Being an entrepreneur requires continuous learning. Embracing the identity of being an evolving leader will pull you to constant improvement. Today’s guest is Todd Walsh, CEO at Alpha Cubed Investments. Inc Magazine ranked his company #2689 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. Alpha Cubed Investments is an independent, SEC-registered investment advisory company. The firm offers income, balanced, and growth portfolios and custom portfolios, primarily utilizing individual stocks and bonds with some ETFs (exchange-traded funds). Todd talks about the benefits of the evolving leader. We look at why it is so important. The journey of the evolving leader will give you a long-term advantage.
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Todd Walsh: The Transcript
About: Todd R. Walsh is the Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Cubed Investments and a Portfolio Manager. Mr. Walsh began his career in 1986 as a Registered Representative at E.F. Hutton immediately after graduating from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in history. Prior to founding Alpha Cubed Investments, he was the Managing Member and Chief Investment Officer of his eponymously named firm, TRW Investments. Mr. Walsh managed risk-and-style balanced investment portfolios for wealthy individuals, corporations, and retirement plans at E.F. Hutton, and then subsequently at Paine Webber, Merrill Lynch, and LPL Financial Services. He is also on the Investment Committee for Alpha Cubed Investments. He is the proud father of five children with graduates of UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, and UC Berkeley.
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.
Todd Walsh: I just had a lot of energy and conviction that I was going to overcome this. I started in 1986 that year. And my goal was after getting the job, which I was thrilled to get. It was to work harder than any single human. , at that firm, because I knew I probably wasn’t the smartest guy there, and I didn’t have some of the advantages of relationships and other things than other people did, but I knew I could work harder than everybody else. And I just put my head down and worked hard. And that was how I got through about the first 10 years of my career. But you can’t do that forever. You need to really focus on, you know, what your goals are and how you’re going to accomplish them and how everything kind of fits into that matrics.
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 moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: Good leaders know how to get the work done. Great leaders know how to evolve as work changes. And they really are ahead of the curve. I had the joy of talking to so many founders about how they get from A to Z. I look at all of the steps in between. I get to look back at all of the inflection points that really shape who they are and who they become. It’s really a pleasure to be able to have so many conversations with founders CEOs of fast-growth companies. This is what I love doing today we look at the ever-evolving leader, evolving as a leader. This isn’t just something that you take for granted. It’s something that you really are intentional about evolving as a leader. Doesn’t just happen because you look back and say, oh, well, I’m different than I was before. It’s because you are driven. You are really looking to squeeze every bit of juice out of the moment out of the opportunity you have in front of you.
And that means you have to be the best leader you can be for your people. Today we look at some central aspects of being the best leader you can be in fact, evolving as the leader that your company really deserves. When you think about what is next for you, I want to make sure you know, that this podcast is here to serve you. And our special guest is here to serve you with this conversation on evolving leaders, the ever-voting leader. This concept was really come out of just what I felt and listening to this interview with Todd Walsh. He is the founder of Alpha Cubed Investments. They have a portfolio that puts them in a special category amongst their peers and they’re competing above their weight class inside this you’ll know what I mean by that when Todd explains, you know, what his big mission and goal for the business are how he gets his people aligned around it and how he’s looked at leadership and how has he’s evolved over time. And all of this is jam-packed inside this episode for you. When you think about your next step as a leader, hopefully, you have a very clear picture of how you want to evolve. And you’re very intentional about that.
But for some reason, if you just want to just put your head down and get the work done, but people aren’t rallying to the cause they’re not taking responsibility. There’s less accountability than you think the company deserves. It’s because you’re probably not leading them the right way. I have to be the direct person here and saying you could be a better leader. And if you want to know what your next steps are, make sure you reach out to me. GeneHammett.com and find, start your journey. I’d love to help you become an extraordinary leader. There’s a lot of tools we have. There’s sometimes free content that you can take, but it starts with a conversation with me and you, if you think you’re a fit there, just go to start your journey at GeneHammett.com.
Now here’s the interview with Todd.
Todd, How are you?
Todd Walsh: I’m doing great. Gene.
Gene Hammett: Well, excited to have you on the show.
Todd Walsh: Happy to be here.
Gene Hammett: Tell us a little bit about, Alpha Cubed Investments.
Todd Walsh: So Alpha Cubed Investments is a registered investment advisory firm. We were founded in 2011, started with about 80 million and, we are happy to say we’re at about 1.8, 1.85 billion today. Depending on market conditions were a little bit of a rare breed. We, manage individual stocks and bonds. We don’t farm out the management. We do our own management, using a three-step process, fundamental analysis, technical analysis, and then risk management.
Gene Hammett: Perfect. Well, we’re not gonna talk about an investment. We’re not going to talk about crypto here today. , we’re going to talk about leadership that helped you get to where you are as a company. How many employees do you have Todd?
Todd Walsh: About 30.
Gene Hammett: So when we did some research on your company and the background, you had said that that mindset was a big part of being a strong leader. What do you think mindset? The role that plays in leadership?
Todd Walsh: In this business specifically? And I think in most businesses, there’s a wall of just stuff. And day-to-day things coming in at all of us that run companies. And it’s really important to look at everything through the prison of what the biggest goal is, or the biggest couple of goals. don’t get beyond 2, 3, 4, but you want to look at everything through the prism of what’s going to get us to our bigger picture goals. There’s always going to be a wall, a mountain of things coming at you in the middle of the day, and you’ve got to deal with that. , pass it off to someone else or however you’re going to handle that, but you can’t lose sight of where are you trying to go as an organization because you’ll get sucked into so many different directions that if you don’t stay completely goal-focused, it’s not going to work.
Gene Hammett: When you are working on your own mindset. How do you do that? Do you have a coach or mentor, or do you have someone else that you’ve talked to about these things?
Todd Walsh: Yeah, I have a great mentor. It’s called the school of hard knocks and getting your face smashed in. So I came from a kind of a difficult background where on welfare when I was a kid, I didn’t have much mentoring as I talked to you as a younger person. And, I just had a lot of energy and conviction that I was going to overcome this. I started in 1986 that year. And my goal was after getting the job, which I was thrilled to get. It was to work harder than any single human. , at that firm, because I knew I probably wasn’t the smartest guy there, and I didn’t have some of the advantages of relationships and other things than other people did, but I knew I could work harder than everybody else. And I just put my head down and worked hard. And that was how I got through about the first 10 years of my career. But you can’t do that forever. You need to really focus on, you know, what your goals are and how you’re going to accomplish them and how everything kind of fits into that matrics.
Gene Hammett: You’ve mentioned goals quite a bit through this do you have a different way to look at goals than the traditional smart goals? Or have you found that’s what works for you?
Todd Walsh: I wouldn’t say I’m up-to-date with the latest thinking on goal setting and how that works. I’m pretty insular the way I look at things, I just know that we want to be recognized as one of the, And most successful investment management firms in the United States. So we compete against firms that manage 20 billion, 50 billion, a hundred billion, and we compete incredibly effectively against them. , so our goal is to, continue, to win on that stage. So I look at everything through that prison. What’s going to help us be the most successful, you know, what’s going to help us win at the most organic individual case by case level, because I know if we do that, we’ll hit our goal of continuing to compete. Well, you know, Big competitors. I only bring that up because if you’re managing $50 billion, you have this magical thing called money revenue that you can throw at the problem. And sometimes, it astonishes me because if I was running a 50 or a hundred-million-dollar company, I wouldn’t let anybody compete with me. I would literally stop out the competition just because you’d have so many resources to do it. So I just think it’s amazing that we’re in this position that we get to compete so effectively. But again, we have the freedom of not managing a hundred billion dollars and being able to focus on the niche where we want to be. So that is an advantage.
Gene Hammett: Todd, you have talked about the goals and how you see this. How do you get your employees to accept that goal as one of their own, and really feel a sense of ownership and the goal of being one of the best-recognized companies in this category?
Todd Walsh: That is one of the $800,000 questions because it’s something I’ve had to and continue to learn from an evolutionary stamp, just because you’re excited about something doesn’t mean anybody else’s going to be excited about it. And what I’ve tried to learn to do is, and I have to get better at this over time. And I’m, I’m aware that this is important is to really meet people where they’re at any organization beyond one or two people. You’ve got a bunch of people who have a different set of priorities, different things going on in their life. Things you probably don’t know about. And if you start ramming down a specific vision of where you want to end up without being empathetic and sensitive to what may be going on with them or what their skill set is, you’re never going to accomplish anything. So I think one of the most effective skills of a leader is obviously beyond a point, obviously, you know, make the sacrifice and make it. And been making the sacrifice, but don’t just expect other people to make it. You have to connect with each single person on your team as the important and, principally special individual that they are.
If you’re not willing to do that, you’re never going to get the buy-in that you need or the mind that you think you have, because you’re not. It’s an ongoing issue. You always have to continue at it forever.
Commentary: Todd, has said something. I want to put a spotlight on for you. You said, meet people where they are. This has so much to do with how you lead people. You want to make sure that you look at each person individually, you want to understand their individual goals. You want to look at their individual capability, strengths, weaknesses. Each person is unique and your job is to meet them where they are now. How do you do this as you scale? Well, hopefully, you’re building leaders. That will help you do this as the company moves to the next level. And as you add employees, you want to make sure they have a strong foundation of understanding what meets people where they are really is. And you are the leader to lead by example, I share this with you because I want to make sure you truly understand. You may not be able to connect with each employee as you get to a hundred employees or 200 employees and beyond. But right now, when your company is where it is. Most likely you’re making excuses for not treating people individually, having individual conversations. You don’t have time for it. The only reason why you don’t have time for it, it’s because you are being, really bombarded by all the trivial stuff each day. And you want to make sure you step back, become the visionary leader that this company needs, and that you understand that your job is to make sure people are there to carry out the mission beyond you. Not just do the work you say to do, but be leaders on their own. Right. And that is your job as the leader, back to Todd.
Gene Hammett: I want to go a little bit deeper with that, Todd, because it’s one thing to say, you know, meet people where they are, but how do you actually do this? What do we see inside your one-on-one meetings or your team meetings that will let us know? You’re meeting people where they are at that moment. ,
Todd Walsh: Again, this is an evolutionary thing that, you know, I continue to work at. So I check myself when I’m talking to every individual, every individual, I have kind of a checklist. And I went through my head and I asked, I asked myself where kind of, where do I think they’re at? And then I try and ask probing questions just to make sure that I’m on point with that, you know, How this fits in with you or you’re comfortable with your assignment or you’re comfortable with the task at hand. Are you comfortable with the goals that we have? Is this the other thing that I try and make sure that everyone here knows that they’re building a career? So there’s an element of, permanence and I, and that I want to see, from everybody on the team. And if I’m not seeing that, and if I’m not getting that kind of good feedback that they do feel like they’re building a long-term career, I know I’m missing the mark and I got to start over and figure it out. That’s just as a quick. In, some of our partners and competitors, I see them losing top talent and everybody knows it’s hard to hire great talent, but what’s even worse is when you’ve got great talent, they decided to leave. Right. That’s probably the absolute worst-case situation. And I see it all over, you know, the competitors that I work with. And so it’s why I really try and stay focused on, you know, making sure I’m meeting the career goals, the individual people that I work with here.
Gene Hammett: You know, I talk a lot about these interviews about how do you create a place where people don’t want to leave from, but, you know, one of the factors of that is giving them that long-term career, place giving them the skills and experience of this. I know when I was a young employee working in corporate America, I was hungry for experience and skills, but I didn’t feel like my bosses really paid attention to what I was hungry for. And so they just told me to do my work and, and, and push it aside. , but I think today’s leaders really are more tuned in with what does it take to keep people engaged around what they’re doing? So that’s what you’re trying to say is that fair?
Todd Walsh: Yeah, I think another component of that is the concept of keeping the firm as flat as possible, as opposed to hierarchical and vertical as firms get bigger. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of grading verticals in the firm. But I’ve seen that even in our own case where you have individuals wanting to develop their own sort of little power areas and control areas and it’s, it’s not healthy. And as much as anyone can do to flatten the nature of the firm, I think. , it’s obviously a struggle in our business specifically. We have a saying, you know, when you’re running a hundred million dollars, that’s one kind of firm, when you’re at two 50, that’s another kind of firm, 500 or another, kind of firm, at a billion and other two and a half, 5 billion, 10. But so there’s, there are definite things that have to happen. You can’t run a $20 billion firm and have it be completely flat. No, everybody to have the same experience they’re going to have at a $500 million firm. But that doesn’t mean you can’t strive to have that be the goal. And I think it’s important,
Gene Hammett: Todd, I appreciate you giving us those, looks at your personal business and the way that you’ve seen leadership. I want to ask it just a couple more questions. We came here to talk about mindset and you talked about the school of hard knocks if you see this as so important, what are you doing to make sure your mindset continues to evolve and upgrade as the company grows as, as market shifts, and all this stuff? What do you do personally?
Todd Walsh: You know, I think it’s just so deeply ingrained in me. , not having a lot of abundance as a young person. , I had to appeal my way in the UCLA fight for everything I had. I wouldn’t meal plan on Sunday nights, you know, make the whole peak Seattle’s out. I don’t think that’s going to be an issue for me, but I think it’s important to be aware of it. It is an issue for everybody in the firm. So I just stay mindful of the fact that if we’re not acting like seal team six, if we’re not acting, in a dynamic and nimble way, then we’re getting ready to get beaten somewhere down the road. So it’s a lot of self-reflection about how are we actually doing right now? How has the experience been? Of our lowest, you know, least important client, because the experience of our sort of basic, not top of the, , asset client, that’s going to define how the firm really is what’s happening for the client who’s getting the worst experience, kind of looking at things from, from through that lens.
We just are in a, yeah, this is a kind of a hackneyed expression, but a culture of constant improvement. And, you know, we really stress that and we really try and look at what we’re doing wrong frequently to make sure that we’re improving on that note. I noticed a little long-winded, but the firm has evolved every quarter and become a better firm. So we’re completely different form than we were five years ago. And then we’ll work before that and we’ll continue with that evolution as we continue to grow.
Commentary: Hold on for a second. Todd has made a quick reference to seal team six. Now, I don’t know what it means exactly to Todd I didn’t have a chance to ask him. Cause we had a short time. We had to wrap up that interview, but here’s my take on what seal team six means. Cause I’ve actually said this within my company. I don’t necessarily want the biggest company out there, but I want a team of people that are truly experts at what they do that are able to serve our clients and serve their job function and connect together and collaborate that are surgical in their ability to get things done. I’ve watched a TV show for a while seal team. And it really shows these people with their own personal problems come together for the mission that we’re on or that they’re on. And I love that fact. I watched them kind of, they don’t even have to say were, they all know what each other’s thinking, and they know how to get things done. They all have their own jobs and responsibilities and, you know, are their things that get in the way, yes. But, you know, when things are really optimal seal team six really is about a team performing at its highest level. That’s what it means to me. I don’t know what you do to think about where your team’s going, whether you want to be some other type of team or format, but I think that you should talk about that. Talk about what, what your dream ideal for the team is. So that people understand what’s expected of them. I talk about this, this expertness inside our team and we’re here to serve you. What is your team there to do? Are you clear about it? Back to Todd.
Gene Hammett: I love all of this. I’ve got the tagline of this podcast. It’s called evolve or die. So
Todd Walsh: you should have told me that. I would hit the points harder. ,
Gene Hammett: Well, what I’ve seen having hundreds of interviews with people just like you, is that they are constantly looking and questioning their own thinking that allows them to go faster, lead better. And, and that’s what keeps them ahead of the game and the head of their peers. And a lot of the companies that we talked to here have this similar thought. So, my job is to connect the dots. So I really appreciate you being here and giving us your perspective, Todd, and, really appreciate it.
Todd Walsh: Happy to do it. Remember, most people in this seat are just happy. Everything’s fine kind of people. So I think it comes with the territory, but I appreciate you taking the time to do this and love to do a follow or anything that works. Thanks a lot, Gene
Gene Hammett: Let me wrap up here. I know Todd’s listening in, but what I took away from this interview is that we must continue to evolve the leader that we are today will be very different than the leader that you will be maybe next year. And as your company evolves, as you get more revenue, you scale up. All of these things, create the pressure to change and shift, and it requires a mindset shift. You have to be able to think differently in order to act differently. And Todd’s sharing some of his concepts of how he sets goals and talking to the employees really is about evolution. So if you’re, you know, kind of hung up on where you’re evolving next as a leader, what your next step is, my job is to help you get really clear about that.
We have a fast-growth boardroom. If you think you’re a fit for that, we have founders getting together, hanging out, racing cars, doing some fun stuff. Plus the leadership is really about you being the best you can be as a leader to check out fastgrowthboardroom.com as always lead with courage. 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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