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James Robert Lay: 

What do you think about when you hear the word philosophy? The word philosophy takes you back in your mind to a college class that you could barely stay awake in? Well, I invite you to stick around for this episode because I promise you will not be falling asleep. That's because philosophy the practice of philosophy can help you help others navigate the complexities of change in this age of AI, while also helping to transform your marketing team, your sales team, even your leadership team, by applying ancient wisdom that's still practical, perhaps even more practical in today's modern age. How you ask? Well, you're thinking a very good question, which we're going to answer together on today's episode of the baking on digital growth Podcast.

 

Greetings and Hello, I'm James Robert Lay. And I'd like to welcome you to another episode of the banking on digital growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the exponential insights series. And joining me for today's conversation is Nico's who's a Reb ops manager at data box. And today, we're gonna dive into how philosophy can become a strategic resource, a strategic asset for your financial brand for your bank for your credit and for your FinTech, along with how philosophical thinking can help you as a leader, guide others on your team through turbulent times. Welcome to the show Nico's, it is great to share time with you today.

 

Nikos Ntirlis: 

Thank you. Thank you, James Robert, I'm excited to be here.

 

James Robert Lay: 

Well, I'm excited for you to be here too, because we are going to be talking philosophy, ancient truths and wisdom and how they can still be applied from a leadership perspective, from a business perspective, from a growth perspective in the age of AI to help banks to help credit unions navigate the complexities of change in this age of AI. But before we do that, what is good in your world right now, personally, or professionally, it is your pick to get started on a positive note.

 

Nikos Ntirlis: 

Yeah, I mean, as you know, I'm working in data books. And right now we are doing this refreshing thing, we have a very clear point of view, we believe that the next year is the year of partnerships. And this is what I'm doing right now. I'm working with partners, marketing agencies, consultants. And I mean, when you meet with great professionals, and you learn from them, it's always refreshing and exciting.

 

James Robert Lay:

Yes, and I'm right there with you. Collaboration has been such a key narrative on this podcast, I think we're just entering a new period to where through collaboration, one plus one does not equal to one plus one has the potential to equal 11. And I know that you recently shared your thoughts with your team over at data box around the philosophy of change. And change is such a timely topic on this podcast for two different reasons. Number one, I'm getting ready to publish my second book banking on change in early 2024. And then second, financial brands, banks, credit unions, fintechs, they've experienced a tremendous amount of change, exponential change, really, you know, if we look back to early 2020, you know, we started that year, we didn't have any idea what to expect. We know what happened through that whole COVID experience. And since then, I just, you know, looking at the macro level, I'm predicting that the pace of change is going to continue to move at a pace that makes many people feel very uncomfortable. And we know that change is hard change is painful. Change can be scary. With that in mind, why might we look to ancient philosophy, as a practical path forward to navigate the complexities of change with courage and even with confidence?

 

Nikos Ntirlis:

Yeah, it's it's incredible philosophy. I mean, first of all, philosophy has a bad reputation. Because when we think about philosophy, we're thinking about this weird professors that they say things we don't understand. They're using terminology, convoluted language, but actually, we are all philosophers, as long as we are thinking how to solve a problem. And this is what ancient philosophers said that philosophy is about. Basically, whenever you use reason, instead of belief, then you are a philosopher.

 

James Robert Lay: 

I really liked the way that you you reframe that because, you know, I can hear in my mind, people might be listening and like, I don't know if I want to commit to this conversation. It's philosophy. I have had a bad experience with the professor in my university days. I really liked how you reframe that this is thinking about your thinking or another terminology metacognition thinking through your thinking. So I just wanted to address that that's a great reframing for those watching or listening right now stay with us, because there's a lot of practical application that goes beyond the theories and the bad experiences that you had in the past year.

 

Nikos Ntirlis:

Yeah, exactly, exactly. And talking about chains. I mean, the biggest minds in the history have reflected on what chains means and how to deal with chains. And the stress. I mean, the fantastic thing about philosophy is that people 1000s of years ago, they were thinking about the same fundamental things as us. And when you see what they are writing, you see, hey, I mean, mortar businesses is exactly the same environment that they are describing change and the stress and how we should deal with this how what we can control what we cannot control. Yeah, how to deal with that. No, that's what I love in anything. Wisdom.

 

James Robert Lay: 

It's interesting. You mentioned the unknown, because in my first book, banking on digital growth, I was picking up the patterns of people, particularly financial brand leaders in their marketing teams, sales teams, executive teams, there were often four fears that would hold them back from making a commitment to move forward along their digital growth journey. You mentioned the unknown, it was the fear of the unknown, it was fear of change, it was fear of failure. And there was even in some cases, it was fear of success. And so oftentimes, we're held back by these, these self limiting beliefs, these doubts, these experience in the past that to your point, their belief systems and structures that more likely than not might not even be, quote unquote, real and we can philosophize, and think about what is reality? I don't want to go down that rabbit hole just yet. Because we might lose people at that point. But what, what turns you on to this type of thinking about your own thinking here? From an experience standpoint?

 

Nikos Ntirlis:

Yeah. When I was trying to learn more about marketing, I did what everyone does, when they need to solve this problem, I read books, I went workshops, I was discussing things with more senior colleagues. And then I realized that, you know, there are these business books, obviously, your writing business books, as well. But many, but your philosophy is very different than I've seen you talking about this exactly. What I would mention is that, you know, sometimes we want to present something as new as the new thing, we were talking about collaboration before that, it's going to be the new thinking next year, I'm sorry, it's not new, it's something that we know about these things 1000s of years ago, so when I was reading, marketing books, I realized that these are well known things maybe packaged in a different way, maybe, you know, the tactics are slightly different. But the main the core things are basically Elsens to give you an example, because sometimes we are talking about theoretically, okay, I mean, we're talking about how to convince our leads our prospects, or even our customers to upsell or, you know, all these problems that sales and marketing teams cover today. And everyone is talking about branding, everyone was talking about demands and you know, things that sound, you know, new fancy new things, and so on. But, you know, Aristotle 2500 years ago said that, when you want to convince someone, there are three things that you need to do and you need to do them in order. And these are ethos, pathos, logos, ethos is your point of view is your reputation, how you can convince someone before even you open your mouth before even they come to your website, the reputations that you've appealed, and we're talking about now, branding and how to build a reputation on the brand or people that represent the brand. And yeah, I'm sorry, this is not something new, this is something that people knew 1000s of years ago and they knew that it is even more important than you know first that is ethos number two is pathos which is the what we feel the you know, when you see a brand, okay, based on the reputation of course, this is number one, but we put the good thing, what are the Yeah, what do you feel by Seeing the brand. And number three is logos, which is the logical arguments. And we start, I mean, many marketers we stress about, you know, the copy should be good, the argument should be good, the pain point we should, you know, make it best, when actually we should be thinking how we built our reputation. What people have in their minds when they think about us, and then build our logical arguments.

 

James Robert Lay: 

So this was actually something that I really went deep on in banking on digital growth and frame the book around this. And it's tied back to the mind. And, you know, we look at, there's three kind of different areas of the mind you have the, or the brain, you have the reptilian part of the brain, the oldest part of the brain, the survival brain, if you will. Now, I, I like to repackage that, and I appreciate the way that you you've referenced this, these are not new ideas, these are ideas that have withstood the test of time, because they're rooted in humanity. And so when you look at that, this idea of ethos reputation, it's that oldest part of the brain, it's the I call it the binary brain, can I trust you? That's a one or a zero? It's a yes or no? And if it's a yes, well, then we can move to the next part of the brain, which, which is the idea of the limbic system, feelings and emotion? So can I trust you? Yes. Well, how do you make me feel you make me feel good, fantastic. Now we can move to the last part, which is the frontal cortex. And that's the logical piece of this. But I think so many times for whatever reason that I don't have the answer of why maybe we can philosophize to why? Why? Why do we think so much about the logical part of the mind or the experience? And we're not really thinking about the idea of reputation? Or even feelings and emotion? How do we, how do we, how have we bypass those different areas of experience?

 

Nikos Ntirlis:

Yeah, because building a reputation and building your your brand is a long term process. And, again, how you do this, again, Aristotle told us how you do this, by the way, you create a set of physical values, and you make sure that you follow them under every circumstance. This is how people get to trust you over time. But this takes time, you need to go out, you need to make very clear to everyone else, what are the values that you stand for? And be consistent. And this is what we're not seeing today. Many times people are not consistent. Or they are they are not sure what are the values they they have. And instead of doing that, which is a difficult process, because it takes reflection, and you need to be consistent, and this is a long term process, we're thinking about tactics that are easier to do shorter, like, hey, this cop is stronger than the other copy. So there is a fast thing, let's a be tested. And we think that this is the most important thing.

 

James Robert Lay: 

That's a good point. I think about Don Miguel rulez, who wrote a book called The Four Agreements, and one of the Four Agreements is to be impeccable with your word. Say what you mean mean what you say and then do it. And back to the point where I think we sacrifice the long term growth and real growth transformative growth for temporary short term gains. It's kind of think about like, I mean, I know you mentioned you, you know, you're from Greece, my wife is Lebanese. We've got a common language there around the olive tree. You know, it takes an olive tree seven years to bear fruit. But it can live for 1000s of years and go on to bear fruit for 1000s of years. What are we in? I think it's an important question. why do we sacrifice long term growth for temporary short term gains, but they don't solve the problem. Why? Why do we choose not to be disciplined to do hard things? And I'll let you pick it up right there.

 

Nikos Ntirlis:

Yeah, so I believe the main reason is that we are used to track everything to measure everything. And today's leaders, they base everything, I mean, performance evaluations based on what they can measure. And typically, it is very difficult to measure long term things, we measure things that are this quarter this month, this week, so many marketers, and we really believe that as well. say today that, yeah, digital marketing growth, you know, this revolutionary idea that you can track everything. But there are things that you cannot track. And you need to have a belief, you need to believe that what I'm doing is good. And even if I cannot track it, then I will still be doing this because it will break me results. Down the line. By the way we did this experiment, data books, we were not the only ones. But we started asking, you know, this is called the self attribution model, or whatever you want to call it. When you have a sales call. We are asking how did you hear about us? Yes. And we didn't expect the results? Because we're thinking, Yeah, we have a great website campaigns. And more than 1/3 says, Yeah, we share, we saw you multiple times on LinkedIn, or someone else told you about us. And you said, Really, this report is working today. We are Yeah, some people actually said we saw you on Saturday zippity, which was very funny. But you cannot measure everything, the show. Marketers today, they really need to prove their value to their leaders to the CEO to the CMOS by showing to them data. And it is really hard to measure things that are long term. And I believe that's why people focus on things that they can measure.

 

James Robert Lay: 

You're on to something and I want to pause and maybe unpack this a little bit more. This idea of dark social dark funnel, however you want to call it. You know, if we think about what what the internet was in, we're in a very interesting time period because the internet reach the mass consciousness of humanity in 1994. Yeah, it existed before then. But from like, just general kind of mass adoption. And of course, you know, there's going to be a global perspective, depending upon where you were in 1994. But looking at it from say, the United States and then you move out globally, there's different time periods, but we can look at 94 as an inflection point. And here we are 2024 You got a 30 year horizon line. And yeah, you could track you know, cliques and whatnot, but the way that people shop and buy that's continued to transform and I really think like social media quote, unquote, you know, that kind of, you'd say the mass adoption there was around like, say 2012 Just to put a number on it. So that's what does that to the 2019 9410. It's about 615 16 years after the dawn of the internet. Well, here we are 30 years later, so another 15 years post 2012 14 years. And people are shopping and connecting and connect Assuming differently now, you can't track everything. And so this idea of coming back to ethos, reputation, influence even, I think we have to come back to some core truths. It's interesting because I asked marketing teams, and I asked sales teams and ask leadership teams within financial brands, what is marketing? In one word? And they look at me kind of funny. What do you mean, with ads, it's emails, it's all of this tactics, social media, it's all this tactical stuff. And I go, I don't think so I think marketing is the ability to influence a person's behavior in one way, shape, form or fashion to make the move from A to B to B to C. And a lot of that takes time, it's almost like the value your marketing is creating today was based upon activities depending upon your vertical, but I'm looking at this through the lens of financial services, was based upon the activities that you committed to 369 12 plus months ago and along buying journey along buying cycle to marketing activities that you're doing now, in the present moment, though. Those seeds you're planting in the minds of people may not bear fruit for another 369 12 plus months down the road. So having that understanding that also understanding to what influences people.

 

Nikos Ntirlis: 

Fantastic question. And I, I have an answer on that. Because if you see the tactics that marketing teams are talking daily, we even do this in data books as well. But I know because we are working with other marketing teams all the time. Or yeah, imagine what you're tweaking in your team. It's, it's all these little things that we're talking about are based on behavior psychology, for example, the CTA, or this copy needs to be easy. People, or we need to make people click this and not that, we're talking about smaller things. Or, if you go down this road app, let me give you an example. Our CEO, Pete kappa always tells me because I am in this mindset of behavioral marketing psychology, the cognitive load to be as easy as possible to make people do what we want them to. And it says no, serve the details. Okay, it may be you know, long, short term, you might get a few more clicks here or there. But people long term, they will appreciate the value that you've so never sacrifice the details when you write a post a blog post or a campaign on little behavioral psychology, marketing stuff, to optimize for clicks here or there. And I believe that something really important here, and it goes back to who you are, what are your ethical values and how you want people to see you. Because if you are the person that was offered value, and this is the principle that guides you, then you will not start getting stressed on this little marketing tactics. And, hey, let's make this copy shorter, because people will read this, because if it is a bit longer, they will not read this, yes, but they might lose a very important detail. And I believe that this is a discussion of the marketing team should have right now, how to balance this, you know, tactics that we gave too much attention to, with the long term things that you were will gain if you go away.

 

James Robert Lay: 

I think that's a great point. Because you were talking tactics, but I want to bring strategy into this in you know, I think a lot of people define strategy. i The reason I ask people to find a lot of things because it provides perspective into what their present day belief system and structure is. And I always tell them, like, Listen, this is not about right or wrong. It's just a matter of understanding. And I think once you gain a sense of understanding of where you're at, it's like all, all future growth starts by telling the truth about where you've been, where you're at, and where you could possibly grow next. And so perspective is the sum of context and framing and we're all going to have a different context of the world through our own experiences. And we're going to frame things differently as well. In when you think about strategy versus tactics. Well, this is what we're gonna do. This is our roadmap. There's our strategic roadmap, and I'm like, strategy is also really making a commitment to this is what we're not going to do and this is what We're going to say no to and we're going to let go up because it no longer serves us. Which to that point, particularly through the lens of financial services, in complex buying journeys that are very emotive. You see the rise, particularly on tick tock, which I think there's a whole irony there, because when you think about what tick tock was musically, you know, a bunch of kids dancing, and now it is, you know, rivaling Google, particularly for Gen Z demographic for search, Fin talk, financial influencers, financial influencers, being able to influence the decisions of people. And I, I hypothesize, and this is the subject, this will be the subject of my third book, banking on expertise. It's a bold and radical idea now, and I'm putting it out into the world. And it'll be fun to look back three years from now and see where this went. But the influence an individual brand, of a leader of a lender of an advisor, their influence has the potential to be more influential than that of the corporate brand. Why could that be?

 

Nikos Ntirlis: 

Yeah. You're going into a very trendy discussion right now. branding on brand, versus personal graphs, and how these things work. We have a very clear opinion on that, actually. And this is something that I have research, although I would gladly continue the conversation with people that are more experienced, and everyone that knows a bit more about these things. I would like to connect with them. So yeah, right now, because the the marketing resources are not implement, people need to make a decision, Hey, are we investing on our brand? Or do we invest on people that are connected in a way with a brand in the past, we had influencers, that the connection with the brand was very light. Now, the modern influencers are the CEOs the direct. So people say, Okay, we don't have anything time where we are going to invest. And I know that you discuss this also with Pete or SEO, in your podcast, but what we believe is that you need to invest in both, you need to invest in your brand account, and people from your team that are, you know, they're severally connected with a brand and work together organically to helping each other. And the important thing here is that your brand, and the people share common beliefs and point of views and the same the same system of beliefs, and they are not afraid to discuss about them. Because if you see what PR agencies were saying 10 years ago, don't be, you know, confidential, don't make people log. You know, this is the the old thinking that you need to be likable by everyone, and you need to be safe. And this is what you said, strategy is letting something go. We have seen people the most the best brands and people that have the best influence, that they have a clear point of view. They're not afraid to go and they're very open about this. I mean, not in the sense to harm others or you know, but say, this is what we believe. And they insist on that both from the brand side and the people that represent the brand.

 

James Robert Lay: 

Yeah. Which gets into the need to always learn and to question because it's almost like, I feel in you know, we were talking about Socrates before. The way that he defines knowledge is I know, I know nothing. It's almost like the more that I learned, the more I know, I don't really know anything. And I'm, I'm having to continuously just keep an open mind. And once again, let go of what I thought I knew and challenge Previous beliefs that may no longer be the best path forward. What on that note, being able to challenge yourself? What have been the greatest lessons that you have learned through your study of philosophy or thinking through your own thinking that might be helpful for others to navigate, complex times turbulent times, kind of like we're in right now?

 

Nikos Ntirlis: 

Yeah. So this is what I learned during a difficult period of my life. And later, I realize that, hey, hold on. These are things that we see everyday in business. Like, for example, the notion that I mean, my favorite philosopher is Heraclitus. And she's the first person in recorded history, obviously, there were very wise people before him, great civilizations, but we don't know that. We don't know who said this thing. So should I conclude was the first man in history that says, Everything is changed, and deal with it, you cannot change it, you cannot change the fact that everything's changed. So learn to control what you can control, you cannot control things not to change. So this is something we need to realize. And I believe that this is a good thing. When I go to set something else that ups and downs are part of the circle. And again, what goes well, now, it will for sure go downhill in the future, and this will be reversed. And when you think that we cannot really change this, we know that we will have bumps, we know that we will celebrate wins. And we shouldn't have these incidents define us, then you are getting freed of what happens with the need to inform your strategy. Of course, what happens needs to inform your strategy, your beliefs, and you need to adapt those things, but they shouldn't define. Although this might be goes against what we believe in data books, that the you know, data is there to inform your decisions, and you need to constantly look at data. But once again, to inform your decisions and your strategy. Not that you should change your strategy all the time. And here's how to set something else that through understanding requires effort. This is something that we do many times we see something, we see a trend and benchmark, a new thing. And we believe that we understand the immediate. And we believe Yeah, I got this, this is what this is all that there is in this thing. While really we need effort, observation, reflection. And honestly, I didn't realize that these were the things that guided me in my professional journey that brought me to where I am. And many times has shown this thinking in other leaders, they are not so adaptable, and this made the things difficult for them. Yeah, I don't know. I can talk about that too, to some of the lessons from him and other innocent philosophers for years. Yeah, but I believe these three things that I mentioned are the main.

 

James Robert Lay: 

You mentioned something though, as we start to wrap up, I want to pause and just unpack a bit more, you noted reflection, the need to pause, and to review and reflect and banking on change. I am putting forth what I call the four seasons. For exponential growth, there's a season of learning, there's a season of thinking there's a season of doing and then there's a season of reviewing. What I see so often though, is we get stuck and I'm just as guilty of this. And so you watch I think the amount of awareness once you create some awareness. You're you might continue to repeat the same mistake but then you have that awareness of like Okay, I did this now let me do this again. Now I might change those habits, those behaviors, but we get stuck in doing what, what what? And I think if we think about the age of AI doing is the most out of this four seasons doing is the most is ripe for disruption? So what does that mean? We need to probably create more space and time to review, to learn. And then to think about how to do even better whether or not we're going to be doing that doesn't matter at this point is just using that as a mental model or a framework. What do you say to a leader who is just so busy? Like I am so busy? He goes, I don't have time. I don't have to. I just, I gotta just keep doing do and doing but I don't have time to stop. I don't have time to review. I don't have time to reflect. How do you break free from that cycle?

 

Nikos Ntirlis: 

Yeah, that's That's an excellent question. You mentioned Socrates before and his famous saying, All I know is I know nothing. Actually, she has another very famous quote, which is my personal favorite. He said, The unexamined life is not worth living, and what he meant, he said that, at the end of the day, you need to go and really examine everything that you did during the day, but not only what you did, but your beliefs and reflect of those and try to, let's say, correct yourself, if she did something bad, or if you believe something, and maybe we should re examine that. He said, examine your life and your beliefs every night. And if you don't do this, if you just do things without reflecting what kind of life is this? Yeah, said it's a life not worth living. She was so strong about that. And I believe this captures perfectly what you said about how important is reflection.

 

James Robert Lay: 

Epictetus does the same thing with the nightly reflections or Marcus Aurelius with, you know, his morning review. You know, reliving the day before the day unfolds kind of a thing. It creates in me, maybe, because we're not taught that at least, I wasn't taught that. So I didn't develop that behavior or that habit, until a very painful experience in my own life, forced me to just look around and think once you hit rock bottom in some certain areas. God, I'm just, well, I there's nowhere to go from here, but up, but I also think to having had some negative experiences. Those are just lessons to be learned. And if we can take something from them, whether it's for ourselves, or to help other people, that's what makes the world an even better place. And with that in mind, thank you for sharing your perspective and our conversation. Today. I always like to send those who are watching or listening off with something very practical that they can do right now in the present moment to guide them forward. Obviously, a very small simple commitment. What would the one thing be that you would recommend someone watching or listening do to apply philosophy within their bank within their credit union or within their fintech? Something small?

 

Nikos Ntirlis: 

Yeah, something that could show I mean, at some point, in my professional life, I was managing 25 people. And you know, different people need different things. But one thing that helped everyone is go to a piece of paper, and put the five things that you want others to think about you when they hear your name. Which serve, okay, not five, three things when they hear knickers, that 123 things that they come immediately and work on that this is what you want. Let's say people might think Nikos is funny. This is really what I want people to think about what's the first thing and work on what you want people on what is your values, and work on that? And do that at the company level as well, and so on. But I have seen this working greatly in many people from level one positions up to managers and directors and board members.

 

James Robert Lay: 

And that really brings this whole conversation very practical, but it brings us all the way back to how we started. That's the ethos, that's the reputation. So what do you want to be known by? And once you have clarity of that for yourself, it's easy to begin to create the actions that when repeated become the habits to execute against that future state. That perspective, that reputation they're in he goes, this has been a lot of fun. If someone wants to continue the conversation that we've started here, what is the best way for them to reach out say hello to you? Connect with you?

 

Nikos Ntirlis: 

Yeah, they can connect with me on LinkedIn. I am having philosophy conversations almost weekly with people and I really love this. And I see a lot of need people feel the need to go back to philosophy, which I didn't expect to be honest.

 

James Robert Lay: 

Why is that? Why is that? Number one, you're because you're you're doing this, like you said, you're on LinkedIn, you're having these conversations. You're seeing a need, people want to go back. Why?

 

Nikos Ntirlis: 

I think people need clarity. I think this constant change and this world that becomes more unknown more where people need this clarity of that philosophy, kind of.

 

James Robert Lay: 

Yeah, people are looking for clarity, clarity leads to courage, courage leads to commitment, commitment, then moving forward, leads to continued confidence. He goes, thank you so much for joining me for another episode of the banking on digital growth podcast. This has been a lot of fun today, buddy. You're welcome. Thank you, as always, and until next time, be well, do good. Be the light

 

Brief Summary of Episode #364

Does the word "philosophy" take you back to a monotonous college lecture that was a struggle to sit through?

Well, today's episode is set to change that perception.

We're not just talking about philosophy in the abstract; we're diving into how its ancient wisdom, surprisingly practical and relevant, can revolutionize the way banks, credit unions, and FinTech companies operate and thrive in this age of AI.

Nikos Ntirlis, RevOps Manager at Databox, brings a unique perspective on utilizing philosophical principles as a strategic asset.

Together, we'll uncover how philosophical thinking can empower you as a leader to guide your team confidently through the complexities and challenges of today's turbulent financial landscape.

 

Key Insights and Takeaways

  • Building reputation and trust through ethos, pathos, and logos. (7:24)
  • Long-term growth and measuring success in marketing. (14:23)
  • Reflection and self-awareness in personal and professional growth. (33:48)