You’re in for a treat today. Our guest for this episode of The Sustainable Business is Walt Hampton, the President of Book Yourself Solid.
In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about what it takes to go from being an employer to an employee and how you can develop leadership skills that will help make your ability to lead your people to move to the next level.
Walt has spent time with the Tony Robbins organization as well as being the managing partner in a very successful law firm in Connecticut. He is a life long learner and a real seeker of knowledge and more importantly wisdom.
In today’s podcast we’ll be talking about these items and more:
- Why you need to write down and talk about the values in your company.
- How values are a filtration system to help you understand what you should be doing in your company.
- You’ll learn that managing expectations for yourself and your employees is a key to success.
- Secrets you’ll need to know if you want to delegate well.
- Y0u’ll understand that one of the keys to delegation is to inspect that the job was done well.
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 and you’re at The Sustainable Business.
Today, we’re in for a real treat. We have Walt Hampton with us. Walt is the president of Book Yourself Solid. And if you’ve not read the book, you need to read the book. It’s written by Michael Port. And in my opinion it’s probably the best marketing book I’ve ever read for any company and the best marketing and sales book for solopreneurs and smaller companies. And with some modifications, even a great book for big companies.
So at any rate, let’s bring Walt in and we’re going to talk about what it takes to be a successful employee, because Walt is the president of Book Yourself Solid, and he works for Michael Port who is the owner of the company. And this is the first time Michael really has had a president come in.
And I can tell you from my own personal experience that the first time I hired real managers to come to work for me, I wasn’t very good at it. In fact, it was a disaster. And there are lots of lessons I kind of learned. And Walt and I have had a discussion on about some of those lessons might be and how you, as an employer, need to be thinking about your senior managers in a different way. So let’s bring Walt in.
Hey, Walt, how are you today?
Walt: Josh, I’m so pleased to be with you. I’m fine and it’s such a privilege to be on your podcast.
Josh: Oh, it’s so much fun. I always like talking with you. We’ve just had a 15-minute, very interesting conversation before we started today so, I guess, we’ll just continue.
Walt: I think that would be great.
Josh: So, Walt, tell me about your experience as becoming an employee. Because I know that you were the managing partner of a law firm where you were the employer. What’s the difference?
Walt: Well, there is a vast difference. And it’s been an education and an eye opening experience and we’ll talk a little bit about that. But I was, for 25 of my 30-plus years of practice, the managing partner, hiring partner of a litigation firm outside of Hartford, Connecticut. And in that role I was in charge of directing operations, of hiring, firing, ordering toner cartridges and everything else that goes along with managing a medium-sized law firm. And, of course, I was the king. I answered to nobody. The buck stopped with me. And I had a great deal of autonomy. So, from that standpoint that’s really all I knew. As a young student, of course, I was an employee. But for all of my professional life, I was the employer. I was the managing partner.
And then when I left law and went into coaching – as you know, I was initially trained as a Tony Robbins results coach. I did some contracting work for Tony. But very soon, thereafter, started my own coaching and consultant firm. And, like you, stumbled over Book Yourself Solid and was moved by it and found it to be a compelling and important piece of work, and a helpful piece of work, and became involved in the community, and became one of Michael Port’s coaches and loved the work. I love Book Yourself Solid and its effectiveness, in every that you mentioned.
And along the way, Michael reached out to me and asked me if I would be willing to be his president, president of Book Yourself Solid Worldwide. And it was a great moment for me. It means a lot to me to be able to do this work in the world and serve with him and the dynamic is different.
Josh: So how is the dynamic different? What makes it different for you?
Walt: Well, you know, very clearly, Michael’s the founder of Book Yourself Solid Worldwide. He’s the author of the book. He’s been at the helm for a long time. He, like me, has had to interact with no one along the path and all of the decisions – good, bad and indifferent, rested with him. And all of the responsibility rested with him and all of the obligations.
And then, by bringing someone else in, there was another person. It’s not different, I would suppose, from, you know, one’s single life to one’s married life or committed partner’s life. All of a sudden, there’s another person in the mix.
Josh: So, when Michael brought you on board, did he have clearly delineated values and a mission?
Walt: Michael is brilliant. And he has very clear values and a mission that he sees and believes in. I think one of the challenges that all organizations face– I just did this exercise and I do this exercise often with organizations, like you do. I, this past Friday, had the opportunity with a mid-sized law firm to sit down and begin to articulate the vision, the mission and the values.
And what so often happens in an organization, particularly one that’s closely held and closely managed, is that the founder, the owner, the managing director, he/she have a vision and a mission. And they’re driven by it. That’s what makes them successful. The challenge, I think, is being able to iterate that and to share it as you begin to build a team.
Josh: Well, that was my question. When you came to work with Michael, did he share with you his values and his mission – not his vision so much but the values that he holds dear and a mission for what Book Yourself Solid should be?
Walt: So, I’ll give you a short answer and a longer answer and come back to the short answer. The short answer is no. The longer answer has to do with a core teaching that work with, with the leaders. And that’s the idea of leading or managing, if we talk about management, by expectation versus management by agreement.
What’s true of you and me, what’s true of your listeners, is we’re a group of peak performers. We get stuff done. We have a very high standard for ourselves. And we expect that other people operate on the same levels. That they somehow, by moonbeams, get what drives us, gets what fires us. That we will buy into and comport with those unstated expectations. Those unstated values. And that’s where so many leaders go off the rails, particularly as they grow, because they begin to expect that the people that they bring in will simply, by osmosis, get what needs to be gotten rather than sitting down and actually as you, I think, are suggesting that there’s actually a conversation around those.
Now, the mistake for me, as I look back, was as much my mistake, as kind of overstating it, as it is Michael’s. I mean, we’re both peak performers. We both believe in the work. He knows that I believe in the work. I believe that he believes in the work. And so, the expectation always was that, “Hey, you know, we know where we’re going and what we’re doing.”
Josh: Yeah. That often is the thought process from the owner. And here’s what I found around this issue– and I thought the answer will be no, by the way, is that my experience is that too many times business owners know in their brain what their values are but they’ve never written it down. And because they’ve never written it down, there’s no way for their team to know what it is.
And that’s okay, when you have a bunch of helpers and relatively low-level people around you. But when you start bringing in senior management that you expect to act independently without high direction, if you don’t have clear values and a clear mission statement, they’re going to make up their own. And when they make up their own, there’s a really good chance that it’s not going to be the same as yours. So this is one of the five pillars of sustainability, by the way, is having a clear value system and mission statement for your company because although you might have it clear in your head, your senior management can’t read your brain, can’t read your mind. Would you say that’s true?
Walt: Oh, I would absolutely say it’s true. And I love that it’s one of your five pillars.
I think that if you’re going to create a company that is not just all about you, that it’s going to be something sustainable, that it’s going to be legacy work, that it’s going to impact a lot of people over not only your lifetime but generations going forward, that that needs to get out of your head and onto a piece of paper. And that mistake is made over and over again by countless leaders in every sector of the universe.
Josh: Yeah. I can tell you that almost every business– in fact, every business I’ve ever worked with has not had clear value statements. Sometimes they have a mission statement that’s reasonably good but none of them have value statements they work with and, boy, is that important.
Walt: Critically important because the values as I teach it, or the filtration system, a filtering system for how you make decisions going forward. What you prioritize going forward.
Josh: Yeah, absolutely. And I also believe that— and this is actually counter to what many people will say is that it’s the owner’s job to create the values. It’s not the company’s job to create the values. Meaning, it’s the owner’s values you’re buying into. They should never be buying into your value because that’s what causes burnout.
Walt: Yes. No question.
Josh: And if it doesn’t work, then you, as an employee, get the choice. You get to stay and work against my values, which is a bad idea. Or you get to stay and work because these values really resonate with me which is a good idea.
Walt: Yes, absolutely.
Josh: So there’s something else here that you just mentioned, Walt, which is expectations and one of my favorites. Actually, I learned this from my first mentor in business in 1977. He actually saved my business. And he had a thing called “expect-inspect-accept”. And a lot of times, business owners will set expectations but they never come back to inspect. Has that been your experience with Michael at all?
Walt: I can’t say that it’s all been my experience with Michael. Michael is extraordinarily good at checking in and inspecting. I see it over and over again in the entrepreneurs that I work with and the professional that I work with. So I can state, categorically, that your statement is a truism as I have experienced over time. And the failure to do that leaves everybody frustrated. And it leads to a lot of frustration on the part of the employee, and anger and recrimination on the part of the employer.
Josh: Yeah. It’s, you know, “I told them, what do you expect?” The comment that I sort of get a lot.
Walt: Well, it’s even more nefarious than that I think, Josh. I had a short illustrative story, because when you tell people something you’re expecting them to comport and complete a task or a project in the way that you would. And so, I have a very successful managing partner of a law firm. She had a big deal that was closing in the afternoon, at 1:00 PM. And she sent to her secretary out to Staples Supply Store to make a big set of copies for this. Because there were so many, it overwhelmed the infrastructure of the firm.
And she sent the secretary out at noon time. And the expectation of the managing partner was that the copies would be back for them by the meeting at 1 o’clock. Well, the secretary didn’t come back until 2:30 and the managing partner was absolutely apoplectic. She said, “Well, I told her I needed the copies.” I said, “Did you tell her you need the copies for 1 o’clock for a client meeting?” She said, “No.” I said, “Well, what about the secretary?” She said, “I went out to Staples. The line was long. I decided to go out for lunch. I had my lunch and went back and I got the copies and here I am.” I said, “Well, I’m sorry Bernadette, that’s on you because you didn’t arrive at an agreement with your employee. You didn’t say, ‘Hey, we’ve got this closing at 1 o’clock, I need these copies. Can you go out to the office max and get the copies and bring them back by 1 o’clock?’ You presumed that she would act with the same alacrity and enthusiasm that you would.”
Josh: That happens all the time. But I’m going to move this up to even a little bit higher level than that, is the topic of delegation.
Josh: Because what you said is when you’re setting expectations, you’re actually delegating. And you have two choices after you set an expectation. You can abdicate which is what many people do when they first start to delegate, which is why they don’t do it again because they abdicated it, it didn’t get it done. “I can’t do that anymore because it doesn’t get done right.” And the reason it doesn’t get done right is because you can’t just delegate and abdicate, you have to delegate and inspect.
Josh: And in my experience, where business owners fall down and why their businesses stay small, or one of the reasons the businesses stay small is on the inspection part because you can’t accept unless you inspect.
And then I think, Josh, just to give you a little push back in there. I think, in the delegation process and maybe it’s just intrinsic with what you teach, is that there is a necessity, when you delegate, that you are actually going to let your hands off. But that does not mean to abdicate, but that means that you’re going to allow your employee to do it in his/her style without jumping into the mix to try to micromanage exactly how it gets done. So long as the result is okay, you need to let go of the process.
Josh: No question about that. And it’s also one of the reasons I like to see systems set up around delegation, so the person doing it knows what to do. And if it’s a brand new thing then the person doing it should document what they’re doing so other people can do it the same way. One of the things that I think is a real tragedy with small businesses is that often the consistency of service and product is really uneven because there are not systems in place to support consistency.
Walt: Oh, you wrote a beautiful piece this week about the importance of systems and processes.
Josh: Yes, thank you.
Again, that’s one of five things that creates sustainability in a business. You cannot have a great business unless you have great systems to go with that business.
Walt: Well, you can’t have a business at all – period, full stop. You have an indentured servitude without systems from which you will never be free.
Josh: I like that. That’s a great [inaudible 00:15:38].
So the other thing about delegation, I know this is a big deal for you, is that trust becomes a hugely big deal with delegation. If you don’t trust somebody, you’re just not going to delegate to them.
Walt: Trust and your leadership is the condition precedent for it all. And I think that you need to trusts yourself to let go of it and to be ready to let go of it. I know, for me, delegation has been at times challenging because “Wow, you know, I’m just really smart and I know how to do it best. And I’m just not ready to let go of it. And if I do let go of it, I need to really watch it. And this is my baby. And it needs to be done right.” And so, it’s not only trust. You can trust objectively the person and still not necessarily be ready to let go of it to anybody. And I think that can be challenging for people who are new to the game.
Josh: Oh, absolutely. That, I find, is mostly in the companies that have between one and five employees.
Walt: Yes. I think after that, you get it.
Josh: After that, you’re not going to grow past that unless you can realize you just can’t do everything, you’ve got to let go. Otherwise, you’re just stuck where you are. And, you know, in some instances being stuck where you are is not a terrible thing but you’re not going to grow your business doing that, that’s for sure.
Josh: And that’s the big deal about that.
So let’s talk for a little bit about leadership in general. If you were to say to somebody, Walt, “Here are the two, three, four, five things you need to do to be a great leader.” What would you tell them?
Walt: First of all, I would tell them to get clear about where you yourself want to go, where you yourself are going because if you don’t have a destination, you can’t expect people to follow you. Leadership connotes that there are followers. That if you look over your shoulder and nobody’s following you, well there’s no leadership there. And the destination needs to be a compelling destination which comes back to the idea of having compelling values, having an important mission. And so, having those key pieces dialed in, as a leader, are essential for oneself.
One also, as a leader needs, it’s the first pillar of what we do in our leadership training programs with some of the big leaders and doubling through the law society is leading self. Do you have your own act together? Are you taking care of your mind, body and spirit? Have you dialed in the core practices of success? Are you able to lead yourself? I think that’s another core principle before you even get to showing up in your organization on a day-to-day basis.
And then with a compelling vision, a compelling set of values, being able to communicate clearly, being conscious of intentionally creating a culture, intentionally creating your tribe so that you are nurturing the environment in such a way that your people want to show up and engage the mission. Because what we know is worldwide engagement. That is, a team’s interest in your mission stands at only 13%. Meaning, generally 85% of our people are updating their status on Facebook and planning their weekend barbecue. And so, being able to engage our people such that they want to invest in the mission is the next challenge.
And then, I think, the third thing is being able to not empower but rather allow your people to lead where they are. One of my very favorite leadership books currently is David Marquet’s, Turn the Ship Around. David uses what he calls a leader – leader model, pushing down decisions and responsibilities to the level at which the information is freshest and most relevant, and adopting a model where you’re giving your people the power that they have already had, to lead from that place where they are. So those would be my three things that I would say about leadership.
And, Walt, unfortunately we are out of time. But I do know that people listening are going to be interested in getting involved in the Book Yourself Solid coaching program. So could you tell people how they can find information out about that?
Walt: Well, as luck would have it, Josh, we actually have a website.
Josh: I figured you did.
Walt: Your listeners could go to BookYourselfSolid.com. And there is a tab right at the top of the page, that I’m looking at, for School of Coach training. I happen to think that we have the best coach training program on the planet. As I shared with you, we just graduated 10 new amazing coaches into the world. Then I’m going to be beginning to accept applications on June 1st for our fall class. And would welcome the opportunity to connect with some of your listeners. So BookYourselfSolid.com or, for a personal e-mail to me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walt, thanks so much for being on today.
And I also have an offer for you. I have a 45-minute free audio CD. And this is physical CD. And the thing I would like to do is offer it to you.
And it’s really easy to get. All you have to do is take out your smartphone. And if you’re driving, I would ask you not to do this while driving, as I saw somebody doing this morning. But text the word RETIRE1. That’s RETIRE1 to 44222. You’re going to get a link. You click on the link and give me your mailing address and we mail out the CD to you.
So thanks a lot for spending some time with us today. You’re at the Sustainable Business. I hope to see you back here really soon. Thanks a lot. Bye – bye.
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 email@example.com.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.