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Want to know how you can use customer complaints to strengthen your business? Listen in as Jay Baer explains the best way to talk to “haters” on social media.

Jay is a business strategist, and the founder of the strategy consulting firm, Convince and Convert.

Jay is also a New York Times best-selling author of five books. His latest book, “Hug Your Haters” helps businesses understand how to deal with unsatisfied customers, especially on social media.

In this episode we discussed:

  • Why instead of avoiding “haters,” you should connect with them. (2:38)
  • How negative feedback can make you a better speaker. (3:07)
  • The dangers of ignoring customer complaints online. (8:21)
  • The “Hug Your Haters Formula.” (11:53)
  • Why you should NEVER reply to a customer’s negative comment more than twice online. (12:38)
  • How to spend the appropriate amount of time and resources when responding to customers. (14:05)
  • How to avoid an argument when someone’s complaint is aggressive. (23:11)
  • Why empathy for your customers is important. (26:00)
  • How to manage your feelings when facing criticism, and a touching story you have to hear. (23:11)

Find out more about Jay Baer and his book Hug Your Haters.

00:00 Michael Port: Welcome to “Steal the Show” with Michael Port. This is Michael. And today’s show will help you deal with negativity, criticism, and dare I say, haters. So, I’ve brought in a guest who’s gonna help us. Jay Baer is the world’s foremost, or world’s most, re-tweeted person among digital marketers. He’s a renowned business strategist, a keynote speaker and the New York Times best-selling author of five books, and he travels the world helping business people get and keep more customers. Jay’s advised more than 700 companies since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, Allstate, the United Nations, and 32 of the Fortune 500. He’s the founder of Convince and Convert, a strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies gain and keep more customers through smart intersection of technology, social media and customer service. His Convince and Convert media division owns the world’s number one content marketing blog, the world’s top marketing podcast and many other educational resources for business owners and executives. The creator of five multi-million dollar companies, Jay’s an active venture capitalist and technology adviser, as well as an avid tequila collector and certified barbecue judge. And a good friend of mine. Hey, buddy.

01:27 Jay Baer: Michael, thank you very much. I think we should just make that bio Tequila collector and barbecue judge, and just go with that ’cause that’s really all anybody cares about.


01:35 Michael Port: Not my friend? They don’t care about you?

01:38 Jay Baer: Well, yeah. I mean, that’s a given, that part is implied.

01:43 Michael Port: Well, Jay and I have spent a fair amount of time over the last year or so, and Jay is one of those people that I often look to for advice. He is known throughout our circles as one of those really smart guys. Like whenever anybody has a problem they say, “You gotta talk to Jay. Jay knows this. He’s ahead of us. He’ll figure it out.” Look, my podcast is about stealing the show in all aspects of life, and your concept of “Hugging Your Haters,” which we’re going to talk about today, it fits right into that because when you take risks, you’re often put in a situation where you might get pushback for those who like the status quo. For example, when you and I write books that offer a new perspective or a different perspective, there might be people who aren’t comfortable with it, or frankly just don’t like our style or our writing, and we get pushback.

02:38 Michael Port: And in the early days, that was hard for me. I’d get a bad review and I’d think about it for two days, and then I just said, “Well, I’m not gonna look at them at all. Forget about it. I’m not gonna waste my time.” But one of the things I’ve learned from you is how important it is to connect with the people that are offering criticism, and I’ve learned how to do that and now do do that. So, why is it so important to address all of the haters out there? Aren’t there some people you should just ignore?

03:07 Jay Baer: No, there’s nobody that you should ignore, Michael. Here’s the thing. The single most over-rated thing in business and in life is praise, because praise never tells you anything you didn’t already know. When people say “Michael Port, you’re such an amazing teacher.” “Michael Port, you’re such a great speaker.” “Michael Port, you’re such a great author.” “Michael Port, you’re such a great podcaster.” That doesn’t tell you a single thing, not a scintilla of information that you didn’t already know. Now, it makes you feel good. Everybody likes to be praised. It’s a physiological response, but it doesn’t make you one bit better. What makes you better is negative feedback. Negative feedback. The haters, the complaints, the people that call you out. That is the Petri dish for improvement.

03:54 Michael Port: One of the things that I talk a lot about and I wrote about in “Steal the Show” is focusing on results rather than approval. And often, we write about things that we’ve learned over the years and overcome. And when I was younger, I think I focused more on approval than results, and as I’ve gotten older, I really try to focus on results rather than approval and it sounds like that’s what you’re saying. To focus on results, you’re going to need to hear what’s not working from other folks. Now, why you? Meaning, I never thought about focusing on “Hugging Your Haters.” It’s never a concept that was particularly interesting to me. Although I did like the idea of focusing on results over approval, but what is it about you that is maybe more comfortable, initially, with negative feedback than other people? Is there something you’ve done over time, or is this your personality?

04:52 Jay Baer: No. I’m actually not. It’s not as if I’m leading by example here. I’ll tell you how this happened. So, on the consulting side of our business, we work with a lot of big companies, as you mentioned in that fine introduction, primarily in the areas of content marketing, social media marketing, digital marketing and related topics. But in so doing over the last few years, Michael, what we found especially online was this crazy real-time collision between marketing and customer service. If your company, large or small, is using Twitter, Facebook, etcetera, for marketing, you are almost definitely, at some level, using those same tools and technologies for customer service. So, on one hand, you’re trying to get more customers. On the other hand, you’re using the same technologies and in many cases, the same people to try and keep the customers you already have. And that is a very uneasy inflection point, Right? And it’s really unprecedented in business to sorta use the same technologies at the same time for both sides. And so, what we found is that people were getting increasingly comfortable with technology for marketing, but still not very good at technology for customer service and customer retention. And so, I thought there was some interesting trends. Perhaps.

06:00 Jay Baer: And so, what I did, unlike most books that are written where authors have a point of view and they say, “I have a thesis and let me document this thesis in the form of a book.” I actually did it the exact opposite. So I conducted an enormous research project with Edison Research, a very well respected, attitudinal collection firm, and we looked at the science of complaints. We studied ‘haters’, and we surveyed thousands and thousands and thousands of consumers to find out who complains and where they complain, and why they complain, and how, and what we found was remarkable. We found that when you answer a customer complaint, it increases customer love every time and in every channel. And when you don’t answer a customer complaint, it decreases customer love every time and in every channel. And that dynamic between customers being heard or unheard can be a massive differentiator for your business. And so, once the data emerged from this research report, I said, “I have to write a book about this.” Because right now, especially online, Michael, most businesses, small, medium, large, it doesn’t matter, do not answer all customers. Not online. Offline they do. They almost always answer the phone, they almost always answer an email, but online, most business don’t answer every Facebook comment or every tweet, or every discussion board post, or every review site review. They answer some when they feel like it, and that is no longer a recipe for success.

07:18 Michael Port: So is one of the pieces of pushback you may get “Well, we don’t have time to do that. That’s unrealistic”, they say.

07:25 Jay Baer: Of course, of course.

07:27 Michael Port: So what…

07:27 Jay Baer: And I say you probably don’t have time, but here’s the problem. If you choose to not answer a customer, that is actually an answer. It’s an answer that says, “We don’t care about you enough to respond.” And you adopt that stance at your own peril because there are businesses out there that are committing tremendous amount of resources to online customer service, and they are in fact differentiating themselves from their competitors. And here’s what I tell people, Michael, I say, “Look, you may remember a time, I certainly do, you do. You may remember a time before we had email.” We used to not have to answer email, or spend time answering email, but we realized that that is how customers wanted to interact with us, and so we made the time to do it, and we have to do that again.

08:18 Michael Port: Because now we have so many different channels of communication.

08:20 Jay Baer: Right.

08:21 Michael Port: And it’s so public.

08:21 Jay Baer: Now we have Facebook, now we have Twitter, we have all these different places. Yeah, customer service is a spectator sport now. So look, if you wanna ignore an email, you can do that in private, and you may make that person unhappy, but it’s unlikely to blow back on you in a public way. This ignoring of customers online is really dangerous, because you are essentially ignoring people in front of an audience.

08:39 Michael Port: Yeah, so that’s what’s interesting to me is, do you feel that people are more likely to make a big stink because even if it was a little thing that went wrong, they might make a big stink because they have a public forum and they get attention for doing so?

08:56 Jay Baer: 100%. In fact, we’ve proved it mathematically in the research. So what we… There’s two kinds of haters. There are ‘off-stage haters’, and those are people that complain in private. They complain on the phone, they complain in email, and they’re typically a little bit older, a little less tech savvy. Then you have a whole other group of haters, which we call the ‘on-stage haters’, and they complain in public, so they complain on social media and online public venues. And what’s really fascinating is not so much the demographic differences, because they’re minor. What’s fascinating is the expectation differences. So when you complain in private, phone, email, etcetera, you expect and anticipate a reply. About 90% of people who complain in private expect that a business will get back to you. However, if you complain in public, Facebook, etcetera, you don’t necessarily expect a reply. What you really want is an audience.

09:50 Jay Baer: So about half of the people who complain online want or expect businesses to get back to them. And so what happens is, you don’t necessarily want the company to get back to you, what you want is your friends to say, “Oh, that totally sucked. I’m so sorry that happened. That happened to me once too.” You’re looking for group empathy. So it’s a huge opportunity to business, Michael, because when you do answer that, people never see it coming. It blows their minds and wins their hearts because the consumer complains, doesn’t expect the business to even find it, much less respond. All of a sudden, the business responds, you’re like, “Wow, I can’t believe it, this is so much better than I expected.”

10:25 Michael Port: And it’s still… I see that so often, people being so surprised when they get a response. It’s really extraordinary, and it seems like it just takes the wind right out of the sails of the people who wanna pile on.

10:41 Jay Baer: No question, because if you do it right, the community will correct that kind of behavior, right? You see examples of this all the time where a consumer beats up a business, the business replies, the consumer beats up the business a second time, and then the other customers who are looking on in this very public venue, Facebook, etcetera, say, “Hey, wait a second you’re outta line. They answered your question.” The actual group comes to the defense of the company, not necessarily the defense of the consumer, and I think that’s a fascinating dynamic.

11:07 Michael Port: It’s actually interesting. One of the things that we talk about is that when we’re giving speeches, often if we have somebody who’s in the audience who’s a little bit difficult, we can enlist the group’s help to manage that person. And the way that we respond to that individual is what is gonna either bring the group to our defenses, or they’re gonna keep them on their side on the other side of the fence. So can you talk a little bit more about the right way to respond in these different channels? You’ve got a phone call, you’ve got email, you’ve got social, etcetera. What should people be doing, and what is the protocol for advancing the responses that you give to people?

11:53 Jay Baer: The “Hug Your Haters Formula” is to answer every complaint, in every channel, every time, universally. Even people who are unhinged, and which happens on occasion. You sort of have those trolls, especially online. But the formula is to answer every complaint in every channel every time, because every customer deserves to be heard. Customers aren’t always right, but customers should always be heard, and we proved in the research that doing that has a material impact on the revenue and profits of your business. Now realistically, the way this happens is that when somebody says something nice about you, you should answer them and thank them. When somebody says something bad about you, you should thank them and apologize.

12:38 Jay Baer: And it’s almost the same play book, and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s phone, email, internet or beyond. The one difference, and one of the key lessons in the book that people really gravitate toward when I talk about these themes in a public setting, in a speech, etcetera, is Jay Baer’s rule of reply only twice, which says that it doesn’t matter what the circumstance is, you never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever reply to a customer more than twice online. Because it’s a waste of time, and it’s an easy way to get sucked into a vortex of negativity where you start getting into this tit-for-tat, and that never ends well for the business. Or for a person.

13:17 Michael Port: There’s two things I wanna address. One, just to highlight a point you made and two, to dig a little deeper on that particular last point you made. You said you respond to both customers who give you negative feedback and customers who give you praise, and I think that’s important because the risk, and I’ve seen this in my own behavior and I’ve had to manage against it to make sure that I don’t do that. The risk is that you respond to negative feedback because you don’t want it to impact the way people see you, and then you forget about the people who are giving you extraordinary feedback. They don’t get the same attention. So, the people who are loud and obnoxious, they get your attention more than the people who love what you have to offer, and that’s not cool. So we’re responding to all of them and making sure that they all feel heard.

14:05 Jay Baer: That’s absolutely it. And one of the things that’s difficult at scale for individuals that get a lot of interactions online like you do, and for large businesses is to be able to do that without relying on sort of a copy and paste mentally, right? All it comes down to, this isn’t a complicated formula. All it comes down to is spending the appropriate time or finding a way to spend the appropriate time and resources because you know it is ultimately worth it, and it is. We’ve proven it with research in the book. This isn’t like, “Well, I think that might make sense.” It definitely makes sense. It’s just whether or not you can unlock the resources to do it right.

14:43 Michael Port: Now, let’s dig deeper into something you mentioned just about 60 seconds ago. Responding twice, Jay Baer’s rule of responding twice because if you respond more you might get dragged into this vortex. When should you escalate it? When should you say take it offline to the phone? How do you know?

15:03 Jay Baer: Always the second response. Second response.

15:05 Michael Port: Is that right? So tell me about that.

15:06 Jay Baer: First response. So if somebody says something mean about you online, they go to your blogpost and they have some negative comment on your blogpost. You say, “Hey, I’m terribly sorry that you feel that way. I certainly appreciate you’re reading the post and you’re right to disagree. If there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know. Michael.”

15:25 Michael Port: Yeah.

15:25 Jay Baer: They answer back and say, “You know Michael, blah, blah, blah and this and that, and you’re the worst person ever, and I’m never gonna read this blog again, nor am I gonna go to your courses.” Etcetera. At that point, you answer a second time and say, “Maybe there’s a deeper issue here beyond just this blogpost and I think it would be really beneficial if we had a chance to talk about that in greater depth. This is probably not the forum for that. I would love it if you would give me a phone call at this number, or send me an email here and we can talk about it in greater depth.”

15:53 Michael Port: I love that. Yeah.

15:53 Jay Baer: Then if that person comes back the third time, which will happen, you just walk away. Never come back the third time, because you’re not gonna win. When that person comes back the third time, what they really want is to bait you into an argument, and that’s never going to end well. And remember, online customer service is a spectator sport. So of course you wanna try and make that person happy but more so, Michael, what you’re trying to do is demonstrate for all the other onlookers what your values are, what you believe in, the fact that you do care, the fact that you do listen. So once you’ve demonstrated that to the group then you can feel free to walk away. You don’t have to fully legislate every single interaction with every customer.

16:35 Michael Port: Yeah, that’s a really good point. And interestingly enough, we found, and tell me if this is something that the research indicates. We found that sometimes when we say to somebody, “Hey, listen, give us a call at the office. We’d love to talk about that because it’s something we weren’t aware of.” Or if someone has a comment about an idea, they go, “I just think that’s wrong.” You would say, “Give us a call. I’d love to hear what your ideas are.” Sometimes they just don’t call.

17:04 Jay Baer: Of course. Of course.

17:05 Michael Port: It’s very interesting. Yeah, that’s one of the things that’s so interesting.

17:09 Jay Baer: That falls into the everybody is emboldened by the keyboard.

17:14 Michael Port: Yeah. Yup, that’s exactly right.

17:16 Jay Baer: And when you call them on it and be like, “Hey, well, why don’t we just talk about this in a synchronous capacity as human beings?” “Well, wait a second, I didn’t wanna do that. I just wanna take hotshots at you from afar.”

17:25 Michael Port: Yeah, right.

17:26 Jay Baer: So that’s the right way to do it though, because you have given them an option, right? You have said, “I’m giving you a life raft here. I’m going to give you my time for free to talk about this.” And not only does that put them on the spot and sort of says, “Okay, your move.” But more importantly, everybody who’s looking on says, “Wow! Michael really cares. He actually offered his phone number to this crazy person.” And at that point you have accomplished your objective, which is to demonstrate your values to the larger audience.

17:54 Michael Port: Well, we saw an example of this. I imagine you’re aware of it, but one of our colleagues posted a e-mail that he received from somebody who sent out an e-mail to his list.

18:08 Jay Baer: Yeah.

18:09 Michael Port: And the e-mail was very intense and he said, and the friend who posted it said, “What do you think I should… How do you think I should respond to this?” And it was a e-mail that went out to the whole group of subscribers and said, “Listen, if you’re not paying attention, go away, unsubscribe. I don’t want you anymore.” And the fella who had sent the e-mail responded, and initially it was pretty benign. But then as it got deeper, he responded more and more and more and the vitriol that he received in response was extraordinary. It was…

18:46 Jay Baer: Yeah.

18:47 Michael Port: It was such a… I don’t know what you’d call it, but it was not even a snapshot. It was like a multi-colored, highlighted picture of exactly what you’re talking about here.

19:00 Jay Baer: Yeah. It was pretty fascinating.

19:00 Michael Port: And it was so interesting to me because I was just amazed at what other people are willing to say about somebody they don’t know, and about a situation they weren’t involved in, and when they may have done something similar at some point in their life. So, we have so… We live in a world now where so many people forget about their own flaws, because you can create a picture of yourself online that’s quite perfect and…


19:26 Michael Port: Express yourself in the way that you want, and suggest that you would never do such a thing and everybody else is wrong and you’re right. And I gotta say, I’m still thinking about how that went down. Because the guy who sent the e-mail, I know him. He’s actually quite a sweet guy.

19:42 Jay Baer: Yeah. It’s fascinating how, when people know they’ve got backup, right? There’s been some other comments that are within the same shouting distance of your opinion. So when you know you’ve got intellectual and philosophical backup, it’s really easy for you to push the envelope. It’s the exact same circumstances, Michael, that if you’re in a bar and somebody picks a fight with you, if you’ve got four buddies with you, the way you handle it is much different than if you’re by yourself.

20:09 Michael Port: Yeah.

20:09 Jay Baer: It’s the exact same thing online.

20:10 Michael Port: The group-think mentality is what we see acted out all day long online.

20:17 Jay Baer: Yep.

20:18 Michael Port: Okay. So, I think really… I don’t… Probably people who listen often know that I don’t usually speak like this. But I think your book “Hug Your Haters” is going to be the seminal work on this topic for this decade. I really believe it. You know, I’ve been fortunate to see you present on this, and I think this will really move the needle if people follow through on this. And I think people who don’t have big companies, who are just individual solopreneurs, I think they’ll get as much from this as they will from, you know, as the big companies will. In fact, maybe they could do even more with it because they don’t have the constraints that the big companies do, and they really can respond to all of the feedback that they get.

21:06 Jay Baer: Yeah. Number one, thank you very much. Those are very kind words, and I would say that in many cases smaller businesses have a greater opportunity because you’re closer to the customer. You just understand where they are and what they want in a way that bigger companies just struggle with and will continue to do so. I mean, here’s the thing, right? There’s a lot of books about customer service out there, but what I like to tell people is “Hug Your Haters” is the first customer service book for modern times. And what we expect as customers and how we want businesses to behave and how we interact with one another as human beings is changing right now as we’re having this conversation. “Hug Your Haters” sort of chronicles that shift and provides a recipe for what to do. What’s challenging for this book and for me to promote this book is that most people think they don’t need this book. If you ask businesses, 80%, eight zero percent, say that they deliver superior customer service.


22:04 Jay Baer: Only 8% of their customers agree.


22:06 Jay Baer: Eight. So we have a problem. So that gap, right? Closing that gap is what this book is all about and it’s amazing, because a lot of times at the beginning of a speech or something I’ll say, “Okay. How many of you think you’re really good at customer service?” And about 80% of the hands go up. And then at the end I say, “How many of you still think that you’re great at customer service?” And about 8% of the hands go up. So we hope that when people are exposed to sort of the guts of the “Hug Your Haters” formula, they’ll realize that maybe they’re not quite as good at this as they anticipated that they might be.

22:36 Michael Port: Wow. Those stats are truly amazing, and it’s very impressive also that you did this big research study before you wrote the book. That is also quite uncommon in the industry. So let me ask you one final question. Let’s wrap up on this. For the individual, little different for a large company, if I’m the CEO of Coca-Cola, I’ve got a whole staff of people that are responding. And those staff, they’re probably not too emotionally involved with what’s happening online. You know, if someone was angry, I didn’t like the way the can looks and they, you know, the kid who’s responding doesn’t really care, but he knows how he’s supposed to respond.

23:11 Jay Baer: That’s his job.

23:11 Michael Port: Yeah. For those of us that are in the public eye or trying to get better known in the public eye, you know, it’s just us. And it’s our work, it’s our material. If you’re a speaker, it’s your… You’re putting it on the line, your heart and your soul every time. Can you offer some advice to folks on how to manage their feelings? Because when somebody is really aggressive with you, how do you get out of that defensive, potentially argumentative state of mind, especially when some of the complaints are lies or just factually incorrect, or just plain crazy? You don’t want to say this, and is there anything I could’ve done, you know, so that you wouldn’t have punched me in the face. Do you know? It’s not a typical way we wanna respond. Like, “Thank you so much for punching me in the face. Anything I could do next time, so you don’t do it again?”

24:12 Jay Baer: Yep. It is hard, especially when you’re a small business or an individual, because essentially, somebody’s telling you that you’re baby’s ugly, and that is physiologically difficult. In fact, we interviewed a lot of physicians for the book and said, “Tell me about what happens when somebody attacks you.” And there’s all this brain chemistry that changes. It’s not unusual. In fact, it’s quite common that literally, the way you think, the way you process feelings and emotions, changes significantly when you’re under attack. It triggers the fight or flight response that you might have if you were in real mortal danger.

24:47 Jay Baer: The challenge there is that you want to be responsive, but you shouldn’t respond too quickly. You’ve gotta give your body and your mind a chance to settle. You have to recognize that A, people are emboldened behind a keyboard, and B, even though it feels very, very personal, it’s typically not personal, right? It’s not actually an attack on you, Michael Port, as an individual. You’re just the front for whatever is actually bothering this person. Then the other piece is that, you don’t know what… The same way that this person doesn’t know the circumstances of your life, you don’t know their circumstances either.

25:22 Jay Baer: One of my favorite lines from the book is, we interviewed a customer service professional. I said, “Look, you gotta remember that this person could be having the worst day of their lives, and you just happen to get caught in the cross-fire. So, recognize that you don’t know what else has happened to them today. You don’t know what’s going on with their life or their family or their circumstances.” So, we do not… I’m gonna say it this way. We demand empathy, but we’re not very good at giving it back.

25:58 Michael Port: So, waiting…

26:00 Jay Baer: That’s my observation.

26:00 Michael Port: That’s really…

26:00 Jay Baer: We want people to say, “Why are you being so mean to me? You should be more empathetic about me.” But yet when we flip the script, we don’t distribute that same kind of empathy and understanding to people who attack us.

26:10 Michael Port: And it seems like creating some space in between when you first receive that “supposed attack”, and responding…

26:18 Jay Baer: My rule is you give it an hour. You always give it at least an hour.

26:21 Michael Port: So you don’t just shoot off, fly off the handle, and just shoot something back like that.

26:24 Jay Baer: Oh, brother! I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve made that mistake. I am famous. I am famous for the angry email tirade. [chuckle] Because I can write really quickly, and I have pressed send on some things that the second my finger touched, I’m like, “Oh, I shouldn’t have said that. I really… ” Just 10 days ago, I blasted somebody who works with me and I was like, “man, that was not well handled. As somebody who wrote a book called “Hug Your Haters”, I probably should not have done that.” But, it’s literally chemistry. It is brain chemistry. So, you’re not a bad person if you fall into that trap. It’s very difficult to avoid because you just see red. You’re just like, “Aww!” And you feel like you’re being attacked, and you wanna attack back.

27:13 Michael Port: I imagine when you recognized that, you went and apologized, and…

27:17 Jay Baer: Of course. Yeah, of course. That’s the right way to handle it. Can I tell you a quick story before we wrap?

27:23 Michael Port: Sure, yeah.

27:23 Jay Baer: So, one of the things that I found really fascinating giving a “Hug Your Haters” presentation, and it’s out on the road, all over the world, hopefully I get to see some folks out there. If you see the “Hug Your Haters” presentation, listen closely to a familiar voice, one Mr. Michael Port, who does many, many amazing voice over bits, inside the “Hug Your Haters” keynote presentation.

27:41 Michael Port: It is really a brilliant, brilliant presentation.

27:44 Jay Baer: Oh thank you, mostly because of your counsel. When I give the presentation, a lot of times people will come up to me afterwards and say… And you just said this two minutes ago. They said, “Well sometimes when people leave me a review or a comment, it’s a lie.” I hear that almost every day, and let me tell you something that I think is really important. Haters can only see, what they can see. They only know what they can see. So in many cases, there’s a perfectly good reason why you fell short. Think about a retail or restaurant example. A manger was out sick, or power went off, or shipment didn’t come in, so you didn’t have any sour cream, or there’s all kinds of potential points of failure, right?

28:24 Jay Baer: The complainer, the hater doesn’t know any of that back story. All they know is what they can see. And I’m gonna tell you a story about this happening to me in real life. So in 2001, right after 9/11, I was living in Phoenix and I had tickets to the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, had season tickets. They were playing in the World Series against the New York Yankees. Game 7 in Phoenix. Big, big deal. Two weeks after 9/11, all kinds of extra security. From all forms of security, they welded the man-hole covers shut around the stadium because nobody knew. It was a scary time, as some of you remember. So I take us to the game, and at the same time, Michael, I had an amazing situation where my best friend since second grade married my wife’s sister. So, my best friend became my brother-in-law.

29:12 Michael Port: Wow.

29:13 Jay Baer: Which I totally recommend. If you can socially engineer that, I give it a two thumbs up on that, right? So it was great. This was before anybody had kids that we knew, and so the four of us hung out together all the time, best of friends, etcetera. Well when I was 32 and he was 32, and this was maybe six months before the game, he was diagnosed with brain cancer, and had to have a series of invasive brain surgeries. As the result of one of those surgeries, he lost the power of speech. He was from originally, New York, and huge, huge Yankees fan, like the biggest of Yankees fans. So game 7, it’s the Diamondbacks versus the Yankees. So, I had two tickets and of course, I’m taking my brother-in-law, Al, who’s a big Yankees fan. So, we go to the game. About two weeks earlier, at the beginning of the play offs, our other friend Pete, the tickets were in his name. He had somehow lost the play-off tickets, which I still don’t understand how that happens. But he lost all the play-off tickets. So, it wasn’t a big deal. Each time we had to go to a play-off game, we’d just show our ID and tell them our seat number, and they’d reprint them at will call on the little dot matrix printer, right? The [30:15] ____ They’d just give you the stub.

30:18 Jay Baer: So it was fine. But game seven, we go to the game, everything’s great. First inning my brother-in-law, Al, sort of pantomimes to me, ’cause again he can’t speak, he’s gonna go for a cigarette. And I know not socially acceptable to smoke that much now, but if you’ve got brain cancer, smoke them if you got them at that point. So he goes down to the left field line and goes out to the smoking, kind of patio, porch area. So he’s gone for an inning. And then another inning. I’m like, “Wow, this is the longest cigarette ever. What is happening? I better go on the hunt for him.” So I leave my seat, I walk down the left field line, I walk out the door, and I look out and he is up against a wall in handcuffs.

30:54 Michael Port: Oh, my God!

30:56 Jay Baer: And there’s a security officer yelling at him. And so I burst out of the door, I’m like, “Hey what’s going on?” And the guy says, “Hey, are you with him?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m with him.” Grabs me, puts me against the wall, handcuffs me. Now both of us are in handcuffs. And it turns out, because we had different tickets, they had to reprint our tickets, we had the small dot matrix tickets, not the large commemorative hologram tickets. So this guy, who was not a regular security official, he was brought in because of 9/11, was like, “Well, these tickets are fake.” And remember that Al can’t speak. So when he’s questioning Al he can’t say anything. So he assumes that we’re some sort of Phoenix area terrorist cell.

31:31 Jay Baer: So, we are now in handcuffs. And they’re barking at us and I am protesting, and I’m like, “No, no, you got this all wrong, we have season tickets. And it’s da, da, da” And he will have none of it, because he can only see what he can see. We were there for five innings. Five innings of game seven of the World Series in handcuffs against a brick wall, outside of the stadium, ’til eventually, I saw outta the corner of my eye a friend of mine who works for the team. And I hailed him and said, “Hey, you gotta figure this out.” He’s like, “Oh, yeah.” He went and found a ticket guy and said these guys are fine, and they unhandcuffed us, on our way. No apology, or anything like that.

32:06 Jay Baer: So we get back to our seats just in time for the Diamondbacks to win the game in the bottom of the ninth on a base hit off of Mariano Rivera, one of the greatest plays in baseball history. It was absolutely pandemonium. But we missed most of the World Series. And Al died about three weeks later. And that story, it used to bother me a lot. The whole thing. The, I lost my best friend, and missed most of the game in handcuffs, and we were wronged and no apology. But now, with some time and distance, I realized that that security official was doing exactly what he was told to do. He was doing exactly what he was trained to do. He was proceeding exactly according to what he was taught based on the information he had. And he didn’t know that we had reprinted tickets, he didn’t know that Al had brain cancer. He didn’t know any of that information because haters can only act upon what they can see.

33:12 Jay Baer: And I’ve realized, Michael, that the same thing is true so often in business and in life where people attack us and we say, “You’re lying.” Or, “How dare you?” And it’s not that they’re lying, and it’s not that they’re taking liberties, it’s that they have such little information about the situation compared to us, who have all of the information. So be careful when you say that your customer or your critic is lying because in many cases, it’s just that they can only see what they can see.

33:39 Michael Port: Wow. First of all, I’m so sorry for your loss of your friend…

33:42 Jay Baer: Oh, thanks.

33:43 Michael Port: And brother-in-law, but I really, really hear what you’re saying. And I learn a lot from that story, not just how to behave in business, but how to behave in all aspects of life, because even your spouse might not have all the information, and just be able to see what they can see. And as a result, you get into a conflict because you assume that they do see what you see, and they don’t. So this is really social intelligence that you’re talking about here. And I appreciate that. I think it’s really quite beautiful.

34:15 Jay Baer: Thanks.

34:16 Michael Port: I want everyone to buy “Hug Your Haters”. Is there a website that they can go to to review more about the book?

34:23 Jay Baer: You bet. It’s craftily named,, and there’s all kinds of special bonus stuff. So if you buy the book from me, obviously it’s better for best seller list purposes. I would love for you to do that. I ship it to you for free anywhere in the United States, and there’s all kinds of stuff that you can only get from me. There’s special Hug Your Haters socks, there’s webinars with me, there’s conference calls, there’s a Facebook group, there’s signed posters, all kinds of awesome stuff.

34:47 Michael Port: Where are my socks?

34:48 Jay Baer: I’m gonna send you some socks.

34:50 Michael Port: I’m just saying. I’m just saying. Size 11. Size 11.

34:54 Jay Baer: You’re usually wearing like boat shoes or flip flops, and living the dream.


34:57 Michael Port: Yeah, right, exactly. Well thank you so much for being here, Jay. You are an inspiration to all of us. And listen, all you guys, keep thinking big about who you are, and what you offer the world, and thank you for giving us your attention today. We never take it for granted. We’ll continue to earn it every single day. Bye for now.