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Don’t Start a Business. Start a Revolution.

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Don’t Start a Business. Start a Revolution.

12 Things NOT to Do When Trying to Build a Business – Interview with Brian Sites

Don’t Start a Business. Start a Revolution. Brian Sites of Claydog Enterprises shares his “12 Tips On What NOT to Do to When Trying to Build a Business” on the PME 360 Powering Business Growth Show.  Your hosts, Ron Rodi, Jr and Ryan Paul Adams interview Brian and can help you discover some powerful tips on how to build a business the right way and common mistakes to avoid.

“Chicks and Salsa AnalogyBrian Sites

Hens are tired of their feed, rooster learns to make salsa. They discover that they have this entire garden of food to work with.

Ducks smells the salsa and learns to make guacamole. Pigs smell the guacamole, and they make nachos

The idea spreads; they plan a party with all the animals of the farm. They go to the garden to gather their food and all the vegetables are gone.

What they haven’t eaten, the farmer and his wife had turned into tamales to sell at the county fair.” – Brian Sites, CEO Claydog Enterprises

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Don’t Start a Business. Start a Revolution.

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Don’t Start a Business. Start a Revolution 
by Brian Sites

There’s a revolution happening. Being in business doesn’t have to be as hard as most people make it. There are enough people making it hard. Don’t follow them; lead on your own terms.

Below is a list of DON’Ts that almost every organization falls victim to at some point. These are just a few–the list is endless.

DON’T COMPETE
Competition is a dodge. Sure, it keeps capitalism afloat, but obsessive competition stifles innovation by keeping your team narrowly focused. Be aware of what your competition is doing, but avoid the pitfall of the “me too” syndrome–matching your competitors product-for-product, service-for-service. Instead, carve your own path and dare others to compete with YOU.

DON’T BORROW
There is a saying in the tech world that it is easier for a startup to find $100M in venture capital than it is to find $10M. The idea is, start with a big vision, look for a bigger investment, promise a bigger pay off. In most ventures, this is suicide. The trade-off for the entrepreneur and the team is less control over the mission and the future of the organization. Borrow less, start smaller, own your destiny.

DON’T DEVELOP AN EXIT STRATEGY
Exit plans box you in. They set expectations for you, your team, and your investors that distort the potential of your organization. The alternative? Envision what your business will look like in 50 years.

DON’T IGNORE YOUR GOVERNMENT
Most business owners complain about government. From taxes to licensing to industry regulations, it sometimes feels like there is no room to maneuver in a complex business environment. In Maine in particularly, entrepreneurs should get involved at the local level – not necessarily to change the system but to get a closer look at the landscape.

There are opportunities for investment and development there that are often overlooked and sometimes shovel-ready. Get involved and start shaping those opportunities for yourself and your community.

DON’T IGNORE YOUR CULTURE
Positive and supportive organizational culture is a key driver of productivity and innovation. Short-sighted organization plans often overlook this aspect of a venture. Put thought into the type of environment you want to create, then nurture and promote it.

DON’T GROW TOO FAST
“How big is your company?” That question gets asked as if it is more important than how productive, profitable, or successful (however you define that for your organization) your company is. Grow your organization where you have pain, not where you think you need girth.

DON’T GIVE AWAY THE “EASY” TASKS
We have a tendency to focus on the tasks we find most difficult. For small organizations, this is a killer. If your passion and skill is in product development, then it probably comes easy to you.

Don’t give that duty away to focus on Accounts Receivable (unless you like that area and it comes easy as well). Why waste your energy and take focus away from your core aptitude? Spend more time doing what comes easiest and find ways to out/in-source those tasks that drain your mojo. The same goes for your team–don’t drain them.

DON’T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS
Leadership styles vary and some leaders think they have to have all the answers and call all the shots. The most cited example is probably Steve Jobs. But what Jobs was good at was leading people in building products that he wanted to use. That’s different from having all the answers. Having all the answers discourages your team from having input and stifles the ownership mentality necessary in most successful organizations.

DON’T CHANGE WITH YOUR CLIENTS NEEDS
Sometimes it’s OK to have your clients outgrow your product or service. For every incremental change/add-on/”improvement” you make to please your biggest or best client, the more you may alienate existing or new clients. Stay your course and build for the long term.

DON’T SCHEDULE A MEETING
In high-functioning, high-activity organizations we have a tendency to meet in order to “catch up” or “get on the same page.” These types of meetings are not productive. Meet less, meet shorter, and meet with fewer people.

DON’T RELEASE IT WHEN IT’S DONE
Whether you are releasing a new product, service, or upgrade, you are always going to be in the middle of some task headed toward completion/perfection. The bigger the organization or the longer something has been established in the marketplace, the more averse we become to getting new things out the door before they are perfect. First, it’s never going to be perfect. Second, you need to know the imperfections sooner rather than later, before you have made a significant investment.

DON’T STAY CONNECTED/STAY LATE
We all know we are too connected–it’s the gift of technology. But for the health of you, your team, and ultimately the organization, practice structured disconnection. Leave at the end of the day, stop answering emails, and get some sleep.

Referenced in this podcast
Rework by 37Signals
The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin
Dollar Shave Club commercial
Good to Great by James Collins

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Don’t Start a Business. Start a Revolution

Ron: Good morning!

Welcome to PME360: Powering Business Growth show. For each week, we talk about issues and offer advice on how to power growth for your business. I’m your host Ron Rodi, Jr.

With me as always the man with the plan, the marketing man Ryan Paul Adams, our CEO. Ryan, good morning!

Ryan: Good morning! Still makes me laugh.

Ron: Got to get a little excitement on the morning here – Monday morning. Ryan, I know we’re both excited today to continuing the format of bringing industry experts to talk a little bit more about their experience.

And today’s no more different. Today, we’re very excited to have on with us, Brian Sites.

Brian Sites is the current Global Product Management and Marketing Director for Active Group Ventures. And Brian’s latest work is as the President of his newest venture, Claydog Enterprises.

Claydog is founded as an antidote to common business and governmental practices offering very useful consulting and insightful innovation and services to the public and private sectors.

Brian, good morning. How are you today?

Brian: Great, guys! Thanks for having me on. Looking forward to this.

Ryan: Good morning, Brian.

Brian: Good morning!

Ron: Brian, you’ve worked with both large Fortune 500 companies and small tech start-ups. And along the way, you’ve accumulated a list if what we call worst practices. And today, we’re going to offer tips on what not to do in trying to grow your business. We’re very excited to have you on, Brian. Perhaps you would want to say a few words.

Brian: Yeah, I would. Just to kind of set the tone of what we’re going to talk about here. What I see happening out there in the world – it doesn’t matter whether it’s business or government. But there’s a revolution happening.

And being in business specifically does not need to be as hard as most people make it. There’s enough people out there who’s making it hard. Let’s not follow them. Let’s lead on our own terms. That’s really the message I want to get across today.

Ron: Absolutely. Just to start it off, Brian. Why don’t we start it off with really the first thing that you put together in this list here. We’re going to go ahead and run through this because I think each and every point deserves its attention.

And one of the things we often run into as business owner is really when it comes to competition, right?

So let’s jump in there. Let’s talk about a little about your theory there – competition being a dodge.

Brian: Competition is somewhat of a dodge. Absolutely, it keeps capitalization afloat but obsessive competition is really what I’m talking about right here.

Obsessive competition really stifles innovation by keeping your team narrowly focused. You really need to be aware of what your competition is doing but you have to avoid the pitfall of the need-to syndrome.

You know, matching your competitor product to product, service for service. Instead you have to dare to carve your own path. And dare others to compete with you. A great example for this, I’ve worked for World Championship Wrestling in the late 1990s. And yes, that was an awesome job.

But in the mid-‘90s, WCW came up with this new format and injected into a primetime hour. It was wrestling entertainment kind of reality show mixture that they came up with. And the format worked, great!

And they start stealing tremendous market share. Our competitors at that time, looked at our format and said, “Hmmm…it’s really interesting. They’re doing something cool over there.”

So they took that format and instead of doing exactly what we were doing, they carved their own path wit it. And after a couple of years, they stopped competing with us. We were the ones looking to compete with them because they had taken our idea and done such a great job with it. By just being aware of what we’re doing, carving their own path – pretty soon, the market share shifted. And the end of the story is, they ended up buying us just a few years later.

Ron: So it’s fair to say that, to mirror and match your competition is one thing but to take what they’re doing and make it better, right?

Not just necessarily matching them but making improvements upon what they’re doing?

Brian: Exactly. If you bring it down to a tech level, too. I don’t want my senior developer thinking about how he’s going to make a competition’s widget. I want him to focus on what is not being answered there in the marketplace. How I’m going to develop that product. How I’m going to answer the vision that my Product Manager or Boss has for the company.

Ryan: Really, what I find Brian is that when you tell a developer or somebody on your team to do what they’re doing or look at what they’re doing – it boxes them in.

They can’t think outside of that and you get exactly what they have. And I see this in life, too.

Too often, we try to measure up to whatever everyone else is doing instead of living the life we wanted and doing the same things that are important to us.

We always try to look at the neighbor, the person down the street or whatever. We need to be there. We need to do this. The same thing applies to business. You said blaze your own path. At the end of the day, it will be a lot more rewarding. You’ll have something that you’ll value a lot more.

Brian: It’s kind of a revolutionary feeling. Free yourself up to blaze your own path —- YEAH! You know, just grab on to it, and go on with it.

Ron: Very empowering. Absolutely! So let’s talk a little bit gentlemen about getting into borrowing.

Brian: Debts?

Ron: Yes, debts. Something that we know too much of as a society. But in terms of business, Brian, you have some really good opinions about borrowing.

Brian: There’s a saying out there in the tech industry, it’s a lot easier for a starter to find a 100 million dollars in venture capital than it is to find 10 million.

And the idea there, the bigger the vision, a bigger investment and a bigger promise of pay-off in the end. And unfortunately in most of the ventures, it’s absolutely suicide.

I mean, the trade off for the entrepreneur and the team is that there’s less control over the mission and future of the organization. I’m all about borrow less, start smaller and earn your own destiny. That doesn’t mean you can’t think big. That doesn’t mean you can’t have your own vision.

But start more realistically in some instances.

Ron: And you see these start-ups today that are acquiring a tremendous amount of capital. And it’s very, very difficult for them to become successful.

You look at Facebook. You look at Groupon. These are larger examples of course. But having those obligations right off the bat, there’s a tremendous pressure. Not only that, going to your last point and tying this all in, blazing your own path and doing things a little differently, I think it’s challenging.

I think, it’s a very good point in terms of not necessarily going after a huge amount of obligations. Really, starting small and being able to borrow less and controlling your own destiny makes for a valid point there.

Brian: And I think you’re starting to see this with a lot of in the tech world and over the place. A lot of people are really looking at this and say, “There are a lot of other things I can do on my own. There are a lot of things I can outsource. There are a lot of things I can bring a much smaller team together and do and start at this point and do it smartly.”

 And I think that’s a big trend you’re going to see growing in the very near future.

Ron: Ryan, what are your thoughts there on giving up what’s yours versus keeping it. I know you have some thoughts on that.

Ryan: Well, it’s a tough decision. I know that we’ve talked about to small businesses and they’re struggling to take that next step forward.

A lot of times there is nothing else you can do than find some money somewhere. I just don’t think they’re looking at taking on venture capital. But still you have to make some tough decisions when it comes to money. And finding the right way to get that money on board, it is a struggle.

Ron: So I think as we move on this list here. A lot of times Brian, we hear about developing an exit strategy.

And I think your challenge is to not to think about an exit strategy. To think about longevity. And to think about your business in decades not necessarily just years. Talk a little bit about that, that exit strategy not developing one.

Brian: Developing an exit strategy sounds like an awesome plan, right? But exit plans really, really do at the end of the day, box you in.

They set expectations for you and for your team. And investors distort the potential of your organization basically.

What is the alternative to that? Why don’t we start envisioning what our company’s, our business’s will look like in 50 years. What it’s going to look like during the next paradigm shift, during the next revolution?

Really, we have to stop thinking about in terms of these short term payoffs. We really have this idea – this calcified in the 1990s and 2000s. we’ve got to get in, grow it, get out in 5 years, cash out and go start something else. Well, that’s all well and good but that doesn’t really work for a large majority of organizations.

I’ll give you an example of a company I currently work with. My boss who started the company in 1999 came in and he brought a bunch of investors in. and they convinced him right off the onset that, “Hey, you’re going to grow into this amount of revenue, this amount of EBIT. Once you get there, step back, sell the company, bring somebody else in. And so we did. We were growing tremendously when he sold us. And guess what, we stopped growing.

His exit strategy didn’t match the potential of the company. And I don’t blame him for that – hindsight being 20-20. He could’ve stayed around too. But let’s start thinking about our companies and organizations in terms of what this would look 50 years from now and what’s my part in it.

Ron: It’s really not fair to the organization to have those tight parameters around it. Say, 5 years then we’ll be done. There could be an extra 2 to 3 years to really take that product you’re developing to the next level or executing some different strategies.

So to be open-minded about it and to have a long term vision around it. It’s very important. I think it’s fair to say that things could be missed by just having a short term view.

Brian: Right. And I’ll put this through too, Ryan. As far, in terms of the organizations that you have now. I mean, going to your point earlier, it’s kind of like having, looking at the neighbor’s house and wishing your driveway was that nice or that you have a better fence.

It’s the same thing with an exit strategy. You almost feel compelled to put something out there. And say, “In 5 years, this is where I want to be, this is what the organization is, this is how I cash out – is that something you feel?

Ryan: Yeah, or that we have to pivot too fast to keep up. And when you’re doing that, you end up doing more mistakes. I think it’s absolutely important to stay true to your core vision –

“This is who we want to be. This is what we’re going to do. And let’s be the best in the world at this. And let’s not worry about what everybody else is offering, all this other stuff. And just stay focus.”

And it’s so hard. The book Good to Great, I always refer to and just being the hedgehog, right? That dowdy creature and just be really, really good at one thing.

I think, too many people try to be too many things. The companies try to do so many things.

Brian: That’s a good segue to one of the points here. We have this tendency to give away easy tasks. It’s almost like we have the tendency to focus on the tasks that are most difficult because we feel like if we’re doing something easy, we’re not really working.

And for small organizations, this is a killer. If your passion is in the product development for example, then it probably comes very easy for you. It doesn’t feel as if it’s hard work. Don’t give that up.

If you’re leading your organization, don’t give that duty away to focus on account receivables just because you need help in the finance area. Unless if that comes easy for you as well.

Because you’re going to end up wasting your time and effort, taking your focus away from what is your true aptitude. You spend more time doing what comes easiest and find ways to outsource and insource those tasks that drain for lack of better word – your mojo.

The same goes for your team – don’t drain them! Don’t put them off on tasks that don’t fit their skills and abilities. And things that come easy to them as well.

Ron: Making sure that the right people are executing in the right areas of their strength. You’re not certainly going to assign someone that’s a front of house guy from a business development or sales standpoint to someone to go ahead and create processes.

I know if I had to do that, I couldn’t do that. That’s not my skill. So I think you really have to make sure, you’re not giving away those tasks that are controllable, that you can take care of yourself. But at the same time, they’re being assigned to the right people.

Going back to one point, in regards to that exit strategy. Having an early exit strategy, you can tie that with the borrowing point as well. I know these points are well thought out and they can play off each other.

But I think if you have investors that you need to satisfy, it’s going to pressure you to potentially wanting to get out early. So I think that it’s important to keep in mind that all these points certainly come together.

And the listeners here, when they sit down and certainly listen to the individual points, listen to the audio even look at the contents that had been developed – everything’s going to flow nicely into each other.

One of the things I do want to mention. You know you have interesting thoughts around here, particularly in Maine. Make sure you don’t ignore your government. Most businesses complain about government but let’s dive into that point a little bit. I know we’ve talked about this briefly in the past.

Brian: Most business owners especially small business owners whom I’ve talked to tend to complain about government – everything about taxes, to licensing to industry regulations.

You know, they sometimes feel so confined. There’s no room for them to maneuver in a complex business environment at times. But being here in Maine. I’m fairly new to Maine, I’ve been here only for 2 years. I see a lot of potential – especially in the local level to get involved with your local government.

Not necessarily to change your local government but just to get a closer look at the landscape. But I think, there are opportunities here for investment and development that are really overlooked sometimes.

And sometimes, these opportunities are what I call as double-ready.  It may not be building a road. But maybe there is a way for you to get involved in shaping these opportunities for yourself and the community simultaneously.

I think, this part of the revolution. We have to change our mindset. For so long we look at the government as a hindrance. There are some opportunities here for us. Let’s re-look at this. And start looking locally – that’s something that’s happening a lot in some industries right now.

Ron: I think it’s a great point. You hear government working together. A lot of times you just have to jump in and say “Hey, how can I be of help? Especially at the local level.”

It’s uber important. And if you’re complaining about it then you have to at least try to see the other side.

Brian: Exactly.

Ron: It’s really difficult to ignore the culture that you’re trying to grow in your business, right? And I think it’s important not to ignore them. As you’re building your business, as you’re building your enterprise.

I think it’s really important to make sure that you’re keeping the quality of your organization. Making sure that everyone’s in the right path to productivity and innovation.

Brian: A positive and supportive organizational culture is a key driver to productivity and innovation.

Here’s one thing to culture, it develops. So you better put a little thought on the type of culture you want to develop within your organization.

If you have a short sided organizational plan, you often overlook this aspect. You really want to put a thought on the type of environment you want to create. Then nurture and promote it.

I mean, it’s really that simple because it’s going to develop on its own. You really want to push it in a much more positive and supportive way for you and your team.

Ron: Ryan, I’d like to hear your thoughts on that – as you build the culture of PME360. What are your thoughts there?

Ryan: It’s one of those things there where you’re trying to grow, you can easily lose sight of building culture. And you put a lot of pressure on yourself and people.

You know, you can lose sight of that vision. At the end of the day, what you want to do is build an awesome place for people to go to work and it becomes more than just work. It becomes their passion. As Seth Godin quotes it, it becomes a cause. That’s what you want to strive for.

Brian: The Seth Godin quote by the way is this, “If your team is filled with people who work for the company, you’ll soon be defeated by a tribe of people who work for a cause.”

It’s absolutely true.

Ryan: It’s huge.

Brian: Another example I’ll give on this point is the zappos.com.

You know Zappos they actually offer their employees a substantial bonus to leave after 2 weeks with the idea being that if you fit the culture you stay.

And if you don’t fit and you stayed, you end up costing them more than what it cost for that bonus, your training and rehiring cost. So I mean, that’s a good example of really focusing on what is my culture here – how is it impacting my business.s

Ryan: But there is another example of a great organization thinking outside the box. How many companies do you know that have thought something like that? I don’t know if I ever heard of it before to be honest with you.

Ron: More and more people want to work in organizations that foster that culture. And they really are truly passionate about what they do. And at the end of the day, we can go to work as a means to an end – or we can go to work and we can make some sort of change.

And I think that really speaks to that point there.

The people that you hire, ultimately, they’ve got to be behind your cause. They’ve got to work in conjunction with it.

Brian: I keep on going back to this quiet revolution that’s happening but I think you’re seeing more and more people wanting to get involved in something that touches them (and for a lack of better word) in a passionate way. So yeah, I think this is going to be a bigger and bigger thing going forward.

Ron: Interesting. I think this is really good stuff. Brian, how big is your company? Is that a question you’ve been asked a lot?

Brian: I’ve always hated this question. I’ll get asked a lot in parties, “What do you do?”

And I tell people what I did and people roll their eyes back in their heads because they’re not really interested to hear what I did. But the next inevitable question was, “How big is your company?”

Because they don’t understand what you do, at least they can understand how successful you are. But it always bothered me that I worked for a company with 15 people.

Granted, I worked for a global corporation. We’re in I don’t even know how many countries. But it’s a staff of 15 and we’re pretty successful right? But that question goes to “How big is your company?”

And it’s like you have to be big in order to be successful. Somehow, having a lot of girth defines your success.

And how productive you are, how profitable you are, how successful you are. However you define success for yourself has nothing to do with the size of your organization.

Just grow your organization where you have pain. There are areas that don’t fit. There are areas that drain your mojo, that drain your resources. Don’t grow where you think you need girth just so you can go to a party and say, “My company is this big.” It just doesn’t make any sense.

Ryan: I think it’s really powerful for anybody who’s listening to really focus in on what you just said.

Ron: It’s not necessary to grow fast. You don’t have to necessarily grow fast, right?

It’s growing the right way – in terms of productivity and profitability.

Brian: If you have the capability to grow fast, and you have everything in place and it’s part of your plan, it’s who you want to be, then go for it.

But if it’s not who you want to be and it’s not part of your plan and it’s scary for you and it stresses you out, then take a step back, figure out what it is that’s important for you and define what that is and what are you going to measure success on. I think that’s really important.

Ron: Good stuff, guys. Brian, we talked about not giving away the easy tasks early on. Is there anything else you want to interject there?

Brian: Kind of tumbling off Ryan’s point there, in terms of leadership, there are a lot of styles of leadership out there. We have this tendency again as leaders, we want to have all the answers.

And I have this conversation with a lot of people. And a lot of times, they would bring up Steve Jobs, “Well Steve Jobs had all the answers. Look at the iPad, the iPhone.”

And I kind of have a different take on Steve Jobs. When I see Steve Jobs, he was good at leading people and building products that he wanted to use. That’s completely different from having all the answers.

So having all the answers sometimes discourage your team from having inputs, and stifles the ownership mentality that’s necessary in most successful organizations.

So don’t have all the answers sometimes. Build the things you want to use. But don’t feel like you have to have every answer for every area of your business.

Ron: As you mentioned, it stifles creativity. Taking that Steve Jobs example, developing the products that solves the problem or something that you want to use. And obviously, with Apple, iPad and all of his products – everyone wanted to use them. I think it’s something that’s very important to cultivate within your organization.

Ryan, you had some insights on some of the products you’re developing – the marketing automation suite for PME.

Ryan: Early on, when I started PME360, I felt like I had to know all the answers. And everyone was looking to me for those answers. I felt I had to know everything that we were doing. What it ended up doing is, it crippled the team. It’s what it did.

And I learned that the hard way. People stop thinking for themselves. They’re looking to me to kind of figure out what the next things was. We had to come to a point where you have to identify your team too. What they can be the best at the world at.

And by identifying that, we’ve been able to do a much better job.

“I don’t know the answer. You can find it. And you have the freedom to go ahead and do that.”

Ron: Absolutely very good insight. Brian, what about changing with the needs of your clients

Brian: I think this is very, very important. Sometimes, it’s counter-intuitive. Sometimes, it’s okay for your clients to outgrow your products and services.

And the reason I say that, some from personal experience. For every incremental change, add-ons and improvements that you make to your products or services for your biggest or best clients the more you have the tendency to alienate existing or new clients.

You know, stay your course.

Going back to what we talked before about growing fast and how we set up the culture. Stay your course and build for the long-term.

There’s a great book out there that I think everyone should read, it’s called “Rework”. It’s written by the guys at 37Signals who are at Chicago if I’m not mistaken. Isn’t that right, Ron?

Ron: That is correct.

Brian: And 37Signals for those of who you don’t know them, they built Bascamp and Ruby on Rails. They developed these things because they were following the model of “we’re going to build products that we need to use”.

And they don’t change them for their clients. They continually update, improve and grow their product base smartly but they let their clients outgrow them.

They’re not willing to make small incremental changes that will alienate an entire group of potential and existing clients. It keeps things simple. It keeps your team focus and you can really hone in on those things that make your products and services revolutionary.

Ron: But really adapting and changing for your clients’ needs. The point here is to stay focus. If you’re trying to create a product, if you’re trying to be the best in the world at something. Let’s say you’re trying to be scalable, to be able to grow and grow fast – changing to each and every client’s needs, sometimes, chasing shiny objects is really something that will throw you off course.

Ryan: Only thing that I would add is that I’ve noticed in my business, anytime you customize something for someone, whether it’s a product or a service, it typically takes more time of the special people in your organization and drains vital resources and energy.

Then it becomes something we change this. We customize this. And here we are. But wait, we can’t possibly do this again for someone else. And now we’re committed to doing this for this person and you’re stuck.

So you really have to ask yourself some tough questions if you’re really going to customize things for people – if you can really even do it.

Brian: Exactly. What it really comes down to is you start competing with yourself in some ways.

Ryan: Yeah. You got it right.

Ron: Great stuff guys. Very good.

Brian: And the other thing that this call leads to are a lot more meetings.

Ryan: Oh yeah.

Ron: That’s very true.

Brian: So you’re scheduling a meeting in high-functioning, high-activity organizations, we have this tendency to want to meet to catch up and get everybody on the same page. And generally, these types of meetings are really not productive.

My mantra is: Let’s meet less. Let’s meet shorter. And let’s meet with fewer people.

You’ve got to ask yourself, “Do we really need to meet about this?”

I mean think about your week and how much time you spend being productive in a meeting. And I bet that you can count on one hand how many minutes you can be productive in a meeting.

Ron: It also goes back to having the right people and your confidence to be able to get done whatever you’re telling them to get done.

So you’re not to micromanage them. As a leader of an organization, sometimes you want to try to have that meeting to make sure that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. But if you have the right people in place and you’ve set the right culture in place, along with the other points we’ve talked about.

So, it’s really – why meet?

Sometimes, maybe to be satisfied. To make sure that people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Brian: Yeah. There is a micromanagement aspect to that right? As one of you guys mentioned it. When we talked about this earlier. Yeah, it’s almost we’re expecting people to show up and be prepared.

You know, there is a prep work that goes in the meeting. So you’re doing something unproductive by just prepping for the meeting. And then you’re having the meeting and afterwards, usually there are no action items.

What do we really accomplish, right?

Ryan: Brian, what do you see that works really well as far as meetings go?

Brian: We’ve applied Agile Scrum about a year and a half ago. And it has provided us a platform of tremendous productivity on the development side.

With all these systems, there’s always a downside. There is no perfect system to catch all. But I’ve found out that this works best in a tech development environment.

We’ve experimented and applied it to sales but it was a tremendous flop. But on the technology side, on just the pure tech development, we find Scrum to be tremendously focusing and productive.

And I’d say about that in a meeting context too. Our guys meet 15 minutes in the morning tops. They’re not allowed to meet more than that. We run through a catch up 1 hour every two weeks and it’s productive.

And we have action items that fall out of that and everything runs seamlessly.

Ron: So when you have those 15-minute stand-ups, give me an example of what goes on there as it’s pretty quick, just 15 minutes.

Brian: Scrum is interesting.  It sets up everything in 2 week sprints.

We don’t assign hours or days or any sort of time measure to the tasks that we’re working on. We assign a number value. And that number value loosely correlates to a time.

So basically, every day when our guys stand up, they’re working on their number value assignments. We’re constantly checking on them. “You assigned a 4 on this and where are you? Well, today’s a 2.” That’s really all we’re talking about in these little stand-ups.

We have the division staff bringing all the details to the development team. And the development teams are breaking this into tasks and assigning to themselves basically.

Ron: So the priorities are set there.

Brian: Priorities are set. You know, it’s a tough system to go in. But once you get into it, it’s really incredibly effective.

Ron: Fantastic! These are all absolutely great points.

What about releasing products when it’s done? How often do you see, making sure that everything is perfected before something is released to the world? Tell us more about that.

Brian: In the tech world, we tend to want everything to be perfect before we release – no bugs, no glitches – none of that stuff.

And that stuff is really important. But what you have to understand, whatever you’re releasing, you’re always going to be in the middle of it.

Just because it’s out there doesn’t mean you stop working on it. That’s basically the point.

So when you’re releasing a product, a service, an update, you’re always going to be in the middle of it. And the bigger the organization, the longer something has been established in the marketplace, the more versed we become of getting things out the door before they’re perfect.

So you just have to understand, first, it’s never going to be perfect. Second, you need to know the imperfections sooner rather than later before you go out and make all this time and resource investment in making the perfect product.

I look at Claydog, this venture I’m starting up. This is kind of where I am. I’m kind of in the middle. I haven’t perfected my business plan yet but I’m getting it out there.

I’m talking to you guys about this stuff because it’s important to start hearing some feedback.

Ron: Exactly. You get different insights. You get different feedbacks. And you’re able to make some tweaks.

I think if you hold it back, then you’d never know enough by the time you come forward with it.

I think it’s a valid point.

And now this last point is something that really hits home. Staying connected and staying late.

You have an opinion about this Brian, as well as Ryan and I.

It’s not necessarily about getting 2 hours of sleep or burning out. Because I think it’s obviously not to.

Your mantra doesn’t necessarily state stay so connected or stay so late. Can you talk a little bit on that?

Brian: We all know that we’re way too connected right now. And it’s the gift of technology – and a curse.

I mean, we all talk about it. And we all know intuitively that it’s not super healthy for us to always be on.

For your health, for the health of your team and ultimately, for the health of the whole organization, you’ve got to practice some sort of structured disorganization. By that I mean, leave at the end of the day, stop answering emails and get some sleep. That’s really what it comes down to.

The work is never going to stop coming. And you don’t always need to be on. So put the phone down. Stop answering emails.

As I work on Claydog, I work with a lot of small business owners. One of them, when I first met her, she said, “I don’t answer emails after 6.”

And I was surprised. And I told her, “Can we meet at 8:30 tomorrow?”

She replied, “No, I don’t start meetings until 9.”

I was like, “You know, that’s pretty awesome.”

You’re clients will actually respect you for it. You know that’s the fear. The clients put something out there and we need to respond right away. But ultimately, they’re going to respect you for having those boundaries.

Ryan: I’ve just found out that responding in real time, you just can’t focus. It’s a constant interruption – your email, your phone, you have social media. Like you mentioned earlier, we’re way too connected.

And the expectation of being way too connected is that, when I send something out, you better respond. It better bounce back like I’m throwing a ball off the wall.

It’s really not the case. And it shouldn’t be the expectation.

And it goes back to setting expectations. When you take on a new client or a new job, this is my process. This is how I do it. And get it out there.

And most people will be like, “Fine, that’s great. I have no problem. Now that I know that, no issues.”

 It’s the feeling that we have to that and not knowing what the response will be if we don’t get back to people. That kind of unknown. I think that fear is the problem.

But just get it out there, “This is how we do it. And if you don’t like it, I don’t know how to tell you I can’t be on my phone 24 hours a day.”

Ron: I think one there is, responding in real time – how often do we wish that we had not sent that email within the first 30 seconds, right?

Take a look at it. Let in sink in. Let it breathe a little bit. Maybe count to 10 if you have a nasty reply for something.

I think it’s also important not to really respond in real time there because you’ve got to get your thoughts together.

Ryan: You’re much productive as far as sending emails if you do it in your computer. Sending an email back from your phone probably takes 3 to 4 times as long. It just does.

If you look at the keyboard, trying to send it back – it takes a little longer.

Also, your reply is shorter. The tome of your reply is going to be different than if you were at your computer and responding to all your emails at one time.

Brian: I don’t know about your auto-correct but when I respond to them, it makes me look drunk.

Ron: Or if you have fat thumbs and typing the wrong thing or correcting your spelling.

Brian, anything else you wanted to add about Claydog Enterprises?

Brian: I know we talked about 12, but I’m going to give you a baker’s dozen today and go for a 13th little point here.

This is about getting diverse opinions in your organization. There is a belief system that we have to have all these opinions come in before we do something – before we act on something.

And what happens is, you end up fighting for your point of view. You end up spending your time fighting for your point of view and for your vision.

And the results that come in from the other side are generally going to be much more mediocre. So this is another counter-intuitive thing right here.

It’s like we are told we have to have this diversity of opinions and to put up these great things. But really, it does tend to move your outcomes to something in the more mediocre range.

So it’s okay to work with like-minded people. It’s okay to work with people who see things exactly the way you do. Because you’re going to get where you want to go a lot faster in that way.

Ryan: The same thing applies to sports world. The team that really gels and really appreciate each other. That really like working together. That have and share a common vision.

Every team that ends up winning the championship falls in that category. It’s the same thing in the business world. Those teams that work together and gel and share the same vision are going to do bigger and better things than the ones that are fragmented or have too many opinions and going into too many directions.

Brian: You want me to say a little word about Claydog here at the end.

Claydog is pretty much in its ancient form right now. I think you can probably tell from these points here that we’re very passionate with the business world. We’ve very passionate about government as well – especially local and state government.

And Claydog is really formulating to become a product and services delivery for these two environments. There will be more to come here in the next few weeks.

Claydog.com, our website should be up in about two weeks. And if anybody needs to reach me beforehand, you can simply reach me at brian@claydog.com.

Ron: Awesome, Brian! Really, really appreciate your time and your insights here. I though it was great. Thank you very much for coming on. It was great to have you.

Ryan: Thank you Brian!

Brian: I’ll leave you with one more thing that I just came across late last week. You guys heard about the dollar shave club?

Ryan: Yeah.

Brian: If anyone’s listening and they haven’t Googled that or gone to YouTube to watch that. Then let me tell you that, that guy is revolutionary. That’s where we should really be looking. He’s a great example of someone who’s carving his own path. It’s fantastic.

Ryan: Yeah. It’s awesome. I’ve been sharing that all over the place since you sent it to me, Brian.

Brian: All right guys. Thank you so much for your time. I really enjoyed this. Thank you again.

Ron: Take care now.

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