S2E46. Looking Ahead at Season 3

Happy New Year! 2019 was a very good year for this podcast.

The show was originally titled Improv is No Joke and on April 30, 2018, the name was changed to Change Your Mindset with Peter Margaritis, CPA. The overarching theme of this podcast is leadership, with a heavy emphasis on improv as a leadership enhancer. We are currently lining up guests for the upcoming season and need your help. What topics would you like to hear more about, and what guests would you like to see interviewed on the show? We would also love to share your good and bad leadership stories on the podcast.

If you have any suggestions, feedback, or stories to share, please reach out to tina@petermargaritas.com. Thank you, and see you for Season 3!

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:10] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:57] Happy New Year. I hope everyone took time to spend with their family and friends during the holiday season. 2019 was a very good year for this podcast and for my business. First, I want to thank all of my guests in 2019 for taking time out of their busy day to have a conversation with me. And those guests are Allen Lloyd, Boyd Search, Chris Jenkins, Jennifer Briggs, Gary Zeune, Bill Sheridan, Jennifer Elder, Lucy Hayhurst, Cara North, Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, Samantha Bowling, Amy Franko, Phil Lovegrove, Robin Thieme, Brian Wagner, Gleb Tsipursky, Jay Sukow, Bill and Don Tomoff, Dave Caperton, Kevin McCarthy, Ralph Picano, Chrissie Powers, Eileen Kahana, Tara Clancy, Mihaela Jekic, Ken Wentworth, Darren LaCroix, Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott, and Cara Silleto. Thank you all very much.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:59] Over the last 30 days, I’ve been thinking a lot about this podcast. The podcast went live on June 22, 2016. And this is Episode 146. The podcast can be found on Apple podcast, C-Suite Radio, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Play, Stitcher, and many other podcast platforms. There’ve been over 50,000 downloads and they’ve been downloaded in all 50 states and in 97 countries. That continually blows my mind because I never, in my wildest dreams ever, thought that this podcast would have its reach that it currently does.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:38] The podcast was originally titled Improv is No Joke and on April 30, 2018, the name was changed to Change Your Mindset with Peter Margaritis, CPA. The overarching theme of this podcast is leadership, with a heavy emphasis on improv as a leadership enhancer. I’m currently lining up guests for the upcoming season and I need your help. I need the help of my audience. I would like to know from you, what topics would you like me to explore, what guests would you like me to interview?

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:12] Also, I would love it if you would share your good and bad leadership stories with me to be read on the podcast. Please send me your topics, your guests, and your stories to tina, T-I-N-A, @petermargaritis.com. And my assistant will compile this information for me. Now, moving forward with Season 3, there will be a new look to the cover art and the social media graphics. In addition, I’ll be running short advertisements in the episodes to help offset some of the costs. If you’d like to advertise on my podcast, please contact tina@petermargaritis.com and we’ll send you some information.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:50] Now, this year, I’ve actually been interviewed on three podcasts and I would like to thank Keep Leading with Eddie Turner, Lead.exe with Nick Lozano and Brian Comerford, Mr. Biz Radio with Ken, Mr. Biz, Wentworth. It was fun being on the other side of the microphone for a change. I would like to end this episode by sharing an article that was sent to me titled, Warren Buffett: This is your 1 greatest measure of success in life (and if you don’t have it, ‘your life is a disaster’). The article is written by Marcel Schwantes, I apologize for butchering the name, of CNBC and it was published on February 14, 2019.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:36] And here it is, Warren Buffett is no doubt one of the few business icons who can deliver the gift of wisdom and truth when we need it the most. And those truths, when you really stop and consider them, are always spot on. In her biography of Buffett, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, author Alice Schroeder writes about a time when Buffett gave a presentation at the University of Georgia. The students asked him about his definition of success.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:08] “When you’re nearing your end of life, your only measure of success should be the number of people you want to have love you actually do love you”, he answered. “I know people who have a lot of money and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them, but the truth is that nobody in the world loves them”, said Buffett. “If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.” That’s right, a self-made billionaire says the amount you are loved, not your wealth or accomplishments, is the ultimate measure of success in life.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:51] To give and receive, love is one of the most powerful emotions a human being can feel and yet, we still live in an individualistic society of keeping up with the Joneses: We forge ahead with our business ventures and strategically plan our career path in hopes of finding fame and fortune. We feel we finally arrived at the top when we’re able to vacation twice a year to exotic islands and drop a European luxury car or two in the garage. We dream about having all of these things, love be damned.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:23] “The problem with love is that it’s not for sale”, Buffet told the students. “The only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way. The more love you give away, the more you get.” How can we follow Buffet’s principles of success where we truly leave behind a legacy? The path of putting love into motion is a daring and courageous one, but here are a few ways of doing it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:01] Number one, be selfless and don’t expect anything in return. The laws of love are reciprocal. When we choose to love someone unconditionally by encouraging them and believing in them, love comes back in full force through respect, admiration, trust, and loyalty. What’s more, when we receive those things, we become more self-compassionate. In 2011, a study conducted by the University of California found that self-compassion can increase motivation, willpower, and the ability to recover from failure. Another study published in 2007 in the Journal of Research and Personality concluded that people who have self-compassion are more likely to be happy, optimistic, and show personal initiative.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:48] Number two, be empathetic, empathy is one the most common traits of likable or as Buffett prefers to say, lovable. True empathy occurs when you’re able to step into someone else’s shoes and see their perspective. Empathy also plays a major role in a person’s potential to influence others. In a DDI study of more than 15,000 leaders across 20 industries, researchers found that the ability to listen and respond with empathy was the most critical driver of a team’s overall performance.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:25] Number three, make work enjoyable and fun. When you enjoy your work, you enjoy life. In Carol Loomis’s biography of Buffett, Tap Dancing To Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, she mentions a quote from Buffett, “I love every day. I mean, I tap dance in here and work with nothing but people I like. There’s no job in the world that is more fun than running Berkshire, and I count myself lucky to be where I am.” The evidence is clear, in positive and uplifting cultures where people share the same values and beliefs and norms, you’ll find high performing groups of people who attract folks of the same kind.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:08] Four, treat people the way they want to be treated. As children, we were taught the golden rule, treat others as you want to be treated. But the platinum rule takes it to a whole new level, treat others the way they want to be treated. When we follow the platinum rule, we can be more certain that we’re respecting what they want instead of projecting our own values and preferences. That doesn’t mean we should ignore the golden rule altogether, but we should realize its limitations given that every person in every situation is so different.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:44] And number five, follow your passion. If you want to have your dream career, you must follow your passion. It’s simple. Many of us take our cushy paychecks and job security for granted, even though we might hate our jobs and would rather be doing something else, something we actually love. As humans, doing what we love is a major contributor to true happiness in life. So, if you don’t know what your passion is, it’s time to figure it out.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:14] As I read this article, it struck me how closely it relates to the world of improvisation, empathy, respect, being selflessness, having fun, listening, treating people well, and following your passion are all components of the world of improvisational leadership. Now, in the spirit of changing your mindset, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from my improv coach, Jay Sukow, “If everyone took just one improv class, the world would be a better place.” If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please share it with your friends and family. Subscribe to the podcast and I look forward to Season 3 with you, my audience.

Announcer: [00:11:07] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

S2E45. How to Retain Employees Longer with Cara Silletto

Cara Silletto is the Chief Retention Officer in her consulting firm. She is also an author of two books, The Millennial Mindset: Why Today’s Workforce Thinks Differently and Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave and How to Keep Them Longer. Cara is also a professional keynote speaker and a member of the National Speakers Association. From manufacturing to healthcare and professional services to nonprofit, Cara’s worked with businesses in a plethora of industries. Her knowledge of industry jargon and her understanding of what keeps leaders in those businesses up at night are some of the many keys to Cara’s success.

Staffing stability is a huge problem that’s impacting businesses and their bottom line, and most executives and leaders don’t know how to fix it. They have read some books or been to some conferences where they talk about workforce retention, but they just can’t fix the problem themselves.

Part of the problem is workloads, especially for those who are in mid-level positions and up, because of how long they’ve been there. Every time somebody has left or as the company has expanded, they pick up more on their plate, and suddenly that loyal worker who’s staying has more and more on their plate, and they’re starting to burn out.

There is also a lot of poaching happening, where other firms or companies are offering better opportunities to valuable employees. The companies are at a very real threat of losing those key individuals who are keeping their business running.

Workplace culture is the key component here. Your culture is how people are treated every day, the workload that people have, the hours they are working. It’s the communication style from the company, how people treat each other, and what kind of advancement opportunities there are.

It’s not just about the numbers. It’s not just about profitability. You cannot manage behind a spreadsheet. We have to balance people and profits, but those are separate.

Last year a group of nearly 200 major US executives came together and wrote a letter to their shareholders stating that short-term shareholder value was no longer their primary focus. They realized they could no longer have a sustainable and profitable business long term if they kept cutting everything for short-term gain. So instead, they identified five stakeholders that are of equal value that they have to honor in order to continue successfully.

So, those five were, 

  1. Investing in employees, specifically in diversity and inclusion. They need to provide the proper training, tools, and support for people as they promote them in order to set them up for success.
  2. Fair and ethical treatment of suppliers. Many companies were pushing their suppliers so hard that they ran them out of business because it became unprofitable. That couldn’t continue.
  3. The community in which they operate. They need to serve the community and give back to them.
  4. Providing quality goods and services to customers. You cannot continue to cut costs and still meet your customers expectations.
  5. Maximizing long-term shareholder value. In order for us to stay profitable and sustainable long term as an organization, we have to focus on these other four areas to get the shareholder value in the end.

Cara’s new book, Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave and How to Keep Them Longer, explains the new workforce that we are trying to attract and retain. It starts by explaining that we are now in an employee market, where our workplace needs to be attractive to employees to retain talent. It then dives into the generational dynamics in the workplace and the four generations that we have working right now and how things have changed over the last 50 years.

The most important thing, regardless of generation, is to keep an eye on your people. Take good care of them. Recognize what they’re doing and say, “Thank you.” You have to show that recognition and listen to them. Be willing to make some changes as the workforce and the expectations are evolving over these next five years.

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Cara Silletto: [00:00:00] The new generation has options, has more competence, has more access to things. And so, they’re going to say, “Enough is enough, I’m not working somewhere that is going to treat me that way or that doesn’t let me be heard or that has me on a linear path. I need more options than that.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:26] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believe that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while, growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:11] How do we keep our best and brightest employees? What is the true cost when an employee leaves the company? Are we at risk of losing some of our most talented, tenured, and loyal employees? Is a quarterly financial reporting model having an effect on our retention strategy? Well, those questions and more will be answered by my guest, Cara Silletto, who was the Chief Retention Officer in her consulting firm.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:39] Cara’s also an author of two books, The Millennial Mindset: Why Today’s Workforce Thinks Differently and Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave and How to Keep Them Longer. Cara’s also a professional keynote speaker and a member of the National Speakers Association. From manufacturing to health care and professional services to nonprofit, Cara’s worked with businesses in a plethora of industries. Her knowledge of industry jargon and her understanding of what keeps leaders in those businesses up at night is one of the many keys to Cara’s success.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:15] Workforce magazine named Cara a game changer and recruiter.com listed her in their top 10 company culture experts to watch. She’s a 2018 Forty Under 40 recipient in Louisville, Kentucky, and she’s been quoted in Forbes, HuffPost, The Boston Globe, and many more outlets. Cara conducts 50 to 100 workforce programs annually for clients from various industries that include UPS, Humana, Vistage, Cintas, Berkshire Hathaway, the American Health Care Association, and the National Precast Concrete Association, and beyond.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:54] Cara’s a workforce thought leader who shifts managers’ mindsets so they could better lead and retain today’s new workforce. Her award-winning, engaging approach makes managers more effective in their roles. And she’s got a lot of great information in our interview. But before we get to the interview, Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Family Radio podcast. It’s an honor and a privilege to be amongst some of the more prevalent business podcasts, such as The Hero Factor with Jeffrey Hayzlett, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with my friend, Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.

Announcer: [00:03:39] This podcast is part of the C-suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:44] Now, a quick quote from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:03:48] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis, LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:37] Now, let’s get to this interview with Cara. Hey, welcome back, everybody. Today, my guest is Cara Silletto, who is the chief retention officer of her boutique consulting firm and an author of two books and a former interview on this podcast. So, welcome back, Cara. It’s great to see you.

Cara Silletto: [00:05:03] Yeah. Thanks for having me back again, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:06] I’m looking forward to our conversation. I love the title, chief retention officer.

Cara Silletto: [00:05:11] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:13] You’re the retention expert, aren’t you?

Cara Silletto: [00:05:16] Yes, we focus solely on keeping the staff you don’t want to leave.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:22] What about the staff that you do want to leave?

Cara Silletto: [00:05:26] Yeah, we don’t help you keep those guys because we need them out, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:29] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:05:31] Some turnover is good turnover, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:34] Right. Right. I think of Southwest Airlines as it relates to turnover and Herb Kelleher said that he would never have laid off any people. He would just let the natural process take care of itself, but would not lay off, because people were their greatest asset in their business.

Cara Silletto: [00:05:52] Yeah, absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:54] So, let’s talk about retention. What do you see out there in the world these days as it relates to retention?

Cara Silletto: [00:06:02] Wow. Well, staffing stability is a huge problem that’s impacting businesses and their bottom line. And most executives and leaders are calling us because they just don’t know how to fix it. They talk about turnover and retention in every one of their staff meetings or leadership meetings. And they have read some books or been to some conferences where they talk about workforce retention and they just can’t fix the problem themselves. Also, I think a big part of that is everybody’s busy.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:37] Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:06:37] Everyone is so busy doing their own job. And when I work with executives, one of the things that we have to have a very serious conversation around is appropriate workloads, especially for those folks who are kind of mid-level or going up into director level-type positions because they’ve been there long enough. And every time somebody has left, they pick up more on their plate or as the company has expanded, that great worker who’s been loyal and is wonderful at their job, they pick up more work and they pick up more work.

Cara Silletto: [00:07:13] And unfortunately, they’re not offloading much off their plate. So, now, we’re getting to a point where we’re seeing a lot of burnout in the space. We’re also seeing a lot of poaching, where the other firms or other companies are coming in and saying, “Would you entertain a new opportunity to get out of the situation you’re in of being completely overloaded and giving your whole life to your job? People are really fed up, to be honest.

Cara Silletto: [00:07:42] I just had somebody the other day who is a director that had been at her company 15 or 17 years, somewhere in there. And she said, “Cara, they just keep piling on. I’m already working nights. I’m already working weekends. And they just gave me a new project for 2020 to lead.” And she’s just tired. She’s exhausted. And she asked for more staff on her team. And at one point in 2019, they had approved another position for her to get some support.

Cara Silletto: [00:08:13] But then, they had a bad fourth quarter. And a few days before I met her, she had just found out that they eliminated that new 2020 position that was going to help alleviate her stressors and take some things off of her plate. So, I’m telling you, she was at wit’s end and very close to calling it quits at this company that she loves and she’s loyal to, but she just can’t take it anymore. And she feels like her family has sacrificed enough that she can’t sacrifice anymore.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:47] Absolutely. It’s a shame that we make these decisions to not hire based off of one bad quarter because there’s always going to be a one bad quarter, it’s not always going to be—but it’s the investment in people, you know, just being a CPA, I love number. Well, I love numbers, but there’s people behind those numbers. And if you look at a person just as a number, then you will continue to pile on, pile on, pile on versus we need to make an investment into this organization and to her team and get her some help or yeah, she’ll leave. And they’ll go, they’ll be shocked-

Cara Silletto: [00:09:25] Absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:26] … “I can’t believe you left.”

Cara Silletto: [00:09:28] I know, right? Oh, they’ll be blindsided by it. Even though she has been begging for help for she said the first, you know, 12 years working there were great and were manageable. But she said the last three years at this organization, she has never had a slow time that she could get her head back above water. So, for three years now, she has been drowning and begging for help and they’re just not giving it to her. And this is just one example, Peter, but I hear that story over and over and over as I’m out working on retention with these companies. It’s not just the young hires. It’s not just the new hires. The companies are at a very real threat of losing those key individuals who are keeping their business running.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:18] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:10:19] Absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:20] So, isn’t retention and others based upon the culture of an organization?

Cara Silletto: [00:10:25] Sure, sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:27] And then-

Cara Silletto: [00:10:27] And it’s not just about the—sorry. It’s not just about the executives. It is about the day-to-day. Your culture is not posters on the wall. It’s not a mission statement. It’s not generic core values like integrity and quality, you know, that’s not your culture. Your culture is how are people treated every day? What is the workload that people have? What are the hours that people are working? What is the communication style that’s happening from the company to the people and from the people to the people? How do they treat each other and talk to people? And, you know, what are the advancement opportunities?

Cara Silletto: [00:11:09] Is it a very stagnant organization, you just come in and just do your job and you’re never going to get promoted or is it a very fluid organization where you can move to different projects and have some unique advancement over time even if a promotion isn’t available? That’s your culture. And that’s a big part of what the organizations that we work with, they are finally realizing that, as you said, it’s not just about the numbers. It’s not just about profitability. And you cannot manage behind a spreadsheet. You can’t make people decisions by managing on a spreadsheet. Okay? Doesn’t work. So, we have to balance people and profits, but those are separate. And it can’t just be done in Excel. It can’t happen that way.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:01] Oh, my gosh. If any of my audience is listening to this in their car, they’ve just fallen off the road.

Cara Silletto: [00:12:08] Be careful. Careful.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:08] Yeah. And that, they can’t manage it through Excel. But you’re right, it’s numbers, but there’s people involved in those numbers. And it’s because when I go speak and speak to accountants, one of the questions I ask, “What business are you in?” And I hear audit consulting, all those kinds of words. I say those are byproducts of the real business you’re in. And they look at me, I try to get them just mad enough that they want to hit me. They had that look in their eye-

Cara Silletto: [00:12:40] Boom.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:40] Yeah. And I go, “No, you’re in the people’s business first and foremost. Without people, you have no business.”

Cara Silletto: [00:12:47] Totally.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:48] So, we have to take care of those people. And I get this, the Scooby Doo, like it’s not registering, but it needs to register.

Cara Silletto: [00:13:00] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:00] All organizations.

Cara Silletto: [00:13:01] Peter, you know, a tipping point that I think the business world hit, it occurred in August of last year that companies over the last 20 years, they had cut and cut and cut and squeezed people for everything they could get out of them, you know, every ounce of overtime they could get on a salary person and every, you know, two jobs they could squeeze into one, the whole do more with less, and we’ve got to be a lean organization and things like that. Now, I’m not opposed to the lean but true lean operation strategies and things like that, but you can’t continue to do more with less and think that that is a sustainable model.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:45] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:13:45] So, in August last year, there was a group of almost 200 major US executives from major companies, I mean, Jeff Bezos is on there, the Marriott CEO was on there, all kinds of airlines, you know, these major companies, Macy’s, I think was on there as well. And they said, they wrote this letter and signed this to their shareholders stating that short-term shareholder value was no longer their primary focus because they had cut and cut and cut. And they realized they could no longer have a sustainable and profitable business long term if they kept cutting everything for short-term gain so that they would hit that bonus or be able to give that dividend in that quarter.

Cara Silletto: [00:14:33] And so, instead, they had this letter that identified five stakeholders that are of equal value to the executives and that they feel they have to honor these five different stakeholders in order to continue successfully. So, those five were, number one, investing in employees. They talk specifically about diversity and inclusion. They speak specifically to leadership development and professional development for staff that they can’t keep promoting people into positions without giving them the training and tools to be successful in those leadership roles.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:14] Right. Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:15:14] So, that’s a huge one. And of course, that’s where we do most of our work with management training programs and leadership development. So, that’s huge. The second one was fair and ethical treatment of suppliers. A lot of companies, again, they were squeezing and squeezing and squeezing those suppliers. And in some cases, they were running them out of business because they squeezed all the profitability out of that business altogether and their suppliers couldn’t maintain that.

Cara Silletto: [00:15:41] Another is the community in which they operate. So, serving the community and giving back to the Little League teams. I mean, those sponsorships of a theater program for the high school and things like that, they cut all of those things yet again over the last 10 to 15 years, because, you know, they were just trying to cut the costs at that point in time. So, then of course, number four, we have providing quality goods and services to our customers.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:12] Okay.

Cara Silletto: [00:16:12] We can’t continue to cut, cut, cut, and still meet our quality expectations, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:17] Right. Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:16:18] Whether you are manufacturing or a CPA firm, you have to have that high quality. And that takes, you know, investing in your people and training and systems and software and all that type of stuff. And then, the last one of those five is maximizing long-term shareholder value.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:38] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:16:38] So, they’re not focused on the quarterly areas anymore. And instead, they’re saying, look, in order for us to stay profitable and sustainable long term as an organization, we have to focus on these other four areas to get the shareholder value in the end that folks want to have by being investors or owners or, you know, any type of stakeholder in this organization. So, to me, when that letter came out in August and you can Google it, it was a Business Roundtable, is who really produced the letter and then, all of these CEOs signed it.

Cara Silletto: [00:17:12] So, you can Google that and it’s easy to find. But when that letter came out, it was a commitment from these organizations to shift their priorities. And I’m seeing some companies start to do that going into 2020. They’re adjusting their budgets for more management training, they are adjusting their budgets to start sponsoring the Little Leagues again. You know, that type of thing. And of course, there’s some skepticism of who is really going to follow through and who’s not.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:44] Right. Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:17:45] But I really do think that’s a turning point going into the next decade.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:49] That’s a huge step. And they’ve been talking about that for years about, you know, we’re managing to the quarter, but not managing in a long-term. And I know there’s been a lot of conversation in the financial community about we need to get away from this. This quarterly reporting have more of a long-term view.

Cara Silletto: [00:18:06] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:07] And thank God, it’s happening. Well, I always look at the management to the quarters as micromanaging. Nobody likes to be micromanaged.

Cara Silletto: [00:18:18] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:18] And we’re managing a company based off of that. So, you’re starting to see some strategies, so what else?

Cara Silletto: [00:18:28] Yes. So, we’re starting to get some real numbers around turnover. Because a lot of times, I am working with a leadership team that the decision makers are analytical or they are trying to manage behind a spreadsheet. So then, we have to make the case of, all right, how come we’re going to invest this money in the leadership team? And what is turnover really costing us? Whether it’s new, higher turnover, where they’re leaving within the first two years oftentimes or if it is those key people who’ve been there, maybe 10, 15, 20 years that are getting poached or burned out.

Cara Silletto: [00:19:06] And so, when you think about turnover and the costs associated with that, we can’t just look at the income statement, the P&L. We can’t just look at, okay, what’s the recruiting cost and what’s the training cost? Because there’s so much more cost to turnover and impact on the business that is intangible. And it is much harder to calculate. So, if you’re not taking that into consideration, then you’re missing a lot of the costs of turnover. So, you’ve got loss of productivity, which is harder to calculate of getting someone to replace someone else.

Cara Silletto: [00:19:40] Of course, you have those recruiting costs and the selection process, all the interviews you have to go through and you can put a dollar number on some of that, but what about the troubleshooting aspect that somebody who’s been in the business longer or who knows your software better, they have better troubleshooting capabilities. And they even know who to call in many cases like, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I know Peter knows the answer, so I could call him and get the answer in five seconds.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:09] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:20:09] Versus somebody else that, “I don’t even know where to start with that issue or that unique problem that I’ve never solved before.” So, really, just thinking about that subject matter expertise, what is that worth to you and even some of the costs of turnover, like putting everybody into the payroll system and the HR system and the benefits and things. And then, when they leave, one of your operational administrative folks has to take that person out of the HR system and out of the payroll system.

Cara Silletto: [00:20:41] And so, you’ll actually find that if you have more turnover in the last few years than you had, say, five or 10 years ago, your operational people are completely overloaded and your recruiting people are way more overloaded with four times the recruiting, four times the interviews that they had just a few years ago. So, that could be why they’re kind of complaining and throwing their hands up like I can’t do all of this because it’s the same job. Their job description hasn’t changed, but the quantity of what’s processing through their desk and their email has quadrupled potentially.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:18] I’m exhausted already just thinking about it. Just-

Cara Silletto: [00:21:21] I know, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:21] Yeah. And because I’m thinking, I know why people try to stay. They may be loyal to the company. Good job. And there’s obviously the tide of money and benefits and everything, but their people do have breaking points. And to your-

Cara Silletto: [00:21:39] Totally.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:39] … point, you’ve got your high potential individuals who you’re burning out, when they walk out the door, how much intellectual knowledge. And by the way, they’re taking your processes and procedures. And now, they’re going to another organization, probably a competitor. And, “Oh, look what I got for you. I can show you what they’re doing.” And I don’t know, I’ve got this little button right over here, up here, it says, “Be good to people.” But there’s-

Cara Silletto: [00:22:10] There you go.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:11] … a company in Cleveland who created Not For Profit and I had this shirt, Be Good To People. It’s that simple. But I tell you, I wear that shirt on an airplane, flight attendants go, “Oh, my God, I got to have one. I want to give it to every passenger who gets on this plane because they’re not good people.”

Cara Silletto: [00:22:33] Totally. Totally. Yeah. My sister has a shirt that says, “Be kind when possible.” And on the back, it says, “It’s always possible.” So, yes, I love that. She gets comments on it all the time when she wears it out. So-

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:49] But you also brought up a point that, you know, we’re promoting people. It’s the old Peter Drucker, the Peter principle of promoting people to the level of incompetence.

Cara Silletto: [00:22:59] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:59] We haven’t given them the skill set, we haven’t taught, it’s all soft skills, right? Especially in-

Cara Silletto: [00:23:05] Oh. And I hate that word. They’re not soft skills.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:09] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:23:09] They’re very critical skills.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:12] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:23:12] And that makes them sound fluffy, which then is hard to quantify.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:17] Right. Oh, but I-

Cara Silletto: [00:23:17] But it’s so critical that they get that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:19] Yeah, I tell them that we may call them soft skills, but would you agree they’re pretty hard to master?

Cara Silletto: [00:23:25] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:27] Yeah. They always said, “Now, it clicks.” It is hard to master so that all that you can learn on the job thing-

Cara Silletto: [00:23:34] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:35] … now, they’re investing into the people for these leadership skills, these communication skills, these strategic skills that are not technical in nature, the fluffy things. But you know what? I can teach somebody how to do accounting. I want to hire somebody who can think, who can talk, who can be good to clients, who can take care of folks. That’s the person that we’re looking for out there.

Cara Silletto: [00:23:59] Right. And there are ways to promote people who don’t have that path. Okay?

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:06] Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:24:07] If they’re not interested in managing people or can’t be coached to be effective at managing people, I don’t want any companies to remain in that very linear thinking of the career ladder that, “Oh, well, I’m next in line.”.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:22] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:24:22] And as soon as my boss moves up, then I’m next to go up on that, because a couple of things, one, that might not be the right person. And then, B, if you only have those types of advancement opportunities and that here I am two or three years in at your firm and I’m thinking, where do I have to go here? Because my boss above me is not going anywhere for at least five more years and I would like to grow in advance, but I can’t do anything until that person goes up or off the ladder.

Cara Silletto: [00:24:51] So, we have to think more like, some of the business folks call it a career laddist, instead of the ladder or a career jungle gym. You know, you have to think in different directions that they can take on special projects or shift departments, you know, especially the younger folks. They are totally willing to try different parts of accounting or different departments in your organization because they’re not yet subject matter experts.

Cara Silletto: [00:25:18] And maybe they thought they wanted to do this type of work, but really, they haven’t been exposed to some other areas. And I’ll tell you, they are going to bounce. They want to grow and learn. So, if you don’t create opportunities for them to bounce internally, then they’re going to bounce externally. They’re gonna go somewhere else that gives them that opportunity. Also, with those managers that are promoted, if you see somebody has the potential to be a manager, we can’t take a sink or swim approach any longer.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:49] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:25:49] The sink or swim is detrimental. You are setting them up for failure. The people who work under them are not going to be happy with it because it’s going to take them a lot longer to be a strong leader than if you actually gave them the tools to be successful. Whether that is management coaching, whether that’s leadership development classes, some of those soft skill classes around communication, conflict resolution, time management, things like that.

Cara Silletto: [00:26:17] It is really critical that when you do promote people into people management roles that they have those tools. But remember, you can promote them on more of a technical track. I love when I see titles like senior technical advisor, because that means that person doesn’t manage people, but they’ve been able to grow in the company and get more money, get more seniority, get a better title, but they’re more subject matter expert, much more technical person.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:49] Right. It used to be the old up and out routine like an accounting firm and even in some finance departments. But now, I had a friend of mine who’s a partner in a firm in Cleveland said that there was one gentleman that he was a technical whiz. And he should not have any contact with clients or he should not manage people. They recognized that it was not in his skill set. So-

Cara Silletto: [00:27:19] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:19] … they created this position for the first time ever, director of something, of technical knowledge, or whatever and he is the technical person and he loves it. He’s still with the firm.

Cara Silletto: [00:27:29] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:30] Loves his job, loves it, because, you know, I think there’s certain things we just can’t teach each other and-

Cara Silletto: [00:27:39] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:39] Except for this one partner in the firm in Tulsa and I know she listens to this podcast, she’ll kill me again. But the first time I met her, I said, “Why did you get into accounting?” She said, “Because I didn’t like people. I just want to go in to my tax returns.” But I said, “But you’re a partner at a firm.” “Oh, yeah. I learned early on that if I want to advance my career, I had to get outside my comfort zone and learn how to deal with people.” And-

Cara Silletto: [00:28:08] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:08] … she does a great job, she does any part of it.

Cara Silletto: [00:28:11] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:11] But I love that story she told me.

Cara Silletto: [00:28:14] Yeah, absolutely. And I’ll tell you, from a retention standpoint, do not assume that just because someone has made partner that they are not a flight risk anymore, because that is changing and people are realizing. So, think about this, the folks who have just made partner in, let’s say, the last five years, give or take, probably in their 40s kind of folks, maybe upper 30s, 40s type age, and I have some friends who are partners at law firms, CPA firms, engineering firms, it’s happening across a lot of the professional services, and what I see happening is they are partner now but yet, you know, they don’t have enough clout to be heard as much.

Cara Silletto: [00:29:02] They’re part of the vote and part of the conversation, but they don’t really have the decision making power. And then, you have these owners who tend to be in their 60s and some of them in their 70s, and they are trying to stay relevant and to stay in charge. And granted, they built these firms, right? So, kudos to them for the success they had for decades. But they built the firms and to some extent may have been control freaks or, you know, they were the boss for a long time. And I don’t blame them for it being difficult to step away. But they are pseudo-retiring or they are saying, “I’m retiring” but then, they still have their hands in everything.

Cara Silletto: [00:29:44] And this new group of leaders, even from, you know, not just the 40s, but up into the 50s and early 60s, the ones that are going to be there another five or 10 years, it is driving them nuts that the owners or original partners won’t get out of their way and let them get new software and let them change some processes or do business development a different way than it’s been done in the past. And so, they’re getting very frustrated.

Cara Silletto: [00:30:10] And on top of that, they also are dealing with the younger millennial new folks who are coming in that are job hopping and career hopping. And they want more mentoring and coaching and professional development. And they have all these expectations. And I need your time and I have these questions and all of that. And the middle folks are going, “I don’t get any hand-holding when I came in here, just figure it out”, which then drives away the young people because they’re not getting what they need.

Cara Silletto: [00:30:40] So, I am seeing more and more of those folks in their upper 30s, 40s, even 50s that are again going back to burnout. They are finally entertaining some of those recruiting calls that are coming in that they’ve always gotten. And so, you’ve got to make sure that you’re recognizing those people and listening to them. You got to recognize and listen to everybody. But it’s not just about the younger flight risk people, it’s also about some of those key people that have been there a long time because other firms are coming after them. And they’re coming after him hard saying, “Oh, you don’t want to work 60-plus hours a week anymore? We’ll take you. You know, we’ll keep your workload a little bit lighter than that.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:26] Yeah. So, hey, I thought about this situation and I think in succession planning in firms now, a lot of it is that, “I don’t have the people there, I’m going to sell my firm.” So, firms are being bought by other firms. And now, you’ve got a clash of cultures.

Cara Silletto: [00:31:44] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:45] And now, we’re talking retention. And now, this creates some type of vortex or whatever. And people do, the original firm A buys firm B and bring them in and, “Oh, this isn’t the way we used to do business, this is not how we do it”. Or another case, a firm here in town had a very young staff, and I say young staff, you know, kind of in their 30s bought another firm and they had a very older staff, like in their 50s. So, there’s no middle there. So, I’m going to say, “What keeps you up at night?” He goes, “My people”. And was explaining this-

Cara Silletto: [00:32:29] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:29] … dichotomy and he goes, “At times, I struggle with I have no middle to go to.” There are two opposite ends. So, are you seeing this out in the workplace as well?

Cara Silletto: [00:32:41] Absolutely. And again, if you are planning a merger or have done that or selling your firm or anything like that, you have to look at the people aspect and the culture aspect, not just the numbers, right? You can’t do the whole valuation on a spreadsheet. It’s got to be beyond that of, is this going to be the right fit coming together and what gaps are going to exist? What kind of support do we need for the crossover there of internal communication and training and development? And what do the workloads look like?

Cara Silletto: [00:33:16] Because one group may be workhorses and that’s what they’re paid to do and that’s been their culture and the norm. And the other one may have way more flexibility and more work-life balance. And then, there’s going to be animosity and what does that look like and that type of thing. So, yes, you have to think about more than just the numbers when you talk about mergers and buying out groups, for sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:42] Yeah. Or even growing your organization. I would be remiss if I do not mention a firm in Maryland, DeLeon & Stang, who I’ve done some work with over the last three years and they’ve got a very unique culture. The partners didn’t really grow up in public accounting, so they didn’t pick up, as they said, those bad habits. Three years ago, they changed, you know, their mission statement. It was focused on clients and our people. They switched it and put the people first. The very next year, they came out and said, “Oh, by the way, we got some new benefits for you. One, during busy season, which this will be airing at the very beginning of busy season, there’s no mandatory weekends.” “Oh, no mandatory weekends.”

Cara Silletto: [00:34:28] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:29] “And by the way, we’re also going to give you unlimited paid time off.” “What?” “And oh, one more thing to give you-“, because one of their head offices is near DC and the traffic in Maryland, that is terrible. Other people lived up in Frederick, Maryland. And they would have to take this hour-and-a-half, two-hour drive-

Cara Silletto: [00:34:50] Oh.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:50] … one way, they opened an office in Frederick so those folks-

Cara Silletto: [00:34:56] Nice.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:56] … up there wouldn’t have to. Now, when I share this story about them and I have it in my book as, well, “You know what”, I asked them, I said, “you really trust your people, don’t you?” Because when you trust your people, you do things like that for them.

Cara Silletto: [00:35:12] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:13] And in order to trust your people, you have to be trustworthy yourself, as in management. So, I think that goes to—I mean, they have turnover. And then, you know, again, this is some succession planning right now, but their people are generally energized and I just helped facilitate the strategic planning. All staff strategic planning, not just the strategic planning of the partners.

Cara Silletto: [00:35:39] Nice.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:39] They had everyone in the firm part of the strategic planning process, which I don’t know-

Cara Silletto: [00:35:46] Fantastic.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:46] … very many firms, but there’s such great energy in that firm, why can’t people replicate that?

Cara Silletto: [00:35:55] Yeah. No, you’re exactly right. There is so much going on there. Going back to a comment you made earlier about, you know, like there’s the older workers and the younger workers or these two separate groups.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:09] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:36:09] And what I see, we call it the trees who are deep-rooted in the organization, they’ve been there a long time and they can weather the storm.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:18] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:36:19] They’re not going anywhere, really, even if you want them to. But they’re not going anywhere. Okay. And then, you’ve got the other side, which we consider the revolving door. Now, at a lot of firms, you’re not talking about 30, 60, 90-day turnover like I am with some of my clients in other industries, but you’re still looking at—I mean, my CPA firm that I use, they just told me, “Oh, no, she’s not here anymore. Oh, he’s not here anymore.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:46] Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:36:46] People that I got to know over time that were working on my team for taxes and they went to other places. So, what a lot of folks are doing, again, is coming in for a little bit of time and leaving. And they’re just finding that it’s not the right fit for them or that workload is too much or they won’t give them the flexibility around maybe a life change like becoming a parent, things like that. One of my clients did very similar to what you were talking about, is after I worked with him, they finally decided to give up those mandatory Saturdays during tax season. And he said, “Now, you still have to clock the same amount of billable hours.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:24] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:37:25] It’s like, “We still expect you to deliver major results during that time, but we’re going to give you some flexibility around that. We’re going to let you either work from home on some days or, you know, just work longer days. If you want to work 12-hour days, that’s fine with us if your kid has a Saturday morning ballgame.” But for decades, for decades, they had mandatory Saturdays during that time. And now, it’s becoming a recruiting game of what kind of perks do you have, what kind of flexibility do you offer, things like that.

Cara Silletto: [00:37:58] So, yes, the trust piece is huge and we need to be managing to result not to hours. In fact, we’ve got to get away from that whole thinking of “Well, the first one in and the last one to leave, that’s my hardest worker”, because that mentality made sense back in the day when you had to be at your desk, at the office to work. You know, that was where you had access to your files and your systems and your software and everything. And today, where can we work, Peter? Where can we work?

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:33] Yeah. Well, I-

Cara Silletto: [00:38:33] Anywhere.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:33] Yeah. Right. I was talking to, Brandy, your assistant the other day, she was helping me with some stuff. And thank you again. And she said, “I would call you, but I’m in a really loud coffee shop.”

Cara Silletto: [00:38:50] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:50] Yeah. Which is fine. And I work in my office in the house, but I also work at up in there, I also work at Starbucks, and I work wherever I think my laptop will take me.

Cara Silletto: [00:39:00] Oh, yeah. My staff is all around the country and we have no office. Not even me. I mean, this is my home office here. And so, I do work from coffee shops. I work on airplanes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:11] Yes.

Cara Silletto: [00:39:11] I work anywhere, you know, in an Uber, wherever I have to get work done. And so, I just trust my people. I give them clear expectations of what I need and when I need it. And then, I let them do their job, you know, and address those issues immediately in real time if somebody is not hitting the mark or if they’re going down a path that is not the direction I wanted them to. It can’t be a situation where you’re just doing annual performance reviews, for example, because that is not enough communication, not enough setting expectations, not checking in with people. So long as you have regular communication with your folks and regular conversations about whether they’re on track or not, then you can absolutely let folks work with more flexibility.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:02] I have never met anybody that said, “Oh, my God, I can’t wait to get my performance review today. Whoo.”

Cara Silletto: [00:40:07] Hey.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:07] It’s like, oh, my God, he went to the gallows to get the guillotine.

Cara Silletto: [00:40:11] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:12] I’ve always said that, you know, just like you said, it’s real time. You know, that feedback is real time. We don’t need to have the annual review. Maybe just the, “Here’s your compensation based off of this. Thank you very much. Take the rest of the day off.”

Cara Silletto: [00:40:27] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:27] Yeah. Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:40:28] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:29] Yeah. So-

Cara Silletto: [00:40:30] Yes, absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:32] So, as we begin to wind down here, I notice over your right shoulder, there’s a book called Staying Power that has your name on.

Cara Silletto: [00:40:40] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:41] Can you tell me more about that? We talked about it in the earlier podcast, but refresh my memory as well as my audience’s memory.

Cara Silletto: [00:40:50] Sure. So, I’m very excited that Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave and How to Keep Them Longer, it was just released on Audible recently. So, we have it on Kindle, of course, paperback and audio book now. So, that book, it really explains the new workforce that we are trying to attract and retain. So, it starts with the employment market and what’s going on. The fact that we are in an employee’s market now that everybody’s hiring and your staff have a choice.

Cara Silletto: [00:41:23] So, we start with the big picture of that, talk about those trees versus revolving doors, who’s the flight risk, then it dives into the generational dynamics in the workplace of the evolution of the four generations that we have working right now in our firms. So, we talk about the traditionalists, the baby boomers, the Gen X’ers and the millennials. And really, just how things changed over the last 50 years for our workers and how they see the employer-employee relationship differently.

Cara Silletto: [00:41:53] I happen to be one of the oldest millennials. So, the third chapter really dives into the millennial mindset, understanding loyalty, entitlement, this need or desire for work-life balance, and where did all of that come from? I like to tell my backstory and my childhood examples of why I have a heightened sense of entitlement and why I do not have the traditional sense of loyalty that previous generations had. So, that’s pretty eye-opening for leaders. And of course, the final chapter there dives into the retention strategies. And we call that the MAGNET. To become a magnet employer is those six ways, the acronym, MAGNET, to really create a better place to work and make sure that people are great bosses and that people want to come back tomorrow.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:44] Cool. So, you said the M-word there, millennial. And I apologize for the baby boomers and the negative connotation they have given it, but because I’ve never thought of millennials in that manner. They’re just different. It’s not bad, it’s not wrong. They just operate differently because, hey, baby boomers, you raised them, right? Okay. So, that’s there. But I-right?

Cara Silletto: [00:43:10] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:10] But I saw, Deloitte does an annual millennial survey report.

Cara Silletto: [00:43:15] Yes, they do.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:16] And I believe, if I’m correct, there’s a stat that said, by the year 2025, 75% of the workforce will consist of the millennial generation, globally.

Cara Silletto: [00:43:28] In fact, yeah, 2020 is the year that millennials will overtake the boomers and X-ers combined. So, it’s going to be starting in this year, 2020, the workers under 40 will outnumber the workers over 40. But it’s an interesting dynamic because the workers over 40 will still hold most of the senior leadership positions and the decision making and policy making decisions for those organizations. So, you’re going to see quite a power struggle between the incoming workers and what their expectations are versus the older workers.

Cara Silletto: [00:44:05] And you and your leadership team are going to have to decide what changes are we going to make, where are we going to stand firm, where are we going to offer more flexibility and update some of those policies and expectations, because it’s going to be a game changer. I mean, it already is. We’re already seeing that over the last five years. But going into the next five years, that younger group in their 20s and 30s are really going to demand some changes. Because I’ll tell you, the real difference is everybody wants to be heard. Everybody wants a great boss. Everybody would like more flexibility and a better work-life balance. The difference is the previous generations tolerated what the traditional expectations were. They tolerated. They put up with the long hours.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:58] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:44:58] They put up with a bad boss because of that kind of loyalty for loyalty’s sake, where the new generation has option, has more competence, has more access to things. And so, they’re going to say, “Enough is enough. I’m not working somewhere that is going to treat me that way or that doesn’t let me be heard or that has me on a linear path. I need more options than that.” So, that’s the difference. Everybody would like these things, but the younger folks who come in are going to demand those options or else, they’re going to go somewhere that will give them the options. I’m seeing it every day, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:36] So, the next generation after is Gen Z, I think, they’re referring to. My son-

Cara Silletto: [00:45:43] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:43] … is of that generation. But he’s taken it to a whole new level, he’s the ZZZZZ, the boy can sleep. He’s a sleeper. He’s like his dad once in college. But that generation is now starting to enter the workforce.

Cara Silletto: [00:45:58] Yes. Yes. So, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the millennials end at a birth year of 1996. So, it’s 1981 to 1996, just according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:10] Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:46:11] Other groups define it differently. But if you follow that, that would put Gen Z at 22 and under.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:17] Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:46:19] So, especially for professional roles such as the CPA firms, they’re mostly still in college. They’ll just be trickling in as associates or interns and things like that. So, that’s why we still focus on the millennial mindset, because that’s the 23 to 39 type of age range. Most of the new hires are still in that bucket, but you need to keep your eyes on Gen Z as well. And I’ll tell you right now, Peter, if you think the millennials are entitled, which we are, but if you think we are entitled, just wait.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:52] Yeah. Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:46:53] Because Gen Z is, my favorite term for Gen Z is the on demand generation. They have grown up with one click will get you there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:02] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:47:02] They can ask Alexa anything they want and she will immediately have the answer for them. And if they have to click a software button and it turns, that is just unacceptable to this group. You know, my five-year old son, he not only tells me which cartoon series he wants to watch on Netflix, but which episode of that cartoon series he wants to watch. So, he is used to getting what he wants when he wants it. And we need to expect that that’s coming in as the next workforce right on the heels of those millennials.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:41] So, I have an example of this, you know Mark Eaton, NSA member, former player for the Utah Jazz?

Cara Silletto: [00:47:52] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:52] His company’s name is 7ft6. I had a chance to talk to him at the CSP summit at breakfast and we started talking of sports. And I looked and said, “Hey, Mark. What do you think about this load management thing that’s going on in the NBA?” And I thought he was going to fall over in his chair, he goes, “Oh, my God, to the point, I can’t believe that, you know, they’re allowing them to manage their load and their time on the floor”, he goes, “In my day, you had to drag me off of the court.” And I just thought that there’s another example of the difference from then to now.

Cara Silletto: [00:48:29] Absolutely, absolutely. And to some extent, I feel like, you know, the pendulum always swings, right? Back and forth, ebbs and flows. And in a lot of ways, I think in the work world, we have let things get out of hand as far as people’s workload than what we’re putting on our top performers and what those expectations are and such as the sacrifices we’re expecting them to make at home, that work is the number one priority. If that e-mail comes in, you stop what you’re doing at home or at the ballgame and you respond to that e-mail.

Cara Silletto: [00:49:03] You know, we’ve let that go so far and now, we’re starting to see the pendulum swing back. And really, the workforce is the one that’s doing it. They’re saying, “Enough is enough. I cannot give you any more.” So, please keep an eye on your people. Take good care of them. Recognize the crap out of what they’re doing and say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for what you do every day for our firm and our clients and the people that we serve.” I mean, you just have to show that recognition and listen to them. Be willing to make some changes as the workforce and the expectations are evolving over these next five years.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:46] This has been a wonderful conversation. I love our conversations. And by the way, you can find her book, audio book, Kindle, obviously, on Amazon.

Cara Silletto: [00:49:57] Yes, sir.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:57] How can they find you if somebody wants to reach out and talk to you or hire you for something?

Cara Silletto: [00:50:03] Yes. So, our website is wereduceturnover.com.

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:09] Perfect.

Cara Silletto: [00:50:09] Isn’t that great?

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:12] That is great.

Cara Silletto: [00:50:12] It’s easy to find, wereduceturnover.com. That is all we do, Peter, is focus on employee retention, keeping the people you can’t afford to lose. If you need any help with that or want to get a copy of the book, just give me a shout and follow me on LinkedIn, please. I’d love to connect and stay in touch. Peter, hope to be back on the show again soon.

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:35] Absolutely. Thank you so very much for taking time out of your schedule. And I know our paths will cross sooner than later.

Cara Silletto: [00:50:42] Awesome. Thank you, sir.

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:47] I would like to thank Cara for her time in sharing her extensive workforce knowledge with you, my audience. Thank you for listening. And if you enjoy this podcast, please take a moment and leave a review on iTunes or whatever platform you download your podcast from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend of yours. Make today your best day.

Announcer: [00:51:17] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

S2E44. Becoming a Better Leader with Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott is the founder of Roxanne Leadership. Roxanne is a warm, down to earth, authentic person who is dedicated to helping others become the best of themselves. She is passionate about unleashing the leader in others. She’s dedicated to helping people and organizations create cultures, lives, and legacies of genuine and authentic leadership and success.

She is a highly respected and sought after speaker, presenter, and published author. A certified master, executive coach, and facilitator in both the Leadership Challenge and i3 Transformational Leadership. She is also an award-winning business and marketing strategist. With over 30 years of national and international corporate experience, Roxanne works with clients ranging from privately held businesses to corporations in manufacturing, health care, insurance, accounting, financial services, real estate, consumer products, and construction to industries as well as many others.

What is leadership today? How do we know it when we see it? It’s different for everybody, but one unmistakable criteria is that a leader can’t be a leader unless they have followers.

The challenges of leadership

Answering the question if what leadership is within your own culture is the first challenge you are going to face. Leadership challenges start with the leader and radiate out to the immediate circle of influence and beyond. To your organization, your family, your church, and then into the community and the world. The challenges of leadership are the challenges we face in all of these different spaces.

One of the biggest challenges is connecting the generations to each other. Leadership is not just about where you are in your role right now, but the succession planning of the organization. It’s pulling people together to share the vision of the organization. The way 25 years old going into their first career out of college is going to look at the world differently than a 55-year old in the later phases of their career.

This also crosses over into company acquisitions and mergers. The dynamics of this are similar to the generational communication. It’s all about understanding the other person, the other organization, the culture. Many groups will clash during this process, but once they are able to find some common ground, they will get excited about the possibilities.

Improv can play an important part in this process, too. Instead of approaching meetings and discussions with a “no, but,” mentality, if you shift it to a “yes, and,” you get much more engagement and collaboration. You get people building off of other’s ideas instead of shutting them down. When this happens, you see an immediate shift in body language, and conversations begin to open up.

Becoming a better leader

There are three things that you can do that will change anything that you are working on, both the way you approach it and the outcome. These are the 3 “I’s” of leadership:

  • Inspiration: Look deep inside and know what inspires you. If you’re thinking about taking a job, going to college, starting a business, buying a house. What does it look like in its ideal form?
  • Ignite: Once you get the vision painted, you need to start putting a plan in place.
  • Make the impact: Take action on your plan. This is the most important step because no change will occur without action.

When you take the time to align these three steps to your values, and to what you want and what you don’t, you’re going to find more success than you ever have before.

In addition to those steps for change are the 5 behaviors essential to a good leader. These are:

  • Walk your talk. Model the way.
  • Inspire shared visions. Know what your vision is, the visions of others, and find the intersection.
  • Challenge processes. Challenge the ways you’ve always done things.
  • Enable people to act. See their strengths and passions, and give them the tools to grow.
  • Encourage the heart. Be genuine, but make sure to acknowledge and encourage what you see from people.

Now that you know the steps to become a great leader, you need to take the time to work on them. Focus on one a week and cycle through them, or try to tackle all of them at once. But make sure you are doing the work to become a great leader. Because leadership is a skill, and practice is the way to hone any skill.

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:00:00] Probably, the most important thing in the entire universe in our entire existence as human beings is to encourage the heart.

Intro: [00:00:18] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers. All the while, growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:03] Leadership. What is it? You can recognize it when you see it, both good and bad. Are leaders born or can this be a learned skill? How does one learn how to become a leader? Does one become a leader by reading leadership books and attending leadership seminars and workshops? How do you get people to follow you and follow your vision? How do you motivate and inspire others? How do you adapt your leadership style to current times? Should leaders ever say that they’ve made a mistake?
Well, those questions and many more will be answered by my guest, Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott, who’s the founder of Roxanne Leadership powered by Pro Laureate. Roxanne is a warm, down to earth, authentic, sometimes, quite funny, and deeply dedicated to helping others become the best of themselves. She is passionate about unleashing the leader in others. She’s dedicated to helping people and organizations create cultures, lives, and legacies of genuine and authentic leadership and success.
And she’s committed to sharing every bit of her depth and breadth of experience, excellence, knowledge, and caring to everyone she meets. She’s a highly respected and sought-after speaker, presenter and published author. A certified master, executive coach, and facilitator in both the Leadership Challenge and i3 Transformational Leadership. Founder, facilitator, and coach of, by invitation only, Personal and Professional Leadership and Legacy Development Retreat, Grace and Grit, The Elite Retreat.
And an award-winning business and marketing strategist. With over 30 years of national and international corporate experience, Roxanne works with clients ranging from privately held businesses to corporations in manufacturing, health care, insurance, accounting, financial services, real estate, consumer products, and construction to industries as well as many others. Now, I’m at a front seat on watching Roxanne’s leadership style because she’s the president elect of the National Speakers Association, Ohio chapter. And I’m the immediate past president and current treasurer.
She’s also have been on the board of many other nonprofits during her career. She loves what she does and you can feel her passion throughout the entire interview. As you know by now, Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Radio family of podcasts. It’s an honor and privilege to be amongst some of the more prevalent business podcasts, such as The Hero Factor with Jeffrey Hayzlett, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with my friend, Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.

Announcer: [00:04:07] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio network: turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:14] And now, a word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:04:16] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis, LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:02] Now, let’s get to the interview with Roxanne. Hey, welcome back, everybody. My guest today is, I must say, one of the leading authorities in leadership. She won’t give herself that credit, but when you hear her story, you hear what she has done and accomplished. And when she talks about her clients, they’re not just little clients, they’re multi-million-dollar companies that she’s helping to coach and do many things around the leadership space. So, without further ado, first and foremost, my guest today is Ms. Roxanne Kaufman-Elliot. And thank you so very much, Roxanne, for taking time out of your busy schedule to spend some time with me talking about leadership.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:05:53] Peter, thank you so much. As always, it’s a delight to chat with you and especially, on your podcast. So, thank you very much for inviting me.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:00] Oh, it’s been two years since I’ve had you on the podcast, correct?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:06:06] Has it really been that long? I guess so. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:09] I’d have to take a look at it, but it has been a while. And just as in full transparency, I get to witness her leadership looks like a monthly basis because she’s the president elect of the Ohio chapter of the National Speakers Association. So, she’s getting ready to roll into our presidency about mid-2020. And man, she’s good. That’s all I can say. Some of the stuff that you do, well, gosh, that’s great. She’s the real deal.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:06:42] Oh, stop. You’re too kind. I appreciate it. Thank you. You know what, I had good mentors for me and through this process and still do, and you’re one of them. And I appreciate that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:52] Well, thank you very much for the kind words. That’s another $20, I guess, I owe you for this and other stuff, but-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:06:58] Yeah. Yeah. It is, yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:58] Exactly. So, leadership, what is it? How do we recognize it? A leadership coach in this genre, I don’t like the word space, because it’s the final frontier, but in this genre-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:07:12] Okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:14] … of leadership, I could imagine you’ve almost seen about everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:07:21] I’d say. Yeah, I probably have. I’ll be surprised if there’s anything out there I haven’t.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:27] So, what are some of the challenges that leaders are having today in the year of 2019 as we get ready to transition into a vision, clear vision of 2020?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:07:39] I think you already said it. I think it is the eternal and infinite question that a lot of people don’t even know to ask. They assume that they have the answer. And yet, when you ask it, it opens up a whole new way of thinking. And that question is what you’ve just said, it is, what is leadership? What is it really? How do we know it? How do we know it when we see it? How do we know it when we hear it, when we feel it? It’s different for everybody, I think. But there are some fundamental things that we can always go back to that really speaks to genuine, authentic leadership. And those people that we would willingly follow. As a leader can’t be a leader unless they have followers. That’s one criteria for sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:22] Yeah. Okay.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:08:25] So, in my experience, what are some of the challenges? Answering that question, first of all, defining what it is within your own culture, within your own life, and within your teams. So, I usually talk about leadership challenges start with you and then, they radiate out to the people in your most immediate circle, your partners, your teams, both personally and professionally. And from there, it goes to your organization, your family, your church, whatever it is, whatever you’re relating to in terms of leadership.

And then, into the community. And then, into the world. And we all know that we have challenges in all of those places and including today, right? So, how do we deal with those? And that’s what I have studied and been a student of for many, many, many years and continue to be not only challenged, but elated and delighted by the way people embrace finding their own path into leadership.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:29] One does not become a leader by just taking a seminar, correct?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:09:33] No, you really don’t. It is a learned skill. It can be a learned skill. We’re not just born leaders.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:38] Right. Right. Some are born leaders, but for the most part, it is a learned skill. And so, I know you’re familiar with Simon Sinek. And I was watching an interview that he was conducting. And he said something to the effect, "Just because you take a seminar in leadership doesn’t make you a leader, you have to work on this every single day."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:10:01] Day. That’s right. And it starts with self-awareness. This is what I find most of all is that people, because they have a title, and this is not to be critical at all, this is the way our brains work, the way we’re brought up to think, is they’re going to have a title of leadership, you are automatically a leader. And so, you go take a seminar and you’re even more of a leader. You go to a two-day workshop and you’re more of a leader.

But what we miss sometimes is the awareness. Again, it comes back to what is it really to us authentically and genuinely. And how do we develop that? So, a seminar will give you great tools. It will give you new skills and knowledge. It will help you to establish some goals. That is if you can remember any of it when you get back to your office, people start ringing and people start stopping by and jumping in with hair on fire situations, right? So, it’s what we take away from it. For sure, any of those things can do that.

But like you said, this is a life long journey. It’s really beginning to discover and understand, "Oh, that’s leadership to me." Integrity. Walking the talk. Modeling the way. Being a visionary. Really understanding first and foremost who I am first deeply in the way that I make choices, in the way that I conduct myself, my behavior, in the way that I move through my life and in the world. And then, you make choices about that and you start building your own self-leadership around those things on a consistent basis going forward.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:31] Right. It’s that consistency and it’s hard to maintain that consistency. It’s hard to do that every single day with everything coming at us in many different directions. Well, I’ll go back to another quote that is stuck with me for, now, about two or three years, what I heard from Simon Sinek, "Leadership has nothing to do with your title."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:11:52] Nothing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:53] "True leadership is your ability to have a positive impact on another person."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:12:00] That’s right. Positive influence or positive impact.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:04] But a lot of times, leaders, if we think about the disk model, they come out of that highest sort of low express or that dominant quadrant, where they love challenges, they love making decisions, but they tend to be bullies, they tend to be this, "I’m telling you what to do and I’m getting by." And it’s that old ’70s, ’80s, even ’90s old leadership style that’s outdated.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:12:27] Well, it’s carrot and stick, right? We’re motivated really by three different things. And what you’re talking about is the old way of thinking. It’s that leadership is title, I am this C title or I am this VP title or president title or whatever it may be. So, it’s what I say goes. And I’m telling you what to do. And if you do what I tell you to do, well, here’s your carrot. You’ll be rewarded for that. If you don’t do what I tell you to do, here’s the stick and it becomes punitive.

So, if something is taken away or something is not given that would have been given otherwise. And the one other motivator, it has to do with developing your own very genuine style of leadership. And that is internal motivation, internal understanding, and that starts with vision. It starts with who you are. Do I want to do this or do I have to do this? Really understanding that I’m in this job because I love it, I’m in this job because I need to be here.

So, there are subtle differences to that. And I think when we start thinking about it, we make different decisions, we have different choices in our lives. It is more in line with who we really are. So yeah, I have a whole keynote built around a fellow by the name of Joe that had no title, had no position, didn’t finish high school, never had a real job, didn’t have a credit card or a bank account or a Social Security number. He lived in a small town all of his life, small town of about 20,000 people.

And every single one of those 20,000 people knew him and they would have followed him into the abyss. They would have thrown themselves in front of a bus for him. He was one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever known. And he didn’t have any of the trappings of leadership. And that had so much to do with him knowing himself, his own values, the vision of his life, planning that life the way he wanted it to be and then, taking action to make it happen. And his behavior followed that every day.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:35] And it sounds like, Joe, I think how you-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:14:38] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:38] … referred to him as Joe, that Joe, that’s funny his name has three letters in it and he didn’t have three letters of the ego-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:14:46] Ah, that’s great.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:48] … that get in the leadership play, because the ego becomes ego leadership versus servant leadership.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:14:54] Perfectly said. That’s exactly right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:57] Yeah. So, with your clients, I mean, I can imagine leadership today can be a bigger challenge than maybe it was back in the ’80s and ’90s. We get different dynamics coming as we get different technologies, we’re dealing with different mindsets that are out there. So, what are you seeing from your clients in some of these challenges that they’ve experienced? And is there a main thread that gone, "Okay. I’m hearing this three or four times from my clients. This is becoming a bigger issue than maybe it was five, six years ago"?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:15:35] I think there are a few of those threads. Absolutely. One of the biggest ones is generational, is connecting the generations to each other. I call it generational intelligence. Leadership is not just about where you are in your role right now, but it’s the succession planning of the organization. It’s pulling people together to share the vision of the organization. And that’s very different from somebody who is 25 years old going into their first career move out of college or shortly thereafter than it is to a 55-year old in that phase of their career.
They’re looking at things very differently. They’re looking at the business very differently. We also have a whole lot of influx of folks coming into businesses that are changing careers or changing jobs every couple of years. In years past, that hasn’t been the case. We’ve had people who became very much integrated over the long term in organizations and they developed a culture that was unspoken and yet known. And this now becomes a really big challenge in organizations, because you have so many different people coming and going of all these different generations all of the time with different needs, different wants, different ideas of what success is, different ideas of what leadership is and is not.
So, it boils down to opening up lines of communication, really. And that’s on all generations, all five generations in the workforce. If we could all just open our minds a little bit more to have a conversation and ask more questions and learn from each other, I think that would be a great place to start. I’ve seen that to be a great place to start. And then, when you get specific structures and formats in place that can support that through leadership programs, then you start making real progress.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:23] Yeah, the whole generational struggle. I don’t like the N word. I don’t like how people use the N word.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:17:32] I don’t use it. Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:32] I think it’s a terrible word, because it’s very demeaning.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:17:39] It is.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:40] And I keep going, "Just because that group operates differently doesn’t make it wrong."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:17:46] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:47] We can’t go backwards.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:17:50] Exactly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:50] We have to move forward and we have to have more tolerance and more self-awareness and more gratitude and be more open to other ways and we can learn from them and they can learn from us.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:18:05] Well, that then also crosses over into companies acquiring other companies and merging. I’ve worked with a lot of this over the years in middle market, in large companies, and even some of the smaller companies that I’ve worked with. The dynamics are pretty much the same. There’s not a lot of difference in terms of human dynamics. The scope of it changes with the size of the organization and if it’s global or national.
But again, it’s, first of all, understanding the other person, the other organization, the culture. What is this person going through? I’ve dealt with sales groups and organizations that have had clashes because of mergers and acquisitions. But once they begin to understand where each side is coming from and they find common ground, it’s like the fog lifts and everybody’s eyes light up. And then, they start having great conversations about possibilities rather than, "Oh, we used to do it that way."

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:06] Right.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:19:06] Now, as well, "What if we did it this way", right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:10] What if. What if we did it this way? So, are more leaders embracing that, "Well, maybe there’s another way."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:19:19] You know, it’s funny, and I’ve learned this actually from you, in your work in improv, that yes, there are two things that I put in front of people a lot more now than I used to. And it really resonates with them. I just love it when I see them light up with it. But they’ll say, "Yeah, I hear what you’re saying, Roxanne, but" or "No, we can’t do it. We did it that way, you know, 10 years ago and it didn’t work. Yeah. We’re not going to do it that way.".
So, what I introduced are a couple of things. First is, "Well, what if you painted a picture? Just take the knows and the experiences that didn’t work and let’s set those aside for a moment and instead, let’s paint a big picture. And I mean, really paint a picture. We get our markers and all this stuff, we draw on paper, on the walls, and draw a picture of what the ideal solution to this problem would be, what the ideal configuration of your team would look like, what the ideal outcome of this succession plan would be in 15 years. Draw it. Tell me a story. What is that? Let your mind go. All things are possible. Nothing is in your way.".
And they create a what if scenario. So, we step back and look at that and say, "Okay. So, this is all pie in the sky, right?" "Yeah. Right, Rox. Right." "And what if it wasn’t? What if you could actually do that? What would it take? Who would it take? What do you need to do?" And so, it begins a great conversation. The other thing is when I get this "no, but", "no, but", "no, but" all the time, I’ll say, "What if-", I combined the two, "… you just did one little thing." I say, "What if we said, instead, ‘yes, and’, and then, we have a conversation?".
And they kind of look at me and they turn their head a little bit. And then, I pause and I’ll say, "Okay. What do you guys think of when you hear the word improvisation or improv or Second City or telling jokes or funny stuff?" So then, we go in and I won’t go into it. You know, you’re the teacher, Peter, but you know it better than I do, but it’s not about any of that. It’s about being very present in a moment, in the moment that you are in right now and making that the best moment that it can be.
So, it’s right now, right here. Where are you? What are you doing? And flipping the switch and turning your mind from, "no, but" to, "Yes, I hear you. Yes, I need to understand more. And what would that be?" So, you start having those conversations. I’ve done this now probably 10 times in the past eight months. And every time I have that conversation, whether it’s with the top executives of a firm or independent contributors that have just joined the firm, they all do the same thing. They sit back, their body language changes, their arms go back, their body positions open, their brains open, and they start having a conversation, which, by the way, can get very robust at times and-

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:18] Right. Yeah.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:22:19] … challenging, but that’s so cool, because that’s when the ideas start raking.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:26] Yes. And that is really cool when that does happen. And thank you for carrying the torch and getting the good word out there about the improv world and how we can make a big difference. And it’s funny, when I talk to other leaders in their organizations and I talk about the "yes, and" approach, it’s kind of the same thing, then the light bulb goes on and go, "Oh, now, I get it."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:22:51] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:51] And it’s fun to watch them gravitate and grab on to the concepts. But once again, it takes daily work at it. And it’s so easy to fall off that wagon.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:23:04] That’s right. That’s why when we’re talking about leadership, and let’s just go to a business point of view, when we’re talking about incorporations and the work that those of us who are in this development place, with these organizations. That’s why I don’t do two-day seminars, quite frankly. Not that they’re not important, not that they don’t have an impact, a lot of them do. And they serve a great purpose. And I just want to give that all the respect that it deserves. Absolutely.
But the really long term, over the course, and especially, if you are building cultures of leadership, which is one of my areas of focus and expertise, is really digging into the heart of an organization and the heart of the people. And aligning them to what it means to have a culture of leadership, how that will improve the bottom line, how that will help them to meet their goals and objectives.
And when I’m in a meeting, I know that it’s working because they do it over time. And it sits constant, constantly reminding them when we have people budding up and become accountability partners. I do a ton of coaching after I do these programs and even while I’m doing them to reinforce what we’re learning. And then, when I’m in a meeting with the executive team of a corporation and they’re discussing something and someone says, "No, we’ve done that before.".
And I hear the CEO say, "Wait a minute. Wrong answer. Yes, but", that this kind of lights up entire room. And I go, "Whoa, man, this stuff really works." So, that’s the cool thing when you get to hear that and see that happening before your eyes. And it changes the ship’s turn. These big ships, little speedboats or medium-size, whatever they are, they turn, they start to turn in a better direction. It’s the coolest thing in the world to see that. And you can tell I don’t like what I do, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:02] No. Yeah. Could you throw a little passion in there, please? I mean, you’re starting to sound like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, "Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?"

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:25:11] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:12] Yeah. So, as you say, I mean, you get into the culture of the organization. You’re digging deep. And you’re trying to find what is all of this about within the organization. So, my question, as you’re doing this, what’s the difference between a leadership coach and a therapist?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:25:34] I wish I knew. I think it’s the letters behind your name quite frankly, it’s not what we’re doing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:45] So, if you’re looking at a CEO of an organization, they may not have started the business, but it’s their business.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:25:51] Right. Oh, absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:53] And especially those who have started the business, there’s a lot of passion around that. And I can imagine at times, there’s an opaque line between what’s leadership and business and "Oh, could you help me with this problem I’m having?" And it becomes a very personal issue, which now, is like, "Oh, wait. Well, hold on. We’ve just crossed that line a bit."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:26:16] Crossed the line. Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:17] How do I get you back on that side of that and take that to somebody with the letters behind—I have letters, you have those behind your name, but business-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:26:27] Not those letters.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:27] Yeah, not those letters.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:26:28] Not those letters. And this happens more frequently than you can imagine. Well, maybe that’s an incorrect statement, because anytime you’re dealing with—well, I’ll use this analogy, it’s probably not a very good one, but when you’re working with somebody’s baby, when you’re working with the owner of a company or someone who’s highly vested in a company, it’s a very emotional attachment, as it should be.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:51] Yeah.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:26:52] That’s why they’re successful because they’re passionate about it. And a lot of times, it does cross the line where it goes into—and I have those of us who do this, we’re pretty well-trained about knowing the signs of something like that when it’s starting to happen. And you have such empathy, you want to talk to them. So, I always call it as soon as I see it and I try to be—I don’t try to be, I am very gentle, but very clear.
I have my coach hat on. And I say it, I don’t have those letters behind my name. I’m an empathetic person and I’m happy to listen to you. I don’t have any answers for you. And even as a coach, Peter, even as a facilitator and a moderator in all of the work that I do, everything is focused on helping you to figure out what you already know. I don’t know anything. I don’t have any answers for you. And I tell that to my clients, "What I have is a whole lot of experience and those letters behind my name that give me the tools to bring to you so that we can facilitate you getting out of your own way and to find out what it is you already know, you just don’t really know it yet."
It sounds kind of weird, but that truly is what we do as coaches and as facilitators and moderators. And at least in the areas where I work, is I will never tell you what to do. I will ask you a ton of questions and they won’t be easy and you won’t like me for some of those questions, because they can get very probing. But it’s important that we all do that for ourselves within our own internal conversations. And then, having somebody on the outside that can do that well can be game changing. Makes you think about things in ways you haven’t before.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:44] Oh, I can imagine that. And having these conversations and you uncover some really raw nerves, I’m sitting there as you’re describing this kind, I imagine you’ve been told to leave a couple of times in the places you’ve asked the hard-court question and you’re uncovering these raw nerves, but once you uncover it, they have to address it.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:29:13] That’s right. And although you’d think that I would have been asked to leave, I haven’t yet. But I’m pretty darn close. No, I’m pretty darn close.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:21] So I just-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:29:23] What does happen is they’ll bite my head off or come back at me, and why wouldn’t they, right? You just, like you said, touched a nerve. It doesn’t happen very often. These are not typical conversations, don’t misunderstand. It’s usually at business levels and high levels. But even at that, there are some sensitive areas. And if that happens, I just let them bring it on. And then, we usually end up laughing. We always end up laughing about it because I always wind kind of around to them and say, "You are really good at just taking the swing, aren’t you? But thing is I’m resilient. You can’t take me down." So, you just have a certain mindset for the, "This is not about me." None of it is ever about me when I’m working with my clients.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:11] So, as you say that, I’m going, okay, your emotional intelligence level is extremely high because you’re very self-aware. You’re very socially aware. You see the anger. You see the raw nerve. And you see them coming at you with that anger, but you know that it’s not really at you.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:30:28] Yeah, I know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:29] You just happen to be there.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:30:32] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:32] Right. And that’s a talent that a lot of people don’t have because we’ve become extremely defensive when we’re being attacked.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:30:41] Or when it feels like we’re being attacked.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:43] Well, yeah. When it feels like we’re being attacked.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:30:46] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:46] And not leaning into that emotion-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:30:50] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:50] … and taking that on because it’ll just all go haywire. So, you have a lot of self-awareness and self-control. And what’s your emotions to maintain that very start? I’m assuming very business-like and just let them vent. And that’s fine. And I hope that they realize what’s going on because the tide will turn-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:31:15] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:15] … and somebody will be venting at them, but they’ll get very defensive and say, "Well, wait, Rox didn’t get defensive." It’s not about the nail. It’s not about the nail.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:31:29] It’s not. You’re absolutely right. I love that. I love that. No. And they do. They do pick up on it. And they do learn from it. And I will tell you, though, and thank you for saying that, it is something that I thought everybody did when I was a kid growing up. And throughout my career, I thought everybody thought that way or did that. I don’t always do it in my personal life, but that’s a little different. But it is for all of us. I’m not that good. Geez.
But professionally, yeah, I thought everybody thought that way until I left my nonprofit career years ago and went into corporate. And that was way, way different. And I learned it very differently. And here’s what the majority of folks do, it’s a small percentage, those that react that way. It’s powerful when they do, so it seems like it’s bigger than it is. But the majority of folks, because you have established trust, because you have established this fiduciary responsibility that everything that it says here stays here.
I always tell everybody I have this gigantic vault in my head, where all these conversations go into their own places and they never come out unless you tell me you want them to, and we can pull them out. Otherwise, they stay there. But what I find is that most of the folks that I work with, and this is true in the large groups, the medium groups, and the small groups that I work with, as well as the one-on-one coaching that I do, is that you see them, again, physically change.
They sit back in their chair, their chins go up. These are all body languages that are saying, "Oh, I’m moving to a different place and becoming more open to what she’s saying." And then, they start questioning it. And that’s a very cool thing when you see that happen, because they’re saying, "Okay. Well, how do I think about this differently?" And oftentimes, there are those robust conversations and a lot of push back.
But at the end of the day, those are highly productive conversations. And I think more teams and groups need to be having those, "Put it on the table, get the elephants in the room." That’s another leadership challenge, is people being willing to do that and put them out there with clarity to really call it out. Not people, the issues. We’re not calling out people, we’re calling out issues. Most people problems directly go back to process and structure and strategy or lack thereof. And I used, actually, a five-pointed star to talk about this when I’m talking at a high level.
Say, there are five things that every successful organization does well. The first is strategy, your vision, values, and purpose. Why are you here? Go back to Simon Sinek. What’s your why? Then, what’s your structure? How have you structured your organization to fulfill that vision, those values, and your purpose? What’s that structure? What then are the processes that have to flow through that structure to continue to build upon and deepen the success of the vision, the values, and your purpose? Then, over here in the other side of the star, all those three points are great, but if they stand alone, you have nothing because you don’t have the humans.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:48] The humans.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:34:49] You need humans.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:50] Yeah.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:34:51] You need humans in there to do this. So, then, you have the people point of the star. And this is where you go into what I call i3 Leadership, which I can go on about in another podcast. But that’s to inspire, ignite, and impact. Those three things will get you through any crisis or anything in your whole life. And then, you have to have systems in place that directly connect people that support them and encourage their hearts and give them the tools that they need to become the best of who they are.
Whether that be leadership development work, whether that be technical, training that they need in their particular area of expertise, whatever it may be, and reward systems. How are you rewarding these people for the work that they’re doing in a way that’s meaningful? That it’s not just a carrot. That it’s something that aligns to their purpose and their vision, which aligns to your organizational vision and purpose. Imagine the harmony in all of that when everybody’s pulling the rope in the same direction. So, long answer to a short question, Pete.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:50] Oh, no.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:35:51] That brings me around to why do what I do.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:53] No, that-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:35:55] I just send out stars to people and say, "Here, fulfill this and you’ll be happy."

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:59] Okay. I love the star analogy. And try this next time when you’re working with the CEO or whomever, ask them a very simple question, what business are they in?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:36:13] Oh, yeah. That’s the important question.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:15] Or, where in the insurance business or in the accounting business or in the consulting business? And I tell audiences, all of those are byproducts of the business that you’re in.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:36:25] Exactly right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:27] And there’s been a few times I think I’ve almost come to fisticuffs with some of the audience members because I kept pushing them and pushing them and literally trying to get them a little frustrated with. And I go, "You’re in business here and you’re in the people business."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:36:37] That’s right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:38] "First and foremost, without people, you have no business."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:36:41] Exactly right. It’s good to tell that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:44] And that’s what I told. And talk about a change in mindset. An attendee shared a story about when he was in public accounting and his first day on the job at a big a public accounting firm back in the, I think it was like at the ’90s, which is about the time I started as well, he said that the managing partner came in and said, "Ah, new staff. We look at new staff like toothpaste. We squeeze everything out of you. And let me put the top back on and then, we throw you away."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:37:21] He actually said that?

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:22] Yeah. And he swears by that’s what was said. And I believe it because my example that I have, it’s similar in nature, but not to that extreme. But I believe it, because we don’t look at people as our business.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:37:44] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:44] We look at the, what business are making money? That’s a byproduct.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:37:50] That’s right. The money is a byproduct.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:51] Yeah. Go ahead. After you.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:37:54] Thank you. Whenever I start with a new group or even sometimes when I’m speaking, doing a presentation or keynote, I will ask a question. I would say, "I want you to-", and I usually have tools for them to do this with, but, "… pause for a moment. And I would like you to think about and write down what you do. I don’t want to know what your title is. I don’t want to know what your product is. I want to know what you do." And it’s the same question, "What business are you in?" Every single one of us, no matter what business we are in, we are in the relationship business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:31] Right.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:38:31] We are in the people business. Without relationships and without focusing on how we develop those relationships, that’s the focus of everything that we should be doing. Everything else is ancillary to that. The what and the how, as Simon says, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:46] Right.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:38:47] It’s ancillary to that. It’s building a relationship first.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:51] And there’s a fellow NSA member, Bob Pacanovsky. I don’t know if you’ve met Bob or not.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:38:56] I have not.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:56] He has the black-tie experience and I was interviewing him on the podcast. He was, "You’re right. We’re in the people business, but let’s take that another level, we’re in the people-size customer service business." Do we go back to restaurants that we get poor customer service? Do we go back to places where we get poor customer service?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:39:16] Of course not.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:16] No, but we’re expecting that we’re giving poor customer service to our own internal customer and we wonder why they’re leaving.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:39:25] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:26] Going back to the generational issues. Well, why are they leaving? Well, because your organization doesn’t meet their needs.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:39:33] And first, the organization has to understand what those needs are.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:37] Right.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:39:37] The needs of 20 and 30-year olds are very different than 40 and 50-year olds, or 60 and 70-year olds. It’s all different for every single group. My two youngest children are still in their 20s. All they want to do is make a difference. They want to hone their skills in ways of intense purpose for themselves to make a difference and make an impact on the world. That can mean anything. That can mean nuclear physicist or a United Nations position or a humble nonprofit somewhere in some far-off town of 20 people, who knows?

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:20] Right.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:40:20] It’s what’s important to them. So, it does go back to the generation, you need to understand what they need and want.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:27] Right. But can you predict the future?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:40:34] Well, I do have a crystal ball, but it doesn’t work that way.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:37] Well, actually, it does.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:40:38] No.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:39] Actually, you can predict the future. And there’s some hard trends, as leaders, we can predict. One of those is technology.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:40:48] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:49] Your next phone is not going to be a dumber phone than the one that you have now.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:40:52] No, you’re right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:55] And we see technology evolve artificial intelligence, block chain, these robotic process automation, all the stuff that’s out there. So, we can somewhat see it and predict it. Demographics, well, let’s see. We got a bunch of baby boomers out there getting old, so they’re going to start retiring.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:41:11] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:12] The Gen X, that was a smaller demographic that’s out there. And then, we got the Ys or what they call the millennials, and I read somewhere by the year 2025, 75% of the global workforce will consist of millennials.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:41:33] Really?

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:34] Yes.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:41:35] What a statistic. That’s in five years?

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:37] Yes, if not sooner. Because that is such a big population. And especially-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:41:43] Sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:44] … in proportion to the baby boomers who are the-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:41:48] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:48] Yeah. There’s a big hole at the bottom of that bucket, they’re draining out. And we’ve got this big, big opening, but we haven’t changed the bucket to really attract them to come into our organizations.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:00] I absolutely love that. Thank you for sharing that because I have a lot of data that I use on generations, but I did not have that number.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:07] And I’m trying to remember where I got it from. It may have been from the Deloitte Millennial 2019 study or I’ll find the resource.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:18] That would be great. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:19] Yeah, because you know that 75% of all statistics are made up, right?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:23] Yeah. I thought it was 77.2%.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:26] Yeah. That-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:27] Yeah, let’s be exact, shall we? Let’s be precise.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:30] Come on. I’m an accountant, I can’t do that. I’m an accidental accountant, I can’t do that.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:34] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:35] So, as we begin to wrap up, what advice can you give our audience in the terms of becoming a better leader?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:45] Well, I could do this in a couple of different ways. Let me see. But we’re wrapping up, so I won’t, I will do this a different way.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:53] Well, I mean, you can just tell both ways.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:56] Okay. From a very high level, I mentioned there are three things that you can do that will change anything that you are working on, decisions that you’re making in your life. It will change the way you do that and change the outcome, the more positive outcome. Three things only. And each of them begin with the letter, I. First of all, look deep inside and know what inspires you. If you’re thinking about taking a job, going to college, changing jobs, starting a business, buying a house, planning a party, it doesn’t matter what it is. It can be the biggest thing or the littlest thing, principles still apply. What does it look like in its ideal form?

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:45] Yeah.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:43:45] What I mentioned earlier, it’s not what if, what does it look like? Then, once you get that painted and that just makes you smile, and that makes you, "Yes, that’s what I want. Yes. That’s where I want to be with this", then put a plan in place. And this goes back to just very, very basic strategic thinking and planning that every business does or should do. And that is, you do it for your life, too.
You say, "What is my vision? What do I want my life to be like? What do I need to do to make that happen? Where do I need to move that needle in the next three to six months?" And then, you change that every three to six months. And then, within that three to six months, what are the three most important things I need to do to get to a result, get you an accomplishment, gets you there. And then, you write down the action steps. You take under each one.
And here’s the most important part, so what you’ve done is you’ve given yourself the inspiration, you’ve ignited that with planning, you’ve broken it down into smaller chunks, so you can put it in your planner. And you can wake up tomorrow and do the third I, which is to make the impact, which is to do something. Take some action. Inspire is your vision. Ignite is your plan. Impact is your action.
You align that all to your values, and to what you want and what you don’t, and you’re going to find more success than you have. Specifically, in the second tier I would share with you, there are five behaviors that if you think about these very intentionally and very purposefully and you write them down and you work on these every single day or work on them one-a-week for five weeks and then, rinse, wash, repeat, it will be, first of all, you walk your talk, model the way.
The second one is to know what your vision is. Find out what other people’s visions are and then, inspire the intersecting point. Inspire shared visions. When you can share pieces of your visions with each other, you form deep relationships, you form trust. Third, challenge processes. Challenge what you’ve always done. Is it still worth doing? Do the reasons that you are doing it this way still exist or were they started? Was this process started 20 years ago in a very different time, in a very different economy, in a very different—challenge processes.
Fourth, enable people to act. Enable in a good way, not in a psychologically negative way. In a good way, see people’s strengths. Talk to them about that. What do they love? If you can find a person’s passion, you’re going to find their strengths. And then, give them the tools, the knowledge to hone that skill, to grow within that area of their lives to become the very best of who they can be doing what they love and are most passionate about. And then, the fifth thing, which to me is probably the most important thing in the entire universe, in our entire existence as human beings, is to encourage the heart. Life’s journey is life’s journey. It’s got a lot of ups and a lot of downs.
And it’s important for us to be connected and in tune with others. So that when they have even the tiniest little accomplishment that may seem meaningless to everybody else around them, one person, that would be you, comes up to them and just gives them a little pat on the shoulder or look in the eye or whatever it is that’s you and you just say, "Wow. You do have to rock that out of the world this time." Encourage the heart. This is not woo-woo. This is not making up stuff because we’re supposed to tell people good things. It’s being genuine. It’s being honest. It’s being observant. It’s being present. Recognizing people for what they do very simply and very plainly, then move on.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:41] Well done.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:47:42] Thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:43] So, how can people find you, Roxanne?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:47:46] They can find me at, right now, the website is www.prolaureate, P-R-O-L-A-U-R-E-A-T-E. That’s changing within the next 30 days to a new brand that will simply be Roxanne Leadership. That’s much easier to remember and to forget. Roxanne is two Ns, Roxanne Leadership. And the best way to reach me is through text or cell phone, give me a call, 216-544-7528.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:20] Great. Now, you know how to reach her and think about what she said there about the five things. Think about the star. Think about the i3. And make time. Force yourself to make time every single day to work on it. I love how she breaks that down and says, "Now, you got the pieces. Now, let’s put it in action." It’s logical. It’s a process. It’s a system. And you have to continue to do it every single day. You could take Thanksgiving off and take Christmas off. Yeah, because we all do need a little bit of time away, but it needs to stay in the forefront of our lives in vast majority of the time. Roxanne, thank you once again for your wisdom-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:49:05] Thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:06] … your time. And I look forward to seeing you here soon. But this will be in December. I’ll see you on our chapter meeting in January, I assume, call because it’ll probably be snowing somewhere here in Ohio, I bet that.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:49:20] Usually is in Cleveland. Peter, thank you so much. Like I said, I appreciate this so much. A lot of gratitude for having the opportunity to talk with you today and all your listeners. So, thank you very much.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:33] I appreciate that. Thank you, too.
I would like to thank Roxanne again for her time and showing her leadership knowledge with you, my audience. Thank you for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, please take a moment and leave a review on iTunes or whatever platform you download your podcast from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Make today your best day.

Announcer: [00:50:05] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio: turning the volume up on business.

S2E43. Learning New Skills by Getting In The Game with Darren LaCroix

Darren LaCroix is the only speaker in the world who is a Certified Speaking Professional, an Accredited Speaker, and a world champion of public speaking. He’s also the co-host of Unforgettable Presentations podcast. Darren always stresses, “Don’t go for the designations to get the letters after your name. Do it for the professional you will become in the process.” 

Darren’s parents always made it clear that he was expected to go to college, but he knew that, at some point, he wanted to become an entrepreneur. He went to business school, and immediately after graduation, he started a Subway franchise.

A year and a half into his franchise business, Darren sold his franchise for a loss and moved back in with his parents. He was at the lowest point in his life. His friend gave him a motivational tape to try and cheer him up, and he heard Brian Tracy say, “What would you dare to dream if you knew you wouldn’t fail?”

His immediate response was, “I’d be a comedian.” The voice in his head answered, “But you aren’t funny,” but the question was “if you knew you couldn’t fail” so he didn’t allow himself to dismiss it. Brian Tracy said, “Go to people who are where you want to be and listen to them.” So I said, “Well, let me ask a comedian”

So he went to a local comedy club, and after the show, he walked up to the performer and said, “Hi, my name is Darren. I want to try this. What do I need to do?” The comedian asked him, “Are you funny?” Darren said, “No.” And the comedian said, “Good.” People who are naturally funny, like class clowns, know how to make their friends and family laugh, but if you give them a microphone and put them on stage, they won’t know what to do.

Performing comedy on stage is a skillset. One that can be learned. The comedian told him to do two things: Get a book on comedy and start reading up, and attend open mic nights so you can see people who are just starting out and compare yourself to them.

Darren watched people go up for the very first time, and they were horrible. And he realized, he could be that horrible. Darren always thought that you had to get good to go on stage. But no, you have to go on stage to get good. He committed to trying it just once, not because it was his dream, but because he knew he didn’t want to live with regret. His first time on stage was pretty bad, but after making a mistake, the audience laughed. He didn’t care if they were laughing at the mistake, he got a laugh! From that point on, he was in.

He had trouble getting stage time, but he discovered Toastmasters and found that it was a great place to make those mistakes and grow. That led him on the path that took him to the World Championship of Public Speaking in 2001, where he won first place out of 25,000 contestants.

One of Darren’s friends invited him to a fundraising party in Beverly Hills, but she would be hosting so she would have to run around a lot. He didn’t know anyone, he was introverted, but he noticed a craps table and decided that trying to learn how to play might be a good way to meet some people.

Sitting at the edge of the table, he asked the dealer questions. He was watching, trying to wrap his head around the rules. This little old lady scoots up next to him, and when she realizes he’s not playing, she asks, “Young man, what are you doing?” He explained that he was trying to learn how to play. And she responded, “If you want to learn craps, get in the game.”

Darren never learned her name, but he’ll always remember the lesson: You’ll learn more from the experience. Get in the game. Whatever new skill set you want to work on. You’re going to make some mistakes. But get in the game, you’ll learn faster.

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Darren LaCroix: [00:00:00] You’ll learn more from the experience. Get in the game. Whatever new skill set you want to work on, you’re going to make some mistakes. But get in the game, you’ll learn faster.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:21] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv Is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while, growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:07] Welcome to Episode 43. And my guest today is Darren LaCroix. Now, his bio starts out with this, he felt invincible in high school. He failed as a business owner. He worked in a cubicle for over a decade. Today, he’s a world champion speaker. What made the difference for him can make the difference for you. Now, Darren will outline his background for you during our interview. But there’s a part of his background that we didn’t cover.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:37] Darren is currently the only speaker in the world who’s a CSP, that is Certified Speaking Professional and AS, an Accredited Speaker and a world champion of public speaking. Darren always stresses, "Don’t go for the designations to get the letters after your name. Do it for the professional you will become in the process." He’s also the co-host of Unforgettable Presentations podcast.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:05] Darren works with presenters eager to learn what it takes to connect deeply with their audiences. He’s the founder of stagetimeuniversity.com, the ultimate online program for presenters. Now, during our interview, listen to his journey of highs and lows, of his struggles and successes. What you will hear is an entrepreneur who works every day to become the best. As I’ve said to my audiences, is that in order to enact change, I mean, true change, you have to apply it every single day and baby steps.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:40] An analogy to enact change recently happened to me on September 9, 2019 when Dan Thurmon, CSP and immediate past president of the National Speakers Association, came and spoke to our NSA Ohio chapter. At one point, Dan started juggling, which took me back 40-plus years ago when I used to juggle and really haven’t since. This kept me inspired so much that when I got home, I grabbed three tennis balls and tried to juggle.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:08] Whoa, I dropped more than I kept in the air, but I did juggle 23 times without dropping that day. I made a commitment to juggle every single day. And as of November 19th, I have juggled 72 days with a high of 365 times without dropping. I have dropped many and I have failed more than I succeeded, but I’m enacting change and getting a little bit more confident each and every day. Listen to Darren’s analogies and think about how you can enact change every single day a little bit at a time.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:47] And as he says, "Just get in the game." As you know by now, Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Radio family of podcast. It’s an honor and a privilege to be amongst some of the more prevalent business podcasts, such as The Hero Factor with Jeffrey Hazlett, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with my friend, Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.

Announcer: [00:04:20] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:26] Many of you don’t know that I’m a type 1 diabetic and I do volunteer my time at the Central Ohio Diabetes Association, which is part of the Life Care Alliance organization here in central Ohio. Here’s a short commercial about the upcoming Santa Speedo Dash on Saturday, December 14th and all the proceeds from the dash will help to fund the Central Ohio Diabetes Association summer camp for children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If you’d like to register or donate, please go to www.lifecarealliance.org/programs/coda, that’s C-O-D-A, /santa-speedo-dash.

Kathy: [00:05:08] Hey, Anthony. What’s with the bells?

Anthony: [00:05:10] Hey, Kathy. I’m putting my outfit together for the Santa Speedo Dash.

Kathy: [00:05:13] Love the red leggings too. So, you’re going to run in the Santa Speedo Dash on Saturday, December 14th to support Camp Hamwi?

Anthony: [00:05:20] You betcha. Will you be there?

Kathy: [00:05:21] Of course. It’s the only day each year I’m allowed to wear a bathing suit to work.

Anthony: [00:05:26] Help us gift kids with diabetes the experience of a lifetime. Proceeds from the Santa Speedo Dash support Camp Hamwi. Register or donate today at www.santaspeedodash.org.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:39] Now, a quick word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:05:42] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis, LLC a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high-content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:30] Now, let’s get to the interview was Darren LaCroix. Hey, welcome back, everybody. Man, do I have a guest for you today? Buckle up. I’m interviewing Mr. Darren LaCroix, who, I’m going to let him tell a story because I can’t do it justice other than he came to our NSA chapter last year and blew us all away. I’ve heard stories. I’ve heard, there’s this story about him or I’ve heard about him for a long period of time and I finally got a chance to meet him. And man, is he good.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:08] So, I’m not going to give the good stuff away, Darren. I’m going to let you do that because you can do a lot better than I am. But first and foremost, Darren, it’s 11:30 here, Eastern Standard Time. I’m talking to Darren, who’s in Las Vegas, where it’s very early in the morning. He had to get another cup of coffee before we get started, which I appreciate. So, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule and early morning to spend time with me on my podcast.

Darren LaCroix: [00:07:32] Hey, glad to be here. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:37] He’s got the voice for the radio, he’s got the face for the stage.

Darren LaCroix: [00:07:41] It’s all special effects.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:42] So-

Darren LaCroix: [00:07:45] Turn the bass way down. Hey, I’m Barry White. How are you doing?

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:48] I’m doing just fine. I’m dealing with kind of Morgan Freeman lately to see if I can have a soothing voice to be effective. I always said if Morgan Freeman would read an IRS letter, it would make you want to be audited by the IRS. It would feel so good. So, Darren, tell me a story, because it is incredible at the least.

Darren LaCroix: [00:08:10] Well, you’re very kind. I grew up, you know, parents, "Got to go to college, you got to go to college." And I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I did know that I wanted to eventually be an entrepreneur. But I’m like-

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:23] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:08:23] "Why am I going to college if I want to have my own business?" I went to business school four years, Bryant College, Smithfield, Rhode Island, now called Bryant University. But I was really excited and I decided because I couldn’t really get a business loan right after college having no experience and no money. So, I ended up going with a franchise. So, I bought a Subway franchise and I was so dreaming I was gonna be a multi-store owner, going to have five units, going to be a multimillionaire, have everybody do the work for me. And man, back then, Subway had 5,000 stores.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:04] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:09:04] Literally. And they actually had a 98 percent success rate. I really got to screw up to be at that 2 percent. You’ve got to be good at messing up. And honestly, I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing Subway because I’m really not. I made a lot of bad mistakes and it didn’t work. So, I had the store for about a-year-and-a-half. I sold it at a loss and I just was at the lowest point in my life. And I’m just living at home with my parents.

Darren LaCroix: [00:09:30] I still had the business loan, even though I had no business because I sold it at a loss, had the college loan, living with mom and dad. Woohoo, dreams, only in America. Only in America can you be an entrepreneur and earn less than minimum wage and it’s legal. So anyway, my buddy gave me this motivational tape because I was so down and I loved it. It was like encouraging and made me believe in myself.

Darren LaCroix: [00:09:58] And I’m driving down the road and I hear this man named Brian Tracy say, "What would you dare to dream if you knew you wouldn’t fail?" And I thought about it because I was at this such an open point in my life where I’m like, "Tell me anything, I’m in." And when I answered the question, what would I want to do if I knew I wouldn’t fail, I was like, "I would be a comedian. That would be the ultimate. I mean, making people laugh for a living, that would be perfect." All of a sudden, this little voice of reason said, "But you’re not funny, Darren." But that wasn’t the question.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:33] Right. Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:10:34] It’s truth, but it wasn’t the question. So, I just challenged myself and I said, "You know what? It wasn’t a dream", but I said, "What if Brian Tracy’s right?" So, I forced myself to do it just once. And when I told my friends and family, they’re like, "You, a comedian? Number one, you’re scared to talk in front of people. Number two, you’re not funny at all, like not even close. You’re a nice guy."

Darren LaCroix: [00:11:00] "People like you, but that’s because you shut up and you don’t talk." And so, you know, I realized in listening to these motivational tapes, Brian Tracy said, "Go to people who are where you want to be and listen to them." So I said, "Well, let me ask a comedian", because when I told my friends and family, they compared me to Jerry Seinfeld, someone just thinking about it to someone at the top of their profession. And that’s not fair.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:26] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:11:26] It’s the nature. I get it. I understand it. But it’s not fair to compare you and where you’re at, if you’re just beginning a new skill set-

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:34] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:11:34] … to somebody who’s one of the most accomplished person in the industry. You know, when you sit back, "Oh, yeah, of course. Why would you do that?" But in the moment, you’re like, "Comedian, not you." Okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:43] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:11:44] Next, pick another dream, buddy.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:46] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:11:46] And so, I went to this little comedy club. And I had never been to a comedy club in my life live at that point. I went to this little comedy club in Wister. And I worked up all the courage I could to walk up to the comedian. Because again, I’m a shy, quiet kid who has no business being onstage, never mind talking to a comedian. So, I looked up to him after the show. And he seemed pretty approachable. So, it wasn’t horrible, but it was still a stretch for me.

Darren LaCroix: [00:12:12] And I said, "Hi, my name is Darren. I want to try this. What do I need to do?" And he asked me a question, he said, "Are you funny?" And I said, "No." And he said, "Good." I’m like, "Good? What do you mean, good?" And he went on to explain that people who are naturally funny, like class clowns, your friends, and your family, like that’s one skill set around your family. If you handed them a microphone and put them in front of a group of 100 strangers, they couldn’t make them laugh.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:42] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:12:43] He said, "That’s a different skill set." But then, he said, "That skill set can be learned." And I was like, "Oh, you need me." And he said, "Two things, Darren. Number one-" and this is for anything but it spoke to me, he said, "Number one, you need to get the book." I’m like, "Book? There’s a book about stand-up comedy?" Well, of course, there’s books about everything, but I wasn’t thinking that way. So, number one, get the information, get the book. And he said, "Number two, you need to go to open mic nights, then watch other people who are just starting out." Well, duh, now, I would be comparing myself to someone else who’s starting out rather than someone at the top of their profession. That made sense.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:24] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:13:24] So, I went out and I got the book. I read the book. I studied the book. Went through the exercises. And I think that’s one of the other problems for us as adult learners, I’m still guilty myself now, that we think we know everything. And so, we’re not truly open to new ways. And even though we say we want it, we have a problem, we have a challenge. But fortunately, back then, I was wide open.

Darren LaCroix: [00:13:47] So, I went and got the book, did the exercises. And then, on Sunday night, I went to this little comedy club called Stitches, right outside of Fenway Park in Boston. And I walked in and you could feel the sticky floor, you could smell the stale beer. And it was like cool. It was like coolness. And I so didn’t belong in coolness, but I was there. And I watched people go up for the very first time and they were horrible. And I thought I could do that. I could be that horrible.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:19] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:14:20] These people were embarrassing. I’m like, "I’ve embarrassed myself before, I have no problem with that." And so, I committed that, "You know what, I’m going to do this." I’m going to try it just once, though. It wasn’t like this dream and I didn’t think at that moment that I was going to live the life and become a comedian and then, go on to be a speaker. But just once, because I couldn’t live with the regret of wondering what if.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:41] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:14:42] What if Brian Tracy was right? I’m in such a malleable state right now in my life. If I don’t try this now, I’ll live my life regretting. So, I studied the book for two months. I went to Stitches every Sunday night for two months to be re-inspired by horrible comedians. And it was April 26, 1992, Stitches, Boston, Mass. And I went up on stage. I was so nervous. I was literally shaking. I have it on video too. And when I give speeches, I actually show a video clip of it. And it’s horrible and I can show it now, if you want.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:21] Let’s make sure-

Darren LaCroix: [00:15:21] I don’t know if it will translate, but-

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:25] Give me the clip and I’ll put it into the show notes. People can watch it. Because I remember, you showed it at the chapter. And I’ll be honest with you, I get goosebumps. Because I remembered what it was like being in an open mic night and having that fear, having that intimidation and getting up there in front of 50 people, whatever, and telling jokes and trying to make them laugh. It just gave me the good goosebumps, not the bad goosebumps.

Darren LaCroix: [00:15:56] The good goose bumps, not the bad ones.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:59] Yeah, yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:16:00] Well, through the miracle of Zoom Stop Share.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:05] We’re gonna see if we can get this thing played. Here we go.

Darren LaCroix: [00:16:09] Does anyone here live in New England?

Audience: [00:16:12] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:16:14] I figured, atheist. Let’s see, does anybody ever notice like any every other small town in New England takes one little small historical fact, makes it the greatest event in the world? Sorry for my voice like fluctuating a little bit. A lot of towns like this. And then, I was doing some research, like places like Lexington, you know, the first revolutionary skirmish happened there. What’s his name?

Darren LaCroix: [00:16:48] I can’t remember his name. Obviously, he was real famous. Eli Whitney lives in Westborough, you know, born in Westborough. I was doing some research. I discovered that the actual first dentist to use ether actually happened in Charlton, Massachusetts. And the interesting thing about this was he actually fermented himself. You know, nobody else had done this before. And he started with animals and he used his own dog.

Darren LaCroix: [00:17:15] Yeah, it was painful. And that wasn’t even the worst part. There was a moment that I told you about where I was so nervous that what I was saying and what I was doing with my body, it was not in sync because obviously, when you’re nervous-

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:31] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:17:31] … that’s how it is. And so, I was telling this one joke about Dr. Robert Goddard, who launched the first liquid fuel rocket in history in my hometown. And I was talking about the rocket because it only went 41 feet high. And I said, "The rocket took off and it went vertically", but I did horizontally with my arm. And I was just disgusted with myself. And I just reacted. I’m just like, "Oh, shoot." It’s not the actual word I used, but, "Oh, shoot." And everybody laughed. And I was like, "What’s going on?"

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:04] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:18:04] "Why are you laughing? That’s not where you’re supposed to laugh, but I’ll take it."

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:08] Right. Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:18:09] And as I walked off stage, one of the other comedians put his arm around me to console me. He’s like, "Don’t worry, man. It’s just your first time." And I remember thinking, "Don’t worry, it’s just my first time, did you see what I did? I got a laugh." I don’t care that it was a mistake. I can make more mistakes in that five minutes of time, I have one thing that worked. And even though it was a mistake, if I could reproduce that and get rid of everything that didn’t work, I could do this.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:34] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:18:35] And I just said, I’m in. I got every mentor that I could. I read every book that I could. And in fact, that’s what my mentor said. "Stage time, stage time, stage time. Any day that you don’t get onstage is a day that you don’t grow." And I think for everyone, in your conversations, trying to persuade people or educate people, we need to be better at it. And the more we do it, the better we’ll get, but especially if we have some world class tools to do that.

Darren LaCroix: [00:19:03] So, Stage Time University is now, because of that story, that’s what I do. I train people, but I love what I get to do. But here’s the cool part, is that stage time is important, but if we’re not trying to improve, like my mentor said, any day that you don’t get onstage is a day that you don’t grow. And I was like, "What? I thought I had to be good to be onstage." And he said, "No, no, no, you have to go on stage to get good."

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:35] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:19:36] And it’s very different. And so, I couldn’t get stage time. As a wannabe comedian, there’s only three comedy clubs in Boston at that time, and there’s one hundred wannabes vying for those spots. So, it was hard to get stage time. And that’s when I found Toastmasters and NSA in a couple of years or a-year-and-a-half later. And I found Toastmasters as a great place to make mistakes and get that stage time.

Darren LaCroix: [00:20:02] I’m like, "What do you mean? They’re gonna clap no matter how bad I am? Like that’s not like a comedy club at all." And so, I just dove in and I did both stand-up and speaking for many years. And then, fast forward to 2001, I out-spoke 25,000 contestants from 14 countries to win the World Championship of Public Speaking with a very funny speech. And I had a great coach. And it was the coach, I just did the work. But most people aren’t willing to do the work or get a coach.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:35] And you make some really good points throughout the story. As one, you just don’t become a world champion overnight. Two, you don’t become funny overnight. And you’ve done the work. You’ve demonstrated that it takes every day. And so many times, people want to do here, but they don’t want to put in the work.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:00] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:01] And they get frustrated when something doesn’t happen because it’s like I said, when you-

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:04] Or happen quick enough.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:06] Right. When you’re wanting that change, you have to take small steps.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:10] One of the things I love to point out is there are those people who are naturals.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:13] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:15] That those 2 percent that are natural-born presenters, naturally born funny people, guess what? I hate them too.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:24] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:24] Because for the rest of us, it’s work.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:26] Right, right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:27] It’s work.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:28] Yes.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:28] And then, the other thing that frustrates me is people who have a natural gift, but it’s good. And they could be great or unforgettable if they’d just be willing to be more open and be a sponge. Because they got those natural talents and they could ride on them and be better than most, but they could be unbelievable if they just got some world-class techniques in whatever industry they’re in.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:54] Well, that goes to a coach, and we all need coaches, but also goes to-

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:00] Even you? What?

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:01] I love improv. I mean, that’s my love and I have an improv coach. And we meet once a month. He’s out in LA. He’s part of the Second City faculty on LA. And we’re looking at it from a business perspective, but he’s inspired me that I should probably get it once—I’ve never been on stage for improv. I’ve done stand-ups.

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:21] What?

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:21] But he’s inspired me to be onstage. And I said, "Well, I guess at this point in my life, I’ve been doing the assisted living circuit, which is fine."

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:32] Now, there’s always that one token old person.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:34] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:35] Like you and me.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:37] Yeah. But-

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:37] Like, "Oh, look at the geriatric improv player of the year." But here’s the cool part, and this is why I love Patricia Fripp and I can’t wait till I’m at her age, whenever that would be, because I can’t wait to get away with the things that she can say.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:53] Well, true.

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:53] See, if the old guy says something even remotely risque, it will kill. Peter, get up there. I’ll join you. The two old guys.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:06] I’m gonna hold you to that now.

Darren LaCroix: [00:23:09] I’d do it. I love doing improv.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:12] But we all need coaches. We all need help.

Darren LaCroix: [00:23:13] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:14] And you said, we need to be open. We need to be open to other ideas and basically park our ego. And you know what? And you make a point, there are some people who are really good, but if they want to be outstanding, they’ve got to take the feedback and accept the feedback. Be a sponge.

Darren LaCroix: [00:23:31] Be a sponge. Be a sponge.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:33] And ego get to the way and it doesn’t allow some folks to be that sponge. I like feedback and I hired Judy Carter as a coach at one point to help me. And I said, "There’s some footage." I said, "I want it straight between the eyes." "What?"

Darren LaCroix: [00:23:52] And I bet you got it from her.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:54] I did. And once she was done, I said, "Thank you." And I didn’t get defensive. Well, I said, "I asked for the feedback. I can’t get defensive if I asked for a feedback and if this is the way that I want it." Says, "You’re weird." I said, "Thank you. I am that way, but I’m open to the feedback." Now, what I do with that feedback is my decision. But you see this all the time, people will ask for feedback and then, as you’re giving it to them, they’re being defensive about everything.

Darren LaCroix: [00:24:28] Yeah, they don’t actually want the feedback.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:29] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:24:31] They actually want the pat on the back.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:33] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:24:33] Rick Valentine says, "Some people come to us for education and some people come to us for validation." And I think more people come for validation.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:44] Validation?

Darren LaCroix: [00:24:44] Right. And I was guilty of that myself when I met my coach. Let me just jump in on this super quick, because it makes a point.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:51] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:24:51] In 2001, I had been doing stand-up for nine years. I was a speaker for seven years, I think, at that point, it was ’94. And so, I thought I was pretty good. And in the Toastmaster world, I was like king of my club. I wasn’t world class, but I was king of my club in the perfect bubble world.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:12] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:25:12] And don’t get me wrong, I love Toastmasters. It’s a great place to grow, but it’s not reality, you know. But we need that in order to be better in reality. So, I thought, "If I just got a coach." So, I joined this speech contest to work on the stories I was telling in my professional career. So, I didn’t join it to get the trophy. I entered the speech contest to work on the stories I was already telling to make them so good someone would pay to hear them. And that was advice from one of my comedy mentors. He said, "Darren, take the stories you already have." He said, "Stop-" because I was like that little creature from Lord of the Rings, you know, "Precious, precious". I was lusting after that story that would be, in our world as a speaker, Peter, we want that signature story.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:01] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:26:01] That story we’re known for. And so, I kept trying to find it and find it and find it. And he said, "No, Darren. Stop." He said, "Take one of the stories you already have and make it so good someone will pay to hear that." And that was like an aha switch of the mindset because I didn’t realize there was a world-class process that you could follow to go deeper. I just thought you just told the story and you tweaked it a little. No, no, no, no. You got to dig deeper into the story. You got to find the right elements, put them together in a great way, and add dialogue and enhance it and show the emotional shift. I was like "What?" I just thought a story happened, you recognized it, and you reported on it and it was-

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:41] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:26:41] … wrong. So, when I first met Mark Brown who was the 1995 world champion and my coach, I was so excited that he agreed to work with me. And I said I wanted coaching, but secretly, I just wanted validation. I just wanted him to tell me how great I was. And so, I took the first version of my championship speech because he had to write a different one at three levels. So, he helped me out right on the last level. That’s when I met him.

Darren LaCroix: [00:27:11] And I had about 77 days before the contest. So, I drove with version 1.0. I didn’t want to bring it ahead of time or send it ahead of time because I wanted to see the joy and the impression on his face. So, I drove from Boston to New York to work with my coach. And we were in this little corporate training center where he worked at Reader’s Digest. And I was so thrilled. If you don’t know Mark Brown, he stands about 6’2". He’s got a heart of gold. He’s a native of Jamaica. And he’s got this beautiful, booming laugh, like the guy from the old 7 Up commercial, "Hahahahaha.".

Darren LaCroix: [00:27:49] And so, I handed Mark the speech. I mean, this was the greatest speech in the history of Toastmasters. When I handed it to him. I thought it was so good, you could hear choirs of angels. I handed it to Mark. Mark took the speech. "Oh, Darren, we have some work to do." "What? I did everything you told me to do. I wrote the greatest speech that I could write from the level I was at." But you don’t know what you don’t know. And it’s that moment after I absorbed the feedback and got out of my own ego’s way, I realized that if you’re not coachable, there is no cure. If you’re not coachable, there’s no cure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:37] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:28:37] No one can help you get to the next level.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:40] And that’s a great quote. And it’s so true. How coachable are you? How do you look at coaching? And some people, to your point, they look at it as validation versus educate me. Tell me how I can get better, how can I stretch myself?

Darren LaCroix: [00:28:59] You’ve got to be confident to say, "Rip me apart."

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:01] Yeah. And-

Darren LaCroix: [00:29:02] Mean it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:04] Yeah. And mean it. And I was confident with myself. But here’s what I knew, I knew that I didn’t know everything. I knew in order to get better-

Darren LaCroix: [00:29:13] What? You’re a man. We’re supposed to know everything, aren’t we?

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:17] We’re supposed to, but if we’re honest with ourselves and want to continue to get better, you’ve got to search out those folks who have established that level and learn from them. You know, some people say, "You’re really good." I say, "Well, thank you, but I still have a long way to go." "Well, you’ve been doing this for 17 years." "I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot to learn." I-

Darren LaCroix: [00:29:42] Yeah, it’s a mindset thing. As Mike Rayburn says, it’s like the "virtuoso mindset" that you’re constantly trying to become the best and you’ll never achieve it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:53] Right, right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:29:53] But if you’re not constantly trying to improve, you’re stuck in a rut and you’re making the rut deeper by not picking up new tools, new mindset, new perspective.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:05] Exactly. And this goes to anything that we do. Anything we’re trying to get better. We’re trying to become a better leader. You don’t learn leadership in a workshop. You learn leadership and applying it every single day. I’ve-

Darren LaCroix: [00:30:16] It sounds great in a workshop.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:19] Yeah. And, "Oh, cool. I can do that." But well, hello, it doesn’t work that way because we got to put in the work. And I think a lot of times complacency sets in. We just don’t want to do the work. But then, we’re not seeing any results. That’s-

Darren LaCroix: [00:30:40] Or growth.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:40] Or growth. Right, right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:30:40] We might get some results, but not the true growth that we’re looking for.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:44] And so, you went from a scared guy doing stand-up, who your parents and friends thought you’re not funny, doing stand-up for nine years, you travel the country, you’re a professional speaker, a World Champion Toastmaster, member of National Speakers Association, but the one thing I have learned about you is you don’t stop.

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:08] What?

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:08] How many-

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:09] It’s not in my vocabulary.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:11] How many-

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:12] I get exhausted and pass out on occasion, but the next day, I get up and keep going.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:16] How many revenue streams do you have?

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:19] Eighty-two.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:20] Okay. And it started with one.

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:23] Just for clarification, some of them are just trickles. So, I’m not a multi-millionaire. And he says that because I did a program on multiple streams of income. And I looked at my taxes and my accounting, and I literally added them up. So, a couple of them are like some MP3 that I created and tried to sell and it didn’t go well. And it’s like $4.52 for the year. So, just to be clear, some of them are trickles.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:53] But they’re there.

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:55] True.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:56] And you continue to evolve and you continue to grow and add new things. So, you got the Stage Time University. I thought that Darren been doing podcasting for a while, but he just started a podcast about a-month-and-a-half ago and the name of the podcast is?

Darren LaCroix: [00:32:12] Unforgettable Presentations, we- Mark Brown, my coach, and I, we interview some of the most unforgettable presenters. In fact, Peter, you’re at NSA, correct?

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:23] Correct.

Darren LaCroix: [00:32:24] So, we just interviewed Jia Jiang, who was the rejection guy.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:29] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:32:30] What I learned from 100 days of rejection.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:33] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:32:33] And by the way, if you’re listening to this and you haven’t seen that Ted talk, you’ve got to check it out. It’s so insightful, so funny, so inspiring. And so, Mark and I just released last week our interview with him. It was fascinating.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:46] Yeah. He’s got a really fascinating story. And I did one day of rejection and I went, "Okay, that’s enough."

Darren LaCroix: [00:32:51] "I’m good. I’m good. I’ve been rejected." But that’s not the point, though, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:57] Right. If I want a hundred days of rejection, I’ll go back into stand-up. I mean, that was rejection city, right?

Darren LaCroix: [00:33:02] I’ll start dating again. Guys, by the way, I’m not married. And yeah, I got no interest, like I’m on a mission. I ain’t got time for that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:14] Yeah. Well, 82 streams of income. You’ve got a boot camp coming up in March?

Darren LaCroix: [00:33:21] Yeah. I got one coming up in December and one coming up in March. So-

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:25] And those boot camps are?

Darren LaCroix: [00:33:27] So, the one in December is called Unforgettable Presentations, ironically. So, it’s a two-day event with Mark and me live or virtually in Vegas. And then, in March, it’s my big event, which is called Stage Time LIVE!, where my whole faculty is there, Ed T., Ford Saeks, Kevin Burke. And it’s two days with a whole bunch of crazy speakers who want to get better.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:51] Cool and coaching and doing but-

Darren LaCroix: [00:33:56] Yeah, we do live coaching.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:56] Yeah, yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:33:57] So, we show people, like everyone thinks, "Oh, here’s what to do." But when you see somebody deliver it and then, you see a coach step up and say, "Okay, try this, this and this." And then, they do it that way. You’re like, "Oh." You know, I wish more people would just see the experience of coaching. And anyway, I love what we do in helping people help people.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:20] And so, when you think about coaching, and so, if I’m thinking about my audience and they’ll go, "Well, you know, I’ve got my continued education from-"

Darren LaCroix: [00:34:31] Yeah, check off that box.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:32] Yeah. That’s a thank you for a better-

Darren LaCroix: [00:34:33] Now, you’re better because of it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:35] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:34:35] That’s the question.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:35] Or are you just collecting eight hours of continued education? But what are you doing to get better? And that’s the challenge at least with my audience with is, okay, you finish this. What are you going to take away? What are you going to work on? What are you going to get better on? And how are you going to plan it? And there might be one or two people that will take that actually serious to stick around and talk about it after the fact.

Darren LaCroix: [00:34:59] But that’s what you were there for.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:01] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:35:01] So, you were there for those two.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:02] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:35:02] It’s a mindset. You can’t make people be coachable. You can’t make people be a sponge. But for you and I, for what we do, just to have the intention to help people. And it’s sad that more people aren’t open to growth. They say they are, but they’re not actually.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:20] Why do you think that is? We say we’re open for growth, but then, we actually don’t do it. Is it because of the demands of our jobs or demands of corporate America, demands of family, or we’re just naturally lazy?

Darren LaCroix: [00:35:34] I think it’s all of the above. I think we’re naturally lazy. And I think when you say get a coach, there’s also bad coaches out there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:44] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:35:44] So, if you’ve had a bad experience with one coach, that doesn’t mean they’re all bad. That means maybe you should have done more due diligence. Do you know Rudy Ruettiger?

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:55] I know of the name, but I don’t know of the person.

Darren LaCroix: [00:35:57] So, the movie, Rudy, was created around his story but-

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:03] Okay.

Darren LaCroix: [00:36:03] … he’s like my hero. So, I like stalked him until I could get to meet him. Had lunch with him. It was like a little kid having lunch with Santa Claus. I’m like, "It’s Rudy, it’s Rudy." Anyway, he said one thing that I thought was brilliant. He said that people aren’t afraid of hard work. They’re afraid of hard work, not pay enough.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:25] Okay.

Darren LaCroix: [00:36:26] And because sometimes, they worked hard, but maybe in the wrong direction.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:29] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:36:30] So as a result, they didn’t get any results. So, they thought it’s not worth it. But when you find the right coach, the person that you’re open to. Unfortunately, when we have something in our life that happens. Like last year, and I’m just being honest here, even though I have a staff of four, last year, I literally had to pull my staff aside and say, "Look, guys, I made some mistakes. I’ve been trying to correct them. I don’t know if I’m going to hit payroll next week."

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:56] Whoa.

Darren LaCroix: [00:36:56] And so, yeah, if you need to get other jobs, I understand. And some of them panicked, which I understand, but they all at least knew the truth. And I wasn’t going to BS. And, you know, it was scary. And one of my assistants said, "Why would you tell us that?" I’m like, "Well, why would I not? Are you kidding?" I’m a hard worker, but sometimes, we let go of the numbers. You know, we don’t keep track of the numbers and what’s happening.

Darren LaCroix: [00:37:25] Even though I have money coming in all the time because of my different streams of revenue, I wasn’t paying attention to what was going out and what was coming in. And that seems so obvious to everyone listening. I get that. But we’re not perfect. And so, because I wasn’t paying attention to my numbers, sometimes, like that, for me, this inciting incident happens that forces us to be open and coachable. So, as a result of that, I became a sponge. I went to an event with Russell Brunson, who owns ClickFunnels-

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:57] Yeah. Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:37:57] … and his team and I just became a sponge again. And I was open and eager. And I’m like, "I got to find a way." And through that mindset, I found a couple people who would help me and coach me and one woman who was still newer, but she was willing to sit down with me and just take a look at what I was doing. And she said, "Dude, you have this huge list that you’ve been building for years. You need to just do a webinar. So, here’s Russell’s webinar format. Just go through that and start doing webinars." And I had nothing to lose. Well, I started doing webinars and now, it’s my number one way of acquiring new students. And it works. But if it wasn’t for that inciting incident, I wouldn’t have been coachable because I thought I knew what I was doing. You know, I got four employees and, you know, 400 students around the world, but you can’t hit payroll next week.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:52] That’s an eye opener. Everybody in my audience, if they’re a driver, they just hit the brakes when you said you couldn’t make payroll. They just came to a complete stop. But it also goes to the fact of you got to pay attention to those smaller details because we see it coming in and we get the checks and-

Darren LaCroix: [00:39:16] We’re like, "Oh, everything’s fine."

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:17] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:39:17] "I’ve got money coming in."

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:19] "I’ve got checks in my checkbook. I’m still good. I’m not out of cash yet." And I think that’s one of the things in our business because a lot of speakers aren’t fiscally sound or financially savvy that they see it coming in, but they also don’t pay attention to what’s going out. And next thing you know, they can’t make payroll or they’re broke or out of business because this is a business.

Darren LaCroix: [00:39:45] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:46] And-

Darren LaCroix: [00:39:46] So, telling that story, like some people say, "Why do you tell that story?" Well, it’s transparency and it’s truth.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:53] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:39:53] And if we truly want to influence others, we’ve got to be open and honest, in my opinion. And so, that’s why I tell that story, because I think it’s important. It’s important for people to hear the truth. And for all of us, we don’t want to admit some of our mistakes and some of our shortcomings. And like SEO and keeping track of how much traffic is going to your website and what converts. And I hated Google Analytics because even though I love numbers, I just like glazed over. So, that’s one of the reasons I moved over to ClickFunnels because it’s more Darren-friendly. So, I can see the numbers and keep track and see what’s working. And that’s what I needed to do, but I wasn’t doing it because I thought I was good.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:36] Well, it’s interesting you just mentioned Russell Brunson’s book, it’s Expert Secrets, right?

Darren LaCroix: [00:40:41] Yes. Yeah. That’s one of them. He’s got a few.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:43] You actually mentioned that at our chapter and I just went out and bought the book and became a sponge. And I just soaked it all in. Now, I haven’t wrung myself out and applied it. It’s always, I’m like-

Darren LaCroix: [00:40:55] Oh, so, you wonder why more people don’t do that and only 2 percent of the people who listen to you do that, but-

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:03] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:03] Huh?

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:04] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:05] Isn’t that funny?

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:07] Yeah. And open and honest and transparent and vulnerable and all that other stuff. But yes and-

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:16] It’s okay. I get it. I love you, man. I’m a fan.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:19] And as we say in improv, yes, and it needs to be done. It’s on the list. And you have four people. I have a staff of five. Unfortunately, all five of them are in my head.

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:33] Well, fight it out.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:36] Yeah, that’s what they do.

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:37] Oh, but that’s the thing, like Patricia Fripp says something brilliant, she says, "It doesn’t matter how much you bring in, it only matters how much you keep." So, there’s an advantage when I heard about Ford Saeks and what his payroll was, and I don’t want to mention it-

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:51] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:51] … without permission. But I was like, "Whoa!" And I looked at my payroll and my payrolls is like five grand every two weeks. I was like, "So, you, all you got to do is take care of you and pay you." I’m like, "What are you bitching about?" You know?

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:04] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:42:06] "So, shut up." No, I say that in jest. Because it doesn’t matter what level you’re at.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:12] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:42:12] Doesn’t matter if you have it four and you’re like, "Oh, well, just get rid of one." Well, I have a big business. It’s not quite that easy. Now, do I have to re-evaluate? Absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:22] Exactly. In closing, what else can you share with my audience that will motivate, inspire them to continue to do the right things, to continue to take those baby steps? A story that you have to help demonstrate that. What else can you share with them that they should go, "You know, I remember listening to Darren and he said this"?

Darren LaCroix: [00:42:44] Well, a story and two little ideas that will answer that, I think, perfectly. Mike Rayburn, who we interviewed on our episode 2 of our podcast. You know Mike?

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:57] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:42:57] He’s a world class speaker. He’s amazing on XM Radio.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:00] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:43:00] Brian Tracy was his personal mentor and he said, for years, he thought he was good. And he said, you know, because he was self-taught. And Brian Tracy asked him, he said, "Have you committed to being the best?" And he said, "Well, I’m doing pretty good. I’m playing. I’m booked all the time." And he said, "No, no, no. That wasn’t the question.".

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:20] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:43:22] And Mike self-reflectively said, "Well, no, I haven’t actually committed to being the best." And Mike said that, "If you’re self-taught, the problem is the teacher is not that good." You know, it is brilliant that it is right there, bam. So, if you’re not getting the results you want, then something’s got to change. Your perspective has to change. You go for the perspective first, because the perspective leads to new habits, leads to new results.

Darren LaCroix: [00:43:54] So, if you’re not getting the results you want, okay, pick one area, like we can’t do 12 things. We don’t have time. I get time. But pick that one area that we want to work on. So, I live in Las Vegas and I’ve lived here for 11 years. I’m not a gambler. I’m not a partier. But I love living in a convention city being a speaker. So, it was embarrassing to me when people would ask me or question or something and I don’t understand the game of craps at all.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:26] Like I don’t either.

Darren LaCroix: [00:44:26] I don’t understand it. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:29] Right, right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:44:29] So, one of my friends was at this fundraising party in Beverly Hills and I was out in California and she invited me to go to this. And she’s like, "I’m volunteering, so I got to run around. But here, come enjoy the party." So, I’m at the party and then, there is a craps table there. And I was like, "Okay, I don’t know anyone. I’m an introvert. I’m going to go learn craps. This is a perfect opportunity.".

Darren LaCroix: [00:44:53] So, I’m sitting there at the edge of the table and I’m watching what’s happening. And I’m asking some questions to, I think it’s called the dealer, the person who rolls, but I don’t even remember. And so, I’m asking questions and I’m watching and I’m watching. And this little old lady kind of scoots up next to me and she reminded me of my grandmother. She had these arthritis hands and she put them on the edge. She was cute, but she had this scowl on her face.

Darren LaCroix: [00:45:19] And she looks at me, realizes I’m not playing. She looks at me and she looks back, she goes, "Young man, what are you doing?" And I said, "Well, I’m learning craps. And I’m just trying to understand. I don’t even know how to bet." She goes, "Ah". And like 10 minutes go by and I’m still like asking questions and learning and trying to understand it, she goes, "Young man, young man, if you want to learn craps, get in the game.".

Darren LaCroix: [00:45:47] And she wouldn’t go away. She was just like looking at me. I was like Catholic guilt. I’m like, "Okay." So, I put some money in the game just to like shut her up and leave her alone. And she was right. I don’t remember her name. I never learned her name, but I’ll always remember the lesson. You’ll learn more from the experience. Get in the game. Whatever new skill set you want to work on, you’re gonna make some mistakes. But get in the game, you’ll learn faster.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:17] Wow. I did not see that coming. That boom, so I get-

Darren LaCroix: [00:46:23] I didn’t either.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:23] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:46:24] This little old lady taught me one of the most important lessons and it’s the same thing that I teach.

Darren LaCroix: [00:46:29] Oh, get in the game. Darren, I can’t thank you enough for taking time. I love when after an interview with one of my guests, I can walk away with stuff that I need to rethink and redo and reapply. And I appreciate that. I thank you for that because I need to get back in the game with a few things that I’ve kept myself out of that game for full transparency. And I want to get back in the game.

Darren LaCroix: [00:46:57] We all need the reminders, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:00] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:47:00] Myself included.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:02] Yes. And those reminders are very important. Once again, Darren, tell people how they can find you.

Darren LaCroix: [00:47:11] Well, if you want to check out our events, just go to stagetimeworkshops.com, if you want to know about either the December event or the March event. And I’m doing another one coming up for pastors as well, an online class because teaching them better stories, better sermons. And so, check that out if you like online learning. You want to stay connected, we have live calls every single week, where we do live coaching inside of Stage Time University. So, first week of the month, we work on content. Second week, stories. Third week, humor. Fourth week, delivery.

Darren LaCroix: [00:47:48] So, it’s an online experience like you’ve never seen before. It’s stagetimeuniversity.com. You could check out darrenlacroix.com. For people who really want to work on storytelling, just check out storytellingwebinar.com. It’s free. And you’ll watch Mark and me teach you the insiders of using stories to be able to help influence you and your decision or the audience’s decision to come on and have your perspective or be convinced of what you’re trying to convince them of. So, check out storytellingwebinar.com.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:21] Go check out all of Darren’s websites and it will be well worth your time and effort. And Darren, thank you so very much. Hopefully, our paths will cross sooner than later. And I need to get to Vegas.

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:35] Hey, come join us for the event.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:37] Yes, I may have to just put that-

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:40] Get in the game, Peter. Get in the game.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:42] Get in the game. I’m already getting in the game.

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:42] I’ll give you the Darren special discount.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:46] I’m going to take him up on that, I believe.

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:48] No matter what we do, even if we’re good at what we do, and that’s what I love-

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:53] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:53] … about people who are the best. They’re always rethinking and re-evaluating-

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:57] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:57] … to build on what they already have.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:59] Exactly. And we need to continue to keep building. So, thank you very much. I appreciate it. And-

Darren LaCroix: [00:49:05] And let me know when we’re gonna do improv together onstage, the two old guys.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:11] I think we should convince them that we should do it at Influence.

Darren LaCroix: [00:49:18] Alright.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:18] Cool. Thanks, man. I would like to thank Darren, once again, for his time and wisdom that he shared with you, my audience. Thank you for listening. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, please take a moment to leave a review on i-Tunes or whatever platform you download your podcast from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Make today your best day and remember to juggle a.k.a enact change a little bit at a time every single day.

Announcer: [00:50:00] Like what you just heard? Visit c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.



S2E42. Being a Strategic Partner for Businesses with Ken “Mr. Biz” Wentworth

Ken “Mr. Biz” Wentworth is the host of a successful radio show, B2B Radio, which focuses on helping business owners. He’s developed expertise during 20 plus years in leadership positions while rising to the top 3% at a Fortune 15 company. Ken is the author of two bestselling business books – Pathway to Profits, and How To Be A Cash Flow Pro, that has helped thousands of business owners achieve optimal cash flow. He is regularly quoted as a business expert in the media, including Forbes, American Express, Fast Company Magazine, Business News Daily, and Columbus CEO Magazine among others.

The On-Demand CFO

Ken works with small to medium-sized businesses that are really good at what they provide, but need some help on the financial side to run their business a little more profitably. He’s an on-demand CFO.

People hire him to help them run their business more profitably and more efficiently, and that comes in a lot of different forms. He’s able to draw from his diverse background, from an undergrad in accounting, to 20 years in the corporate world under the JP Morgan umbrella.

More Than Just Numbers

Ken sees his work as more than just running the numbers and more as a strategic partner. It’s very difficult as a small- to medium-sized business owner to take a step back and have that strategic view. His job is to help them get their head out of the weeds and look at the big picture from a more strategic perspective, even when most of that is still focused on the financial side.

A few years back, Ken happened to be in the neighborhood of one of his clients, so he decided to pop in unannounced for a visit. The owner was just between interviews, so he prodded a little. She was interviewing to replace a COO who was recently fired, and Ken asked if he could sit in on the interview. She agreed, but she seemed confused and asked him why. “Well,” he said, “You’re not a great picker.” She had fired three COOs over the past 9 months. Ken has interviewed hundreds, if not thousands, of people over his career, so he wanted to give her a second opinion and hopefully end up with a better choice. That’s not typically the role of a CFO, but it’s something that he does as a strategic partner for those companies.

Getting Out of Obscurity

Ken is doing several things beyond his CFO business, all in order to help businesses that don’t have the resources to hire on a CFO. As we mentioned in the introduction, he has written two very successful books. He is also frequently giving out free advice on Facebook Live, where he creates topics based on the questions and requests he receives from his audience.

Ken has also put together an online course of the five most critical things for running a successful small business. It’s a five week course, with each week being a 60- to 90-minute video on one of the topics. Week one is cash flow, so after watching the video, you get a Zoom call with Ken to go over the topic in detail and address any questions you have.

You can also pick up a lot of this knowledge straight from Ken’s social media accounts, where he shares it for free. 

There’s something that Grant Cardone likes to talk about, which is that you have to get out of obscurity and share your skills with the world. If people don’t know about the skill set you have and how it can help them, you won’t be able to help them. Sharing your knowledge can feel like gloating, but it’s an essential part of helping the world.

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:00:00] If people don’t know about you, and don’t know about your skill set, and how you can help them, you will never be able to help them. You could be the best fill in the blank there is in the world, but if no one knows about it, you can’t help them.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:18] Welcome to Change Your Mindset Podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvization.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:39] Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant, and he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:03] Welcome to Episode 42. And my guest today is Ken “Mr. Biz” Wentworth. Ken developed expertise during 20 plus years in leadership positions while rising to the top 3% at a Fortune 15 company. Ken is the author of two bestselling business books – Pathway to Profits, which this book made it to number one, and How To Be A Cash Flow Pro, that has helped thousands of business owners achieve optimal cash flow. He is regularly quoted as a business expert in the media, including Forbes, American Express, Fast Company Magazine, Business News Daily, and Columbus CEO Magazine among others. He’s the host of a successful radio show, B2B Radio, which focuses on helping business owners. Finally, he has broken—hold on for this folks – he has broken six world records in the sport of drug-free powerlifting.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:05] I was interviewed by Ken on his radio show, B2B Radio. And the episode can be found at www.mrbizsolutions.com/b2b-radio. We hit it off so well on his show, I asked him to be a guest on my podcast, and we recorded that episode three days later. Ken is a very interesting man, who is a true entrepreneur, first and foremost, and a business advisor, which is a very close second. Our conversations cover these two characteristics from a variety of angles. And you can learn more about Ken by go to his website, www.mrbizsolutions.com. Now, during our conversations, after we ended, we both agreed that we would be frequent guests on each other’s podcast/radio show. And I’m looking forward forward to my next appearance on his.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:58] As you know by now, Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Radio family a podcasts. It’s an honor and a privilege to be amongst some of the most prevalent business podcasts such as the Hero Factor with Jeffrey Hayzlitt, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading my friend, Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.

Announcer: [00:03:25] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network: Turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:32] Maybe you don’t know that I’m a Type 1 diabetic, and I do volunteer my time at the Central Ohio Diabetes Association, which is part of Life Care Alliance Organization here in Central Ohio. Here’s a short commercial about the upcoming Santa Speedo Dash. And all the proceeds from the dash go to help the Central Ohio Diabetes Association’s summer camp for children with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. If you’d like to register or donate, please go to www.lifecarealliance.org/programs/coda/santa-speedo-dash.

Kathy: [00:03:59] Hey, Anthony. What’s with the bells?

Anthony: [00:04:15] Hey, Kathy. I’m putting my outfit together for the Santa Speedo Dash.

Kathy: [00:04:19] Love the red leggings too. So, you’re going to run in the Santa Speedo Dash on Saturday, December 14th to support Camp Hamwi?

Anthony: [00:04:25] You betcha. Will you be there?

Kathy: [00:04:27] Of course. It’s the only day each year I’m allowed to wear a bathing suit to work.

Anthony: [00:04:31] Help us give kids with diabetes the experience of a lifetime. Proceeds from the Santa Speedo Dash support Camp Hamwi. Register or donate today at www.santaspeedodash.org.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:39] And now a word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:04:47] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high-content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engage in business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:36] Now, let’s get to the interview with Ken “Mr. Biz” Wentworth

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:43] Hey, welcome back, everybody. And if you’re in the Central Ohio area, you may recognize this—my guest’s voice. He’s a celebrity here in the Columbus, Ohio, Central Ohio market. But actually, he’s becoming a celebrity around the country. And I’m pleased and excited to have my show Mr. Biz himself, Ken Wentworth. Ken, thank you so very much for taking time, trust me, guys, out of a very busy schedule to spend some time with me on my podcast.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:06:15] Absolutely, Peter. I’m glad to be here, and I appreciate you asked me to be on. I’m honored.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:19] And full transparency, Ken asked me—I got on Ken’s podcast. It was—actually, recorded maybe three days ago.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:06:26] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:27] And we hit it off because we’re both accountants. He’s a lot better than I am, quite frankly, in accounting, but we just had this great dialogue. I said, “I want to have you on my podcast.” Absolutely. So, I sent him link to my calendar. And I looked up, it was three days later, here he is. Boom.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:06:42] Right. I’m a man of action. I’m a man of action, Peter. You know, get it done. Get it done.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:49] So, do I call you Ken or Mr. Biz?

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:06:52] It doesn’t matter. I will tell you though, I go to a lot of networking events, I don’t go to as many as I used to, but when I go to them, it will often happen that someone will come up to me and say, “Hey, Mr. Biz. I need—I’m looking for an attorney that can help me from some intellectual property. I know you know someone. You know, who should I go to?” And I’ll say, “Oh, yeah, sure. Go talk to so-and-so.” And they’ll walk away, the person I’m talking to said, “Who was that?” I’m like, “I have no idea. And I’m pretty sure they don’t even know my name is actually Ken Wentworth.” I mean, it’s becoming more and more that it’s like, “Oh, hey, there’s Mr. Biz.” So, it’s good and bad. There’s a little bit of pressure that comes along with that, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:29] Right. There is, but that’s your brand, and that was very recognizable out in the marketplace. And people see it because of your high visibility in what you do. And we’ll talk more about that. But—so, for my audience, give them an idea of, I would say, what your day job is, but I know it’s so diverse. What’s your main core business that you do?

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:07:50] Main core business, I’m a– you can say a bunch of different ways. You can say CFO for hire, part-time CFO, fraction CFO, or most recently, one I heard that I thought was kind of catchy is on-demand CFO.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:01] Oh, it’s so 2019-ish.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:08:06] It is, it is. I’m liking it. It’s funny, I feel like when I say part-time CFO, it kind of sounds a little generic.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:14] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:08:15] If I say fractional CFO, people look at me like, “Fractional? Fractions, like what? Are you really good with numbers?” you know. So, I might start using the on-demand, but yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:24] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:08:25] So, basically, I work with small business—small to medium-sized businesses that they may need a CFO, they may need that financial expertise. They’re really, really good at what they do. Providing services, making the widgets, whatever it might be, they’re really good at that, but maybe they need some help on the financial side and/or, you know, the business side of things, running their business more profitably, more efficiently, things like that. And that’s where I come in and help them on, you know, part-time, fractional, or on-demand basis.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:51] On-demand basis. And when I hear fractional, I think, are you like a Jet? You know, like jet-

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:08:53] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:54] NetJets?

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:08:54] NetJets, yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:57] Yeah, something along those those lines. So-

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:09:00] Wait, wait. Peter, that’s genius. I could call myself the Net Jets of CFOs.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:05] There you go. You might have a little bit of a trademark issue by using NetJets, but what the heck.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:09:13] Maybe, maybe, yeah. I don’t know if Warren Buffett and the boys would like that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:17] So, in this world that you’re in, and talking beforehand, I mean you’re just not supplying the organization just the financial aspect of it, from the on-demand perspective. That’s part of the package, but that’s not all that you do in your role. So, explain to the audience what other services or what’s entailed with hiring you?

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:09:43] Yeah. I look at it as I always say I take more of a holistic approach is, I guess, how I would play this. I look it as my job and if someone hires me is to help them run their business, again, more profitably and more efficiently. And that comes in a lot of different forms. So, I was very fortunate enough in my corporate career, let’s just call it 20 plus years, in the corporate world, of getting a whole—I mean my undergrad is in Accounting. But then, I worked in a whole bunch of different areas all under the same umbrella of JP Morgan Chase. You know, Fortune 15 company. Very fortunate. I had great time there. I did all sorts of different things. So, I’ve got a very diverse background.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:10:20] Much focus, a lot of the focus is on the financial side, of course, but—so, when I come in, for example, I had a client. This has been a couple of years back now, but I happened to be in the neighborhood, but I’ll pop in and see. You know, it was completely unannounced. I popped in, and the owner said, “Oh, it’s great to see you, but, well, you caught me in between interviews.” And I said, “Okay.” And I said, “What are you interviewing for?” And she said, “Oh, you know, my COO that I had to fire.” I said, “Yeah, okay.” And she’s like, “I had—the next one—next guy is coming in for an interview here in, you know, 10 minutes or whatever.” And I go—I look at my calendar real quick and I go, “Do you mind if I interview the person too?”

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:10:55] She kind of looked at me funny. She’s like, “Yeah, I guess. Why?” I said, “Well, I’m going to be real honest with you, Brenda. You fired three COOs in the last nine months. I don’t think you’re a very good picker. So, I want to help you because I’ve interviewed literally hundreds, if not, you know, a thousand plus, people over the years. I think I’ve got a pretty good skill set with that.” I said, “Let me help you, at least, give you another opinion of that person. And hopefully, you’re a better picker this time.” And she said, “I would never have thought like a CFO does that.” I’m like, “Well, this one does. You know, this one does.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:31] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:11:32] So, that’s just an example of it. It’s not just numbers and everything. I look at myself as a strategic partner. I try to help business owners get their head out of the weeds. It’s so difficult` as a small business owner or medium-sized business owner of being in the weeds of—you know, you get—you become so tactical because you don’t have a chance. You’re putting out fires left and right. You’re wearing twelve different hats. It’s very difficult to take a step back and have that strategic view.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:11:56] I’ve got a client that, literally, the only thing I do with them, I meet with them once a month for 90 minutes, and it is nothing but a brainstorming strategic session because that was the weak point for them. We started out doing a lot of things, and we’ve gotten down to that point. So, literally when, I go in there, it’s a 90-minute call. It’s the third Thursday of the month. When I walk in, he literally has a basket outside of his office. Cell phones go out there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:22] Right.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:12:22] Laptops get closed. There’s nothing. There’s no interruptions, no anything. And he and I sit there for 90 minutes. Sometimes, other parts, with other members of his team, depending. And we whiteboard stuff and that’s all we do is talk about strategic things. And he said, “I need that. I need someone to hold me accountable for those things,” because, again, he gets so focused-

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:38] Right.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:12:39] … and so in the weeds tactically in putting fires out and all that kind of stuff that he doesn’t have a chance to do that. So, this kind of forces him. He’s accountable. He has to do it. And I make him do it, dang it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:50] Yeah. I mean, that’s a service that, one, most people think, “A CFO is doing this?” But when I meet CFOs around the country, it’s like, “So, how many of you are responsible for IT?” Hands go up. “How many are you responsible or HR reports to you. So, where did you learn your HR?” “Well, it’s kind on demand and on the fly.” But over time, and unbeknownst to them, they’re developing these additional skill sets that are very vital to an organization where—and like typical public accounting, those skill sets never developed because there’s no need for it.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:13:27] Sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:27] And the reason the CFO has—you know, so, how many contracts have you read in your lifetime that they say, “Could you take a look at this because we want your opinion before we take it to legal counsel,” or do we need to take to legal counsel because that could be more expensive. Bingo.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:13:46] I literally—it’s funny you say that, and I promise listeners, watchers, we did not discuss this ahead of time. I literally just did that about three—earlier this week, a couple of days ago. One of my clients, she was—we had a meeting. We’re talking about things, the owner. And she said, “Oh, I got to call my—I’ve got to call my attorney to have him take a look at this.” And I said, “Well.” And her attorney, I won’t say how much, I’ll just say it’s greater than $500 an hour. It’s a lot.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:11] Wow!

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:14:12] And I said, “Well, what is it?” And she said, “Oh, it’s just—it’s a contract,” blah, blah, blah. I said, “Well, let me take a look at it.” She hands it. It’s four sheets of paper.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:21] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:14:22] And one of my roles in my corporate world—in the corporate world was I would review—I was investing. So, I would review offering statements, which is a lot of legalese.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:32] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:14:32] And I am very detail-oriented, very specific to details. And so, I kind of have a knack for it. And I also learned it with that in that role.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:44] Right.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:14:44] I said, “Well, let me take a look at it.” So, I sat down and looked at it, and I read line the heck out of it because there were some things that need to change to protect us and protect our interests. And she took—she got it back, and she’s like, “Yeah, you probably just saved me like $2000 by doing that.” I’m like—and she said the same thing. She’s like, “I would have never even thought. I’m glad you were here because I would’ve never even thought to ask you, could you do that?” you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:07] You know, I would’ve said, “I saved you $2000, but I’m going to invoice you for $1999.”

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:15:15] I’ll spot the difference. Let’s just call a thousand. Well, you know, you’re still saving a thousand, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:19] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:15:19] It’s a win/win.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:20] Yeah. So, you’re really out to breaking the stereotype.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:15:24] I think so. Probably, yeah. Yeah. I look at—like I said, I look at it as I want to help however I can. And I’m the first to admit, like if she would have handed me that, I would have looked at it and said, “Holy crap, this is way—this is way out of my league. I can’t handle this.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:39] Right.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:15:39] “Let’s go get legal counsel.” So, I’m not going to try to do something I know that I’m not really confident that I could do it very effectively for my clients but yeah. And that’s what I love about my job is I don’t have to do the same thing every day. When I first started the business, I found another CFO for hire that was based in Missouri. I’m based in Ohio, and I found him on LinkedIn, and I said, “Hey, can I get like a half hour of your time, just kind of pick your brain on how you built your business?” He’d been in business for like 15 years.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:16:10] And one of the things he told me was pick one industry or one niche, and only take clients in that, in that niche or industry. And I said, “Well, why?” He said, “Well, for example, where I’m at is a lot of manufacturing. I only do manufacturing.” He said, “Ken your job is so easy.” He’s like, “I literally have an eight—I have eight steps to go into business there. I have eight steps I take. I have the same financial package that I use. I have the same KPI as I use for every business.” I said, “Well, that sounds great, Darryl, but I’ll never do that.” And he said, “Okay.” I said, “No offense, but that’s not how I roll. Like I love the variety of things.”

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:16:48] And the other thing that I’m able to do because I have that variety is, for example, I implemented—I have a client who’s a chimney sweep. I implemented something, an idea that we created at a medical practice, and we applied it over to the chimney sweep industry, so much so—listen to this. This is crazy. This guy is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and he’s kind of a name in the chimney sweep industry. And you know, you’re in the industry, and you kind of get that tunnel vision, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:19] Right.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:17:19] So, I bring in this new concept, and it just—it’s wildly successful. So, he starts telling some of his colleagues in other cities around the country. Next thing you know, I’m on stage at the National Chimney Sweep Association talking about this new innovative thinking that was from a medical practice. So, if I only did chimney sweeps, I probably never would have had that idea, right? [Crosstalk].

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:39] Right, right, right.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:17:43] When he first reached out to me, he said, “Well, you probably don’t want to work because I’m just a chimney sweep.” I said, “Completely opposite. And I would love to because I’ve never worked with chimney sweep, as long as you’re okay with that.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:53] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:17:53] I said, I’ve work with an HVC company, which I think is very similar. And he said, “That’s exactly what I model my business after. So, this is going to be a marriage made in heaven.” And it has been. It’s been great. So, that’s what I love about it. I don’t want cookie cutter. I don’t want, “Oh I have 10 things to do to check the box.” I am not like that, whatsoever.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:11] Yeah. It’s cool because you can take—you know, what you did was basically take—if—you get a broader perspective on business, and that’s why you’re so successful because you can bring things from other industries to help your current client, where, if you were tunnel vision, it just couldn’t-

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:18:29] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:29] And, now, you’re in group think, and we all think the same way, and we’re not gonna come up with any new ideas.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:18:34] Exactly, yeah. That’s-

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:35] Speaking of new ideas, let’s take the conversation just a little bit of a left turn. And that’s not all you do as a—I was going to say fractional, but as an on-demand CFO, you-.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:18:46] Wait, wait, wait. You said you weren’t going to talk about this during the show. I thought this was the top secret. It’s top secret.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:55] Exactly. So, we’re going to let the world know about them, my mom and three other people. So, we mentioned that I was on your podcast that you have, and you’ve got your hands on a lot of different things. Why don’t you share the ideas the breadth of what you do outside of the on-demand CFO?

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:19:17] Yeah. It’s taken on a lot of different things for me. So, I’ve written a couple of bestselling books, How to Be A Cash Flow Pro—I got to do the plug. How to Be A Cash Flow Pro. You can find them on Amazon. And the second book is called Pathway to Profits. They’ve both been, thankfully, very successful. And by the way, as I mentioned to Peter before we started, I absolutely hate to write. Isn’t that crazy when someone has written two books and is in the process of writing a third, it doesn’t. But I have a trick. I have a trick on how to do that, but anyway.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:19:48] So, the two books. I have an online course. I do lots of videos, lots of live videos, Facebook lives. I always joke and say I’m like Frankie Facebook Live. I do a lot of Facebook Lives. Covering topics that I get every day from business owners, from people that listen to the radio show, or people who comment on my videos and say, “Hey, that’s great, but what about this?” And so, I’ll do another video, and follow up, and things like that. I’ve got the podcast. That started as a—you know, I had been—a friend of a friend worked at a radio station, and they said, “Hey, we need a business expert.” And I said, “Oh, let me see if I can find one.” And they’re like, “No, dummy. I am talking about you.”

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:20:27] So, I went on this, and I answered some questions, and it was a live call-in show, and there was a marketing person, there was an attorney, and there was me. So, depending on which one of the areas, you know, the question fell, you know, either one of us will take it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:42] Yeah.They

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:20:42] They were mostly the softball questions, pretty easy stuff. And so, after the second time, they’re like, “You need to have your own show.” I’m like, “Oh, no, I don’t.” Anyway, long story short, I said, “I’ll do eight shows and see how I like it.” And about four shows in, I was like, “This is pretty cool. I enjoy it.” And I was reaching people. And I thought I want to reach and help people. I know it sounds cliche but, honestly, that’s—I love it. I love what I do. I don’t work a day. I know that’s, again, another cliché, but I honestly don’t work a day in my life since I’ve been doing this. I absolutely love it. It’s not like work for me at all.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:21:16] You know, my wife is a nurse and will say, “Man, you work all the time.” And she even mentioned, we’re having dinner on Sunday evening, and she said, “You just work so much.” I said, “No, I don’t because I don’t consider some of the things I do work.” And she said, “Add up the last seven days, how many hours did you work?” So, I start counting on Monday, and I’m like, “Well, kind of from here to there. And then, on to, you know, conference three hours, and I came back into this.” Then, I got to Tuesday, and the numbers are already escalating pretty quickly, and I’m like, “Well, we don’t need to do all that. I just really like what I do.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:49] So, you mentioned something, but you went over it really quickly. I want you to go back. And you said something. You have an online course out there. Tell us more about that online course.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:21:59] Yeah. It’s—so what I did was I figured out through a survey, what are the most critical things for success for small business? And so, I have those five topics. It’s a five-week course. So, every Monday, I release a—it’s a 60 to 90-minute professional video done in the studio, not just a Facebook Live, you know, with graphics and all kind of cool stuff, all the bells and whistles, but you get a 60 to 90-minute video. Every week is a different topic.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:22:26] So, for example, week one is cash flow. So, you get a 60 to 90-minute video on cash flow. And then, on Thursday, I do a live Zoom session with all of the class participants, and we talk through that week’s video, and I answer questions on how specifically to implement the things from that week. So, “Hey, Ken. You mentioned in the video this week A, B, C. I am a salon owner. So, how can I implement that in my business?” “Oh, great question. Here’s what I would do if I were you.” You know, that kind of thing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:55] Right.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:22:55] So, in five weeks, five different topics, five different Zoom sessions. We go through them. It’s been great. It’s, again, a way to reach people, you know, for the value you get, of course, I think. So, it’s a good—it’s good value. and it hits on those five really critical topics, I think, that are most important. And some of the topics are things that, I think—well, the feedback I’ve gotten, they know it’s important, but they kind of—it’s like that gorilla in a corner or the elephant in the corner of the room. It’s like, “Well, I know I probably should have a budget, but I don’t even know where to start.” It’s like, “It’s just a budget,” like—and I always joke and I say, “When I say the B word, and I don’t mean that B word. I mean budget.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:34] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:23:35] People are like, “Oh.” And I’ll tell you just real quick on that, one of my sort of things and one of my stances on that is I think that it’s a semantics issue in some ways because people hear the word budget, and in their head, the word budget is construed in the same way or interpreted the same way as the word diet. So, if I told you, “Peter, you need to go on a diet,” you’re thinking, “I got to eat lettuce and drink water,” right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:59] Right.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:24:00] Well, guess what. I’m a former power lifter, and I would be on a diet where I was gaining weight, right? And I’m eating like crazy.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:07] Yes.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:24:07] So much that it was like a job, and it was terrible, and I hated to eat, and everything tasted the same, and it was crazy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes, budget is a growth budget, and you’re making sure—you know, a lot of my clients, I have—I think you should spend between 2& and 8% of your annual revenue on marketing. Most companies don’t spend that much. Now, I want effective spending. I want a good ROI on the spend.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:31] Right.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:24:31] But it’s important to spend that money and invest it in your business. And so, that’s part of it is I have—you know, every month, when we do a financial review with each of my clients, if they’re not spending enough, they get yelled at by me because you’re not spending enough on market, which is not what you think. You would think the CFO guys are going, “Let’s cut this, and let’s cut that.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:49] Right.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:24:50] That’s not always it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:51] Right. It’s when—I was—one of my previous employers offered me the job of manager of budgeting, and I immediately said no. Just—you know, it reminded me of Norm Peterson when he would be in tears when people had to come to his office and need to fire him. It had the same connotation to me because everybody would just come and say, “Just tell me the number that you want. Quit bugging me.” Just-.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:25:11] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:12] … give it to me and just—it’s outdated by the time we implement it. And you know, it’s semantics. I’ve kind of changed. When I have this conversation with folks, it’s not—we’re not doing the budget, we’re setting a plan. We’re planning for something. Like we’re planning for a vacation. It’s a little bit more easier to kind of elevate a little bit more exciting. And going through the budget process, but with just changing the words just a little bit just to make it more palatable.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:25:40] Quick funny story from the corporate world. You’re saying, just tell me what you want the number to be kind of thing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:46] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:25:46] Through this process, JP Morgan Chase put together this huge budget deck, huge, like all tons and tons of hours. The guy who was, at the time—I guess I could say it because no one will know what year it was, so this person won’t be incriminated. He’s actually the CEO of a rather large company now, but he was the COO of JP Morgan Chase at the time. He had his budget review. I think it was supposed to start at 1:00 p.m. Everyone’s there. We’re there like half hour early waiting outside. We’re getting this big exec conference room, all the fancy stuff, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:17] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:26:17] We’re all sitting around, and he’s like—he’s running behind. Fine. Kind of part of the territory, right? He shows up about 15 minutes late. We left the head of the table for him, of course.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:29] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:26:30] Then, he doesn’t even sit down. Everyone’s like, “Hey!” Frankly, people start to butt kiss a little bit, “Hey!”

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:36] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:26:36] “So, how’s it going?” He’s like, “Oh, pretty good.” And he walks in to the head of the table where the deck is sitting there, and he takes it, and he goes, “I feel, it’s about ten million too heavy,” throws it on the table and walks out. And everyone looked at each other, and they didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and they’re looking at the door like that was a big—that’s like a candid camera moment. “He’s just joking, right? He’s gonna come back in and say, “Oh, guys,I’m just messing with you.” He never came back in. Like-.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:06] Oh, my God. That’s hilarious. That’s hilarious. Now, then, it was like, “What?” Yeah, “What the heck’s going on here?”

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:27:15] Yeah. It was not funny that day, especially all the work. And the night before, you know, being up until 3:30 in the morning preparing this and preparing yourself for what else is he going to ask about. I got to make sure I know about this, and about that, and statistics about this. And, yeah, that feels about 10 million too heavy. We were like, “What the heck?”

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:36] There’s a title to the third book, It Feels About 10 Million Too Heavy.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:27:43] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:43] As we start to wrap up, there’s one story you have to share with my audience. It goes back to the podcast world, and how you are now blowing up on internet radio.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:27:55] Yeah. It’s just weird, you know. I have that sort of—I don’t know if anyone follows Gary V, Gary Vaynerchuk. And he talks about-.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:59] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:28:00] … putting up content all the time and things like that. And you know or as they say, build it and they will come. It’s like I’ve done all these shows, and there was a guy who followed me on LinkedIn. We connected on LinkedIn. I’ve talked to him a few times. I don’t know if he follows me on a couple other social media platforms as well but—and I know he’d listen to the show and things like that. Well, so I didn’t know that he owned an internet radio network. So, he reaches out to me and basically said, “Hey, I’d like to put—just one of my new channels is a talk radio channel, and I would love—I need a business show. So, I’d love to have your show on.” “Okay, great. Sure.”

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:28:35] So, he puts one show on, and it just takes off. So, I don’t know, four or five days later, he gets a hold of me, and he’s like, “Hey, the show is doing like crazy good compared to—you know, just starting. We’re not running any promos for it. People are just, you know, picking up on it, et cetera.” He said, “So, I want to—I don’t want to do a half-hour show a day. I want to have two and a half hours a day.” “Okay, hold on a second. I am not going to—I enjoy radio, but I’m not doing two and half hours a day. That’s crazy talk.” He’s like, “No, you have enough of an archive. We’ll kind of move it around and, you know, juggle shows around, things like that.”

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:29:09] And so, now, the show’s on during 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. Eastern during drive time for the East Coast on this internet radio station, and it’s reaching tons of people. He just sent me—every Tuesday, he sends me sort of snapshot. And, you know, that snapshot that point time during that day on Tuesday, it was people in 28 different countries were listening to the show. I mean, it’s crazy. I mean I would’ve never guessed any of this. Someone want to listen to my goofy rantings at my—what I think is funny, and it’s not really funny, so anyway.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:43] That’s —I mean that’s—so, having you podcast, I have my—I know that my podcast reaches, I think, about 44 countries. And when I started, I would have never thought that that would even happen. But now, on internet radio, on top of the podcast, I mean, you truly are now becoming a global brand.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:30:04] But, you know, honestly, part of it, that is kind of the goal. And not the sound boastful or anything like that, but that’s part of the goal. I follow—I don’t agree with everything he says and does but I like a lot of what Grant Cardone talks about. And I went to his Growth Con back earlier this year. And one of the things that he said that really resonated with me is he said, “If you have an expertise, if you have a skill set to where you can help people, and you are not doing everything you can to get it out there, so people know about you, so you can help them, you’re being selfish.”.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:35] Selfish. I knew you were going to say that. Exactly.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:30:39] And so, at first, I’m like, “Wait a minute.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:41] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:30:42] “That doesn’t make—wait a minute, that kind of does make sense.” So-

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:45] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:30:45] You know, he said, “You have to get out of obscurity. If people don’t know about you and don’t know about your skill set and how you can help them, you will never be able to help them. You could be the best fill in the blank there is in the world, but if no one knows about it, you can’t help them.” So, I’ve really started—so, every—I set goals right after that Growth Con on the number of people I want to be able to reach to learn more about me. As I mentioned, I do a lot of Facebook Lives and things. And so, that’s continued to grow.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:31:13] And so, even outside of, now, this internet radio, before that all started, the reach of the podcast in and of itself before that and with all the videos I do and everything, I reach between two and three million people every single month, which a lot of people doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m proud of it because I started out, it was not a lot of people. Now, that means that between two and three million people every single month across the globe seeing my ugly mug on a video or are listening to one of the episodes of this show. Or I mean, in some cases, part of the book and all the other things that happened, that’s another thing I should mention is, you know, I have writers reach out to me now and say, “Hey,” and I’ve been in Forbes a few times, I’ve been in Fast Company, I’ve been in Inc Magazine, I’ve been in—American Express calls me fairly often. They say, “Hey, we’re writing an article about cash flow. Can you—can we interview for like 15 minutes to get some quotes to stick into this article?” So, that’s helped, you know, gain that reach. Now, you know, I hear from people. It’s hilarious. You know, I should do it is have a map of the world and like put pins in countries that I’ve heard from people because it’s—to me, it’s really cool to know that you’re reaching those people and helping those people.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:26] Yeah, it’s pretty incredible with technology today that reaches far beyond Central Ohio, that reaches far beyond Ohio or the Midwest, and the ability to quit being selfish. And I didn’t hear from Grant but somebody referred to him because I knew the name sounded familiar through the National Speakers Association, and I knew exactly where you’re going because when he said that, I went, “What?” I had the same reaction that you did. Well, I guess he is right.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:32:58] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:00] If that’s truly what we’re called to do is to help people, then people have to be able to find us, and know us, and get to know us in so many different avenues in different ways.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:33:13] And I mean—and not to cut you off, but I-

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:15] No.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:33:15] … say that, I don’t mean just from, “Hey, pay me money, so I can help you,” or “Buy my stuff or my book. Here, buy my book.” I mean, that. I mean, if you just follow me on social media, and watch every one of my videos, and never spend a dime, will I help you with that? I’m completely okay with that. I’m completely okay. I love knowing that. I love getting e-mails of people saying, “Oh, my gosh. That was such a great tip. We implemented, and we saved this,” or “It helped this.” And I know we’re running out of time here, but I had one owner that I worked with that told me I helped save his marriage.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:49] Wow!

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:33:51] He turned his business around and he had been [crosstalk]-

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:54] Wow!

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:33:54] … working more and more hours, and how do you even fathom that? You know, I mean the impact of that, I mean, that I’ll stick with me for the rest of my life, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:02] Yeah.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:34:04] He’s got three kids.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:05] Wow!

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:34:05] If you don’t think of these kids, and their lives, and how it would have been otherwise, oh man, it’s just very humbling, and I’m very grateful that I’ve been led to this place to be able to do what I absolutely love to do. And I think I’m pretty good at it, and I just love it. I just love it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:22] So, audience, I think you can hear the passion in his voice. That’s the giveaway that he really does care. And I’ve known Ken now for maybe three or four days, but it’s weird, I feel like I’ve known for three, or four, or five years because we have a lot of the same beliefs and the same mindset. And I want to thank you again for being on the show. I greatly appreciate it. I am going to have you back again, and we’re going to talk some more in some more depth and some of these things that you’re doing because I believe that my audience would benefit greatly from hearing more from you, And hopefully that we can get together maybe November or December face-to-face via Zoom and probably spend two hours until they throw us out of a Starbucks or something, like, “Would you guys get out of here?” I mean, you’re not spending enough for the time that you’re spending here.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:35:12] Exactly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:14] But before we leave, how can people find you out on the interwebs?

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:35:18] You can go out to mrbizzolutions.com. My online program is Mr. Biz. The online course is mrbizprogram.com. But honestly, guys, just follow me on social media. I put out content on all the platforms almost every day or, at least, five days a week. So, on Facebook, Mr. Biz Solutions as the business page. Mr. Biz Solutions on Instagram if you have that. How about Mr. Biz Tweets on Twitter. And then, of course, LinkedIn. You can find me, Mr. Biz or Wentworth on LinkedIn. So, follow me. And hopefully, what I share is helpful.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:35:53] And by the way, if anyone ever has a topic, I tell you this all the time, if there’s a topic you’d like me to do a video on, and when I do these videos, I try to keep in between four and six minutes, so they’re fairly brief and hit whatever the topic is, you know, quick and hard. But if there’s a topic you’d like me to cover you know I’m going to help with, by all means, let me know. I take requests as they say, and we’ll get it out there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:14] That’s cool. Well, guys, take him up on it. Connect with him. Send me some ideas. Send him some request. He does a lot of Led Zeppelin at times and-

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:36:25] Absolutely. [Indiscernible].

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:33] Thanks again, Ken. And I look forward to the next time we get a chance to chat.

Ken “Mr.Biz” Wentworth: [00:36:37] Absolutely. Thanks for having me, Peter. I appreciate it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:41] I’d like to thank Ken for his time and wisdom that he shared with my audience. And I hope you all took something away that you can apply immediately in your daily life. Thank you for listening. If you enjoy the podcast, please take a moment, leave a review on iTunes or whatever platform you download your podcast episodes from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Make today your best day

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