This week we invite a guest that has a wealth of entrepreneurial experience and a whole diverse amount of charisma. Richard Blank is the CEO of a Costa Rica call center. We all have our opinions on call centers, however; Richard brings a different level to the playing field with respect to call centers. Tune into this week's episode as we smash the pre-conceived connotations of call centers and educate on his journey within entrepreneurship.
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Welcome Chop nation to another new week, which you all know what that means. Another new exciting episode. I missed you guys. I know it's only been a week but I'm excited to dive right into it introduce our new guest speaker and to provide relevant information so you all know what that means. Let's chop it up Welcome to your top rated global podcast that is your one stop shop for everything entrepreneurship, self development, and smart investment decisions. This podcast is hosted by owner Dr. And creator Dustin Steffey were blessed to have accolades that include a 2022 nomination by the People's Podcast Awards, in the category of business money donated to two amazing causes cystic fibrosis, and the Boys and Girls Club. Lastly, global recognition of gaining top 50 podcast in four countries. Without further ado, let's chop it up. I do have an exciting guest on I think you guys are gonna love him. He's very charismatic. He's fun to be around. Let's introduce him in so I have the CEO of Costa Rica call center. And before you guys start saying, oh, call center guy. Let's Let's give him a chance. All right. He also has the largest pinball collection in Costa Rica. So if you all like pinball, you're gonna love this guy. And then he did get his BS degree from the University of Arizona. I am going to definitely ask him how he got a degree from the University of Arizona considering all the cute girls that are there when I was there last so Richard Blanc, welcome to our show, my friend.Richard Blank:
So happy to be here today. Can't wait to be chopping with fire insurance, some great ideas with you and your audience.Dustin Steffey:
Absolutely. It's going to be fun. But first and foremost, how the hell did you graduate from the University of Arizona with all the beauty over there all the everything over there? I mean, you know, it's a lot.Richard Blank:
The main thing is how did I get into the University of Arizona if it wasn't for avington Senior High School given me a college recommendation letter, there's no way I would have been able to get into that university. And so what I've done is I doubled down on my favorite class, which was Spanish. And when I moved out to Arizona, I decided to also be a communication major. I focused on rhetoric, public speaking and nonverbal communication. And combining those skills. I landed a job with Telemundo during college as an intern and post grad with Corona beer. And then at 27 years old, my good friend, I was given a one in a million opportunity to move to Costa Rica. And here we are today.Dustin Steffey:
And you sure as heck took it, which is awesome. So I mean, Spanish I flew. I took Spanish from kindergarten all the way through my undergrad myself. I studied abroad in Torino, Italy. And I also studied abroad in San Sebastian. So yeah, I have some travel adventures. I definitely got saved when I got back home because the cultures are so different. But we're waiting fast paced here compared to where I've been. SoRichard Blank:
I figured this out as a young man. You know, a lot of the times you might have opinions that are provided for you and pressures in regards to choosing your career. And I didn't go to Harvard Law like grandpa, I didn't go to Columbia Business like Potts. And I didn't go to Washington and Lee like my older brother. So I didn't have the structure, discipline or the maturity. But this one I did have, I had the drive. And I knew that languages could open doors for me, I it came naturally to me, I had the fidelity so I studied it and did the dedicated practice outside of class. So obviously I was I was growing. And I knew that if I was the only one out of 20 of my friends that was bilingual, there is a very good chance that could translate for an attorney, speak for a doctor and read contracts. I saw the advantage and there was also a huge positive reinforcement, All the world's a stage. So every day when I left, I could go outside and speak with people and have fun and ask what words were and it really just from movies and music, to books, to just everything you couldn't help but continue to grow this skill. And so I tripled down on it. I wanted to earn a living from it. And I believe that if you can get past your parents guilt, and you can live life with honorable intentions, then by all means you should have the grit to go for it. And I don't regret a single day.Dustin Steffey:
You know, it's funny because as I was growing up, I feel the same sentiment languages are important. like English, for me, obviously is my primary, right. But I know how to speak for other languages as well, too, because I saw the importance of understanding them. And I use some of that in all of my businesses, to be honest with you. So I think it's a scalable skill. That's important. And if you have a passion to learn it, you should learn it.Richard Blank:
Of course, but how about this, I'm a guest in this country, Dustin, and I'm 3000 miles away from you and my mother. So the things that I hold important in Philadelphia, in Arizona really sometimes don't have any importance here. It's really about your essence. And we spoke prior to jumping on a podcast about keeping an open mind, and respecting different traditions and cultures. And even though I might have a slight accent, I believe that anyone that speaks languages, bears the mark of higher education. So I was able to initially, really show good faith, really show my intentions to understand where somebody else was coming from. And, and I'm the kind of person that likes to talk last, to where, you know, I like to really know about more people. So I can become better friends with you. And that's the most important thing. And so this really has been keeping me on my toes, I've never lived a more enriched life, every day is new for me. And it's very humbling. The fact that I'm celebrating a 15th year in business and an extremely competitive industry. I've had people with me over a decade. And having that sort of reinforcement. And people that are encouraging me to continue. I must be doing the right thing. I I follow labor laws, I extend empathy and dignity. And I tried to do my utmost to try to be the best boss they ever had. And to be a mentor, my goal is to be the last boss they ever have. And what's interesting, Dustin is the first day prior to going into any training class, I put them into my arcade. So they start with recess and dessert first. And I ask you a question, how many owners of a company do you know that have worked with you, and about 10% Raise. And I say that's a shame for them, but a benefit for you. Because you do deserve this, you deserve this sort of momentum and wind in your sails. And don't put me on a pedestal where I know your name. I mean, I'm just a man. And then the kind of thing is where I put my pants on the same as everybody else. And so if you can reduce any sort of fear, because it's a morbid anticipation is something that hasn't happened yet. Any campaign is 10 times easier in the learning a second language. But why fear may? If you're not breaking the law, why are you afraid of a cop? You're not cheating on a test? Why? Why fear a teacher. And if you're coming to work, Dustin Pena at the ready, on time, eager to learn, and for me to delegate, so I can extend my branches and routes and grow with you. This is not playtime anymore. This is not kindergarten, you're making power moves now. And I take this sort of career and this early 20s stage of their lives in a very delicate way. With leverage my friend, you could hire fire make or break. I prefer the former. And with that leverage, all I want to do is increase your self confidence. And Dustin your self reliance that I believe is the best leaders.Dustin Steffey:
See, and that that's that's some good stuff right there. Because watch this, we all know that we've worked for someone where we've absolutely disliked it right. And it makes us less likely to perform. In my opinion. I know, I have a bunch of friends that we've talked about, like our different jobs, we've talked about the different managers, we've talked about the different bosses, and the most common pattern that I see is in a world of constant change. And the job roles changing and piling on more work and whatever are out tends to take a dip and nobody's addressing it in and you're an anomaly my friend. So let's, let's let's put your pedestal to the side for a sec. You're an anomaly, right? Like you are what everybody dreams of having as a boss owner, whatever, you know, but the reality is, and the reason why people are going into entrepreneurship right now is they're tired of working for the man. They're tired of working for other people. They're tired of doing someone else's job chasing someone else's dream and making their dreams a reality wall. This this employee is just hitting a dead end, right? And so that's kind of a it's kind of a big deal and I Uh, you hit a couple of these points. But what I was going to what I was going to lead into was obviously, we're an entrepreneurship podcast. So what made you? And what sparked you to open up your own business and go into entrepreneurship? And how did you to add on to that? How did you develop and who you are today? How did you develop into knowing what your people need, getting to know them all that stuff to create this sort of success track that you have? We will be right back after a quick break. Hello, chop nation, I hope all of you are enjoying the guests and content we share weekly. Now, I need a favor from all of you. There's a ton that goes into making it successful podcast. And most of this can't be done without your support. So please head on over to your favorite social media platform. And please follow us. This is important so we can communicate important updates to all of you. Also, we love hearing from all of you. So please drop us a comment and let us know how we are doing. Lastly, if you haven't left us a five star review yet, please head on over to your favorite platform that you listen to your podcasts on and drop us a review. We really do appreciate all of you and the continued support as we look forward to dropping more fun and relevant content.Richard Blank:
These allow me to zig and zag and give you a supreme pizza. Versus you use the word for no I believe in the word with someone who works with me it's synergy. So if I can't even start there, there's no roundtable that's number one. Number two, I believe in the Chucky Cheese philosophy. No one shows up at your birthday party, guess who has no friends. The people have leverage, you can keep pushing that morale low and keep bending until they break. But the market speaks. People can always quit. And in my industry, Amazon is here HP, Intel an Oracle so I'm going to be hard the following day. And so what happened? Let's let's look at this in a very realistic way. I have more natural attrition Dawson than then forced attrition. Listen, if if Billy is not coming to work on time and Joey's getting stoned at lunch and Bobby is just not making his calls for labor law. I'm gonna have to cut you from the team. I am accountable for this. But let's talk natural attrition. Let's say there's a scheduling conflict few University How about if your boyfriend or girlfriend works somewhere you might want to work there could be closer to your home and transportation is pretty big i i know there's hybrid, but some people still go into an office for training. And also finally there are certain certain centers that might be more lucrative than mine. Let's be realistic, they might have a campaign that that deals in larger commission. And so but nobody will ever leave my call center because I made them cry, I had to face them on the floor. Worst case scenario gave them a walk of shame. We don't do things like that here. I've invested in you, I believe in you. If you don't give me two weeks notice and you just bounce that's on you. And I started strong with you, you could at least give me the benefit of the doubt. But I understand I it's difficult sometimes in regards to hiring and some people are burned out. But let's just not go there. What happens then, then I'll call my clients with no surprises, I will make suggestions. And then I will also be able to solidify and have a foundation in a relationship because character is judged during chaos, you're chopping with fire. Fire can be used for warmth there can burn it depends on how you use it. And so I'm not calling somebody up happy with that news. But I I run to that situation as quickly as I can. Because the more time that you use with it, the more frustration and I'm a big boy, now I have my impulse control and maturity but But getting back to the people I invest in their future, I let them know that I just don't write checks for any entrepreneur that would like to start a company. It's best to know it from the ground up even if you need to sweep the floors first just to see how long the rows are in a call center. And so for me, I sat in the cubicles for four years I saw the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. I heard the gripes and I saw when people were elated. I understood how metrics could be reached. And when people are asked for an unrealistic expectation. Or possibly supervisors or owners do not extend any sort of empathy or bedside manner because there may be things outside of the office that could be affecting your performance, your beautiful daughter for an example, if she's having a great day you're bouncing on clouds. If she said that breaks, it died, and I can completely understand that. And so if somebody wants the best out of you, they need to know to you. And prior to you, I need to know me first. And I need to look in the mirror, I need to make my own bed I need to work out I need to show up on time. Because if I can't be the example, how in God's name Can I ask these people to do the same? But I do give them some Philly guilt, I do call the balls and strikes. I just won't call you Chief, as a yo das and you did great. Last Thursday, you got 14, what's going on today? I know what you can do. And so, you know, I'll call you out on it because I want you to win. And maybe I'm the only mentor that ever did it. Maybe I'm the only teacher that told you that your tie is crooked. Or even someone like myself, like being an individual that would that would really emphasize looking at the Thesaurus so you can expand on your similes, that you can work on your vocabulary. So you avoid words like help us like guide asst lend a hand. These are things that can adjust tones. These are things that can be said. And so I have a lot of very astute and advanced tips and tricks not for manipulation for lying, but both for preserving conversations for allowing me to for 15 rounds to make my case and then doesn't from an educated point of view, my clients will make a decision to either move or not move forward with me.Dustin Steffey:
So let's address let's address what we were talking about in the beginning, which is sure, I'm sure my listeners are like you work in a call center, you own a call center. What What led you to that and let's let's kind of smash some assumptions on call centers as well too, because I sure as hell know how important they are. Because when I need something done, or some help or some tech help, I'm going to a call center so I know how important they are. I just know that today in this day and age, a lot of people just dislike them and kind of have their own preconceived notion on them. Sure,Richard Blank:
every vertical has bad players, you might have a bad dentist, a bad mechanic, a bad restaurant, you know, might get that bad experience and Hollywood glamorizes The Wolf of Wall Street and boiler room Glengarry Glen Ross, the prime gag, you name it, there's so many movies out there where people are slinging stock. Well, listen, there's five campaigns we don't do here. I don't do casinos, sportsbooks pharmacies, sweepstakes or stocks. I've, I've nothing against it. But this is a very strict Catholic country. So I want to ensure that the agents can go home and tell their parents what they do for a living. And I don't compromise my ethics values or morals to earn $1. But today, a lot of companies are preferring omni channel, non voice support, filling out forms sending emails chat, well, it's Layton, you might be Miss communicating, and increasing your frustration. I've recommended even encouraged as strongly as I can to my clients in the industry to still keep those channels of live into personal communication. And I, I can give you four very, very good reasons why it's worth the money. The first is you can get an upsell. How about a retention? What about a referral. And let's be big boy about this worst case scenario, Dustin, you're losing the client. But they're kind enough to give you an exit interview. And so you might be losing $1 today, but you could be earning $20 In regards to the advice that they give you, or what your competition had done in order to earn their business. And so there was a sort of things that I take personal, of course, but then again, the only way for self improvement is self analysis. And if multiple people are saying something, and you see a pattern that should be addressed, and you can put your ego so I just just try to look at things in a certain way and solve them. And so those are the sort of steps that I've taken and for my own mental stability, so I can calm down I can land the plane and so the hard up intense situations I have to be able to manage with a level head.Dustin Steffey:
So when you were 27 and you had the opportunity to go to Costa Rica, where you already under the assumption you were going to own your own business and it was going to be a call center and did it just lead to that?Richard Blank:
Absolutely not my friend. I had no clue but I didn't know this. I knew momentum. I was bilingual and Spanish barn door was open opportunity was there a good friend of mine owned a call center. I wasn't going in sea level. But it was very nice. I had a nice desk by a window with a nice chair. As I was really great, and my friend extended me for years of employment where it was only supposed to be 60 days, but I never fought for something harder in my life when I walked off the plane in Costa Rica, August 15 2000. Besides the weather being beautiful, I fell in love. And when I went to the call center for the first time, it's a very young environment. This was even for cell phones, people were old enough. And so you're working off old Cisco phones and excel sheets with highlighter pens. But I saw some engaged engagement, I saw people standing up and speaking I saw high fives I saw intense concentration. I saw pride in their work. Most people in the United States see call center work and telemarketing as a transitional job that they might look down upon it while in Costa Rica if you're talented that pays more than most vocation, so, so Dustin, some of my agency here can earn more than doctors and attorneys, and some of them even have those titles. So what did I say? misconceptions, I saw an extremely young environment, I got the skin one last time, I was put in an environment where it was not a forced fit. Sure, I had to learn what a CRM was a Plantronics headset and understand metrics and KPIs and scripts and rebuttals. Well, fine. That's, that's the, you know, the tough part. The easy part for me was my personality. And for most people, it's the reverse. What do I do I love to name drop. I love to ask clarifying questions. I love transitional sentences. I love using personal pronouns to reset tones by using your Rs, I can give it a quarter second slide. I was one of the cats that used to use military alphabetic. When I was prospecting, I used to do a company named spike. So I would say the name of the company better than you and ask how the company's doing, I would snap you out of it, where you would say, Oh, we're good. Thanks. Or what are you selling? Oh, no, I sounded like a mystery shopper that belong there. And then when I was properly introduced the gatekeeper, I gave them a positive escalation. So if Kathy transferred me to you, prior to introducing myself, I'd like to know how amazing he is. I'll do it verbally. And I would also do it in writing. And then I would at least put me at a foul point percentage compared to three point or even half court. And then the Richard circle Dustin's complete, because when I call your company back chopping with fire, and I'm happy to be back, Kathy just answered the phone again, and remembers me, not only remembers me, says, Richard, in the five years I've been working here, you're the only one that mentioned the work that I did. Not only that, Richard, but I am going to give you a plethora of our company culture, I'll give you his direct extension, his daughter's birthday was going on here. So when you custom make your voicemail, you're right, that email, you might not even go to the LinkedIn profile or the website, you're getting all the goodies. So they realize you've done your due diligence, that you're really showing good faith prior to contact, and playing those percentages, which could be repeated over and over again, because it's authentic and sincere. It's beautiful. And so most people when they calm down, they look at my credentials. And from an educated point of view, after speaking with me a couple of times in answering their questions and feeling my fire that aside the throw their hat in the ring and move forward and work with me. And it's been beautiful that way. I've only seen about 20% of my clients 80% and worked with me. So I don't see any Go figure. My smile can can span 3000 miles.Dustin Steffey:
I mean, I think that's the problem with today's society, to be honest with you, everything that you had just mentioned, is what I call soft skills, right? Of course, it's no secret, that technology has been evolving and evolving and evolving. And I even see this with my daughter, my daughter does not have the same soft skills that I do, does not talk to people in the same way as I do. Because she's grown up with a phone in her hand or a tablet or internet or whatever the case may be. So I think a lot of the issues that entrepreneurs and businesses and even employees and employers have is the fact that we aren't as good at the soft skills anymore as we used to be like back in 1960. Right there. There are no handshake deals anymore or good faith. It's all like, show me your cards, or my data can disprove you or whatever the case may be. There's none of that personalization anymore. And I think that that's so critically important. I know for me, as chopping wood fire gets bigger, I know I'm going to have at some point a staff at Some point, whatever the case may be, I want to be able to be personable with them, I want to be able to make sure they enjoy the job that they're working, and that they're growing and gaining value. And I sometimes feel like, that's kind of the disconnect these days is, what value are people getting working for the companies that they're working for? And morale, maybe his down, because people aren't really, really diving into the details to keep people on with personal stuff, you know?Richard Blank:
I do. But I also believe that if you can get 1/10 of 1% of a certain industry, you could be a millionaire. So listen, I like people that like me. And if someone's better, I may not have the time for them. I will see if I can readjust the tone. Don't blame me on what happened on the last call. And maybe it's just a dog that likes to bark. I'm okay with that. Maybe someone likes to drop F bombs and meetings. Fine. But I tell you what, I'll allow somebody to work with me a certain way. But there's absolutely no way I will allow an overzealous supervisor to start cursing on the floor. I know you do it in Chicago, we don't do it here. And I don't like when people write in uppercase letters. And it's almost like they're yelling at you or, or I've had some people even do things in the color red. They wrote in red, my call my client go, yo Ryan writes in red, you don't do things like that. And so it's not good. And so things that happen back home may not work here. And so as I say before, you have to understand the Costa Rican culture, and realize that por vida, pure life is our mindset here. We're exceptionally talented. But then again, we're peaceful. And that's going to come over the phone. And so, you know, it's kind of fun, he does. And I'll actually reject more clients than I accept. It's not that I don't want the business. But it might just not be right fit for the Costa Rican agent. And I tried to explain that. And so I can live with myself ethically, by default. It's almost like I'm pushing it away. And sometimes you're like, Richard, even with all those bombs, I still want to work with you I go, that's just not going to do it. Because as much as I put the ads out there, you might have an attrition, as much as you would have a list that's a size of 400 numbers, I'm going to burn through that within a day on a predictive dialer, milking it on manual dialing three. But that's not enough for a month where the work and you keep talking about morale for the agent, you need to put gas in that car. And you got to have a certain balance of them, or they'll burn out or get frustrated with you. It's very labor intensive. And there's a ton of investments that we make in them. And so, once again, I think that entrepreneurs that are younger should keep an open mind and not be afraid to ask questions. I myself if I may. I grew up in the 70s and 80s. But my speaking influence came from much earlier than that I I used to enjoy Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett to BBC actors that had amazing rhetorical delivery. As Sherlock Holmes, I remember Remington Steele and, and Dirk Benedict is Faceman on the 18th. Templeton pack. And so people today, if they need to study certain sort of deliveries, those are the ones that I chose. They were old school cool before the technology. And they really did their due diligence in regards to their delivery and their strategy and diplomacy. And that's my style. And so there's nothing wrong with listening and practicing and borrowing somebody's transitional sentence, in your opinion that that was done perfectly. And someone that's so well practice and well versed. It's okay to share or colleagues of speech. In fact, what you're doing us is incredible, you're reaching 10s of 1000s. In fact, your work is so good. I wrote you and said you're the man and may I come on the show. And there's so many people out there you have even met yet and will never meet that you've influenced. And that sort of butterfly effect can go a long way. And so, you know, really, I'm thinking about paying it forward. And I always think about the good coaches, bosses, teachers and friends that I had. That said, Go Richard go. Because at the end of the day, my friend, you're on your own forced march, as many people who may cheer you on the sideline. Dude, you're in the game with the ball and there's nothing you can do. And mommy can't make a phone call for you and your buddy can throw down a 20 and get you out of it. It's all on you. And as long as you put your chest out, shoulders back and chin up and you do the things I As you were raised by your grandparents, and you have the full faith in yourself, then by all means, go for it. And I think this chances are in your favor.Dustin Steffey:
You brought up something that I can relate with, which is everyone that's been in my corner from grade school all the way up until now, the whole reason and the whole point that I started this was because I wanted to give back where I got my education, what I'm able to provide and influence individuals in a way, or a manner that helps them. And I think that that's so super important. And I think it's also important to pay homage to where your roots are and where you came from. And I'm not talking about just my parents or grandparents, because we all know like some people, including myself, have had a rough upbringing. But what about the people that were around for my rough upbringing, that propped me up instead of me, propping myself down? You know, so I agree with you and kind of everything in every aspect that you had brought up with that. So I just wanted you to know that and I'm sure, with every episode you've listened to you kind of have an idea of where I come from. SoRichard Blank:
Oh, yeah, I pay forward because I believe in chivalry. And besides my family and friends, I also have a very strong loyalty to my high school. If it weren't for that college recommendation letter from the late principal, Norman Schmidt, I would have never gotten into Arizona, my grades were not that good. I was just very active in sports and, and student government. But I've been giving a Second Language Scholarship for the past six years for graduating senior second language so I can pay for their books freshman year. And I was asked to be the 68th induction National Honor Society, keynote speaker as well. And this is a kid that did not get honor grades. And so it's a spiritual thing. I'm doing this for not only my classmates, but it's the tradition that came before me. And the fact that I'm that sort of man that did not break that sort of loyalty and commitment, and really tries to bring people together and get so excited for things and it's not like I'm living vicariously through high school, what do you expect, I was the class partier and had the best time in my entire life. I'm keeping that period of miles, and a dime, Gozzo and treasured. But it also propelled me into other areas of my life and other chapters. And if it weren't for that, there's, I believe in nature versus nurture. And so I have to, as you say, give homage and say thank you 1000 times, success is built on a million thank yous. And I don't know how much more I can do for people to show my appreciation without begging or doing something, I still want to keep that honor. And, and I'm cool with that. I like things like that. And I encourage my peers and my classmates who have been successful in their own careers that have done podcasts or become doctors and attorneys or have had things published or have raised beautiful families. I love it. And I and I'm the first one to write things and make phone calls. And, and I'm also the kind of friend that calls not to ask for anything just to see how you're doing. I don't need anything from you. I'll just go and say, Hey, Dustin, what's up, man? How you been, though. And those are true friends. Those are friends that call when the cameras are off. And those are the friends that remember details about yourself, and are interested in your life. And that love you sincerely, and no questions asked will take your phone call. And those are the greatest people I've ever met. And I was very fortunate growing up where it was to find those kinds of people that had that sort of commitment towards one another at such a young age. And they were tough. And they were great in athletics, and they fell in love and we were confident and cocky and we had our Northeast Philly thing. And whatever that special sauces that I got, it enabled me to take this smile, this personality and this bravado internationally and be very, very well received.Dustin Steffey:
I know you're not distant while you are distant because you're in Costa Rica. But I know you're not distant to what's going on in business today and something that we had brought up in the past, like 20 minutes ago, right? was the fact that morale is down in some of these businesses and there are unhappy employees and all of these negatives which I don't want to I don't want to be negative My question for you is actually on the positive side of things. Sure, what? First and foremost, what do you think some of these businesses opportunities are based off of what you're seeing? And how would you if you had advice, how would you do things differently, kind of like what you're doing when you run your own business, to create morale? That is, it just create an environment where people want to come and work, they want to come and work and produce whatever needs to be done to be successful.Richard Blank:
I can only speak for myself, and I'll get to my own company culture, for sure. Other people have to pay their dues. And I don't know what anyone is expecting for Daddy Warbucks to walk out of his office, pat you on the head and say, great job, and I appreciate your compliment earlier about me being a boss. I'm just old school man, I like to high five people on my sports team. But why don't we do this in Spanish, there's an expression por lo Manos, which means at least at every job I had, I was selective of the jobs that I had with Telemundo and Barton beers and selling Corona. But that's not the point. I had leverage. I was marketable. So I could choose I just didn't have to go work somewhere. But also, there were other jobs. And I'm not going to mention certain names. I was a waiter a couple times and I had to do other things. And I had my moments of clarity. But I also said, If I can't master this level, how am I going to get to the next level? If I can't show up on time other than other people? How am I going to get to the next level? So I was I was trying to get a lot of first downs to get touchdown. And even though I'm making $10 an hour, the experience I'm getting could be worth $100 An hour later. What do you mean, Richard will look at me now by working at Corona, beer and Telemundo and doing that grunt work, and following up with emails or prior to that, phone calls, and visiting people, and showing up to the office at the ready and taking notes and taking notes. You want to hear a funny story. The first job I had postgraduate with Frontier Communications. I was selling broadcast faxing, and domestic rates against ATT, MCI and Sprint. No, I wasn't I was going to southwest Phenix and doing international race where I was crushing it. I was doing exceptionally well. I even sold a T one for anyone in the industry. But my story is about taking notes. I had no idea some of this technology and I was sitting there one day and my supervisor Bob was telling everybody the 10 of us what broadcast faxes and that fax machines had analog and monologue settings depending on your phone. Do you remember that back in the day? And so what would happen was this one guy Rob was on this deal. And he was trying to show how to do broadcast faxing. And for something happened at the last minute. It didn't work kind of like when they do these Apple presentations, you know, in front of people. And so I turned to page seven Aiko, did you put it in mono? The analog, and the boss looks at me. He goes, Well done, Richard. Yeah, well done. Richard. I had no clue what I was. But after that, I talked about it. You know, 25 years later. What did I do? I took notes I showed up on time I learned people's names. I didn't do backstabbing, I earned it through merit. I made my phone calls. I was a good kid. If someone got a deal, I congratulated. I knocked on the door of my supervisor and ask clarification questions. I stayed late not because it's because I was making phone calls to set up for the following day. Don't you get it? If you pass by my office, and you see me here on a Saturday night, it's not because I'm behind gotcha golf. I'm two weeks ahead. I'm way ahead. And so those are the kinds of things that you see in somebody, you have no idea what their dedicated practice is, you have no idea what it takes for me to be successful. I make it look easy. It is easy. But when you're building buildings, it takes a lot of bricks and it takes time. And so the greatest thing for somebody to do is just have foundations, do all the basics that were taught to you know your manners, and realize your common sense. If your intuition is kicking in, say something to somebody, oh, if you have the luxury of time, then why don't you write a draft and not send it? Why don't you sleep on it and make the phone call the next day? Because there's a very good chance you might have overextended yourself. You might be able to readjust your tone. And you can see where the priorities are. I've been able to save business relationships, people have saved Thanksgiving dinners and even worst case scenarios marriages by listening by literally understanding and there are certain you can fall on certain swords. For an example, if your dog is barking on a phone call, and I literally can't hear you And it's killing the call inadvertently and passive aggressively, I'm going to ask your dog's name, what breed it is, and how old is your puppy, you'll get the head, we'll talk about your dog for a little bit. And that's a great way for me to anchor something that's a me to technique, then you'll usually come back and ask my name, again for clarification and named drop me the rest of the call. If people are not in the now dos, and they're jumping ahead for the future, the past, they're gonna miss that you're on a 10 minute call, it just took one second to hear that dog barking. And that's the sort of thing that could have angered me to get you the upsell to be able to close this deal. And so that's the sort of thing that we do here. I need somebody to be balanced, I need somebody to breathe. And when I listen to your phone calls, and we discuss your KPIs and your coaching and training, you said it best, I pay you to confirm your email address and to talk about my my products. Dustin has a frickin genius was talking about soft skills, bedside manner, this sort of thing, as you know, is worth 10 times more than what you're pitching. And that's where I give the most points if if the client says your name and the body of the call, not the introduction or the conclusion, but if you can land that anchor in the middle of the call by doing a confirmation question falling on those swords for clarification, to not do rabbit holes and and adjust tones I am. I like stalking open ended questions for people because sometimes people desert pitches just go through a whole list without any reinforcement. And knows that the sort of things that you need to pause and make camp from time to time, people may react with a sound with typing with clicking with a noise. You know, when you're when you eliminate three of your senses on a phone called us your taste, touch and smell, you should expand your hearing fine. But a lot of my class will argue with me in regards to site on the phone and and I believe in Image Streaming, I believe in metaphysics, I believe in descriptions and imagination. There's nothing wrong with making your speech more colorful. So you become a painting instead of print. Can this be taught? Everyone's got it in them. But the moment you're not afraid to walk across the eighth, eighth grade dance floor and ask that girl to dance. You're the man. And I need these people to break that sort of final 10% demon that they have that is holding them back. And then they can change that head from a negative to a positive and live in a sort of whoo way. No resistance philosophy. Don't be surprised if their numbers don't go through the roof. They're making a fortune.Dustin Steffey:
The devil is in the details. That's the biggest piece of advice that I've gotten from being born all the way up until now. And he just solidified that in 45 minutes, pretty much in my opinion. So it's, it's all about how you approach things. And it's all about how you use the soft skills that I know everybody has. But they blatantly don't use sometimes right? To create that doorRichard Blank:
or the don't wanna use them. They're in a bad mood that they got to snap out of it. Yeah, it's like a boxer. Remember Chuck Wepner verse Ollie Rocky. Yeah, he literally almost made he did go the distance. But in the 50 the God, something happened. How do you go 14 and 15 and a half rounds perfectly. What happened in that 15 rounds without one second that I lead took advantage of and got him down. Because he was doing it minute by minute. Second by second and round by round this guy was more focus more are laser focused than anything in his entire life. And if people can focus on 32nd to two minute intervals there, there might be a better control there.Dustin Steffey:
I agree. 100%. So now, since we're nearing the end of our time, I do want to bring up something important. We got two more things. The first thing is, is we kind of alluded to it right? You are the CEO of your call center in Costa Rica. Let's talk about what you do.Richard Blank:
We are a bilingual nearshore dedicated Call Center currently 150 agents like about 300 of my location. So very my 15th year February 6. It's a competitive industry but it's a beautiful industry. I still believe in the art of speech. We work in campaigns that deal with outbound lead generation appointment setting sales, inbound customer store, back office support. I have a CTO of floor manager, human resources director, accountants, attorneys. I needed people to assist me to grow. I couldn't do it all on my own. These are experts here. And I have that leap of faith. That's fine. My wife Grace per bone. And I, we started this together. And so I might be the owner. But she's the boss. Remember that gentleman? But I love what I do. Is it a grind? Well, so is everything just like Sisyphus pushing that rock up the hill? Nothing's easy. Why do you think diamonds and gold are deep underground, and you got to travel so far to the stars. And I knew that if I could conquer Spanish, I could almost do anything else. And to answer your question about this, about this business environment, these days I It could happen and anything could happen. And I kind of see my life like Zorba the Greek, I'm willing to put my arms out and dance on the beach, if my fishing boat happens to sing. If I had closed one deal for one week, it would have been nor have more than enough to last me the rest of my life. And the fact that I've come this far, and I have enough money to pay for enough dinners for the rest of my life, I'm, I have enough acorns to last winters. So I don't have that sort of pressure anymore. So really, if you can get to this sort of stage in life, that the best thing for you to do in in this business just to pay it forward. But I don't want people to burn out, I want to give them clean campaigns, I want to focus on their QA, so they become more marketable and better. And I try to promote people as much as I can in this industry. And if you can record yourself, and you can write and you can listen to yourself, besides work, you should have some of the best relationships possible. And just by being in this industry, which is so focused on on your vocal skills and being glib and clever, as a match made in heaven, I was able to use things outward outside of the office to have some best friends and a beautiful life. And so maybe I gravitated towards this. Maybe it was my vision, quest and destiny that brought me here. You tell me some six year old that tells her Mommy didn't want to be a telemarketer, let alone a CEO of a call center. And nobody does. I wanted to be a fire man. But I'm glad I left my castle slayed a dragon, save the princess and became a prince, my brother, I had my adventure. I did it. And I did it my way. Maybe I was a little selfish. I had to get past certain pressures and guilt and expectations. But at the end of the day, at the end of the day, Dustin, I lived my life. And I did it well. And at the end of the day, the family's proud of you too. They might have not understood it. They expected other things. But if my great grandfather came to the United States at the turn of the 20th learned English and was in the garment industry in New York, came from Russia and Romania. Why can I do the same, just skipped a couple generations. And I'm going south because the weather's better. But it's in our blood, my man, we're nomads, we needed that adventure. And if I didn't have that, I don't think I'd be able to look in the mirror, give myself five and respect myself for the rest of my life.Dustin Steffey:
And for my listeners i As you can tell, I enjoy my conversation with Richard because he's very articulate one two, he's he's been through a lot. And three, he just said a key thing that I believe in which is we we aren't we aren't bound to what our parents or grandparents or whatever did we're bound to what we make of life. And Richard's made quite a life for himself, doing what he does best. And yeah, I agree. At six year years old, I didn't say I was going to be an influencer or a podcast, podcast owner or any of that stuff. I wanted to be a sports agent. Well, I fell a little short of that. But I still am doing some similar stuff to what they do, which is talking with people relating with people giving information to people to help them be the better version of themselves.Richard Blank:
Exactly. That's why we're here today my man.Dustin Steffey:
Yeah, I mean, I couldn't ask for anything better. I do have one more thing. And I do this with everyone. Of course one big piece of advice that you would leave to my listeners. What would that be?Richard Blank:
Just don't be so hard on yourself. Fortune favors the brain. Patience is a virtue you want many coaches six other things but I also believe I believe in me time. Listen, I do pinball marathons on Sunday, I drive my convertible to work listening to in excess. And I hit the gym every day. I need Richard time. If I can't find my balance and center, how can I extend that energy to others. And so make your bed Eat Well rest. Tell those, you love that you love them very much. And try to live a beautiful life you only get one and you only get 100 years and I'm halfway there. So let's see what happens in the second half.Dustin Steffey:
There's nowhere to go but up in the second half in my opinion.Richard Blank:
I can't get any Balder wherever you're gonna goDustin Steffey:
that hey, listen, we're gonna make that second half work. I'm I'm, let's see, I'm in the second quarter of the half right now. So, exactly. Well, Richard, I enjoyed my time with you. I'm sure my listeners have enjoyed listening to this. So I appreciate you coming on. And of course, appreciate all the wisdom that you've given to us today.Richard Blank:
Thanks, my brother. I'm a huge fan of you and chopping with fire and I'm going to continue to listen to you and all of your guests.Dustin Steffey:
I appreciate that my friend. Thank you for coming on. And I look forward to actually having you again probably for a repeat to be honestRichard Blank:
with you. My pleasure. I got tons of things to talk about.Dustin Steffey:
Me too. We can talk forever. So thank you again. I appreciate that.Richard Blank:
You got it, my man. Have a great day. You too.
1. Interpersonal Communication Conflict Management Strategy
2. Phonetic Micro Expression reading for mastering verbal tell signs.
3. The Famous Buffer-Boomerang Technique
Please feel free to accept my invitation to join your audience for a solid discussion regarding moving abroad and starting a company from scratch in Costa Rica. I am available at your earliest convenience to discuss taking a chance, advanced telemarketing strategy, conflict management, interpersonal soft skills, customer support, rhetoric, gamification, employee motivation and phonetic micro expression reading.
Richard’s journey in the call center space is filled with twists and turns. When he was 27 years old, he relocated to Costa Rica to train employees for one of the larger call centers in San Jose. With a mix of motivational public speaking style backed by tactful and appropriate rhetoric, Richard shared his knowledge and trained over 10 000 bilingual telemarketers. Richard Blank has the largest collection of restored American Pinball machines and antique Rockola Jukeboxes in Central America making gamification a strong part of CCC culture.Richard Blank is the Chief Executive Officer for Costa Rica’s Call Center since 2008.
Mr. Richard Blank holds a bachelors degree in Communication and Spanish from the University of Arizona and a certificate of language proficiency from the University of Sevilla, Spain. A Keynote speaker for Philadelphia's Abington High School 68th National Honors Society induction ceremony. Giving back to Abington Senior High School is very important to Mr. Blank. As such, he endows a scholarship each year for students that plan on majoring in a world language at the university level.