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Peter Shankman blames ADHD for most of his success. He’s best known for founding Help A Reporter Out and as the founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc. a boutique social media, marketing and customer service strategy firm located in New York City.

He spends the majority of his time on the road, keynoting corporate events for clients including American Express, Sheraton, Saudi Aramco, Cisco, SAP, Sprint, The US Department of Defense, Walt Disney World, and many more; as well as hosting bestselling Shankminds mastermind events for entrepreneurs around the country and across the world.

In his little spare time, he is a NASA Advisory Board member, angel investor in multiple start-ups, sub-­4 marathon runner, Ironman and B-­licensed skydiver. A tweet of his was voted one of the top 10 Tweets of 2011 by ABC News and Twitter

Peter recently authored the bestselling book Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans. He lives in New York City with his beautiful wife and daughter, and two psychotic cats.

Learn more: http://shankman.com 

Follow him @petershankman on Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / LinkedIn / G+ 

He will be live on Feb 16th from 900 AM PT for one and a half hours during which he will answer as many questions as possible.

  • GK

    Gabe Kwakyi

    almost 2 years ago #

    Hi Peter, thank you for joining GH's AMA!

    My question for you is about questions. From the background you listed here I'm sure you have asked many an excellent question, and answered many as well.

    Personally, one of my goals for 2016 is to become better at the art of asking quality questions to clients, partners, mentors, etc.

    Do you have any tips on how to formulate a question that is easily understood, relevant and well targeted? Or what you see as the core components of a quality question?

    Thank you Peter!

    -Gabe

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      Best advice I can give you is to listen first - Listen to other interviews they've done, speeches they've given - but truly listen - too many times we spend time listening only to find a break so we can talk. Truly listen. The questions will come.

      • GK

        Gabe Kwakyi

        almost 2 years ago #

        Good advice often heard but yet so hard to remember and follow. Thank you Peter!

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    almost 2 years ago #

    Hi Peter, can you talk about your view on ADHD, and why do you say you blame ADHD for most of your success?

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      I don't think of it as a weakness. For me, it's a gift. This is what I'm writing in a blog post in a new site I'm launching next week about using ADHD to your advantage:

      Imagine a world where everything moves at super-fast speed. Where answers come in seconds, rather than in minutes, where solving several problems at the same time isn’t fantasy, but a daily reality. Imagine being able to use your brain to do more in an hour than most people do in a day, every single day.

      For those with ADD and ADHD, that’s not science fiction, it’s reality. But it’s a reality that comes with a steep learning curve. Much like learning how to drive a sports car, those with super-fast brains need to know how to manage them. We need to know how to get the best out of them, without running them into the ground.

      That’s where I come in. My name is Peter Shankman, and I’ve spent the past twenty years starting, building, and selling companies, as well as writing best-selling books, speaking to corporations all over the world, going on TV almost daily, teaching hundreds of thousands of people how to do improve their personal and professional lives, and finally, being a husband and a father. I’m also diagnosed ADD/ADHD.

      So what’s my secret? I’ve learned to use my ADD/ADHD as an advantage, not as a disability. I’ve learned countless tricks, secrets, and hacks that constantly improve my day to day life, professionally, and personally.

      I'll tweet when the site goes live. Thanks for asking!

      3 Share
      • PS

        Peter Shankman

        almost 2 years ago #

        1) Elimination of choice: My closet has t-shirts, button down shirts, and jeans. If I'm not going on tv or speaking, t-shirts. If I am, button down shirts. That's it. Anything else, I'd have to think about.

        2) Removal of potential hazards. When I speak in vegas, my contract says I don't have to be on the ground for more than eight hours. Why? Because Vegas is dangerous to me, so I eliminate it.

        I quit drinking because I can't just have one drink. I learn what works and eliminate what doesn't. I don't have a "moderation" switch. I'm either "sleep" or 1,000,000,000%.

        3 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        almost 2 years ago #

        Is there one or two you could share that would improve the lives of even non ADD/ADHD folks?

      • ES

        Edward Stephens

        almost 2 years ago #

        I'm with you on this one @AnujAdhiya any tips or tricks would be amazing.

        My only gift is dyslexia - you'd be surprised how good/bad it is. Amazing for some things...

      • HQ

        Hila Qu

        almost 2 years ago #

        Really look forward to your site!

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    almost 2 years ago #

    Hey Peter

    Thanks for doing this!

    Are there any PR strategies that are emerging and can be effective ways to build relationships with reporters compared to those that no longer work as well? As an example, talking with startup founders and PR folks, the general vibe is that HARO used to be a great way to build relationships with reporters (before it got huge) but it isn’t as effective anymore. So they're looking for other angles. Any ideas?

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      Talk to them. Follow them online and pitch them when you DON'T have a pitch for them. Be HELPFUL. Reporters are doing a ton more with a ton less nowadays. Give them info they can use and make their job easier. End of story. (HARO still works, btw, if you're super-quick.) Set a specific ringtone for the HARO emails.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    almost 2 years ago #

    If you aren't familiar with Peter's work - you're seriously missing out.
    His "Can We Really Do That?" book was one of the most inspirational reads for me.
    The $#!t that Peter gets up to in that book is truly incredible. Really looking forward to this AMA.

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    almost 2 years ago #

    Hey Peter! Thanks for joining us today :)

    What values and strategies have you learned from training for an Ironman that you have applied in your marketing and customer service tactics?

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      Consistency is key. Without consistency, you've got nothing.

      Complaining is a waste of time. On the bike course in Cozumel, 40mph headwinds, I was miserable, and bitching to myself for an hour. I finished the race - In my head, though, I'd already given up. Imagine how faster I could have been had I not spent all my energy complaining and tearing myself down.

      It's supposed to be tough. If it wasn't, it wouldn't matter.

      Finally, the problem to solve during an ironman is to cross the finish line. Ask yourself this: Every customer who comes to you has a problem. What is it, and how can you solve it? Can you figure it out before they even approach you?

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        almost 2 years ago #

        "Can you figure it out before they even approach you?"
        Would you say this requires a level of empathy that most people don't inherently have? If yes (or even if not), are there ways that you could go about developing this within yourself?

  • SJ

    Sebastian Johansson

    almost 2 years ago #

    Hi Peter and thanks for doing this AMA :)

    Impressive reviews of your book on Amazon (Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans).

    Most people say - "You must have great support... word of mouth.. youll die if you dont" and so forth. Almsot like "Jesus is real, dont question it". Companies like zappos seems to have done well on that idea. But some low cost airlines seem to have done well (measure by profit) by doing the opposite, by charging for support and not be easily reached. Some business models seem to do better with a shitty support.

    One could do an AB test and answer 50% of emails in 10 minutes with very personal emails and the other 50% within a day, with canned responses. Then measure how many of the emails converted into sales, look at the extra cost of the faster/better support and make a decision. Thats pretty easy. But what Im struggling with is measuring the long term word of mouth effect etc.

    Do you have a system/strategy/advise on how to track and measure long term ROI of different levels of customer support?

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      Thanks, Sebastian - I'd ask this - How are your customers getting to you? If word of mouth continually comes from relatively new customers, that means your team is doing a good job of keeping up with great customer service. But if it's still coming from those few original customers, and nothing new, you might be approaching a problem.

      Do time tests - How long before a new customer becomes a recommender and brings you even more new business?

      End of the day: You get the customers you want by being awesome to the customers you have.

      2 Share
  • PS

    Peter Shankman

    almost 2 years ago #

    I think companies need to start hiring for PEOPLE, not for UTILITY. I.e., I can train anyone to make a bed, but I can't teach someone to have empathy. That has to be bred. Big difference. Without empathy, all the PR stunts in the world won't help your company.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    almost 2 years ago #

    Thanks for doing this AMA Peter. As a fellow ADDer - it's nice to see someone else flaunting it proudly! My question is what do you think of Uber's PR strategy? Do you see things they've done that have never been done before or never been done as well? And what do you think they could be doing better?

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      I think Uber is doing a LOT better than they were two years ago, when they were the "bro" company that didn't give a shit. At least now they've hired privacy officers, ethics officers - It's one thing to start a company to get laid (as they were quoted saying a few years ago) but it's another thing entirely when your company starts making a ton of money and actually changing industries. They're doing a much better job now. They've still got a ways to go, however.

  • DL

    Dylan La Com

    almost 2 years ago #

    Hi Peter - thanks for doing this AMA :)

    Can you talk about a PR win or loss that provided you with an insight you didn't have before?

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      HARO once helped a bakery stay in business. Was 08/09 during the bad economy - they were close to going out of business - they got a story in a major national daily featuring them - They wound up getting tons of business and weathered the storm.

      You never realize how bad someone might have it. Be kind to all living things. go out of your way to help people every chance you get. You never know what it can do.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    almost 2 years ago #

    Hey Peter

    So psyched to have you on!

    I was first introduced to you in '09 by a friend in PR as THE guy to follow and read (read all your books except the new one) - they were not wrong :)

    Two questions:
    a. I read a lot of posts on dos and donts for startups when it comes to PR - in terms of timing, strategies and tactics.
    I'd love to hear what your take on all of this is, including some patterns you've seen on mistakes startups make all the time.

    b. Who are 2-3 companies/people you are a Zombie Loyalist of and why?

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      a) Just be smarter. So many PR people still suck - it's amazing. Know what the reporter covers. Pitch them smartly, with quick, bullet-point answers. Don't pitch off topic. Be brilliant at the basics.

      b) Big fan of what Starwood Hotels is doing, Skratch Labs, Peloton Cycle, And even United Airlines, because I see how hard they're working to improve.

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        almost 2 years ago #

        It's interesting that two of the examples you provided are of travel-related brands. You'd think that travel as a whole would live and die by their customer service and yet we see the terrible state that the travel industry is in terms of customer satisfaction (especially in the US)?

        Why are they getting away with it? What can we as consumers do to make the industry as a whole get with the program that Starwood and United are on?

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        almost 2 years ago #

        Also on the "be smarter" bit. How do you identify sucky PR people before even approaching them?

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    almost 2 years ago #

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you so much for jumping on to this AMA.

    I'm fascinated by your career and not sure where to start.

    1) How did you end up becoming a board member at NASA and have you always been passionate about space?
    2) As an angel investor, board member of NASA and beneficiary/sufferer of ADHD - what do you think we can expect from the future of technological innovation (whether that be artificial intelligence, gene up-regulation or just ways to improve peoples lives)? And what would you like to see?

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      1) For me, it's all about meeting new people, learning about them, and listening to them. It's also about taking the first meeting. NASA came about because I met someone who heard I had a cat named NASA. Her husband worked for NASA. I met him. One thing led to another. :)

      2) I'd love to see a world where my phone gets smarter about what I want it to do - i.e., if I've been talking to "Meagan," for the past few weeks, on and off, when I pick up my phone, it should show me the numbers of the top three people I've been most recently interacting with. And that should all be fluid, changing as I change.

      • PS

        Peter Shankman

        almost 2 years ago #

        No doubt Google will get there first. They're also doing it in fun other ways, like tying in google maps to where your friends go. It's just a matter of time.

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        almost 2 years ago #

        Do you think Google Now is going in this direction? Any specific startups you know of trying to address this?

  • BW

    Brand Winnie

    almost 2 years ago #

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for doing this AMA...

    This may be an existential question but what does public relations mean to you?

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      The ability to get your message in front of the right audience in such a way that they want to receive and act on the information you give, while also not coming across as self-promoting.

  • PS

    Peter Shankman

    almost 2 years ago #

    Look at what they're pitching previously - Look at their tweets, look at their digital echo - It's not hard to find who doesn't try in the PR industry. Not hard at all, in fact.

    2 Share
  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    almost 2 years ago #

    Okay another question seeing as you're answering them so quickly Peter!

    1) Plasticity and ADHD - is there a happy medium have you mentioned training your brain to harness the sporadic thoughts. Have you had to accept some reduction in speed in order to train concentration and delivery.

    2) Do you task switch to keep focused (I do when I max out attention on one task).

    3) Have you ever tried listening to YouTube, Audiobooks etc at 2x playback speed - I've found it massively improves attention and recall.

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      1) I do focus on brain training a little bit - I'd like to see some more true scientific proof that it does something, though... I'd rather just play a video game. :)

      2) I do if I'm not writing. If I'm writing, I'm in a zone, and can go upwards of six hours without stopping assuming no distractions.

      3) 3x the speed, actually. :)

      • ES

        Edward Stephens

        almost 2 years ago #

        Boom 3x good work - see plasticity in action, when anyone first listens to audio playback beyond about 1.75x it sounds like garbage and as you say getting up to x3 is possible.

        So efficient - glad i'm not the only one.

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    almost 2 years ago #

    Another questions for you - (sorry i'm loving this and figured getting access to a fantastic resource while its here is worthwhile)!

    1) How do you switch your thought racing off, is this where sky-diving etc comes in?
    2) I noticed you have a herculean twitter strategy, as people grumble about Twitter how do you find engagement vs other social media strategies you use?
    3) An industry mind or person you intellectually admire?

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      1) Skydiving. Running. Lifting. Triathlons. Sleep.
      2) For me, I use Twitter like this: Having an audience is a privilege, not a right. Before I post anything, I ask myself if there's value in it for my audience.
      3) Jay Baer is doing some amazing stuff. Same with Dan Andrews (@tropicalmba) - I'll read anything either of them post.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    almost 2 years ago #

    From just looking at the pattern of articles submitted to GrowthHackers, there seems to be this renewed discovery/focus on customer success, almost like it was being ignored for a while but now is the sexy new thing.

    Do you have that feeling as well and if yes, why do you think it's suddenly taking the prominence it has when customer success has always been a pillar of any companies own success?

    • PS

      Peter Shankman

      almost 2 years ago #

      Because we're entering the customer economy - companies are FINALLY (and it's about damn time) starting to realize that the customers control the direction of the company - Even moreso now than ever before, and it's only going to get stronger.

      Forget review sites, yelp is all but dead. When I have a good experience, I don't need to leave a review. The simple act of being there, my phone GPS knowing I'm there, my positive instagrams or tweets, that's all taken in by the network - when my friends are looking for a place to eat, they'll automatically see my stuff on demand - forget having to request it or look up a review.

      BUSINESSES: STOP FOCUSING ON LIKES, AND START FOCUSING ON DOING MORE LIKEABLE THINGS.

      3 Share
  • DT

    Drew T

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Peter,

    The Department of Defense is very regulated. What tips do you give entrepreneurs and business development professionals who are interested in on boarding a customer who has stringent guidelines?

    -Drew

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