Why I agreed to Inc. Magazine’s @JohnWarrillow for an interview

Share my story?

A few months ago I was contacted by a company whose job is to secure guests  for various podcasts. The interested interviewer was John Warrillow, Inc. Magazine columnist and author of the book Built to Sell. They asked would I be interested in sharing my story with John’s audience.

Throughout his career as an entrepreneur, Warrillow has started and exited four companies. Most recently he transformed Warrillow & Co. from a boutique consultancy into a recurring revenue model subscription business, which he sold to The Corporate Executive Board (NASDAQ: EXBD) in 2008. He  was recognized by BtoB Magazine’s “Who’s Who” list as one of America’s most influential business-to-business marketers.

In Warrillow’s Built to Sell Radio podcast he gets former business owners to share insights, experience and wisdom on the topic of selling a business with his audience. I have always learned best by real life experience and “story” and to be interviewed on my experience would be my opportunity to share with others what I had learned.

Learn from other’s stories

Those of you who know me know I sold my businesses in 2014. It is a story with value for other business owners and when I am asked questions like “why did you sell?” or “what was the process like?” I love sharing it. Selling a business is not just an event that might happen, for business owners it is inevitable. It must be thought about, planned for and eventually executed – the only other option being closing it.

As soon as I found out about the podcast I subscribed to it – I love listening to real-life stories of business people. I was hooked from the very first podcast. John is an excellent interviewer and has a great ability to balance asking relevant questions for the content he is known for providing and allowing a guest to tell their story.

For the Built to Sell Radio podcast individuals interviewed must have the following qualifications:

  1. Sold a business within the last 2 years.
  2. Sale was an outright sale (not transferred between partners.)
  3. The business grossed at least one million dollars or more at the time of the sale.

Some of those interviewed were closer to me in scope, others were companies many times my size, but the reality is size does not matter. What matters is how a company is run, how good of leader the owner is, how well they plan and surround themselves with smarter-than-themselves people and finally maximizing ROI when selling. My story is unique to me, but the principles are broad and common.

Listen to the interview


About Built to Sell Radio

bts-radioBuilt to Sell Radio is a weekly podcast for business owners. Each week, a recently cashed out entrepreneur is asked why they decided to sell, what they did right and what mistakes they made through the process of exiting their business. A great resource for business owners.

About Built to Sell the book

Built to Sell book

According to Warrillow, the number one mistake entrepreneurs make is to build a business that relies too heavily on them. Thus, when the time comes to sell, buyers aren’t confident that the company-even if it’s profitable-can stand on its own. To illustrate this, Warrillow introduces us to a fictional small business owner who is struggling to sell his advertising agency and turns to another entrepreneur for help.

About Inc. Magazine

Inc. Magazine coverI am and have been an Inc. Magazine freak for 20 years. Inc. shares real life stories of business owners and the one magazine I have kept a subscription to for decades. One of my favorites, Norm Brodsky is a veteran business owner and has written in Inc. for years. His column is my favorite and I have learned from and shared dozens of his anecdotes and business lessons. (Norm actually personally responded to me on one of my tweets – I’ll never wash the “@” key again!?). Norm doesn’t know it, but my goal in life is to be his replacement when he finally hangs up his pen!

I hope you enjoy the listen and come back and share your insights and experience with others here!

Are you a Leader or a Boss?

You can choose your path

Leader – a person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.
Boss – a person who makes decisions, exercises authority, dominates, etc.

There seems to be little difference between leader and boss…at least by dictionary definition. But, in life and business there is a huge difference. We’ve all had bosses: some good, some bad. You may have had the great experience of having a real leader as a boss, but they usually don’t last long. Promotions follow a real leader as they move beyond their potential. Simple bosses stay in the same position for a long time.

Band of Brothers

One of my favorite movies is the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. It is the story of WWII’s Easy Company and follows them from paratrooper training through to the end of the war (if you haven’t watched it you must!). In it you will see so many clear examples of the difference between leader and boss and the ramifications of each.

Easy Company’s best example of a leader was Dick Winters. He was not only smart and compassionate, he was dedicated to those he led. He wouldn’t ask his men to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. He knew how to be under authority and yet was willing to risk his rank to do the right thing.

Want to be a leader? Do what leaders do and you’ll be one!

Winters #1 trait was integrity. The decisions he made, whether dealing with the men he led or those he reported to, were consistent. An interesting observation by author Tom Stanley in his book The Millionaire Mind, a study of deca-millionaires, was the largest predictor of financial success is integrity. Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. Bosses do what is right at the moment, what is convenient, what is best for them. Leaders do what is right for the mission, for the situation and for others.

Winters #2 trait was collaboration. He was a man who knew how to gain the cooperation of those he  worked with. An example of world-changing collaboration is Drs. Watson and Crick, who didn’t know each other particularly well before they began their work together trying to understand the structure of the DNA molecule. But, by building on the work of the chemist Dr. Rosalind Franklin, they were able to describe the double helix that we now know forms the framework for the basic building blocks of all life – and to lay the foundation for understanding the human genome. Bosses seek their own fame and fortune, see others as tools to be used in their own ascent and leave a trail of brokenness. Leaders value the strengths of others, recognize the importance of their own gifts and work to bring both together to a place of 1+1=3..

Winters #3 trait was influence. He knew that his position of leadership was not about him, but about his ability to influence others around him. At times, influence is strong, forceful and decisive. At other times it is encouraging, supportive and compassionate. But a leader’s influence is always used for the good of the cause, the good of others and the support of the mission. We live daily seeing the power of influence. You need look no further than simple TV commercials to see the power and effect influence can have. Leaders use their charisma and influence in the service of improving others, benefiting the overall goals of whatever endeavor they are involved in. Bosses manipulate and use whatever influence they can to benefit self.

Other traits exemplified by Winters were creating vision and organizing and managing his team to accomplish the overall mission and goals of his team. He led by example, but knew “being in charge” was not something to pat himself on the back for, but rather a position of service to others – both those he leads and those he reports to. Leaders view their role as being under, serving and supporting others. Bosses view “being in charge” as a chance to advance their own agenda, benefit their own cause and take it easy letting others do all the work.

Leaders lead, even if only themselves for a time!

Whether you currently are in charge of a large team of people or have yet to be put in that  position, you have the choice to be a leader or simply be a boss. I’ve seen companies where the owner was not a leader, but simply a boss. Many “dis’s” follow such a person: disfunction, distrust, disorganization…and eventually disaster. I’ve also seen leaders in the most humble of positions. The eventuality for most of them is they won’t stay in that position for long. “Pro’s” follow them: proactive, producer and eventually promotion!

Be a leader, not just a boss, and watch the lives of those around you improve…and then yours.