This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Bill Flynn. Bill has over 30 years of experience working for and advising hundreds of companies, especially startups. After working for ten different high-tech startups in different market segments such as speech recognition, e-commerce, and affiliate marketing where he was a VP of Sales eight times, twice a CMO and once a GM of a division of a $100MM IT services company, he pivoted to becoming a business growth coach. He had five successful outcomes, two IPOs, and seven acquisitions, including a turnaround during the 2008 financial crisis.
Bill is the author of Further Faster, The Vital Few Steps That Take the Guesswork out of Growth. And he embodies them, everywhere he’s gone, he has been the key ingredient in the growth of the business. It’s probably, because he says, “Most business do just about everything wrong.” They do decision making wrong, hiring wrong, teams wrong, strategy wrong, and so on. In fact, a lot of it boils down to how we read and interpret people, which Bill has a gift for.
So, I brought him on the show to share his wisdom and lessons with you to help you in your life and business.
Bill started out in high tech through some family connections and spent a lot of time in startups, including the company who created Siri. He did 10 startups over 5 years including two that went public at well over a billion valuation. He was 5 for 10 in startups through the mid 2000’s and then got into coaching because he was forced to turn a failing company he was involved in around. He had to learn to lead and coach others to be leaders and succeed.
He put together his own system of running the business that worked well and became basis for him to coach other business owners on how to build a business. He really fell in love with helping business owners “figure it out” by working with leadership teams and take the guesswork out of growth.
What is neuro-leadership and why it is important?
- It is how to lead with brain in mind.
- Our brains have biases and you have to understand that we are all a little crazy.
- We are emotional, irrational, and we don’t also act in rational ways.
- As a leader, you must understand how the brain works, learns, takes feedback, etc. so you can coach through the biases that exist.
At the 10:30 mark, Bill talks about using this for sales and how the brain makes buying decisions – and how knowing this made him the top sales person and create top sales teams wherever he’s gone.
What are some of the basics people need to know and understand to start practicing neuroleadership?
- The brain is really a prediction engine as a way to survive. It must predict the future to keep itself safe and survive.
- Over 10’s of thousands of years, the brain has created short cuts to automatically discern if it is moving toward reward or away from threat.
- The brain has a 2x bias toward threat and is geared toward seeking reward.
At the 13 min mark, Bill gives a good example of reward vs. threat in the workplace and how it can impact people and leaders.
The model Bill uses is SCARF.
- 5x every second, our brain is looking out and also listening to the body perceiving threats and rewards.
Bill’s best tip for sales success:
- When trying to persuade or influence, before meeting them, sit down and identify the “Bully with the juice.”
- This person is the one that has the most influence in the room and they are the one you want to key on.
- As them what the best outcome from the meeting can be? Write it down, then acknowledge any others and get their feedback.
- Repeat back what they say they say and make sure it is captured right.
- Then tailor your presentation around what they told you – their ideas.
- Come back to it at the end and go down the list to make sure you covered everything they listed and offer any other feedback.
- In the end, it is very hard for people to say no to their own ideas.
- It is about them and not your product.
Thoughts on building a sales team/organization?
- As a sales manager, you have 3 things you need to do:
- Hiring for these 3 things:
- Hire the best salesperson for the environment that you are in.
- They need to be super curious and have an entrepreneurial drive.
- They have to be compassionate = empathy with a bias to action
- Train, train, train.
- Learn how to build capacity.
Further Faster, Vital Steps to Growth…what should we know?
- Focus on team vs. individual or culture. The team is where everything happens. Teach your people to be good team leaders.
- You must build a set of systems to run your business. Strategy and execution are connected.
- Cash should be your primary growth metric. The business lives on cash, not “revenue.” Growth sucks cash and it is your lifeblood.
What is one thing every entrepreneur should do every day to help their success?
- There are 2 types of entrepreneurs, the startup founder and those that want to build and grow something.
- As a startup founder, do not fall in love with the idea, fall in love with the problem. Keep working at how to best solve the problem.
- For the entrepreneur that is growing and building – go back and revisit every key decision you made in the startup phase and make sure that is still true. Most often they are not. Going from $1 million to $50, $10, or $20 million require completely different skill sets. Make sure to keep your identity and don’t violate it.
“A plan is about doing, a strategy is about thinking,” what do you mean by that?
- The definition of strategy is different across the board for most business owners – but it should not be. Strategy is about choice.
- Strategy is figuring out the unique market position you want to have that helps you to have a predictable, profitable customer.
- You have to craft that, but remember, it about choice – and many times, it is not choosing what to do, but what not to do. Southwest Airlines is a good example of this.
If you are entrepreneur and struggling, it’s not your fault. We’ve never been taught to do this.
Running a company is a unique thing that you have to get better at by learning and growing over time.
Learn the science behind building a great company.
Best Quote: Few things matter in business or life, but those that do, matter tremendously...
Bill's Misfit 3:
- There is a huge gap between what science knows and business does. A survey is not a study, a study is not research, and research is not science. Science is when people look at problem objectively and experiment and solve the problem. The good news is that for entrepreneurs, many have already done this. Go self-educate.
- Few things truly matter in business or life. But, those that do, matter tremendously. Relentlessly focus on those things.
- Most businesses struggle on force of will, luck, effort, and timing. Don’t do that. Figure out how to fire yourself, so you spend more and more time thinking about how to create the future of your business and yourself.
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