Episode with guest: Ryan Markewich
A Great Game of Business Certified Coach™ and Founder of Creative Roots Landscaping
(This episode was recorded in April of 2022.)
Continue scrolling to read the full episode transcription.
Steve Baker 00:31
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. Hello, I'm Steve Baker with The Great Game of Business and today I am thrilled, we've got a special guest here today with us, Ryan Markewich. Ryan is a 28-year veteran in landscaping, design, construction, and maintenance. He's the founder of Creative Roots Landscaping in British Columbia. He's used The Great Game of Business to develop and empower his team for such a long time. In fact, probably one of the longer tenured practitioners that I know personally. He's used it to not only empower his team, but also to kind of uncouple himself from day to day operations so that he can do what he's doing today, which is living in Mexico for a third of the years. It's, it's really cool. Ryan's become a real influencer. In the landscaping world, people are paying attention. They're listening to what he has to say, he routinely writes columns in industry publications. He is now also a Great Game of Business Certified Coach helping other landscapers and small business owners grow their businesses, and grow their people. Welcome to the podcast, Ryan. How you doing, Man?
Ryan Markewich 01:48
Steve, everything's great. Thanks for that, such a, fantastic introduction.
Steve Baker 01:46
I saved the best for you.
Ryan Markewich 01:56
Oh, yeah. I usually say, can you please save the nice talk for behind my back? That would be nice.
Steve Baker 02:00
Yes, absolutely. Well, you know, we have known each other a long time. And one of the things that's been great to see is that you've you've really proven out that not only the system works, but that it can be freeing, and Jack Stack thinks that The Great Game of Business is probably the most freeing leadership development practice there is because as you teach people business, of course, you know, we're not just quote unquote, empowering them or engaging them. But we're, we're educating them, we're giving them a gift that they can use the rest of their lives. And I think you're a really good example of that. So let's roll back, like 25 years, when you started out, you had a truck, some garden tools and a vision to have a landscaping company. Since then you really built this team of professionals, and you've even sold part of your company to key employees, can you talk about that, go back to the beginning, and give us a little bit of history and then bring us to the present?
Ryan Markewich 02:57
Okay, I'll do that. So I wouldn't say I started with a vision to have a landscaping company. I think more I needed to pay rent and have beer money for the weekends. But things changed quite quickly as I as I got into it, and realized that, you know, working, I love working with my hands, I always have, and figuring stuff out. And I just saw a lot of opportunity, as you know, as I started mowing lawns, and then next thing, you know, I was fixing, fixing a pathway. And then it was installing an irrigation system. And then I had to learn all about plants. And then there was design programs and all that stuff that comes along with with the evolution of any business. So that's where I started. And, and I ran my business, I would say the the typical way the old command and control way for about the first 14 years. And I remember clearly calling up a friend of mine who I called on a regular basis to cry on his shoulder. And, and him kind of giving me a passive slap in the face and saying, Ryan, you're not running your business. It's running you. And and so that, it struck home at the moment. I was mad at him.
Steve Baker 04:16
Always in the moment, right?
Ryan Markewich 04:18
Yeah. Yeah. And then, and then it didn't take long to say, oh, you're absolutely right. So he's, he made a suggestion to me, he said, what would happen? You know, because we were already doing really well. I was making, making enough money. Especially for someone who came into their career with no education. And so we were doing fine. We were doing about a million and two in sales, that was like 2005. And he said, What would happen if you just took a year back, you don't push so hard, don't work the 14-16 hour days, don't put all your focus on putting out fires, and, and learning more about your trade, which we were already doing really well, and you just focused on learning how to run a business? And I said, Well, I would make a little bit less money. He said is that okay? I said that's it absolutely okay. So we did that we we decided to, to find a way to, to focus on running the business. So he suggested that I get a book called The Great Game of Business. I think he had heard it through his entrepreneurs group. At the time, I didn't even, I don't even think he had read read it at the time. But he had suggested that he said, Why don't you get, go on Amazon, call The Great Game, whatever it is, get 15 copies of that, give one to each employee. Each person reads a chapter a week, and you, you start having a meeting. And the only thing you talk about in the meeting is the chapter. That's it. Don't ever let it get off track. Just talk about the meeting, talk about the chapter. And so we did it. And you know, I really encourage my employees to use the book, I said, if it comes clean to the meeting, you're not used. I said, I want to see the pages ripped out I want to see, you know, highlights, I want to see dog ear. And sure enough, week by week, we started saying, Oh, we're gaining, we're gaining ground. We're understanding how to communicate, we understand what to communicate about. And so I was pretty, I was pretty stoked about that. It was shortly or during that period of time, I heard about The Great Game, famous Springfield two-day or two-day experience. Right? Right. So I hopped on the plane, and I said, I'm going to Springfield. And I said in that class, and I walked I listened to what was said, and I heard Jack Stack talk, and I heard a panel of SRC employees come up and tell stories that were just so relatable. You know, I walked the factory floor, you guys, let us let us walk the factory floor and ask the guys any questions we had. And I was talking to some guy, I think he was on a drill press or something. And, and he was answering the questions like about the business that I knew I couldn't even answer about mine. And I said, if this guy comes to Canada, to Britt, to my town, and opens a landscape company, I'm going to be in serious trouble, you know. So anyway, I came home from that, you know, pretty pumped up. And I was excited about things. But more than anything, I said, if I can't run my business this way, I'm not running it. Because I just, I just wasn't feeling good the way, the way things were. After I made the money, the money didn't really matter. That old notion of it, that it's lonely at the top just wasn't sitting very right with me, because I figured if you're lonely, how could that be the top? So I, so we hired a coach, we phoned up, and we got a coach from The Great Game. This is in your early, early years. You guys have come a long way since then. And, I don't know, were you even, were you just new at that time, Steve?
Steve Baker 07:48
Yeah, I started in 2005. So we both discovered The Great Game of Business, right around the same era.
Ryan Markewich 07:55
Right. Yeah. I remember joking. You know, if you remember, I probably reminded you a few times with you and Rich for sure. And said, well, one winter, when I get the winter off, I'm gonna come down there and sweep the floors, you know, of The Great Game, and, and I want to know, the secrets, the secrets, right? Everybody wants to know the secrets of running a good business. So that's the story, you know, it grew from there. And, you know, we made every mistake, mistake in the book. You know, we double-dribbled, we traveled, we were offside. We did all the stuff you're not supposed to do in the game. And, and, what it did was, it just made us better at what we were doing. You know, we have the, we have the mindset that we never lose, we just win or learn. And I didn't make that up. I think I heard it from a Great Game coach, but when when I heard that said, I, I really connected with my personality. It's hard to, I don't give up easily.
Steve Baker 08:58
You're a tenacious guy.
Ryan Markewich 09:00
So, I'm something.
Steve Baker 09:04
So you kept on going, and, and again, I point out to our listeners that back in those days, you know, if you read The Great Game of Business chapter by chapter as a team, it really isn't a how to, I mean, there are some some suggestions and some ideas and examples and that sort of thing. But back in those days, it was just the story, right? So you had to really work on creating your own system under the principles of The Great Game of Business as outlined by Jack.
Ryan Markewich 09:33
Oh, that's true. And you know, and I think we made the mistake, we did hire a coach, but we didn't fully engage that coach and I know your system of providing coaching services wasn't as evolved as it is now. But I just remember those meetings when we first sat up at the scoreboard and tried to explain things and, and someone asked a question I had no answer to. And my, just like, turning red, almost, you know, like oh my god, do I ever look stupid here. And so I'm glad those days are almost over.
Steve Baker 10:05
Maybe they'll never be over.
Ryan Markewich 10:07
I know you're probably right, you're probably right.
Steve Baker 10:09
But Ryan, the thing is, is that I think that, you know, as you have become a Great Game coach, you know, that we teach the basics of being a good leader include things like humility and vulnerability, right? It's okay to be asked a question you don't know the, the answer to because we're all learning it together. And so, I think that for our listeners, that's really valuable for them to hear you talk about how even as you progressed, in those early days, there were times where you just didn't know. And that's okay. That is okay. We can always say, we, we are learning this together.
Ryan Markewich 10:46
Yeah, you know, going through the, even after the 14 or 15 years, we've been practicing a great game going back or as I went through the coaching certification process, I could clearly see the steps that caused me to struggle because I missed them. And, and I hear it time and time again, or people having reached, or being, or reaching out to me asking me if I can help them with a profit share, or if I can show them the scoreboard and they think it's the one event that's going to save their business, but it's not. It's it's such a well rounded approach to creating this, you know, organizational ecosystem that works together. That, you know, it's just, it's easy for me to talk about it now. But back then I had no idea. Right, I was searching for the one thing also, I knew maybe The Game was the thing, but I didn't realize that I needed to work on myself amongst that game.
Steve Baker 11:44
And that's important, right? Because you're right, The Game is not an event. It's not a happening. It's, it's a process. Yeah. And as is business. So I want to shift gears a little bit, and ask you another question. Because on your website, which, by the way, is great. Tell our listeners what your URL is, so they can go and look, you up.
Ryan Markewich 12:08
It's creativerootslandscaping.com. You know, it's see what I really love about the site is, a good friend of mine in Vancouver, has a, has a, you know, a boutique internationally-known branding company, who knows me well put that together. And it wasn't just some stranger who didn't know me. So that, that website really dug deep, and speaks to who we are as people. And so that's why I like, that's why I love our site so much.
Steve Baker 12:39
Yeah, I do too. And the one of the things that I pulled off of it myself that I enjoyed was crafting a landscape is not an exercise in one single skill. It's a matter of understanding the entire process, putting all the skills together, bringing that project to life. And I think we just talked about it, you know, as a Great Game Coach, you see that correlation as you're executing Great Game of Business with someone as you're implementing. Do you think that your connection to Great Game helped you, you know, discover that statement? Or is it, is it the other side of that, did that come from that approach? Help you kind of put The Game in perspective?
Ryan Markewich 13:21
Well, that's a good question. That's like, a chicken or egg. A chicken or egg statement, eh. I'm sure they went hand in hand. Honestly, I don't know which one came first. You know, we had some pretty, we had some pretty good thoughts. We weren't completely inept when it came to, you know, understanding, you know, the various aspects of business before we ran into The Great Game, we just didn't realize how to put, how to connect the dots between being human and making money. We didn't, we didn't understand that, I guess. You know, of course, you're human. You get out there you work, you work hard, you, you know, you sweat, you get dirty, you create something cool. something of value delivered to the marketplace. Great. You make money? Is that the connection? Sure. That's the connection when you're 5, 10, 15 people big max.
Steve Baker 14:16
Ryan Markewich 14:16
But try to scale it. Try to scale it. When you're not there. When you, when you've gone past that startup stage when the entire business is about the insanity and the personality of the owner. And his willingness to know, and his willingness to work 14,16 hours a day, sacrifice whatever he's sacrificing, family, fishing time, whatever he's doing and not, and not caring about it until it reaches to the point of saturation, and burnout. And then it's like, oh, shit, you know? Exactly what am I doing here? So.
Steve Baker 14:53
I think that's important to recognize too is that you you had something driving you. You had a friend tell you about the book and you know, you knew you needed systems, you want it, you crave that growth in that learning yourself. And then you immediately were giving it to your people, which I think is cool, because a lot of times it gets held up at the top, you know, where it's, I'm gonna have the system I'm going to, I don't think I ever observed you being that way. And I also think that that abundance minded, mindset is something that, you know, I'll just tell the listeners right now, I hate Ryan so much, because he lives in Mexico for part of the year. He figured it out. And we should all want so much. You know, part of it has to do with being seasonal. It's not like you're not working or anything like that. But also part of it is, you don't have to be there. Because you have taught people. Talk a little bit about, you know, the transition, the transformation of your team, because a lot of people that listen to this podcast, want to know if it's capitalism at its best, talk about transformation, how it changes people, any stories come to mind about an individual that, that might have started, you know, that was on one path, but this business stuff helped them go on another.
Ryan Markewich 16:09
Yeah, me. Story about me. It was, uh, I'm selfish that way, Steve, we got to keep the, we gotta stay on track here. It's all about me. You know, if I, you know, I've spent a lot of time reflecting. And I think that's an important part of it. I was fortunate enough, and in some ways, not fortunate to have a seasonal business. So I had that time. But one thing I know about myself is I'm a good starter, I like to start fights, but I rarely finished them, I do not believe I'm the strongest, or the smartest guy in the room. And so when we started The Game, you know, I didn't want to keep the information to myself. I was past that point. I don't know if it was ever in me to start with. I just didn't know how to share it in a way that would mean anything. And how are you going to get someone who started with you a month ago, how fast, how long will it take them to catch up to 15 years of thinking about it 16 hours a day? That is a daunting task. And then there's the whole concept of what happens if I let go of the way I'm doing things right, now all that fear that stands on the other side, that stands in between you and the other, the other side. You know, the bright side. Does that answer your question?
Steve Baker 17:21
I think so. I was looking for maybe, I get why you did it. Yeah. And I think that's really that, that speaks to your character and kind of your come-from. But is there anybody that you can think of, and you don't have to use a name, but where you saw that same spark? Because I like how you took it back to you. Yeah, me, I was on one path and business took me another. Looking for that, you know, that Aha, or that spark moment where they go, hey, I, you know, I really love to work in landscaping or whatever. But yeah, I like this business stuff, too. And yeah, we're all part of the business, right?
Ryan Markewich 17:59
So let's talk about my business partners.
Steve Baker 18:01
Ryan Markewich 18:02
All, all former, all former employees, and, all of them, much more capable than I am. So I am literally, literally living the dream. You know, the way we, the way we brought them in. Really, I think it's, I call it genius. But, I mean, it just spoke to the fact that if you give people the opportunity to do something, if it's the right person, they'll act on that opportunity. And, and they really did. So my one business partner, Matt was with me for about 13 years before he came in as an owner. And now he's a 30%, owner of the company. Collette is a, she's been with me about six years. And she's at 10%. And Jacob, my youngest son, and who is now up to 30% of the company. So I'm just sitting at 30 myself, that, so each one of them, really, they love the business stuff. In fact, Matt has said many times that, you know, he couldn't work for a company that, that wasn't open-book. And I've heard that over and over and over from, from employees over the years. And he has also said, that's what kept me, because I could have went, I could have went out and done my own landscaping thing any day of the week. But it's everything we were learning together. You know, that support we had learning together that convinced him to to stay with it. To stay with us.
Steve Baker 19:29
So, yeah, actually, this is good, because I'm hearing you say that by giving him that opportunity to learn about business and to be a part of the business. It sounds like you have a very high retention rate amongst people. Is yours better than the industry or do you care to comment on that?
Ryan Markewich 19:53
I wish I didn't care to comment, but I will comment on it. I don't know if If ours is better, I would say that the people we want to keep.
Steve Baker 20:04
Ryan Markewich 20:05
The people that have, even, even after they've left, if it's the people that we want to keep, and they've left, then, then we've let, the right person has left the company. But I would say our retention rate is as good as anybody's.
Steve Baker 20:19
Maybe let me change the question. And you feel like because I think you qualified it correctly, because we can have all the churn we want. It's the ideas, how do we get the good people, the people that are right for the business to stay. So do you think that running the business this way has made the culture stickier for the right people, the people you want?
Ryan Markewich 20:38
Yes, and I, and there are times though, what I'm getting at Steve is there are times when I wish that the culture would have been absorbed and realized by the, by some good people that left also, and somehow there was a misinterpretation, or whatever it is, that has, that alone, even in the last couple years has really driven us to, to look hard, at, at ourselves, first, you know, put our best foot forward.
Steve Baker 21:06
Go further, tell me what's under that. Tell me when you say, really looking hard at yourself, what do you mean by that?
Ryan Markewich 21:13
Maybe it went hand-in-hand with my, the process of becoming certified, and realizing that we didn't have a high enough involvement, involvement at the creation end of developing a financial plan or a cultural plan. You know, we have a, we have a committee for the people who don't know how to have fun-good. You know, I'm not on that. They have a fun-good, fun-good calendar, you know, they create the events every year, that's cool. You know, we do a financial budget, we do an annual High-Involvement Planning meeting. We do our annual employee surveys, we look at the marketplace together. But it seems like near the end, that's nearly, usually near the end of the season. And we're wrapping up for the next year. So everybody's a bit burnt out. And then it's like the holidays for them. And, and then the leaders go back, and they put this plan together. And then they introduce it, you know, early, early in the year. And there was, there was a disconnect between giving your information and then receiving what the outcome is, as opposed to taking your information and building on it every single day, until it becomes a plan. So, having a design team, a Great Game Design Team is something that, that's new to us.
Steve Baker 22:31
Gotcha. No, I love that because it just is more continuous improvement is how do we get better? Even though we've been doing this for a long time? So you said something, it's important that we pause here and, and really get some definition. Because we use a lot of terms around here. Okay, what the hell is fun,-good?
Ryan Markewich 22:51
Oh, well, fun-good. There was a, there was a, I think it was about 2007 or eight, you know, when, after the economy crashed, and, you know, everybody was like, oh, my God, everything, the world's falling in. And so, at one point, we did our company survey, our annual company survey. And it came to the attention that we just weren't having as much fun as we used to. So we said, okay, just like creating a financial budget, or giving back to the community, or building stronger relationships, you're gonna have to be intentional about it. How are we going to be intentional about it, okay? We have to create a fun-good committee. And we're going to call it the committee for people who don't know how to have fun-good. And I, I didn't come up with that by the way.
Steve Baker 23:34
I love it though.
Ryan Markewich 23:36
Oh, it still brings, we still call it that. So it's fun. And so that committee got together, they put together a format to gather information from everybody. They met. They come up with events from, you know, having barbecues and beers, you know, at the end of a Friday, and on the third week in June, to our annual semi-formal dinner out with staff and their significant others. And it goes up on a calendar and we, we use that calendar as a scoreboard.
Steve Baker 24:09
That's great. So you actually, you actually scorecard the cultural stuff as well as the business stuff.
Ryan Markewich 24:16
Yeah, the events, because therefore, if at the end of the year comes, and no one's happy, then there's no, we just look at the scorecard as opposed to look at, you know, the owner or something. Yeah, it's and so it brings out that whole thing where we're all responsible for creating the culture here.
Steve Baker 24:33
That's, that's so cool. We are responsible, because you're gonna have a culture, whether you like it or not, right? It just happens when nobody's looking.
Ryan Markewich 24:40
So yeah, you have to be intentional about it. You really do.
Steve Baker 24:44
That is fantastic. Good advice. So we're talking about culture and about, you know, being intentional and that sort of thing around that. That's pretty contemporary. Because to make a sticky culture, you got to have it be fun, engaging, you know, all the things that people talk about because we're trying to keep good talent. Let's talk about other things that are happening now. I know that landscaping has been affected by supply chain issues and talent issues just like everybody else. I know that our team looked at the National Association of landscape professionals. So they're shortening a timeframe that a proposal is valid, I assume that means instead of this bid is good for 60 days, it's now 30, or 15, or 10. Because you can't control what the cost of products and availability is. Everything's in flux. So what, what I want to know is, how are you dealing with those challenges at Creative roots?
Ryan Markewich 25:40
That's a good question. I think that our company is in a very unique position. With regards to the type of clientele we attract. We rarely have, well, I don't, I don't think we've bid against another landscaping company for 20 years. That kind of to me.
Steve Baker 25:58
Ryan Markewich 25:59
Yeah, it's very unique. And I, I can say we're blessed. And we are blessed to live in such a fantastic area. And, and to have created the reputation that people, that people come to us for that. But getting back to your question, the supply chain. So you know, we look at stocking things. So investing our money into more plant material that might, that might be hard to get from, in the middle of a season, stuff like that. But I think the biggest one has been the hardscape materials that come from back east. So, we're definitely trying to forecast what we need based on the designs we're working on far in advance and just telling the client, look, if this is, this is the driveway you want. If this is the pool deck you want, then we have to order it now. So we're trying to go six months in advance for that. And so that, that's kind of how we're dealing with it. And then of course, we tell the client, the cost is what the cost is, you know, we're not, I don't put the bid in, and I can't be held accountable for, for that. We'll do our absolute best. Yeah, again, oh, you know what? I really, looking at that, Steve, I can actually say the open-book management has gone right into the relationship with the customers.
Steve Baker 27:18
Yeah, I can hear that in what you're saying. Because that's amazing, if you say, you know, use the example of a driveway, you go, Steve, this is the reality. Well, it's not like Steve hasn't heard that we have issues, you're just sharing that, which I think a lot of people might be intimidated in doing because they they want to make it seem like they've got it all under control. Well, in reality, do any of us have it under control?
Ryan Markewich 27:40
No, no, I don't have anything under control.
Steve Baker 27:46
Well, so let's, you said something else that I think is worth it. And so how can we extrapolate some of the magic that you've created with your team and creative roots, to other kinds of businesses? One of the things that you said was we haven't competed head to head. I'm paraphrasing, of course, with, with someone on a job for 20 years. So how did you change the way you do business, to be attractive to the right customer, and to build your reputation and your brand, where this is where you come to get certain kinds of work done? Can you talk a little bit, just put yourself in the shoes of the listener here, where you're going, hey, man, I'm not in landscaping, but I'd love to not compete on every stupid job we got to do.
Ryan Markewich 28:32
Yeah. And so, you know, I guess in some ways, we're fortunate to have a business where the creative part of what you're delivering, and value is, is, a significant value. It's not simply a commodity. You know, I'm not, I'm not the next gas station down the street. So that creative part, and the mindset of delivering the most to your client, has always served me well. I mean, I read the magic of thinking big and all those books when I was 13,14 years old. My dad had them on his bookshelf. And, and I always just, you know, if I'm going to do something, I have to do it well, it's not that you can't get a $10 haircut. There are businesses out there that make a fortune. Franchise, yeah, there it is. We got a bowl of soup with that too, ay.
Steve Baker 29:23
I think so.
Ryan Markewich 29:24
For 10 bucks, but sorry, Sorry, Steve. I don't know what, I can see you right now. At any rate...
Steve Baker 29:34
Go back to that, because I love it. You can you can get a $10 haircut OR.
Ryan Markewich 29:39
Yeah, or you can pay $100 for a haircut. I mean, I'm in Mexico and I pay way less than $10. So and I have less hair than you, so that joke is really on me. But so, so it's just, I think about really understanding what your niche is and, and going after and bringing value to that particular niche. When I, when I first start working with, you know, with a client, I always like to ask them what their story is, you know? And, what do you mean my story? I said, Okay, what's your story? Tell me about it. And they say, well, what do you mean? So here, I'll give you an example, at creative roots, we design, install, and maintain landscapes for luxury homes and nice people who appreciate details. So is there anything about that story you don't understand? And the answer is usually, no. So that we use as a measuring stick to the type of clients that we're after. Now, we have to put, if we have a slow month, and we got to put potatoes on the table, we might have to sacrifice one aspect of that, one thing we won't ever sacrifice is knowingly work for somebody that isn't nice.
Steve Baker 30:47
Ryan Markewich 30:47
It's part of our knowing that...
Steve Baker 30:48
That whole no a-hole rule, you don't want to work for...
Ryan Markewich 30:51
Well, we literally have it written. We have the no Asshole Rule, and we don't work with them or for them. Although people do stick around with me, sometimes. Someone might be looking the other way, rules are meant to be broken.
Steve Baker 31:08
Well, I think that's a good piece of advice to anyone, because you do have the choice. But you have to be willing to live that choice. So, you're going to have to be careful about how you, you pick your customers and your coworkers.
Ryan Markewich 31:21
Yeah, and branding. Steve, the branding process I went through was really a process of self discovery. You know, a typical brand, like, if you're just going to get a website done, maybe on a rip through. Normally, you just say, you know, they got to figure out what your logo looks like, or what colors you should use, or what the content should be. But when you really go through that process of self discovery, you kind of identify everything that is your business, everything that you need to align it, you need to align with in order to, to be, you know, to end up where you want to be.
Steve Baker 32:00
Mm hmm. Right? No, that makes perfect sense. So now, shifting again, a little bit going back to the people side of things. Really common question for me, when I'm out in the, you know, in the world talking about the Great Game is, Yeah, but we're dispersed geographically. You have people out in the field all the time. I mean, literally, that's the business. And so how do you handle what might be called a remote workforce. And I'm not talking just the weekly huddle. I'm talking about hit on the huddles, but tell me how you do training and financial literacy and all the things that you have to do. Plus, you've got all of the things that you teach, technically, so that you can do that high end specialized business that you are, can you talk a little bit about that? You know, yeah, without?
Ryan Markewich 32:48
Yeah, we, I will absolutely, because we definitely didn't start out being very good at, at being literate. I wasn't. I mean, I didn't, everyone thinks that the business owner allows people, or teaches people, I mean, I knew what I knew. But the people that join me now and have stayed with me have taught me just as much about business and myself as, as I've taught them. So as for getting down to how it's done. We have, we do it intentionally. So it's scheduled. So if you're a new employee, you have an onboarding process, there's X amount of things, that, new events that you go through, in order to kind of get caught up. We, we have a weekly financial HUDDLE, where everybody is at our, at our facility, to to look over the numbers as a team. We also have a weekly departmental HUDDLE, where everybody does that as well. If for any reason, whether it's a holiday or something like that, where, or it's a long weekend, where that meeting, we can make that meeting, any huddle goes out. And I actually really enjoy them. I used to say, this isn't gonna work, you know, these people gotta be there, they gotta venture out. But honestly, I really enjoy the e-huddles once in a while, just to see how good we are at actually explaining what's going on. You know, when you write something down, it's different.
Steve Baker 34:09
It is different.
Ryan Markewich 34:10
It's different. It's a commitment. So I think we're pretty fortunate. We're not as dispersed as some other companies might be, you know, a trucking company might have people all across the country, stuff like that. But there are lots of creative ways to, to get the information to each other, especially with Zoom and everything else. I like, on the next call winter, I joined every month I joined an owners meeting with my three fellow owners.
Steve Baker 34:37
Ryan Markewich 34:38
So there's always a way to, to get done what you want to do.
Steve Baker 34:42
We just don't have any excuses anymore. We just don't, because we communicate all the time. The problem I think most people need to realize is that, we typically, as you know, let's just say Westerners, we just don't have a lot to communicate. We have ways to do it. But there's no substance. So the Great Game really is that substance, right? It's a language that is common and we can get to it. And it doesn't have to be, you know, an over thought process. It's like just get started. You mentioned something, Ryan, that I think is worth digging into just a little bit because you talked about onboarding and how crucial that was. You gave me access to your intranet site, right? The side of the website that only the employees and, you know, the insiders can get into, and it says, it starts out by saying, make sure you know what you're getting into. I love that so much. You walk them through what they can expect in their first 90 days. I mean, it's like your first week, your first day, your first 90 days, your first year, I mean, you just go through, this is what you can expect. And then you top it off with a guarantee that is the same for your clients and employees. Your clients, don't pay us unless you're happy. All we ask is that give us a chance to make it right. And then right below it, it says to your team, don't stay unless you're happy. So it's, don't pay and don't stay. All we ask is that you give us a chance to make it right. So tell us about how your hiring process actually helps you grow the right team?
Ryan Markewich 36:22
Yeah, well, I think it's, it's super important to, to not trap people. And, and just completely work on the notion and the idea that it's a mindful choice for you to to be somewhere. It's a mindful choice to, to point your finger or not point your finger, or participate in the betterment of, of what's happening. Whether that's the products you're putting in, or, or the culture of the business. So you know, that, that transparency upfront, is what we hope people really understand. The sad part, and I was just writing about this in my in my latest article, is that you just don't know who to trust these days. I mean, look what's going on. It's crazy. You got, you got stuff going, you've got COVID deaths, you don't know who's telling the truth about that sometimes, and you got, you got a president, a prime minister, you've got Russia. And it's like at every turn, it just feels like it's every man for himself. And, and I just, that, that is such a lonely feeling. So you know, I really tried to make sure that they understand, we work when it's hot. It got to 45 degrees last year. Well, that's I should, yeah, that's like 125. Yeah, there you go. In your, in your world, where we are. It was a hot, hot summer. We work when it's Smokey, we had forest fires. We work when it's cold, it's Canada, we get cold. We work long hours, because we're seasonal. You know, we're not perfect. Even your leaders are going to screw up. Why? Because they're human. So that's what I mean, just give us the chance to make it right. Speak up. Don't just sit in the corner, and and, and wonder who's out to get you. You have the obligation to use your voice.
Steve Baker 38:21
I think that's a great way to look at it because, you know, I always think of it this way, no matter how chaotic the world gets, when I go to work at a Great Game and SRC as a whole, you know, I mean, I know we're going to win. Somehow we're going to win. We're going to figure it out because the team has one another's backs. And in a world where you don't know who to trust, creating a place where people know what to expect can be a huge benefit.
Ryan Markewich 38:48
Steve, it's, it's, it's bigger than what most people would believe. Because that is the bulk of your life. Yeah, for, for 30,40 years, you're going to spend time with people that aren't your blood. The people that and so you have to find a way to connect, you're not gonna, you're not gonna, get along perfectly with every person you work alongside, or play the game with. You know, you might not like the guy on the left wing, but you're gonna have to pass on the ball if you want to win the game.
Steve Baker 39:19
Yeah, good analogy.
Ryan Markewich 39:20
And he's gonna have to pass it back once in a while too. So when you get over yourself, when you get past, when you've healed from your childhood, type thing. I really think that's, that's an important moment. Aha moment.
Steve Baker 39:36
Yeah, definitely. Well, let me shift gears again. Because I want you to now, we've been talking a lot about creative roots and your approach to business that way. Put on your coaching hat. And what's your, what's your focus right now? What kind of clients are you looking for?
Ryan Markewich 39:54
Good. Well, I'll give you an example. I'm working with a client right now in Atlanta. He's got a custom countertop. A wood countertop and cabinet business. He's the ideal client. He is such a nice guy. He's got a small team of very good people. Some of them been there a little while, but most of them haven't. And he just ran in, he ran into the wall that every every small business that hits about a million and a half and sales hit runs into. But the good part part of it is he's humble. Yeah. You know, I, I joked earlier before I got into great game, and I said, I'm going to coach, I'm going to try to help people with this, and how am I gonna make sure I get the right client? I said, Okay, this is it. They're gonna reach out to me and say, Can you help me, can you coach me? And I'm going to send them a book. And the top, the front of the book says, it's you. They opened it up, and it's a mirror. And that's it. That's the book. It's been, it's gonna come with a list of questions that you need to ask yourself.
Steve Baker 40:59
Ryan Markewich 41:00
Are you coachable? Like, are you humble? So this fellow in, in, in Atlanta is so humble, you know, we revealed his scoreboard with this team a couple weeks ago, he sent me a message that night saying, and they had a terrible January type thing with respect to their plan. And he said, I just felt like a weight was lifted off that they knew we didn't do well in January, and that as a team, we're going to have to somehow make up the difference. That's a game. Yeah, no, I lost, we lost the first quarter. But you didn't tell any of the players? The players don't even know if they won or lost? And they're going into the second the second half of the game, right? What is going on here? So, that's why the game analogy works so well, in my opinion.
Steve Baker 41:49
I think so too. I mean, that. That is absolutely the thing. I mean, people want to know where they're at. They want to, they want to know how they're doing, good or bad, because they can only make changes if they understand where they've been, where they're going, and where they are right now.
Ryan Markewich 42:06
In the information age, and we've been here for a while. If you're not jumping on board with that, you're, you're, you're going in reverse because, because people are going to get educated one way or the other. You just, you better make sure it's, it's you that's doing it.
Steve Baker 42:23
Yeah, it's one of our tenants for Great Game Coaching. If you don't inform your people, someone else will. And usually, it ain't gonna be right. Well, Ryan, it's always fun to talk to you. We always have a great conversation. We'll have you back on again. But there's one more. We always like to wrap up our podcast by asking, what is the one question I should be asking you?
Ryan Markewich 42:47
Yes. And I saw that on the questions you sent me. And, Steve, I'm struggling with that one.
Steve Baker 42:56
That's okay. It's sort of like the Opra question, right? It's like, what kind of tree would you be? So, um.
Ryan Markewich 43:02
I should, I should have been thinking more about that, instead, before right before the podcast, instead of running down the street to have some tacos for breakfast.
Steve Baker 43:08
No I think tacos should take precedence. So let's do this. I'm going to go ahead and I typically do this at the end of the podcast, I'll try to encapsulate the big ideas that we covered. So you tell me, now remember, this is me interpreting and absorbing, and, and bringing it back to you. Let's just see what you think of these show notes. So, I do like that a friend told you, you're not running your business, it's running you, and started by giving you a copy of The Great Game, and then encouraging you to give one to all of your employees. And if I heard right, you guys reviewed it chapter by chapter as a team. That's right. One of my favorite quotes from this whole thing is, if you're lonely at the top, how can that be the top? That's a big one. You are always learning, and it's okay to not have all the answers. The Great Game is not an event, it's a process, a journey. You said connect the dots between being human and making money. That, that was one of the things you really liked about the Great Game. I love that because we got to do both. There's just no choice. You've got to be able to make money and funds and everything else and you've got to be human. You have, in your early days, you began sharing information really quickly about the business and the financials just to get people engaged in the process. You said if you give the right people an opportunity, they'll usually act on it. Even after all those years of playing the game, you still had to work on getting more involvement in the planning process. Never stop improving or striving to make the connections. You said a design team is a fairly new addition to your process, which I think is a big takeaway. Along those lines, if you've got a team of people that are responsible for implementing the game, you also introduced me to a new word that honestly I have never heard in my whole life, fun-good. And you said, you have to be intentional about having fun. And you created a committee or the team did create a committee for people who don't know how to have fun-good. So, I would probably be on that committee. And the best part is you scoreboard, the cultural stuff, as well as the business stuff. One of the ways that you are going after the market, even with everything going on, that's going on out there, you're investing in stock. So you're ready to, you know, outsmart the supply chain issues. But also you're partnering with the client to forecast their own needs. Which I think is amazing. That's really bringing them into the game as well. Because they do understand there's supply chain issues out there. You said around branding, and around creating that special approach to the market, you said, understand your niche, bring value to it, don't fall into the race to the bottom. You qualify customers really, really carefully as you do potential employees. You said something along these lines, invest in your own self discovery as a company to identify what you need to align with. Think that was really good. Onboarding is crucial. I mentioned your intranet site that begins with a statement, make sure you know what you're getting into, and then outlining the specifics. Your guarantee to customers and employees is the same. Don't pay if you're not happy, don't stay if you're not happy. And I think that's something we can all take home. And in a world where you don't know who to trust, you can create a place through business, you can create a place where people know what to expect. And that's a pretty good place. So what do you think? Did I capture most of it?
Ryan Markewich 46:42
You said it better than I did, Steve.
Steve Baker 46:46
I don't know about that Ryan.
Ryan Markewich 46:50
I'll add one, Steve.
Steve Baker 46:52
Yeah, go for it.
Ryan Markewich 46:54
And I really encourage people do this. Talk business with the people you're in business with.
Steve Baker 47:01
I like that. Talk business with the people you're in business with.
Ryan Markewich 47:06
Steve Baker 47:07
That is good stuff.
Ryan Markewich 47:08
They might not have an owner stake, they might not have equity in the company, but you're in business with them. You're working together to bring value to the marketplace. And you're working together to create a culture where you both want to be. Unique, and they're both related. That's business. Culture is business. Services and goods are business. There's a trade, there's a value to everybody on, on a personal level, on a financial level, on all the different levels. So just talk business to the people you're in business with. If you don't know how to talk business with the people you're in business with, read The Great Game of Business. That's what it's about.
Steve Baker 47:47
Words to live by. Well, one more time, Ryan, give them your website so they can find out more about creative roots.
Ryan Markewich 47:54
So if you want to visit creative roots, it's creativerootslandscaping.com. My business coaching site is rmark.ca. That's r-m-a-r-k. dot c-a. And there's a "Contact Me" page on there. If anybody wants to, you know, shoot me a message or an email and get together and have a chat. That'd be great.
Steve Baker 48:16
Well, as always, it's been a pleasure, man. We'll see you again, okay?
Ryan Markewich 48:19
All right. Take care Steve.
Steve Baker 48:21
Thanks, Ryan. Well, folks, let's keep the conversation going. Send us your questions, your stories, your best practices, your ideas, your challenges, and of course, your victories. Because 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