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Business Leaders Podcast
46 minutes | 22 days ago
Exit Planning Fundamentals With Cam Bishop
The vast majority of business owners spend somewhere between 90% to 95% of their time working IN their business and only about 5% working ON the business. Running the business is working in it; exit and transition planning are working on it. However, when it’s high time to sell, most business owners don't know what they don't know about selling their company. They are unaware of how to transition or exit their business. Joining Bob Roark on today’s show is Cam Bishop, the Managing Director at Raincatcher, a business brokerage and M&A firm that partners with entrepreneurs and business owners looking for help in buying or selling remarkable companies. If you’re thinking about selling your business or in the process of doing so, you don’t want to pass up this episode as Bob and Cam dive into the exit planning fundamentals that will help you extract additional value out of your company.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/eB4ILmWLn_g[/embed]Exit Planning Fundamentals With Cam BishopWe're incredibly fortunate we have Cam Bishop. He's the Managing Director at Raincatcher. It's a business brokerage and M&A firm that partners with entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking for help in buying or selling remarkable companies. He is the author of Head Noise: Perspective and Tales from the Executive Suite and Onward & Upward: Motivational Advice for Career Success. ---Cam, thank you from Kansas City and for coming on the show. We appreciate it.Thank you, Bob. You’re welcome. I'm glad to be here.Before the show, I did a little bit of homework. I looked at your long resume of experience. If you could, give us a quick snapshot or thumbnail of your experience prior to here.It has been an interesting journey. I went to the University of Missouri School of Journalism. I got a degree in Journalism and came out of school. I wanted to become an advertising copywriter. I thought I'll spend my entire career working in ad agencies. Instead, I started out in a marketing job and writing ad copy in a small publishing firm. It was a $7 million business. It got acquired and the new owner said, "We want you to go out and buy companies to grow this thing." We grew from $7 million to $13 million, to $90 million and then we got sold again. We grew from $90 million to $300 million. I stepped in as the CEO of that company and we grew it to $400 million. It was a profit machine. We were throwing off $100 million a year. We had 2,000 employees in 23 US cities in 4 or 5 foreign countries. It was a crazy ride.[bctt tweet="The integration plan is the absolute make or break of the deal." via="no"]The management structure changed and I said, "I liked this business model." I took six months off, wrote a business plan, flew around the country, pitched in the concept to about 50 different private equity firms, and ended up landing in a very happy relationship with JPMorgan Chase Banks' Private Equity Division. At that time, they had about $6 billion fund they were working out of. Unlike most PE deals, we didn't start with a direct acquisition. We started on my kitchen table. We went out and sourced a business as a starter, what they call a platform company.We ran the same model I had been running at the previous business, which they called in the PE world, the leverage roll-out business, where you buy a platform company and then you rapidly begin to tap companies that are strategic fits for your business. You build it up into a much bigger company, then you exit that deal and gain a benefit from scale that we used to call arbitrage on the exit multiple. Meaning if you had averaged all your deals in six times EBITDA, when they're aggregated together and you resell it, you can sell it for 8 or 9 times EBITDA based on the scale of the business and the efficiencies that you've driven into the business.We did that and then we exited that business. I consulted as a partner in a consulting firm that did exit and transition planning. Over the course of my career doing these leverage roll-ups, to buy one company, you normally look at 30 to 50 companies before you buy one. Over the years, I've looked at well over 500 different businesses in terms of their offering documents and completed 40 buy-side deals. A lot of times, we would carve out non-strategic assets from those deals, repackage them, and sell them off. At any one time, we might be buying 2 to 5 companies and spinning off and selling 1, 2 or 3 companies. We were a deal machine to that process.[caption id="attachment_5848" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Exit Planning: If you listen to the employees of the company you’re acquiring, they'll tell you everything you need to know about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of that company.[/caption] What you see with so many business owners, sadly, they don't have the right representation and they leave money on the table. If I was paying somebody $2 million, $3 million, $4 million for their business and if it had been a better package, they could have gotten an extra $500,000 or $1 million. For most people's legacy, that's a lot of money. I developed a passion for that to help business owners. That's why I went into exit and transition planning, where I also helped broker a few deals for those companies.I spent the last few years doing a very fascinating and extreme business transformation, coupled with a digital transformation for a $60 billion 501(c)(3) organization that looked behaved, felt, and competed like a for-profit company. What was very attractive was the purpose-driven nature of that business. I was under a contract for the board of directors to do that because all the money that business made went to fund scholarships and the endowment for a small private university. It was a very worthwhile cause, but that contract ended and I said, "What do I do with the rest of my life?" I love the transaction business. I love helping business owners to achieve their life goals and financial goals. I started looking around for somebody to join and that's where I found Raincatcher.What made you decide on Raincatcher?After I finished my contract, which was very high stress and extremely difficult work environment, it was 10 to 12-hour day for three years, I said, "I don't want to go back into another CEO job, but I want to be challenged. I want to be useful. I get bored way too easy." I said, "I want to partner with either a lower-level market investment banking firm or a higher-level, sophisticated business brokerage." I spent a month just doing research on firms around the country and identified a list of about twelve. I began doing deep-dive research on one of those to proceed with conversations. It would have to be a two-way street, but I was going to be very picky about who I would want to work with.Fortunately, the third firm I came to was Raincatcher. I was very impressed with their digital presence and the quality of their website. I reached out to them via their website. I got a call back from the two partners, Marla and Jason. We set up a couple of Zoom calls. We hit it off. We found that we were very much in alignment on mission, vision, and the value of corporate culture in a company. They're marvelous and highly ethical people. I said, "I like how this is going. If you're agreeable, I'll drive out nine and a half hours from Kansas City to Denver during COVID. Let's meet someplace outdoors." We met at an outdoor restaurant and spent five hours together. We went through lunch and dinner. It was great. My wife came out with me because we believe in the family orientation of businesses. She came over after a while.[bctt tweet="Running a business is in and of itself a full-time job. Packaging a company to sell is also a full-time job." via="no"]We had to figure out a business model that worked for both of us and rightfully so, that took some time because they were evolving their business. We finally got that all ironed out. We set up Raincatcher Midwest LLC of which Marla and Jason, the two owners and partners with them held a co-firm in Denver, our partners and I'm a partner. We're going to focus on building out the Central Standard Time territory in the United States as part of their nationwide build-out strategy.It's the chemistry. You think about the importance of that. In your early career of acquisition. When you were rolling up all the companies initially, how important was chemistry to you when you were looking at acquisition targets?The chemistry portion of the acquisition process is primarily driven through the integration into the business. That's one of the big mistakes that many companies make when they acquire a company. I've seen it countless times. I've done a number of lectures for CFO-type organizations on the whole process of mergers, acquisitions and integrations. The primary thought is you put about 90% to 95% of the effort into identifying the business, doing the due diligence, negotiating the deal, and trying to get the deal closed. Only about 5% of the energy and time goes into the integration plan. The integration plan is the absolute make it or break it of the deal. With the exception of certain terms and conditions in the contract, it's not on the frontend of the business.As part of our deal machine, we developed a very rigorous approach to try to identify the culture of the organization we're acquiring and to avoid the habit and practice that is so prevalent in deals where it goes like this, "I'm buying you. Therefore, I'm right, you're wrong. I'm the boss, you're going to do it my way." That's where the breakdown occurs in a lot of these integration deals. If you approach it from the standpoint of listening to the employees of the company you were acquiring, first of all, they'll tell you everything that you need to know about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of that company. At the same time, if you listen, you will hear that they are doing things better than you are doing. If you have an open mind and can control your own ego in order to adapt to the best practices of the company you're acquiring, you end up not only a larger but a much better overall and more efficiently run total company with a more compatible corporate culture.I think about that business owner that their dream is an all-cash offer. I don't think that's all that common. I suspect that earn-outs and performance clauses are in that world. Piggybacking on what you just talked about, the culture and so on. If you're the business owner who has an offer that has an earn-out, what should you be aware of or try to take and see in advance to make sure there's an opportunity to achieve your earn-out?Some of them are related to the terms of the deal and what the earn-out is tied to. As a seller, if you could get the earn-out tied to top-line revenue, you're in much better shape than if the earn-out is tied to some element of whether it's gross profit, operating profit or net income. Pick whatever profit line you want to take because there are so many elements that become out of control of the seller of that business, especially if he or she exits the business in conjunction with the deal. Even if they stay on for a retained period of time and still get paid an earn-out against some level of profitability, you no longer control all the decisions if you're a minority shareholder in that business on a consulting contract, or just an employee.[caption id="attachment_5849" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Exit Planning: With a few exceptions on some of the higher-end private equity deals, there are a few deals that get done these days that are pure cash deals.[/caption] You are correct, Bob. With a few exceptions on some of the higher-end private equity deals, there are a few deals that get done these days that are pure cash deals. They're all either combining a seller note with an earn-out, or one or the other if not both, especially if they're in a small enough range where they're going to have some SBA loan backstopped against them. Almost all of those require some element of seller carryback on a note basis. It’s not necessarily an earn-out basis, but a seller carryback.The thing that struck me is you’re talking about the chemistry between you and the folks at Raincatcher. I'm thinking about the business owner who maybe has the luxury of more than one offer and you're going to go, "This one's got this. This one's got that. This has got the other." The reason that they're buying my company is because they theoretically like what I do and how I did it. They go, "There's no chemistry. The chemistry is better in one offer than the other." For that potential seller, what do you think are the critical 2 or 3 things you need to have foremost in your mind to make sure you navigate that earn-out properly?That can be a huge issue, especially if it's a long-term independent entrepreneur running his or her business and they're acquired by a private equity firm. It's important for a seller in that case, especially if they're going to do a traditional PE deal where they sell off 80% of the business and retain a 20% equity stake, remain involved in the business for the typical whole period of generally 3 to 7 years with a five-year midpoint. It's important for them to do their due diligence on the private equity firm. If it's a family office, it's the same situation by talking to CEOs and former company owners of other firms that investment bank or that private equity firm has acquired.There's also one other element inside your own business which is a control factor. Many companies have anywhere from one to a handful of what I call key knowledge keepers and/or key points of failure in the organization, where somebody is so critical to the organization either because they have a certain type of unique experience, customer relationships, or some technical capability that is essential and central to the business. A smart seller will not be penny-wise and pound-foolish. He will create some kind of a stay bonus or an incentive structure for those individuals, which accrues over time to essentially put golden handcuffs on them and make it worth their while to stay through that seller's earn-out period at a minimum.What struck me as we're talking, we always hear that the business owners don't know what they don't know about selling their company. Why do you think there's such a gap between the skillset that they have to run their business and do well running their business, but they're unaware of how to transition or exit their business?It ties in with the question we get from company owners who talk to us about representing them in the sale of their business. You are correct. They don't know what they don't know. I've never seen an actual statistic, but based on experience, I'd say 95% of business owners have never bought or sold a company before. They have no idea what's involved in the process, how much work it is, how much time it takes, and how complex it is. It is a case of, "You don't know what you don't know." I've been a CEO of companies for about 35 of my 40-plus years in business. I always worked on the philosophy that you know what you know how to do well and you do it. You know what you don't know how to do well and find an expert to do it for you.In the management world, I certainly know accounting, but I'm no CFO expert. I bring in a top-level expert. I know more than enough to be dangerous about human resources and all the laws and regulations around that, but I still bring in a top-notch human resources executive. It's the same with my technical operation and head of IT. It's no different. There's that old saying in court, "He who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer." There are certain parts of that that apply in the sale of a company. There is a large element also involved with that basic risk mitigation of having the knowledge of both a professional who represents you in the business from all the technical aspects of the deal, as well as someone to look out for your best interest and help you divorce the emotional aspects that go with selling a company. It's a highly stressful emotional process. It's very easy as a business owner to make decisions based on emotion rather than on a solid business principle. That's where we play a critical role.There are many different ways to go. There's the transaction fatigue factor. I'm sure you've seen folks who go, "I'm just worn out. I'm done. I don't want to play anymore." You've seen it with all the acquisitions where the business owners are responding to requests. How do you see that business owner when they're in the transaction process? How well do they do run their company during that process?The challenge in selling a company is that’s also one of the things we try to keep an eye on and monitor those owners on. Running their business is in and of itself a full-time job. Packaging a company to sell is also a full-time job. If you don't have somebody who's controlling and doing the work on as many elements of that as possible outside the firm, you can become consumed with it as a business owner. Take your eye off the ball and you can see deterioration in the performance of your business while you're over here focused on trying to package and sell the business and doing something you don't know how to do.To compound that problem, a lot of times, an owner will try to backstop with their attorney and an accountant. Usually, an attorney that a company works with is not a transaction attorney. They're not an M&A attorney. They may be primarily an HR law specialist or just a general business specialist. It's another case of penny-wise, pound-foolish not to be represented by a special legal counsel that knows all the intricacies and ins and outs of the terms and factors that can make or break a deal. Most deals die not because of the price but because of the terms.I've heard that enough and I think it's understated or underappreciated on the price versus the terms. People get enamored by the price and then they fail to observe the fine print terms.They just don't understand the ramifications of those things. How many people have ever had to deal with baskets, caps, escrows, long-term liabilities, and certain financial performance benchmarks that trigger certain factors in the contract? What are the elements of the non-compete, no-solicit, and no-hire elements of the contract? What do all of those mean for that business owner? Those are things that can significantly impact the total value received on a deal.[bctt tweet="If a business can’t be perpetuated if you got hit by a bus, you have a job and not a business." via="no"]For the business owner who's out there and
36 minutes | a month ago
Purpose-Driven Marketing With Stu Swineford
People often have this misconception that investments in marketing almost always run contrary to an organization's mission. They feel that any spending that isn’t directly tied to the mission runs counter to the good you accomplish in the world. Bob Roark and his guest, Stu Swineford, tackle this very subject today. Stu is the author of Mission: Uncomfortable - How Nonprofits Can Embrace Purpose-Driven Marketing to Survive and Thrive. Stu talks about purpose-driven marketing, showing that marketing isn’t really a bad thing, especially if you’re the leader of a non-profit organization or its marketing department.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/XIxoAhUkEbc[/embed]Purpose-Driven Marketing With Stu SwinefordMarketing is not a dirty word. As a leader of a nonprofit organization or its marketing department, you may have been told that investments in marketing run contrary to your organization's mission. At the least, you may feel that any spending can't be directly tied to the mission that runs counter to the good you accomplish in the world. We're going to talk about that. My guest is Stu Swineford. Stu is the co-author of Mission Uncomfortable: How Nonprofits Can Embrace Purpose-driven Marketing to Survive and Thrive. He's also the co-founder of Relish Studio, a digital marketing firm and he's also the host of his own podcast, Relish This. Stu, thanks for taking your time.Thank you for having me on, Bob. I appreciate it.Fair disclosure, Stu and I are working together on a website. They do awesome work so I can attest to that right upfront. One of the things that we wanted to cover is one, we will talk about purpose-driven marketing and then the pillars of purpose-driven marketing, which are attract, connect, bond and inspire. Stu, maybe the first thing that we want to dig into is your thoughts on purpose-driven marketing.Thanks, Bob. Purpose-driven marketing is a phrase that we came to over the course of a few years where we're trying to give people the idea that marketing shouldn't just be an activity that you spend money on and check a box but it is something that should return an outcome. A lot of people think about marketing as a cost. One of the things that we've tried to establish in purpose-driven marketing is that it's more of an investment. It's something that you're doing to either run experiments or prove a hypothesis or tackle a challenge that you're having with your organization.There should be an outcome attached to that and it should be a positive outcome. That's what purpose-driven marketing is all about. Purpose-driven marketing can be applied to both for-profit and nonprofit businesses. It's marketing that has a specific goal in mind and we try to create all of the mechanisms by which you can attain that goal. In the context of Mission Uncomfortable, the book that I wrote, it's geared toward those businesses in the nonprofit sector specifically but the purpose-driven sector, additionally, to try and help them fuel growth.Fair disclosure, too, I read your book. Thank you for providing the copy. In the nonprofit arena, the folks that are in charge of marketing are trying to identify who their avatar or ideal donor and/or client might be.We usually start these discussions with an exercise that we call the values, vision and mission exercise. It takes some nonprofits a second to wrap their arms around it because their entire MO is around values, vision and mission. Making sure that that culture is intact and defined and everyone has a North Star so that we know what direction that we're going. When we work for for-profit businesses, we do an exercise that we call find the money and this can be something that a nonprofit can do as well. Essentially, it's looking back at your prior performance if you have historical data to look at and finding out information about your volunteers and donors.Who are these people that are rising to the top that tend to produce the best outcomes for your organization? How can you get in front of more of those? The persona exercise then follows on the heels of that where after you've established who these people are, you can look for similarities and develop a persona or an avatar for that target audience that you're trying to reach. Whether it's in the volunteer space, donor space, corporate donor space or a repeat donor engagement. Trying to identify so that when those people show up, you understand what they're looking for and what is motivating them that'll get them engaged with your organization.One of the things that hadn't crossed my mind, not that it should, is I was thinking about mostly donors and projects. What I was not keen on was the recognition of the contribution of the volunteer. In the book, you were talking about structuring. “This volunteer’s been working on five separate projects in this one group. This volunteer did ten projects.” It's a mechanism to reward a continual effort, which was quite remarkable.[bctt tweet="Purpose-driven marketing can be applied to both for-profit and non-profit that has a very specific goal in mind." via="no"]We've talked about stakeholders and those can be anyone who has some attachment to or engagement with your organization so that could be everybody from a beneficiary. For example, if you’re a nonprofit that helps the homeless. The houseless person has a touchpoint with your organization and they may then, hopefully through all the activities that you're doing to help them out, become a volunteer. At that point, they have two touches with your organization. From the volunteer standpoint, they may be able, at some point, to donate. They may become a repeat donor. They may become a board member at some point or may have the opportunity to rise up and bring a corporation that they're involved in as a sponsor.Those stakeholders become valuable. You can escalate and move people around that ecosystem with your organization. It's easier to sell to or to get somebody to take a second action than it is to get them to take the first action. This was where the inspire phase comes into play. Being mindful of how to keep people engaged with your organization even in off-times. If you don't have any volunteer opportunities, how do you keep them engaged? How do you get them to spread the word? Leveraging all of those assets to your advantage as a nonprofit.In the nonprofit space versus the for-profit space, both of them have mission statements and have things they’re trying to do and at the end of the day, it's a tax code differential. A lot of the business principles that apply to nonprofits apply to for-profit. That recognition has come a long way. We were talking about the pillars of purpose-driven marketing. We were talking about the avatar in round terms. Let's dig into the first activity, which would be the attract side of the pillar.The attract phase is when you, as an organization or a business like a nonprofit, are trying to gain someone's attention in some fashion so that they come to your website or reach out in some way to take an action. That could be everything from earned media through public relations, what you're doing on social media, blog posts, for example, that you're putting out there that provide value and people are interested in that exchange. It’s essentially all of those elements that draw people to your organization. It could be a sign on the side of a truck if you're out and about giving food away or picking up donations for your organization. All of those places that you show up in that ecosystem where you have the ability to attract someone to your organization, that's essentially the attract phase. It's similar to what you might be doing in the for-profit space as well.I'm curious, in thinking about the nonprofit sophistication, I'm sure it varies as far as SEO and paid traffic and so on. What's your experience and exposure to those types of techniques by nonprofits? Nonprofits have some additional resources that either many aren't aware of or they don't have the capacity to take advantage of them. One is Google gives out grants to nonprofits and you have to qualify for the grant but the bar is low on that. Essentially, Google gives you $10,000 a month in Google AdWords spend to play with to drive traffic back to your property. That's an example of one of those things that maybe nonprofits aren't taking advantage of.The other thing that we certainly see and this comes into this inbound methodology if anyone out there has done some research on inbound, is providing something of value to use as a value exchange. When we talk about value, this might be some checklist. If you're an organization that does a lot of work in the outdoor space like Leave No Trace, for example, they put out these little cards that you can clip to your backpack. They give you all the information about Leave No Trace and how to get rid of a campfire that you've created or how to deal with waste, for example. All of these little things would come on a card.They could give that card away as a PDF on the site for people who are exploring ways to be more thoughtful in the outdoors and essentially put that behind an exchange of information. The idea is they're trying to build their email list so they get your email address in exchange for this valuable piece of information. Now, you're even more in their ecosystem. They've managed to go from the attract phase through the connect phase and now, they can start to work on that bond phase where they're continuing to engage with that person after they've managed to connect with them.If there's such thing as a typical nonprofit but let's say you're shooting at the median of the nonprofit space, do you think that there's a lot of knowledge in that space about landing pages and the various mechanisms to take and connect with these potential folks?[caption id="attachment_5830" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Purpose Driven Marketing: Find information about your volunteers and donors that tend to produce the best outcomes for your organization, and try to get in front of more of those.[/caption] One of the things we see a lot is nonprofits have a limited budget, limited staff and sometimes, a little bit limited experience in the marketing piece and that's where we tried to position ourselves as somebody who can help them out. One of the larger things that we see happening is the reliance upon a single landing page. Usually, that landing page isn't designed particularly well and it's trying to serve a variety of purposes. It's trying to be the contact form and the landing page from some specific ask that they've done to donate, for example, or to get on the mailing list. They're trying to do too many things with one single page.One of the things that we do recommend is tailoring those landing pages for specific asks and potentially specific audiences. Going back to the Google Grants idea, if one were to take advantage of that program, one would hopefully not drive people just to the homepage but to this landing page. The ad that you ran would say something specific. For example, we're looking to increase donations. Let's say that you're a nonprofit and you're trying to get $100,000 in donations in order to buy a piece of equipment. Instead of just sending people to a generic landing page that says Donate Now, what you would ideally do is set up a second landing page that is speaking specifically to that ask that you made in Google.That landing page would talk about this piece of equipment and it would tell a story about how good you're going to be able to do once this piece of equipment is purchased and how many people you're going to be able to help through access to this piece of equipment. Ask for the donation and maybe make some suggestions like, “$20 will get us this much closer.” Creating a story around that and not being afraid to let that landing page help reinforce what you asked for in the ad. Where we see a huge disconnect happening in the nonprofit space is that they tend to just send directly to a page that says Donate Now and then they reuse that page for a variety of campaigns.Not being in the marketing world like you, I would imagine that there are a lot of for-profit and nonprofits that try to use one landing page.It's common. There are a few fairly standard mistakes they get made on landing pages. The first is asking before you have permission to ask. The idea that was hammered into everybody's head as a marketer back in the ‘80s and ‘90s was to get to the sale, reducing the number of clicks, etc. Those are all great pieces of advice if taken with a grain of salt. On a landing page, remembering that a nonprofit in particular has an uphill battle so there's friction at every step. Overcoming that friction is one of the challenges that need to be top of mind on a landing page.One of the biggest things we see is either too many different asks. Leaving the navigation up there is a common thing that we see. You want to try to keep people from being distracted but you also don't want to necessarily jump to the Donate Now immediately because people can smell marketing. They don't want to engage with a marketing machine. They want to engage with a person. Creating opportunities to tell a story, stripping out as much design as you can, tend to work well in the nonprofit space, which is a little bit contrary to what one would think. Getting to the emotions that people have that are going to drive that decision and reinforcing those emotions would be some of the things that we would highly recommend for a landing page.Do you think in the nonprofit space that they've started to engage with the storytelling what their story is?I know you're a big fan of Donald Miller and his StoryBrand methodology. The storytelling in the nonprofit space is a little bit of a challenge because the nonprofit itself, the people who are running it, tend to position themselves as the heroes and the people who donate tend to be portrayed as helpers. What we would recommend is attempting to flip that narrative, having the nonprofit be the guide that helps the people who are donating or volunteering be the heroes in that scenario. From a storytelling standpoint, making it more about the people who are engaging and how they're helping the constituents or the recipients of the nonprofit's benefits. If you can weave that story, you're going to see some great benefits to that.From my observation, that's a pervasive problem where there's confusion on who's the hero and who's the guide. I've got relatives that have volunteered on the Rocky Mountain trail for a long time. You think about all the good and the work and all the stuff that they do on the trail. I don't know that there's a lot of storytelling or visual aids or videos when they're on the trail and the camaraderie of being on the trail with like-minded donors and that kind of thing. For the folks that are reading in the nonprofit space, that part about the guide-hero shift is straight-up gold. If there was nothing else out of this episode other than that, that's invaluable.[bctt tweet="It's easier to get somebody to take a second action than it is to get them to take a first action." via="no"]It's a subtle shift. Once you see it, it becomes obvious. It can be a little bit of a challenge to get to and that's why we're here. We're happy to talk through that with people at any point. If they need some help crafting it, we can help with that too.It's that it's not about me, it's about them kind of deal. We've got the connect part of landing pages, trying to get that all sorted out then there's that bonding portion or bonding with the inside of the organization. What's that all about? The bond phase is where you cement that relationship. None of this information is stuff that necessarily I came up with. I'm just able to package it all together for people. Relationships tend to be created over time so it's interactions over time. If you think about how the strongest relationships that you've built in your lifetime came about, they typically weren't fall in love at first sight and become best buddies unless you were six. They tend to be established over time. You ask a question and you get an answer. You ask another question and they ask you a question. There's a back and forth that occurs.During the bond phase, it's a matter of trying to create opportunities to have conversations and to keep conversations going. As somebody has raised their hand, for example, to say, “I'm interested in your organization and would like to learn more,” or going back to our outdoor scenario, “I'd like this PDF that has information about how I can be a better and safer camper.” Those people have raised their hand and said, “Your organization is neat and I'd like to be attached to it in some fashion.” The bond phase comes into play when you start those interactions and you start trying to provide people with additional things of value.If they download a brochure about camping, maybe you ask them if they'd like to have a brochure about fire safety or how to how to build a trail or things like that. The reason I said ask them for it is this is one place where people tend to shove stuff at their audience as opposed to asking what things they might be interested in. When you ask, that creates another touch. If I say, “Bob, if I sent you my book and you woke up one day and my book was in front of you, you'd be like, ‘What's this thing? Why is this in front of me?’” Versus if I said, “Bob, would you like a copy of my book?” I wait and you say, “That sounds neat.” There are two interactions. If you take that relationship, our interactions over time idea, I enabled a couple more in that journey.Somewhere in a conversation, there was a ratio that somebody says, “You 80% educate and 20% ask.” I don’t know if that's the true number but the short answer is you’re more on education and providing than asking is what I got.We have a ratio and we still use this ratio and it's typically geared towards social media. This would maybe come back into that attract phase. Let's say you have a single channel, whether that's Twitter or Facebook or whatever your channel. Let's just pick Facebook. You're going to put out fifteen posts on Facebook over the course of five weeks, so three posts a week. The ratio of information to ask should be 14 to 1 in that regard, and 10 of those are what are thought of as maven informational items.Those can be some other blog post or some article that you read that you think your audience might be interested in. Add a little bit of...
35 minutes | a month ago
Start Early: Hard But Necessary Advice For Business Owners Thinking About Selling With Aaron Linnebach
Selling a business is much more complicated than handing it over for an amount of money and then walking out of the room. On the part of the buyer, it involves a meticulous process of diligence and preparation. If those buyers, who are experts in buying, are taking the effort to be prepared before the transaction happens, why should you, the seller, who is probably selling for the first time, not want to achieve the same level of preparedness? Joining Bob Roark on the show, Raincatcher CPA Aaron Linnebach has some advice for business owners who are thinking about selling their companies at some point. Old wisdom tells us that “The early bird catches the worm,” and it couldn’t be truer when it comes to M&A. Listen in and learn why you should already be investing in exit preparedness now, even if (especially if) you’re not raring to let go of the reins just yet.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/hYihvAHyBP0[/embed]Start Early: Hard But Necessary Advice For Business Owners Thinking About Selling With Aaron LinnebachThe one thing that I would tell a business owner is to start the conversation early. If you can find your advisory team before you're ready to sell, and start discussing the things you can do on your business so that when it comes time to close that deal, you're prepared. You've got a clear strategic goal. You've got a compelling investment thesis. Starting early before the deal is about to close is only going to create money. It's only going to create extended value for your business.Our guest is Aaron Linnebach. He is the Managing Director of Raincatcher. Aaron, thank you so much for coming on the show.Bob, thank you so much for having me. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.We have a little history. We've shot out a few birds here a little bit, so that's a good thing. I've seen him in the field, in his natural setting for lack of a better term. Aaron, tell us a little bit about Raincatcher. What is your role at Raincatcher? Your backstory about how you came into this field is interesting.Raincatcher is a business broker and M&A advisor for small to medium-sized businesses. We help deliver it to you in our succinct form. We help business owners buy and sell remarkable companies. We exist to represent sellers when it's time to go to market. My personal role in that is incredibly exciting. I get to spend all day every day working with my team and our business owner clients to help shepherd that business through the process of getting ready to go to market, pulling the trigger and go into the market, navigating all the uncertainty in that path, and then successfully closing that deal. It is an incredible honor and privilege to be a part of that process.For us, it boils down to four main value add activities that we take. The first is emotional. It's a big deal to sell a company or your business. It's not all about the numbers and the Ps and Qs. Oftentimes, it's about the heart as much as anything else. We help navigate that part of it. We help take the mystique and the mystery out of selling your company. The next part is educational. It's making sure the business owners are smart on what they need to do today, what they need to do tomorrow, and what they need to do the day after that to complete that objective of selling the company successfully. The next one is strategic. That’s where we differentiate ourselves. It’s being able to take a strategic perspective on the overall life cycle of your business and why now is the right time to go to market, and then it’s tactical. It's the blocking and tackling. It's the boots on the ground grind of crunching the numbers, telling the story, putting together marketing materials, contacting buyers, negotiating on your behalf.At the end of the day, you take all of those things together. What we do is serve business owners. When a company comes to us and says, “Guys, I'm thinking about selling,” our response is, "Great. Why?” It's not, "Great, let's sign you up and get the process going.” We try to dig in and understand the motivations behind that. That tucks into my personal story. This slightly circuitous path I took to get out here. I started in the family business. My education is in accounting. I've got a CPA license hanging on a wall somewhere out there. We owned and operated group homes for people with developmental disabilities. It was a great business. I worked in that company for about 5 years of the 25 or so that my parents owned it. I got to help work that to a sale.Being a part of that team gave me an insider's look into a day in the life of a business owner. It can be incredibly rewarding on one hand, and incredibly challenging on another hand. Walking arm and arm with my family members as we tried to monetize the business that they had built was incredibly eye-opening for me. It sparked a passion in me to move into the role I'm in now, which is helping small business owners, helping them get through that path of going to market and successfully closing a deal.[bctt tweet="Run your business like you’re going to own it forever, but be prepared to sell it any moment." via="no"]It's an honor and a privilege to be a part of that process. It's emotional. It's heart level for me. I've been fortunate in my career to move both from a corporate side into a big company, public accounting at a Big Four firm. From there into deals, and now for almost the last years, I have focused 100% of my time and energy on helping businesses prepare for, go to the market, and successfully sell their company. It’s fun and I love doing it. It gets me out of bed excited every single day.I think about the journey of getting to work in a family business, report to your parents effectively, then take and watch the emotional journey for your folks. As they say, "We're going to take in and plan on selling the company.” You see it go to the transaction, watch the emotional behavior of your folk’s post-sale. Was there anything surprising that you noticed as your folks got closer to closing the transaction?There were far too many surprises to answer that question honestly. Without diving too deep into the specifics, what I'll say is as an organization, we're not as well prepared as we should have been. The unfortunate truth is it costs the shareholders money. We were not able to get a valuation that was more appropriate for the business had we taken some steps early on. Specifically, it's things like making sure our accounting records are complete, accurate and consistent. It’s making sure that our key management team is in place and incentivized to stay in place after the sale. Even making sure that the right people on the team are involved in the process of selling the business.A lot of times, and we were guilty of this, business owners have this concern that their management team is going to panic as soon as they hear the word sell. The reality is what I found with most business owners when they collaborate with those key personnel, when they take steps early on to shore up the financials, to shore up the story of the business, it makes for a better process. Someone who's going to buy a company is not coming in to buy what the company did yesterday. They're coming in to buy what it's going to do tomorrow. For sellers thinking about creating an enterprise that's easily transferable to a new owner, that's going to create a ton of value. It takes preparation. We learned some hard lessons there. I've seen other businesses learn some hard lessons. That's one of the things I try to help my clients avoid in the future.There's that old statement, "Tuition is expensive,” paid tuition and the transaction. For the business owner that’s listing and they go, "How do I know if now is the right time to sell?” What do you tell that person that goes, "Should I wait? Is this the right time?” There's an answer that's relevant now, and then there's a different answer that will be relevant in a couple of years from now. Let me explain that. Business owners that are coming to me now asking that question, "How do I know if the time is right?” My response at the start of 2021 is the time is right now. We’re in an environment where we've had about a ten-year run-up in private company valuations. We may not be at the very peak from an evaluation standpoint. I don't know exactly, but we're certainly near the end of what's been a very long economic growth cycle for privately-held businesses. That’s one thing. You're never going to nail the top of the market, but now is an opportunity to get close.The other part of that is because of the stimulus package passed by Congress and a couple of different iterations. There are some additional factors in place that are helping deals get done more easily. If it's a deal that's going to be an SBA insured loan, an SBA loan to go buy a business, which is the most common way to buy business under about $5 million in enterprise value. The SBA is waiving the guarantee fee. Ordinarily, that’s 2.5% to 3% of the total price of the deal. They're waiving that and they are also making the first six payments, principal and interest, on any acquisitions completed before the end of September 2021. Collectively those represent anywhere from 3% to 4% of total enterprise value up to about 6% of the enterprise. That's just a discount that's going to buyers, which means as a seller, there are some opportunities in place for you to get a little bit more for your business. It's a little easier to get it done in this environment.That’s the immediate answer to the question. The reason that answers change over time is that it's unique to every business owner. What is the right time to sell? I'll refer back to the question of why. The first question we asked when a business owner comes to us is, “Why do you want to sell?” Understanding the motivations is incredibly important. There’s this thing floating around like in ether. We've all heard it. It's the die at your desk type. We've all met the business owner or the executive who says, “I'm going to die at my desk.” Sometimes it's a badge of honor. For some folks, that's it. That is a real goal. I commend them for that.[caption id="attachment_5808" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Selling A Business: If you wait until you're psychologically or emotionally ready to sell, then you would have waited too long because by that time, you may already be disenfranchised with your business.[/caption] For most of us, when we sit back and think about the concept of dying at our desk, there are a lot of things in life that we have not done if that's how it ends. There are a lot of things we've missed out on. Business owners sometimes hold on too long to the company. You need to understand as a business owner, what does life look like after? What are the things that I've given up? If you start thinking about that now when you’ve got maybe 1 or 2 years to sell, and you can collect your M&A advisor or wealth advisor like Bob Roark, your attorney, your CPA. If you can get that team on board to start looking at the business and really diving in and preparing that company for a sale at some point, you'll be better off. You'll extract more value.Think about why you want to make a move as a business owner, and then start taking steps to accomplish that goal. There are a lot of unknowns. Every business owner wants to sell for a different reason than the guy next door. By and large, it boils down to the fact that you, as a business owner, have created this enterprise. You've invested the time, tears, blood, sweat, money and all of it, but how are you going to get out of it? How are you going to capture that value that you've created? If you wait until you're, “Ready to sell,” if you wait until you're psychologically or emotionally ready to sell, then you've waited too long and it's too late. By that time, you may be disenfranchised with your business. You may be so busy that you missed a year of your kid's life, or a year with your spouse, or a vacation that you've always wanted to take. You skip things in life sometimes to work in your business. My advice is to start today and then run it like you're going to own it forever but be prepared to sell it any moment.The thing that perhaps is missing is having your business built ready to sell. We have all the things, policies, procedures, derisking, and all that stuff. That's just good business. It truly is. It's funny, you'll talk to somebody who goes, “I got an unsolicited offer to buy my business.” You go, "How do you know if it's the right price?” There's a lot of that going on. I'm thinking about your career at EKS&H. Is there a deal that you were involved with where the business owner did 2 or 3 things incredibly right, which had them selling their company at the top end of statistics for that industry? If so, what did they do that made them stand out? I had a deal that I worked on at EKS&H, which was a large regional accounting firm here in Colorado, the 800-pound gorilla if you will. It’s an incredible client base, an incredible list of businesses. We did one deal for a company that makes machinery for a small end market. The business dynamics are they sell a few very expensive items to a few very important customers. That's problematic in selling a business. Its risk. The way that they responded to that business risk was by institutionalizing the relationship. They made it so that the company, who was my client, was so integral to their customer's way of operating that they couldn't extract them.That relationship between vendor and customer was so close that when a buyer came in to look at the business, we were able to make a compelling case that they've institutionalized this relationship. That's a specific example on a specific deal, but that concept holds true for every business, to the extent that you can create your company in a manner that customers have to keep coming back. You are thick as thieves in their business. Even if it's a consumer, they’ve got to keep coming back. That's a win. That will be a compelling business proposition. That’s one, institutionalize the relationships.The next thing that they did is they brought their management team into the process of selling the business in advance. This is the second time I have brought it up. It is so critical to have that key layer involved in some capacity, understanding that there are commercial considerations and confidentiality stuff. Integrating your key management team in the process will create enormous additional value in a business because yet again, another buyer is coming in. Think about this. They're not buying the business for what it did yesterday. They're buying it for what it's going to do tomorrow. They need a team in place that knows what they're doing. Almost never does a buyer walk in and buy a company and fire everybody. That's a big fear. It almost never happens because the lifeblood of every organization is that team.Institutionalize the customers, involve the management in the process, and then the last thing is don't short the soft stuff, the feeley meeley part of business, culture, loyalty, genuine care for one another, among your team. As an owner, you can put those cultural planks in place in your company. It's only going to create value. Even after a sale, those people are going to continue to be valuable to that business, loyal to that business, loyal to those relationships that they've built. Institutionalize the vendor-customer relationships, involve the management team, and don't overlook the feely meely stuff, the cultural and emotional things.I'm thinking that the business owner out there is going like, “I am the sales team, and I am the CEO, and I have all the key relationships.” Pretty soon, you look at it and you go, "You're the business.” “Yes, I am.” What advice would you have to that business owner where they wear multiple hats, and they can't leave the business alone because it wouldn't operate without them.[bctt tweet="Fire yourself from your business. You’re selling an enterprise, not a job." via="no"]That's probably one of the most common problems we run into, especially amongst smaller enterprises. The advice I would give to those business owners is to fire yourself. At a minimum, work yourself out of a job by training up the next person to take on that, or hiring those skills. For every business owner, you've got to remember that you're not selling a job. You're selling an enterprise. You’ve got to take your job out of the enterprise so that you can effectively deliver the thing. If you're so involved in the business that if you get hit by a bus, it collapses, there's not much to sell there. You've got to pull yourself out of it. You have to. It's hard to let go with those control levers sometimes. It's tough, yet it points back to the importance of having a team that you can trust and focusing on things like culture. Making sure you've got capable management in place because that is your outlet for personal involvement in the business. It's your people.The thing that comes to my mind is you've got that business owner that says, “I'm all the functions and I do have a job.” They go like, “I don't know how to work myself out of a job, get the right butts in the right seats, and that kind of thing.” That's where you bring on a coach. They go, "The coach is expensive.” I think about the multiple expansion down the road and that return on investment for that coach. I don't have a particular coach in mind, but I think about a lot of the business owners. They have enough courage to get it started. They had afforded to keep it running. It's probably 80% plus of their net worth. At some point, they're going to exit the business. Either they are going to sell, die or liquidate. It's going to go away. You go, "Why not make that investment?” I don't think that's a well-thought-out process of what's the return on investment to hire a coach to help you get there. I should do some math behind that. I bet you we've got the data to be able to pull some of that information out. In my experience, 100% of the time in deals that I've worked on where the business owner was so deeply and intimately involved in the operations, the value of that business was impaired significantly. It's not just the value, the business itself is worth what it's worth. As a seller, you are integral to creating the value to making the sausage so to speak. You then yank yourself out of there. It's not worth as much because you're the key man. You're the key player. If you want to be able to sell that business and go buy a boat or whatever it is that you'd like to do next, you've got to be out of that business already before you go to market.It's a hard thing to do, but you have to rip off. You have to do it. It's a step that must be taken. The flip side of that is spending money on a coach as you mentioned. Making that investment early on so that you can work over the course of a reasonable timeframe to accomplish that goal of getting yourself out of the business, that will...
35 minutes | 2 months ago
Navy SEAL Turned Entrepreneur Lays Down His Business Acquisition Criteria – Ian Hossfeld
Business acquisition is a unique challenge, especially if you’re an owner-operator who’s being pitted against larger private equity entities. Navy SEAL officer Ian Hossfeld knows where his competitive advantages lie and tries to stay within that lane in his ongoing search for a company to acquire. Ian is the founder of The Foss Mountain Company, which was created in 2020 for that specific purpose. He spends time with Bob Roark on the show to share what his company is looking for in a business, as well as some insights on what business owners should be looking at if they’re planning to sell. If you’re a business owner who’s contemplating an exit, listen in to know if Ian is a good fit for you. If not, then he would gladly help you find a buyer who is! ---Watch the podcast here:[embed]https://youtu.be/kcvjBqljX9E[/embed]Navy SEAL Turned Entrepreneur Lays Down His Business Acquisition Criteria - Ian HossfeldIn this episode, we have a special treat. We have Ian Hossfeld. He is the Managing Partner and Founder of The Foss Mountain Company. He's a SEAL Officer with the US Naval Reserves. Ian, thank you for joining us. Bob, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to join you. Ian and I ran across each other. He is working on purchasing a company. I thought we would take and dig in with his thoughts on the type of company he's looking for and some of the criteria. Ian, in a thumbnail sketch, give us a quick snapshot of what got you from the Navy to where you are now. I was a Navy SEAL Officer on active duty for eight years before transitioning from active duty to the Reserves, returning to school to get my MBA and pursuing this path. A couple of steps along the way that led me to this. What led me to transition from active duty was in 2016, my wife was pregnant with our first born. I was staring at my fourth deployment in five years and didn't see that changing while I was on active duty. I wanted to be around more for fatherhood and chose to leave active duty but still be able to serve while serving in the Reserves. You do when you don't know what you want to do and that's go back to school. I went and got my MBA. I wanted to do something with entrepreneurship. What led me to that was on my last tour on active duty, I was deployed to Iraq and was in charge of a 75-man militia in the Upper Euphrates River Valley helping lead the charge to clear ISIS out of the area. In my capacity there, I was in charge of manning, training, equipping and operationally employing this force. In many ways, I had wide left and right lateral limits. I got to be in charge of this force and in some parallels, it’s like being in charge of a company. I loved that autonomy and ability to make meaningful decisions and have to think on my feet. Having to problem solve, to work with individuals both inside and outside the organization. [bctt tweet="There is such a thing as a wonderful business to own, but not a wond erful business to buy." via="no"]It was a meaningful experience that I knew leaving from that, I wanted to replicate that and didn't want to be a cog in a larger machine. I knew entrepreneurship was the right path for me. While I was at business school, I met up with some professors, investors and mentors that worked with folks such as myself and help advise them and mentor them in going out and purchasing a company after graduation. I worked with them my last year I was in business school on a couple academic projects. I got to know them both personally and professionally as they did me. We decided to partner up together after graduating. As it stands now, I am backed by 21 investors ranging from folks that were in my shoes several years ago, to some successful investors, to folks investing on behalf of family offices and private equity funds. It’s a good mix of people and I selected them based on their experiences across industries, across geographies and across roles that they held within companies. I feel fortunate to have them on board my team, backing me as an entrepreneur and providing guidance throughout the whole process. We were talking about the one big thing and it is to take care of the people that you had. As you took over that business enterprise in the Euphrates Valley, it’s probably the wrong word but you had a product to deliver. When you came into that organization and you started trying to work toward taking care of the people in your organization, what was your discovery like and how did you start to prioritize how you were taking care of those folks? There are a couple of things in that particular situation that were unique but then there were some commonalities. A big part of that is that regardless of who you are and what you're doing, you have a professional life and you have a personal life. It's impossible for you to take off the personal life while you are at work. I found with these folks that are making sure that I was aware of issues they were having with their families. If there was something at home that was the matter, then they couldn't focus on what they were doing at work. We were better off to, in those cases, give them time away from training to take care of the issues they were having with their family, so that they could come back to us and be 100% committed to what we were doing. Treating them with that decency and respect, and realizing that we were there for six months and they were going to be there for the rest of their lives, and that our pace and their pace might be a little different. Seeing that humanity and empathy with them will build loyalty and trust. That was something that I learned and focused on while I was there. I think about that empathy component. We hear a lot about that in the business and I don't think that's necessarily associated too well with military. In the empathy side, the impact from when you arrived versus some duration of time, when did you start to notice that this approach was starting to have enough positive effect on your organization? It does take a bit of time because anytime you come into an organization and you're the new guy, there's a period of building trust and demonstrating competence. That was the same in there. Within a couple of months of demonstrating that I was a person of my word and that there was follow-through in what I said and not hollow words, that's where we started to see that. Maybe some of the common soldiers were a little less aware of it but their leaders who we are working with day-in and day-out had to hear the everyday gripes of their men. We were there helping them solve it. That's where the real trust and relationship started to build was at that level as we demonstrated that we had their back and that we would help them accomplish their goals and empower them to look like as leaders. Let them show that strength to their men and earn their trust even more. You have this wealth of experience, discipline and academic work that you've done. It's a compliment that the academics and mentors at your last place of education had confidence in you to back you so now you're on the trail. You're looking for an acquisition. For the readers, what is your acquisition target resemble? What are the characteristics? There are a couple different characteristics that I'm looking at. One quick and down dirty easy to sort by is looking at the financial side of things. I'm looking for a business between $1.5 million to $5 million of cashflow EBITDA. I can go a bit lower than that if it’s in a fast-growing industry or in a hyper fragmented industry where it's conceivable without having an aggressive timeline that you'd be able to put together a couple businesses within a couple of years. Elaborating a little more on the upper end, I set the limit around $5 million, not because my investors don't have the funds or that I don't feel I have the competence or expertise to run an organization of that size. I just realize where my competitive advantages lie. As you start getting larger and start going against bigger competitors, strategic buyers and going against larger private equity shops. I'm coming in as an owner operator. I won't be bringing any companies or portfolio companies in tow. I don't have the synergies or cost savings that such buyers would be bringing in. In a competitive pricing market, I realized that gets a little harder for me. If there's alignment with the seller, both for wanting to sell to someone like me, an entrepreneur or someone who's going to move their family to the area to run the business and who like my leadership style, my vision for their company. If that all resonates with someone, then by all means, I I'd love to take a look at the larger business. [caption id="attachment_5791" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Business Acquisition: If you’re coming in as an owner-operator going against larger private equity shops, you need to recognize where your competitive advantages lie.[/caption] I'm also a realist. I'm not going to tilt windmills for the sake of getting reps. That's on the financial side. Looking at the business characteristics side, my investment interests lie in businesses with highly recurring revenues or repeat revenues. The reason why I like those types of businesses is because you have that good visibility year-in and year-out of what the picture is going to look like. I also realized that with some industries, they may have one line of work or a revenue stream that's more project-based or one-off type revenue. Those can be highly lucrative but I'd say in those situations, I'm looking for the business that tilt heavier towards that, either recurring or a repeat repair or maintenance service, whatever you want to call it type of revenue. That's one of the characteristics. Another big characteristic is looking for not asset intensive businesses. It’s not highly reliant on real estate, not having a heavy equipment or heavy manufacturing. It’s not the best match. Folks in vans and trucks and some inventory is not a problem. Some light manufacturing whether that's CNC machines or something along that line are not an issue. Those are businesses that I like as you start getting up there. In asset intensity, it becomes less and less of as a good fit for me as a buyer. I don't need an industry with super high growth. I found industries that have great business characteristics, as far as strong recurring revenues and sticky customer basis. I find those attractive. It comes down to what you have for your growth strategy for the business. If it’s a business that's growing like crazy, then I'm looking to tap into the organic growth of that business. If it's a business that's strong and steady but chugging along, then maybe the strategy is to utilize this first acquisition to form a nice strong base. From there, looking for some other competitors or smaller scale businesses that I can selectively look at that have good alignment as far as customers they're serving, how they treat their employees and that culture of the organization. If there's good alignment there, then the growth strategy is by going out and acquiring some more of those types of businesses. Do you find in this environment that there's a shortage of opportunities to look at companies? I've got to believe that there's a fair quantity that you can look at. I don't know if there's a fair quantity that qualify. You can be as busy as you're willing to put the effort in. Lots of businesses are available for sale through brokers and bankers. I've also had success talking to business owners directly. I started searching here in August. I wasn't in the market during the early days of COVID. I heard that was a bit of a slowdown but I feel that it's picked right back up and especially now, I had a surge of people I was talking to that said, “Come circle back around the first of the year and let's start talking.” It’s very busy times now. For the readers, they're going like, “I've got a company. How do I attract your gaze?” For some of the businesses that didn't make the cut to do further due diligence and maybe why that was. I have a couple of philosophies that I think about when I'm buying a business. One is that I don't expect me as the owner and operator coming in without 30 years of experience you had as the seller. I don't believe that early on in my life as the CEO I'm going to be able to operate the business as effectively as you did with all your experience. With that in mind, if there's a seller that's involved with the business’ daily operations in the standpoint that they're still providing some service to clients, they're still the most pivotal player in the sales or the most pivotal player in the maintaining relationships with a client, it can give me a bit of pause because I'll be taking over the seat from them. I don't have that experience that they have and that years of goodwill with that client. If it is those types of situations, there's more risk for me as a buyer coming in. [bctt tweet="Value means much more than revenue. " via="no"]Another situation that has caused issues in deals to die on my end is maybe you have a fantastic business model. It's in a nice industry, great margins and good cashflow. Everything from a financial picture looks great, but then we started talking some more and I find out that 50%-plus of your business is from this one client. In those situations, the way a mentor of mine phrased it was, those are wonderful businesses to own, not wonderful businesses to buy. You built a special relationship with a client that you've worked with them and they've grown and scaled over the years and you've scaled with them but they still remain a large portion of your revenue. As a buyer, that gives me a bit of a pause and makes it harder to pay you a great value for the business because there's a lot more risk for me as the buyer because as I don't have that relationship. If something was to happen, all of a sudden, your business doesn't look the same as it does before with gaping hole in the income statement. When you're talking to these various business owners, do you think that they're surprised in many cases when you bring up client concentration? You're the CEO, the chief salesman and the marketing. You're everybody. Do you think they're surprised when they hear that? One part that I have found especially true with the relationship with clients and customers is folks will be proud of the relationships they've formed with people, and that does mean something. I don't want to say that it doesn't have value, but it's hard to take that good faith to the bank when there's concentration risks that isn't settled by a legal contract. It’s a good thing to have with the business but a lot of times that trust relationships are not enough to bridge the gap with a lender to get financing for a deal. It’s a lot of risk for a buyer. The owner may have a perception and he says, “Look at all my financials.” From the buyer's perspective, you go, “I'd have to discount this risk so much that you're not going to like the deal. You might like the eventual money if it all comes to pass but you're not going to the deal structure.” I'm a big proponent of keeping things simple. If you're only able to get the deal to work through a complex structure that both sides barely comprehend, it's not a good start. I'd rather keep it stupid simple, and a simple mixture of cash at close and either a seller's note or an earn-out for part of it, not layer upon layer of complexity where at the end of the day, there's a high likelihood that we'll have differing opinions about certain terms being met. That's not a good relationship starter and not a good point to begin with. I think about the timing of you starting to look for businesses and so on. COVID has just come through. It’s rippled through various companies. When you're looking at some of these companies, presumably they're going to be on some trajectory pre-COVID and they're on some other trajectory during COVID. When you have that discussion with the business owner, there are some businesses that have accelerated camping, but how do they do that? [caption id="attachment_5792" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Business Acquisition: If you’re only able to get the deal to work through a complex structure that both sides barely comprehend, then that’s not a good start.[/caption] It’s case by case. It also depends on how it's impacted them. For example, I’m based in San Diego here in California. The governor here shut everything down from March 2020 through April 2020. If you took a hit for that time...
26 minutes | 2 months ago
Preparing To Sell Your Business With John Warrillow
Not every entrepreneur goes into the process of putting their business on sale. But when the time comes that selling your business is necessary, whatever your purpose may be, you will have nothing to lose on your end if you prepare well. Demystifying the intricacies of business selling and acquisition with Bob Roark is John Warrillow, the CEO of Built To Sell. John discusses how to know the right time to sell a business, present it to potential buyers, and start a healthy bidding war. He also goes deep into the most critical responsibilities business owners must take on when delving into such a transaction, from breaking the news to your employees to treading carefully when signing a no-shop clause.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/UtLDWtUfbrE[/embed]Preparing To Sell Your Business With John WarrillowEvery business owner will exit their business at some point. If you want to learn how to create value, understand what makes your business attractive to a buyer, and then how to negotiate the sale of your businesses, where John says, “Punch above your weight with that buyer.” You're going to improve your skill stack on this episode with John Warrillow. He's the best-selling author of Built to Sell, top ten Forbes ranked podcast host on Built to Sell Radio, and CEO of The Value Builder System. He has started an excellent four companies. You would agree it's safe to say a couple of things at a minimum. John is a subject matter expert and an advocate for business owners on creating value in their business, maximizing the return on their legacy. He's one busy guy. John, welcome to the show.It's good to be here, Bob.Thank you for taking the time. John, I've read your previous books and I bought additional copies to share with business owners. I’ve got it dog-eared and worn out. One of your books, The Art of Selling Your Business, is an important book. It's a must-have investment for every business owner. I have to ask, being as busy as you are, why this book and why now?It's funny you mentioned the podcast I do. I've done something like 300 episodes and what I've come to learn is that there are cadres, a small cohort of entrepreneurs, who seem to get much better offers when they go to sell their business than the prevailing industry benchmark. It got me curious about, “What is it that the small group is doing? What do they know that others don't? What are the secrets?” Independent of what industry you're in or what the mechanics of your business is. It seems like there was something they were thinking and doing differently. I tried to distill that down into some lessons and some secrets, and that's what inspired me to write the book.You're doing field research. You're talking to business owners every week on Built to Sell Radio. If you don't have your finger on the pulse of the business owner, no one else does. On the selling trends for business owners that were hit in a difficult patch during the COVID pandemic, what do you see the trends doing here during this period of time and post-pandemic?There are two big things that we've seen. We've done some research where we looked at people that complete the Value Builder questionnaire, which is our intake questionnaire for people who use the system prior to the announcement of the pandemic in March of 2020 and the next eight months during the pandemic. Two big things popped. One is that the pandemic is causing business owners to want to sell sooner. They moved up their sales by 20%.Number two is their appetite to do a family transition. Passing their business down to their kids has dropped through the floor. In lieu, they are now planning to sell their business to a third party. We could riff on why that is. My guess is it's probably the stress of the pandemic that has left owners wounded and not wanting to pass that stress on to their kids. They're like, “I want out and I want to sell it to somebody other than my kids.”[caption id="attachment_5737" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Selling Your Business: During the pandemic, more business owners sold sooner and refused to pass it down to their children.[/caption] It's funny. I've had a number of those conversations as well, particularly the business owners that made it through ‘08 and ‘09 and recovered and back. They go, “Really? I'm getting another once in a lifetime of it in ten years. How many of these can I survive?” For that business owner, how do they know when it's the right time to sell? There's a qualitative way to answer that question, which is probably the opposite of when you think it's the right time to sell. The right time to sell is when you're on the way up, not the way down. I did a podcast before this. It was with an entrepreneur who built a company. He was on the way up and had an offer from News Corp, Owned and founded by Rupert Murdoch, and shunned it. He said, “No, we're going to go grow and build.” Ultimately, he rode over the top and raised $10 million. He didn't build the company that he thought he was going to build and sold it in a fire sale for $1 million.He and the shareholders got virtually nothing from the deal. It's a very common instance when we ride it over the top. That's a qualitative way of thinking about it. Probably the best time to sell is when you least feel like it's a good time. There's also an objective way to answer this question, and that is when you hit the freedom point. The freedom point is when the sale of your company after tax and after paying commissions and so forth would garner enough money for you to live happily, successfully for the rest of your life.People say, “How do I calculate that?” Take how much income you want and multiply it by 33. That implies a 3% withdrawal rate. Once your business reaches that amount of money, the question you need that answer is, “Am I prepared to give up financial freedom in return for the next tranche of growth?” The next zero on your top-line revenue line isn't necessarily going to change your lifestyle at all fundamentally. When you reach that point, it's worth saying, “Am I willing to gamble that?” It's like the blackjack player puts all the chips on the table.As a business owner, if you own a concentrated position in your company and it's a big part of your net worth, you're effectively gambling that freedom every time you wake up in the morning. I know there are lots of reasons to build a business. It can be to create something that is much larger than yourself. That's an admirable goal. It's worth asking yourself the question once you crest the freedom point, “Am I willing to make that trade-off again?”The answer for more owners is, “No, I've had enough.” For that business owner who’s negotiating, like Rupert Murdoch, how do you gain leverage as a smaller business owner when you're working with an industry giant?You want multiple offers. You want competitive tension and multiple people buying your business. What I found is that a lot of people get enamored with or fall in love with the idea of selling to a strategic like a News Corp of Rupert Murdoch if you're a media company. The challenge we’ve fallen head over heels in love with the idea of selling to one type of buyer is that you limit the universe of potential acquirers. It's the opposite of what you want. You want a lot of potential acquirers because that's going to guarantee or at least maximize the odds that you can get multiple offers, and multiple offers is what allows you to punch above your weight.[bctt tweet="The right time to sell is when you're on the way up, not down." username=""]There are three types of buyers and I would in the shoes of an entrepreneur, be open to all three. There's an individual investor who comes in and wants to buy a job effectively. There's a private equity group. It’s common these days for small and mid-sized businesses to be bought by private equity groups, and then there are the strategic acquirers. If you can remain open to all three, in a funny way, it gives you more leverage to sell to the person you want to sell to because you've got competitive offers. If you only got one offer, it's hard to punch above your weight.If you did a comparison matrix, if you had three offers from the three types of buyers, you could compare and contrast. If you have one, that does disallow the ability to compare and contrast. For the owners that are interested in selling without looking desperate, how do they let potential buyers know that they're coming to market?There's the magic in the word partnership. You can approach a potential acquirer about a partnership. Most acquirers will see through that language as, “This might be an interesting strategic partnership or potentially an acquisition,” but it gives you plausible deniability. It gives you the ability to say, “That's not what I meant. I genuinely meant a partnership.” If you look at all of the stories that I've done for Built to Sell Radio, a lot of them starts with the relationship and begin with a partnership.One that comes to mind immediately is Stephanie Breedlove. She built a wonderful little payroll company with $9 million in revenue when she did a marketing partnership with Care.com, which is like Angie's List of care providers. She does marketing and sharing content, and ultimately, that transcends into a strategic conversation. The fact that they had a pre-existing relationship allowed Stephanie to know a little bit more about Care.com.Care.com had 7 million subscribers and Stephanie had just 10,000 customers. She made the case that, “If 1% of your 7 million subscribers buy my payroll service, that's 70,000 customers. It's a business seven times the size of mine.” Long story short, Stephanie sold her $9 million payroll company for $54 million. It's an unbelievable exit. It's so outlandish. The valuation is out of this world, but it started with the partnership conversation.You get a free look or a de-risk look at how they behave when we're working together as a partner. That's a great idea.We often think of acquisitions happening from these events where people don't know each other. When in actual fact, in most cases, the acquirer knows the person that they're acquiring.[caption id="attachment_5738" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Selling Your Business: Strategically, owners must wait until the deal is signed before breaking the news about selling to their people.[/caption] Take some of the mystery out of that mess for sure. For the business owner thinking about selling, how do they break that news to their employees?That is a tough one. It's one of the instances where what is morally right is strategically wrong. What is morally right and feels natural for most business owners is to tell their employees they're thinking of putting their business on the market and tell them they've got an offer. The problem with that is the moment you tell employees what they are going to do, they're going to brush up their LinkedIn profile or resume and they're going to start sending it off to people in the industry. Quickly, the word is going to travel that you're for sale and that can undermine the value of your company and your negotiating leverage.It's the right thing to do morally and it's the wrong thing to do strategically. Strategically, you want to wait until the deal is signed. There are a couple of people on your team you'll probably need to consummate a deal. A senior management team, for example. If you have one, they're going to need to know. You're going to want to put an incentive in place for them to help you get it over the line and as well keep it confidential, but this can be very emotional.I talked about in the book. There's a woman who built a nice business with 60 employees. When she went down to tell her employees she had sold, she broke down in tears and sobbed uncontrollably in front of her entire team. Partly because of the stress of selling her company, but partly because of the guilt that she felt in having the secret from the people that she owed so much to. One of those uncomfortable truths about selling a company is you've got to keep it confidential and it feels terrible.The unsaid commentary is if you're getting older in life, your late 60s or late 70s, the employees know. Unless you're going to live as old as Moses, they know you're going to sell at some point. Going back to that one comment where you were talking about a bidding war. The business owner’s reading goes, “I want to do a bidding war. How do I create a bidding war for my company?” Any thoughts?This is a who, not a how question. Dan Sullivan wrote a book called Who Not How. It's a great book. You should pick it up. It says that most of us as entrepreneurs think problems are how problems. Meaning, how do I find multiple bidders for my company? How do I go about doing that? In fact, it's a who problem. You need to find an intermediary, an M&A professional to take your company to market to create competitive tension.In many cases, they have a Rolodex of private equity groups that they can reach out to. They know the strategics in your place if they're an industry expert, and that's their job. That's why they make as much money as they do is to create competitive tension. Instead of trying to do it yourself, it's a bit of a fool's errand. I interviewed a guy on the show and put him in the book. Arik Levy was his name. He built a company called Luxer One. It's an amazing business. They put lockers into Manhattan apartments where people buy online and can get their stuff delivered.[bctt tweet="The next zero on your top-line revenue isn't necessarily going to change your lifestyle fundamentally." username=""]Levy goes to raise money thinking it's a DIY job. He's thinking, “How do I raise money? How do I sell part of my business?” He goes down to Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley. After dozens of meetings, he can't get to any of the partners at the VC firms. He's meeting with junior associates and people right out of MBA school. He leaves Silicon Valley, puts his tail between his legs, and he's got nothing to show for his attempt to sell his business.A few months later, he gets an email from a guy in one of the buildings that he's put his lockers in named Trip Wolfe and he says, “I love what you've done. I believe in your company. If you ever want to sell or raise money, let me know.” Trip is an M&A professional. Arik calls him up and says, “I want to raise money.” Trip goes out and gets seven offers and five of which are acquisition offers. Levy sells his company to a public business. There's a science to selling a company and there's an art to it. The science is done and known by the M&A professional, so just hire one. They're worth their weight.It's funny, for many of the entrepreneurs, they're so steeped in, “I did it. I built it. I grew it. I understand it. Therefore, I can translate all those skills to selling it.” The emotional investment in that process and the lack of expertise, maybe the first and only time they sell their company. The money spent on a professional is a good investment, in my opinion. It’s interesting. One of the specific things talking with the client, what does that client or owner do when you have a potential buyer who wants them to sign a no-shop clause? What do you do?A no-shop clause is almost always part of a letter of intent. A letter of intent is like an engagement letter or an engagement proposal. You're not married. Most LOIs or Letters of Intent are not binding, but they are a strong indication that you're engaged. Part of that engagement like an engagement in life is you agree not to see other people. On a no-shop clause, you agree not to negotiate with anybody else. When you sign a no-shop clause, your negotiating leverage swings heavily away from you in favor of the buyer. Once that LOI is signed, the buyer has leverage over you. Oftentimes, they'll use that leverage to reach trade and try to eke out better terms because they know you're a bit compromised.The key before you sign a no-shop clause is to ensure all of the material deal points that you believe are important are negotiated upfront rather than waiting until the end of the line. The story in the book about a guy who signed a letter of intent with some nebulous terms around what his employment would be and what the reps and warranties were going to be, the things that are material to the deal. The acquire said, “We'll figure those out downstream. We'll work those out and do due diligence.” Of course, the deal fell apart because those things were not agreed to upfront. The moral of the story is to get everything that's material or important to you done and agreed to at the letter of intent stage because once you sign that no-shop clause, you lose a lot of leverage.That plays into the earnout issues that many people have. For a number of the business owners I've talked to where they're in an earnout situation, if you've given up control or it's not specific, the earnout is a risk issue for them.[caption id="attachment_5739" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Selling Your Business: When you sign a no-shop clause, your negotiating leverage swings heavily away from you and in favor of the buyer.[/caption] The number of stories I've written about and heard of a disaster earnout, one that comes to mind is a guy named Rod Drury. He started Xero, the competitor to QuickBooks. It's a big cloud-based software, counting platform, and billion-dollar company unicorn. Rod got the money to start Xero by building a company called AfterMail. AfterMail was around the time of Sarbanes–Oxley when all these big Fortune 500 companies had to archive their email and be able to access paper trails and...
34 minutes | 2 months ago
Navigating The Complex Medical Cannabis Industry With Nic Easley, Founder & CEO of 3C Consulting And Co-host Jaime Zawmon of TitanCEO
If there is one industry that can be tough to understand, especially if you are doing it legally, it would be the cannabis industry. Those who are in the medical cannabis business know how it can be challenging to understand the regulatory risks and compliance, to name a few. Stepping right in to help businesses and investors navigate this complex and new industry, Nic Easley founded 3C Consulting, LLC. He joins Bob Roark and Jaime Zawmon of Titan CEO this episode to share with us what goes on behind the scenes of this business as CEO, highlighting what characteristics will make one a Titan of Industry. Nic then gives some advice about leading and building a great business, no matter what industry.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/9iEQcvXuA7A[/embed]Navigating The Complex Medical Cannabis Industry With Nic Easley, Founder & CEO of 3C Consulting And Co-host Jaime Zawmon of TitanCEOIn this episode, we have our special cohost Jaime Zawmon. She is the Founder and President of Titan CEO and our guest is Nic Easley. He's the Founder and CEO of 3C Consulting and he’s the Managing Director of Multiverse Capital. Jaime, Nic, welcome.Thanks for making the time.We were privileged by you taking the time and sharing your experience and wisdom with us. With that being said, if you would, tell us about your business and who you serve.I've been in the legal cannabis industry for many years. Originally, I was an Air Force Linguist and I speak a few languages. I was from the farm county Wisconsin. After the military, I got hurt after about four years and came to Colorado. Medical cannabis was legal in 2006 or 2007 and I got my first medical card. I saw how people were growing and was disgusted by pesticides and indoor lights which is very unsustainable, non-environmental and not safe for patients. I started my business many years ago to help the cannabis industry form in a responsible way.As you see it now being over a $30 billion industry, which is a drop in the bucket for where this would go. It was to help companies understand the regulatory risks and compliance of navigating this brand-new industry that is a medical product. It's an adult-use product, but then also getting into the hemp industry and making papers, plastics and fibers. Helping businesses and investors navigate this complex and new industry is how we established ourselves.What are the typical issues that a client you're serving now has that you were able to solve their problems? I'm trying to paint a picture in the reader's mind of what's your clients and who your clients are?One of the challenges with cannabis is that it's federally illegal and each state has come up with its own medical or adult-use program. At the end of 2020, we have sixteen adult-use states where 21 and older consumption and possession is legal and we have 47 states with some medical laws on their books. About 37 of those are also having medical sales. In a normal business, you're like, “I want to open a gas station or a restaurant,” you would have that state's Department of Health to deal with. When it comes to cannabis, each program is different. I'm working on applications right now in the State of Georgia. Eleven million people are giving six licenses for cultivation for eleven million-person marketplace. It can be competitive.How does a client build a team, put their financial models together and start to raise capital? Put together thousands of pages of voluminous application content about the standards of DEA cages and vaults that they might need or video recording or production plants based on the Georgia Department of Agriculture requirements. We help people that want to get into a new market and not just domestic. We've done licensed work in nineteen countries. I own and operate cannabis businesses in Portugal, Denmark, Germany, South Africa, Colombia, Uruguay and Canada, to name a few.[bctt tweet="If you're going for too much margin, your competition is going to find that unique secret sauce." username=""]Each one of those has their own regulatory requirements that if they don't have over a decade of experience, how do they solve those problems, raise capital or have some unique advantage because you might've seen in some of your states. You're driving around, you might see sticky buds or something that's very cliché, like a green cross or flashing pot leafs. We're a professional industry and trying to make this a bonafide industry for the United States and internationally. To help clients come up with a new strategy is to not repeat the same past mistakes of California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado, even though this is where we started. We will never allow a client to repeat past mistakes that we saw other groups do in other markets.It's refreshing listening to you speak about the wealth of knowledge in this industry which is one of the reasons why you were recognized as a 2020 Titan 100. For the readers, I have a copy of the 2020 Titan 100 book which recognizes Colorado's Top 100 CEOs and C-level executives, 100 Titans of industry, which Nic is a Titan in the cannabis world. I have to ask you, Nic, and I ask all of the Titans that we interview in this show, what characteristics do you believe it takes to be considered a Titan of industry?There are always millions of problems in business. I'm a biologist and a military linguist. I didn't have an MBA, I didn't have normal business training, but I looked at things from ecological lens systems. Business owners are always going to face internal problems, external problems, threats, competition and liabilities. If you're going to be at the tip of the spear of your game, it's dealing with problems before they start and your planning and understanding what's unique about what you do as a business or a business leader and how to maintain that culture. Especially during COVID times, I can't go into an office and have a big motivational presentation and give everybody a gift and motivate people. It's like, how do you adapt and change the situations as they come up?It's still federally illegal what we do and risky. We are trying to navigate this and not having normal banking. We have to solve every single problem from the ground up that’s never been solved before. One of the biggest things is innovation and perseverance to where someone might say, “It's 40 hours a week.” I'm like, “That's cute. I remember my first part-time job.” It’s that delicate balance. Being a single veteran, how to manage that startup mentality or business mentality, home and work-life balance and knowing that if it's a business and revenue that you're interested in, that's not going to motivate you than if it's mission-driven.I'm a disabled vet. I know medical cannabis helped me to get off of eleven different types of prescriptions many years ago. I owe my life to this plant. That's why I'm able to run my company in such an aggressive way that this isn't about profitability and KPIs. It's how do we deliver quality medicine that's sustainable, affordable and set a new example for what industry is going to be. You could think of alcohol. What alcohol has done to our culture versus cannabis? With this being legalized, how to not just monetize on the opportunity? It's not just an opportunity, it's a responsibility.For business leaders to find that why. Why do they do what they do? It's not to sell more soap, houses, or build bigger buildings but your buildings are more energy-efficient, going to be better for design or healthier environments for people to live better lives. That's what your business needs to do. If you forget that as a business leader, your customers and the regulators are going to see that. If you're going for too much margin, your competition is going to find that unique secret sauce. You always have to be innovative. The biggest sin in business is getting complacent and thinking, “I'm at the tip of my game, everything is going well. We're winning in all these states. We keep doing better.”We have to constantly innovate and stay on top of that to avoid competitors taking us out, becoming mundane, forgetting our mission or not focused. That's the main thing I remember, remind my staff, and our customers every day like, “We get to do this once.” Normal industries have been established for hundreds of years like real estate. They're not making any more real estate. This new world is ours for taking. If we don't do it right, there are bad people out there that might establish this industry irresponsibly. You might've heard about the vape crisis for electronic cigarettes and cannabis.Some of those were dangerous with pesticides. As soon as we hear things like that, we start to work with regulators and think, “How do we make this safe so it doesn't have bad credibility?” I'm coming from many years of federal prohibition. We have a big job on our unions but we can never get complacent and forget why we do what we do to make the world a better place with our business, for our customers, and for the planet that supports this plant that we grow and caretake.[caption id="attachment_5686" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Medical Cannabis Industry: To help clients come up with a new strategy is to not repeat the same past mistakes of California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado.[/caption] Those are profound words and spoken like a true Titan. Thank you for sharing your why with us.As you were talking and I was thinking about your path from there to here, Biology degree. I'm a tacked Intel guy, you're a linguist, we both have an Intel background. I only speak Southern so I never picked up a second language. I'm handicapped for sure. In any case, how did you get from the farm to where you are now?I'm from Central Wisconsin which is farm country all around it. I was in FFA, Future Farmers for America. I was the one not dairy kid. I was all about vegetables. I was homeschooled by a botanist for a few years in middle school. He had a big native American background, honoring medicinal plants and the space for them. Going through high school, as a raft guide down in Tennessee and North Carolina in the summertime during high school, I still never understood how my parents allowed me to go from Wisconsin to live with a bunch of college kids in the woods in Tennessee that developed a big love for whitewater and adventure. The military approached me. I was going to go to a normal college but they said, “You have a high aptitude to learn languages. How many do you speak?”I'm like, “That's a big old zero.” Being eighteen, I went into the military, I figured instead of my parents using all their savings to send me to college, I would do the right thing and learn some skillsets, personal development and go into the military. Having white level security clearance working on high level, top-secret type projects with linguistics and international relations. I learned early on that professionalism goes a long way, but in getting hurt and then having the VA to provide medications after I'd got out, I thought that was the right thing to do. When I got to Colorado, medical cannabis was legal and I came out to be a ski bum in Crested Butte back in 2006. I did a winter out here. I learned about cannabis and tried that. I slept wonderfully for the first time in years.I didn't have a lot of pain from some of my injuries. I wanted to see how people grew up. When I saw that, it was disgusting to think about how we were utilizing this plant and cannabis is dioecious. There are a male and a female. The female unpollinated flowers which is important but it was being grown with such dangerous pesticides. There was no research and no understanding for me to have got off of those medications and realized there's a profound medical opportunity here in hemp, being the Great Dane of our species. Medical cannabis is the little poodle. They're both dogs. We looked into ways that how I could, as a business owner, not only make a living but make an impact.After getting hurt in the military and then I hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, it was getting my physical body working better. During those six months, I started to get a profound reason of we're a part of a biological system and we have a role in this. I started thinking about how businesses have roles in this and how I could use business to make the impact I wanted other than writing a book or teaching a few growers in Colorado.By 2010, when we were doing some of the first greenhouses in Colorado using natural sunlight like echinacea farms that I'd worked on as a kid or tomatoes. I was seeing the environmental impact being about 1/6 of what it was to do this indoors and how we could cultivate cannabis organically, sustainably, and provide medicine and make it a lot cheaper, more accessible for people. All of the painful, bad things on my path in the military of getting hurt that led me into a medicinal plant and then led me to a state of Colorado which was more legal. We had the first legal medical program ever that was commercialized where you could purchase it, not just donations like California originally.In 2014, to be one of the first business owners to own an adult-use dispensary. We've had six years of recreational cannabis in Colorado. To take that experience than to these other states to where people see the green rush but they don't know how to do this and they'll often repeat those same mistakes in the past. All the things that had happened to me allowed me to see the industry and where it was going and know that one way or another, we didn't know how fast it was going to take. 2020 has five new states on my mind.[bctt tweet="The biggest sin in business is getting complacent." username=""]I've worked with the United Nations as a voting member for the opioid crisis for about 2.5 years as an advisor and to see the United Nations finally remove cannabis from Schedule IV, which was the same as heroin, no medicinal benefit. On an international level to be changing policies on the pesticide workgroup in Colorado with their Department of Ag all the way to the highest levels of government with the United Nations and to think of how some allowed me to change international drug policy. It's a responsibility now to help this industry grow and guide because there's already multibillion-dollar Canadian public companies in this. They all thought they'd produce cannabis in Canada which is very cold compared to some of our farms in Colombia, where we're producing it for $0.7 to $.10 a gram compared to $1 to $1.50.What are the environmental implications of this that allowed us to see this and grow with this? Using my GI ability to get another degree in college at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, I was studying environmental sciences. I already had degrees from the military but I did an energy audit on the cannabis industry. People don't realize that 1 gram of a marijuana cigarette, like a joint to take over 22 pounds of coal to produce that gram was the sunlight.We can change this industry. We don't have to do it like high times taught us for years. That brought me from Wisconsin farm kid like FFA all the way to now to being a business executive, flying and working all over the world. I'm thankful for those things, enemies, or injuries in the past that led me to here because without it, I wouldn't be in this industry and it wouldn't be as safe as it is now from some of the things that we've learned and educated the regulators on.It's quite profound the impact that you've had in your industry. There are many things that we don't understand or think about. You're navigating new water with regulation and rules. You're paving the way for many and kudos to you for taking the stand to be someone who wants to set the standard for how things should be done because somebody has to step up. I appreciate your experience. In a typical business, we don't have a lot of these challenges with the fact of all these regulations. It's interesting you share about how you've navigated things. With that, I have to ask you. You've amassed quite a bit of knowledge and experience but if you could go back ten years per se of experience and offer the less experienced you some advice about leading or building what you have built now, what would you say to yourself?In a new industry or a new business, there's no road map. We always are guessing but I realized now there were a lot of resources out there for typical businesses and I committed that air of like, “We're busy, we have so much demand, we're growing fast and hiring. We'll fix some of this stuff later.” That idea as a business owner, we keep going fast and then we'll fix some of these problems later. Those problems get bigger and harder to fix later but it's easy to get entrenched. Imagine the pioneers crossing the prairies. If you keep going in the same path, those wagon wheel rust and get deeper and it's harder to change later or turn your course.I wish I could have said some of the things. I should have prioritized more on HR staffing, payroll, accountability, legal compliance, documentation of having a strong template because someone like myself being a public speaker, as you said, navigating the waters. I was a Grand Canyon River guide for years. What we do with clients is to help them navigate new places. We've been there before. Having been there before, I made sure that my clients never repeat some of those things. We now have new business checklists. “When you start a business, here are 37 things you need to do to get ahead of these problems.” I wish I could have taken some of my own advice but if I hadn't made some of those problems early on, I would have never known how important they were.When you have a key man or a key woman and that's mission-driven, one-to-one consulting or working with clients, it doesn't scale. It’s trying to figure out how early on it could have gone from one to many of templatizing certain offerings where if I'm going to have seven clients in Arizona at the same time, they all need to know the same thing. Instead of me and my project managers get on those calls, how could we make it more assessable for them to get this information, do the things that they need to do instead of having less limited client-by-client? That's what allowed us to scale a lot bigger years ago of going from one-to-one and one-to-many. How can you do one thing that's going to have a massive impact on massive clients and be repurposable instead of spending all the time to do the exact same thing for a client?That handholding is nice and personal touch but...
28 minutes | 2 months ago
Jason Ganahl, Founder Of G-Que BBQ With Cohost Jaime Zawmon, President Of Titan CEO
Honing your skills in a certain craft is best done through first-hand experience. In the case of Jason Ganahl, he was able to start his own barbeque restaurant by spending time as a judge and competitor in the biggest professional barbeque contests. Jason sits down with Bob Roark, joined by his cohost Jaime Zawmon, to share how he founded G-Que BBQ and his strategies in maintaining its success, particularly in keeping good connections with customers even beyond good food. He also shares how his business dealt with the changes caused by the pandemic and how he plans to address any future adjustments that may come.---Watch the podcast here:[embed]https://youtu.be/i62p_M84UOY[/embed]Jason Ganahl, Founder Of G-Que BBQ With Cohost Jaime Zawmon, President Of Titan CEOWe are joined by Jaime Zawmon, my cohost, President and Founder of Titan CEO. We also have Jason Ganahl, the Founder of GQue BBQ and the Maestro of Meat.Good day, Jaime and Bob.Tell us about GQue BBQ. Tell us about your business and who you serve. In GQue, we got several different taglines. One of them is “Colorado's Only Championship Barbecue Restaurant.” I started out as somebody who wanted to eat good barbecue and then I became a judge for a professional barbecue contest. I started competing in a professional barbecue contest and opened up a barbecue restaurant. We are the only barbecue restaurant in Colorado that won a professional barbecue contest.How does one get to be a judge? I'm thinking that's clever. It's great but you pack on the pounds being a judge. You eat pounds of food at a barbecue contest, which is great, I loved it. I was a judge many years ago. We have a lot of judges that are 65 or 70 years old. I can't imagine how they feel for 2 or 3 days after they judge a barbecue contest. Even now, if I eat a big barbecue meal, which is nowhere near the amount of meat that you would eat while you were judging a contest, I still feel it the next day. I'll get the barbecue burst the day after at lunch or whatever. I'd burp up smoke and a little bit of the meat. I can’t imagine what it is like for some of these judges. These judges will do it every single week too for 35, 40 weeks out of the year.I think about the travel and the schedule. For you, how did you take and apply what you learned from judging to start to influence what you were offering in your restaurant? I tell people all the time, judging lent itself to a lot of the success I had when I was competing. When you're competing, you're trying to impress just the judges and being a judge for 2.5 to 3 years, I got to learn the entries of how they were presented. I got to see how they tasted but more importantly, I got to think like a judge. There are different strategies involved when you turn food in July at a contest when it's 100 degrees outside. If you're in a humid area, not in Colorado because we don't have a lot of humidity, but you're going to have a different type of flavor profile. If it's fall, in October or September, judges prefer different types of food given the different environments, climates and places of the country you're in.[bctt tweet="When creating a restaurant menu, include food that will not offend any particular person." username=""]It's also important to think like a judge when you're turning in your barbecue at these contests. I think judges helped me in that regard, more than any other regard. I don't know if it helped out a whole lot. I guess it did when I created the menu for the restaurant, but more so, what helped me with the background in that when I created the menu for the restaurant was getting the feedback from the judges. I judged for about three years and then I competed for about five but then getting all the feedback from the judges for those five years, that gave me a good idea of what people liked. I don't want to dominate the conversation of what judges or people like but if you look at all the different senses, you’ve got salty, savory and sweet, the good target for a lot to chefs and not so much food competitors but it's important for food competitors too.You don't want to be too offensive in any one particular thing. If you're developing a strategy for winning a barbecue contest, you want to be considered very good across the board. Maybe that judge that prefers something that's overly sweet isn't going to think you're great but it's not going to be offensive to that person. They're going to still say, “That's good.” If you went down that sweet path and turned in something super sweet, the judge that likes sweet is going to be like, “This is the best ribs I ever had.” However, the contrarian to that is the judge that prefers something savory is going to be like, “That's too sweet. Get it out of here. One bite is plenty for me.” You’re hitting the fairway. You're being good to everybody getting something with a lot of balance with something unique to it but it's not going to be offensive to anybody. That is a good strategy for anybody out there creating a restaurant menu is to create food that's not going to offend any particular person.That is an interesting thought process spoken like a true Maestro of Meat. I have to ask you then, with the creativity of the name and the title, where did that come from? I don't know where Maestro of Meat came from. In the barbecue world, there are all kinds of silly monikers and names. I always thought Sultan was a cool name, and I had not seen anybody use Sultan of Swine. It's important not to copy somebody else. I remember coming up with Sultan of Swine first and seeing nobody used Sultan as a moniker. Somebody said, “Maestro of Meat,” one day. I'm like, “That's cool.” I had not thought of anybody using that. I took that on also too. It's important for me not to do what somebody else is doing and do something unique.I have to ask, Jason, and for those of you that are reading, Jason is recognized as one of our 2020 Titan 100, which recognizes Colorado's Top 100 CEOs and C-Level Executives. Jason was profiled in the book, which I have a copy of. I asked every single one of the Titans that come on to this show, in their opinion, what it takes characteristics to define a Titan in their own right? What do you believe? That's a subjective question. I don't know what the definition of a Titan would be but to me, when I think of a Titan, I think of an imposing character, somebody that can yield an influence, somebody that can yield a force. Somebody that can be bestowed their expertise upon a lot of different people. I think of that when I think of a Titan. However, to become a Titan is something different. I already know some of the people that also were in your group of 100. Everything that those people have that I know is passion, they might not necessarily be the smartest. They might not necessarily know the most but they're all passionate about what they do. In order for somebody to become a Titan, and I've got four kids and even one of my kids to be a Titan on the baseball field, they better be excited and passionate about being out there or they're never going to be somebody that can yield their influence over their other teammates on the baseball field.The description if you google a Titan, it comes from Greek mythology in which Titans were a race of god. By definition, it is a person of exceptional importance and reputation. They are people who are distinguished and reputable. I would agree wholeheartedly they exude incredible passion. I'm thinking Maestro of Meats, Sultan of Swine and Titan of Taste. I was thinking about you did something before barbecue. There's the thought, “I love this enough, I want to pursue this in a restaurant.” You then went from the restaurant to more than one location. If you would walk us down the path from pre-restaurant to what you're doing now. How did you get from there to here?I had a recruiting business. I worked for formerly Medtronic. It was Covidien, it was Tyco Healthcare. They've had a bunch of different spin-offs and mergers and acquisitions. The company I worked for was Nellcor Puritan Bennett, which was acquired by then Mallinckrodt, which was then acquired by Tyco. I started out as a sales rep for them and I had a variety of sales and marketing management positions with them and got moved around all over the country, which was great. I was going to get moved again to take on a different role and I had met my wife. This was years ago. I was probably about 30 or 29. I thought at some point, I wanted to get married and have kids. I can't keep bouncing around the place, I guess I could but that's not what I wanted to do, so I didn't take that next promotion. I decided to go off. I developed a lot of great relationships in the medical device community. I started a recruiting firm for pharmaceutical and medical device people. I recruited sales and marketing people for that industry. I did that during the week. On the weekends, I had nothing to do. I didn't have kids. I moved out here to Boulder. At that time, it was Covidien and our office was in Gunbarrel and I lived in Boulder. I'm not a barbecue snob. As long as it's not over the sauce, I enjoy it. I've always found barbecue that I like in the different cities that I lived in. When I moved out here, I couldn't necessarily find the place that would warrant a 45-minute drive over and over again. I would drive to it and it would be great the first time, I would go back a second time and I would miss the mark. I then go to the next place and it is the same thing. I would find a good barbecue but it was inconsistent. I went online to try to continue to find these places all out here in the Denver area. I found this group called the Kansas City Barbecue Society. I thought that it was interesting. I learned more about it and they put on these professional barbecue contests all over the country. I was like, “Professional barbecue contest.” I'm naturally a competitive guy, so it had my interest.I found that they had one in Frisco, Colorado and it was coming up. I marked it on my calendar and I went up there. I was immediately intoxicated by the aromas of smoke in the air. Everybody was walking around with the cold beer, music playing in the background and the atmosphere of Frisco, Colorado. I was like, “These are my kind of people right here.” I learned more about them. I have a couple of vivid memories from that day even years ago. One, I learned about the judging process that takes place and what it takes to become a judge. Two, I remember this one team, I went over to him and he was serving ribs. He's like, “Would you like to try our rib? This isn't what I'm selling everybody. This is one that I turned in at a contest.”We talked earlier about the description of a Titan. I tried this guy’s food but I saw this giant logo in the back of them. He was a confident man. He had music in the background. He was drinking a beer and he's like “Here, try my rib.” He was excited for me to try his rib. I took a bite of it out. I was like, “That's the best rib I've ever had in my life,” hands down, bar none. I then looked at the results. The results came out and he was third from last in ribs. At that moment, I was intimidated thinking, “These may be my people but I don't stand a chance like cooking food and competing on the level that these people are competing at.” That was my first foray into it. That led me because of my inability to compete at that level. I thought, “I've got to learn more about this. I’ve got to figure out how to eat more food like this because it tasted good.” I became a judge and I started judging a barbecue contest. I judged for 2 or 3 years before I started competing.The thing that strikes me about that is field research. I think about how many people build a business first off by judging whatever the business does, and then spending X number of years competing to take and learn the ins and outs of what's going on. I think it's remarkable that the field research led you to where you are now. For the people that are reading, there are tons of lessons in doing your homework to understand your market. That’s impressive.[bctt tweet="There are tons of lessons in doing your homework in understanding your market." username=""]I'll piggyback that. I'll give you a real-life example now in the COVID world. I remember when we opened our first restaurant up and we had the five-year anniversary back in November 2020. That's up in Westminster. For people that are familiar with the Denver area, it’s 120th & Sheridan, and there’s Chipotle and Einstein Bros. Bagels. There's a bunch of restaurants around that area. We figured out, “I had to make or sell this much barbecue in order to make this much money to pay back everything you need to pay back and to make it all worthwhile.” I remember for two weeks going around and sitting in these different places at lunchtime, counting the number of people coming through and then making an estimate, “These are the number of people that go to this place. These are the number of people that go to that place. How many do we think we can get to our place?” We're looking to do our third location, and with COVID being the way COVID is, I can't do that now. It's difficult for me to do the “field research” to get a good idea of what we can draw based on what the neighboring places draw. They are calling cops. You can get cops the amount that the places are selling. A perfect example is one of the places we're looking at, the place right next to it is Bar Louie. I don't know how much of it is alcohol or food. I do know how many people walk in the door and what the average person can spend, I can count that. That equates better for me as a number that I can handle more like, “At lunchtime, I know I can get 75 people in here. They're going to spend this amount.” That helps me much more than knowing, “This restaurant does $3 million or whatever in sales.” It's not as good of comparison for me.I love that you've done research and it's such a good application here. Your business in particular is definitely impacted by COVID. How have you guys continued to navigate the landscape? What are you doing and how are you continuing to navigate things?The biggest thing I've noticed is drive-thrus. Places with drive-thrus are killing it. I had to go run an errand at 8:30 on a Sunday night, and there’s a Freddy's and a Taco Bell right in the corner. The Freddy's had about twelve deep and the Taco Bell had about eight deep. Drive-thru restaurants are doing fantastic now. People that don't have drive-thrus, the people have to get out of their car, they have to go inside, touching more things. They're exposed to more people. Those are the places that are having a hard time. We've always been lucky and that barbecue is something that holds well. I don't know the number on this but it is probably the most consumed niche type of food off-premise.More people consume barbecue at their workplace at home. They get it to go, they do caterings and it's not consumed in an actual restaurant. We already read a little bit of an advantage in regards to that. We already had a third-party delivery set up. We had three different companies: DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber. We've since added Postmates to that. A lot of this consumption of food when it's off-premise, so much of it comes down to the packaging. Is it going to hold the food well? Is it going to prevent the food from slipping around in the bags? Are the people going to get it the way they would expect it? Meaning, is it not in one bag? Is it not in another one? It’s because much of our food is consumed offsite already, we were already set up to excel in an environment like this. We needed to figure out then how we can get more people to come to our place. We weren't scrambling to set up third-party deliveries. We weren't scrambling to set up good packaging. We offered an incentive to order online. They wouldn't have to talk to anybody, they wouldn't have to do anything. They could come in, grab their food and then out they go. It was a bit of an adjustment to get people aware that, “We're offering a discount to come in and eat our food.” It's 100% survival. We're not making any significant money at all in 2020. It's like, “Let's keep everybody employed. Let's keep our lights on. Let's talk this year up to the year 2020 but let's not lose anything. Let's not go backward.” We've been able to do that. It's a strong testament to your leadership. You talked a lot about things that pertain to attention to details like the packaging for example, which quite frankly, I wouldn't even think of. Congratulations to you as you've navigated and led through this time. Thank you. We joke around about it in our managers' meetings. It's like, “What next? We're good.” Everything after this is going to be not easy. I don't want to say easy because nothing's easy, no matter what you do but everything that we've all dealt with in 2020, we weren't prepared for it. We had to adapt. We had to overcome it. I feel like as an organization, at least the leaders in our organization, we're much more prepared to adapt and overcome things as they come up. The typical issues that we would have as restaurant leaders are going to seem rather insignificant to all the things we've dealt with over the months. We're way better equipped now to adapt and overcome as these things come up.Before I forget, for the people that are going, “You've done it now, I want some barbecue,” how do people find you on social media?@GQueBBQ, that's our handle for Instagram and Facebook. If you're a barbecuer at home and looking for some tips on how to barbecue, I've got a YouTube channel. That's also GQueBBQ. Here in Denver, probably going to our website, you can order online. You can use promo code, Community, and take that 15% off that I was talking about. We'll have the food in a bag with your name on it. You walk right in and you'll see DoorDash,
24 minutes | 3 months ago
Leaving A Legacy Through Home Equity With Nicole Rueth, Producing Branch Manager, The Rueth Team, Fairway Mortgage, And Co-Host Jaime Zawmon, President of Titan CEO
There are many paths toward financial independence. But which can take you to it faster? Nicole Rueth, the Producing Branch Manager of The Rueth Team, believes it is in using home equity. In this episode, she joins Bob Roark and Jaime Zawmon of Titan CEO to tell us why that is so and how she helps people get to them and capitalize on their biggest asset and liability. Featured as one of the 2020 Titan 100, Nicole then shares what characteristics make a Titan of Industry and how you can build a company with the best version of yourself—from habits and rituals to mindset. Join today’s conversation as Nicole takes you into her journey of leaving a legacy and helping people.---Watch the podcast here:[embed]https://youtu.be/nwB-UwBCUZU[/embed]Leaving A Legacy Through Home Equity With Nicole Rueth, Producing Branch Manager, The Rueth Team, Fairway Mortgage, And Co-Host Jaime Zawmon, President of Titan CEOWe have our co-host Jaime Zawmon. She is the Founder and President of Titan CEO. Our guest is Nicole Rueth. She is the Producing Branch Manager of The Rueth Team at Fairway Mortgage. Thank you for taking the time.I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you for having me.Nicole, if you would tell us about your business and who you serve?As a lender, I serve people who own homes and want to refinance or buy homes but that's 1/100 of what we do. What my team does and what differentiates us in the market is the fact that we come alongside our clients to evaluate what is the swiftest way to get them towards independence financially using home equity. How do they capitalize on appreciation, principal reduction and rental income? How do they capitalize on what is the biggest asset and liability for most people? We solve the problem of how to finance that first purchase, that move up purchase and that investment property that's going to help take care of your family.When you first started on this path, was that your service offering?I first started as most lenders do dropping off candy at real estate offices, trying to connect with a divorce attorney, and trying to figure out who the financial planner that I was going to get referrals from. I operated it small and I was thinking about how do I get the next deal in my pipeline? It was a couple of years later when I started down this path of creating a team. I come from Corporate America so I manage large scale projects. This is back in the day of Andersen Consulting, now they're Accenture. I knew how to develop teams, strategies or solutions. I had no idea how to track that in mortgage lending.When I got out of the corporate business to have three amazing kids who are now young adults and then got back into a job, which that's all I thought it was. It happened to be in lending but I was trying to originate a loan. I started figuring out that I could originate more loans if I had people beside me that believed the same thing and then I got my first investment property. I had somebody come alongside me that cared enough to spend the time to teach me about what that meant because I didn't know, even though I was in the business.I started teaching other people. I had to pay it forward because I was generously given and I had to give it all away. As I'm giving it away, people want some of that and they're like, “I don't know how to build wealth.” Not real wealth where you invest in the stock market and right now that might be going well but next year it might not be. “How do you create that stability in that foundation?” It was that incremental change that somehow you don't even see coming until it's starting to build on itself and then it does. You realize that you want to start to build something that you're proud of, you can leave a legacy and you're impacting other lives. That's the cool part. I started focusing on building a team and that's what I have. I have fifteen amazing people that work with me, like me, for me and for the clients.[bctt tweet="A Titan can't be afraid to fail. A Titan has the need to build." username=""]Was there a catalyst that took you from, “I want to be able to do another loan,” to this vision that you started pursuing?There was. The catalyst was a gentle older man. Back then before Meetups and before you use Facebook for this, you had an investment breakfast club, where you went to a hotel and into one of their conference rooms. It was one of those where I met this gentleman where I was going to pick up realtors. I was going to build my business to generate another loan. He was going to find people as clients and we happen to bump into each other. I think he won. I ended up buying a fourplex from him. My first ever investment where I jumped all the way in. I still own that fourplex. I bought it for $400,000 in Arvada. It's worth almost $1 million. It was a phenomenal opportunity that I would never have even thought of had he not walked beside me. For the months, it took me to buy that thing because I wanted to say no. I did say no a lot of times but he taught, he leaned in and helped me through the whole thing.You've been incredibly open to the possibilities and things that present themselves to you in your life. For those of you that are reading who are already captivated by your story, Nicole is one of the 2020 Titan 100 recognized here in the Colorado Metropolitan Area. I'm holding up a copy of the Titan 100 book in which she was recognized. As an intro to how we get started with this show, I always love to ask all of the Titans that we interview in the series, what characteristics that they believe it takes to be considered a Titan of Industry? I'd love to get your take on it.A Titan can't be afraid to fail. A Titan has the need to build. I don't want to build because I get paid money to do it. I build because I have to provide an experience for my team and my clients. I have to continue to build that next thing and continue to grow the services that we offer to our clients and our referral partners. A Titan doesn't believe in sitting still and wants to leave the place a better place than they found it.There was the before and after. Before the lending business, what you did and understand the family transition and then going out, back into the workforce. If you would walk us down the path of what you were doing before you got into the Fairway Mortgage world. What did you do in Corporate America? There was that point where you decided to leave Corporate America and there was that transition when you went to Fairway.At first, I started in technology. I was programming. I went into change management helping those executive sponsorship level and the workforce level in identifying and capitalizing on the change of technology on how do you implement it from a workforce perspective and efficiencies. I did that and it took me traveling and working a lot. Eventually, I had my first baby, my second and I was pregnant with our third. We decided we couldn't work like that anymore and so I hung out with the kids for a while until I called up a friend of mine. I said, “I need a job. I don't want a career because I don't want to work that much. I need to get off the floor and have adult interaction.”He happened to be in mortgage lending and that's when I entered into the broker world. This is thirteen years before Fairway. I landed in the mortgage world looking for a job, not realizing that wherever I went, there I was. I worked that hard. I don't care what my job was. I just did. I ended up working all those hours anyway but for now, it was building something. I started in operations and mortgage lending because that was my vein. I did that for 8 to 9 years. I went over to originating in the sales side with the same passion that I had for building the business. I love that part too. I started building financial futures for my clients. The transition was a little wonky in the sense that there's a lot of backstory to that one but once I leaped over, I never looked back. At that point, it was always working with the clients.It sounds that success is in your DNA and it's a matter of where you point yourself in the direction of where you want to go and you continue to find a way to be successful in that discipline, which is nice. I know that many women can relate to your experience with the grind and then what happens when children enter into the picture and how do you balance both. It's incredibly difficult for many women. It's great that you were able to take the time to be with them and grow with them and then say, “I'm ready to go back and start dominating again,” which is essentially what you did and it was awesome. I have to ask you, if you could go back twenty years plus of experience that you've had and offer the less experience version of yourself, some advice about building a company or to shape or define the experience that you would love to have many years ago, what would that be? What would that look like?[caption id="attachment_5678" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Leaving A Legacy: Start to build something that you're proud of, and you can leave a legacy and impact other lives.[/caption] I'll say two things. First, I'll start on the personal and then on the work side. On the personal side, my husband and I had some turbulence in our marriage. We figured out who we were as parents, working adults, and a married couple. We've been married for a long time but it wasn't always easy. It was challenging trying to figure out our roles and who we were. If I could tell myself back then, I would tell myself to be patient with the growth that we were both going to grow differently, sometimes together and apart. That meant that we were going to land exactly where we were supposed to be. We had to give each other a lot of grace and forgiveness. Regretfully, we went through some turbulent times where we didn't understand that.Now, he's my partner. He works with me on my team and he’s an incredible asset. He helped raise the kids. He was that primary caregiver when I was working all the time, I kept landing in front of myself. I kept figuring out that wherever I went, there it was and I kept working as hard as I always did. I wish I would have learned that lesson a little sooner. We would have had some more happy times than we did along the way. As a business person, I would say, “Allow yourself to fail and promise yourself to give it all away.” We give everything away. I don't track dollars, not even a little. My husband tracks the P&L and makes sure that I don't spend more than I make but I don't worry about the money. The money takes care of itself. I continue to give it all away.I'm a deeply spiritual person and we don't necessarily need to go down that path on this show but I believe that God has given for me to give away. He's put me in this position because I have the skills to make a difference. If I hold that back, even a little, then He's going to stop giving it to me. I want to continue to receive so I have to give it all away faster than that. We do that constantly whether it's my work effort, time, teaching, guidance, counsel, my advisory ship with the mortgage lending or tithing and my gifts financially. We give everything away as fast as we can. I continue to put myself out in front.We joke about, “I'm a little further ahead this time than the usual.” That's one of those things where if I keep putting myself out there, I believe he'll catch me and it will be for the betterment of many more than just me. I have to be willing to fail. Without that, I'll stay contained and I won't be able to have the success nor provide the success for those around me. If I can help others build wealth through real estate, to build investments, legacy and multi-generational wealth, their success does not threaten mine. We can all get there together. They can buy even more investments than I even dreamed of owning and have even more success than I've had, yet it doesn't infringe or limit mine. It continues to push me to give it all away.Profound thoughts are the way that your mindset works and your thought processes. I haven't come across many interviews in my experience and I've been interviewing CEOs for many years. I love everything that you've said. It's inspirational which makes you incredibly unique and rare, Nicole.Thank you.In the day-to-day operations, people were fascinated by your rituals and day-to-day routine. A lot of times this is what you should work hard and we all got to get that. What are the rituals, habits or self-talk that keeps you going daily?I am big on setting up my day and ending my day. How I start and end my day, week and the year is all become extremely pre-programmed or destined. I start each day at 3:30 in the morning off work, early time and it's dark. I started that a long time ago. I was in college and I always setting my class schedule for 8:00 AM. I'd go to the gym at 5:00 or 5:30 when they first opened up. I'd get home, get ready and get to the classes and then I'd be done. I have my afternoon free. That's how my brain was always wired to do it that way.[bctt tweet="A Titan doesn't believe in sitting still and wants to leave the place better than they found it." username=""]I didn't go to all the parties in college because I was asleep or falling asleep at the parties which have happened a couple of times. That was not my lifestyle. When I had kids, that was my time where they weren't awake yet, the house was quiet and I could think, do, get a bunch done and preset my day. Now the kids are grown and they don't wake up even if I didn't wake up early. I like getting up at 3:30 and having my rituals. I get up at 3:30, I start out by reading the Bible, prayer gratitude, ironing out my day, and scheduling it. I have my Dot Matrix planner that's empty and I schedule my own day every day.I think about, “What it is I need to do that day or in the next couple of days in advance,” and then I get on my email. A lot of people say, “Don't get on your email that early.” I get on my email because I have a great a team and I push everything out that needs to be done. I delegate at that time. They get a blur of emails from me at 4:30 in the morning. I'm at the gym at 5:00 still to this day. Every day I have to work out. It energizes me and allows me to do the things that I want to do. I get home and I get the rest of the team up or make the green smoothies and do the rituals. I'm writing that down. I work until 7:00. It's not uncommon to see me work until 8:00. I’m shutting that down no later than 8:00 so that I can be in bed no later than 9:00.That particular path of success and there's so much work that's done on ritual observation, The Miracle Morning. For the people that are reading, getting up at 3:30 sounds challenging. I'm up at 4:00. I'm an ex-military so I was always up early. I was a pre-med kid so all my classes were early. Some people develop the button and some people have the button. Did you always have the button? Did your people give you the early morning button?My people didn't. I was raised by a single mom. She gave us everything that she had. We didn't have much. She was in sales. We'd get a lot, we go to Disneyland. We’d get a little, we get food stamps. It was across the board growing up but she did have a deep passion for success. Her big thing was like, “I want to give you a better life than I had.” That's a whole another story but she was always putting the next thing in front of her like, “How do I give you more? How do I give my grandchildren more?” It wasn't about money as much as it was about strength and the fortitude to be successful, whatever success is defined by you. Waking up early was not her thing.You are so driven, Nicole. It's incredible and inspiring your routines that you stick to. I believe in the whole adage that success breeds success. What you do is successful and it self perpetuates that success as I continue to see. I have to ask you about advice that you would offer to a respective entrepreneur or a new CEO, assuming the role for the first time. What advice would you offer them?I would tell that CEO that they have to go first. A lot of bosses that I had would have cut out of work early, taking Fridays off, go on a month-long vacation or disappear knowing that they had a strong team and it's their right to do that especially after they've built something up that self-sustains. I operate a little bit differently. I work more than anybody on my team. My whole thing is I had to be willing to go first. I have to be willing to show them the path, make the mistakes, honor those mistakes and to be vulnerable in that.If I don't show them that I went in front of them, sometimes I made a good decision, and sometimes I made a bad decision and own that, then it doesn't allow them the opportunity to fail, exceed or to push beyond their current limits. They'll think inside the box. I need them to think outside the box. That's part of what makes this team good is because we can solve mortgage and financial questions or situations that other lenders can't. it’s not because they're not able, it's simply because they don't try. My team is constantly pushed and allowed to fail. You have to model that. You can't expect them to feel safe to do that if you haven't done it already.It’s the same mindset. I'm ex-military and I'm thinking the best lead from the front. You can't teach marksmanship unless you know how to shoot. There's a lot of parallels in the leadership space. How do people find you on social media?[caption id="attachment_5679" align="alignleft" width="200"] The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)[/caption]We are the Rueth Team. You can go to TheRuethTeam.com. We're on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and all the lovely places.They know where to find you. Fertilizing the mind early in the morning and parts of the day, what's a book or a publication that you've read that's influenced your thinking?I'll give you three. One, I finished but I'll give you the other two first because you brought up one and that’s
38 minutes | 3 months ago
Jason Cormier, Cofounder of Room 214, with co-host Jaime Zawmon, Founder and President of TitanCEO
Marketing is a vital part of the business. As such, there are so many subject matter experts that claim they have the best practices. However, when everybody's doing best practices, they all end up doing basic practices. Working his way around that by understanding how things fit holistically, Jason Cormier co-founded Room 214—a growth studio that helps bring coherence across an organization's brand marketing and sales efforts. In this episode, he joins Jaime Zawmon, Founder and President of Titan CEO, to share how he is helping businesses achieve that while taking us across their shift from digital marketing to growth and coherence. He also talks about the role of human intelligence, the iterative growth in digital, and the value of data gathered from customer conversation. Plus, Jason also shares some of his best leadership lessons, emphasizing how, at the end of it all, it is the people that leaders should take care of.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/FgDaQWYUeKk[/embed]Jason Cormier, Cofounder of Room 214, with co-host Jaime Zawmon, Founder and President of TitanCEOWe are joined by Jason Cormier. He's the Cofounder of Room 214 and my co-host, Jaime Zawmon. She's the Founder and President of Titan CEO. Jaime and Jason, welcome.Thanks a lot, Bob. I appreciate it.We talked a little bit before the show. I am fascinated by what you do. If he could tell us a little bit about your business and who you serve.The name of company is Room 214. We are what is called a growth studio. We help bring coherence across an organization's brand marketing and sales efforts. We have a digital marketing agency background. A lot of folks come to us for those kinds of services. We've migrated a bit outside of what you would probably consider as traditional digital marketing and social media. Real quick to finish the answer to the question, the clients that we serve vary quite a bit. From funded startups to Fortune 100, across multiple industries over the last several years.The question that comes to my mind is you've migrated a bit from digital marketing to growth and coherence. Paint me a picture of what that looks like.When you look at digital marketing, in particular, and what you understand about marketing in general is that when everybody's doing best practices, what they're doing is basic practices. What you learn pretty quickly is what worked last season doesn't necessarily work this season, or what works for your competitor doesn't necessarily work for you. What happens is you get a bunch of people in marketing that are frustrated over time. They're working their butts off. The chief marketing officer and the chief revenue officer, these two roles these days, there's so much responsibility on their shoulders to increase leads, increase sales, whatever the case may be.The problem is they keep running up against the same walls. There are a lot of great subject matter experts in digital marketing and a lot of great marketing agencies out there, but what we found over time, and this is the migration, is that understanding how things holistically fit is where that's going to be most helpful to people. For example, this concept of coherence. If you look at a CEO or even ask a CEO, “Where's there coherence in your business?” You might get a deer in the headlights look from them. If you say, "Where is the incoherence in your business?” You're never going to hear the end of it. A lot of what we've done with this migration from a marketing agency to a growth studio is we've recognized that if we can bring coherence across an organization's brand marketing and sales, this is something that is missing. This is something that will make a tremendous difference in terms of their growth.The term I always hear is alignment. It's pretty hard to be aligned if you don't even know that you're misaligned.[bctt tweet="When everybody's doing best practices, what they're doing is basic practices." username=""]In order to act quickly, you have to be aligned deeply. In order to adjust often, you have to be aligned deeply.I would imagine that message resonates well. You’re a combat information center, former Navy guy, and the difference between data and an actionable intel, there’s a wide gulf between the two. It sounds like this is an iterative event of what you did in the Navy.There are some interesting connections for sure. The interesting thing about data is companies have invested so much in data. It's almost like there are good reasons for it, but quite ironically, as a company that comes from this digital marketing background, what we've found is that the data is always flawed. What happens is organizations have first come up with data initiatives, investing in a lot of this data. They've hired expensive data scientists who ended up spending all their time fixing the data and making the data make sense. It's funny, we say that the data is always flawed. What's ironic is that the most important data we've been able to collect comes directly from customer conversations, not from web analytics. I'm not saying web analytics aren't important or advertising data sets and all that. That's important, but more people stake their reputation on that. They've rolled the dice and I'm afraid that they've lost in a lot of cases.To finish up the thought, in the military world, there was a focus on human years and years ago, where you had actual human intelligence on ground in country. The human intelligence world thought the simple fix was data. They spent a great deal of time, effort and money on trying to do the data capture, whether it's signals, intelligence and others. The reality is without the human side of the intelligence, the rest can lead you astray. I'm an old intel guy. It's an interesting parallel.When I was in the Navy, my ship was a taxicab for Marines. We had Navy SEALs onboard. We would be cruising about a mile from the beach. We knew what the weather was, yet these SEALs would depart our ship a mile to the beach. They would be hanging out on the beach, getting beat up in the surf for hours. The whole idea was you needed someone to be there. You needed human intelligence in the trenches or on the beaches. You couldn't say, “The weather forecast is this. We know everything we need to know.”The interpretation of the data by a human, he says, “Yes, I appreciate that.” Maybe it challenges my thought process, but it matters to crank it through a human or two to find out. I was reading some of your work. That's what struck me as I was reading that earlier. Jaime, I’m sorry. I'm back down the rabbit hole again.Congratulations again, Jason, for being recognized as a 2020 Titan 100. I'm holding up a copy of the Titan 100 book in which Jason was recognized and profiled. This platform recognizes Colorado's Top 100 CEOs and C-Level executives. Jason, as part of the series, I always like to ask our Titans, what characteristics do they believe it takes to be considered a Titan of industry?[caption id="attachment_5646" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Room 214: In order to act quickly and adjust often, you have to be aligned deeply.[/caption] A Titan of industry, thanks. It's an honor. I love being part of the whole Titan community. It’s awesome. I’ve learned a lot as a result too. For me, it's been a lot of leading with humility, understanding that I don't have all the answers as someone who leads a company. That was a huge part of why we adopted open-book management and have done a lot in that area, getting more minds on the problems. Curiosity, I can't say enough about that. If you think you've arrived, you are wrong. Especially with my industry, things change so quickly. I have to rely on curiosity to make it so that I'm spending time looking at the right things on behalf of my clients.Those are two huge things. Generally speaking as well, from a values perspective, acting out of love instead of fear. It's easy to get into a mode of cover your ass with marketing in particular. People want to know, “What's the return on this? Did this thing that we did, did that actually work?” Sometimes it works great and sometimes it doesn't. Being very upfront and honest about that in an industry that's probably full of a lot of snake oil too. Our mantra is creating valuable relationships. There's no substitute for that. People want to buy from who they know, like and trust. You can't fake that. That's probably it and all those things.It’s a profound thought. As I know you, because I've known you for some time, you lead with humility. Your whole statement around acting out of love and not fear is something that is painted on your office walls because I have been to your offices before. I love that statement. I wish more people would act out of love and not out of fear.To think about that point though, it takes an extraordinary amount of courage to function from that place because there's risks there.There is a risk. The idea of open-book management, for example, is part of that risk that we take on. There's transparency with the numbers. It's not a report that's given out in terms of the way we do it. Every other week, people see all the numbers. What are the labor costs? What are the revenues? What are the profits? When things are going great in your business, it's great. When things aren't, people tend to have more questions. To your point, that's a risk that we've taken. Over the years, we've had open-book management over the last few years. There's been a lot of uncomfortable situations. At the end of the day, it's worth it because it's always about people. The appreciation there is that there's an honest discussion about all those things. People would rather have that even if it's uncomfortable, than just given some glossy view of how things are good when maybe they're not so good. At least that's my experience.Circling back a little bit, we talked a bit about your Navy exposure. What's your path from there to where we are now with your company on Room 214? People would be interested on how you got from there to here.Before the Navy, I was at Colorado State University with my business partner, James, at Room 214. Unfortunately, Room 214 happened to be in a party dorm. It was a party room. Nothing good happened at the original Room 214. After a year of that, I somehow concluded that I needed discipline and to my parents' chagrin at the time, it was like, “I'm enlisting in the Navy.” I had no money. It seemed like I need to get as far away from this place as possible. I enlisted and I got my GI bill, which meant that going back to school was going to be paid for.My lovely wife and I got married about six months prior to getting out of the Navy. She was my high school sweetheart. We could live anywhere we wanted to live. She graduated from college and it was like, “Take your pick.” We chose Santa Barbara, California and Santa Barbara City College. I decided I was going to be a computer science major because that's where the money was at. It’s so happens, I was terrible at computer science. I was not a good coder. I was struggling and suffering. It was 1995.[bctt tweet="More people should act out of love and not out of fear." username=""]A friend of mine said, “There's this thing called Netscape that allows you to get on the World Wide Web and have this visual interface of it. It's not just words. Here's a copy of Photoshop.” He handed me a few disks and, “Here's a one pager on this thing called HTML.” It's easy compared to the type of programming that we do. In a very short period of time, I taught myself how to build web pages. I decided, “Maybe this could be a business.” A real estate agent approached me and said, “Would you build a website for me? If you did, how much would you charge?”I said, “I don't know, $350?” He's like, “Let's do it.” The next thing I knew, I was like, “This could be a business.” I had a one-pager called, “Why do you need a website?” I walked the streets of Santa Barbara passing this thing out and most people were like, “Get out of here, kid. What is this? We'll never need a website.” One thing led to another and I ended up growing a web development firm and selling that firm to a competitor after about 2.5 years. I was a VP in that company that bought mine and ran a web development organization that was nationwide at that point. It was a series of different businesses that followed after that.I connected with my old-time friend, James, who had gone into public relations. There was a pretty big disconnect between PR and what was happening in the digital world, websites and things of that nature. James had interestingly coined a term that he called the placement crash. What that was in PR was that a company would work with the PR firm. They would get a big hit in USA Today or Wall Street Journal or whatever. Their web traffic would spike. It would be incredible. Everybody would be slapping high fives. It’s a major win. Within 48 hours, it was as if nothing happened. The web traffic flattened out and that was the placement crash.James and I were talking about that back in the day. It was like, “What would happen if there was preparation and content was produced on the web? There was a way to capture that traffic so that a company that experienced a big PR hit didn't have a placement crash?” Those were the conversations that we had. By 2003, Google AdWords was pretty much a brand-new platform. We started to tinker with it together. We saw that there were a bunch of bads out there on like, “Buy this, buy that.” We thought, “What if we produced an ad that said, 'The top five things you need to know about,' and fill in the blank?”We were working with a China manufacturing company at that point called Vital Sourcing. We created this white paper called Top Five Things You Need to Know About Manufacturing in China. We thought, “What if we placed an ad around that?” At this point, ads were $0.05 a click, which is ridiculously cheap. That ad started getting clicked on left and right. It drove them to a page where we asked them for their name and email address in exchange to download this white paper. That's the most basic Content 101 marketing there is now. At the time, there were very few people doing that. We were flooded with leads from all across the world. It was this massive success story.We were optimizing a website to make sure that we were showing up. To fast forward this story, what we realized was that there was a business in helping companies use this new thing called Google AdWords and WordPress. We started Room 214. We got lucky too. Three years after we started, Facebook wasn't just for college kids anymore. We got a call one day from a PR firm in New York and they said, “We've got this client in the Travel Channel. Travel Channel is asking us questions about Facebook and YouTube. There's this new Twitter thing out there. We don't know how to answer these freaking questions, but we heard about you clowns in Boulder, Colorado that had been playing with this. Maybe you can talk to Travel Channel.”The next thing you know, we're managing Anthony Bourdain's Facebook page. We're setting up Facebook pages for all Travel Channel TV shows and Twitter accounts. That led to this two-year engagement, $1 million client. We faked it until we made it. We've learned on the job, but the timing was such that if you did a search for social media agency on Google for years, we were in the number one or number two spot. Companies from all over the place came to us like Sanrio, Hello Kitty, “Can you help us with Facebook?” We built our business and we rode that wave for many years. It's been an interesting journey. There were some other businesses in between. Some did okay and others failed. This is when we've been at it for a while.[caption id="attachment_5647" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Room 214: There is far more value that comes from the data that can be taken out of a customer conversation, applied to content and advertising strategy.[/caption] I love listening to the history. There's so much that's very rich. You were on the forefront of a lot of new age market adoption. I still think it's hysterical that you were walking around asking people if they wanted websites and people were laughing like, “What do I need a website for?” It's mind blowing in 2020.The thing is I was discouraged by a lot of people, even though it was obvious with this internet thing, a visual, and a web browser. To me, this is clearly the future, but a lot of people were like, “You can't create a business selling websites. You're going to have to go figure out how to do something else.” I'll tell you, the epiphany came up with Kinko's. People out there remember Kinko's, it's FedEx now. Kinko's corporate was 30 minutes down the road from me. I knew a woman there named Mary Hamilton, who was a friend of my wife, who worked in the marketing department.They had paid big money to some San Francisco firm to build their website. They didn't want to do that anymore. She had heard I'd been doing some website development. She called me up and she said, “Jason, we've got some website maintenance, some pages we need developed. I heard you could do this. Would you please give us a bit for this?” I looked at the work and I thought, “I'm going to charge a $1,000.” I was nervous about this. I put the bid out there. I sent it over the fence, $1,000. She got back to me and she said, “I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm going to be honest with you. Let's consider this a confidential call. In order for my company to take this bid seriously, we need to add another zero.” It took me aback. I was like, “Can you give me 30 minutes? I'll revise that and get it back to you.” Anyway, it was less than a day of work for $10,000. She signed it that day. It was at that day, I realized, “The naysayers are wrong. This is something that's real.”I think about the journey you're talking about. For me, first assignment, Fort Carson, Colorado, they had a computer on post and it was punch card. My college had one computer punch card. My kids grew up in the age of computers and the iterative event. I can remember in the day I was with Merrill way back when. The head of that whole division said, “The Internet's a fad. It will never amount to anything.” He said it in front of hundreds of guys. It’s an interesting progression though. There’s a lot of disbelief at that day.In 2.5 years from that time, I sat across from a CEO who was interested in buying my company. It was a scene right out of a movie. He took me to breakfast. It was this amazing hotel...
25 minutes | 3 months ago
Cold Therapy And How it Can Help You With Wyatt Ewing
Cold therapy has been around for a long time, and it has a lot of great benefits. The Ice Barrel is the best way to take an ice bath. It's the easiest and most accessible product out there when it comes to cold therapy. Joining Bob Roark to discuss the benefits of cold therapy is The Ice Barrel’s Founder, Wyatt Ewing. Together, they talk about the positive effects of cryotherapy on the body. Wyatt also tackles its role in staying healthy, mental conditioning and growth, and dealing with the work-from-home stresses of life. Interested to know more about cold therapy? Then tune in to learn more.---Watch the podcast here:[embed]https://youtu.be/Rwes-gL5mtI[/embed]Cold Therapy And How it Can Help You With Wyatt EwingWe were incredibly fortunate. We have a returning guest, Wyatt Ewing. He is the Founder and CEO of The Ice Barrel. Welcome back. It’s good to see you. Thank you, Bob. It's great to be here.You were one of the first guests in the first cohort of being on the show and you had the distinction of being one of the most widely downloaded episodes. Congratulations. Well done on that. Lots of interest in what you had to say. For the folks that didn't read the first episode, tell us about The Ice Barrel. Tell us about your business and who you serve. The Ice Barrel is the best way to take an ice bath. It's the easiest and most accessible product out there when it comes to cold therapy. It’s simple what it is. It's The Ice Barrel. We take this unique-made barrel, we fill it with ice and water, and we all jump in it, sometimes on a daily basis. Cold therapy has been around for a long time and it has a lot of great benefits. That's who we are.For the folks who are going like, “That's unique.” There has been a recognition of the benefits of cold therapy, there's been Wim Hof, who's from out of Europe that does a lot of cold work. There's Tony Robbins that has punched tanks that he has by his house that are chilled as well. We have Tim Ferriss that does the ice in the bathtub routine. Cryotherapy is gaining because there are franchises around. For the folks that aren't aware of the benefits of cold therapy or ice baths, share with us the benefits as you understand them. Cold therapy has been around for a long time, though it's new to some people in the US. It's not a fad. It's something that's been tried and true for a long time. It's not popular here in the west because we like to be comfortable. Whereas in this practice, the point is to get uncomfortable, which also is the best place as a human to grow is an uncomfortable situation. There are a lot of unique benefits to cold therapy that people are taking advantage of. Immune system support is a huge thing. It's one of the strongest anti-depressant and anti-anxiety practices. It’s amazing for elevating the mood, focus and clarity. There are a lot of top performers out there, both in sports, but also in business, that use it as an extra edge to get to that next level and to gain full mastery over the mind and body.I got interested as well after our episode. I went digging around. Some of the research that's out there, there's pH level change, increase in mitochondria production, there's all of these various and sundry benefits that come from cold therapy. My first observation, when you'd see the Scandinavians, they would be in a hothouse of some kind. They'd go and jump in a hole in the ice in the middle of winter and you go, “That bunch is collectively crazy as well.” As folks are going, “What in the world?” Going back to the beginning, walk us through the steps from where you started the idea and where you are. [caption id="attachment_5655" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Cold Therapy: Cold therapy isn't a fad. It has been around for a long time, and it's a tried-and-true practice.[/caption] I started several years ago. I was at a low place in life. I got off of a very successful aviation career. Life wasn't going the way that I was wanting it to go. The money and the rise were not as I had hoped it would be, and it was not fulfilling as I thought it would be. I was back into that place of who am I and where am I going in life and refocusing. Thankfully somebody came to me at a gym and they were like, “You don't look good. Let me give you some breathing exercises.” I graciously accepted their advice and their insult. I was like, “I need to make some changes in life.” I started with some breath work and some cold therapy. The breath work was from Dr. Andrew Weil, who has good information, both in breathing exercises and in cold therapy. I started off taking cold showers and go into the bathtub and wanting something that was more accessible, something that I could practice on a daily basis, something that was not a stock tank, big and bulky, but my own space where I could go and practice this meditation in a barrel.That’s how it all started. I was looking for something different. I saw a barrel and I was like, “This would be the perfect thing.” We went out, we'd had a wood prototype. We ran with that for a while and it was good and there was a lot of interest in that, but we also wanted something that we could scale. The wood one was a lot harder than this new product because we could only make about five a week. Whereas with this new product, we can do 15 to 20 a day. We wanted something different and we put the work in, many hours and a lot of time and energy. We were able to pull out this new product and made it durable, portable, accessible for anybody in any place. You can have it in a nice home, or you can have it out in your apartment complex on the 30th floor, out on the balcony. We tried to make something that would be for everybody that has interest or is already practicing some form of cold therapy.In practical terms, anybody that's ever moved a large wooden barrel fully appreciates the logistics of trying to get that done. I can remember the first time you got in The Ice Barrel on the back porch. It is a pretty barrel, but you go, “That’s got to weigh a ton.” They do. I grew up not far from the Jack Daniel’s distillery. I'm aware of empty barrels. I didn't empty them, but I know what they look like and feel like. For you, you prototyped, and you have a much lighter version that's shippable, easy to move around with, durable, because we have dry climate, you leave it empty, then the barrel staves shrink on a wooden one. You've got all that going on. That's then. For the business, you're seeing your clientele. What are the types of clients that are buying The Ice Barrel? Who is that cohort? We have a wide range, but for the majority of it, we have cool clients. There are people that are on the top of their industry, a lot of top athletes, top performers both in acting and music and also entrepreneurs and business owners. We ship quite a few products to Silicon Valley. Our customers are people that are looking for that additional edge. They're looking to master the mind and the body. They're intentional and focused people. I love when they reach out to us because they always have something fascinating to say, and I always liked learning from them.The potential user of these things, there's a big focus. A lot of folks are restricted on travel. You have a growing family, about to grow larger soon. Congratulations on that. That's a good thing. I think about the stress of being cooped up and trying to stay healthy. What type of feedback are you getting from the folks bringing The Ice Barrel to their home to try to deal with the work from home stresses of life? I'm very fortunate that I thoroughly enjoy being with my wife and kids. The more time we get together, generally, the happy we are. With that being said, there's no doubt, in family and in relationships, there are challenges. There are a lot of us that are at home with our families during this time. We have seen quite a few clients purchase the barrel and wanting to maintain a form of balance and sanity while they're all together, especially during the holiday season, which is cool because you have this place in your home where you can go out and you can let the stress and the pain affect you. You can feel it. You can get all out in the barrel. As soon as you get out of the barrel, your wife is happy to have you back. Your kids are happy that their dad is smiling. That's our experience. Nobody takes an ice bath and doesn't come out smiling. I've never seen it. We've given out hundreds and hundreds of ice baths and I've never seen anyone get out not smiling.Why do you suppose that is? Is it relief that you survived or glad you're out?Either one of the two.[bctt tweet="Cold therapy elevates your mood, focus, and clarity." username=""]I think about the premise that you have to take and put yourself in stressful situations to grow. You hear time and time again, various folks will say, “The status quo doesn't help you. You have to get out of your comfort zone in order to grow.” For the mental side of the house, in the ice drill, how do you think that contributes to that mental conditioning or growth? It's a unique practice that you can quantify. We're in such a unique time in history where not only are we wanting instant gratification, but we're also trying to quantify our results. We're trying to measure how we are better than we were yesterday. People are always looking for that next thing. This isn't a fad. Cold therapy has been around for a long time and it's a tried-and-true practice. For that mental edge though, to be able to recondition the mind and the body to what real stress is, is important. Money, family, things like that are not stressful. What is stressful is being chased by a bear and falling into an icy river and not knowing how to deal with it. That's stressful. If we can recondition our mind and repattern our body to what real stress is, things that we deal with outside real problems, we deal with it better. We maintain a sense of balance and peace, which is important when dealing with life's challenges.I think about comparisons. I'm a former military. At some point in time, if you don't have dirt in your food, you don't have to sleep under a tree and don't get rained on all the time, you have a definition of what a bad day looks like. It's easy to understand what a reasonably good day looks like. I think about the ability to consciously go, “I'm going to immerse myself in this bucket of ice water.” That's a mental shift. You have to get ready for that mentally. When you're getting ready to get in the barrel and then subsequently get in the barrel, is there a mental process or mindset that you adopt in route to doing that? The first thing that always goes through my head is, “This 5, 10, 15 minutes is going to be the hardest part of my day. I'm going to take this short burst of stress and get some long-term relief out of it.” I get focused around it. I tend to be more of an extreme personality. I'm not the one that stands around and thinks about it all the time. I dive right into the barrel, sometimes headfirst if I have to. That does get me in trouble though at different times, but for this practice, it seems to work. I do know that for a lot of people, they have to convince themselves and work their way to getting into the barrel, which is okay because the battle with this practice starts in the mind. As soon as you conquer that battle in the mind, getting in and experiencing the relief and the endorphins, it's a powerful thing.There are a lot of things I think about, as far as getting in and getting out, having done cold therapy before he goes, “I know it's going to end, and I know I'm not going to die.” You go, “What's the worst thing?” He'd go, “This is good for me.” You go through and you do a bit of suffering. I think about the energy use. You touched on it a bit on weight loss. What's the theory behind cold therapy and weight loss?Cold exposure promotes brown fat. Brown fat is the good stuff that your body can burn. The shivering also helps because your body is trying to stay warm, and so your body is burning up the fat. One thing that I always talk about, it's important that you stay consistent. Whenever you're on a weight loss journey, consistency is the key. It's about making those little decisions every single day and sticking to them. Getting in The Ice Barrel is one of those small decisions every single day, or if it's three times a week. Being consistent with it is key. You have to allow your body the time to get reconditioned and to start producing brown fat. When you're using it and you're looking at it from a weight loss standpoint, it's important for you to be realistic with your expectations. It's going to take time and consistency, but the goal is to get your body to work for you. As soon as you trigger your body to go into the rest and repair mode, because it already knows what the stress mode is, it will start burning up that energy. You want to be in the rest and repair mode when your body is needing that extra energy to burn.I was thinking about times that I've seen it. We've all seen the commercial where there are two people getting in and one is in NFL. They're getting into a tank full of ice and they do it all the time. For the athlete out there performing, what's the benefit of The Ice Barrel for that athlete? You see them get in after a game, what's the benefit? A lot of people know athletes take ice baths after a heavy workout. If you twist your ankle, you put an ice pack on it. The idea of cold therapy being good for your muscles and for recovery, that's been around for a while and people are fairly familiar with that. The angle that I like to look at it and that I also see with a lot of top performers, they're using it for the mental edge. When you're hot and your body is heated up from a hard workout, getting into an ice bath is relaxing. It feels good. Especially being out here in Ohio, after a hot day of working outside and cutting up some trees, getting in The Ice Barrel feels amazing. The unique part about it as well, more so than the physical benefits or the mental benefits, fighting that battle in the mind up front of getting in the barrel and also practicing it when you're not after a heavy workout. When that athlete is using it on a weekly practice to get the mental benefits out of it, they create a much better attitude within themselves and they master that part of their mind.[caption id="attachment_5656" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Cold Therapy: Cold exposure promotes brown fat. Brown fat is the good stuff that your body can burn.[/caption] As a physical thought, how many gallons does the barrel hold?A little over 80 gallons. You don't have to fill it all the way up, depending on your size. You can fill it up with 50 gallons. If you're a smaller person, you might sit down lower in it.I'm thinking, “Here I have a barrel, I filled it up with water. In my case, I might be able to put two gallons in and I'll fit in and fill it up.” You take and do that. Is a 10-pound, 12-pound bag of ice enough?It all depends on climate and location. Out here in Ohio, I don't need any ice. It's only in the southern states that you're going to need ice during the wintertime because it drops below freezing at night. Down in Florida, you're going to need a bit more ice to get the water to the desired temperature. Out here, due to the weather, I take my ice baths right around 34 degrees. I do not recommend that for everybody. A good temperature to start with is around 60 degrees, get acclimated to that. You're getting tremendous health benefits at 60 degrees. It's not the cooler you go, the healthier it is. It's the more consistent you are, the more results you're going to get. Starting with 60 degrees and work your way down, it doesn't take a lot of ice to get it to 60 degrees, maybe two 20-pound bags. I know out in the hotter climates, they'll put in 80 to 100 pounds, 4 to 5 bags of ice, but it depends.I have to have a home to do this. The reality is, if you're in an apartment, you can get it into your apartment, put it on the deck of your apartment and function fine that way. We shipped one out to a New York skyscraper. They were up on the 80th floor and that wouldn't want to be right below them.You want to make sure it's not slippery when you got to get in. That could be bad news. [bctt tweet="Nobody takes an ice bath and doesn't come out smiling." username=""]They fit perfectly out on an apartment patio. Also, we have a neat drain spout on the bottom, you can hook a hose to it and then run the hose into your shower pan and drain it right there so you're not flooding the neighbors below you, or you can run it off to the side.For the folks that go, “That's cool,” how does shipping work for the barrel? We ship it UPS. We're at a 2-to-3-day turnaround on shipping, but worst-case scenario, it would be 7 to 10 days. We'll ship it UPS right to your door.We knew that we were going to segue here. We couldn't let you out of the episode without having you jump in so everybody can see you suffer. They have a name for that of some description. For the folks before we get you in the barrel, how do people find you and The Ice Barrel on social media?You can find us and read all about the benefits. One of my favorite pages on our website is the customer review page. If you look up www.TheIceBarrel.com, you'll be able to go, scour our website, make sure you click on the Reviews. You'll see tons of pictures of smiling faces, people in an ice barrel. You can also find us on Instagram, which we're active on. Our handle is @IceBarrel. You can find us on Facebook, @TheIceBarrel.How many Ice Barrels do you think you have out across the planet?A lot.It seems to be growing by word of mouth.[caption id="attachment_5657" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Cold Therapy: The goal is to get your body to work for you. As soon as you trigger your body to go into the rest and repair mode, it will start burning up that energy.[/caption] As soon as we announced the new product, we didn't have...
27 minutes | 3 months ago
The Benefits Of Life Intervention With Katie Burpo And Cohost Jaime Zawmon
Most of us address developmental, intellectual, and mental challenges within the family as they come along, and that's why most of us are unaware of what to do until it's too late. Therefore, Katie Burpo dedicates herself and her team at Goldstar Learning Options to offer the most effective life intervention programs from childhood all the way to adulthood. She joins Bob Roark and cohost Jaime Zawmon in sharing the story of how her company started because of a small childhood dream and how they connect with the varying needs of every client, particularly in this challenging time of the pandemic.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/A6TEhe9Xm6I[/embed]The Benefits Of Life Intervention With Katie Burpo And Cohost Jaime ZawmonWe have Jaime Zawmon. She is the Founder and President of TITAN CEO. She is co-hosting on this special series where we interview the TITAN 100. We have as our guest, Katie Burpo. She is the CEO and Founder of GoldStar Learning Options. Jaime and Katie, thanks for taking the time. Katie, we’ll jump straight into it. Tell us a bit about your business and who you serve.GoldStar Learning Options is an agency for individuals with developmental, intellectual, and mental health needs. What that means is we have a multitude of services and what makes GoldStar a little bit unique is we offer lifespan services. That's from birth through adulthood and that's for families to be able to access through all transitions of life, intervention for behavior, educational, academic, social, emotional support, community intervention, vocational training, and finding a purpose in life for all these kids and adults.All I can think of is from here to here, that's like an 80-year time span or it can be. I think about the challenge of families that are faced with developmental issues and how they find resources and informed experts to help them on their journey. That’s fascinating because what I usually hear about is specific applications on narrow sectors have a learning disability, you have this, you have that, they serve that part and they don't do the lifespan issues. Well done.I know that she mentioned to me that they hired one of their students.He was the first individual who inspired me to add services where they're needed and how they need to be delivered. We have many different examples of individuals, but one powerful moment is when I received a job application from one of our participants in our program, and it has been inspiring and a true demonstration of what real services look like to excel in life and find purpose throughout the life.I think about drinking your own Kool-Aid and you have a student that comes out of what you do and says, not only that, but they're employed here too. We walk the talk and that’s incredibly important.[bctt tweet=”Success requires you to keep moving forward and dedicated to your passion and mission.” via=”no”]It's a great testament to what you do. That's why I wanted to brag on you.We're going to find it's easy to brag on you. We'll embarrass you if we can. Jaime, she's a TITAN 100.She is a 2020 TITAN 100. We are excited to include Katie in this list. I've got a copy of the TITAN 100 book here, which I am showcasing. Katie is featured inside this book, recognizing Colorado's Top 100 CEOs and C-level Executives 100 TITANS of Industry. Katie is doing amazing things in her industry, which makes her a TITAN. Katie, as we kick off things, I always like to ask every TITAN 100 that comes on to this show, what characteristics do you believe it takes to be considered a TITAN of the industry?I'm truly honored to be included in this group and inspired by how you have supported a lot of the Titans that I have come to pass, and to be included in that group does make you reflect. I love when you ask this question because every time it makes you dive into yourself and look at the people that surround you. Passion and vision stand out so huge with the Titans that everyone has a story and being able to drive that forward and keeping that sense of self to keep that passion. There's a reason why we're here.Dedication and determination are necessary to be a TITAN. You have to keep moving forward and dedicated to what that passion is, what your mission is, why you're still here. Adaptability is a big theme. A lot of Titans have commented on being flexible, adaptable, and that has to happen in business altogether. Especially in 2020, it's more important now than ever. It truly resonates with the Titans on how they've implemented that. One huge thing, especially to Jaime’s credit, keep growing, surround yourself with the people that are going to help you grow, and give yourself a chance. When you surround yourself with those people, you reignite the fire and that's what Titan does.Jaime, we were talking about rekindling the fire before the episode. The fire's burning down a little bit. We’ve got to figure out how to stoke the fire a little bit. Katie, one of the things always fascinating is the story, how did you get from there to here? What drove you or motivated you to take in and start the GoldStar Learning Options company?[caption id="attachment_5707" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Life Intervention: It's not your responsibility to fix everything. It's your responsibility to help identify what the vision is.[/caption] I don't deviate when I get an idea, I don't move away from it. In second grade, my sister who has Angelman syndrome. She has highly impacted developmental disabilities. It was interesting for my family. She didn't have a diagnosis. It’s just global developmental delay, it might be autism, it might not be autism. It's not autism. We're not quite sure where to help her. In second grade, she had some troubles accessing her speech therapy without me. I would go with her and that's when I decided I will be a speech therapist, “This is what I want to do. I love the language. That's what I'm going to do.” Everything that I did, moving forward, was helping my sister. She truly was my inspiration to even start out. Going to school in college, I continued on my path, continued on my journey all the while working with my sister, Missy.She is now almost 32 years old. She has many quirky little behaviors and has truly led me to that it's not an option to ever fail. I can never fail her. There were no options for my family. Our therapy looked like the dining room table on Sundays and going through our schedules, “Who's going to care for her? Who's going to help her? Why does she say things this way? Why does it take three hours to go to bed?” We identified that she doesn't use her tongue. That was fun balancing out. Those were our conversations growing up and it was all about Missy. She was the center, she was our world and she had to be. We had to pull together. For families to not have any resources or options, it was a struggle and we made it work.We have a fantastic family. Missy is unbelievably awesome. As I finished college, I started working in the behavioral field that was through college. As I graduated and thinking about how closely related communication, functional communication, and speech therapy were related to the behavior world. Several years going through that, I entered the school districts to become a speech therapist and it doesn't look like it does in my head. It was a lot of paperwork. You would see kiddos 20 or 15 minutes here or whatever's in their IEP, there was a lot of restriction and limitations on communication with the families and how you can support the families and how excited you are to tell the family something about some success, but you have to wait for the appropriate meeting to do so. You have emails to and from, but I wanted to be with the kids. I wanted to make a difference.Speech therapy didn't look like it did in my head in second grade. It was glorified. I went back to private practice and looking at home-based speech therapy. That was working with individuals. Behavior is such a huge component. I moved away from the home services because I can see one kid here is about 5 to 7 kiddos, a day, a lot of driving. It was a lot of help with the parents on, “How am I going to do this? How am I going to get them to OT?” The OT won't come here anymore, “Will the ABA therapist going to come? They have to switch their days.” It was a lot of helping the families through it. As individuals are aging out and we saw this personally with my family, when they're turning 15 or 16, where are they going to go? Parents are starting all over again. We keep moving.I worked as a director of a behavior agency, and it still wasn't hitting the mark. There were a lot of pediatrics and kids had to transition out as they were going into adolescence. It leaves us to how do we help our families, and bringing them to the clinic wasn't working. I started GoldStar Learning Options to try to address the problem. What's the problem? How are we going to fix it? I was going to start with a small caseload for me and my family so I could get back to my passion and make a difference. I'm only one person and the way that therapy started being talked about, it was working, it was extremely beneficial and supportive to families. It was bringing moms and dads back to work again because they had support, intervention and their kids were growing, and here we are now.I think about all the things that weren't said as you were going through that, the 504 issues, the mainstreaming in schools, parents do oftentimes have to work for a living, oddly enough, the change of the regulations mid stream that used to work in 2019. It doesn't work in 2020. You're at your limit in 2020 and on and on. I think about trying to take and get these kids the help that they require to make a difference in their lives, let them live up to their potential. All of those things that you talk about in your journey, and a lot of the things that you don't talk about, people that haven't traveled that path, it's hard for them to understand the challenges and interruptions. The kids over here going, I don't understand. It’s tough stuff.[bctt tweet="It's okay if things don't go the way they're supposed to. Expect everything to fail." via="no"]I'm blessed that it didn't look like you thought it did in your head, because if it had, we wouldn't have GoldStar Learning Options which you found it in 2011. You told us about how you founded it and why, the passion and everything that drove you, but the employee base that you have now, the number of families that you serve, paint a picture for the readers of what you've been able to build GoldStar.Being in every role that I can think of that impacts this group, it is part of adding individuals across the spectrum. Some of those in-between kids that maybe don't qualify for the IEP, but you get the 504. It's the fighting and working towards some of the things that are going to help your kid when you don't know all the options that are out there. Being a sister and a family member, moving into clinics, seeing the behavior world, being part of the parent group now. My son has a sensory processing disorder and anxiety disorder. Now I'm added with the parents that can't find the balance of, “It's not severe enough to qualify for X, Y, Z.”How do you get all of these individuals’ help? We have individuals with ADHD, high impacted autism. We have a dual diagnosis, mental health, dual diagnosis mental health, deaf program. We have our little learner’s program which has changed exponentially what school looks like for kids going into kindergarten with a true behavior-based and communication-based, little learner program and all the way through our adult program where we have our vocational route, our volunteer route, and our community purpose route, and our adult program is called Living With Purpose.How many families do you serve across the state?We have 153. Several on the waitlist and we serve from Longmont to Castle Rock. We have families all over. We have employees all over, passionate employees that are here for a reason and across the spectrum of disabilities needs, wants, and schedules.You've learned a lot along the way as you've navigated things and more than most businesses have to learn to navigate. If you could go back ten plus years at this point of experience and offer your less-experienced self advice about leading or building GoldStar Learning Options, what advice would you offer yourself and why?[caption id="attachment_5708" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Life Intervention: Working on yourself and your business is so important rather than just working in it day to day.[/caption] That it's okay when everything doesn't look like it's supposed to the premise and expects. Expect things to go arrive, to go wrong. Expect to fail. I think that not taking it in word and getting to an obsessive place of, “How am I going to fix this? I'm going to fix everything.” It's become more of a, “That didn't work,” situation. Building and leading the team, it's not up to me to fix everything. It's about guiding, supporting, and empowering your team because that's how you get your mission and your vision forward that when they feel confident, when they know what to do, when you can empower your team to help you, everybody works towards the same goal.It's not my responsibility to fix everything. It's my responsibility to help identify what the vision is, why maybe something failed and it's okay that it failed because failure only happens when you completely give up. That's not an option for me. It's become not an option for my team and that has proven time and time again, through 2020 on their perseverance and dedication to what we do, who we serve, and why to keep going forward. Don't take the time to try to make something how it should look or what your expectation. Expect it not to look right.I think about the iterative lesson when you work with a kid that comes in and the people go, “We don't know, but this is what we see.” You go, “We may have seen this and that. You may get like a new variable.” We go, “We thought it was this, but after iterating and working with this kid, now we see that there's a dose of salt over here, a little bit of pepper over here, a little different recipe for this kid.” You iterate your regimen for this kid based on observation and adjustment.The kid seems to blossom under this particular issue or protocol. For the business, I'm going to shift a little bit from one of the things I wanted to ask you is, in 2020 with all of the COVID issues, it seems like it's been an accelerant for adjustment to whatever this might be is the new normal. Would you like to comment on what you guys are doing given you've been issued the variable COVID restrictions and capabilities for your team and how you serve?The biggest thing is we had many conversations and gaining questions. I asked many employees because I, myself needed to help guide around what's essential, who is essential, who gets that golden ticket. That was painful for my entire staff and for myself because the answer is they all are, everyone needs help. Everyone needs services and going through and thinking about how many families are not going to have options when everybody's pulled home. These family members are not used to spending the day in, day out with their kids. Some of them are highly impacted. School support now were limited on being able to have home visits. Trying to follow that along and adding individuals, but we have such an incredible innovative team that resonated with their passion. We have created outdoor programs, especially in the summertime.That's the biggest time where we almost double in our family supports in terms of clientele. Summer was canceled and we had to pivot a little bit. We had front yard activities. We have some of our employees who created social groups and social games, via Telehealth. We had a lot of families thinking, “That's not going to work. The computer is not going to work. Telehealth is not going to work. You're not going to make progress.” What we have discovered is that interesting environment, we have some individuals that their entire program changed and they're thriving. This new platform is working for them. We wouldn't have known that if it wasn't for COVID, but we had to look at the entire caseload, all of our families and there were individuals who were essential if we did not provide in-person services, the physical impact on families would have been dire.[bctt tweet="Failure only happens when you completely give up." via="no"]We had a 25% capacity of people coming to the office and clinic space. We had our little learner program because those are little bitty guys that you interrupt those services, then it's going to be a challenge. We had some of our adults who either their caregivers were essential themselves and they have to have somewhere to go, or if they didn't have continued consistency, it would be dire for their caregivers. Balancing out who's essential and who is not is painful. The entire GoldStar team inspired me as well. I spent a lot of my time empowering them and helping to remind them that this is not forever. “This is today. We'll get through it. Let's control what we can control and we will get through this,” and keeping them motivated.A lot of learning through adversity, you are a positive beacon for you and your team. It's incredible to hear all of the positives that you're mentioning as a result of all the adversity that you've continued to face, which is inspirational. How do you find the motivation to stay positive? Is there a quote that you find meaningful or something that you use to channel positivity?It doesn't necessarily channel the positivity, but it inspires for the now. It has been interesting where the now comes in, that many things have been left on done. To your credit, Jaime, it's working on yourself and working on the business is important rather than working in it day-to-day. That's something that's huge. One big thing that showed up through COVID is a quote by George Herbert, which is a poet in the 1600s. He has a lot of good little gems. One is, “Do not wait. The time will never be right. Start where you stand and work with whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.” Working with that is inspirational that the theme is, “Act now. Now is the time.” You can hem and haw over it and you can leave it in the discussion world for however long but, “The time is now. Rip the Band-aid off. We got to do it now. Take
25 minutes | 4 months ago
Culture That Moves With Stuart Smith Of Buehler Companies And Co-host Jaime Zawmon, President Of TITAN CEO
Cashflow may be the number one most important thing in any business, but company culture comes in a close second. It is what Stuart Smith strives to build everyday as the CEO of Buehler Companies, a top-rated moving company that does everything from commercial moving to Girl Scout cookie distribution. Leading with humility and a strong commitment to company culture, Stuart definitely deserves a place at the Titan 100. Listen in as he shares his take on company culture and humility-driven leadership in this conversation with Bob Roark and co-host, Jaime Zawmon, the President of TITAN CEO.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/SzrZgiPL9f8[/embed]Culture That Moves With Stuart Smith Of Buehler Companies And Co-host Jaime Zawmon, President Of TITAN CEOWe have Jaime Zawmon, the Founder and President of Titan CEO. Our guest is Stuart Smith, the CEO of Buehler Companies. Welcome, Jaime and Stuart. Thank you.We're going to jump straight into it. Stuart, if you would tell us about your business and who you serve.The name of my company is Buehler Moving and Storage and we're an agent for Mayflower Van Lines. We also have Alliance Relocation, which is an agent for United Van Lines. A couple of years ago, we bought Student Movers and that's our local moving company. We bought that because people had the perception that we were the big trucks. They skipped over for small little moves, and in essence, we do all those, but we bought Student Movers to give people the perception that that's what they wanted was something for a smaller move. That’s been a great acquisition.We do local household goods, interstate, international, and we do have about 500,000 square feet of storage space between all four locations. We do a tremendous amount of office moving, and commercial business has turned into about 60% of our revenue now. We do hotel renovations and we also have gotten into battery work, where we go to different cell sites from El Paso all the way to South Dakota and we replaced cell site batteries from A to Z. We climb to the top of the mountains and we go to the desert. It's crazy some of the places we've been to change cell site batteries. We do Girl Scout cookies. We're the largest distributor of the United States for Girl Scout cookies. That's a cool little thing.In fact, they're coming into our warehouse and we'll end up getting about 72 truckloads of cookies by 270,000 cases. It's a lot of cookies and we deliver those out. We do design work. Designers will ship all kinds of furniture in and we'll deliver them out to homes and resort places. We'll set up everything from A to Z with the houses. We do work for a big home builder that we go around and set up all their model homes. We've tried to be diverse. Probably my favorite thing we do is the office moving because it’s a great piece of business and you can do a lot of different things quickly.I love the Girl Scout cookies. That’s exciting. It's fun.I'm excited to have you here, Stuart, as a 2020 Titan 100. It's no surprise that you have made this list. For those of you that are reading, Stuart was recognized as one of Colorado's Top 100 CEOs & C-Level Executives, the book that features 100 titans of industry. As we kick off this podcast, one of the things I always like to ask every Titan that we interview in this series is, what characteristics do they believe it takes to be considered a Titan of the industry?There are a lot of different characteristics that it takes to be a titan and one of them is you have to have culture in your company. The number one most important thing in running a business is cashflow but number two is culture. If you don't have a great culture or a culture of bringing your people together in a cohesive form, you're shot in the foot. Let me tell you, it's hard because it’s like herding cats and everybody has different opinions on how it works.[bctt tweet="If you don't have people that want to be part of what you are, you've got nothing." username=""]The main thing is if you as the leader of the company, don't recognize your people and make them feel like they're part of something special. You don't ever have anything cohesive. We take our culture seriously. We have to live our company through our cultural structure through a book called The Energy Bus. Jon Gordon, the author, I got to hear him speak in a private setting and it changed my life. It changed a bunch of our employees' lives.A brief little story about that. We let everybody read it and one of our employees came up and said, “Stuart, this is a great book and it's impressed me. I love what you're doing, but you're not living it.” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “We have an energy vampire in the office here and you're not doing anything about it.” We had to step back and look at what we're doing. I went and said something to the person's manager and he said, “Stuart, you can't let that person go. They've been here for fifteen years, and they know everything about the company and about what we do.” I go, “We've got to make a change, or we're not going to be who we say we are.”After a bunch of consternation and going back and forth, we let her go and the attitude of the whole company changed. We had a similar situation like that happen out in our warehouse. If everybody is rolling together in the same direction, you can take that vote anywhere and we also have the core values that we live by. The culture to me is paramount in making a company successful. It's gotten to be such a buzzword, but it is so true. If you don't have people that want to be part of what you are, you've got nothing. You’ve got to make people believe that you're doing the right thing, you care about them, and that you're trying to do something bigger.You're the first titan that we've interviewed that has talked about the culture and cash, the C and the C as I’ll put it. They're both paramount to success. If you don't have cashflow, you can have all the receivables and all the profit on the paper and you’ve got nothing. You’ve got to have cashflow so you can pay your employees, your payable run, and pay your bills. That’s paramount but after that, it's culture and we've got people that understand that.Before we segue into your journey, how you got from there to here when you get an additional business add on, and you come into it day one, what do you think about transferring or instilling the culture that you have elsewhere into the new location? What do you do?It’s like when we expand to a new location. The first thing we do is we take our management team to the new place that we've done in the past. We sit down and talk to everybody and find out what their needs and wants are and what's important to them. What's going to make them feel they're part of what we are? We find out what they need to help the branch be more successful. Where do they feel like the previous ownership group let them down? How do we improve on that? We try to do things that make people feel special.A lot of it is point-to-point contact in person. That's what's the problem now. That's my perception of what's going to change culture with all the pandemic. We're going to see a pendulum swing to where people are working in their house more and more but it's going to go back the other way because the culture is going to suffer. We work on that when we buy a new location or when we grow or we do anything. We try and stay in touch with people and it's important for the owner or the CEO to be visible. You’ve got to be visible. I feel like you’ve got to manage by walking around. I don't care who you are. None of us are that important.[caption id="attachment_5633" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Buehler Companies: The number one most important thing in running a business is cashflow, but number two is culture.[/caption] Humility is important and you’ve got to let people know that we appreciate him as a leader. We bought a new building a few years ago now and it's my pride and joy as an owner. It's the Taj Mahal for what we do. It's a 330,000 square foot building and I asked all the ladies in the office, I said, “What's important to you in our new location? What would make you feel special by being there? What do you want in our new office?” They go, “We want nice bathrooms.” Let me tell you, our bathrooms are top-notch. People laugh at me because I get all excited about our bathrooms. They’re granite countertops. They have an automatic hand wash and the tile is amazing. They have a certain feel. We have the same thing. We have showers for our drivers. We have a gym and we have showers in the gym. There's a vibe and there's a feeling that shows that we care.Going back a bit, you're talking about the energy vampire, and when that person moved on from your company, what did you notice in the behavior or reaction to the folks that were still part of the team?The attitude change was amazing. People's attitude got so much better and they felt like, “They're listening to me. They care about who we are and what we're doing.” It's easy to listen to someone and blow them off but if you do what you're preaching about and you follow up with it, people believe you. It's easy to lose the trust that you work hard to develop. As a leader, that's something we have to constantly work on.I love hearing you talk, Stuart, about connecting with your people and listening. It's refreshing as you talk about the humility that's involved with leading your organization. I would love to know, and I'm sure many of our readers would as well, what your story has been and how you've gotten to this path you came to acquire your companies. If you could walk us through your journey, that would resonate with many people.It's a silly story but before I got into the moving and storage business, I have sold ladies apparel, dresses and sportswear. There's a definite correlation between trucking and ladies’ dresses. I don't know what it is yet. I'm still trying to figure it out. I used to work with beautiful women and now I work with truck drivers. I'm the crazy one.It’s a good match.[bctt tweet="The grass might look greener on the other side, but that’s because grass looks shaggy when mowed and watered." username=""]I was with a company and we grew fast in the apparel business. Some things that came up with this gentleman's lifestyle involved some illegal drugs that helped take the company out of business. I didn't know what I was going to do. I was a young guy with young children and I was like, “I’ve got to find a job,” but I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I lived in Dallas at the time and my brother-in-law in Denver called me up and he goes, “I want to come up and look at this little moving company. I'm sick of the brain drain of the people and the equipment breaking. I want to do freight forwarding.” I go, “Okay.” I didn't even know what a truck was, much less a forklift. I came up and looked at it. I was like, “This is cool. I've always liked forklifts.”He had a Mercedes truck and I thought, “I've always wanted a Mercedes.” He had a partner and took a dive and bought my brother in law out. It was a different company. It wasn't Buehler at the time. It was another company. We played a lot of cards back then on weekends with the boys. At one of the card games, someone said, “Buehler, Mayflower is for sale.” I told my partner at the time, “Steve, that's our ticket to grow.” I was the partner that was always bouncing off the walls and trying to do crazy things and he's the guy that was always stable, but he was the quiet one. I was pushing him and he was pulling me all the time.I went and looked at Buehler and I said, “I want to put this deal together.” It took six months and there were a lot of issues with it and a lot of negative equity in the balance sheet. I got a bank to buy off on it because it was off-balance sheet equity. Twenty-eight or so years ago, we made the deal happen. I had a partner at the time, so we bought it together. I bought him out 1.5 years later and I bought our Fort Worth location. We bought a branch in Carrollton Springs that was non branded. We bought The United Agencies in Fort Worth and Denver. We bought new warehouses in Fort Worth and a new one in Denver. We bought Carrollton Springs and Student Movers. Lastly, we bought Albuquerque.When I bought the company, it was doing about $1.2 million. In 2019, we did about $3 million to $4 million. The moving business, it's a tough business because there are a lot of moving parts. There's a lot of expense. People say it's expensive to move, but you had to pay all the work comp, the insurance on trucks, and the health insurance. It's a thin margin business but the cool thing is, when we bought the company, we had about 40 employees and our high watermark was 300. We're at about 225 so we provide a nice living for about 225 families. When you start thinking about it, it's humbling because you're responsible for those people so I don't take that lightly.You certainly got it dialed in in terms of how to acquire, build culture, acquire again, and continue with the culture. When we heard you talk about it, many people only dream about acquiring organizations to continue to grow and further their mission and you've done it successfully many times. I would be curious to know, Bob, and I'm sure you're wondering this too, is there any advice that you might be able to offer to a CEO looking to make multiple acquisitions as you did? What's one piece of advice or secret sauce?I don't know if there's a secret sauce. Some of its being risk-averse. My CFO is always, “No,” and when we bought our Albuquerque office, we went down and looked at it. We're leaving and driving to the Fort Worth office and I said, “What do you think?” He goes, “I see a lot of problems there.” He went through the list and he goes, “What do you think?” I said, “I see opportunities.” We bought Albuquerque and he goes, “Why don't we stay in the place that we're at?” Because it was not a nice location. It was a dump and I said, “Okay.” He goes, “Why don't we stay there for a year to make sure we're good?”Two months later, I bought another warehouse there. I was like, “Now we can have a nice warehouse.” My advice is the way I look at every purchase, on any business deal whether it's a car, buying a business or anything, I always say, “What's the worst that can happen?” Once I figure out what that is, and once I come to grips that I can live with whatever that is that I realize, “Go for it.” If I'm comfortable with anything above that is good so that's my secret sauce. It's simple. We're not building rockets.I think about risk management, and what fascinates me is I'm envisioning this workout gym, showers, and fancy bathroom that went into this. I'm now stuck in the bathroom. We all have our things. I'm thinking about the behavior and reaction of the ladies that work for you, the truck drivers that come in. It's clean, welcoming, it's for their comfort and benefit, and I would say atypical. What did that do to your ability to recruit and retain quality people?[caption id="attachment_5634" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Buehler Companies: In every purchase, always say, “What's the worst that can happen?”[/caption] Thank goodness, we don't have a lot of turnovers but when we bring people in and we walk around the building, people are like, “This is cool.” It's got a great vibe. We have a drivers’ room where we set up this drivers’ room with a pool table. It's for Interstate drivers so they can get away from everybody. It has a computer in there so they can do paperwork. It has a TV, a couple of nice couches, washer, and dryer so they can go in there and get away and not be bothered. We’ve got a cool vibe there for everybody to feel like they are part of something special. We have a great lunchroom. We cook breakfast for everybody. I’ll tell you probably the favorite thing I do for employees that make them feel special. Jaime, you’ll have to answer this question. What are the two favorite things women love?There's a lot but shopping for one. Shopping for what?Everybody is different. Some women like shoes and handbags.Shoes and handbags. I'm simplifying it and generalizing. I take everybody in the company shoe shopping every year. If you give somebody a cash bonus, typically a lady in the office, and you'd say, “Here's a couple $100,” they're going to say, “Thanks,” and they're going to pay a bill. If you take them and you go with them and we go to the store, they open up for us early, everybody has to buy a pair of shoes. It's a nice store so they get $200 to $250 to spend on a pair of shoes. It's amazing what that does because when someone wears those shoes, they're like, “Those are mine. They're not something I'd share with my kids.” It's simple, but you wouldn't believe the reaction. I started doing it with the women, but the men got all crazy and went, “How come the girls get it, but we don't?” I take everybody.What a thoughtful gesture. That means so much and it's unique.We’ve got to be different. You have to be different because any company can be like every other company. I want to be different.I would probably be remiss. We're in the middle of COVID in 2020. For you and your business, it seems like there's an out-migration. There are lots of people moving around. Are you seeing much difference in your business as a result of COVID?Yes, it's been quite a year. Our household goods this year are through the roof. Our interstate hauling is way off the charts. Local moves are awesome this year, whereas in previous years, it's been good but not as vibrant as this year. Our commercial businesses are way off because people aren't in the offices. I have this vision of what's going to happen. I have my own personal opinion on the pandemic so I probably should keep that to myself.[bctt tweet="Humility is part of being a leader." username=""]I believe once people start going back to the offices, because they will at some point, companies are going to allow people to start working from home more and more. There's going to be downsizing of offices so we're going to be doing a lot of decommission work. That’s going to work for a little bit but then companies are going to find out, “After Joe left and I hired...
26 minutes | 4 months ago
Breaking Down The CEO Experience With Patrick Dennis And Cohost Jaime Zawmon
Being at the top of any team is truly a regaling feeling, but keeping your position also means dealing with loneliness, marketing strategies, and the constant urge to improve. In any CEO experience, a tenacious and curious mindset plays a huge role. Bob Roark is joined by cohost Jamie Zawmon in talking with Patrick Dennis, the President and CEO of Aspect Software. Patrick spends some time detailing what it takes to lead a team, from getting rid of the fear of change and learning how to get out of a messy situation in the most optimal way, to the right way to motivate oneself.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/XpHLa48uODo[/embed]Breaking Down The CEO Experience With Patrick Dennis And Cohost Jaime ZawmonWe have Patrick Dennis. He's the President and CEO of Aspect Software. We have my cohost Jaime Zawmon. She is the Founder and President of Titan CEO. Welcome. It’s good to be here.Thank you for taking time, Jaime and Patrick. I appreciate it. We'll go right into it. Patrick, tell us a little bit about your business and who you serve? We are the leading provider of contact center software and workforce management and optimization software for enterprises around the world. Four of the five top commercial banks are our customers, three of the top four telecom providers, four of the top five tech companies, and six out of the six top airlines. You've interacted with our software if you've ever called Southwest Airlines to book a reservation. You've interacted with our software or the people that are behind our software if you've ever ordered anything off Amazon, Apple or from Microsoft. That's what we do. It's an awesome job. There are about 1,300 people that work here and we do about $300 million in revenue.[bctt tweet="If you don't have the curiosity bug, it's hard to figure out what went off track in a business." username=""]Nothing to do. It keeps you busy.Yes, it keeps us busy.I'm excited Patrick, that you are a 2020 Titan 100. For those reading, Patrick was selected as one of Colorado's top 100 CEOs and C-level executives. We featured him in The Titan 100 Book. What I always ask every Titan who we interview on this show is what characteristics do you believe that it takes to be considered a Titans of industry? Jaime, you asked me this question a lot. For my little niche of what I do for a living, tenacity plays a big role. Much of what I do involves turning businesses around or helping businesses that were at one time struggling. If I think about the arc of my career and what's helped me be successful, tenacity has played a big role. It's hard to take on challenges like the ones taken on historically if you don't have the intestinal fortitude to want to win and stick with it. The second one is you need to be a little curious. If you don't have that curiosity bug, it's hard to figure out what went off track in a business. Some combination of tenacity and curiosity has served me well over the years.I completely agree with your curious statement there. I've watched you in interactions for many months and I believe it's a part of your DNA. I always see you asking incredible questions. It makes sense to me that you would say that. For those of you that don't know, I helped Jaime out in a board capacity occasionally with her business. I find the best way to get Jaime a benefit is to ask her questions that she should have contemplated the answers to. That's been a fun part of our relationship. It's fun to watch you craft your business based on some of the answers to your own questions. You have gotten to see that in action. That's true.Patrick, you have an interesting journey from beginning to now. If you would share with us a little bit about how you got started and what brought you to where you are now with your skillset. Everybody's journey is interesting. Mine has twists and turns like everybody else's. If I were to start with the most important dot on the map, I was an average kid who grew up on a farm. I went to school and had good grades. I thought I was going to go to a big school. When it came time to go to college, my dad wound up having a heart attack and so I stayed in Rochester. All is fine and worked out great but it was one of those moments where the path was going in this direction and it wound up going over here. That got me my first job at Eastman Kodak Company because I was trying to figure out how to pay for college and make it all come together. I worked during college for the entire time. At that time, Kodak company was a good company, and so I got some great training and baseline education from a world global workforce powerhouse brand.It's important in my journey that there are these bricks laid with these successful companies. Kodak was the first followed by EMC and then Oracle. That's what gave me the experience and the confidence to go do bigger and different jobs. I learned M&A while I was at EMC. I learned turnarounds and restructuring at EMC and Oracle. I've taken all those lessons from some of those big successful global companies and merged it into my own practice in smaller settings.The famous line when I became a CEO was I know a gentleman that said, “I'd like you to be a CEO one day.” He calls me out of the blue and says, “I have a great first CEO job for you.” It's a public company. It’s in Southern California and they need some help. As you remember, “Nobody's first job is Coca-Cola,” was the exact line. I was like, “That's an interesting sales pitch. Nobody's first CEO job is Coca-Cola.” Off to Southern California I went. We did some real work on a company called Guidance Software and turned it around and sold it to OpenText. I took that skillset and moved into private equity.I worked with Vector Capital as an Operating Executive. Bob introduced me as the President and CEO of Aspects Software. I bought Aspects Software with Vector Capital in February 2019. These days I partner in private equity to buy companies and do what I do, which is trying to get them moving in a good direction. We've been lucky enough to do with this one. That's the tip of the ways and the journey. It's been incredible and awesome. There's a pinch of luck involved in all this. I couldn't be happier or more blessed to do what I need to do.[caption id="attachment_5621" align="aligncenter" width="600"] CEO Experience: It's fun to watch you craft your business based on some of the answers to your own questions.[/caption] They say that everything happens for a reason. That seems to be the same thing for you. I’m curious to know what you think is your most important role as a CEO that other CEOs reading can learn from your experience?If you're a CEO, your role changes over the arc of you being a CEO. Maybe when you start on day one, there's real work that needs to be done around the culture or the values of the company so that you can start to get performance. Later in your journey, you need to be the person that's thinking about mergers and acquisitions. Sometimes this word gets diluted. People oftentimes say the CEO has to have a vision. That always has the sensibility that it's a distance that's far away. My experience has been quite the opposite. The CEO does need to have a vision. Sometimes there's fog and vision is 3 feet in front of you. Sometimes it's a clear day and you can see for miles.The role of the CEO changes with the environment that's going on at the company and what your objectives are. You have to be the person willing to make those modifications and changes, and lead from the front or the company's not going to follow you. The most important thing to do in a CEO job is to offer leadership that needs to be aligned to some amount of vision whether that's near-term or long-term. You've got to help everybody march down the path. At its core, that's the job. You have to be flexible enough to move with it. You have to be humble enough to know when you know what to do but you don't know how to do it, and make sure you got the people around you to help you when you're in that phase. That's how I think about that.As you've gone through your career, you come to various areas, and you're faced with problems, then you come into a company that is a turnaround situation. On day one, when you arrive at the company, what's your process over the next end period of time to start trying to assess, pushing your vision out, finding where the problems are, solving and moving forward? There are some phases and it does start with a drive towards stability. One lesson learned is if you're in a situation and it's messy for whatever set of reasons, not reflective of aspect necessarily, this answer is more how you approach situation generally. You first need to figure out how you're going to make it stable, whatever that means. Financially stable or maybe you have to get the personnel to be stable because there's too much turnover or the product isn't working and you need product stability. The first thing, you have to figure out is what's going to drive stability. You got to get it down to a super narrow band answer, and then you got to go make that happen. Almost nothing else matters until you get that done. When you get that done, you got to flag and declare some amount of victory. I try to call that a battle, not the war. You then pivot people to whatever is the next step.The next step is universally defined by two things. What they do for your customers and do you understand it? What is the core of the company and do you understand that? Those two questions seem easy. You got to click on that question 10 or 15 times each one of them until you get down to some precise, actionable nugget of what you do for a customer. You got to do the same thing to understand your company. When I describe the situation is messy, my experience is if I said that there are two important things in my office back here, if my office was a big mess, it would be a hard thing to find the two things.[bctt tweet="It's hard to run a business when you have a bunch of distractions and disruption." username=""]The reason why that step is important is it's hard to find those little nuggets when it's a mess. You got to push and push until you find them. When you pick them up, you can say, “This is what we're going to do in the next step. We're going to focus on what we do for customers exceptionally well and we're going to use this part of the company that's truly exceptional. That's where we go from here.” That's step two. Step three, you figure out after you're done with step two. Steps 1 and 2 are consistent. Your phase three depends a lot on the company. It’s triage. I have a good friend who is a doctor and deals with skiing accidents because Jaime and I live in Colorado. Those types of things happen. Anthony is one of the people that understand this the best because when somebody gets in an accident, he winds up in the ER. He goes and tries to figure out what happened to their knee, leg or whatever. It's the same thing for me. When you first show up, you've got to figure those few things out that we talked about, and then you make a plan and act against the plan.You've got a lot of experience in this area, a corporate transformation expert. Patrick, I'm sure you've experienced lots of crazy stories or things where you've come in and seen something that was a mess or a big issue. It landed on your lap and you had to figure out how to navigate that. Could you give us an example or share a story of one of the biggest challenges or issues that you worked through? When I was running Guidance, one of the tricks was we needed to do some major restructuring at the company and that was going to be complicated. To make a long story short, we went up in this thing called a Proxy Contest, which means somebody from the outside world thinks they can do a better job running a company than management. All of a sudden, everybody starts to accumulate all these shares and it leads up to a vote. Somebody is either going to vote you in or out when you go through this. I oftentimes say that it is like the most well-funded divorce that's ever happened because there are businesses involved. Everybody's got money. Somebody else has had lawyers, putting out information every single day about you, your business, and why the business should be taken over by somebody else. If you think about that, that's terrible to begin with.On top of it, you're running a business. At Guidance, we went 8 for 9 on revenue quarters, and 9 for 9 on EPS quarters. We did that all while we were in the middle of a proxy contest with external pressure from these people that thought they could do a better job. There are many lessons learned along the way. That goes back to this idea that you have to be tenacious and you can't give up. You have to have the will to win. A lot of people around me worked hard during that time in some unusual conditions to get out of that mess.[caption id="attachment_5622" align="aligncenter" width="600"] CEO Experience: If you're a CEO, your role changes over the arc of you being a CEO.[/caption] This may be a little nugget for everybody, it turns out if you've ever owned a stock, you get to vote and you get to turn in your vote. If you ever have to split your vote, you have to go take the second half of your vote and you have to deliver it in person. No one does it anymore. When you get into some of these unusual situations, you find that there are some good arcane processes and details that still exist in the United States business framework. This one was a challenge because it's hard to run a business when you've got a bunch of distractions and disruption, and you're dealing with some old practices that nobody knows about. In the end, we won and that's all that matters. That was an interesting and hairy time.Whether you're selling your business or doing what you were doing, you have this incoming, some plan and unplanned. You've got the rest of everything you're supposed to accomplish on the course of the day. What did you do to shift from incoming to focus? Was there a technique that you use or something you learned? There's a strategy here. Those two things are not necessarily at all alike in terms of what work that needs to be done. Bob, you're an old military guy. Think about these two battles that have to run concurrently. If we're going to win the war, we need to win these two battles. The team that was working on the outside work, we structured to go win the outside work. We had a team structure for effectively running the company. To some extent, I knew I was going to have to participate in both of these. I had almost like a co-CEO on each side of that ledger. I took a guy named Barry who was at the time, my chief financial officer. He runs the core operation day in and out, while Michael, Alfredo and I worked on what needed to happen externally.Barry trusted Michael, Alfredo and I to get this part done, and we also trusted Barry to keep an eye on the operation. We had to go distributed to do both of those things at the same time. It's a great example of why, at some point as a CEO, you need to make sure you have people around you that are better than you at whatever it is they do. When these critical moments come up, you need to be able to draw on the team. If the team isn't there already, you're not going to have time to build the team then. You've got to build the team in advance of the time when something goes haywire, which is a big lesson learned. These days, I have a new management team in place within the first week. That's an important step to be getting on the right path, whatever that means, in whatever business and situation it is.Every question that we throw at you, Patrick, it seems like you always have these well-structured game plans for how you're going to block and tackle every single situation. Where do you find the motivation? It's funny, you meet and you look around your team, and they all have different things that drive them. For some people, it's their family. For others, it's monetary compensation. What I've found for me is I keep trying to accumulate experiences that other people haven't had. I don't know why that switches me on so much. Every time something gets knocked down that was on my list, I’m going to try to find something else. A couple of examples already came up like I wanted to be a public company CEO someday, check. I want to sell a public company one day, check. We used the word waypoint in the precall. Every time I get to one of those waypoints, I set another 1 or 2 out there. Usually one is ridiculous, but it keeps you moving toward whatever that goal is.If you would have said when I was born on a farm that I was going to be a public company CEO and sell a public company one day, that waypoint felt way out there at that time too. It’s an unlikely outcome from Rochester, New York to that. I keep setting them and all of us Coloradans like to hike. We've all experienced this on a big hike where sooner or later, you look up the hill and say, “I got to make it to that tree, then I got to make it to that rock.” The next thing you know, you're on the top of the mountain. We keep trying to set the waypoints and stay on the march. You got to stay humble because I'm in no immediate danger of being Jeff Bezos. There's always somebody that's done something better than you, or bigger, or whatever. If you stay humble along the way, you can get further down that path.If I was the CEO of Coca-Cola though, I'd be looking in my rearview mirror. I wouldn't know how to do it. When you’re CEO, you are relentlessly hit with Forbes articles or Harvard Business School reviews. There are always these case studies on CEOs that have done amazing things. During my first few years being a CEO, I would look at those and think to myself and you do a natural comparison. You think, “I'm nothing like that person. Is that what I'm supposed to aspire to do?” In one stage, HBS came out with an article about CEOs and said that there are archetypes of CEOs. That oftentimes the ones that are what I would call a run CEO, Coca-Cola for instance, those are the people that you see in mass media and are almost more celebrity-like in their role.[bctt tweet="If you stay humble along the way, you can get further down the path to success." username=""]That is not at all what I do. I got comfortable with the fact that my archetype is to help companies get themselves back on track. One of the trade-offs is I'm never going to do any of that stuff. I'm never going to run Coke. I...
24 minutes | 5 months ago
Business Scaling And Personal Branding Tips From The Chief Of Chaos, Matt Frary With Cohost Jaime Zawmon Of TITAN CEO
One characteristic that sets industry Titans apart from the crowd is that they understand the importance of building their personal brand as well as their business. Matt Frary has exited quite a number of times during his career, but he has always been and will always be the ChiefOfChaos. For over 20 years, Matt has been helping big brands all over the world scale by making sense of the chaotic online marketing world. He earned a place in the Titan 100 as the CEO of SmarterChaos, a boutique consulting firm that he founded in 2010. Having just exited this company last July, he is now the EVP of Brand Strategy for the acquiring firm, Digital Media Solutions Group. In this conversation with Bob Roark and TITAN CEO President, Jaime Zawmon, he shares his career as a serial entrepreneur as well as some personal branding tips.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/9ykToozPzkI[/embed]Business Scaling And Personal Branding Tips From The Chief Of Chaos, Matt Frary With Cohost Jaime Zawmon Of TITAN CEOWe're extremely fortunate to have Jaime Zawmon as a cohost. She is the Founder and CEO of Titan 100, and we have Matt Frary, Digital Media Solutions Group, EVP of Brand Strategy. Jaime, thanks for taking the time. Matt, I appreciate you carving out the time given the Chaos that has been happening in your life. With all that being said, Matt, if you would give us a thumbnail sketch of your business and who you serve. First off, thanks Jaime for having me in, and thank you, Bob for having us as well. We appreciate it. We built this little company a few years ago called SmarterChaos.com and I'm one of the Founders and was the CEO of that company. There's a long lead up to this, but we were purchased by Digital Media Solutions. On July 15th, the same day that we were purchased by Digital Media Solutions, we went public. We have some exciting news that we sold our company, and we also got to join a company that had an IPO. It's exciting times. I have to say, I've never imagined growing this company years ago, then selling and participating in a public event on the same day.A crash course in, are you kidding me?You can't script this stuff, I swear. Maybe we'll talk about this, but when I did start the company SmarterChaos.com, I did say something to the founders about, "We should build a strong foundation so this thing could scale someday."I’m curious to know the types of clients that you worked with or you envisioned working with through SmarterChaos as you originally created that foundation to scale it and grow it. SmarterChaos was originally built so that we could help large brands navigate the chaos of the online marketing world. I started SmarterChaos on the back of a napkin, sipping a margarita down in Mexico in Puerto Vallarta. My son who was 2 or 3 at the time was playing in a little waterfall fountain. My wife said, "Are you good here?" I said, "I'm good. I have an idea." Two hours later, I had sketched out this business plan and I had realized that the online marketing world for the layperson was extremely chaotic. You have all these different places you need to log in, all these different theories you needed to employ. I looked at serving any brand that looked at the internet as a chaotic confusing place where you could lose money quickly trying to navigate that space and pumping money into Facebook, Twitter, and all the partnerships.To make a long story longer, we focused on the brands that wanted to acquire customers profitably. If it was a household brand, that was the type of brand that we wanted to go after. When we first started, I used Shark Tank as my lead list. I would watch Shark Tank and I figured if they got funded, they had money. They needed to grow their consumers. The great thing about Shark Tank is they talked about customer acquisition and the cost to acquire a customer. They talk about all their metrics on Shark Tank. It was my discovery call. I could find out more about the company. The next day I was on the phone calling those companies. The types of companies that we got to service where Dollar Shave Club, Manscaped, FabFitFun, the Bucs. A lot of these were recognized from Shark Tank.I think about the genius of calling somebody and goes, "I already know what they do." You call them up on a friendly call. What was their reaction when they got your call after being on Shark Tank? It's like the pretty guy or pretty girl at the dance. You think that everybody is trying to dance with them, but you find out that they're lonely. At first, I thought everybody's got to be calling them after Shark Tank, but you'd be surprised that wasn't the case. I found that they were excited to talk to me. As long as I'm in the business of performance marketing. When you spend $1 with us, we need to return $3 or $4 back to you in revenue. When you pitch a company that's in a high growth startup stage and you say, "For every $1 you spend with us in marketing, I'm going to return $3 or $4," we're having a financial discussion at that point like, "Would you like to invest with me? I'm going to give you the highest return." Since they need to be a steward of the dollars that were invested in them in Shark Tank, in these incubators, then it's a natural fit. It's not a hard sale to say, "Let me spend your dollars and make you more money." It's an easy sale after that.[bctt tweet="An industry Titan can see the future. They are able to bend reality around them." username=""]I have to ask before we move on to the next question, of all the clients that you worked with over the time, which one was the most fun and why? We worked with FabFitFun for seven and a half years. That was one of the most steady fun. That was great to see them. We met the guys from Michael and Dani from FabFitFun before they even launched the product. They didn't even know what they were going to put in the box. I met them over at a sushi shop in LA, and they were talking about their vision. Now, they're valued over $1 billion with a million subscribers paying them $59 on every subscription. That was the most fun from a business perspective. The ones with the greatest sense of humor and the ones that we laughed all the time, we traveled to Vegas together, and we had a great time with them was a Manscaped.com. If you've never seen the Manscaped videos, you have to. They sponsor NASCAR. They took over all of Penn Station in New York City. They've been fun with their advertising. Their YouTube videos are laugh out loud funny. If you get offended by Manscaping, maybe don't watch them but they are funny.I appreciate the insight, Matt. It's always great when you can work with clients that you love and there's a general click in the ability to work together to help your clients succeed even further. As a tie into the Titan 100 platform and the program, and one of the reasons that you're on this show and we're recognizing you here is because you are one of Colorado's Top 100 CEOs and C-Level Executives through our online application process. Matt was recognized in the Titan 100 book here as the CEO of SmarterChaos. I always like to ask every one of our Titans that comes on this show, what characteristics they believe it takes to be considered a Titan of industry in your purview? That's such a big title, Titan of industry. I'm looking at the Titan 100 award right over here. It inspires me every single day. It does mean a lot, Jaime. I appreciate that. To be considered a Titan of industry, I would think that you need to have a consistent vision. You need to recognize scale early on that you can build a platform company that can grow. That foundation that you have can bear the weight of the company you are going to build. You need to think in the positive in the future and say things like, "In three years, I'm going to be 100 people. I'm going to have revenues of $100 million. I'm going to go public." I believe that a Titan of industry sees in the future.I believe the Titan of industry is able to bend reality around them. You have to give people that purpose and vision even when people are shaking their heads. I've been in meetings where people have shook their heads like, "Matt, that's not going to happen." I'm like, "#MakeItHappen," which the sign on my wall over here is #MakeItHappen. My other sign is Wake Up, Say a Prayer and Hustle. You have to believe that you can make it happen, have the vision to make it happen, get the people on board to make it happen. You have to wake up every day and hustle, and say that prayer. I believe that a CEO that is going to get that title of Titan 100 has to have that megaphone and be consistently saying the same vision and the same message. I had to do that for ten years to build SmarterChaos into what it is now. Even when people around me are like, "Stop shouting, I get what you're doing," I kept with that megaphone and kept saying what we were going to do.I hear a lot of the stuff that you're saying. I'm thinking of your skill stack. Back when you started SmarterChaos and you'd go, "I think we should build a company that we can scale at some point." I find that as somewhat an unusual viewpoint. How did you acquire that skill to think that way, or what influenced you to go that way? Prior to SmarterChaos. I built a company called ROIRocket. That was 2005 to 2010 and I was twenty-something years old scaling a company that was doing millions of dollars a month. I then sold my position in ROIRocket in 2010. Early on, I realized that with large amounts of money coming in, it means that you have large overhead. With large overhead, means you have lots of employees. You have a huge responsibility to the people around you, to be fiscally responsible, and to be able to scale that vision.It was a combination of my MBA from Thunderbird, my background in global business, and seeing that the world outside our borders and thinking big, and then realizing that you have to work on your business and not in your business. There's a whole idea called the E-Myth. I don't know if you've ever read the book, The E-Myth, but if you read that book, you realize you can't just be the operator in your business. You have to work on your business and grow it. The combination of all of those things led me to believe that early on at SmarterChaos, we needed to buy platforms like Salesforce and QuickBooks. We needed to act and think as though we were a 100 or 500-person company, even though we were three guys in a basement.[caption id="attachment_5558" align="aligncenter" width="600"] ChiefOfChaos: You can't just be the operator in your business. You have to work on it and grow it.[/caption] As I think about the journey and there's a certain cultural inoculation. You get your culture transmitted through. You've been through ROIRocket, and then you have the Chaos, and then you have this company. How do you take, transmit, promote or carry forward the culture that's made you successful? What do you do? This may be an egocentric point of view, but I try to espouse all the values that I have in my brand. I have a personal brand. If you go to ChiefOfChaos.com, that's my website, I have a podcast out there that's Chaos Makes Sense. If you follow me on any social media, it's going to be /ChiefOfChaos. You can find me. I've built and sold six internet companies. When I'm building a business, it's going to be methodical, scalable, there's going to be a certain culture, and there's a certain leadership. I also do this thing on Fridays, #FridayWithFrary.If you go on LinkedIn and you look up Friday With Frary and you look on my social media, you're going to see this consistency of my vision of life, management, personal life, and my faith in God. You're going to see all of that. It's consistency and a consistent megaphone with the platform that I have. I wouldn't have this platform if I didn't inspire the people around me to build the things that I'm asking them to build alongside me. To answer your question, I build the culture right here first. Those that are inspired to come with me on this journey on this bus can get on the bus, we go in and we build things. That's how I do it.It's interesting that you talked about building a personal brand alongside the company. I know several CEOs that are invested in that. They believe in it wholeheartedly as you do. What advice would you give to CEOs that either don't have a personal brand or looking to grow their personal brands alongside their company? What would you recommend to them? The pitfall of not having a personal brand is not being able to extricate yourself from the company. I always looked at SmarterChaos and I didn't name it Matt Frary Inc. It wasn't about me. It was about the customer. It was about the service we provided. It was about the people at SmarterChaos. The sum of all the people, their skillset is way greater than my skillset. Naming it something like Frary Inc. didn't make any sense. We built these companies and then you need to see them off to college. You need to send them off to where they can grow, thrive and so on.The only way that I could see, and this is just in my feeble brain, is that I would create this persona, this brand, and that brand would build things. If people wanted to buy those things, work at those things, or whatever that is, then they were inspired by that brand to do that. As a founder, as a CEO of startup companies or high growth companies, you are your greatest path to revenue. The greatest path to revenue is selling. You have to sell something to get revenue. The greatest salesperson in your business is you yourself.The greatest way to sell something is how people buy into you. People do business with people they like. My entire social media persona and my entire brand are all about amplifying the vision and the values that I have. People will naturally want to do business with me or they won't. If you don't want to do business with me, it's okay. We probably had a culture before we even have to have a conversation because you already know who I am. I would tell those CEOs to start building a personal brand.You put together companies and sold six companies as you said. On the morning after the sale, is there a thought process that's been going through your mind or starting to arrive at your consciousness? You go like, "I just sold the company, and now what?" I'm interested in your post-sale observation.[bctt tweet="The greatest salesperson in your business is yourself." username=""]When I consummated that deal and when we finally got the lawyers and the accountants, it was 1:00 in the morning on February 3rd, 2010. I sold that company and after the sale of ROIRocket, the next morning I woke up, I looked at my wife and I said, "I don't know what I'm going to do. I need to go build something. I'm going to go down to the Douglas County Library in Castle Rock, and I'm going to start something." I got up that morning, took my laptop down, got on the free Wi-Fi at Douglas County Libraries, and started SmarterChaos.When I sold on July 15th of 2020, the next day I got up, I needed to start working because I still have an amazing job with Digital Media Solutions and I will for quite some time. I got up the next morning and I was like, "What is the future look like?" I wrote down the next ideas that might come along that I could start to seed out there. Digital Media Solutions is a large company. It's a public company. How could I make my journey at Digital Media Solutions be entrepreneurial? How could I build divisions there where I could effectively build divisions inside of a large company?I'm always looking post-sale for how can I make a difference? What are they going to say on my tombstone? What's the legacy I'm going to leave? How big can I build this legacy? When I say, how big of a legacy can I build, I don't mean how much money I can make. That's not super important to me. It's about, can I build these legacy companies that can go on and employ other people that can affect people's lives, that can change the trajectory of other people's businesses? I'm happy to see that SmarterChaos, when we did the marketing for all these companies, I know of 6 or 7 companies that became billion-dollar companies. That makes me happy that we were a part of that. That company goes on and can build some other billion-dollar companies, and the next thing that I seed. When I wake up the next day, I grab a cup of coffee, I do my gratitude journal, I meditate, I workout, and then I sit and I think, "What am I going to do next?" I then start writing down ideas.Matt, it sounds like you've got a powerful mindset. You've talked about vision, scalability, and thinking about working on the business instead of in the business and always being, what's next? I have to imagine in the six companies being a serial entrepreneur, that you've learned an incredible amount along the way. While the path to success is not a straight and steady route, it does have twists and turns, there's got to be some mistakes that you've made along the way. I'd love to know, and I'm sure our readers would love to know, what advice could you give yourself or someone else from a mistake that you made and what did you learn from it? There's not one mistake I can draw out. There are many mistakes. It's how you bounce back from those mistakes that's the key. We have what we call startup porn or entrepreneurial porn. This is the idea that it's sexy to start a company. It is the least sexy thing to do and only percentage of a percentage of people will come out on the other side with rose-colored glasses. Many will go through the partnership divorce. Many will go through financial ruin, will lose sleep, will lose their health. Many will go through all of that.If you're still willing in the morning form your company, knowing that the risks are high, that you can lose your family, health, finances, and you can lose everything and you're still willing to do it, you're in the right position. If you're not willing to do those things and fight for what's good, then you probably shouldn't do it. The big mistake that stands out...
22 minutes | 4 months ago
Nick Stanitz-Harper, CRO & Co-Founder Edison Interactive With Cohost Jaime Zawmon, Founder & President Titan CEO
Joining Bob Roark is his cohost Jamie Zawmon, the Founder and President of Titan CEO. Together, they talk to Nick Stanitz-Harper as he discusses the story of co-founding Edison Interactive as well as his leadership experiences as its current Chief Revenue Officer. Nick provides a peek at how he manages his team, from the importance of instilling positivity to everyone to how they manage partnerships. He also shares his personal secrets in maintaining a healthy leader mindset, detailing his daily mantra centered on high gratitude and efficient visualization.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/yyDYt-1QIY0[/embed]Nick Stanitz-Harper, CRO & Co-Founder Edison Interactive With Cohost Jaime Zawmon, Founder & President Titan CEOWe have Jaime Zawmon. She is the Founder and President of Titan CEO and we have as our guest, Nick Stanitz-Harper. He's the CRO and Cofounder of Edison Interactive. Thank you, guys, for having me.Before we get started, congrats on being selected as a Titan 100. Great honor. Well done. Thank you very much.If you would, Nick, tell us a little bit about your business and who you serve. Edison Interactive is a VC-backed tech company that builds interactive customer experience solutions primarily for complex environments. Our platform was originally designed to allow companies of all shapes and sizes to design, build, deploy and then manage large-scale screen networks globally. We focus on building enterprise-level IOT and digital out of home solutions that personalize and enhance the customer experience. Our solutions currently span across multiple industries ranging from golf carts, rental cars, ride shares, fan engagement, sports betting platforms and more. We're currently one of the fastest-growing digital out-of-home screen networks in North America. We've got about 40,000 screens on our network right now.Folks go, “IOT?” For the folks that are reading that aren't aware of what IOT is, could you expand on that just a little?IOT is Internet of Things. It's being able to control different devices in the wild and do creative, cool things. For us, an example of IOT would be one of our platforms is Shark Experience presented by Verizon, which is a partnership between Verizon and Greg Norman Media and Club Car. We do stuff through our technology that controls the devices and controls the golf carts and allows us to do creative, unique things with our solutions.Congratulations on your recognition as a Titan 100. For those of you that are reading, we recognized the Titan 100, 100 CEOs and C-level executives in Colorado, 100 Titans of industry. I always like to kick things off and ask our Titans what characteristics they believe it takes to be considered a Titan 100 or a Titan of Industry.[caption id="attachment_5606" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Edison Interactive: If your vision isn't massive, you're going to have a hard time getting your investors, partners, and employees attached to the mission of the company.[/caption] First of all, thank you very much, Jaime. You've been phenomenal to work with and I’m impressed by what you've done through such a crazy time. Thank you. I'm going to break this down into three main characteristics for the sake of time. The first one for me is vision. A Titan needs to think globally, not locally. From my experience, it takes as much time to build partnerships on a global scale as it does on a local scale. With one of my previous startups, our mission was focused on simply dominating the Colorado market. As a tech company, that was a very important lesson that I learned back in the day. If your vision isn't massive, it's going to have a hard time getting your investors, your partners, your employees attached to the mission of the company. Number one for me is always vision.The second for me is having great communication skills. What good is having a massive vision if you can't communicate it properly? Leading a successful organization, in my opinion, comes down to one thing and that's your people. The ability to properly communicate your mission will allow you to grow a loyal base of customers, of partners, of employees. Being able to communicate with them in brutal honesty and transparent fashion allows them to trust you implicitly, which for me is the Holy Grail. That's what it's all about. The third thing would be having the ability to execute. Do what you say you're going to do at all times. Build the right teams, pay attention, do the right things and execute no matter what because people need to know they can rely on you.I especially love execution. It's putting your mouth where your money is or your vision is. Far too often, there are a lot of visionaries out there, but they can fail to execute. I love the fact that you included that Under promise, over-deliver.What's that old thing? A vision is a dream without execution. A lot of those die on the kitchen table, for sure. Speaking of which, you didn't jump out and start this particular company. Give us a little flavor of your journey to this point. The folks love to know how'd you get from there to here. Somehow, I got connected to this connected device space very early on. I was involved in a company that was doing subscriptions for magazines and major daily newspapers and stuff like that. I had this idea to try and increase digital circulation for our partners. At the time, you're paying for your print and you got the digital for free. To me, I thought that was a little bit backwards because you're getting a lot more freely trading content and stuff like that. I created a company called All Digital Circulation in 2007, 2008 which was very early for this. It was you buy a twelve-month subscription to the Chicago Tribune. You get a Chicago Tribune branded tablet with a marketplace for advertisers and all that good stuff.We built the company. We did fairly well with it, and we built it to about 65 people over about a 5 or 6-year period. People stopped buying news. It was one of those things, “That was a bad day. That was a bad week. That was a bad quarter.” From there, I was spending a lot of time with my clients in major metropolitan cities in New York and Las Vegas and all over the place. I didn't understand why nobody was focusing on getting connected screens in the backs of transportation vehicles. There was no Uber back then, but it was taxis. We pivoted away from all digital circulation. I had thousands of these devices that were in our storage units.I hired an engineering firm to help me figure out how to plug it into a vehicle switch and put it in the backseat of a car. I went to all the taxi companies here in Denver, Union and Metro and Yellow Taxi and installed the tablets. From there, we take the technology and we put it into sports bars and medical facilities and doctor's offices. We built a fairly nice screen network here in Colorado and a nice little advertising business. My cofounder is a guy named Jeremy Ostermiller and Jeremy founded a company in 2009 called Altitude Digital. In their heyday, they were serving nine billion video ads a day. They were one of the largest video advertisers in the world. When he left Altitude Digital, him and I grew up together and we always tried to find a way to work together and advertising at that scale was something that I didn't have the expertise and the vision for. We rolled my former company, Sticky Media, into Edison and joined forces in 2016. The rest is history.[caption id="attachment_5607" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Edison Interactive: Find that one trouble point your partners need help with and then expand from there.[/caption] It's so cool that you continue to adapt and take your strengths and continue to pivot and add to them. Being in the publishing world myself for many years, I saw the waves. We were in magazine publishing, so a little bit different than news, but definitely the evolution of change of how people choose to continue to receive information has been mind-boggling at some point. Here you are fast forward now and it's you and Jeremy running this company. I have to ask you as you continue to grow, and you've talked a little bit about your vision, globally thinking, what's the best allocation of either time or initiatives that you believe has helped the company most?The best allocation of time and initiative that has helped our company has to be focusing on building great partnerships. At Edison, we always say that our superpower is partnerships. When we launched Shark Experience presented by Verizon and we became their platform and their advertising partner, we put all of our focus as a company into that product and ended that partnership. We did everything in our power to make that product as successful as possible. We completely immersed ourselves in it. We built technology specific to their needs. We built operational processes to allow us to manage the screens. The list goes on and on.As the product and as our company scaled, we then built an A-team around it. We could focus on expanding to our other verticals with Avis and so on and so forth. In hindsight, the technology and the processes that we built for Shark Experience in the early days gave us the ability to scale a lot of our other customer experience platforms very rapidly. The same goes for all of our partnerships. Avis Budget Group, Captivate, Verizon, Better View. Now some people probably wouldn't agree with that strategy of going all-in with partners, but it paid off for us. In four years, we've lost one product from our portfolio. I truly believe it's because of our intense focus on each partner.Is there any secret sauce to building a strong partnership? Transparency and execution. It's our partners. People need to know they can rely on you and they can trust you. For us, it's been a land and expand strategy. Get in with a partner, find that one trouble point that they need help with on the technology side and then expand from there. Go from that point.[caption id="attachment_5608" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Edison Interactive: Creating a morning and nightly routine around gratitude and visualization can bring a significant change to your life.[/caption] Fixing the problem. Fixing the problem and then find more problems to fix.For you, you're the CRO for the company. On a day-to-day basis, in the back of your mind, you go, “What are we doing? How do we go?” For you, what's the mental dialogue that goes on for you on a day-to-day basis that keeps you focused on that particular function?This is an easy one for me. It's gratitude. I’ll say it's a mixture of gratitude and visualization. I wrote an article about this that was published for The Denver Business Journal because this is a subject that's very near and dear to me. I believe that creating a morning and nightly routine around gratitude and visualization has changed my life more than anything else. I start every morning the same way. I wake up, do a quick exercise, sometimes quicker than others, and then I go through a list of my personal mission statements, my mantras. I go through a pretty rigorous gratitude meditation. I think about all the things in my life that I'm grateful for.My wife, my family, my friends, company, business partners, relationships, weather, literally anything that comes to my mind. I think about everything that I want out of life. I convince myself that I already have them when I go through visualization on it. I go through the same process. I'm grateful for the things that I already have in the future. That helps me focus my mind around what I wanted in life. The last thing is that I have a simple meditation that I go through at night, right before I go to bed. That is around thinking about everything that I'm grateful for that happened that day.That's trained my mind to look for, “I'm going to be grateful for this and that.” It focuses your mind to look for the good thing. As an entrepreneur and as a business leader, you're met with so many things that are out of your control on a daily basis. You get hit with semi-trucks all the time. Being able to control how you start your day and how you end your day has been a game-changer for me. What's cool is now we're seeing a lot of our team members at Edison that are going through the same type of rituals and it's cool to see them develop and grow.I had to follow up with one question. Do you remember the point in your journey when you started practicing those gratitude mantras in the morning, in the evening and then when you noticed the change from that effort? I do. It was nothing professional. I went through a couple of big tragedies. I lost both my brothers and it caused me to start evaluating some things and focused me into you either go one way. You go a very negative way or you force yourself to go a positive direction. Thankfully, I was able to do that. When I started waking up in the morning and starting having those negative thoughts, grab your phone, look at your email, look at your branding, social media posts, whatever it may be, you go one way or the other. Going through those tragedies at a younger age forced me to take control of my mind and it's changed my entire life.It's so important to have an attitude of gratitude. I know there are a lot of CEOs that practice it. A lot of executives that build that as part of their daily mantra, it's incredibly powerful, the mind. What we can conceive and believe, we can achieve. It's no surprise that based off of your mindset, you've been able to accomplish the type of success that you have, Nick. When you think about the business side of things, do you have a belief or protocol that you've established in the company that's impacted the company in such a positive way? There's a lot of them. One of the big things for us is we try to establish a belief that anything and everything is possible. We're pushing the envelope with regards to the technology in our industry. Our team spends a tremendous amount of time trying to solve incredibly difficult and incredibly complex technical issues. We constantly have to push them to think outside the box. I’ll go back to when we first launched the company, we were forced to try and figure out how to deliver content and media and functional feature sets to golf carts, rental cars, ride shares and so on. There are real issues with providing a high profile solution in that environment. You have connectivity issues, environmental issues, electrical issues, hardware issues, stability. The list goes on and on.Now we're delivering live PGA tour events to 25,000 golf carts all over the country, but you didn't get there overnight. We had to push our team to think outside the box, come up with creative solutions and then break those complex tasks into simple manageable tasks and then get started, which is a lot of times the hardest thing to do, to get started on that first task. If you do that and you have some discipline around it, eventually you're going to build momentum and you're going to break through the other side. I would say the biggest belief is think outside the box and try to create solutions that allow you to think that anything's possible.It takes strong leadership to continue to inspire innovation in an organization to think differently. Do you have any advice around people that might get stuck and how to continue to inspire the innovation so that they can continue to press forward?Number one, you got to have the right team around you. You have to be surrounded by people that are way better and way smarter than you and you've got to commit to learning on it. The biggest thing for us has been being able to remove ourselves from the solutions. We look always at a partner versus build. Partner, build, buy. That's the strategy that a lot of companies follow. We try to research what competitors are doing. We try to research what partners are doing. We try to research as much as we can around specific issues. When we decide to build, which more times than not, we do build our own tech, it's chopping those massive elephants into individual bites and then controlling that the process for the team to be able to start tackling them day after day.I'm thinking of the challenge of innovation in a problem environment, for lack of a better term. Let's say you had a problem. I don't care whatever it is. You had a problem. When you put together your team members to try to address a particular problem, who typically do you invite? Is there a specific process that you frame that meeting together so you start trying to produce some outcome?We're a heavy technology-focused company. I’ll go with the technical here. Who do we invite? We invite all of our top leaders. We invite our CTO. We invite our director of invasion. We have a lot of people, our product team, as well as our heads of engineering. It's a brainstorm statute and we all get along great. We have a massive whiteboard here at our offices in Cherry Creek and we start spouting things off. Sometimes it looks like the beautiful mind on our board. Sometimes it looks like a complete scribble zone.After every single one of those meetings, we leave with action items. You're going to go take a look at this company and this company and come back with ideas about how we could potentially incorporate something similar. You're going to go have a conversation with the stakeholders of our clients here to dig in and figure out what we're trying to accomplish for them. It's meeting after meeting with it. At the end of it, you come up with an actionable, manageable game plan to attack that issue, whether it's integrating a partner, building the technology and it goes piece by piece. 3, 6, 9, 12 months later, you have the basis for the solving of your problem.In many cases, I’ll hear somebody say, “You should have good financials.” You go, “Thanks for that. I should be taller too.” “What does that mean? How do you apply it?” For you, as you're going through and working with the company and so on, we all often find inspiration from a quote. Is there a quote that you find meaningful or close to your heart that you like? My quote that I always run with is, “Think big, start small, scale fast.” One of my early mentors instilled this in me. Now it has become the basis for how I look at every product or business that I launch. Have massive vision...
25 minutes | 4 months ago
Acquiring The Skill Stack To Adapt To Change With Lisa Miller And Cohost Jaime Zawmon
Change has been going rapidly for the past few years. Where that leaves many businesses and entrepreneurs is having to move alongside it; otherwise, you’ll only get left behind. Someone who has found comfortability with change is Lisa Miller, the President and COO of Spearhead Advisors. In this episode, she joins Bob Roark with guest co-host Jaime Zawmon, the founder and president of TITAN CEO, to share with us her career journey and how she is acquiring the skill stack to adopt. Lisa further tells us about her company and how she is working to maintain being a Titan in the industry.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/Sw3ySU_x_mA[/embed]Acquiring The Skill Stack To Adapt To Change With Lisa Miller And Cohost Jaime ZawmonWe’re extremely fortunate we have Jaime Zawmon. She is the Founder and President of Titan 100 CEO. We have Lisa Miller. She is the President and COO of Spearhead Advisors. Welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. Greatly, I appreciate being here.I love the picture in your background. It's the mountains with a herd of horses in what looks like a loop and meadow. It is Granby, Colorado at a dude ranch.With that being said, Lisa, tell us a little bit about your business and who you serve? At Spearhead Advisors, we are a master agent. In the industry, if you are an enterprise customer and you need communication services, we are working for you. We provide about 100 different vendors that we can supply services for an enterprise. Coming from a former carrier myself, the benefit that we have is we can provide you services and capabilities from many different options versus one single provider. That's the value proposition. CIO staffs are smaller and getting smaller by the day. Technology teams are getting smaller. What we are is an extension of your organization to provide services and capabilities from a consulting standpoint.[bctt tweet="Many times, people forget the people or the culture. It's important to be able to look at how every action you take impacts on others. " username=""]I failed to mention in the introduction, you were a President with CenturyLink, where you had 2,400 people in your organization. For the business owner or CIO that's out there, what are the typical problems that you can bring as a solution from your company to them? Many times, what a CIO sees is they have to go out and meet with many different suppliers to determine who is best in breed or class in the industry. We can do that for them. For example, security, top of mind for everyone. There are many bad things going on the dark web. There are many hackers out there trying to break into your data because data is power. CIOs are constantly having to control the perimeter and having to worry about who break into their company and take their data that they count on to run their business. Security is a big feature that we can help with and we can bring best in breed solutions to many of the enterprise customers.I love your experience on both sides of the coin, which is unique unto itself. That's fantastic. Lisa Miller is one of our 2020 Titan 100 honorees. We recognized her. This is a copy of the book that she was recognized in, The Titan 100 recognizes Colorado's Top 100 CEOs & C-Level Executives, 100 Titans of Industry. One of the questions that I always love to ask all of the Titans that we interview in our series is what characteristics do you believe that it takes to be considered a Titan of Industry? To be a Titan in any industry, you have to constantly be looking at all of the challenges in front of you and being able to say, “How can I attack that? How do I think differently?” There's the book, What Got Us Here Won't Get Us There. That statement is true that our industry is changing rapidly. Think of COVID. COVID itself has even been something that as Corporate America, we have had to go, “Holy moly.” We have to rethink how we go to market, how we lead, and every aspect of how we do business with our customer base. Especially, if you were a small business where people walked in your door every day, and that's not easy to do anymore. To be a great leader, you have to be nimble and flexible. You have to constantly be questioning, “Am I doing the right thing? Am I facing the market the right way? Am I appealing to my customers? Where is my competition?” Flexibility, constantly being creative and thinking of different ways to look at every business and every aspect of your business is critical.I'm in the role of the reader and I'm going, “How do you acquire a skill stack that allows you to adopt that view and mindset? What was influential for you to get to where you are?” One thing that helped me. I had been with CenturyLink in Level 3 through acquisition for eighteen and a half years. Prior to that, I was with Sprint for ten years. The telecommunications industry was constantly trying to reinvent itself. During my years with CenturyLink, we went through eighteen integrations and every integration was larger than the prior. When you think of one brand, that brand may have eighteen different integrations inside it. Every company that was integrated also had 10 to 20 to 30 different companies inside that brand. When you think of bringing that together, what that skillset taught me for almost twenty years was that I had to quickly assess people, a team, and a situation. What you're looking at as an executive is being able to say, “How do I put two companies or many companies together and make certain that 1 plus 1 equals greater than 2.” You never want 1 plus 1 to equal less than 2.[caption id="attachment_5543" align="alignleft" width="200"] What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful[/caption]Many integrations in America never get the full value or potential out of the two companies that they've brought together. Many times that's culture. It may not always be that the company is capable of getting more return and value for the industry but many times people forget the people or the culture. It's important to be able to look at how every action that you take and how it impacts the people. It's like throwing that pebble into the lake and you see the ripples that go out. That is one lesson that I learned. Every time you throw that stone or pebble, is it going to have a big ripple? Is it going to have a little ripple? Have you thought about how to manage through all of those ripples? Most of the time when you go through an integration, speed can sometimes be your enemy because you never get a chance to look and manage every detail. What you have to be thinking of is, “Did I throw a pebble or did I throw a big rock? What is the ripple effect going to be?” If you don't plan for those ripples, maybe those ripples never come, but you have to plan for it if they do.For most of my career, where you are having to look at integrating another company or many companies. In one of my worst career years, we tried to integrate nine companies in twelve months. Mentally, I thought I might lose my mind that year, but the valuable lessons that it taught were, “Where did we get it right and where did we get it wrong?” Most of the time, when we got it wrong, it was always the people aspect. We went too fast. People couldn't accept the change. We didn't think of the impact on their family and their job. We didn't think of how culture was going to play into that. You take maybe one mentality and then a progressive mentality, and you put them together. That might not be the winning combination. That career experience has helped me, especially going from a large corporation to an entrepreneurial company. I am always thinking of the people and I'm at the size that I can influence and impact every decision.The theme that's resonating with me is that you are comfortable with change and the capacity for change. All of these different integrations are a profound thing that a lot of people don't take comfortably. Corporate America, where you have unlimited resources as you're going through these integrations to launching a new company being that entrepreneurial inside of you and experiencing more change going through change because you welcome it. What has that been like? Tell us about that transition. It has been fun but sometimes nerve-wracking. In Corporate America, many times, you think you never have enough resources until you go to the entrepreneur and start over. You realize even on a bad day, I had more resources than I knew what to do with. It has given me tremendous perspective. As I was looking to start my next career path, there were a couple of things that I wanted to look at. I have always cared about my employees and many times in Corporate America, that's hard. It's a hard decision because you're always having to balance the profitability of a company. Making certain that you're cost-effective and that you can get a return on the investment for your shareholders. Is your EBITDA numbers growing at the rate you need it to and sometimes caring about employees. That's a hard combination because you're constantly having to make certain that you can hit those shareholder objectives. As I started to look at my next career, I started to realize, “What is it that I love? What is it that is my passion?”As I continued to go through in Corporate America, climbing the ladder, what happened is you start getting more employees, departments, and divisions. When I go back to the fundamentals and I say, “What do I love?” I love being in front of a customer. I love being able to help an employee solve a challenging problem and stretch them to grow. I always can see in an employee what they're capable of in many times they can't. I love that interaction. I love mentoring. I love being able to say, “You can do it. We have a big hill decline and we're all going to do it together.” Having that interaction is phenomenal. When I started to look in the industry, I started to realize, “Do I want to get back into that big company again?” Yes. “Would I have resources? Would I have support? Would it be comfortable? Would it be easy and familiar?” Absolutely.I realized what I love and what I've always been passionate about has been investing in the people. Being in front of a customer and understanding what the problems are that a customer has to face every day. In enterprises, the challenges are huge. You go back ten years, “Did we have a chief security officer? Did we have to have SOX and NOX and all these things that are commonplace in large enterprises?” You didn't have a lot of it. You may have had a network operation center, but did you have a security operation center? You didn’t. That's becoming almost standard place. I want to be close to those customers. I want to be able to be out there. I want to know every one of my employees. I want to be able to understand my customers intimately. That's what started to lead me to look at more of a smaller company.[bctt tweet="When you have a smaller team, communication is daily, hourly, and minute by minute." username=""]At Spearhead Advisors, even a year from now, we'll only have about 45 to 60 employees. That is exciting to me coming from 2,400 employees where it's hard. You have to embrace change because change is constant. It happens every day. With that change, sometimes change is slow because the company is large. It's like turning the Titanic. While the industry is changing all around you, sometimes your company is changing too slowly and you can't adapt to a trend as fast as you need to. You're trying to bring people along faster than they can absorb it. In a smaller company, you can be nimble. You can be quick.When you have a smaller team, communication is daily, hourly, and every minute by minute. That is exciting to me that at Spearhead Advisors, I can go out, spend time with customers and my teams to understand how we solve their business problems and also how we help them adapt to the change. After coming from Corporate America and knowing how much change over the years we've gone through, I know what shareholders are looking for. I also know what employees are looking for. I know what executives that companies need to accomplish and the problems that they want to solve. Change is constant, but going to a smaller company, I can be more nimble, quick, and adapt faster, which is going to be important to respond to our customer's needs quicker.As you were going through the pebble in the pond, I'm thinking you're good at surfing so you don't know if you've got a big wave or got a small wave from the pebble. About your skill stack, I was intrigued by some of your commentary about how you grew up in the environment you grew up in, how that set the stage for your approach, how you're trying to transmit that to your daughters, and your grandkids. I'd be interested for the parents out there going like, “How do I take and set an environment up for the next Lisa to be able to prosper in that environment? What was that environment?” One of the things I've always said to my team and I feel I learned it from my parents was, “Work hard, play hard.” I grew up in a small town in Iowa with 1,700 people. To think that I had more employees than the town I grew in is crazy. My dad was an auctioneer. My parents owned a furniture business and restaurant business. During my childhood, my parents always were a small business. They were that entrepreneurial spirit. They were always trying to employ a good customer experience. What I learned at a young age is if you work hard, good things will come from that. I was the youngest of five children and I learned that life is not fair. I have always told my children when they go, “Mom, that isn't fair.” I say, “Life is not fair.” The sooner you learn that, the better off you will be.If you look at my career climb, there are few women at the president level. At a lot of these carriers, there are more now than there used to be. I've had to climb, have sharp elbows, work my way through everything I've done, and work hard. My parents took a lot of pride in their business. They wanted to make certain that every time they worked with one family or one customer, that customer would come back and buy from them because they did everything right. One of the things I've always taught my kids is, “You're not always going to choose the easiest path but make certain that everything you do, you're ethical. You do it with pride. You make certain you take care of people along the way. You do your best.” My kids used to tell me, sometimes, “Mom, you're a hard driver.” I'm like, “All I ask for is your best.” Sometimes they say, “I don't want to do my best.” I said, “You have to live with whatever you do. All I'm going to ask for is your best. As long as you gave it a good try, then you did your best.”I'm raising four daughters. I've always taught them to have a voice. My dad used to say, “We all put on our pants, one leg at a time. Everybody in the country, male, female, child, adult, or whatever, we all start out the day the same.” That gave me a lot of comfort in knowing that I felt I was equal to my peers from the time I was a young age. I've always taught that to my daughters as well, that their voice matters and they can make an impact and a difference. I feel that one of the things that people have always said is, “You're a tough leader but you're a fair leader.” I said, “If I'm fair, that's something I was taught to always be fair. That's something I've always taught my children. Thanks for the compliment.”[caption id="attachment_5544" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Adapt To Change: You're not always going to choose the easiest path but make certain that everything you do, you're ethical. You do it with pride. You make certain you take care of people along the way. You do your best.[/caption] That’s a sound advice for a mom of young children at this point because I'm trying to navigate and figure out how to raise them to be the best human beings as possible. Jaime, as we all know, it is never ever easy having four daughters. My victory was when my fourth daughter graduated from college because I didn't know if she'd graduate high school. We always have one that loves to challenge us more than the others. We aren't perfect at being parents. We aren't perfect at being leaders, but as long as we never give up, we'll get them through it.It would strike me as intention. You go intentional. You intend on doing a good job, on keeping integrity intact, and tending on leading from the front, set the example, and do the right thing. It sounds simple, not easy but simple. Jaime, we run across this on many of the discussions with the Titans. They all have core principles it seems. Their skill stacks, no one's issued with a skill stack and you get your skills as you go. If somebody is looking for you, Lisa, and your company, how do they find you? They can find me at Lisa@SpearheadAdvisors.io that is my email. Our website is SpearheadAdvisors.io. We would look forward to working with any enterprise customer and helping them solve their business needs. I'm committed to doing that.Jaime, with the Titan 100 book hitting the press, how do people find that book? If you're interested in learning more about the Titan 100, you would go to www.Titan100.Biz. There's a full list of all of the Titan 100. You can view their individual profiles to be inspired and read more about their stories. You can also visit the page on that website, which has a digital link to the digital version of this Titan 100 book, which Lisa is in and many of the other Titans here in Colorado. Additionally, someone could learn more about Titan CEO by visiting TitanCEO.com to learn more about the CEOs that we work with. It's an incredible list of Colorado's Top 100 CEOs and C-Level Executives. Their stories are amazing like the details you heard more from Lisa, as she told us her story.[bctt tweet="If you work hard, good things will come." username=""]Bob, I'd love to put in a Titan 100 plug because I have been recognized by a lot of organizations over the...
24 minutes | 4 months ago
Lessons On Flexible And Authentic Leadership With MGMA CEO Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright And Co-Host Jaime Zawmon, President Of TITAN CEO
For the past 94 years, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) has been leading in the business of medical practice management, currently representing almost three-quarters of the medical practices in the United States. Even well-entrenched organizations such as this has to change with the times, however – a task that MGMA has been able to fulfill with flying colors for the past four years under the leadership of its President and CEO, Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright. This exemplary leadership has caused her to be selected as a Titan 100 for 2020. Join in as she shares her personal take on leadership in this conversation with Bob Roark and his co-host, Jaime Zawmon, the President of TITAN CEO.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/CXmKZD1mz8w[/embed]Lessons On Flexible And Authentic Leadership With MGMA CEO Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright And Co-Host Jaime Zawmon, President Of TITAN CEOWe're extremely fortunate. We have Jaime Zawmon. She is the Founder and President of Titan CEO. We also have Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright. She's the President and CEO of Medical Group Management Association, MGMA. Jaime, Halee, thank you for being on the show.Thank you, Bob.First off, congrats on being selected as a Titan 100. Tell us a bit about MGMA, what's it about and who do you serve?We're a 94-year-old organization and the largest healthcare association focused on business of medical practice management. We represent over 60,000 members and more importantly, we represent 15,000 group medical practices, which is almost three-quarters of the medical practices in the United States. We represent everyone from the tiny practices like family doctors in rural communities to the national large health systems. We touch almost 350,000 physicians across the United States in a variety of specialties.We're in the background of almost all healthcare delivered at the front line. What we do is we work closely with medical practice leaders to help them solve their business challenges so they can focus on what matters, which is providing outstanding care for their patients in communities. In this day and age, that means now. We also provide and what we're known for in our industry is the gold standard and benchmarking for compensation and medical practice cost surveys. We advocate on behalf of our members on national regulatory and policy issues. We take it from the top at the federal government level all the way down to the doctor seen patient in a room.It’s such a steady, non-regulatory, not changing industry especially now.Halee, I have to say I'm excited that you've been recognized as part of the Titan 100 for 2020. As those of you may or may not know reading, we have published a copy of the Titan 100 book in which Halee was profiled in. We'll talk a little bit more about how you can read her profile. I always like to start our show, as you know this platform recognizes Colorado's top 100 CEOs and C-level executives 100 Titans of Industry. I always like to ask every Titan that we interview in this show, what characteristics they believe that it takes to be considered a Titan of Industry?Once again, thank you for the honor of being a Titan 100. Now more than ever, especially given the challenges and changes as we're going through this global pandemic. Flexibility is someone like myself and the Titan 100 community has to have. As I've read through the book, all of my colleagues that are Titans have shown that as well. Some of those characteristics include, and we've talked about this with Jaime before, having the ability to alter your original plan of action. This is what I find has benefited our organization the most in the last several months is actively seek out a situation from many different perspectives because this isn't business as usual. As a physician, I'm often wrong, but never in doubt.[bctt tweet="Flexibility is a hallmark of an industry titan and there’s no way that you can be flexible unless you're willing to listen to other people." username=""]I've often changed my mind o even solidified my decision-making when I've taken into account the different viewpoints and different perspectives. I've found that invaluable. Finally, this is something I work on every single day. Some days better than others is listening to others. There's no way that you can be flexible unless you're willing to listen to other people. As leaders and as Titans within our own industries, we practice flexibility. Keeping in mind that listening is probably the most powerful tool that we have being able to alter our course, but in our listening, we can help others alter their course as well to benefit our organizations.You put it into great context there. Listening is the most common trait when we've asked the Titans that stands at the forefront of their mind. I love that you talk about seeking a perspective from many different individuals especially during this time. Profound thoughts around characteristics of a Titan.We were talking a little bit beforehand about your journey from med school to here. It seems like to me that there's a common thread that comes from you started in med school to where you are here and perhaps if you could expand on it that would be great.I'm a Colorado native, part of the community, born at Rose Hospital. I grew up in Littleton. I went to the University of Colorado for undergrad. One of the things being in medicine that you learn is you're competing against everyone all the time. In other words, for me to do well and to achieve my goals getting into med school, I had to do better than everybody else. You had that competitive spirit all the way through. Even in med school to get the residency, you want you have to be competitive and to get the job that you want outside of it. My leadership journey started when I started my own business with a partner of mine, who now is a physician within the Denver health system. I realized that always being in competition wasn't going to lead me to where I wanted to be.I had my midlife crisis early when I was 35. I had this epiphany. It was right before 9/11. I was seeing 40 kids a day. I had a practice in Lakewood. We were successful. At 35, I thought, “I could be doing this same thing day in, day out for the next 40 years.” Not a whole lot may change. The science may change, but the fundamentals, what I'm doing right now, won't shift. The whole reason I went into med school was because I wanted to make an impact. I wasn't going to be able to make an impact in the way that I wanted to make an impact, a much bigger impact. I started thinking about as a little pediatrician in Lakewood, Colorado, how am I going to be able to move the world in a positive way?To paraphrase the Archimedes quote, “Business is the lever arm to move the world.” That's when I started pursuing business education. From there, it was a completely asynchronous career. I became a business consultant. I was the president of a large physician group at Rose Hospital. I was practicing and then doing all those multiple things led me on the path that led me to leadership. It started from two points, which is it wasn't aligned with my personal values to continue to compete for the rest of my life. The other one was I wanted to make an impact.That's a good succinctly put parentheses around a lot of activity. You also were an author as well along the way.I was a partner in a boutique consulting firm in Los Angeles, which was a very unique experience. It colors my leadership. It's one of those things that when I was a consultant, it was great. You pop in, you would bestow your knowledge, then you disappear and you weren't held accountable. After a couple of years of that, I thought to myself, “I don't like that. I want to stick around and see what the results are.” Problem-solve through the challenges, which is what pushed me into leadership positions.I have to say, Halee, it takes a lot of courage to do what you did back when you were working at the practice to stop and check yourself and say, “Am I aligned with my passions? Am I aligned with the vision that I want for my life?” What advice could you offer others that maybe were in that same mode that you were where you were seeing 40 patients a day and to have that courage to take that step?[caption id="attachment_5569" align="aligncenter" width="600"] MGMA CEO: Resting on 94 years of doing business as usual is not the way to get to the future.[/caption] Some of this is generational. I'm a Gen X-er. The recognition was I wasn't happy. I was the first person to go to college. Neither one of my parents went to college. I don't have physicians in my family. For my family, they thought that being a physician was the pinnacle of success. What I found personally was when I got “there” I wasn't satisfied because I wasn't aligned with my values. It was challenging for my husband, my family, for me to make that choice. It is that a Shakespearian quote of, “To thine known self be true.” I wasn't happy. I knew that doing what I was doing wasn't going to make me happy and that I put so much effort and energy into being a physician, but there had to be a better way to leverage my education and my experience to do something for the greater good.That was my driver. That's relatively unique for a Gen X-er. The Baby Boomers think I'm nuts and the Millennials were like, “So what?” Millennials are like, “What took you so long? You practiced for nineteen years.” It's somewhat of a generational shift. A lot of what makes approach unique for someone that is my age is unique generationally, but it's not unique as we watch some of our Millennials come into leadership positions. I see that same type of creativity, drive and a sense of wanting to connect to something bigger. I tend to bucket it in generations.How I discuss this with Baby Boomers my parents' age is different than I discussed with my colleagues that are my age, which is like, “You can get your sports car at middle age. I went to business school to each his own.” I used to be a clinical instructor for the University of Colorado and they stopped sending me residents because the first question I'd ask is, “Are you happy doing this? Can you see yourself doing this for the rest of your life? If not, let's talk about what does make you happy and how can you channel what you're doing into something that would be fulfilling and allows you to follow your passions,” which is the advice and coaching that I received along the way.Jaime, we were talking a little bit before in particular, Halee, all of this background has led you up to a larger institution, serving a great deal of the medical community in the United States. Along the way with everything else you've got going on, you guys got issued I don’t know how many generations event with COVID. How does an organization like yours adapt, adjust and serve your constituents with this being issued to you?One of the reasons I was hired for MGMA is I thought that I was leading the organization through a realignment. What I didn't recognize is we needed a complete transformation. In a certain way, the last four years was the setup to put all the pieces into place to navigate this global pandemic. We preceded our global pandemic by taking the organization through change process. I have to be honest in saying, it's been painful. To the point that I will even be honest enough to say that I had a dream about one of my initial executive team that I loved, but we encouraged them to move on to pursue their own pathway. As we went through this phase of change, we knew that they weren't the right person to lead through that change.I'm still a few years in. I still thinking about it, wondering what I could do better, how we could have changed this. The preceding few years are what set us up because we knew that resting on 94 years of doing business as usual was not how we were going to get to the future. Bob, what I've been saying for the hundreds of interviews I've done for the last several months is there is nothing that we're experiencing in COVID that weren't trends that preceded COVID, but the acceleration is in such a way that we all have motion sickness because it's been such high velocity.I have to ask while we're on this topic then, what advice can you share or insight into other business owners that are leading through this pandemic as well?It's what I've learned while being at MGMA. My first position is CEO. Although I wouldn't have admitted it the day I came in, not having the experience of a CEO does color your perception. The commitment I made to myself is I'd be authentic. As a physician, there's a perception of how you should be as a physician. As a business consultant, there's a perception of how you should be as a business consultant. When you write books and you're promoting your book, there's “the author.”[bctt tweet="It’s your mistakes that will make you an outwardly successful and inwardly happy person, not your successes." username=""]When I went into MGMA, I decided that I would be myself. If that worked great and if not, as I crossed into middle age while I've been in this position, it was the gift that I could give myself is to allow myself to be authentic as a leader. That authenticity is what I'm looking for in people that I bring into the organizations, looking for in people we do business with. It's the piece of advice. The only way that you're going to be able to sustain and thrive is if you are authentic in your leadership. That's why I always probe on, are you passionate? Are you excited? Are you engaged? If you're not, is that something we can find, or is that something that we can explore as time goes on? That's the biggest piece of advice is. Where I've been the most miserable is when I have the role of being the doctor, the author or the consultant and not my goofy self. Giving myself permission to understand that I have strengths and weaknesses. That's part of leadership as well. It has been the most important transformation in my leadership style for many years.We talked about this a little bit before. We have the Halee of now and the Halee is confident and authentic. What advice would that particular Halee offer Halee of 20, 25 years ago to perhaps accelerate or fill in a blank that you wish you'd had?I have soul searched around that question. What should I have done? Why I've gone to med school knowing that I'd be a CEO? Should I have been a hedge fund manager? Those questions that you ask yourself. I don't regret any of the decisions that I've made. We talked about this when we did our CEO round table with Jaime. I still struggle occasionally with imposter syndrome. When I first started, I was terrified that I was going to make mistakes. What I would tell the Halee twenty years ago is, “It's okay to make mistakes. You will make mistakes.” Some of them will be egregious mistakes and you will learn from them in a way that you will never learn from your own successes. Embrace them if you can, which is very unsettling when you're young. I would embrace the mistakes. It's your mistakes. For me, the advice I'd give my younger self is it's the mistakes who've made me the outward success and the inwardly happy person that I am and not the successes.As we sit here and listen to you, Dr. Halee, it's no question that you are incredibly humble and authentic. You've given us such a nice purview into your world. I'd love to know what are your passions outside of being the CEO of such an amazing organization.My interior life is creative and very asynchronous from what I do in my day job. I love cooking. I love to travel and I don't mean business travel. Business travel is you get to point A to point B back to point A. When my husband and I travel before the pandemic, we'd go to Europe and then what I collect are textiles because I’m very kinesthetic. I love touching things. In my home office now, I have textiles from Italy, England, and Germany. I love using that.Once a year, my husband has agreed to let me do a walkabout. I'll usually go to England or to Italy and go on an adventure, hire a guide. I did that once with an antiquing adventure in England and met amazing people. I meet these amazing people and they become part of my extended family. Through them, I invested in a technological platform for antiques, which has done well during COVID. Through that family, I have all these contacts and we get these great adventures. It's food, travel, wine and creativity. The other part of me is that I also write, not business writing. I have a fantasy of being JK Rowling in my 50s. I’m working on that. What I find is when I engage in my creative, not healthcare world, not business leadership, I end up in my other creative brain informing my business brain. They feed each other.I like to do road trips. I get a lot of windshield time. On the windshield time, I'll be listening to a book or I'll be listening to learn something. It seems like things come together. It’s very similar.I went on what I call walkabouts. I went to England. I landed, took a train, met this lady who runs an alpaca farm. I stayed at her farm, which is in this national park in England. I met with the alpaca. She also has these animals called Guanaco, which is out of South America. I met them. She has a complete knitting agency or business. I stayed at the farm. It’s not in my domain of experience as living in Central Denver. I took a train and went to Bath, England. One of my friends who is in the antiquing business spent time with her in her garden, her dogs. I went into Central London. I attended a business event and then went up to Scotland. I went to a textile place where they make most of the tartans for Scotland and for the world. That's a pretty typical walkabout experience for me.We wanted to be respectful of your time and so we're coming to a close, Jaime, any thoughts?[caption id="attachment_5570" align="aligncenter" width="600"] MGMA CEO: The only way that you're going to thrive is if you are authentic in your leadership.[/caption] I wanted to say thank you for being on the show. for those of you that are reading, if you would like to learn more about Halee's journey, her story, you can visit www.Titan100.biz and read all of the profiles of Colorado's top 100 CEOs and C-level executives. You can also download a copy of the digital-book there as well.Halee, for the people that would like to find you on...
22 minutes | 5 months ago
Leading With Tenacity, Creativity And Adaptability With Guest, Martha Carlin Of The BioCollective And Co-host, Jaime Zawmon Of TITAN CEO
Tenacity, creativity and adaptability – these are the qualities that a CEO should embody to become a titan in their industry. Bringing in these qualities to the emerging microbiome industry, Martha Carlin leads The BioCollective, a unique business that invests in both consumer products and microbiological research. Driven by a passion to give people the tools to take control of their health, the BioCollective team leverages some of the most advanced expertise in microbial ecology to tap the massive potential of microbiota in promoting human health. Because of her inspiring leadership, she has won her rightful place among the 2020 Titan 100. She graces the podcast on this co-hosted episode with Bob Roark and his co-host, Jaime Zawmon, President of TITAN CEO.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/0bXNCv6gpMM[/embed]Leading With Tenacity, Creativity And Adaptability With Guest, Martha Carlin Of The BioCollective And Co-host, Jaime Zawmon Of TITAN CEOWe have quite the treat. We have a Jaime Zawmon. She is the Founder and President of Titan CEO. We have Martha Carlin. She is the CEO and Cofounder of The BioCollective. We're having a co-hosted episode. Martha, Jaime, thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you for having me.Martha, thank you and congrats on being selected to the Titan 100, a big honor. I’m very excited about it. Martha, tell us about your business and who you serve.My business is unique. It's in the field of the microbiome. For people who may not know what the microbiome is, it's the trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live in and on our body. Over the last years, it's become increasingly apparent that the bacteria that live in and on our body are a critical component to our health. I recognize this after reading a book called Missing Microbes back in 2014, founded The BioCollective in 2015 to try to accelerate the path to discovery and helping people get healthier. By doing that, we went into an industry that most people had never heard of. It was rapidly growing and expanding. When I started the company, there were about twenty microbiome companies worldwide, and now there are thousands and thousands, but it's still pretty early days.Our company has evolved in the ways that we are serving two different customer bases. We serve the scientific research community through tools that we developed for our own work to build out a bio-bank of fecal samples and genomic data so that we could start to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify patterns in healthy people and diseased people. Through the tools that we developed, we received an NIH grant for $1.2 million to develop one of those quality control and research tools. The division of the BioCollective that has all these research tools is serving the scientific community, the nutrition community, pharmaceutical companies, and big food and big ag to some extent. Along the way, we developed our expertise and brought in a chief scientific officer with over 30 years of microbial ecology and developed a line and a brand of consumer products that replace lost function in the microbiome that we were able to identify through our data analytics.We have a consumer products platform called BiotiQuest that has six products, three are currently on the market. One is for changing sugar metabolism in the body, it's called Sugar Shift. Another is for the immune system specifically protecting us and helping us ward off viral infection. That's called the Ideal Immunity. Another called Heart Centered, which is focused on cardiovascular health and the production of nitric oxide in the body, which helps vasodilation and three products that will be coming out next year. We invested by using our scientific research team, our chief scientific officer in his ancient microbial collection. We have a company we own a 20% interest in called PaleoBiotica, because we found in looking at the data that we had that you can't help people be healthy if you don't help the planet and the soil and our food be healthy. PaleoBiotica is focused on doing the same thing we're doing with BiotiQuest in soils, plants. Essentially probiotic systems that can bio-remediate things like roundup and glyphosate from the soil, help seeds germinate faster, and plants grow larger and healthier and take up more nutrients from the soil. If some of the folks are going, “I think I've heard about this before,” you are one of the early guests on the show way back when. Thank you so much for being an early guest as well. Thanks, Bob. We have definitely changed and grown a lot over the years in learning to be in a rapidly evolving industry.Martha, I have to ask you, as a 2020 Titan 100, and we're excited to recognize you in the Titan 100 book for 2020, clearly listening to all the things that you've been talking about, the way that you and your team are paving the way, what do you think are the characteristics that it takes to be considered a titan of industry like yourself? The key characteristics are tenacity, creativity and adaptability. When you're going into a new industry, it's very important that while you keep focused on your goals, that you have a wide vision of what's going on in the industry, and you're not singularly focused that you can't make a pivot or a turn when you see something critical. I think tenacity for any entrepreneur, when you start a business, most businesses fail within the first 2 to 3 years. It's very important to keep a tenacious attitude that you can do this. Creativity, because we're trying to solve problems for people. That requires a level of creativity. You have to foster that in your people as well. Too much of a corporate culture can dampen down creativity. It's that balancing a process with creativity. In the last years that you've been running BioCollective, you've certainly proven your ability to be adaptive, creative and have a certainty, the tenacity that exists. Congratulations.Thank you.Martha, as I think about it, and of course the benefit of our previous discussions and your journey to the starting of the BioCollective, let's say that there's another entrepreneur or CEO out there that's aspiring to be a titan of industry like you. What advice might you share to them that they could incorporate in their day-to-day life that might help them progress to where they qualify to be a titan of industry? Focus. Keeping your focus is very important and keeping your focus on what matters and not getting distracted by things that aren't contributing to driving your top line. There are many things that compete for an entrepreneur's attention because in a lot of ways, a new entrepreneur is a market. There's a big market for new entrepreneurs that drives your attention away from running your business and has you off at these meetings and networking and talking to these people. While those things are important or can be important for driving relationships for your business, they can also be a huge distraction. The advice I would give is keep your focus on what's going to drive you in the direction of the most predictable revenue stream you can get at the fastest. For the person reading, is there a ritual, a protocol, a habit that you do on a periodic basis that allows you to maintain that focus? The main habit that I have, it's a bit outside the norm I would say for business. I wake up every morning and spend quiet time meditating. I do a Qigong practice. If you're not familiar with Qigong, it's an ancient Chinese energy practice where you're centering and grounding yourself and connecting with the chi of the universe. That’s maybe a bit unconventional for a business person but for me, that sets my day off and my intention for the day to bring good into the world through my business and the way I live my life.I have a Tai Chi instructor that lives in my house and we talk Qigong fairly frequently, so I’m aware. Thank you for that. I think that that's a pretty common characteristic and a trait of a lot of entrepreneurs that are successful. They find the time for themselves to connect with the universe, visualization, similar to the focus, putting it out there to the universe. I know I'm a huge proponent of that. I think that's excellent that you practice the meditation. I have to ask another question. BioCollective was founded in 2015, now it’s 2020. If you were to go back and offer the less experienced your advice about leading BioCollective and building it to the company that it is now, what advice would you offer yourself and why?[bctt tweet="The key characteristics of an industry titan are tenacity, creativity and adaptability." via="no"]If I went back in time and were to give myself some advice, and this is a bit funny because my background is in accounting and most of my career, I spent a very tight focus on where things were spent. I think I would advise myself to keep a much tighter control on those early funds and where I spent them. I did spend money in some of those things I talked about a bit ago that are the entrepreneur as the market paying to attend a conference or different things that didn't translate into financial success or the top line for the company. That's probably one of the biggest things. It's interesting because I watched a Star Trek episode from the 1990s. Jean-Luc went back in time and was given the opportunity to change the things that he did. He changed some of those things. It showed him at the point in time in the future, and it had changed his life in such a dramatic way. He was no longer the captain of the ship. The choices that we make in the beginning and the adversity that we go through is part of what we need to learn to make us who we are today. Maybe I wouldn't change anything at all. They say sometimes that everything happens for a reason.I think the corollary to that is no matter how obscure it might be, you're busy paying tuition to get from A to B. I have an admitted shiny object problem. “That looks interesting. That's a good book.” I have that problem. For you, Martha, as you're operating the company on the day-to-day basis, there are highs and lows throughout the course of the weeks and so on. As you go through your Qigong meditations and so on, what's the self-talk and the mental third-party coaching that you do for yourself to keep you focused and going? My daughter gave me this bracelet about a year after I started the company. It says, “She believes she could, so she did.” That's something that I keep top of mind. I look not just in this company, but back over my life, anything I've set my mind to I've been able to accomplish. I carry that with me every day. That's the self-talk that I tell myself is, “You can do this.” I do the same for my team and trying to inspire them to know that they can do anything. They set their mind to. When I first started my business, someone sent this to me. It's a card and I framed it. It’s for motivation and inspiration. Like they say, “Think you can, think you can’t. Either way, you're right and belief will get you more than halfway there.” I'm a huge proponent of that. I feel like we're getting many great tidbits. I love the stories. I love the examples. We talked a little bit about characteristics that you think it takes to be considered a titan, but I'd also be curious to know what advice you might offer with respect to entrepreneurship, to a new CEO that's assuming the role of CEO for the very first time. There are many lessons and many things that you don't know. A lot of that will depend on what kind of a background you came from. One big piece of advice I would give you is find some mentors who have the skillsets in the areas that you are weak in, or you don't know something about. Marketing and sales were not my strength. When I finally found the right mentors and people who could help me with that, that turned things around for me. Some other advice I would say is in the beginning, your company is not worth as much as you think it is. You have to decide what you're willing to give up to bring in capital or what you're willing to do through true grit to get to the revenue numbers that are going to make it closer to being worth what you think it's for.I say that because you'll talk to lots of people about investing in you, but all of that takes time. It's relationship development. It's people coming to trust that you can do what you say you're going to do, people coming to trust the numbers that you're showing them. One piece of advice is don't start raising money when you desperately need it. Start those conversations well ahead of when you need the money so that you have developed those strong relationships and demonstration that you can do what you say so that when you need the money, you can close the gap.It's some sage advice. I believe that every CEO should try to strive to find people to surround themselves with that are smarter than they are. You had mentioned too finding those mentors. Did you have a specific mentor that was crucial for you when you started BioCollective?[bctt tweet="Keep yourself in shape. It’s hard to be tenacious if you’re worn out all the time." via="no"]I didn't have an outside mentor that was crucial for me. I was very fortunate that my one primary investor was the chairman of the board of a public company I used to run. He also was an entrepreneur his whole life, was the head of YPO in California and the whole United States. He had a lot of advice and experience from that perspective and was always able to level things out for me. If I was feeling low, he had great stories and experiences that he could share with me that translated about how to get through it. That helped. I went on later to find an entrepreneurial executive coach. I had a lot of coaching and different advisors and mentors when I was in the big corporate world, but that's a very different world than being an entrepreneur. I think it's very important if you're going to hire a coach or find a coach or mentor to have somebody who works with entrepreneurs and small business owners rather than big corporate strategy, because the problems and challenges are quite different.We heard a bit about your journey and your company. We know what you do for work. What do you do when you're not at work? What are your passions outside of the workspace? My biggest passion outside the workspace is trying to cure Parkinson's, which is the reason behind my company in the first place. My husband has Parkinson’s, and he was diagnosed when he was 44. My largest passion over the last years has been teaching myself science across the spectrum and developing relationships with global leaders in many different fields of science. I network and collaborate with scientists all across the world, trying to find a cure for Parkinson's disease.That sounds like that could pretty well consume any other bandwidth of time.Living here in Colorado, in such a beautiful place, I also do a lot of hiking and outdoor activities. In 2011, my husband and I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with a group of people with Parkinson's and MS. We had 28 people, 10 people with multiple sclerosis or with Parkinson's, and each person was paired with a healthy partner. That goal is what got me back into hiking and exercising and getting in shape so that I can reach the peaks of the mountains of Colorado or the globe.That supports the entrepreneurial foundation, because if you're not healthy and in shape, it's hard to be tenacious and put one foot in front of the other if you're worn out all the time. Martha, as we wrap up things, I'd be curious to know from you, as you think about the BioCollective, what's the most important thing that people should know about the work that you're doing and how they can support you?That's a big question for a small company because our goal from the very beginning has been saving the world. Through that, it's about helping individuals take control of their health. It's about helping the scientific community do more robust and better science. Through our subsidiary, it's about helping the globe be healthier, but I also have a nonprofit for anyone who's interested in supporting microbiome research. We have a 501(c)(3) called BioCollective Research and people can donate to the cause of trying to save the world and help people be healthier through funding microbiome research.The website again one more time for everybody?My primary website is www.TheBioCollective.com and the foundation website is www.BioCollectiveResearch.org.You're found on LinkedIn as well.I'm found on LinkedIn and you can buy the probiotic products on BiotiQuest.com. Martha, you are an incredible titan of industry and it has been fun connecting and hearing your story and listening to
28 minutes | 5 months ago
Leading From The Front With Guest Jason Dunn, President Of DACS Asphalt And Paving, And Co-Host Jaime Zawmon, Founder Of TITAN CEO
Pavement reconstruction and maintenance is one of the largest spending categories for commercial property owners in terms of yearly maintenance. Owning a big market share in this industry in the Colorado market, DACS Asphalt and Paving, one of the largest and fastest growing pavement reconstruction and maintenance firms serving the state’s front range. A selectee for the 2020 Titan 100, its President, Jason Dunn leads from the front and invests a lot in continuously improving himself so that he can lead by example. In this conversation with Bob Roark and TITAN CEO Founder, Jaime Zawmon, Jason discusses what he believes are the marks of a true industry leader in a highly-specific niche. A humble leader and a team player, Jason is a good example that other leaders in blue collar industries should look up to.---Watch the episode here:[embed]https://youtu.be/bAHA-ivD6ho[/embed]Leading From The Front With Guest Jason Dunn, President Of DACS Asphalt And Paving, And Co-Host Jaime Zawmon, Founder Of TITAN CEOWe have quite a treat. I have my co-host, Jaime Zawmon. She is the Founder and President of Titan CEO. Our guest is Jason Dunn. He's the President of DACS Asphalt and Concrete. Thank you, Jaime. Thank you, Jason, for being on the show. Jason, tell us a little bit about your company and who you serve.DACS Asphalt and Concrete is one of the largest and fastest-growing pavement reconstruction and maintenance firms serving the front range of Colorado. We serve commercial property owners and commercial property managers across the front range, all things pavement. That's one of the largest spending categories they have per year in terms of maintenance items. Whether it's us having to repave an entire apartment complex parking lot or take care of a single broken piece of curb and gutter from a snowplow, we take care of that for our customers.In the parking lot out here, there's a pothole and periodically the crew shows up. That's an interesting niche paving market. What drove you to that particular niche?A few things are special about this market. One is it's a good business itself. I was a business analyst for many years. I'm accustomed to looking for characteristics and businesses that make them great, sustainable, generators of free cashflow, but one of the things that attracted me to this business too is it's a low bar industry. This is blue-collar world where my competitors oftentimes work growing up in concrete and asphalt and then doing their best as business owners once they grew an attractive firm. If you bring business sophistication, especially from outside of this industry into this world, it gives you an ability to easily differentiate for the customer. If the customer recognizes it, that makes it an exciting opportunity for us.For you, when you say front range, what's the furthest north you go? what's the furthest south that you go?It's a little bit nebulous, but it's Colorado Springs to Fort Collins. We’ll go down as far south as Pueblo if needed. My team finished with an overnight, nearly camping trip through the mountains because we were serving some convenience stores that seventeen of this same brand of the store needed work throughout the mountain area. We packed up the crews, overnighted them and got that work done. We can be moving around, but it's Colorado Springs to Fort Collins. Jason, first of all, we're so excited to recognize you as a 2020 Titan 100. I've got a copy of the book in which you were profiled. This book recognizes 100 of Colorado's top CEOs and C-level executives, Colorado-100 Titans of Industry. Being a Titan of the industry is about finding your niche and you have definitely found that in what you're doing. I'd like to ask you what characteristics do you believe that it takes to be considered a Titan of Industry?You've done such a wonderful job on this program so I'm honored to be a part of it. It's been great to get to know you and all the other people that you have inducted into this program so thank you. In terms of what it takes to be a Titan of Industry, as you call it, I would think first and foremost is humility. You've got to have a passion for learning. You've got to continuously be trying to improve yourself. Therefore, you can lead by example. You've got to be able to be willing to lead from the front. When there are problems in your business, you got to be ready to get out there on the front lines and deal with them, regardless of whether or not you have the answer. I'd say those are the most important characteristics that have served us well.I love what you talk about leading from the front in times of adversity. I'm sure that 2020 with COVID, it's been quite a challenge in leading from the front. Do you have any specific examples of how you've navigated that by leading from the front?It's easier to say in retrospect because the time was just tumultuous. I feel for all small business owners. Many people suffered through this, but small businesses in general faced unprecedented challenges during this time. Lots of empathy for everybody out there in the world operating during this time. Something that helped us is to take a step back and go, “How can we continue to add value to our customer's lives in this time where everything's upside down?” A small example of that, which may seem a little bit outside of asphalt and concrete is we created a distribution list and included a lot of our customers, partners that are all small business owners, even our customers hit that domain.We created a list to start teaching them about the PPP program, the EIDL program, how to get through the processes of finding these funds. It wasn't just about the selfish interest of, “As long as our customers are stocked with cash, maybe they'll keep spending money with us.” It was about just all of us being able to provide answers for each other, stay relevant in each other's minds to be able to help ourselves through this tough period. It does have great business consequences afterward. Our partners got to see it wasn't about making that 1,000th cold call during this time. I say cold may have been a warm call, but it felt darn cold. You're trying to make a sales pitch during April and May 2020.We all got inundated with those emails. Instead we said, “Screw it.” That's not what our customer is seeking to do is go spend money on their pavement. They're seeking to survive. Let's talk to them about what's relevant. The same things that are relevant to us as a small business owner. How do we find capital? How do we navigate these times? Let's share the information we've got. We tried to take that perspective. We built our relationships that much deeper during those tougher times. We ended up finding lots of ways to work together with our customers that were mutually beneficial.I love that what an incredible way to lead that willingness to lean in and to support your customers, your clients. That's an awesome example so thanks for sharing that.That's a testament to the mastermind approach, cooperate and graduate in the form of military side, but bringing in all your stakeholders, partners, suppliers, customers, and all that, to bring that solution. The COVID revealed character. It didn't necessarily create character. You see that kind of character in the various activities like you're talking about is going into like “We're here to help.” That's a real credit to what you're trying to do. To segue, your path into the asphalt and paving world is I would say somewhat traditional, asymmetric. What I was interested in is given your previous career, when you came home with the thought in mind, to your spouse going, “I want to take and buy DACS,” walk us through your journey from what you did before to the point where you're going like, “This is what I think I want to do.” I'd love to hear the story.I was fortunate to have found my passion early, which was in the money management business and the investment management business. I'd had a small bit of money that my single mom and I had for me to go to college on. I'd put it with a stockbroker that was a friend and a chunk of that money got lost pretty quick. I learned this person was more of a salesperson than they were an investment professional. I decided I'm never trusting anybody with my money again. I want to know what it is that you can do to make and grow money. I was handed a book at that time when I was eighteen years old on Warren Buffett. I read that book and thought, “This is something I could do.”I get what he's doing at Berkshire Hathaway and the creation of this business. It's not that it's not that difficult. It's hard, but not that complex. This was my impression at the time and was lucky enough that we had a practitioner of so-called value investing in Memphis at scale and operating mostly in the mutual fund world in Memphis, Tennessee where I grew up. I was able to calm my way into a job there early on while I was in college and generated a fifteen-year career out of that. I ended up leaving that business fifteen years later, managing $6 billion for them. We’ve grown to about $45 billion at our peak. It was a wonderful experience. During that time, I was a generalist analyst and eventually a portfolio manager. Most of the time, it was as a business analyst trying to find ideas for investment. The great thing about that as a generalist is you're getting to study innumerable wonderful businesses, some bad businesses too, and get to see as well wonderful operators of businesses and what they have in common. Along the way to try to read as much as possible, to find out those who've been successful, how they've been successful. It started that thought, which is you're an analyst you're watching something, these little beautiful pieces of art, it created all over the place. You start to wonder, “Could I run one of those? Could I be successful in business myself as opposed to just studying businesses? Can I do it?” I started to develop early on, but especially as we got into the late post the housing crisis after the fed printed about $4 trillion to get us out of there.That affected values as they existed in public markets where I wasn't finding that much in public markets that excited me like I did when I first got started in this business. We ended up deciding in 2017 after holding a bunch of cash for a long time. The public markets are not our hunting ground anymore. We gave back the money. We told our clients. We were deeply appreciative and good luck. I took a step back to say, “Where does value still exist?” That was after taking about three months off and doing Brazilian jujitsu, which is my passion. After that time, taking that kind of global look, I saw acquisitions, especially between like $2 million and $8 million range were interesting. They were too big for most individuals to be able to afford. They were too small for private equity to care about. There is a zone where there weren't a lot of buyers and even worse, a seller of that business is a founder who's coming out who was a critical part of operating that business. They don’t need money to buy the business. They need someone willing to come in and operate. You can see where this might've connected to that earlier desire to test myself. I searched along with the front range where my family wanted to live say 80 deals and fell in love with one which was DACS Asphalt and Concrete that had the characteristics that matched up to the long list of characteristics. I had desired in a business after studying business for twenty plus years and was lucky enough to be able to affect that purchase. That brought me to the asphalt and concrete world. I love hearing about the passion that started from you from the ground up and how continuing to invest in that passion led you down this path, which gave you this awesome, incredible opportunity to run it. It’s an awesome story when you look at the road right on how someone gets to where they are in that seat. It also is a reminder to everybody that it's never too late in life to change course or to continue to follow a different road in a different path to your passion. Thank you for sharing that specific example with us. I can't even imagine you get into the company and you're like, “Let's go.” There had to be some kind of initiative that you took initially when you got into the seat here of CEO that's helped propel you or take the business to the next level. Could you share maybe some insight into that?That first year was tough. No two ways around it. Talking about humbling, if you ever want to be humbled, step out of the world where you have twenty plus years of experience in some level of credibility, and maybe some confidence-built step into a world where you know nothing. I felt bad for my people at the time, but the reality was when I did step into the role as manager of this business, my people had to recognize, “We have inherited a leader who doesn't have background” and even worse in this business, in the blue-collar world, this may be fairly common. There were accustomed to hearing an answer from the manager may not be an informed answer. It may not be the right answer, but it's at least an answer. I'm much more comfortable with the idea of being transparent about what you don't know.“Let's go find the best answer. I don’t know it, let's go find it. We'll learn along the way and everything will be okay.” That turned out to be a stabilizing approach in this world at least when it was first introduced. The bottom line of 2018 was, “I'm not as dumb as I look, give me a little bit of time and we're going to find a beautiful way forward.” I'd say by the winter, after the busy season was over with, we began implementing the traction EOS process. I've been lucky enough also during that 2018 to have some disasters happen, small disasters, but disasters on the West that I could step into and help lead us out of. When you're fighting in the trenches with your team, that's where you build that feeling of team. My team members started to feel that with me. There was a sense of team that came into the winter, a sense of trust that was beginning to build. That set us up with a foundation of being able to propel ourselves in 2019.When I hear you talk about what that transition was like, you talked a lot about going to find the answers. “I don't know the answers, but we're going to find them together.” That speaks a lot to the characteristic of a Titan, which is the humility that you mentioned earlier. You proved that with your team and that was a good contributor to the trust that you were able to build with them and lead them forward. I'm connecting some of the dots here.If I can add one thing in my investment career, I got to watch two individuals, in particular, take advantage of this and maybe a slightly different way, but it's the same concept. Watching Warren Buffett and studying Warren Buffett build Berkshire Hathaway, and then someone who perhaps is less known in our circles, but what he's done is incredible. A man named Prem Watsa, who's built a company called Fairfax out of Toronto in Canada, now a $15 billion public company. He's been a mentor of mine.Watching what they've done, which is they have tried to find the best operators of business that they can. By acquisition, they brought the businesses and their leaders into their various faults at Berkshire and Fairfax. They've set up the conditions for those business leaders to be successful, which is getting out of their way. I do think for me, it's always in the back of my mind that it's like, “I don't have to have all the answers as a manager. I need to be able to identify those people who are truly good at what it is that we are trying to execute, partner with them and set up conditions where they can be successful, get out of their way, and then we can all win together and also have fun at doing so.”One of the questions is along with the script we were talking about. The other one is how did you get out of Memphis with no accent?[bctt tweet="You have to continuously try to improve yourself as a leader. If you can do that, you can then lead by example." via="no"]My oldest daughter, my oldest twin by 60 seconds said, “Dad, who are you on the phone with? I hear your Southern accent.” I'd been on the phone with my dad. It comes back as soon as I talk to family somehow, I got washed out along the way.I grew up in Tennessee, Alabama in Florida and it comes back like mold. You talk and you go like, “You're talking to relatives.” I had to pick on you. As you show up in the day-to-day operation of the company and you look at the process of focus, self-talk and discipline, what are your rituals or self-talk dialogue that keeps you going, focused and pointed in the direction that you've got in mind?Some of this is going to sound mundane but starting off the morning right is critical for me. Every morning looks the same, which is the wake-up, the preparation of the caffeine injection, which is as tea, not coffee, and that's better for me. I do a group of activation exercises that get my body ready to do what I do most, which sitting, for better or worse, especially these days with Zoom calls and whatnot. We sit a lot in our day. I sit a lot in my truck is I commute across our broad work area, seeing projects. I do a meditation practice every morning. I also do journaling every morning, which is critical for me. If I can get through that morning routine, which takes about 30 minutes, I'm set up for my day because I can enter the day with gratitude, which is a goal is to exit that session, feeling grateful for what I have in my life. I can also enter the day with neutrality. When I do have challenges come, I'm ready with all my tools. I'm not charged. I'm ready to be able to deal with what comes in front of me. That's been helpful for me.I hear many CEOs and entrepreneurs talk about the tremendous benefits of meditation, journaling, self-reflection, visualization. As you put your mantras out to attract to the universe, the things that you are visioning for yourself. It's refreshing to hear that you do it as well as you go through things. Switching gears a little bit, DACS has been in business for how long now?DACS was founded in...
16 minutes | 7 months ago
The Process Of Selling Your Business With Donna And Gary Thiel
In one way or another, everybody leaves their business. Prepare well for the inevitable by knowing your exit strategy. In this episode, Bob Roark talks with Donna and Gary Thiel, small service business owners who, after more than 30-plus years, has closed the sale of their business. They share their journey and offer great insights about the process, for when you also decide on selling your business. Follow along to learn about who to talk to and what to do during this important business decision.---Watch the episode here:Listen to the podcast here:[smart_track_player url="" title="The Process Of Selling Your Business With Donna And Gary Thiel" image="http://businessleaderspodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/BLP-SquareLogo-WhiteBlueBG1400x1400.png" background="default"]The Process Of Selling Your Business With Donna And Gary ThielWe have Donna and Gary Thiel. Thank you for your time. This is going to be a little bit different episode. We're going to talk about the journey between deciding to sell your business and the process. First off, tell us a little bit about your business.We own a small service business. Window cleaning was our main function. We did everything from residential to high rise. We also did snow removal services through the winter months.How long had you run the business?I originally bought it in fall 1986. I had worked for the company for about 6 or 7 years prior to that. Donna came in ‘96, ‘97-ish. She came in and helped with a lot of things like accounting stuff.What was the date that you closed on the sale of your business?March 1 of 2019.You ran that for a long time, 30-plus years. There's that ongoing discussion that you hear from business owners. At some point, you're going to exit the business in one way or another. Everybody leaves their business I suppose. What was that thought process like when you started thinking about selling your business?The stress level got high. The economy was good in Denver and stuff, but that brought along some difficulties of finding help and things like that. The salaries had gone way up in the city. It got difficult to compete and finding enough good people to get the work done to stay competitive was getting difficult.I would imagine it's not the everyday person that wants to hang over the side of a high rise.They are a different old breed. There are a lot of them out there. It’s some of the bigger companies and a lot of the construction industry was even taking employees that would normally be doing things in our industry. They had increased salaries much and benefits and it got difficult.I think about the challenges when you're in a full-employment economy. You and Donna got together and made it a decision that it was time to sell the business. Once you had that decision in place, what were your next steps to try to identify how or who you are going to use to help you sell?We were lucky because Marla is one of our accounts in my work in commercial packaging. I'm a broker. We automatically went to her and started asking questions. She comes involved with Keith and Keith was amazing.Marla is a unique individual. She is the CEO of Raincatcher. You were fortunate you had a contact within the industry. You started working with Keith. For that process of going through, what was the process from when you started talking with Keith to when the business was effectively ready to go on the market? What was that like?[bctt tweet="You got to wait until it's completely done and not get wound up." username=""]There was some work involved. There were a lot of things they were asking for that we weren't expecting. We attempted to sell it ourselves. We're probably about 1.5 years before going out and seeking a broker in Raincatcher and such.What was that like?That got a bit frustrating. We had a couple of people that showed interest. We didn't know all the ins and outs of how to deal with them, and all the nuances and things or everyday knowledge to the people at Raincatcher. After dealing with a couple of buyers, they flaked out on us and things. We were frustrated, to say the least, but still looking down the road and wanting to get out of there. Donna said, “Let's get ahold of Marla and talk to them and see what they can do for us.”The emotional roller coaster when you're working with buyers and the amount of information they want can be rather daunting. I think about that transition. You had already been through the decision process. You tried to market yourself. You started working with Keith and I'm presuming that the nature of the questions that he asked, you had been through around that track once before.The questionnaire was extremely thorough. It made us think outside the box, which was great because he was able to help Keith put together a full story about King Kong. It took us probably a good week. We had to do a little bit of it, then come back to it. I type it up and they would come back for another couple of questions. It was pages long and it was very thorough, which we never even thought 90% of those questions, to be honest with you.For most business owners, you're busy running your company, making payroll, finding help and dealing with this, that and the other. To put your hat on backward and start trying to look at your company from a buyer's eyes, that's a challenge. As you went through that questionnaire, were there a-ha moments when you were going through that process on the questionnaire?There was like, “I can see that makes a lot of sense,” and things that didn't occur to us when we were doing it ourselves. I'm much more involved than, “Let's put an ad on Craigslist and try to sell your business.”Gary, you'd already gone through in dealing with buying the business before. You'd already come through from a buyer's perspective when you bought the business.It was a different situation.He bought it from a family member, so it was behind the scene.You had all your paperwork done. You'd been through all the process and so on. Once the paperwork was in and your business was listed, what was it like from that point going forward?It was seamless. He would call us and tell us he has somebody interested. He’d give us a background of them. We would then decide if we wanted to meet with them or not. We always try to do at least one meeting with them. After that, it went boom.I visited with Keith at a meeting up in Denver. There's a real relationship that gets started between you as the business owner and your broker like Keith. Do you want to comment on that relationship?[caption id="attachment_5002" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Selling Your Business: When you’re planning on selling your business, call a broker ASAP.[/caption] He's got such a calming demeanor about him. There were a lot of times where we were stressed out and the requests some of the buyers were asking for like producing the documents were repetitive and things.We had one buyer that we went down the rabbit hole with him. He was a horrible man. He wanted everything for free. He wanted us to pay him to take over the business, put it that way. Keith kept his calm. He's thorough and his demeanor is amazing.He didn't get rattled and he took a little bit of verbal abuse from that one buyer. He hung in there and let it run off his back and we eventually moved on from that particular buyer.I think about the emotional toll and for you, you'd run the business for many years. It’s like a family member. Having somebody to be able to come in a little more objective and not emotionally tied to the business has value.He opened our eyes to a lot.You say that's a normal request. We're used to it. For you, it may be the only time you've ever sold a business. For Raincatcher, they've sold hundreds of businesses so their perspective is nice to have on hand. You have been out of your business. It's sold. Now that you've got some distance from the transaction, what's life like now?For one of us, it's nice.The stress level is night and day from where I was when we were almost ready to sell. We had been close to a couple of deals previously and try not to get too excited about the one that finally did go through. That was part of Keith’s educational processes. You’ve got to wait until it's completely done and not get wound up. The stress level has got to be the number one thing.If you were going to go out and let's say you had a family friend or whatever that was getting ready to go through the process you did on selling your business, what advice might you offer them that you wish you had received before you went into your process?Call a broker ASAP. Don't mess around, not unless you're selling to a family member. Even if you're selling to a family member, Keith or Raincatcher will take care of your interest. I refer them all the time to some of my clients that are close to being retired and stuff like that. I don't know if any of them has called, but I keep putting out their name.For many business owners, you work, make cashflow, pay your bills and so on. At some point, I don't know how much thought goes into, “We need to prep for sale.” I don't know if that's much of the thought process when you're running a business.You think you're organized and then there's being organized to be able to sell a business. It’s having your books clean and all those little things. They go through them with a fine-tooth comb and there are a lot of questions that are going to be thrown at you regarding this and that and what is this for. It’s being as prepared as possible and don't think you're going to do it in 30 days or 90 days or something like that. It's not that quick of a process.It is truly a journey. For you, having built the business and run the business for many years, that wasn't by mistake. You guys deserve a lot of credit for taking, buying, building and running the business for all those years. That's quite a feat. It takes courage to take and go through the process of selling a business as well. You have been kind enough to share your experience and wisdom from the sale. Is there a piece of advice or anything that you would like to close with for anybody else that's maybe thinking about selling a business?[bctt tweet="You think you're organized in your business and then there's being organized to be able to sell a business." username=""]Call Raincatcher.That makes it simple. From my understanding of the Raincatcher process, they've got a robust questionnaire that helps you define strengths and weaknesses. That's important for everybody.You know the difference from when we were trying to do it ourselves to when he took over. He had in 30 to 45 days prospective buyers and we were meeting with people in six weeks.That's quite gratifying if you come from a place where you're hunting for a buyer, and then you go to the place where you have an abundance of buyers.It’s nice to see the abundance of how many people were interested in King Kong.That's one of the unheralded values that you hear or don't hear about is can they sell your business? The flip side of that is do you have an inventory or supply of buyers that are interested? If you've got an abundance of buyers, it's clearly in the seller's favor. Donna and Gary, I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to share your story, journey and perspective. I can't thank you enough. Thank you. Let us know if you need anything else. We're always here. They've done such an amazing job. We’ll always be here for them if they ever need us to speak to anybody or anything like that.Thank you. You take care. Make it a great rest of your day.Important Links:RaincatcherLove the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!Here’s How »Join the Business Leaders Podcast Community today:businessleaderspodcast.comBusiness Leaders FacebookBusiness Leaders TwitterBusiness Leader LinkedInBusiness Leaders YouTube
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