Chatting with Carl Johnson
It’s a Tuesday night, and here in the later seasons of 2020 we’re all operating like world class pros over zoom at this point.
Tonight I’m getting the chance to meet with Carl Johnson. Carl is Amy’s husband, and a huge supporter of The Noticed Network. I’m introducing myself, and the first thing I see is how he immediately sets out to level the playing field. It’s the start of our video chat, and he says, “Hey! We’ll meet in person sometime. It’ll happen, already looking forward to it. But know that this is awkward for me too, so let’s just get to it!”
Small gesture, maybe. But small gestures make a big difference these days.
You have a really interesting perspective on The Noticed Network, because you’ve seen it grow from being an idea. What do you remember about the first days when it started?
When it first started, Amy didn't have any concept of this being a business. She has always had it written on her DNA that she wants to love the whole world. She's probably told you this. Before the idea of Noticing with a capital N even happened, she had an experience while she was out shopping that really impacted her.
No! What is this?
Okay, so she was grocery shopping at Hy-Vee and there was a woman who approached her and said something to the effect of, “Are you a model?” She said no. She was on that new parent, young mom hustle. But the lady just kept going on and on about how beautiful she was and basically Noticed her.
Before she knew what that meant?
Right. But what really resonated with me was how it made her feel. Turned out that the woman was recruiting people to sell skin care products, but what stuck was bigger than that.
It was that it made her feel good to have somebody single her out and Notice her for who she was. And so she basically said to me, “How can I duplicate this feeling, without there being an ulterior motive to the conversation?”
She didn't want any strings to be attached to the feeling.
I remember that she asked me what I thought would happen if women got noticed just for being themselves. I said that I thought it would change the world.
But where do you start? So that experience is the goal, what did she do from there?
She just said, “Well, who do I want to Notice in my life?” And so she started writing down names. There ended up being 200-300 names on that list that she wanted to make feel that way.
She designed and had the first Noticed keychains made. You've probably seen the original Noticed keychains, the teal blue ones that are in cursive. She had those made and gave them to everyone as a reminder that you're Noticed for who you are, not what you do or anything else.
She’d plan times to set out and do it: catching them on the way out of church, running into them after school events at PTA, or setting up a coffee or lunch. Over the course of several months, she went through all the names.
It just went out from there. It expanded. Those people she Noticed wanted to do it for others, too. And so the concept of a ripple effect was born as an accident, because people naturally wanted to pass it on.
That’s really intentional.
It was never about, “I like your car” or, “You live in a great house” or anything like that. It was: Here's what I really like about who you are. And for the most part, as you might imagine, it just blew these women away. I mean, they were floored. So it had that profound effect that she was looking for, without any strings attached.
Wow. That’s still how it works, now.
Yep. And now there's tens of thousands of people (women, men, boys, & girls) who have been Noticed all over the world.
That's a whole side of it I didn’t know before. I'm curious: How has this concept of Noticing played out for you in your life? How do you use it, or how has it influenced you?
I mean, that's been an interesting thing for me to find out, too. This isn't a male or female thing. Everybody can appreciate being Noticed.
It's helped me a lot, Hayley. Raising four daughters, they're all teenagers or older, now. They definitely appreciate being Noticed for what they do. I mean, I grew up playing sports and doing all kinds of outdoor stuff. And when my girls were little, I introduced them to all of that.
But guess what? It didn't really stick. They developed their own interests and passions. And so when they started, I learned to encourage them to do what they love and Notice them for chasing what they're passionate about. So we have raised musicians and artists and actors, and I learned it's not about someone conforming to or being like you. It's about Noticing what they are and what they do and seeing the goodness in that.
That’s a big way to apply it. How have you used it outside of home?
I've used it a lot in my business. Being an entrepreneur and owning my own business, I have a relatively small group of people working for me. I have about 12 full time employees that work for me.
And in a small business, it could be argued that it's even more important to Notice people for who they are. I mean, I know it’s important in a big, huge corporation for different reasons- it's important because people can feel lost in the shuffle. But in a small business, we're more like a family. So you have to get along like a family: the good, bad and the ugly with everybody is part of your operation.
I Notice my mechanics for doing a good job fixing things, and Notice my bookkeeper for being great at keeping me organized and on track, and Notice my two business partners for their contributions. It's helped remind me to articulate that. I would say that as a guy stereotypically, we tend to see when somebody does good, but we may be less likely to say something about it. And then that person never gets to feel that feeling, and we never get the feeling of expressing it.
So I try to make people feel that way as often as I can because I know how powerful it is to be made to feel that way.
Mmhmm. I like that it’s become part of your day to day life. Do you have any tangible reminders for it? Like a post-it note somewhere?
Yeah. I have a Noticed keychain that looks like a little padlock. It’s what my keys have been on since she first had that made, which was probably eight or nine years ago.
I also wear this Noticed bracelet every day. Heck, I even wore it to the 2015 World Series!
Sometimes I will take my bracelet off and give it to someone to Notice them. I don't do that so much with the everyday people in my life, it's more if I’m out and see someone. Like if I get a good server at a restaurant.
I've mostly given more of them away when we travel. We'll be out of town and I observe somebody that is handling a situation really well or does something that catches my eye. I’ll say hey, I want you to have this, and then explain what it is for. Once the shock clears up, they're usually like, “Wow. Nobody does that.”
When you're traveling is such a good idea, because you have fresh eyes to see everyone. Do you have a specific time you remember doing that while traveling?
When we took the girls to Disney. There are tour guides or advisors in the four different areas of the parks. And there was a young girl that I remember was super passionate about the Marine life in the aquarium.
I remember she was so happy to be doing her job and loved the topics that she was talking about. Especially since most of the group was surly and grouchy- her demeanor just struck me so, so remarkably.
I remember giving her one of these bracelets and it dumbfounded her for a minute. She was pretty speechless when she said thank you.
I like to think that it at least changed her day. It didn’t need to change her life, but hopefully it changed her day. It’s the best when people least expect it.