- APRIL POTTER
FRANC GODRI, Managing Partner (Canada) at Braintrust, Calgary, Alberta
“Strengthening leadership communication with neuroscience."
BRAINTRUST MANAGING PARTNER Franc Godri teaches sales professionals how to reframe the concept of selling products and services with meaningful problem-solving instead. Franc’s company Braintrust is in the business of helping leaders and salespeople become more memorable, unique and effective. By employing neuroscience and highly effective visual storytelling techniques, Braintrust has uncovered the secret behind what drives a client’s “urgency to buy” – and they teach sales professionals how to master it . According to Franc, it all begins by teaching people how to discover their true motivators, followed by using that knowledge to help set and achieve their goals.
“One of the things we do early on is to teach people how to articulate their “why” – in fact, we help them build it,” explains Franc. “We teach people how to reframe the way they communicate their value proposition to their audience. Whether it’s a non-profit leader communicating with members of their community, or a CEO to his or her employees – we ask “how do you communicate? Why do you do what you do? How do you build trust and credibility with others?”. We want to know their “why story” in order to better help them articulate what they do best. We teach them how to tell stories and how to order the types of stories they share with others. The first story we recommend they tell is the story of why they do what they do.”
Braintrust calls this first story the “My Why” story and Franc says, “yes, there is science behind this methodology.” Franc also says that the beauty of what neuroscience research reveals, is that when done right, neuroscience-based communication can be a very powerful tool.
Franc explains that neuroscience can be used to persuade others to agree with you and it can also motivate them to do what is being asked of them. When neuroscience is incorporated into a marketing strategy it essentially “buys” solutions to problems that truly connect with and mean something to targeted customers.
“If you articulate what you do best in the most effective way, people will see the merits of what you do and actually be motivated to want to do what’s being asked of them,” explains Franc. “Our training and coaching methods are used to teach executives how to fish and show them how to replicate this training with their own managers. After 6-12 months of coaching the results will be obvious. I’ve been doing this for awhile now and have heard success story after success story. As a training organization, we’re one of the few who can confidently guarantee our results.”
The idea of implementing neuroscience as a communications tool in business, first occurred to Franc when he discovered that one of his children had a minor learning disability.
“My wife and I became interested in neuroscience because we wanted to understand what was happening in our daughter’s brain,” explains Franc. “She struggled early on with her education and we wanted to understand how and why she was learning differently from others. I became a bit of a “neuro geek” and developed a passion for the subject. I realized that perseverance, problem solving, and teamwork were all based in neuroscience and essential to leadership, marketing and sales. We understand how the brain works and processes information and what makes it embrace or reject change – so why not use it to our advantage in business?”
The Power of Science-Based Storytelling
Franc’s partner, Jeff Bloomfield, is Braintrust’s founder and CEO, a published author, public speaker and (like Franc) is a self-declared “brain enthusiast.” Franc credits him as the “brilliance” behind their company. Jeff’s Braintrust goal has always been to deliver a simple and impactful way of communicating that works just as well at home with the kids as it does in a corporate environment.
“Jeff worked for a biotech company that developed a drug for brain cancer,” says Franc. “Jeff learned that over the past 20 years we’ve developed a much better understanding of how the brain makes decisions. He was able to develop a business model that translates neuroscience into practical communication strategies and techniques that can be taught and applied day-to-day.”
Franc explains that Jeff’s insights into the human brain have demonstrated the power of visual storytelling. Focusing on three key areas; authentically connecting with others, building trust and inspiring change, Braintrust’s visual story telling methodology encourages “engaging narratives that inspire action.” Sales growth is guaranteed via a unique three-part program; NeuroMessaging® - creating the reason to change; Neuroselling® - creating the skill to change; and Neurocoaching™ - creating the accountability to change.
Braintrust teaches that the best storytellers are clear winners when it comes to increased profit margins, differentiation in the market and shorter sales cycles.
“One of the best stories I’ve ever heard was included in Jeff’s book Neuroselling,” explains Franc. “A trainee he once worked with was asked to work on his why story. One of the things we ask people to do during this process is find a sage in their personal history – someone who has given them values and skills that they rely on today. The trainee was asked to reflect on this person, and he recounted a beautiful story about the single mother who raised him and taught him his work ethic by working two jobs. He was given the gift of discipline, dedication and selflessness by example and this helped him create his why story. After implementing this technique into his sales conversations, he reported that clients didn’t care what he was selling – after hearing his story they were happy to buy whatever he wanted. He was awarded number one salesperson in his district, landed in the top five nationally, and changed his client relationships for the better.”
Perseverance is the Key to Climbing Mountains
Franc grew up in a small town outside of Montreal before moving around a lot with his family as a child. His “why story” and his “sage” both originate from a time in his childhood during sixth grade when he met one of his earliest mentors.
“My Scout Master taught profound life-lessons, using the mountains as his classroom,” says Franc. “The first thing he taught us was that the mountain doesn’t care about you. If you want to experience the incredible view from the top, you’ve got to go through everything the mountain puts in front of you. We learned that perseverance is the key to climbing mountains, and we learned the struggle of the climb. The second lesson we learned was that there are always more people dying on the way down the mountain than on the way up – you’ve got to be a problem solver; problem solvers thrive. The third lesson was to “never climb a mountain by yourself.” Teamwork is essential.”
Franc attended Royal Military College of Canada and obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Military and Strategic Studies before serving in the military for 11 years as an officer, helicopter pilot, and member of the arms inspection team under the CFE (Conventional Forces in Europe) Treaty. After leaving the military he was a pilot for STARS air ambulance and then commenced a 25-year career in the investment industry.
“Many people have asked me how I went from flying helicopters to working with investments, and I tell them that while I consider both careers in risk management, the consequence of making a mistake while flying a helicopter can be a bit more serious than making a mistake in investing,” Franc jokes. “I loved flying, but I also loved working with investments and most importantly I loved helping others – fortunately, both careers gave me that opportunity.”
Five years ago, Franc wanted to escape the corporate “rat race” and do something more “impactful” with his career. He also wanted to improve his work-life balance, so he set up his own training, coaching and consulting company, Cirrus. His early Scout lessons on the mountain now comprise the core values he uses to coach others.
“We work with many business executives, government and non-profit organizations,” says Franc. “With my partnership with Braintrust, the focus is on sales professionals and sales executives – and teaching them to communicate better. I wanted to do something that I could get up in the morning and really be excited about – something impactful that would leave a legacy for my clients’ and their families.”
Regarding family, Franc is a devoted husband to his wife Carol and a father of three who considers himself a “father and husband first” and a “leader second.” Residing near Calgary, the mountains remain an important part of his life today. He enjoys hiking, biking and skiing. As he spent the first part of his youth in Montreal where he still has family, he also loves to sail.
“The mountain analogy comes full circle for me and the analogy informs the “My Why” story I tell,” explains Franc. “The mountains themselves have also become a part of my day-to-day life. I love nature and the outdoors to this day. I can see the mountains from my office window and I’m always reminded of my sage story and my why.”
Turning Neuroscience into Leadership Communication
Franc says that the impact of what Braintrust teaches is “exponential.” Clients appreciate Franc’s ability to explain the science in a way that makes it easier for them to communicate it to others. Stacey Ferland PsyD (Candidate), says that Franc provides the “best translation of neuroscience into leadership communication” she has ever heard. “Leadership matters and good leaders can have a great impact on the world,” explains Franc. “I am passionate about delivering this message to leaders so they can have that impact on those they lead. I teach, train and equip leaders so that they can be more effective and in turn can share the knowledge they’ve learned. You can always find ways to make more money, but success is about developing relationships and better leaders lead to better communities.” Money may be a motivator for some people, but Franc asserts that’s not what motivates most people to get up in the morning. “For the majority of my clients, money is a means to an end – a rewards system,” explains Franc. “By focusing on clearly defining why people really do what they do and what’s most important to them – better profits, better productivity and better relationships become natural by-products. The goal is to use science-based methods to change the way we communicate; It’s not only psychology but it’s biology and physiology as well – it’s important to understand that and use them all.”
Franc admits that sometimes good leaders and salespeople intuitively tell good stories, engage and connect well – they just don't know the science behind what they're doing. For these professionals, Braintrust offers conscious awareness and explains why these techniques resonate while communicating ideas. Like putting a naturally talented athlete into skills training, Braintrust can help these people improve skills they’re already good at.
“We use the skills we teach to demonstrate the concepts we help people understand,” adds Franc. “As a teacher, I find that it creates sort of an inception moment for students. We often come to a point in the training where someone will say “Hey – wait a minute, you did this to us.” It’s rewarding to see people recognize the skills you’re showing them in practical use and my response is always the same – “well, what do you think – obviously, these techniques work, don’t they?”. Ultimately, my job is to spread the word about the neuroscience of communication and teach it as a specific skill to leaders. I want to help people communicate with more power, purpose and impact so that they can make their companies more successful and consequently, make the world a better place – that’s what drives me every day - that’s “My Why” – what’s yours?
April Potter is a veteran writer with expertise in financial services including nearly 15 years in debt restructuring. April has written for multiple online publications on a variety of subjects and offers a range of social media. Also a painter, her background in finance is balanced by her artistic endeavors.
Managing Partner, Canada ,Braintrust