Kathi and Michele talk to podcaster, speaker and business coach Dr. Brian Dixon about his new book “Start With Your People; The Daily Decision That Changes Everything.”  You will learn Brian’s secrets to networking with a purpose and genuinely serving your audience.


In today’s episode, you will:

  • Understand what it means to start with your people.
  • Learn about the “triangle of credibility.”
  • How to become valuable to other industry influencers.


Today’s Episode Brought to You by:

Kendra Burrows

Whether your negative thoughts taunt you only once in a while or every hour on the hour, grab your copy of The Truth About the Negative Lies Communicators Believe over at www.kendraburrows.com/communicators, and receive weekly reassurance and tips to help you minimize those negative thoughts.

Free Download

The Mirror Manifest, a mission statement building tool.

Enter to Win A Copy

Start with Your People by Brian Dixon

Tell us in the comments here or on Facebook your one takeaway from this podcast to enter a drawing for a free copy of  Brian Dixon’s book, Start With Your People. Chances depend on number of entries. Buy your copy HERE.

Check Out These Resources

Writing at the Red House

The SCORRE Conference

Anna LeBaron

Dan Miller


To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our list now and never miss an episode or blog.

Transcript of this Episode

Read along with the podcast!

Communicator Academy Podcast #176

Connecting with your Audience

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women to become the communicators God created them to be. With me today is my very well-connected friend, Michele Cushatt. Hey, Michele!

Michele – Connected! Connecting is one of my favorite values, right?

Kathi – I know it is!

Michele – It’s a very nice way to introduce me. I appreciate that.

Kathi – I don’t think I’ve ever introduced you that way before, but today’s guest I know because of you. It’s all because of Michele. So, I am super excited. First of all, I’m excited because we have a guy on the podcast. This does not happen.

Michele – I love having some male representation here.

Kathi – I met Michele before him, but Michele encouraged me to go to The Score Conference, and I got to sit down with Brian Dixon. I’ll never forget about that meeting, Brian. You and I sat down, and I thought, “Oh my, gosh. This is so valuable.” So I pulled out a notepad and a pen, and you said, “Okay, this is the kind of person I want to work with. The person who pulls out the notepad and the pen.” I’m like, “Already I get brownie points!”

Michele – Teacher’s pet!

Kathi – I know. Every time. Okay, so he’s a podcaster, and conference speaker, and a business coach. That’s the capacity I met him in. He has a doctoral degree from the University of San Diego. He is just a fascinating guy. I love following him on Facebook. If you’re not connected to him on Facebook, go do it. Dr. Brian Dixon, welcome to Communicator Academy.

Brian – Yes! Thank you so much for having me. By the way, if, for those of you who are listening as communicators, who are thinking about coaching, what I did with Kathi a few years ago, is a test. What I’d recommend, when you’re talking to somebody, and you can kind of see, “Are they going to take my advice or not?” what you do, is you recommend one thing. For example, you could say, “You should check out this particular book.” And you mention the book. Then you stop the coaching, and you see if they write it down. If they don’t write it down, I would say, don’t quite shake of the dust, but you can politely end that conversation, because they are not listening anymore.

Michele – It’s a shorter conversation than it could have been.

Kathi – I offer 15 minutes free coaching, just to connect with people to see if it’s going to work. If you’re doing that fifteen minutes free coaching on the way to go get your daughter frozen yogurt. This is not going to be a productive relationship. That’s a true story, by the way. Okay, this is very exciting, because we are talking about my and Roger’s book of the month. Now, it’s a very exclusive book of the month club. It’s me and Roger, but what we’re doing is, we’re reading through Brian’s book Start With Your People: The Daily Decision that Changes Everything. I think we all know, “Start with your people” but what, specifically, does that mean to you?

Brian – Well, for communicators, it means figuring out “Who is my ideal reader?” because that’s why we’re here. We’re here to help our ideal reader overcome where she’s stuck. Help her figure out where she’s stuck. What’s the goal that she has? What’s the path to move her forward? We, as guides on the side, that’s our opportunity we have to come along side and to say, “Hey! Are you feeling stuck?” or “Are you experiencing this right now in your life? If you are, I’d love to help you.” Walking them through a process where we serve them for free through our social media, through our email lists. Then, leading them to our courses, our coaching, and our conferences. So, for communicators, that’s what it means to ‘start with your people’. Focus on that one ideal reader, because you can’t serve everybody, so serve the person you’re meant to serve.

Kathi – Yeah. Isn’t it interesting? Michele, you’ve published enough books, and Brian, now this is your first book, right?

Brian – Yes, the first traditionally published one. Absolutely.

Kathi – Yeah, so when you go and you talk to a publisher or an editor or an agent, and they ask, “Who’s the book for?” and you say, “Everybody.” That’s how they know. Right, Michele?

Michele – “It’s for everybody ages 10 to 100!”

Kathi – “Ten to a hundred and ten!” Right!

Michele – Male, female, dogs, horses and goldfish. It’s for everyone.

Kathi – I am blown away, because, when you’re trying to sell to everyone, you’re trying to serve no one. That’s exactly what’s going on, there. So, here’s what I want to know from you, Brian. I know we have just a short time. That’s why you all just have to go get the book, ‘cause we have a short time here, and you need to get into this. But, I want to know, what are a couple of simple ways? Once you’ve identified that person, we call them The Avatar. People can call them a million different things. What are a couple of simple ways to show up and serve others of influence that you’re connecting with, in order to serve your audience?

Brian – Okay, so the question is, “How do you build a relationship with people who are already serving your ideal reader?” ‘Cause we’re in an economy and a relationship business, so there’s a whole chapter on ethical networking in the book Start with Your People, because it really is about who you know. And it’s even more about who knows you. So, what I’ve learned is, to come along side somebody who is a little further ahead of you in your industry and pay attention. Pay to go to their conference and pay attention. So, you go to Kathi’s conference. You go to their writing retreat at The Red House and you look around, and after the retreat’s over, you walk up to Kathi and you say, “Hey Kathi. You notice how…” And that’s where you address something that’s broken. So, there’s something that you’ll notice that you can do something about. So, for me, it was our buddy Dan Miller. Dan Miller has a coaching conference, Coaching with Excellence, and I paid to go to it. I paid attention. I took notes the whole time. As I was there, I realized that nobody was filming it. I thought, “I can’t do a lot, but I can, at least, film your conference.” So, I said, “I’d love to come back the next time, but this time, what if I filmed it, so you could use clips on social media? You could make an online course from it. You can do whatever you want.” And he said, “Are you kidding? You’d do that?” And I said, “I’d do it for free, just so I can be around you and serve your people.” That was four years ago, and he and I have been doing business together. We started a membership site together. 50/50 in the business, because it started by showing up and serving him.

Kathi – Isn’t that the best way to connect with people? I have people coming at me all the time, (I know you do, Brian. I know you do, Michele), who want to sell us something. They are the magical answer to all of our problems. I’m constantly looking out for, “How can I serve my audience better?” So, if Brian, you’re coming at me, or you’re coming at Dan, or Michele, or somebody, and saying, “Here’s how I want to serve your audience better.” I’m going to listen to that all day long. The fact that you invested in me and want to serve that audience? That makes all the difference in the world.

Brian – That’s where it starts. Then, what I’ve found, it’s called The Triangle of Credibility. The idea is, the people that are farther along in their career, they have a pretty tight knit circle of people they know, like, and trust. Really, strategically? It’s about doing a great job with the people right in front of you. That’s what it means to ‘start with your people.’ The secret, or the key to selling more books, to launching your course, all of that, isn’t to go find new people. It’s to look to the people who are already on your email list. Those ten people on your email list right now? What if you served them really well? I’ll give you an email script really quick, okay?

Kathi – Go for it.

Brian – This is the email you should send today. “Question for you” That’s the subject line. If you want to get fancy, you can insert their first name. So, “Question for you, Brian.” “Hey Brian. I was thinking about you this morning.” Or as a person of faith, you could say, “I was praying for you this morning.” So, “Hey Brian. I was praying for you this morning, and had a quick question for you. Where are you stuck right now? Hit reply. I promise I’ll read your response.” That’s the email. Send it to your entire list. What will happen is, your ideal reader will press reply. They will tell you exactly where they’re stuck. Here’s the fun part: What’s obvious to you, is magic to other people. When they write you back and they say, “I’m really stuck, because I don’t know how to get my first paid speaking gig.” Or “I’m really stuck because I don’t know how to get started in homeschooling.” Or maybe for me, “I’m really stuck because I don’t know how to write a book proposal.” I can write back and say, “Great! I’m here to help. Here’s a resource.” Or “Here’s a podcast to go listen to.” Or “Here’s a book to go get.” And what we do is start the conversation. That is the difference. That is what it really means to ‘start with your people’. That’s where it starts to grow, when you show up for the people that are already in your life.

Kathi – I think that a lot of people try to go too big. They try to hit everybody at one time. The only returns are big returns. But, those small, faithful returns, over and over again. Whether it’s the people you’re serving, or the people you want to connect with to serve alongside, it’s those small, faithful ways of showing up that are going to make a difference in somebody’s life and make them a follower who wants whatever course you’re offering, whatever book you’re talking about. They are going to want to consume that.

Brian – So good. In terms of reaching out to influencers, you know, our friend, Jared Easley says, “Stop chasing influencers.” Stop chasing them because they don’t want to be caught. Right? But what they want to do is engage with their people. So, a really easy thing to do, is, when you’re on social media, and you see that influencer post something on Facebook, or something on Instagram, and it really connected with you? Hit that little message button, hold down the microphone, or even press the camera, and record a little video. Just say, “Hey, Kathi. I just wanted to thank you so much. I’ve been following you for a few years. What you posted today really spoke to me. I know as a communicator, it can be discouraging sometimes. Sometimes it can feel really lonely, and I just want you to know that the time that you took to post that today mattered, because it made a difference for me.” I never get tired of hearing that! I don’t know about you.

Kathi – Absolutely. The best person I see at this is, if you guys don’t follow her currently, is, Anna LeBaron. Anna LeBaron is the queen of this, so go follow her as an opportunity.

Michele – I have a question that’s going to dig a little bit more personal. All of these are great practical advice. I love it. Really good advice, but I know that there are times that people will replicate this, but it’s just an act. It still comes across as very manipulative.

Kathi – Mmm. Yeah.

Michele – Very much like they’re trying to say all the right things, but they’re still stepping on necks to get ahead. So, and this is where I’m pushing deep in. You ready, Brian?

Brian – I’m ready. Let’s do it.

Michele – How do you guard yourself in such a way that this is truly authentic? So, you don’t just write a subject line that says, “I was praying for you this morning” unless you were actually praying for them. So, how do you, in your personal life, what kind of strategies or practices do you use to make sure that these attempts to connect are truly from a core that cares about you and not only gain?

Kathi – So good, Michele. I’m always glad you’re here to do the deep. I love it.

Brian – Yeah, absolutely. I lean into that. So, one of the best thing about living in 2019 is, we have amazing tools that we can use. I’m an advocate for social media tools and productivity tools. I love all that stuff, but what we often miss is, we can use these tools to build personal relationships and personal connection. If you just think about the math, there’s 7 billion people in the world. So, those 7 or 8 people you see in your Facebook feed, the math on that is a one in a billion chance that you’re going to connect with this person. So, I just chalk that up to providence. I just say, “God wanted me to see that today. Maybe it’s just a Facebook algorithm, but God has used donkeys, so God can use a Facebook algorithm.” When I see that, I’m like, “Okay Lord, obviously, you’ve put this person in front of my life. You’ve put this person in front of my eyes.” So, my person is Cheryl. Writer. Two kids. She has Thursday afternoons to work on her blog or her book. She gets about 10 minutes in and she gets really discouraged. She hops on social media to waste time, then she finds Brian Dixon. And Brian shares something encouraging, inspiring or instructive to help her move forward. So, I’m thinking about Cheryl, so as I’m going through my Facebook feed and I see a Cheryl and she’s posted something from the heart, or something about how she’s discouraged, when I click that messaging button, that’s not a tactic. That’s personal connection. Now, sometimes she hires me as her coach and we work together, and I help her get unstuck and I help her move forward towards her writing goals, but it just makes such a difference, because she is seen and I think that’s just a check in our own spirit of, “Is it authentic?” It’s a great question and I have to ask that question every day. I can also point to the responses I’ve gotten and say, “Of course it’s authentic, because look at the difference that it’s made for her.”

Kathi – This is why we have to have Michele. She goes to the deep, but it’s so true, right? As Christian communicators, we need to be praying for those people we’re serving. If we show up and we’re inauthentic, that only can last for a little while. I’ve experienced both Brian and Michele’s heart, and I know that they care deeply for the people they’re serving. In fact, Brian, you have a freebie, a download, a tool that you are giving to our audience. It’s called Mirror Manifesto. I love a good manifesto. You have to tell me what this is about.

Brian – I think we all need one. We need this guiding principle that we can look at every day. So, as you’re getting ready for the day; as you’re looking in the mirror, imaging you have this little index card. Three sentences that reminded you of who you serve, how you help them, and the value of what you do. I think, especially as communicators, it’s so easy to compare ourselves to everybody else. It’s so easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed by all the technology options and all the people who are doing it all the right ways. We just feel like such a failure. So, to have this little manifesto that you’ve written, through this little exercise that we’ll make sure you get the link. So, it’s ten steps and once you have it written, you put it in your mirror, and you just look at it every day. Bonus points, because what I did with my Mirror Manifesto? I hired someone to record it on audio, so I listen to this little clip every single morning. When I wake up discouraged and I wake up feeling like, “What is the point of me even trying to post something on social today?” I listen to that and I’m like, “That’s right. I’m trying to show up for Cheryl. I’m trying to help Cheryl to move forward in her writing, so I can share one little tip to encourage her today.”

Kathi – I love it. Guys, we will have that on the podcast page, where you can also go. Here’s what I would love for you to do. I would love for you to, in the comments, give us a simple way to show up and serve somebody who has influenced your ministry, your business. I want you to go put that in there. Then, what we’re going to do is, we’re going to pull two random winners, and give them a copy of Start with Your People: The Daily Decision That Changes Everything. You guys are going to want a copy of this book, I promise you.

Michele – Can I put my name in the hat for one?

Kathi – Absolutely! Bend the corner, so I know it’s you, so I can pull it out. How ‘bout this? When I am done with my copy, I will send it to you. Or, I’ll just send you Roger’s copy. You know.

Michele – Send me Roger’s copy. I would really like to be part of your book club, but since it’s so elite…

Kathi – So exclusive.

Michele – It’s a two person book club. I guess I can’t be a part of it. Whatever.

Kathi – I don’t know. If you want to come to the book club meetings, they meet in our master bedroom, so that could be awkward.

Michele – Just a little bit.

Kathi – Brian, this has been so good. Here’s what I love about you. I love your heart for the people who are leading. Leaders can get very lonely sometimes. It can be frustrating, and you can feel like you’re not having an impact. I love your push to let people know you’re making a difference in people’s lives. Brian, thank you so much for being on Communicator Academy.

Brian – It’s an honor to be here.

Michele – Thank you, Brian. And thank you, friends for joining us today. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Michele Cushatt.

Kathi – And I’m Kathi Lipp.

Michele – You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.



*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

Meet The Guest

Dr. Brian Dixon

Podcaster, Speaker and Business Coach

Brian Dixon headshotBrian Dixon is a podcaster, conference speaker, and business coach. He believes that each of us was made for a purpose. You will discover that purpose by clarifying your calling, discovering your audience, and creating your products, which will help you navigate a clear path to impact and income.
Brian is passionate about helping authors, speakers, and aspiring messengers create a sustainable business through growing their platform and creating compelling online courses. He is the co-founder of hope*writers, a membership site of over 2,000 working writers. Brian has a doctoral degree from the University of San Diego. He and his wife Julie live in Charlotte, NC with their three young children.


Meet Your Hosts

Kathi Lipp

Kathi Lipp

Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO

Communicator Academy founder, Leverage: The Speaker Conference creator and master instructor Kathi Lipp, is a national speaker and author of 17 books including “Clutter Free,” “Overwhelmed,” and “The Husband Project.”

She is a frequent guest on radio and TV, and has been named Focus on the Family radio’s “Best of Broadcast.”

She is the host of the popular podcast “Clutter Free Academy with Kathi Lipp.”

Over the past 10 years, Kathi has helped hundreds of people increase their platform through teaching and coaching. She is a frequent teacher at writer’ s conferences and has helped countless authors and speakers find their audiences.

Kathi’s desire to help fellow speakers and authors avoid the mistakes she made, increase their confidence and be the person God made them to be, inspired her creation of Communicator Academy. Her newest adventure, is The Red House where she offers writer’s retreats and Writers in Residence events. Learn more about the Red House at https:writingattheredhouse.com

Michele Cushatt

Michele Cushatt

Author, Speaker, Mastermind Coach

As an experiened keynote speaker and emcee, Michele Cushatt’s speaking experience includes Women of Faith, Compassion International, and various retreats, conferences and events held across the country. She has also led radio, video and audio recording projects.

She co-hosted with Michael Hyatt on the popular This Is Your Life podcast. In addition, Michele serves as part of the Dynamic Communicators International leadership team, led by best-selling author and sought-after speaker Ken Davis.

Michele coaches multiple large-platform speakers in how to craft and deliver powerful presentations.
Michele authored Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life with Zondervan Publishers and I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is. Her third book will be launched in Fall of 2019. She launched her first Mastermind group in January 2017 and is currently taking applications for her 2020 Mastermind.