July 3, 2021

Todd Henry on Becoming the Creative Business Development Professional

Todd Henry on Becoming the Creative Business Development Professional

Todd Henry shares why creativity is crucial to business development success and a new mindset for identifying client problems in a way that will make them think you’re reading their mind. Learn a practice that allows you to connect the dots and...

Todd Henry shares why creativity is crucial to business development success and a new mindset for identifying client problems in a way that will make them think you’re reading their mind. Learn a practice that allows you to connect the dots and deliver brilliant insights when you need them most and a method for getting to the root of a client’s problem without being pushy or relying on a PowerPoint slide deck.


Mo asks Todd Henry: What is your big idea for folks to stand out, to be creative, do their best work, and get their prospects’ attention?

  • A lot of people believe that they are not creative because they don’t make art, but creativity is problem solving. Any line of work that involves problem solving requires you to be creative on a daily basis.
  • Most successful creative professionals have disciplines in their life that prepare them for moments where they have to be brilliant. They build study time into their schedule to fill their mind with valuable stimuli.
  • If you want to be brilliant on a moment’s notice, you have to begin far upstream from the moment and that begins with building practices into life so you can deliver great results when you need to.
  • One of the interesting challenges of working from home over the past year has been that meetings have become frictionless. That means that everyone needs to identify time on the calendar to commit to engaging in those disciplines.
  • Block out time in your schedule to read, to think, and sit and think about your priorities. Get ready to feel unproductive for a couple of hours because creativity is not about efficiency; it’s about effectiveness.
  • If something is important to you, you will find time for it. Those that are willing to take the uncomfortable step to carve out strategic time on the calendar are the ones that are going to see results on the other side.
  • We have to manage our energy in the same way we manage our time. We need to think about our time in terms of investing, and when you invest, you are expecting long-term gains. Part of your time portfolio should be investment focused on efforts that may not pay off now but can lead to bigger results later on.
  • Treat this time like a meeting with yourself. If someone calls you and requests that time, treat it like you were meeting with a client or important prospect. It’s also important to create feedback loops with your team so they can see the results of your efforts.
  • We have to say no to things that aren’t using our time in the way that we want to use it in order to use our time effectively.
  • One of the problems with meetings is that people will often set them for 60 minutes by default. One tactic you can use to restrict meetings to accomplish what they need to without wasting time is scheduling them at specific times (9:22) and a specific place (potted plant on the 2nd floor).
  • You can also define how long you want to commit to when asking people to pick a time on your calendar.


Mo asks Todd Henry: What is your best advice on how people can create demand using creativity?

  • If we want to be effective creative professionals, we need to become effective at defining problems.
  • If you can define the problem your client is trying to solve better than they can, and also propose some solutions, they are much more likely to come to you for the work.
  • The creative process begins by defining problems effectively. Those who ask the best questions win because they get closest to the middle.
  • When the client feels like you are inside their head and you deeply understand the issues they are facing, you become the go-to expert.
  • Every organization thinks they’re unique but they often can’t see the problem they are facing because they are too close to the work to have a proper perspective. You can bring an outside perspective and if you can identify the problem differently and give them the language that helps them simplify the problem, you’re halfway to closing the deal.
  • Start with very broad questions and work your way down. Broad questions give you opportunities to ask more pointed questions that can guide you towards the deep problem the prospect is dealing with.
  • The issue with experts is that we start to become comfortable with what we do and start to lead with solutions instead of questions. We have to be curious and want to understand what is going on before we start offering solutions.
  • Your marketing materials are tools for the prospect to justify the purchase decision, not the reason to make the purchase decision. At the end of the day, they want to know if you can solve their problem.
  • Many of us artificially escalate the perceived consequences of failure and this prevents us from taking enough action to really get results. We need to rely less on the PowerPoint slides and more on the personal relationship where you are invested in them and solving their problems.


Mo asks Todd Henry: What is your #1 tip to deepen relationships?

  • If something is important to you, it becomes a priority. We need to start treating relationships as investments rather than obligations.
  • As we become successful professionals, we start to see relationships as more transactional and we need to change that perception.
  • We need people in our life to reveal patterns that we can’t see, to speak truth to us, to help us see life through new eyes, and to inspire us, and we need to be that person for other people as well. Do you have anyone in your life that you meet with routinely to help each other become better?
  • Especially with leadership, you need meaningful relationships in your life where people are willing to speak truth to you and preferably before the other person needs something from you.
  • Be intentional about your relationships. A head-to-head is a good tactic to deepen one relationship at a time. The next time you meet with the person, share one new thing you’ve learned since the last time you met and have the other person do the same. This simple practice expands your capacity to see the world and helps you both be better at what you do.


Mo asks Todd Henry: How do we hack our own habits to have the best chance at long term success?

  • Professionals that succeed in the long term and continue to be prolific, brilliant, and healthy are the ones that have disciplines and practices in five key areas.
  • The first is focus. Successful creative professionals solve problems; they don’t work on projects. Define the problem you are trying to solve and whittle it down to the most important aspects so you can allocate your finite resources effectively.
  • The second is relationships. We need other people in our life to help us solve problems effectively. Creativity is a team sport. Teams that are good at connecting the collective dots are the most effective.
  • The third is energy. We have to be good at managing our discretionary energy in ways that help us create more energy in the future. We have to be good at saying no and investing our energy in meaningful places.
  • The fourth is stimuli. These are the dots you put into your head that you can connect later. You need a practice of inspiring yourself with stimulus that forces you to see things in new ways.
  • The fifth area is hours. We often think of our time in terms of efficiency and not effectiveness. We need to invest our time in long-term future value.


Mo shares his insights from the habits of Todd Henry.

  • Long scale creativity is a process, just like business development. The Snowball System and the Grow Big Training are a creative synthesis of the business development practices that have been shown to work across industries and time.
  • Any kind of long-term sustainable work, whether that’s growing a business or learning a language, takes a long time to get there. As soon as you realize that, you can identify the process behind it.
  • Anybody who is great at something has both learned it and earned it by developing a process around it.
  • “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” -Jack London
  • You should walk into your first meeting with someone with a hypothesis as to what’s going on, but lead with broad questions. Ask enough questions about the prospect’s situation until you can articulate back their problem to them better than they can describe it themselves.
  • By asking questions first, you get a triple win. Good questions light up the pleasure center of the other person’s mind, you are going to learn their priorities in their words, and the more self-disclosing information they give you, the more they like you. You have a higher chance of getting the yes at the end by starting with great questions at the beginning.
  • A simple tactic you can use to take your business development efforts to the next level is the head-to-head. Find someone who is moving in the same general direction you are and schedule a 30 minute meeting once a month to share what each of you has learned since your last meeting. Build in an element of accountability to stay committed and maintain momentum.
  • As you share your three big things that you plan to accomplish, you will start to notice ways that you can be helpful to each other.
  • Business development is a project that never ends. It's a process, like creativity, and if you want to grow your business, you need to focus on it and have a system to make it happen each week.



Mentioned in this Episode: