- For many business owners, it’s like the duck on the pond. Everything looks smooth on the surface, but below the feet are paddling like crazy.
- Whatever challenges we are going through now, once they get solved there will be a new set coming at you because that is how we grow.
- A business is a collection of systems run by great people.
Meet Dan Holstein
Our guest, Dan Holstein is a Business Coach with Kaizen Performance.
During our conversation, we discuss Dan’s entrepreneurial journey, what made him get into business coaching, the importance of continuing to learn, the definition of what a business really is, how to start thinking like a business owner and make yourself the least important person in your business and learning how to build the right team.
Smart Man, Smarter Woman References
We talk about a lot in each episode; however, we don’t want you to miss a thing! Here are some key items were mentioned if you want to take a closer look.
The Kninja Way
Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
e-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Learn more about our Cloud Accounting Services here
Steve Loates (00:01):
Welcome to our podcast, Smart Man, Smarter Woman, a podcast for entrepreneurs to help them grow and succeed in their entrepreneurial journey. I am Steve Loates.
Juliet Aurora (00:14):
And I am Juliet Aurora.
Steve Loates (00:16):
And we are your co-hosts. We have a great show for you today with our very special guest Dan Holstein, business coach with Kaizen Performance. But before I officially introduce Dan to you, let’s hear a little bit from my wonderful co-host, the smarter woman herself, Juliet.
Juliet Aurora (00:36):
Welcome everyone to our podcast today. It’s going to be a great conversation with Dan Holstein. If you’ve followed the journey of Steve and I at all over the last couple of years, you will have heard Dan’s name before. If you’ve read our book, The Kninja Way, Dan very graciously wrote the forward to our book. So we’ve known Dan for a long time. He always has a wealth of information to share and we look forward to being able to share some of that with you today. So welcome Dan.
Dan Holstein (01:06):
Thanks Juliet. Thanks Steve.
Steve Loates (01:08):
Thank you, and thanks Juliet. That was a great plug for the book you got in there too. Way to go. Now, as I mentioned at the beginning of our podcast, it is for and about entrepreneurs. Our goal is to try to provide you with some entertainment hopefully, but most importantly some value, some insights and hopefully some golden nuggets that can help other entrepreneurs just like you no matter where you are in your own entrepreneurial journey.
Steve Loates (01:39):
And I’d like to now introduce our guest and I’ll give you a little bit of background on him first. As Juliet says, we’ve known Dan for a number of years, worked with him for a number of years and quite honestly, I don’t think we would be where we are today if we hadn’t had met Dan and started working with him. So he currently lives, I’m going to call it the Hamilton Niagara region of Ontario with his wife and his two teenage kids.
Steve Loates (02:08):
And it’s pretty awesome that he’s living with his two teenage kids right now with COVID-19, and he still seems relatively sane, so that’s a real testament to Dan. He graduated from Mohawk College with a degree in electronics engineering technology and IT and spent the first part of his entrepreneurial journey running his own IT business. Today he’s a business coach and business growth strategist, like I said, with Kaizen Performance and recently on a personal level, I know he’s very excited that he obtained his pilot license, so that’s pretty awesome. So welcome Dan and thank you very much for joining us.
Dan Holstein (02:49):
Thanks Steve. Thanks Juliet. Thanks for having me. I’m delighted to be here and I’m blushing. Can you tell on a podcast if someone’s blushing?
Steve Loates (02:58):
Well, we can now. We’re doing something really special on this podcast. So how are you doing in these crazy times? Pretty stressful and I mean, as a business coach, you’re obviously dealing with lots of businesses. How are you holding up over there?
Dan Holstein (03:14):
Yeah, pretty good. There’s a lot of moving parts right now. There’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of unknowns. So that’s probably the biggest part for a lot of the business owners that I’m coaching and just talking to in general. They’re not sure what’s going to happen and when. You find that with all the uncertainty, people stop taking action. They feel a little bit stuck. They are not sure what to do, so sometimes you just stop doing anything at all. That just increases the level of anxiety that people are having when they just don’t know what’s going on.
Dan Holstein (03:43):
So talking to a lot of people helping them get some clarity about what actions they need to be taking and making sure they’re looking at the long game, not just what’s happening right now, this month, next month, the next 90 days. That’s important but not forgetting, hey, there’s going to be a recovery. We are going to get through this. Historically after every kind of recession or retraction, the depression, there’s always a rebound. It’s always higher than where we started. So it’s going to take a little while, but I think we’re going to be … there’s a road to recovery ahead of us. We have to remember too that that’s happening and to position ourselves to be ready for it.
Steve Loates (04:15):
No, I absolutely, I think that’s absolutely true. I would like to, as we get a little further in to this episode, I’d like to talk a little bit about some of the challenges for entrepreneurs and business owners. But before we do, maybe you could share a little bit of a background on your own entrepreneurial journey. How did you get from owning your own IT business to being a business coach?
Dan Holstein (04:45):
Sure. So like many business owners I talk to, I got into business by accident. I had no intentions of being an entrepreneur, never had dreams of it, it just sort of happened by accident. So when I was in my, I guess my last year of college, there was an opportunity to … I was in the co-op course and there’s someone that I wanted to work with, he was a good friend of mine from high school and he had already started an IT company and I asked him if I could work with him for a semester.
Dan Holstein (05:10):
And he says, “Well look, I’m not really in a spot to hire, but if you go register a company, I’ll contract you.” I’m like, “Okay.” So I figured out how to do that and I went downtown and I registered a company name and vuala, I’m in business not knowing what I was getting into. So I contracted with him for that co-op semester and some other work came out of it. I just kept going and after college finished, I kept going. I thought I could get a job or I could keep this going and just see what happens. Not really having any huge expectations.
Dan Holstein (05:38):
So I just kept going and things grew. It was about 2000, this is funny, it’s 2005 and I was just flat out. We’re going, going, going. I’ve been in business for about 10 years now. Had a small team and in the IT business, everything’s urgent and everything was very urgent. We’re in the midst of shifting our business model from what we call, break fix for something that’s broken you call us, we fix it to managed services where for a fixed monthly fee, we just manage it all and prevent it from breaking.
Dan Holstein (06:08):
I was working crazy hours. I wasn’t seeing my family and my wife said to me at one point, she said, “You know, Dan, something’s going to change, or if something doesn’t change, something’s going to change.” In other words that you’d better get this thing sorted out. I was working 70 hours, I wasn’t seeing my kids and profitability was okay, but cash flow was up and down. Everything was … I was a bottleneck. The funny thing was I thought I was the only one who was running a business like that.
Dan Holstein (06:33):
I felt bad about it at times, I’m like, why can’t I figure this out, and how come it’s so difficult and I see everyone else seeming to do so well? But what I realized, it’s like a duck on the pond, right? Everything looks smooth on the surface, but below the feet are paddling like crazy. It wasn’t just me. So 2005, I ran to a business coach, Jamie Cunningham with Action Coach and he asked me, “So what’s your number one challenge?” I said, “Time.” He says, “Well, we’ll grab a coffee and talk about it. Maybe I can help you out.”
Dan Holstein (07:02):
I had never had of a business coach before. I had no idea what it was and I really didn’t think that they could help. So I didn’t take him up on the coffee, but he was a pretty persistent guy, which I’m very, very grateful for. For 14 months he continued to call me and email me, invite me out to events and suggest a coffee here and there. One day I got to where I recognized this number and I just wouldn’t answer it, I let it go to voicemail. But one day I didn’t look and I answered and it was him. I’m like, oh shoot, he got me.
Dan Holstein (07:29):
He invited me out to a workshop that he was doing and I thought, I’ll go check it out. Not much has changed in the last 14 months. Business is still in the same spot. I’m still feeling stressed out. So the day of the workshop I got … I don’t even know what it was now. It was a client issue. I had to go fix some server or something like that and I missed it. I didn’t go to the workshop. So later that day or the next day, he calls me, he’s like, “Dan, so I missed you at the workshop.” I’m like, “Sorry.” One more thing that I let slide because of a client emergency.
Dan Holstein (08:01):
So he said, “Look, why don’t I come see you? I know you’re a busy guy, I’ll come to your office?” And I said, “Sure.” When I sat down with him, I regretted that I didn’t meet with him earlier because he had some really good questions for me. He helped me see things from a different perspective and it normalized what I was doing in terms of I thought I was the only one sort of struggling. I found out that many business owners do. I decided that I would hire him as my coach and I’ve told this story before, but I remember hovering my pen over the agreement to engage working with him. I thought, man, if I sign this thing it means I couldn’t figure it out, but then I thought, now, maybe a smart guy gets a bit of help once in a while.
Dan Holstein (08:37):
So then I signed off and everything changed like quickly too, like being very customer service centric I would never let a customer down, right? So if I said I was going to be there, I would be there and usually late because I was just running around like crazy, but I would get done what I said we would get done. So having a coach and having a coaching session to go to meant I had the actions I was going to take in my business that were going to benefit me and I made sure I did them because I didn’t want to show up empty handed. So just that space and that accountability made a huge difference and just using my service ethic against me to make sure that I did what I needed to do.
Dan Holstein (09:16):
He helped me stay focused as well. I had a plan. I never had a plan before, always the start of a plan, but never a decent plan. With a plan and accountability and focus, everything started to shift and business started to grow and I relied on me less, still relied on me. But I ended up merging back up with my buddy from high school after a while. So we ended up bumping into each other and we talked about where we were up to and I really loved what he was doing and he ended up buying my company and I stayed on there for a transition timeframe.
Dan Holstein (09:45):
And it was such a benefit to me that the positive impact that Jamie had on me helping me get my business sort of under control and sort of like getting my life under control. That’s what I decided I want to do and that was 2010. I decided to join Action Coach and become a coach. So it’s been very fast 10 year.
Steve Loates (10:04):
Awesome. So your 10-year anniversary.
Dan Holstein (10:06):
Yeah. 10 years in March. So it’s just past.
Juliet Aurora (10:09):
So one thing I’d like to just, I guess, rewind that you said that I think is going to be so fundamentally important for other entrepreneurs and people who are listening to us in the audience is that you felt like you were the only one that was ever going through that.
Dan Holstein (10:30):
Juliet Aurora (10:32):
Every business owner goes through it, but as we’re going through it, we think that well, every other business is running smoothly it must be me that I must be doing something wrong. I think it’s important to reinforce for everybody that everybody has the challenges. Actually no matter what size you are, you tend to have the same challenges, they tend to be around the same things, they tend to be a little bit different, but they’re all around the same thing and just don’t think that you’re running solo or you have to run solo.
Dan Holstein (11:06):
Yeah, absolutely. What I would say to your listeners is that everyone lies. It’s like, “How’s it going?” “Oh, great. Busy.” That’s actually the word. It’s busy. Okay. Their busy trying to get the cash and busy dealing with my team, busy on trying to collect accounts payable or receivable, busy trying to pay my supplier. So no one ever says, “Gosh, I’m really struggling.” Like just no one says that. No one wants to let their veneer down to let their guard down.
Dan Holstein (11:35):
But many, many business owners find themselves in that position where they are struggling and not just struggling in a painful way, but maybe they’re doing great. Cash flow is amazing. Profits have never been better, but they’re just struggling to keep up with it all or with the size of company they have now or with the new market they’ve opened. Like when I say struggle, I don’t mean necessarily in a bad way. It just means that there’s … as we solve challenges, we get new challenges handed to us and that’s always going to be the case, right?
Dan Holstein (12:00):
So there’s always going to be a new challenge to come across. Whatever challenge you guys are going through now, once you get solved there’ll be a new set coming at you because that’s how we grow, right? So it’s always happening. I always love to learn how a business owner got into business and not yet have I ever heard somebody say, pick electrician or pick any kind of business. But when I was a little kid, I really wanted to go to business school and get my MBA and learn how to run an electrical contracting or a shoe store or whatever kind of business. No one ever has said that to me.
Dan Holstein (12:33):
It’s generally, they got good at some skill. Their boss was an idiot, so they quit, became their own boss, so now they have a bigger idiot for a boss or a lunatic and less pay and all the rest of it, right? So most people have gotten to business kind of by accident or they saw an opportunity and they went for it but it’s generally it wasn’t their whole life plan to be in business. So they don’t have the business skills. They have the technical skills to do amazing work, but they haven’t studied finance. They haven’t studied accounting and marketing and sales and human resources and relations and things like that.
Juliet Aurora (13:05):
Well, some of us have studied accounting.
Dan Holstein (13:08):
Steve Loates (13:14):
That’s touche. I was just going to say that the one thing that really resonated with me there Dan, when you were telling us about the story is when you were getting ready to sign it and the hesitation of signing the agreement with Jamie, because if you signed it you’re telling yourself I couldn’t figure this out. And I remember that was one of the biggest, if not the biggest mental blocks for me when we first engaged with you as our coach and not because it was you, but because we were engaging with a coach.
Steve Loates (13:49):
I owned my own business for a number of years at that time, and thought I was somewhat successful and said to myself, “Why do I need a coach? I’m not a rookie to this business thing,” but it’s amazing how much I learned very quickly about how I actually didn’t have a business. All I had ever done was create a job for myself and it wasn’t until I got a coach, you, that I learned the difference between creating a job for myself and actually creating a business, and that might be one of the biggest eye-opening learnings for me, probably in my entire life, certainly of my entire business life anyway. So I can certainly relate to that.
Dan Holstein (14:45):
It’s so common too.
Juliet Aurora (14:47):
Dan, would you like to share your definition of a business for those in our audience who don’t know what Steve is talking about?
Dan Holstein (14:56):
Sure. So this definition of a business comes from Brad Sugars, the founder of Action Coach, and I think it’s brilliant. So it’s, a business is a commercial, profitable enterprise that works without you. So a commercial, profitable enterprise that works without you. So what that means is that it works. It’s profitable. It doesn’t rely on you. You can still be at the helm steering it or owning it, but it doesn’t … no single function relies on you and it can continue to grow in your absence.
Dan Holstein (15:24):
Sort of the litmus test to see if you have that is can you go away on holidays for three months with zero contact to the office and come back and your business is in better shape than where you left it. For most people, the answer is no, right? It’s somewhere on the path to getting there as well, right? But it’s a paradigm shift in how we see things. If I see myself as the technician, the business, doing the work of the business, whatever your business might be, that’s one identity, but if I see myself as the owner of that business, I’m going to do different things, right?
Dan Holstein (15:56):
I’m going to be thinking about marketing and sales and operations. I might not be thinking about selling the product or service or delivering on that service or products. I’m going to find ways to systemize that. Like a business is a collection of systems run by great people. As the CEO, our job is market chasing, strategic, developing markets and developing our people, growing leaders beneath us, not doing the actual work of the business. Making sure it gets done and gets done well, but not actually doing it. That’s where the distinction. If you think that your … whatever it is in your business, say electrician again, use that example, you’re going to get great at doing electrical work, but it’s a completely different skillset to run an electrical contracting firm than it is to do the electrical service.
Juliet Aurora (16:37):
No, absolutely, and your litmus test is great of whether or not you can go away on vacation. So when we started working with you in 2011, Steve and I had not been on vacation in, I think it was three years where we were totally disconnected. We took a couple of days here. We went away for a week, but our laptops went with us, our phones went with us and we were talking to the office every day or talking to clients every day. It was a year, I think it was a year and a bit after working with you that we went on a two week disconnected vacation.
Dan Holstein (17:16):
Yeah, I remember that.
Juliet Aurora (17:18):
Steve can probably attest to this for the first four days it was, okay, I think we should call the office. I think we need to check in and make sure that everything’s okay.
Steve Loates (17:28):
Juliet Aurora (17:28):
But we didn’t and I remember our team even saying to us when we said, “Okay, we’re going for two weeks, don’t call us. Don’t call us for anything. If the building’s burning down, don’t call us and look after it.” We came back and everything was still running, everything was running smoothly, and we actually found that some challenges happened while we were gone but the team rose up to those challenges because they knew that they were responsible for them and looked after them and actually became a more cohesive team working together because they had to solve those and they may not have necessarily solved them exactly the way that we would have, but they took care of them.
Juliet Aurora (18:13):
So it was a real eye-opener for us as well. Again, thanks to what you … there’s no way that if we hadn’t started working with you that we would have ever done a two week disconnected vacation. I think that that was kind of the start of our journey into changing our business. Absolutely. Whether or not you’re able to go away and disconnect.
Dan Holstein (18:37):
Yeah, it’s interesting because I talk with business owners all the time and I know some that can’t get away for an afternoon. How that happens is, we get a little endorphin hit when we solve a problem, and as entrepreneurs and business owners, we’re solving problems all the time. So sometimes we artificially create like the golden handcuffs for ourselves where we want somebody else to do a task and we say, “Hey, who could look after this task for me?” And someone puts their hand up, “I’ll do it.” It’s like, “Okay, great.” Then they go off and try it. They make mistakes, causes problems. You get frustrated, then it’s the old, “Well I’ll just take it back because no one can do it as well as me,” because there was abdication.
Dan Holstein (19:17):
So now you get to keep that task and all of the inherit firefights that come with it, as opposed to … and this is what you guys had to have done to get away. You create a system, a process, documentation. You train your staff, they make mistakes, you continue training, they make mistakes, you continue training, you’re holding their hand and then pretty soon you don’t have to hold their hand anymore and then they own it. They can do it and you don’t have to own it anymore.
Dan Holstein (19:40):
So it’s about shifting sort of the value we get from the problem solving and firefighting. That little endorphin hit it of yes, I’m a super hero, I fixed it, to I need to get my endorphin hit from when that person can own it and doesn’t have to come to me for it, so it’s removing that bottleneck. It’s interesting how we can create that situation for ourselves because it actually becomes part of our identity. We are the problem solver. People come to … it can be a little bit of an ego thing too. It’s like I’ve got all the answers. I’m the big brain. Everyone can come to me. I like to make my clients at least important people in their business. Most important but least important from an operational perspective, right?
Steve Loates (20:19):
Absolutely. No, that’s great advice.
Juliet Aurora (20:22):
And that’s tough for a lot of entrepreneurs to get their head around, because when you start your business, you have to do everything and you get used to doing everything. It’s as you grow your business or if you want to grow your business, that you actually have to go the opposite way and let go of all of those things that you’ve been doing as you grow it.
Dan Holstein (20:46):
All the things you’ve been rewarded for, right?
Juliet Aurora (20:47):
Dan Holstein (20:48):
You’ve been rewarded for doing all those things along the way. So there’s an interesting sort of concept around good and bad habits or on the business versus in the business. When you’re working in the business, you’re doing the technical day to day stuff of the business, you get the instant rewards. But what you don’t get, what you don’t see is the pain that you’re going to inflict upon yourself three, four, five years down the track when you’re still doing all that stuff and don’t have a business that functions well without you.
Dan Holstein (21:15):
Whereas when you’re focusing on your business, so developing markets, putting structures in place, growing your leadership team beneath you, all those things that help the business run without you, there’s no instant gratification to it. The payoff is delayed, so the pains upfront and the payoff is delayed. Whereas when you’re working in the business, the payoff is upfront and the pain gets delayed, the other way around, right? So one way is like, working in the business is a bit like junk food. It tastes really good, it’s fun, satisfying, then we get fat later, as opposed to eating salad and going to the gym and we don’t look buff after a week and a half. We don’t see the benefit until down the road.
Dan Holstein (21:56):
So we have to recognize that within ourselves that we as humans, it’s a bit of a path of least resistance. Like we want to do what’s sort of easy and comfortable and growing a business is not necessarily easier or comfortable. We have to learn to say no, say no to things that we like doing and like engaging in order to have … create the bigger picture for ourselves.
Steve Loates (22:15):
Yeah, pretty short.
Juliet Aurora (22:17):
And saying no to things that give you the instant reward.
Dan Holstein (22:20):
Steve Loates (22:21):
Now, if we could maybe talk a little bit about some of the specific challenges that entrepreneurs face and they usually revolve around either money, whether it’s cash flow, not enough profit, not enough revenue or time, working too hard or working on the wrong things. Team, don’t have the right team, don’t know how to find and train the right team, or a combination of all of the above.
Steve Loates (22:57):
At some point in the evolution of the business, you will deal with one or all of those things as an entrepreneur. As a business coach, is there one of those areas that comes up more than the other areas in the businesses you talk to, or is it not, it really is different with everybody?
Dan Holstein (23:26):
It’s variations on the same theme, Steve. So it really depends on where the business owner’s at in their journey, the size of the business. Often cash flow in a smaller business is a challenge. The business owner may not have the level of financial sophistication to really manage their money well. They may not understand profitability and understand cash flow and capital allocation. So they don’t make great decisions with their money.
Dan Holstein (23:50):
Not that they’re really, really bad decisions, but they’re not looking forward enough. They’re not planning ahead far enough to make sure that they’ve got funds set aside for a bit of a downturn and things like that. Sometimes it’s timing of cash flow. So I’ve seen business owners where when I meet them, they’re in a cash crunch and I ask what happened and they bought a piece of equipment, they bought a vehicle and paid cash for it as opposed to financing it, but didn’t realize they had a big inventory purchase coming up that they had to make to meet their production requirements and they left themselves basically without cash because they didn’t manage the timing of it.
Dan Holstein (24:23):
So it’s both having that financial awareness. I think that’s something that all business owners could probably benefit from learning more about and focusing on, on a regular basis. The other is with team. I see a lot of business owners that accept people onto their team that don’t have the right to be on the team. What I mean by that is if you think about like sports, if you’re anything beyond like host league sports, you have to try to get on the team. You can’t just waltz up and get on the team because you have a soccer outfit and some cleats, like you have to actually work to get on there.
Dan Holstein (24:54):
So what I see sometimes is that a business owner has somebody on their team that had the soccer outfit and cleats, meaning they had the resume that looked okay, they’re nice enough, they get on the team, but they really can’t play ball. They might be really fast but they can’t shoot or they might be a great shooter, but they hog the ball, they don’t pass. Whatever the case is they’re not really following the rules of what’s been laid out. You think what happens in sports. If a player doesn’t do what they’re supposed to do on the team, if they miss a practice, right?
Dan Holstein (25:22):
And we could again practice through team meetings, and get your paperwork in on time and things like this. So if they miss practices, they have to run laps or maybe they miss a game. If they’re on the field and they run up the wing and don’t shoot, well they’re not fulfilling their role, they’re supposed to shoot, right? If that happens, they’ll get benched and a bench could be a reprimand or a write-up or something like that. But if they persist in not following along the rules and doing what they need to do, they get cut from the team.
Dan Holstein (25:54):
I think businesses need to run a little bit more like that. I don’t mean to be ruthless or anything like that, but realizing that to be on the team, you have to earn the right to get on the team and you have to continue just like a sports team, continue to earn the right to stay on the team. Do what you say you’re going to do. Follow through on your commitments. Develop yourself, practice, get better. I see sometimes business owners let people on their teams that probably didn’t deserve to be there in the first place from a skill perspective.
Dan Holstein (26:19):
They might be really, really nice people and really, really nice people are hard to let go because they’re nice, but if they can’t do their job, the whole business starts to slide, right? You have a lot of nice people doing an okay job, you can’t grow. You’ve got to have A players. You have to have rock stars if you’re going to be growing. So what I would suggest for anyone listening to this is, examine your team. Is there anyone on your team that maybe is pretty nice but isn’t pulling their weight? What are you going to do about it because they’re holding you back, right? Is there a performance improvement plan you can help them with? Can you train them more, give them more responsibility, help them have a long range plan, see where they can be in the future? Help them see a bigger vision of themselves so they can start to grow.
Dan Holstein (26:56):
The other thing about time is kind of back to what we talked about before. The business owners’ identity is that they see themselves not as the owner, but as someone in the business that still does the work of the business and so they perpetually keep themselves kind of stuck. Sometimes I’ve seen business owners are afraid to delegate. They think it’s rude to push a task off to somebody else. But like you guys discovered, when you enable people and empower them with the tools and resources to do a great job, they do step up, right?
Juliet Aurora (27:25):
Well, okay. So complete full disclosure here. So I was one of those people that did not want to delegate anything. So there’s a podcast so you better see me raise my hand when Dan was talking about that, but I absolutely-
Steve Loates (27:38):
I’m shocked; I’ve never heard you say that.
Juliet Aurora (27:42):
You’ve never heard me say that? Yeah. I was one of those people to never delegate and it was a learned skill, but Dan and Steve were banging me over the head with over and over and over again.
Steve Loates (27:55):
Not actually banging you over the head.
Juliet Aurora (27:58):
Not literally banging me over the head. That I needed to delegate and it was hard. It was hard for me.
Dan Holstein (28:06):
What was the hardest part about it?
Juliet Aurora (28:06):
Dan Holstein (28:07):
What was the hardest part about letting go?
Juliet Aurora (28:14):
I’m a bit of a control freak and so for me the hardest part was some of the things that you said. One was, where I’d like to be a problem solver. So I like to solve the problems and I like to be the one that has the answers, and letting someone else answer the question means that they actually have to understand it and be trained to be able to answer the questions. So that was one and that I didn’t necessarily … I did a lot of abdicating where I would give something to somebody and then expect them to be able to do it as well as I’d been doing it for three years on the first go round and, “Oh, you can’t, okay, fine, I’ll do it myself.”
Dan Holstein (28:58):
Juliet Aurora (28:58):
Those are probably the two biggest ones. But it was tough. It was a really difficult shift for me to delegate.
Dan Holstein (29:09):
What did you have to start believing differently about yourself in order to effectively delegate and let go and trust the team?
Juliet Aurora (29:17):
I think we’re supposed to be interviewing you. You are not supposed to do that.
Steve Loates (29:21):
No. I think Dan is doing just a fine job here.
Juliet Aurora (29:24):
It was the mindset shift of being an owner and as an owner, I shouldn’t be doing this. So the only way not to be doing it was to delegate it and train somebody else to do it.
Dan Holstein (29:37):
The awesome thing about that is your processes and training and create staff buy you freedom, right? You don’t have to do some of those things anymore. In fact, I suspect if you were to look back at what your calendar looked like 10 years ago or eight years ago, you would shutter at some of the stuff that you allocated your time for. It’s like I went to staples and bought paper. Why did that happen?
Juliet Aurora (30:03):
For those of you that may know Steve and I, personally as well or professionally for the last little while. So last year, last May, Steve and I took a month off of work where we were disconnected for just under five weeks while we went to Europe. Again, there’s no way we would have been able to do that without a fabulous team, and so kudos to our team who ran everything while we were away that time.
Steve Loates (30:32):
Truthfully, we would have been scared to death to do that.
Juliet Aurora (30:35):
Well, we were still kind of scared. I was still kind of scared. I was like, “Okay, I think we need to check in.”
Steve Loates (30:42):
Dan Holstein (30:43):
But when you’ve got the right team, they want you to go away. They want to see you successful because they know that if you’re successful that they’re … a rising tide raises all ships; they’re going to be successful too. Just because they’re not entrepreneurs doesn’t mean that they’re not entrepreneurial, right? That they don’t want to excel and grow in the role that they have or other roles that they can grow into in the business and that gives them an opportunity to shine.
Juliet Aurora (31:04):
Steve Loates (31:05):
That’s very, very true. We were just chatting there for a couple of minutes ago about cash flow and I was trying to find this quote that I came across just a few days ago and it’s about cash flow. It really, really stuck with me, and it’s from Michael Dell who was the founder and CEO of Dell, right? Which became I think one point the largest manufacturer of laptops and PCs in the world. I thought this was really appropriate when we were talking about cash flow in business.
Steve Loates (31:42):
And he said, “We were always focused on our profit and loss statement, but cash flow was not a regularly discussed topic. It was as if we were driving along watching only the speedometer when in fact we were running out of gas.”
Dan Holstein (32:04):
That’s a good one.
Steve Loates (32:04):
Keeping your eye on revenue, right? Your speedometer and forgetting about you need cash flow to actually pay the bills. So I thought that was a very good quote.
Dan Holstein (32:17):
That’s a really good one. Dell did something really interesting too. They used to buy all their inventory and then build the computers and so their cash flow was always negative. They’re always financing everything and I mean to the tune of billions of dollars. You can search this up. It’s an interesting story. When they shifted their model to be more built to order, then they sent the built orders out for the individual components to their suppliers ahead of time, they got paid up front.
Dan Holstein (32:48):
When you buy a Dell computer, you pay online and then it gets built and then you get it. So they’re getting their cash ahead of time. So their cash flow completely changed to be positive cash flow. So it’s how we look at things a little bit differently. Like positive cash flow is much better than negative, having to finance things much less stressful.
Juliet Aurora (33:06):
Steve Loates (33:08):
Yeah. Well, and sometimes being put in a position like a cash flow crunch makes you look at things differently and we can’t go on like this. What do we need to change or what can we change to fix this so that it doesn’t … we can eliminate the problem or at least mitigate it?
Juliet Aurora (33:31):
That is a great segue into my next question. So one of the things that we learned with you and that you’ve said to us over and over again is that there is no such thing as a failure, it’s a learning. Steve says that all the time now and I’m sure that everyone has heard him say that. So from your entrepreneurial journey, what do you think is something that most people would perceive as a failure, but that you found was probably one of the most important things that taught you something as you were growing your business? Either in the IT space or in the coaching space.
Dan Holstein (34:14):
Yeah. That’s a tricky one. I think that there’s probably lots of little failures along the way that taught me things. As far as, I guess when it comes down to growing the business, trying to grow it without a roadmap is a pretty big sort of a mistake that I made in the early days. Not having an actual plan and just getting blown all over the place. I just squandered I think a lot of opportunity in my younger business days because I just didn’t have the focus.
Dan Holstein (34:46):
So it may not be exactly a failure, but a challenge in what could have been? What was the lost opportunity cost for not being focused? By not having a plan, not measuring performance, not measuring where we’re going. What I see, what some folks consider a failure is like when a really good employee quits or they lose somebody that they thought was just an amazing person. Generally, there’s the saying that people don’t quit businesses or companies, they quit managers and leaders.
Dan Holstein (35:16):
So I see this sometimes where people aren’t able to navigate an important relationship well, and then someone quits. It could be your CFO or operations manager, just a lead hand, someone that was just great in the company, but you weren’t able to lead them well. And when that happens, I see people taking it really hard on themselves, but then getting the learning around, “Okay, that really hurt. What did I do? How do I own that? What can I do different so that I can make sure that the next time I have a great person, I understand them and I know what motivates them, et cetera, and I can keep them on board or just generally improve my leadership skills?” That’s usually a big one.
Dan Holstein (35:51):
Losing a big customer is another big one, right? When people feel like it’s a huge failure because they lost a contract account or a big customer and generally that happens. Look, it can happen from outside market forces, but it can happen through sort of negligence or indifference. I think that’s a real wake up call for some businesses, business owners where they lose a really important customer. They didn’t realize how the company was looking after them or how their team wasn’t looking after them. They kind of took their eye off of it and weren’t managing their team well.
Dan Holstein (36:18):
So they’ve got to own that and sort of recommit to how they’re going to look after their clients and retrain their team and maybe recycle some of their team as well. So it’s these adversities I think that when you get the learning out of it and you actually implement some kind of a change. I think those are the most fundamental failures, if you will, that lead to progress.
Juliet Aurora (36:38):
Steve Loates (36:38):
Great advice, and that brings us to the part of our conversation where I get to ask you some questions and then we want you to answer them with the first thing that comes into your head.
Dan Holstein (36:53):
Juliet Aurora (36:54):
Yeah. So just to give some context around it. So Steve asks these questions to every guest and they’re the same questions that he ends every podcast with. So okay Steve, you’re up.
Steve Loates (37:09):
Thank you, Juliet for the clarification. So the first one is what one word best defines an entrepreneur?
Dan Holstein (37:19):
I think courageous. I mean, you’re shouldering all the risk of your own finance. Your team. You’re getting loans to buy buildings or equipment and moving forward with no guarantee of any success. So I think that takes a lot of guts and courage to be able to be a business owner, large or small. You’re owning it, right? You eat what you kill, so you’ve got to be courageous to start or nuts. I mean, one or the other.
Steve Loates (37:46):
Absolutely. It was a great answer, it was a little more than one word, but it was a great then.
Dan Holstein (37:51):
Juliet Aurora (37:53):
Okay, Steve one-
Dan Holstein (37:54):
It’s good to et some clarification.
Juliet Aurora (37:59):
Steve, no reprimanding the guests, okay?
Steve Loates (38:02):
Oh, sorry. Sorry.
Dan Holstein (38:04):
I’m going to hang up.
Steve Loates (38:05):
Well, it’s only because I know them so well I can do that. What profession other than your own would you like to attend?
Dan Holstein (38:13):
Professional pilot, so commercial pilot.
Steve Loates (38:18):
What profession would you not like to do?
Dan Holstein (38:24):
I would have as deepener. I don’t think that would be a good …
Steve Loates (38:30):
I don’t believe anyone else has given us that answer before.
Dan Holstein (38:33):
Honestly though, I would say something to do with a lot of paperwork. So accounting for example, or a lot of clerical work. I don’t really work well with that. So something where I had to do a lot of paperwork.
Steve Loates (38:44):
Okay. Well then it’s a good thing our accounting firm is paperless, isn’t it Juliet?
Juliet Aurora (38:51):
Steve Loates (38:51):
What sound or noise do you love?
Dan Holstein (38:56):
Well, the sound of a radial aircraft engine, like in a Beaver or something like that, like a bush plane. I love the sound of that.
Steve Loates (39:04):
Okay. So there’s an aircraft theme here or a flying theme I think.
Dan Holstein (39:10):
I’m a geek, so there you go.
Steve Loates (39:12):
What book would you recommend for all entrepreneurs?
Dan Holstein (39:20):
Oh, that’s a tough one actually because I would always recommend a book that would benefit someone based on what they needed to learn or what challenge they were facing, so that’s to recommend one generic book is a little bit tough. I think a really good one is Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. That’s applicable for smaller businesses as well as monolithic huge companies as well. There’s a lot of really good stuff there. Can I throw one more out as well?
Steve Loates (39:47):
Dan Holstein (39:48):
Or two more. So for the smaller businesses, I would recommend E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. If anyone in the small business space reads it, you’re going to think that Michael Gerber’s following you around documenting all your mistakes, but the solutions in there too. The other would be Good to Great by Jim Collins.
Steve Loates (40:06):
Great recommendations. I think we have all three of those. Great books. When your own entrepreneurial journey is completed, what do you hope your legacy is?
Dan Holstein (40:21):
I guess it’s a couple things. The one is, I want to make sure that I impacted people in a positive way and in what I do, like I guess helping people to make change that leads them to having a life that they want to live and having a business that they can look back on and be proud of and hopefully one that creates some multi-generational wealth for them. So I want to be the guy that my client’s grandkids are glad their grandparents met because of the opportunities that their business was able to afford them down the generations.
Steve Loates (40:54):
Juliet Aurora (40:55):
Steve Loates (40:56):
Great answer. Okay. So how can people connect with you, Dan. If someone wants to reach out to you, what is the easiest way and I’ll spell the name for the audience. Dan is pretty easy I think for most people and Holstein is H-O-L-S-T-E-I-N. What’s the best way for them to connect?
Dan Holstein (41:19):
You can send me an email, so danholstein@kaizenperformance, that’s K-A-I-Z-E-N, and then the word performance.com or just look me up on LinkedIn, fairly active there so either way.
Steve Loates (41:32):
Awesome. Do you have any final words Juliet, before we get to my quote no one closes out?
Juliet Aurora (41:41):
Just a thank you to Dan for taking the time out. We have learned so much in working with you that I was very happy to hear that you were going to be able to share some of that wisdom with our audience because Steve and I don’t necessarily translate it as well and communicate it as well as you do. So I appreciate you taking the time out to spend with us.
Dan Holstein (42:03):
Thank you. Blushing again. So I really appreciate you guys having me on the podcast. It’s awesome. Thank you so much.
Steve Loates (42:10):
Our pleasure, Dan. Okay. So the quote for our episode is, a coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see so you can be who you have always known you could be.
Juliet Aurora (42:34):
Dan Holstein (42:35):
Steve Loates (42:38):
So that’s it for this episode. Again, thank you very much to Dan for joining us. It was awesome as I expected it would be. So he lived up to all of the advertising and thank you again to my awesome co-host, Juliet. But most of all, thank you to you for tuning in, giving us a listen. We really hope you found some value here. If you did, please subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review. We would really appreciate it. Share our podcast with a friend and thank you again. Until next time, take good care of yourself and those you love. Talk to you soon. Bye for now.
Song by Adam Vitovsky / CC BY 3.0
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