In this episode of Your Business, Your Wealth, Paul and Cory welcome CEO, entrepreneur and business growth coach, Michael Langhout to share his experience working strategically with businesses and CEOs. Michael is a self-described lifetime learner and is extremely well read, especially when it comes to books about business. Paul, Cory and Michael discuss the importance of culture, hiring the right people, and execution. They talk about disruption in the ever-evolving landscape of the marketplace. Finally, Michael provides a list of books he recommends to listeners of Your Business Your Wealth. Paul and Cory encourage the audience to subscribe and listen to Michael’s podcast, CEO Brain Food.
WHAT WAS COVERED
- 02:09 – Introducing today’s guest, Michael Langhout
- 03:40 – Michael speaks to his background and how he became such a voracious reader
- 07:37 – Biggest challenges that CEOs tend to struggle with
- 10:30 – Common themes and issues that Michael sees among his entrepreneur clients
- 13:15 – The importance of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, onboarding and training
- 14:14 – The value Michael places on culture, people, and execution
- 17:32 – Why ‘C’ performers can drive ‘A’ performers out of your organization
- 18:40 – Paul interrupts the podcast to provide the audience with a special offer
- 19:41 – Other book recommendations from Michael
- 23:04 – Paul shifts gears to discuss the topic of disruption
- 27:54 – Big Data
- 28:58 – Paul encourages listeners to subscribe to Michael’s podcast, CEO Brain Food
- 29:59 – Paul encourages listeners to reach out and leave a review on the podcast for a special giveaway
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Full Episode Transcription
I will enter into the relationship wherever they feel like they’d like to have me enter. In other words, I’ll walk with them on meet them where they are. But I can tell you that in I don’t know the percentage but extremely high percentage of time probably north of 80% of the time we go back to people it’s some kind of a some kind of a cultural or people issue.
Welcome to your business your well we’re your host Paul Adams and Corey Shepherd teach founders and entrepreneurs how to build wealth beyond their business balance sheets. And
there is no
lightning in sappy This is how legends are.
Hello and welcome to your business your wealth. My name is Paul Adams. I am CEO of Finance group founder and honors and deeply touched and not in a way that is all inappropriate now by Corey Shepard just being here today. Your eyes
like when you tell a secret. Yeah,
I’m gonna tell a secret about Korea today. If you guys ever talk to Cory, and if his hair is standing on end, perhaps like the heat miser for those of you that watch old Christmas shows, or like an angry cockatoo. That means Cory is having a rough day could be on his last nerve of which he has many. I have gotten on all of them.
So glad you could be with us today. I had to wind up for that. That was a I had to go hard. This time as a
moral of the story is you’ve got it. We got to let you do the intro a little bit more often because you just like store up more energy. Yeah,
yeah, I think I had three that time. Just work them into one.
Well, I think we got someone else hanging out here with us today.
You want to say any more about that? Indeed I do. We’ve got with us today, Michael Lang house, who has another podcast called CEO brain food has been a longtime friend of the show. First time being on as a guest. Here’s what I think is most important for you all to know about Michael, if you’ve never had a chance to work with a business coach, or if you have and you’ve been left a little bit lacking. This is the kind of guy that if you’re a fit for him in his practice, this is the guy that you want to talk to. He has over 30 years of business experience both as a high level executive and out there as an entrepreneur, but not in the same types of companies. He has worked in technology, healthcare, actual manufacturing. So depending on the type of business somebody has, he has this enormous base from which he can speak to their businesses, and he shares that and so much more. On his podcast CEO brain food Michael Lang house. Welcome. So glad you could join us today.
Thanks, Paul. And so glad to be here. You’re kind with your words. Corey, good to see you as well.
You too, Michael. Well, and Paul’s just being truthful. And you know, I want to add it. It’s been great to know you over several years now. And you’ve done some amazing work with us in various sizes in iterations of our firm over the years and always been helpful so kind of surprised that we haven’t had him on till now, Paul, I don’t know what our problem was. But glad you’re
here now. We’re waiting for him to get the awesome headset he has now. Yes, just waiting for that. Well, here’s kind of one of the first things that I want to talk about Michael and if people are listening, who have worked with you in the past, there’s something that they may not know that really comes out on CEO brain food and that is how incredibly well read you are. You’ve worked with us on and off for years and literally You are such an amazing listener and so amazing at bringing one little soundbite of knowledge to a conversation that just needs a little help, that I had no idea how well read you were and how well versed you are on all these multidisciplinary topics until you’re in the podcast environment, having to talk for 1520 minutes a shot, maybe could you just share with our audience to kick us off what your history has been career wise and what led you to start being such a not just a voracious reader, but somebody who really studies a lot of this business stuff in a way that you can deploy it to other companies?
Well, I you know, I guess Paula h has something to do with it. Frankly, I’ve been a CEO of different companies serial entrepreneur, started up few and had some good exits and you know, at some point in time you want to give back. And so a few years ago, actually about six or seven years ago, I shifted into growth coaching because I want to help the CEOs that I’m working with their leadership teams in these mid market companies. Typically I’m working for working with companies that are 25 employees to maybe 250 employees, something like that. And that’s the what I would define as lower mid market for me. And you know, I just, I see struggling and I and I’ve been there done that myself. Few battle scars to show for it and I just love to share what I know after 40 years of working retirement for me isn’t anything that I aspire to. I love this.
We’re not most of our clients neither and that’s a that’s a whole other topic but glad you bring it up.
Retirement as has a bunch of different meanings and I guess it looks different for different people. You know, for me, if you find your your spiritual gifts, the gifts that God has given us, you know, that that we do and leverage those and you find a need in the world. You know, kind of where those two lines cross is a perfect job. And I feel like that’s where that’s where I’m at. I think That’s where you guys are at you’re, you’re awesome at what you do. But back to your question. Yeah, I mean, I always have been interested in learning. Learning for me is a lifetime endeavor. I remember even Gosh, going back to high school just I had some inspiring teachers that would challenge me and we’d have, you know, terrific conversations and great books that we talked about. And then in through university, and so on, and then out into the world. And I suppose there was probably a gap for a while. My early career I didn’t read so much, but but Lifetime Learning for me is a very, very big deal and an important thing, and I don’t know how many you know how many books I don’t I lose count of how many books I’ve read, I wouldn’t I’m willing to bet you’ve read every single one of those stacks behind you. Well,
that’s not a show.
I you know, I’d like to say, gee, Korea, you know, that’s absolutely true, and it’s absolutely not true. My wife says, you know, honey, you’ve got another box from Amazon doing.
Michael actually doesn’t know that they also sell other things now he’s still exclusively ordering his books there. It’s a bookstores.
Anyway, so most of them are, you know, I buy them because of their titles and their authors. I will say all of the books behind me I have looked at most I’ve read, those that I haven’t read incompletion are probably just not interested. I get 50 or 100 pages into a book and I’m and if it grips me, then I go on. If not, I put it down.
Let me ask you something that you mentioned a little bit earlier about the hardships that you so you go into a company, that you’re helping coach them for more growth or you’re having an exploratory conversation with them about whether or not it would be a good fit. What is the biggest challenge or challenges that you see CEOs and entrepreneurs have before you get in communication with them? And what what do you think they’re currently doing to solve it? And what is what could they be doing differently? That’s like a three part question.
Well, that’s a great question. And that’s right on the right on the horns of the dilemma, right? I mean, when they, when a client or a potential client presents or, you know, is interested, obviously, they’re, they’re searching for something, they’re searching for a coach, typically, there’s a problem. And they either don’t know what it is, they’re stuck, and they don’t know how to get unstuck. Or they know what it is they suspect what it is, and they and they’re looking for help to, to, you know, to solve that problem. But most of the time, the problems that they’re they’re facing are symptoms of a bigger problem. And so I’m listening very, very carefully to the words words are carry a great deal of importance that the words that we use, and so I’m listening very carefully to how they’re phrase and sort of their, their angle. Driving for discovery on the pain points. I really want to find where those pain points are. And what are the triggers to use a word that Marshall Goldsmith wrote a great book about called triggers by the same name. What are the triggers What? What are some of the underlying causes and you have to ask the use the Japanese technique ask why five times? Paul, I think you even have a Japanese technique.
I thought that was just a technique when you don’t speak the language well, because I I don’t speak somebody else’s language. Great. I just keep going. Why? Why and then another language is I just learned that that word coma
I was listening recently to to one another one of your, your great podcasts leadership impact for those that are listening. Oh, yes.
The one with Kerry Granger that I carry is
very Granger and using the words why versus you know what and And it was, you know, because the Why is it puts a person into a defensive position? The what is exploratory? It’s something that we can do. You and I are words that put a person on the defensive. So why Why are you doing that? It bothers me. And you know, frankly, that’s how a lot of employees get talked to by their superiors. Yeah. What was it about this situation that, you know, that we could explore together to understand where it was broken? And what what happened here? Do you notice a theme of certain things that are the biggest pain points for most entrepreneurs when you first talk to them? Yes, it’s usually it’s usually standing in the way of great financial results. They’re, they’re not getting good results. And so they’re, they’re pointing towards execution. You know, they think that they could use some help in that area. And so that’s usually how they come is we’ve got a problem with our execution, our processes are not working well. And so we need some help with that. And I will enter into the relationship wherever they feel like they’d like to have me enter. In other words, I’ll walk with them on meet them where they are. But I can tell you that in I don’t know the percentage, but extremely high percentage of time, probably north of 80% of the time, we go back to people, it’s some kind of a cultural or people issue that’s causing the problem. And so we go through some tools and techniques to identify where those where those aren’t, we can get there pretty quickly. We don’t need days and you know, half days a week, do it in an hour or to knock it out, and we find out exactly where the problem is.
Wow. And so so people think it’s financial. Yeah, but it’ll be like it’s the people they’ve hired or the way they’re managing them or who they have and what see
Oh, it’s get backs. It totally gets back to culture, which to me is the core values. The purpose the be hag which is the Collins Greg Collins term that he coined back in 95 when wrote built to last fabulous book, parts of it don’t really apply today because in 95, the internet was not what it is today. So when he talks about a B hag have a 10 to 25 year goal. I have some clients that just absolutely start panicking. It’s like they can’t think beyond next week. So we bring it into more of a three hag like a three year highly achievable goal. So we do that in our strategy work But back to the point yeah, it’s people and so we do talent assessments. I love top grading top grading is a is a tool that we use. Great methodology developed by Dr. Brad smart out of Chicago. He’s got a great 650 page book that you probably wouldn’t want to read when you’re going to bed.
Maybe you would.
Good point. This is his son, Jeff smart also a PhD, and has been in the in the business for a while many years in fact wrote a primer or a much in my view much better. Book much more easy to digest, who called Who?
And listening to Michael’s podcast?
Do I ever recommend that book for any CEO? I mean, my gosh, I mean, it really, it describes, you know, how do you how do you recruit? interview particularly in the interviewing, there’s a two two step interviewing process screening in a top grading tandem interview. But there’s a there’s a recruiting there’s a, there’s an interviewing, there’s a hiring and onboarding, training, and all of those things are separate categories that need to be managed so well. And so often they’re not I mean, we find somebody they’re warm and vertical, they can fog a mirror, and we bring them in and you know, we give you know, we give them what we give them a cubicle and we give them a laptop and we’re printing up business cards, and maybe they’ll get here in three weeks. And, you know, we’re not prepared. You know, we give a party for somebody when they’re leaving. We should be giving a party for them when they come and assign them a buddy help them navigate through these people come in they don’t have a clue about the company they don’t they’ve not been told anything about the purpose. They know that they know what the product or services but they don’t know anything about the culture. I mean, you guys both have families you have wives and I know Paul, I don’t know Cory in your case if you have children but but Paul, I know you do. And so you have there’s a culture in The Addams Family, right? There’s a culture of the laying out family. There’s a culture Korean in the shepherd family and so if you bring somebody into that new family, wouldn’t you want them to know about you guys? Wouldn’t you want them to know? And and so often I’m it’s incredulous to me that the CEO delegates this out to an HR person and there are many that are very, very good, but honestly, there’s a whole bunch that aren’t. So it’s it’s just these are the areas that I think you know, that we really, if we can fix those kinds of problems. These are foundational, right? I mean, I look at I look at a business there’s six, seven, In a business that I think about, but the basic system is your your CEO and that that leader that has to be constantly communicating the the core values the purpose, well, then everybody hears that all the time.
You’re giving me such a high rate right now, you know, mentioning people first and then systems and what comes to mind is, of course, its people because really good people can actually get a lot done even in not so great systems and structures, they can press through that. And really not good people and not good fit can tear down the best systems and structures that have ever been built. So you’re not going to do it without good people. And you’re not going to do it with bad people, no matter
no matter what. And then and then you finally go to the execution piece, which is where they typically are coming in anyway. And they’re saying, All right, well, let’s take a look at the processes. And typically you’re going to find a book somewhere or it’s on a shared file. A shared drive somewhere you’re going to find this list of processes that some consultant came in and help them develop five years ago and today none of them are being followed because everyone came in and did not get trained and so they do work arounds right there’s there’s stuff that has to get done. There’s a process for it. But we don’t know what that process is because it’s buried somewhere nobody’s looked at it in years. So we we invent our own it’s no wonder stuff is broken. It’s it’s just it’s it’s it’s appalling to me that this stuff happens and you know it that the point I wanted to come back to Korea on your on your observation about people and this is something people don’t really understand CEOs, particularly if you think about those, those thoroughbreds, those those a performers, right. I mean, they’re just fit the high figured out factor. I mean, you don’t. The coaching for them is way different than the coaching for anybody else. Your job is to just Remove the obstacles and give them the free running lane in front of them so that they can just blast and go. Right But and so you want a high percentage most companies have about 25% of their employees are in that category. And you want that up around 70 80% if you can get it and the point that I’m making and I leave this topic is is that the ones that are not performing that you described it’ll kill the company kill the culture kill the processes, call those seed performers. Just in the top grading vernacular there is a risk of flight on the a guy’s because the a guy’s see the the lower performers and they’re having to pick up the slack. Right Oh, somebody called in sick or they were late for a meeting or they missed the meeting or I’m in a coaching session yesterday with the CEO. She was all distraught about this person that continues to forget about meetings. And Paul I know that would that would scratch an itch of yours.
I was gonna say For me, for me, I’ll tell you what I’m what I’m hearing here is that your low performers can drive your a players out of your organization leaving holes in your organizational chart. So I think I’m not too far afield to say that if you leave the low performers in your organization without accountability, you could end up with a bunch of a holes in your org chart.
And with that, I think with the mention of a holes, that’s a perfect time
to in your org chart, mercial break,
yeah, in your org chart. So we’ll take a break in and here is a brief message from sound Financial Group and be right back.
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Hello and welcome back to your business your wealth with our special guest Michael Lang how Michael I’ve been wondering since the beginning of the the our conversation in our talk about books you’ve mentioned a couple and including why the recommend to CEOs but are there any that you Give away pretty regular any books that over the course of your career that have become your go twos for someone to, you know, you want them to read so much that you’re just going to give them a copy when they want to want to buy it.
right the the boxes of multiple books that I have in my, in other words, the buying box of 20 of one book that I’m handing out like business cards, I have several of those. And frankly, a couple of them are fairly recent, right? One has just been released. It’s a kind of sequel called get in the game by Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker. And that’s all about the great game of business, which is a whole framework and methodology out of Springfield, Missouri, a great company. They’re called Springfield, remanufacturing and jack stack who wrote the original book, The Great game of business. That’s one and just a quick, just a quick little story on that in that company just to add emphasis 10 cents invested in that company in 1983. Today is worth $7,000 10 cents. Today is worth $7,000. That that beats Buffett by a lot. In terms of growth, these guys have really got it. They’ve created a lot of wealth, a lot of millionaires, including some of the janitors in the place. They’re an Aesop employee stock ownership program, where they have their employees own a part of the company. It’s just it’s a terrific story. JACK has jack stack is is just in the process of releasing a new book. It’ll be released in January. And so we’re looking forward to that. But this is a good book, get in the game. And so I also like the three hag way which is Shannon Cisco. That book came out a couple of years ago, I think, maybe a year and a half ago strategy execution system out there, Shannon is a three time serial entrepreneur. Three successful exits in the book is about her, creating that those companies and creating massive amount of wealth in the process for her employees and also for herself and her investors. Shannon is a colleague of mine, she’s a coach in a wonderful speaker, author, great person. The other is exponential organizations by silly Miss male and exponential organizations is all about the whole concept of disruption. And in growing exponentially as opposed to linearly we’re oftentimes we think about linear growth. Where do we want to be in three years? Well, if I’m if I’m doing, you know, 20 million this year, then you know, three years from now I want to be doing 30 million or 40 million so says a linear sort of growth. Saleem has described a process to help us think through with 10 attributes of exponential growth, how to change that curve into a Rapid, rapid rising, rapidly rising exponential growth curve.
If I could, this might be a good time for a little gear change in our conversation to go on to disruption. You talked about exponential, and nearly any conversation, any conference you go to, we’re gonna they’re going to talk about disruption. What they talk about is how humans have such a difficult time. Actually, understanding exponential growth, like the doubling of a penny every day for 30 days, does not seem like it will end up at eight figures, but it does. So can you just talk a little bit about what you’re seeing in the way people maybe are not paying enough attention to disruption? And we’ll kind of dig into that topic and then leave. I think that’ll be it for this episode, because I think that’s going to be a bunch of meat on that bone.
Yeah, you’re right on that, Paul, and it’s probably worthy of, you know, of a series of podcasts. In fact, I’m thinking about Just doing just that with my podcast CEO brain food. But yeah, back to the concept of linear versus exponential. So we’re thinking about Uber, Airbnb, you know, these kinds of companies that are that are out there and and you know, you don’t have to be like that you don’t, you know, you don’t put their concepts and attributes that they utilized and they maybe they didn’t even realize they were utilizing them there was an organizer was just how it was done. I mean, the guys that started Airbnb, were looking for a place to stay, they couldn’t find one. So they crashed at a friend’s house and, you know, put up a bunch of air mattresses. today. They’re the largest hotel chain in the world, what, five years? 10 years. I mean, I don’t know, Airbnb wasn’t around 10 years ago, I don’t think and largest in the world. And they have no they have no hotels, they have no assets. So it’s a leveraging of assets, its staff on demand. How do you scale your company without any people think Uber Uber doesn’t have anybody working for them other than staff? Obviously, there’s a There’s a headquarter staff but for administrative, and probably DevOps and so on, but but their their basic, you know, service, which is disrupting the taxi industry, those people work for themselves, staff on demand algorithms, how do you take a process and make it better? How do you how do you speed things up? I mean, back to the Japanese, you know, 30 years ago when I was in Japan studying this, looking at process control. It was how do you get things maybe closer together to reduce the transportation in a manufacturing operation? Today, it’s all technology. It’s how do you leverage and grow exponentially using using algorithms. And these are being used now by by any company, small companies, I mean, easily can bring in algorithms, IoT, the Internet of Things, sensors, sensors are everywhere. And I can’t believe it. Every time I turn around in my car, I’ve got some noise going off, but there must be 30 or 40 sensors are probably way more than that. You know, think Tesla, you know In an automobile, you know, there’s something like I don’t know, 25,000 parts and an automobile produced in any manufacturing, Detroit or in, in Japan or in Germany stood guard all of the German automotive, there’s 25,000 parts, you know, and Elon Musk and his brilliance has come up with an automobile, which is really an app on wheels. And it’s got 17 parts. Hmm. And it took somebody from I mean, his interest was in developing a battery. He didn’t really want to make cars. He still wants to make batteries.
I’ll be darned Yes.
That’s the long play. I mean, it’s not the automotive, it’s the it’s the battery itself. So we see ourselves coming off the grid at some point, and having our own battery in our own home. And those are some of the things that you know that experimentation community and crowd interfaces think Apple App Store that’s an interface dashboards, look at your own business, you should be dashboard. For every key metric that you are, that you look at, to think about as a CEO in your business, or as an operations person, you know, there should be dashboards, I walk around these factories in these offices, and they’re blank walls. I mean, those are, those are billboards just waiting to be lit up with all sorts of, you know, data, we need to be looking at data more so.
And we, we even have a client that will take a little computer or like, whatever they’re calling the Raspberry Pi. And they will create mobile displays of business systems where all you have to do is send the Raspberry Pi to somebody at a different location with a monitor that they can go to Costco if they’re, you know, working out of their home or something. They go to Costco, buy a monitor, put it on their wall, plug this raspberry into it, all pre programmed, it’ll just get the company’s dashboards on that computer screen for that loan remote employee. It’s incredible. And I got to say something On the data front, Jordan, do you mind me telling you an audio? Okay, so Jordan, if you guys can’t hear it, He’s our video engineer in the background. Right before we began to record this episode, he was sharing with me that he requested all the information Google had on him. Now he’s not even 30 yet 12 and a half gig file. Well, well, and one was just location after location he was in. And Google’s interpretation of was he walking, running, or in a car at the time, like they have a. So when you talk about the amount of data somebody can have on your customers, are the things that they can use to either feed algorithms or things they can use to produce dashboarding. That at a minimum, getting some of those core systems in place in your business can make all the difference in the world, whether it’s your people systems, dashboarding systems, growth systems, all make a tremendous difference. I’d encourage everybody listening Get over, download an episode of CEO brain food you’ll get a sense of these different topics you could scroll through Michael does a great job of categorizing them. Also he has his consultancy laying out international incredible guide to sit down and have a session with whether you’re local here to Seattle area or somewhere across the country. He also works by zoom meeting and you can take a chance and enjoy a conversation with Michael and he’ll let you know upfront if you’re a fit or not a fit he’s very picky about who he contracts with in a good way. But he’s also really great at sending people off in a new direction with some new tools or resources they may not have had before So Michael I’m so glad you could be with us today.
Paul it’s an honor and I just really really appreciated the the time talking with you guys and and always do so looking forward to also hosting you, Paul on in Korea on on my podcast that you’ll bring food so thank you so much today.
Yep, we look forward to it. And everybody listening again encourage you to go check out CEO brain food. Don’t forget Get to leave us a rating and a review. If you send us that take a screenshot of it email into info at SF gwa.com. We will send you a free gift of sound financial advice or cape not required. Or if we catch Miranda in the right mood, she’ll send you both books. It just depends. And do not forget, Michael has a great giveaway for all of you listening today. That giveaway is his team functions worksheet if I saying it right, that’s right team functions worksheet. You can get that at CEO brain food calm or just email us info at SF GW a.com. And we’ll get it over to you and we’ll also have a link right in the description. We hope that this as always has been a contribution to you being able to design and build a good life.
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