Getting Rocks Right

Entrepreneurial Freedom, Issues, Process, Vision

Setting great Rocks is one of the most difficult and misunderstood elements of the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®), but getting them right is the difference maker to ensure you achieve your business goals. 

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Less But Better

Entrepreneurial Freedom, Process, Team Health, Traction

Are you spread too thin? Do you feel like you’re spinning your wheels? You may be a victim of the Paradox of Success.

It was Socrates who said, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” I remember as a child observing my parents, and as I reflect back on those days, a piece of me longs for the simplicity.

My father was a very successful entrepreneur. Born in 1927 and growing up dirt poor in Chicago following the Great Depression, my father went on to build multiple successful businesses, chair multiple boards and foundations, and was honored both with the High Point University baseball field carrying his name and being voted High Point, North Carolina’s 1987 Citizen of the Year. He was a great philanthropist and accomplished a great deal.

But every evening he would come home from work around 6:00 pm and watch the news. At 7:00, we would have dinner at the dining room table as a family…and talk. We traveled often. In the summertime after dinner, he and I would throw the baseball or football until dark, and in the winter months, we would watch TV as a family or just talk. He never stayed up late working after I went to bed. He never missed a game because he was too busy. Success did not require busyness in the 1970s and 80s—nor does it need to today.

I recently turned 49. He was 44 when I was born. In the passing of a generation, so much has changed. Our work follows us home because we are constantly connected. If we don’t make an effort, our family time is overrun by screens. Even on our weekends, we get lured into checking email. And with our family, we rarely, as Mr. Miyagi said in Karate Kid, “Look eye!”

Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day…” Touché.

The Paradox of Success

In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, author Greg McKeown describes a “paradox of success.”

With success come opportunities and more options. But these options and opportunities often distract us and lure us away from what is truly vital in our life. Oh the temptations…I have heard their siren songs many times, and wrote about it in my Amazon Best Selling book, RISE: The Reincarnation of an Entrepreneur. Our clarity begins to fade. We take on too much and find ourselves juggling too many things. No longer able to go a mile in one direction, we find ourselves fighting to go barely an inch in a million directions.

Ultimately, our success becomes the foundation of our failure.

Less but Better

Finding your way to a life based on the idea of less but better will yield three significant outcomes: more clarity, more control, and more joy.

More Clarity

One way to begin the process of shedding the things that have become distractions is to think about the handful of things in your life that are truly vital. For me, it is time with my wife, connection with my adult sons, travel, time for health and fitness, time for living my faith, and time for helping others. What are yours?

Once you know the answer, you can begin to make a list of all the things you pack into a day, a week, a month, and a year. Of the things on that list, which of them actually increase your capacity to spend time on what is vital and which things on the list detract from the same? Start small, but start. Begin the process of saying “no” and shedding the things that are taking away from your time to focus on what is vital.

When you do this, as Greg McKeown says, “Every day it becomes more clear than the day before how the essential things are so much more important than the next most important thing in line.”

More Control

As you continue to shed the distractions, you will find that fewer people have control over your time and your life, and instead, you become increasingly in control. If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else surely will.

More Joy

When you are able to focus with clarity on the handful of things that are vital in your life, you will find yourself more focused in the moment. Free from distraction, you will be able to live life more fully. It was the Dali Lama who wrote, “If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness.”

I think he is right.

Next Steps

Learn more about how The TRACTION Hub can help you and your organization clarify, simplify, and achieve your vision. Schedule a discovery call to see if EOS® and The TRACTION Hub are a good match for your organization.

Written by Michael Erath, Master Facilitator, Certified EOS Implementer™, Best-Selling Author and Founder of The Traction Hub

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Hard Word Doesn’t Always Work

Entrepreneurial Freedom, Issues, People, Team Health

Hard work is an inherent part of what makes every entrepreneur tick. It’s that mindset telling us if we just keep working harder and harder we can accomplish anything. It’s true — but only to a point.

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Scale Up Faster By Slowing Down

Entrepreneurial Freedom, Process, Traction

When you drive your car, do you keep the engine redlined, ignore the warning lights on the dash, and turn up the radio so you don’t hear the noises coming from somewhere underneath? My hope is that you don’t. So why do so many entrepreneurs do exactly those things when driving their business and trying to scale up?

I may be dating myself, but for those of us who learned to drive a manual transmission, you know that in order to shift gears smoothly you have to ease off the throttle. If you have ever driven on icy, slick roads, you know that if you lose traction, you have to slow down to regain your grip.

Running a business is no different. I was recently facilitating an EOS® quarterly off-site with a leadership team of a growing business. They had just opened their second location and their big goal, or Core Target™ as we call it in the EOS® world, was to systemize the model and scale up to 20 locations by 2025. Their Visionary owner had been passionately driving toward that goal since we met.

But there was a problem. They were running into customer-service issues, having trouble hitting numbers, not communicating well, and struggling to define and document their Core Processes.

As we began to dig deeper into what the underlying issues truly were, to a person, the Leadership Team members all admitted to being stretched well beyond their capacity. To use the analogy above, they were all redlined and the Visionary owner still had her foot on the gas and the pedal to the floor. They needed to speak up and just say no to grow.

I was eventually able to push the team to the point of being 100% open and honest with the Visionary about the aggressive drive to the Core Target™ and how they were struggling to scale up while the engine for their growth sputtered and skipped as it needed a tune-up. After some very open discussions, the Visionary began to have a revelation.

We transitioned into a conversation about what it would look like to take a breath for the next 6-12 months, focus on fine-tuning the engine and letting growth happen organically, and then, only after the engine was rebuilt and ready, hitting the gas and going hard for the finish line.

With a fresh perspective from the Visionary and a much relieved and refocused Leadership Team, we refined their 3-Year Picture™ and 1-Year Plan, then set Rocks to focus on an alignment around solving their internal issues and tuning the business to scale up in years 2, 3, and beyond.

6 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Blow Your Engine

  1. Do we have the growth engine for our business well tuned and ready for the journey ahead?
  2. Do we have a clear structure in place, defining the flow of accountability to get us to the next level?
  3. Are all of the right people in the right seats?
  4. Does everyone in the organization share our Vision? Are we all 100% aligned?
  5. Is our Business Playbook (our Core Processes) defined, optimized, documented and Followed by All?
  6. Do we have good data and does everyone in the organization have a number?

As we closed our session at the end of the day, the feedback was unanimous. Everyone, including the Visionary, felt more confident and aligned. Even though the pace of external growth may slow for a few quarters, the pace of internal growth will explode. And when the internal growth is strong, this team will be well poised to scale up to their 2025 goal and may even blow it out of the water a few years early.

Next Steps

Written by Michael Erath, Master Facilitator, Certified EOS Implementer™, Best-Selling Author and Founder of The Traction Hub

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Just Say “No” to Achieve Growth

Entrepreneurial Freedom, Traction

Have you ever said yes to something and then regretted the commitment you made? If so, you’re normal. Saying no is difficult for two primary reasons, which I will share below. But being able to say no is essential in creating the capacity to say yes to, and to be successful at, what is truly important.

Many of the organizations I work with struggle with this, especially when it comes to turning down orders that are simply not a good fit for them. One particular example is from a printing and large-format graphics organization I have been working with for more than 5 years now. The company’s owners started in their garage in 2004, and today have built the company into a successful $10+ million busines. But it wasn’t without some bumps along the way.

In the early days, they were taking every order that came their way. It was always about finding a way to get to yes—and in those early days, doing so was critical to their survival. By the time we started working together, they had invested in very expensive large-format printing equipment and were capable of taking on very large projects. But their ability to achieve growth had flatlined and they were stuck.

One of the early issues we recognized that was holding them back and causing frustrations was that they were still saying yes to every job that came their way. It was a habit based on what allowed them to survive when they were a startup. When we began to look at the kind of work that was a good fit for the current business, they began to recognize that much of the work they were saying yes to included jobs that were too small to efficiently utilize their newer, higher capacity production model. What was a fit for them in startup mode was no longer a fit.

The end result was that by saying yes to the small projects they had survived on in the early days, but which now created inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and frustrations, they were essentially saying no to doing more of the kind of work that was a right fit for them in their current stage. When they began to say no to the smaller orders that didn’t fit, they created more capacity to go after the big jobs that did. They became more efficient, more profitable, and their growth rate accelerated.

Why Is “No” So Difficult?

There are two primary reasons that we find it difficult to say no. It requires deliberate courage and it creates awkwardness. In his book Essentialism, author Greg McKeown explains these two reasons why we struggle to just say no.

Deliberate Courage

We often say yes to things in an effort to avoid conflict, avoid disappointing others, or to give in to pressure. It takes a clear understanding of what is important and why in order to develop the clarity to know when to say no. With clarity and focus on the important things you will have to say no to by saying yes in the moment to something minor, the courage to say no to the trivial, or less than important, becomes easier to find.

Social Awkwardness

We have a natural tendency as humans to conform to what people expect of us. Psychologists refer to this as normative conformity, or “the conformity that occurs because of the desire to be liked or accepted” Deutsche and Gerrard (1955).

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and it is up to us to determine how we choose to allocate them. Have you ever been invited to something by a group of peers and said yes, even though it forced you to give up something of more value that you needed to do? Have you been asked to do something by a boss or colleague even though you did not have the capacity to do it without dropping something else?

Saying no actually brings us physical and emotional discomfort in these situations. What we have to pause and remember before answering these requests is whether to politely say no, and regret it for a moment, or begrudgingly say yes and regret it for days, weeks, months, or years.

Next Steps to Achieve Growth

I want to challenge you, before the end of the day today, to set aside 15 quiet minutes alone to think about all the important things you are not able to focus on because of the things to which you should have said no. Make a list of the three to seven things that are most important to you. The next time somebody asks you to do something, pause and ask yourself, “Will this harm my capacity to focus on the important few things?” If yes, then smile, and give them a polite, “No.”

To learn more about how The TRACTION Hub can help you and your organization clarify, simplify, and achieve your vision, contact us.

 

Written by Michael Erath, Master Facilitator, Certified EOS Implementer™, Best-Selling Author and Founder of The Traction Hub

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One Simple Key to a Strong and Healthy Visionary/Integrator Relationship

Entrepreneurial Freedom, Team Health

Are you running your business on EOS® (Entrepreneurial Operating System) but not yet getting the level of Traction® you had expected? Until your Visionary and Integrator™ start prioritizing their relationship, you won’t. Here’s one simple thing they can do to help your Leadership Team and your organization gain Traction®.

In my years as an EOS Implementer™, having helped more than 50 businesses Implement EOS® and gain Traction®, one of the top attributes I see in the most successful organizations I work with is a strong and healthy relationship between the Visionary and the Integrator™.

When the relationship is strong, the leadership team benefits and is able to cut through all the noise and solve their issues at the root quickly and efficiently. Their B.S. meter is well-tuned when the Visionary and the Integrator™ have a strong and healthy relationship.

When the relationship is weak, however, there is typically a lack of accountability, a damaging tolerance of people issues, and a lack of focus on building and implementing clearly defined and consistently followed processes to systemize the business.

Which of those best describes your organization?

If your Visionary/Integrator relationship is less than ideal, please make a renewed focus this quarter on the following key to a stronger and healthier relationship:

Hold a Regular, Calendared Same Page Meeting™ to Increase Traction®.

The Same Page Meeting™ is a special meeting designed to help the Visionary and Integrator™ in a company running on EOS® smoke out and resolve issues that weaken their relationship. Visionaries often feel that their ideas are not fully understood or being implemented. They often feel frustrated by slow progress, missed numbers or goals being off track and important things simply not getting done.

On the other hand, Integrators often feel like their Visionaries are too deep in the weeds – getting in their way as they attempt to run the day-to-day of the business, sending mixed signals to the troops as to whom they are directly accountable. At times Integrators feel unclear of the direction the Visionary wants to go, which leads to fits of starting and stopping and changing directions.

While the Visionary and Integrator™ may interact with each other on a near daily basis, if they are not taking time monthly, bi-weekly or even weekly to get out of the weeds, focus on their relationship, and look at things from the outside in, they will never effectively break this cycle.

Here is how I teach the Same Page Meeting™.

The most common cadence in the early years of the EOS® journey I have found to work well is bi-weekly for 2 hours. Ideally, you have to play around with the cadence until you find what works best for you. But as with your Level 10 Meeting™, what you must do is pick a day and time and block it on your calendar consistently.

Same Page Meeting™ Agenda:

1. Check In (Deeper check in than in the L-10 – this is a very important relationship and an important step): Ask each other questions like, “How are things going with you professionally? With family? Friendships? Personally, with time to focus on yourself? How balanced are you feeling?”

2. Build an Issues List on a whiteboard or flip chart:

a. Integrator asks Visionary: “Where do you feel frustrated/disconnected? Where do you feel like your vision is not being executed? Where do you feel that people don’t ‘get it’? What else has been keeping you up at night?” Use any other questions you can think of to pull out the issues.

b. Visionary asks Integrator: “Where do you feel unclear on my expectations? Where do you feel stuck? Where do you have people issues? Are you 100% certain we have clear expectations of each other? Are we communicating well? Do you feel like I am undermining your authority in any way?” Use any other questions you can think of to pull out the issues.

3. Build an Issues List from the responses to the above questions. Ask additional questions, if necessary, to get the issues out of your heads. Try to stay “on” the business and “on” the relationship more than “in” the business.

4. Prioritize and IDS™ the Issues until the list is clear.

5. Conclude: Recap any To-Do’s, close the loop with cascading messages and rate the meeting (1-10). You should both leave feeling clear and aligned. If not, talk about why and solve for that. If either of you feel the meeting was not a 9 or 10, ask what a 10 would have looked like and modify future meetings to increase value, always striving for a 10.

Being diligent and consistent with the Same Page Meeting™ will build trust, clarity and harmony at the helm of the organization and that alignment will naturally filter its way through the rest of the organization. In a family, if the parents are not on the same page and both pulling their weight, then the children suffer. Your business is no different. Increase Traction® by getting on, and staying on, the same page.

Next Steps

Visit the Process Optimizer™ website to learn more about the fastest and most efficient way to get your core processes documented, optimized and followed by everyone in your organization.

Written by Michael Erath, Master Facilitator, Certified EOS Implementer™, Best-Selling Author and Founder of The Traction Hub

 

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SMART Direction is now The TRACTION Hub

Entrepreneurial Freedom, Team Health

As I continue to focus on growing my company and expanding my firm’s offerings, I am excited to announce a rebranding from SMART Direction to The TRACTION Hub.

While SMART Direction will continue to operate, it will move into a “parent company” role and The TRACTION Hub will be the primary operating entity. The focus of The TRACTION Hub will expand beyond Heidi and I directly working with individual companies to implement and run on EOS® to include the following additional services:

Process Optimizer

The Process Optimizer™ has been successfully helping companies strengthen their Process Component™ faster than any other available option since 2016. In an intensive, 2-Day workshop, a Certified Process Optimizer (CPO) can help your team define, optimize and map your Core Processes. Within a matter of weeks following the workshop, your CPO will deliver a first-draft version of your Core Processes Document so that you may begin immediately working on Followed by All. Learn more at ProcessOptimizer.biz

The TRACTION Hub Quarterly Collaborative Experience

Specifically designed for companies self-implementing EOS®, the Quarterly Collaborative Experience (QCE), will be a 1-day event open to one or more Leadership Team members of self-implementing companies where we will review the prior quarter, build a community issues list, do a deep dive of an EOS® tool, and IDS issues together. I will personally lead the QCE’s so that participants can get the value of access to one of the nation’s busiest Certified EOS® Implementer’s every 90 days, at a fraction of the cost.

At the end of the day it is all about delivering results on our purpose: To help entrepreneurs live their ideal life. Everything we do, we do with that end in mind. Thank you for your continued support. If there is anything we can do to be of assistance, please reach out.

Be Great Today!

Michael

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