Episode with guest: David Gilliland
Elite Business Coach at Elite Entrepreneurs
(This episode was recorded in February of 2022.)
Key Episode Take-Aways: Show Notes
1. Shifting from being a great technician or the idea person into a great business leader is a mental. (click to jump to this topic below) And so, there's a shift you've got to make from being the hero into being a hero maker. That's a mental shift. It's like giving up your old identity, to take on something you're no good at. But the beauty is, these are learnable skills, right? Anybody can do this I've seen; I've seen technicians who hated people, or didn't hate people, but their skills were so bad that they hated interacting with it. So, it was just a matter of saying, Look, people just want to know where you're going.
2. Changing how you operate can be tough, but it is doable. Establishing clear core values to help achieve long-term vision and goals. (click to jump to this topic below) And I've seen everyone pull it off, whoever puts their time and effort into it. But it's hard, right? It takes time to change our old way to shift gears, right, you're trying to climb a mountain, you got it, you got to shift gears and your bike to keep going and to go at the speed you want to go. And if you're in the wrong gear, everything just peters out. So first is yes, clearly defining where we're trying to go and what success looks like and in a way that's meaningful to your team. So, your team has to say, I'm finding a sense of purpose and doing this not just the dollars, the dollars matter. But standalone that doesn't achieve anyone's long term vision and hopes.
3. Constant teaching and education inside your company are essential to keep everything clear for employees. (click to jump to this topic below) So, we do teach a clear methodology, and we're constantly teaching and reminding them the messaging, just like you have to do with your culture in your company, we do this with the business owners, this is the mindset, let's keep this clear. Here's the tools, here's the skills, let's build these, right. So, there's a learning component. And so, we have a lot of education that's going on, but in real life with other business owners, because the next piece is community, you really do become the, you know, become the person of similar to the five people around you, who are the five closest people around you kind of conglomerate a lot of them.
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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 with special guests David Gilliland. In this episode, David discusses how leadership is an exercise in relinquishing control held three times growth is about having the right team, and the importance of looking ahead to what your company can do when it's doing $1,000 per hour work. Here's your hosts Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker.
Steve Baker 1:16
Welcome to the "Change the Game" Podcast where we are changing The Game by doing business differently and highlighting stories of capitalism at its best. I'm Steve Baker with the Great Game of Business. And with me is Rich Armstrong, head coach and co-author of our book Get in the Game - How to Create Rapid Financial Results and Lasting Cultural Change. Hello, Rich.
Rich Armstrong 1:39
Hey, Steve, how are you?
Steve Baker 1:41
I am outstanding. And the reason is because we have a very special guest today, David Gilliland. David leads elite entrepreneurs. This is a business coaching organization focused specifically on helping grow seven figure businesses that matter. What's really great about this is I got a chance to work with their community a little bit got exposed to them and very excited. They teach small business owners what they learned in developing and growing Infusionsoft. And they do it in areas of culture, capital and strategy. And by the way, I happen to know that David is an absolute expert on organizational behavior and leadership. Because he has eight daughters David, welcome to the podcast.
David Gilliland 2:27
Hey, thanks for that intro., Steve. Rich, really great to spend more time with you. We just, we love. We love the Great Game of Business and the great work that you guys do. We just really appreciate it.
Steve Baker 2:41
Well, you can keep talking like that all day, man. I love it. Let's jump into some background. So, people have an understanding about elite entrepreneurs that was born within Infusionsoft. Right. Can you tell us about that a little bit?
David Gilliland 2:58
Yeah, actually, you could almost highlight this is one of the examples you would use in your book with future customers. We there was a time there. I wasn't part of Infusionsoft at the time. I joined later with my brother in elite entrepreneurs. But when it began, Clay Mask and Brett were working together there. And they'd set up a system and it's to grow that seven-figure business to eight and beyond. And they were taking Infusionsoft from about 6 million, up to 100 million good fast growth. Anyway, setting some ambitious goals. And one year as they were coming to the end, they shared the numbers openly. Right? They opened up the books, Clay came to the executive team and said, Guys, I've done the numbers and I just can't see how we're going to hit it this year. And you know, they'd hit their numbers, they'd done this, oh, this is this huge hit. And, and the executive team took that. And sure enough, right running the game, the way it was set up running the play of the business model, the way that they'd first set it up wasn't going to run for them. It wasn't going to get to the numbers. But several of the groups spun off that said, no, we're going to figure this out, left that meeting, put their heads together, lots of different things came out. And one of them was this lead entrepreneurs was bored. As they would they began to now say, hey, look, we'll teach you how we grew from seven to eight went to their community. And that along with a couple other initiatives brought in the extra revenue that they needed to hit their mark. So anyway, it was a turn to the team, open the books up and let people see and it really inspired and help them to move forward.
Rich Armstrong 4:49
That's great. That's great. Well with the lead entrepreneurs, you get an opportunity to work with a lot of business leaders across the country. I'm curious what you're hearing right now? What are their biggest concerns? What are biggest pain points?
David Gilliland 5:02
I'm going to hit two really fast. One talent, talents a huge, huge issue right now, more of the speed of people moving from one place to the next hopping around. We're kind of seeing this renegotiation going on, as the power has shifted towards employees away from employers in negotiation. So that I believe has some really positive potential for the right companies. But it's a challenge to start with. And then a second one is really more industry specific, pandemic wise, depending on the industry, you're in which of our clients, some of them were completely shut down to the pandemic and are back up and going. Others are not back up and going, because maybe they serve the medical industry, but not in the critical areas that are being focused on right now. Or that that hit them hard. But one of our clients in tourism was just smashed. And yet, she's back up and going and doing well. So, we're so delighted, as we got to ride that wave with her. But everyone is they thought they had shifted gears and found a new path. And some of them have to keep shifting, shifting to a new business model and a new focus. And so, you're very hands on kind of work right now in the building of the business. Great question.
Rich Armstrong 6:24
David, how do you what kind of advice are you giving them on those two issues? Like, specifically talent? I mean, that is something that's going to be a challenge for probably many years here for a while, but you know, due to the generation gap, but what do you what are you guys doing?
David Gilliland 6:40
Well, funny enough, I've got a webinar. That's so hot, everyone keeps asking. So, I'll do just a couple points on that, too. One would be that the way you look for your talent, you don't have the kind of time frame to hire like you used to, people are taking jobs in the middle of your hiring process, and a left and right, and so that's, that's a bit of an issue. And so, helping them to see that you can actually build differently. Move your bottleneck to a new spot, we used to kind of optimize around the hiring manager or the owners role, right? Let's make this as easy as possible. And it kind of brought people through in big batches, you got to not shorten or not take out any of the selection process and the winning their hearts, and all those important things, getting the right people on, but build it around the individuals they come through. And so, you may not be optimized around your personal time, right now, you might be optimizing around the candidates time, you may need to move them through in a three-day cycle instead of a two-week cycle for that offer to come in. But don't skip a single step. The biggest hiring mistake is because we're rushing it. Never, never take out a step. But you can do it faster by optimizing another way. Yeah, it's gonna cost you a little bit, right, it's gonna disrupt your day a bit. But that talent is worth so much. Right. So that's one. And then another side on that, you know, as you just look at the talent and is, it's not actually that different. People are running left and right to different things; we think they're moving for $1 an hour. They're actually still seeking for happiness and input, right, they want to make a difference. They want to have contribution; they want to be co creating the future of this organization. You guys know this, I mean, you preach it so well, from a great financial angle, we do it in that strategic direction, where you're headed in the vision and your values. And in every decision, you make along the way. That's how we support it to stand out there. And you still win in the talent arena. So, give them a purpose. Give them a place that they belong, help them, see how they contribute every day, and you're going to still win in the talent war. They're looking for happiness, give it to
Rich Armstrong 9:03
Great advice. Great advice. Thank you for that.
Steve Baker 9:06
That's really good stuff. Thanks for that. And you know, the best part is, is that you're seeing folks in the elite entrepreneur, community and in that zone of small to mid-size business folks that are really the backbone of our economy anyway. And I love that we're all in the same boat. How do we make that backbone stronger? How do we grow this whole thing and create the jobs that people would want? As you said, and David, you, know better than anybody that oftentimes, and I've seen this myself working in the Ink Magazine, kind of 5000 world for so long and stuff, you know, entrepreneurs typically have a great idea or they're a great technician, and not really that great at business when they begin. They kind of got into business by accident. What is your typical guidance for these folks that where they're morphing from the great technician or the idea person into a business leader?
David Gilliland 10:04
Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, our approach on that is look at and say, hey, we've got, again, we're only serving those that I'm going to talk about the stages in your business, as you're moving through, you know, when you start up your business, don't go to the complexity I'm talking about right now. Okay, so you can take pieces of this. But when you get to around 8,9,10 people on your team, there's a, it changes, right, you're not, you can't just be the technician anymore, or the brakes, just go on your business, and you flatline. And so that's about 1–3-million-dollar range, you start to hit a plateau. And it has to do with the complexity of that team.
1. Shifting from being a great technician or the idea person into a great business leader.
And so, there's a shift you've got to make from being the hero into being a hero maker. That's a mental shift. It's like giving up your old identity, to take on something you're no good at. But the beauty is, these are learnable skills, right? Anybody can do this I've seen; I've seen technicians who hated people, or didn't hate people, but their skills were so bad that they hated interacting with it. So, it was just a matter of saying, Look, people just want to know where you're going. So first, really establish a vision. Jim Collins has got some great stuff on this, look at his latest book, BE 2.0. The way he defines vision, purpose, core values and mission, look at what those definitions are, figure that out. And then and then we can kind of from there, once we help them get that clear vision and how to create that with that team that they have. Right co created with them, where their fingers are all over it. Now they see their mark on it, they get behind it. And instead of you dragging them behind you, pulling them up a mountain, they start to lift and carry you. So first set that vision, then there's a whole methodology, this, it's just too much, I'll just be honest, there's too much. But there's a step at a time, if you want it. Like if anyone's listening, they want, they can just like text me, they just text me for 480-900-1505 just text growth. And you can have our eBook and there's a there's the whole model, it'll give you the rest of it. But in essence, you got to learn how to run it, give them a vision, give them a solid rhythm, that they can go back to check their metrics that they set and everything and see how well they're living to it. And again, that's where it goes hand in glove with what Great Game of Business is all about.
Rich Armstrong 12:32
David, I love that, you, you wrap that up with a bit of how they could have their hands all over the vision. Right, that it's part of it. And you know, of course, knowing the Great Game of Business, that's a big part of our philosophy, right is people support what they help create. How do you get them involved? I'm curious, you know, with business owners, because we that's usually one of those constraints, right, of making that transition, as well as being more open, more transparent, getting people more involved in the business when they get a real kick out of just having their hands in everything. Right. So how do you help a leader like that make that transition?
David Gilliland 13:13
Yeah. So, leadership is really an exercise in relinquishing control. Yeah. Now, one of the things that that I do to help them out or that our team does is, first to help them see what could be. So, to teach them this concept of, you know, there's different levels of contribution you can make in your business. And I'll just use numbers to help illustrate it. But $10 An hour work. $100 An hour work $1,000 An hour work or $10,000 an hour work. Or when you're a learner, when you're a doer, a technician, when you're a leader of other technicians, and your work now is leveraged through 10 other people doing so much better, right? Or when you're a leader of leaders in setting the direction now you're impacting the entire organization in what you could do. So, to help them see clearly, what on your calendar today, are you spending on 10 and $100 an hour work? What could your business do when you learn how to do $1,000.10 $1,000 An hour work? Now if I can get you thinking about that, and seeing oh my goodness, I could do so much more and gain more time and money freedom. So first, that desire, right? And I'll use that to help them see there's something better there's something more and just help them help them see that once they see it and they see those steps. Then we can begin to help them first taste it. Have the team together. See how different it is when they run an annual planning meeting strategic off site, and they start seeing people jump up, put their hand up, give ideas and run with a program instead. stead of needing to be directed and pushed in a program, right, such a difference. And they go home happy. Instead of mad and kicking the dog they go home celebrating kissing their husband or wife.
Steve Baker 15:11
That's the name of my next book is quit kicking the dog. One of the questions that I've been asking you to your value proposition that I see when I look at elite doctors on the on the website, and that sort of thing is it's a very powerful one, it's grown your seven-figure business to $10 million plus, right. So, if you're going to help people Tenex their business, that's quite a claim. And I just wonder if you could, is there a brief way that you can walk us through how you help folks do that? I think we're touching on a lot of those things right now. But is there a framework that you'd like to share?
David Gilliland 15:53
Yeah, it's, I mean, again, the key is the shift of mindset, give them the tool sets, and then the skills that are needed to pull it off. And I would like to say it's a silver bullet, but it is not. And this is hard work. It just is. It's simple. Anybody can do it.
2. Changing how you operate can be tough, but it is doable. Establishing clear core values to help achieve long-term vision and goals.
And I've seen everyone pull it off, whoever puts their time and effort into it. But it's hard, right? It takes time to change our old way to shift gears, right, you're trying to climb a mountain, you got it, you got to shift gears and your bike to keep going and to go at the speed you want to go. And if you're in the wrong gear, everything just peters out. So first is yes, clearly defining where we're trying to go and what success looks like and in a way that's meaningful to your team. So, your team has to say, I'm finding a sense of purpose and doing this not just the dollars, the dollars matter. But standalone that doesn't achieve anyone's long term vision and hopes. So, it's got to be tied to what they care about. So, purpose that's got that, here's what we're after. Here's the change. Here's the thing we care most about that clear core value that says who belongs here, those things really, really matter. The thing that holds them back from growth mostly, is the wrong people are there. You hire the wrong people, and you keep trying to fix that. You're not going to fix it by hiring the wrong people. So, getting the right people in really matters, learning how to onboard them really well, learning how to care for them really well. That matters a great deal. There's all of your energy and power comes from the people and what they choose to put into it. And so, we need to invest wisely in that group, I see a bump, usually just in that. So, your first 3x growth, let's say you're at a million, you want to go to 3 million. That first piece is learning how to get that right team working in unison, pulling together. So, think people and some processes, some of those processes are in meetings can't be run away from bad meetings should be run away from. So, and don't mix them. If you're doing strategy work on the business stuff, kind of like Michael Gerber's work on the business, if you're doing that work, you need to have that meeting rhythm to help ensure that work happens. And if you're mixing that, with your day-to-day operations, and every meeting and you just run circles, we talk forever, we get nowhere everyone leaves upset again. So, operations meetings need to be their own. And they need to have a good cadence, and they need to have good metrics that people understand what levers to pull. Right? So those are just some real critical things. How do we hire lead and fire to that vision? What are some of the meeting rhythms that need to be in place? And can we all see the business building side and where I can contribute to that not just my day job? Where can I contribute to the other place. So those are critical, along with don't run out of cash, okay, you've got to have fuel for growth through there. So that's why those metrics matter, both to make the money internally and externally to be able to say you want to give me money, it's check out my numbers. So, some of that needs to be in place. That's your 1-3. If you want to go from 3 million through to 10 million and beyond, your next step is to learn how to build other great leaders. It's its own thing. Now you're so removed from the business and take all your time is developing and building other people. If you want to move fast, yes. And if you don't want to kind of lose your soul or the culture you've been trying to build along the way, you better start then or you're going to have to hire it all from outside every time and that's going to change your culture. It's gonna mess so many things up. Begin at that three to four or 5 million. You've got to start building other leaders and some systems need to be put in place. So, was that enough? And we only have So much stalking. There's a lot of stuff, but there's
Steve Baker 20:05
Sure, I think, you know, and what I like to do is kind of follow up with another question is, so what we're looking for is that there's a lot of people that are in that zone, right? So, we have a friend whose name is Doug Tatum, he wrote "No Man's Land". And it's all about these common issues that growing companies encounter. And it's this, the, the way he puts it is it's an agonizing battle between the tendencies of a little entrepreneur, and certain Immutable Laws of growth is what you were just talking about. So, my next question was going to be as really tied together, how do you help companies that are growing to avoid that deadly no man's land where they're just stuck, they just can't grow? They're just, you know, in stasis.
David Gilliland 20:51
And if it's okay, if I answer this time, I tend not to like to talk about the here's my process now for doing it. But we've learned a few key things in making changes. One of those things is knowledge and understanding, that's important. Like, I could just buy a book for that, or listen to a podcast, which is awesome. And you should get that knowledge and understanding.
3. Constant teaching and education inside your company are essential to keep everything clear for employees.
So, we do teach a clear methodology, and we're constantly teaching and reminding them the messaging, just like you have to do with your culture in your company, we do this with the business owners, this is the mindset, let's keep this clear. Here's the tools, here's the skills, let's build these, right. So, there's a learning component. And so, we have a lot of education that's going on, but in real life with other business owners, because the next piece is community, you really do become the, you know, become the person of similar to the five people around you, who are the five closest people around you kind of conglomerate a lot of them. So we bring you together with other business owners, who are similarly passionate about this, who want to co create with their employees who deeply care, right, that's something different about us, you know, I didn't say, we just want to drive the fastest revenue, and right get to the top as quickly as possible step on as many people, no, you got to go on to co-create and really care if you're gonna belong to our community, but that community matters. These are people pushing for growth, they care, they're going to make an impact. You want to be around those people. No. And then the last thing is, is you just need some accountability and some specific coaching, one on one sometimes. And so we combine these education, community and coaching, really to bring it together and let them know, stay in the community, it's going to take you some time to make the shift, and then you're going to grow and you're gonna have another shift to make, we've got another thing to help you right, it's just going to keep going for a while until we get you well beyond that 10 million, you're going 20 million, 30? Go to somebody else, we're built for that first, that first growth spurt there. So, to help them through that stage four and five is what we call it, if you check this out, sometimes you'll see the stages. That's great.
Steve Baker 23:08
I appreciate that very much. Because no man's land is a scary place to be
David Gilliland 23:12
it is and you got to talk with people, right? Let's hear about it. It is lonely at the top, and there's no reason to be. So, we'll help you. And then we're going to help you learn how to get your team fully engaged. So that you, you know, you don't feel lonely, you really feel like I can move through this because we're all gonna have down days, and there's a mental peace in this. There's a lot of mental health stuff in this and a lot of just personal growth. And, you know, we bring in experts on that. That's part of the learning. It's not just our methodology. You got to get your head in the game the right way.
Rich Armstrong 23:45
Yep, so true. So true. Well, David, hey, we like to wrap up these podcasts by asking, what's one question that we should be asking you right now? What have we missed?
David Gilliland 23:58
Well, you haven't asked how to manage a household of eight daughters. Right. And there's a gem in there, right. Anyway,
Steve Baker 24:09
Let's have it.
David Gilliland 24:10
I'm glad you haven't asked because I'm still trying to discover the jet. No, I deeply love that. I say my same principles, right? Listen to them. Listen to them. Help them personally get what they most care about. And then help them figure out how to achieve and, you know, thrive in doing their chores. And if it means stepping in and doing it with them for a while. Do it.
Steve Baker 24:42
Oh, that's great. I have to ask; do you own a shotgun? You might need one at some point.
David Gilliland 24:53
No, I've taught them to shoot. I can't be everywhere. They're the ones that need to manage that right? You got to build the heroes instead of trying
Rich Armstrong 25:04
Teach a man to fish. Yes,
Steve Baker 25:06
there you go. I love it. It ties right back to your ethos, right? In business or family. Perfect. Well, David, this has been a lot of fun. Now one thing that we do is, I'll try to grab notes as we're talking because I'm looking for those gems right. And then we'll kind of feed them back to you, you tell me if I got this wrong, or if I'm pretty close to the points you were trying to make. So, the biggest pain points you're hearing about talent, I kind of like how you coined a little phrase their kind of a great renegotiation. It's like the speed at which people are moving from one job to another has been, you know, unprecedented. It's really happening so fast. So, you got to keep shifting, a lot of entrepreneurs thought they'd found a path forward. It's not over yet, many may need to shift even more. The way you look for talent is important. You can build differently. You said don't short your process just in order to get bodies. Now remember, I'm paraphrasing. So, tell me if any of this is inappropriate. Optimize around the candidate never take steps out of your process. So, it may have to happen faster but be very cognizant of what we're trying to do here. It can't be shortchanged as a process. You also mentioned that things aren't that different. People still want to matter. They want to contribute, they want purpose, they want to be happy. I think that's really powerful. Because that is some of the basic human stuff, right? We all want significance; we all want to matter. And we all want to make a difference in the world around us. He said shift, this is a real gem shift from being the hero to being the hero maker. It is a learnable skill, and on vision and purpose and mission, co create this with people and then care people will carry you there. Leadership isn't an exercise and let relinquishing control I love that should be a bumper sticker right there. But and then what will your business do when you are doing 1000 or $10,000 an hour work. You talked about clearly defining what success looks like in a way that resonates with your people. I think that kind of supports what we've been talking about. One thing that holds people back from growth is having the wrong people. So, knowing how to onboard them. And you mentioned it earlier in the podcast, of course, as well as you know, don't shortchange your process, get those right people on the bus. You mentioned in that first 3x growth, the right team is everything getting in there and pulling in the right direction. I really love this one meeting shouldn't be avoided bad meeting should get good metrics, good meeting cadence, don't run out of cash, all good advice, going then from three to 10 million, learn how to build other leaders and I kind of took something out of it. It's sort of like you're not working in the business anymore. You're no longer the technician. And you can't just hire from outside, you're gonna have to build your leaders from within. And I think that's a real dovetail to what Great Game of Business talks about. The Big Three that I heard around how you guys approach things is community surround yourself with smart people, other people are out there that are like you, and they care. And you need that support. It can be lonely at the top. Coaching. Accountability makes a huge difference. You need that. And you also mentioned something that we don't hear a lot of, but we need to hear more of and that is that personal growth and mental health matter. And finally, the last note that I took here that I thought was really good was listen to people help other people get what they want. And it reminds me of what Zig Ziglar used to say if you help another enough other people achieve their goals. You'll get everything you want out of life, too. I just totally butchered Zig there, but you know what I'm saying? But it was like close. Did I get most of it?
David Gilliland 29:07
Not only did you do really well, it just shows me I don't really have distinct talking points. I am talking way too much.
Steve Baker 29:16
But maybe I don't have distinct hearing.
David Gilliland 29:19
Yes, yeah, you did great with it.
Steve Baker 29:22
Well, David, it's been fun. It's good to see you again. We sure appreciate you coming on the podcast. If you want to learn more about elite entrepreneurs, you can visit grow with elite.com. And David, you mentioned an e book could you share with them again, the text they need to
David Gilliland 29:39
They could just text 480-900-1505 and they could just type in growth and then you know, get your email and we'll get it sent with the if that works best for you on your phone. You can just do that. You can also just find it on the website, look at our free resources and you know. There's stuff about those stages of business, the growth, you a little thing there, you could pull off, you could see some things around leadership, whatever, just go and take whatever you want and use it. Right. Most important is implement with your team these things, it'll help make a difference.
Steve Baker 30:15
Yeah. And I think we all say this. It's pretty simple. It's just not easy.
David Gilliland 30:23
Steve Baker 30:24
Do something. Well, David, thanks again for being here. We really appreciate it.
David Gilliland 30:27
I certainly have enjoyed my time with both of you. And so, value the work you're doing. You're making a difference. And so, keep it up. Thanks for having me.
Steve Baker 30:37
All right, folks. Let's keep the conversation going. Send us your questions, your stories, your best practices, your ideas, and of course, your challenges and victories. That is capitalism at its best. Thanks for joining us, and 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