What sets a company apart from others is their corporate culture. It is a huge contributing factor to the social and psychological environment where employees spend their time on a daily basis. Rob Childers, VP of Operations at Loud Rumor, is an expert in merging cultures within an organization and handling tough conversations with employees. While he reveals how they culture screen employees, he tells the unique, cool concept of their employees’ time clock. Over and above, he describes his relationship with his CEO in sharing visions, executing plans, and working on their strengths as leaders.
Loud Rumor Vice President, Robert Childers
Rob Childers is the VP of operations of Loud Rumor and is in charge of all the operations within the company. Loud Rumor is a digital advertising agency that specializes in lead generation for fitness studios and wellness companies. Since starting at Loud Rumor, he’s helped Loud Rumor niche solely into the fitness and wellness space and it’s helped the company more than triple its customer base. Rob, I want to get the rest of the story. Often the CEO gets interviewed and gets all the media. It’s like husband and wife where if you ask the wife how they grew the family, she’d have one perspective. If you asked the husband, he had a completely different perspective and both would be true. What I want to find out is what’s really happened. Before you tell us how you grew the company or what’s been going on, tell us what Loud Rumor does and give us a bit of background there and then we’ll start there.
I want to thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here. What Loud Rumor does is we specialize in lead generation specifically for fitness and wellness companies. We work with studios around the world and our goal is to be not just the number one lead generation company for fitness, but the number one resource in general for fitness and wellness companies. If you were to buy a franchise or an independent gym or a wellness company or whatever it may be, we want to be the go-to company to help you build that, whether it’s your lead generation side or your sales side, providing training, resources and things like that. That’s something we’ve been focused on and then continue to do so.
How did you end up getting involved in the company?
I was hired at Loud Rumor right out of college. I was looking for a bunch of different jobs in three primary places all across the US when I had a family. It so happened that my mom lived out here in Arizona. I went to school in Michigan. I was looking out here, I wanted to be a little closer to her and I knew that I wanted to be on the agency side of things. I got a couple of job offers for sales-related things like that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all, I just knew that I wanted to be in this type of environment. That agency life focusing on advertising and the advertising side of marketing. I was putting some fillers out there and thankfully Loud Rumor called. I was able to initially apply for a marketing manager position and the CEO, Mike, got involved and initially took me on as an account manager. I started at Loud Rumor as an account manager managing campaigns.
Did you have some marketing background before or was it fresh out of school they trained you?
I have a BBA in marketing. I have that schooling. Also, I had a couple of marketing internships. One with a hotel chain and another one with a wedding and event planning company. I did have some advertising experience there. I was fresh out of college when I started at Loud Rumor.
How many employees were there when you started?
There were about four or five of us.
How many are there now?
There are 21 of us.
I walked into your office and right behind you are thousands of Post-it Notes. Can you try to explain this? I’ve been to your office and the boardroom right off the lobby, all four walls are virtually floor-to-ceiling, top to bottom, left to right are completely covered in different colors of Post-it Notes with stuff on them. What’s on those?
Those are each and every team member’s personal goals. It’s a cool concept. We came up with this at one of our off-site retreats a few years ago. We’re wanting to focus on people keeping their personal goals top of mind and also our CEO, Mike and myself as well. It’s important to us that not only are people happy with what they’re doing in their job, but they’re also happy in their current life and with their lifestyle. What we’ve implemented is our clock-in clock-out system. What you do each morning when you come into the office is you write your goals down on a Post-it Note and you come in this room and put them on the wall and then you do that again every single day before you leave for the day as well. That’s where that clock-in clock-out system works. It’s been fun to watch it grow from two to four Post-it Notes all the way. Now, we have the entire roomful with personal goals and we’ve been able to see a lot of people hit those as well, which is always the best part.
We had a similar program at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? A lot of my clients have got it called the, “Can you imagine wall.” We take big dreams the employees have got for the company and we throw them up on the wall and then when they’re accomplished, we put a big red check mark over them. I love that you’re doing that on a clock-in clock-out.
It’s good to visually see. Not only does it help keep it top of mind, but to visually see the progress that people are making. It helps us hold each other accountable for one. We’re always talking about it and keeping on top of mind and also visually see when people get accomplished those goals. It’s cool to see how they’ve been able to do that and in some situations even how we’ve been able to help with that.
You said visual and I want to dive into a concept that I firmly believe in. It’s that the CEO controls vision for the company as to where the company is going. How do you get inside of Mike Arce’s head and find out where he’s going and what the company looks like in the future in what you’re building? Then how do you get him to sign off on your plan and what you want to do to execute on that?
I’ll start with the basic answer, which has a lot of questions and a lot of digging deeper with him. Mike and I complement each other very well. We’ve used the DISC assessment. We use that internally and Mike has a very high D and a very high I. I’m very high S and very high C. I do have very high I as well. We do complement each other that way. Mike has an idea, he lays it out and he gets it on the table and then it’s my job to talk about, “Here’s how we can achieve that and here’s what we can’t do and here’s the obstacles that come in the way.”
One of the reasons Mike and I worked well together is that we do complement each other well. Getting an understanding for what Mike wants in his head is obviously the most important aspect of my job and being able to complete that. I appreciate his trust in me and being able to not only share that vision but break it down for me and then trust me to get the job done. It certainly does require some time spent with him, whether it’s on a one-on-one basis or on a small group basis and picking his brain for exactly where he wants things to go. That way I can get that grand and vivid vision of his and we can work on what steps it’s going to take to implement those things and who’s going to be involved.
Do you have a specific time at all baked into your calendar that you meet with each other or how does that work?
We do. We have both read through Meetings Suck. We implemented some of the things from there. We meet once a week in a leadership meeting. That happens every single week on Mondays. We have that just between us. We also do schedule quarterly off-sites for each other with just Mike and me at least once a quarter. We do have some sporadic things here and there. If we’re working on a bigger project or a transition or something like that, we will tend to meet twice a week instead of once a week. That’s the biggest thing. We have phone calls after hours from time to time to get on the same page.
Tell us about the after-hours. What do you have in terms of restrictions on your workday to drive towards work-life balance or are you 24/7?
As weird as it sounds, I’m going to say a little bit of both. We are respectful of each other’s personal time. Mike himself has several children that he values time with them very much. I want to be respectful of that and his time with his wife, Marjon. I know he says the same thing for me. I’ve got a lot of things that I’ve got going on that he appreciates. At the same time, we both recognize that not only do we want to take this company to the highest possible level, but we both care very deeply about it. We’re always excited to talk about any way that we can do that.
Whether it’s a phone call, if Mike has a great idea he wants to call and get out of this head right away or I solved a specific system that he wants me to keep in the loop on. We’re always okay with those phone calls. We’re never bothering each other just to bother each other. Sometimes we’ll have a conversation here and there to check in on one another. It’s always something that helps benefit someone, whether it’s an employee at the company, Mike or myself. It’s one of those things where we’re respectful of each other’s time, but we also are excited when the other one wants to call the other after hours and talk about something.
What parts of the business do you run and what’s still reports to Mike?
I run all of the day-to-day operations. I initially just ran the operation side of things and now I’m running our full operations in terms of fulfillment. The account management team that’s the boots on the ground with the customers. I also run the marketing team and the R&D side of things. All of those report to me. Then I report to Mike and then sales also still reports to Mike.
Do you ever skip into and work with his direct reports at all? Do you ever skip level meetings and meet with his team or does he ever meet with any of yours?
Both actually, I meet with sales regularly. We have a sales meeting as well once a week so I can check in. We also found it extremely important to have that solid communication between the sales team and the operations side of things to make sure everybody’s on the same page. We’re signing the right customers that are going to be a good fit for us, as well as us a good fit for them. You always run into, if there are any issues, which thankfully there haven’t been with Mike. There haven’t been any issues there and vice versa, it’s the same thing for Mike. He’s meeting with the account management team and the marketing team regularly at least once a week to talk with them through the same exact types of situations. We’ve found it helps spread that vision so everybody’s on the same page with what we’re looking to accomplish.
Has it always been pretty easy for you or have you struggled at all?
We struggled at first. As I’m getting used to the way Mike’s doing things and also him getting used to the way that I do things. We buttheads a lot early on with what we wanted to do and why we wanted to do it, as well as how we were going to do it. It’s one of those weird situations where we buttheads and it frustrated us at times, but we also both appreciated the other person’s perspective. That’s ultimately why we were successful is we were both able to take each other’s insight and apply the best possible scenario. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but there were some butting of heads.
How about the people side of the business? I started reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things, a fantastic book by Ben Horowitz. It talked about companies that when they fire people often say, “I was glad they quit or we were going to fire them anyway.” If somebody quits they’re always like, “We were going to get rid of them.” They start rationalizing what was wrong with the person they were firing. Ben’s point was, “You hired them.” Have you learned anything along the way from any of the mistakes on the people side that you’ve gotten better at now in terms of onboarding and bringing in the right people?
This is something that we were coming to terms with and discovering. We had to let go of some people and then also some people left the organization. It made Mike and I stop and re-evaluate what’s going on and what were the issues that these people were facing here. We looked internally. It’s easy for somebody to naturally blame the circumstance or blame the employee, but at the end of the day like the book says, we hired them. Whether or not they were a good fit here isn’t necessarily their fault since we brought them into the organization. We did recognize that that fell on us. It was a hard pill to swallow a little bit at first, but it helped us grow and be better. What it led to was a lot closer monitoring of those DISC assessments. We require all potential employees to take that DISC assessment before we even move forward with them in the hiring process. Just to make sure it’s going to be a good culture fit at the communication side. They’re going to match well with what we’re looking for there.
We have three separate interviews that we go through. We have an initial screening to make sure that they are going to be a good culture fit along with that DISC assessment. If they do pass the culture screening, then they move on to me and our agency fulfillment manager. We’re both involved and that’s where we dig into the deep with the skill set. What can they bring to the table and to the organization? If they pass that, we then have a final interview with all of us, Mike included, to do one final iteration on both. To set good expectations, not only for them but for us and what we’re looking to have them accomplish and we’re looking to accomplish for them in the organization. It made us re-evaluate our hiring process and added some steps there that we were missing. So far since, we’ve turned stride and continuously looking at that now as well is something that can always be improved.
You said the culture screening. What specific things do you do to screen for culture?
There are a couple of things. Right off the bat, Mike’s executive assistant does most of the culture screenings early on. She does look at the social media side of things as a basis to start to see if this person’s going to be somebody that’s going to fit the type of person that’s at the organization. On top of that, she has certain sets of questions. She does ask personality-wise questions and things related to the type of leadership they thrive under. What they’re looking for from a company and expecting and things like that. On top of that going through that DISC assessment and making sure that they’re going to be somebody that fits in well with the rest of the organization. Also not only to fit in well with us, but so we fit in well with them because at the end of the day, if they’re not happy, that’s on us just as much as it might be on them.
Are you all in the one office or do you have any remote employees at all?
We have one remote employee. She’s a salesperson in San Diego, but the rest of us are all in the office here in Scottsdale.
Why San Diego?
She was a customer of ours. She had a personal training business that we used to work with and Mike coached her as well. We like the attitude and mentality she had. She moved to San Diego with her husband. I believe her husband took a job there and she reached out to Mike looking for different opportunities. It so happened that we were looking for another salesperson at the time and it tended to work out. Things have been so far so good. That’s what happened there.
Walk me through some of the big culture lessons that you’ve learned once you’ve onboarded the employees and you’ve got them inside the company. How do you indoctrinate them? How do you onboard the people so that they come into your culture in the right way?
It has to do a lot with starting out and making them feel extremely comfortable. It’s really important. One thing we spend a lot of time doing is letting them know that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. I feel like a lot of people struggled to learn concepts because they are not comfortable asking questions about the concept. We stressed this very heavily early on within the first couple of days to ask questions in any situation. I would rather an employee ask me a question than make a mistake and we have to talk about it later. That’s the first step. Ahead of time, we also have them watch two different courses regarding material that we’ve come up with depending on the job that they’re taking. One is internal and one is external with a partner of ours. Both do a good job of setting up the attitude in the office. We have a very goal-oriented attitude but we also have an almost agency laid-back attitude a little bit as well.
The courses do a good job of setting them up with what to expect when it comes to the verbiage that’s used in the courses and the way the content is covered and things like that. Once that happens and they go through that, they spend almost a full month purely training with different employees throughout the organization. We make sure that it’s not just me or our agency fulfillment manager or Mike that’s training the employees. We get our other employees involved in the process as well so they can get a good understanding for what other employees are doing in the organization. The different attitudes different employees have towards things and how different situations are handled from different perspectives. Since we started doing that, it’s helped with that culture merge and have somebody feel not only welcome, but they can be their self and be a great fit here.
I love that you said that you’re teaching people there’s no such thing as stupid questions. I have a friend of mine, his name is Joe Polish and he sarcastically says, “There’s no such thing as stupid questions, just stupid people asking questions.” It’s wrong but it’s awesome. We’ve heard of people doing speed reading classes. Do you hire people who are speed listeners to be able to work with you? I speak fast but you’re fast.
I apologize. I have to be honest. I know that’s one of my weaknesses. I’ve got to consciously slow down. I talk very fast.
I do too. It’s also a little bit endearing is that no one will ever think that we’re calculated or trying to choose our words carefully. They know that’s coming right from the heart and right off our sleeves. Are you emotional as well? Do you get highs and lows in the emotional side or are you pretty calm?
At first, I was a little more emotional. I’ve learned the value of being able to stay calm through the highs and lows. You’re going to have peaks and valleys, especially in business. It’s important to make sure that you know that and recognize it so that when you do hit those valleys, you’re still staying positive despite of things may not be going the best they can. Because you have that positive outlook, you know that things are going to get better. You’ve seen the peaks and the valley, you know you’re going to make it out eventually.
The same thing with the valleys, when things are great, it’s easy to be positive just like it’s easy to be negative when things are bad. It’s important to maintain a composed attitude with that because it can change on a whim, especially in business and in our industry that I’ve experienced so far. The first time or so when we started hitting that first valley that I was a part of, I was a little bit down on myself about how things were going and everything. Mike has done a great job of being inspirational in that sense and talking me through things when I’m down there. Thankfully, at this point now I’ve been able to provide that for him as well.
Most entrepreneurs would be clinically diagnosed as bipolar. Riding very manic highs and very stressful and depressing up and down periods. Most entrepreneurs are often on the spectrum for Attention Deficit Disorder and many are even on the spectrum for Tourette. I want you to speak to the Attention Deficit Disorder and bipolar. I would guess that Mike is on both of those. Would that be accurate? How do you allow him to be in his zone? They’re not disorders, they’re his superpowers. Speak to both of those for me.
He has them. I’d definitely say that. I do think Mike does an exceptional job with the team of maintaining the composed look. I think that he tries very heavily not fall into that. I know when we spend time together, he falls into that. He’s had some areas. The most important thing for me and one thing that he taught me early on, which I appreciate that I’m able to apply now is exactly where when he’s down, I got to maintain that positive attitude. It’s very helpful for him when he sees me, the ops guy, maintaining that positive attitude even if things aren’t going fully the way that were expected. He knows that like him, I’m looking for a way out and he’s not out there on an island. I’m there to support him and he’s here to support me as well.
I’ve often said that our job as the second-in-command, and I played the second-in-command role a couple of times, is to make the CEO iconic. Our job is to make them look good and that means that we’ve got to cover for them. We’ve got to clean up after them. We’ve got to be there when they’re having their downs. It’s great that he can control his emotions around the team but he can let them go with you and you can be there to take care of it. I would have ten of eleven or eleven of eleven signs of bipolar disorder and seventeen of the eighteen for Attention Deficit Disorders.
I’m right there hardwired, but they’re my superpowers as well. On the Attention Deficit side, they call it that because you can’t focus. The power with that is that you see everything. You see what’s happening with the customer, the supplier, the market, the employees, the numbers. You don’t get super obsessed with anything and when you do, you usually delegate it quickly. Can you talk us through what Mike’s core strengths would be and how you help leverage those for him? How do you keep him working in his unique ability and working where he’s strong?
Mike has a lot of different strengths. You hit on it and that he sees everything. Not only does he see everything, but he sees what everything potentially could be. There are times where he’s focusing on multitude of things at one time. Ideas and strategies and things like that. Sometimes I do have to stop him. Add it to a list and let him know, “I love this idea but right now we get to focus on doing this, which we talked about the idea we started. Let’s address this at our next off-site,” or something like that. Me being organized with everything and making sure that I’m not brushing off his ideas. I’m taking note of them. I’m making sure we’re talking about them in the future. Not only that, but it gives me time when we do delay to come up with different strategies that I might want to take when approaching them.
When he’s got all these great ideas, what do you do to handle those ideas and say no to someone or yes to someone? Do you have a system or a process for that?
I definitely do. The process depends on what the idea is. One thing that I do a lot that I know Mike appreciates and it has helped me is something as simple as doing a priority list and focusing on what matters most. What are our immediate goals? What are our future goals and what do we need to focus on right now? Inevitably, there are some things for the future goals that we are going to have to start implementing now. I’m usually looking at the priority list and determining what’s going to help us with this yearly goal, this monthly goal, whatever goals coming up next and making sure that we’re striving towards that. It has to deal with a lot with that, with prioritizing and also breaking everything down. What’s going to get us where we want to be the fastest? What sacrifices are we going to have to make depending on the specific route we take, the specific idea we implement and which one’s going to get us where we want to go?
There have been a lot of times where Mike comes up with some cool strategies or cool ideas that were ultimately not ready for yet which he doesn’t consider it at the time. That’s my job to step in and let them know why we’re not ready for it and when we will be, because that’s always the follow-up question when I tell him we’re not ready yet, “When will we be ready?” It’s a matter of getting a good understanding of the organization as a whole. I appreciate understanding exactly where all the moving parts are in that. I know how each idea is going to impact each department and what way it’s going to take us. Just laying it all out, laying out the pros, the cons, and how it’s going to get us to where we want to go.
Sometimes he’ll come up with something midway through another concept we’re already implementing that he thinks is going to get us to our goal faster, and I take a look at it and with the right implementation could do so as well. We got to stop what we’re doing on this project and start focusing on that one. At the same time, I also make sure that we need to follow through on whatever it is we’re doing, not only for our sake but for the employees’ sake so as to not drive them insane by focusing on too many projects. It’s a multitude of things, but if I had to break it down to some very base level, it’s organization with what we’re working on and what we want to be working on and making sure we’re always keeping that in mind.
I created a system called the Decision Filter. It’s a one-page form that you fill out before a project is allowed to be started. It has to be filled out regardless of who’s initiating the project, if it’s a CEO or a payroll clerk. The one-pager has you outline what’s the best result and the worse result? What does it look like if it was successful? Then it also forces you to do a bit of an ROI analysis. How many people days are involved? How much money is involved? Will it drive revenue? If yes, by how much? Will it drive profits? If yes, by how much? Will it increase customer engagement? If yes, how? Will it increase employee engagement? At the end of it, you look at it and you have a relative assessment from that one-pager relative to all the other business idea projects we’ve got. You can put them in order. Not only you can put them in order of impact but then you can also, like building a house, put the foundational things in place first, and then you put the ones that are going to create momentum because of that flywheel effect.
Often, we have to protect the entrepreneur from themselves that they often have an amazing amount of great ideas. They come back from conferences with a ton of these great ideas and you want to put them in place right away. Just on conferences and on growth, entrepreneurs are good at spending a lot of time at events growing. Mike and I spent some time at a conference called Thrive. We got to hang out there a little bit and had dinner together one night. I’m in the Genius Network. I go to Strategic Coach. I’ve been to Mastermind Talks for five years. I go to the main TED Conference and I started a network for the Second in Command called the COO Alliance. It’s the only network of its kind in the world for the COO or for the Second in Commands to go and learn. Where do you go to get your skill sets? Where do you go to grow as a leader?
I’ll start with the conferences as well. I’m lucky enough to be able to attend a lot of those conferences with Mike. We attended Bold, which he flew from Thrive with you to Bold to meet with us. It was pretty cool. The conferences are a good start. One thing that’s great about Mike, which benefits me in one way is that he’s always reading something. Even if there was some miracle and I couldn’t find something to be reading, which is never the case anyway, he would always have some recommendation for me to read. Things like that. Definitely reading. I’m an avid reader. I’ve been a big reader my whole life. I’ve always loved it. I had no qualms with that whatsoever. I’m always reading something. It’s focusing on the topic at hand that maybe I’m struggling with or want to learn more about whatever it may be. Reading as much as possible on that subject from top authorities in the industry. That’s important and lastly, a go-to resource that I’m regularly going to is podcasts. Listening to authorities on different podcasts and things like that.
One thing I appreciate, not to toot your own horn specifically, but I liked the Second in Command podcast because it gives me a way to listen to different perspectives on a lot of the same issues that we’re facing on a day-to-day basis. A lot of the same things we go through or have gone through from different people around the country. That’s so valuable because even when you do implement something and it works, there’s always the possibility, in fact, almost the certainty that there is a better way to do it. Listening to industry experts, doing your research, constantly maintaining that level of education to where you’re not becoming stagnant with anything, whether it be leadership, operations, marketing, etc. Making sure that you’re always focusing on sharpening that edge is important. I’m always trying to focus on listening or reading something at all times to make sure that I’m keeping up with that.
We should get you out to the COO Alliance. Even to test drive the annual program. You should get involved. You’re the right size company. You’re the right kind of company and you’re the right fit for it. You need your tribe. You need your group of COOs that want to geek out on operations and not just talking about big ideas all the time. I’ve always believed that our job as leaders is to grow people. How do you focus on growing people?
That’s probably my number one focus as a leader at this company is being able to grow people. My goal is to be the dumbest person in the room at all time. It might sound weird, but if I can surround myself with people and set up people to be successful, not only in their position, but leaders in the company. What more could you ask for than a team full of people who are willing to step up and take charge if needed. We’re always focusing on growing that people. This has been something that at first I know Mike struggled with. He’s talked me through that time and I struggle with when I was first brought into a leadership position because there are many different avenues and ways you can go about it.
One book I recommend reading is Multipliers by Liz Wiseman. I consistently refer back to this book because I do believe everything that’s in that book. It’s a great book when it comes to growing people and leaders. You have to care and not just tell yourself that you care. You have to care about people’s well-being, what they want, their happiness and their personal goals, like we talk about with the sticky notes, because if you care, people can tell. Everything that you’re talking to them about and everything you’re going through them with is authentic. They know it’s authentic. I feel like when they know it’s authentic, they’re much more apt to listen to you and want to strive to be better themselves. I know that’s probably a broad thing to say, but the number one way that I’ve been able to dedicate myself to becoming a good leader is caring about everybody and devoting myself to them and understanding that they are not a resource to me, I am a resource to them. You hit it on the nose in one of your previous episodes when you talk about flipping the pyramid on its head, putting the CEO at the bottom and the employees above them. I 100% agree with that. I’m here to hold them up and support them and be their resource. If you can recognize that as a leader, you’re already thinking along the correct lines to help grow your employees.
I’m glad you got the upside-down org chart too. I was talking to a CEO that I was coaching and he runs a good size organization, about 400 employees. They’re going to double up to 800. We were talking about how hard he is on his team and he’s always finding stuff that they’re doing wrong and stuff we can do better at and stuff that can be improved. We were talking about how he isn’t praising and he goes, “I don’t need a lot of praise.” I’m like, “I know you don’t, but they do.” Do you have any system or mindset or methodology to ensure that you’re praising more than we’re giving constructive criticism? Do you build that into your company culture at all in any way? Not in a participation ribbon way, but recognizing that people need praise to match up with all the criticism we naturally give them.
We’re bringing up things that we’ve come to light in the past that has been an issue. I know Mike is very much, “Don’t tell me the good, just tell me the bad. I want to get better all the time.” I totally recognize that not everybody’s like that. Everybody has to be communicated to differently. We’ve implemented some different things internally for this exact reason. We have an MVP and MIP each month, Most Valuable Player and Most Improved Player. That changes each month to recognize different achievements, people who go the extra mile each month that tie into that. We also do things during our daily meetings. We have a daily huddle every single morning, where we line up and talk about numbers and stats, but we recognize achievements and things like that.
If we have a great customer call or if we have something where an account manager finds a solution to a problem we’ve been facing. We’d be sure to blast that out, whether it be during our daily huddle or we have a Boxer group, it’s an app that we use. Sharing that and everybody gets in on it, which is great. They send gifts and emojis and things like that to help people feel supported and brought up. Making sure that you’re always being conscious of the wins. I know that’s a big focus of mine for people is making sure that we’re focused on their wins, just as much as we’re focusing on the losses. It’s important for morale and also for their self-esteem and their confidence, which is important in the workplace to be confident in what you’re doing to be recognize in all aspects. We’ve implemented some things like that into our day-to-day.
Your culture is insane. I walked in the front door and there were about twelve people that jumped up to say hi to me. It was like almost disconcerting. You’re doing the right thing. I didn’t ask about the lows. When Mike has any of his stressful or depressing down periods that are part of the normal CEO rollercoaster, what do you do to support him on those periods? Anything specifically that you do when he’s in the stress depressing parts to take care of him?
I do my best to support him, especially if he feels he’s made a mistake or address something incorrectly. If a team member approaches me about something or anything like that, I’ll be sure to understand where they’re coming from. Never discount what they’re saying or how they’re feeling. Also, defend Mike in a way where if it makes sense. Being able to explain why we want to do something or the specific way we want to go about something if Mike explains it that way. To Mike specifically, letting him know that I’m there. That we’re going to get through it. We have solutions. There’s a solution to every problem. That’s something that I tell Mike frequently and Mike has picked up and is telling me as well. There’s a solution to every problem, even if we haven’t found it yet, it’s out there. We’ll get there and being sure that I’m there for him in any way that he needs in terms of the company.
If he needs me to hop on a call with somebody, I’m there. If he needs me to have a meeting with somebody or pull somebody aside or get him something, I’m there to do it. That’s not a headache for me at all. I appreciate being that person that’s there for him and it presents me an opportunity to learn more about him and help him out in those situations as well. A couple of different things, but at the end of the day, showing that support for him and whatever it may be to help him get through whatever it is he’s going through. Also, use my skill set to lay things out on the table. If it’s a stress issue or a problem issue, like that way to lay all the pros, cons, what are the next steps? What can we do to implement this now versus later, etc.?
Where are you growing as a leader? Where are you focused on your own personal growth?
Always people focus. I always want to know how I can be better for my team in terms of communication is a big one. Focusing on how maybe I can communicate an idea or a concept better or better timing with it. That’s a big one. It’s important for me to understand how everything works as a whole. If we’re starting a new project about something that I don’t understand, I always like to dive in in my free time and find as much information out about a subject as I can. I at least understand the basic workings even if I don’t understand the full inner workings of that, maybe the account managers do things like that and focusing on keeping up.
Industry specifically focusing on keeping up with marketing and the different platforms. When Facebook has some scare or some change, things like that, making sure that I’m on top of that. That way if anybody in the company is confused or does have questions, I’m able to talk through them with it. Lastly, one thing that everybody should always be working on. It’s having those tough conversations with employees, whether they disagree with something I did or something Mike did or something a coworker did or maybe they mess up on the job, things like that. Always working on that and role-playing that is important to me as well.
How do you handle the tough conversations or as I call racing to the conflict with an employee?
Mike and I probably go about this differently. The way I like to handle it is right off the bat, get their side of the story, “What happened here?” While always keeping in mind that failure happens. That’s important. Going into a meeting very good minded on my end, hearing out the employee and what happened on their end is important. From there, depending on the conflict, just being understanding is the best you can go about it. Nobody benefits from being screamed at or yelled at or having people get in your face or called names or anything like that, which as crazy as it sounds does still happen unfortunately in businesses. I don’t feel people benefit from that.
I try to take up a composed approach with it. I try to understand all aspects of the situation before diving in. I know we talked earlier about how quickly I speak and stuff like that. In those situations, I do my best to think through what I want to say next and make sure that the employee doesn’t feel like I’m not on their side, because even if an employee makes a mistake or messes up on the job, it’s important for them to still always feel like you have their back. Even if you’re talking to them about what they did wrong and why they can’t do it that way. They still need to feel supported by you as their direct leader. That’s something that’s important for me when approaching a tough conversation.
I always say that it’s best to race to the conflict. You want to deal with it right away. I usually give myself a little bit of a cooling off period. It’s all about addressing the specific situation that happened, not the generality. Giving them very specific feedback. It’s the other reason why I believe that if you raise the conflict and you praise people a lot, they don’t need any annual or quarterly reviews. They’re getting it every minute by minute. They don’t need an annual review or quarterly view to tell them how they’re doing if you’re giving them proper ongoing coaching and praise. Two last questions. One is related to meetings. You mentioned that you have read Meetings Suck. Did you have every employee read it and what were the best tips that you pulled from Meetings Suck that you are using internally?
I read Meetings Suck first before Mike or anybody else did. It’s funny because the first time I read it, I was like, “This guy’s crazy. He wants us to have meetings every single day. He wants us to do this many meeting, we’re already short on time.” I went through it and I read it again right back to back because I wanted to get a full grasp of what you’re saying. I talked to Mike a little bit about it, Mike read it after that. He and I started talking about it, “This does make sense. I can see where Cameron is coming from. I think that implementing these things are good.” On top of that, Mike is close with Grant Cardone and his team. I know they do a daily huddle and I’m not sure if they follow your exact system, but I know they follow a lot of things from there. We decided, it worked successfully for you and it’s worked successfully for them. We should give this a chance here and take a look. Mike and I have read the book.
We haven’t had the entire team read the book as of yet. That is something that I want to do. Just understanding that the meetings are beneficial, like you said in the book, as long as you’re providing valuable things to talk about almost. If you’re having a meeting just to have a meeting, which we honestly were before the book, we would have Monday and Friday meetings with our operations team. We were talking through the same exact things and everybody dreaded coming to the meetings and they were super unproductive. That’s what ultimately made me find the book. I searched for some and came to that one and read through it. Thankfully, we’ve implemented some things from there now with the daily huddle, more frequently meetings, providing agendas, things like that. It’s made a big difference. Our team is a lot more energized and participative in meetings.
You definitely want it. It was written so that every employee at every company would read it so that we would finally stop complaining about meetings. A third of the book is written on how to run meetings. A third of the book is how to show up and participate and attend meetings. Then the last third is what meetings you need to run. Having every employee read the book. I’m not trying to sell books, but it’s a no-brainer to get everyone to read it. If you’ve got a $60,000 person and you can’t buy them a $15 book, you should probably question if your business is viable or not. How about one final word of advice, if you were an aspiring leader or if you’re somebody moving into a COO role or if you’re an executive in a company, what’s a bit of business advice that you would give them that has worked well for you?
Focus on two things. One specifically focuses on the relationship with the CEO. All of the flaws that you feel are flaws for the CEO are actually benefits. If you can recognize what your CEO is bringing to the table and instead of combat them, provide perspective on them. The sooner you figure that out, the sooner you’ll be more successful. Butting heads is okay as long as your butting heads for productive means. If you’re butting heads just because you wholeheartedly disagree with your CEO, that’s probably not the best situation to be in. From a leadership perspective with your team, it goes back to what we talked about earlier, but making sure that you’re constantly educating yourself on communication, how to talk to them because they know that you care.
You’re not just going through the motion. You’re not just saying things. You’re not saying what you need to say to what you believe will make them get the job done. You’re caring about the perspective. You’re getting them involved in the decision-making process. You’re doing your best to help, not only cater to your goal but also get them involved in their perspective and ideas in getting to the goal. A lot of the times it’s easy for us in leadership to think that we’re here because we know everything and our employees don’t, which is absolutely the opposite of the case. Your employees have a much better understanding of the day-to-day than even we do. Getting their perspective on things is so valuable and being able to not only get that perspective but implement it. It not only helps you get different perspectives but also helps them feel more valued to your organization and ultimately creates a great culture.
I love your focus the whole time of being people focused. Rob Childers, the VP of operations for Loud Rumor. Rob, thanks very much for all your time and your wisdom. I appreciate it.
Thanks so much for having me, Cameron.
- Loud Rumor
- Mike Arce
- Meetings Suck
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things
- Genius Network
- Strategic Coach
- COO Alliance
About Robert Childers
An analytical & creative minded individual with a passion for social media, advertising, marketing, business, and leadership!