Startup Then Scale Up with Verne Harnish and Emotional Equity with Simon T. Bailey

After teaching entrepreneurial teams for 30 years, Verne Harnish of Entrepreneurs’ Organization is telling people to startup then scale up. Most markets right now have many startups but less scale up. He shares that what’s important in business is your product or service that plays at a certain level of activity to differentiate you from the rest of the crowd. Which is why Verne helps companies pivot from being a lean startup to an agile scale up. When we focus on who we think we are instead of who we are, we are held back in business and in life. Simon T. Bailey explains the reason so many people refuse to shift is because they have emotional equity in the way they’ve always done things and people like being in their comfort zone. He shares that you can start to follow your calling when you realize that change doesn’t happen to you but through you.

TTL 174 | Startup Then Scale Up

We have Verne Harnish and Simon T. Bailey. Verne is a world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization Founder. He is the “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, a regular columnist for Fortune Magazine, and the list goes on and on. Simon T. Bailey has been called one of the top 25 people who will help you reach your business and life goals. He was voted Best Keynote Speaker Ever Heard.

Listen to the podcast here

Startup Then Scale Up with Verne Harnish

I am here with Verne Harnish, who’s the Founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premier CEO program, The Birthing of Giants, held at MIT. As Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with hundreds of partners on six continents, Verne has spent more than 30 years educating entrepreneurial teams. The “Growth Guy” as syndicated columnist, he’s also a regular columnist for Fortune magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits and, along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time, for which Jim Collins wrote the Foreword. Verne chairs Annual Growth Summits in North America, Europe, and Asia and continues to teach in the MIT-based executive program he founded. It’s nice to have you here, Verne.

I’m glad to be here.

We got to meet quickly at the Genius Network but I didn’t get a chance to talk to you, so I’m looking forward to this.

I am, too. That is always a fun event. Joe does a great job.

All the people there are amazing speakers and I definitely found it worthwhile. I was looking at some information on you. I found an introduction done by Jeff Hayzlett, which cracked me up, when he introduced you. I love Jeff because I’m on the C-Suite Radio. He got so excited in his introduction to you and I can see why. You’re an interesting guy.

That was a crazy speech. I was more scared for that presentation than any I’ve ever been in my life because that was in front of several thousands of my peers. That was the National Speakers Association and I was opening keynote for their money day. Jeff was the host and I was so nervous. We knocked it out of the park and I’ll be heading up their million-dollar roundtable. I and Shep Hyken are going to be leading that at the NSA Conference.

That’s a great group of people. I’m part of NSA and I know Jeff well. I found all this stuff that you were talking about there and I found a web cast or a webinar you did. I learned a lot from you. I’ve taught more than a thousand business courses, and when I listen to you, I’m thinking, “I wish this guy could be in my courses.” I was fascinated by how you say we need to own words and you said you are known by certain words, the “Growth Guy” for example. You said people don’t search by those terms. I am curious what you mean by we need to own our terms? How do we choose our words? How do we pick those words?

That is the essence of brand. My wife gave birth to our first son, Cameron, 21 years ago. She wanted us to get the safest automobile and we bought a Volvo. Now I’ve got a great driving machine, which is a BMW. Those two words have driven all of their design and messaging and strategy around only those. In fact, you can go out and book a driving experience. Google owns the word, besides Google, “Search.” They took it from Yahoo and Yahoo never recovered. They never repositioned themselves in your mind.

The idea of the two words is very simple. To me the most important strategy question ever is popularized by Harvard’s Clayton Christianson, the biggest strategist there is, “What is the job your product or service is ultimately doing for the customer?” In Volvo, it is to keep us safe. For Google, it’s to search. Tim Ferriss made it big by owning two words “four-hour.” The late Stephen Covey has “seven habits.” Most people in their companies never get around to owning that clearly a word or two in the minds of enough of the market to establish brand. The reason you want brand is it gives you unbelievable pricing power which raises revenue. It reduces your marketing costs, and so your margins are a lot thicker, which is why it’s important.

What I mentioned is I own the “Growth Guy.” You know you own a word or two if you search it within a wall because it is geo-specific. You might just be the best family Italian restaurant in San Antonio and that’s great, and folks in San Antonio will search that. If I’m in Austin, I’m not going to find you necessarily, so geo-specific. In my case, anywhere in the world I’d put in the “growth guy,” I pop high, if not at the top, but it doesn’t matter because nobody searches for it. As I was joking around with Jeff, “When was the last time somebody sat around and said, ‘I’m looking for growth guy unless it was Viagra-related?’” A friend of mine who I’m literally writing about at this moment, I am re-editing Scaling Up, and he runs one of the top search engine marketing (SEM) firms in the world for high-end organizations. He can optimize 150 million keywords. I had his help and we figured out the two words that we do want to own. I can let you know now because we’ve gotten the trademarks back on it. It was inspired by Eric Ries. Eric has done something amazing with this whole lean startup. In fact, the term “lean startup” is searched more than the term “startup,” which is a huge success.

We clearly are in the scale-up space. We think scale-ups are the hot thing versus startups. Everyone’s making that pivot, realizing we have plenty of startups. What we need is more scaleups. I own scaling up. I was able to snatch that away from Professor Sutton at Stanford, but it’s not searched as much as the term scaleup. You can’t own scaleup any more than anyone can own automobile. I had to figure out a word to put in front of it, like Eric put lean in front of startup. We settled on the term “agile.” We see companies pivoting from being a lean start up to an agile scale-up, and that is the title of what’s going to be my new book, The Agile Scaleup. We hope that we can make it as popular as lean startup. I can say it now because we’ve nailed down registered marks for those two words.

That’s interesting. It’s fascinating how you came up with that because right now I am dealing with my book title since I’m writing about curiosity. You pull up the Mars rover stuff, the Mars curiosity. How do you pick a word that’s been overused?

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Startup Then Scale Up: There is a search engine marketing firm on practically every corner on the planet.

You get about owning it. We were talking with a friend of mine, Robert Cialdini who owns the term influence. He is the father of that and Jeff Sutherland for the term scrum. It is better if you can put a word in front of it. A lot of us that are in the service business, what’s more important is to brand our unique way of delivering on our service. Real differentiation occurs at the level of activity, it’s how you go about the business. Southwest Airlines goes about the airline industry radically different from all the other airlines. I want to come back to my buddy, Gauss & Neumann, with this SEM. There is a search engine marketing firm on practically every corner on the planet, but he decided to take a unique physics analytics approach to SEM. Rather than optimizing 150, 1,500, or 150,000, they optimize 150 million keywords.

He had a tough way of describing that and so, long story short, we coined the term MASK marketing instead of mass marketing. MASK stands for massive array of structured keywords. He’s created an entire new category within the SEM space, and because he created the category, he owns it and it gives him a nice way then to brand. “What do you guys do?” “We do MASK marketing” instead of mass marketing. Rackspace did the same thing with their fanatical support. SAPIEN had this unique approach to designing software. They utilize a process called Quad, and so I encourage particularly service firms. Product companies name everything. Service firms fail to and that is a fatal mistake.

It’s interesting to look at branding and all the challenges when you’re talking about scaling. I worked with Bruce Rogers at Forbes when I created a brand publishing course when I was MBA Program Chair at Forbes School of Business. We were talking to all these CMOs, their biggest frustration other than trying to figure out all the providers and how they can all talk to one another was how to get messages out, to do it at scale, to reach your customers in a very personalized way was scaling up. I’m sure that’s what you deal with on a daily basis. Do you hear that is the biggest issue?

That’s why it’s critical, as David Meerman Scott says, “You are what you publish.” Once you know your word or two, the first thing that Alberto and his team created was a white paper called MASK versus mass marketing because people want to be educated, not sold. It’s a little bit like Joe Polish‘s buyer’s guide that he created for the carpet cleaning industry, and then my wife created a buyer’s guide for her olive oil business. She’s fed up with the crappy olive oil that’s been dumped on the American public. She wants to educate them on what is quality healthy olive oil of which 99% of Americans have never even tasted or experienced. She brought over a top olive oil that’s won every taste award you can imagine. We were doing a fun tasting with a group of EO members in Philadelphia and it opened up their eyes. We then worked with Joe to put together a buyer’s guide. She doesn’t want to sell; she wants to educate. Through that education, she’s able to get the word out about her olive oil and in general great olive oils that people might be able to purchase. It’s an education process not a sales process.

When you talk about all the different things when we’re talking about sales and reaching customers with our products, I’ve taught a lot marketing courses where we talked about the Ps and now you talk about the Es of marketing, which I thought was fascinating. When you talk about price of a product, you say that a lot of us give away our products when we should be charging more. How do know if your pricing properly and if you’re giving it away?

Part of it is to test it. We spend so much time on the cost side of our business. We need to watch costs but I prefer to push that down to some of the other people in my organization. What I need to spend more time is on the price side. The reason it’s hard to get price right is we’re dealing with these irrational beings called humans. Richard Thaler got his Nobel Prize a few months ago in Behavioral Economics because he proved us human beings are not rational. Pricing is critical and the only way for you to know is to test it. You look at Amazon and not that I don’t look at my book ten times a day and see how it is priced. The pricing of a book changes regularly. It’s varied from $15 and changed to $21 and changed just over the last few weeks. That’s because Amazon understands how to monitor the man and then throttle price accordingly. The poor regular retailers competing with Amazon stick a sticker on their item and don’t change until they have to discount it and it puts them at a tremendous disadvantage.

A side note, I’ve got a good friend Larry Gilbert‘s company, Event Network. We’ve helped them scale 10X. They manage the retail stores for tourist attractions, things like museums and aquariums. They’re good at what they do, but not the retail side. Larry manages that and he’s the biggest now in North America and Europe. One of the things he went out to do is said, “Store managers, take your ten best-selling items and let’s raise the price 10% every week until we see demand fall off,” and he got to 80%. He didn’t go raise price to 80%, but he realized the amount of money he was leaving on the table.

One last example, B2D. I was back at a reunion of this MIT program that I founded and still get to teach in. One of the student CEOs had a product that was mission critical to large companies and solve the major problem that they face. It was a software offering that was about $30,000 and he couldn’t sell one of them. He finally went out himself and talk to some customers and said, “You got a big problem.” They’re like, “We seem to have an elegant solution.” They go, “We agree. Why aren’t you buying my software?” and they said, “Because it’s only $30,000. We’ve got budgeted 10x to solve and we don’t trust that you can solve it for that little money and/or that you’ll be here at that price in order to support it.” He went and 10X’ed the price literally to $300,000 and he can hardly now support them as fast as they’re selling the solution. In general, because most entrepreneurs thought they had to give it away to get into business, they never lost that habit. We do recommend that people begin to study up on pricing, particularly Hermann Simon’s book, Confessions of The Pricing Man. Correct pricing is critical.

I’ve talked to Ford Saeks a lot about this because he’s always getting mad at me for giving away stuff too much. I am wondering if we’ll see more uber-surging pricing like Amazon is doing. Do you think that that’s the future that we’ll see them tying more into what the demand is?

One of the most egalitarian and companies on the planet moved to demand-based pricing and that’s Disney on more ticket price. They realized that they need to use pricing to regulate the flow through the parks so that people have a better experience. It doesn’t do any good if too many people are there anyway. In Hermann Simon‘s book, my favorite case study is the London Olympics. Rio was absolutely a boss to the tune of about $2 billion. I don’t think we have numbers yet out of South Korea, but London generated more revenue than the three previous Olympics combined, more revenue than the three previous Olympics combined, and they were fairly well run.

One of the big differences was pricing. They had an interesting thing. They had what was called price your age, so if you’re between zero and eighteen, if your parents wanted to bring you and you were only four, you only had to pay £4. You didn’t have to pay £50, which was the typical tier. You got a child price, adult price, and then the senior price. They had it unless it was one of the big events. For third round fencing, if you’re four, you pay £4. If you’re eleven, you’re paying £11. This was seen as seen as very fair, yet no four and eleven-year-olds are going to go without your parents who are still paying £100 for an adult ticket, but psychologically they didn’t care because essentially their children got to come for free, yet the average price would be over £50 a seat for some minor event that was like a ghost town in Rio but absolutely packed in London. All kinds of organizations are understanding the importance, including business to business, of offering variable pricing based on demand.

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Startup Then Scale Up: The reason it’s hard to get price right is we’re dealing with these irrational beings called humans.

I’m still thinking on the Disney thing. I remember when they had the e-ticket. This is all fascinating to me that everything’s changed so much of how everybody look at pricing. You deal with a couple different factors I wanted to bring up another discussion you had about finding your right-hand guy or gal to drive things. I was fascinated by that discussion because I’ve talked to Rich Karlgaard about his work. He writes about teams and finding complementary people. We all know that was pretty important to Steve Jobs. How do you know if you’ve found the right number two guy or gal? If you are the number two person, how do you get known?

Probably more important to Steve Jobs was Tim Cook. Tim was the right guy that helps the scale and has continued to help scale the company after his passing and only chaired one function, that was marketing. Tim didn’t chair anything else. Tim made sure that 7 million iPhones were there on a Monday morning as people were standing in line, which is not easy. The execution side is what’s difficult.

Generally speaking, most entrepreneurs may be good, but they’re not that interested in the execution side. They want to stay on the strategy side and we consider marketing strategy equals strategy. Our recommendation and finding this right number two versus all the other functions that you need to fill is this has to be somebody that you’ve worked with in the past. The first thing I do is I sit an entrepreneur down and I say, “Let’s take a piece of paper and let’s sit here and brainstorm who of all the people that you’ve worked with in the past, including existing customers, suppliers, advisors, people that you interact with as part of your existing business that has shown this operational excellence. Could you convince them to come on over to your side? It can be a former employee who left, made it big in, and wants to come back. It could be somebody that you are growing up inside the organization, but it’s likely somebody you worked with at a previous job or again, customer, supplier, or someplace that you’re familiar with, and then you still need the test drive them.”

Somebody came to me and said, “What about the Google boys? They brought on Eric Schmidt to be CEO.” I thought, “I’ve been caught.” I went back and they smartly put Eric on the board for a year, and a year at Google is like dog years in any other company. They still test drove their relationship with him for a year before they moved into that number two spot. He was number one as CEO, but it was to help and groom Larry so he can then step in and be CEO as he is today at Google. That’s my strong advice. We’ve got a competitor who wrote a book about this and recommends going to a head hunter. 90% of the time, that blows up in your face unless you can work projects with him for several months and again test drive the relationship. Date before you get married.

That’s great advice. My most important question for you is you’re a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. What’s the best magic trick you can do?

I always loved the backstage illusion that was a copper David Copperfield standard because you invited the audience backstage to watch you do your magic. It’s like a double cross, which is why I love it. That’s the illusion that David Copperfield made popular.

I have seen him in. He’s great. I could watch your webinars that you give. You have great advice. I watch a lot of people talk a lot but they don’t tell you how to do things, but you give very specific advice. A lot of people would probably want to know how they could find out more about getting your new revised book and find out more about you.

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Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t (Rockefeller Habits 2.0)

The name of the book is Scaling Up. It’s easy, just go to There are all kinds of free resources there that you can take advantage of, including a couple of bonus chapters. You don’t have to buy the book to get them. One is on how to prepare and run strategic planning session, including a sample one-page strategic plan, one of the things that we’re most famous for. On a personal mission, we have what’s called the one-page personal plan. You can download it for free. Even the instructions that come out of the book are there available at no cost. One thing I encourage folks to do is sign up for my weekly insights, no cost, where I put out what I hope are practical ideas, like I’ve been sharing here that individuals and companies can use to continue to scaleup.

Verne, this was so helpful and wonderful to finally talk to you a little bit more in depth. Thank you so much.

Thank you for spreading the word. I appreciate it.

Emotional Equity with Simon T. Bailey

I am here with Simon T. Bailey, who’s been called one of the top 25 people who will help you reach your business and life goals through practical advice and specific tactics by Success Magazine. He joins a list that includes Oprah Winfrey, Brené Brown and Tony Robbins. His expertise focuses on change, leadership, and customer experience. He’s worked with more than 1,500 organizations in 45 different countries. As an innovator, educator, executive advisor, speaker, and author, he shapes the lives of men and women around the world. It’s so nice to have you here, Simon.

Thank you for having me. It’s good to be with you.

It is good to have you here. I was having a lot of fun watching some of your videos. You have a great laugh. I love it when people have fun when they’re doing what they’re doing. You seem to you enjoy what you do.

I absolutely love it. Any day you can wake up in a vertical position, it’s a good day.

I was watching a few of your talks and you talk about experiencing breakthroughs, how we have to become creators. I thought that was an interesting place to start. Before we get to that, for anyone who has been living under a rock, can you just tell them a little bit about your background of how you got to be this level of success?

I grew up in Buffalo, New York. Mom and dad dropped me off at Morehouse College. At the end of my freshman year at college, they said, “We don’t have the money to send you back to college nor do we have money to bring you back home to Buffalo, but we do love you.” I did quite feel the love. I eventually did go back to college and finished my undergrad and finished my master’s degree. I was just on the ten-year plan. Professionally, I worked for six different companies, ten different jobs. Last I was Sales Director for the Disney Institute and decided about fifteen years ago and that it was time for me to answer three questions which became the foundation of my work. What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail? What would I do if no one paid me to do it? What makes me come alive? When I answered all those questions, it led me to this work that I’m doing now.

I loved your talk when you were mentioning what you did to get next to somebody important at Disney. Do you want to tell that story?

Whenever you join Disney, you receive an invitation to the inner office and have breakfast with the President and it’s a pretty big deal. The invitation said, “Arrive at Disney Beach Club Resort at 7:30 AM” on a particular day. Being the eager beaver that I was back then, I got there at 6:45 AM. I noticed that my name card wasn’t next to the President, so what would you do if you were in my shoes? I looked and I plea the Fifth, mea culpa, but I did a little switcheroo because I was going to get ahead and I had to talk to the man. I said “How do I get ahead?” He said, “You need to know who you are. You need to know why you’re here.” I was like “Really? Is that it?”

When did you figure out who you were and why you were there?

It was probably about ten years later when it finally clicked. I wasn’t there to work a job because a job is just overboard. I was there to go to work.

You should have told him. He didn’t know he was there because you moved him around a little at the table. You have a lot of stuff that is of interest to me because I’m writing about curiosity. A lot of what you tie into and what you talk about is so much about what we want to do and how we can develop what we want to do. So many people are just held back, don’t you think?

Yes, totally. I often tell people, it’s not who you are that holds you back. It’s who you think you’re not that holds you back. Sometimes we focus on who we think we’re not instead of who we are.

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Startup Then Scale Up: It’s not who you are that holds you back. It’s who you think you’re not that holds you back.

How do you change that thinking?

It’s three things. Number one, you have to identify what’s right about you. So many times the world doesn’t see you as you are. They see you as they are. People put you in a box. The second thing is you have to upgrade your verbal software because language is the software of the mind. If you drill down, there are probably 200 to 300 words that we use on an ongoing basis, so our words create worlds. How do we begin to shift the world we want? It’s by examining the words we use. The third thing we have to do is recognize that whoever has your ear has your life. Sometimes you can have 50 x 60 dream or vision, but you are associating with people that have 8 x 10 thinking. You have to surround yourself with a new surround sound of thinking to help you elevate your next dimension.

I heard a lot of agreement with that. When I was at the Genius Network and a lot of people there, I don’t know if you get go to Joe Polish’s events, but they talk about that. If you’re just associating with people who aren’t as successful, you can’t break outside the box. You talk about something called emotional equity. I thought that was an interesting way of putting it that we don’t follow our calling because we have emotional equity in what we do. What does that mean exactly?

Sometimes the reason people don’t shift is because they have emotional equity in the way they’ve always done it. It’s comfortable, it’s safe, and the moment you take me out of my comfort zone, what you discover is that change doesn’t happen to you; it moves through you. Sometimes change does not move through you because something has happened and you build a story around what’s happened, and the story becomes bigger than the breakthrough or the change you need to make. That emotional equity is what’s safe, what’s easy, this is what there is now. That also creates a scarcity mindset instead of an abundant mindset. If you notice, the road to scarcity is packed but the road to abundance is there’s few because not everybody comes from that mindset. In understanding our emotional equity, we have to be open to taking the risk and letting go so that we can let it come.

That’s important, too. It can be boring to live without doing that. So many people just exist rather than live. A lot of it is emotional because, as you said, 70% of human decision-making is emotional and 30% is rational. We put ourselves into these boxes because that’s the way it has always been. You said something important with your 15, 7, 30, 90 routine. Can you share that with people? What you think people should be doing to improve and making an emotional commitment to change?

Everyone can carve out fifteen minutes a day to get better and chucking that fifteen minutes down into three five-minute segments. The first five minutes is to meditate. Just get quiet. Just quiet the mental clutter. Secondly, read or listen to something that inspires you. That second five minutes, you have to breathe life into your life. Then the third five minutes, stretch and get aligned with the day. Physiologically, you’re aligned with what’s going to happen that day. Fifteen minutes creates seven days a week. Seven days a week creates 30 days. 30 days creates 90 days. We want people to begin to consider living their lives in quarters, every 90 days assess, “How did I get there?” or reverse engineer, “What have you done the last 30 or60?” What have you done in the last seven days? What have you done with fifteen minutes a day?”

Anytime you can break it down like that and take a look at what you do. A lot of people want to have it spelled out like that and that was important. I have so many students. I’ve taught more than a thousand business courses. In every single course, we talk about setting smart goals and different things. If you can make things measurable for people like that, it is so important. You’ve created courses on what used to be Lynda. That’s LinkedIn now. What are your courses about?

One of my big courses is building business relationships because relationships are the currency of the future. In that course, I teach you how to build relationships inside the company with your manager, with your peers, with other departments, with senior executives. We’ve heard “love makes the world go round” but relationships get the work done. It’s done through relationships. So many times, people focus on being the smartest person in the room only to realize things are done with relationships. That’s the first one. Then the second course that I just uploaded on LinkedIn is how to find a sponsor. We often have been taught that everybody needs a mentor and that’s great, but you need a person that’s going to wear your brand t-shirt in the board room or in those closed-door meetings when you’re not around. That’s a sponsor.

I’ve been hearing a lot more about sponsors versus mentors or coaches lately. That’s important now, especially with social media and all these ways of people getting known. The focus has changed so much in your relationships that you are talking about. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on emotional intelligence. It was fascinating to me at the time, and now it’s everywhere. Think of how many people get fired for their behaviors. They’re hired for their knowledge and then drive everybody crazy, and that’s it. Do you think that we need more training on soft skills?

Soft skills are so underrepresented in the workplace. People can have the technical and intellectual ability to take them to the top, but only their soft skills and relationships will keep them there.

I don’t see a lot of people getting the training that they need in the corporate environment or even in universities, do you think?

I encourage people all the time to create a personal Board of Directors made up of three to five individuals who have a different core competency that will challenge them intellectually to grow. It’s just so imperative.

That’s a good idea. We did a little bit of that when I was in the MBA Program at Forbes. We would set up our own Board of Advisors that would handle helping us with our classes and stuff. How do you pick a sponsor?

Three things. Number one, you have to be known for the work you do. Performance is the price of freedom. If a person performs well and their work speaks for itself, they don’t have to find a sponsor; the sponsor will already know about them. Secondly, identify who are the movers and shakers in the organization, what projects are they working on, and how can you position yourself to get assigned to that project. When you have that visibility, that sponsor will see you through a different light and that gives you a leg up in the game of life. The third thing to think about is look at your sponsor’s LinkedIn profile. What is it that he or she has done to get to the top of the food chain or wherever they might be in the organization? What can you then figure out about them so if you bumped into them in the elevator or if you send them a handwritten note, you’re doing it from a personal standpoint? Because there’s something that you know about them that they’re like, “How did they know that?” That’s how you get noticed by a sponsor.

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Startup Then Scale Up: Performance is the price of freedom.

Can you have a sponsor that’s not within your organization? I’ve had plenty of people sponsor me when I’ve worked with organizations, but say your work as an individual, does it work to get you into other areas outside of your own company or is that just within the company that you’re focusing?

No. In fact, the whole reason why I got to or LinkedIn Learning was because of an outside sponsorship. A dear friend of mine who lives in Montecito, California said to me one day, “Do you know Lynda?” and I said, “No.” She said, “The next time you’re out here, you got to meet Lynda,” so literally at her private country club, I meet the Lynda of, and it was because of an outside sponsorship that literally fast-tracked me into Lynda. Lynda took me to a company, took me on a tour. All I remember was 500 22-year-old young people running around, and I’m like, “I got to be a part of this.” It was an outside sponsor that opened the door.

It’s always interesting when you find out that there is the person named whatever the site is. When I had Craig Newmark on my show, people go, “There’s a Craig behind Craigslist?” I go, “Yeah, there is a Craig,” and so there is a Lynda. Lynda did pretty well with LinkedIn taking over.

Lynda and Bruce did very well. Bruce is her husband.

What is she doing now?

She’s doing a lot of film projects. She’s getting involved with the film industry there in Southern California. They’re doing a lot of philanthropic things as well.

That’s what Craig’s doing, a lot of philanthropic things. I guess that’s what happens when you have a very successful spin-off of your company or sell-off.

It didn’t happen overnight. It was twenty years in the making for them.

There are a lot of them that take a long time. You talk to a lot of different organizations being an amazing speaker. Are those the type of companies that you talk to? What’s your favorite topic when you go into these organizations?

My favorite topic when I go into a corporation is to talk about how we lead in the midst of uncertainty. That’s a topic that they request. Another popular topic is how do you embrace change and to think about change. I work with small companies, 100 people or less all the way up to your Googles of the world. It’s a great experience. I go there to teach and to share but I always learn. I’m a forever student.

I’m with you. You can never learn too much. Leaders always need to be growing. You had a comment I liked, you said “The real job of a leader is to invite people on a journey to discover themselves while they follow you.” That was very insightful. Do you think that we’re seeing more of that than the old mad men days? Are we coming around to inviting people on a journey?

It all depends on the context. It depends on the desire and the hunger of leaders. There are two different spectrums. There are leaders that are narcissistic unfortunately. Individuals will not work for those leaders long. Then there are leaders who are tapping into that deeper area. They are becoming very self-aware. To borrow a little bit of your work and your dissertation around emotional intelligence, they are becoming aware of their areas where they have failed because whatever you don’t deal with will eventually deal with you. I’ve been in counseling for the last fifteen months, at least once a month on a sofa with Anita, my therapist. Anita has been counseling for 37 years. She has more degrees than a thermometer. She challenged me to look in the mirror and deal with my unfinished business. I believe leaders of the future are going to be those leaders who understand how not just to communicate but to connect.

You said something about failure. It’s important that we use failure as feedback. A lot of people forget how important it is. To me, it’s just a teaching tool. Don’t you think?

I was interviewing the CEO of a company, and I said “What do you do?” He said “Every quarter week, we give out the failure award.” I went back and I checked with him and I said, “How’s the failure award going?” He said, “We changed it. We give out a new award every quarter. It’s called Fail Faster Award.”

There’s so much to be learned. I go to a lot of meetings, like Forbes’s summit, and I saw a lot more company leaders up there saying they don’t look at failures so bad anymore. They look at it as a learning experience, especially with millennials and all the different groups, trying to get everybody to see how we can improve. Do you get a lot of people requesting you to talk about generational conflict at all? Is that something you hear a lot of problems with?

I do, but I have a different take on it specifically as it relates to millennials because I’m a Generation X-er. When I hear people talk about millennials, they make him sound like an alien. I remind boomers and X-ers that you were just like them when you were at their age. In light of social media, everybody puts a label on them. There might be some distinct characteristics, but if we look back when you were a millennials age, you were probably just like them.

Every generation sees a problem with the next one. It’s fun because I do a lot of speaking as well, and I talk about generations and soft skills and all of the stuff we’re talking about here. You see a lot of these misconceptions out there that are not fair. If we look at what we have more in common, there’s a lot. It’s a fun thing to talk to organizations about it because I think that there’s a lot that can be improved insofar as that goes. What I was fascinated about was your finding your true calling and all the stuff that you talked about in that respect. How does somebody find their true calling?

It starts with the question of “What problem have I been created to solve?” That is the most important question a person can answer in search of their calling. When I began to see myself through the lens of a problem-solver, I would begin to recognize that the reason I wasn’t born in the 18th century is because I wasn’t needed. I exist now in the 21st century to solve a specific problem. For those who are looking for their calling, what’s that problem you’ve been created to solve? This question is a question. It doesn’t matter how old you are. I say to my two teenagers, “What problem have you been created to solve?” For a long time, I was asking them the wrong question and the question was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Wrong question. It’s “What problem have you been created to solve?” because that’s what the workforce needs. That’s what the world needs, problem-solvers.

My husband thinks it’s funny because I always say, “I think I was born too soon because I’m always so interested in things that will happen way in the future and I’m so bummed that I’m going to miss them.” I love sci-fi stuff and all that. I’m very fascinated in what makes people curious and how to develop curiosity. Would you consider yourself a curious person? If you are, how did you get that way?


TTL 174 | Startup Then Scale Up
Startup Then Scale Up: We have to snatch people out of their current reality and immerse them in a new experience.

I’m totally curious. I have a question about everything. It starts with being a blank sheet of paper and understanding intellectual humility. Intellectual humility simply means that you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but you become open for what wants to emerge and you begin to ask questions. From the moment you ask a question, it immerses you on a quest to discover what wants to emerge. A person who is curious is comfortable in saying, “I don’t know what I don’t know,” and they’re open.

You probably meet a lot of people who have so many fears on what holds them. How do you get somebody to be more curious?

First of all, I take people out of their comfort zone. The second thing, people who are normally nonfiction readers say, “How about if we read fiction and what can we discover there?” Totally flip it on them. The third thing is, when people leave work or they leave their place of business, they always drive home the same way. What if we challenge people to vuja de, go the opposite way, find another way home, and what do you discover along the way? Then you begin to see signs and things that were always there but you never noticed them. It’s like when you buy a car and you drive off the parking lot, and you notice all the other cars that were just like yours. It’s the whole reticular activating system, but you never noticed it before. It’s because you were in your own world. We have to snatch people out of their current reality and immerse them in a new experience. I’ll give you an example. I went on my first missions trip to the Dominican Republic. What I didn’t know is that there are over 1 million children in the Dominican Republic that live below the poverty line. It was a huge epiphany for me. I was so curious. I had so many questions. You take people out of the comfort zone.

You talked about zones a lot. I was noticing that you were talking about the Zone of Brilliance. How do you get into that?

You’ve got to find your calling. Once you find your calling, you find your voice. When you find your voice, you find your confidence. When you find your confidence, you find your people.

I could see why you were voted Best Keynote Speaker Ever Heard or Used by Meetings & Conventions magazine. That’s pretty impressive by the way. You do a lot of fascinating things. It’s great that you say we need to discover our rhythm. If you could just give a lot of helpful tips, I’m sure you probably offer a lot of stuff on your site and people are fascinated by what you do. Can you share how people can find out more about you?

Just go to Everything’s right there.

What are you working on next?

We’re getting ready to launch a retreat. We believe that small is the new big. It’s only going to be for 50 people and we’re going to go deep. It’s going to be a three-day intensive. My goal is not just to be a talking head, but we’re going to facilitate a deeper learning experience. I’m not bringing in all these different speakers and everything. It’s just going to be myself and maybe one other person. We’re going to do some interactive learning experiences. Stay tuned for deeper living. It’s going to be a fantastic time.

Where is this going to be?

It’s going to be in Orlando, Florida. It’s going to be a three-day intensive. The outcome is for people to walk away with a strategic life plan.

Simon, thank you so much. This was a lot of fun.

Thank you for having me.

Thank you so much, too, Verne and to Simon. Both of you are just amazing in your fields and I have had such fortune to be able to have such amazing guests.

If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can find them at If you go to the site, you can listen to them on through the radio link or you can read them on the blog links. That’s something new we’re doing, which is nice because there’re links to all the books and all the people we talk about on the show and you can find them on the website. If you’re interested in reaching me about some of the things I do, I’m doing a lot more panel moderating in addition to my speaking and consulting. You can reach me through the site. I’m happy to talk to you about that. I’m doing a lot more work on my book about curiosity, so very fascinated to hear people’s input. Anybody who wants to contact me can contact me through the site. I’d love to hear your input on what makes you curious, what’s a changed your opinion of things that maybe you didn’t want to do in the past, and now you’re more interested in experimenting with great jobs and different adventures. I’m always fascinated by what drives people.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and I hope you join us for the next episode of take Take the Lead Radio.


About Verne Harnish

TTL 174 | Startup Then Scale UpVerne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and chaired for 15 years EO’s premier CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants”, held at MIT. Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with hundreds of partners on six continents, Verne has spent more than 30 years educating entrepreneurial teams. The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also a regular columnist for Fortune magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits and, along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time, for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. Verne chairs annual Growth Summits in North America, Europe, and Asia and continues to teach in the MIT-based executive program he founded.


 About Simon T. Bailey

TTL 174 | Startup Then Scale UpSimon T. Bailey has been called one of the top 25 people who will help you reach your business and life goals through practical advice and specific tactics by Success Magazine. He joins a list that includes Oprah Winfrey, Brene Brown, and Tony Robbins. His expertise focuses on change, leadership, and customer experience. He’s worked with over 1,500 organizations in 45 different countries. As an innovator, educator, executive advisor, speaker, and author, he shapes the lives of men and women around the world.

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