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“There’s a better way to live and work: in connection with other people.” with author Ethan Beute and Chaya Weiner

There’s a better way to live and work: in connection with other people. For too long now, we’ve entrusted our most important and valuable messages to faceless, digital communication. Plain, typed-out text doesn’t differentiate us, doesn’t build trust or rapport, and doesn’t convey our meaning nearly as well we do ourselves. We’ve allowed the messenger […]


There’s a better way to live and work: in connection with other people. For too long now, we’ve entrusted our most important and valuable messages to faceless, digital communication. Plain, typed-out text doesn’t differentiate us, doesn’t build trust or rapport, and doesn’t convey our meaning nearly as well we do ourselves. We’ve allowed the messenger to be removed from the message. Simple, personal videos restore the human touch and allow us to build relationships more effectively and even at scale. And they don’t require scripts, lights, production, editing, or expensive equipment. The next time you click “Send,” ask yourself if the message would be better communicated with your face, voice, personality, expertise, enthusiasm, sincerity, gratitude, concern, or any of those other human elements often stripped from your traditional, day-to-day messages.


As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ethan Beute, co-author of Rehumanize Your Business, VP of Marketing at BombBomb, and host of The Customer Experience Podcast. Ethan’s collected and told personal video success stories in hundreds of blog posts, in dozens of webinars, podcasts, and stage presentations, and in countless conversations. Prior to that, he spent a dozen years running marketing inside local TV stations and studied communication, psychology, and marketing at The University of Michigan and UCCS.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

After a dozen years running marketing inside local television stations in Grand Rapids, Chicago, and Colorado Springs, I was looking to transition to something new. “Web 2.0” and social media were on the rise and my comfort and joy in writing, photography, and video lent themselves well to digital marketing. I started doing project work in content marketing, email marketing, landing pages, video marketing, and similar for a variety of companies — all while earning my MBA and working full time. I connected with and started working for the cofounders of BombBomb about ten years ago and have been with the team ever since.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

For people familiar with broadcasting, my “progression” from the third biggest market (Chicago) to a barely-top-40 market (Grand Rapids) to a 90-ish ranked market (Colorado Springs) looks interesting and perhaps confusing. Rather than being a “climber,” I’ve always looked for work that’s fun, interesting, and challenging. One of the background themes there is balancing my passion for producing great work (doing) with the privilege of leading and coaching up-and-coming professionals (managing). As I moved down market ranks, I was able to find more balance in both. I’ve also worked over the years to find and maintain that balance at BombBomb. You may find yourself in the job you think you wanted at a salary you think you’ve long deserved only to find yourself in 25 hours of meetings per week.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It’s not funny on its face, but my initial videos might be funny to watch all these years later. In television, I’d produced hours of video, but I’d never appeared on camera. When I joined BombBomb, that changed immediately — but it wasn’t pretty. We help people get face to face more often with the people who matter most in their businesses through simple, personal videos in emails, text messages, and social messages. I’ve shared success stories and taught best practices for years. Having recorded more than 8,000 videos myself, I’m very comfortable today. But those first 5 or 10 videos are awful to watch today. You have to work through it, though, because the reward is so significant.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I started The Customer Experience Podcast in January. Rehumanize Your Business released in April. And we just hosted our first-ever live event with 500 attendees over 2.5 days in May. So, I’ve got several exciting projects going right now. The podcast is especially interesting because I’m conversing with so many smart people about how to create and deliver the most important thing we do as individuals, teams, and companies — better customer experiences. Getting feedback as people read the book is also exciting.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study). Can you share a story or example?

Prior to joining BombBomb, I’d never delivered a webinar or a stage presentation. But recording video after video, I developed through practice a skill in presenting and teaching visually and audibly. I think blogging did the same thing for me in terms of writing. I wrote and published more than 500 blog posts before I ever thought about writing a book. Getting comfortable finding your voice and expressing yourself in any medium takes practice and repetition. I also think it helps that I enjoy reading.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

The opening story in the opening chapter is one of the most interesting. The experience itself compelled me to start outlining and writing the book. My mom passed away early last year. While at the visitation immediately prior to the funeral, I recognized a face across the room, but it seemed out of place. He was a customer of ours who I’d never met in person — and never spoken with on the phone. He didn’t know my mom or any of my other family members. He lives two and a half hours away. And yet he and his wife drove across the state of Michigan and back that morning to spend three minutes in face-to-face conversation with me. We built a real relationship exclusively through the exchange of simple, personal videos in email. It’s a remarkable, humanizing story that proves one of the book’s fundamental points.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

There’s a better way to live and work: in connection with other people. For too long now, we’ve entrusted our most important and valuable messages to faceless, digital communication. Plain, typed-out text doesn’t differentiate us, doesn’t build trust or rapport, and doesn’t convey our meaning nearly as well we do ourselves. We’ve allowed the messenger to be removed from the message. Simple, personal videos restore the human touch and allow us to build relationships more effectively and even at scale. And they don’t require scripts, lights, production, editing, or expensive equipment. The next time you click “Send,” ask yourself if the message would be better communicated with your face, voice, personality, expertise, enthusiasm, sincerity, gratitude, concern, or any of those other human elements often stripped from your traditional, day-to-day messages.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

Selling. I expect many authors feel the same way. You will need to ask for advice. You will need to call in favors. And you will need to sell the book. Until it gets enough traction, your book won’t sell itself. One mental shift that helped me overcome this was recognizing the book’s value. People weren’t doing me a favor by buying the book; they’re doing themselves a favor. This philosophy and approach can change your career or even your life — I’ve heard it many times before. So, while it may feel like begging from time to time, have confidence that what you’re sharing is well worth the cover price.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I strongly favor non-fiction, especially with business, psychology, or sustainability themes. I’m very careful to balance time consuming information with time synthesizing information, so I don’t read nearly as often as I might. I appreciate a good story, but I also appreciate useful takeaways on topics I care about. A few examples here are The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken, Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, and What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? by Tony Juniper.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

I am sincere in my belief that nearly any working professional can benefit from what she or he will find in Rehumanize Your Business. We’re helping people be seen, heard, felt, and understood. And we’re helping people let those around them — prospects, customers, team members, recruits, suppliers, partners, and even family and friends — know that they are seen, heard, felt, and understood. The business results are there, too, but at a fundamental level we’re helping people get more of what they most deeply crave — human connection.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

Just start. When I made the decision to start, I wrote from 5–6 am most mornings of the week. Later, I added the better part of a Saturday or Sunday most weekends. Eventually, I was able to spend about half of my time on it. As you gain progress and start bringing other people into the conversation, the project will gain solicited and unsolicited support, as well as momentum.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Finishing the manuscript is just the beginning.
 When we submitted our manuscript, there were several more rounds of editing and approval. Beyond that, it requires significant marketing and support to get any traction. We’re just past the launch and the manuscript was just a milestone along the way.

2. You can’t edit what isn’t written.
 This became a mantra for me and my co-author Steve Pacinelli. He was right on my heels the entire time with story suggestions, supporting research, and other recommendations. But it was critical that I stay out in front. We had nothing to react to or improve until we simply got the words down — even if rough.

3. The book is a new package.
 I’d written hundreds of blog posts. I’d created and delivered dozens of stage presentations and webinars. I’d written several PDFs and guides. But there’s something special about packaging up your teaching into a hardcover book — in part because it’s so tangible. Unlike so much of my digital work, it’s something your family and friends can point to, pick up, and pass around.

4. People want to help.

Whether it’s getting expert endorsements, getting tips for writing, getting insight into the publishing options, or simply giving you encouragement, people want to help. We had so many people support this effort. And no one said “no” to anything we might ask. I can’t imagine trying to go it alone on a project this significant.

5. Amazon is a live scoreboard.

I didn’t expect to be able to track the book’s performance live in real time in multiple categories. We still had to reach out to our publisher for proper sales figures, but we could see it hit #1 as a new release and later #1 as a best seller in Business Sales, Business Communication, Customer Relations, and other highly relevant categories. This added a bit of urgency to some of our sales and marketing efforts. It was uncomfortable at times, but also rewarding.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I feel deeply and sincerely that what we’re doing to help rehumanize our day-to-day communication for more effective and more satisfying work is a movement that will improve many lives. Beyond that, I think it would be incredibly valuable for people to stop conflating wants with needs and for people to appreciate and value more highly clean air, clean water, and clean soil. When we damage our natural environment, we’re damaging ourselves. Conspicuous consumption and lack of a basic stewardship ethic lead us to reduce our health and quality of life.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m Ethan Beute or ethanbeute on all the social networks. You can connect with our team and our community as BombBomb on all the social networks.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

— –

About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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