Episode with guest: Steve Baker
Vice President at The Great Game of Business
(This episode was recorded in December of 2021.)
Key Episode Take-Aways:
1. Different generations want different things. (click to jump to this topic below) Talk to each other, not at each other. Remember that when the company wins, everybody wins. And benefits go beyond health insurance. What about life skills? Or something else? What can you come up with? And then why not ask people what they want? Don't assume. Different generations want different things. So, let's be sure to ask and listen.
2. Set stretch goals that are achievable that your team can believe in. (click to jump to this topic below) Mike Keesee from Total Solutions Group said set goals that are achievable. Make sure that they stretch your people, but that the team can believe in and I think that that's one of the big takeaways from last year is belief is so important in business.
Continue scrolling to read the full episode transcription.
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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. In this episode, Steve Baker looks back on 2021 and highlights some of his favorite podcasts over the last year. We hope you enjoy this recap and have an amazing new year. Here's your hosts Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker.
Steve Baker 1:10
Hi everybody. It's Steve Baker with the Great Game of Business. And as we begin a brand-new year, I thought we'd look back at 2021 and some of the highlights from our podcast guests. And some of the best things that they say these are just things that I picked out of the show notes. You can look at each of the episodes and their show notes to get the full picture. But these are just the favorites. You might remember Ellen Rohr from ZOOM DRAIN, she had some really good quotes. You should never have to sacrifice everything for your business. money buys options. So, make a decision on what you want and why. Ellen hates whining because nobody cares. Clean up your own act. What is it that you want? Maybe start with the question, what do I not want? Also keep things really simple, the basics always work. Stop being apologetic about making money. And this is my favorite of hers calls equals sales. Sales equals profit. Profit equals cash. Cash gives us options. Prairie Capital, if you remember Tom DeSimone came on and said Is it ever too early to start planning? No. You should be asking yourself have you outgrown your advisors? And that hoping and wishing is not a transition strategy. Darein Gandall from Cisco-Eagle said complacency and entitlement are always a concern. Huddles bring all that stuff back into check. The founders of Cisco-Eagle, I thought this was really cool, wanted their people to have the same life that they themselves enjoyed as owners. That is pretty cool. And then here's one for the plaque on your wall. Be careful not to get money drunk. Money comes and goes. Make sure you're keeping it on an even keel. Tim Rettig from Intrust IT. First of all, before we talk about his quote, I just want to point out that as a high-tech company, he uses a 10-foot-high whiteboard as a scoreboard. So, the physical scoreboard is alive and well even in tech. Tim shared with us that everybody in his company owns a line item which rolls up into a team P&L, and all the team P&Ls roll up into a companywide P&L. And I thought that was a great way to talk about this idea of instead of cascading scoreboard sort of Samling scoreboards that go up roll up into the company wide scoreboard and that's perfect for huddles. He also said that great leaders use knowledge to take fear out of the organization. That's something we've heard from Jack Stack for years. You remember our friend Jeff Evenson. Now he's been involved in businesses of all different kinds. And he pointed out that working with creatives in the salon business, they were very willing and excited to participate in Great Game. Jeff had to bring the more data. Now working with technicians and unit manufacturing organization. He said they needed more trust building. So, look for what people need at any given organization and with the right leadership and vulnerability, you can make The Game work anywhere. Lots of good takeaways from Stephan Abrams at The Liquor Store out in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He actually created an employment brand. That way, it was a place that people would want to work. He's the employer of choice, if you will, out in Jackson Hole. He said he does staying interviews, versus exit interviews. He has and watches and works on consistently and Employee Net Promoter Score. How likely would you recommend working at this company to your friends and colleagues? Communication is the foundation of everything invest in improving your hiring process. Be prepared to lose people that just don't fit your culture. And then he quoted Jack Stack, as many folks did in our podcast this year. We as business leaders are the new educators. It is up to us businesses to teach people. Royce George was a special guest and he had a couple of good ideas here, leaders are made not born and a leader is one who people follow voluntarily. You may remember Tonia Morris, our kind of resident expert on diversity, inclusion and belonging. She says things that you know, it's common sense. But man, how often do you find that common sense is not that common?
1. Different generations want different things.
Talk to each other, not at each other. Remember that when the company wins, everybody wins. And benefits go beyond health insurance. What about life skills? Or something else? What can you come up with? And then why not ask people what they want? Don't assume. Different generations want different things. So, let's be sure to ask and listen. Now, Greg Crabtree has been around The Game for many, many years. And he had some really cool stuff to talk about. He said there's one critical number, it's not net income, its contribution margin. And so, for what, for what it's worth margin, a contribution margin is margin minus direct labor. He says it's the purest output of your business engine. So, we might take a note of that. Behavioral economics are, be aware of choices that you're making in the business versus market forces, right? There's two different things going on there. Be aware of the choices that you're making. The number one challenge or barrier to growth is not cash, it's execution. And finally, Greg's advice is very interesting on this one, no business in the United States should yield less than a 50% return. Well, that's a good one to work on for this year, isn't it? Casey Hildebrandt from Hildebrandt Tree Tech, I got a couple of good things out of the conversation with Casey, identifying what you're good at may help you in looking to how you can grow and diversify your business. And his example was, maybe we're really good at scheduling rather than thinking of we're really good at trees. Because now you can talk about really diversifying the business getting into something completely different if he identifies those skills. He said, talk to your peers at conferences, peer groups, etc. Don't be alone, get out there and grow and accelerate your learning. And also utilize the higher law of business: people support what they help create, in all aspects of your life. Casey is great.
2. Set stretch goals that are achievable that your team can believe in.
Mike Keesee from Total Solutions Group said set goals that are achievable. Make sure that they stretch your people, but that the team can believe in and I think that that's one of the big takeaways from last year is belief is so important in business. We talked to Jenner Ag, Steve Jones, he had so many great comments. It was a really good podcast; I highly recommend that one. He said one of the things that was really good for them was WTAO-Working Together As One. Combining three different businesses and stores as he calls them under one umbrella with that common language of Great Game of Business. He said Great Game of Business provides peace of mind for the owner and pride in their young people. He said their culture committees and the ESOP committee and all different types of committees that they have for their game often come up with the changes that need to be made in any business. When something doesn't feel right, the team can work on it. He said education and transparency allows people to make better decisions about the lifestyles they build. They understand why there is and isn't a bonus this quarter. There's this burden for the most part that is taken off of leadership. He said knowing the financials brings a new level of accountability. And some people aren't right for the Great Game. He thinks that at Jenner, they have better smarter associates. Not everybody's going to fit that culture. And then again, one of my favorite things that Steve said he goes I'm not a huge Madonna or Cher fan, but they continually reinvent themselves. And so, Steve's fire to continue to reinvent Jenner Ag to keep it fresh. That's one of the ways that they keep growing and in being one of the all-star players of Great Game of Business. Now, we also interviewed Jack Stack. And of course, he's always got a ton of good ones here, but I'll try to keep it tight. Behavioral and cultural change take a long time. When you find content that accelerates it, grab it. And we are so entangled with the present as a country, really short-term thinking no one is putting their long term high-involvement, strategic planning on the forefront. They need to be doing that. By doing so you can eliminate a lot of unexpected surprises. He says why don't people like to plan. You have no idea how much better you feel when you have a plan. In today's world of tension, anxiety and fatigue, you're almost required to take a look. You know, for things that are good, whether it's good news, good stories, we have a thing around SRC, we call Tell Me Something Good. We have to make a practice of that, look for the good stuff, and listen for the good stuff as well. Whoever has the best workforce will dominate their marketplace. One of my favorites is of course, what sets champions apart from amateurs? And the answer is, they've learned to train through the boredom. Cultural and behavioral muscle memory happens through repetition and discipline to the system. Whenever you face something challenging, go to your muscle memory, work the system. Learn the KPIs or the metrics that really matter. For example, he used that when lead times go up, inflation goes up, are you planning to increase your margins, always be watching for those metrics that really truly matter in your business and your industry. And finally, cut through the noise and misinformation with one voice, with the facts, the scorecards and the incentives to make the difference. Jack has always got some good stuff. And I thought I'd wrap up this one with a number of things that Alan Beaulieu from ITR Economics gave us this year. We had a chance to spend time together on a number of occasions, the conference, the podcast, and of course conversations in general. And, you know, always pick up something good from Alan as a great way to, to wrap up this podcast. First of all, change is not an option get used to it. He says if you don't like change, you are going to hate extinction. War for talent, the only way to survive is to build a culture that sticky where people want to stay. Move your now let's talk about that, you know, there's a prediction or a forecast of ITRs of a recession, a significant recession in 25 or 26. A Great Depression in 2030. So, keep those things in mind here. So, you know what, I asked him, What should we be doing right now? He said, Why don't you think about move your allocations to inflation adjusted assets like real estate and utilities and healthcare really boring, stable stuff. We will see some form of digital currency and that does not mean cryptocurrency. Umm and when you think about this, we're going to hit the Great Depression. He goes, it's not a zombie apocalypse, it's not Armageddon, but rather, it's information that will allow you to prepare. So, those are the things that are you know, you got to be thinking about. And to finish up. I think he gave us some really positive stuff, as Jack said, look for those things that are positive and talk about and make sure the highlight the positive in such a world of negativity. Alan shared with us these things the United States is at record high outputs right now. We are still the number two manufacturing nation in the world, of course China is number one. We are still the number two exporter of goods in the world. And the US dollar is and will likely remain the world's reserve currency. And to put it best, Alan said this, he said, we're still pretty awesome, tell your kids. So, again, great year for guests on the podcast, a lot of challenges out there. We're very optimistic about 2022 and what everything will bring for us. Let's look for the opportunities. Let's look for the good stuff, as all of those guests pointed out. Keep taking care of your people, teach as much as you can, and keep it simple. Well lets Let's keep the conversation going. Send us your questions, your stories and best practices, those great ideas, your challenges, and your victories, because that is capitalism at its best. Thanks for joining us, and we will see you next time.
The "Change the Game" Podcast is produced by the Great Game of Business. To learn more, visit greatgame.com