Episode 14 : When Winning is the Bedrock of Your Culture

Posted by Dr. David Stern on Nov 20, 2020 5:22:00 PM

Dr. David Stern, the CEO of Experity talks with us about how he relies on his team's strong ownership culture as they move into supporting a national scale-up in COVID testing.

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Episode with guest: Dr. David Stern

CEO of Experity 

(This episode was recorded in July of 2020.)


Key Episode Take-Aways:

1. It’s exciting when frontline people are so engaged. (click to jump to this topic below)

You've changed people's lives, because they're now thinking about that in their own finances. And those concepts--understanding that you can't spend more than you make--are really, really helpful for most people in our society.

2. Trusting everyone has the company’s best interest at heart. (click to jump to this topic below)  

Trust means that I believe you have the best interest of the company, and you believe I have the best interest of the company. So when we get into conflict, the next function of a really good team, it means it's not getting personal. Because I have trust that you want what's best for the company.

3. Don’t wait until you’re “ready”. (click to jump to this topic below) 

I feel like we made some mistakes, but in implementing the Great Game, I think we did it right. I think the big mistake could have been, "Wait till we've got it all down, wait till we can do the bottoms-up financials before we start doing huddles. Wait till we have some sort of synthetic ownership in place till we start. We just said, "Okay, we'll just do it one step at a time."

4. What got you here won’t get you there. (click to jump to this topic below)  

I have had to constantly say, "Okay, am I doing what I need to be doing?" And at this point, I mean, in the last few years, when people come to me with a question or a problem, like, "Where do you think we should have the Christmas party?” Is that a CEO question?

5. Focus around fun AND the team. (click to jump to this topic below)

It's very important in our operating model, when a team hits their POG, their priority-one goal--the company has the POG, critical number, they have their own POG or critical number at the team level. When they get it, they are required to celebrate. And the celebration is not around money.


Continue scrolling to read the full episode transcription.

Announcer  0:00  

Welcome to the "Change the Game" podcast, where we share stories of open-book management and highlight capitalism at its best. Thank you for tuning into this episode of the "Change the Game" podcast, with special guest, Dr. David Stern, founder and CEO of Experity. This episode was recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in June 2020. Here's your hosts, Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker.


Steve Baker  0:27  

Welcome to the "Change the Game" podcast, where we unite organizations who are changing the game by doing business differently. This community believes that business has the potential to make a positive difference in the world and the Great Game of Business companies out there and organizations worldwide, empower their people to pursue their dreams and benefit our society as a whole. In each episode, we're seeking out the inspirational stories of how people are changing the game, how the principles of the Great Game of Business play a role in that change, and how their story manifests capitalism at its best. We want to know what lessons they learned through their experience. And what's the big takeaway that you, the listener, can start implementing in your organization today. Together, we can change the Game here, we can save the American Dream by closing the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Our big, hairy, audacious goal at the Great Game of Business is to help transform 10 million lives in the next 10 years. That's giving everybody a chance to play the Game and win. I'm Steve Baker, the Vice President of the Great Game of Business, and here with me as always, our president of the Great Game and co-author of our new book, "Get in the Game: Creating Rapid Financial Results and Lasting Cultural Change," Rich Armstrong, how are you, Rich?


Rich Armstrong  1:44  

Good. Good, Steve, Good morning.


Steve Baker  1:46  

Good morning. I'm excited today. This is gonna be a fun episode, I think because we've got Dr. David Stern, who founded and is the CEO of a Experity. The theme is when winning becomes the bedrock of your culture. And then I always like to pull a quote. Now, Vince Lombardi is way over-quoted, but this one seems really appropriate for the interview with Dr. Stern today. Here it comes: "Winning is not a summertime thing. It's an all-the-time thing." So you don't win once in a while. You don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. That's an awesome, awesome quote. 

So are you ready for this Rich? Hold on, strap in man, because this guy is high energy, super smart, loves to take care of his people and loves to really exhibit that thing we call capitalism at its best. So Dr. David Stern and his company, Experity, provide practice management software and billing services for half--half!--of America's urgent care centers. That's a lot of urgent care centers. And I've been to a lot of them. I won't tell you why. [Laughter.] As a physician, David is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and has been named three times [one of the] Best Physicians in America. That's pretty awesome. 

Now, I want David to tell you more about his success and growth in business himself. I thought I'd look at this introduction a little bit differently. So in addition to being a renowned physician and leader, Dr. Stern earned a BS in writing--unlike how Rich says I have a lot of BS in my writing. David also received a Master of Arts in theological studies. So you came to the right place, ladies and gentlemen. So now you've got a guitarist and artist interviewing a theologian. Welcome to this hard-hitting business podcast. Dr. David Stern. How are you?


David Stern  3:44  

I'm great. Except that, I don't know, as a Bears fan, starting out with a Vince Lombardi quote is not exactly what I was hoping for.


Steve Baker  3:55  

[Laughter] Oh, no!


David Stern  3:56  

The one thing I can tell you as a Bears fan, it's not an all-the-time thing for my football team. [Laughter.]


Steve Baker  4:03  

Well, man, missed it by that much. Oh, well. But you know what? We'll make it a habit. We'll make winning a habit here. So, it's great to have you. We have such a good time talking with you. Rich and I wrote about you and your company Practice Velocity in our book, "Get in the Game," available where fine books are sold. And we did that before the merger that created what is now Experity. Can you give us a little background on that history?


David Stern  4:32  

So we’d been in existence for 17 years as Practice Velocity. I was the founder and 85 percent owner of the company at that point. We had never taken an outside investor. And an outside investor came to us and said, "You know, there are two companies that are No. 1 and No. 2, and you couldn't really pick out who was No. 1 and No. 2; we were very similar sized companies in the urgent care software and revenue cycle services space. And they said, "How about if we put the two of you together?" I mean, that was a multi-year discussion, till I finally said, "Okay, that makes sense." But it made sense to me largely because they said they were willing to allow me to take a company and play the Game with the company. And so we joined together and went from being No. 1 and No. 2 to a clear No. 1 in the industry. So there are still a lot of competitors out there, but we're a clear No. 1 in the urgent care vertical for our software space. And it's allowed me to do so many things I couldn't do, because I was just constantly competing against this other company. Now I've got the resources of the other company pushing the new company, Experity, forward.


Steve Baker  5:43  

That's great. I love the idea of abundance thinking. That takes not just a big brain but also guts to say, "Maybe we'd be better together." And I know a lot of people listening are out there battling it out, banging their head against a competitor. You gotta think bigger, right? And so I have a different question, about the vertical. Can you help us understand--we're all consumers of healthcare, but I don't think anyone really understands it like you do. Can you give us the lay of the land in the healthcare space right now?


David Stern  6:14  

Well, right now, there's one discussion for the entire economy, but of course, in health care, Coronavirus--COVID-19--is the number one topic and there is almost nowhere in  healthcare that is not seriously impacted. I went to my dentist this morning;  they were closed for two months. Urgent cares, they didn't close for the most part. They didn't have testing, they didn't have protective equipment. And so they basically couldn't see the patients. And so their volumes went down more than 50 percent. And we were in crisis mode in our company, because many software companies, you buy the software and you pay a monthly fee. For us, you pay a fee for every visit. So if our customers don't have visits, we don't have revenue. And so our billable revenue dropped by 50 percent in the first month of the crisis, and so that was very scary for us.

And all of healthcare is similarly impacted. Even health systems where they're mainly dependent on inpatient hospital revenue, most of them around the country, they never saw the overwhelming number of patients--at least to date; this could be dated a few months from now. But today, outside of New York City, the hospitals were not packed. In fact, they were mostly empty. And so hospitals were prepping for the crisis by emptying all their beds, which also meant emptying all the revenue. So healthcare, overall, was in a major crisis. And we had to think about, how are we going to respond to this crisis? It's the first major crisis that our company in the 18 years we've now been in existence--although only one year as the new company--but the first crisis I've ever faced, because recessions never hit us. We never had any problems with recessions. And we didn't have to worry about making sales to get revenue next month; almost all our revenues simply came in because somebody was going to use our software this month, they're going to use it next month, with recurring revenue. And so when I come to conferences, and particularly when I come to the Gathering of the Games, and see all these people in manufacturing, and talk to them about their struggles in order to have revenue two months from now, we have to make a sale this month--that's just not the world we've lived in. So it was a new thing for me to say, "Okay, this is a crisis. And I have to stop thinking like an inpatient internal medicine doctor; I need to start thinking like an emergency-room doctor, and have a really quick response here."


Rich Armstrong  8:47  

So you actually implemented the Great Game of Business back in, I think, 2016? So you were coming into the crisis with the Great Game. What about the Great Game? Did it help in any way in terms of managing through this crisis?


David Stern  9:02  

You know, the story about SRC has always been inspirational to me, and I actually share it in our new-hire orientation almost every time. Every month, when we have new hires, I meet with the employees for four hours and tell them about our company. And  I'm usually coming in right after we've had a financial huddle. And I'll say, "Why do you think we shared that information with you?" And they're like, "I really don't know." "Have you ever been in a company that's shared it like that?" Once in a while, somebody will say, "Yeah, we heard about financials every quarter," or something like that. Pretty rare that they would hear about it every week or every month. So that's a new thing. And I say, "Okay, you're a new hire here. What if you go home tonight and you meet somebody at a restaurant, and they say, "I hear you just took a job at Experity." "Yeah, yeah. It's a great company; I love it." "Did you hear that they're in really bad financial shape?" And I remember I said that to one of our really, really bright, pensive, thoughtful developers. And I said, "What would you say?" And he said, "I would say, I think you are mistaken. Because we're not in financial trouble." 

Even in the crisis. The crisis allowed us to...you know, that inspirational story that I share about SRC where you went to the employees and said, "We're going to need to let 20 percent of you go." And they said, "Well, how about we not do the layoff? How about all of us take a 20 percent pay cut?" It's inspirational; I actually get emotional when I share that story, because I said, "We want to be that kind of company, if we ever have a crisis." And then we had the crisis. 

So what we immediately did as a company, we had access to a $20 million line of credit. And we immediately pulled the entire line of credit, boom, $20 million. So we had $12 million in the bank, we went to $32 million in the bank overnight. But we didn't just do that as a leadership team; we told the entire company and showed them in a graph: here's where we are now: $12 million. Here's where we'll be as soon as we pull this, to $32. And then here's the burndown over the whole rest of the year, if things don't get a whole lot better. And we showed them, with a lot of comfort. Instead of saying we're gonna lay so many people off, we said, we are comfortable that this will turn around in time before our cash runs out. And we'll just let this cash run out if we have to, but we're not letting anybody go. We're keeping everybody on right now. Now, we didn't promise we wouldn't let anybody go ever. But we are in good shape. And we don't foresee anybody being let go. And that created a tremendous sense of comfort. 

The second thing we did, we moved from a company that was 95 percent in office or 90 percent-plus plus in office, to 97 percent of our employees working from home. We did that a week before any of the shutdowns happened. We just saw it coming, and we said, "You know what? We need to get everyone home." We got everyone home. And I think that at-home work has worked really well. Partly because of the Great Game culture; they're still playing their games. They're still having their daily stand-ups, and they're still having their weekly and monthly meetings to look at the scoreboards at the team level. And then we still have our financial huddles, which we  went from huddles...  financial huddles used to be once a month, with honestly very boring financials. It's a wonderful thing to have boring financials, if there's profits there, obviously.


Steve Baker  12:29  

Yeah, right.


David Stern  12:30  

But from fairly boring financials, and a balance sheet--there's no inventory in our company because we're a software and services company--we just basically focused on the P&L. We've gone to monthly on that. Then we went to another monthly meeting that was interspersed, which was where teams would present how they were moving toward their goals for the year. And it allowed us to focus on the operational side of a huddle, so an operational huddle, as well as looking at the financial huddle. So we went to a two-huddle format. 

But immediately upon this happening, we said, "You know what? We're just going to focus on the financials, because we know that's what's going to have everyone panic." So every other week, we would get together. We only had five actual financials every month. But then we would look at the visit numbers that were going on out there;  we'd have feedback from the market as to what's happening. And we were able to share, not projections, how they were changing over time with the company. So everyone had a good sense of comfort. 

And when we recently went through the all-star survey with our employees, I was just floored to see how amazingly well they felt the Great Game had prepared them for this crisis and how they felt they had been communicated to clearly as far as the situation of the company. Your number one complaint from your employees--and it is true in our company, still--is always communication. And when it came to communicating the financial results of the company, I don't think I saw one person say, "They don't communicate enough. And I'm worried about this company financially." Every single person said they're getting the information.

Rich Armstrong  14:20  

That's awesome to hear. Let's step back just for a second. You first introduced the Game or discovered the Game I think back in, as we said, the 2016 time period. How did you hear about the Great Game and what resonated with you about the whole concept? 

David Stern  14:36  

Yeah, how did I hear about it? [Laughter.] Well, I went to the guy who I thought told me about the Great Game of Businesses. He had been a CEO of multiple hundred-million- dollar companies. I went to him--it was two years later--and I said to him, "I read that book you recommended, 'The Great Game of Business.'" And he said to me, "What  book? I've never heard of that book." 

I have no idea who told me about it, but I've been looking ever since. Who did introduce me to the Great Game of Business? I honestly have no idea. But I saw the book in a bookstore, pulled it off the bookshelf--I think it was an airport, actually. But I said, "Oh, I've heard about this book; so-and-so thought it was awesome. I'll get it." So I read it and I said, "Well, this is awesome." And immediately thereafter, we called up you folks down there at the Great Game and said, "Okay, guys, we need a consultant.” You sent up a couple of consultants and helped us. And the results for our company have been absolutely amazing. I know what my company was worth in 2016. When I sold in 2019, the value was more than three times what it was worth in 2016. Implementing the Great Game had a tremendous impact on the revenue and EBITDA of our company and a positive impact for sure.

Rich Armstrong  15:55  

So what first resonated with you about the book? I mean, was there something that connected?

David Stern  16:02  

Yeah, it's a real story, obviously; it's real life. And that's great about the book. The second thing was, I was looking to transform our culture and we'd done some things to transform our culture. But I was a little bit at a loss-- Perks and culture are not the same thing. Many people confuse the two, but they're completely different. And I just felt like,  what would happen if we got, instead of 30 percent mind share with our folks, if we could get 110 percent effort mind share, they're really focused on making the company better? And if they cared as much as I cared about it? Well, honestly, why do I care so much about it? Reading the book, well, because I'm an owner; that's why I care! And to a certain extent now, even before I was an owner of the business, I really cared about doing well in my business. So don't think you can take somebody who's apathetic and doesn't care and make him an owner, and suddenly they care; that doesn't happen. "You gotta wanna"--somebody famous said that once. And there's no question about that: you gotta wanna. 

But assuming you have a lot of "gotta wanna" people, which we had moved a lot towards over the four years prior to looking at the Great Game. But I hadn't found a way to really engage them in the company. So engaging them in financials with open-book management, I really wanted to go ESOP really badly, but it turns out our company is valued at ridiculous astronomical numbers of EBITDA and revenue. And nobody valuing an ESOP will ever give you that kind of evaluation. There's no way I'm going to take a 60, 70 percent haircut in the value of my company, just because somebody says that's what it's worth. So ESOP wasn't gonna work. So we went with a synthetic equity program. And the nice thing was, when we merged with our competitor, there was some money to take off the table. Now, in reality, only about 15 percent of the company was sold; the rest rolled into the new Co. And so in the new CO, they rolled 85 percent of their synthetic equity in. 

So we will have a lot of employees. The average employee, I believe, will have about a $50,000 payout in about three years or so, assuming everything goes the way we plan it to and expect it to. But we'll have plenty of employees with a six-figure payout. Most of them will receive that over a period of time because we can't afford to have our employees feeling like they hit the lottery and going ahead and quitting their job. So we'll be paying that out over time. And potentially, if the new investor is willing, maybe even allowing them to roll into real stock. Or if we go IPO in three or four years, then we could possibly allow them to convert to real stock if they chose.

Steve Baker  18:47  

And that gives you three or four years to teach people all about ownership and equity...

David Stern  18:52  

Well remember, we're merging with a company that hasn't really played the Game before. They had a good culture, a similar culture to ours, but they haven't played the Game.

Steve Baker  19:01  

So let's talk about that. Along with coaching at Practice Velocity, you also created your own financial literacy training to apply specifically around your business. So tell us about that a little bit.

David Stern  19:13  

Yes. So we use the financial literacy package you have and then use your consultants to train all our employees; it was the right thing for us to do. And it was a great first step. But then as we started playing the Game--and I will say years into playing the game--we started to realize, "You know what? Training them on the balance sheet and the cash flow statement is probably not very important, because our P&L and our cash flow statement historically, until we pulled on this revolver on a line of credit, they really were almost identical.” And so it didn't make a lot of sense to spend a lot of time learning the things that yes, finance needs to know, the CEO needs to know. But honestly, for the average employee, the net income statement, the P&L, was all they really needed. 

1. It’s exciting when frontline people are so engaged.

So we created a new training that was around the P&L, and really focusing on understanding the difference between net income and gross profit, which, having a frontline employee who comes up to you and says, "I think this will help with cost of goods sold," that is exciting. In fact, that actually happened to me a few years ago. And I literally had to hold myself back; I wanted to just put my arms around her and kiss her because, 'That is so awesome! You were actually thinking about cost of goods sold." And her idea was good, too; that helped. I didn't do it. I didn't do that; I held back. But--and I know that my wife would say, "You are really weird!" [Laughter.] But that's okay; most people that know me for a while have recognized that. 

But it's exciting to have your frontline people so engaged, that they'll stop you in the hall and say, "Hey, I think I could help you cut your cost of goods sold." That is so rewarding, because you haven't just changed the company from the ground up. You've changed people's lives, because they're now thinking about that in their own finances. And those concepts--understanding that you can't spend more than you make--are really, really helpful for most people in our society. They end up spending more than they make their entire lifetime and then have nothing to live on at the end.

Steve Baker  21:20  

Yeah. And that right there, that example is capitalism at its best when it starts to go home. Because when people do better at work, they do better at home. And when they do better at home, they do better in the community. That's transformation. Awesome. I love it.

Rich Armstrong  21:33  

We started this whole conversation about the merging of the two largest competitors. I'm curious about how you've managed to merge not only the operating system that you said, "Look, we want to play the game," but also the culture. Can you talk a little bit about how you've managed to do that?

David Stern  21:52  

So we spent a lot of time working with the leadership team, because it was definitely a hybrid leadership team, about half from each company. So that was important. We spent a lot of time building relationships and building trust, and focusing. We focused a lot on building a team, had everybody read “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” by Patrick Lencioni. researched what were the differences in the cultures? What were the similarities? Turns out--we had a third-party consultant do that--and she came back and said, "You're way more alike than you think you are." Even though we thought that the other company was the enemy from hell, it turns out they were a lot more like us than we thought. And the fact that they thought the same thing about us was not surprising. But the good news about that is we were similar. 

But you know how it is; whenever you bring two companies together, it's the differences that are in everybody's face. So we made some changes. The new company? They didn't have a meeting area to get the whole company together in. So we actually just did some reworking of the current building and built a nice big area where everybody could get together because we like to do town halls with the entire company together. We actually do all of our huddles, even before Coronavirus, we would broadcast it to two live rooms, where you'd have several hundred employees in the rooms. We'd be live in one of the locations, but the other locations without folks dialed in to the video feed. So we changed that. 

There are a myriad of changes and a lot of challenges. And the main thing is we worked as hard as we could to say, “We're going to take the best of both companies.” And I really focused whenever I could on the things about the other company, "Wow, that's better; we're going to use that." Pieces of their software that were better than the software that we had built on the Practice Velocity side. I said, "You know what? We are going to use that," and then made sure that everyone in the company heard me say that the software that DocuTAP made is better. 

But we did focus 100 percent on really not talking about DocuTAP and Practice Velocity--the names of the two previous companies--now it's pretty much the rule you call it ex-DT and ex-PV. And you talk about Experity as the company. And worked very hard not to say "we" and "they." And it's great to see staff from each company stop saying, "We do this," and "They do that," instead they started to say “we” and then Experity, I knew we had made a transition culturally and that's very important. And I would say if you ever merge two companies, watch the pronouns, because that will tell you when people feel like this is their company.

Rich Armstrong  25:03  

Yeah. Was there any convincing that you had to do with the leadership team about Great Game? I mean, that's a pretty unique--

David Stern  25:11  

I would say yes. But I will say I was lucky. The CFO, although he came from the other company, he loved the idea of the Great Game. And then we took the entire leadership team to the Gathering of the Games. And by the end, the lights went on for virtually everybody. I will say they all didn't understand it to the point of the folks who have been doing it for a while. But they all said, "This makes sense. We want to do this; let's do it." And the company we merged with, they did share financials; they just did it on a quarterly basis. 

So upping the Game and sharing them more frequently, we tried to do it weekly, honestly, as we had done with the previous company. But it turned out, that just wasn't near as feasible as I'd like. And I decided it wasn't my hill to die on. I really wanted it weekly, because I knew we could do it. It's just way harder for the finance team to do than they realize, because in a company like ours, if you're going to do it bottom-up, so the teams create the financials for you, you have to give them a lot of education and a lot of tools and access to data. And if you don't do that, you're gonna fail. So we've given them a lot of access to data. But we weren't ready to do it on a weekly basis. And I don't think we ever will. Because this cadence of operational huddle, financial huddle, operational huddle, financial huddle, is actually working really well for us.

Steve Baker  26:34  

We have one question real quickly from the community here. It says, "Can you confirm the book?" I think you said it was Patrick Lencioni's "Five Dysfunctions of a Team"?  Is that correct?

David Stern  26:46  


Steve Baker  26:46  

Okay. Great.

David Stern  26:48  

We use that as our bible about teams, and how to form teams. We have a six week training, an hour a week, that goes through the book, through each dysfunction and how the opposite of each dysfunction is so critical. So for example, the first dysfunction for a team: the bedrock of a team is trust. And a bad team has an absence of trust. So  Patrick talks about what trust is, and then we have our teams go through and say, "Where are we on trust?" And they take a little test around that. And they look to see how they can develop trust better. The next one is conflict, why conflict, and so on. So we go right through that and encourage everybody to learn those five functions of a really good team, which are the mirror images of those dysfunctions.

Steve Baker  27:36  

I love that. Rich, I remember Jack talking about a story from International Harvester way back in the day, where they did a trust circle back in the '70s, and let the manager fall flat on his back. [Laughter.] I'm like, "Whoa, there's a dysfunction right there." 

Rich Armstrong  27:49  

Yeah, no trust.

Steve Baker  27:52  

That is a bad deal.

2. Trusting everyone has the company’s best interest at heart.

David Stern  27:58  

I don't want to get off too much on a side note, but trust is interesting. Trust means that I believe you have the best interest of the company, and you believe I have the best interest of the company. So when we get into conflict, the next function of a really good team, it means it's not getting personal. Because I have trust that you want what's best for the company. And even though my idea is completely different, and I may get very heated about it, it's not against you. It's because I care so much about the company. And so it allows folks to understand that if you have that trust, then the next step of arguing about what's the best idea can be really fruitful. Because the minute somebody says, "Well, you're just doing that, because you..." Forget it. The whole constructive conflict towards improving the company is gone, because you don't have that trust.

Steve Baker  28:53  

So you just talked about the idea of merging two companies, two cultures. You made sure, before you went into this, that you'd have an opportunity to play the Game. You also made sure that the associates could participate in two percent ownership of the new entity. You didn't have to do that. So you're crazy. That's what most people would say, right? Why did you do it?

David Stern  29:17  

Well, having done it already, I wouldn't do it any other way. I'll never run a company  where I don't have owners for my workers. Because when I talk about improving EBIDTA or improving revenue, I don't want them to say, "Well, all you're trying to do is make Dave Stern richer." I want them to know that they're getting richer, too. And I want them to benefit. I mean, I think capitalism is absolutely amazing. But there is a problem with capitalism. It does definitely create a wealth gap, and it always will. 


And by the way, every system creates a wealth gap--so communism and capitalism, and actually much bigger ones in communism than capitalism. But this wealth gap doesn't need to be near as marked as it often is, and certainly doesn't completely need to leave people back as far as their net worth. And so, building net worth, which is what owners of companies do, is wonderful when everyone in the company is building their net worth--not just getting a paycheck and not just looking for a raise, but recognize that this is this is one company where I will be worth more when I leave the company than when I came.


Rich Armstrong  30:28  

Steve, there's another question here, which I was expecting. "Love your enthusiasm, Dr. Stern. But what advice would you give a business owner just beginning the stages of implementing the Great Game of Business? Any lessons learned?”


Steve Baker  30:43  

Well, it sounds like a plug for you guys, but I would say bring in a coach if you can afford it, for sure. Or if you can't afford it, take your team, at least your leadership team, to a training session. Because it's very hard to implement the Great Game effectively. And every company is different. So every company is going to implement it a little bit differently. So I think that's the first thing we just did. Right? 

The other thing is, I would say simple. It depends on where your team is as to what book I would take your leadership team through. The book you held up there earlier is probably the book I'd take them through if they're convinced. If they aren't convinced there is "Get in the Game." [Laughter.] 

But if it's not "Get in the Game"--and again, I'm not getting paid for this--but if it's not "Get in the Game," or you have a really resistant group, I would do the “Great Game of the Business” first, because that's a book more evangelistic, to get people on board, whereas "Get in the Game" is more of a how-to. But if you're going to do the “Great Game of Business,” I would say that we're going to do this for three months or two months, however fast, you're going to move your leadership team through, then have them read "Get in the Game." I would say that's a really good time to bring in your consultant because your consultant is now working off of folks who have a basic knowledge of what the Great Game is about. And  they're filling in the mistaken ideas and the blank spaces because I will tell you, I'm still filling in on my ideas of how the Great Game applies to Experity.

Rich Armstrong  32:35  

Did you run any challenges that you'd say, look, I would have probably done this a little differently?

David Stern  32:40  

In implementing the Game, no--I mean, that's a bad thing. I should know what we did wrong. Because I do often know what we did wrong. I would say we made a lot of mistakes in the business. One of the things in the business-- we had moved too fast a few years earlier in moving the company from very large workgroups to small self-directed teams. And when we made that transition, we did that overnight. Now, we saw amazing financial results from converting from these big workgroups into small, self-directed teams with a team lead. There's a first among equals. We saw amazing results. But we went so fast, within certain departments we ended up in a year and a half with 50 percent turnover. It was painful to move that fast. 

So one of the things we decided with the Great Game is we just want to make sure we weren't rocking anybody's boats too much. I would say it was pretty easy though. We had already been focusing on goals. We'd been doing some things similar to mini-games anyways, not exactly the same. So implementing mini-games was a piece of cake. Implementing open-book financials, we started out by being top-down finance, just presenting them to the company. And very quickly, then we created models so that the teams could do that themselves. 

3. Don’t wait until you’re “ready”.

But I would say not implementing the Great Game because you don't have it all down would have been a mistake. We moved too fast earlier in implementing teams. We moved very fast with implementing the Great Game. But it isn't very disruptive to workflow. It isn't disruptive to how the company really runs. So I wouldn't have changed that at all. If I had gone with an ESOP, which we were very close to pulling the trigger  on ESOP, it would have been a mistake. I did not realize the financial ramifications as an owner that an ESOP would have in a software-as-a-service business. If I owned a manufacturing company, no question. I would make an ESOP for sure. But I would not do it in a situation where the valuations are different.

I feel like we made some mistakes, but in implementing the Great Game, I think we did it right. I think the big mistake could have been, "Wait till we've got it all down, wait till we can do the bottoms-up financials before we start doing huddles. Wait till we have some sort of synthetic ownership in place till we start. We just said, "Okay, we'll just do it one step at a time." 

I think the other reason that helped is we had a coach. And so when we started playing mini-games, we were like, "Okay, you finished your mini-game, you do another one." And the coach said, "You know what? You can't just do mini-games all the time. If you're going to do mini-games, folks need to see it as something fresh and new and something they're excited about. So you have to give them breaks in between mini-games. That was a mistake I would have made and I was making that the coach stopped me from making.

Rich Armstrong  35:42  

Got it. Got it. Got it. Well, you made a really interesting and, I think, very important point earlier about, you know, you have your huddle process, and you decided a monthly kind of rhythm on the huddle was important. But it was still critical to give them the tools and the training on a consistent basis to actually impact those financials. Right? Can you talk about some of those tools? You mentioned mini-games, and maybe some of our audience don't even know what a mini-game is. So if you could talk a little about mini-games. But you also have a process you call "Maxi Games" that work really well within your organization. Can you talk a little bit about that?

David Stern  36:19  

So a MiniGame, basically, a team will figure out there's a problem we need to tackle. They'll say, "Okay, we want to solve the problem and we want to solve it within 90 days. What do we need to do differently to solve that problem?” Then they go ahead and track the progress towards... really, a mini-game is about changing a habit. That's why it has to last at least 90 days, so that you actually change a habit because you don't change a habit in 30 days; you change a habit in closer to 90 days. And you find out it takes 60 days or 66 days. It takes more than one month, for sure. You guys recommend 90 days; it's great, we get that. We still play mini-games around little things like that, that we come up with. 

But we have two goals for the company. One is to increase our EBITDA, our profit; the other is to increase our customer NPS score. And so those are the two goals. And every single team at the beginning of the year must say, "What is the biggest impact our team can make on one of those two goals?" So customer service is likely to pick NPS, whereas one of the service delivery parts of our company might say, "We need to reduce costs, we're gonna focus on EBITDA.” So they can pick one or the other, but they have to say, "Where can we make the biggest impact? What is the goal we can set to make that big impact?" 

And the second thing we do--and now this is more like a mini-game underneath that--they have to figure out what habit do they have to change to allow them to reach that goal? Because people often think that if you set a goal, that's almost magical; you're going to reach it. And you know what? In companies that have never set goals, it is magical with the teams. The teams set their first goal, they just focus on it, and they get it. Why? Because they've never, ever focused on a goal before so they've got to do better. But once you get doing it for a little while, now you find--and we found this over and over with teams--like, wow! We can't turn the needle on this at all. 

We had a customer support team that said, "We want to get our time to answer calls from two minutes and six seconds down to a minute and 30 seconds" Yeah, that's good. I mean, two minutes, six seconds for calling a software company for support isn't bad. But we never wanted to be an okay, or good enough company; we wanted to be great. We were always focused on, what does it take to make this company great? And that means we don't look at what every other company is doing and do what average companies are doing. We only copy what great companies are doing, like Great Game companies. But they were focused on a minute, 30 seconds; that's great. It's awesome. Let's go for it. They went after it for several months, and the needle didn't turn one bit. They could not get that needle to move at all. That call is still over two minutes all the time. 

And so we actually have an internal consultant I've hired to help folks work over the work processes and actually look for the waste in the process so that they actually mapped out their flow. And they looked at what was really going on. And they discovered the problem wasn't that they weren't picking up the phone that was ringing; the phone actually wasn't ringing. And the reason for that is they were stacked up in the queue. And the reason they were stacked up in the queue--and you have to keep going down layer after layer. Well, they’re stacked up in the queue; that's the problem. No, why are they stacked up in the queue? Well, it turns out, most of the reps had set their phone to "unavailable" most of the day; whenever they were answering an email, solving a problem, in a meeting they were unavailable. And when they said, "You know what? The habit we need to change is, we need to go from being available X number of minutes a day to y number of minutes a day. Suddenly, the calls started getting answered right away, because they were actually not queuing up in a computer, they were actually reading on somebody's desk. 

And so now, pretty much I mean, their goal is 30 seconds. This is just a few years later; their goal is to answer in 30 seconds, no extra staff, same call volume--actually, an increased call volume. Unless there's a software glitch, or a bunch of people call in sick for some reason or something, they hit the 30 seconds almost every time. What's really cool is most days they're at 10 seconds or less. So people calling in--remember, you're calling a software company for support. And within 10 seconds, most of the time, somebody's picking up the phone. Our competitors are actually doing their support from India--not necessarily terrible, but you call, somebody in India answers the phone, gives you a number in the queue, and somebody calls you back later. This is one of our real competitors. And if they call back and you don't answer, they called you back; done. That's our competitors. And we're answering in 10 seconds. You might say, "Are you doing better than that company?" Oh, yeah.


Steve Baker  41:17  

[Laughter.] I love it. The beauty of this is you're talking very clearly about, you're trying to create a great organization and you're trying to get people to think, what habit do I have to change to remove an obstacle or to get to great? How is it that a lot of people fail in creating that line of sight to the critical number? Or what you would call a priority one goal? Can you give people advice on ways to create that line of sight? Because it can't be you all the time, a CEO, right?

David Stern  41:48  

No! I got 600 employees; it can't be me at all. 

Steve Baker  41:52  


David Stern  41:52  

All I have to do is insist on a system. We put a system in place. And I have to insist everyone follows the system. It doesn't say what they do. But they have to follow a  system. The system is we have these Russian nested dolls. So we have even at the top and then a department might say, "This is a goal for the department." And then at that point, the team underneath focuses on reaching that goal. But it's very important that the goals are aligned with the goal of the company. You folks tell me a very small percentage of people in the company actually even know what the goals of the company are, number one. 

Number two, if they set a goal, they don't know whether they're impacting what the company's goals are or not. In fact, surveys of executives have found that most executives or companies don't know the top three goals of the company. So if the executives don't know, then nobody knows it. We know that every single employee who's been in the company more than one day knows the goals of the company. They just know, that's what it is. And then we do not do this at the individual level--I think this is important actually, for our company. We do this at the team level. You got this Russian doll nesting there, you're inside the EBITDA goal. And that's what your team is working to turn. It's great if they can actually show numbers as far as how much they think they turned EBITDA. But in many cases, they can't numerically say that they did that. But they pick their goal that they thought would make the biggest impact on the business. And so we have seen EBITDA jump, sometimes by double, in a year. Because folks have just tremendously increased their efficiency. 

We've seen one-half of our company is offering services. And we've seen them go from zero profits to--now this is six years later--from zero profits to delivering such incredible profits that when I went to merge the company, I also went out to other investors to see if they might give me more. And they were willing to give me a little more. But the fact is they said those numbers aren't real. What do you mean, they're not real? They said, "We buy companies like this. We've looked at over 100 of them. Nobody has numbers like that." [Laughter.] They're real.


Steve Baker  42:11  

That's great.


David Stern  43:11  

And I said, "Do any of them do it the way we do it, with teams focused on goals." He said, "Well now, I never really heard about that." Because most people think your $13, $14, $15 an hour employee is, you tell them what to do, you check to make sure they do it, and if they don't do it, you fire them. And that's good management 101, in their minds. 

That's horrible management! Because that's management, not leadership. You don't inspire people by going to check on them. And you don't get outsized results and amazing results if people are living in fear. You get outsized results if you've totally engaged the minds of 70, 80, 90 percent of your employees. And so, I knew our results were good. I had no idea that investors who had looked at over 100 companies doing the exact same thing would say, "These numbers aren't even real. That's impossible to do what you're doing.” And it's not what I'm doing. It's what the teams are doing, because they're working on the Game, day in, day out, through this system that we've implemented down throughout the whole company.


Steve Baker  45:10  

Yeah, I love that you have two different priority-one goals or critical numbers. You've got a profitability number and EBITDA. And you've got a net promoter score as a strategic one; if we don't take care of our customer, someone else will, I presume. And so let's shift a little bit. What you said about, "It's management, not leadership," makes me think about a question we've talked about before. And that is, you're the best of the best. You're an All Star winner, you are super successful. But when it comes to leaders, there's the Peter Principle, and there are ceilings that people hit. And in a previous conversation, we talked about reinventing yourself as a leader. Can you talk about that a little bit, please?

4. What got you here won’t get you there.

David Stern  45:55  

That's important, because I will tell you, when the investor first started looking at our company, based on how enthusiastic I was, they said, “This is a typical, crazy founder, CEO. Can't have him in a traditional private-equity fund.” I mean, when I say a traditional fund -- we're in the sixth largest private-equity fund in the world. This is a serious private-equity fund with a great reputation. But they're famous for hiring experienced, been-there-done-that CEOs who have worked with private equity before. So they were scared of me, I'll tell you, right up front. They'll never admit it, but they were.

But I had to tell them, "Listen, I'm not the guy who founded this company anymore." And the book I read--I actually realize now I listened to the audiobook-- "What Got you Here Won't Get You There," and there's a famous picture on the cover of a businessman climbing a ladder, and then the rungs are all falling off above him. Well, that is exactly what happens in a growing company. And I have had to constantly say, "Okay, am I doing what I need to be doing?" And at this point, I mean, in the last few years, when people come to me with a question or a problem, like, "Where do you think we should have the Christmas party?” Is that a CEO question?

Steve Baker  47:17  

Doesn't sound like it.

David Stern  47:18  

Very much. And I've had to say that multiple times. And they're like, "No, I guess not.  But you always wanted to know." "That's right; but I don't anymore." By the way, I've bought a lot of companies, and I've seen this problem, and I have not been able to coach a lot of people out, to be honest. But most people think, “This has made me successful, I have to keep doing it.” And I just have to double down on doing what I've always done. So I could work hard, I could do everybody's job, I was the best at everybody's job. And I'm going to keep it that way. If you're not hiring people who are better at doing parts of your job than you are, then you're not growing your company in a meaningful way to prep it for the next level. So almost everything I did when I started the company, through even, in many cases, three or five or six years ago, I don't do anymore.

Because now I'm thinking about mergers and acquisition. Now I'm thinking about the strategy the company needs to go. Now I actually have time to mentor my executives, and walk them through, and focus on-- Our company is fortunately valued right around a half a billion dollars. When you get a company valued that much, you make just a little tweak here or there and boom, millions of dollars fall to the bottom line. And so I have to really encourage all of my folks to do that, because I can't be turning all those dials, and I don't need to turn the big knobs; I just need hundreds of people turning the little knobs and it's just magical for the company. 

Steve Baker  48:49  

It's awesome. And we love magic. Rich and I sometimes will talk about the fact that we're in this bubble in the Great Game community because you have like- minded, like-hearted people that see the big picture as we see it. I'm not saying that we're all alike, but it's just a different mindset. And when you go to a soccer game, or you go to church or you're out in the public, you're like, does humanity have a chance? So what I want to know is you told me a story--

David Stern  49:18  

Talk to other CEOs, who talk about how they're gonna lord it over people and get it done. If they don't, they're not going to earn their bonus and--

Steve Baker  49:25  

Yes! And mentioned a CEO that you golfed with who bemoaned the difficulty of growth. Tell us that story.

David Stern  49:33  

Oh, yeah. Well, it was interesting. So I'm golfing with this CEO. Our bank puts together an outing every year and I got paired with him--I think I got paired with him because the bank wanted his business but nonetheless. The bank has been awesome to me, my goodness. I love my banker. And I tell you what? If you have a banker that's not working with you, you want to find one that really will work with you because it's really going to transform the  company. 

Anyways, that's an aside. So I'm golfing with this guy, and it turns out, he's got a really great business--a really great business. And he's in manufacturing. I said, "Well, who's your competitor? He said, "Oh, there's one competitor in the country, really in the world. And that's in Dubuque.” “What? That's two hours away. You mean, there's one competitor, and it's two hours away.” “Yeah.” I said, "Why don't you find that company and merge with it?" "Oh, that'd be too hard a work." I was like, "Yeah, for the first year, it'd be hard work. But you can hire twice as good an executive as you have now to do all the work for you." And that's exactly what's happened. This is before I'd actually had a successful merger. But I couldn't believe that he thought it would be a whole lot more work. 

I've been running this company for 18 years. The company has gone from being worthless and nobody would buy it for anything, to being worth a half a billion dollars. And I still own 40 percent of the company. So I'm a really lucky guy. But I've done all of that. And I would say over the last six years, I have progressively worked less hard. Not because I'm lazy. But because I shouldn't be working this hard. Last night, I'm on LinkedIn, a message had come through at 7 in the morning--I got to LinkedIn at 11 o'clock last night. So I'm looking at LinkedIn. And the the CIO, the Chief Information Officer, of arguably the most respected health system in the United States, located in a city called Boston, that CIO says we want to take a part of your software, one of our offerings, we want to roll that out over the entire health system and we want to do it super fast. Can you call me on my cell phone? And they also showed the email. There is no way David Stern of three years ago would not have picked up the phone and made that call first thing in the morning. 

Instead, I caught myself and said, "I've got an amazing chief revenue officer, who, by the way, has a better EQ than I have, and is way smoother than I am. And I scare people with my enthusiasm sometimes, so I gotta be careful. So why am I making that call?” Cuz I'm the best at it. Well, maybe not! Actually, it's not. I've got people who can handle that perfectly well; it's a simple implementation. They want to do it across the whole health system. So I sent him an email--I used his email, not his cell phone. I sent him an email and I said, "Our chief revenue officer, such-and-such, he's CC'd on this email, he will be contacting you in the morning." And by the way, I called my chief revenue officer immediately, even though it was late. And I called him--I guess it wasn't quite that late. But anyways, I called him and let him know this was coming, and he says, "Absolutely. I'll take care of it in the morning. I know actually, somebody's already been working on that a little bit." So the chief revenue officer, I'm sure he made the call; took care of it today. 

But I'll tell you what: every founder CEO feels really lazy when they do that. And I had to fight that feeling because I felt lazy giving the job to somebody else. Because I'm really at the point now, where if it's something that needs to be done, I actually have to create an artifact, write a document. I mean, I'll edit the first draft, but I don't write first drafts anymore. If it's anything I have to do, I probably should be giving that off to somebody. Now I've gotten to that point in my company. I wasn't there five years ago. Every single demo of our software that ever happened in the history of our company went through me, unless it was just a specific demo of a tiny piece of software. 

Five years ago, when I talked with an executive who had actually been CEO of multiple hundred-million-dollar companies, and told him that all the demos went through me, he said, "That's ridiculous. You shouldn't be doing that. You're the CEO." I said, "Oh, nobody can do the demos better than me." He said, "No. It's  ridiculous." I said, "No, you don't understand. Every single person that's wanting to use our software, I've been in their seats. If it's a doctor, I've been a doctor in urgent care. If it's an administrator, I've been an administrator in urgent care, if it's an owner, I've been an owner in urgent care. I've done every job in urgent care. I know how the urgent care works. I'd even shovel the sidewalks in urgent care. I know how urgent care works. And nobody can do a demo better than me. He said a word with the initials “BS” in my face,  and he said there are professionals who do that. They know what they're doing. And they can do it better than you. And I didn't really believe it. But I knew he was smart, I knew he'd run a bunch of companies, and I instantly saw that guy climbing that  ladder with no rungs above him. I said, “I'm doing it. I've been doing it too many years.” So we found somebody to take over. She started doing all the demos. I sat in on one of her demos like, “Wow, she's better than me.” 

Then one time, they said, “Dr. Stern, you have to do this demo. This customer is really difficult. And they have all kinds of demands. And you're the only person that knows the system well enough to do that.” I did the demo. Big mistake. I wasn't nearly as good as doing demos as I was a year before. I'd only done a couple. And the last time they asked me to do a demo, I said, "No, I'll sit in as a color commentator, but I absolutely will not do the demo. I don't know the software well enough." That's the transition. And most owners, they know they need to morph. But they're not willing to face the hard decisions that I'm actually gonna feel lazy and not do that. Because I got somebody else who can do it just as well as me, or better. 

Rich Armstrong  55:53  

Yeah, yeah.

Steve Baker  55:54  

That's a discipline right there.

David Stern  55:56  

It is, and you’ve got to keep doing it. You've got to keep reinventing yourself.

Rich Armstrong  55:59  

There's a few questions, Steve, I'd love to get to before we end here. One question: you've been playing since 2016, so this is a pretty appropriate question. How do you just keep the energy of the idea of the Great Game of Business alive in a company year after year? Any advice there for this?

5. Focus around fun AND the team.

David Stern  56:17  

Well, you know, only being five years in, maybe that's not the best question for me; it's a better question for you guys or for Jack. But I will say, if you're not seeing success, it's going to be hard, if you're not really pushing the company forward. I would say the other thing is, the one thing that's a given in our company, is the way we do things is going to change, We're going to continuously look to be better. And continuous improvement is something we focus on regularly. And it's disappointing for people because they'll say, "The minute we reach our goal, you're saying what's your next goal." And I'm like, "Uhhhhhh... you're right." That's how we get to be a great company. If we're just setting goals, reaching them, and resting on our laurels, that's a problem. 

Also, it's very important in our operating model, when a team hits their POG, their priority-one goal--the company has the POG, critical number, they have their own POG or critical number at the team level. When they get it, they are required to celebrate. And the celebration is not around money. I mean, we did have one team--it was a very small team--come and say, "We're going to Disneyworld!" [Laughter.] And that's when we set a budget. We've always said it has to focus around fun and the team. So generally. the team does something together, goes out bowling or something together--we're happy to fund that--or maybe just sits down at work and has a potluck, and they’re on the clock for an hour while having the potluck. Remember, they reached a goal for the whole year; it's no big deal to lose an hour or two on the clock when they reach the goal for the whole year. 

Because how many of your teams knew what their goal was and actually hit? I think that operating system really supporting the Great Game allows everyone to say, "Okay, I'm connected to the critical numbers, because our team is doing something around that." They have daily stand-ups where they talk about how did they do on their habit, and weekly meetings, very short meetings, where they look at how are they doing towards a goal. Every team in the company is doing that. So I think because of the operating system, because we have a lot of successes to celebrate, and we're always celebrating them when any team hits a POG, we'll go to what we call town hall, which actually starts for me in a minute, so I gotta get going. But when we have town hall for the whole company, we celebrate success. Every team that succeeded we celebrate.

Steve Baker  58:45  

Well, if you've got to hop off, we do understand that. I think Rich and I will stay on to answer the additional questions. But Dr. David Stern, Experity--man, thank you so much. It's been a great pleasure. Any last minute one thing you want to give everybody as a takeaway?

David Stern  59:01  

Keep your head up. A lot of you are struggling right now; it's a difficult time. Keep your head up. We thought things were gonna be terrible through this Coronavirus debacle. It's turned out we've been able to respond to this and actually our business is going to  be way better. Never lose an opportunity to take advantage of a crisis. 

Steve Baker  59:22  

Good advice. Thank you, David. We appreciate you.

David Stern  59:26  

Pleasure. Thank you. Take care.

Rich Armstrong  59:27  

Thank you, sir. Take care. Have a good weekend.

David Stern  59:29  


Steve Baker  59:29  

Well, I love the discipline. He's going off to make sure that his huddle goes on time and that's what it's all about, right?

Rich Armstrong  59:37  

It was really just the lead on. I think that's a very important question a lot of people have, struggling [with] that energy year after year keeping the Game alive. I think Dr. Stern totally hit it; one of the things he said is you’ve got to set that new goal, you’ve got to look for success beyond the success you have today. And I think that's where the high-involvement planning process of the Great Game of Business comes into play, is that it changes up the game every year. It's looking three to five years out and saying, "What's the new game? Where are we going with this company?" That's probably the best thing you can do to keep energy with your employees and drive the Game forward.

Steve Baker  1:00:17  

Mm hmm. Good stuff. Here's one that came in that I'll take. It's, "What recommendations would you give to companies in order to get new employees or new divisions up to speed quickly with the Great Game?" For Dr. Stern, he mentioned the idea of a kind of book club that they do. They read "The Great Game of Business," and have financial literacy training, but also other books.

And Rich, you and I had a conversation with him about some of the different books that his teams have gone through, his leadership team especially, where they continue to improve. That's the continuous improvement by reading books, and thought leaders and different things like that, just so that they don't get stagnant. And that they can all develop, because if you don't keep developing, you [garble] that CEO saying, "That sounds hard." I don't want to ever see people do that.

But we have a lot of clients and a lot of people in the community that start out, that their onboarding process includes--I'm thinking about Hilcorp, the founder and owner of that business, has a video where he welcomes the individual. And then [he] talks about the basis of their culture being the Great Game, and they give people different formats of the book to participate in. And then of course, they begin sitting in on their “lifting cost” meetings, which is what they call their huddles. So there's formal and there's informal. So that would be what I would say: establish a formal and informal combination of things for onboarding anybody, whether it's just a new employee as you grow, or a whole division as you merge and continue to take over the world.

Rich Armstrong  1:01:56  

Exactly. One other question here was on staking the outcomes: "Any ideas on how to set up a stake-in-the-outcome model for restaurant employees? Should it be based on income or gross profit?" You know, we're always encouraging people to look more at the bottom line net income or profit or tax, primarily because that gives them the full picture of the financial statement, or at least the income statement to understand both the gross margin of the business but also the overhead and the expenses that's needed to drive the business. So unless there's some kind of concern about using net income or showing those expenses, I would certainly look at your bonus plan or your stake-in-the-outcome plan built on profitability. And then you have a clearer picture also of how you're actually funding it. Because it can be a little tricky saying, "Yeah, we're gonna provide some kind of gain from a gross margin margin level." But if you're not managing those overhead expenses like you should be, maybe paying out or sharing in some rewards that weren't actually earned, that actually didn't give the company an overall gain to the profitability of the business.

Steve Baker  1:03:27  

Yeah, no. I love that answer. You know, it makes me think back a few weeks ago doing an episode with Ari Weinzweig from Zingerman's. And he talked about, at the very end, he just happened to wing out that he felt sorry for restaurants that were subject to Grub Hub and Uber Eats and Doordash, because automatically it takes 30 percent right off the top. And it's like, Wow. So add that to all the decisions that could be made below the margin line; right or wrong, the message might be sell more desserts, because that helps our margin. But what are we seeing down below? And we've seen time after time with clients in the hospitality industry, where frontline folks will come up and say, just like what Dr. Stern was saying, "Hey, I think this could help on our cogs and expenses." It’s like, "I never really thought of it that way. That's pretty good."

Rich Armstrong  1:04:20  

Lean toward the side of giving people the full financial picture. You're not going to go wrong if you're giving them the full financial picture.

Steve Baker  1:04:27  

Well, we predicted it would be a lot of fun. I sure got energized by talking to Dr. Stern and I believe he's completely unmedicated. [Laughter.] That excites me a lot. Guys, you're the backbone of the economy. You are not alone. And there is a worldwide community. We want you to collaborate. We want you to join the community. And again, come to us at greatgame.com, be a part of that conversation. Get involved in the community and make a global impact. Look forward to seeing you again. Rich, have a good weekend. 

Rich Armstrong  1:04:54  

You too. Thank you.


Topics: All-Star Awards, Employee Ownership, Great Game Coaching, engagement, Community

About The Podcast

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Hosted by Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker the Change the Game podcast highlights true life stories of organizations influencing positive change by doing business differently. They’re teaching people how business works and closing the gap between the haves and have-nots. It’s capitalism at its best. Inside each episode, you’ll discover stories of entrepreneurs who are Changing the Game.

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