Today’s Guest on the Winning Teams Podcast is Josh Patrick, from Vermont. Josh is a serial entrepreneur who spends most of his time thinking and writing about how to create great and sustainable businesses. His mission is to help private business owners create a better life. His book, “Sustainable” is a fable about creating an economically and personally sustainable business.
At age 7 Josh was selling candy bars to kids on the street corner. By 26 he was running his own business and managed to grow it into a successful business employing 90 staff. Josh tells us how he made every business mistake along the way, having absolutely no business training whatsoever. “Sustainable” is a culmination of lessons he’s learnt from himself and clients he’s coached over the years, so instead of writing a “how to” book, he decided to write it as a parable.
In this interview Josh talks about his lead character, John Aardvark, a man who, from the outside looks like he’s got a very successful business but when you look inside the business you find out that he is burnt out and stuck. The reason John is burnt out and stuck is because he really has not learned how to do the five things of sustainability that we talk about in the book which are;
- have a clear set of values for your business and yourself
- the owner becomes operationally irrelevant when they are not in the day to day operation of the business
- the business has a recurring revenue stream or sales process
- the employees know what they need to do for excellence and customers know what they are going to get on a predictable basis and
- the business is making enough money so that the four areas of profit are covered which is lifestyle from the owner, an emergency fund for the business, capital to grow the business and enough cash to fund a retirement plan for the owner of the business because this particular business will not get John to retirement by itself.
It’s a lot of information but this is what is essentially covered in the book and its done through the story of John and his consultant Erin, John’s poorly behaved son, and his MBA graduate daughter, who really doesn’t know anything. Luckily for John he has a really good operations manager who he has hired from another company and she effectively becomes the saviour. It’s a fascinating read and there’s lots of lessons in there.
He goes on to talk about values, and specifically clarifying statements in the business. Without clarifying statements no one really knows what you’re talking about. These clarifying statements become a tool for you to evaluate whether the people you have working in your company are the right fit. It’s about having the right people in your company and if you focus your business down to the people where you have complimentary values, business becomes easy. Too often there’s a values mismatch between employers and employees, or customers and companies, and when you have that mismatch you’re working a lot harder then you need to in order to make your company work right.
We talk about the reality of being operationally irrelevant and how that impacts emotionally. There’s a way to be a control freak but not be involved in every decision. If you have good information about what’s going on in the company there’s a chance you can let go a little bit, but the biggest thing you have to learn is to tolerate mistakes. Josh talks about the two types of mistakes, the mistakes you can’t make and the mistakes which are learning experiences. You don’t want to put your people in a position where they could make a “death now” mistake. It’s important to realise that every mistake an employee can possibly make if treated properly could be a learning experience. What John does in the book, instead of looking at the system about what’s going wrong, he blames the person who made the mistake, so what does the employee do? The employee tires to hide the mistake!
He talks about how you can effectively systemize your business and the importance of the trust formula (intimacy+competency+reliability¸self interest), if one of those pieces is out of whack, then you’ve got to fix it.
Josh goes on to talk about
- The theory of constraints
- The importance of becoming operationally irrelevant
- Spending 50-80% of your time strategizing
- The difference between an employee and a helper
- The clarity on the right customer
- The red velvet rope policy
- Creating pipeline
- Finding the right customer by learning to say no
This book is a thoroughly enjoyable read, there are so many lessons to be learnt from it and I would highly recommend it to any business owners or managers.
There are two books Josh believes have had major impact on him, the first book is “Traction: Get a Grip on your Business”, by Gino Wickman, this book provides a powerful, practical and simple system for running your business. The second book is “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni. This book provides insight into powerful ways to make an organisation healthy. Organizational health should be the most important goal on any company, and it can be achieved using specific strategies.
If you want to find out more information about Josh and his programs, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find Josh’s book “Sustainable” on www.sustainablethebook.com or www.amazon.com
Click HERE to listen.
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Thanks to Jodey Smith, my podcasting technical genius, who does all the bits I don’t
like –the editing, the uploading etc. He is a gem and can be contacted at JodeySmith.com.
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