Building a Vibrant Online Community

In this week’s Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, our guest speaker was Chris Luecke. Chris is the Regional SaaS Sales and Marketing Leader at Fiix. Along with this, he is also a Podcast host and Founder.  Chris is a manufacturing community builder and sales leader.

To build an online community is to build a new presence for the people around you and the guest we had today surely knows how to build one.

In this week’s Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, our guest speaker was Chris Luecke. Chris is the Regional SaaS Sales and Marketing Leader at Fiix. Along with this, he is also a Podcast host and Founder.  Chris is a manufacturing community builder and sales leader.  Chris has built a large online community with LinkedIn and podcasting.

The conversation of the episode started with Curt asking Chris about his engineering journey and interest. To this, Chris said that he was in fourth grade when he first rode the roller coaster. This is when this ride amused him. This is when his interest in engineering deeply developed.

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After this, Chris talked about the initial two companies he worked within the beginning of his career. He said that at Anheuser Busch he worked in the aluminum can-making side of their business. Moreover, when he was interning in Rockwell, he started his Manufacturing Happy Hour in the online community as an offshoot of his role.

Moving on, Curt asked Chris about his aha moment about starting his online community as a podcast. Responding to this, he said that when he was in sales for more than 5 years that is when he realized that he knows the complex sales process but he misses the on-stage performance element of his life.

This is when Chris said that he wants to do something for the community. Therefore, he started his manufacturing happy hour on his iPhone. During this time, he built his online community on his happy hour time.

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Further into the conversation, Curt asked Chris that how his podcast helped him get into different industries and markets other than his own. Answering this, Chris said that podcasting helps a lot in getting into other industries that you don’t work with. To do this, all you have to do is introduce yourself through the podcast. This also breaks the ice and helps you interact on a more basic level.

Moving on, Chris talked about how he chose his guests on the show. He said that usually, you’re looking for the ideal scenario when choosing a guest. However, he also said that when you start a podcast you should start with your friends first. Therefore, he also started to build this online community with his co-workers initially.

By the end of the conversation, Chris shared how he conducts his podcast and all the pros and cons of it. The conversation then ended with Curt thanking Chris for his time.

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Damon Pistulka, Chris Leucke, Curt Anderson


Damon Pistulka  00:00

Chris says you’re on stage. You might have to open your mic and camera again, Chris. Let’s see if he can make it. Go. There we go. There we go. All right, awesome. Well, I’m gonna get us live on LinkedIn here and we’re gonna get rolling.


Curt Anderson  00:25

Happy Friday, guys. This is


Damon Pistulka  00:29

music going over here. You guys can’t hear but I’m dancing. Good tunes man. Good tunes. You bet. Welcome everyone once again to our Friday manufacturing ecommerce Success Series. Thanks so much for being here. Yeah, we’ve got a few manufacturing trailblazers, this. We didn’t buy the shirts for ourselves. First of all, Chris, Kurt, myself, other people got these from Allison to Ford.

Thanks so much. Just doing a shout out to Allison I guess by way of wearing our shirts today. So Kurt, I’m just gonna let you take it from here man. It was just a small if people are listening on LinkedIn, you can see me looking over here. We’re live on LinkedIn. So go ahead and let us know where you’re listening from comments for Chris or any of us and let us know what’s happening there as well. Take it over Kurt.


Curt Anderson  01:17

Hey guys, Happy Friday man. This is beyond man. I’ve been looking forward to this for just probably years actually not months but years. So guys, I want to give a huge shout out to my dear friend, Chris lukey. Chris, thank you for joining us today. How are you my friend?


Chris Leucke  01:32

Doing great Kurt Thanks for having me. Damon Great to be here with you as well. I am I’m ready for some Friday fun let’s put it that way.


Curt Anderson  01:41

Let’s dig in. Let’s Let’s dig into a little intro and I need it I’m gonna attempt to keep it brief. It’s gonna be hard because dude you have such a huge place in my heart so we go back aways so Damon I discovered Chris online he had to submit an amazing wonderful group called manufacturing happy hour and manufacturing happy hours is a bunch of us geeky guys dudes ladies that were in manufacturing a lot of automation a lot of Rockwell folks and man I was like this is out of place ecommerce dude and Chris took me in with open arms and just made amazing incredible friends at manufacturing happy hour. Greg miss you.

You know right there Brother, you know part of that group. We’re coming up on our one year anniversary daymond Our first speaker of manufacturing e commerce success was none other than Jeff long another connection through manufacturing happy hour.

So Chris, you are a pioneer in podcasting. And so I want to you know, a couple of things guys first up, I dropped Chris’s LinkedIn profile on the chat dropped us made a fraction how happy our link, please connect with Chris and you look at your tagline on LinkedIn. I absolutely love this. I help manufacturers tell their story to their ideal customer. Absolutely love that. So Chris, let’s let’s go back in time. All right. Started your journey in St. Louis. You go to way to college. You’re like honor everything and engineering. How do you talk about why by engineering? And how did you go that direction?


Chris Leucke  03:04

Yeah, so the engineering story actually starts back I think the summer right before after fourth grade. I didn’t know what an engineer was at that point. But I rode the Ninja, which is a roller coaster at Six Flags. St. Louis, like you said, where I grew up, and I’m like, Well, that was the coolest thing I’ve ever done, or maybe ever will do. And I’m like, how does one get into designing roller coasters?

And my parents were like, well, that’s what engineers do. I’m like, that’s my degree. So it was locked in from that point forward. And obviously I’ve kind of shifted pads a little bit but for anyone that follows me on LinkedIn, there’s certain so there’s definitely some amusement industry content that still works works its way into my profile because it’s so adjacent to the manufacturing space. So but that well got started. Well, I’m


Curt Anderson  03:53

gonna say you know, like our friend Dan Biggers, probably like the hardest working most relentless man in manufacturing. I’m gonna say I find you one of the most fascinating dudes in manufacturing I know you’re you’re avid traveler what your goal is 100 countries you’ve been like 20 something allergies, you have blog posts, amazing, wonderful blog posts on some of your travels. encourage everybody check that out. You have like this Alter Ego punk rock, dude, you know, so you get to follow Chris on Twitter was Chris Rock,


Chris Leucke  04:23

Chris Rock it’s a play on words. If you see how some bands are people spell punk rock they’ll spell it ra Wk and obviously there is a famous Chris Rock out there that comes in so I just kind of took my first name and changed the spelling of rock But yeah, I joke around and say that’s my perpetually 23 year old pop punk Alter Ego


Damon Pistulka  04:47



Curt Anderson  04:49

in our partner Jeffrey Graham says punk rock all day every day, right? So absolutely. Oh, that’s a said. So let’s so let’s follow your journey a little bit. So you you go off the market universe. And it started off you start your career Anheuser Busch, I believe and and then you end up at Rockwell Automation for quite a while and you’re in the Bay Area. So talk a little bit about how that evolution from Anheuser I think you went back to Marquette. How you ended up?


Damon Pistulka  05:16

Well, I can see I know Milwaukee growing up in the Midwest, I can see how he got to Budweiser


Curt Anderson  05:22

ads. Yeah. If you’ve been in Milwaukee, you know why? Well, plus plus in St. Louis, that’s the hometown of vanha, Anheuser Busch. So we should have like coming out of college and how you got into manufacturing and Anheuser Busch and so on. so forth.


Chris Leucke  05:36

Yeah, gosh, talk about two cool companies to work for. Right. Like I’d say one of the things they have in common, of course, they’re both industrial. They both have manufacturing. But I mean, just the sense of pride and particularly hometown pride those companies have right like you mentioned Anheuser Busch, St. Louis based company back in the day. This is probably more pre InBev acquisition, when I was working there back 2007 2008 people would just simply say, Hey, I work at the brewery, right. So that was, that was cool.

What when there was an opportunity to take that job. I actually that was my first soiree into manufacturing, I, to be honest, didn’t really have too much of a concept of what it was like to work in a factory as an engineer up until that point, and the funny thing was, I actually worked on their aluminum can making side of their business. So I was with a company they have called metal container corporation that makes a lot of their aluminum cans as well as cans for other folks. So just that I mean, talk about a fast paced manufacturing environment, I was out there. I was in I was a co op and intern. So I was, quite frankly, they gave me what I felt was like really cool responsibility.

There. I was managing capital projects that I certainly had some great mentors to help guide me along. But they they set me up for success right from the get go. But after that, when it came time to look for a full time job, I mentioned I got into engineering, because I wanted to design roller coasters. But as I got through it, I realized there were other aspects of let’s say, the technical world, the engineering world that I liked, besides from just the technical behind the desk, design aspects of it. And when I learned as I was interning at Rockwell and another engineering role that there was such a thing as a sales engineer, I’m like, well, that’s cool. I’m pretty extroverted, right?

I’m into punk rock, I worked at radio station, I like this will be a great way to merge the things I’m good at the things I’m interested in. And I was accepted into their sales training program. And that’s where really where that that that journey to where I am now I feel really got started because I spent half my time as a account manager for them down in Houston, Texas. And then the other half out in the bay area where Kurt that’s where you and I first connected was when when I was out there and got started with manufacturing happy hour as as kind of this offshoot of my role when I was out there.


Curt Anderson  07:57

And dude, now tell you, I mean, you’re just such a pioneer to come up with that. So you know, here, you’re at a major corporation, and but you’re bringing a real entrepreneurial spirit to a big corporation. And that’s pretty cutting edge, you know, 2015 16 you know, podcasting was still pretty new.

It’s still new right now, you know, but you’re new to the streets, you know, talk about, like, when did you have that aha moment of, you know, I know, like, you know, you’re big and like the craft brews and you kind of merge the two together. share that story, you know, for any like, we’ve got Gail on here, Dan, I think you’d be amazing podcasts or Vail. We’ve been talking about, you know, jumping in podcast, talk about that journey of like, when did you have that aha moment? And like, I’m gonna, you know, we’re gonna stop talking to talk. I’m going to walk the walk, you know, share a little bit on that.


Chris Leucke  08:41

Yeah, there are a couple things that came to head, right. Like, one of the things was, I had been, I’ve been in sales for probably about five years at that point, right. And I’m like, Okay, I know how to do a complex sales process. I know how to lead a pursuit team. But I mentioned I was doing college radio, I played in bands, I’m like, there’s something that’s missing.

There’s like that performance element, right? Like, I’m good. I feel comfortable behind a microphone on stage behind the camera, whatever you call it. And I’m like, Huh, so the first thing was, I was trying to figure out how to work that into my job. I mentioned that I had moved from Houston to San Francisco. And the you can imagine that the account base there might have a slightly different demographic, right.

Like in Houston, Texas, I was working with a lot of people that had been at their companies, 2030 years knew the ins and outs. relationships were important. That handshake was big, you had to build trust. That was Texas, right. And not to say there aren’t elements of that the Bay Area, but everyone has their visions of Silicon Valley, right, a bunch of 20 and 30 year olds running around switching jobs every two to three years working for these high tech companies. So I’m like, Okay, so my my customer base is different.

And this, this goes back to that moniker you mentioned that I have in my LinkedIn profile, saying I Help people tell stories to their ideal customer, I’m like, Well, if I’m going to communicate with my customers, I’m going to need to do it in a way that 20 and 30 year olds are used to be communicated with. So I’m like, this is a perfect opportunity to take out the iPhone, pour a beer, because I’ve got that beer background. And in my career, I’m like, let’s do something where we simplify topics and manufacturing and automation and talk about them the same way you’d have a conversation with someone over a beer.

And for nine months, I was just creating that video series on my iPhone where we do like, I don’t know, three to five minute videos where we talk about, you know, why would you use a manage switch? Or how do you recruit millennial talent, we just cover the topics that were on the minds of manufacturers and quick videos, and I put them on YouTube, and I largely just email them out to my customers, right? Because that’s, that’s who I was focused on. Yeah. So that’s where it got started. It was a tool to reach my customers the way they wanted to be reached. Right?


Curt Anderson  10:55

Dude, I think it was brilliant, you know, and I took it like a little LinkedIn hiatus, you know, like, in like, 1617. But I still, you know, I started seeing like, your content, you know, probably like 17, or 18, or whenever that was or time that you and I connected. And it was just, it was just such a fascinating, unique concept.

You know, like you brought fun, you know, it wasn’t anything that we went to either the workplace, hey, let’s go grab a beer, it’s go to happy hour decided that. It was just a brilliant combination. And so this is why I like to dig into Chris, you. You have a fantastic blog post from several years ago that you put out. And you put the reasons on why you launched manufacturing happy hour. Did you remember this post? It was seven years ago?


Chris Leucke  11:36

I do remember that blog post? I can I don’t know exactly how I organized those points. But I think I’ve talked to a couple of them so far in that first answer.


Curt Anderson  11:45

Yeah, I’m sure you have. So you know, so number one break into a new market. So again, so for manufacturers, you know, and again, like pre COVID, this has been like, ah, why? I’m not gonna do a podcast? What are you crazy? Now? It’s a totally different mindset. Right? So talk about like, you know, I’m a, you know, I’m a small custom manufacturer, I’ve been metal, I cut steel, like, you know, I use circuit boards. Why would I get into a podcast? I mean, like your great success story living proof. But just share a little bit about how did it help you break into new industries or new markets?


Chris Leucke  12:16

Yeah, a couple things. And it’s funny, because that that blog posts, probably two or three years old now, I’d say I have an additional answer on top of the one I gave back then. Because one, it allows you to build expertise in a new area, right. Like when I was out there, Rockwell served we’re talking the Bay Area, right. So the semiconductor big industry out there, right. But you know, it’s rock Rockwell got its start as a rust belt company in the Midwest, right? automotive, food and beverage, absolutely synonymous semiconductor, still working our way in there.

So that was an opportunity for me to build expertise in that space, right and build trust with customers, because that’s what it’s all about. As I’ve done more and more podcasting, you know, a way to break into a new market with podcasting. Gosh, like you look at these companies that do interview podcasts, they might interview people within their own company. But I think podcasting can be the ultimate prospecting tool, where if you reach out to the people that you wish you were your customers, and don’t mention anything about your company, just say, Hey, I do this podcast, I don’t know, let’s say you’re trying to grow in the semiconductor industry,

I do a semiconductor industry podcast, I’d love to talk to, you know, this individual, because I think my audience would really resonate with what you have to say, all of a sudden, you’re building a relationship with someone, not because they released an RFP, or because you’re trying to sell something to them right off the bat, you made a relationship with them independent of that by just providing value to them, get in front of your odd get the getting them in front of their audience and giving them an opportunity to share their story. So that’s where I think podcasting really can help you break into a new market.


Curt Anderson  13:53

That’s awesome. And did you you know, it can be very strategic, right? As you go in and like, okay, who am I gonna, you know, so, when you first started, were you strategic, and like, who you would bring on as a guest? Or have you grown more strategically or, like, share a little bit of like, how do you choose your guests or topics? Or, you know, how did you approach it with rock wall? And when you do it now?


Chris Leucke  14:14

Yeah, I guess one thing I’d have to say is, the answer I just gave is, that’s like, ideal scenario, right? That’s what you want to work for. But when you’re starting a podcast, you probably you might start with your friends, right? Like I started with my co workers that were in the office, it’s like, I know, hey, vnode you’re an expert in you know, manage switches, manage and manage automation, everything.

Do you want to jump on this episode? Talk to my buddy, Steve. I’m like, Hey, we got to talk about components, your your components area manager, you want to be on there. So we started there. I think, honestly, if I had to give like a piece of tactical advice to this answer is you got to start building momentum some way right? And you got to know that the whole world’s not gonna start watching you right out of the gate. I think that’s where people get tripped up. They’re like, Oh, man, you know, I don’t have 1000 have subscribers after two weeks? Well, like, of course, right?

Like, yeah, the content you put out is good, but it takes time it takes getting consistent. So yeah, my, my part of that story is like, hey, gotta start off, get some initial content, go and talk with your friends talk with your current customers, for example, people that already know you. And then the other thing that happens there is you start getting feedback from your growing audience, right? People will be like, Oh, I really liked the episode you did on that, or I really liked the episode you did on cybersecurity, you start getting more feedback, you know what the audience wants, and you can start catering to that with your, let’s say, your next round of content as you keep rolling.


Curt Anderson  15:38

Right? I absolutely love that. And I found it’s also extremely helpful. You’re talking I do it quite often, actually. Somebody on a topic. I’m like, Oh, actually, we had a subject matter expert on that topic. Let me send you that episode. You know, yeah. Let’s say like for let me just throw up pretend hypothetical. If somebody asked me about, Hey, have you heard of the digital twin? I’d be like, Yeah, I know, my Greg, my buddy, Greg misu has a real great podcast on that. And I have an episode. Let’s share that with you.

So. So again, I love what you’ve done with that. And I and again, I before you and I even connected I used to watch your episodes, and you know, all sorts of different content. Now number two on that list, and you wrote that blog post, I think in 2018, so we’ll just fire down that.

Okay. cracked a younger audience. And again, you know, I love what you’re saying with Rockwell, traditional Brit, you know, probably folks a lot my age, you know, my generation, and you’re trying to crack through into a younger, younger market, younger generation share a little bit like, what were some discoveries that you found, maybe were there any interesting things you’re like, man, I didn’t see that coming with the podcast, like any surprises, positive surprises by you know, going this route.


Chris Leucke  16:41

Maybe surprises wouldn’t be the right word for it. But it’s funny, like I love talking about this blog post, because I would probably agree with everything I put in there back then, like me in 2021 versus be in 2018. What I’d probably say on top of that, though, is Yeah, it was built to attract a younger audience right out of the gate, right? You know, Millennials consume information on YouTube. But here’s the reality. Like, it’s not just exclusive to a younger audience right out of the gate, maybe those are the early adopters, but my audience now I mean, it spans the generations, right? podcasting is becoming more of a household name. It’s not quite like radio or TV yet.

But if you ask someone what a podcast is, you know, regardless of age, there’s a good chance to get someone nodding their head, it’s like, oh, yeah, I’m subscribed to a bunch of shows right now. So I think the thing you know, maybe with anything, and I’m gonna put ages side on this, when you do something that’s maybe new or techie like that, you’re gonna attract the early adopters first, but if you stick with it, you start getting the masses at that point. Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  17:42

yeah. Yeah, I’m glad you put age aside. That’s why I was giggling. Because you got the old guy to roll my eyes. Yeah, cuz people look at me in a especially people that are my age, they go, What the hell are you doing?


Chris Leucke  17:54

You know, hey, here’s, here’s the thing on that, and I so I’m 34 now, so I’m still young, but I’m not like just fresh out of school. Yeah, right. But I just I can think about the way I reflect on just little subtle lessons or things I’ve learned from people throughout my career. Now I’m like, gosh, the, like the value experience provides is just immense. So if there are people out there that have three times four times as much experience as I do, I’m like, I want to tap into that knowledge. Right?


Curt Anderson  18:25

Well, your Dude, you’re wise beyond your years. 34 Man, I think a T shirt under underneath my Trailblazer 3534 years old. So anyway, let’s so number three on the lesson I’d like to dig into this because I’ve been a huge benefactor of this factor. Building, manufacturing community, you know, and, you know, I really want to hit on this one because like our friend Dan Biggers on the program, he’s a fierce advocate for us manufacturing, he has his Twitter group that MFG, Twitter, hour, every hour, every third, Thursday, two o’clock eastern time on Twitter.

It’s just a mass of manufacturers around the country that come together on Twitter that is so new cutting edge. That’s a nice community that he’s built. Damon’s done a job with communities he’s built through his company, exit your way, manufacturing happy hour, I’ve had the honor and privilege of connecting with, like I said, Greg misu, Jeff long Dave Griffith is amazing.

He just did a post early, just about an hour before our program of Niagara Falls. And I put up I took a picture of Dave and I at Niagara Falls together, that we got together in person. And again, that was thanks, Tim. So and I could go down the list Tim Oborne atch solly, bunch of great foods that come through manufacturing happy hour. Did you think at the time, did you realize the type of community or friendships or networking, and guys are doing business together? Did you realize the impact that you would have when you first started and you appreciate it now that you’ve done it for years?


Chris Leucke  19:55

Maybe I hoped I would have that impact, right? It’s To say like whether you’re going to expect it to happen, right, I think my goal with with building out the community and to an extent it was a natural offshoot of manufacturing happy hour, right? Like, I used to bring my customers in the Bay Area together for happy hours. Because as a salesperson, I’m like, you know, yeah, they can listen to me talk about the solutions Rockwell Automation provides, I’d rather have my customers talking to why they’re saying, Hey, this is how a Rockwell solution helped us.

Or even if it’s something completely non related to what my day job was, I just wanted to find ways to get people connected and add value, right? Like, I was always an event planner, I like to throw in social events and things like that. So again, playing into some of my natural strengths there.

But as I started to build out the community, you know, I guess maybe one of my goals has been it? Well, I shouldn’t say I guess, I mean, one of my goals is to get other people connected, whether it’s something related to what I do, or something else in the manufacturing industry, right? Because if you’re calling on again, focusing on that target audience, it’s not like it’s every type of business professional out there. It’s people that are in the manufacturing world. It’s like getting them together.

And it’s about playing that long game, right? It’s not about Yeah, you know, what can you do for me tomorrow? or What can I do for you tomorrow, it’s like, hey, sometimes it takes a couple years for those relationships to build up, sometimes it takes an opportunity for a business opportunity to come up with two people with, with two people within a community along those lines. But I think it really goes back to just playing the long game, right? Again, I feel like I’ve got just a little bit more perspective that than I did a while ago, like, I feel like, maybe if something were taught incorrectly in college, it’s like, you got to know what you’re going to do.

And you’re going to do that the rest of your life, right. But as I continue to go on, I’m like, gosh, what I’m doing now might start to look a little different in five years, or 10 years, or 20 years. So I’m just trying to build up, you know, try to give people the connections, they need to succeed in their careers. And honestly, their lives long term, right? Like whether these are business relationships, friendships, like, that’s, that’s been the goal. So did I realize what I was doing at the time? Maybe I had a bit of perception as to what could happen down the line. But again, it takes that consistency, sticking with it to start seeing some of these relationships blossom.


Curt Anderson  22:15

That’s awesome. Yeah. I mean, at 34 years old, and again, you started this in your 20s. So just, you know, gosh, I wish I had your wisdom, you know, took me a long, long time to figure this out. But you do a great job, you know, with a win win is perfect with COVID hit, you know, man, like you became like a lot of probably great good test of this.

You know, a lot of us it was like, Man, that was our social life was like coming together, you know, we’d have 2030 folks on a call you were bringing in different speakers, we learned about AR and automation and all sorts of different great topics, you had subject matter experts, then you’d go around the room. And just for a shameless, you know, yeah, man, you were such a dear friend support I was I put a book out and and man, you were just such a fierce advocate for me. I’m just so appreciative in such deep gratitude, you were just so supportive helping me promote it.

And so again, thank you for what you did, Chris, and you just do a you’re, it’s just such a natural, like, it’s almost like a gift that you have of supporting other folks shining that bright light on. And you actually did say number four in your last little part there, you know, giveaway value, by playing to my strengths. And again, you know, that’s what you do such a great job is shining a bright light on folks. Let’s talk about I want to hit we have one more, you have number five, five in a second.

But let’s talk I’m gonna segue into like, you took a huge, huge leap of faith this past year, I believe your is yours our year ago, a year ago, coming up on that one year anniversary, one year anniversary, so like rock wall, major corporation, you just, I was so impressed, and just really admired how you handled yourself and again, is that entrepreneurial spirit at this major company. But yet you took that leap of faith talk about, you know, how did that decision come about? How did that feel was a little nerve wracking? Was it smooth? What was that like from jumping from big company to entrepreneurship?


Chris Leucke  24:08

I kind of got Gosh, so there’s, I’m trying to think of the best way to answer this. There’s so many different thoughts going through your head, right, I felt I’m not this might sound a little like out of the ordinary, I felt confident taking that leap. Like I knew there was uncertainty ahead. I already had a client lined up, you know, there were some things that were it’s like, okay, like there there are people that need the work that I’m doing that that I could jump into, right.

So that gave me some confidence right out of the gate. And and I think that you mentioned it earlier, Kurt like we’re still early in the podcasting game, right. Like it’s not, you know, it’s not like a social media manager role at companies now, right? Like that role didn’t really exist, you know, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, but that’s standard practice. Now.

I’m like, it’s probably a little while before that gets formalized. Right. So Like, if I’m going to evolve this career in this unique direction that it’s going, I probably need to take that leap of faith, right? and just see what happens. Because I think Gary Vaynerchuk talks about this. Like, if something isn’t working out, this is kind of ironic as well, I think we’ll get to this later, you can go back to what you were doing before, right? Yeah, it’s about taking that risk. And, gosh, I just feel like it’s completely changed by the mentality around risk taking, right just seeing the debt, while whilst things might not work out the way you immediately expect them to, like they do work out in in certain ways.

So to go back to your question, taking that leap of faith. You know, I think what it comes down to and I know I’m harping on this topic, but I think it’s important, it was just the fact that I’ve been consistent with what I had been doing for four years, right. And I’m like, if I just stay consistent, and I keep adding value, the way I’m doing and find new ways to add value. things should work out in the end, even if things completely derail, which fortunately, they never did. But that’s I think, just having that confidence and being consistent is what helped out. Right?


Curt Anderson  26:05

Well, dude, courage, you know, it takes a lot of courage to do what you did, and a lot of folks will go through life, you know, and you know, that rearview mirror and regret are like man and would have should have killed. So again, really admire hats off to you to take that leap of faith. And like you said, you know, that expression, you can always go home, right? So it doesn’t work out. I’ll go to plan B, you know, and you just kind of figure it out.

So talk about the transition itself. So you leave Rockwell great terms, you had amazing relationships, friendships, so forth. And let’s let’s get up to that point in your career. And what were you finding that when it what like, what was that first day like when you left Rockwell? Did it feel? You know, how did that feel?


Chris Leucke  26:46

First thing I can tell you is I had moved to Wisconsin for that first day. And it was snowing in October. So that was the first thing that sticks on Oh, yeah, I just moved from California to Wisconsin. It’s snowing October. I’m like, why? That might have been the first moment where it’s like, what have I done? Right? But no, it was just it was just diving in, right? Because all of a sudden, I’m not a, you know, small fish in a big pond anymore. Like I’m, you know, it’s more your life at that point.

So it’s like, there’s no onboarding period, you got to get to work right out of the gate. So I remember, you know, making video content that first week for this new life I had just created for myself. So it’s just that I think that’s the first thing where it’s like, you realize, it’s like, it’s not the big corporation anymore. Like you got to get the work done. And not that he can’t take time to be strategic and think about what you need to do. But you got to hit the ground running and you got to get out there. That was that was the first thing that that struck me about that.


Damon Pistulka  27:44

Right. That’s Yeah, they hit the ground run. And that’s for sure. Right Damon Oh,


Curt Anderson  27:49

damn the line. You always use your you eat what you kill when you’re an entrepreneur, man, if you’re not, you’re not eating, you know, so it’s, you know, and it’s and, you know, I work with, you know, a lot of friends, colleagues, whatever, that they’re like, man, I could never do entrepreneurship. I just need the conference, security of that paycheck, so on and so forth.

So, what’s what’s the past, you know, getting we’re in the middle of a pandemic, right in the middle of COVID. You decide to take this leap? What’s this past year? What’s it look like for you? What are some I know if you want to hear highs, lows and rustling? wrote, you know, your roller coaster fan has been a roller coaster, it’s been relatively smooth. How’s it gone?


Chris Leucke  28:23

I’d say it’s been Yeah, it’s been a roller coaster, in a good way. Right. The nice thing about a roller coaster is, you know, it’s got like a positive end point, right? Like it goes up and down. But you’re gonna get back to, you know, a level set at the end of it when it’s all done. I mean, gosh, things that that have gone.

Well, I mean, you know, I mentioned like taking on clients, it’s funny bit of a personal story. I so I work with a company called fix software right now, a recent acquisition of Rockwell Automation. And that’s, that’s not much of a coincidence, right? Like, I’d spent a lot of time in Rockwell. And now, Funny enough, I’m kind of back into the fold.

But what I think one thing that that I got acquainted with was, it’s like, the companies that I work with, and whether it’s taking them on as clients or jumping on in a full time capacity, whatever it is, I want to make sure I aligned with their values, right. And I just saw I saw them I’m like, this is some of the most cutting edge technology like this is a SaaS company in the manufacturing space, right. And something that solves such an obvious problem for a lot of maintenance departments.

So you know, one of the things that it was just kind of funny, as I was looking for more clients, I kind of ended up into this opportunity, right talking to fix and I look at it as once you start building a brand and once you start getting out there and really, I put a post on this on LinkedIn today, it’s like LinkedIn should be a spot where you showcase your values on a regular basis, not pitch your product and since I had started showcasing who I was, and I had that base of work there, it it made it more obvious that that this you know it was a it’s a two way street. That they were a fit for me and I was a fit for them.

And part of it was that I had that base of content that base of work that people can see. Oh, yeah, this is what Chris does. And this is what he’s all about. And by the way, this is how he communicates as well. So it’s been an adventure jumping, jumping back on with them. And did I think that was gonna happen, like six months into taking on independent clients? No, but I think that’s one of the things the difference between being a solopreneur. And being someone that runs a company and a team per se, like you can take on either individual client gigs, or you can take on full time gigs that that fit your style.


Curt Anderson  30:35

Exactly. So again, guys, I dropped Chris’s LinkedIn profile, I dropped a link for our program accidentally, but I have the link for Chris’s LinkedIn profile. I have your manufacturing happy our website. And I also have fixed so share a little bit. I’m curious about fixed, what is fixed? What type of manufacturer Are you working with? What solution do you use? What What problem do you solve? Yeah, good


Chris Leucke  30:58

question. So I mean, at the end of the day, what fix does and I’ll explain what it is, by definition, but they help maintenance teams move from being reactive in how they handle factory maintenance, to being proactive in how they handle it. So you can probably imagine what it’s like being a business person inside, I don’t know, let’s say a potato chip making plant, right?

Like when something breaks, you got to go fix it, when it have a piece of equipments jammed, you got to go get it unjammed. Well, what fix is, it’s what’s called a cmms system. So computerized maintenance management system. And what that allows people to do is to better track and organize the way they execute maintenance.

So like I said, you might have to go out and fix a jam, because I don’t know what there was an issue with a motor on that piece of equipment, right? Well, if you had that data in advance to say, hey, this motor is rotating a lot faster than it should be right now, you should probably go complete this work order on that piece of equipment, maybe that equipment never would have gone down to begin with. So it’s a system that maintenance folks can use to be more proactive and address issues before they become issues, right? Because if you go into a typical maintenance shop, maybe not, you know, I think there’s there’s a range right now, right?

But some people might be using post it notes to be like, hey, fix line two, they might be using, I think this is pretty common, right? a spreadsheet that the whole department has access to that you update things on. But when you have an actual piece of software that’s cloud based, and a single source of truth, and not only can you update it when you’re in the maintenance shop, but hey, you can use your smartphone, when you’re out on the shop floor to be like, hmm, looks like there’s an issue with the palletizers on line three, you can log that in and get that set off right away.

So it’s just a cool story that at the end of the day, like not only does it allow maintenance folks to be more proactive with it, but it allows them It makes their lives easier, right? Because I can tell you like in sales and run my own business, when I’m more proactive than reactive, I’m feeling a whole lot better about my day and the things I’m getting done. So that’s in problem maybe longer than you want it. But in a nutshell, that’s that’s the problem fix solves. Dude, that


Curt Anderson  33:01

is absolutely awesome. What a great story, Chris, and what a perfect transition for you, you know, again, you know, you know, honor student, you know, engineer and everything at Marquette and in college, you know, I know, you’re a fierce Boy Scout, and you know, just, you know, everything you just had such a great career, you’d plunge into entrepreneurship.

And now find yourself at the software. And so now I’m going to hit number five on your list, and I feel it ties perfectly. Number five was have some fun, you know, yeah, like it right here to have a ton of fun. As a matter of fact, as you describe what you’re doing at six, you just use your you know, like, you talk about it, like you’re talking about a hockey game or a baseball game, you know, it’s like, you know, you’re enthusiastic, you’re, you’re excited.

And again, most manufacturers who wants to be proactive, like, let’s let’s being reactive, it’s almost a nature of the beast, you know, but I just I think this is such a wonderful, powerful solution that you guys are delivering in what’s fascinating back to your story. You’re like, I’m an extrovert punk guy that, you know, yeah, it’s great for sales, but yet you’re a brilliant marketer, you know, and what I really admire is that you’ve gone from engineering.

And you know, again, you can be your extrovert, but you’re really a sophisticated savvy marketer, you know, taking on these early, you know, being an early adapter, podcasting, so on and so forth. So, what are some again, folks that are just starting out right now, like our dear friend, Val, you know, we’re having a conversation gal starting to do some LinkedIn lives, eight pieces of advice that would speed it up for them as far as like, doing their podcast or going live or anything that you would share that would be tips for them to move the needle.


Chris Leucke  34:37

Make it about your customer, make it about your audience, like that’s probably the number one piece of advice, right like there. It’s one thing to get comfortable on camera by maybe talking about a product that you have, like maybe that’s that’s the way it gets started, right. You’re comfortable talking about features and benefits, right. But what I think people need to be more comfortable with is helping to share people’s stories, helping to humanize The people behind equipment and things like that, and really listening to what your audience wants to hear as well.

I mean, example I give is, for whatever reason, when I do a cyber security episode of manufacturing happy hour, it gets double the downloads of everything else isn’t really. Yeah. So I mean, that’s one way to listen to your audience, right? When the numbers don’t lie, or like, Alright, guess we got to do more episodes on cybersecurity, or when someone in the comment, like let’s say you do, I don’t know, let’s say you do a video on generations in the workforce, right?

That’s just an example. If you get a lot of people commenting and engaging on that, like use that as a signal to be like, maybe I should talk about this topic more often. Or maybe reach out to some of the people that commented and said, Hey, what do you want to hear more of? What do you like? What don’t you like? Like, it’s an incredible source of feedback that I don’t think people take enough advantage of.


Curt Anderson  35:50

Right? What Another question I have for you. So going from Rockwell to eight in technically, it’s a division of Rockwell, right? Yep. Yep. Well, how, describe, you know, culture differences from going from a, you know, monster company down to like, you know, is this more of a swift cutting edge, you know, like, describe the culture at fix?


Chris Leucke  36:08

Yeah. To be blunt there there. I’d say the most important things are very similar. And when I say most important things, it’s about, like that culture of inclusion, right. Like, that was one of the first things that stuck out like, we’re looking for ways to make manufacturing more inclusive, make our teams more inclusive, make sure everyone’s voices heard and Representative with within these industries, and not only on that topic, but you know, making sure these are places where people can do their best work, right.

And I think that’s where it’s been really cool seeing what happens when two companies come together like this, right? Because you’re like, wow, these things. I mean, just the conversations mesh, so well, right? The core values are there, right? What’s different?

Like, I mean, you can imagine it right Rockwell’s a 23,000, person company, multibillion dollar global organization and fixes a 200 person and growing things closer to 250 people right now, software company that just started in like the past 10 years. So there’s a lot of agility, there’s a lot of speed, you can make decisions quicker. That’s just kind of the nature of it, right? Like, I think one thing that that I’ve learned, it’s like, when when you’re steering a really big ship, like a small mistake can start taking it really off course, it’s harder to adjust.

When you’re a small company, you can make those mistakes and quickly, you know, adjust back and forth. So I think it’s given me a, what it what it’s helped with, it’s given me an appreciation of both sides of the coin, right? It’s awesome, being able to go fast and break things and try new things quickly. But at the same time, like when you’ve got a large organization, you got to make sure some very core things are correct before you take a lot of really extensive action.

And I’ll go back to the original part of that, that comment, right, just seeing how culturally aligned both organizations were when I jumped on board. That was one of the things that’s like, Huh, I could imagine when companies are looking to merge or when one one’s looking to acquire another, that’s one thing you just got to look at as a non negotiable. Right. And I think that’s been really cool. Just seeing the, the the alignment and culture as well as the the strengths and the unique strengths that different types of organizations bring to the table.


Curt Anderson  38:18

That’s, that’s phenomenal. So man, God, Chris, I know, we could talk all day, we’re coming in at time, we want to get back to the table. So I know, Gail, I know you’re dying to talk to these guys. Or talk to Chris, Chris, you know, a big thing that we want to talk about was, you know, podcasting.

You know, you hit the value hit the giving back, you know, shining a bright light on folks. Talk about how you’ve been able to build up, you know, when you made this smooth transition, right? And now like trying to attract the clients now for fix compared to the clients that you’re attracting for Rockwell, how are you utilizing LinkedIn, you’re podcasting. Now, to really build your business with fix? Sure.


Chris Leucke  38:57

I’ve I’m gonna say it again, a lot of it’s consistency, right? There’s only you know, it’s it’s about figuring out who’s the audience for for fixed, right? I mean, it’s maintenance leaders, people that want to make their maintenance teams better people on the maintenance team that are like, I want my life to be a little more organized. So it’s about creating content that that goes out to those people as well.

And then, you know, naturally to talk to a large organization acquiring a smaller organization, you got to get the Salesforce spun up on what that is. But it really goes back to the The funny thing is, I didn’t change my LinkedIn headline when I joined fix, because I knew my role was going to be the same thing. Or my mission was going to be the same, right?

It’s helping manufacturers tell their story to the right people. It’s helping sales people it’s helping distributors tell the fixed story to their customers. It’s me learning how to tell the story to the Rockwell channel and it’s also my it’s me learning how to tell the story to customers as well. A lot of what these things come down to are being able to articulate what you do. Simple fashion to the right person. So it’s uh, the honestly, that’s the way I transitioned right? It was recognizing, hey, what I’m doing today is really no different in a lot of ways than what I need to be doing tomorrow. It’s just a different audience and a different message.


Curt Anderson  40:15

That is awesome. So we’ll close out on this Chris fourth quarter what’s what’s life looking like for fourth quarter for you?


Chris Leucke  40:21

trade shows are back. I’ve got like trade shows on the, you know, one one a month coming up here a little, I guess a little plug for fix. And Rockwell if that’s okay, they’re automation fair. He’s in Texas in November, going to be doing some cool things with a three down in Memphis in October. So getting back on the road a little bit. Other things that are on the docket. That one thing I learned about running your own thing running your own podcast?

Gosh, it takes some effort to get proactive and get into a state where you’re like ahead of schedule, right so I’ve got some cool guests lined up for the podcast right now feeling more organized there. Because I really want to do some things like finally get some merch created for the people that have been listening to manufacturing happy hour for a long time. Get a few more things done there. It’s a really what I would say is on the docket for this next quarter is finding new ways to make cool content for the right audience. That’s that’s what’s going on. Dude,


Curt Anderson  41:20

drop the mic on that man. Repeat that. Say it again.


Chris Leucke  41:25

who’ve been refining. Yeah, finding ways to make more cool content for the right audience. That’s what it is right now.


Curt Anderson  41:31

Wow. Well, I’ll tell you, man, that is awesome. So Chris, what we’re gonna do let’s let’s wind down. And first off, I you know, you know where I stand. I just I can’t express my gratitude to you the benefits I’ve read. I’ve read many benefits from belonging to your group, your crowd from the speakers again, you know, promote, you know, your friendship promoting my book and what have you. So thank you a huge thank you from buying my heart. Thank you to the manufacturing community, what you do and just your your fees, fierce loyalty, your relentless drive, putting out this incredible content.

We have some folks here, hopefully in the next, you know, 346 months, you’ll see some new podcasters on the on the trail you’re seeing a lot of podcasting of you know, we have our mutual friends, Ray and Alison, it’s Matter of fact, I’m going to take a little screenshot right now. Yeah. So we can send that to Alison. There we go. So she’ll be she’ll be proud of us. But Chris, I have your LinkedIn profile in there. Please check out Chris on LinkedIn, check out his website.

Check out fix. And Chris and his Matter of fact, I connected with your with your buddy Joe Sullivan this week. And so Joe in St. Louis. Yes. I’m going on his podcast. He’s coming on our show next month. So again, just once again, another great connection. Thanks to you. So Chris, thank you. God bless you, dude. appreciate everything you do, guys. Damon, I want to do a shout out. We have. We have some we have some big programs coming up. We do a lot of work with a manufacturer extension partnerships. If you guys are familiar with the MEPs around the country, great, amazing resource for all manufacturers, all 50 states.

Damon is doing a webinar at university Nebraska MEP on Tuesday. I’m blessing fortunate. I’m doing one for the Pennsylvania MEP on Wednesday. And then we were in Purdue at on Thursday. So man, we’re covering three MEPs this week, drop those. I dropped those webinars in the chat box. Check us out. Damon’s got a killer program coming up. So, Damon, we’re gonna close it out. Take it away. And I wish everybody Oh, killer, killer weekend, Chris. Thank you again. Hang on. We’re gonna go back to the tables. And you guys can talk to Chris.


Damon Pistulka  43:36

All right, Kurt. And Chris, thanks so much. It was awesome. I was sitting here in the back because we got some echo problems going on. on LinkedIn. I was trying to give them the best the best audio I could. But Thanks, everyone. We got tons of comments too. By the way, Chris, on LinkedIn, people are loving it loving the stuff. So we’re going to go back to the table CRM remote, so we can talk with Chris, everybody else on LinkedIn, Facebook, wherever the heck we’re going online. Go ahead, Kurt.


Curt Anderson  44:01

One more thing, one more thing. So just man, we had an awesome time. Great time. I hate to end it on a somber note, guys, tomorrow morning, let’s think about what happened 20 years ago, think about where you were at that very moment. Our country has just been so resilient and turned around and just I cannot believe 20 years has gone by. But you know, God bless all the families that suffered and what our country went through and just we’re here stronger than ever. And so just let’s think about what happened 20 years ago tomorrow morning, so God bless everybody. Get out there and crush it. So thank you.


Damon Pistulka  44:31

Yeah, that’s thanks, Kurt. All right, we’re gonna drop off here on LinkedIn and everywhere else and we’re going to go back to the tables and remote. Thanks, everyone for listening. Thanks for commenting and visiting us on Fridays. Thanks, guys. You bet. Awesome.

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