Getting your employees to innovate and create value means you are encouraging entrepreneurial thinking. Leaders that develop employees by embracing entrepreneurial thinking see a lift in loyalty and problem-solving. My guest today is Dane Maxwell, author of Start from Zero. We look at entrepreneurial thinking inside the organization. Discover how you can lead others to think like entrepreneurs.
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Dane Maxwell: The Transcript
Target Audience: Dane Maxwell is the Head Honcho at The Foundation. He is also the author of Start from Zero.
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.
If you can build an Inc 5000 company find find product market fit and do all this stuff. If you wrote down How do I build a business, I don’t have to work and it actually thought about it, you’d probably be able to do it. With that in place if you want to build a business you don’t have to work in, there’s certain things you cannot be lazy with. And there are other things you can. The things you can’t be lazy with are, you must have a very clear customer, you must have a very clear articulable result. And you must have a very clear mechanism that you have to provide those customers with that clear result clear customer clear customer clear result clear mechanism.
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs 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 [1:02]
We all want our employees to create value across the company. We want them to innovate on problems that we don’t even know exist. We want them to be proactive. This is entrepreneurial thinking. When you lead a team of people who think like entrepreneurs, you have something powerful, you have something where they’re able to share their own ideas, they’re able to make decisions, they think, with ownership. Now, I know how powerful this is. But today in this episode, we’re going to talk about how powerful it is for you, and what you can learn from other entrepreneurs about entrepreneurial thinking. Today, our guest is Dane. Maxwell. He’s had many successes. He’s been on the inkless before with his companies, but today he shares with us some of the insights behind his new book start from zero. It really is about, you know, what does it take to think like an entrepreneur and have this entrepreneurial thinking that drives the company to new levels of growth and success inside this interview. One of the things I like about it We talked about the difference between ownership and expert. You may think you want everyone to be at ownership. But if you get them to think like owners, there’s a power behind that too.
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’s the interview with Dane.
Gene Hammett [2:55]
Hi Dane, how are you?
Dane Maxwell [2:56]
I’m doing good man. Thanks for having me.
Gene Hammett [2:58]
Well excited to have you on the show. I really want to talk about this book, but also some elements around it that would make us better leaders. Let’s kick off this with, you’ve got a new book coming out, launching March 31. Why did you have to write this book?
Dane Maxwell [3:15]
I have a tendency to hide from my self-worth. And I can self-sabotage in interesting ways. So I’ve accomplished quite a bit in the business world, but I wouldn’t let myself really know that. So, you know, I built a fully self-managed company, I’ve had an Inc 5000 fastest growing company. And I’ve got a CEO that runs a business that I meet with quarterly that I’ve got, I’ve achieved, like pretty remarkable things in business, just factually. A 10-year-old business with a CEO that doesn’t even step foot in, you know, most entrepreneurs aren’t able to do that. And I would still tell myself, I’m either garbage or piece of crap. And someone asked a book publisher of the con, a book publisher contacted me and asked me if I was to want to write a book on entrepreneurship. And I said You know what, it’s time to put the beast of pattern recognition with a business that I built through all the failure into one comprehensive book. And I wanted to create a book that the world had never seen before. Nothing like it exists, and I don’t think anything like it ever will. And it’s got so much research and data, and results and examples in it, that were quite an upper limit for me to face.
So primarily selfishly, it was for me to stop hiding from my own potency in business. And putting in everything really clearly in a book really made me come front and center with it. So I would write parts of the book and see how good I was at something and be like, I can’t be this good. This and so then I’d hire a self-image coach or therapy coach to be like, I’m really unable to receive my own brilliance. And, and, and so, and it’s like I’m not brilliant at everything I just happen to have a really good sense for business. So anyway, that was selfish. And then the second thing was as a gift for humanity with like, this fully comprehensive, fully giving anything away, doesn’t it doesn’t it’s not like you get the sense that the book was like a clever play, to get someone to buy a course or anything. It’s really on there.
And then finally, third, I made a tremendous mistake early in my life and I stole part of a sales letter from someone I really admire. And he called me out on it and I took it down within one business day. He’s like, Dude, what are you doing is like, oh, I’m sorry. And I took it down and apologized profusely and continued to over the years and lost my friendship with and lost my connection. with him and five years later he publicly bashed me in front of the entire internet for stealing part of a sales letter and called me a fraud and scam publicly. And that hurts so much to have one of my someone I looked up as to a mentor appear to do that. And so I own that mistake. I own that I screwed up there. And I apologize publicly to that man by name in the book as a mistake that I made. And I and I wanted it hurt so bad to be called a fraud that I wanted also, for there to be no question in people’s mind that I could ever be anything like that.
Gene Hammett [6:45]
Well, I appreciate you sharing that with us. I want to you know, kind of bring our audience into the conversation we had a few weeks ago where you reached out wanting to be on the show. I remembered your name instantly. I remember the number of the episode it was I remember where I was when I listened to it. It was that first podcast episode that I ever just caught me right smack between the eyes. And it was Smart Passive income, Episode Number 46 with Pat Flynn, Pat Flynn. Pat’s been on the show before, included him in my book, and I remember distinctly some of the details behind that interview and how powerful it was. So that’s a reason why you’re here on the show today, Dane.
Dane Maxwell [7:28]
What are the powerful things in that? Did I go on too long about why I wrote the book? I apologize.
Gene Hammett [7:33]
Dane Maxwell [7:35]
You can tell me if I did you know.
Gene Hammett [7:36]
The thing I remember.
Dane Maxwell [7:38]
I just figured Inc. 5000. CEOs, let’s just be as brutally honest as.
Gene Hammett [7:42]
Well, I’m sure they can appreciate that. The thing I remember around that interview was, you know, similar to the title of your book, Start from Zero, right. is how do you take an idea and how do you know that it’s going to work? How do you research it? How do you go out there and dig into this? And what I remember is you is your uncle who had a real estate business and you’re like, tell me about some of the problems you got going on. And you end up creating like this paper document flow many years ago for the real estate industry. Is that fair to say?
Dane Maxwell [8:23]
Yeah, paperless pipeline.com didn’t come up with the idea didn’t build it built the first version in eight weeks $2 million business today.
Gene Hammett [8:32]
And, yeah, that’s what I remember. I didn’t do anything with it. But I did follow what you were doing through the foundation. I did follow, you know, kind of the concepts behind it. I was committed to what I was doing, and I’m like, you know, I’m not gonna create a, you know, I
Dane Maxwell [8:47]
You may have not, you may have not directly done anything with it, but I bet you probably did some stuff on the ancillary like…
Gene Hammett [8:53]
Oh, for sure. Yeah. Because of research that that, you know, I still believe in that today. I mean, from my research So trying to understand the mindset of founders and CEOs driving fast-growth companies, yes, part of the reason why I have the podcast, let the secret out of the bag, I get to talk to, you know, probably about 10 to a dozen founders every week. And I get to talk to them about what they’re doing well, what they’re challenged with, and it gives my finger on the pulse of what they’re doing. And I learn new ideas, but I’m also better to serve them because I know them. So that goes way back. That was probably I don’t know, six, seven years ago, because this podcast has been six years. So let’s, when we talked, setting up this book, I know the book, you know, you talked about, you know why you wrote it, but you also believe that in order to you know, really kind of lead a company, you believe in self-managing companies, which I do too, like how do you what are the core concepts of creating this self manage company?
Dane Maxwell [10:01]
Well, yeah, so, by the way, like, no one here has to buy the book. Like, I’d rather give as much value as I can if someone wants to check out the books fine, but you don’t have to buy any books and I just want to say that the whole premise of my whole intention with businesses building businesses, I don’t have to work it.
And so, you know, my competitor of a paperless pipeline, he’s one of the biggest competitors in this space and he offered to buy me you know, he’s you know, another No thank you. And when he told me when I told him like, my lifestyle what I’m doing and you know, he may be generating more revenue than me, but he’s like, Damn you, you were able to do that. You got it like how did you set your business up to do that? as well? It’s very intentional to build a business you don’t have to work in write that down and look at it and contemplate it. You’ll probably figure it out. If you can build an Inc 5000 company find product-market fit and do all this stuff. If you wrote down How do I build a business I don’t have to work and actually thought about it, you probably be able to do it. With that in place. If you want to build a business.
You don’t have to work in, there are certain things you cannot be lazy with. And there are other things you can the things you can’t be lazy with Are you must have a very clear customer, you must have a very clear articulable result and you must have a very clear mechanism that you have to provide those customers with that clear result clear customer clear result clear mechanism. Now, most Inc 5000 companies have this down usually why they scale maybe they don’t they’re getting lucky. But if you look at like weight watchers or a Dave Ramsey, I mean it’s incredible. Dave Ramsey is one of the top guys in his field is clear customers a couple and debt. His clear result has become debt-free. His clear mechanism is the Debt Snowball, boom, he can build a multi-million dollar Empire on that premise. He also was really smart marketing was a joint venture with churches and things like that as a non-competitive space that financial gurus don’t really go in. So he was the only guy in that space. He did some cool stuff to grow. But then if you look like wait watchers clear customer women usually in their 40s are more clear result lose 10 pounds in a week is usually what they do. A clear mechanism is count points.
You can articulate your business like that weight watcher in the near billion-dollar company. So you want to talk about clear business, you want to talk about clear leadership, you want to talk about building and attracting a team. If you get those three things in place, and those are crystal clear, and then your whole marketing engine is nothing more than telling stories of the results your customers get. You can scale as big as you want. Weight Watchers goes to the billions. And all they do is tell stories of women that have lost weight. And if you were if you want to clear marketing message and find get your clear customer get them the clear result, get a clear mechanism and like three to four words, tell stories of your customers’ results. That’s the entire business. You can build and structure an incredible team around that. If that’s really clear, with my CEO for a paperless pipeline. I mean he’s incredible in the way that I found him is you know, I found him. You find people that run your companies they are generally looking for work, you know, they’re like, they’re like the top of their field, like the people that you won’t run in your company is not looking for a job. So you find those people that are highly passionate in the field that you want to hire in that are big contributors to projects that don’t give money like open-source software as a service. You want to hire open source developers, it’s just like, they’re way better than anybody else you could ever find.
The code for passion. At open source developers usually, like substantially better than a developer that pays it’s paid at Microsoft. And no offense, Microsoft or anything. It’s just one person codes because they love it and the other person codes because they’re getting paid. So I find and hire my top developer for a paperless pipeline, who groomed into the CEO from a Google group for an open-source programming language. And I did that on purpose. So but in terms of building a business, you don’t have to work and write the sentence down. Don’t be if you feel like you have the courage to write that sentence down. You probably might not even know you’re afraid.
How do I build a business I don’t have to work and maybe not contemplated then How can I look for someone to do it? If, as someone asked me, they’re like, how do you find someone to replace your company as like? Well, you can start by actually looking like cuz you’re probably not even looking. You’re just wanting it to fall in your lap if you actually looked you would. But the pipeline, I just, there’s so much trust there, you know, that I tell say, hey 25% profit margin minimum, you can do whatever you want. So I don’t know how big the team is, I don’t know the names of the people on the team might be good if I did, but that’s not you know, I don’t know if I have so like, but it’s kind of, it’s kind of nice. It’s to be that hands-off with a business. But the way I was able to do that with something like the paperless pipeline is a very clear customer, as a real estate company owner. A very clear result is not transaction management software. It’s not even so much paperless, although they might say that it’s so they can have mobility and not have to show up in the office. a broker might not even know that until you tell them clear results which Do you like to have the mobility of agents? Would you like to have a mobile office? Yes, clear customer company owner clear result, mobility, clear mechanism, simple transaction management.
Now, hold on for a second Dane just talked about the power of telling stories. Now, as a leader, one of the things that you’ve got to get really good at his ability to tell stories, not only stories of customer successes, those are great, but stories of how you want people to lead together, how you want them to take ownership. Stories really do have the power to align people. And the better you are telling those stories, the more you have a chance to connect the people around you. Now, it’s great in a sales situation, it’s great in even marketing, but when you as a leader tell stories that people are engaged with, it really will help you be the kind of leader that you want to be the back of the interview.
Gene Hammett [15:53]
Well, I appreciate your saying that when we talked about this, this whole concept and having you on the show something that I think it’s inside the book but I really believe that ink level leaders embrace this entrepreneur spirit across the workforce. Not everybody wants to be on the front lines of leadership and forego, you know, predictable check and everything but they do love their ideas to be part of a business. They will give more loyalty behind that. Talk to me a little bit about this entrepreneurial spirit across the company.
Dane Maxwell [16:28]
Yeah, I love this. I love it a lot like I like a tremendous amount in the question is how like, how can we allow our teams and employees to innovate our business for us? Find New profit centers, find new revenue streams, find new ways to talk to customers, find new ways to get our customers bolts. How do we turn our employees into an innovative workforce, and if you instill the entrepreneurial spirit in the book start from zero there are seven skills That I chose to put in there hundreds of entrepreneurial skills but I chose seven that I thought if you focused on these would build really good entrepreneurial thinking. Some of those skills are outcome thinking versus process thinking, ownership versus expertise using words that sell you know, owning your mistakes if you screw up and you know the skill and being a newbie as a skill because a lot of employees try to pry think pride themselves on wanting to know stuff.
But as founders you know, we usually sit in questions and so showing your employees like if you could show your employees how to adopt a newbie my to think like a newbie, think with ownership thinking instead of process thinking outcome thinking instead of process thinking, ownership thinking instead of being the expert, how can you own the outcome instead of having to be the expert, and then how can you own mistakes when you screw up and know that that’s not who you are, and you’re always worthy of a second chance?
Those kinds of things. If you’re able to instill in employees, By the way, this is such an exciting frontier, if any of your listeners want to reach out to me, so we could possibly do some workshop or something where I can help their organization be more entrepreneurial. I’d be all over that. All over helping that because as an owner, like if you take a hypothetical like the Colby, a profile, the Kobe profile is familiar with Kobe.
Gene Hammett [18:20]
Dane Maxwell [18:20]
Yeah, I mean, most of us are missing. If you’re in 5000. You probably know Kobe. I mean, if you were to put a team together with a high quickstart, high factfinder, high implementer, fall high follow through a team of four, and you gave them an idea and they built it out for you and you own that outcome. As an owner, founder, and you’re actually going to be surprised at what they end up creating, but they actually create a profitable product line that’s rooted in a deeply severely painful problem. That’s the process and start from zero and the process that I’ve sort of unconsciously did over and over again until I became conscious of it was find a fundamentally awful problem someone’s dealing with, then figure out and define like, it’s got to be awful like 110 degrees in a car in the summer, you don’t want to sit in that car that feels terrible.
That kind of problem is you can find them in like if you’re an Inc 5000, you got a product-market fit, you’re selling a product, you can have the process to start from zero processes, you could train them into your employees to go out and talk to your customers that are buying your product and find new pains, new problems, new solutions, and package and innovate that business in such a phenomenal way there was a guy selling batteries and they were commoditized. And he decided to talk to his customers and found out the biggest pain they had was with the battery disposal when it’s done. So he offered free battery disposal with the sale and proved to start taking off because he learned how to talk to his customers. So if you could teach your employees how to do those five core skills there are a couple of other skills in there too but and then how to speak to customers. And like if you had a team for example, in your company dedicated to measuring the results that your customers get when they buy a product. You have one employee or someone on your team that does for an hour every Monday, they have a system they follow to monitor and measure the activity of results that your products providing. And also talk to customers that are not getting results and find out the biggest problem they’re having and running up against to get a result. And you’re able to innovate your product that way. It’s really based on just finding fundamentally really awful things. But there’s, they’re also really, they can also be really, really subtle, really subtle issues that your customers are facing. But in terms of somebody asked me like, how do you become innovative and disruptive I was like, I do not focus on innovation and disruption. I focus on the very clear customer and the dream result they want. And then if I can figure out the mechanism to provide like Elon Musk doesn’t know how he’s getting to Mars first, he might like it, customer humanity result Mars figure out the mechanism. So customer like a chiropractor was complaining about how he’s got to call an insurance company to get insurance information.
So his dream result is to get as insurance data without having to call anyone well if I get it. chiropractor with that kind of a clear result, then I can put a team in place to figure that out that would be, quote, innovative for chiropractors, but our focus isn’t innovation. Our focus is that obsessive Love, love for our customers, true care for our customers so that when they buy, you’re with them every step of the way so that the flawless experience to a positive outcome is there. And if you could instill that spirit in every single one of your employees that we’re only in business if our customers are getting a result with the product, and you’re oriented on customer result mechanism, I mean, I just am I just be jazzed to help anyone I code with this and try and instill that, because I would say, I would say by the start from zero, and give it to your employees to read, but that the book may in of itself like the book teach you how to build equity every day. And if you’re not having your employees build equity every day, they might not like it may get employees leaving the company so but I mean, if you give the book and you thought it would be good and you and you actually do give ownership to your employees and you do encourage entrepreneurial thinking and you do encourage Future entrepreneurship for your employees. I mean, the books incredible.
We’ve got like, his personality data on our successful entrepreneurs. And we have scientific some to his, we took 30 successful, financially free entrepreneurs and did a quantitative analysis on a 26-factor analysis of the personality and find the top five traits and the bottom five scoring traits. And you could actually instill those in your employees, whether they’re entrepreneurs or not, they would be very effective skills.
Now, Dane talked about employee innovation. When you want your employees to think differently, you’ve got to have a different relationship with failure. You can’t have innovation and be so restrictive that you don’t allow people to fail. You want them to have that sense of safety, the psychological safety, to really share these ideas, execute on them, develop tests, allow them to get feedback, and to move forward and grow and learn from all of these failures. Innovation is a series of these over and over and over and the organizations I talked to and the leadership I get to connect with and my clients really do have a different relationship with failure because they know the importance of innovation. And back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [23:10]
I love to talk about ownership. I had many conversations with founders, they want their people to take ownership, but you mentioned ownership versus expert. Yes. What is that distinction?
Dane Maxwell [23:22]
Well, I mean, okay, the first thing that comes to look at if you’re an NBA basketball player, the average NBA player makes 3 million a year, the average owner makes 12. So experts make on average, a fourth of what an owner makes in the NBA, but Chicago Bulls owner I research he makes 55 million a year for owning a basketball team. So that’s financially for like, you know, us as founders and Inc 5000 is like ownership, but in terms of ownership for some expertise and in the employee realm, the way that you would look at that is releasing the ego that tries to impress Like teaching your employees how to not impress you with their expertise, and how to like maybe impress you with their initiative of finding expertise. That’s how I would probably talk about that. To be honest, I’ve always thought about it as, as entrepreneur ownership, like just trying to, like, get people to think about how much more lucrative it can be to be an owner. If you relinquish your desire to be the expert. It’s really lucrative, but I would be able to warp that. So it’s important.
Gene Hammett [24:28]
That’s one reason why I think founders should be pushing this down, not trying to be the owners themselves, but have these people taking ownership across the company, because that’s a fully leveraged model, as opposed to Oh, yes, I am the owner and you guys are the experts.
Dane Maxwell [24:43]
Yes. Oh, God. Yes. If you can encourage ownership thinking with your employees like you could talk to him a lot less. You know, they sit down in front of you and they talk about the results they’re getting. But you know, you’ve probably heard of a valve right? The video game company, maybe not. But like that guy. The way he sets up His teams, it’s incredible. Like they have floating desks and they roll around and work on whatever project they want. And they’re compensated based on their contribution to the project, and they have ownership in certain projects. And it’s pretty cool. But that’s probably way beyond scope of being 5000.
Gene Hammett [25:16]
Well, I wanted to have you on the show today to just give your insight I know you’ve put a lot of work into the profiling of successful entrepreneurs and all of that in the book start from zero. So Dane, I really appreciate you being here, sharing your wisdom. And, you know, your thoughts on creating that self-managing company.
Dane Maxwell [25:35]
Thank you for having me.
Gene Hammett [25:35]
I appreciate you being here, Dane and sharing all of these insights.
Dane Maxwell [25:39]
You’re welcome. I’m happy to be here.
Gene Hammett [25:41]
Wow, what a powerful interview. I really love talking to other people in new perspectives who dug deep on the research, as Dane has, and if he’s mapped out some of the core entrepreneurial thinking aspects for your employees to adopt so that they can create self-managing companies, they can solve problems, they can be proactive, all of that element That you want inside your culture your organization is solved. When you accept that you want your employees to think like entrepreneurs. I would love for you to share your experiences of entrepreneurial things good or bad. Send me an email email@example.com. If you’re questioning your own leadership of how you go to the next level, make sure you reach out to me, Jean Jean hammock, calm, as always, please with courage. I’ll see you next
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.
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