Peter Shankman, The Bold Request and Quantum Growth

Quantum Growth. It’s that thing that happens when something really takes off. When your trickle of book sale cash becomes “hand over fist.” When your following goes from hundreds to millions. I got my first taste of Quantum Growth last night, after my interview with Peter Shankman (@petershankman) of HARO fame on my Coaches’ Corner show on BlogTalkRadio (, which was also a featured show on BlogTalkRadio. Peter, who is quite a successful guy, is a person of major influence in the world of social media and public relations. He’s also about as nice a fellow as you could ever hope to meet.

Peter Shankman

This show happened by way of a great bit of timing, some major generosity on the part of Peter Shankman, and my willingness to make a bold request. On the morning of September 27th, I saw a tweet from Peter, saying, “OK, guys… How can I help you today? Whatcha working on? Whatcha need?” The mere fact of this tweet blew me away. Peter has always been an incredibly generous man, and he does not reserve his generosity for only his closest friends. I immediately tweeted back, “I need people for my radio show who ‘touch, move and inspire.’ And yes, you’re in that category!” While I was hoping he’d jump on it himself, I’d have been thrilled to even get hooked up with one of his influential friends to interview. Instead, Peter responded, “@coachandrew I’ll do that for you. Contact Meagan, my assistant…” along with an email address. THUD! And just like that, it was on. I set up the show with Meagan for October 29th.

A little history. I’ve been doing the show for several years, and have done about 85 shows, interviewing people who “touch, move and inspire.” The shows have run the gamut from your basic life coach, to spiritual coaches, to childhood idols, and even my own dad. I closely follow the stats provided by BlogTalkRadio for my show. For the first couple of years, a good result would be 300 archived “listens” (downloads or streaming plays from the site or from iTunes), with most shows only having a handful of live listeners, with 28 being my highest number. With the exception of one show, with Karen Monteverdi of GreenMountain Enrichment and Empowerment Center (who is now my own coach), which had over 2,800 listens, an exceptional result was anything over 500. In recent months, things have changed. Nine of my top 10 shows have at least 1,000 listens, with the 10th at 951. Going into last night’s show with Peter Shankman, I had one show over 3,000, and two over 2,000. I submitted the show to be a featured show, which I’d never done before. This was bold request number two. When I received a note of congratulations from BlogTalkRadio telling me my show had been selected as a feature show, I got goosebumps from head to toe. I felt like a minor league pitcher who just got called to go to “The Show,” the major leagues. I started promoting the show in the week before.

It’s showtime! Monday, the 29th, was no ordinary day. As it turned out, Hurricane Sandy, a/k/a Frankenstorm, had arrived. New York City was on lockdown, and by 8 p.m., there were millions of people without power. I hadn’t heard back from my last note to Meagan, nor had Peter responded to my tweets about looking forward to our show. I was getting nervous. I opened the chatroom 8:40, and launched the live pre-show feed at 8:45. Normally my guests call in about five minutes before showtime. At 8:55, I sent a text to the last cell phone number I had for Peter. No response — probably not his current number. At 8:58, I tweeted at him to please call in. At 9 p.m., the show started. I announced my name and the show, and that we were in a major hurricane, and we are waiting for our guest to arrive. I killed a minute or two talking about the challenges of the storm, and invited people to call and chat about the storm. I then decided to play a song, and I began to play a cut by Drew Gasparini, my guest of the previous Monday. A minute or so into the song, I saw my virtual switchboard light up with a phone call. The buttons to pick up the call hadn’t properly rendered, which I made mention of, and refreshed my screen. Thankfully, the buttons appeared, and I was able to bring the call on the line. It was Peter! I skipped my own introduction, since I can always edit this in, introduced Peter, and away we went for the next 55 minutes, during which time we were both jarred by blasts of wind from Sandy, explosions, and the word that he might imminently lose his power.

It felt like a really good show, and my post-show feedback from my coach and from others was quite good. Then I went to look at the early numbers, which would include only the live listens at that time. What I saw made me literally rub my eyes. I even logged off and logged back in, to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I had a total of 810 live listeners! This by itself made this a top 20 show. As the night went on, I’d check back to see how the archive shows were going. It was like watching an odometer on fast forward, with something like 150 every four or five minutes. By the time I’d gone to bed, it was nearly 4,000. A mere 25 hours after the show, my tally is 7,889 — and this is over 400 more than it was when I started the article 20 minutes ago!

There are lessons here. First, be bold! As William Hutchinson Murray famously said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” Second, think big! We all have to start with the first steps. Eventually, we can take bigger and bigger steps. My dream guests include Anthony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, Jack Canfield and Sir Richard Branson. It may not happen tomorrow, but it will happen. The third? Have an attitude of gratitude! One of the things I’ve learned from following Peter Shankman over the years is to do nice things for people, and to be grateful and humble. And to wear a Scottevest. I will never forget this wonderful gesture, and I know I will pay it forward. Thanks, Peter!

Listen to the show here: Coaches’ Corner with Coach Andrew Poretz and guest Peter Shankman

Customer service and the power of Twitter

I’ve learned from the great Peter Shankman the power of getting fast customer support by mobilizing Twitter to get the attention of the right people at a company that’s done the wrong thing.

A perfect example of the power of Twitter in the world of customer service is the recent debacle of daily deal site‘s (formerly The Dealist) unfortunate partnership with the now-defunct Digital Doorstep to distribute Fandango Bucks. The daily deals site offered a compelling offer back in October 2011 to purchase vouchers for Fandango Bucks for two tickets worth up to $24 for only $12 (which is now less than the cost of a first-run movie in Manhattan, where I live). I bought four, giving me eight tickets, but I had to use them before January 31, 2012.

The vouchers had to be redeemed through Digital Doorstep, a digital fulfillment company. Pasting the codes would then reveal the Fandango codes needed to apply when purchasing the movie tickets. I used two of vouchers without incident, and preemptively redeemed the other two so that I would have the Fandango codes ready to use. Now, with just days before their expiration, I decided to use them. When on the Fandango site and in the process of purchasing tickets, I discovered that my codes were “cancelled.” Perplexed, I went back to the Digital Doorstep site, where I was informed that the company was no longer redeeming coupons and that I should go back to the deal site in question to obtain a refund.

The site was of little help. There was nothing on the site referring to this issue. The “Contact Us” section had only an online form, and no phone number. Googling for a phone number was unsuccessful. The top deal sites Groupon and Living Social both offer toll-free support lines, so this did not bode well. I submitted a report, but got no response or even an acknowledgement in email. I then decided to see if the company had a presence on Twitter. They did. I immediately tweeted them about my problem. When I looked at their Twitter page, I noticed a number of similar tweets, and their responses, which gave a special email address for each person to use to send them particulars of their transaction. Apparently kgbdeals had set up a “Digital Doorstep Response Team,” with a corresponding email address.

I sent to this address the same content of my earlier form submission. Now, within minutes, I had a reply — automated, but a reply — and not longer after, I had a personal reply. It took a number of back and forth emails to get things straightened out, but eventually I was rewarded with a notice that my canceled codes would be refunded $24 within five days. (Notably, there was another email from another person on their team, calling me “Alexander,” saying I’d be getting $48. I let them know, and then they sent the correct one.)

So, thanks to Twitter, problem solved. I’m disappointed, however, that the company still has not bothered to put up any sort of notice on their website pointing people to the solution I found on my own. I’ve discovered that this is often the case: a company does a decent job handling disasters via Twitter, but still allows its old-school customer service people to do a lousy job. (I find it nearly amusing, since I cannot help but think of the Russian KGB when I see the name kgbdeals, and their handling of this mess reminded me of how the old Russian bureaucracy might have handled it.) For that reason, I unsubscribed from today.