Courage is more than just a nice to have part of leadership. The courage to execute is essential to the success of your company. All leaders have to connect to the strength that allows them to overcome their fears. Today’s guest is Jonathan Miller, CEO at Parsonex Enterprises. Inc Magazine ranked his company #2917 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list and No. 4485 in 2019 Inc 5000 list. Parsonex Enterprises is a financial services conglomerate that owns two registered broker-dealers, an SEC registered investment adviser, a private fund group, and more. Jonathan and I talk about the courage to execute in a fast-paced company. We look at the pressures of making it happen. Understanding the courage to execute the right way will give you an advantage.
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Jonathan Miller: The Transcript
About: Mr. Miller is the CEO of Parsonex Enterprises, a diversified investment firm which owns two broker dealers, an SEC registered investment advisor, an asset management firm which focuses on special situations (distressed assets) and real estate development (including qualified opportunity zones), and a private fund distributor.
Miller is an enthusiastic entrepreneur and executive who specializes in creating and growing businesses and systems, recruiting, training and developing financial advisers and entrepreneurs, creating effective marketing and distribution systems, and building strong management teams.
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.
Jonathan Miller: So I think surrounding yourself with people that can do all the things that a business needs to do well, and filling Browning that out is important and it’s especially important to become a fast-growth company because there are also things that I can do as a leader that maybe I can do them, but maybe I shouldn’t be doing them. Maybe I could actually go into the details here, but it’s not going to energize me. It’s going to slow me down. And frankly, I might slow the organization down by doing certain tasks on, are in my wheelhouse. So I think it’s really important that you get people operating in their areas of strength so that you can say we have to execute on all these 20 things and make sure that you are covering all those places. But that you’re really injecting yourself as the founder, as the leader into the areas that give you passion, give you energy and that you can drive for the company and contribute.
Intro: 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 moment of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: Every leader knows execution is important to your success and you probably think it’s even more than important. Well, what we’re going to talk about today is how courage and execution go together. And in fact, when you think about your journey as a leader, we’re gonna talk about courage and really the core elements of that and what that really helps you do as a leader. But also we’re going to talk about the execution. Of a leader and about all the things are that you have to pay attention to. Now, we were not going to get into everything today, but our special guest today is the co-founder of Parsonex.
It is Jonathan Miller, and Jonathan is going to talk about, you know, the courage that he needed to develop, to develop the kind of business he has today, the struggles that they went through, and everyone can relate to this. I know of no entrepreneur that didn’t have struggles. Even the biggest companies has to overcome struggles day in and day out. So we look at those for a second, but we also look at the courage it takes to execute the right way. And that’s the topic of today’s conversation. Now, before we jump into this, I really want to remind you that if you haven’t already checked out the fast growth boardroom, if you want to be an extraordinary leader, if you want to push your leadership to that next level, make sure you check out fastgrowthboardroom.com. In there, you will find out how we serve you to be the best leader you can be and why it’s so important for you to focus on your own leadership as you’re driving a company and increasing the value of that company for when there’s time to exit. So if you are interested in fast growth, make sure you check out fast. fastgrowthboardroom.com. You can apply if you’re a fit. Now here’s the interview with Jonathan.
Jonathan, how are you?
Jonathan Miller: Good Gene. How are you?
Gene Hammett: Excited to talk to you about leadership and culture and execution today.
Jonathan Miller: Yeah. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.
Gene Hammett: Well, our team has done some research on what you’re doing over there at Parsonex, but I don’t want to misconstrue this or put it in, in any other language other than what you want. So what does Parsonex really stand for?
Jonathan Miller: You know, we’re an investment firm. So we actually have three areas that we work in. , we have number one, we, have financial, independent financial advisors that affiliate with us. So we’re about 60 people independent around the country that are affiliated with us that have a book of business clients, assets under management. We then have a private equity group where we do, we sponsor some, real estate development funds, special situations funds, like distressed debt and distressed assets are pretty big. Wake of coronavirus. And then the, lastly we have a media company we actually own, it just does a lot of corporate stuff, internally for us and others. So at the end of the day, though, our goal is to make the lives of those. We serve better, and we do that by building relationships with our clients and helping them make good investment choices, avoid a bad investment decision. And. And recognizing that it’s a journey, a long-term journey, not just an event of financial planning, it’s about, helping them along a long-term path to achieving their financial goals.
Gene Hammett: Let’s focus for a second there on that long-term journey, because you said is as clear as you were about what you were trying to create, it wasn’t fast for you, but the last few years have been pretty much a quick rise. Let’s go back into the, to the beginning. What did you really set out to do when you started the business?
Jonathan Miller: Well, we, we actually had to. Business and, and, a bunch of people came to us and they were affiliated with other investment firms. I had a background in that was a branch manager for a company for seven years. And they kind of came to us about 17 people came to us and said, Hey, we like you guys. We liked the way you run the business. If you guys started a broker-dealer or an investment firm, we would leave our existing companies and enjoying you. And we said, wow, that’s pretty cool. This is about 2006, 2007. And. We, we went down that path. I think in hindsight, being a heavily regulated, , organization, we looked at their moments. We say, what are we doing here?
What have we gotten ourselves into? But, it took us about a year to go through the regulatory process. In that time. Some, the other firms found out that these people will be joining us and they hasten their departure. , so there was some really tough times in the front, but it really founded a foundation of a team that was committed that cared about helping clients doing the right thing, building it our own way, not having to. Do it somebody else’s way. And, that we could really just build the company the way we want it to that someday our reputation will be to our credit or our fault. So it did take many years for us to kind of, we did well early on, but I would just say that in the investment business, it’s about compound interest.
It’s a compound interest curve. And in our business mirrors that to a large extent that you have to work very, very hard and building clients and acquiring clients, helping them grow assets. , but it’s not something that happens overnight for at least. Good firms, in my opinion. And so for us, it took a long time and, coming out of 2016, then we’ve kind of been growing every single year and made the Inc 5,000, the last two years. Last year, we had a record year we’re on already having a record year this year. So I think a lot of that is just that we did the right things over a sustained period of time with great people. We care about people. We communicate well. Yeah. , and we, we built some great relationships, so
Gene Hammett: Let’s go back. I think you’ve said in there, you’re talking about the struggle of this. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs can relate to it. I can relate to it. , in my own business and every entrepreneurial venture I’ve had, there’s been a little bit of struggle that I’ve had some are longer than others. , what did you learn about yourself and working through that struggle? Jonathan.
Jonathan Miller: That’s a great question, Gene. I think the first thing I would say is we’re always naively optimistic when we start out in business, right? We say, oh my gosh, I’m going to make this amount of money, 12 months from now or six months from now. And we were always enthusiastic about, oh, we’re good. It’s not going to take us as long to get to them. It usually always takes you longer to get to that place you want to go. But I think what happens is through that process of things don’t happen. Exactly. Like you drew them out in paper, things don’t happen as fast as you wanted the cost a little bit more. You make a little bit less money for a period of time. One is it solidifies you in like, okay, am I really doing the things I need to do to be successful? Is this the right path for me? And am I, am I doing the things that I need to be doing? I love that. One of your, you know, you talk about courage is one of the values that you guys, , have value. And I think.
There’s sometimes in business, it’s a different kind of courage because we’re pursuing an unknown outcome. And unless you’re a serial entrepreneur, you’ve done it before you have this faith and belief in this vision for the future that you see, but you have to go out and do all the work with no guarantee that that is actually going to happen. So it really forces you to look at yourself. I would also tell you that I think that there have been many mistakes we’ve made along the way and failures and that those were probably the greatest teachers. What I choose to do them again. I don’t know. I probably wish I could have approached them slightly differently, but I can definitely look back and say that had it not been for some of those things, they wouldn’t have made it. Wouldn’t be as good as we are in execution, in overcoming challenges, and being judicious about opportunities we presume.
Commentary: Jonathan just talked about being naively optimistic. I know a lot of entrepreneurs that are naively optimistic and I was one of them when I started my first business in 2001. I had a lot of intelligence and confidence in myself and the idea that was going on, but I had no idea the struggles that were ahead of me and I just went forward. Anyway. I was optimistic that I would find a way forward and you know what I did, was it difficult? Absolutely. But what I wanted to bring up for you is this is part of our journey as leaders. And if you think about where you’re moving forward, you have to also be naively optimistic. You want to make sure that you’re not being pessimistic. You’re not looking at the negative things that could happen. I know that a lot of people think about, you know, what’s plan B and what’s plan C and really looking at those things. But I really want you to think about what does being optimistic means for you as a leader? It means looking at people and looking at opportunities and looking for the best in them. You also want to make sure that you’re not just looking at the negative side of life. Being naively optimistic is not just about entrepreneurship, but it’s about life. And I just want to put a spotlight on that for you and this little commentary that takes a break between that interview with Jonathan. Back to Jonathan.
Gene Hammett: Kind of curious around those mistakes. You’ve talked about the value of your team now that everything’s kind of gel together. You guys are growing fast. , which one of those mistakes related to your team that you could share with us today? , that we can learn from?
Jonathan Miller: I mean, the first thing I. I think it’s very hard when you start out that you’re, you don’t have a lot of money, so you start hiring people that you can afford, right? You want to get great people at the lowest possible cost, which you can do. We have some great people from those early days, but we’ve also cycled through a lot of people I think. And I think we’ve become a lot more disciplined about our hiring process, especially for home office staff. I think that because we’re a highly relational organization, there’s been many times that there were folks that we kind of could see pretty early on that there. The right, or for sure not the ideal fit, but yet we took a long time to make the necessary changes. And every time we make those hard decisions on the opposite side of that, you just feel this massive amount of relief and you get a different person or the better person to the right person in a, and it’s like, my goodness, I wish I had done this earlier, but you didn’t have the wisdom or knowledge or height.
Looking back, you, you didn’t, you didn’t feel that way at the time. So I would just say if you’re a people person, you care about people, one of the disciplines you have to get done as an entrepreneur is being able to make tough decisions sooner rather than later because postponing, it just makes it worse. And it’s definitely not the best thing for your business. So we’ve made lots of those over the years, but we eventually, at some point have moved through them, but maybe not always as fast as we should have when we had a misalignment of a person in the wrong role or a wrong person on the team.
Gene Hammett: It’s interesting, Jonathan. Our conversation comes back again to courage because I find a lot of leaders that are sitting right where you are. Don’t have the courage early in their careers to say that person’s not a fit, but we’re going to let go of them sooner versus later, they try to, they try to work it out. They don’t want to accept that. The failure behind this. When you think about courage now, and you look back at yourself, do you feel like you’ve grown like a million times?
Jonathan Miller: Well, I will tell you that I can. I had three pretty pivotal folks that I replaced last year, in our firm. And I still to this day hated it, if you asked me, what do I enjoy? There’s so much I enjoy about our business. , I love being creative. I love pursuing things. I’ve seen people succeed. That’s all fun. The thing I do hate is those people’s problems because you never see eye to eye on it, right. Nobody’s ever said, yes. I think you should totally let me go now. And I agree with that decision, even though, so you have to make those decisions as a leader in your business. So I still to this day hate it. And, and to your point though, unfortunately, I’ve, I have gotten good at it and that makes you sometimes come across at least to those people as probably, yeah. The nicest person, because you’re not doing what they want you to do, but you have to maintain your eye on the organization and all the people that are in the organization.
And that is sometimes at odds with one or two or specific people. So, yeah, we’re really focusing on the thing that I dislike the most about business, because I love most aspects, but those things are always hard to me because I care about people. However, at the end of the day. I, It doesn’t do any good to postpone them. It makes it worse. You have more stress and it’s like any challenge, you just deal with it, head-on. And you do the thing. If you’re in the death of fear is certain, right? So you have to discipline yourself and force yourself to do those tough things because it’s so much better on the opposite side. It’s like ripping off a bandaid only emotionally, much more toilets. But it’s the adult version of that, I think in some ways, and yeah, you do get better at it over time, but it doesn’t make me enjoy it anymore. I can tell you, I just plow through it faster.
Commentary: So for a second, Jonathan just talked about people’s problems. Now, as leaders getting the work done is pretty easy. The strategy behind what’s next, but the core of leadership is about how do you handle the people problems. And in fact, whether you’re handling them appropriately determines whether you are going to be successful and your level of stress along the journey, Because when you think about the people problems, they are the hardest things. People have their own moods and their own ways of seeing the world our job as leaders is to make sure that we’re connecting with them and leading by example, in a way that we can actually address those people problems before they become too toxic for the organization. I put a lot of content out around. What does it really take? Well, it really takes a lot of work to be the leader that your team craves. And having people problems is an opportunity, not a PR, something that you should avoid, but an opportunity to lean into. And I wonder to remind you of that as you think about today’s, work that you have in front of you and about the conversations that are necessary, what is the one conversation that you’re avoiding so that you can actually do it now so that you can serve that person and help move them forward or move them along to the next place they’re supposed to be. Back to Jonathan.
Gene Hammett: I love that the details you put in that box, Jonathan because it really is a hard decision. Like we do take our people very seriously. I know you do as well. , but you also have to realize sometimes it’s better to let them go and be at a place where they can Excel because they’re probably not excelling for some reason within the culture or within the structure, or maybe they just haven’t grown as fast as the company. And I’m sure you can relate to that. I want to switch gears here just a little bit. Starting to talk about execution. And you’ve got a lot of ideas around this. You’ve really talked about, spell your encourage. What else besides, you know, helps you execute at the level you are today.
Jonathan Miller: So one of the things I talked about, so we have a lot of independent contractors and they’re all business owners in their own, right. That are affiliated with us. And one of the things I talked to them about a lot is that I think there’s this misconception that you have to have a certain personality to succeed in business, or Jonathan’s a natural. Talker and a people person. So he, of course, is going to be successful in a sales organization. I think that in a business there’s 20 things, or more than probably a lot more than 20 things, 20, 30, a hundred things that have to happen. And as an entrepreneur or a founder, you’re, you’re only good at 2, 3, 5 of those things maybe, but they all need to happen. So it’s not so much important that about what you’re good at. It’s that you have to surround yourself with people that are going to round out. So you’re good at all those 20 things. Good organization, a good company. And so I’ve been very fortunate and blessed that I’ve gotten, gotten some very key strategic people that compliment my strings. I tend to be very creative and like to think up new ideas and I’m going to get us started on a path, but then there’s a lot of details.
You’ve got to backfill, especially in a regulated industry. So luckily I have a chief operations officer who’s been with me. Really the beginning and she kind of runs everything and I tell her her superpower is to make things better. So I get to started on a path and then she kind of comes in afterward and then makes some better. She first has to see if I’m really committed to that path. So I think surrounding yourself with people that can do all the things that a business needs to do well and filling, rounding that out is important. And it’s especially important to become a fast-growth company because there are also things that I can do as a leader that maybe I can do them. But maybe I shouldn’t be doing them. Maybe I could actually go into the details here, but it’s not going to energize me. It’s going to slow me down. And frankly, I might slow the organization down by doing certain tasks that are in my wheelhouse. So I think it’s really important that you get people operating in their areas of strength so that you can say, we have to execute on all these 20 things and make sure that you are covering all those bases, but that you’re really injecting yourself as the founder, as the leader into the areas that give you passion, give you energy and that you can drive for the company and contribute.
Gene Hammett: Know, that’s a hard lesson for a lot of entrepreneurs to learn because they grew up doing everything, wearing many hats and they have high standards in certain areas. You sound like you really aware of what your skills are and that you’ve surrounded yourself with people. Compliment your skills. Is that fair to say?
Jonathan Miller: Yes. In my home life and my business life. So I would tell you, my, my wife runs, things at home and Jessica runs things at the office. I mean, we have, yeah. In fact, I would go into being a step further, as we’re now we’ve been hitting some great growth phases for us to pursue new initiatives. It’s even more to the point where even if I would think that I could be good at something, I don’t have the bandwidth at the time. So if we have an initiative that we don’t have a leader who can lean into that, Take charge of that and execute it. It is not a good idea for me to just say, I’m going to just jump in and dedicate more time because that’s what you do early on as an entrepreneur. And you can do all the jobs, right. And then, but to grow, you have to really find those people that, that are good at it in, in can specifically move things forward.
Gene Hammett: When you think about this, I know a lot of entrepreneurs are willing to work really hard as you get a little bit older. I find that it’s a bit, a little bit harder to work. 20 hour days. Are you finding that you’ve got to, to be able to manage your own energy and be able to know when to stop so that you can show back up the next day and go at it again?
Jonathan Miller: Yes. I’m noticing that. And yes, it is an age thing. That’s when I was in my early twenties. It wasn’t a, yeah. You don’t think about it. You recover a lot faster. , I would tell you, I still go through periods of time where I do work. You know, 80 hundred-hour weeks, and usually a period of exciting growth, frankly, I enjoy it. And I thrived during that time, but it is not something I can sustain for the long term. So you’ve got to find out how to rejuvenate for me during football season. Last year, that was on the weekends. I would be in the basement, recovering, watching football. I do a little bit of work on my computer but really relaxed. And what I found is if I didn’t get that on the weekend, I would be very tired the next week. So yeah, you do have to, you, you have to pace yourself, but I also think everybody has. The pace of work and you need to know yourself and know how do I function best and build, build. Fortunately, as an entrepreneur, usually you can build your schedule around your priorities and your life.
And that’s one of the blessings I think you have. But I definitely think that there’s pacing that’s necessary and there’s an ebb and flow, but I tend to enjoy what I’m doing that. It’s just not sustainable. Long-term. So you’ve got to do things that fill you up, whether that’s traveling vacation, spend time with family, or just, just resting or working out or hiking or whatever, skiing, you know, golfing. All those sorts of things. And then it ends up looking like you’re doing those things a lot to other people, man, that guy just plays golf for skis. I’m like, yeah, but you don’t know, people see the glory, they don’t know the story. And I don’t know. Yeah. But the last few weeks I was working 80 hours a week. And so you always work harder for yourself than you if you’re successful than you would for someone else, but it is also, I think, making sure that you, balance that our businesses need to support our lives. Are we don’t want our lives to be all business. I think that’s an important thing.
Gene Hammett: Jonathan, You’ve put a spotlight on quite a few things today. I really appreciate you being here, being a part of the Growth Think Tank, family. And I want to give you one parting message here. I know that you have grown as a leader. When you look back over the last few years, what’s the one area that you have grown the most that you’re proud of as a leader,
Jonathan Miller: I would say for me, it’s actually. Two things because they’re somewhat connected. One for me is sequencing ideas. Since I tend to be creative. And I like thinking about fun, new things that we’re going to do. One of our executives, kind of our internal strategy guy, I bounce a lot of ideas off him and he’ll tell me, Jonathan, that’s a great idea in 2025 or in 2027. And that’s important. So I think being able to sequence and say, you know, even though you have all these good ideas, it’s not helpful to execute on them all simultaneously, you got to sequence things. The second thing for me, I think isn’t. Empowering leaders and really being a better communicator about vision. Cause sometimes you have this vision in your head and I think I’m making it clear to everybody, but I’m not in order for other people to take ownership of projects and really grow. You have to be able to communicate that well and then give people responsibility. So those are the things that I have been working on. I continue to work on it. I think I’ve gotten better but probably could continue to improve on so.
Gene Hammett: Jonathan, thank you so much for being here and sharing.
Jonathan Miller: Yeah, Gene, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. And you have a wonderful show and, what a neat, neat job, you have to be able to talk to all these entrepreneurs who are building businesses and excited about the future and changing the world.
Gene Hammett: Well, I love what I do. And as I begin to look back over the interview, we just talked about to recap it for a. I just wanted to highlight just a few things that I think you should be taking away from this. One of them is the importance of courage. Courage is, is something that is natural for leaders, but we need to really pay attention to where we’re not being as courageous as we could be. Jonathan talked a little bit about it. Being able to let go of employees that just no longer fit. That just aren’t a part of the culture anymore. And it takes a lot of courage to do that, but also it takes courage to, to go out there and become the leader that you really need to be in empowering others.
There’s so much in today’s episodes. Hopefully, you’re evolving as a leader. If you have any questions about what your next step is, if you want to have a conversation with me, make sure you reach out to me. And if you are thinking that you might want to join our community of fast-growth leaders. Make sure you check out Fast Growth Boardroom on there. You will find out some of the details about how we serve you. What’s really important to become an extraordinary leader. If you think you’re a good fit, then you can apply at fastgrowthboardroom.com. When you think about culture, you think about growth and you think about leadership. Think of Growth Think Tank as always lead with courage will 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.
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