Watch Peter Shankman Explain Why The Economy of the Next Fifty years will be run by Customer Service

The days of begging for likes are over. The customer service economy is all about doing likable things. As the network gets smarter and smarter, it’ll know your favorite places before you do, and share those with the world – when the world is looking. So if your friends are looking for a restaurant in New York City, and you live there, it’ll show them the places you hangout, automatically, because logic suggests that if you go there a lot, you like the place, and your friends usually like what you like.

What does this mean for your business? It means that it’s time to start focusing on the customer experience – Without that, no amount of advertising, marketing, or SEO will save you. Peter Shankman explains: The five rules of the customer economy, Why speed matters, How to stay “top-of-mind” in every customer’s mind, from beginning to end, How snake people, as well as Generations Z and Alpha are consuming content, and how you can get in front of them.

Peter Shankman is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, speaker, and worldwide connector. He is recognized worldwide for radically new ways of thinking about Customer Service, Entrepreneurship, Social Media, PR, marketing and advertising.

– Please welcome to the stage, Peter Shankman, to talk about the economy of the next 50 years, as it will be run by customer service.

(audience applauds)

Yeah, hey. (laughs) Hilarious.

– Thanks.

– Oh, is that for us?

– Yeah, sure.

– That’s for the two?

– Ignore that title. I totally rewrote my speech this morning.

(crowd murmurs)

No, I’m not shitting you. I was on the bike this morning, and I had an experience last night. I was in the gym this morning, and I’m like, “Fuck it, I’m rewriting my entire speech,” so I did.

(crowd laughs)

The new speech …Someone’s gonna win this. I’m not actually drinking on stage. I’m gonna give it away. The new speech is called, and I actually wrote it down, “Ten Ways to Not Suck and Win All the Things.”

(audience laughs)

I’ll tell you why I came up with that. Real fast, housekeeping, my name is Peter Shankman. I’m @petershankman on all the socials. Anything I say is public. Tweet the shit out of it. You don’t have to hide your phone. I teach at university. I know when my students are on their phone ’cause no one has ever looked down at their crotch and smiled.

(audience laughs)

Say whatever you want. That’s how to contact me. That’s my actual cell phone number. It rings to this very phone. Don’t call me now ’cause my ADHD will kick in and we won’t get shit done, but text me any time, reach out any time. I’m that transparent ’cause I believe you have to be. Why am I talking about this? The speech I’m gonna give, it talks about, the next 50 years of the economy will be run by customer service, but it’s enveloped in the concept of not sucking. Here’s why. How many of you flew here today? Or flew here for this conference? How many of you had a good flight? Raise your hands if you had a good flight. What made it good? It was quick. They didn’t let you fly the plane? There wasn’t someone next to you that you could date? It was quick, right? You didn’t crash into– She had a regular flight. You signed something called a contract of carriage when you bought your ticket which said, “I will give you money, “and you will fly me from point A to point B “at a certain time and date,” and that’s what they did, right? They didn’t do anything special, but your hand went up like a rocket when I said, “Who had a great flight?” “Oh my god, best flight ever, “we didn’t crash into a mountain.” Because what you expected, what we all expect when we travel, we get to the airport. If we don’t have pre-check, we go in the line that looks the quickest, we get up to the front, everyone else has moved before us. We get up there, we get pulled to the anal probe …

(audience laughs)

I know it’s not just me.

(audience laughs)

An hour after that’s over, that’s done, we exit that little room, and now, it’s okay, we’re at gate four, which is right there. We only have 20 minutes to make our flight, but we’re at gate four, except they moved you to gate 472 without telling anyone, which is four airports and six states over. Now you’re running. Clothes are dragging behind you, shit’s falling out and whatever. You get to the gate. You’ve had four mini-strokes, and they gave away your seat because you weren’t there 20 minutes to start, right? Now, you went from seat 4A to 39 bathroom. There’s no room for what’s left of your luggage, and you’re sitting next to the two 400-pound guys on either side, in the middle seat, in the back row, next to the bathroom, which overflowed and smells for the entire six hours. Welcome to fucking hell. That’s your flight. Why are you so damn happy? Because it was quick, and they did exactly what they said they’d do. What is the next 50 years of the economy? If I’m sitting in the back in my bad seat now for six hours, you damn well know I’m writing a blog post about it. More importantly, I don’t need to write a blog post anymore. All I need to do is tweet something about how bad my airline sucked, or share something on Facebook. Then, when you’re booking a flight, you don’t even have to look up my reviews anymore because the nature of the social economy is this: if I want to book a flight to Fiji, or I want to go on vacation, I just type in, “Flights to Fiji.” You know what’s gonna show up? All my friends who have gone to Fiji and had a good time, not the people who got screwed. I’m gonna see my friends who had a good time. I’m gonna see what airlines they flew, what hotels they stayed at, not because they left reviews on Yelp. Yelp’s dead in two years.

(audience laughs)

Because the stuff they automatically share and the very commonality of living is what’s going to be up there. When I fly to San Francisco, and I land, and I type in, “Show me a steakhouse near me,” sure, Google shows me the steakhouses near me. You know what it shows before that? It shows all the steakhouses my friends have been to, and whether or not they had fun. Here’s the awesome part of this conversation. I don’t need you to be awesome. I just interviewed Tony Robbins for a podcast that I run, and he’s all about, you know, “Walk on fire!” He’s awesome, I love him, but you know what? I don’t need you to walk on fire. That shit’s hard.

(audience laughs)

You want to be the best possible thing you could do in your influencing career and your social career? Here’s the thing I need you to do. I need you not to suck. Here’s the best part. I don’t even need you to be good. I need you not to suck. I need you to suck a little less than what we expect. You ever heard the great joke? Two guys are in the woods, they’re running in the woods on a training run, and they see a bear. The first one says, “Holy shit, dude, that’s a bear.” He says, “Oh my god, he’s gonna kill us.” The first one laces up his running sneakers tighter. Second one says, “Dude, don’t be an idiot. “You can’t outrun a bear.” He says, “Shit, I don’t need to outrun the bear, “I just need to outrun you.” I just want you guys to suck a little less, and you will win all the things. Here is 10 ways to suck a little less. This speech came to light yesterday when I was on the bike at the gym downstairs. By the way, I went on the bike, and I tweeted out with the IZEAfest hashtag, “Hey guys, I’m on the bike for the next hour. “Anyone who wants to come pick my brain “for an hour, feel free. “Get free advice on whatever you want to talk about.” You saw that, right? Why didn’t you show up?

(audience laughs)

“Yeah, that was awesome.” Didn’t do you a lot of good? I know this, you know how I know this? ‘Cause you weren’t there. I do this every time I’m in a city. “Come talk to me.” All this is predicated on you thinking I’m somewhat knowledgeable about something. I started a company called HARO, I sold it. I started two other companies, I sold them. I like to think I know a little shit about a little shit. I’m not great by any stretch of the imagination. C.C. Chapman’s closing out the conference. He’s fucking great, listen to him, but I know a little bit about a little bit, right? If I’m offering to give that to you for free, why wouldn’t you show up? Unless I really suck, which is quite possible. Long story short, I’m on the bike, and I get a call from this mortgage broker. I’ve been trying to refinance my condo to take a home equity loan and do construction, redo my bathroom and stuff in New York for six months now, okay? Problem is, I started and sold a company. I’m an entrepreneur. You know what happens when you’re an entrepreneur and you go to a bank, and you say, “Hey, I have all this money in the bank. “I could do this myself, “but I’d like to take out a home equity loan”? They go, “Great, give us your W-2.” You go, “I don’t actually have one “’cause I’m an entrepreneur,” and then you start the six-month cycle of mortgage hell because if you’re not just like everyone else, it’s a nightmare. Finally, six months in, I get to the point where they’ve taken pictures of the apartment. They’re ready to give me the money, and I’m not asking for a lot of money, right? Then I get this email. This is a conversation I actually had with the mortgage broker and my assistant Megan, word for word, this happened yesterday. Mortgage broker, “Peter, need insurance “and condo fees on River Place.” Me, “River place is a rental. “I don’t own, I have an apartment there. “It’s a rental property. “I don’t think you mean that. “Do you mean the Orion where I own?” He’s like, “Yeah, River Place.” I’m like, “Again, River Place, not a rental building.” You’ve been working with me for six months. He’s like, “Oh, you don’t own the whole building?” Honest to god, these are my words. “Are you seriously fucking asking me “if I fucking own a 40-storey several-hundred unit building “when all I’m trying to get from you “is a home equity loan for $500,000?” At which point, my assistant stepped in and said, “Alex, I’m gonna call you right now. “Peter, go enjoy your weekend.” Then I said, “This is why we can’t have nice things. She said, “Peter, hang up the phone right now.”

(audience laughs)

The guy’s been working with me for six months. All of a sudden, it occurs to him that I might not own a 40-storey building on the corner of 12th Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan? If I did, do you think I’d really need him? Do your homework. Rule one of the top 10 ways to not suck. Do your homework. Know a little bit about me. It’s not hard. Google is your friend. Screw it, not even about me. Anyone you’re dealing with, do a little bit of research. The easiest bit of research is more than 99% of what people do. Be a little bit better. Rule two, listen to your audience. I travel 250,000 miles a year on United Airlines. I love United, I’m their bitch ’cause I can’t go anywhere else ’cause they treat me really well. We’re running late today. I’m on a 4:30 flight home. I called them, I’m like, “Hi, I’m running late. “Can I get on the 5:30?” They’re like, “Yeah, no problem.” I wouldn’t be able to do that with any other airline, right? I love them. They’re a great airline, and they treat me really well, except one thing. At the end of every flight I take, I get an email the next day. I was in their top 10 most frequent flyers last year, right? Every time I take a flight, I get an email, “Tell us about your flight.” I always say, “Yeah, flight was awesome, no worries. “I loved it, it was fine.” The last line of this automated email, “Do not respond to us, or we’ll kill you, “but we care about your opinion,” they said, “What can we do to make your next flight better?” For 344 flights in a row, the last line of this survey has been the exact same thing. “On my next flight, please refer to me “as Peter Lord of the Skies.”

(audience laughs)

I don’t ever expect them to do that, but you know what’d be nice? After 344 flights in a row, I’d love a phone call from one of their people, say, “Hey, “Peter, we’re not gonna do that shit, shut up. “Stop it. Just stop it.” That tells me they’re listening. 344 responses in a row with the same thing and I’ve not gotten one call back, well, what does that tell you? What happens if I do have five shitty flights in a row? Am I gonna leave United? Probably not, but you know what? They’ve opened a door. By not responding, it makes me wonder if they’re really genuine. If they’re not, now, what’s stopping Delta from coming, saying, “Hey, we saw you tweeted out “you had a really bad three flights. “How you doing? “Anything we could do for you? “We have drugs,” whatever.

(audience laughs)

United’s opened that door, and all they had to do was just call me and say, “Don’t be an idiot. “We’re never gonna call you Lord of the Skies. That’s it. That’s rule two. Know your audience, listen to them. Rule three, brand everything you do. Brand everything you do because we live in an age where people can steal your shit in five seconds. Anyone do triathlons in the audience? Raise your hand. Who’s done a triathlon in the audience, anyone? What’s the longest distance?

– [Audience Member] Of the entire triathlon? Probably about 50 miles.

– A half Iron Man?

– [Audience Member] Yeah, about.

– Okay, you know what? Because I’m not gonna argue with you, I’m gonna give you this vodka. Here, this vodka’s over here, it’s yours. Enjoy it. You did a half Iron Man. Now, I’ve done two Iron Men in my life. Look at this, she gets up in the middle of the speech to get the vodka. (audience laughs) Love it. I’ve done two Iron Men in my life. I’m doing a third one this year. I know you’re looking at me and going, “No, Peter, you’re confused. “You’ve sat on your ass and watched the movie Iron Man “while eating popcorn,” but no, I’ve really done two Iron Men. I was dating a woman at the time when I did my first one who never understood why I could never go out for dinner, or go to brunch, brunch is a thing. It’s always ’cause I’m training, right? I made a video. I did the Iron Man, I got back, and we broke up, and I made a video about my experience training for an Iron Man. I posted it online, and I shared it with a couple of friends. In sharing it, I didn’t think anything of it. I totally forgot about it ’cause I have massive ADHD which I’ll talk about in a second. I forgot about this video, and I check it a couple of days later, and it had 200 views. I check it the day after that, and it had 12,000, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds. I tracked it back, and it turns out Lance Armstrong had tweeted it. This was before we knew he was made of chemicals, so we trusted him.

(audience laughs)

He tweeted, “Hey cyclists, check this out. “Really funny shit.” Nowhere on this video did it say, “Hey, my name is Peter Shankman. “For more, find me …” Totally blew my shot. You have one shot. You cannot create anything viral. Stop trying to create viral shit. Create good shit. Create good stuff, it will go viral. Stop trying to create viral shit. I want to play this for you. How do I hit play? What do I hit? Just hit play?

– Do you want to go get some dinner? It’s six o’ clock.

– I can’t. I have to go home to get to sleep.

– It’s six o’ clock. You are 38 years old. Why the hell do you have to go home and go to sleep?

– I’m training for an Iron Man.

– What the hell is an Iron Man?

– An Iron Man is a 2.4-mile swim, then a 112-mile bike ride, then a full 26.2-mile marathon, all within 17 hours.

– What the fuck is wrong with you?

– Nothing. This is fun for me. I have to go to sleep now so I can get up at 4:00 in the morning and train.

– You get up at 4:00 in the morning?

– Six days a week. On Mondays, I sleep in until 6:00 AM.

– You’re mentally retarded. You go to sleep at 7:00 PM every night?

– Pretty much.

– How long do you train for this Iron Man?

– For about six months.

– You realize you are not going to have sex with anyone for six months?

– It is okay because I will be an iron man.

– Do you win money for finishing this Iron Man?

– No, only the winners win money. I pay $700 to register. Then I have to buy a plane ticket and fly there, and spend money to ship my bike there, and spend money for a hotel, but it is worth it. I will be an iron man.

– You spend lots of money to never go out at night, not get laid for six months, all because you are going to sleep at 7:00 PM every night so you can call yourself something that no one else would ever be stupid enough to do?

– But I will be an iron man.

– You are an idiot.

– I have to go home and go to sleep now. If you would like to join me at 4:30 in the morning for a bike ride, it would be fun.

– There is nothing fun about 4:30 in the morning. You are truly insane.

– Perhaps you would like to go for a run with me on Tuesday, then have a protein shake afterwards.

– We could do that. What time on Tuesday?

– 4:45 in the morning.

– Screw you. I’m going to dinner now.

– I made that, and it just blew up. It has about two million views now on YouTube. Nowhere did it say, “Find me,” so I learned my lesson. Brand everything you do, because if you create something, and it’s awesome, and no one has a way to get back to you, well, what was the point, right? Brand everything you do. Transparency, for fuck’s sake, be honest, okay? It’s very hard to be honest in the society politically charged in which we currently live. I get that, but the benefit of that is that, I’m not getting political, but when our country’s led by someone who no one expects to be honest, being honest is the easiest thing in the world to do, okay?

When you’re honest, people believe you. The concept of transparency is unbelievable. In New York, we had a guy about five years ago — I have four minutes left, I wasn’t even on stage for two seconds — There’s a guy in New York City named Anthony Weiner. All he had to do, when he was texting those pictures, his wiener, I get it, is just own it, say, “Hey, you know what? I did this thing, sorry,” move on. We would’ve been like, it’s funny, we’ll laugh at you, we would’ve mocked him. It’s required by New York City law. He’d be mayor right now. He kept the damn story alive for six weeks by not owning it. When you screw up, and you’re going to, own your shit. Own it, and you’ll get through it, and then people who you’ve wronged, after you fix the problem, will love you.

There is no greater lover in the world than a former hater. Fix your problem, fix their problem, they will love you. Relevance, okay? If you have 140 characters to reach your audience, if you have 2.7 seconds to reach your audience, if you have a fractured audience who likes their news via newspaper, TV, radio, print, blogs, ask them how they like to get their information, and give them their information the way they want it. I work for a non-profit animal shelter who I found when I was skydiving. A friend of mine was killed in a base jump. I sent a check to this animal society as a donation in her name, and they sent me a coffee table book, which I looked at and was like, “Why would you ever send me this? “Why wouldn’t you send me a link that I can share?” “We believe most of our donors are older, “and they probably prefer a book.” I’m like, “Oh, so you’ve done research?” “No, we just assumed.” I’m like, “Okay, screw this,” and I joined their board.

(audience laughs)

We spent the next year interviewing every current and past donor, and shock of shocks, 96% of them prefer to get their information online. We started a YouTube page, a Twitter handle, a Facebook page, the whole thing, and donations went up 37% in a year, and they saved $500,000 on printing, mailing, and reproduction. For Christ’s sake, ask your audience how they like to get their information. Give it to them the way they want. They’ll become zombie loyalists. They’ll become loyal to you. Brevity, you have 140 characters, become a better communicator, learn to write, take a class, understand your audience, and don’t automate. If there’s any chance of you screwing up an automation, don’t automate, okay? I get an email two weeks ago, “Dear Peter, mothers like you have it really tough.”

(audience laughs)

It’s not that hard, people. Top of mind, guy named Barry Diller, he ran Paramount Pictures. His big thing when he ran Paramount Pictures was that he would go into the office every day. Paramount was two feet from bankruptcy in the ’70s. He’d go in every day, he’d reach into his Rolodex. For those under 30, a Rolodex is like Outlook, but you’d turn it, it had cards. He’d pull out 10 people in his Rolodex, call them every day, and say, “Hey, what are you working on? “What’s the news? What are you doing? “How can I help?” When you had an actor you want to sign to a five picture deal, or a new movie, whatever, you just called Barry back. You didn’t go to 20th Century Fox or Warner Brothers. You called Barry ’cause he just called you. He was top of mind. Reach out to your audience without trying to sell them anything and ask them, “What can I do to help you? “How can I help you?” That is top of mind, that’s how people understand. Rule, I don’t know what we’re on, six, differentiate yourself, differentiate yourself because most people suck, okay? In 1999, maybe 2000, I had wound up doing some work for Tony Bennett. I was having a dinner, Tony Bennet, my mother, my father, Tony’s beautiful 29-year-old girlfriend, and me. We walk into Nobu without a reservation ’cause Tony fucking Bennett. We’re having dinner, and at some point during the dinner, my mother got up to go to the bathroom, okay? Tony Bennet stood up for her when she got up to go to the bathroom. Me and my dad, you ever watch The Simpsons when they eat?


Didn’t even notice. She comes back from the bathroom. Tony Bennet stands up again. Me and my dad go (gurgles) We leave, Tony Bennet and his beautiful girlfriend get into a car, and they go their way. My mom, dad, and me are looking for a cab. My dad says, “My god, that was an amazing meal. “What a great time.” I’m like, “Yeah, the food was so good.” My mom’s like, “Tony Bennett stood up for me “when I went to the bathroom,” and didn’t talk to us for a week.

(audience laughs)

All you have to do is be a little better. Stand up when someone goes to the bathroom. Stand up when someone enters the room, shake hands. There is no wrong way to say, “Yes, sir,” “No, sir,” “Yes, ma’am,” “No, ma’am,” “Thank you, sir,” “Thank you, ma’am.” None of us do it. I know my time is up, but you gotta give me three more minutes. He ran late, the air guitarist, who was awesome, ran late.

(audience laughs)

There’s no wrong way to be a nice person. How you treat your staff, how you treat waitresses, how you treat waiters, determines whether or not I hire you, okay? I’ll cut this short. I have four more rules, but I’ll give you two. Understand yourself. The reason I gave you Tito’s Vodka, which is a very nice gift in my room, is because 14 months ago, I decided that I’m drinking too much. I didn’t decide I was an alcoholic per se, but I decided that I was drinking too much. Why? Know yourself. I have massive ADHD. As a matter of fact, if any of you have ADHD in the room, I run the number one podcast for ADHD called Faster than Normal. Check it out at We interview major people about having ADHD and why it’s a gift. You gotta know yourself. I have massive ADHD. I don’t do things slowly. Look at how much I’ve talked in 26 minutes or whatever I had, okay? I have two speeds. I have namaste and I’ll-cut-a-bitch.

(audience laughs)

If I go out for a drink, I’m having 15 drinks, not because I want to get drunk, just because there’s drinks, okay? The basic premise is, I can’t moderate. If I can’t moderate, I have to shut down, so I quit drinking 16 months ago because I don’t know how to moderate. You have to understand yourself. If you don’t know yourself, and you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t do anything to help other people. You want to be better? It has to start with making yourself better. 16 months ago, I woke up, I said, “This is bullshit. “I feel like crap.” You know what? We work in the social space. In the past 14 years, I’ve lost three friends to suicide. It is a tough industry where we tend to work alone. We don’t talk to a lot of people. For god’s sake, call someone. You are not doing this alone. You never have to. That’s my number, for Christ’s sake. Reach out to me, seriously. You’re not in this alone. It’s the oxygen mask theory. You have to put on your own mask before you help other people. Last rule, have a support team. Have people who you work with. I run a mastermind group. It’s called Shankminds. I’m not pitching it, but have a group. Have a bunch of people who you know, who you trust, who you can run shit by, because like I said, it’s a lonely industry, and when people don’t understand what you do, it makes it even worse. I was dating a woman, I couldn’t complain about my day because she’s like, “Oh, yeah, really tough. “You’re working at home, or you’re on a beach somewhere, “you’re in a meeting, you’re speaking, really tough.” Bitch, I was working harder than you.

(audience laughs)

Understand that you have to find people just like you to understand what you’re doing. Do the job no one wants. You do the job no one wants and I see that, I will hire you. Last point, give out, in the universe, 10 times the amount you give out for every one time you ask, okay? For any time you ask for help, give out 10 times first. That way, when you email me wanting something, I don’t see it was the first time I’ve heard from you in five years, okay? Lastly, how to do all this? Have systems in place to help you based on what you do. I live and die on Runkeeper. If I don’t exercise every day, I’m useless. I rely on Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal, YThings, download an app called Productive. It beeps at me until I work out. Have a system in place that works for you. Here’s the thing: resolutions fail, rituals succeed. Finally, this is probably what you can take away from all of this. People with means distribute opportunities to people they trust. Become the person people trust., that’s my cell phone number, Nostrum PS is my mailing list, @petershankman on the socials. Thanks, guys.

(audience applauds)


Leave a Reply