Increase Profits, Decrease Stress
Most business owners wish that there were more hours in a day. Their to-do list continues to grow no matter how many late nights and long hours they put in. It's exhausting and can make you feel like you're running in circles. But what if there is another way? What if there is a way to grow your business and increase profit, all while working less hours and a lot less stress? Count me in.
Recently, our CEO sat down with a business growth expert who does just that, and we're excited to share his advice from their conversation. In this blog, Hollywood Branded explains how business owners can maximize productivity in the office, with tips from the founder and president of Performance Dynamic Group, Mark Green.
A Little More About Mark
Mark founded Performance Dynamic Group over 16 years ago. His clients are CEOs with $50-400 million in revenue who are stuck in the "Growth Trap" (more on the Growth Trap here.) His unique framework enables them to grow the business faster, more profitably, expending less effort and less time. In addition, he helps his client's provide these same benefits to their teams.
He's also a speaker, strategic advisor to executive teams and author of Activators: A CEO's Guide to Clearer Thinking and Getting Things Done. Mark’s clients report significantly lower stress, reduced time consumed by the business and vastly improved quality of life. We're so excited to share his advice with you all!
Interview Transcript Highlights
Question: Well, I am delighted to have you here today, and I think one of the triggers of what made us reach out and say we wanted to have you on the show, and have not only me learn from you, but our listeners, is how you helped executives lower their stress levels. Because in today's world, there's just so much stress.
And what I'd love to do is have you start off by telling us a little bit more about your background, what got you to where you are today, and we can have the conversation go from there, as long as you end the podcast by telling me how I'm going to live less stressful of a life.
Answer: I have a coaching practice here in New Jersey, in the New York Metro area. And right now I serve mid-market CEOs and work with them and their executive teams on a team coaching model. I have nine or 10 clients at any given moment in time, and I work with my clients on an annual basis. And the space I play in in the middle market now is in the $50 to $400 million in revenue, which might be larger than a number of your listeners.
However, it's important to remember that I cut my teeth in the entrepreneurial space, and spent quite a bit of time there earlier in my coaching background, and sort of elevated and grew my practice from there. And I still maintain a relationship with a handful of legacy clients as well. So I keep my toe there. And frankly, my own business is in that space.
And so, I have integrity with that, and a deep appreciation of the little guy and the builder, and the teams that want to make something bigger than what they currently have.
What I've found is that my growth has turned out to be the same kind of thing that I work with my clients on, which by the way, is not a mistake or an error. And my practice is iterated in about an 18 to 36 month cycle over the years since its original founding in 2003.
Question: When you are going in to these quite large companies, or when you're working with a more entrepreneurial or just a smaller business that might be in the millions versus the 40 or 50 millions in revenue, what is the first thing you look at? How do you start looking and how do you start talking with that executive, to determine what path they're truly on?
Answer: What I want to find out from the CEO, which is really my point of engagement, is where do they see themselves going? Okay. And I actually care less about where they are right now, and much, much more about this individual's vision for the future state. And I leave it as a pretty open question, because sometimes they'll give me an answer that's six months in the future, which is very interesting, and sometimes they'll give me an answer that's 10 years in the future, and each of those things tells me something different about that person, in terms of their ability to see where they're going.
Then I follow that up with a series of questions around what's in your way? What are the things that have the potential to not allow you to go where you want to go? And that is the opening of the can of worms that leads into conversation around well, we have this problem, we have this issue, we have these things. And I kind of take all that down and we kind of dig in to those issues very directly.
I look at the world through a lens of four decision areas. People, strategy, execution and cash. And what I've typically found is it's people, strategy and execution that are the leading culprits for most of the things that aren't going right, and cash tends to be more of an effect, although there are certainly things we can do there very practically to kind of get that moving for a business.
That's sort of the entry point. And I also want to know what they individually think they're good at, and what they think they're not that good at. And that's also very telling, because what they don't realize is, as we're having this conversation about the content of their business, I'm actually assessing what I call their coachability. And I've found ... I learned, as we all do in our businesses, we learn the big secrets through the school of hard knocks, right? We do it wrong for so many years, we get tired of getting beaten up, and then we finally figure something out.
This is one of those things that coachability is really critical. And that's somebody's willingness to be open to insights, and to direction and to suggestion and to being criticized, frankly. And actually leaning into it and embracing it, and looking forward to those things.
As opposed to people who tend to get defensive or who don't take ownership of their own stuff. And so, that's really the things that I'm assessing. And so, for a CEO or a leader out there, I will tell you that regardless of the things that are causing you pain, the very first thing that you need to figure out is whether you are coachable, meaning really open to hearing the things you might not want to hear. And if it turns out that you are not, you need to fix that first. Because you're not going to fundamentally be able to fix the other things unless you open yourself up to that.
There's two valances to our state. There's a valance of cause and there's a valance of effect. And we're at effect when we feel like we're a victim. We feel like, "Well, this is happening to me because the economy is bad, or because my client is not that great," or whatever. Whereas being at cause is taking ownership for it. And this idea that I'm making choices that lead me to where I am. And I will continue to make choices that will lead me to where I want to go. And yes, there's things I can't control, but fundamentally, I am at cause for my results and my condition.
And that's really the essence of coachability, is being at cause, so that you can hear what you need to hear, and realize that you have the power to change.
Question: We talk a lot internally at my agency about the fact that I can teach anyone to do anything. Sure, and I can give them tools, as well, that they need in order to do their job and excel. But what I can't do, I can't give employees the drive or the passion to do their job. That's something they have to come to the table with.
I can give them a wonderful place to work, I can be supportive. Tools, education, all of these things. But it goes beyond. That's part of culture, I think in an organization that people forget about, and one of the biggest things that I know I've hit my head against, is when I talk to other owners of companies, it's the same thing. They're like, just why can't people have as much passion as I have? Why can't people have as much drive? Why can't they just want to do a good job?
Answer: Do you want the short answer? (Yes) Because they're not you.
That's the answer. So it's really interesting, because this is something I deal with all the time. And there's two things in motion here, and even in this case I would argue it's on you, not on your people.
Within limits. It's still on the leader. It's still on the leader, and here's why. In your head, relative to what you're trying to create in the world as a leader, you understand why that is. You understand why that's important to you. And it's the why of what you're doing that helps you as a leader, get out of bed every morning and go do the things that you do.
Organizationally, we're not that great at spending a lot of time on why. And Simon Sinek wrote a whole book on this, Starting with Why, or Start with Why, and he's right. We spend an awful lot of time on the what and the how, and we don't spend any time on why.
As human beings, again, there's plenty of research around this, we are driven to feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves. And just having a culture full of a bunch of values and behavioral norms isn't enough. I've got to feel like I know what I'm fighting for every day.
As a leader, if you haven't clarified your why, and then haven't communicated it over and over and over incessantly, like all the time, you're not getting it done. And if you're operating in that mode, where as you communicate your why, your people roll their eyes and complete your sentence for you, which by the way, is my tolerance for effective communication. You're laughing, it's true. Unless your people are doing that, it's still on you, and then, if people aren't motivated or aren't getting it, then I'm okay that yeah, they're probably not the right fit.
We're chronic under communicators. That's another one of my bad leadership. Chronic, okay, by like a factor of 10, by the way. Even if you think you're great, you're actually really bad at it. And I've seen this over and over again. And we're also not very good at the emotional side of leadership. And that's the territory of the why. It's the stuff that lights you up. It's not the, well, we're going to go win this market share of these three clients, and here's how we're going to go do it. It might be logically very correct and very accurate, and it could be a very compelling plan, but there's no feeling behind it, and the why is the feeling.
Question: What are some of the successful why's you've heard from people?
Answer: Things around building communities of people who play is a powerful. I'm paraphrasing the why from one of my clients. A great, great company called ZogSports. My own why is to unlock human potential, and I talk about that all the time. But it's some bigger cause. You know, like what's the dragon that you're slaying or the good that you're trying to do, or the thing that you're trying to achieve?
The way you get there, and there's a tool in my book, Activators, around discovering your why. And it's just a series of questions, very simple questions. You know, why is that important? And so it starts with, so what business are you in? I'm in an agency. I run a marketing agency. Okay. Great. Why is that important? And you answer that question. And I say great, why is that important? Great. Why does that matter?
Eventually you end up digging down to something that really kind of gets you in your gut, and there's an emotion to it. It's like because I'm trying to rid the world of shitty marketing. Or whatever it is that's like that ultimate, like passion thing. And it's like okay, that's it.
That's what we need to start explaining to people. As like what we're actually doing here, and the why. And by the way, this is not necessarily for public consumption. So this is not necessarily what you would go slap on your website. And by the way, the same is true of your core values. It's much more internally focused, and typically when I see core values on a website for a company, it's actually a red flag for me, that it's more sloganism than actually driving culture.
What I look for is if I kind of walk through the office in day to day conversation, I would expect to hear core value words just being used in a very nonchalant, average, everyday way by the people who work there. And that's a marker of a really, really strong culture.
Question: What other valuable nuggets do you have for us as you share this breadcrumb strewn path that we are going to be walking along?
Answer: The next one we're going to move into the strategy decision, and talk about business strategy, which is essentially the how it is you want to execute your business. And great strategy is very narrow. So in other words, I'm trying to be something very valuable to a very well-defined group of potential customers. That's great strategy in a nutshell.
What that necessitates, though, is my having to say no to things. And this is where we run into a problem. So I've got this great strategy, we've even hired a consultant. They're brilliant. We figured out the strategy, here's the strategy. We're going to go do this thing, we're going to be this group of customers, and it's all great.
Then what happens is the phone rings, and it's one of your top salespeople, and they say, "Hey, so I just got this phone call from this potential customer, and what they really want us to do is this thing over here. It kind of looks like this, whatever, but they're ready to go." And now as a leader, I'm thinking okay, so I've got my strategy over here in theory, but I actually have a customer on the phone over here.
We get into FOMO, fear of missing out. We all know that, right? And we start to say yes to things that we should say no to. And so the thing that I want your listeners to start tracking is their yes to no ratio. How many times in a given day or a given week are you saying yes to things, and how many times in a given day or a given week are you saying no to things, and what's the ratio?
Because your yes to no ratio should be something like two to 10. You should be saying no an awful lot more than you say yes to things. And I don't mean no like no, you can't go on vacation next week. But no pertaining to your strategy. Decisions you're making in the business about who to do business with, whether to make an exception to our plan, those kinds of things.
And, they happen quite frequently. And what will happen is, when you start saying no more often, and you start really focusing your resources on where you want to go, not about what's happening right next to you that you're reacting to, but where you want to go, it's going to accelerate your path to get there, and of course, it's also going to lower your level of stress, because you're going to move away from where you currently are, which usually feels like a bit of a juggler, into a place where wow, I actually feel like I have my hands on the controls now. And I have a feeling that if I do this, it's going to go the direction I want it to go. That's very empowering.
Check Out The Podcast!
Our CEO Stacy and Mark have a great conversation about productivity and how to get the most out of your day. There's a lot more great content in this episode, check it out below!
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