After following his love of Spanish and majoring in Spanish communication in college, Richard Blank landed an internship with Telemundo and the Importers of Corona which prepared him for a once in a lifetime opportunity takin...
After following his love of Spanish and majoring in Spanish communication in college, Richard Blank landed an internship with Telemundo and the Importers of Corona which prepared him for a once in a lifetime opportunity taking him from Philadelphia to Central America.
In this episode, you’ll hear how a friend’s offer to teach English in Costa Rica launched Richard's entrepreneurial journey. By working in his friend’s call center, he learned the ins and outs of the business, gaining the confidence to become an entrepreneur himself, founding his own call center company - Costa Rica’s Call Center.
Listen in to Richard’s refreshing, positive, and relationship-centered approach to building a successful business. Learn about the fun business culture he has instilled in his company, born out of a very unique hobby that goes the extra mile in creating a positive experience for both his employees and customers.
Richard reveals the complex nature of running a call center business in a foreign country, the differences between offshore centers and near shore centers, and how he combats attrition.
He goes on to discuss the type of clients he gets the most joy working with, the criteria he uses to determine if a client is a good fit, how he differentiates his business from his competitors, and the old school approach he follows that has led to his business growth.
Running a call center has its challenges and Richard describes how he navigates them, the impact the pandemic has had on the call center industry, what he predicts happening in his industry in the future, and the importance of human interaction in creating a positive customer experience with a company.
Finally, Richard shares the 3 things that convinced him he could be an entrepreneur, the number one core value he remains committed to in his business, and the one difference between what is out there in the business world and what is real.
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Welcome to the Real People Real Business Show. My name is Stephanie Hayes, and I'm a business strategist and coach who loves to speak with like-minded entrepreneurs to share their real stories and the gritty details on building their businesses. On this show, you won't hear about glamorized entrepreneurship journeys that you can see online. You won't be told how to make six figures in six weeks. Instead, you can expect to hear real vulnerable and inspiring stories you can relate to that have helped create the foundation for each of our guests businesses. Goodbye, Boss Babes. Hello, real life entrepreneurs today. I'm so excited to welcome Richard Blank. Richard is the CEO of Costa Rica's Call Center and has an extensive background in sales training and public speaking. Welcome to the show, Richard, and thanks so much for taking the time to share your story today. Thank you so much Stephanie. So happy to be here. Can't wait to share a lot of ideas with you and your guests. Wonderful. And, and, and if you're watching the video, you'll be able to see this, but if not, I'm staring at Richard with a bunch of retro, um, I don't even know what you call them. There's a jukebox and there's a little like candy machine. You, first of all, you just have to tell us about the, the retro machine. So glad we started with dessert first. Yes, that's my favorite topic. I, I'm an avid collector of pinball machines, juke boxes, and retro arcade machines, and so one man's trash is another man's treasure. It's my pleasure to drive a couple hours to a bodega and bring back some incredible, incredible antique machines that I love to restore and, and created really a gamification culture here where the agents can meet people from other departments, play games older than themselves, and hang out with me in a game room. So it really reduces attrition and create such a fun company culture where we have an amazing work life balance. I love this. Okay, so we're gonna get into your business story, but I, what I kind of love is that you're located down in Costa Rica, which is one of my favorite places in the world, and you've, you've brought your own kind of spin and your own little take on corporate culture into a country where things have been very different for a very long time. So that sounds like a really good segue into hearing kind of how you got to where you are right now and your story. Once again, I can't thank you enough for allowing me to share my twists and turns, but I prepared for this when I graduated high school in Northeast Philadelphia at Abington back in 91, I wanted to double down on my favorite class, which was Spanish. So unlike my family, which didn't say really put pressures on me, but there's a lot of opinions that are provided and and careers that should be predestined for you. I didn't want to go medicine or law in engineering. I, I was a Spanish communication major. And I went to the University of Arizona, and what I really wanted to do was make myself marketable and to be confident enough to be able to be versatile and get a job. Little did I know my internship with Telemundo during college and selling for the importers of Corona Postgrad prepared me for a one and a million opportunity when I was 27. A very good friend of mine owned a call center. And asked me to come down for just a couple months to teach English. Well, if you can get past your parents' guilt, Stephanie, you can live anywhere in the world. And I decided to take my chance and two months turned into four years working at my friend's center. I learned it from the inside and out. I understood the key to being an owner of a company which is dignity and giving people their own job, stability and respect. And in my mid thirties, I threw my hat in the ring and I had my impulse control maturity and some money and decided to start my company. And here we are today, almost celebrating our 15th year and sitting on a 300 seat center that I built out. So it's been a, a long shot from Philly that actually paid. Okay, so the call center world is, is complex. Yeah. And you, and so who are your customers? Who are you selling your services to? That's a great question. We work with clients in Canada, the United States, in some of Costa Rica, but there is a huge difference, Stephanie, between the offshore centers and India, the Philippines, and the Middle East. Compared to nearshore centers in Costa Rica, for an example, our proxy, that's TD United States. Our skill set, our Spanish and English language capacities, our infrastructure. And you yourself, you've been here three times and you love it. We're the only democratic society in Central America, so there's no standing army. We have a 95% literacy rate, is an amazing labor pool. So I'm looking for companies. That want to scale, that have an overflow, want to compare apples, or just looking for our sort of specific infrastructure, company culture, hands on sort of mentality that might be able to produce different types of results for a company. And so as long as they keep an open mind working with us, Nearshore could be an amazing option for. Listen, I would come and work at your call center, but meant I could be in Costa Rica, , you'd be the vice president of fun. You're kidding me. This would be a great time. I would spend all my time in the pinball machines. Well, you know, that is key because I could bring somebody in my office and grill them, or they can go downstairs and decompress, reset themselves cuz there are things outside the office which may be affecting them and through play. They can relax, they can let it out. We can laugh a little bit. So it's actually the genius on that sort of end where you and I know that recess is where you make your best friends. And so it was essential for me to create an environment where people had fun, but I couldn't agree with you more. This is very stressful. There is an attrition rate, there's a burnout. People look at telemarketers and call centers with a certain sort of viewpoint because of what you see in the movies of the Wolf of Wall Street or Glen Gary and and Stephanie. We know a lot of people that earn a living, making and receiving phone calls, not just for call centers, for any sort of company. And so as long as you're not promised in your ethics or values, And you're well prepared and you're looking to show empathy on the phone. There's no reason why you couldn't be very effective with client retention, upsells referrals, and worst case scenario, getting a real legitimate exit interview in areas in which we can improve for what our competition did to earn that business. It's, it's very interactive and there's a lot of engagement that's involved. When I imagine it's not just like a set it and forget it type of business. Right. And I love what you just said there about the, like the, the closed loop and the, the follow up because I think it's my opinion that any sort of feedback is great feedback. And even if you learn why. You know, the sale went somewhere else. That's actually even more valuable to you than having won the sale on your own, right? And so I wonder how you build those kinds of processes into your business so that you are taking advantage of all the data that you can gather. Of course. Well, you're, you're mentioning something that has to do with maturity. As long as you're willing to receive that sort of feedback, it could be positive or negative and, and to look in ways to improve, then it works. But if your ego gets in the way, if you're only just one way without any sort of deviation or. Or adjustments, it could be very difficult for you, and in fact, put yourself in the agent's shoes, Stephanie. These are the individuals that have to make these calls. So if they're not comfortable with it, if they can't go home and tell their parents what they do for a living, then you may have an issue. So I'm a guest in this country. I follow all the labor loans. I make sure that my clients don't give me any surprises. I have resources I can add, but they need to put me on a level playing field. But a lot of it's the psychology of selling. If somebody learns a second language, Stephanie to me bears the mark of higher education and it's 10 times harder. Then any sort of phone call, I can put them on a show structure and discipline, so I can put that aside. Secondly, since I've done this before, I can extend that sort of empathy cause I've made these calls. I understand the endurance, the onboarding and the training. And since English is their second language, it's very delicate and fascinating for me where we can expand on their vocabulary by insisting on using the FSOs so they can have similes, they can do much more diplomatic and strategic deliveries. Since they're speaking in a second language, imagine the intense act of listening that they're doing for shorter periods of time. So there's really no areas for distraction. If they take copious notes, if they confirm things, using name drops and personal pronouns like you are and r to keep our attention. And you are talking about a, a circle where you're keeping in touch with a client. Imagine the sort of positive escalation you could give to a gatekeeper when you speak with a business owner, letting them know how incredible. Their coworkers are, you could do it verbally and in writing, so when you call that company back, this individual will not only thank you for that compliment, tell you more about the company culture, but add to your momentum in regards to certain things you can do to keep building that sort of rapport. These are the things, Stephanie, we were raised with by our parents and grandparents, and it's something that I'm very comfortable with sharing my agents, because I know it's about old. It's common sense. It's really about copious note taking, using military alphabet, attentive listening, falling on certain swords just in case there's a miscommunication with a dog barking or a bad cell connection. It's, it's more, for my clarification, we can really reset certain tones of calls just to make it a more positive experience for the agent and for the client. Well, I love that culture of continuous improvement because I think especially in a business like yours, you have, you have a business that's somewhat systematized and follows a little bit of a pattern, but there's so many opportunities to find ways to keep elevating, keep elevating in each part of that process. So I wonder, um, so call centers telemarketing has always been, you know, a high attrition or a high turnover type of, Business. Do you find that that's the case within yours? Yes. It it, there's a natural attrition because Amazon, hp, Intel, Oracle here. Plus the large call centers like Sykes, Tele performance convergence and concentrics. I'm, I'm competing against the big boys and I will lose somebody because of a scheduling conflict. A boyfriend or girlfriend may work there. It could be closer to their home, possibly even more money, but very rarely. If never, they will say that I deface them. Walk of shame made 'em cry, intimidated them. Of course, there's agents with sour grapes and a lot of 'em will just piece out and not give me a two weeks notice as part of the game. But you and I have discussed so many times the way we treat them to reduce that attrition and. For improvement. We do have a quality control department. We listen to calls. We gauge them on metrics and KPIs, but that's what I'm paying you to do, Stephanie. The reason that you and I have elevated our skills is because of the soft skills that we use with people really being sincere in conversations, really caring about people and following through on our word. And those are the areas in which I extend more points. And I give that sort of positive feedback because I get excited that they're really in the now. They're not focusing on two or three questions or just giving some sort of hedging answer like an um, Okay. And just wonderful. Sometimes the question might not be wonderful. It's better off really to slice and dice certain answers, maybe sometimes confirm it in a neutral tone, to not offend somebody and to be able to review their information. But, um, attrition is done because the agent is not comfortable either with the supervisor, the environment, or the account. And I know that certain call centers and telemarketers may have a bad reputation from, let's just say swindles and stocks or things like that where people might feel they're getting taken advantage of. I do know this, if nobody shows up, then that account has no agents audit. People have to decide to make or receive those sort of phone calls. And in my environment, I could have grown a lot larger, but I refused gray area. Sort of campaigns. I'm very selective of what comes in here. It's not that I don't want the money. I don't need the money. I don't need that account to pay my lights. I also am a guest in this country. I'm really focusing on my reputation after two decades, and so it's very easy to offer very clean jobs for people where they feel good about it. You're mentioning improving their skills through coaching and the attrition rate drops to next to nothing if they're fulfilled and satisfied. And I've had people with me over a decade that have been with me. And so I, my hat's off to them. I, I cannot delegate or promote them enough to grow with my company. And so that's really my goals is to feed families and, and to find ways in which I can promote people at this organization. So you talked a little bit about. There are, you know, good, good projects you'll take on, and then there are projects you just will never take on. And so what, what's the sort of, what's the balance and who's that kind of ideal client for you? Well, the first one has to respect Costa Rican labor laws. And second, there can't be any surprises. I just gotta make sure that the script and rebuttals are there. The, uh, the list has been scrubbed that if there is a CRM system that's working, do you have people following up? There's a thousand questions that I would ask to make sure I can fulfill their needs, because as I mentioned before, if nobody shows up at your Chucky cheese birthday party, you have no friends. I, I have to sell it to the agent. It's a seller's market, and so the client with me almost has to settle me. To take their account to know that I would be able to fulfill their needs. And I, I like clients that have something that's a plug and play, that they have metrics, they have recordings to send to me, supervisors that can onboard us. And I also get more excited over the small companies that need just a few agents to be able to grow and expand. And because Stephanie, we were there. We started with just one. We know how excited it was when things started growing, and so I, I wanna pay it forward to those smaller projects as well that may need me to assist them to write their script. Or using our predictive dial or our CRM system, that's just fine. The most important thing is that the best relationships are made when everyone can leave something on the table and, and Stephanie, those are the sort of clients that I'm looking to build relationships with. So do you have a specialization inside of your industry? Is there, is there a reason that a particular client might come to you over another telemarketing firm? Sure. We do specialize in inbound customer support and back office support. I can also do lead generation and appointment setting. I kind of sway away a little bit from sales. Like I can sell for time and sell for information, but most of the time I like to transfer, call or set an appointment because when you're looking at that highest level of skillset, it's more of a mercenary. These individuals will pretty much, there's no loyalty to a flag. They'll just jump for a higher bid or just leave. I mean, they're extremely talented, but also my friend, they may be bringing in terrible habits. And be a cancer to a team. I'd rather bring somebody new in that I can mold compared to someone that could once again, you know, rock the boat a little bit, come in and, and leave. And so, um, that's once again very delicate as well in regards to the synergy of the team. But, you know, in regards to the client, I just wanna make sure that they are specific. And what they're asking for me is measurable. You know, we agree upon it, it's realistic, and there is also timeframe orientation there, because sometimes an individual's lack of preparation should not be my emergency. I can solve things, but you also have to give me certain time because if there's a natural flow to it, then it works. But if we're forcing a fit, then it may not start off as strong as we would like it to. And how are you finding your clients? So what, what, what's working for you in terms of lead generation or, um, you know, keeping your pipeline full? I love contributing online. It's like today I don't have a 1995 book or seminar. I'm really not selling anything. I, I just love to share ideas and when people have a chance to, hey, learn about nearshore call centers, myself, Costa Rica, it, it almost sells itself. So we've been very, uh, fortunate. For the amount of rankings that we have, uh, on Google, just in general, and especially in Costa Rica. My Facebook fan page is just, has close to a hundred thousand people on it and it's dominating. And plus I get tons of referrals and, and those are my favorite types of business. You really don't have to force a hand. It, it's really just more of a polite introduction and sharing somebody that we have in common. I like my slow and steady growth. It's allowed me to weather certain storms last close to 15 years and grow to the extent of where myself, I'm comfortable with my own business ethics that I'm able to give the certain time and attention. for my clients, cuz if I grew too large, that would be wonderful. But then again, I, I may have overextended myself and you might not get that personal touch approach that you're actually receiving for more of my, you know, under 300 seat center. Yeah. What matters to those clients like those, those, those perfect clients that'll come to you and find you? I expect you've kind of reached this sort of critical mass where the referrals. You know, the referrals are enough that they, that you're, you're kind of fed on the referrals, but what matters to these guys when they find you, what are they looking for? I love the fact that I pick up the phone when they call me, and I don't ever force a hand on a first call, and in fact, I like to extend my credentials and share a ton of information with them prior to decision. I'll work backwards. I'll be the second one to speak. They'll tell me 10 things that I can answer, and then I'll add two more things to let them know of my established credibility. But the fact that I am a long shot from Philadelphia, decided to move here, start my own center. They like people with grit. Someone that took a chance on themselves and believes in themselves so they know at least I call the balls and I call the strikes. And the best relationships are made is we can get through some sort of chaos together, where I always will communicate in real time, let them know what's going on, have a suggestion at the ready. I put a plan in action, and that is why these individuals love the fact that I'm very accountable for their accountant for the business, and it's just the way that I was raised. The old school business ethics really is the way to do business these days, and also for the agents to give them job stability, to be very conscious of your finance. To weather storms and to make sure that you're following all of those things correctly. That can also maintain a reputation. And I just wish I was Ivy League and had some sort of CEO Cracked Co. But Stephanie is just very much the tortoise compared to the hair. Um, exceptionally slow and steady in regards to my business practice. Listen, those are the most successful businesses that I've seen in my day, and I think a lot of like the credentials and the, the higher level credentials are really more suited for someone who is slotting into a bit of a figure hood role. But those of us who are. Feet on the street that have been building from the ground up. I mean, it's all about intuition. It's all about common sense. And as you've been growing and as if you've, you've been observing and watching, um, what do you think are some of the, the biggest challenges that you've been facing in this particular line of business? Well, it's really more price over merit and unfortunately I can't match certain offshore prices and I can't expect the people to work at those prices. Sometimes people will ask me to speak languages that we don't have here, and even if I did find, let's say for an example, Chinese speakers, I personally would not take the account because if I can't understand what someone is saying, I don't wanna run a risk of a rogue agent being on the phone, misrepresenting the client. My organization and this industry did change from covid. People love the call centers because of the brick and mortar. We have internet redundancy, a backup generator. We also have an IT department, so I was very fortunate. That unlike, let's say, a pizza parlor that had to close and really didn't have many options, I could send most people to work from home. We do lose that sort of essence that a call center has because it's a very vocal and social environment, and you and I, if we sat next to each other, we'd totally be feeding off of that energy and high fiving and, and supporting one another, and having launched in the pinball and the whole shebang and, and you kind of miss that. So the relationships that were built, people used to fall in love and get married from the call center, and so this is, you would spend more time here. Then you would with your own family so you could recharge batteries in this environment. And I myself, maybe being a little selfish and miss seeing the packed rooms and walking them and stopping and giving people thumbs up in high fives. And so that changed in my industry. And a lot of the top players that are looking for employment, they demand working from home. And the only thing I would ask, at least come here for a. So I get to know you. We can have some food together and train together before I send you home and, and I've seen that sort of adjustment. It helps me out. So don't to look for additional space. We almost maxed out our center, you know, before covid, but now I can keep 20 or 30% on site just for PCI compliance onboarding or just in case something happens their computer at home and send the rest of them home. But, It has changed as many times as we open up channels and communication and Zoom calls it, it really is a huge difference between people being on site. It's, it's a give and it take Stephanie. Yeah, and that's an interesting, I mean, I would never have thought about call centers being affected by Covid, but I, I assume, I guess they, they were, and now we're in this phase. I think it's not just that everybody's kind of gotten back to work, people are going back to work now with totally different ideas about work and about how we work and what we want from work, and I think it's really, really healthy in a lot of different ways. But how has that, like what do you see happening in the next two to three years? More non-voice support. I think people are gonna be doing things through omnichannel chat or email, which I think is fine, but you know, you and I both have been frustrated if we don't get a certain response or it's miscommunicated, or if you do get a chance to call into a company, you're just constantly pressing zero to speak with someone. It, it can. Frustration levels and make you wanna leave the company. And then if you happen to get somebody on the phone after that sort of latency period, I don't know you that well, but I could see guns abl and there's something needed to be done quickly and it wasn't. You know, attended to in that sort of timeframe. And so I've seen that sort of shift and adjustment and as much as you think AI is a solution, not really. There's some people that are very old school like you and I that wanna speak to somebody, have a certain person that you know at the bank, at your place where you call. I like when somebody knows my name. I like when they know my account and my history. And can give me that sort of first class service that I'm looking for. And any company that continues to do that and has that in their company culture and organization will grow, will get more business than they know what to do with. I believe that more people would prefer to interact with somebody and, and secondly, the agents need to work those skills because most people would prefer to chat compared to making a phone call. In my day, I used to have to call someone's house and ask permission to speak to my friend on the phone from their parents, and I, I would like the art of speech, just like if people know how to write in cursive. These sort of things should not go away. And if you can master these skills, you'll have incredible relationships in and outside of the office. And so, Stephanie, that's where I, I see things moving and, And if they consider it in niche where somebody answers the phone or works with you, well then maybe you'll just, you know. Capture that sort of segment of the market that would love to pay an extra 10 cents a minute to speak to somebody, or it might be considered a concierge service. Well, um, I agree with that. I, I, I think it really helps people's experiences with companies, and that's where I see things going. And what about for you in your own business? I mean, are there plans a foot to, to grow to scale? Is there, you know, will you ever build or take over new, um, physical space or is there, you know, has this given you the opportunity to scale in a way that doesn't introduce tons of overhead? Exactly. I will always keep my home base. But once again, I do not need to look for additional commercial real estate unless I grow to tens of thousands, then you may need a couple different locations. But no, that, that, that actually assisted me in, in regards to my finances, but I, I almost would've preferred that. I don't mind spending that money as long as people are together. I know it might seem old school and passe, but there really was a certain environment. Even in the movies, if you don't agree with selling stock, I mean, just look at the sort of environment where the people were really feeding off of that energy. I, I work out at my home gym and I see the convenience with it, but I always had better workouts when I had somebody that was assisting me on the flat bench pushing me to do three or four more reps. Or to go to the gym. So I, I can see these sort of people feel isolated. They'll even say that they feel isolated and. It's just something you have to deal with, and I, myself, I make it an effort to come to the office every day to dress for this. I, I'm still doing my routine because it keeps me grounded. It makes things still feel normal. And as much as I'm really pressing for these sort of relationship buildings, it's something that I'll never sway from. As much as the environment may change, I will always keep my core values, which is relationship building, and even if it's high bread, Stephanie, if you come in once a month, I'll give you a hero's welcome. I'll buy pizza that day. I'll sit next to you in the queue. I'm just like, it's great to see you, you know, just to let you know that you have friends and that you're welcome. And it's an environment where you belong that needs to still be done. Especially being a C level executive. You gotta know somebody's name and give them that sort of acknowledgement. Yeah, I agree. Absolutely. And I, you know, we're building businesses based on people and I, you know, I will say it took a, it took a few years just to get into the swing of being on your own and figuring out how to, I'm an extrovert and how to, Still fulfill my need to connect. And I think it took, you know, seven years for me to finally realize that when I start feeling down or I start feeling, you know, demotivated or what have you, the the thing I need to do is connect. And I need to, you know, have that face to face. And remember that there's a whole network of people out there that are, that understand what I'm doing or that are connected to me in some way. And, and who can. Fulfill that side of that we, I think we desperately need, right? We still need it. Even if it's not in person, we still need that connection. Look how brave you were seven years ago, and a lot of us take forced marches where we gotta do it alone. Your dream, you had big plans. Very tough to an entrepreneur, Exactly. Now it, it's sometimes tough to compare notes with people if they're not on the same path or they may not understand that your stars are aligned and you have this momentum and you're not offending people. They're not gray sayers or NA or you know, or Debbie Downers, but you stood tall. And I respect that and people need to set that example for others that it can be done to have that grit, to be willing to die with your boobs on. And I'm sure you don't regret making that decision years ago. No, I started at my first business, my first real business, uh, a month before my daughter was born. So 14, 15 years ago. Excellent. And it, you know, it just, it was just, it was totally natural and that's, you know, that's the way it was gonna go. And it was, I. Like, I'd been waiting for the, the right time, but it, I knew that that was gonna be the time. But it's, you know, for other people, it's a very, it's a very big step for them to take, to step out into entrepreneurship and, and, you know, disconnect yourself from kind of the, the hive mind and also the dependency that we have on, on our employer. There were three things that convinced me I could do it. I mean, besides being at my friend's center, learning the business from the inside and out, let, let, let's be forthright here, impulse control, maturity, and finances. If those three things were not there, I wasn't just gonna throw my hat in the ring. I mean, I learned my friend's business. I learned empathy and ways to make it better. But no, you, you. You really have to look at things at a certain perspective. You gotta take deep breaths, Stephanie. Sometimes you gotta sleep on it. Walk away from it. Allow yourself to become more levelheaded. I, I recommend people, if there's no sense of urgency, sure, write the email, put your ideas down, but read it the following day and tell me if you really wanna send it. And most of the time they say, I'm glad I didn't send it. And that's what it's about. About growing up. Yeah. And we are very responsible for people's livelihoods cuz you know Costa Rica, this is multi-generational families. So these young agents might be taking care of parents and grandparents. That's very serious. It's not about me anymore really. It's about this community of security. That you and I are able to create for the people that work with us. And I think that's the positive circle, right, that we can focus on a hundred percent. Uh, I'm curious if you've read the book, The Power of Moments. Sounds familiar. Who's the author? Uh, I, listen, I I'll have to find it. I can't tell you off the top of my head, but Well, like it's a final exam question. Can I sit off you and copy? The power of moments is all about the, the idea that we create this kind of customer delight in, um, Not in the, not in necessarily the long term, but in these very specific moments that happen, whether it's internal to the organization and the thing, you know, the kinds of things that you are doing within, with your, your employees or whether it's with our customers to the extent that in one part of the book, the author, Had pulled upon a, a study and don't ask me to quote where the study was from, but, um, that the greatest opportunities for creating delight with our customers is not when you've done a good job, well, when you've actually screwed something up, and then you have this opportunity to. Go above and beyond and delight to the extent that certain CEOs were actually building into their process. Little screwups, little screw ups, because they had this opportunity then to like go above and beyond and delight. And it strikes me that that's a little bit relevant to your business and the work that you do. On an ongoing basis, cuz you're touching so many people on a daily basis. Correct? Very correct. And even that positive escalation, just to thank somebody that assisted you before a transferred call can make all the difference in the world. Doing a company named Spike, saying the name of the company before somebody that answers the phone just to get engaged and to let them know you're excited. It's, as I say, people become plastic to commercialize, they grind out the calls and just do their job. I, I think everything should be done as a painting. Where you really show the essence of who you are and do the sort of name drops and get passionate about a call. That's the artwork, and that's where I get very excited when people have those sort of breakthroughs. And mind you, this, a lot of it is done through dedicated practice. Your audience sees you doing this flawlessly, but they have no idea the sort of preparation it took you to get here and what you have done. And it's important that people have that sort of passion when they're not being paid. Because if they practice it on their own, the skill set goes that much faster. And like when I was, um, my junior year I spent abroad in Spain and I got a chance to travel to a lot of museums. And since my dad was not forcing me to go on a Sunday and I was going with people that were other students, I really enjoyed it that much more and I really understood time. And how to fill it in a certain way to enrich your life, not just out being at the bars, beaches, and partying. In between those times, you can educate yourself with some sort of history and humanities. And I think that was probably the greatest year of my life when I was 21, when I shed some skin and decided to live my life a little bit differently than what was expected of me. And by building on that momentum gave me the open mind and the ability to accept other cultures. And to realize that what we hold important in the United States does not work somewhere else. So you almost have to start from scratch, and the best thing you can do is to show good faith. And by getting these sort of positive reinforcement made, you come back to Costa Rica three times and. Yeah, I've been here for 22 years and the world can be a very nice place if you learn how to smile and be gracious and listen, and I've just seen it that way. I, you know, you and I have luxury trades. We've created our own beautiful destinies, but it was hard work. But then again, it was also somewhat easy because this is exactly where we needed to be, and we allowed. Our momentum and our energy to bring us here, if that makes any sort of sense. And I think that's why we gravitated towards one another. I saw your podcast and reached out to you, and that's why we're here today, just to let other people know, to follow through. On their dreams and not to quit 80% in, because it's, there's a lot of times you could give up, but those, the real winners are the ones that can get through those sort of verticals and, and obstacles that may be in their way. Yeah, I absolutely agree. And I, I, I also wish that I had done more traveling when I was younger, but I was on, I was on the academic path and the, you know, get me working right away path and I love what you're saying because I, it's one of the things that I wish I had done more of was travel because of the perspective and the, you know, inside the United States, and I don't live in the US but in inside of the US. Uh, I find it could be very insular and, and there's not a lot of perspective, right. Um, even, you know, even I've had a lot of us friends who, you know, live near the Canadian border and still have no idea. They were surprised that we had a national holiday. , why wouldn't we have a national holiday? Right? . So I find in the US it's very insular, but getting out. Even getting outta Canada, getting out of wherever we are, no matter where you are. Um, the perspective and the, you know, what you gain from seeing how other people are in the world when faced with a totally different culture or different circumstances or different privileges or what have you, I think it's such a critical lesson and it's such a critical. Piece of that maturity that you talked about gaining right. When you, when you went into business, and I, you know, this is why I would rather see my kids traveling before they go to school or, or just having some experiences out in the world. So I, I really appreciate that. Um, we're coming up on time and I wanted to, I have a question that I ask everybody. Be before I do. You've just, you're, you're, you've fascinated me with, you know, all these different little pieces of your story and I have to ask you, if you weren't doing what you do right now, what would you be doing? Oh, very simple. I'd be writing children's books. Oh, . I didn't expect that. , I can give you a little bit of a hint. Rub Goldberg experiments and mini golf. Combine the two. We will have an excellent series. Well, you know, this, this focus on play and, and the playfulness that you have inside of your business. It's this interesting sort of, um, structure of both playfulness and. Like regimented structure, which you need to have in the business that you are in, but injecting that kind of softness and that, that element of play I think is really fascinating. I love it. Well, they're expecting me to have leverage where I just fire people and to walk around being a pissed off boss. I, I say quite the contrary, it's almost like Tom Hanks in the movie Big. You might have these amazing responsibilities, but you can also play at the same time and, and fear. I don't want someone to be afraid of me. Don't, don't judge me on what happened at your last job. And so if they're coming to work penned the ready and being their best, I'm their biggest supporter. That's a sort of level that they need to get to as well that you and I have gotten to. When we worked at our previous jobs, I'm sure we were the top producers. And they were very upset the day that we had to move on to greener pastures. But I know that wherever I worked, I gave them my best and I definitely got their roi, but I couldn't be stuck there forever. Obviously there were certain areas that we were gonna, you know, gravitate towards, but um, it's been a beautiful journey. I don't regret a single thing. Yeah. My industry is a grind and fortune favors the brave. It's not for the easiest or the faint of art, but it was rewarding because I still saw the art of speech in it, and that's what still gave me that sort of motivation and inspiration to keep doing what I'm doing. Okay, so the question I ask everyone, what do you think is the difference between what we see out there in the business world or online business or business literature? And what's real ego? What a great answer. Tell me more. I look at it like this. We're all like the Justice League. We're all superheroes, but everyone has their special sauce, sny. I can't be like you. You can't be like me. There's a lot of overlap, but there's something that makes us unique and so if somebody tries to force a fit, they might be able to do it for a little bit, but that's not a long term play. You're eventually gonna get tripped up and caught, and someone's gonna look at you a little bit differently. So someone needs to be true to themselves. They need to act their wage. They need to be open minded for coaching and for improvement. And if somebody is able to have those sort of relationships and as I mentioned, put their ego and pride aside and be willing to, to let themselves be a little bit vulnerable, then there's no reason why they can't build that sort of resilience and really be a true character that shines. And the moment that I put away any sort of competition to keep up with the Joneses. United States or even Canada. It's very liberating for me. And it could have gone two different ways, the easy way or the hard way. I chose it the tough way. I chose it to do it correctly. And as long as people have patience and they don't look for the shortcuts and they don't burn bridges, And they really follow through with their relationships. Stephanie, there's no reason why you and I can't be watching those people on amazing interviews and telling their stories, and so my good friend. I think that's the only advice to somebody when you look at the mirror, just make sure that you're cool with yourself and you're doing the right thing so you can be proud of yourself. Awesome. I love it. What a great response. Okay, we're coming up on time. Can you tell everyone where they can find. Well, they can buy Aling ticket in fly to Costa Rica like we did, but they can gimme a call at eight two seven one six seven five zero. Send me an email CEO at costa rica's call center.com. And I had mentioned our Facebook fan page Wants this goes Live, Stephanie, you're gonna have tens of thousands of new fans that will love to. Watch your podcast and meet you. And don't be surprised when you're Manuel Antonio. Someone's gonna say, Yo, Stephanie, I saw your podcast. That's gonna be amazing. So that's my goal for you this year. Thank you. And I think if I'm gonna be down there again, I'm gonna go over to the Caribbean side in Puerto Viejo or. I think you said Limon as well, and now I've got my site set on some more travel. I just can't wait. . I see. We'll put all the links in your, in the show notes for you and, um, everyone can find you there and we'll wrap it up. I'm so happy that we had the opportunity to chat today and to hear more about your, how your business came to be, your experiences along the way, and what the future of the business entails. It. Fascinating, and thank you for tuning into this episode of Real People Real Business, where we get the real entrepreneurial stories and journeys that you can relate to. The show notes, resources and from this episode are available on my website and social media platforms. And thank you again for joining us today. If you've been joined today's content, I'd love for you to give us a review on whatever platform you're on to help us share those genuine stories with an even bigger audience. Until next time, keep building, Keep dreaming and keep being real.