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Selling with Dyslexia, with Rob Johnson [Episode 870]

Rob Johnson is the Managing Director for Onit, leader in the enterprise legal ops space. Rob sent me one of the more interesting pitches to be a guest on this show. He said he wasn’t trying to promote anything. He just wanted to talk about the challenges people face when they have dyslexia and the opportunities it presents for sellers. In this episode Rob shares his story about developing into a top sales professional and sales leader despite having dyslexia.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul: Robert. Welcome to the show.

Rob Johnson: Thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Andy Paul: My pleasure. So where have you been hiding out during the pandemic?

Rob Johnson: That’s a good question. I panned down it first happened. Funny enough. We had moved just into a new house which probably on reflection. Wasn’t a great time to buy a house in London .

Andy Paul: You mean the property values have dropped since then?

Rob Johnson: They fluctuated but it’s the added stress, right? I didn’t have an office space. So I moved into a garage that’s that was my first office.

So thank goodness for 21st century technology. I pretty much have given all of my money to the local phone network for using my phone as a hotspot. Yeah. So I spent the first kind of couple of months in a garage for that. I can’t do this forever. Because loads of meetings and obviously everyone that had to have their cameras on as it was the new norm, they kept on querying why I had a cool Soho brick wall behind me.

And I shattered their dreams when I told them that it was a shed. I forget. And then, because the company I worked for we are predominantly focused in North America and I look after everything outside. We’re all  we’re remote workers here. And so I took some space in our local library.

So we as I’m sure you guys know, like in the eighties and nineties, Probably libraries had kind of computer labs, so big spaces where people run computers as he would, the size of cars sort of thing. Which needed lots of space. We that space in the local libraries in our, region have been converted into office space.

And so it’s hot desks and they’re cheap, they’re efficient, it’s 24 hour access and the proceeds go back into the community. So it’s a bit of a win-win really.

Andy Paul: And we can’t escape this topic as there’s a COVID protocol. So you go in, you feel safe or limit that limit the number of people.

Rob Johnson: Some let’s just say it’s not it’s not the most glamorous of office space. Let’s put it politely and, but it’s functional and the wifi is better than my phone hub. But yes, there is. There is covert protocols and you can’t stand out a mask and we all love our English tea here as well.

Can only have so many cups without people getting a bit flinchy about me. Keep on going up and down, but no problem.

Andy Paul: Yeah, I was going to say but now as we record this in early November, it’s after the U S elections, but before Thanksgiving holiday and UK is I think, as of Thursday this week, actually the day we’re recording this aren’t they shutting down?

Rob Johnson: We went into lockdown 2.0, as we’ve coined it. End of LA or back end of last week. So we’ve been in for a week now, but as we were discussing or flying this time round, the government thought it would be a good idea. That’s children went to school still which every parent in the land will forever Casper as Johnson’s feet.

Andy Paul: It’s one way, one way down.

Rob Johnson: Hey, you know what, whatever kissing babies eat. But but yeah, like I said, I think people come trained to it as well as though I’m sure it’s the same in the U S when we first had a big lockdown everyone was unsure of protocol of what to do. No one went out everywhere. It was like a bit of a ghost town.

People are just, I think are a bit more trained to what they do now. And so there’s still people on the streets. We’ve got better at things like click and collect. So local stores can still service the local I suppose the local markets and you can never shut a McDonald’s down for love nor money.

Andy Paul: Through there.

Rob Johnson: So they’re all open. It’s just retail, that’s taken a real hammering shopping centers and things of that mouse. But but we will find a new way to work. Don’t we, as humans, we are flexible and we have the ability to adapt and change. And I think that’s never been seen greater as we do at the moment, especially for my generation.

Andy Paul: Yeah. . I’ve mentioned this before. I eternally grateful that my kids are grown and out of the house and yeah, it didn’t have to the homeschooling with this and didn’t have two parents, both trying to work and young kids at home, helping them, the preschoolers

Or kids actually in school. Yeah.  Crazy challenges.  Yeah. All right. Let’s talk about, let’s get into what you had a very interesting email. You sent to me a pissed pitch, a guest pitch which yeah, I get all the time, but this one really caught my eye.

Cause you said you weren’t trying to promote anything other than issue of challenges people face when they have certain condition, your case dyslexia and the challenges and opportunities that presents for them. The sellers. Quite honest, we hadn’t dealt with that. We’ve dealt with other issues recently, like mental health and sales and so on.

But I thought there’s and we’ve had one, one other conversation about a couple of years ago, if the guests with he had add and talked about how that really became his superpower. So for you, has having dyslexia,  really become your super power?

Rob Johnson: Ish.

Andy Paul: Okay.

Rob Johnson: I’m being British probably. I really struggle with it and things of that notion. Sorry.

Andy Paul: So what would you say in place of superpower?

Rob Johnson: I’d say it gives me an advantage is probably a good thing to say. Yeah. So this actually all came around. We were on holiday, funnily enough, when you could still go do that this year. So we were in Spain and I was listening to a couple of your podcasts when it was on the beach and the girls were doing their thing.

Andy Paul: Okay. First of all, I’m sorry that you’re listening to my podcast or you should have been on the beach enjoying your girls.

Rob Johnson: Yeah, it’s it’s a bit of escapism, but but yeah, so it was, I was having a lesson on, I felt that a lot, there’s lots of typical topics out there in the world around sales and working hard and being efficient, things of that notion. But people haven’t really spoken about the elements of perhaps me coming from it from a dyslexia perspective.

In my email to you, I was fine. I mentioned around, there are final products of that. So you have people like Richard Branson who taught one being dyslexic. But personally, I don’t think it’s good to have a figure of that notion in this world, but. I’m probably not going to own an Island anytime soon.

A person to look up to and work towards, sometimes you have those, if theory or figures that. It doesn’t really do anything, almost like a needle Musk sort of notion. I’m not going to start a space program anytime soon. But so I, I was very keen to perhaps have a bit more of a platform to talk around dyslexia and how that’s affected me, certainly from a sales perspective over the, I suppose there’d been.

In professional career now for about 10, 12 years. So I’m 33. So I forgot what, how old I was the other day. Can you remind me instantly? But yes,

Andy Paul: It’s a bit early to start forgetting your age, by the way,

Rob Johnson: I know this is not a good sign. It’s probably sales. It’s doing it to me.


Andy Paul: Just wait too. You’re my age. Have 45. Yeah.

Rob Johnson: Yeah. But yeah.  Gave me the opportunity to reflect and see how my career has progressed because of who I am rather than not. And dyslexia is an element of that. And this all came about in a long time ago when my first job out of university was actually working in real estate for a state agency.

And they really drilled into kind of cold calling. So I was doing 250 calls a day, six days a week.

Andy Paul: Let’s put a pin in that thought for a second, cause let’s go back and let’s make sure people really understand what dyslexia is and the challenges that presents for any individual let alone for sellers. So I’ll let you handle that.

Rob Johnson: Yeah, of course. So dyslexia in its fun fundamental state is as a challenge with the written word and things on paper in a traditional sense. So I could read something. And completely misinterpret what’s happening within that paragraph or sentence. Again, there’s more traditional things around spelling. So even to this day, I couldn’t tell you the difference between there, and there it’s really really standard things like that. Which again, My wife takes the MCAT only for a bit for, but that’s just, our jests is really struggling with that. That kind of notional. How was it structured and the language behind it.

Andy Paul: So there’s lots of, sort of social cues that stem from that as well.

Rob Johnson: Yeah. And it’s social cues. The ability to read people sometimes it’s slightly challenging as well. And basically the spoken word is something that you have to get more comfortable with. And in fancy, once you get comfortable with the audio parts of the world, rather than the written road dyslexic people have the ability to excel because you affect, so you can.

You thrive in other areas, which aren’t just those kinds of traditional things. And there’s always been a bit of a blind spot. I believe in education here, certainly in the UK around how to manage people with dyslexia. The traditional model is just to give people two hours or an hour.


Andy Paul: time,

Rob Johnson: actually Primarily the exam, but the reality is-

There’s a whole new process. People have to do to, educate and revise and do things in that notion. So there’s research into having colored paper different font types. So for example, my Kindle has a dyslexic font. Okay. There’s even kind of those subtleties, which help with the reading of words and things of that.

Andy Paul: What does the font do?

Rob Johnson: So it’s just a bit of a different shape. And so it just helps the words in my brain. Look and feel more easier to read and absorb. So it’s really weird. So times new Roman, it doesn’t do anything for me. But the same as comic Sans. So that doesn’t do anything for me either, but this phone to my Kindle and it’s called dyslexic font effectively shapes the words in a way that just makes them easier to absorb as an individual.

So it’s weird, but it seems to do the trick.

Andy Paul: And so do you notice a difference? So using that in think back t o when I was in the university, I could really have used this because I’m doing all this intensive reading.

Rob Johnson: Yeah. So the so there’s actually a university that picked up on my dyslexia.

Andy Paul: So you’re how old, when you were first diagnosed?

Rob Johnson: So I was yes 18. So it was not something. And again, I questioned my early education. Yeah.

Andy Paul: Yeah, I was going to say what happened during those early years?

Rob Johnson: Yeah. I think people just fall as a bit of a dance, but but yeah my wife picked it up, so we were just dating at the time and she was like, you should go and get tested for dyslexia because. Firstly, you can get a fund or grant from the university because you all dyslexic. So I’ve got a free laptop and the printer, which is, was more of a driver than actually dyslexic at the time because I was, I had a horrendous laptop, so that was helpful.

But. Like Steven, he was just like my wife Elise said, go and have a chat with them. And they put you through this course of different things you have to do  putting shapes together and understanding different letters and those psychological tests, no isometric tests, that’s it.

They replace a word in a paragraph and you have to  say. What word should be put back in to make the sentence, make sense and things of that nature.  And so I went for that and they said, yeah, you’re dyslexic. Here’s some stuff, but that was kind of him. They you were in a separate room for when you’re doing your written exams.

You had, and again, it’s, I think. People even to this day, don’t really know what to do with us as a breed. Because even when I was doing my dissertations and things like that, they just give you additional workout. So there’s not, there’s nothing really helping me there except I can just use more words rather than having a word limit.

Whereas in reality dyslexics do pretty well when you limit our workout, because then we don’t, we have a tendency to waffle, so waffles, quite an English word, but.

Andy Paul: No, we have it too.

Rob Johnson: Yeah or rabbits on that’s what we say here. So if we can keep things concise, then you’re onto a winner and that’s bled out into my professional career as well.

Andy Paul: So as you were graduating from university and you had this diagnosis and you’re looking at your choice of careers was getting into sales, something deliberate, or like most of us, just something that we sort of fell into?

Rob Johnson: Yeah, so actually sales came around in my second year of university. So I did a four year course and in the second year you can do a placement. So that was one of the attracts and attractions to it. So you could do a year in industry. I went to work for Hasbro, the toy manufacturer. It was about the time when the first transformers film came out and I’ll say it was, everyone was crazy for it.

And you had all the whoops was prime helmets and all that good stuff, but. I actually went in doing marketing because again, no one tells you about sales, particularly as a vocation before you fall into it. And then during that year, I went to this thing that was called the Christmas in July, which effectively means it’s a PR event that happens in about July and August.

So PR come and they see all the toys for that year. And I saw a couple of the sales guys doing their thing effectively, not from where I was at a couple of competitors, like Mattel were doing their thing. I went to set up the stall for Hasbro and rather awkwardly the sales guy was meant to be with, so I was that spotty long haired kid.

Who was just supporting a sales guy, didn’t turn up for some reason. And so it was on me to push Hasbro’s toys for that Christmas

Andy Paul: Yeah, I was going to say you’re definitely thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool or the sales pool at that that day.

Rob Johnson: Especially when you don’t know what you’re doing. But I gave it lots of enthusiasm. I had 11 coffees because it was nervous as hell. And we got through the day and funny enough, the next day, rather sheepishly the sales guy turned up with a bottle of grey goose to apologize. But I was hooked from that point, but the sales was something that I wanted to do and I had my first taste of it and was keen to go and find more of that.

Andy Paul: Because the communication was spoken and what you’re doing was spoken as opposed to being dependent on exchanging emails and other things like a marketing job.

Rob Johnson: Exactly. So it was all about engaging people, discussions conflict and resolution but all kinds of in-person rather than email. And that kind of really spoke to me because before marketing and everything that we’re doing at university. So I was doing a degree which covered a variety of topics under business studies, everything was heavy written, so it was all marketing. It was law, HR, things of that notion but no sales coming there. And and that gave me the entrepreneurial bug to go and push my, my, my career into sales, which then moved into once I graduated. I did.

Okay. So as good as I could have done. So I got a two, two, which is pretty average in the UK for a university degree, or I went and found a job where I could push my skills that I’ve had a taste for in my secondary unit.

Andy Paul: And so that was your real estate job?

Rob Johnson: That was my real estate job. Yeah, so that happened.

Andy Paul: Tell us what you’re doing, what the job was. And because, you’ve sent me information about it. And so on as is, and you just mentioned before is you’re making a ton of calls every day?

Rob Johnson: So it was, you offensively had a big book and then you had to call your way through pretty much kind of a private directory of people trying to get them to sell their house with the estate agent I was working with at the time. And we effectively got paid every time a house, or we called it is called an instruction here.

It might be called something slightly different in the States, but essentially when a house goes on to the market.

So every time you’ve got a listing, we’ve got a cup of M just to spot bonus for it. And like I said, I was type making 250 calls a day, six days a week, six days a week.

Andy Paul: Without a dialer. That’s the thing without a dialer. You were dialing the numbers in.

Rob Johnson: Yeah. Without a doubt. Awkward six months for doing that. I was a mean machine with a hand over hand set the you could dial numbers without even looking and knowing the shortcut three voicemails and all that kind of good stuff. That was how I cut my teeth in this world, because again, it was all about speaking to people and there was no email. We were actually discouraged to use email and that’s because pretty much we were a workforce of 20 year olds who couldn’t be trusted without even if you gave it to us. And we were just there to hammer the phones and get those listings going. So that’s what my first job was.

Andy Paul: So for you. And I think this thing that’s fascinating, it was almost like the opposite of call reluctance, because this was an environment for you suddenly where this felt natural.

Rob Johnson: Yeah, it felt comfortable. We, and again, it came down to two fundamentals trying to work harder than anyone else because it, that kind of gig is pure, is a pure numbers game, right? The more people you can get in front of and speak to the more opportunity you have to win a listing. And there’s no negotiation around a contract that takes six months for a complicated piece of tech.

It’s literally. Will you sell your house with me? Yes or no. The answer is no, thank you very much. And I’ll speak to someone else if the answer is yes, then. Great. And again, it’s just that instant discussion understand the issues, try and address them within a couple of minutes and move on.

So that, that was the process.

Andy Paul: Was there anything you felt from having dyslexia that you felt gave you an advantage in that situation?

Rob Johnson: I think it was just pure, like pure concern for writing an email, it just written communication. I refuse to do it. So some of my competitors, if you will, on the sales floor would write some emails and things like that. But I thought by the time it takes you to write an email, I could have tried to speak to five people.

And and again, it’s just one of those things. The more you do it, the more you get comfortable with it. Even I remember making my first call to someone who very politely told me to go away. And my hands were so sweaty after that.  But you get used to it and you train yourself again, how we were walking around and you come bit of an assassin and how to deal with people and understanding how to come over the rejection straight off the bat, even if you’re calling them at seven at night and things of that notion and when to push and when not to push. And those, I think all that visual audio cues that perhaps a slightly heightened in me because of my dyslexia helped me read those signals quicker than perhaps some of the people that I was competing with on that floor.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. Some of the in preparation for this is doing some reading on dyslexia and yeah, there, there seem to be some consensus among the various articles. I read that. Yeah. That’s a, they didn’t always label it emotional intelligence, but serve emotional intuition, I think because one of the articles called it.

Sense that sort of a ability to read people, but maybe just being a heightened sensitivity to their feelings and maybe the intonation of their voices. And so on that, that you can use to your advantage.

Rob Johnson: I think so. And it’s interesting because. Because I’ve been reading up on this type of thing more certainly over the last couple of years, and it perhaps even ties into the fact that I’m left-handed as well and people are wearing that or raising an eyebrow. But isn’t because if you’re left-handed you use the right side of your brain, if you’re right-handed you use the left side of your brain and the traditionally the right side of your brain is more creative.

And so that’s why left-handed people are perhaps seen as more creative individuals because you’re using the creative side of your brain. And so maybe I say a perfect storm or being dyslexic and then having that audio ability, but then also having a creative outset because of my being left-handed I think lends itself nicely to each other.

My sixth year English teacher would beg to differ with you. I will say being left hand, no one teaches you how to write correctly. So when you’re using a pencil, you just write across your words. So it’s again, so it’s all about learning.

Andy Paul: So what was the path then out of the real estate sales into the tech world?

Rob Johnson: It’s I think the world can thank my wife, Elise for it. So she, there was only so many ways that she could tell our friends that I wasn’t in a state agent.

You have a new job because mostly you can’t work weekends because I want to see you. And secondly real estate, isn’t the end, all of it all. And so a recruiter called me up and was like, Rob. Would you like to do something else? I wouldn’t have a really engaged with a recruiter before. So I was new to that and LinkedIn was just up and coming around that time, but I reached out and I said, yeah, sounds great.

I’m keen to sell something a bit more complicated than what I’m doing now. And they said, would you like to sell a MNA? So merger and acquisition data rooms. And I was like, what is a data room? And they said, we don’t know. I thought that’s a good start. Okay. And at the time I couldn’t find anything on the internet about MNA data rooms which effectively are just storage facilities.

Would you diligence information? For a transaction and but I went to the interview. I met with a gentlemen called Harry Gill who became my first kind of proper sales manager. And. He also, he liked me, saw something in me and I was I was their first sales hire. Now I’d gone from a world where let’s say, if you’re dealing with one hundreds sales guys on a sales floor, everything’s very regimented and almost military to a place where I had freedom to do what I wanted to do.

And I fell back to where I cut my teeth, withdraws, hitting the phones and not doing email and. They liked that because traditionally well, as humans and especially sales guys before down or fall back to what we’re comfortable with, which is not making that cold call. So that was my first job of into tech.

Andy Paul: And so did you have to disclose to Harry that you’re more comfortable with the spoken word versus the written word?

Rob Johnson: Yeah. So I actually as part of my job interview, it was interesting. I made them, and this might sound a bit bizarre. I know I made them do a cold call with me. So I was trying to think of a way of how I could differentiate myself.

Andy Paul: I love that.

Rob Johnson: From the other people that would probably applying for that job as well.

Because they would probably have other tech or SAS sales reps applying for that job. And I’d come from real estate. I haven’t really just selling listings. So I was just, so I had to try and think of somewhere. I can differentiate myself in the best way I could think of that is. Let me cold call you Harry and the CEO at the time, I pretend you’re at Goldman Sachs or a big bank, and I’m trying to pitch you a data room.

Andy Paul: Even though you had no idea what it was,

Rob Johnson: You get one shot at this, so you might as well give it a go.  And some were days and they also liked the it wasn’t foolproof. It. Hopefully there’s no recording of anywhere. But it’s set my, set their expectation for what I was prepared to do for the role.

And I think sometimes people get too caught up in perfection and just trying hard and giving things a go like that in interviews shows that I suppose your true colors, rather than trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes. And so that’s why I did it to get that job.

Andy Paul: And I think that’s really fascinating because I think that this is one of the questions that I have is if you think about it is certainly there’s some not insignificant percentage of the population that has. Yeah, something like dyslexia or some other, what would might call learning disabilities that then present in a way that, that for candidates they don’t have the classic academic achievement at university or yeah.

As companies rely more and more on these assessment tests, whether they’re personality assessments and we’re trying to divine, or so it has, sales DNA or whatever they want to call it is. Yeah dyslexic as a gonna test the same way isn’t going to present the same way. And yet to your point.

And again what you read is because of the strength of oral communications, which is not going away in sales anytime soon. Is actually a great candidate, but on paper may not look like it. So this idea about how do you present yourself, if you have dyslexia or ADHD or something that you, how do you present yourself to hiring managers?

Rob Johnson: Yeah, it’s tricky. Isn’t it? I said to those guys I’ve got to present to you some way of how I can differentiate myself from people that, that kind of mindset of how I can perhaps I suppose have some sorts of impression on an interview came from funnily enough. Hasbro, I went for a psychometric test for those guys.

So again, coming back to what we mentioned before about that what does this paragraph mean? And then if we words and things like that they gave me the job, but the hiring manager called me up and said, Rob, you’ve got the worst ever school on this test.

Andy Paul: So we hired you in spite of yourself as what he was saying?

Rob Johnson: They hired me in spite of myself now, maybe because I was the only person going for the job. But they said that’s something you need to look at because I’m seeing the professional world, when you get out of this kind of bubble of your placement. Yeah. People are going to do that. And so that kind of always stuck with me.

And I’ve actually been to job interviews since, and I’ve refused to do psychometric tests because ultimately it’s only going to reflect negatively on me. And so I’d rather just not do it. And if they say that’s part of the process, then just accept the fact that I’m not going to go to that role.

Andy Paul: And do you tell them why?

Rob Johnson: Yeah, you tell them why.

I think a bit of both big corporates in the world, they are very much ones and zeros, right? So huge multinational organizations. They have a hiring program. And to be honest, I don’t care about if I’m Rob or not, Rob, they just have to hit certain metrics in order to hire. I don’t think that’s going away anytime soon.

And that’s why I think there’s always going to be. Really intelligent people working for startups and growth organizations, which large corporates would always like to get involved with, but they’re just going to always struggle when those kinds of those entry tests. So my wife’s the most intelligent person I’ve met standard husband and wife response.

Andy Paul: All right. All right. But before we go on is she is the one that by her own admission that got you to pay attention to your dyslexia right. Motivated you to get out of real estate. So kudos, what’s your wife’s name? At least kudos dailies for helping you get where you are.

Rob Johnson: And she she will more than happily take the plaudits as she does.

Andy Paul: Good for her.

Rob Johnson: Gear for hiring date, but so we both went for an entry exam at IBM as the example, I didn’t get close. Whereas she got the wrong, she got the job there, and but that environment would never be right for me because again, it’s just, it’s too metric driven and too heavy in that world.

Andy Paul: But we see that coming into the startup world as well.  There’s this thing that I rebel against and think of such a bad idea is this idea of in the tech world is that everybody’s basically got to be the same, right? That we’ve created in this company larger, small, we’ve created this model.

We can now use our technology to. To compare how people do in various tasks versus other people. And we’ve got this idealized version of what the top sales person looks like. And the problem is in my mind is that it doesn’t account for the people such as yourself, that brings significant strengths differently to the job than what our customer is seeing. and too many people get. Overlooked and maybe I’m sensitive. I don’t have it, but I just, yeah, one of my first sales training class that kind of introverted and they thought I was too analytical to be good in sales, they wanted to get rid of me. I was like I’m just thinking, what’s wrong with that?

But yeah, there doesn’t seem to be room for difference. And I think this is a problem. As as a manager, you’re trying to hire the people that can best help you succeed.

Rob Johnson: I think that’s true, but I am also perhaps a bit of a cynic. So I think organizations probably are okay. We’ve just a certain level of employee. So it comes down to having ones, twos, threes, fours, and fives. Isn’t it. You can’t a whole organization of ones because they would just be a nightmare.

But again, you can’t have alcohol cause ization for the fires because you won’t get those outliers who are going to go and hit. 5 million in a year sort of thing. But again, you need a blend of all of them, right? So you need the guys who are just going to do their nine to five, not query anything, just happy with that because they’re your, your steady eddies.

And they’re just going to do the job you ask them to do without any too much stress. And then you need a couple of ones because again, they’ll need heavily managing, but again, they’re going to turn the dials with regards to the progression and growth of the business. So I think I think that is going to be a continuous challenge for people who have perhaps again, dyslexia is seen as a disability.

And I think that’s just a classification, but how have these types of things. And again, it’s the same way I approached you, right? Is I tried to think of something different to cut, to discuss this.

Andy Paul: Which worked. Yeah, I think that, and the thing that’s fascinating about it is, so I was reading this article, talk about the five key business attributes of dyslexics, and they create this acronym called domes, D O M E S D standing for dyslexia. I have to learn to delegate tasks, oftentimes, which to me really reads us collaboration.

So more naturally collaborative. Oh. As for oral communication, obviously. Quite good at expressing themselves orally. And there were the last three I thought were fastened, especially if you’re working in any sort of complex B2B sale is M stands for mental visioning. Is that dyslexics have more non-linear thinking and visualization skills.

Yeah, somebody compared to a musician who can see the notes when they’re playing, which if you’re dealing in a complex sales world, That’s fantastic. You want that? Because yeah, you’re doing something creative. You’re thinking about things outside the box. You’re not heading down the same path and because no two customers are like, yeah, that’s a strength.

And he, we talked about was for this emotional intuition to be able to read people better. And the S was speed because the Asarco saying that people dyslexic dyslexia tend to constantly be. Turning things over in their mind, is and think about things from many angles. So they see possibilities in situations that others don’t perhaps.

And yeah, if you’re looking for once, especially as I said, if you’re doing a complex enterprise sale, for instance, man, you’re making a list of attributes you wanted. Several of those would fit right on the list.

Rob Johnson: Yeah. It’s I think there’s lots of education that dyslexics should do as well, which I don’t think we do as well. Or don’t do particularly well but that kind of analogy really works. To what I’ve tried to set up here is perhaps practically just hire the skill sets that I am rubbish at.

So Claire Barnum, she leads my sales engineering effort here and she’s everything that I’m not. So I’m good at quickly building that relationship getting an idea on where we need to go pretty quickly, but horrendous at the detail. And maybe that’s because. Other elements of my dyslexic or just who I am, but because I just, I don’t write stuff down because I won’t be able to understand or read it afterwards anyway, that I bring in those people who are more re I suppose, and then literally driven to supplement those areas, which I suck at. And again, it’s that again, we’re all different as humans, but I think it’s important for all of us to go through that kind of almost self-actualization of understanding what we’re good at and what we’re not good at. And I’ve tried to always think of that as I’ve gone through my career so far. And that’s, and again, it comes down to.

How I reached out to you guys. Cause I was keen for this as an interesting subject, matter to how I went through that job interview by suggesting doing something that would set me apart, even if I bombed at it .

Andy Paul: Just the willingness to do it.

Rob Johnson: Just the willingness and openness to do it. And that, that funnily enough happened again when I went for my second job.

And then another recruiter called me and said, Hey. Beautiful for another role. And I was like, not particularly but I’m always keen to perhaps try and sell something more complicated or more expensive. Get a better return for my, and so then I went into e-discovery, which is, if you’re not aware of your discovery, it’s  it’s if I sue you, it’s the information that’s the claim becomes available.

Andy Paul: So in a legal basis, we didn’t talk about yet that it was in, it’ll be in the introduction that people hear this, but when you work for a company called on it, that’s been in the legal tech field for a while.

Rob Johnson: Yeah. So I’ve been in legal tech for 10 years now. So this was my entry into legal tech was through M and a as a gateway on then into e-discovery. But funny enough. So I was supposed to recruit that and it was me versus a veteran of the industry for this job. And so interestingly, I flipped the methodology to try and get that job again so differently.

So I actually wrote my boss, who became my boss. I wrote him a letter.

Andy Paul: You wrote him a letter?

Rob Johnson: Because I had an interview we went through that process to try and differentiate myself again. Again, we’re sending to me a bit more complicated, so it’s like cooling is part of it. So you couldn’t just start at one spot.

Andy Paul: Oh, no, we’re just real life things. Some sirens going by.

Rob Johnson: So I wrote him a handwritten letter. I didn’t check any of the spelling.  Handwriting was horrendous and I posted it. And the reason why I did that was I knew the other guy wouldn’t. So again, going against that traditional dyslexic norm, so to speak of writing something I had to try and find a way to get in front of that hiring or the manager.

And I thought the best way to do it with these are right. A homeless and Netta. And that’s what swayed it.

Andy Paul: I love that. Think about that. People listening. This is you did it by highlighting your weakness.

Rob Johnson: You’ve got to. Yeah. Cause again, the hiring market has always been competitive. It’s even more competitive now. So what’s the worst thing that’s getting. So I always a big believer in, you’ve got to think about what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen. And ultimately in that scenario is you’re just not going to get the job.


And so you’ve got to try something different. And the reality with anything that I’ve done is I’ve always tried to think of something that would differentiate rather than going through the normal process, because any job even today that I’ve applied for, and it’s the traditional model of you apply on LinkedIn a call.

And then nothing happens that happens to people all the time. And you don’t have any impact on that process. And if you don’t have any impact, you’re not putting across your personality and ultimately in sales, that’s what you sell on, as your personality and your ability to relate.

Andy Paul: Very interesting. No, I love that story because I just, one of the things that, and this is it’s parallel to this, but in, in today’s world, obviously one of the big challenges, how do you grab people’s attention? And. Now we have this whole sort of gifting space that exists where people are creating, digital gifts or gift packages or something.

They said, physical gift packages to send to people, to land on their desk and capture their attention in a way that an email or LinkedIn outreach wouldn’t. But. Yeah, it takes some nerve to say, yeah, I’m not going to edit this handwritten note. I have dyslexia. My writing sucks. The, and I can’t help it.

And the spelling is gonna be horrible, but it will stand out.

Rob Johnson: I would stand out and to be fair, the ability to write has got easier.  Am a huge advocate of Grammarly. Now,

Because I sell complicated stuff now I do have to write an email every now and then.

Andy Paul: You’re selling into a profession that people are writing by definition, the writers.

Rob Johnson: No, I didn’t choose a great one to go into being lawyers who they are. They love the written words and all of it’s subtle nuances. Whereas that’s not my game play ground. So my process now typically is Grammarly or Grammarly is my first port of call. And then it probably goes to about two other people.

Again, as you probably have as I’ve come across as I have no shame in asking for help. And so even though I lead our organization here, I get probably two other people or three other people in my organization to review my email and basically go slate it. Tell me what’s wrong with it. I’m not gonna take offense.

Even if it’s school,boy errors again about using the wrong there or something like that just needs to be right. Rather than my feelings being saved. And and yeah, so that’s the model we work. And again it’s proving approved a lot better than you coming across fairly Callie in an email.

Andy Paul: Fascinating.  Hey I’m really glad you reached out. And first when we’ve run out of time, but if people want to, I don’t know. But do you have resources people to learn about dyslexia at all? Or if somebody feels this is an issue made, they can reach out to you even, and talk about if they’re in sales.

Rob Johnson: Yeah, of course.  I’m on LinkedIn. Robert Johnson. Yeah, if people want to reach out, have a chat I’ve spoken to quite a few people in the past about who I am, what I do, I try and help. So I’m one of the alumni is that my school and we’re beginning to have a couple of conversations with them around how we can improve almost two things.

So improve. The dyslexic pro project process they have, but also sales awareness education as well. Because I don’t know if it’s the same in the States, but in UK it’s non-existent and again, a few of us have made an okay career out of sales.

Andy Paul: So you’re doing quite well. And I, this is the type of thing I said that animates me is that okay? As I said before is, yeah. It’s not a path to success to try to have a team of people all like each other, but an act the same way, but to find those who can have unique strengths and can play to that in the environment that we’re operating in.

And then this is certainly an example of that. No, I love it.  Good. Robert, thank you very much.

Rob Johnson: P;easure. Thanks so much for your time. This has been great.