learn. The more value you can add to the world – the more you can serve – the better it’s going to be for everyone. Not keeping score, not trying to see what comes back. It’s just serving for the sake of serving.


That’s a really good point. I get asked a lot about the return on investment. I’ll tell you it’s seldom direct. It’s not like, “oh, I shared your post therefore you are going to do business with me.” In fact, it’s often I shared someone’s post or someone’s video or shared an article and months later somebody found it and they found it helpful. They shared it with somebody else who shares it with somebody else who then comes to me. They say, “Wow I watched this video that you did and it was super helpful. I don’t even know how I got it.” It’s never somebody that I even know.

My one-day biggest speaking contract I got as a result of a video I posted that somehow got to this person that I never met before that wasn’t connected to anybody that I knew. It said, “Hey, your video is exactly what my sales team needs to be shaken up. We need to have a conversation to see if you can teach my team how to add value like that. It’s an organization I’ve never sold to before. It’s a big equipment manufacturer. I don’t have any experience in that.

I don’t have parents who have experience in that. My home town – we’re 996 people. There’s no experience there. But teaching people that sell equipment to farmers is about being human with the farmer. It’s something that’s very natural for me. My dad was a farmer. He had a dairy farm. We had hundreds of acres of land that we farmed. At one point, we had 130 – 140 cattle. I know that my dad never (even to this day) responded to the city-slickers. Even though that’s me now, because I live in the city.

Not because of how they look, though certainly if you go to my dad’s farm and you wore a three-piece suit he’s probably going to laugh at you. But it’s more how you talk to him. If you talk down to him like he’s an idiot. Like here’s this 200,000 dollar piece of machinery and he’s a country bumpkin and doesn’t have any clue what the value would be. You’re NEVER going to sell my dad anything. If, instead, you flipped it over and you say, “So, Ron. You’ve got tractors here. What challenges do you have and why might you be interested in a conversation with me about selling you a much more powerful tractor?” His answer might be, “Well, we just bought another hundred acres of land and I don’t have any more hours in the day. I need one that goes faster, that can till harder, that can plant more seed.” There are a lot of reasons there why he might need that.

But if I just come in and try to say, “You know, it’s more powerful.” That’s the humility. It’s not that it’s the best – how does it solve dad’s problems? I guess that’s another long answer to a short questions, but I think that’s where I get that from. That’s where that demonstration really helps us. Then, once you demonstrate it, people can see that in their own world. I treat people like humans, so we have a conversation. I didn’t pretend that I knew how to sell farm machinery. I don’t have a clue. I’ve never even sold a bag of seed. But I certainly have ideas for how to connect on a human level, and that’s where I can add value.


And that brings us to this human element that we’re all falling into right now. We’re all so connected in what is happening in the world right now. Usually it takes something like this to bring to light the connectivity. It’s not that it wasn’t there, but we become so much more human. I believe we are all in sales, no matter what our business is, and we’re serving the humanity in all of us. Humanity as a whole.


We’re all in this together, right? That’s always been said. I would tell you though that no time in our history has that been more clear that we’re inter-connected than now. Right now. The internet is kind of vaporware. When I say that, I mean that I can’t see it. It’s like electricity. We’ve always been connected that way, but now we think about this. We’ve got this interesting invisible virus that’s going around, but it really connects us. Whether you’re in Italy or you’re in little ltaly in New York City, you’re still connected here. We’re genuinely in this together. The butterfly effect is huge. What somebody did somewhere to make something happen directly impacts my dad in little itty-bitty Crivitz, Wisconsin.

And how he has to live his life now. That’s fascinating. Never before have we ever had an example that stark – that clear – about how we’re all inter-connected. When I think about getting back to normalcy… I know that’s not what we’re talking about but I just want to say this. As we think about getting back to normalcy, this is going to be different. What will not differ is the fact that we now realize how connected we are and how much in common we have instead of how different we are. If we can focus on that, I think we can be more successful.


Absolutely! My prayer is just that we don’t take what just happened for granted and instead we remember. I was on a podcast earlier this week talking about tribe. I said to the host, “Think about who you miss right now. It’s easy to pick up the phone and have someone meet you at a Starbucks for a cup of coffee, but who are we not able to see right now that we wish we could see?”

Everybody is a phone call away or a Zoom call away, but right now who do you wish you could hug? When we took it for granted so much, now it becomes very clear who are the humans that we’re playing with that really are adding and supporting. Usually, it’s a value-added. It’s being of service and those people stand out. So I love that you mentioned that.

So, Phil… for people in sales – how does what we’re dealing with now (where people say you’ve got to be careful and have to walk on eggshells and can’t be too salesy) I believe like you that selling is serving. There’s nothing wrong with it because we’re usually bringing a solution to a problem as speakers or as coaches.

What would be some things that you would maybe tell people that are in this space right now of wondering, “How do I take this and use it as a springboard for what comes next? How do I improve my process? How do I dare to launch?”

What would be your advice for people?


Really good question. I think first, let’s look inward and see what is our most important thing for us. What is our most important thing? Who are we at our foundation? Who do we be? How do we show up when we’re being our best?

That is going to tell you how you need to be all the time. I wear orange glasses to see the world, but my difference is how I see the world, right?

I wear glasses that correct my vision, but I see the world differently than everybody else. So do you. I see them through the lens of my values when I’m intentional of that and aware of my values. I talk about being of service. That is my value, so that’s how I see the world and that’s how I look at it. Whatever your values are, first identify them. Understand them. Who are you?

For some, this may be an opportunity to launch. Now, you’ve finally realized that you can be of service. That’s really exciting, friends. You can be of service now, whereas before maybe you didn’t have all the advantages of other people. I think this is a bit of a reset button for a lot of us. That means hit that reset button. Hit it hard. You might have to sink a little more before you stand tall. That’s okay. Hit that reset button and use that to power up. Use that from your core. I really think that our values are pretty immutable. Even though I didn’t know that I needed to be of service when I was younger, I think I knew. I think that was still there. To your point: I learned how to be more humble about it for sure. But being of service, I think that’s always been the case. So that’s the first thing: determine our values.

Next: when you’re reaching out to people, you have to reach out with those three H’s. You have to be human first. You have to acknowledge and pay attention. This is where all the machine-learning in the world can’t help us if we don’t listen to it. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram’s algorithm is meant to surface those things that we have told it we value. That’s what an algorithm is. If you click like on a bunch of negative stuff, you’re going to get a bunch of negative stuff.

If you click like on a bunch of stuff that’s encouraging, you’re going to see that. At the same time, if you click like on the people over and over that you want to do business with, you see them even more. Train the algorithm to work in your favor so that you can better see people as human beings. What is the service you can provide? What is the helpfulness you can provide? Go in with that and not some marketing schlock. Marketing says, “This is how we help.” No. You have to be super-customized to these people now. You have to come at them. It’s no longer about their role or their industry. They’re individualized in their challenges now. Again, there are more variables, so we have to individualize that and hopefully listen. Ask some questions. Learn something. That’s where the humility comes in. I don’t know right now every industry. I work with software mostly. I do understand software. But even more niche, I understand software as it relates to fire departments – selling to them. As it relates to lumber – selling to them. As it relates to some of the industries that we serve, I understand that.

But I don’t know how to sell to all of them, but I tell you what: what I do know is how to ask questions. So I’m going to ask those questions. Be humble and say, “You know what? I don’t know how to sell to your industry. I don’t know what you need. Could you tell me? Tell me what are some of the pains that you’re struggling with.”

If I’m human and I’m trying to help and then I’m interested and I ask those questions humbly and then I try to solve those problems with you, now it’s me and you against the problem instead of you against me against the problem, in which case one of the three of us is going to win. Maybe the problem overcomes us both. Maybe you’re like, forget that, I just want to solve the problem myself. Maybe it’s me and you and you’re like, Phil, go away!

So that’s where I would suggest that we start with those three Hs. If we can start there after we determine our values, after we determine who we are, I think we can win.


That is amazing, and you’re right on the money. I really believe if we pay attention as you said to the human and we have that helpful component just as part of our DNA and then you bring in that curious humility, there’s nothing you can’t do. Admitting in the humility it’s vulnerability but you know what? We can find this solution together, so I am so grateful for those great, great words to empower all of us.

Phil, one last quick question before you go, and I do want to ask you to share our call letters, how our listeners can find you and anything you have coming up. I know you’ve written a great number of books – at least five and over three-thousand articles. I promise you that if you look him up, you’ll find everything that Phil has done. It’s just amazing. Full of value, things that we can apply just like what you heard now.

Phil… how can our listeners find you?


Well the easiest way would probably be to find me on LinkedIn. That’s my favorite spot. I spend a lot of time there. That’s my investment into my world. Gerbyshak. Put that in LinkedIn – any search engine you’ve got. I’m going to give you my phone number. It’s on my home page: philgerbyshak.com. My actual phone number. NOT Google voice.  I’m not hiding anything here, it’s my direct number.

414-640-7445. You can call me, you can text me, I have an Apple phone. You can face time me. If I’m going to the bathroom I’m not going to answer, but other than that I’m available for you. But use that. Don’t be shy. Do reach out. Do let me know how I can help you. If you’ve got questions and you’re like, “I don’t know what to do.”

Okay, that’s cool! If I’ve got time to talk to you, I’ll give you the time. If I don’t, I’m not going to B.S. you and say that I do. I’m busy just like all of us. I absolutely, positively believe in giving first. The givers gain. Bob Burg wrote the Go-Giver. It’s a book that I do my best to live by. I love to give. I love to help. I want to be like Pindar in the book and just give as freely as I can. Absolutely, that’s how to best get a hold of me. Again, if you google Gerbyshak, you will find me. I’ve probably written an article or done a podcast that can probably help. If I haven’t then let me know and I’ll be happy to do that for you.


And he’s serious, folks, about the calling him and about the letting him know. He will research if he doesn’t know it already and will put out some great, great material that will help us all. Phil, I am so grateful. One last question, and this is a toughie because I know you have many.

Greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?


Greatest piece of advice? Steve Farber is one of my mentors. We started talking about picking up and dropping off and making sure that I share. But Farber said to me: “My best advice for you if you want to be successful is three words: be more you.”

Just be more of me, right? Let me come through. For those of you who are like, “Dude, how do I do that?” That was my question to Farber. I said, “Great advice, man. Be more you. Fantastic. How do I do that?”

He said, “Gerbyshak, I’ve got three more words for you.”

I’m ready, writing them down. He said, “Three words: practice, practice, practice.”

It takes time to be comfortable with who we are. It takes time to be comfortable sharing who we are, and it takes time to understand who we are. So if we can figure that out… if we invest the time to do that, we can be more us. So that’s my best advice. That’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten. I’m grateful that Farber gave that to me so many years ago. It sits in my heart every single day. If you don’t know Farber, he wrote some great books: “Radical Edge,” ”Radical Leap,” “Greater than Yourself”, and his latest which is his best, “Love is Just Damn Good Business.” It’s about love as a verb, not as romantic love. It’s a great, great book, so absolutely check Farber out. Understand that his advice and everybody else’s advice – I take it as best I can to heart and try to be more me every single day.

ies to do good and be great. You gotta stay close to home, but try to go play outside!

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