Rachael Orchard from My Pocket Coach: Interview of Leadership Takeaways Patrick Henry QuestFusion CEO
I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by internationally renowned executive coach, Rachael Orchard, from My Pocket Coach, on her program Leadership Takeaways Patrick Henry QuestFusion CEO. Rachael interviews international leaders from around the world on her Leadership Takeaways program which can be found at her YouTube Channel.
Rachael Orchard been coaching since 2013 and she loves how the learning process brings out the best in people. She runs a 90 Day Manager2Coach program that has been accredited by the CPD Trading Standards. Based on Rachael’s research, this program has the potential to allow many hundreds of companies to continue to deliver results into the business even when she is not physically there coaching on site.
Rachael acquired a distinction as a Diploma level 7 Practitioner Coach (Dip NMC) in 2015, endorsed by the Institute of Leadership & Management and accredited by the International Institute for Coaching & Mentoring. She is also an associate member of the ILM (AMInstLM), and a member of the International Coaching Federation.
Patrick Henry’s book, PLAN COMMIT WIN: 90 Days to Creating a Fundable Startup is available in paperback, as an audio book, and as an eBook on Amazon. Pick up your copy now!
Rachel: Welcome to the next episode in this series of Leadership Takeaways. Here with me today, I am happy to welcome Patrick Henry from QuestFusion. Hi, Patrick. How are you doing?
Patrick: I’m doing well, Rachel. How are you?
Rachel: I’m very good. As you will hear, Patrick has an accent. We’ve had mainly English people and one Spanish woman on here before. I met Patrick through Twitter. I think we liked each other’s tweets because we’re both coaches. Patrick is a consultant coach for some big tech companies in the US. I got to talking to you and said, “Would you do this interview?” Thank you, Patrick, for doing this interview. It’s always great to provide stories.
The first part of the leadership component we look at is strategy. When you’re looking at your strategy-it could be your personal strategy or when you’re consulting with clients-what would you say is the priority?
Patrick: Taking a step back from strategy, the first thing I look at is your vision for the future. I look at the big picture context of things. I like to look at the five to ten-year timeframe. Doing strategic planning in the five to ten-year timeframe is a waste of time.
It’s very difficult to have the understanding of markets and customers. They’re so dynamic that, even doing three-year planning is challenging. The first 18 to 24 months is the focus area. When you can get that emotional connection of what you’re trying to accomplish with your goals and strategy, you have a much better chance of getting people on board and moving in the right direction.
You get that visceral feeling about what we’re trying to accomplish. Vision is a big deal. In the case of QuestFusion, we want to help entrepreneurs and startup companies build successful companies, just like I have in the past. We want to help them define and implement their strategies.
We’re not just about giving guidance and advice. We’re about execution, especially on the marketing side. The strategy grounds the vision into more of an actionable plan. That is a big focus. Most of the clients that I work with in the startup and emerging growth world have a strategy. They don’t feel like they need much help with their strategy, but they’re typically not thinking about it in the same way that I do. I have a very systematic process that I take companies through.
We define their total available market, their served available market, and how fast those markets are growing. We define their ideal customer. It’s sometimes called a customer avatar. You want to get inside the head of your customer and understand their problems and concerns from their perspective. What is a personal win for that person versus just their company? It’s about understanding that piece.
From there, we look at the competitive landscape. We see what’s going on, not only with potential direct competitors, but substitute products and new entrants. We look at industry structure and go through strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It’s traditional strategic planning.
The reason why a lot of startup companies haven’t gone through this rigorous process is, I look at their presentations when they’re trying to raise capital. I’m also an angel investor. I have a lot of friends who are venture capitalists. I’ll come in and do due diligence projects with them. Many of the companies talk about the product 90% of the time and 10% about the business. What investors really want to hear is 20% about the product and 80% about the business.
In order to do that effectively, you need to have gone through this strategic planning process. It doesn’t have to be something super heavy and bureaucratic like IBM or General Electric. There are streamlined ways to do this to make it more effective for startups and emerging growth companies.
Based on my decades of experience of running companies, raising over $200 million in equity financing for my companies, and executing on over $2 billion of M&A transactions, I have a good sense of what it takes to put these things together. This allows the company to be more effective in executing on their plan. It also gives them a better chance of raising capital. That is the context that I think about when it comes to strategy.
Rachel: You’ve encompassed three years of my learning of business and how it fits together with what you’ve just said. You are from San Diego. You’ve built businesses. You’ve managed direct CEO businesses in technology, hardware, software and chip businesses. Like you said, you’ve learned by experience. You know not to focus on the product but focus on the client and strategy.
There were a couple of things that came to mind when you were talking. First, you talked about the feeling and emotion. That is really interesting. I watched a guy called Wim Hof who is all about challenging the human body. He understands the mind, the body, and the way it works. He says if you can engage with a person and get that emotion, then you have them. That’s very important.
Jay Abraham, who advises people like Tony Robbins, says that people fall in love with the product too often when they’re running their own business. It’s all about falling in love with the customer and understanding the customer needs. What is your value as a company? That’s how I understand it from the coaching perspective. You have done the nitty gritty operational side of a business.
What we’ve both said is the same thing. It’s important to focus on the customer’s needs, the value, and then the strategy that goes behind it. Another thing that Jay Abraham said is not to make things tactical, but make them strategical. It’s more in the long term. You mentioned, yes, you have to build your long-term plan, but try not to focus on too much of your product campaigns being tactical.
People focus on getting that quick purchase but lose the customer in the process. This is opposed to focusing on, “How can I maybe lose a bit of money on this product campaign, but the customer falls in love with me?” You’re losing money for that long-term customer gain. Do you find that with strategy? I agree with you, it’s not focused on the long term. You have to look at short-term behaviors and habits, and what we’re building towards. The long term could deviate from where we might be going. Do you find that sometimes you have to take the loss with the strategy to gain those key long-term customers?
Leadership Takeaways Patrick Henry QuestFusion CEO.
Patrick: It’s always challenging to lose money with the hopes of making money in the future. A lot of startups do that. A lot of startups have to do that, if you’re dealing with very complex product developments and intense engineering programs. In a number of the companies that I’ve run, you have to raise tens of millions of dollars to develop the product before you really start generating a lot of revenue.
Many companies aren’t applying these lean startup principles. Develop a prototype. Develop a minimum viable product. Do more market testing. See what works and doesn’t work with your customers. Strategy is essential. Having a strategic plan and an understanding of where you’re going is important.
I use a couple of quotes around that. Yogi Berra played for the Yankees and was eventually a manager for the Yankees. He said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to end up someplace else.” Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”
Without execution, if you’re always in perpetual planning mode or perpetual optimization mode, you’re not going to accomplish very much either. You need to execute on the plan. You need to get into action.
The primary competitive advantage of a startup versus a large company is your speed of decision making and speed of execution. Big companies have more resources. They have more people. They have smart people. They can be innovative. But it’s hard to swing around and pick up a water skier if you’re on an aircraft carrier. Their ability to react in real time is difficult.
They’ve developed these processes and levels of bureaucracy to make sure that some bonehead doesn’t tank the company. In a startup, you don’t have very much to lose. You can be more aggressive. You can lean forward. You can have a bias towards action. You need to take advantage of that. You need to make decisions. If it turns out that you make the wrong decision, you can course correct along the way.
Analysis paralysis is not what you want when you’re doing strategic planning or business planning. You do a strategic plan to set the foundation for your business plan. Then you need to have specific goals in mind and things you’re trying to accomplish. You need to do that as cost effectively as possible.
I’ve done this with previous companies, and I do this with QuestFusion. I’ve put more money into QuestFusion than I’ve taken out, up to this point. The company has been around for about two years.
Could I have done it differently and focused more on the face-to-face consultancy and not building the online platform? Yes, and I probably would be ahead of the game. But there is a finite amount of time that I personally have to coach executives. There is a finite amount that I can reasonably charge for my time.
When you think about it in that context, there’s a ceiling on the income level that I can make as an executive coach. If I become more of a virtual coach and marketing agency, I can delegate things, put processes into place and allow people to do-it-yourself with more hands-off coaching. The scalability of that business model is much larger, but it takes more time.
I’m a known entity within the semiconductor industry. I’m not a known entity online. It’s taken me a long time to build up my authority and presence online. That’s in social media, my website and Google search. There’s an investment to do that.
I have to write a lot. Part of the 80% that I work on with the online platform is that I’m writing blog stories all the time. I’m writing contributing articles for Entrepreneur magazine, Forbes, Fast Company and Tech.Co. I do these types of interviews. You have to do that to raise your visibility. As people start seeing and hearing you, they say, “This guy isn’t like all these other people who say they know what they’re doing. He actually does know what he’s doing.”
Early in my career, I asked one of my mentors, “What’s more important, strategy or tactics?” He said, “In order to stay alive, you have to both eat and breathe. If you don’t breathe, you die quicker, but if you don’t eat, you will eventually die. Eating is like strategy, and breathing is like tactics. You need to have both in order to build a successful company.
Rachel: You talked about online. The next component is strengths and weaknesses. When you’re talking strategically about the way you’re building online and balancing the tactics, what are some of your strengths and weaknesses that arm you as a business consultant and what you provided as a CEO?
Patrick: This is one of the things that I like about your philosophy and practice. It’s along the lines of some other people that I align myself with in terms of traditional executive coaching. More traditional executive coaching are people like yourself and my friend Leland Sandler.
You come at it from a human relations performance standpoint. The way that Leland characterizes himself is by saying, “I’m a strength coach. Patrick, you’re more of an offensive or defensive coordinator.” Although I’m coaching per se, what I’m really doing is providing strategic advisory services.
I’m providing that to other CEOs. I’m doing it from the standpoint that I’ve walked in their shoes. I’ve walked their path. I can say, “I’ve seen this before. Avoid this. This may work, but I’ve tried three or four different versions of that and it’s never worked for me.”
Whereas, a traditional executive coach will focus on being a strength coach. The latest philosophy around this is, don’t work so much on your weaknesses. Focus on your strengths. Hire for your weaknesses. The historical stuff 20 years ago said to try and build on and correct your weaknesses.
I think that the new philosophy is much more in alignment with success in athletics and sports. The HR consultants and strength coaches like yourself are really onto something by saying, “Let’s focus on your strengths.”
If I look at my strengths, I’m very good at building a strategic plan. I’m not necessarily the idea guy who will come up with this visionary breakthrough. I’m more of the practical thinking, “How do I make that idea into a terrific business? How do we make money?” That requires strategy and business planning.
When it comes down to the nitty gritty details of execution, although I’m an engineer by education and background, I’ve been a business person most of my career. Academically, I was very strong as an engineer, but I’m not the guy who will be sitting on the bench coding and testing. When I did that early in my career, I was incredibly bored.
It’s not only about having a set of capabilities, it’s about having a level of interest. The engineers that I hired, that are awesome engineers, love doing that stuff. That’s what floats their boat. I need to have enough of an understanding about technology that
I can ask the difficult, probing questions and look at things from not only the ground level but the 5,000-foot view and the 30,000-foot view. Some of the guys who are doing the nitty gritty work can’t do that as well. It’s complementary. I can leverage my strengths around strategy and dealing with customers. I’m a universal translator. I can take something very technical and describe it in layman’s terms to a client or investor.
I’m able to understand the audience and articulate and explain things in a way that an engineer might not be able to. I do a number of CEO interviews predominately with technology companies. These are cool companies with very cool technology.
Many times, the founder or CEO is someone out of academia or a first-time entrepreneur. They really understand the technology, but they don’t understand how to describe it in such a way that the vast majority of the people on the planet would understand.
Those are the things I try to focus on. I try to focus on strategy, marketing positioning, business planning, leadership and management, checking with the team to make sure things are on track, coaching, making sure people are moving in the proper direction, and then hire for the weaknesses.
Rachel: You’re very good at focusing to find out what works very quickly and what doesn’t work. Then you’re able to understand multifaceted perspectives, which is extremely important. The whole world runs on perspective.
Leadership Takeaways Patrick Henry QuestFusion CEO.
Patrick: The world in general, but especially in startups. You’re dealing with a large amount of uncertainty and ambiguity. You need to be comfortable in that kind of environment. I think a lot of entrepreneurs use that as an excuse to do no planning. They say, “That’s un-knowable. Why would I spend time trying to understand the market because the market is going to change?” I think that’s a cop-out.
You need to apply your best knowledge today, understand the customers and market the best that you can, and use your intelligence and foresight to try to look over the horizon. To me, the best way to do that is look at broader ecosystem and macro market trends. You want to be swimming with the stream, not against the stream.
You need to have that pattern recognition early enough that you can set a direction. Some of those things won’t change. Some of those things, like where the fish are swimming and what the weather is doing might change. But the river is going to continue to flow in the same direction. That’s something else that I’m good at.
I can look over the horizon and say, “This is what I see going on. We’ll make a plan based on the current situation analysis market environment. Then we’re going to executive towards that. If we have to course correct along the way, we’ll course correct along the way.”
Rachel: It’s very important to be able to forecast, especially nowadays in such a volatile market.
Patrick: Yes. All of the businesses I’ve directly run have been business-to-business. There are some businesses that I consult for that are business-to-consumer. In the business-to-business world, you are typically somewhere along the food chain. You need to able to look one step down the food chain.
I’ll give you an example. My most recent product company, Entropic Communications, was a chip company. Our direct customers were people who build set top boxes and routers that sit next to your TV for paid TV service. If we just talked to our customers and got their perspective, we would not have understood the problem, the solution and the value proposition.
We had to look downstream one step and look at the paid TV operators. These are the people like Comcast and Time Warner. In the UK, they are BSkyB and British Telecom. You have to understand what those people’s problems are, what solutions they’re looking for and if it’s a big enough problem to garner their attention.
Then you can look one step further downstream at what consumers are doing and what they value. Is there an ecosystem of other things that are going on around it that will support a fertile environment for growth? Are you dealing with something where you’re never going to grow anything here because the other pieces aren’t in place? Being able to understand the ecosystem becomes very important. Look downstream and at the ecosystem.
Then say, “Is the timing right?” Maybe I have a great solution but the timing is not right. Maybe this is something that’s going to be important five years down the road. We’ll be using a machete to try and chop through the jungle as opposed to driving on a paved road. Being able to understand those things becomes very important.
Rachel: When faced with the majority of your clients, what are their strengths and weaknesses, or does it depend on the person?
Patrick: There are trends. In a lot of the early-stage growth-stage startups that I deal with, you have first-time entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs who are the technology specialists. They were the inventor of the idea and they’re now running the company. They don’t really have a lot of the business background but they have a tremendous technology background. They may or may not have a good business sense. They may not have some of the tools.
Then you get other people who are serial entrepreneurs. They’ve been there a couple of times. Maybe this is their first time as CEO but they’ve been around business. They are more of the business marketing strategy person. They are partnered with a chief technology officer who maybe came up with the idea.
Their challenges are somewhat different. They might need more of a sounding board. They have been there and done that, but they haven’t been there and done that from the same perspective of someone who has run four companies. Their pattern recognition may not be as highly defined as someone like me.
Rachel: The next thing we look at is resources. What sort of resources go into making up your support system as a person and a business? How would you arm yourself to command resources around you? Sometimes resources for companies are people.
You have to be astute in understanding and reading people. It might be products, systems and technology. When you look at your resources and you think, “I need a whole support structure going into this next project,” how do you effectively get the best out of the resources that you need for that project?
Leadership Takeaways Patrick Henry QuestFusion CEO.
Patrick: In young companies and very established companies, resource scarcity is always a problem. There is never enough money. There are never enough people to do the things you really want to do. You have to live in an environment of constrained resources.
If you’re in a startup environment, it’s even more pronounced because you don’t have some cash cow business that’s driving a lot of revenue and profitability to fuel new development. You have to do it out of your own pocket, with friends and family money, angel investors or eventually venture capitalists. Based on that scarcity, you have to say, “What can I reasonably accomplish with the available resources? Where do I bring people on board versus when I use contract resources?”
If you’re building a company that’s based on some key core competencies, those core competencies had better be a part of your company and not an outsourced resource.
For example, if developing mixed signal chip technology is essential to your product strategy and you’re using an outsource team for mixed signal intellectual property development, you probably don’t have a very good strategy.
On the other hand, if you’re a mixed signal tech development technology company and you’re outsourcing accounting, bookkeeping and legal, that’s okay. You have to say, “How much am I willing to spend? How much am I willing to invest in this company? Over what time frame?”
You have to prioritize the people resources and non-people resources you should bring in. One thing I’ve always coached other executives about is to be very careful about your hiring decisions. The last thing you want to do is hire someone and then have to lay them off later. You’re going to negatively impact them. You’re going to negatively impact their family.
Make sure that, not only is it the right person, but that you need someone to do that job on a full-time basis. Or is there another way to solve the problem and get that work done without bringing someone on board?
On the flip side, if it’s a core competency and you’re building the foundation of your company around that, you really do need to hire that person. You need to find the best person possible that you can reasonably afford and who will fit well with your team and culture. That’s the people side of it.
Rachel: You would apply that same ethos to your resources as well?
Patrick: Yes. I’m bootstrapping QuestFusion 100% myself. I don’t have any outside investors. Although I’ve made a reasonable investment in the building of QuestFusion, I’ve been pretty frugal about it. I test to see what works, what resonates with my clients and what doesn’t resonate. You’re in this adjusting mode.
It’s very different running a professional services company. We do have some products. We have training videos. We have workshops. It’s a professional services company as opposed to a product company. The business model is different. I have a great understanding of what other CEOs need.
In getting into it, they say, “I really don’t need that or I’m not willing to pay for it.” I have to feel it out to see what works and what doesn’t work, while at the same time, building out this online platform. You have to do it cost effectively or you’re going to run out of money or time.
I definitely apply lean startup principles to QuestFusion. What does that mean for hiring? What does that mean for resources? I have a couple people who work for me. They are nearly full time. They have other jobs as well. They’re not 100% dependent on me for their livelihood. They really like what we’re doing at QuestFusion. They’re excited about it. They’ve bought into the vision.
They do provide some key capabilities that are essential for executing the strategy. Being online is very noisy. It’s a very noisy world out there, and it’s just getting noisier. There is more live video and different social media channels. Each of the big social media companies are constantly changing their rules about how they prioritize things.
When it comes to building an online platform, don’t build your house on rented land. You need to have your own website. You need to have your own platform. You can’t just rely on Facebook or Twitter because they’re going to change the rules on you. Have your own plot of land.
Think of social media as channels for educating and informing your user base, audience, tribe and clients. Ultimately, you want to drive business through those social media channels just like you would any other kind of market channel. Take people through your sales funnel from awareness all the way to action. I’ve seen companies, that ended up being large companies, that have built their foundation on rented land. They end up in very big trouble.
Second, you need to think about marketing online in a very holistic way. Different aspects need to work together to boost your online presence. For example, The Web Shop (thewebshop.net.au) may work on making your website look good to users but then it also needs to work alongside whatever SEO efforts you’re working on. The days of the traditional advertising and PR agency are dead. Digital marketing firms have stepped in to try and fill that gap, but they’re primarily focused on SEO, SEM and SMM; things that you don’t want to think about, but are very important to driving traffic to your site and your online presence.
They may say they’re involved in content marketing, inbound marketing and email marketing campaigns, but typically, they’re not. They’re specialists in one area or another. One of the things we’re trying to do at QuestFusion is to pull those things together and help small companies. It could be a small business with a solo entrepreneur.
When I traditionally think of startups, it’s someone who is eventually going to raise angel investment and venture capital. You need to have more than just an online presence. Even if you’re a product company, you need to have an online strategy. If massive companies just have a website, but they don’t have a comprehensive online marketing strategy with how they use all of this stuff, in 10 or 15 years, they’re going to be gone. With SEO and mobile marketing changing the way we reach our customers, it is important that businesses keep up with the growing platforms and trends surrounding online marketing – click here for interesting statistics that marketing agency should know.
The combination of strategy plus the marketing component can be very valuable to startup companies. That’s where I’m starting to get more traction. The challenge with this is that there are so many tools. There might be a free version and a paid version of the tool. You have to learn the tool and how it works.
This is about social media management, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and email marketing campaigns. They can be daunting at first for startups but as long as they go to a company like NetSearch Digital Marketing, they should be able to handle it all. It’s all about establishing their brand. There is all this stuff out there. It takes time to read up on what these things do, test these products, see what works for you, what would eventually work for a client, and piece together these packages. That’s also a resource thing. You can delegate that. I have used an outside digital marketing firm for a portion of what I’ve done with QuestFusion for the first year and a half. I’m moving away from that now.
I’m at a stage now where I have the capability myself and with my team. It takes time to get through all of this stuff. That’s with any kind of market or product. You need to test things intelligently and quickly, and at the same time, make some decisions about what you’re going to use in order to build your business.
Rachel: You have to kind of break it so that you can figure out how to fix it again. I agree with you. A year or so back, my presence online was minimal. Now I’m on all the different sites. I’m blogging and tweeting constantly. You need to have a go at these things and work out how it fits for yourself, so you can work out how it fits for your clients.
You were talking about someone who only has a website. I see my children at 15 and 12, and how they use social media. They’re getting online news. I got very important news from my daughter, and she got it through Snapchat. This stuff is cutting edge. If you don’t keep up with it, you will place yourself out of the market. It’s crucial.
You have to balance that with a business head and strategy. You can’t go too overboard and think, “I’m tweeting and posting. Therefore, I should have lots of business.” It doesn’t really work like that.
Leadership Takeaways Patrick Henry QuestFusion CEO.
Patrick: It has to be holistic and comprehensive. At the same time, if you’re running a company, like when I was running Entropic, I didn’t have time to do this stuff. Your typical product marketing person that you’re going to hire into a company like that doesn’t have an understanding of it.
Maybe if you’re in a luxurious stage, you can hire a PR person or marketing person. They may have some limited understanding of this stuff. Typically, you need to outsource this. You need to outsource to a specialist. You need to make sure that you can work with them, and that they understand your strategy. The QuestFusion unique value proposition is that we have the strategy piece. We have a lot of experience.
I have a lot of personal experience running startups and working with startups. Now I have this set of marketing capabilities. Even though I’m historically an engineer, I’m a product marketing guy. I’m a strategic marketing guy. I can understand how this stuff fits together. The initial receptivity around this has been pretty good.
Rachel: What type of leader are you, Patrick? What would you advocate in leadership? Leadership is changing. It’s going through a metamorphosis. It’s no longer about the pyramid with someone at the top. Leaders now understand that it’s all about getting in there. Everyone is a leader in the business.
How can you enhance this, enhance what employees bring and review that on a more ad hoc basis? I see a future where you won’t have a desk. You won’t even have a “job.” One week, you’ll be doing one thing. The next week, they will say, “What skills would you like to invest in next week, Rachel? Go to that team and learn that.”
People are going to be hopping about all over the place. That’s the sort of future I see. People want to optimize what they have. How does that affect you and the leadership you’re talking about with your people?
Patrick: You asked the question about my leadership style. I would say it’s situational. It depends on the bigger set of market and customer things that are going on. It also depends on the person that I’m dealing with. Is that person junior? Are they a more senior person? I have to adapt to the environment and the person.
Sometimes you even have to adapt to the person in different situations. If they’re going through a divorce or having some emotional issues, you’re going to deal with them differently in that circumstance than if they’re in a healthy place. Situational is the first thing.
The analogy that I use is, if you’re building houses, you’re going to use a different leadership strategy than if the house was burning down. If the house is burning down, then you’re going to grab a hose. You’re going to be way more directive and specific in terms of what you need people to do.
Some people say, “I don’t want to be micromanaged.” If the house is burning down, you will be micromanaged or you will be managed out. We can’t afford to let the house burn down. If you’re building houses, you give people a chance. You try it out. If it goes wrong, there will be someone there to catch you.
In small companies, it’s different than big companies. In small companies, there are zero points of failure. If you are the person doing a job, there is typically no redundancy. It becomes really critical to hire people who have a much more capable skill set in those types of positions.
You’re going to manage those people differently than someone who is straight out of university. They may have a lot of intelligence and some good smarts, but they haven’t had the experience necessary.
I don’t like generalizations, but I’ll use one here. Millennials are now getting to be reasonably aged people. The Millennials are around 36 years old. They range from early 20s to that age. Even the Generation Zs, which are my kids, the teenagers, are going to be in the workforce in five or six years. It’s a changing world. I think people always want to be managed a certain way.
We were brought up in a much more dictatorial, directive, hierarchical type of structure. I do think there is value in having what I call more coaching than management where someone holds you accountable.
For me personally, both in athletics and in business, if I have a good coach that pushes me, I’m going to accomplish bigger and greater things with that person helping, guiding and being somewhat directive sometimes than if I’m left to my own devices.
I consider myself a self-starter. I consider myself to be a hard worker. If I have that extra push, then I’m able to accomplish bigger things. I still believe in that. The way you have to communicate with people, you have to take more time to explain what they’re doing and why it’s important. I’ve always been someone who likes to focus more on the results than the how. You decide the how.
If you want some guidance from me, I can give you some tips based on my experience. I’m not the genius that knows every how in the world. You might know a better way to do this than I do, and I hope that you do. This is the result that I want. I need it in this time frame. Let me know what you need to help accomplish that.
The reason why this result is important in this time frame is put in the context of the bigger picture. Put it in the context of the strategy, the vision and what we’re trying to accomplish. That allows people to get more on board.
I like what Jim Collins said about these topics. Get the right people on the bus. Get the wrong people off the bus. Then get the right people in the right seats on the bus. I also like to think about it like rowing crew. You need someone who is calling the signals. You need someone looking over the horizon, providing the vision and direction.
You need to make sure that the people in the boat all have an oar, and that they’re all rowing in the same direction. Otherwise, the boat will spin around in circles instead of racing down the stream. It’s getting that alignment and making sure people understand the big picture, what they’re doing is important and getting that emotional part. You can’t overstate the importance of getting someone’s heart and mind engaged on a project, and having them get that feeling of winning.
A lot of that is getting the right culture and then having the right people that you hire, not only for skills but for culture. It’s for cultural fit and emotional fit. Then engage those people in a proper way.
Rachel: Jim Collins says the right people in the right seat. Simon Sinek says, “Is it the right bus?” This is where the Millennials and the Gen Z are coming in. There’s a whole shift in consciousness for them. It’s not necessarily about money and what I’m going to get paid. It’s, “Am I going to make a difference?”
We’ve gone from the industrial age where you have a job and a desk. Now people really don’t care if they have the desk. They just want to know that they’re making a difference. I don’t really know what it was that shifted it, whether it was the internet or consciousness. It starts to shift very slowly.
What you said about leadership was really interesting. There is a story from Henry Kimsey-House from 9/11. There was this homeless guy. Everyone had looked at him as a homeless guy. When the buildings were starting to fall down, he started to direct traffic. He picked up a traffic flag and took it upon himself to become a leader. It’s ultimately about creating that right environment, and then people will become leaders, as you said.
I’ve been reading a lot of Marshall Goldsmith lately. He is one of the world’s top executive coaches. He’s an American coach. He talks about understanding it from another person’s point of view. You think that you’re dealing with someone who is at the helm of the ship.
He tells an ancient story of a Chinese man going upstream in a little boat with all of this stuff. He’s trying to get there. He’s in a rush. Then a boat comes towards him. He can see that the boat is going to hit him. He shouts, “Get out of the way.” He paddles furiously, thinking, “Why doesn’t this boat move?” He screams, “You have to hear me.” No one hears him.
Because he stays on his course rather than deciding to get out of the way, the boat hits him. As he goes past, he sees that there is no one in the boat. There is no driver in the boat. The moral of the story is, always imagine in life and in business that you are dealing with driverless boats.
You might think that person over there understands your strategy and knows the vision or has enough leadership skills. You have to take 100% responsibility. Despite the fact that this is their role, what can you do? These are the new leadership styles that are coming in. It’s now about people optimization. Gone are the days of product optimization. We’ve invented every product that there is out there. The only way we can define ourselves is with people.
I do think you and I are on the right track with what our services offer. That is defining and bringing optimal performance for people so that they can be the happiest and most fulfilled, but also be the greatest that they can be. That’s all that’s left. We’ve invented everything else.
The last component of Leadership Takeaways is all about insight and learnings. We can have great vision, all of the systems and resources. We’ve fine-tuned our strengths. But, as all the great coaches say, if you’re not learning, you’re dying. Every day, it’s about learning. What do you do every day to have this ethos? How are you pushing, challenging yourself and taking on new insights?
Leadership Takeaways Patrick Henry QuestFusion CEO.
Patrick: To tie off the leadership piece, your chances of success in leading a team are massively improved if you hire the right people. This is a thing that’s changed as well. We used to think about hiring for skill set. I think it’s important to hire not only for skill set, but also for emotional and cultural fit.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is a bad person. They might be a great person for another company. If they don’t have the right fit and philosophy with where you want to go… This gets into the things you were talking about in terms of social responsibility.
Let’s say that you have someone who is zealous. What turns them on and engages them is doing something about social responsibility. Yes, you care about the environment, but that’s not what you do as a company.
Maybe they will be much more engaged with a company that does that. Understand and get in someone’s head. Don’t just look at their resume, skills and abilities. This is very important in terms of effective leadership.
When we talk about learning, this is one of the biggest challenges that I see throughout my career with managers. In big companies, there are always training programs. Managers have to make decisions about under performers in their organization.
You need to have difficult conversations. People don’t want to do that. The more you do it, the more you learn how to do it. Some learning is about doing the difficult things that are important. That’s just part of the job.
The other thing is being strategic. Strategic activities as a manager are hiring, setting strategy and engaging with potential customers. You have to carve out a certain amount of time every day or week where you focus on strategic activities. Those are within the context of doing your job. Be strategic and do the hard things that are important.
Beyond that, you need to have development goals. I have a vision for my life. Everything hasn’t always worked out in my life the way that I wanted it to. Sometimes you have to course correct, reset and do things differently. That’s not an excuse not to have a vision for your life or goals.
I have business goals and personal goals. I let those goals guide me. Part of my personal goal is to continue to learn something new. I’m a reader. I read business books, but I also read biographies and non-fiction. I like reading. I like keeping up on the latest things that are going on. Twenty years ago, I read the Wall Street Journal.
Now I’m primarily on Twitter. With this whole fake news thing, you have to be careful of your sources. You have to do your own source checking. More and more people are relying on the internet, not just Google search but also social media channels, for their news and information. I’m the same way.
We have to be vigilant to discover if something is real or fake. Social media is about information but it’s also about engaging. It’s about engaging with people like you. I met you online. You have a philosophy. I found the way that you write and what you write about very intriguing.
We had a phone conversation and saw there were ways that we could collaborate. We found our initial way that we’re collaborating here. You need to keep an open mind towards learning things from other people. You can learn stuff from books. You can learn stuff online. You can learn stuff from other people. Always being open and receptive to doing those things is really important.
Before I was a CEO, I was a senior executive for a company in Silicon Valley. I was working for my boss who ran marketing and strategy in this company. I was also in a good relationship with the CEO. He was my boss’s boss. My boss was 35 at the time. He was a brilliant guy. He was a great marketing guy.
He was one of the best product positioning people I’ve ever known or worked with. But he stopped learning. He already knew it all. At 35 years old, he knew everything. What a shame for him. It was a shame that worked for him, too. He’s done okay. He’s had a successful career.
But he’s not someone that I enjoyed working with. Fortunately, I only had to work with him for six to eight months. I don’t want to be that person. I want to continue to be receptive. I want to continue to learn. I want to continue to grow. I want to know things. Things are constantly changing.
Just when you think you know something, you may not. I try to go into situations with the thought process of, even if I think I know, I listen as if I didn’t. A lot of times, you may have thought you knew, but there’s something different.
If you can listen without judgement and listen for understanding as opposed to thinking about how you’re going to respond, you’re going to learn a lot more. You’re probably going to be a lot happier. You’re going to engage with people in a different way than you would otherwise.
Rachel: I think that’s the best piece of advice. I’m reading a lot about being intrigued.
Patrick: Get stupid and get curious.
Rachel: The greatest business leaders of our time have said, if you want to be interesting, get interested. If you want to be loved, love people. If you want to be respected, respect people. Whatever it is, you do it towards another. We heard it in the Bible. Do unto others what we want done to ourselves.
It’s one of the greatest philosophies that I think a business person can take away. I’m really glad you ended it on that, Patrick. For me, it’s critical at the moment. That’s where I’m focusing my time. I’m learning to stop and think, and listen to what people are really saying.
Like you said, it’s a new perspective. It’s not what I know. It’s about really being fascinated. That’s difficult when I talk a lot. I enjoy talking. What one key thing would you say from everything you know? I would say that’s pretty key. Is there another key thing?
Patrick: The big takeaway for me in my life up to this point is that you have to constantly be able to adjust. Adjust, adjust, adjust. No matter how you plan things, sometimes things will not go your way. You will have times of adversity. The people who are very successful navigate through those times of adversity.
They don’t let it blow them up. They don’t let it completely destroy them, even if it’s a very difficult situation. I’ve had more than one myself. You have to adjust. You have to pick up the pieces. You have to regroup. You have to move on. Sometimes it’s emotionally challenging to do that in the moment.
If you can do it and move forward, things do get good again as opposed to wallowing in your own sorry. Those are the great success stories that I’ve seen in my life. Where I’ve learned and accomplished the most is in being able to deal with adversity in a productive and non-destructive way.
Rachel: That’s what makes a good coach. Those who are dealing with it and running away are the ones burying their head in the sand. They’re not doing something they’re passionate about. It’s using the strategy and the tactics at the same time. You can be as passionate as you want, but is it paying the bills as well? Thank you so much for everything that you said. I’ve learned some things as well. I appreciate your time.
Patrick: This was awesome, Rachel. Thank you so much for your time and for being the catalyst to set this up. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I love your style. I like your thought process. I think you’re really on to something with the work that you’re doing. I appreciate you involving me in this.
Rachel: Thank you, Patrick.
Patrick Henry’s book, PLAN COMMIT WIN: 90 Days to Creating a Fundable Startup is available in paperback, as an audio book, and as an eBook on Amazon. Pick up your copy now!