Hey guys, Ken Courtright here. This week is dedicated to what I am calling growth nugget week. I am going through a bunch of clichés, metaphors, one-liners. Basically I am going through years of either speaking notes, talks I have given, classes I have sat through, conferences I have sat through, anywhere I have looked through my notes and saw a one-liner that I circled, that I later brought back into my company, and saw a physical impact on either growth or savings. I have put them on a Microsoft Word document, and I am going to elaborate on these and talk about these. Hopefully my experiences, many of which are painful, and my experience of growth at the 80-employee level and with my growth over the past five years, hopefully these lessons or these nuggets can impact some of you.
There Is Power In The Business Cliche’
I’m going to start with the first one. This is definitely now a business cliché. Like some people say, there is so much said in a joke. There is so much power in a cliché. It has been repeated over and over and over.
Don’t expect what you don’t inspect. Don’t expect results if you are not inspecting the process. That phrase has hurt my company so badly in the years that I have been running this. I used to hate that phrase. Now I love that phrase.
I will give you a recent episode. About a year ago, I had a meeting with our core management. I said, “Guys, we have got to stop managing people. We have to start managing numbers.” We’re talking to a group of highly right-brained, creative, strategic Internet marketing types of people. They are artists. They see things, and they adapt. They are creatives. For me to tell them that this is not optional, we are officially instilling what are called flash reports. It was painful.
A flash report is where I now have 30 of our employees every single day, by the time they close down the day, they have logged into a dashboard, they have clicked a button, they say that they created a piece of content, an infographic, a link from this big website to our website, moved a piece of content and get fifty social signals. What they do is make little flash reports that shows us what they are doing each day.
What you get to do is every so often, you can add up all these little scores. On this website, these 11 people did these projects. Look at the growth of the site. We can work that backwards and diagnose what exactly went into that growth. Then we can replicate that. Without the flash reports, we will see sites growing, but we won’t be able to microscopically say, “What exactly went in there?”
Do You Want Growth? Inspect The Process
I basically instilled the flash report because I was sitting in a conference, and I heard one more expert say, “Do not expect growth in areas where you are not inspecting the process.” I wrote it down and said I am not dealing with this anymore. That was a year ago. It was tremendous.
First, you must understand of the top ten reasons that people stay at a company more than three years, the seventh reason is the pay. When it was polled in both the ‘80s and again in the 2000’s, the top ten reasons that people stay at a company more than three years, the seventh reason is how much money they make. The first six reasons are centered around concepts like being part of a team, my voice was heard, my job mattered, my results mattered. If you are in management and you want to begin inspecting what you expect, one of the reasons managers don’t like to micromanage is they don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings.
Here is what I am here to tell you. Your people want you to micromanage them at the deepest core level. When you start inspecting what they are doing, they know their results matter, they know their job matter, they know their voice is heard, and they know they are part of a team. You are appealing to stuff that is much more important to them than their pay. When you inspect, production goes through the roof. It is inevitable.
Also when you inspect, positions change quicker. What that means is we have a tool at our company that takes a screenshot of everybody’s desktop once every six minutes. What’s interesting is we had a phenomenal employee that was here a couple years. We actually caught them in the doubt phase of their career with us. We were able to discern that three weeks in a row, they were averaging working 40% of the week. We had a conversation. We said, “Here is what we found.” The person said, “You’re right. I am in the doubt phase.” We realized this was a resume builder for this person. They were not going to climb management. They did not love what they did. We told them to go look for another job. It was a great thing.
I want to move on to a Stephen Covey phrase: “What one thing, if done consistently and superbly well, would get you everything you have always wanted and even take away your pain?” If you ask yourself that, here is what I want to ask you: What would actually happen if you did that one thing? I want you to write down 20 things that would change in your life if you did that one thing. Pause this podcast, write down 20 things. If you are driving, when you have a moment, get a flip notebook, write down 20 things if you would change if you did that one thing.
What I want you to do next is write the top two things that would be different five years from today if you did that one thing. That right there, the top two things that would be different in five years, I have seen people make incredible decisions in their lives and their companies of asking that question.
Moving on: Wandering eyes lead to division. Division leads to no vision. Man without vision will perish. It’s inevitable. They will perish.
Here is what I am saying. Not just in a scriptural sense although it is a powerful scripture. It is a business fact. This is not theory. When you are always looking for the next great thing, when you are always looking outside of where you are at, when your eyes are always wandering to what’s next, that causes division. When your vision is divided, you cannot go straight. It sounds cliché, but man without vision will perish. Projects and businesses without vision, meaning a clear, written, laid-out goal and a map to get there, they die very quickly.
Here is a stumper. The average surgeon is out of debt at 55 and retired, and dead at 58. Why is that? There is no vision. The Small Business Administration says that 83% of companies don’t make it to year three in business. Why? They have tracked that those companies that failed, the greatest percentage of them never wrote down anything: where they are going, how they are getting there. They had great intentions. They had incredible experience. They even had an unbelievable amount of capital. But they had no vision. They had no written anything where they could see the finish line.
Good Intentions Without Written Plans Are Just Good Intentions
This leads me to the next one: Good intentions without written plans, including a serious date of completion, are just that, good intentions. How many great people passed on with their music inside them because they never took the first step and wrote their good intention down?
Here’s one of my favorites. Digital and analog footprints. Many of you know that twice a year we hold an event called the Digital Footprint. I have had many podcasts where I have talked about incredible tools: Google Adwords Keyword Planner, SEMrush, BuzzSumo. These are digital tools that allow you to look at yourself, competition, industries, and make a map of exactly what other companies and people have done. They all leave footprints; they all leave clues. You can replicate that. Those are digital footprints.
I also want to talk about analog footprints because they came first. An analog footprint is modeling. There is an incredible Tony Robbins story regarding the tennis player Andre Agassi. It goes something like this. I haven’t read this for 20 years, but I am pretty sure I got this dead on.
The story goes that Andre Agassi for years was number one in the world. All of a sudden, he started slipping. He looked up one day, and he was not even in the top 80 in the world for rankings. He used to be number one consecutive years in a row. He was literally untouchable. All of a sudden, he noticed that he got beat once. Then he got beat twice. Then he was barely even making the cut into some of these tennis tournaments. Somebody bumps into him and goes, “You really should go see Tony Robbins.”
Andre Agassi is like, “Tony Robbins? Why in the world would I want to go see Tony Robbins?”
This person said, “He has a methodology where he can reprogram you, and you can be number one.”
He brushed it off like, “Whatever.”
Six months go by, nine months go by, twelve months go by. Now he has the worst world ranking than before. He is haunted by this guy that said that Tony Robbins could reprogram him to be number one. Finally, out of pure desperation, Agassi calls Tony Robbins and says, “Somebody told me that you could probably reprogram me to be number one.” This is a cold call from Agassi to Tony Robbins.
Tony Robbins, without any hesitation, says, “There is no question I could, but I would need $250,000. I can do it in one hour.”
Agassi goes, “I’m not sure I heard you. I think I heard you say first and foremost that you want me to pay you $250,000, and then you can think you can do this in one hour.”
Tony said, “I did not stutter. That is what I said. If you want to be number one in the world again, write me a check for $250,000, and we can fix this in one hour.”
Andre is like, “I don’t believe it. No, thanks. I’m good.”
A couple of days later, a week later, he calls Tony back, “All right, Tony. I’m going to do it. I’m going to take a leap of faith. You sound so sure of yourself I have to give it a shot. I will bring you the $250,000, and I’m excited to talk to you.”
Tony says, “No, it doesn’t work like that. I need the $250,000, but we can’t meet for six months.”
Andre goes, “Oh my gosh, are you telling me you’re that busy? If I give you $250,000, you can’t see me for six months.”
Tony says, “No, what are you talking about? My schedule has nothing to do with this. I have something specific I need to do, and it’s why I need this $250,000. It’s going to take me six months to build up what I need to build up so that when we talk for an hour, you will walk out of here and be number one.”
Andre is like, “Wow, you have to be kidding me. Fine.” He puts a check for $250,000 in the mail. Six months later, he shows up. An hour later, after he shows up, he leaves, and sixty days later, Andre Agassi is ranked number one in the world.
The question is: What in the world did Tony Robbins say to Andre Agassi for him to become number one?
As Tony explains, he took Andre’s money and hired a team. He hired scouts, people to work the phones, executive assistants, and what he charged this team of six people with was to go throughout the world in the next 4-5 months and interview everybody that is currently number one in tennis. There are doubles divisions, singles divisions, women, men, college. They interviewed about 30 people in tennis that are currently ranked number one in their division. They then said, “Who is your strength coach? Who is your conditioning coach? Who is your dietician?” They went and interviewed them.
Over a 4-5-month period of time, Tony Robbins was able to create a model that says the current number one people in the world, this is what they eat, this is how often they train, this is the training they do outside of practice, this is exactly the drills they do on average, this is how they work on their speed, this is how they work on their endurance, this is how they work on their mindset, these are the coaches they currently use.
Agassi sat there in that one hour and later said that he could not take notes fast enough because he was literally shaking inside. He found himself doing hardly any of what these current champions were doing. Agassi realized that what he was missing and why he wasn’t number one was he was completely missing what he was putting into the game. He came to the conclusion that you get out what you put in. He left there so amped up to begin to put in more and to discipline his mind and the muscle memory and the physical repetitions of seeing himself win and jumping over the net in excitement. The rest is history. You can do the homework. Agassi had this multiple-year gap of nothing, and then he launched back to number one and held it for some time.
I love that story because anybody listening to this podcast can themselves find out who the elite is in your space and personally interview them. You can hire people to interview them, but there is no question that you can break down what goes into a great salesperson. You can break down what goes into that great company. You can break down what goes into that leader’s mind. This is one of the reasons I spend so much time reading billionaire and highly successful people’s autobiographies.
Find Out How the Great Ones Run Their day
I don’t want the biography; I want it written by them. I want them to tell me how they plan their day, how they started their day, what they ate, how they kept their energy up, how they dealt with people, how they dealt with vendors, how they dealt with salespeople, how they dealt with conflict. That is the journey I am on. A lot of the journey I am on of discovery and of learning is rooted in the Tony Robbins story of how he programmed Andre Agassi in one hour.
I’m going to move onto another one and finish with this one because to a degree, if you don’t understand this, it can be quite catastrophic. Time can only be spent either preparing for success or repairing a failure. That’s it. We are either preparing, or we are repairing. This goes to the age-old management concept of causal management versus reactionary management. We either cause things to happen or react to things happening.
Here is the question to you: Do you cause sales or growth, or do you have a bank account that is making you sell? You’re reacting to circumstances. The best way to pinpoint is if you are a preparer or a causer of things happening, or if you are a repairer or a reactor to things happening is to audit your time. The only way to pinpoint where you fall in and where your company falls in is to audit your week.
Understand the first step of all success is to stop lying to yourself. What percentage of your week, measured only by four consecutive weeks in a row, does your management spend planning? If three weeks ago you spent two days planning, but two weeks ago you spent no minutes planning, your average is one. It isn’t an average.
In the last four weeks, what is the lowest time spent planning? That is your planning schedule. Planning is a discipline. Many businesses spend almost no time planning. They live by continually reacting to circumstances. They live and function in a constant state of repair. These companies may experience spurts of growth but often hit severe obstacles. These are reactionary or repair types of companies. These companies’ management is continually in a stressful environment.
This is not to be confused with high growth companies that purposefully stretch themselves with high growth goals. These are stressful environments as well, but it’s an understood, self-inflicted, and healthy stress.
On the flip side, to the reactionary and repair-oriented management style is the causal or preparing management style. In previous podcasts, I think I have mentioned that McDonald’s had an incredible 31-year run. From 1975 to 2004 or 2006, they went 31 years with 13 different CEOs with same-store sales. Not only did they grow by acquisition and opening new stores, but they had same-store sales for 31 years.
Here is how this happened, and it will backfill this episode. McDonald’s figured out that 2.1% of gross sales this month should go into next month’s local advertising, and 2.1% of this month’s gross sales should go into next month’s national advertising. So 4.2%. I could be off a little. This month generates revenue, and the management figured out that if they put 4.2% of this month’s revenue from that store into half local and half national advertising, it would continue to grow. They also found out that 3% wasn’t enough, and 5% didn’t cause any more growth than 4.2. So they found their sweet spot. Finding this number allowed them to relax in the numbers.
I want you to picture this for a second. Could you imagine in your company that you could figure out the perfect amount of advertising in the perfect platform where you could physically sit back and you know if you put this money into a pay per click budget, or this much money into Facebook advertising, or this much money into a highway billboard campaign or national radio or whatever, you know you could get an 8:1 return in gross and net revenues? Wouldn’t that be incredible? You could physically relax because you don’t have to worry about the numbers, and you could then do so much planning of a better product or delivery or customer service. You are not always in a reactionary mode or a stressful mode of growth.
When we break this down, I found the magic number for moving a company from reactionary to causal is 20%. When you audit your time, it seems the best growth results come from a 20% planning schedule. It seems if you can dedicate one full day a week, and in my case it’s Friday’s, or from 9-11 every day, to me that is too distracting, but many companies plan every day 9-11. If you can do that, and you’re diligent to it, then you are specific to planning, and you don’t fail to plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail; that is the cliché. If you set certain amounts of time aside, the adage of failing to plan is planning to fail doesn’t take shape.
When small companies just react and work, they forget that businesses and households that have one main source of income fail 100% of the time. This is a legacy type of statement, meaning we are all mortal. If I have a job, and I am mortal, and I am the head of my household, isn’t it a fact that my income is going to stop at some point? Yes.
How about a company that was around in 1860? Where are they today? There are a couple left. I’ll bet anything the way they make money today is not how they made money in 1860. It is a fact that the main source of income fails 100% of the time. It’s just a matter of time.
If you are not spending a set amount of time each week to plan the next phase of growth, hopefully including a new and different type of revenue stream, it’s like living with your head always looking at your feet. If you only stare at your feet, you can definitely walk across town, but you might miss all the cabs holding up signs that say it’s free cab fare Tuesday. You can get across town much faster for free.
The Magic Number of Business Planning : 20% Per Week
When you spend 20% of your week planning, you will find questions and conversations all of a sudden centered around the following topics. I am going to read off a list of questions that I recommend are added to a planning schedule of any business. I don’t care the business, I don’t care the industry, I don’t care the age of the company, I don’t care the maturity level of the business owner, I don’t care. If you start planning on a daily basis, what I would suggest is you might want to entertain a series or a Round Robin of these planning sessions around questions like the ones I am about to read. You don’t have to use these, but I think you will find that you are tripping over things like this. I am going to read these and then bug out of here.
How do our physical competitors market their products? You might want to spend a couple of hours, if not a couple of days, on that.
What other companies are already selling products to our perfect customer? Who is already in bed with our perfect customer? Could we talk to them? How are they doing it? What are their budgets? What other platforms are they using to get to those customers? You might want to spend a day on that.
What other products would our customers buy from us? Obviously your customers are buying that product from you. What else might they buy from you? They already trust you to buy from you. Wouldn’t they trust you to buy something else?
What else can we make or sell nights and weekends that wouldn’t distract us from our core business? That is called the legacy question. My very first podcast is centered around that question. If you haven’t listened to it yet, it would mean a lot to me if you could.
Free Book : Chapter 39
I have a free book on my website, kencourtright.com or incomestore.com, that I have the lifetime rights to the PDF. You don’t have to buy it. I wrote that book with Brian Tracy. It would mean a lot if you could read Chapter 39 and have any teenager you ever bump into read that chapter. I won Author of the Year out of 205 authors for that chapter.
- If we had to start this company all over, would we carry the same products? I like that one.
- If we had to start this company all over, would we rehire each employee? Ouch. I ask myself that one every January 1.
- Are there courses or conferences we should be sending our employees, our sales reps, or even ourselves to for further education?
- Can we make or sell our product for less money?
- Should we come out with a new, more expensive version of our product? I had a whole podcast on that one a couple weeks ago.
- Should we come out with a smaller, lighter version of our product?
- Can we come up with a reason to start a monthly membership program of some kind?
- Are there companies selling similar products that we could buy or partner with?
- What are the three greatest strengths of our top four physical competitors?
- What are the two greatest weaknesses of our top four physical competitors? I guarantee that you should spend a whole day on those last two.
- What are five ways of advertising that we have never tried? You have to try that.
- What platform could we use to create a growing subscriber base of loyal fans and followers? Should we blog? Should we podcast? Should we do videos? What are some options? There are so many mediums.
- What 20 blogs, newspapers, TV shows, or magazines would be interested in reviewing our product or service?
- What companies would be interested in a referral fee for referring consistent business to us?
I guarantee you you reread those questions, listen to those questions again, and they will spawn 10-50 other questions that you should be asking yourself. It’s my guess that if these types of questions were introduced to reactionary and repairing companies, the only thing that could happen is not only would consistent growth begin, but also the energy level of the management of those companies would go through the roof and great things would begin to happen.
I am Ken Courtright from Today’s Growth: Growing Business Today. If any of this hit ya, I’d love it if you could jump onto your desktop version of iTunes and subscribe, and what would help me the most is if you reviewed the podcast. Unfortunately for me, I hit the top row of Business Podcasts a while back. And now I have X amount of weeks to get to a couple hundred reviews that would keep me in the New and Noteworthy section.
Truly love doing these podcasts. I think it’s fantastic. Just loving these nuggets and hoping people are putting these into practice. If you ever want to throw me some comments or want me to talk about a certain topic of any kind—growth, trimming expenses, dealing with people, finding vendors, anything you think our 24 years, 3,100 clients, and 700 revenue-generating websites might lend experience with—shoot me an email, and I would be happy to do a podcast on that.
For now, Ken Courtright signing off. See you guys on the trail. Take care.