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Episodes

083 - High Expectations Work

10/8/2016
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We had some fierce conversations about my daughter’s pondering whether to drop a class with which she may have overreached. My wife gave her a hard time about it, which I felt was perhaps unreasonable. However, it reminded me of Sam Walton, Walmart’s founder, who stated that “High Expectations are the Key to Everything”. Remember Steve Jobs? he wa [...]

Duration: 00:07:54


082 - Three Ways to Exert Leadership

10/6/2016
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I received a question from Christos Nikolau the other day about the difference between Leadership and Coaching. Thanks for the questions Christos! Leadership is the action of influencing people to achieve goals. Coaching is one of the ways to exert this leadership.

Duration: 00:08:27


081 - Selling in a falling market

10/4/2016
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Tune in to the story of how we sold a communications business in late 2008, when the bottom fell out of the mergers and acquisitions market. Hint: it was not about strong-arm tactics and yes, speed was a HUGE factor.

Duration: 00:08:26


080 - The Spouse Behind the Sale

8/18/2016
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When you are a buyer of a business or an investment banker, it is critical to figure out the motivation of the seller. In today’s episode, I tell the story of the reluctant seller, whose spouse was driving the transaction that he wasn’t committed to make happen. Ev [...]

Duration: 00:08:19


078 - Smart and Lazy People

8/11/2016
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One of my favorite books is “On War” from an early 19th century Prussian general, Claus von Clausewitz. This is possibly the most famous book on military strategy after “Art of War”, that most of you have heard of. In his book Clausewitz talks about grouping officers into four clusters in terms of their intelligence and diligence. There are the dumb and lazy officers, who should be left alone. The smart and diligent officers must be taken great care of, as they will get everything done and...

Duration: 00:11:00


076 - Pick One You Trust and Trust Them

8/6/2016
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In today’s episode, I am sharing two stories from my time as an investment banker. The first is about a large construction company, where the owners got greedy and second-guessed their advisor. The second is a company where the seller had complete confidence in us. As you may have guessed it, these two deals turned out very differently. Listen to my stories making the case that if you cannot trust your investment banker, you should not hire him or her. Do your due diligence up front and...

Duration: 00:16:57


073 - The Constructive Role of Procrastination

7/30/2016
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Procrastination, the action of postponing or delaying something that needs to be accomplished, is generally seen as a negative habit, that we should all try to kick. Psychologist attribute it to perfectionism, laziness, distraction and other negative factors. However, I have found procrastination to affect almost everyone to some extent, even diligent and disciplined people. In today’s episode, I am making the case that procrastination may be a useful activity that allows us to get things...

Duration: 00:10:07


070 - Growth is Where the Discomfort is

7/23/2016
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Had a great session with one of my Vistage members this morning. We reflected on the last meeting, which she thought was one of the best… while I thought it was a disaster… (check out episode 053). I came to realize that that for any of our meeting to be worthwhile, there must be some drama or conflict happening. We learn nothing if we are just nice and courteous and don’t bank heads or confront each other. Personal growth requires stretching ourselves, which is uncomfortable. Tune into...

Duration: 00:05:15


069 - Ways to Pay a Purchase Price

7/20/2016
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There is an investment banking proverb which says: “You can name your price if I am allowed to name my terms.” The purchase price for a business can be paid in different forms allowing the buyer to save cash and share some of the risks of the business with the seller. The most common is of course cash, but it’s rare that 100% is paid up front. Typically 10-30% of a cash price is held in escrow to secure the indemnities the seller is willing to grant to support their representations and...

Duration: 00:11:10


068 - Explosive Family Transition

7/19/2016
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Last week at a Charlotte Vistage seminar a colleague of mine told us a story of a family business transition that was potentially explosive. The founder bequeathed a family business to his son and daughter, who became equal shareholders. The founder’s son took over running the business while his daughter stayed out of the company and continued her career. In a few years, the business was doubled in size and tripled its profits. When the founder got sick, my friend got into an uncomfortable...

Duration: 00:06:02


067 - Let Your Cash Flow Build Your Business

7/18/2016
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I am surprised to see the number of loans and financing offers banks and lending companies issue to small business owners. And when those businesses start to make a profit, venture capital companies jump into the fray. It is not money these start-ups need but talent and time to create a differentiated service that is able to gain traction in the marketplace. Large successful companies like Google often spin off entrepreneurial talent supported by minimal resources to let them experiment...

Duration: 00:06:45


066 - Sell a Business to Start Another

7/17/2016
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I had coffee this morning with a successful entrepreneur, who recently went through a sales process with a private equity group, only to see the deal go up in smoke in the 11th hour. Perhaps surprisingly, my CEO friend decided to keep the business and make it even better and even embark on an acquisition spree that the private equity group wanted to lead. Tune into today’s show about how entrepreneurs view their business, what they like and hate about it and how it influences their...

Duration: 00:06:29


065 - Travel Outside Your Industry

7/16/2016
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People tend to look to their peers for ideas. Especially their industry peers, as they assume that the best of them have become successful by having developed best practices. In reality, there is an infinite potential for new ideas, however, advanced the industry. And the easiest place to find good ideas that work is t look at other industries. By travelling outside your industry, you can pick up well-tested ideas that no one is using in your market. You have the chance to become an...

Duration: 00:10:49


064 - Riding 4 Horses with a Single A–

7/15/2016
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When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me “don’t try to ride two horses with one a*s”. Recently I have noticed that I am trying to ride not just two, but four horses. (Not mentioning my personal life, which is probably is at least another horse or two). My horses are coaching groups and individuals, publishing my daily Succession Secrets podcast show, gearing up to become a public speaker and growing my coaching business. I feel I should prioritize, but I have no heart to kick out any of...

Duration: 00:06:05


063 - The Real Reason for the Sale

7/14/2016
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I recently bumped into a fund manager friend, whom I will call Bill. He told me that people don’t appreciate anymore the “buy-and-hold-forever” philosophy of his fund. I inquired about an example when they did appreciate that in the past. He mentioned about the exiting owner of a contracting company, which chose his fund over a competing strategic buyer, as they offered a “long term future” for his employees. (On further inquiry, it turned out that the seller cheated key staff members...

Duration: 00:10:49


062 - Variables Affecting The Succession Decision

7/13/2016
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I identified 5 major variables to the succession decision. Today’s episode is about discussing these. The first variable is the trigger. There are three triggers to transition, including (1) a compelling alternative future for the business owner / leader (another career, post-entrepreneurial pursuits, etc.); (2) her potential inability to continue running the business (ill health, unsustainable/loss making business); and (3) a potential case of burnout (able to continue, but no more steam...

Duration: 00:10:00


061 - Inside vs Outside Successor

7/12/2016
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Today I am answering Mark’s question from Henrico, VA. Business owners often grapple with the dilemma whether to promote an existing employee or business partner or bring someone from outside to succeed them. Surprise, surprise… it depends. Some of the variables are the type of culture the business have, the sensitivity of staff members to a transition, the time needed to groom a successor, any skill gaps the company have and the potential for an outside successor to bring a book or...

Duration: 00:07:00


060 - Always Propose a Rational Deal

7/11/2016
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In my experience as an investment banker, business owners often did not understand how to negotiate the sale of their business. Many of them thought that negotiation is about pressuring people to give up most of their upside to make the transaction sweeter for them. This is the so called win-lose strategy. It can work in situations where one party holds all the cards and the other is forced to deal, such as in near-bankruptcy cases. In most M&A deals however, the parties will not do a...

Duration: 00:07:41


059 - Reverse Engineer and Execute like Crazy

7/10/2016
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I would like to share with you a simple recipe that I used to generate revenue and kick-start my business when times were bleak. It is about setting a target, reverse engineering the input actions required to reach that target and to execute those actions. It’s easier said than done, as an entrepreneur is faced with constant distractions from the outside as well as from her own curious and excitement seeking mind. It is all too easy to be seduced by the next shiny object of an idea. On...

Duration: 00:10:45


058 - Successful with or without you

7/9/2016
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Did you ever waver whether to be “tough” with people when they did not perform to your expectations? Worrying that they would leave and you might have to pick up their tasks and look for new employees who might not end up any better? In today’s show I make the case for setting boundaries and high expectation for people. How to be tough on them, still keep them and turn them into high performers. How to dangle the carrot too so that they have a reason to stay beyond the pay check. I...

Duration: 00:08:40

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