A learning – and winning – mindset

Two weeks ago, a devastating winter storm passed through an area of the country that isn’t used to cold and snow. It wreaked havoc across the south and disrupted millions of lives.

I had the opportunity to work with a couple of disrupted lives and the contrast between the two is one of the best examples of the impact of mindset that I’ve ever witnessed.

I frequently coach salespeople with a combination of virtual training and regularly scheduled calls. On the calls, we talk through their sales process, strategize current opportunities in their pipeline and discuss what they’ve learned in the virtual training.

I had calls scheduled with two people that week. The first was on the day the storm hit. That morning, I got an email from that person saying, “It will be doubtful I will be on the call. We have a huge winter storm here and everything is shut down and probably going to lose power soon.”

The second scheduled call was with someone who emailed me the night before (Wednesday) saying, “Our area of Texas has been without power since Sunday night. Please call me during our scheduled meeting time as a video call/WiFi access is not an option given the circumstances. Look forward to our conversation – thank you!”

When we got on the call, I discovered that she had completed her assigned online video training the night before by plugging a hotspot into her car and watching on her mobile phone while the car heater kept her warm!

Neither person chose their circumstances, but they both got to decide their response. Those responses were clear evidence of the impact that mindset has on those decisions. You see, one of the two had been faithful in completing training assignments, updating their sales dashboard and attending our regular calls. Guess which one.

That’s why it’s so important for companies to have a development strategy for their team. That’s the third step of my 4D Transformation Method, which I talk about in this video:

Does your company have a development program for everyone on the team? How effective is it? Let me help you evaluate it by taking this short assessment and then signing up for a strategy call with me after.

One more question about these two people: which one do you think booked a sale that week?

Passing the $10 million plateau

Ready, Fire, Aim started as a retreat serial entrepreneur Michael Masterson led for other entrepreneurs. He wanted to impart the lessons he had learned from a 30-year career starting and running several multi-million-dollar businesses. Later developed and expanded as a book, the subtitle states his objective; teaching the reader to take a business from “Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat.”

The two biggest ideas in the book are the importance of action (thus, the book title) and that going from zero to $100 million encompasses four distinct stages in the life of a company. Having read the Five Second Rule, 10X, and many other books, I knew the first point well. It’s the second that I will focus on.

According to Masterson, each of the four stages of a business has different problems, challenges, and opportunities and requires different skills from the entrepreneur running the company. The stages are:

  1. Infancy ($0-1 million in revenue)
  2. Childhood ($1-10 million)
  3. Adolescence ($10 million to $50 million)
  4. Adulthood ($50 million to $100 million and beyond)

The stage that was the most interesting to me (because it faces many of the challenges my company, FiveFour, solves for business leaders at this level) is adolescence. Once a company grows to or near $10 million, the growth almost always comes with a new set of challenges.

At this size, there is at least one or two levels of management between the founder/CEO and the front-line workers who engage with the company’s customers. Those employees do not have the benefit that existed in the first two phases of business growth – proximity to the founder/CEO. Companies that reach $10 million in revenue usually do so because the founder/CEO built a culture around taking care of the customer. With multiple levels of management, they no longer talk directly to every employee and are unable to directly impart their culture and expectations of how the customer should be cared for.

The way this usually shows up in a company is through disgruntled customers. Masterson writes: “The most important disconnect has to do with the priority you had established to make sure every customer would be handled with the utmost of care and consideration.” The business is in need of a transformation. A transformation from focusing almost exclusively on customer acquisition to one that now focuses equally on customer retention. Masterson calls it customer service, but were he writing today rather than the mid-2000’s, he would likely recognize that the customer experience is even more important.

The leader accomplishes this transformation by a focus on operations and training, communicating the vision, joint ventures and hiring stars and superstars. He’s dead-on with that list, but a few of his methods are decidedly lacking. For example, to communicate the vision he advocates writing a monthly memo. To solve this communication gap that he has so accurately identified takes much more than a written letter once a month.

And it’s behind that small defect that my larger problem with the book arises. Those memos worked for him and a client of his. That’s 98% of what you get in this book: his personal experience as an entrepreneur. Masterson has no time for theory. The only time I can remember him quoting an organizational theorist was to disagree with him.

That’s not a debilitating problem and it doesn’t erase the good that comes from the book. After all, Masterson wrote it to impart what he learned from his entrepreneurial journey. But it is a limitation that the reader should be aware of. This book is just one source – a good one, but just one – and will need to be supplemented with other resources especially the further we get from the day it was written.