GGOB + 21 Hats-1

 

About Our Podcasts

Podcasts for entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders. These messages are brought to you directly from CEOs and business thinkers to help build healthier companies, better businesses, and better lives for both you and your employees.
 

And Some Days the Bear Eats You

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Liz Picarazzi tells Jay Goltz and Sarah Segal that her trip to a bear sanctuary in Montana to get her trash enclosures certified as bear-resistant did not go precisely as planned. Because of a logistical snafu, she has not yet obtained either the certification or her real goal: a marketing video of the grizzlies attempting to crack open her baited enclosure. Fortunately, things went better for Liz in a more traditional marketing venue, a trade show in Chicago where she promoted her rat-resistant enclosures. Meanwhile, Sarah follows up on how things are going since losing two big clients and having to lay off three employees, and Jay explains his new catch phrase, “Let me not sleep on it.” Plus: we discuss the owner of a two-year-old construction business who wonders how long he should keep going if he doesn’t start to make a profit. He also asks why no one ever talks about how hard it is to run a business. While we can’t know for sure what’s happening inside his company, we can be pretty confident that he’s not listening to the right podcast.

— Loren Feldman

 

We Haven't Signed a New Client in Eight Months

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, we meet Jaci Russo, the co-founder and CEO of BrandRusso and the latest addition to the 21 Hats Podcast team. Jaci tells Jay Goltz and Laura Zander how she went from working for Barry Diller to starting her marketing agency. Jaci also explains why she recently decided to introduce a four-day workweek and why she thinks her agency has now gone eight months and counting without signing up a new client—the longest such stretch in more than 20 years in business. “I find it interesting,” responds Jay. “You just said this is the first time you’ve ever had such a long period without new business. And, ‘Oh, we went to a four-day workweek.’ Hmm, how interesting.” Plus: Laura talks about what happened when venture-backed competitors came for the knitting industry and how stressful it is to buy and operate another business in another state.

 

It’s Like Planning Your Own Funeral

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Jay Goltz tells Shawn Busse about the latest stop on his journey to figuring out whether an employee stock ownership plan is right for his business. Jay’s latest adventure includes waking up at 4:30 in the morning in Minneapolis too anxious to sleep—“Oh my God, what am I getting myself into here?”—and deciding to leave the seminar and drive back to Chicago. But on that six-hour return trip, Jay says his anxiety turned into clarity. In fact, he thinks he’s pretty sure he knows now what he wants to do. Of course, he has said that before. And we continue to learn more about ESOPs, this week hitting upon an interesting issue: ESOP enthusiasts love to tout the benefits of turning employees into owners. But are they really owners? And is that the right message to send them? “If you bought 10 shares of General Motors stock,” Jay asks, “would you tell your neighbors that you’re an owner of General Motors?” Plus: We also talk about when business owners should ignore their accountants and whether Shawn and Jay expect their employees to come forward and tell them if they see another employee doing something they shouldn’t be doing.

— Loren Feldman

 

I’ve Never Had to Lay off Anyone Before

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Sarah Segal tells Shawn Busse that the other shoe has dropped. A couple of months ago, as she’s shared here previously, Sarah lost two big clients in one week. Now she takes us through her decision to lay off three of her employees, including what it means for the business and what it means for Sarah’s own role in the business. Before the layoffs, she had gotten to the point where she was working on the business—but now that’s changed. “I’m not working on the business,” she says. “I am working for clients. I am getting the job done. I am making sure that we’re successful with our clients, and that is my priority right now.” Plus: We also discuss how to choose a CRM, why Sarah and Shawn’s home cities of San Francisco and Portland have been getting such bad PR, and whether former business owners are employable. “I wouldn’t hire me,” says Sarah.

— Loren Feldman

 

I Would Have Been a Sub of a Sub of a Sub

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Shawn Busse, Paul Downs, and Liz Picarazzi talk about when it makes sense to walk away from a client. Liz, for example, is tired of dealing with bureaucracy and being at the bottom of the food chain. In one instance, she was so turned off that she actually recommended a competitor for a job she no longer wanted. Paul has a simple test: If it’s easy work for a bad client, okay, fine. But if it’s hard work for a bad client, “Just don’t do it.” Of course, there are times in the life cycle of most businesses when that’s easier said than done, when you have to accept almost any work offered. Those are the tough ones. Plus: Is it time for business owners to take artificial intelligence seriously? And should owners care that a well-known economics firm is predicting a depression in 2030?

— Loren Feldman

 

The Temptation of Private Equity

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Shawn Busse, Jennifer Kerhin, and William Vanderbloemen discuss private equity. Both William and Jennifer have been getting emails and calls from representatives of PE firms who come promising all kinds of gifts—connections, expertise, money to invest in the business, and money to take off the table—which is why the temptation can be great. “If anybody even just offered me a three-day vacation, I think I would jump at it,” Jennifer jokes. But of course PE firms do exact a price, possibly including control of what used to be your business, which is why Jennifer says she wonders whether she should even take the phone calls. Entering the conversation, she says, feels a little like entering the Garden of Eden. Do you take a bite of that apple? Plus, Shawn thinks he’s found a better way to manage his company’s credit cards, and Jennifer gives us an update on her new website.

— Loren Feldman

 

I Didn't See All the Danger Signs

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Mel Gravely—the newest addition to our podcast team—tells Shawn Busse and William Vanderbloemen how he bought a Cincinnati construction business in 2005 even though the company wasn’t doing well, even though he knew nothing about construction, and even though the company had been shopped to everyone who did know construction. As you’ve probably guessed, things worked out just fine for Mel, who is now focused on putting a plan in place that’s designed to keep Triversity Construction in business for 100 years. That goal, Mel explains, can mean taking some counterintuitive steps, including not always maximizing profit and not planning to stay in the CEO job as long as he might have preferred. Plus: we learn why the construction industry is unlikely to be an early adopter when it comes to AI. And William tells us how he did this year on his mission to make himself less essential to his own business.

— Loren Feldman

 

When Private Equity Comes for Your Industry

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Dr. Randy Spencer talks about the changes that have been roiling the vet business. For one thing, that pandemic puppy boom we all heard about has brought additional stress to veterinary workers who had already had more than their share. For another, there’s been a wave of corporate money and private equity flowing into the industry. That sounds as if it could be a good thing. And in fact, Spencer says he’s been dodging a constant flow of acquisition inquiries for years. But the big money has also engendered considerable turnover and disruption, and in response, Spencer decided to sell 100 percent of his business, 1st Pet Veterinary Centers, to an employee stock ownership plan in 2021. The transition to an ESOP remains something of a work in progress, in part because veterinary people tend to be more focused on pets than they are on profits. “Veterinary medicine,” Spencer says, “is just the best profession in the world. In a way, it’s a service industry, but we get to serve pets. That’s why veterinarians get into it.”

— Loren Feldman

 

The Toughest Conversation

Loren Feldman


 

Introduction:

This week, Paul Downs, Jay Goltz, and Laura Zander don’t hold back. Laura and Jay both say their sales are coming in well below expectations. Not surprisingly, Jay has a five-point checklist that he’s using to assess and address his shortfall. Laura’s situation involves a marketing team that she says has been feeling stressed and is coming apart, with lots of crying and arguing. “They’re just collapsing,” she tells us. Paul, meanwhile, says his sales aren’t bad, but he’s got one employee who’s been holding them back. The employee, who’s been with Paul for 10 years, has been spiraling of late, says Paul, who’s dreading what he calls “the toughest conversation,” a conversation he fears will leave the employee devastated. In such situations, Jay says, he’s found it helpful to rank himself from one to 10 on the hardass scale: If Mr. Rogers is a 1 and Jack Welch—the take-no-prisoners former CEO of GE—is a 10, where do you want to be? “If you pick four or five,” Jay says, “you’re probably gonna go out of business.”

— Loren Feldman

 

When Business Owners Burn Out

Loren Feldman


Introduction:

This week, Shawn Busse and Jay Goltz discuss a recent Business Journal report that a lot of business owners are feeling burned out. Why is that, and what can owners do to avoid it? And have either Shawn or Jay been there? Plus: Shawn brings us up to date on the leadership transition he’s initiated, and—believe it or not—Jay has had another revelation about ESOPs. Also, do business owners need better regulation or no regulation? And which regulations are annoying Shawn and Jay the most right now? For Shawn, it’s the nightmare of having employees in multiple states and having to figure out and comply with the various rules of each of those states.

— Loren Feldman

About The Podcast

GGOB + 21 Hats-1

The Great Game of Business has partnered with 21 Hats to bring the 21 Hats Podcast to all entrepreneurs in The Great Game of Business community! Hosted by Loren Feldman, this podcast offers real-world business insight. Tune in to stay up to date on today's business issues, hear real stories about organizational challenges leaders are facing, and take away strategies CEOs are using in the business world today. When you subscribe, you'll receive a weekly email notification of this podcast. Plus, receive a message any time a new podcast episode is published on The Great Game of Business "Change the Game Podcast."

 

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