Why You Must Be a Courageous Leader with Michael Resnik at TriFold

Company growth in times of change requires leaders to have a rock-solid foundation for your culture and leadership. Today, we keep the conversation going on living your values to align the team. Living your values starts with hiring people that have the same attitude to work and life as you. You can teach them skills, but hiring those that are living your values before they arrive at your company will make leading them easier. My guest today is Jeff Kingsley, CEO of IACT Health. We look at how living your values drive growth. Jeff shares his journey of starting a mission-driven company after leaving the traditional medical field. Discover the strategies of living your values in today’s interview.

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Michael Resnik: The Transcript

Target Audience: Michael Reznik is the CEO at TriFold LLC. TriFold is a manufacturer of folding mobility products for everyday use. TriFold’s vision is to revolutionize mobility. TriFold’s line of mobility products under the UpCart® brand (http://www.UpCart.com), is a way for people to overcome everyday mobility challenges and make their lives easier.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Michael Resnik
You’re going to succeed as a company, you have to do something novel, something different to differentiate yourself from somebody else. Right? And the only way you’re going to do that is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. That takes courage, right? courage, I think is defined as something that you’re fearful, right, overcoming something you’re afraid. Well in a business context, that’s put yourself out of your comfort zone doing something you haven’t done before. And you have to be able to take those risks. You have to be able to try something that’s most hasn’t done. Otherwise, you’re not going to really stand out from the crowd.

Intro [0:34]
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

Gene Hammett [0:52]
Courage, we all have to be more courageous as the business grows. Leadership is not for the faint of heart. I know I’ve been there. And I interview a lot of people who are courageous to, you know, the highest levels. But how do you get there? How do you get to the point of being a courageous leader? Well, we’re going to talk about that today. But I will share with you a little story from my journey as an entrepreneur and as a leader. I ran a business for nine years, I had a tremendous amount of faith and courage around what I was doing. And in fact, I didn’t have much fear. But after about three years, and we get to 5 million in revenue, I felt more afraid. I felt the fear of losing what I had to go after what I really wanted. I wanted to innovate. I wanted to really push the business to a new business model, but I wouldn’t let myself do it. I talked about it, but I didn’t do anything about it. And so courage was something that just faded away. I became complacent. I share that with you because I wrote a book about it called the trap of success. I’m not here to sell you books, but we’re going to talk about courage from the perspective of what does it take to be a courageous leader. Today’s guest is Michael Resnik. He is the co-founder of TriFold. They create a very unique, innovative product that helps people move products upstairs, and they have some other innovations that we’ll talk about today. One of the things I like most about it, he talks about the need for us to pass along courage to our employees. That’s a very critical aspect of you as a leader as you develop them. So stay tuned to this interview with Michael.

Commercial [2:33]
Thanks for tuning in here to Growth Think Tank. Really excited about sharing this with you. And before you run. I have done so many interviews in the last few weeks. I have such an exciting time to share with you. Those interviews have been organized into the 12 core principles of fast-growth companies. So all you have to do to get that is going to genehammett.com/worksheet. So you can get the 12 principles and I’ve been able to Go in there and find which episodes will align with each individual episode. When you subscribe to Growth Think Tank, you will find exactly what you need so that you can move forward. And many of them haven’t been published yet, depending on when you’re hearing this, but you can tune in to the date that means the most to you. Now, here is the interview with Michael Resnik.

Gene Hammett [3:19]
Hi, Michael, how are you?

Michael Resnik [3:20]
I’m doing well. How are you doing?

Gene Hammett [3:21]
I am fantastic. I wanted to let you know I’ve already introduced the concept of TriFold to them and until them a little bit, Michael, but what is the context in our TriFold? And what would what context you have that you can share with us?

Michael Resnik [3:38]
Sure, so it TriFold we’re a small family business that we really care about improving the mobility and independence and productivity of our customers. So we make mobility products that help people get heavy or bulky stuff up and down the stairs or uneven surfaces. Our whole purpose and what we do is we innovate we create new products that make it easy for people able to get through their day, whether that be an elderly individual trying to get the groceries into the house, or a small business owner delivering product samples or packages to someone’s office location, we really strive to make things easier for people.

Gene Hammett [4:16]
Well, we’re going to talk about innovation today and being a leader who creates innovation culture. And one of the big core aspects behind that, that we’ve already been talking about is courage. So why is courage such an important piece to accompany in their growth?

Michael Resnik [4:35]
Well, I mean, the reality is, is that if you’re going to succeed as a company, you have to do something novel, something different. You have to differentiate yourself from somebody else, right? And the only way you’re going to do that is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. That takes courage, right? courage, I think is defined as you know, something that you’re fearful of right overcoming something you’re afraid of, well in a business context, that’s pushing out of your comfort zone doing something you haven’t done before. And, you know, you have to be able to take those risks. You have to be able to try something that someone else hasn’t done. Otherwise, you’re not going to really stand out from the crowd.

Gene Hammett [5:13]
Well, we have all had to call on that courage. When you said overcoming fears give us an idea of a fear that you had to face in the journey of growing TriFold.

Michael Resnik [5:26]
Probably the most fundamental one, which is a fear I have every single day when you work in corporate and I came out of the Fortune 500 it’s OPM, other people’s money, right. When you are starting your own business, you’re signing on the dotted line. I mean, that is your personal money. That’s your life savings, that’s your family’s well being. So every decision you make related to financials, that is money that is your kid’s college, and that’s your mortgage payment. And so a fear that you have to overcome as you can’t be stifled by that you have to be willing to make those. Take those risks and invest in the future of your company. And you have to have the confidence and faith that you’re going to be able to manage through that. That’s a fear that is always there. Right?

Gene Hammett [6:11]
Well, I know that I’ve had that fear before because when I ran my business years ago when we got up to about 5 million, I had no fear. Like, I just didn’t know. I didn’t know that that was hard. And when I got to the five days and I found myself got a little bit more complacent. Have you seen any kind of complacency that you’ve had to really address and put a spotlight on for you to continue the growth that you have?

Michael Resnik [6:38]
Yeah, you know, I wouldn’t say necessarily complacency. I think the scale makes your decision-making process alter. So I think when we were first getting started any expense over 100 bucks, I was like, scrutinizing you know, as you continue to grow, those expenses get larger, the money, the size, those checks get bigger, and so you start getting a little bit higher threshold. And what it is that you’re sensitive to. And that’s, that’s dangerous, right? I wouldn’t call that complacency. But you know, you’re going to take, you’re gonna allow one more rope. And so that money goes a lot faster. So you do have to have some controls in place to make sure that you’re not just saying, Okay, well, that’s only where it used to be, oh my god, that’s 150 bucks. I’m like, Oh, that’s only $5,000. Let’s give a try. Right. So you have to have a good plan in place to manage how much risk are you willing to take? How much budget Are you willing to allocate to those types of things? So yeah, I mean, I think you do have to be careful, because of the scale changes, and so your decision-making process to change along with it.

Commercial [7:36]
So Michael just talked about being complacent and that feeling of complacency. Well, I felt it too. I shared a little bit of my story from before. But let me just remind you, the trap of success is a book that I wrote a couple of years ago about my journey of losing it all. But looking back and realizing what I was missing. As a founder and as a leader of a team. I’d fallen complacent with how I was evolved. And that really did limit how the business grew, how I grew, it limited my revenues. But I didn’t see it at the time, it took something dramatic in my life that I wrote about in the book to help me see what I couldn’t see before. So here’s your wake up call. If you want to make sure you’re living courageously, you’ve got to look at some of the fears that have a grasp on you, and what they really mean. Back to the interview with Michael.

Michael Resnik [8:27]
One of the areas I see within leadership, once you get to, you know, the point you are with your company because you made the inkless number 239. You had a 17,000% plus growth over a three year period. And you know, you were at about 7 million and I know you’ve probably grown since then. But you have to be the leader to others and pass along that courage. Tell me a little bit about why that’s necessary for you as a company continues.

Michael Resnik [8:56]
Well, at the beginning of this conversation, you mentioned you asked me how many employees we had You know, we only have six employees, you can’t continue to grow and operate at this level. If you don’t instill in your employees, that sense of ownership, and that ability for them to be courageous and take ownership and take some of those risks, right? The way I’ve always tried to coach them into my team is, look, I don’t want to hear about if it’s less than X amount of dollars, or if it’s, you know, let’s set a threshold. It’s your responsibility to make those decisions, and I pushed them out of their comfort zone a little bit, you know, it doesn’t mean you let them jump without a parachute. You know, we check-in, we say, Okay, what decisions would you make?

Michael Resnik [9:33]
Let’s review is that a good or bad decision, but I try not to step in and correct mistakes, actually let them make some of those mistakes so they can learn from them. I think part of what you have to do is you have to test them learn constantly, you have to take a calculated risk, make a decision, and if it fails, that’s not a bad thing. That’s a learning opportunity. And as long as you have good safety net have controls in place saying, Look, I’ll let you make a decision up to X amount of dollars beyond that, yeah, let’s review it. And so I think that’s the way that we’re able to continue to not only have my team feel like they own what they’re working on, but also continue to expand and grow their courage and their leadership skills.

Commercial [10:10]
Hold on for a second, Michael just talked about, you’re creating a place where people feel like owners the sense of ownership? Well, it’s one of the areas where I’ve spoken about it on big stages. Let me give you the data. When I went out and interviewed over 500 employees, they gave me back some of the core factors of their growth and within their culture and leadership. And the number one factor was we want our people to feel a sense of ownership, we want them to own their projects, own the client experience. And in fact, 88% said it was important or very important to the success of their company, for them to create this feeling of ownership across the culture. And I share that with you because I want to make sure you know how important it is to other fast-growth leaders. And so that you can actually model that by listening to the show and by you know, checking in with me if you have any questions. About what ownership means inside your culture and your leadership. Now back to the interview.

Gene Hammett [11:05]
Ownership is one of the most important areas that fast-growth companies have really focused on within the leadership and culture. And I look at different areas like transparency, inclusion, empowerment, which of those three or something? And you may say all three, but which of the three? Are you really focused on the culture of the company?

Michael Resnik [11:31]
I mean, it’s hard to avoid inclusion, because we’re all in the same office every single day, we have a small shop. So I mean, they could hear me on the phone, you know, I can hear them. So inclusions, definitely, that’s a given. You have to work towards that. I would say, you know, transparency is one of those things where, again, with a small shop, it’s really easy to do, but you also have to be a little careful. I mean, as a leader, you know, it doesn’t matter how to size organization is, there are some things that you need to make sure aren’t sure. You want to scare your employees, I mean, I have a tolerance for risk that is much higher than what theirs might be. So, you know, you kind of have to balance that, like I want them to feel like they understand what’s going on. And we actually, even though we’re a small shop, we do quarterly offsite. Like, we’ll actually get out of the office once a quarter. And I want everybody to be involved in the strategy of all take a turn to present to the rest of the team, what they’re working on, what’s working, what is and what can we do better. And then we talk about our next three months or six months or a year together as a team. And I think all those things, even though we’re a small company, it allows them to feel like they really have structure and a voice. I think that’s important.

Gene Hammett [12:41]
Yep, you’re absolutely correct it adds to that sense or feeling of ownership, which gives them much more by an end to the work and you’ve benefited from that. When you think about, you know, some of the mistakes that you’ve made in this journey is there something that It kind of stands out that that really did test your, your courage and your resolve as a leader.

Michael Resnik [13:07]
God good mistakes. Let me count the ways Oh, geez, you have to pick just one. Now, I mean, there are along the path, there’s always a lot of mistakes. I’ll just to give you some examples. My company’s revised the innovation, right? We invented a new product that didn’t exist, we created a market didn’t exist. And, you know, we, I think sometimes fall back on what got us here. And so we started to innovate faster. And so we launched products that weren’t necessarily ready for the market. We didn’t take the same care and attention that we did with our first products. And so when we launched them, they didn’t have the same level of quality.

Michael Resnik [13:50]
We were a little quick to come to the market. We didn’t put the same careful attention to making sure because we got all confident to your punch from earlier. Right. Oh, we’ve already done it several times. We know to make a couple of products, boom, we do something different and it wasn’t all received by the market. And so that was definitely, you know, a pretty good mistake could cost us a fair amount of money but more importantly reputation, right trifold and our brand up card. And I mean, the reason that we do so on the market is we’re not trying to go after the bottom of the market. We are a premium product, we charge more than our competitors do. And we stand behind our quality, right, we have a lifetime warranty. But when you have a product that you bring to market doesn’t have that degree of quality, and not so much concerned about how much it cost us to r&d it. I don’t want to damage our brand.

Gene Hammett [14:35]
Yeah, it’s it is a tough balance there. You know, waiting for things to be perfect. You know, of course, we know there’s never going to be perfect. And that’s one reason why we’re talking to you. You’ve got an innovative brand. You’re your top leader in the market, but also you really believe in leading people. Not just an army of doers. You really want them to be empowered around The work that they’re doing when you think about the evolution of your business, what do you focus on next?

Michael Resnik [15:09]
So innovation is a core of what we do. But part of that innovation comes with understanding your market. And you have to always talk to customers to understand, you know, what is the next thing that they’re looking for. We’ve come up with different degrees or different capacities for our products, everything from, you know, a lightweight 80 pounder just to get groceries up to 200 pounders that can hold, you know, small compressor, small plates as furniture. But our customers keep asking that we want something to hold more weight.

Michael Resnik [15:40]
So we haven’t gone into the b2b category, where we can actually deliver to like plumbers, electricians, h backs, guys, people like delivery drivers like FedEx ups. So we’re developing a 400-pound capacity hand truck, which is targeted specifically at the small commercial, small industrial market. And then our patents are actually really pretty broad and We have a roadmap of products we’re looking at on the road or something like maybe a baby stroller, maybe medical devices, help people with oxygen tanks, nebulizers, or even rescue wheelchairs. So we kind of have a pretty exciting roadmap down the path. And part of the challenge then is, you know, where do you go next, right? You want to grow and scale the business in measured steps, and you know, nothing you don’t, you know, you don’t completely get courageous and try something very different. But you also have to take a calculated risk.

Gene Hammett [16:31]
You know, you mentioned the value of that quarterly off-site with your team, to align people together and to talk about how you’re going to move forward, or any other rituals that you have seen that really move the needle as it relates to the courage of the company or you guys really binding together as a family.

Michael Resnik [16:52]
You know, I mean, a lot of little things, right? I mean, the culture of the businesses really, it’s not anyone thing I mean, you know, we bring our has to work, right? You know, just having my dog Shelby sit here beneath my feet right here. But beyond that, you know, we still do team meetings, we try to minimize meetings because we’re not a corporate or a small shop. But I’ve actually realized the value of still getting the team together on a weekly basis to have an all-hands meeting, right, and just make sure that we’re on the same page. Because it’s very easy to get caught up in your day today. And before a note, a couple of weeks have passed by and, you know, I know what I’m working on. But I might not know what someone who sits next to me every single day is working on. And so even though, you know the beauty of having your own companies, you don’t have to have a bunch of meetings. There’s value there, right, as long as you have an agenda and you have a purpose to do it. And so that’s, you know, some of the things where we have structure were necessary, but avoided, we’re not. I think that’s part of what allows us to do that.

Gene Hammett [17:53]
As we wrap this up, Michael, I want to kind of ask you about some of your personal habits or rituals. that allow you to be more courageous. And I have no idea what you might say here. It could be something around meditation or visualization, or there’s some other thing that you’ve done that really keeps you aligned with being courageous. What comes to mind?

Michael Resnik [18:16]
I’d say, Well, two things. One, I did start journaling and meditating. Right. So the meditation is something I’m still learning. But journaling has been really helpful. So every morning, I go through and I markdown, you know, what am I grateful for, just to start the day with some gratitude, and talk about what would be awesome to accomplish today? You know, what can I learn from yesterday, to make today better?

Michael Resnik [18:38]
I’m a big believer and trying to do a little bit better every single day. And I mean, a lot of that is also taking the risk of being courageous, right? I can review the last reflect on the last day and say, You know what, I really had an opportunity to be more courageous and I haven’t. And, you know, just going through that thought process that exercises every morning, and just to layout my partner’s priorities for the day. More importantly, that Just planning. It’s reflecting on what can I learn from yesterday to make today better. The other thing and you’re more of a personal note, now I’m a cancer survivor. The so last year 2018, I was diagnosed with cancer. And, you know, grant that was courageous up until then. But once you go through something like that, and I’m cancer-free, you know, I’m good now. But once you go through some like that, it changes your perspective on life.

Michael Resnik [19:24]
You know, it’s actually allowed me to be courageous also different ways. I’ve cut back my hours substantially. And as an entrepreneur, I mean, I was working 100 plus hour weeks, and what I’ve learned is that I can actually let go and get my teamwork, they actually have stepped up and I found a better work-life balance. And that takes courage. I mean, to let go of something you’ve built and created and you spend so much time and, and I thought, oh my god, the sky is gonna fall. And it hasn’t. I mean, if anything, you know, it’s given them to your point earlier, more ownership or more accountability and that makes the whole team workplaces.

Gene Hammett [20:02]
Well, that is a fantastic look back. The reason I bring that up is I’ve seen a lot of founders that have embraced some type of regular rituals that allow them to keep tuning in every day. And appreciate you sharing the specific measures that you do, Michael, thank you for being here at the podcast Growth think tank and appreciate your wisdom.

Michael Resnik [20:25]
Happy to share thank you for an opportunity.

Gene Hammett [20:29]
Wow, what a powerful interview. I love talking about courage because I see so many leaders that know that courage is necessary, but yet they’re playing a game to not lose instead of playing to win. They let themselves you know fall into this drift or they focus on the day to day details of a business and don’t really become the strategic leaders they need to be. If you know that’s you that I’d love to talk to you and get to know you a little bit. I love to help share some resources with you if you want to reach out to me, gene@genehammett.com is the best way to connect with me. Again, you want to be a courageous leader move it to the next level. Just reach out to me, gene@genehammett.com as always lead with courage. Well, see you next time.


Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.


GTT Featuring Michael Resnik



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