You have a product, a company – what now? Often, entrepreneurs get stuck on their next step and lack clarity of direction. In this episode, Ken Courtright dives deep into the dilemma of listening to many subject experts and not knowing who to follow. Learn from Ken’s personal experience on how he got to a place of clarity even if it means firing himself from the CEO position to achieve the level of growth he desires.
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I went to every day of Freedom Fast Lane. That’s Ryan Moran’s event and speaker after speaker was amazing. Every speaker was hitting life and business from a different angle. It was so refreshing. I got so full. I cannot wait to write Ryan an awesome thank you email. Something jumped out at me and it was bubbling the whole weekend, but it was crystal clear on the flight home and I’d like to cover it on this podcast. Both my wife and I often get asked, “How do I get clarity of direction? I know where I’m at and I know what my products and services are delivering in the marketplace, but how do I know exactly what to do next?” There’s a lot of information out there on this. It goes back to the old Michael Gerber book, E-Myth. You can add in Perry Marshall’s 80/20 books. You can talk about Jeff Walker’s The Launch. You can do Cameron Herold, the Double Double. There are many different angles of many true experts that will tell you a possible next step.
The cool thing is they’re all right from their perspective. Probably if you apply what the subject matter experts say, they’ll all probably work and be a great next step. I want to try to hit this from an angle of, every entrepreneur out there if they follow some fundamentals, there’s a formula that they can find their own next steps. I’d like to cover it on this show. This episode could be titled, What’s the Next Step? I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to call this yet. My second episode of all time is titled Rookie to Expert. I did about twenty minutes on how can you go from a rookie, no schooling, no education to an absolute unequivocal expert in your space? In essence like a whale eating plankton, how can you absorb your industry and your space and get not only up to speed but how can you get ahead of people that have been studying this space for even twenty years?
I did a twenty-minute show on how since 2012 we’ve been training people of how to fast track their intellectual property on a subject immensely. It’s a tried and true principle that anybody can do. There’s not enough time to review it on this show. Let’s say you have five employees and you yourself can fast track you, your key management and key employees to 10 to 20 years’ worth of education in six months. Could you imagine the spaces your company could go into if you could become elite in many different verticals in six months? If you have not heard episode number two titled Rookie to Expert, I strongly suggest you do. Episode 28 is in our top ten most downloaded episodes. It’s called The Success Wheel. The success wheel in one sentence is my personal life journey of growing businesses since 1992. How exactly did I get there? My wife joined me literally only one month into the campaign. I started in March of 1992. Kerri started with me in April 1992.
We weren’t yet married. How did we in many years accumulate 4,000 clients, become a three-time Inc. 5000 company and yet have two traumatic events in our life that almost wiped our business off the planet? How did we climb up, flat-lined and go down? Climb up again and flat-lined and almost lose it all again? These past few years, we’ve hit what’s called hockey stick growth, where it looks like we may never go back to Earth’s gravity. How did we do that? I describe in episode number 28 something called the success wheel. Every person reading this, maybe you know, maybe you don’t know, but you have your own success wheel. Mine per se, at the bottom left of my success wheel is I began at an early age jumping into conferences.
Every conference mentioned from stage some great books. I was at Freedom Fast Lane and I heard five incredible book recommendations from some of the greatest teachers out there. I’ve already downloaded the audiobooks of all five. The second thing on my success wheel is if someone that I respect recommends a book, I devour it as fast as humanly possible. I break it apart. I study it from every angle. I read the book, I hear the audio and I attack it. Those books led me to a much higher IP or Intellectual Property line. Meaning my knowledge of that space grows. That’s the top of my wheel. When I raise my knowledge, I can physically vibrate at a higher level. When I walk into a room of people.
Even with little knowledge in that space, but a few books, I’m able to walk into a room with 10 to 20 people and not hold my own in a conversation, but I can soon lead the conversation. Why? It goes back to Rookie to Expert. When I start going into a niche, I make sure that I’m quickly an expert in that niche. My success wheel has been driven by books that have for many years been pounded into myself to the point where I’ve then attracted some of the greatest minds and partner with some of the greatest people. When you partner with great people, it leads you to great business opportunities. That’s the bottom right of my wheel.If someone you respect and admire in your industry recommends a book, devour it. Click To Tweet
Everybody’s wheel is different, but going clockwise, my wheel starts with conferences. That’s how high I educate myself. I speak at most of them, but I listened to every speaker also. Then my wheel leads me to books and I absorb them at a rapid rate. I’ve already jumped into Double Double’s audiobook and Meetings Suck. I’m already into Peter Diamandis’ How to Make a Spaceship. I’m going to read Matthew Paulson’s The Automatic Income. I’m going to be a machine and I’m going to absorb them all and that’s mine, but that’s going to lead me to different people. That’s going to lead our company to different business opportunities. Those business opportunities are going to raise my timely and relevant business knowledge.
I’ve got to start the wheel all over. I have to keep going to conferences, but everybody’s wheel is different. I want to show you my life as an example of how I left this conference and I realized, people can combine episode number two, Rookie to Expert, which is a fast track six months to absolute expert in your space. If you can combine that with the success wheel, those two things, episode number two plus episode number 28 equals clarity of direction. Let me give you an example. I’m going to use myself as an example. I’m on my own success wheel. I’ve gotten unfortunately off my own success wheel twice and it almost flat-lined my company twice.
I will never get off the wheel again. In the last few years, we’ve doubled our company four times, three-timing 5000 Company. We hit $10 million and after we added a lot of different services. We added a completely new management team and we only grew from $10 million to $11 million. We should have done $15 million. We know some of the areas we’ve missed. The reality of it is, I’m not 100% sure why we didn’t double again. I’m sitting at Freedom Fast Lane and I’m listening to Peter Diamandis. After his talk, people came up to the mic and asked him some questions. One person said, “Peter, you run so many companies. How do you grow each company?” He immediately said, “It’s simple. I hire great CEOs.” My mind and my body immediately went to, “We didn’t double this year. I’m a great CEO. What happened? What did I do wrong?” I put two and two together.
Earlier, Cameron Herold spoke and Cameron spoke about how is it that a couple can either do a remodel of their kitchen or they can put a napkin vision together of a five-bedroom home. They can physically bring a napkin to a general contractor. The general contractor can turn it into a series of blueprints and cast this vision of the blueprint to his employees. Here’s the key, how is it that the couple never speaks to the employees of the general contractor, but yet the house is built in all likelihood to a perfect match of the couple’s vision? How is it possible that the couple doesn’t speak to the employees?
Peter Diamandis is the chairman of his company. He’s not the CEO. The CEO is the general contractor. The general contractor then speaks to the employees. Peter Diamandis doesn’t have to speak to his own employees that he’s the chairman of the board. What I realized at Freedom Fast Lane is, “I am a great CEO.” The second part of Cameron’s talk brought me back to the book Good to Great by Jim Collins that I’ve read countless times. Jim Collins has a theme through one of the chapters that it’s all about going through life, going through in business and aggregating the greatest talent and getting them on the bus.
Over time, as the business grows, you’ve put the right people in the right seat on the bus. What I got hit with when I got the combination of Cameron Herold’s talk and Peter Diamandis’ talk is I’m on the bus. I’m in the CEO seat of the bus that I’m leading. The problem is I’m in the wrong seat. Our company has got big enough where I’ve got to get into a different seat myself and go into the chairman role. I’ve got to vividly vision cast the next $10 million to $15 million three-year vision. I’ve got to put a new CEO in my seat so I can stop communicating with the employees and management that I communicate with regularly.
What’s the point of this show? The point of this show is I have fast-tracked myself in a rookie to expert way absorbing all the information of as many verticals as I want to attack. I’ve combined that with the success wheel principle of a continued education, which leads me to a higher knowledge base, which leads me to more incredible people and leads me to more incredible deals. The company has hit a size of which if you’ve ever read some of the books that say, “A person can only get promoted to their level of incompetence.” If you look at any big company, many people start at the bottom, they start in the postal division, the packaging division or whatever division. They get a raise and a promotion, another promotion. All of a sudden they sit at that spot for the next several years.
What happened? It’s simple. They got promoted to their level of incompetence. That means they need more knowledge. They need to fast track from rookie to expert and figure out what their bosses and their bosses’ bosses know that they don’t know. My company has got to a point and I’m guessing every person reading this has gotten their company to a point and now it’s about accumulating. Is it more knowledge for you? Do you need to go to more conferences? Do you need more conferences to recommend more books? Do you need more books to build your IP?
Do you need more relationships? Do you need more people? Do you need to hire a marketer or a salesperson? Do you need to get out of your own way because you might be or are probably doing what you’re comfortable with and you’re not illuminating the negative aspects of your company? The things you turn away from, you turn a blind eye to because it’s uncomfortable to look at your books and make sure that every month you’re looking at a P&L and a blank balance sheet.
Most entrepreneurs don’t want to go there. Why would they look at that? They want to grow. You know exactly the weak spots of your company. You know exactly where you’re not illuminating the negative. You’re hiding the negative. Maybe you need to take a leap of faith and do what I needed to do. Maybe you’re in this position of head of sales, accounting, whatever it is. Maybe you need to take a leap of faith and put somebody else in your shoes and elevate yourself to be more of a vision caster instead of the day to day operator. I don’t know. I’m not sure. What I can definitely challenge you to do is, if you need clarity of direction, I implore you to go to episode number two, Rookie to Expert and absorb that. I would recommend you hear it twice.
I recommend you go to number 28 The Success Wheel. When you add those two together and if you hear them both twice, you’re going to come away within a two-week period of time with a new clarity of direction of what you might be missing. You might not be missing anything, but it might be somebody on your team that’s missing something. Those two pieces can do for you what they did for me and remove blinders. I was so completely blind. I would have never thought to remove myself as the CEO. I cannot wait to fire myself. I hope this helps. Take care.
- Freedom Fast Lane
- The Launch
- Double, Double
- Rookie to Expert – Previous Episode (Episode number 2)
- The Success Wheel – Previous Episode (Episode number 28)
- Meetings Suck
- How to Make a Spaceship
- The Automatic Income
- Good to Great