EP 67 – Your Story Is Your Ultimate Competitive Advantage with Colleen Blum
Hey, hey! Welcome back to the Bullpen Sessions! I’ve got another interview for you today that I think is really going to help you level-up your game and give you a huge advantage in your business. But first, let me ask you something:
What is your story? And if you’re thinking, “I don’t know, Andy, I don’t really have a story,” my answer is: Everyone has a story. You have been on a unique journey to get to where you are right now. You have overcome challenges and obstacles, and even if you aren’t satisfied with your current level of success, you’re more successful than you used to be. You have a story to tell, and I’m here to tell you that your story is your biggest competitive advantage in business.
Here’s the thing: Humans buy from humans — they don’t buy from logos on business cards. Unless you are Nike or Amazon, people are not going to buy from you just because you have a cool logo. But they will buy from you if you have a story they can relate to.
Now, I want you to know that I get it — it can be scary to open up and share your story publicly. You might worry about what others will think of your story, and that fear can make it difficult to allow yourself to be vulnerable. But I promise you — when you start sharing your story in your marketing and on social media, the people who resonate with your story will be attracted to you, and the business will start flowing in.
Nobody knows that better than my guest today. Colleen Blum has been a friend of mine in the health insurance business for a long time now, and she is excellent at sharing her story. Colleen is not afraid to be vulnerable and share some of the skeletons in her closet with her audience, and as a result, she’s extremely successful in business. I think you guys are going to get a lot of value out of my conversation with her, so let’s get started!
Who Is Colleen Blum?
Colleen Blum currently serves as the Vice President of Combs and Company health insurance advertising agency right in the heart of New York City. At Combs, she is the head of the Individual Division and specializes in individual health, life, and disability needs. However, she’s also fantastic at group insurance. Colleen has been a friend of mine in the insurance business for years, and I can tell you that she’s great at what she does!
Colleen is also the host of the Try and Stop Me podcast, where she talks with other business owners and entrepreneurs about their own personal stories and how they achieved their success. If you need a little extra dose of inspiration, definitely check out that show! Colleen is not afraid to get real about the struggles and victories we experience as business owners, and her conversations with other successful entrepreneurs will teach you something new every time. (Make sure to check out the appearance by yours truly right here!)
In our conversation, Colleen and I dove deep. We talked about the power and importance of sharing your story and why it’s essential to be vulnerable. We also talked about the power of podcasting and why podcasting can be a great way to connect with people through their stories. Then, Colleen offered some incredible advice for women currently working in a sales-based industry. And finally, Colleen explains exactly how to get started telling your story.
Guys, I learned so much from this conversation, and I think you will too. Colleen has so much brilliant insight to share, and I think you’re going to get a lot of value from what she has to say. So let’s get started!
“If You Don’t Know Insurance, Know Your Broker”
One of the things I love and respect about Colleen is that she is absolutely fearless when it comes to sharing her story. It’s not easy to be vulnerable and open up to people you may not know well, but it’s an essential part of connecting with your potential clients and customers.
“If I don’t know you or know your story … then how am I going to expect that I’m going to be taken care of other than just being another piece of business for you? … Susan Combs came up with the best tagline years ago — ‘If you don’t know insurance, know your broker.’ And that’s exactly how we conduct every single day.’” – Colleen Blum
Let’s face it, folks: This is the 21st century. Maybe a few decades ago people would have been more willing to purchase from a flashy logo, but today, clients are wiser than that. People don’t want to be treated like just another business transaction — they want to be heard, understood, and served in an authentic way. That means that if you’re unwilling to be real and open with them about your own struggles, they’re not going to be interested in doing business with you.
I love that tagline that Colleen’s boss at Combs and Co. came up with: If you don’t know insurance, know your broker. If you don’t know exactly what you need, you want someone you know and trust on your side to help you figure it out, right? And if you know your insurance broker and have a personal relationship with that person, you’re going to get the service you need. Sales is a game of who knows you, likes you, and trusts you — if you have a reputation for being a businessman or woman who people know and trust, you’re going to get way more business than your competitors.
“I would say the Instagram posts that I do make … that are about business are kind of more structured. They don’t really get a lot of engagement. The ones that you write about something or it’s a picture of yourself — automatically when you’re in the photo or there’s something about real like in your posts, people engage with that way more than they do on the business side of things. … It comes back to wanting to do business with your friend.” – Colleen Blum
That has definitely been true in my experience. When I first started doing speaking engagements, I would talk about my baseball experiences, but I didn’t share my struggles. After those talks, people would come up and shake my hand — they were nice, but they weren’t overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Then, one day I just said, “Screw it,” and I started sharing stories about mistakes and failures I made in my baseball career. That day was the first time anybody hugged me after hearing me speak. People connected with my story, and that made them like me and trust me a whole lot more.
The Power of Podcasting
If you’re interested in sharing your story, starting a podcast may be a great way to do it. Hosting a podcast is a great way to share your own story and hear from other entrepreneurs across industries, too!
“Podcasts, self-help motivation — it healed me. It helped me grow. … For me, listening to other people’s podcasts and how they were able to tell their stories and then drop the biggest value bombs at the end of every episode … I was like, ‘I can do that.’” – Colleen Blum
Sharing stories is a powerful way to teach valuable lessons that give people insight and wisdom into the ways successful people do business. What better way to share those stories and lessons than through podcasting? That’s a huge part of what I try to do here on the Bullpen Sessions, and I know it’s what Colleen does on her show, the Try and Stop Me podcast.
And if you’re thinking, “I don’t know anything about starting a podcast,” I assure you, it’s easier than you think! Of course, if you’re into audio engineering you can get down into the nitty-gritty of sound editing, but anybody can purchase a microphone on Amazon, record an episode, and upload a .mp3 file to a podcast hosting website.
And if you’re worried about starting a podcast in a space where there are already a crazy number of podcasts, I want to share with you a little wisdom I learned from Gary Vayneurchuk. He said, “You remember that kid back in high school that was kind of a nerd, but his parents were gone every weekend, so he held the house parties where he allowed the cool kids to hang out with the cool kids? … He became the cool kid.” That really clicked with me. When you launch a podcast, you’re allowing other “cool kids” in your space to join you and tell their stories on your platform. And when you do that, you automatically become one of the cool kids yourself!
Don’t worry about being “just another” podcaster — if you start telling your stories and the stories of inspirational entrepreneurs around you, people will want to listen!
Colleen Blum’s Advice for Women in the Business Space
Since I had such a fantastic kick-ass businesswoman on the show, I wanted to take some time to ask her to share her advice for any women listening to the episode. If we’re being honest, the insurance space is dominated by middle-aged white men — it can be difficult for women to stand out. However, it’s not impossible, as Colleen has proven.
Colleen’s first piece of advice? Find a company that values you:
“I work with Susan Combs, … [and] I never feel weak in the sense of — we don’t have [to] one-up … the men because we know who we are we’re pretty strong personalities to be able to stand next to the men.” – Colleen Blum
To all the women reading this post — there are companies who will value you and your unique skills. Colleen found an incredible boss in Susan Combs who allows her to show up as herself. The environment they’ve created at Combs and Co. is one that values both men and women as individuals, so Colleen never feels any pressure to “one-up” the men in her office.
Additionally, if you’re a woman, don’t be afraid to use the stories unique to your experience to connect with your clients. You have experiences that salesmen simply can’t connect with, and that gives you an advantage. Don’t be afraid to open up about those things — your vulnerability will help your clients connect with you.
“My clients can talk to me about their … darkest days because they feel that comfort of knowing they can open up about infertility. They can open up about their cancer, they can open up about the problems that they’re having at home. … Show your strengths because we are different. We are different [from] men just like men are different [from] females.” – Colleen Blum
It’s true! Women and men are different. That means that women have advantages that men don’t have. Don’t be afraid to use the experiences and stories you may have as a woman to connect with your female clients! That vulnerability and authenticity will help you connect with clients, and that will improve your business in a big way.
Why You Should Listen to This Colleen Blum Podcast Episode Right Now…
This episode was so much fun, and I know I learned a lot! Colleen has so much wisdom and knowledge to share, and I admire how she’s using her platform to create abundance and success for herself in her career. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with her as much as I did!
Before I go, I wanted to share one more piece of wisdom from Colleen. If you’re excited about the idea of sharing your story with your audience but you’re not sure where to start, Colleen had some advice for you:
“First, I think you need to write it down in a journal. I think you first need to get out all of your deep, really dark emotions because there’s one thing of sharing your story and there’s another thing of completely blubbering and falling apart while you’re sharing your story. There’s that fine line of like, are you healed enough to actually take the step to find value and strengthen your story? … You could pull parts of your story that [make you say,] ‘Okay, that part was definitely a huge lesson, … and that could resonate with people in the future.’” – Colleen Blum
When you’re figuring out how to tell your story, journaling is a great place to start! Write down your story, find the major lessons you’ve learned, and figure out how to tell your story so that anybody can easily resonate with it and connect to the lessons you’ve learned.
Thank you guys so much for joining me today! I truly hope you got a lot of value out of this episode. If you did, please share it with your friends on Instagram! Post a screenshot of the episode, and make sure to tag Colleen, @collblum, and me, @andy_neary, and share with us your greatest takeaways from the episode!
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Thanks so much for joining me today, guys! Before I go, I want to give you two special offers: Number one, I want to invite you to join my Complete Game Mastermind. This is my coaching program, and it starts in just a few days! Masterminds are a great way to get coaching and put yourself in rooms with other entrepreneurs just like you. You can start building your community and gathering people around you who will support you and your growth.
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Until next time — remember that being vulnerable and authentic with your clients gives you a massive competitive advantage. You have the opportunity to connect with people in a unique way — you’ll be amazed at the business and success that will come your way when you do!
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