Too often business owners get stuck. The reason you might find you’re stuck is because you are working towards getting away from something instead of moving towards what you want. When you move away from where you want to be, you’re not being very clear about what you want to get. And, that’s the problem that too many business owners face.
Today’s guest is Glenn Main. Glenn is an old friend and he’s going to help us think about what it takes for you to move out of going towards the negative and moving towards what it is you want for you and your business.
Here are some of the main points of today’s conversation:
- Learn what the reason is that too many business owners try to get away from when they start their business.
- What building a good team can do for your mental and financial health.
- Find out what T3 means in a business conversation.
- When trying is not really trying.
- Why you don’t trust and why you don’t tolerate mistakes.
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.
Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business.
Today, we have my buddy Glenn Main with us. Glenn’s a really interesting guy. He’s a recovering CPA although he started recovering, I don’t know, 25 to 30 years ago. And from there, he went into the financial services business. And like me, he kind of morphed into consulting with private business owners to help them figure out how to be successful and ultimately sustainable.
Today, we’re going to talk about something that Glenn calls the business owner’s paradox. I think you can recognize yourself in this because almost every business owner I run across, who’s been doing this stuff for 20 years or more, seem to run across this paradox at some point in their life. Now, I want to see if Glenn’s solution is the same solution that I’ve come up with. I promise, I’m really curious about that. We didn’t talk about it so we might talk about it on the show today. So let’s bring Glenn in and we’ll start this conversation.
Hey, Glenn. How are you today?
Glenn: Great. How are you, Josh?
Josh: I’m really good. I’m kind of excited having you. I met you at an Experience Economy thing—
Josh: Out in Colorado.
Josh: Great idea. Unbelievably. poorly executed.
Glenn: Huh, isn’t that the truth?
Josh: But man, I’d love to go back again because I think those guys are just really interesting.
Glenn and I are talking about this book called the Experience Economy which you all should probably pick up and read because it will force you to think a little bit differently about your business. But, let’s talk about this business owner’s paradox. First of all, what is it and why is this a problem?
Glenn: Well, first of all, I would say that it is an example of a horribly negative experience economy because business owners get themselves in a fix unintentionally. It’s happened to me. It’s happened to all of my best clients and I’m seeing it more and more.
And what happens in a sort of simple way of explaining is that most people get into business because they’re trying to get out of something else – a job, a tough situation, maybe a train wreck in their other professional career. So, they’re trying to get their freedom and it works. Right? So, Dan Sullivan talks a lot about this.
And for a number of years, they do very well. They have control over their time. They have freedom over money blah, blah, blah. And then, all of a sudden, after 15, 20 or 30 years of that stuff – and I’ve had 35 years of it of my own business, they come to this realization that they’re back into the jail again. They’ve lost their freedom. They can’t find the key. And it’s totally overwhelming and frustrating. But now, they’re 30 years older or 20 years older.
And so, what I start to hear is, “Glenn, I am just so tired. I don’t know what it is. I’m frustrated.” It’s various forms of conversations like that. And so, I’ve started to call it a paradox because they just can’t figure it out. They have all the tools, all the money, all the flexibility. They just can’t figure out how to get out of the box that they’ve put themselves in.
Josh: So, what makes them tired?
Glenn: Employees, regulation, headaches of just running the business, lack of time off, poor health, lack of exercise, lack of diversion beyond the business, just getting older – all that stuff.
Josh: So, how have these guys gone about building a team? Do they have a team around them?
Glenn: Well, I’ve been saying, for years, they would all make wonderful dictators of small countries. So yes, they have a team but they’re lonely and a loner kind of people, so they don’t listen to their employee teams. They’ll listen to an outside person, sometimes. I think with served in that role. They’ll tell us things that they don’t tell anybody else.
Josh: Well, but I think the truth is that nobody in your company really ever tells you the truth.
Josh: By the way, that’s one of the biggest arguments I get into with my business owner clients—
Josh: Is that, I say, “You know, I don’t know why you think people are telling you the truth because they’re telling you what you want to hear.” And I get into arguments all the time about that. Do you find that’s true also?
Glenn: Yeah. I coined a term – I don’t know if you’ve heard me say it before, Josh, but I kind of like it. And I call it T3 or T cubed. And I say, “If you can T3 – this is to the business owner, that’s the beginning of exponential progress.” And that stands for something very simple, “Tell The Truth”.
So the first person that needs to tell the truth is the business owner. If the business owner can T3 to themselves, because most of them are not, they’re delusional about their own situation. So, if they can get past the truth for themselves, then they can actually have their ears open to the truth that other people are maybe trying to tell them.
I think a lot of these guys have—and they’re mostly guys, right? Have people around them that are trying to tell them the truth but they don’t want to hear it, right? They block it out. So I start with them and say, “Are you able to T3? Even yourself.” And if they can get to that point then, you know, we’ve got a chance.
Josh: So, do you find that these owners have a trust problem with their management team?
Josh: So, what causes that trust problem?
Glenn: I think that they think they know everything. And, you know, it’s what I’ve said for a long time, “If you think that you can hire somebody and they’re going to somehow magically come in and, on day one, be able to take all this stuff off of you that you don’t want to do anymore anyway, and operate it at a level that you’re currently operating it at, you’re foolish because it took you a long time to figure it out. So, there’s a natural transition time where somebody else needs to get up to speed, figure it out and sooner or later they’ll be better than you but not at first. That just doesn’t make any sense.
So, they build this sense of, “It didn’t work.” You know, how many of these people, “Well, I’ve tried. I’ve tried to hire people. It didn’t work. You know, nobody can work for me. I can’t hire people.” And I always say, “You know, I’ll give you three chances at about anything. But after four or five, I think the problem might be you. Maybe it isn’t those people that you keep trying to hire.” And they go, “Huh, I never thought about it that way.” So, you know, they’re no good at hiring people, really.
Josh: It’s not just them, it’s the general public. They don’t have a system.
Josh: And we could talk about it. In fact, I just released a video on that very specific topic because I have a really good hiring system we’ve used for 30 years and I did a video on it.
Glenn: Then, send it over.
Josh: All you’ve got to do is go on my website and look at “videos” and you’ll find it.
Glenn: Oh, good.
Josh: Or my YouTube channel, one or the other.
At any rate, there’s a second thing there. The first is “they don’t trust” and the second, which is my experience anyhow, is that they don’t know how to make mistakes a positive.
Glenn: Oh, that’s good.
Josh: Is that something that you find with your folks?
Glenn: Well, yeah, because everybody who gets into the specs. Everybody who experiences this paradox, has made a lot of mistakes but they have this supernatural way of not paying attention to the mistake part, or sort of suppressing the idea that it was a mistake.
So, what we talk about a lot is there’s three ways to look at your life, right? The past, the present and the future. And because they are future-based, they tend to not pay attention to the lessons of the past, because it happened, they got it out of the way and they move forward. So, they’ve accomplished a lot in spite of the mistakes but they don’t always look at the mistakes as a positive thing, they look at it as something they want to bury because it was so painful to go through.
Josh: My experience with business owners is, it’s okay for them to make mistakes because they never admit they made them. But it’s definitely not okay for their employees to make mistakes because they’re just jerks when they do that.
Glenn: Right. That’s right.
Josh: And the goal that we do with this, I want to see if it’s a similar thing with you, is that I find that when people walk in my office and I call that a burnout conversation. Essentially, they walk in and I say, “What do you want to talk about?” They say, “Well, I need to sell my business.” I say, “When?” They say, ”Five days ago.”
Glenn: That’s right. Yeah.
Josh: I can almost be sure that we’re about to have a burnout conversation.
Josh: And a burnout conversation happens for two reasons, at least in my experience. (1) Using your friend, Dan Sullivan again—
Josh: Is that they are not working in their unique ability areas of doing stuff they’ve gotten good at but it’s not anything they even come close to enjoying. And the second (2) is they’ve not made themselves operationally irrelevant which basically speaks to all the issues that we’ve been talking about, about how you get into this paradox in the first place.
Josh: Is that your experience also?
Glenn: Oh, absolutely. It’s the same problem.
I think that—and again, I’d appreciate your reflection on this, I haven’t seen or maybe haven’t noticed it, as bad as in the past. Now, I’m 62 years old and I’ve been doing this for 35 years. If you count the CPA experience, it’s 40 years. But I just haven’t seen it. It just seems to have accelerated in the past 5 to 10 years. And it’s really, really bad.
You know, I think I heard in the general public of the United States, there’s 10,000 baby boomers retiring per day. So, there’s some statistical subset of that – not a very large number, I get that. But maybe 2%, 3% or 4% of those 10,000 that are these business owners.
And so, it’s just the natural forces of age and all of the stuff that we’re talking about, that they’re not different than the general public in the sense that they’re human beings, right? They just have different economic and business circumstances but they’re still family people, and dads and moms, and brothers and sisters to somebody else. And so, they feel human emotions.
And so, you know, they never think that they’ll ever retire, they’ll never think that they’ll ever quit. And all of a sudden, they sort of get to this place where five days ago, they should’ve. And it shocks them, almost.
It’s like “How can I be feeling like this? I didn’t feel like this five years ago, ten years ago. What happened?” And to me, that’s the whole paradox of it and they need help. But there aren’t many people in our worlds who really (a) know how to help them, or have the interest in helping them, or don’t have a product to sell them that fixes the problem because it isn’t a product-based solution.
Josh: So, how do you fix the problem and how’s your background in the financial industry prepare you to do that? What specifically do you do with these clients?
Glenn: Well, going through the same process myself. Now, one of the things I learned years ago, I was given some great advice that “If you don’t own something, if you haven’t experienced something, it’s very, very difficult to take somebody else to that same process or that same experience.” And I think that’s been totally true. So, I started feeling this way about my business maybe five years ago.
And, you know, thrashed around. I didn’t know what to do about it. I tried to talk to people about it, whatever. And because I’ve heard it with my clients, I said, “We’ve got to get a hold of this because it’s going to hurt everybody if we don’t figure it out.”
And so, I think, at the core, the biggest problem is that, again, sort of borrowing from Dan Sullivan, they run out of future. So, the present, the past, the weightiness of where they are overcomes their sense of their future and they start getting worried about their future. They start assessing their own mortality.
So the first thing we do is say, “Let’s just stop the engines. Let’s pull back and let’s go back in time and recreate your future”, X years or whatever you feel comfortable saying – I like 10 years. But let’s figure out the next 10-years. What would make you just excited again? What do we have to do to get the weight off of you?
And it doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to get rid of the business but in a lot of cases, that’s what they’re really talking about. Sometimes, it’s just paying off all their debts. Sometimes, it’s taking free days. There’s just a lot of things that we can do to help them, so we’ve kind of constructed a three-year plan because it’s not going to happen in 30 minutes, or three months, or one year. It’s too complicated. So, we have a three-year structure to walk them through to get that done.
Josh: So, what happens in that three-year structure?
Glenn: Well, we start with a model that I learned from Blair Enns. Do you know Blair?
Josh: I do not.
Glenn: I’ll send you the book. It’s called Win Without Pitching. And he consults with some of the most creative firms in the United States – not in the financial business, not in the consulting business. These are marketing, creative design firms for big, big companies.
And he says that what mostly financial people do – consulting people do would be considered malpractice in most other businesses. They prescribe before they diagnose. If a doctor did that, he’d be sued.
So, the first element, the first step is an extensive and thorough diagnostic. We really spend some time figuring out what is the core of the struggle. What is causing the paradox? What are they really worried about? Because this is mostly non‑financial, even though they think it’s financial, it takes a little bit of time.
It’s some work. We do Kolbe assessments. We use other tools like that. We get an accurate financial statement on them which in most cases, they don’t know. You know, they’ve submitted things to their banks that are irrelevant and inaccurate. So we just gather information – a lot of behavioral information and then start to talk about their future. And what is that? And then it’s really building a team around them because they’re not good at that. And we bring really, really talented people together to surround them and help them get that going. And it takes about three years for the first stage. And then, of course, ideally, there’s every three years for the rest of their life doing same thing and just improving on the process.
Josh: I mean, everybody who’s good at this has a process.
Josh: And your process is probably not completely dissimilar to my process. And I want to ask you something because when I take people through our process, some magical things usually happen.
Josh: So, at the end of the three years and you’re done, you say, “Okay, now you’re going through the process. You’re probably ready to sell your business. Should we be looking for a broker?” Now, when I say that to my clients who have gone through our process, I usually get this kind of like, “What? Sell my business? Why would I want to do that? I’m having way too much fun.” Is that something that’s happened with you?
Glenn: Yeah. You know, you could probably help me in this way because I think I am less focused on the sale itself. In other words, a lot of them are like Linus with the blanket in Peanuts. If you took away their crying towel, then they just wouldn’t have anything to cry about anymore. So, they’ll fight you for the very thing that they complain most about. So, I have to kind of remind them that this is what you were complaining about.
The business is a symptom of the problem. It’s usually not the problem. Now, that doesn’t meant they shouldn’t sell the business. A lot of them are family-owned businesses. And so, they see their family as the buyers and usually they are the buyers. They don’t want anything to do with the mess that their dad or mom created anyway.
So, they don’t know how to transition a business. They have no idea how to sell a business. This is the only business they’ve ever owned. As you said, it’s not “prepared for sale” so they just sort of hang on until they’re dead or sick, and then somebody buys it for ¢10 on the dollar.
Josh: Well, I wasn’t suggesting, by the way, that we focus on selling the business. What I have found is that when we get the business ready for sale, we fixed all the problems the owners had and we’ve gotten rid of his burnout or her burnout and we say, “Okay, you’re ready to sell your business.” They become a passive owner where they become completely operationally irrelevant and then they say, “I’m having too much fun. I’m not doing the junk that burned me out.”
Glenn: Okay. That’s the ideal place, right?
Josh: Right. We want to get people where they have all the choice.
Glenn: Right, right, right. Absolutely. So what I’ve called it is instead of being a business owner – an operational owner, they become an investor. They own the investment side of the business and somebody else may be the operations folks.
Josh: Hopefully, there is because that’s how you grow a business.
Josh: In any rate, Glenn, I hate to say this but we are out of time and I’m going to bet some people listening might want to contact you and learn a little bit more about what you do. So, if they want to do that, where would they go and how would they do it?
Glenn: The easiest way is to just look at our website. It’s themainpoint.com. We talk a little bit more about this and not in great detail because it’s more of a conversation than it is a website explanation but it gives a little bit of an outline. So, if somebody wants to go in the website and look a little bit more, I’m happy to talk to them about it. It’s something I’d probably talk to Josh about anyway because you have a better handle on some aspects of this process than I do. But that’s what we do, we collaborate. We build teams around these folks.
Josh: So, Glenn, I’m assuming mainpoint is M-A-I-N-P-O-I-N-T.com?
Glenn: That’s right, themainpoint.com.
Josh: Oh, themainpoint. Okay, so if you want to get a hold of Glenn, go to themainpoint.com and that’s M-A-I-N. I’m sure there’s a contact me button there, some place in the site and you’ll be able to get a hold of Glenn.
I have something that you also might be interested in. I’ve put together a one‑hour free audio CD course called successes to sustainability. It’s the five things you need to do in your business to create a sustainable business. It’s free. We mail it to you. And to get it, it’s really easy. All you have to do is text sustainable. That’s S-U-S-T-A-I-N-A-B-L-E to 44222. That’s texting SUSTAINABLE to 44222. You’ll get a link. You can give us your mailing address and we mail the CD out to you. And it’s absolutely free.
So, thanks a lot for spending some time with us today.
And again, you’re at the Sustainable Business. I’m Josh Patrick and I hope to see back here really soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.