Episode with guest: Aimee Woodall
CEO of The Black Sheep Agency
(This episode was recorded in January of 2021.)
Key Episode Take-Aways:
1. Investing in the way we work improves our lives. (click to jump to this topic below) So, our statement is, investing in the way we work improves our lives. Enables us to grow and allows us to do more for the community.
2. Most leaders will tell you to get your employees to think like owners. (click to jump to this topic below) And then just also, most leaders will tell you to get your employees to think like owners, like you're winning if you can get your employees to think like owners.
3. The impact playing the game has had on our numbers. (click to jump to this topic below) One thing that makes me so happy is that in addition to our revenue increasing by 33%, our bonus payout has increased by 300%.
Continue scrolling to read the full episode transcription.
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 in to this episode of the "Change the Game" Podcast with special guest, Aimee Woodall. In this episode, Aimee discusses how she adapted the Great Game of Business to work at first service-based company and the results that came from it. Here's your hosts, Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker.
Steve Baker 0:26
Hello again, everybody. I'm Steve Baker, and with me, as always, is Rich Armstrong, the president of the Great Game of Business and co-author of our new book, Get in the Game, How To Create Rapid Financial Results And Lasting Cultural Change. Hey, Rich, how are you?
Rich Armstrong 0:40
Very good. Thanks, Steve. Good to see you.
Steve Baker 0:43
Yeah, this is going to be a fun one. Rich, I'm super excited about our special guest today, Aimee Woodall, she's the CEO and founder of The Black Sheep Agency, a brand strategy and creative agency in Houston. Some of our listeners will probably remember is one of our conference speakers in 2019, she led probably one of the most popular sessions on adapting the game in a service company. Aimee, how are you today?
Aimee Woodall 1:07
Well, you know, I'm doing good. January feels like a nice, clean, fresh start. And 2021 it's going to be good to us all, I'm convinced.
Steve Baker 1:15
I think you're right, it's time to hit the reset button. Right.
Aimee Woodall 1:20
We all need it.
Steve Baker 1:21
I need it for sure. I know that, probably everybody's wondering if they haven't heard of you or your story. Why don't you start by telling us a little bit about your business, The Black Sheep Agency and what it's all about?
Rich Armstrong 1:33
Sure. We're a brand strategy firm, a creative agency that works in the field of impact. So, we work three different kinds of clients trying to establish their strategy and accelerate their growth. We work with nonprofits, that's the most predictable of the three. We work with government organizations, creating change in certain regions and communities. And then we also work with for profit companies who are prioritizing purpose with profit and trying to make a difference through the companies that they're running. And under that umbrella, we do everything from branding, rebranding, brand evolution to strategy development to digital. We kind of do everything that falls under the communications umbrella. And the bottom line is activating people around things that matter and accelerating those companies journey toward their mission.
Steve Baker 2:37
I love it. I love an intentional, purposeful way to approach business. The crazy part is that when you mentioned not for profit in government in particular, now, I'm going you obviously are not afraid of the impossible. So, is it true that you hiked the entire 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail?
Aimee Woodall 2:59
I did. It was it was quite some time ago. And some days It feels like, you know, forever ago and some days It feels like yesterday. It was 2006, I hiked the trail alone. And I was on that journey for five months and eight days to be precise. And it was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, and also one of the greatest lessons that plays into what I do and how I do it every single day. Especially when you think about the Appalachian Trail, maybe you know, this, maybe you don't go through 14 states. You can start on the north end or the south end, I started on the south end in Georgia, and I walked literally to Maine. And that that can be overwhelming to even think about it's overwhelming to me to think about now. I also it's worth mentioning had never really been a big hiker before that I've never really done anything like that in my life. And that is part of my personality, I kind of dive into things very extremely. And I like the challenge of kind of jumping into something cold turkey and I had to very quickly learn to control my thoughts around how far the distance was and how big the challenge was. And really learn to wake up every day and break it down into how far do I need to go today? What is my first step? What is my first destination? How am I going to fuel my body to get there? And those lessons are invaluable on the entrepreneurial journey.
Rich Armstrong 5:02
Wow, that's, that's pretty good. I'm just trying to convince myself or motivate myself to walk around the neighborhood. [Laughter] That is pretty awesome. You know, there's probably a lot of parallels, just learning a little bit about your business, Aimee, that there’s some parallels in terms of that, you know, that kind of personality to your business, as you said, your agency's kind of unique because you, of course, practice the Great Game of Business, but you're also a certified B Corp company, and you specifically work with cause driven clients. And if you could tell the listeners more about that, why all of that?
Aimee Woodall 5:38
Yeah, you know, I find that a lot of people don't know what a B Corp is still today. And I have taken it upon myself to be as much of an ambassador for B Corp thinking as I possibly can. So, I'd love to just kind of start there and explain what a B Corp is. It's a third-party certification that goes through B Lab. And it is essentially saying, I'm a business who wants to be a force for good through my work. There's an accreditation process that you go through, it's pretty rigorous, and it's, you have to renew it periodically. And that's just trying to identify certain standards that you're upholding. And there's a scoring methodology through it. And, you know, it's people who want to incorporate really high standards for social and environmental impact in the way that they're working, the way they're making decisions every day. And being a B Corp really requires that you stay consistent with how you're running your business to match up to those standards. Anyway, we became a B Corp in oh my goodness, probably seven years ago. And it's still a new, relatively new thing that exists. And so, people are still learning about it. But we became a B Corp to validate what we were saying about ourselves. You know, there's a lot of in the impact space and in the environmental space, like kind of greenwashing, or, you know, spin, and we really wanted to know, not only are we saying, but this is also the kind of company that we're running, these are the clients that we're working with impact is the most important bottom line to us. But we found that becoming a B Corp would validate that in a way that would say, you know, it's not just us saying this, but we're going through a process where someone else, a third party, is backing us up and saying, Yes, we are walking the talk, and really delivering in that department. The reason why we decided to do that, originally, you know, I grew up in the creative industry, I worked on a lot of things that weren't as meaningful in my early career. And when I started black sheep, early on, we started working with a nonprofit that really inspired me. I saw the effect that it took on my team members, how much it energized them to really have meaning in their work, and to know that the intersection of our creative talents and this impactful work was going to create meaningful change and really make showing up and grinding everyday worth it. So, we decided to go in that direction, and it's been incredibly meaningful because it brings meaning to the people that work on our team, it brings people to us, so it helps with recruiting. But it just kind of renews us to see the results of the work and to know that our passions are integrated into the way we're spending so much of our time.
Rich Armstrong 9:20
Right. I'm curious, did that experience with B Corp. Did that influence you any in terms of, you know, getting your interest in terms of Great Game of Business?
Aimee Woodall 9:31
Well, absolutely. Um, so there's a statement in the book that's encouraged, I forget exactly what it's called. It's like a statement of purpose or something that you write that kind of like backs up your critical number. Is there an official term that you guys have for that?
Rich Armstrong 9:45
Probably the why behind the critical number, Yeah.
Aimee Woodall 9:49
1. Investing in the way we work improves our lives.
So, our statement is, investing in the way we work improves our lives. Enables us to grow and allows us to do more for the community. I think that's kind of telling for how the GGOB practice that we have in place intersects with our B Corp values. We want to work smarter, and be efficient and be like, refill our cups as much as we can, which GGOB very much has helped us to do. So that we can do more, like at the end of the day, our team is always trying to figure out how can we do more. Because it's not just about making more money, although GGOB has definitely allowed us to do that. But it's about how can we work as smart as possible so we can help as many people as possible. And,
Rich Armstrong 10:53
Aimee Woodall 10:54
Steve Baker 10:55
I love the abundance mentality there of you know, we are capable of so much more, are we really tapping that? And I love your statement that, what else we can do and beyond work, it's what can we do for the community. So that's amazing. So, you, you chose a different path for the business and the kind of business you were going to do. The way that you did business by becoming B Corp, that's a different path. And then you discovered Great Game, which is another different path, which is I'm actually going to, you know, enable empower and actually expect people to think differently about where they work. So, you had to have, without going too deep, I know that you were recommended to the book by an advisor, a friend who told you about it. Tell me about, tell us about how you guys actually first started to learn about the game.
Aimee Woodall 11:50
Yeah, so I was in a situation where there was a lot of transition happening with the company. And I called a client of mine to let him know that the person that was managing his account was leaving the company. And he recommended the book to me. I quickly googled the book, because this person that recommended it to me is a smart guy, a great leader, and I really have a lot of respect for the advice that he gives. So, I googled the book, and I thought, oh man, that looks really corporate, I'm not sure if this is going to be right for us. But because he's who he is and I trust his recommendations, I ordered the book. And one of my favorite things about how this all played out is that I, you know, I started reading the book and I would say I had a heavy dose of skepticism throughout my taking the book in and reading it. But at the same time, so much of it was just making sense. So, I wrote notes all through the book, and I was highlighting things and trying to kind of bridge the gap between how they're explained in the book and some of the examples to who we are and what our culture is like. And I actually ended up knowing in the back of my mind that GGOB was so right for us, that I ended up tearing, literally tearing the binding of the book to give the first third of the book, to my director of operations to read because I wanted him to see all those notes that I had taken and kind of read it with my thoughts in mind, too. And then I'm on the second part of the book, and I'm doing the same thing. And then I ended up ripping that part of the book and giving that to him. And then he gave his part to our director of strategy. And then the same thing happened with the third part. So, by the end of it, the book was in thirds, three different people were consuming it at the same time. And we were all kind of feeding off of each other about what it can do. And then somewhere along that line, we also realized a few things about our work. We had kind of hit this profitability ceiling. We were constantly growing, but there was the margin was kind of just growing at the same rate with us. And so, we knew like there needed to be some sort of breakthrough. Like how are we going to get around this? There's got to be more that that can come here. And at the same time, we were trying to figure that out, we calculated some different numbers based on our year prior and we realized that we were literally overworking every account by about 60%.
Steve Baker 15:04
Aimee Woodall 15:05
Which is an enormous and kind of devastating finding, right. So, we're all just kind of paralyzed for a moment by this fact that has surfaced. But the timing couldn't have been better because it was right at the same time where we were, the solution was right in front of us. And that's how things work sometimes, right, you know, the universe just times at all. And, and so we jumped into, well I should say, the four people on the operations team all read the book in thirds, which is now taped back together and living on my shelf. I romantically have it, you know, there to remind me of the progress that we've made and where it started. But then we bought the book for everybody. And we prepared kind of a State of the Union address, where we showed folks like, hey, look, the good news is, we're doing great. We've never gone backwards, the lines on the graph had have always gone up, profitability has always increased. We have all been making more money, we have never laid anyone off. We've never had a like a regression year. But we are also stuck in this pattern and we can do bigger things. And we are overworking, we shared those, you know, gasp worthy findings about how we were overworking accounts. And by the way, just a side note, it's because we're doing impact-based work. And the wonderful people that I work with, are so invested in that, that they just don't stop, right. You know, if we don't have guardrails. We're just going to keep making this more and more perfect, because the stakes are so high,
Steve Baker 17:04
Aimee Woodall 17:06
So anyway, we find that where that we're overworking by 60%. We find GGOB. We introduce all of this to the team; we have everybody read the books. And that is the beginning of a really dramatic story of change.
Steve Baker 17:24
So, at this time, now, I'm picturing this, you've got the book ripped up, you've got everybody's notes combining. It's a communal copy that brings the brain trust of your operations team together. You put it back together, you buy everybody books, and now you're getting ready to roll out you had to have some concerns, as you handed everyone their books, and you talk about the big blaring issues in the business that are starting to become clear to you. What were your big concerns about implementing?
Aimee Woodall 17:50
Well, I think my number one concern was we have a culture, you know, we're in a creative industry--brand is everything. And culture is so much a part of that. And we have a certain kind of vibe with our culture. It's very, there's a lot of attitude, and it's very cool. You know, and it's not corporate, it's like, we're the anti-corporate. And so, you know, my biggest fear was, I was so excited about this by this point, you know, how am I going to share this book with all these other people, and they're going to have the same reaction I did, which is like, I'm not sure this is right for us. Or, oh, you want me to do another thing on top of all the other things, and, you know, so it was mostly, I guess my biggest fear was reconciling from a cultural perspective and making sure that we made this feel like us, you know, like our version of GGOB would be a little bit different, as I'm sure it is for everybody. But at the beginning, you know, I was like, nobody understands how different this has to be for us. So, that was a big fear.
2. Most leaders will tell you to get your employees to think like owners.
And then just also, most leaders will tell you to get your employees to think like owners, like you're winning if you can get your employees to think like owners. And honestly for nine years, I felt like my employees did think like owners, but they were missing an enormous piece of the puzzle in order to truly think like owners and now they think like owners. Sometimes they're like telling me how to better owner, you know, and it's so impressive. And I just until I you know; you don't know what you don't know and now that I do know what it really feels like for your team to be thinking like owners. I realized they were not thinking like owners before and it was my fault. So, I guess my biggest secondary fear, besides cultural fit was, is this going to interest them? And, you know, they had a lot on their plates already, because they were doing 60% more work than they should have been, and how am I going to now tell them, there's something else that I need them to get invested in. But you know what it was like a minute, and they were all about it. So,
Rich Armstrong 20:28
Aimee, I really love that you point out that you need to make this your own. And I think that was probably maybe what helped is to give them that confidence, hey, we're going to make this work for us. We often talk about adapt, don't adopt, right. Mind your own version of the Great Game of Business. You had an opportunity to work with one of our coaches Anne-Claire Broughton. And that's a perfect match in terms of likeminded folks. So how did she help you overcome these concerns?
Aimee Woodall 20:59
Man, I love Anne-Claire. She's such a sweet lady. I think that Anne-Claire, first of all, I should say, because I'm an open book type of person. Which is why open-book management is so great for me. [Laughter]
Steve Baker 21:19
It’s your brand.
Aimee Woodall 21:20
now, I'm making GGOB jokes, you know. So, anyway, what I was going to say is that our investment in hiring a coach was the single most expensive external investment that we had made. And I was very nervous about it. I, you know, we've always just sort of figured things out ourselves. But I knew reading GGOB that we couldn't, there were some, there were some things I felt like we could figure out. But there were other things that especially like the bonus system and things like that, that I just felt like, this is not my comfort zone. And it's so important to me that I want to do it right. And I need someone to help me, which brings Anne-Claire back into the picture. You know, she's such a graceful problem solver, she was a great sounding board, she gave me room for me to figure things out the way I needed to figure them out. And kind of pushed me sometimes when she was like, you need to figure this out. But at the same time, when it came to things that I was just completely overwhelmed by, she was such a good sounding board, and partner in sorting those things out too. So, I don't know, accountability is a huge thing with the coaching system. She just kept us on track, you know, this is a hard thing to find time to roll out. And she helped us plan ahead, you know, create space for it. And then she held us accountable. You know, it's sort of like hiring a trainer, when you want to get in shape. It's like, if I have a trainer, I am paying the trainer and I have to show up and I'm going to get results, you know. And Anne-Claire was that for us. Plus, just a great friend and, you know, eternally optimistic and just encouraging us all along the way.
Steve Baker 23:20
She is one of the great ones. Okay, let's put the moose on the table, as they say. You probably know that I have an art degree. Rich is a musician. You know, we know that creative people learn way differently. And some can be intimidated by the numbers. I have been running from numbers my whole life. And then I met Rich Armstrong and, you know, it's a love story, let's be honest. So how have you adapted the game to make it accessible for creatives?
Aimee Woodall 23:53
Well, you know, at times when we want to adapt, we even tell ourselves that the game is the game for a reason. And so, to some degree, we do try and stick to it as it is designed. But I think we just you know, our culture is really welcoming, and empathetic and personalized. We have a 17-person agency at the moment. And we, you know, we try to tailor learning to each individual, and the team is supportive of each other. So, I would say, you know, talking about it in the context of our work, everybody just sort of helps support everyone else. So, there's certainly different types of people like, you know, there's visual learners and there's audible learners. Yeah. And so, we take those things into consideration and I would say that there are certainly people who pick it up more quickly than others. We just really tried to create a safe space for talking, you know, talking out when somebody doesn't really, something isn't clicking for someone or something like that. I think that there were some struggles in the beginning, especially when you give everybody their piece to own something takes a little while to start to do that. But as you learn in that way, it eventually clicks into place. One thing that's been interesting to watch is the pandemic. And now we're onboarding new team members virtually, and so it's harder to not be in the same room and feel, you know, feel if somebody is getting stuck on something, or doesn't really get it. So, you know, we're paying close attention to that, not only with the Great Game of Business, but also, you know, just kind of in everything that we're doing. I would say, the person that has probably struggled more than anyone, or probably struggles with this more than anyone is me. Oddly enough, you know, I knew that it was right when I was reading the book, but that doesn't necessarily mean I was comfortable with it, or that it would make sense to me at every step of the way. Right? So, I'm still learning to, you know, the Great Game has forced us to do so many things that were probably excruciatingly overdue for our agency, you know, we had something that I would consider a rough budget, before we started playing the game. But now when I look back at what I thought was a budget, I'm like, that wasn't a budget. And so, now we have this powerful budget, we are forecasting, you know, we are looking ahead and making very powerful and informed decisions. And everybody is participating in that, not just a few people behind the curtain. And, you know, there are definitely hurdles where I'm like, my team understands better what is happening with these numbers right now than I do. And you know, so you have, you certainly have to be comfortable getting uncomfortable. And learning is such a part of the process and something you have to be patient with yourself. And so, we're all kind of coming at this with different tools and our bag. But I think if the team is really invested in it, everybody understands that, and it's helping each other and we're like, you know, the book says over and over, we're all playing together. And just like any other team sport that you're in, if you see somebody has a weak spot, if you want to win the game, you help each other figure out the weak spots. So, it's really wonderful. But I would say that, like the creative, the people that work at Black Sheep are so smart. They're some of the smartest, you know, the other bit of advice that leaders give surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. And I have and they're some of the most brilliant people I've ever met in my life. And so yes, they're creative. And sometimes that doesn't jive with finances and math, and you know, those sorts of things, spreadsheets, but they're also smart enough to figure out how to make it work for themselves. And we are the kind of group that helps, you know, do that together. So
Steve Baker 28:58
Love it, you're just appealing to a different level of thinking. It's not about creative or not creative. It's just what's next level. That's cool.
Rich Armstrong 29:06
Yeah, I really like the vulnerability you've shown in this process, too. But the commitment, let's follow through with this. I think it really probably build some confidence in your team.
Aimee Woodall 29:15
Yeah, well, curiosity is the value of Black Sheep. It's, you know, it's one of the things that we live by, we are insatiably curious people, and that really has no barriers. And being curious about, you know, some sort of social justice issue or some rare, you know, nonprofit or situation or something like that. You know, it translates right over to being curious about how finances work and how we can be more successful together and curiosity just like kind of knows no boundary. If you're a curious person, and I think, you know, not only are they smart, but they're aggressively curious. So, that's really, they've been excited. So, this has really surprised me. But they have just been really excited since day one to learn this stuff. So
Steve Baker 30:10
Love that hunger.
Rich Armstrong 30:11
That's awesome. Well, Aimee, you are in the impact business. So, I'm just curious, but what do you think the biggest impact has been from the Great Game of Business on your business and your people and your culture?
Aimee Woodall 30:26
Well, are you ready for some numbers, some stories?
Rich Armstrong 30:32
She's got her scoreboard in front of her.
Aimee Woodall 30:34
I do I do. So, we started the Great Game in 2018. Like the very end of 2018, I would say like the last quarter was where we were all reading the book. And everybody, we were getting set up, I think, Anne-Claire came on board sometime in the beginning of 2019.
3. The impact playing the game has had on our numbers.
And since we've installed this program, between 2018 and 2019, our revenue increased by 33%. Wow. So that's a pretty big one. But I think what I mean, what business owner wouldn't want to sign up for something that, that happens. One thing that makes me so happy is that in addition to our revenue increasing by 33%, our bonus payout has increased by 300%. Which is like an enormous number. But if that doesn't tell you that everybody wins when you play together, nothing does. Yeah, so that's a big story. And I mentioned that we were overworking our accounts by 60% when we started. Now, our latest statistic on that is 75% of our accounts are coming in underestimated scope, or at estimated scope. And so that effectively means that like around 25% might be go going over, but that might just be like a minor. It's not over by 60%.
Rich Armstrong 32:19
Aimee Woodall 32:21
So anyway, just huge results there. And for an impact-based business that is so important, because if we can stop the overwork, it gives us room to do more work and help more people. So those are some big numbers. Also, you guys haven't asked what our critical number was, but are our critical numbers centered around profit before tax. And this past year, it was our goal was 17.1% profit before tax. And we actually blew past that in a pandemic year, which is kind of amazing. But the maybe the more interesting fact is that our profit before tax has increased by 5%. between 2018 and 2020.
Steve Baker 33:20
Aimee Woodall 33:22
So, some really good numbers. You know, not only has this felt better, but it has like there's undeniable evidence that it has impacted our business and been incredibly powerful from a results perspective.
Steve Baker 33:39
So, we're talking about an impact with clients, an impact on the business itself and impact on your people. Everybody is a win win win. There's a fourth win I want to know about and that is let's talk about you personally. What is the game, implementing the game done for Aimee?
Aimee Woodall 33:58
Ha-ha. Well, there's one thing that immediately comes to mind and that is that it has made me less alone. You know, going back to that think like an owner statement I made earlier. When you are an entrepreneur, it is a very lonely place. It can be incredibly isolating; you feel a lot of pressure. Playing this really invites everybody in with you. It disperses the responsibility in such a positive way that it makes leadership less alone and it distributes out control so that you're all problem solving together. So, I've been on a long journey. It's been 11 years and I've been through ups and downs and I wasn't alone necessarily before this because we had hired and kind of changed our structure a little bit so that I had other leadership supporting me and things like that. And everybody was always, you know, on the surface, being very supportive. We work with good people
Steve Baker 35:15
Aimee Woodall 35:15
who are very empathetic and want the best for the agency. But now they have the ability to really support in all aspects. And so, I just feel less lonely, I feel so proud on a regular basis to hear the conversations that are happening, you know, to, because of the mechanisms that we have in place, now we can, we can look at how a project is going all the way through. And I hear conversations, I mean, back when we were in the office, I would hear conversations on a daily basis about like, where we were on the estimated scope, and how teams could make things up on the back end to hit the target. And, I mean, there's just, I don't know, they just have these tools that they never had before to really impact the bottom line and to impact their own lives, right. We all have much more balance in our lives because we're not overworking by 60% anymore. You know, we are able to have more balance to contain the work better. And that, you know, that's a cycle that just fuels everything else. If you're leaving work on time and resting and investing in the other things in your life, then you show up to work the next day, and you're a better person for it. So, and the work is better. So anyway, so I think that's it is like less loneliness, but also just a lot of pride in how much capability and power this unlocked. And now I have 17 entrepreneurs, you know, like we're all making really good decisions and driving the trajectory of the business. It's really cool to watch.
Steve Baker 37:18
Essentially, you're telling us that you have 17 people to help you carry that backpack. 2200 miles.
Aimee Woodall 37:23
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. I mean, that's, you know, that's a good analogy for it. Because before I was telling my team, look, we're hiking in Maine,
Steve Baker 37:37
Right. That's a huge journey, right>
Aimee Woodall 37:39
But they didn't have the milestones and the information and the guidebook to
Steve Baker 37:45
Yea, they didn't have the map. I love it.
Aimee Woodall 37:47
So, it felt overwhelming for everybody. It felt overwhelming for me as a leader, it felt overwhelming for them, because they didn't understand how we were going to get from point A to point B. And now, you know, we all have the guidebook.
Steve Baker 37:58
That's amazing. I think everybody listening can, you know for those of you who've been there, and that feeling of aloneness and then and see the freedom that comes from Great Game, I think that's one group. And then there's the folks who have stumbled upon us here. And that is one of the biggest benefits that people tell us, they say, I don't have to do this alone anymore. You know, this is it's like we can share the sleepless nights and the burden, but also the rewards and the celebrations and the benefits. So, I have another one for you. We always like to ask, you know, what, was there something that really surprised you? Was there one big surprise out of the process of implementing?
Aimee Woodall 38:36
You know, I think it's pretty simple. I was surprised by how much my team responded to this, like how much how many people wanted to know how to be more financially literate. How many people you know, like, they became giant nerds about learning about the finances of business. And, you know, I don't know, I just had a huge fear. Because there's already so much to do to give them one more thing. You know, I just didn't know how they would react to that, but they love it. They completely own it. And are excited by it. And you know, not only curious, but like, want to come up with new ways to hack the system and make it our own, and how can we keep huddles really inspiring. And how can we keep the energy up and right now we're in the middle of evaluating our critical number for 2021. And you know, it's been PVT, profit before tax related the last two years and so we're diving into, is that should we continue with that, or is there something better? And like what were the pros and cons of that? How, like, what baggage comes with those decisions? And people are just really into it. And that like, I think that repeated, like that surprised me at the beginning when they responded when they read the book, but it continually surprises me every week how invested they are. I mean, it shouldn't really surprise you because if you look at the 300% number that I said, bonuses have risen by, like they're being rewarded. And it's like, the whole system is just really feeding itself. So, I love watching that it re-inspires me constantly and gives me energy. Just really, really cool.
Steve Baker 40:39
Rich Armstrong 40:39
Yeah, that's, that's awesome. What, what's next for you? How do you want to take it to the next level? What's next for Black Sheep and what you're trying to do there?
Aimee Woodall 40:50
Well, that's an interesting question, I think, you know, being as informed as we are about the numbers now. And I mean, we've coupled this with other things, like we have a very sophisticated project management software that gives us data about our time because we're time-based company, right. So, we've gotten some complimentary structures in place, and between the Great Game and those efforts, we just have lots of very good data informing our decisions. And you cross reference that with the way impact is changing and the way activism is changing in the world. And that's, you know, that's at the root of who we are. We're thinking about a layer of new products and services and ways to work. And the Great Game is really informing that and going to help us as we roll that out, know how well it's working, and how to make adjustments and things like that. So, we are limited by time, and as a company whose mission statement is to shock, to be the agency that changes minds and accelerates impact. We cannot stop looking for ways to make more of an impact. And what's next is kind of rooted in that. And the nice thing is that the numbers are really helping guide those decisions instead of the emotion or the desire or the inspiration guiding those decisions. I mean, both of those things come together and make a nice outcome. But we'll see, we're in kind of the research and development stage of some what's next type of stuff. But
Rich Armstrong 42:58
Great sounds like you're building the capacity in the organization, they take it on right to be able to have it free to focus on it and make that happen. We always like to end these interviews Aimee with, really just asking you what's a question we should be asking you right now?
Aimee Woodall 43:16
You know, it's always hardest to see the thing that's missing, though, is it's always easier to see like the information is there all looks good, but harder to think about what's missing. You know, I think as a brand strategist and somebody who does this for a living on a daily basis, the smartest thing you could ask me is how could we brand this better? How could we tell this story better? How could we,
Rich Armstrong 43:43
Aimee Woodall 43:44
you know, evolve our brand to capture the attention of more people and make them understand what's beneath the surface. Because what if I would have looked at the book and said, oh, this looks too corporate for me, and just left it there. You know, I certainly would have suffered and not reached the potential that we’re reaching. But you know, how many people is that happening to? How many people have I told about the book that they look at and they're like, yeah, looks like another business book. Um, so you know, I don't know. That's what I would ask, that would be a longer conversation. But, you know, I mean, one thing that we talked about as a team, as we started to dive through this, is how you could specialize this and have more industry specific versions.
Rich Armstrong 44:45
Aimee Woodall 44:46
So that's been something that we've been thinking about. But yeah, if you were to ask me something now, that's the part of my brain I would pick.
Rich Armstrong 44:53
I was definitely going to be asking you about that offline. So, a longer conversation [laughter] we talked about that a lot. So, you hit on something that, you know, it's that yeah, this is why we're doing the things we're doing, you know, we want to change the game, but we have to make it more accessible. We need to get more awareness out there. And that's always a challenge, right? Kind of, you know, cut through all the noise, and get it out there. So, we’ll have that conversation.
Aimee Woodall 45:23
it's a noisy world. It's getting noisier, too.
Rich Armstrong 45:27
Steve Baker 45:27
Yeah, no sign of letting up there for sure. Well Aimee, it has been a real pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much. Thank you to Rich. Let's keep the conversation going everybody. Let's be a part of the big story here. Send us your questions, your stories, your best practices, your ideas and your challenges and victories. That is capitalism at its best. And remember, like Aimee said, you don't have to do it alone. We can get through this together, we'll make it all better. The world will be much better when we transform these 10 million lives in the next 10 years. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you next time.
The "Change the Game" Podcast is produced by the Great Game of Business. To learn more, visit greatgame.com.