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Your Mouths Are Starving
I’m in the middle of a couple of parts on this series on the fact that your business is starving. This is part two. Your business is starving. There is no question, it needs constant feeding. I talked a little bit about a baby is not going to grow without food. An adult is not going to continue to age without food. They’re going to physically perish. Why would a business be any different? It is a living and breathing organism. Part two of what you need to feed in your business is the people. I’m going to start with the people that do meaningful work, the employees. I’m going to break this into employees and management, which is employees. They are employees and then leadership or ownership.
Let’s talk about the people that do meaningful work. They need to be fed the most, no question. A lot of this goes back to a study in 1978 or ’79. I don’t know if it was Harvard Business Review or what have you. It was a huge study. This is the title of a book I’m going to do in a couple of years called Money is The Seventh Thing. Not money is the only thing. What that means is it’s in reference to the top ten reasons someone stays at a company for two years or longer. Their salary or their hourly wage is the seventh thing. The first six reasons people stay at a company is they want to feel part of a team. They want to feel they belong. They want to know their voice is heard. They want to be respected. When you feed your employees, and I’m not talking about steak and eggs, I’m talking about sending them to conferences, bringing in coaches to teach them and bringing in consultants. We’re about to send a couple of our guys to EMBA, Executive MBA Programs where we’re going to pay for their further education. When you feed them, they grow.
I want you to think about your employees. In the last 90 days, have you offered them a book to read? Have you offered them a conference they could fly to or drive to and get fed? Have you brought in a consultant? Have you brought in any form of mentorship? Is there any form of curriculum that your management is performing during 9 to 5 or after in the last 90 days to advance them from the position they’re in to another position or the position they’re in to being better in that position? In the last 90 days, have you done that? If not, I’m going to challenge you that if in the next 90 days you don’t do the same thing, you’re starving them. Your responsibility as a founder, as a leader, as a manager, as an owner of a company is to feed your employees. You need to think about it. Every time you walk into that building or every time you jump on a Skype call or a Zoom call and you see an employee’s face, you should have this sign right above their head, “I’m starving or I’m well-fed.” “They are my children. I have 150 employees with my wife. They are our children. I would never starve my kids. I want to feed them.”
Your responsibility as a founder, as a leader, as a manager, and as an owner of a company is to feed your employees. Click To Tweet
We also on regular intervals tell our employees, “This is a resume builder.” I’m wired different. I do not want you to say this to your employees, “This is a resume builder. I want you to learn here.” Our last name is Courtright. In 135 years, we have never had a W2. We all started our own business. We’ve also never had a divorce with the Courtright name in 135 years. We think a lot of it has to be because mom and dad have the same common dream. We do the same thing. We literally go in the same direction. We think that’s powerful. At least three to four times a year, we purposefully have a body of employees meeting and to remind everybody that if it is your will and wish, I want you to learn here, get skilled and trained on how to run your division and your spot the best so maybe you could break off and start a company on your own. I’d love to help them do it.
I’m confident people could leave us to go start their own business because I feed them continuously. I happened to be in San Diego and I was talking to one of our guys. As a matter of fact, it was my daughter. She’s like, “We should probably see so and so.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” “They’re here in town at Traffic & Conversion Summit. Five of them are here.” I’m like, “No surprise.” At the same time in the same week, I had five other people at a different event in Tennessee. We feed our people all the time. Here’s the reason. When I send someone to a conference, when I mail them a book to read, it’s not mandatory, suggested reading. They read it, absorb it and they grow. They feel they’re part of a team. They feel they belong. They then get to talk about what they learned at the conference and then their voices are heard. Their opinion matters.
I just hit four of the top six emotional items that fill their bucket, that feed them which are the four of the top six reasons they will stay at Income Store for two years or longer. Most managers starve their people. They use some carrot and stick approach of, “Here’s more money if you hit these numbers.” There is quite frankly a lot cheaper way than financially incentivizing people to do their job that’s been proven for hundreds of years. You feed them. It’s much less expensive and then you’d have to dangle the carrot and stick. Let me flip this over to the leadership. I’m talking about you and your direct reports, you and your managers. Here’s one for you. Do you have the same mentors or advisors as two and three years ago? Do you even have mentors, consultants and advisors? I can’t even imagine at our size doubling every year not having the four incredible highly paid consultants that steer every move we make in our company. I can’t even fathom it.
I can’t fathom not having a David Corbin where I come up with a challenge in business. I don’t know what to do. He is my 911 speed dial. I can’t imagine someone running a company without people like that on speed dial. If you are even remotely saying, “You don’t understand. We’re in a financial crunch right now. How could I bring in a consultant?” If you’re in a financial jam, I’m going to make up a number. Let’s say you did $800,000 last year but you lost $100,000. You’re barely meeting payroll. If you don’t figure something out, you got a few months to a year left. You’re running on fumes. Let me ask you something. What have you found three to five people that used to work for companies five to ten times bigger than your current company? You find people that have recently in the last year retired from those companies. They’re retired. They’re done.
How do you find those people? You go to Archive.org and you read the press clippings on the press page of your competitor’s websites because when somebody major at a company retires, I don’t care how small the company, they do a press release. They shout for joy. All you got to do is put in the search bar of their websites, write the word retired, retirement, retirees or whatever. You’ll find it. If you want to find it, you’ll find these people. How do you think a person would feel that retired and then somebody from a competitive company, but they’re five to ten times smaller, they never even came up as a competitor on the radar? They don’t even know who you are. This person is retired and they get a call.
It goes something like this, “Mr. Smith, my name is Tom Jones. I’m sure you don’t know me, but I followed your career at so and so for quite some time. I know that you retired about a year ago. I happened to have put my company in an interesting position. I’d love to ask if I could buy you a coffee maybe a couple of times a year. I can’t afford to bring you on as a consultant, but my company is at $800,000 a year right now and losing $100,000 a year. We really need some guidance from somebody that has been there and done that. I don’t know who else to turn to. Is there any way I could buy you coffee and share with you what my company’s doing and see if there’s any way you could offer some advice?” What do you think that person’s going to say? God forbid that the first person you call says, “I can’t right now. I started a project or I’m financially tied to this company still. I shouldn’t.” I’ve never heard that response, but it’s possible.
If you want to grow, you got to feed your brain. Click To Tweet
I have never offered this option to someone else that tried it, where the person turned them down. Not finding a mentor is not optional. Iron sharpens iron. The brain that got you into the jam can’t get you out of the jam. That’s a version of what Einstein said many times. The bottom line is if you want to grow, you’ve got to feed your brain. Please google Dr. John Maxwell. I believe he occupies more shelf space in Barnes & Noble than any author in history. All but two of his books have the word leadership in the title. You might want to become a Dr. John Maxwell junkie and start going to Audible, in bookstores and Amazon or whatever you’ve got to do and start reading the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and Today Matters. You need to read John Maxwell’s books and great men and women like him that are talking about leadership.
If you don’t feed yourself, the phrase goes, “If you don’t feed the head, the body will die.” You are the head, feed yourself. I want you to go out and get virtual mentors. Find five of the top experts in your space, in whatever it is you do, you think you’re an expert in. Find five world experts. I want you to put their name into Google Alerts. I want you to read every email that Google sends you every time these people are published in any major magazine, newspaper or quoted anywhere. You can hire a virtual assistant. I bet you could get this whole thing done for $200. I want you to give a virtual assistant $200 and say, “Here are these five people. They are the five most impactful people in my industry. I need you to find for me every book they’ve written, every speech they’ve given at a conference, every article they’ve been quoted in. You scrape everything you can that’s ever been written about these people and by these people in any talk they’ve ever done that’s on YouTube and you send them to me.” Then what you do is you feed yourself.
You read everything you can by and about these people and it is going to shock you how much you didn’t know about your industry. What you’re going to do and ask of your five top management is the exact same thing. If you have the budget, get a virtual assistant, $1,000 or $1,200 to do yourself and the next five top management of your company and blow their hair back with information. Feed their brains and watch how your company catapults from one level to the next. Watch how you start doubling in areas you never thought you could double in. Watch the impetus that you will not be able to slow down. Here’s the thing, mark in a calendar six months or twelve months from now and make sure you have an alert on your phone that says, “We need another five mentors virtually or I need another mentor,” or whatever. Feed yourself, feed your management and feed your people because your business is starving. I hope this helps. Take care.