Always Look for Opportunities to Learn and Grow

Elliott Holland Guardian Due Diligence

One of the most vital characteristics of a successful entrepreneur is the ability and desire to continue learning. This growth mindset can be the determining factor in the longevity of your business, and to help us unpack this important subject, we welcome back popular guest Elliott Holland, Founder and Managing Director of Guardian Due Diligence. In this conversation, we talk about how staying open to new paths and strategies is what can bring you closest to future successes, with Elliott strongly underlining the need to invest your time and money in personal development. There are habits and methods for continuing to grow, but that foundation of open-mindedness and a willingness to change and adapt is the most critical aspect, in our opinion.

Key Points From This Episode

  • Elliott’s general thinking about a growth mindset.
  • Staying open to the possibility of improvement.
  • Reframing wins and losses can change your whole perspective on learning.
  • Setting the appropriate expectations and how these can determine your results.
  • How experiences of failure and loss can propel innovation and different kinds of success.
  • Finding time and energy to invest in learning within a busy schedule.
  • Investing your money in your learning; why Elliott values this trait so highly.
  • Getting creative and opening your mind to innovation and new possibilities.
  • Drawing on the experience and intelligence of older professionals.

[INTRODUCTION]

[0:00:04.5] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast. Helping middle market professionals connect, grow and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.

[0:00:21.0] AD: Hey everyone, welcome to the Branch Out Podcast. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today we welcome back a previous guest, Elliott Holland, founder and managing director of Guardian Due Diligence. Elliot and I discuss how we can achieve success by being open to continuous learning and prioritizing our investment in personal growth. I hope you all enjoy.

[0:00:42.5] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn, search for Connection Builders.

[INTERVIEW]

[0:00:49.6] AD: Elliott, welcome back to The Branch Out Podcast, so excited to have you here.

[0:00:53.7] EH: Excited to be here. I enjoy this so much and these topics are mission-critical so I’m excited.

[0:00:59.5] AD: Could not agree with you more. I’m going to talk to our listeners for a minute, Elliott and I, about a year ago now, recorded an episode focused on growth and personal and professional growth and what that means to us and how we accomplish it and since then, we’ve stayed in touch, we’ve talked about this multiple times now and even just before recording here, we’re talking about it again.

What we really want to do today is just the two of us really unpack more about growth in a growth mindset and growth success, the right habits, everything that we’ve learned in our own journeys to really make personal and professional growth the center of what we do.

With that said Elliott, what I want to do is turn to you first and let’s just talk about the mindset, the mentality, because I know this is something you’d highlighted before. What do you think about the growth mindset as a whole?

[0:01:41.8] EH: Well, I think for entrepreneurs or people who want to do better, competitors, whatever, sort of their field of human endeavor is, the growth mindset is just being open to striving for continuously keeping your mind open and sort of readily available to consume stuff that can help you grow. Whether grow is being more efficient with the stuff you’re doing now, whether grow is to be able to do more things with the time you have, whether grow is grow revenue, grow understanding, grow negotiation skills, it’s really just being open to learning and I think even more so. Particularly how I think you and I consider it, it’s recognizing you can learn from almost anything. I think that’s a big piece of the growth mindset.

[0:02:33.7] AD: I want to hit on two things you said there and then we’ll come back to the “Learn from anything,” Open to new, open to learning, right? This is – I think what’s really important here is when we talk about growth and growth, you can say growth in so many different ways and many times, it’s very ambiguous, what do you mean by professional growth, personal growth

The core of what you just said that I think is the really important point, it’s open to doing, to learning and open to learning something new or doing something new or thinking something new. The first lesson to all of this is it’s new, it’s different, it’s not what you’re doing today because if you were doing it already, you wouldn’t have any need to go do something different, right?

The mindset is, I think, from my own experience, is just embracing the fact that yeah, I’m confident in a lot of the things I do but that doesn’t mean I can’t get better, that doesn’t mean there’s not opportunity to learn and grow so I have to be very open to what I’m doing today has room for improvement. I have to embrace that, is that fair?

[0:03:31.0] EH: That’s it. I think the motivation is, your competition is growing and you may be ahead of them now and not ahead of them tomorrow if you don’t keep a growth mindset. There’s new technology coming online, there’s new players coming into your marketplace, there’s new ideas, artificial intelligence is coming, people are sending stuff often to space, commercially.

You have to keep going because for those of us that have retained some level of excellence or plateau or some business foundation that is important to us, if we stop growing, the sustainability of that thing will be in question, if you look at the Thomas Jeffersons, the Warren Buffetts, the Charlie Mongers. Look at what they did in their 30s, 40s and 50s, they were reading, consuming stuff all of the time till then.

[0:04:24.3] AD: You said sustainability. I think that’s another really core pillar behind the mindset. It’s recognizing that what works today will not work tomorrow because the world continues to grow and evolve, everything around us continues to, whether you like it or not, whether you want it to or not, the reality is, it does, right? Let’s go back to ‘07 when the iPhone came out. Can you imagine life without your iPhone?

[0:04:47.1] EH: No.

[0:04:48.9] AD: That really hasn’t been all that long, right? If you were someone who – again, obviously technology is an easy one to point to but I think the core of what the message is, no matter where it is.

[0:04:57.7] EH: How about this. I remember working at Accenture in 2007, the iPhone came out, everybody was on like a – not spring but a trio phone, like a half palm, half phone. Some people still had more archaic phones, you were even – some people were still using Sidekicks. Now, I’m going to date myself but I remember when the iPhone came out that it wasn’t accepted as a business phone yet. It was like some play toy.

[0:05:21.8] AD: Because you had the Blackberries, right? Blackberry’s the only one that was secure enough.

[0:05:25.6] EH: Exactly. Just to push the point, whether you were in that era or not, you’re going to be in the era in 13 or 14 years where the technology, you grew up in is not going to be standard anymore, you have to evolve.

[0:05:40.7] AD: Without going down deep rabbit holes, right? We’ve got Meta now, right? We’ve got this whole future around us and whether you want to acknowledge — I, at many times have a hard time conceptualizing this idea of the metaverse but whether you want to acknowledge it or not, fast-forward 20 or 30 years from now, you could bet it’s going to be part of our life in one way or another, whether you want it to be or not, right?

The whole point of growth in all of this is if you want to be sustainable or if you want to even just keep where you are, not even improve your whereabouts but just be where you are, you have to still grow, you have to still continue to learn and evolve or else everything will pass you by if you want to improve where you are, you need to not only grow enough to keep up with sustainability but you have to grow above and beyond that to truly push yourself into a farther place. It’s all – it’s embracing that idea that I have to learn, I have to grow, I have to look for something new.

[0:06:32.6] EH: Yes, then, how do you multiply the effectiveness of your growth? You touch on the mindset, that’s great. Now, how do you put sort of technology advancements with advancements in your industry with the things that interest you or your competitive advantage to put them all into a concept, a strategy of pots, stir it up and then create something truly unique that the world needs that is both growth but sort of also intersection of different components of it.

Because I think really for us as business owners and managers or even people that are growing in their own professional career, the way that you’re going to sort of zoom forward the fastest, is finding the unique you that you can sort of deliver every single day and that takes not just, “Let me be a better engineer, let me be a better financial analyst, let me be a better whatever,” it’s, “Let me be a petter professional,” and you create more value and that’s when growth gets interesting because now, your creative mind on top of the subject matter you’re consuming is going to create value or maybe not.

[0:07:48.0] AD: I think there’s a really – I think this is an important part of that is finding a unique you and this I think ties into somewhat you said earlier where you can learn from anything and I want to dig deeper into why you can learn from anything but just in general, if you’re learning and if you are really learning and trying to be yourself and trying to find out what unique value you bring, what are things that you’re ‘interested in and what are things that you tend to enjoy tinkering with and learning and changing your way of thinking.

Those are the parts that really help you understand yourself more and where you can – where you have the most opportunity to shine and to grow and to be who you are and again, it’s learning, it’s coming back to that idea of embracing our own learning. Where are we excited, what gets us excited, what do we like doing?

Now, tying that back to the learn from anything, let’s talk about that for a minute. You said something to me in a prep call for this, you’d said that you have to be careful about what you define as a win or a loss. I think that’s the core of learning from anything. Tell me a little bit more what you mean by that?

[0:08:51.1] EH: Oftentimes, people consider the only win of any significance is the sort of absolute best outcome that could have came from all the efforts to somebody invested, right? I called 10 leads and I won if I got 10 customers or even one customer, right? If you define winning in that somewhat narrow way, you wouldn’t be wrong and if somebody lifts and saying, this guy is crazy, he’s going to call a loss a win. No, here’s what I’ll say. My scientific background pushes me to always think about work and effort in a scientific method in terms of just design an experiment. Which means, you do something and if you set it up appropriately, you either get the outcome that you seek or you learn.

If I call 10 people with one script and that script nets zero customers, I learn that that script is not effective with this audience that I’m calling. The win can be – you, just trying the script for 10 times and although it might not be the absolute utmost win, it’s something to be considered. Now, when 10 calls goes to a hundred and you do 10 different scripts, now you actually have an idea of which script is better in your audience based on the effort you put forth.

Even if you only close one or two customers, now you have some data on what script is best. Although, I’m not the kind of guy to just give participation awards, I think because large amounts of effort are needed in so many different ways, I encourage people to define a win more appropriately by – if I get a lesson out of this and not a dollar, do I still consider that a win? I think a lot of times the lessons are actually more valuable than the clients or the dollars over the long run.

[BREAK]

This is Branch Out, A Connection Builders podcast.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[0:11:04.2] AD: I couldn’t agree with you more, I want to say a little of that back and just peel it apart. Let’s take the analogy of developing business. I think that’s one that many people can relate to in one way or another and you’re trying to find opportunity and build a client opportunity, a revenue regulating effort, whatever it might be.

You go out and you’re spending time in a conversation building relationship and you’re fortunate enough to get to a pitch point or proposal point, you go in front of the customer and they say yes, okay, that’s great, you won, you got the deal, you learned from that what you did worked which is good and I think there’s insight there.

I would challenge that the opposite of that, the times that you go and you don’t that something goes wrong that you get to know are actually even better opportunities and really kind of produce more value in some ways in the long run. Obviously, if you’re measuring value by money, it’s maybe not the right way but if you step back and say, well, I went and someone said “No”, okay, well why?

What didn’t happen, what could I do differently, what do I know doesn’t work now? What do I make sure that in the future, I don’t repeat again and this is – the point of it and kind of turning a loss to a win, I don’t think it’s turning a loss to a win at all. I think it’s framing in your mind what success really looks like, right? I can either succeed and do exactly what I set out to do or I can succeed by learning what not to do again in the future.

[0:12:25.9] EH: Yeah, because you want to drive activity, right? If I see it again and again and again, those that only define winning by, I need 10 calls, I need 10 customers or eight customers or I went to work today, I got paid today or I went to school for a semester and now I got a better job than I started with. That’s your only definition of winning, I will tell you now, you will get your butt kicked in the market.

Because, the best entrepreneurs I know and those that manage risk most appropriately are putting effort out to get data or return every single day I’m in mass amounts. I spent two hours this morning with a friend of mine going through all the stuff we were considering doing for 2022.

A lot of that, we admitted, we were going to put effort into stuff that we had some inclination that it might not work but the data was so important to us and the things we were doing, we were going to put the work for anyway.

Let me do a more concrete example, I call Alex to do business with Guardian Due Diligence, my business. He says no, I may be even asking a second time, he says, “No, Elliott, I can’t do it” I said, “Great Alex, you’re a great guy and I appreciate your honest answer and so let’s stop the sales portion of this call, was there something I could have done to get your sale? Was there a sale for me to get today?”

Alex may tell me something like, “Hey Elliott, your pricing is 10% higher than your competition and so I didn’t choose you because of that, that’s something you can change” Or “Hey Elliott, I wasn’t sure if you handled ABC123, it wasn’t clear on your website, the person who I’m probably going to go with handles ABC 123 really well, that’s where I’m going” That will give you another opportunity to say, “Oh, I am updating my website or I didn’t have it there but I actually have plenty of examples.”

Whether you’re able to get that particular sale or not, you might then find out that you’re priced 10% higher than market, you need to evaluate that or an important piece of your service offering isn’t clearing your website and that can get you 10 sets.

[0:14:31.3] AD: What jumps out to me there. If I had the mindset going in, that the only win are – I’ll put myself in your shoes, if your mindset was the only win was if I, if Alex said yes then you would have settle, I lost when there was a no and kind of mentally maybe move on, that’s a loss, I don’t want to lose, I’m going to just go on, try something new.

You framed it into say, okay, well, let me ask why and you’re not always in that position. I think more often than people realize, you can ask questions like that and when you generally come and ask a question like that, the feedback that you can get, the point, I like that you made a clarification.

I didn’t get the sale, was it because there was not a sale to be had or was there a reason for it, right? One reason might just be, it just wasn’t there and you docked it as a loss when you weren’t even playing the game, right?

[0:15:19.6] EH: I don’t really make buying decisions here, my boss does. I can’t say yes.

[0:15:23.8] AD: Those situations, you realize, well, it wasn’t even a loss anyway. Okay, well now I need to figure out how to get to the right person in this scenario. This all comes back to framing it and thinking about, okay, how do I learn from that, how do I – not set yourself up and I think many times actually, good word that comes to mind to me is expectations, having the appropriate expectations, right? Having –

If you’re going in and again, we’ll keep using the business sales conversation, I think it’s an easy one to relate to here. If you have expectations that you’re going to make 10 calls and get 10 customers, you’re wrong, your expectations are – it all comes back to it, how do you feel when your expectations aren’t met.

[0:16:04.6] EH: We see it happen all the time. Being part of a sales organization may be the best training that any of us can ever have. I know that Alex did it at least in his investment banking background. I’ve done it at a software company called Workday, working in the sales force. What you find is that, when those quarterly business reviews come up and the sneaker, the person you didn’t think had the juice, the person with the least number of relationships, when that person sneaks up and they actually had the best quarter, right.

Everybody thought they were going to get fired or reprimanded and they show up to the meeting and I’ve got more sales than everybody. Then you ask them, “What did you do?” right? Because that’s always the question in this quarterly business review meetings. Almost invariably, the guy will tell you, “I failed so much doing X that I switched up and did Y, and Y I kicked your guys’ behinds” or “You know what? You guys thought a hundred calls a day was great? I want to buy a bigger house, so I did 200 calls a day. I failed two times the amount that you did and ate it in order to achieve the success that you’re seeing today.”

[0:17:05.9] AD: Well, I think to actually really – I think it’s worth keeping in mind too. If you are winning in everything you do, perpetually winning again and again and never experience – I don’t want to say loss because I think there’s a difference there but if you’re always doing exactly what you said you would have never falling short of what you’re trying to accomplish, maybe you aren’t pushing yourself far enough, maybe there is more room. You have to be falling short to learn and to see new opportunities.

[0:17:31.1] EH: I didn’t want to hear this earlier, you know? Alex’s first podcast that I did, I said something about, you think about how much you learn in the past year and then go back to five years ago and think about how much you thought you knew then and how much you now know that you didn’t know, right? Which you didn’t know then. I think about all of the wise people when I started my career, who would tell me you learn more from failures than successes. I didn’t want to hear that.

[0:17:53.2] AD: No one does.

[0:17:54.2] EH: I want money, promotions, I wanted two years at analyst, right to associate. I wanted business school acceptances across the board but I’ll tell you in my professional life right now, the things that drive my success, most are lessons that came from things that I tried, that’s key. Things that I tried that had some variability or volatility in outcome, I got a negative outcome, I learned from it and I’ll never be fooled by that again and those rules now define how I go to market and now I’m able to outsmart people who have not experienced that failure yet, likely because they didn’t try as many things as I did.

[0:18:38.6] AD: Again, all comes back to growth, it all comes back to when you are doing those things and you are failing and you are learning and you are open to new ways to do things, new ways of thinking new ideas, you grow. Growth is really – I think this goes back to some of your comment from the first podcast we did a year ago and you said, five years, you look back five years and you realize how much you didn’t know.

This is in my own experience, you never see it the moment, you never truly see it in the moment. It’s the hardest challenges you deal with that are truly forming you into being better and really growing. In the moment, you never see it, you just don’t realize that until growth is all about hindsight, growth is all about retrospective, looking and saying, what happened? Not in the heat of it because you just, you can’t.

The change is so incremental at times that you can’t clearly assess and understand what’s occurring in the moment, it takes looking back. So knowing all of that, what we know is that we have to prioritize it, we have to make time for it, we have to invest in time. Let’s talk through that a little bit Elliott because this is one where I think we can all acknowledge we’re busy, we got a lot of things going on. Investing time and trying to learn and grow and stuff is hard, it takes energy, it takes mental and emotional capacity like how do we do that? How do you think about it?

[0:19:54.5] EH: I think we have to consider our time in buckets and certain things need to be almost necessary buckets because failure to do them over long periods of time will almost invariably lead to your demise. It’s almost like a person who just needs –

[0:20:11.4] AD: Say that one more time.

[0:20:12.3] EH: Failure to do them over long periods of time will almost invariably lead to your demise. If you eat big meals every day, eat steak, eat-eat-eat fried chicken and everything and you don’t work out, right? A week, a month, a year maybe you’ll be okay but in ten years, you’re going to have some real issues, right? If you are just executing, I am just using the same script every single day to close clients, right?

All of a sudden, the sales environment, the marketing environment changes. You haven’t gotten out of your process in ten years. Now, somebody is going to run circles around you that has been in market trying to do different things. How do you prioritize some of these things? I think one of the more popular statements is, are you working on your business or in your business? I am a professional services business.

Some of the time, I am working on things my client needs that I need to deliver to them in some sort of report analysis, what have you, right? Some of my time is spent on how do I market and sell to these folks better. Some of my time is order, how do I deliver more value but some of my time is how do I read, listen to things, get on Alex’s podcast, listen to other podcasts, look at other people that have grown highly successful on professional services company.

Hey, I pulled my Harvard Business School business cases about how to build professional services firm from one of bed a couple of months ago to look at some of those. There is all these examples of success or just examples of growth and you should just carve out 5% of your time, 10% of your time to do this. Now, in every given week or month or year and a half, 10%, heck no. I’ll be lying to you if I told you that but right now.

This is being tapped in December, my business is invariably slow between Thanksgiving and the first week of January. This is a great time to over-invest in growth. I am reading things, I’m in more podcasts, I am listening to more radio, I am reading more news and I think you have to prioritize. I also think that sometimes the problem is I need to be more efficient. The stuff that I need to do is taking 10 hours, I need it to take five and so I need to innovate in some way to reduce that time or pull some things out or whatever.

Selling a bad product with a bad script in a bad market segment, you’re not going to efficient yourself out of that problem. That is a creativity issue. You need to figure out what tools do I have, what things are going to sell, what value can I deliver, that’s creativity. That’s like a different kind of growth, so I know both of them will get you better. I encourage everyone to not forget how open your mind gets when you read a book.

How open your mind gets when you watch a documentary, how open your mind gets when you listen to one of my favorites just like listening to NPR, it’s every single day consistent, good stories, right? When you listen to this stuff that has nothing to do with financial services, right? But it’s like, “Oh gosh, that’s really creative how that person solved that problem,” or, “That issue that they’re dealing with in a completely different ecosystem has a lot of commonalities with my situation and man, why don’t I do that?” Growth, folks, it’s out there.

[SPONSOR BREAK]

[0:23:50.6] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle-market professionals.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[0:23:59.0] AD: First off, NPR, Throughline and Hidden Brain are probably my two favorite podcasts out there. I have learned just an insane amount through them and none of it has to do with my actual day job necessarily but all things that you’ve seen like wow, that – and it helps you make more sense in the world and you bring that into your day to day life, so I think that’s really an important point but what I want to –

I want to take us back to you said buckets, right? You have your time in different buckets, I think the successful way and this is how I’ve tried to embrace this. This is, you say to yourself, “Okay, I’ve different buckets of time. I have to take care of myself as a human, I have to do, I have things in my personal life. I have things in my professional life but I also have to find time to grow and make sure that I’m investing in doing something to focus on my growth.”

You had used the analogy or the term on your business versus in your business, you know for a business owner that can make a lot of sense and for an individual professional within a firm, your business is you as a professional. It’s you as a human, so on your business versus in your business is either doing client work or working on yourself, right? On yourself as the in your business, right?

[0:25:05.2] EH: Yes.

[0:25:06.0] AD: What you pointed to is learning whether it be reading books, documentaries and the NPR example, when you go and invest time in consuming content, listening to a podcast like what we’re doing right here, the whole point of all of it is to give your brain different ways of thinking, open up new ideas, help you reinforce thought patterns and build the right ways of thinking that can help you overcome everything else and the other challenges. Use those tools in different ways and in your life and all of that is the growth and it won’t happen if you don’t prioritize it, right?

[0:25:42.7] EH: I’ll give a concrete example that I know is true of both of us and I’ll speak about it in abstract and then I’ll double click into the example. I can tell a lot by mid career professionals that are paying for their own professional development. They are not waiting for their company or their industry organization for somebody to freely come to their town to give it to them but are saying, “I’m going to pay to go learn something because I think the juice is working to me.” I can just tell a lot about a person who does that because so few do. Now, let me talk about the –

[0:26:19.3] AD: It’s investing in yourself.

[0:26:20.2] EH: Yeah, which is crazy to me how often I hear my corporate friends say, “I would go do this but my company won’t pay” and I’m shocked by it like, yeah because they don’t want to pay you any more money, you know? Of course they won’t pay, you should go pay but I’ll tell you right now Alex and I both came up in financial services and to do the businesses that we do now, we had to learn how to do marketing ourselves.

We had to pay for webinars, for sessions, for coaches, we had to pay attention to others and this is after we were already making good money and I think that added bucket of I will invest in myself is true of anyone. For instance, you’re making $150,000 in some operations job, right? Or like a safety designation or a six sigma designation or whatever can probably not only get you maybe 20% more money but if you want to move from Idaho to Chicago to a better market, if you want to go from Denver to the mountains and you want a place on the beach, your up work mobility will increase also.

Here’s the other thing, I am noticing that others, more people will notice it too. That dude or that gal did not wait until we brought in some six sigma person to give you just enough to work on your project that I am paying you the same, I paid you last year. They went and invested in themselves because they are a go-getter and whether I recognize it and keep it in my organization or somebody else recognizes and takes them from me, they’re going to be going and getting it and you put yourself in a ring of – if it is a 100% of people, when you start investing in yourself with your dollars and time, you’re putting yourself in the top 5%.

[0:28:10.0] AD: You’re so spot on with that. I’ll share a little of my own experience. In my previous career when I was in investment banking, I invested in an executive coach out of pocket. My firm would not pay for it and that’s frankly what kind of launched me on to my life path where I’m at today. It was a lot of that investing in myself and seeing some of the payoff. Now, fast forward as I launched the business that I am doing today, I can think of numerous courses.

Online courses our communities had joined, things that I spent money on out of my pocket to invest in, to learn to develop a different skillset, develop a skillset that I knew would be helpful and successful for me in my life and the true reason you and I have talked a lot about this, some of the reason I think were both motivated by what we’re doing is having self-agency over our lives and control of, “What do I want to do, where do I want to go?” And making some of those.

It is a privileged place to be if you can build yourself into that but at the same time that comes by that investment in yourself to grow to everything we’re talking about because if you do that again and again and again, you as an individual become valuable and be able to gain greater and greater level of self-agency over your life and how you function.

[0:29:30.2] EH: I’ll give you another easy way. I think podcasts are easy, I think books are easy, I’ll also tell you the way marketing happens now is people are giving away free content of value to get you to go visit their webpages to add your name to their newsletter so you can get yourself off the next day, all these kinds of things. Those are amazing sources of meaningful data because the person had to think through what is meaningful enough that this person will do something slightly inconvenient to capture this thing that I’m giving, right?

I’d probably download five whitepapers a week, so that means I’m cruising the internet looking for stuff, right? Let me see what the other financial diligence firms are doing, let me see what other investment banks are doing because they are going after some of the folks so let me see what the banks are putting on or let me go to people who are doing digital marketing well or sales well or branding well and now all of a sudden, I am downloading, I’m downloading, I’m downloading.

On the weekend, it comes in back, I am reading one, I am reading another one, I am not going to become a master at branding off of one whitepaper but the reality is, if I am doing my job and investigating how others are doing theirs, those are free read. I don’t have to go pay anyone to go do that. I don’t have to go to a local college, I don’t have to pay someone on the – it’s out there for me.

[0:30:58.1] AD: What you have to do is prioritize time to make that happen and that’s the key, the working in the business versus working on the business, right? If I am constantly buried and trying to just do tasks, complete things, completing things isn’t where you tend to find those opportunities. It’s giving yourself, “You know, I am going to cruise around the inter-webs and see what I can find.” I am going to –

[0:31:25.0] EH: Yeah and I think there is a concept here of like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right? If you need to pay your rent, you’re probably going to be trying to figure how to get a dollar on efficient. I get that. If you just figure out how to pay your rent for this month and last month and you’re still kind of – you are probably not going to be spending a large portion of your time on growth admittedly.

You’re in execution mode, right? As you start putting the pieces together, I think a smart person realizes that as you put more of the foundational pieces together, you got your marketing edge going, you have your sales edge going, you have some processes and the systems, right? Now, make sure you lift your head up and say, “Okay, how could I do three X next year?” Put in these pieces together differently or, “I’ve serviced customers well but how can I have customers screaming how great I am in the marketplace than others?”

What could I do that’s so creative that I actually cut the time in half that I work in my business essentially? Make sure you’re lifting yourself up to do these things because here’s the other thing, nobody is going to – if your best friend figured out how to do it, they still might not tell you. They might not be able to explain it. Also, the people who are good at this aren’t going to ever really give you permission or teach a mastermind on how to do it, right?

Some of this stuff is going to be you doing the work. You know, those step changes, those function changes like okay, so how Amazon revolutionized how we order products and how they get delivered, that wasn’t an incremental innovation. That guy said, “In 20 years this is going to be totally different with the advent of the internet. I am going to bet on that and create the way that everybody purchases everything.” That was that creative time they got in there and not efficiencies on them.

[0:33:17.2] AD: You’re so spot on in that and that I think I’m going to tie this kind of all back from top down and give a summary. I think what you just said ties very much into this idea that number one, we have to first off just be open to it. We have to be open to new ideas, to new learning, to saying that what we’re doing today isn’t necessarily the best way to do something and the reason that’s important is because even if we just want to be sustainable, even if we just want to stay in where we’re at, the world keeps moving.

We have to continue to move and if we want to move ourselves forward, we have to do more because we have to be able to evolve ahead of the clip of the kind of a natural growth and change in the world. The way we do that is by twofold, one prioritizing but before that, we have to have the right mindset. The mindset comes back to what can I learn? I can learn from anything. I change kind of a loss to a win.

This framing of it like, what is a win, what is success and when you don’t necessarily hit the right expectations you set rather step back and look and say, “Well, what can I learn and what did I do differently? What were my expectations?” whatever it might be but use that as an opportunity to ask yourself that you really can learn and when you try those things, when you do try new things, you’re going to fail from time to time and you learn from it.

Then you had mentioned time buckets and I think this is a really important element here, it’s recognizing that you have a personal life, you have a professional life, you have your personal time for you as a human to take care of yourself and on top of that, you need to make sure you’re bucketing in growth there, that you are finding time and it will ebb and flow season to season. Life has seasons, right?

We go up and down, busy and slow and we just have to really look for some level of consistency overtime to make sure that we’re prioritizing, investing time into ourselves to learn, become more efficient, be more innovative in what we do and you said this and I think such a powerful statement, there are those things in life that if we fail to do so, they will lead to our demise and focusing in growth, investing time in growth is one of those that you won’t notice it in the short run but overtime, it will be your demise and that’s why we focus on growth.

[0:35:21.9] EH: I’ll give you guys another cheat code if you don’t mind Alex, like a statement here.

[0:35:24.9] AD: Absolutely.

[0:35:26.1] EH: The podcast stuff, the books we’ve said that I said though, whitepapers you download while you’re cruising the internet. The other one is we undervalue, particularly in the digital world, how much intelligence experience that the generation ahead of us has even in this digital world. They might not have had Google but they had to interact with people, create nuanced communications, understand business models and so coming up on the holidays, right?

You’re going to be around your uncles, your aunts, your grandparents and all the rest, you might want to consider how much you can learn from them if you spend the time to open up about some of the stuff that you’re going through dealing with. And whether that’s your relatives or like you’re at the office, you see somebody kind of hanging out by themselves, maybe it’s worth the five minutes to go kind of get their perspective on something.

My favorite one for those that are traveling, airplanes and airports. I mean, there’s just a wealth of knowledge in just look, you see somebody 20 years your senior, look I may be in financial services, I see you going first class with your bag with Delta platinum on it. You know, if you were my age looking at my industry, what kind of things should you be thinking about? It’s a flattery that you’re asking them for their advice but there’s a wealth of knowledge in those conversations.

[0:36:41.1] AD: There’s a lot of wisdom that can be ascertained if you just go and ask for it and look for it, so well said Elliott. I appreciate you coming on here, this is as always been a great conversation. I think there is a lot to take away from growth. For our listeners, the call to action I want to throw out this week and it’s hard to believe this will actually be I think roughly a year that I’ve been doing the call to actions now, which is just again growth.

It is amazing what changes, so I hope that you all are actually taking some time to do this but anyway, the call to action this week is find 30 minutes and really write down what your growth habit is going to be. Write down to yourself and it can be as simple as I am going to try to read a book a month. I am going to listen to a podcast a week. I am going to find a whitepaper a week and read it, whatever it may be. I am going to invest in a coach, I am going to invest in a mastermind program, whatever it might be, go just spend 30 minutes this week, write it down and commit to doing it and Elliot for our listeners, how can they get in touch with you?

[0:37:37.4] EH: Sure, so one easy way is LinkedIn, Elliott Holland. You can also find me at my website, Guardian Due Diligence, that’s guardianduediligence.com. I run a business doing financial diligence for everyday business buyers that are typically buying businesses on their five or ten million dollars, even as low as a million dollars and so this is something that’s a challenge for you, if you are looking to make sure you have professional help. I’d love to have a discussion about those topics with you.

[0:38:11.1] AD: We’ll make sure that both your LinkedIn and your website is linked in the show notes below, so listeners, make sure to reach out and start a conversation. Elliott again, I appreciate you coming on here, this has been awesome. I’m sure we’ll talk again soon.

[0:38:23.9] EH: I love it, thanks a lot for having me on.

[END OF INTERVIEW]

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