Every company has some form of leadership, and whether it is good or bad will be judged by the results it produces. A company with good leadership will thrive not only as a business but as a group of people. The amount of positive outcomes that are provoked by good leadership are exponential. For the restoration contractor, good leadership is critical due to the spontaneity as well as both physical and mental challenges that come from restoration work.
The discussion from Episode 84 of The DYOJO Podcast - Developing Your Leadership Skills, draws out helpful principles for the formation of functional leadership, such as the importance of having the right idea about what leadership entails. Leadership is not just rigid rules or pointless processes. The guests on this episode will help the leader build their own way to lead, unique to themselves and their company.
Ownership Creates Leadership
Denis Beaulieu an environmental branch manager in Thousand Oaks, CA and former guest (Episode 15) advises that a good leader will give their people opportunities to take ownership of things and make decisions. People that can think for themselves and problem solve will be able to execute things quickly because they won’t have to wait for authority and will be confident in how they conduct themselves on the job. A client witnessing lack of confidence from a worker will feel that same lack of confidence in the company. He also says that a good leader will hire people smarter than they are. This helps the leader to grow themselves from constantly learning from those they are around. And of course the company benefits from their knowledge, too.
Self Discipline Creates Leadership
Mike Kenny and David Smith joined the DYOJO Podcast for Episode 12 to discuss leadership formation perspectives. Mike, a skilled trades service manager, shared that a quote from former Navy Seal Jocko Wilnick that has helped him create his leadership mindset is, “Discipline equals freedom.” Details build the way to goals. Being disciplined will establish a foundation of habits. These habits over time are how goals are achieved. David, a former estimator skilled in the nuances of program work, adds that structure leads to discipline. If the structure is lost, so is the discipline. A good leader makes sure to hit upon the basics everyday. Even when things come up that may call for changes, they will fall back to their regular routine.
Structure Creates Leadership
Lex Sisney (Episode 22) is the author of two books about business growth,
He has this to say about structure, “Structure is a very misunderstood concept.” Structure is different from processes. He gives the example of your skeleton being the structure and the processes as the neural pathways, blood vessels, muscles, etc. If there is something off on the skeleton then the body will maladapt to it.
Adaptation Creates Leadership
Podcast host and author, Jon Isaacson, tells of what he learned about being a good leader as well. He warns managers not to hire people with the thought that because they have prior experience they can be just “plugged in” and ready to play. Experience doesn’t mean they know how to do things correctly for your company. As Jon talks about in So, You Want To Be A Project Manager? someone with technical experience won’t have experience with your company culture, you will have to be intentional as a lead to develop that within every employee.
Leadership is an active role. Leaders will always be adapting to the specific processes of how they lead their people. There are basic principles that won’t change, but the way those principles are practiced will take on different nuances according to the present circumstances. The company is a living organism and will work to develop ownership, self-discipline, structure and adaptation as they nourish their people to keep growing for the health of the company.
What do we all want as contractors? We want to provide a good service and be paid for our work. Where does this process start? As we discuss on Episode 86 of The DYOJO Podcast, positive project outcomes start with a clear and consistent client intake process.
Overhead and Profit for the Contractor
The client intake process also initiates the data collection process. The gathering, interpretation, and application of solid data is critical to helping an entrepreneur make good business decisions. If you want to be profitable as an organization you must manage the project lifecycle sequences. We begin this discussion on The DYOJO Podcast Episode 89 as well as a series of articles on overhead and profit that myself, Ben Justesen, Anthony Nelson, and Ed Cross will be releasing for the in-print version of C&R Magazine.
Using A Letter of Intent (LOI)
Contractor's often discuss whether they should be charging for estimates. Some of the options include:
We talk rather frequently with contractors about this concept of the Letter of Intent or LOI. We will introduce this resource during Episode 89 and will go into further detail in the following episode.
The Four Modes of Profitability
What does the average contractor want?
Our competition as contractors isn't even necessarily with the market, but with ourselves. We want to grow our company by laying a foundation. If you want to be a profitable company, it's important to understand some of these concepts that lead towards profitability. So that's why we're tying a lot of this together, from:
I'm working on the first in a series of articles with C&R magazine that's going to touch on some of those elements of overhead and profit. My contribution, the working title is The Four Modes of Profitability for Contractors.
There's an infographic coming out from Restoration Industry Association (RIA) that will also be a helpful tool for contractors as they work through the process of developing and growing their team. Within that tool there are definitions and visual aides such as these two:
These resources are designed to help shorten your DANG learning curve and to build your company through those stages of profitability.
The Contractor's Fight for Survival
We have observed or participated in many companies that don't make it unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 20% of small businesses fail within the first year and 30% after the second. You feel it right? You're in an all out battle for survival. You want to move from survival mode to scraping-by. At the end of your first year you get hit with this tax debt and renewals for indirect (aka overhead) costs such as your licensing, bonding, and insurance. You realize that to even scrape by as a business, you must charge more than you were charging. You're gonna have to think differently about how you're charging for labor, materials, equipment, overhead, and profit.
Every year is a fight to compete as a contractor, the average failure rate for businesses:
The DYOJO Podcast is designed to help you shorten your DANG learning curve. Going back to those statistics we talked about, which will be in the series of articles with C&R magazine. The mindset used to be that if you can make it past year three, you're probably going to be fine. But the statistics show that if you make it to the fifth year you're in the 50/50 club. 50% of the companies that started at a similar time are likely no longer going to be in business. And then if you push through to year 10, you're in the exclusive 70/30 club. Sadly, only 30% of entrepreneurs make it to the decade mark. Every year is a fight.
That's why we say you're moving from survival to scraping by, to having a fighting chance, and to competing. My latest book, How To Suck Less At Estimating, was written to pick away at some of those faulty foundations that regularly lead to profit sucking estimating habits. In doing this I'll try to break out those mindsets that are particularly helpful for the categories of professionals listed above which are (1) the aspiring professional, (2) the estimator, (3) the new manager, and (4) the business owner. By the end of this book and the course that soon will be coming with Restoration Technical Institute (RTI) you will have at least six elements that every estimator needs in their tool bag for success.
Recruiting, developing, and retaining good talent is on the minds of every manager and business owner. While there is always some new concept or fancy solution, the growth minded leader is always working to improve themselves and their team. Often this means asking some difficult questions as we review our own performance. For those professionals looking for some assistance in employee motivation, we will review two motivational mistakes and what you can do to remedy them. Robert More joined us for a live discussion on The DYOJO Podcast, Episode 88 and asked our guest, Josh Zolin,
As a manager, one thing I have observed that kills employee passion is the lack of training or advancement opportunities. Do you have any advice on how to combat that within a growing company?
Motivational Mistake #1 - Making empty promises at the time of hire
Josh Zolin is an author, speaker, and the owner of the rapidly growing Windy City Equipment (WCE) in Phoenix, Arizona. He stated, "That's tough and you're absolutely right. The lack of training and advancement can be a passion suck for many employees."
On area that Josh encourages managers and business owners it to be intentional in the phrasing and promises, perceived or actual, during the employee recruitment stage. By not being clear about the state of growth the business is in and not having a clear pathway to advancement, there is fertile ground for miscommunication which leads to unrealistic expectations. To be fair, many people in a position of leadership aren't lying, they are speaking from their vision and their intentions but the foundation hasn't been laid and the organization isn't ready for the types or pace of advancement that some employees may desire.
Another mistake I've made, I used to sell our aspirations.
Motivational Mistake #2 - Selling your aspirations rather than your reality
Josh mentions that he has used phrases in the past like, "We're going to train you fast growing company. So, there's going to be lots of advancement..." Speaking from his heart but not thinking through the expectation that it may be planting in the employees thought process. With several years of failures and experience under his belt, he now is much more intentional in the recruiting, hiring, and goal setting phase of onboarding new employees.
He noted that there were a lot of people that reach the six month mark in an organization and wonder why they don't have a significant raise or a promotion. As an owner and people manager, Josh realized that he was setting up the wrong expectations by not clarifying the situation and the conditions that would need to be met for those next steps to be taken. Now the employee is frustrated and the company has to take responsibility for their unclear and inconsistent process.
Josh recommends the following for managers and business owners,
Be transparent up front. Say something like, 'We are a quick growing company, we suck at training, It's something that we really want to do something we want to get better at, and maybe you can help with that. I can't promise that you're going to get a promotion tomorrow, but I can promise that if we get the results from you that we need, advancement is an opportunity in the future. Be crystal clear about your process.
Clarity, consistency, and accountability
To answer the question of offsetting the demotivation that comes from a lack of training or advancement opportunities, Josh advises, "Be crystal clear about where you are and what your process is." By doing so, Mr. Zolin believes that your will also help our organization to, "Weed out the people in the beginning that could ultimately be susceptible to this passion suck." Managers and owners might be tempted to think that employees have unrealistic expectations about advancement, but they also have ask themselves a few key questions:
In this podcast conversation with Josh Zolin, I asked our guest if there was a recent business or leadership catchphrase that bugged him, without skipping a beat, the owner of the rapidly growing Windy City Equipment (WCE) in Phoenix, Arizona answered,
Yes! Give it your best effort.
This video is a snip of what will become The DYOJO Podcast, Episode 88. With our guests, Josh Zolin and Kelsey Isaacson. The video also introduces the article that will be released in Cleanfax Magazine titled Goals, Effort and Results, Developing Your Team. Josh wrote the skilled trades advocacy book, Blue is the New White and hosts a weekly podcast by the same name.
This thought-provoking question that Mr. Zolin dropped during our discussion has caused me to think through our understanding and implementation of EFFORT versus RESULTS in our local contracting company, ARES Restoration based in Puyallup, Washington. Josh continues, "This was a big mindset shift for me. Look, it's a good indication of character. But that's about where it ends."
In preparing for this podcast episode, which you can view on YouTube or listen to on Spotify, I did some research. I found an article called The Effort Effect from Stanford magazine. In addition to our discussion with Mr. Zolin, we're going to be talking about the research efforts of a professor of psychology, Carol Dweck. We will also review several quotes from other business minds on the topic of effort versus results including this one from Mark Cuban whom you may recognize from the television show Shark Tank.
“The one requirement for success in our business lives is effort. Either you make the commitment to get results or you don’t.” - Mark Cuban
It appears that Mark blends the concepts of effort and results, and to some degree they are inextricable. What Josh was trying to get at is that it becomes more of the "work smarter rather than work harder" mentality once you have a level of competency in your field. But, when you don't know necessarily what to do you can't just start out working smarter. As you develop your skills and abilities, you have to gather the pennies (see video below). Once you are proficient in gathering pennies, or whatever work you can find, they will eventually turn into nickels. Then eventually your nickels will turn into dimes and so forth until you are up-and-running to the point that you have quarters (better quality work).
Gathering pennies is a reference to a rather old video and article (see above) title The Five Phases of Business Startup. Distinctives of Business Startup Phase One include:
In this first phase of business, the entrepreneur is asking, "Where can we get our name out there with fairly low cost and high exposure?" Often, these opportunities are in the various networking meetings that not everybody likes going to.
“The best results are achieved by using the right amount of effort in the right place at the right time. And this right amount is usually less than we think we need.” - Tony Buzan
For The DYOJO Podcast, Episode 88 we consider this question from Josh Zolin and review several others, such as the one above from Tony Buzan, with Kelsey Isaacson, a successful realtor in Pierce County, Washington. It is important for people in a position of leadership to question whether what they believe, practice and reward is leading their team down the right path to achieving their shared goals. Dweck's research uncovered many interesting insights about goals, performance, and achievement which we will discuss in this episode and dive deeper into for the Cleanfax article. As people in a position of leadership, it is important to take a step back and determine, with brutal honesty, whether we are developing the right mindset and habits for success; both for ourselves as well as for our teams.
Please join us on Thursday as we help you shorten your DANG learning curve!
For the upcoming Episode 88 of The DYOJO Podcast, we have a conversation with a returning guest who shared a thought-provoking question that I believe all leadership teams should consider, “Which is more important, effort or results?”
Josh Zolin is an advocate for helping young people recognize opportunities for gainful employment and career development within the skilled trades. This passion is the impetus behind his book and podcast, both by the same name, Blue is the New White. As prominent as Josh has become as an author, podcast host, and speaker, he is also the owner of the rapidly growing WCE in Phoenix, Arizona where he is implementing the leadership challenge that he shared.
This teaser video gives you a glimpse of our discussion on the intersection between goals, effort, and results as you develop your team. Be sure to check out the article Goals, Effort, and Results: Developing Your Team by Jon Isaacson and published in Cleanfax Magazine.
In this content clip:
0:00 Josh Zolin drops a thought-provoking bomb
1:30 Psychology professor Carol Dweck weighs in
2:14 Kelsey Isaacson squares up with Mark Cuban
3:17 Pennies for your business growth
4:25 Join us for the 3rd Annual SOCKTember Competition
5:55 Curse words and question marks
Thursdays are for The DYOJO Podcast - helping you shorten your DANG learning curve for personal and professional development.
This content is sponsored by the new best-selling book, How To Suck Less At Estimating: Habits For Better Project Outcomes by Jon Isaacson.
The DYOJO Podcast SOCKTember is an annual competitive community involvement event (see video). It was designed as a team-building exercise as well as a great outreach tool for local restoration contractors. Would you believe that SOCKTember started with four teams in Washington State raising over 5,500 pairs of NEW socks for local charities in 2020?
Each team leader reached out to their local vendors, clients, team, and community members to raise as many pairs of NEW socks as they could. During the shutdown, this event provided us all with something to talk about and safely interact with each other. Socks came through physical donations and via Amazon wishlists. They were counted and distributed to local charities selected by each team. As you are likely aware, NEW socks are a huge need for many local community members in need including shelters, care closets, and other outreach programs.
Join The 66 Companies That Participated In SOCKTember 2021
In 2021, we were excited to see an increase in interest by contractors and entrepreneurs across the United States as well as every office for On Side Restoration in Canada. For the second annual DYOJO SOCKTember, we grew from 4 local teams to 66 teams in 2 countries. The competition elevated intensely and combined we were able to raise over 66,000 pairs of NEW socks for local charities. The top five teams of the 2021 event were:
Reach out to Jon Isaacson, The DYOJO Podcast, if you would like to START, JOIN, or SUPPORT a local sock-raising team. Our goal is to raise OVER 100,000 pairs of NEW socks for local charities this year and we need your help. Read the prior article from C&R Magazine for more information and check out the 3rd Annual SOCKTember webpage.
To help you promote the event:
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a 19 year veteran of the property restoration industry and a business coach through his organization The DYOJO.