Steve Wells: [00:00:05] I'm Steve Wells.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:00:06] And I'm Jeffrey Feldberg. Welcome to the Sell My Business Podcast.
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Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:01:39] Welcome to episode 52 of The Sell My Business Podcast.
David Lewis is a fifth-generation entrepreneur. He has lived the highs and lows of building a truly great company. Early in his career, David ran two companies, a technical publishing company and a printing company. With the printing company, David struggled to find the balance of raising a small family with the energy required to take a company to the next level.
After discovering EOS and exploring the model, David realized that had something like EOS existed, he wouldn't have been forced to choose between his children and his company.
Now, David’s passion is working with entrepreneurs to help them get what they want from their businesses and not be forced to make the difficult choice that David did. David is a trained coach for both individuals and teams, and he brings those skills and his positive energy to his dynamic and spirited session days with his EOS clients.
David, welcome to The Sell My Business Podcast.
I'm so excited to have you here today because you bring a wealth of experience of how to help businesses grow. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Why don't you tell us the story behind the story? How did you get to where you are today?
David Lewis: [00:03:00] Thanks, Jeffrey. It's really good to be here to spend this time with you. Let me tell you my story really quickly. And then I'll use that to segway into the story of EOS. I'm an entrepreneur and was an entrepreneur myself for many years.
I ran a publishing and printing company for about 12 years and I was a typical entrepreneur. I had some great moments of everything was clicking along. I had those moments when I seem to have my finger in every pie, and sometimes that was great to be in that situation. And other times it was a little more difficult, but like many entrepreneurs struggled to break through the ceiling that we all hit, whether as a company, as individuals.
And when I spent a couple of years, just feels like now hammering my head against the wall that I just couldn't get through to the next level. I had small children at the time and made the decision to sell my business to a competitor. Fast forward to a couple of years ago, and I'm an entrepreneur at heart, so I can work for someone for a while, but after a period of time I just needed to be the one making the decisions and started doing work with leadership development and coaching, and really had a passion for the work of teams. And in looking at what I might do with teams and how I would do that, someone gave me a copy of Traction, which is the book written by Gino Wickman, which is the opus of EOS the Entrepreneurial Operating System. And when I read it, I was just transformed. I realized that's what had been missing in my life. That was the secret sauce that if I'd had, I might actually still own my business.
And at that point made the decision to say I want to help people. And I want entrepreneurs to be able to take advantage of this incredible system that Gino has built to allow them not to have, to make the kind of decision that I did, which was choosing between my family or my business.
And it could be any other number of things that entrepreneurs want, but ultimately at the core, get what you want from your business, whatever that is.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:04:48] And David it's interesting for our listeners who may not have heard of EOS and Traction. This is a proven system from the trenches that has really taken the business community by storm. And I know David that you were sharing with me earlier that you have over 10,000 businesses, that have been helped by the system with the goal of a hundred thousand businesses in the next 10 years.
David Lewis: [00:05:11] That's right. Yeah. This comes out of an entrepreneur like us named Gino Wickman, who was running his family business, and he was one of those people who just does a really good job of running a business and ended up selling that business.
And wanted to share some of what he had learned with the entrepreneurial community. So, this would have been about 20 years ago where he spent about five years working with teams, trying to figure out what it was that separated the 5% of companies that seem to run along and do all these things seemingly effortlessly.
And the 95% of the rest of us who are great in some areas, not as strong in others, but where we tend as entrepreneurs to struggle to keep things under control. What is this thing that makes those companies different that makes them run more effectively? And he made two real discoveries.
The first one was that we as entrepreneurs tend to struggle with about 136 issues on the go at the same time. The image he uses is that we're chasing a van down the highway. The van is our business. The back doors are open. We're holding on we're sprinting as hard as we can. And we can't seem to pull ourselves in the back door because we can't get these things out of our way.
And so issues tend to last for weeks, months, years, and we don't solve them. And what the really good businesses do is they're able to solve those and get them out of the way. And the other discovery, which is related to that, if there's six parts of your business, that if you strengthened those six parts of your business. All of those other issues tend to go away because they're really just symptoms of the weakness. And what Gino did was he then created this system based on, we'll talk about those six things in just a second, but he realized that nowhere in the market was there someone who was doing that with small and medium-sized companies.
You know, if you're running an organization of 10,000 people, there's lots of information out there. You can get trained and do these things. But as we know, the skill sets required to run a company with 10,000 people is completely different than to run a smaller organization. And so what he did was filled this void in the marketplace for the small to medium-sized businesses and the tools that they could use to help run a better business.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:07:24] And for our listeners what I really liked when I was speaking with David in why I thought it was a must-have to have David on The Sell My Business Podcast. When you go through the Deep Wealth Experience, you'll learn the nine-step roadmap that really helps you lock it in and nail it down for your liquidity event.
And that's all fine and good. And that's terrific. But on day 91, when you're done the Deep Wealth Experience, you now have to do a whole number of things. Part of which is you take the blueprint that you created in the Deep Wealth Experience, and you begin to apply it to grow the business, add value to the business as you march your way towards your liquidity event.
Growing your business, that's really David's specialty. Or in some instances what's preventing you from growing your business. And that's what we're going to dive into here. We'll do a deep dive in this podcast on these areas that give so many business owners, challenges and headaches and keeping you up at night, but know this success and failure both leave clues.
And success in business and life, my personal philosophy is if you want more success, do the right things and do less of what doesn't work. So, David, why don't we jump right in? You've alluded to these six areas where most businesses are having some challenges. What would be the first area that you can share with us?
David Lewis: [00:08:42] No one listening to this podcast is going to hear anything new. You're not going to hear anything you didn't already know. There's no management science sort of new theory or anything about the business that this is based on, the getting in the trenches and Gino being in the trenches with real organizations.
And coming up with this system, which is time-tested, it’s practical tools that are going to be around forever. Often someone will say, this is really simple. And I will say if Gino were here, he would say, thank you because that's the way it's designed.
So, there's an element of simplicity. So, I just wanted to give that context that it's a complete system. As I mentioned, the six key components of any business, that if you strengthen those six key components, you're going to get what you want. More growth, more profit, more control, whatever it is you want from your business.
So, the first key component is the vision component. And the idea is every organization has vision, but very often the vision is not aligned on the leadership team. So, we work with the leadership team to get aligned on the vision so that we get everyone rowing in the same direction. We don't allow the team to move forward until they've said, here is the vision for the organization going forward.
So, making sure that you're all on the same page with the vision. What we do, and ultimately what happens is we create a framework for you to get on the same page with the vision, and then to share that vision with the organization, because really what you want is you want to make sure that everyone's going in the same direction.
That's how you really can drive growth is that you've got every single one of your employees who understands the vision. They understand the plan and they drive their day-to-day work towards that plan. So, you get everyone rowing in the same direction. So, that's the first component vision.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:10:25] Correct me if I'm off base David, when I hear vision, I also think that a rich and thriving culture comes out of the vision. So, if you have a terrific vision, everyone knows the vision, you're all walking towards the same vision.
Your culture is going to benefit. And as it happens in our nine-step roadmap, step number two X-Factors that insanely increase the value of your business. Culture is an amazing thing. Money cannot buy culture. Money can buy a lot of things. Your competition, they can copy the technology that you're doing.
They can even try and hire away some of your people, they can imitate whatever you're doing, but nobody can imitate culture. It's authentic. It's unique. And that's really an X-Factor of X-Factors is when you can nail down your culture, you're really doing all the right things for the growth of the business.
And the vision is at the head of that. Okay. So, that's number one is that the vision area, and it sounds like you're going in and you're helping business owners perhaps look at the vision or come up with a new vision if needed and then get everyone on the same page of here's the vision. Here's what it means.
And here's what we're going to do about it. Is that more or
David Lewis: [00:11:32] Yep. Exactly. And as you say, there's a famous Peter Drucker quote, that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and you're exactly right. What we would say is that organizations have a vision. If you went and asked every member of the leadership team, everyone knows what the vision is.
The problem is that they probably all are going to give you a slightly different answer. And so that's where you have the disconnect about not everyone going in the same direction. So, that's the work we do is we take that leadership team through an exercise to help them figure out what that vision is.
And part of that vision is getting aligned on culture. And it's getting everyone, as I say, the work that we do is I'm not a consultant. I don't go in and tell people what I do. My job is to get them aligned, to help them get aligned with each other. So, they're all on the same page.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:12:15] What follows vision once you get that buttoned down and moving forward?
David Lewis: [00:12:21] So, the next key component is the people component. If you want to achieve this amazing vision you've developed, you're not going to do it if you don't have great people. One of the discoveries that Gino made was that you can't come up with a generic definition for great people.
He found that when he was working in these companies, every organization defined great people slightly differently. So, we do this two ways. The first is, and these are stolen, Gino would say up front, these are stolen from Jim Collins.
The first is right people and Jeffrey, you talked about, the culture. So, right people are people who share your values, who fit the culture of your organization. And then right seats is the second component. And that is you're getting people on the bus who have the ability to be exceptional in their role.
And our bottom line of EOS is you cannot achieve your vision if you don't have every person in the organization, who's the right person. They share your core values and right seat. They're great at what they do.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:13:17] And what's interesting about that, David, for our community, which is looking at having a liquidity event at one point, you're solving some kind of a problem for your future buyer. The more painful, the problem, the higher, the value that your company will get when the day comes for your liquidity event.
And it's more than likely that your people are going to be an important part of that equation. Now I know some of you are saying Jeffrey maybe not. Maybe my competition is going to come in and buy my company and they're going to fire all my people. They just want to get to my customers.
I always look at the glass half full. When you have the right people, how do you know that your competition, if that's the case is going to keep your people over everyone else? You don't know that. When you have rock stars, when you have everyone working as a team, as I like to say when the team works the dream works.
And so when you have the right people, as you're saying David, on the bus, in the right seat on the bus, that's when things start to happen. And particularly in a liquidity event, you need your people to help you drive the bus, drive it forward to success. So, when you're looking at the people in the business, David, are there specific exercises or things that you're doing or strategies that you're going through with your clients on the people side?
David Lewis: [00:14:34] We go through vision and we identify and flesh out your core values. So, here are the core values and we take it from things that are on mugs and on the wall behind reception to really try and one, agree on them as a group, and then really bring them to life as an organization.
So, what does it mean to actually live the core value and make sure that all your employees understand that and the people that share your core values will excel and what you find is the people that are less comfortable working there and often will find their way out of the company. So, you do get more people.
So, core values is a big part. Making sure you're attracting the kind of people you want there and repelling the sort of individuals who don't fit your core value. When we do right seat we do an exercise that we jokingly say that HR professionals love because we take a structure first, people second approach.
And what that means is when I sit down with a leadership team at our first meeting, we figuratively fire everyone on the leadership team and so the HR person is saying I'm finally getting a chance to do what I've secretly wanted to do to a couple of these people for a while. But we say, what is the structure of your organization?
What is the combination of sales, marketing, maybe a couple of operations functions, finance, HR, IT. We customize that leadership team seat structure for your organization. So, every organization we have does it slightly differently. So, we say, what does this team need as you go through this period, as you're working in this case, working towards this liquidity event, what do we need over the next period of time that will best set us up for that?
We then identify the five rules in each seat. What does the person in this seat need to be exceptional at for them to deliver on what we need from that seat? And once we've done that, then we do the work of putting people back into the seat. So, that what someone loves to do, what they leap out of bed in the morning matches the five roles.
And we do it for a leadership team and ultimately, we do it for every seat in the organization. And that's how we go to do the work of getting the right seat part of the people on the bus.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:16:33] David. I really like how everything is layered. One thing on top of the other, so that it all gels and it works. And I have a suspicion that when we go through all six, it's going to be a situation where one plus one doesn't equal two, one plus one is equaling three or four. And starting with the vision because when you have your vision, you know, the kind of culture that you want or that you have in your company, which also dictates the kind of people that you're going to need in the business. And David, you spoke like a true business owner because knowing who you don't want in the business is as important as knowing of who you do want in the business, just to keep it clean and moving forward towards that vision.
So, we got the vision down. We have hopefully the right people on the bus, in the right seat. What is step number three, or what's the third area here that you focus on?
David Lewis: [00:17:24] So, the next key component, the third one is the data component. And that is just running your business on objective information. Making sure that, you augment the great sense of natural gut, feel that as an entrepreneur, you have, that's been the basis for much of your success.
But as I say, augmenting that with real objective information from the business we do that by helping our leadership teams create a scorecard. Things like a profit and loss and those sorts of statements are what we call a trailing indicator. So, things have already happened.
This is a report on what happened. What we try and do is create a scorecard that predicts the future. So, what are the activities that you need to be doing in advance that will drive your success down the road? And building a scorecard so the leadership team really has a pulse on what's going on in the organization, so that if you're on an island somewhere, sipping a drink have no access to phone or internet, that if you looked at this group of numbers, anywhere between 5 and 10 numbers, you'd have a really good sense of what's going on in the business.
Creates discipline. It creates accountability. Leadership team members are responsible for keeping their numbers on track. And ultimately, we take that discipline of someone being accountable for each number. We push it down through the whole organization. So, you have an organization where every single person in the organization has a number or more, that they are responsible for, that they keep on track as their contribution to your monthly, quarterly numbers being on track.
So, everyone plays a role.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:18:50] David. I really like how you're describing what you do with the data. For a whole number of reasons. How many times as business owners do, we get all excited about some kind of new initiative. It's going to take over the world and change our business forever for the good. And it's a dismal failure and we kept it going way too long and exhausted money and resources and time that we simply shouldn't have let it get that far.
And it sounds like the near real-time scorecard that you're creating with the metrics that you're looking at help keep you out of trouble. And, as you're talking about this, it reminds me of the old story that we hear of how an airplane is most of the time off course, but just makes little adjustments in real-time.
Based on the information, the data that the pilot is getting to ultimately get to the destination. And it's the same thing in our businesses. And for the Deep Wealth community was really important about this is when you finish the Deep Wealth Experience. And you're now preparing for your liquidity event.
This scorecard that David is talking about these metrics that you'll internalize and adopt in your business. Well, your future of buyer is going to be very interested in that. It's going to come out anyways in your due diligence. Why not get ahead of that and begin doing that? And this data will form part of the story that you craft about your business.
What makes it so special and why you're solving a very painful problem. And roadmap, step number three, for your future buyer. David this really gels nicely into that and then continues into step number four and five of due diligence. So, a recap. We've talked about vision for the culture and getting everyone on the same page.
You've talked about people, making sure that you have the right people to support that culture. And now that you have the right people, you're talking about the metrics and the data so that we know what we should be doing, and if something's off base, we can correct that. So, where do we going now?
What would be the fourth area?
David Lewis: [00:20:43] That's a great segway to the fourth area, because one of the other discoveries that Gino made when he was developing EOS, was that when you get aligned on vision and people and data. When those three components are strong, it has the effect of creating a transparent organization.
So, what happens is all the problems and challenges and obstacles that are in the business, tend to rise to the surface because you've created this transparent organization and you can see what the challenges are.
And so the fourth key component is those challenges. We call them issues. Two parts to it. One, creating a culture, you know, tying it back again. Creating sort of a way in the organization where everyone is comfortable raising their hand and saying, we have an issue that needs to be solved.
So, no one's hiding things or sweeping them under the rug, but someone saying there's a problem here. And that problem is being captured on a list somewhere in the organization. So, it's not in someone's head. It's actually captured on a list so that it's available to be solved.
And then the next part of this discovery that Gino made was this is great. We've got all these issues, but even really good leadership teams can struggle to solve issues. And generally, what happens is, and we've all been in these meetings. You've got an issue. You get into a meeting and you start talking about the issue and that discussion goes around and around.
And next thing it's 20 minutes later, you're really no further ahead. And the issue isn't solved and you end the meeting without any resolution on that. So, Gino developed an ingenious and simple way to, to solve issues. It's called IDS which stands for Identify, Discuss, and Solve.
So, we teach our teams about you've got a list of issues. What are the most important issues? So, you prioritize the issues. You then identify the true root cause because what's written on that issues list is usually a symptom. So, what's the true root cause of that? You discuss it with no one repeating themselves. We say things once and only once, because more than once is politicking.
And once the discussion becomes redundant as a team, you work together to solve the issue. So, making a decision that usually involves one or more, what we call to-dos, which are seven-day action items for people to take away. Issue number one, solve, cross it off the list. So, good leadership teams running on EOS in their weekly meetings will get through 10, 12, 14 issues. Solving them forever. And that's, what's different about an EOS company is that those 136 issues that kept resurfacing, EOS companies are able to solve them and make them go away forever. That's how EOS companies are strong in the issues component.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:23:18] That's terrific. So, again, David, you're really helping a company to create a solid foundation. From the vision to the people, to the metrics or the data that you're looking at to really do what we call a Deep Wealth and what good preparation will do. I think we're talking one in the same thing.
We just use different terms in our nine-step roadmap, step number eight, after you've done all the preparation, you've put everything in place. You've put everything under the magnifying glass. You do two things. You identify the skeletons in the closet, which is your terminology for identifying the issues to solve that. At Deep Wealth, we removed the skeletons in the closet. And then the other thing that we do is you find the hidden Rembrandts in the attic, things that you're world-class in, that you can then take to the world and share what makes you different from the competition and everyone else. It sounds like different words may be a different terminology, but effectively we're after the same thing in terms of removing those issues and focusing on what we do really well.
With the issues, David and these 136 problems that most companies would face. What would be a few that come to mind that you can share with our audience that they're even experiencing right now that you see from business to business?
David Lewis: [00:24:28] And I will share that, even the very best run business that is ticking on all cylinders has issues that crop up. When you actually analyze issues about 80% of issues actually relate back to people in some way.
So, one of the big issues that I work with on clients on a regular basis is a right person, seat issue. So, do you have people in the organization that are not right people, right seat? And how do you resolve that? Issues can be all over the map. One of the examples I use from a client was we're having problems hitting our deadlines. What we teach is we teach for you to dig beyond what is written there, which is missing the deadline. What's going on? As it turned out, when we dug four layers back, it turned out that really the issue was that the salesforce was not providing the information to ops that they needed to deliver, which created this back and forth of communication, which was incredibly time consuming.
And so the fix, which you think was ops is not doing their job properly originally. Why are they not delivering on time? The fix for that was to redo the spec sheet that sales was submitting to ops in such a way that the communication was clear and ops had all the information they needed on the first go and that was able to streamline it.
So, that's an example of how we would take an issue and IDS it and often that is not apparent at first blush what the actual issue was. But now they've created a system and a process that will allow them to alleviate that problem in different areas of their business. Not just that one area.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:26:00] And David, as you described that, it sounds as though what you're really helping the company to do is to create a culture of transparency where people can come forward and not be embarrassed or feel like they're crossing lines to bring up a particular issue. It's just the culture hey, this is what we do.
We're not pointing fingers. We're going to get this done and solved so we can move on with that.
David Lewis: [00:26:23] We want to do what's best for the organization. So, what is the best thing for the organization? And trying to get away from, people feeling protective of themselves, their area, their job, that people don't take things personally that when someone shares something that we trust and believe that they're doing this with the best interest of the organization at heart, and that we're all working that way together top to bottom.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:26:44] David, can you share any stories in working with clients and I'm sure they're out there of a company has a particular individual, maybe they've even been with the company from the beginning, or they've been there a long time. But they're in the wrong seat, not only the wrong seat, but on the wrong bus.
How do you deal with that? Because that's always a sensitive area you're talking about someone's livelihood and their future, but you're also, as you're saying, you want to do what's best for the business. So, anything that you can share or insights of how that's been dealt with or what's happened would be terrific.
David Lewis: [00:27:17] And it's very common. I actually have a meeting with a client the day after tomorrow and he said, I know there's someone on my leadership team that is not able to do his job, but he's like family to me, he's been with me for 25 years and I said, just trust the process.
I will walk you through it. So, essentially you run into two kinds of people problems when you implement EOS in your organization. The first is when you have the right person in the wrong seat, and that's sort of where you started there, Jeffrey. So, that's someone you love. They perhaps been with you since the beginning.
They feel like family too. They share your core values, but for whatever reason, and it's often that the job has outgrown them as the organization has come. So, they were perfectly fine in the finance seat when there were seven of you, but now there's 95 of you and what you need in that role there's banks to deal with.
There's all sorts of different demands in that seat that this person either doesn't have the skillset or the desire to do. They're just over their head. So, you need to fix that issue. And when it's somewhat like that, we work with our clients to say, is there another seat in your organization that you can find for that person because you love them. You want them around. What they're good at matches the requirements of the seat. But we also have tough conversations with clients to say, if you can't, then you have a difficult decision to make. I would like to say if you're a for-profit company that's trying to grow.
If you are keeping someone in a seat that they aren't capable of delivering on, because you're choosing not to move them, then you're making a decision that's not necessarily in the best interest of the company. Ultimately, it's your decision to make if that's what you choose to do. So, there's the first kind of people problem.
The second one is the flip side of that, which is wrong person, right seat. And we all know people like this. That is the person that's great at their job. They could perhaps even over-deliver, but they're the whisper at the fountain. They're the person who's sniping about management behind management's back.
Whether you know it or not, if you have people like that, they're making the people around them miserable. And so, our counsel to clients in those situations is you can perhaps train someone up to be the right seat. You cannot change who someone is at the core and the core values.
You need to make a change but ultimately long-term, even if there's some short-term pain, long-term, the company will be better off. And what we often find is that you have people coming to the, to the leader saying, thank goodness you finally made that decision.
And often the thought is that's a decision I should have made five years ago. We would have been further ahead as an organization. If I pulled the band-aid off when it needed to be pulled off, not waited.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:29:49] So, David, it sounds like with this whole process, and it's really all building together and you have that vision that you create, which sets the tone for the culture, which then sets the tone for the kind of people and having the trust and the transparency. And then you're measuring your metrics, which brings up the issues.
And it sounds like these issues is what, as you were saying, typically go back to 80% of the issues are going back to the people that are involved and that's where you're identifying the people that are either in the wrong seat or perhaps on the wrong bus. I'm wondering though before we move on to step number five, you know, it's often difficult as a business owner.
When you first start a business, you have a core set of people that get you to the next level. You could not have gotten to the next level without those people. But as you referenced earlier, the business has changed. Its needs have changed as more sophisticated, perhaps it's more complex in terms of what you're doing, that those people no longer have the right skillset in those positions to be doing what they're doing.
How do you deal with that? From your experience, you have any stories that you can share or guidance for our audience of making those kinds of tough decisions.
David Lewis: [00:31:01] We often as entrepreneurs we'll talk about, they're like family to me. So, let me share a story about an actual family. So, we did a focus day and in the focus day, which is the first day we work with clients, you had the mother and father who started the business and son and daughter. All in leadership positions.
120 days later. The son was still on the leadership team and the other three were no longer on the leadership team. To your question, Jeffrey specifically, I'm going to speak about the sister. So, you've got a sister who's the head of operations in this organization and the brother knows that's not the right seat for her.
He knows that she just can't do it. And so, he has a really tough discussion with his sister and says, what do you think? And she said, in the interest of the business, I don't think I'm in the right seat. I think we need someone in this seat who will do a better job of delivering on operations.
And so he said where do you fit? She said the head warehouse person who manages all the day-to-day stuff is where I want to sit. That's where I think I want to be. Corey is the name of the guy.
Corey said, he and his sister had three meetings where they were in tears, hugging each other. And it was really difficult. But his sister, as he said, made the very difficult decision to take a cut in pay, ultimately, and to be in a seat where she would be happier. And as Corey said, it was the hardest thing to do, and ultimately it was better for the organization.
And he said at the end of the day, I got my sister back because the person that was sitting in that ops seat that was miserable was no longer someone I recognized as my sister. And that's true of many people. When you have a conversation with someone, it can be very difficult and you're saying, you're not delivering.
They know they're not delivering. No one is surprised. Someone who's a right person, particularly they get that they're not able to deliver. And so, you're not telling them anything they don't know. And in so many cases, like the case of Cory’s sister, finding another seat where they're good at, it actually makes them happier.
They're happier because they’re able to deliver and they're not constantly feeling like they're letting you down.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:33:01] David as you share that story, what it really sounds like that you're helping and providing is a structure or a framework or tools really, to number one, identify what's going on so that you can then have that conversation. And it's not just, I have this gut feeling or this or that. You're coming from a place of where we have the metrics. The data helps to make it less personal and you can focus on what's not happening as opposed to entirely on the person. Would that be correct?
David Lewis: [00:33:30] That's true. Jeffrey. And we, those are some of the tools that we don't really have time to dive into those in the people area. But it's absolutely true that we create an environment where you don't have to just say, there's something about Jeffrey. I'm not sure what it is, but I can't quite put my finger on it, that we give you the tools to help you identify exactly what the issue is with Jeffrey.
And then even more to facilitate the discussion so that when you talk to Jeffrey, you're able to say, here's where you're not meeting our standards. Here's where you're falling down and where you need to improve. And frankly, it also makes for great discussions with all-star employees who are hitting all the metrics, because we're able to say, here's what you're doing.
And here's what you're doing really well. Keep doing it. There's one other people issue that people don't necessarily think about when they're doing that. And that is right person, right seat. And you think, wait a minute.
Right person, right seat. They're great. The problem is if you have wrong people wrong seat that you're managing, you're spending more time with those people because you're having to oversee them. And what happens is you end up not spending the sort of time that you could spend with that right person, right seat.
And so in fact, they're being held back in a way. When you've got a difficult decision to make about someone, that's the wrong person and you hold off and you hold off. And the next thing you know, one of your superstars says, I'm giving you my notice. I'm moving to XYZ.
And you're like, why? And it's well, there's no growth here. You're spending all your time managing Jeffrey and I don't feel like I have your time. So, that's another part of it that doesn't necessarily get talked about as much, but making sure that you're giving the right amount of time to the people who are great and who you can help grow and in turn will help you grow your company even more.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:35:09] David, that's so insightful. And I know you referenced the Paretos Law earlier, but it sounds like this would be the flip side of that, that probably 20%, maybe less of your people are creating 80% of your issues, or maybe even more than 80% of your issues. And you're so right when you have the wrong person wrong seat, you're spending your time there and you're losing out and you're paying the price big time of not taking the right person, right seat to an entirely new level that would be great for that person and great for the company.
So, now that we've covered off the four and we can see in our discussion here, there's really a nice interplay with all of them because they all begin to not just be silos, but they're mixing in with each other. What would be the fifth area?
David Lewis: [00:35:54] So, I jokingly say the fifth area is one everyone thinks, Ooh, here's the sexy one. It's not. Newsflash. And that is process. So, the core part of process is making sure that you're doing the most important things that you do in your business, the right, and best way every time.
And when people think about process, they often will think about the 500-page SOP manual that's sitting on a shelf in someone's office, that's gathering dust. In my personal life, I've worked at an ISO company, and I know how valuable those can be.
And I also know that when they're taken to the level of ISO, where every single step, that people tend not to look at them. The sort of joke is ISO, make sure you do it the right way every time. And unless you're a really strong as a company and are doing process improvement, that could be a poor way you're doing it.
You're just guaranteed to do it the same way. So, we don't take that approach at EOS. We take an entrepreneurial approach. And what that looks like is we document, we say, what are the handful of your core processes that make you run? So, how do you hire, fire, reward, manage people? How do you market, how do you sell, how do you build your product, deliver your service or both?
What are the handful of core processes that make you run? And then we don't do the 100% of the steps we take an entrepreneurial 20/80, here we are back to 20/80 approach. So, what are the 20% of the steps? The major steps that get you 80% of the way there?
And so, we document those and we like to say, these are not, so someone can walk in off the street and do your job. We're assuming that you've got good people and they're, well-trained in the job. It's analogous to the airplane checklist so that, the pilot goes through and checks off all the things they need to do to make sure they don't forget anything.
It's the same. And once we've done that, once we've documented those core processes, we need to make sure that every single employee who touches any one of those processes has been trained to do it the right way and is being measured and managed to make sure they're doing it the right way every time.
So, that's how you get rid of errors. That can be one of the biggest drivers in profitability and organizations that I work with because they're getting things done the right way every time. You have less do overs, less make readies, less production errors which inevitably leads to more profitability.
That's the fifth component.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:38:09] David, what's interesting about that. And there's lots of overlap of the EOS system and the nine-step roadmap and the Deep Wealth Experience. We encourage every business owner to look within, to find what the world class at. And initially at first blush, most business owners say there's nothing really, world-class about me.
I'm doing the same things that my competition is doing, but they're wrong in a good way. That's why they're successful. They just haven't taken the time to identify what makes them world-class because when you know what your world-class in, that's the step number eight, the Rembrandts finding those hidden Rembrandts in the attic.
And it sounds like here with your process, when you're looking at the process and you're doing a deep dive on the process, what you do really well at or what you can improve upon that you're also highlighting what may be potential, hidden Rembrandts in the attic that shouldn't be hidden anymore. You bring that out, you share that with your future buyers, you can share that with prospective customers and they become customers.
And it becomes a wonderful, positive feedback system where one reinforces the other. Are there any examples or stories that you can share of a company thought they were just ho-hum in a certain area, but when they did this, they saw really how special they were.
David Lewis: [00:39:23] What I can do is yes, what I'd love to do though, is I'd love to share, one process and it's what we teach our clients, every client. And that is what we call a proven process. So, we actually help them to work, to identify what is the process that a client that's working with you goes through from the moment they come onto your radar, the moment they're out there as a prospect until the time that they're long-time satisfied clients. So, what that means is and we help them to create a document, which is a one page. This is a lot of, this is about simplifying. So, it's a one-page visual illustration, somewhere between five and seven steps normally.
With bullets under each of those to say, this is what happens at each of those steps. If you have a business where salespeople are going out and you're like, wow when Jeffrey brings jobs back, they tend to be like this. When Joan brings jobs back, they tend to be like that.
And the proven process gets you away from that. So, what it does is it creates a couple of things. You have a clear process that a client gets it and they say, wow, they've gone through this process. They've established this proven process. I'm feeling more comfortable because I get that now they have put in place the steps that will allow me to be well taken care of along the way. And the second part of the benefit of that, and this goes back to what you said, which is sharing this with the world, that if you're competing with people, very few of your competitors are going to have this kind of document to share with their prospects, with their clients to say, this is what it's like to work with us.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:40:55] That's terrific. And again, for our audience, don't confuse simplicity with simple because when you can make things elegant, that's so much more challenging than just having everything out there and it's complex, and it usually doesn't equate to getting results. That's wonderful in terms of how this all now ties together and you put that through in the process.
And so then what would be the sixth and final area that you focus on in a business?
David Lewis: [00:41:21] So, the final key component of a business is traction. And although it's the last one that we're getting to, one of the things I want to share is why EOS is different than so many exercises that organizations go through to develop a vision. So, we've done all of this work and we've done the vision.
But when we actually teach EOS, when we engage with a client to teach them, this is actually the first part of what we teach them. So, we teach a foundation of traction. So, when we do the vision work, that it actually has a foundation to sit on. We've all gone away on a vision weekend or workshop and you come back all excited about all these things, but unless you have a base to sit for that to sit on two weeks later, if you ask people what's happened, they'll say, oh yeah, I haven't really done those things I said I was going to do because there isn't that base.
So, traction is that base. It's about bringing all this great stuff down to the ground. And one of the big drivers of EOS is discipline and accountability. And this is how we make our customers disciplined and accountable in executing. So, there's two parts to it.
The first part we call rocks are from Stephen Covey, his analogy about how you get things done and very quickly for those listeners who don't know. If you can imagine that you've got a glass cylinder, which represents your day, and beside the cylinder, you've got rocks, which represent your big priorities.
You've got pebbles, which represent the day-to-day things you have to do. You've got sand, which has all the interruptions and things that happen during the day. And then you've got water, which is everything else. And the way most people run their days is they pour the water in the jar and then the sand and then the pebbles.
And what happens is you only have room for a rock or two. If you take it the other way you go the other direction, you put all the big priorities, the rocks in the jar, then the pebbles and the pebble slide into the cracks between the rocks, then the sand and the sand filters down and then the water, you can actually fill the entire jar and get everything done.
So, that's the core principle of rocks. Rocks are 90-day business priorities. And so, we work with leadership teams to help them create this 90-day world so that you're executing every 90 days. I'll work with the leadership team and say, what are the three to seven most important priorities for the organization over the next 90 days?
And the leadership team will look at their vision and look at their long-term plan and all those things and say, okay, this is what we need to get done. And then each member of the leadership team will take up to three to seven rocks. So, they know what their priorities are for the next 90 days.
We push that discipline throughout the organization so that every employee has between one to three rocks. The priority that they know they need to execute on over the next 90 days. And we'll be accountable for having completed at the end of that 90-day period.
And that's how we drive discipline accountability throughout the organization. So, that's the 90-day world, which is great, but we all know how 90 day worlds work. And that is its day 65 or day 70, or day 80. And you're like, oh my gosh, I've got this big thing I've got to get done. And I've only given myself 10 days.
So, within that 90 days, we create another landmark in there, we call it a meeting pulse and that is a weekly meeting with the leadership team where they get together and are required to report during that meeting on the rocks, on these big priorities on the numbers. Are we on track on the numbers to keep things going?
They'll talk about any issues that need to be talked about any employees or customers that are upset or happy. And then they'll spend most of the time doing that IDS session, which we mentioned earlier, which is the identify, discuss, and solve problem solving so that any issues that need to be resolved in the short term are able to be resolved.
And that's that. So, we create this 90-day world. So, you're driving discipline accountability in 90 days, and we do that same thing weekly and ultimately everyone in the organization, same thing, drive it down through. So, every individual is in the right kind of meeting on a weekly basis. So, they're able to be held accountable for things they drive. Drives discipline throughout the organization.
That's the traction that makes EOS different than just about any other system that's out there is we have this foundation of traction. The whole thing is built on.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:45:19] That's terrific. So, it sounds like once you've put the foundation in place, you've created the plans and the vision of where you want to be going. It's this traction that keeps you day in, day out working towards achieving those particular goals. And like you said, and as business owners, we can all relate to this.
We hear something, we read something we're all inspired, but then nothing happens. It doesn't go anywhere. And we just get caught up with the daily grind and we perhaps miss a wonderful opportunity to take the business to the next level. So, it sounds like everyone is holding each other accountable in these meetings that we're having.
David, would that be correct?
David Lewis: [00:45:55] That's correct. And the beauty of this is what you find is that people that are already accountable, loved this. Because they were doing it before, but now they get visibility. Everyone's seeing that Jeffrey is really great.
Jeffrey's taking on some good rocks and is really hitting them. And it brings out, if there's someone who has issues with accountability, where people are not getting their stuff done, again it makes it transparent and clear and allows for discussions to happen to say, here's some areas where you need to pick up.
It's funny. One of the things that people often say, we talk about this and EOS, someone said is simple to say and hard to do. And I want to land on what you said about the simplicity of it. I think I have the greatest job in the world. I get to go in on a quarterly basis and work with leadership teams in all sorts of different industries.
And that's the thing that I would say about EOS. People will say, what kind of industry is it good for? And I will say, if you employ people, EOS will work. EOS is about harnessing human energy. I get to work with all these amazing teams in service industries in manufacturing, and high tech, and low tech, in construction and all these different ways. I get to bathe in the quarter end and all this beautiful energy and they have to go and do the hard work.
It's what you teach your clients that yes, there's ways you can organize all this stuff. This is hard work to do this stuff.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:47:08] So, as you're talking about this, David, I know what I'm wondering is that you've done a wonderful job of going over these six areas. And I know we're just scratching the surface that we could have an episode on each one of these areas and barely begin. So, how does it work?
So, when you go into an organization, a business owner says, David why don't you come on in and help us grow and get to the next level. What's that overall process looking like from a time perspective and from a high level?
David Lewis: [00:47:36] So, you may be shocked to hear, but we do have a proven process for that. The first step is a conversation that I will have with an entrepreneur and they've been referred to me or we've connected somehow, and they're struggling with something they're interested in finding more.
At that point, we schedule a complimentary 90-minute meeting with the leadership team and it's the entire leadership team because we need to make sure everyone is on board. Everyone understands what we're doing. And during that 90-minute meeting, we paint a picture for them going over the tools that I just went through, but doing a slightly deeper dive to give them more information on exactly how we do that and what a company that's running on EOS looks like.
So, we try to paint a picture of what a typical company looks like running on EOS. And at that point they have all the information they need to say, yes, this sounds like something we'd like to explore or no it's not, we're not ready for that.
At that point the next step in the process is what we call a focus day. We do daily sessions with leadership teams. Somewhere between seven and eight hours is a normal focus day. And during that day, without getting into all the details, we build the foundational tools.
So, we help them develop an accountability chart, teach them how to have their weekly meetings. We develop rocks and then send them back into their business. So, we lay this foundational track, these traction tools. About 30 days later, we come back and meet again. And that's when we reviewed the work we'd done previously.
So, there's some space learning in this. And we then start building their vision. About half the work on building their vision. Again, we send them back to the hard work of running their company for another 30 days. We come back for the third day, at which point when we're finished, they will have mastered the foundational tools and they will all be aligned on their vision.
And we call that the foundational part of the journey. And from there, we move into the execution part of the journey and that is I meet with clients on a quarterly basis and we help them do the quarterly plan. So, what worked last month, learn from that, develop a plan for the next quarter.
We spend a couple of hours usually doing a high-level IDS. So, doing some problem solving as a team on some of the bigger meatier issues that they're not getting into on a weekly basis. And then they go back into the business with their new plan for the next 90 days. We do it every 90 days because human nature is, we tend to get off track after 90 days and go sideways. So, every 90 days seems to be the sweet spot. And we do that along with a two-day annual once per year until we graduate them and in EOS is a little bit different and that there really is a beginning, a middle, and an end to the engagement.
Our goal is to graduate clients. It takes on average about two years for clients to work with us. And then they graduate and they go off and do it on their own. One of the things that makes us a little bit unique from other sort of consultants and things like that is we have no contract with our clients.
There's no letter of engagement or anything. We just go day by day and we actually have a full guarantee, which means that we actually didn't get paid until the end of the day. Jeffrey you and your group spend a day with me. We do all the work on focus day. At the end of the day, if you get value, you pay us.
And if you don't, you don't pay. So, it's one of the things we help our clients do as well is to say, is there an impediment in the product you sell or the service that may be causing people to hesitate? And there's a way you can come up with a guarantee that will take that off the table. So, for us, it's price, it's a fair amount of money to spend.
And we say, if we don't deliver value, don't pay us. Our role is to work with the leadership team, to help them understand EOS, to spread the power of EOS throughout the organization, but ultimately to get out of their way and let them run the business because they run the business better than we ever would be able to.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:51:01] And David, I like that approach because really big picture-wise, you're teaching a fisherman how to fish that they're not going to be dependent on you from now until forever. And even though it's over a two-year period of time, it's really not a lot of time. You're just spreading that out and letting the company figure things out and meeting with them as needed. So, that sounds like a well-crafted and reasonable approach for businesses to get their stuff together so they can start hitting those metrics and those goals.
David Lewis: [00:51:29] One of the reasons that I'm really passionate about this is I know the impact I have on people's lives. I know that a leadership team running on EOS, will always look back to me and they'll say 18 months and say, oh my God, my life is so much better now than it was before.
I'm able to get to my kid's baseball games or whatever it is they want. I'm able to go away on vacation and not have to check my email if I don't want to. And this is where I get great passion. It's also every employee. So, pushing all the way down that your employees are happier because now they're surrounded by people.
They like you've created this amazing culture that was there more or less before, but now you've really landed it. And now it's just oozing everywhere throughout the organization and people are happier. So, that's why I know I'm not just helping them.
I'm helping every single person in the organization, which is what I'm passionate about doing. And I know Gino would say the same.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:52:18] It's wonderful. I can hear the passion in your voice, and it sounds like this is what gets you out of bed each day, just to go out there and change people's lives. And really when you think about it, and it's interesting, the pandemic has really brought this to the forefront. It's the small and medium-sized businesses that are really the ones that are getting things done.
And everyone's recognizing that it's these kinds of businesses. That's what we need to get us into the new normal, whatever that new normal is going to be and get things back on track. And it sounds like this is rocket fuel for these businesses, just to be able to fire on all cylinders and get those results.
This has been a wonderful recap of the six steps and what's involved in the areas to focus on. So, David, as we start to wrap things up here, there's one question that I like to ask every guest on The Sell My Business Podcast and not to worry. It's a fun question. And the question is this. If you think back to the movie, Back to the Future, you have that DeLorean, which is a car that can go back in time, any point in time that you want.
So, imagine tomorrow morning, when you look outside the door, sitting out there is a DeLorean and that DeLorean will take you back David, to any point in your life. Maybe when you're a child or perhaps a teenager or a young man, or to today, what point in time would you go back to? And more importantly, what life lessons or insights, lessons learned, wisdom would you be sharing with your younger self?
David Lewis: [00:53:49] Wow. There's so many places I could go.
So, I've been on a leadership journey for a few years and this is not necessarily related to EOS, but one of the things that I've learned from Brené Brown, I'm a big fan of Brené Brown and have done a lot of work not just with her stuff, but with other stuff is I'm raising two boys who are 22 and 20 and as men in society we get pigeonholed about how we're supposed to be as a man.
And it took me until I was 57 years old to be told by people that you could be vulnerable and strong. And that not only was that okay, that it was actually a superpower. I started with the business side of this. And as I'm talking about, it's moving, I guess in true visionary fashion I'm thinking out loud a little bit. I would be earlier in my life with my boys, really honing in and teaching them.
And I'm doing it now to some degree, but me understanding in my interactions with people that being vulnerable are okay. Living my life and how I interact with people that I don't need to keep my feelings hidden, that I can be open and honest. And, we talk about in EOS about being vulnerable. To really truly implement EOS properly, you need to be willing to say, I'm not the best at this. I don't know how to do this. I don't understand. And that can be hard, particularly for visionary and founder entrepreneurs. And so I wished that I'd had that understanding that being vulnerable and being strong together is not only okay.
It's great. And wherever that landed in my life would have been fine. So, I won't give you a specific date, but that's what I would tell my younger self.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:55:14] Wow, David, that's a wonderful story. And that's being vulnerable right now. And thank you for being vulnerable and showing how vulnerability is strength that came through loud and clear with what you were sharing just now. So, thank you for that. I'm going to put this in the show notes for our listeners that would like to get in touch with you online.
What would be the best way to do that?
David Lewis: [00:55:34] You can connect with me through LinkedIn, I'm a regular user on LinkedIn, or you can go to my website. You can connect with me via email or if you're really want to, I love phone calls and zoom calls. I'm one of the crazy few, happy to jump on the phone, happy to jump on a Zoom call.
One of the core values of EOS has help first. So, I would just offer them if anyone has any questions about EOS, you want to find out more, I'm happy to share a ton of free resources with you. I have lots of people that I help with EOS, who aren't actually clients. Happy to steer you in a direction to learn more about EOS.
Happy to send you a copy of Traction if you'd like to dive in that way. So, really happy to help in any way I can.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:56:09] David, that's terrific. Is there a website URL that you can share with the community?
David Lewis: [00:56:15] If you want to find, information about me and about EOS my website is DavidLewisLeadership.com. If you just look up EOS worldwide there's an EOS worldwide website that's got all sorts of information blogs. You can download the tools. I like to say that what I teach is available for free online for the price of your email address. So, you can go there and dive in if you want to do that.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:56:36] David that's terrific. Thank you so much for spending part of your time with us and the community on The Sell My Business Podcast. True gems of wisdom that you've shared with our time together. Thank you. And please stay healthy and safe.
David Lewis: [00:56:49] Pleasure Jeffrey. I enjoyed speaking.