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All right, welcome back to the prospect and show today is July 29th. And we have buddy Hobart on the call, how are you?

 

I’m doing really well, thanks. So one, yeah, absolutely. So start things off, everybody listens to the show knows there’s really three parts the past, the present and the future. When it comes to talking about you and your businesses, tell me a little bit about how you got to where you’re at today, give me the back story, where do you start and what kind of events happen to lead you to where you are today?

 

Well, I actually started right out of college, was in sales, so I worked for zero for a couple of years out in early 80s, and then as the other kind of manufactures were catching up to Z rocks, there were some smaller firms that were looking to hire young experience, Ron, sales book. So they hired me away, I ran their major cons group, and then I ended up becoming the General Manager, and the interesting thing that happened when I became the general manager was I was almost instantly embarrassed with myself on the way I looked at leadership and looked at things… And it might need a little bit of explanation, but I was the sales guy. So when 80%, the 90% of the resources were funneled to the sales department, I thought that made perfect sense.

 

Nothing happens until a sale was made, that kind of a… But when I became the general manager, I then was in charge of everybody, sales service administration, everybody, and it was an embarrassment to see that 90% of the resources were going to in essence 15% of the population, and now that everybody was a teammate across all of the disciplines, I didn’t like the way I had advocated for things in the past, so I made a few shifts, we started to empower our employees, we started to collaborate more, we started to drive different initiatives, and low sales grow significantly, profits grew almost overwhelmingly. And then I began to realize, in addition to selling, I really enjoyed that leadership journey and I really enjoyed that kind of organizational development. So on my 35th birthday, after the best sales year I ever had, I quit and I started to as 21.Yeah, and that’s always a good story too, I think I’ve met probably 15, maybe 20 people through the podcast here, and that same kind of story of, Hey, I went up the ranks, I learned what it was to do sales, I learned how to manage people, and then I built a company on my own, that’s the story that I hear regularly, so in your mind… What was the thing that pushed you over the edge? Right, you talked a little bit about some of these management pieces that you’re like me, I don’t know if that’s right, but what puts you into your own role to have your own online… Watching people grow.

 

It was a tie. Very exciting. It was very…

 

I realized I had a passion for that, and I realized that sales was great, I enjoy… I still enjoy it, I enjoy the interaction with folks, but I think the passion in watching people and organizations grow and achieve their potential is what pushed me over the edge, and I realized that in my current situation, I had done what I could do in that role in Pittsburgh, so I decided I wanted to do it in a bigger role across the country and around the world.

 

Yeah, and that really comes down to vision. I think at the end of the day, you’re talking but you see the limitation, you know how to address the limitations and you’re gonna achieve greatness because of it… Right.

 

In your mind, when you started off, what was the hardest thing for you to do when you kinda got going, what was the hardest staff or the thing you had to do each day, or you tweak your month to get that new business going?

 

I think the beginnings were to convince a market place that I was only 35 years old, and to convince a marketplace that we had some knowledge to impart on them, when there was a sense of… Looking at the industry that I came from, USA office equipment, what do you know about banking, or the legal industry or the medical industry or pharmaceutical… We’ve worked now across every discipline you might be able to imagine, but back in the day, people always tend to feel that their business is special and that you can’t possibly understand the challenges we have, if you like in our industry. That is probably the hardest thing we had to break down here, and in your mind, as you start to build the company… You started to build up over time. Build up of the business, how people on your team… What do you think made you successful specifically…

 

I think you said it the last part was the team… Our first employee is still with us, I am very proud to say with some fits and starts on beginning to understand it is… Is needed to do what we do, and we’ll talk about that in a second. About the present, I think it was… Putting together the team that we have put together.

 

Yeah, that’s becoming more of a big thing, or people are talking about culture, team fit, the people you work with every day, and it’s less important about where you were with everything going on with Coronavirus and businesses closing down and people relocating working from home. I think businesses are starting to realize, it really comes down to the people that you work with, both the customers and the internal people, what are some of the things that you have seen as a very important strength and the people that you’ve hired on your team, a number of things, so we look at your set up to the show, the past, present future. So we had written a few books on how to attract and retain talent, and we wrote the first one in 2008, I proud and humbled to say We were 1-0-8, and then we updated it for five years ago, both of them have sold out and we became a bit of a pioneer in the concept of next generational leadership, and how do you attract and retain the best… How is it to… And by the way, as a side bar, I actually believe that small to medium-sized businesses have as good, if not a greater opportunity to attract the best talent on earth that years ago was kind of help for the Fortune 500. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. But getting back on point, we were one of the first people to advocate for the newest generations, and so that made us a bit of a pioneer because 10, 15 years ago, people were beating up on the next generations on millennials and Al-gens, but we were advocating for them. So I think that our positioning there, and then what we looked for in people were actual leaders, so we do next generation leadership development, and what sets us apart is that the folks on our team or practitioner, these are co-who actually have led things and led things and organizations of consequence, we have all the degrees, if you wanna see anybody’s degrees, we got them all, but that’s not what sets us apart, that’s not our value proposition. Our value proposition is the person that we have developing your theaters and coaching your future leaders have a very serious resume in leadership themselves, and so these are practitioners, not kind of academics, they can talk the talk and they can lock the walk.

 

Yeah, and I think that’s critical. There’s a lot of business coaches, business consultants, people that are in that space that all they do is the consulting side, but they haven’t done the actual work themselves, and then it’s interesting you guys have looked for that in your team to make sure it’s like, Hey, we’re actually walking the walk and talking the talk. We’re doing the things that we’re telling you to do, and I think that’s super interesting because our other company, we have the prospect and show, which is our podcast, we had another company called Syntax, and really what we specialize, and there is B2B lead generation, and it’s funny because we walk the walk and talk, talk well, we tell our clients to do, we actually do ourselves, and I’m sure that’s exactly how you run your organization, that you guys actually do the things that you coach other people through.

 

In your mind, what makes a good leader?

 

Well, that’s one of those 64000 students. I think it depends upon the situation that you need to lead through, but I will tell you this is the age-old adage of our leaders made… Are they born? All of the research that I have, and we’ve done some significant interactions with the US for War College and with some senior leaders in the military across the country, around the world, what our great military believes is that leaders can be made and that… You don’t come out of your mother’s womb having all of the leadership characteristics that you need to have, you can learn them, and so that’s the track that we take, is that if people are willing to do the hard work and and do the courageous things that leaders do you can actually make and teach leaders.

 

Yeah, and that’s absolutely true. I, at the end of the day, there’s a lot of people who will talk about where they went to school, or what kind of education they had, or what kind of background they grew up with, and at the end of the day, it really just comes down to like Are you on defending the work, in the effort and put all that energy into the right spot, and I think at the end of the day, your point, 100% vole, and the fact that you can build leaders, if you do something every single day to build towards your goal, you will get better at that particular thing, and the way that we know that as you go, take somebody who’s never played golf and have them go hit a few golf balls and see how that goes for the… Right, that’s probably one of the most difficult sport out there, they do a 10000 times, all of a sudden there’s… Somewhat better than they were when they started.

 

Same thing is true of leadership it… Anything in the business world, and you do it enough time. You get better and better and better over time. So my kind of question to you is, is there a way to cut the learning curve with leadership… Well, that, I think the reality is, is kind of what you said about the golf analogy, it is creating muscle memory. So one of the other things, and what makes us a bit different is we do not in any way, shape or form believe that that leadership is an event.

 

So in the 20th century, he said, the latest book that I’ve written is gonna going to be out here in August, and the premise, the book is called The Leadership decade, because we believe this next decade is going to be a real inflection point, and by that, demographics pushing different generations into leadership positions, and those things happen, like your golf analogy, by building muscle memory and having reps, you cannot send someone to a three, four, five, 10, a 30-day seminar, and I…

 

I expect them to have gained that muscle memory, it needs to be classroom and the game at their own codes, they need a study game film, they… Using your golf analogy is a perfect analogy, you’re not going to be a good golfer after hitting a bucket, a box.

 

And yet in the 20th century, organizations sent to people to a leadership training seminar for two days, then they checked the box that we’ve developed leadership.

 

And that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

 

So the way that we do things is we take a process of helping this next generation of leadership, studying their leadership characteristics, understand their game to… We do have the training days that are spaced out, they have their own individual coach, they have their own learning center where they can learn some things individually, so it really is about building that muscle memory that your golf analogy is a perfect kind of example of that you’re never gonna do it, hitting the bucket of all you need to get reps, you need to build muscle memory.

 

Yeah, and I couldn’t agree more to that super important to be held on for people to understand that cause expectations get unrealistic if they don’t… Nursed the process that people need to go through to be successful.

 

So in your mind, we talked a little bit about the past, how you got to where you are, we talked a little bit about what you guys are doing currently, what do you see you and your company doing over the next five to 10 years as you continue to grow, I think there’s this inflection point, so I was researching the book, and we do have it written for the current set of circumstances, so we did actually do a Stop the presses, we pulled it back and we aligned it to what the current situation is with the global pandemic, and what leaders need to be aware of here at the moment, and so in the future, what I believe organizations have to focus on is that what was historically the predominant generation of business owners, leaders, the folks who had the most wealth happened to be my generation of baby boomers, that the youngest was born in 1964, so in nine short years, every baby boomer is going to have turned 65. so I think the world needs to get a deep understanding that we have reached this inflection point that we were going to reach anyway, regardless of this pandemic, the pandemic, or in my opinion, through a light on the issue versus it being a gradual kind of dawning where people would begin to realize that baby boomers are all marching to retirement and we don’t have enough genes to replace the… And… And what do we do? I think we’ve had two or three years where now we don’t… Now, it’s instantaneous, and I believe that over the next five or 10 years, we’re gonna be uniquely positioned to help businesses develop that next generation of leaders to drive their business, and by the way, to drive ROI and share or value, as I can prove the people… There’s no greater ROI than investing in leadership, 4 to 50 x, by the way, so I… So I believe over the next five or 10 years will be uniquely positioned to help organizations develop this next generation of leadership, because we maybe BEMER simply are not gonna live or work forever, and what’s about to happen from the hand-off is not my opinion, it’s a demographic certainty.

 

Yeah, and I think you’re right, right. Timing is one of those things. We can’t control it. There’s a… There’s a certain end point to where people as they continue to age and the generations change, we can start having a different result and have to pass the torch kind of… So for the people who end up listening to this and they’re kind of interested leadership development and building as they transition their companies, what’s the best way for them to reach you and engage with you?

 

But our website, solutions 21 dot com, certainly can go in there and dig out some additional information and be able to reach out to us, our phone numbers 412-921-2171. feel free to call lives a message, happy to get back to you.

 

When the book comes out, it will have its website, the leadership decade Doro, so I think you can learn more there as well. I would drive you to a solutions 21 website because I think there are some things where if you wanted to know more, just for your own edification, there’s some blogs, there’s some white papers, things like that, that I think leaders who want to get better will find very very interesting and very helpful.

 

Yeah, that’s awesome. And I think with your experience, right, in your team’s experience, you’ve gone through multiple industries, multiple phases, multiple different groups and systems you put together, I think it’s very valuable for people to understand that the people you learn for you to have experience in the field that you’re trying to learn, right?

 

And with you guys, you’re so diverse and you have so many skill sets that I think it’s a great opportunity for other organizations to learn from you, so for anyone who ends up listening this, definitely reach out and try to start that conversation early… I know the world’s changing quite a bit here with Kobe, into your point before we really put a light on the problems that already existed, I don’t think that there’s necessarily more problems in their word before, but we definitely put a light on that, and I think in these circumstances, now, the key is going to be How can people adapt and pivot and learn from what’s happened so they don’t make the same mistakes in the future? So at a high level, I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to talk about leadership and your background and what you guys are doing, and I really value your insight. So thank you so much for coming on the show.

 

I really appreciate you had… If I could add one last thing, I think it… Absolutely, go for it.

 

It links to the point you made is that time is not on a business side right now, to your point, the challenges of exposed weaknesses, and if you’re feeling a crunch of leadership or the right direction or your next generation of leaders making the right decisions that this is only exposed at… That was there before this, and in the 20th century, business owners bought, time was on their side, and if the pandemic is pattani thing, is that the speed of change is simply beyond anything that’s ever been experienced probably in the history of mankind. So you want to be competitive and you want to grow your business, and you wanna come out of this on the other side of this pandemic, bigger, faster, stronger, better. Please understand. Times not on your side. And start now. developing that next generation of leaders.

 

Yeah. And couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you so much for breaking that down and for the people that end up listing that are trying to understand where things are going, you hit the nail right on the head, thank you for coming on the show and for the people who listen, we’re gonna release this for a special event that’s coming up here for you guys in about two weeks on release this episode, after that event has happened, and in Kerala will actually read out what has happened with your guys business, ’cause there’s something special coming up when we will let the listeners here about that then I Ray. First it, thank you so much.

 

A-teen.

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