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Becoming a Great Communicator with Don Long

George Grombacher March 9, 2023

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Becoming a Great Communicator with Don Long

LifeBlood: We talked about becoming a great communicator, why it’s better to focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses, how to bring transformation to your sales team and organization, and how to know how others want you to communicate with them with Don Long, entrepreneur, author, speaker, coach and consultant.  

Listen to learn a fast way to determine how to better communicate with others!

You can learn more about Don at, and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Don Long

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Well, let’s have this George G. And the time is right. Welcome. Today’s guest struggle powerful Don, long gone. Are you ready to do this? Absolutely. All right, let’s go. Don is a best selling author. He’s a speaker, peak performance consultant helping people and organizations reach their highest potential. Don excited to have you on tell us a little about your personal life more about your work, why you do what you do?

Don Long 0:26
Well, over the last almost 40 years now I’ve built several different companies. And as of the end of 19. And so the last company that I lead,

had have two brand girls that are on their own in business, beautiful wife live in North Carolina, and just finished building a brand new home about six, eight months ago. And so life’s pretty good.

george grombacher 0:54
I love it. And from a business standpoint, what are you working on?

Don Long 0:58
Well, you know, right now, I love I love bringing, my key is bringing transformation. And then those two people use that word. But for me, defining transformation means that I like coming into either an individual’s business and our corporate structure, and changing some of the major thought processes that causes people to, for lack of better words, they get an epiphany, the light bulb goes off, and suddenly they were and I like to use the metaphor where they were a caterpillar. Now they are a butterfly, as a team, organization, or individual. And I really like to drill down in I love working on the tools of the business and my new product, world class business systems, definitely works on the tools. But what I’ve found out over the 40 year period of businesses and people in different things is that most business is 80% of business is built around psychology, and are the power of what you bring to the table as an individual, then the tools are the ones that you need. Most people want to work on the tools 80% of the time, and they only want to work on themselves 20, I tried to reverse the order, I tried to get to the heart of the team or the individual that I’m working with. And I use the DISC profile a lot in that process just to drill down to be able to create some common ground with the individuals that I’m working with or the teams so that I know how they’re coming from how they’re communicating how they’re able to receive communication. And in that process, you’d be surprised because most people, most people don’t even know what their strengths are. They don’t know what their giftings are. And it’s like, why is that important? Well, if you don’t know that, you don’t know the basis of what you bring to the table. And how to implement that to actually bring a product to a consumer, or help your clients or whatever it is that you’re the results or product that you’re serving your clients with. And so in that process, that’s what transformation looks like to me. And I’ve kind of went around several different ways, but it really is the basis of working on you mostly. And then the tools secondary.

It is a what do you put it like that it makes sense. But we’re so accustomed to wanting to find the next, you know, I’m just going to create a new habit, or I’m going to do this hack. But really, the 80% of the work is really I need to figure out me and how I am communicating and what I’m good at what where I need to, I guess make changes? Yeah, yeah. The other piece too, is it’s great when I get to work with teams of people, individuals as well. But the interesting thing about the team dynamic for me is that in the last company that I ran, I did what was called a corporate disc test. So we didn’t just do everyone that was hired at the management level or above. They were individually tested before I would hire them to see if they fit the role that I wanted to. Then the secondary piece was once I had the primary team, I probably had well, I had three to five people in my inner circle. And then I had a dozen people that I would consider that were right out on the next layer of circle.

That whole group took a took the corporate test, and we took our corporate DNA, and we figured out a wow, we have weak spots everywhere. And the reason was, is that we ended up hiring people just like us. Sound familiar?

We hire people just like us, right? Well, what I realized is, is that I needed other people to do different things in the organization. For instance, my VP of HR was the only person in our profile that tested in the bottom part of the quadrant. And that was wonderful because that’s where she fit. It was great for her thing, but I have other holes in the organization. So when I work with people, what I’ve, what I’ve realized is is that your strengths are where you’re the most alive and most powerful. your weaknesses are never ever going to be any good. And I love what John Maxwell says. He says, Once you found out what your strengths are only work on those and never work on your weaknesses, again, what you have to do is employ other things to cover your weaknesses. And at a corporate level, when you do that, you start seeing the you start seeing the engine, seeing a smooth level, you can even hear run, it runs so well, because you have people operating only in their strengths. And the last company that I ran in my goal, and after learning to do this testing, my goal was to always pull the greatness out of other people. And then Where I was weak, cover it with their greatness. And then that way, as an organization, you always look powerful before your client in a good way. And you’re also people become fully alive. You know, think about when you’re living out who you are, at a core level. And it’s in, its full, it’s fully you it’s not something you’re superimposed on by society, or something your boss wants you to do, or some somebody else wants you to. But it’s really you. That’s when you’re most alive. And to me that that’s that’s what makes working in business. So great, you know, with people is to see that and see that light bulb come off in people and individuals and then see people’s strengths. Because see, once you once you get this, I mean, it’s really simple. You’ll just work on what you’re good at. And what and I realized when people are listening this well, I’m one person, and I have to do everything I get it. When I began the companies that I began, I had to do what little bit of HR I could do, but I was never any good at it. So the code, the goal is to focus on what you’re good at, build a big enough base, so you can hire the individuals to fill the roles that they’re wonderful in and that you suck at. Trusting you’ll be happy you did

george grombacher 7:01
I love it. How do I know if I’m a good communicator? How do I know if I’m bad?

Don Long 7:07
That’s a good question. So the power of communication can be distilled down in one statement, you have you have more than one kid. Do you understand this? As a parent? Anybody? Listen, it’s a parent knows that if you have more than one child, they are completely different. It’s it’s sometimes amazing how they can be so different coming out of the same parent try. My girls are like day and night. They they do have some similarities, but they their personalities are almost completely different, right? Well, what do you have to learn in communication is really simple. You want to communicate to people the way that they need to receive communication, not the way you want to give the communication. And it’s it that statement is so powerful if you’ll just let it sink in. But here’s the challenge. When you get under pressure, in a situation with communicating to people, you typically always revert back to your style. That’s just the way it is. Because you’re comfortable with that, right? That’s who you are, right? But you have to challenge yourself, if you want to be a great communicator, start working on this when you get into heated situations, at work or with your staff or with a client or whatever, or maybe with your children. Try it with your children, because that’s where it works. If you if it doesn’t work at home, it’s not going to work in the corporate world. Let me tell you that. And so what you find is that okay, wait a minute, hold on, take a breath. How did they need? What what’s what’s happening here? Why am I missing the mark with getting the point across, and I can tell you 99% of the time is because you are forcing your style of communication upon someone who needs to receive a different style of communication. And the reality of it is, is if you look, there’s lots of these personality profile things, but I love the disc because there’s only four. So you don’t have to worry about dozens, there’s four quadrants. And when you find out who you are in that in that piece, then you know how you communicate. You know, and it’s really simple. It’s not it’s not that hard. Then when you run into other people, including your own family. And they are a let’s let’s just take a for instance, I’m a D, and I have part. My wife is an S, which is in the bottom quadrant, bottom right quadrant thing. We complement each other well, because we’re a little bit opposite in some areas, but then we’re like in some areas, but if I’m not careful, I will communicate at her instead of to her because my style is moving toward you. I mean, moving toward person. Well, if you’re moving away from person and your communication style, then suddenly we’re not getting we’re not communicating. We’re just talking at each other and you’re not getting what I’m saying and I’m not getting that you’re not getting what I’m saying and then I get frustrated as a leader and suddenly we have a problem in paradise right? And so the challenge is always go back to that first statement, you want to know how you’re a good communicator, it’s a people are able to receive what you’re saying, because you adapt to the way they need to hear it, period. It’s no more difficult than that don’t make it any more complicated than that. And anytime your points not getting across, or you feel like it’s not, there’s not something wrong with the other person normally, it you just just take it back to you take responsibility for it. And then sometimes it is other people’s problems. So I will say that, okay, I’m not, um, you can’t discount that. But I would say most of the time, if we use the 8020 rule, which is always right, 80% of the time, if your communication is not being received, the problem lies with the way you’re trying to give it to someone who can’t receive it in that way.

george grombacher 10:56
Like, why doesn’t this moron understand what I’m trying to tell them? Like? Well, it’s it’s not it’s he’s not he or she is not the moron. It is, it is me. So how do I it makes sense that within my organization that we can all spend time and do an assessment through the disk. And so I can actually know, this is how Don likes to communicate, so I can do a better job communicating information the way he wants to needs to receive it. What about with customers? Somebody I might have a short interaction with? How can I? How can I know?

Don Long 11:31
Well, the key with with with clients is this what I tried to do, especially with the salespeople, they’re usually your front lines dealing with the client. So what I attempted to do in our in our sales team meetings, when I would talk to them, it’s like, Okay, the first thing is, knowing who you are, which is where we started that, right. So my sales team all knew what part of this they were, they knew their strengths, okay, and they knew their weaknesses. But the reason that you tell people their weaknesses are the disc test will tell you that is that you know how you act under pressure. That’s where your weaknesses show up, right. But you want to stay in your strengths. So once, let’s say I had a salesman, his name was Billy, he knew he’s a DI, er, he’s probably an RD will, he’s really a likable person. He’s like the life of the party. Okay, so when he goes out to communicate to clients, he has to know, and you will, you can pick up on these things in like about a two minute period, whether you can almost pick your clients out by two references to Frank’s reference from the disk, the top quadrant is fast, just we’ll just use this because we could go on for hours, but just use two simple things. When you’re communicating to a client, if they are fast, in their language, their tonality, their movement, they fit in the top quadrant, which is either a D or not, okay? If they are slower, methodically, more thought driven, less verbal. And when they do use verbs, words, they’re more slow, they’re going to be the bottom quadrant. So immediately, if I know if you’re in the top or the bottom, I immediately know almost, with inherently how you want communication, if I dropped down to the bottom quadrant, which is c and s, my best friend is a C, and my wife isn’t, so I know how they want to be communicated to. So what I’ve dropped down with them, if I really want to communicate to them, like they need communication, what the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to slow my language down, I’m going to take a breath, I’m going to let them have a chance to think and digest what I’m talking about. Cr slow month language down, typically aren’t fast. But if I go to the other quadrant, and they’re all running 100 mile an hour, that’s the way I’m going to communicate to them. And it’s really simple with a client, you can really because, you know, we used to do this at work all the time, we would say Okay, which one’s your children? Well, I would always challenge my staff, what’s your How do your children right and the disk because if they could figure out how their children were yet rating the disk, and when they go out in public to meet new people o’clock, they’re going to in 60 seconds, they’re going to know, okay, this person really needs for me to slow down, or this person needs more animation and more, pull them in, you know, and it’s not any more complicated than that. It’s because it’s like, the client are going to fit in one of those levels, they’re going to fit in the bottom or the top. And if you can figure that out, then the other pieces of actually figuring the quadrant out will come if you just have communication.

george grombacher 14:37
So you talked about making that metal metamorphosis from from the caterpillar to the butterfly. And it almost sounds like you can make that pretty quickly once you just are aware of that fact that you need to communicate the way that you’re the person you’re trying to communicate with wants to receive it.

Don Long 14:57
Absolutely, absolutely. Just it but it’s really you know, it’s some level, it becomes almost second nature subconscious, because now I have to really think about it. When I’m teaching people who’ve never really thought about this concept, I have to kind of go back and think about how I came to this point. But I don’t really think about it anymore. Because a matter of fact, when I get to get on a call with someone, I don’t even have to look at them. If I’m not on the Zoom, if I’m on a physical phone call, and, and I’m communicate, I can tell within no more than two minutes, who they are, you know, at least in the sound sense of top or bottom, and then we start going, and then I can start at least communicating to them the way I think they want to receive communication. And then as we parse their issues out from a coaching or consulting standpoint, then I can drill down even further. But typically, the people who come on, you know, and work with me, I typically have them take a disc test. So if they’ve never done it before, so I know where they’re coming from. And then that way, when I meet with them, I don’t waste time, you don’t waste time, like if I meet with you, and you are seeing my best friend is a C, and he’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for years. And He’s rolled out 100 million dollar products in this industry. So he knows how to sell. But he’s not a typical salesperson. He’s a doctor of pharma, you know, so when he talks, he’s like, he talks like a doctor, you know, he’s like, Well, we have to really look at that report, you know, we have to analyze this. And we have to think through this. That’s the way he communicates. Well, if I know you’re a see, when I come to me with you, I better be ready to go really drill down on every little detail, because that’s what’s important to you. That’s not important to me, every little detail I don’t care about I care about the whole forest, not individual trees. And so but in coaching people are in winning clients, you need to know if they want to see every individual tree, or if they’re forest people, right?

george grombacher 17:01
It’s so true. How often would you do you? Do you ask client that or customer that? How do you like to receive information? Is that a smart thing to do?

Don Long 17:12
Yeah, absolutely. Because I’ll tell you what they will tell you, you know, you have not because you ask not. So when you when you when you first start getting with a client, a new clients, especially the one of the top things that we always did was look, because we had contracts, you know, most people do. So we have either we had two different types of business, I had hundreds of clients in two different regions. And then I had 30 clients in a couple regions. And they the 30, client build was like half a million $2 million contracts and hundreds of clients would be 234 $5,000 A month contract. So different different types of businesses. They were all connected, but they were a little bit different than the way they were written. So once we would go to contract with people, this is the perfect time to do that. Once you first starting with a client, say, look, I realized what the contract says. But as a company owner or individual, however you would word it in your organization, we really liked going above and beyond Well, number one, people love that. So you’re setting the conversation up, right? So in doing that, we realize that you have a certain style of the way you want to be communicated to. And I just say at point blank, just like that. And we’d really like to know that. So tell me how you’d like to receive as these this project is unfolding? How do you want to stay in the loop of communications with me so that we make sure that we’re hitting all your hot buttons. And I’ll just open the conversation up like that, and you’ll find out, they will come out and tell you exactly like I’m a See, I want to know the bullet points, they will do that. But what they will do is they’ll say, You know what, I just want to know the overall project is taken care of, well, that immediately tells me they’re looking at the forest, not the trees, they do not want you calling them and giving them every little detail. On the other hand, if it’s Steven, and I do a contract with Steven, he’s going to tell me, You know what, these this is critical for our company. And I want to know the individual details that as we’re moving forward, well, that tells me when I when I communicate with him, I don’t need to give them bullet points a better give him paragraphs about what’s happening. And then you figure that whole process out in the beginning. There’s no use and love people love look, if I come to you, and you’re spending money with me, and I’m trying to help you build whatever you’re building. Let’s just use that. Do you not want me to ask you how you’d like to receive communication? I mean, that’s like, do that’s the ultimate and building rapport with people is because like, I don’t want to come across like I know everything. Even though I’m the expert, you’re hiring over here. I want to come into your world and give you the things you need, not what I think you need.

george grombacher 19:53
I love it. Well, Don, thank you so much for coming back on the show. Where can people learn more about you? How can people engage with you

Don Long 20:00
The best way you can check out my website is www dot Dawn wN There’s a place to contact me there. Love to love to chat with any of your viewers and audience. Excellent.

george grombacher 20:16
Well if you enjoy this as much as I did show down your appreciation and share today show the friend who also appreciates good ideas go to Don w And check out the great resources and think that we can all use a a metamorphosis in certain aspects of our lives and our business and then with our teams, so there’s an opportunity check it out. Thanks,

Don Long 20:39
get done. Absolutely. Appreciate it.

george grombacher 20:42
And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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