Family Business. The Legacy of Generations.

Jordan Fee is a 4th-generation owner of Fee Insurance Group.

Recently, Jordan shared his thoughts on a series of questions centered on the business of family business. This candid insight from Jordan revealed his thoughts and perspectives as a next gen business owner.

Fee has been an independent, family-owned company for over 130 years. Jordan’s father, Allen, is the company CEO and his uncle, Bob, is the company president. Jordan is a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Authority on Workers Compensation (CAWC), and a Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS).

Personally… Jordan and his wife, Heather, welcomed their first child in 2018.

Tell me about your earliest memories of being a part of a family business.
JF: Some of the earliest memories I have are of my mom bringing my brother and me to the office to see my dad, uncle, and grandpa. It was always a big deal for us because we got to have a pop every time.

What was the first work you can remember doing for the company? 
JF: Every year at Christmastime, we received calendars and my dad would always have my brother and I go out, around the community, and deliver them to some of our clients. It was always kind of a big deal.

When do you consciously remember saying, “I want to become a part of the family business”? 
JF: I always had a great appreciation for what my dad, grandpa, and my uncle did in regards to community, the relationships they built with people, and the type of work they did in helping people reduce risk.

Right out of college I went and did an internship in a medical malpractice insurance company in Minnesota. It was a great experience. I wanted to apply the same traits of work ethic and building relationships that my dad, uncle and grandpa exhibited. I wanted to do what my dad did but didn’t necessarily know it would mean the family business specifically.

The older I became, my early 20’s, the more evident it was to me that I had a connection to the insurance industry. Helping people with their insurance needs and reducing their risk was something I would enjoy and be comfortable having a conversation around. I also knew that I had room to grow and would be challenged in a good way.

This is when being part of the family business became a serious deal for me. I knew I really wanted to be a part of Fee as a company. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do. I would challenge people who think it is; it’s actually harder working with family than it would be working in a company where people aren’t related.

Why is that?
JF: The expectations placed on me as a Fee were automatic. They were way more than what I would have experienced working with a company that wasn’t founded and led by family. The separation of family and the business is a challenge. We work together, but we also want to be able to enjoy each other outside of work. We are passionate and committed to our business. We also want to be able to enjoy family barbecues and holidays without work being the center of every conversation. Even when we’re dealing with something challenging or intense at the office. Someone who doesn’t work with family wouldn’t have this level of understanding or have to deal with the family work balance and blend.

How do you define your own identity given the family relationships and legacy? How do you work on defining you every day in this business?
JF: It’s definitely difficult.  You grow up and you come into this business and you see what others have done to make it successful. I’ve seen and heard the stories of what my grandfather did to grow this business by building relationships and establishing trust. I see the same commitment from my father and my uncle as well. I want to be known for the same level of relationship and trust with people. At the same time, I understand I’ve got to be my own person. I’m not them. I’ve got my own style. I’ve got different ways I go about things. I handle problems and situations differently than they do. The struggle, and the thing that I remind myself of continuously is, I’ve got to just be myself in all situations. I can’t constantly think, “Should I have handled it this way because that’s the way my dad would have handled this?” I’ve had to determine my own thoughts on situations while always keeping in mind what’s best for the company. It’s important that I know who I am and focus on my trajectory as a professional while valuing the perspectives shared by my father and my uncle.

So, when you started at the ground level, was that your idea? Was it your dad’s idea? Was it a requirement? 
JF: Allen, Bob, and I all agreed that’s where I was going to have to start in order to get a good understanding of how the business works and operates. If I earned a place of leadership, I would have a good understanding of why things happen, how success is achieved, why problems occur, and so forth. Entry-level work was a good place to start to be able to give me the best picture of how the work got done. How we deal with clients, how we deal with companies, and how we deal with our employees. This was about looking at the complete picture of the business.

Not long ago, you became an owner of the company. Did you always know that you wanted to work towards becoming an owner?
JF: You know, that’s a great question. I think once I got to the point where I decided the company meant enough to me that I wanted to be a part of it, as an individual, in the family, with this name, I knew that ownership was a potential. It wasn’t guaranteed and it was going to have to be earned over many years. Which it was. I feel comfortable in my leadership and abilities. But yet, I felt like the name, the company, this legacy went beyond my abilities. They meant enough to me that if I earned the opportunity, I would be honored to represent the ownership team of this organization because I believe in the mission, I love the legacy, and I want to do anything I can to preserve it into the future.

What is the most rewarding part of family business? 
JF: I think the most rewarding thing for me is the leadership and the people that have come before me. The people that made this company and made the brand what it is today across the state and beyond. To have that attached to my last name, that’s pretty rewarding. I’m very proud to be able to say, “I’m a Fee”. Again, it’s because of the leadership here, the people that are a part of the company, and all the loyal customers and clients that have trusted us to handle insurance and risk management for them over the lifetime of this organization. That trust in us, that’s rewarding to me. It’s rewarding for me to be viewed as a trusted advisor in this organization and continue to be viewed as a trusted advisor with our customers.

If you were to share one thought with NextGen leaders, who are pursuing ownership in a family business, what would it be? 
JF: Something that my dad always has stressed with us is never lose sight of your foundation and what’s important to you. For any NextGen thinking about leadership and ownership, I’d offer the same thought. If the legacy of your family business is important to you, if that’s your foundation, always remember that and never lose sight of that focus.

The legacy of Fee, moving it forward and getting even better for the people that have trusted in us for so long. That’s my foundation. Family business, just like any other business, doesn’t come without challenges. Always rely on the foundation of why you’re doing what you’re doing. I remind myself of this foundation regularly. Why I’m here, why I believe in Fee, how it aligns with who I am, and where I’d like to see it go into the future. This is how I know I’m in the right place and how NextGen family business leaders and owners will know they’re in the right spot.

This is the foundation that gives me the confidence that I’m doing what I want to do in further defining the legacy and leadership of our company.

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Let us know your thoughts on this week's guest blog in the comments.


Giving Yourself Permission to Focus on the Now

Don’t Read This

This is a blog post by a 23-year-old millennial with a physiology degree who somehow ended up in sales.

If you haven’t guessed already: I’m Brent’s son, Bryce Patmos.

Why did my dad ask me to write this week’s blog post? What value can a 23-year-old add to Thoughtwave and to your week? Trust me, I asked myself the same thing. But as I started to think about it, being my father’s son and pursuing a career in sales myself has positioned me to understand many things others my age haven’t had the chance to see.

Who Cares?

I currently work for the 3rd largest IT staffing firm in the Nation, building relationships with managers and being a resource, regardless of time or day, when a need arises. In this business and in this industry, I am my own product. And just like products need descriptions, I found myself needing one too. As a young professional, I’m striving to define me--not others defining me, not social norms defining me, but me defining me. This is important because the definition and image that I portray for myself now is one that I will carry with me as I develop in my career.

I’m often confronted with people saying, “Who cares? You are young, it doesn’t matter.” But the fact of the matter is I care deeply because I’ve seen the impact of this initiative firsthand.

I grew up with an entrepreneurial father. I was fortunate enough to watch him build his own business in his own vision and witness what it means to give your all day in and day out, no matter what. I watched as my dad constantly refined his approach and focus and felt the impact of his awareness in his own identity.

As a result, I’ve also seen what a family business looks like and have come to appreciate that family business is about much more than what’s being produced and sold.

Being part of a family business embodies a different kind of connection and dedication. You’re not only defining a portion of who you are through this business, but you’re also representing your family.

You not only have to figure out who you are in the business and who you are in your family, you have to figure out your identity as a family member in the business. By its nature, family business elicits a different type of connection and love for what you do. It’s not just owning a business, it’s loving the process and the business itself, and it’s about legacy.

What Do You Want to be Known For?

I believe this is a question that should be continually asked, no matter your age. It’s never too early or too late to consider the impact you want to leave in this world. More importantly, I’ve learned that the way to leave a legacy is by taking small, measurable steps.

The Impact of Now

As you might expect of a 23-year-old, right now I’m focusing on me. I spend my time thinking about my career, my passions, and focusing on the now. I absolutely think about the future and where I want to be in 10 years, however right now in this moment, I’m giving myself permission to focus on the now. I will become the best me at this stage in my life.

I talked about the dedication it takes to own a family business: I learned from my father that this lesson applies to all aspects of life.

Focus on the now, give 100% of the effort you have available in that moment, and use it to shape and determine what you are looking for out of your career.

So to answer my initial question, what does a 23-year-old professional have to offer? I can show you what it truly means to focus on the now. I can show you that age does not predicate work ethic, values, or career path. Your willingness to focus on the now, your willingness to give 100% of your available effort, and your willingness to define yourself is what it comes down to. You define you.

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Let us know your thoughts on this week's guest blog in the comments.


7 Universal Truths to Prevent Stagnancy in Your Business

While attending the TTI Success Insights Global Conference on Human Potential this past January - Molly Fletcher, one of the keynote speakers, quoted Tom Izzo who said, “You better be better than your problems.” This immediately caught my attention because if you want to be better than your sales and margin problems, it’s imperative that stagnancy isn’t your primary strategy.

Stagnancy Stinks

If your sales are sluggish, it may be because your customer base has gotten a bit stale.

If your gross margin isn’t where you want it to be, it may be because you’ve failed to advance your pricing strategy with you customers.

If you fail to refine your customers and define the relationship, it’s entirely possible that the foul odor you smell is the stagnancy of an approach that lacks awareness.

Universal Truths

While every company’s strategy is unique, there are some universal truths, connected to the life-cycle of businesses that are essential to preventing stagnancy from rooting its way into your company.

Click image to enlarge:

Course of Action

The key to defining strategy and avoiding stagnancy is to be informed and aware of key insights in relationship to the universal truths. This is about defining the time necessary to dedicate the effort and emphasis necessary to analyze, think, plan, execute and measure.

Ask yourself how often you find yourself in action toward an objective without defining and naming the real problem, concern or challenge you’re trying to tackle. At some point action simply for the sake of action is counterproductive. What’s key is getting to the root cause and making sure that the action is directed in a way that advances your business and prevents stagnancy.

This is really about common sense. Establishing a course of action to prevent stagnancy begins with the knowledge that you possess about your business or something that you learn as a result of analyzing information related to your business.

Here are seven action steps connected with the universal truths above:

  1. Consistently and continually review and refine your customer/client base.
    Establish common sense criteria that allow you to know and understand your customer/client at a deeper level. What are their needs? What are their priorities? What are the challenges they’re confronting. Where do they have blind spots that are evident to you?
  2. Adjust pricing regularly and frequently in today’s variable business climate.
    This allows you to stay ahead of the curve rather than behind the curve. Think about how hard it is to catch up on pricing, and margin, when you fall behind what were the required adjustments.
  3. All customers aren’t created equal. Establish awareness within your organization about customer segmentation and what customers represent the top 25%, the middle 50% and the bottom 25%.
    This allows you to engage conversations that are directly related to emphasis and prioritization and define why all customers truly aren’t equal.
  4. Define a level of service that the customer should expect and deliver on that expectation consistently.
    Truly great service is rare and yet every customer deserves great service when they interact with your organization. Experience has shown me that leaders who understand the relationship between universal truths 3 and 4 are leaders who generate greater sales growth, customer loyalty and margin in their business.
  5. Train every salesperson in your company to understand the business of their business and have regular conversations with their customers about key impacts and variables.
    Not only will you see increased margins, you will also witness increased customer trust and connection. No one likes surprises, and no one likes an unaware and uninformed salesperson.
  6. Identify key indicators that are important to your company when considering the impact of your customers.
    Some examples:

    1. Sales dollars
    2. Margin dollars
    3. Number of transactions per customer and cost per transaction
    4. Frequency of transactions
    5. Number or products, services or lines purchased
  7. Define the commitment index of the client/customer on a scale from one to five with five being high and one being low.
    What is the level of mutual respect? How do they respond to normal business variations? When a difficult circumstance or conversation arises, how committed are you to each other?

Thoughtstarter

Invest the time over the next 7 to 10 days to consider how the universal truths and strategic insights apply to you, those you lead, your business unit or your company. If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being high and 1 being low, where would you rate yourself and your team on advancing against stagnancy?

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Family Business and The Core Belief in Cash

There’s a saying that goes something like this… “Show me a person’s checkbook and calendar and I will show you what that person values.” Today, we’d need to adjust that saying for the era of electronic banking. Or… we would simply need to recognize the simplest of truths. How you spend your money and time reflect what you value most.

The value systems in a family business run deep. So deeply that they’re often referred to as core beliefs and they serve as the foundation of decisions and choices both individually and organizationally among owners and leaders.

The Commonality of Core Beliefs

Among the core beliefs that make-up the value system within a family business, there is one in particular that stands out for me as being essential to long-term success. Like many sayings offering timeless wisdom this core belief is simple, can be applied by everyone and is mastered by a few. This is the core value of dry powder and debt.

Dry Powder and Debt

In business, the term dry powder refers to cash and is the fuel for growth. Debt is a ratio to be managed correctly in relationship to that cash. Translated as a core belief of family business, the premise is simple. Don’t let a bank dictate your decisions. Manage your cash (dry powder) so that you can fund your future growth and opportunity. The leadership, relationship and ratio between the two is about one simple concept...CHOICE.

Owner’s Choice

When faced with the decision, the owners of family business prefer to control what they can control. This is what we refer to as the owner’s choice. This is the specific reason that keeping cash reserves high and debt low in relationship is a core belief of so many owners of family businesses. They recognize the long view requirement of smart financial decisions and their impact on advancing or restricting the opportunity for growth within their business.

Imagine the opportunity to grow the business exponentially based on a strategic choice. Now imagine the frustration of a business owner that is so leveraged with debt that they’re unable to pursue the very opportunity that would have accelerated their business to the next level. Conversely, imagine the options for the owner who has lived by the core belief of maintaining high levels of dry powder and low levels of debt.

In a word, it’s all about CHOICE.

The Value of Simplicity

On a personal level, I’m grateful that my parents instilled the simple, yet profound, core belief of financial competence in my life at a very early age. There are three things that my parents said over and over again to bring practicality to financial knowledge. These are the same things they tell their grandchildren today to instill a core belief across generations. The great part about something that’s simple is that it often times requires no more explanation. Such is the case with the timeless and simple wisdom of a school teacher/administrator and business owner.

  1. Spend less than you make
  2. Don’t live beyond your means
  3. Save and invest something from every paycheck and you’ll be the one signing the paychecks

Thoughtstarter: Control What You Can Control

If you’re interested in increasing your financial knowledge let me encourage you to check out a couple of resources that you may find useful, starting with a guy by the name of Dave Ramsey.

If you don’t know who Dave Ramsey is, you may want to invest the time to learn about him. 30 years ago, Ramsey filed for bankruptcy. Today, he’s considered “America’s trusted voice on money.”  He’s the owner of Ramsey Solutions, the voice of The Dave Ramsey Show, a New York Times Best Selling Author… and he has an estimated net worth of about $55 million.

One of my favorite quotes from Dave, of which there are many, is “You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” Think about that as it relates to your core beliefs, choice and the value of simplicity.

Two books that are required reading for people I care about and who care about being able to make their own financial choices and define their financial future are:

  1. The Millionaire Next Door
  2. Everyday Millionaires

Here’s to the core beliefs of family business that are the foundations of decision and choice.

Be authentic. Be purposeful. Make it meaningful.
Brent

P.S. I want to hear your thoughts - please share them in the comments.


The Void - Offboarding

We exist in an era in which the leaders of high-performing family businesses have become highly purposeful with the onboarding and integration plans for people that are joining their company. Their focus stems from the intent and desire to engage and connect people with the culture of the company and decrease the chances of someone becoming disengaged or choosing a job-hopping departure.

Uniquely, these same leaders seem to have forgotten about the other end of the equation and that has resulted in large numbers of people, most of them over the age of 60, choosing to keep quiet about any and all plans to announce that their career focus is changing or coming to an end.

According to Bersin by Deloitte, the average cost per hire is almost $4,000. Statistics on offboarding are far more difficult to identify. Experience has shown me that if it’s not being measured, it’s likely not getting done.

The Void

The leaders of privately-held and family-owned businesses must plan for, and deal with, the end of career process (offboarding) as seriously as they do the beginning (onboarding) otherwise, they will face a potentially catastrophic outcome that I refer to as The Void.

The Void  is the empty space created by leaders of companies who fail to establish a process for transferring the large amount of internal knowledge possessed by key people to the next generation of leadership.

Left undefined, this void creates a massive disruption to the business of the business.

Conversely, when clearly thought through, offboarding should be viewed as the catalyst for performance, knowledge and generational continuity within the high-performing environment.

A Key Step

Offboarding should be viewed as a key transition in the life-cycle of individuals who have contributed significant knowledge and value to the company.

Within family businesses, closing the gap on The Void begins by looking at the situation through a different lens. Instead of focusing on this career phase as a conclusion with limited conversation, it should be seen as a phase of definition with expanding dialogue and knowledge share between generations.

#Thoughtstarters

  1. How are you consciously expanding the conversation and knowledge share between the generations?
  2. How are you defining and practically capturing internal knowledge from key people while they’re still a part of your company?
  3. Define knowledge sets that are held primarily with one person in your company. Begin purposefully expanding the circle of people who have awareness, understanding and knowledge on those topics.

How are you avoiding The Void? Let me know in the comments.


5 Reasons My Best Customer Stories Will Never Be Repeated

There isn’t a day that goes by where the word awareness isn’t referenced in our office and/or with our clients. Awareness is the source of the insight we all need to evolve and advance our perspective, understanding and results.

What we do with our awareness is a choice. One of the most important points of awareness for me in working with the people that make-up family business is the intimacy of understanding their heart for the business along with their thoughts, perspectives, needs, wants, goals and fears.

My commitment to each of them, many of whom make-up our Thoughtwave Community, is that I will never treat what they tell me casually and will not reveal or sensationalize their inputs.

If they are going to entrust me with their thoughts, then it’s my accountability to value their trust and develop their reliance around the consistency and character with which I process and handle everything they tell me.

There are two things that are intolerable for me when it comes to a personal or professional relationship in which someone trusts you and allows you access to their mindshare:

  1. Exploiting that mindshare for personal gain.
  2. Sensationalizing thoughts in a way that distorts the context and intent with which they were shared.

Why? Because it compromises the person and the role of the confidant. Regardless of how “good” the story is, a confidant is someone who embodies absolute trust and recognizes the story isn’t theirs to tell.

To be clear, the stories being referenced are different than the challenges, successes, and outcomes confronted and achieved with our clients based on our work with them.

To that end, here are five reasons that my best customer stories will never be repeated.

  1. The core value of absolute trust.
  2. An unwillingness to trade professionalism for sensationalism.
  3. Complete context matters and in family business that can rarely be communicated.
  4. The heart and legacy of family business shouldn’t be viewed transactionally.
  5. A challenge can only be addressed completely when it is understood completely. In order to be understood, it must be completely revealed.

#Thoughtstarters

Quotable quotes from me to you to this week to get you thinking beyond boundaries.

  • The person that’s prone to run off at the mouth, is likely to let their mouth run off with their brains.
  • The professional that is casual and shares details that shouldn’t be shared really isn’t a professional.
  • The person that lives to tell the sensational story, should be fully prepared to have a sensational story told about them.
  • Authenticity and transparency increase when contradictions are identified for what they are… contradictions.
  • Impact is defined by outcomes not by stories.

 

Until next week,

Brent


Out of Your Control

I like to control what I can and don’t much care for the things that are beyond my control - particularly if I’d prefer that they were.

Realistically, doesn’t everyone want to control the course of events in their life?

When we are in control we feel energized and empowered. When things get beyond our control we may feel frustrated, confused or even overwhelmed.

Growing up as the son of a science teacher, I would often hear my dad talk about the controlled environment that was part of an experiment. As a part of the experiment, he would reference the control sample. The common reference point to both was rooted in stability. The ability to create an environment of equilibrium. “A fancy word for balance,” he would say. “The relationship between the internal factors and external factors and their impact on something.” Note: This exact bit of fatherly science teacher wisdom on equilibrium helped me win a blue ribbon in the 7th-grade science fair.

In business today, we face a constant battle of equilibrium. The relationship of balance between internal factors impacting our business and the external factors. That which we can control and that which may be beyond our control. Forces working collaboratively to our benefit and at times working in direct opposition to our detriment. This is the scientific state of business that demands our agility to achieve stability.

This all gets very real when we understand that at any given moment there are external forces that are more than willing to challenge our business balance or, worse yet, our very business existence.

The belief that external factors or forces will never impact you or your business is unrealistic. Just remember that your competitors would have no problem taking your business if you or your company ceased to exist, or became irrelevant, in the mind of the customer or client.

Beyond Your Control - What Would You Do? #Thoughtstarter

You're driving a car at 70 mph on a crowded freeway with cars in front of you, behind you and to each side. You’re listening to music and doing your own version of carpool karaoke. Suddenly, a large piece of cement debris falls from the overpass and lands on the freeway just a couple of cars in front of you. What would you do?

Prior to leaving for work, you’re catching-up and reading the latest Google Alerts on several of your customers. While reading, you discover that your largest customer had a major fire at their only manufacturing facility and the owners have decided to cease operations and shut down the business. What would you do?

You arrive at work only to discover that the EPA has shut the doors to your energy plant for unsafe operating practices. There has been no communication to the employee team and you are all arriving at work only to find that this isn’t a business as usual day. What would you do?

As the famous philosopher, Mike Tyson says, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.” A good friend and colleague of mine put it another way. He says, “Watch out for the sucker punch. It’s not a matter of if it’s going to come but when.”

The sucker punch is the unexpected blow. The punch that you didn’t plan for. In that moment; when we confront things that are out of our control because we will, we all have a choice. What will you do?

Until Next Week,

Brent

P.S. I'd love to hear what would you would do in the scenarios above. Let me know in the comments.


Tipping Point: Maximizing Growth - Part 2

Last week I introduced the idea that the tipping point common to leaders and their companies is growth. Fueled by the increase in sales and size, growth is also about an increasing level of value, importance and influence in the mind of the customer and in the marketplace. The age-old business mantra “If you’re not growing, you’re dying” provides context.

I would say I’m a student of growth. My interest in how people and organizations advance and develop beyond their boundaries of knowledge and understanding is based in a unique passion and curiosity. As a student, growth has taught me a valuable lesson. No matter how much I desire to stay the same; my progressive development requires that I let go of some things that may be known and comfortable, but are no longer useful.

It’s fair to note that this isn’t inherently easy. There are many times when my own growth has been both challenging and messy. There are times where I’ve known that growth is necessary, and didn’t like what that growth was going to require.

#Thoughtstarter

Think about a time in your life/career when you have known that the tipping point of growth was necessary and didn’t like what it was going to require? How did you respond?

In part one of Tipping Point: Maximizing Growth, I told you I’d share some insights and answers about why growth is complex and why it’s important to drive a larger view of growth among leaders and potential leaders in your company.

Growth is Complex

Growth is complex because people are the most complex part of any company. Each person is unique. Their needs, their wants, how they do things, why they do things, their capacity and their skills. What makes you, you and what makes me, me is uniquely different.

Growth is complex because each company is uniquely different. The culture of any given organization is what defines how the people of that company interact and engage both internally and externally.

A Larger View of Growth is Vital

People fuel growth and growth fuels change and evolution. Growth can be a great teacher. Growth can also be a hard and unrelenting teacher. Such is the case when people’s growth, a company’s growth and the rules and regulations of growth as a tipping point are intertwined.

In working with the leaders of privately-held and family-owned businesses, I’ve learned a valuable lesson. No matter how much these leaders desire to have their companies stay the same; the growth of their organization requires that they purposefully teach their teams how to purposefully think about growth as a tipping point before they are required to reactively think about growth in the same way.

Flying Under the Radar

We have an expression in my client community of privately-held and family-owned businesses. “We prefer to fly under the radar by doing things right than being on someone’s radar for doing things wrong.”

Several years ago, I received a notification that our company was going to be the subject of a state wage and hour audit. I had three employees at the time. The first feeling I had after reading the notice was a pit in my stomach. The second feeling I had was “why was our company selected for this wonderful experience?”(sarcasm intended). My intent is always to do things correctly so that these types of “opportunities” (more sarcasm) don’t knock on our door or appear in our mailbox with any frequency or regularity.

My intent and preference as a business owner is to fly under the radar by doing things right, rather than being on someone’s radar for doing things wrong. When the state auditor came to our office and invested the better part of the day with us, I asked them how we were selected for an audit with such a limited number of employees. Their response was telling. “Your revenue growth likely triggered the audit because it was significant when compared with the number of employees.” I learned a valuable lesson that day about why the larger view of business as a tipping point is vital.

Leaders must recognize that as they reach the tipping point of growth that the expectations regarding what they do and how they do it have exponentially increased. The rules of the game have changed. How they once did things in terms of size and scope, detail and documentation are all advancing with requirements for greater internal and external accountability. Whether it’s communication and compliance, people and process, automation and technology or hiring and selection practices: What once was the required norm has advanced to define a new norm.

Tipping Point Rules

It’s imperative; and I do mean imperative - that a larger view of growth as a tipping point is purposefully taught, applied, developed, re-enforced and measured as a part of a leader’s development within your organization and here’s why. If you don’t look at it that way, someone, some agency or some regulatory officer is going to look at it that way for you.

#Thoughtstarters 

What type(s) of tipping points are you, your people and your company experiencing? Have you purposefully considered how things need to be done differently to deal with the changing landscape that is business growth? Here’s a simple list you can use to help categorize and consider the kind of evolution that the tipping point of growth is driving and expand the dialogue and communication proactively among leaders in your company.

Types of Growth Tipping Points

  • Wanted and Required
  • Required and Unwanted
  • Required, Unwanted and Not Understood
  • Required, Wanted and Understood
  • Imposed

Be purposeful,
Brent

P.S. I'd love to hear from you in the comments!


Tipping Point: Maximizing Growth - Part I

Sometimes, we simply have to let a thought sink in before we understand how it has the potential and ability to shape our thinking. I have learned first-hand that taking this time is often the difference between an opportunity maximized or an opportunity missed.

I’m bringing you a two-part Thoughtwave over this week and next for exactly that reason. I want you to maximize your opportunities.

The Fascination

In the year 2000 Malcolm Gladwell published The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

If, after reading that line, you think I’m writing a book review; sit tight. (Note: You should Google the origins of that phrase and the book is worth the read if you’re a student of business.)

The book developed status and a following by showing how small actions at the right time, in the right place and with the right people can create a tipping point. Gladwell connected the three laws of epidemics to achieve a tipping point related to a given product, idea, initiative or business.

A tipping point, by definition, is the moment at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change.

As a culture, we’re fascinated with the tipping points that drive status, change, growth, success and even failure. With just a little effort, we can all identify them as a part of our lives. If we’re paying attention, we will see them all around us and on a regular basis. My kids, all grown now, have gone through a series of tipping points in their lives to become adults.

I’ve watched that video of something or someone so intriguing, funny or interesting that it drew huge interest and was viewed and circulated with such intent by people that it went viral.

A small series of events, introductions and experiences are what drove my decision to found Perpetual Development and change the course of my professional direction. Being in the right place, at the right time and with the right people is what led to my own tipping point in working with the leaders of privately-held, family-owned businesses. Working with that group of leaders is what led to the expansion of my experience and exposure.

#Thoughtstarter - How about you? What were some of the tipping points in your life? Let me know in the comments.

Growth is Complex

Consider this.... All businesses start as small businesses. One dream, an idea, a product, a service, meeting a need. A single visionary or a small group of partners. Then comes the tipping point. The moment that moves a company (and its key players) from being relatively unknown to being known. The one that takes it from flying under the radar to being fully on someone’s radar. The point of being sought after by customers rather than solely seeking customers. Each of these moments occurring as a result of a series of small changes that became significant enough to drive a larger more important change.

Expressed clearly, the tipping point common to each of these leaders and their companies is growth. Fueled by the increase in sales and size, growth is also about an increasing level of value, importance and influence in the mind of the customer and in the marketplace. The age-old business mantra “If you’re not growing, you’re dying” provides context.

So why is growth complex and what is the most significant change required as a part of that growth to drive a larger more important change among leaders and in the company? Let that question sink in and think about it. I’ll share some insights and answers with you next week.

Until then,

Brent


When Crap Hits the Fan

Changing it up. Here’s a series of #Thoughtstarters to start you off this week.

  1. How do you identify stress in your life?
  2. How does stress impact you?
  3. How far are you willing to let stress move you off your game?
  4. How will you deal with stress?
  5. How is the morale of your team impacted when your reaction is defined by stress instead of your leadership?

When the proverbial crap hits the fan, how do you handle it? Is it a time when your leadership is on display or is it a time when your leadership has gone missing?

I’m asking you because these are the same questions a mentor of mine required me to ask and answer when it came to how I handled stress at one point in my career. Why? Because there were times when internalizing my stress meant that my attitude was negatively impacting the attitude, performance and morale of my team.

If you can name a problem, you can solve a problem. It’s the awareness of stress that allows you to confront it and define an approach to handling that stress. There’s nothing quite like stress to show you the truly unique nature and behavioral makeup of a person - so pay attention.

Yes, there’s good stress and bad stress. There’s everyday stress and situational stress. There’s relational stress and extreme stress. Sometimes we feel like we’re on top of stress and it’s got nothing on us. Then there are times where it gives each of us a swift kick in the butt and we recognize that we can only control what we can control.

My chosen area of consulting specialty is the business of family business. I’ve seen good and bad responses to stress, including my own, over the course of 30 plus years of experiences and exposures. What I have come to value is that no matter how well prepared you are to handle what confronts you, sometimes your objective and best bet is simply to make it to the next day, and then the next day, and along the way encourage people to do the same.

It’s been my experience that the people that are a part of family businesses have a spirit about them that is best defined as unrelenting and a belief that is indomitable. The question that most often follows in conversation is stated in one word… why? Here’s my answer.

When stress looms over the business, leadership must loom larger in order to preserve the culture and commitment of the people that are the core of a company. In times when it feels like all we see, feel or experience is stress, there’s nothing quite like leadership to elevate morale and impact action.

Until Next Time,
Brent

P.S. How do you handle stress? Let me know in the comments!