page title icon 283: David Finkel – Learning to Manage More Intelligently

David Finkel Show Notes Page

The arrival of David Finkel’s children was a complete shock to him. He never changed a diaper, never fed a child, and totally had no idea what to do. He was very busy being a father. At the same time, he was still owning a business. Not wanting to miss those precious moments with his children, David realized that he needed to make a change in the way he ran his business. He needed to run the business more intelligently. This led to the creation of the freedom formula. Applying what he has learned from this experience, David is now able to successfully manage his time and energy. As a result, David is able to achieve better business success and at the same time have a better life.

David Finkel is author of The Freedom Formula and co-author of, SCALE: 7 Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back (written with co-founder Jeff Hoffman), and one of the nation’s most respected business thinkers. A Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 12 business books, David’s a regular columnist for,, and reaching over 1M readers each year.

Over the past 20 years, David and the Maui coaching and advisor team have scaled and sold over $62 billion of businesses.

Maui Mastermind helps business owners build companies they love owning again–for the value they create, the lives they touch, the profits they earn, the team they employ, and the freedom they enjoy. Their clients have enjoyed an average annual growth rate five time higher than the average privately held company, while at the same time reducing their companies’ reliance on them as the owners by an average of 191% percent.

An ex-Olympic-level athlete turned business multi-millionaire, David and his wife Heather, and their three sons live a very simple life in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @DavidFinkel get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShowClick to Tweet

“If you are trying to make bigger contributions then it’s going to be spotted and it’s going to be rewarded.” – Click to Tweet

“If you can be more intelligent about how you work, where you invest your hour and effort for maximum effect, then it’s going to be noticed.” – Click to Tweet

“The hardest thing to find is people who do great work and are open to grow.” – Click to Tweet

“When everything is urgent, nothing is prioritized.” – Click to Tweet

“All the stakeholders are benefited when you build strategic depth into an area of the company.” – Click to Tweet

“Building systems is a never-ending process.” – Click to Tweet

“Things change all the time. What matters is a culture that adapts, builds, and creates systems.” – Click to Tweet

“Part of your job as a manager of the frontline is to grow your people.” – Click to Tweet

“Can’t do. Won’t do. Don’t know how.” – Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

The arrival of David Finkel’s children was a complete shock to him. He never changed a diaper, never fed a child, and totally had no idea what to do. He was very busy being a father. At the same time, he was still owning a business. Not wanting to miss those precious moments with his children, David realized that he needed to make a change in the way he ran his business. He needed to run the business more intelligently. This led to the creation of the freedom formula. Applying what he has learned from this experience, David is now able to successfully manage his time and energy. As a result, David is able to achieve better business success and at the same time have a better life.

Advice for others

Savor a lot more, a lot deeper.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Trying to finesse too many conversations I should just have directly.

Best Leadership Advice

Keep asking yourself, “I don’t know. What do you think we should do?”

Secret to Success

Not taking myself too seriously.

Best tools in business or life

Big Rock Report.

Recommended Reading

The Freedom Formula: How to Succeed in Business Without Sacrificing Your Family, Health, or Life

The Alchemist

Contacting David Finkel







Show Transcript

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

Unedited Transcript

Jim Rembach (00:00):

Okay, fast leader Legion today. I’m excited because we have somebody on the show today who is going to be somewhat deceptive, but give you the depth of understanding that you need in order to make some money.

Jim Rembach (00:09):

Real impact. David Finkel was born and raised in Southern California with his two sisters and one brother. He grew up in a household watching grandfather, a pharmacist who owned a pharmacy, worked seven days a week, 12 to 16 hours a day. And also his father who was a physician running a small private practice. He would be on call every other weekend and worked 70 to 80 hour work weeks. That was what David knew about running a business that a small business owner had to put everything behind them and run their business. When David built his first company, he fell into that same trap. He controlled everything work long hours, nights, and weekends, and didn’t take any time away to be successful. He subsequently came to learn that having built scaled and sold companies and worked with thousands of other business owners by coaching them to scale that hard work only takes you so far successfully.

Jim Rembach (01:08):

It’s how you direct those hours so that you can successfully scale a business without sacrificing your family life health to do it. David’s early career started as a former Olympic level athlete and he got injured and was not able to play in the 1996 Olympics. He took that energy and drive and put it into the world of business. He started off investing in real estate and built a successful real estate investment company that invested in a couple of hundred single family houses a year and had a coaching business that taught people how to build investing companies themselves intelligently. He sold that company in 2005 and since then has been working with several thousand business owners around North America on how they can scale their company while increasing the company’s owner independence. David Finkel is the author of the freedom formula and coauthor of scale seven proven principles to grow your business and get your life back written with

Jim Rembach (02:03):

Co-founder Jeff Hoffman, and one of the nation’s most respected business thinkers, a wall street journal and Businessweek bestselling author of 12 business books. David’s a regular columnist for inc com fast and reaching over 1 million readers each year. Beyond that with the work that he does with Maui mastermind, his mission is about how he can help a business owner build a company that they love owning again for the lives. It impacts the profit. It earns the people they employ and the freedom they enjoy. David lives in Jackson hole, Wyoming with his wife of 23 years, Heather and their three sons, Adam Matthew, and Joshua David Finkel. Are you ready to help us get over the hump? I sure. And Jim, thanks for having me on here. I’m glad you’re here too. Now, given my Legion a little bit about you, but can you share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

Jim Rembach (02:56):

Absolutely. So it’s a strange thing to hear someone say those nice things about you. It’s a

David Finkel (03:00):

Different introduction to yourself. Yeah. Two passions. I really do enjoy building companies. That for me, it’s a game. It’s a puzzle. It’s always been fun. I think probably the most engrossing part of life right now, for me, it’s just raising my kids. You know, my wife and I know our kids are young 11, 11, and seven. And that, that really is the passion. So I love the work that I do, but I would not in any way want it to take away or interfere with the time with kids. That to me is, you know, a very brief window, a friend of mine, Stephanie said, you know, David, there’s gonna be a time in your life. You’re going to miss the mess. And right now with everyone at home, I don’t know if I miss the mess, but I will miss the mess. I’m sure someday

Jim Rembach (03:36):

I believe that too. But I, you know, it’s interesting that you say that even with your bio talking about the role models, right? I mean, you had a father and grandfather, uh, which that particular generation, it was all about some of the things that, you know, this younger generation looks at and says, are you crazy? Right? But then you also want to say, Hey, some of that work ethic, um, we want, we want to have instilled in our kids. That’s right. But the effort in,

David Finkel (04:02):

Yeah, I took my kids to, they sent her home being homeschooled right now with all this going on last week, my kids came with me, two of the three, one didn’t have an interest, but two of them came with me to work and they were just kind of sitting. There’s a couch behind me and seeing the office here. And they were just sitting there doing their work for school and they’d go next door to the conference room and play around a little bit. But it was fun for them too, to see what their dad actually does each day, whether it be a phone conversation or an interview like this, or, you know, working for a period of time on, on another book in some sort, I want my kids to have good values around that. We consciously chose the neighborhood. We lived in to be a very normal neighborhood. I don’t want my kids having strange warped views of what the world is or a sense of entitlement. The entitlement is that if they serve the world, they do good things in the world. You know what the world’s a good place, but I want them to feel like they’re going to contribute. They’re going to serve. And I think that’s really valuable.

Jim Rembach (04:52):

Well, and I am talking about that valuable component and really, you know, making sure that we’re focusing in on the right things is how the freedom formula book came about. But when you originally looked at the cover and like you say, you can’t judge a book by its cover. You may look at other books that could be similar, but yet in fact are not when you open up the book. So like, um, you know, everything from the four hour workweek and some of these other types of, you know, manifestos and all of that, I’m sure your book is quite different. And you talk about, um, it being well, first of all, the books broken into two parts. And the first part you talk about, um, embracing the value economy, uh, you talk about reclaiming your best time, uh, investing in fewer or better, and then developing strategic depth. And that’s the first part. But when I look at that, I’m like, Oh, what is this book just for entrepreneurs? Or is it for executives? I mean, who is it really for? Yeah. Yeah.

David Finkel (05:47):

It’s a great question. So, you know, I’ve written a number of books. I had a lot of clients who say, David, your books are great for owners. Could you write a book that we could actually give to our staff that would be for them? And that’s why I wrote the freedom formula. Original was sparked from that request. And so the first half of the book is all about, you know, how do you actually work smarter? Everyone says, Jim, you should work smarter. But what does that functionally and practically mean? So the book, I’m a little bit of anal retentive. I’m one of those people that doesn’t want to know what to do. I want to know how to do the what to do. So this is 24 years in the making of my best take on how to operationalize individually, working smarter for the first half.

David Finkel (06:26):

And in the second half is how a manager, how she, or he can help her staff or his staff actually do the same thing to work smarter through a staff. Whether that staff has a team of four people or a team of 400 people, it doesn’t matter. That’s the, the crux, that’s what the book was written for. And the freedom we’re talking about here is a sense that, that I can create value for the company I work for. I can do great, challenging, fulfilling work that matters, and I can actually have a life at the same time. It’s not one or the other that if I do it right, I get both. And I think that’s important. I really think that’s an important point. I wouldn’t want to build a business. For example, one of the stories we shared in the book, and there was a woman by the name of Elizabeth, her company had her working 110 hours a week.

David Finkel (07:12):

It was ridiculous. She was the main point of contact for their largest customer. She let a small little group, she was the only one who knew how to do what she did. And they’re burning her out by not letting her take vacation. You settle pressure. Oh, you can’t go during this time it’s renewal period. Or it was ridiculous. It was bad business and just bad humanity. And you don’t need to run a business that way. I don’t need to lead a team that way. I don’t need to be an individual worker that way. So that’s where the title came from the sense that you could have more and still do great work

Jim Rembach (07:45):

Well. And I think, you know, what you’re talking about in this book is breaking some of these, um, unfortunate social norms that have been taken out of context. And you, and you read that and I want to read those that you list in the book. Uh, if that work hard access comes from our working your, um, you know, your competition, you can have anything you want. If you just work hard enough for it. Uh, the early bird catches the worm, sweat equity, if you want something done, right. Do it yourself. Oh yes. And if you’re committed to succeed, then you have to put in the hours. But I have to think that there is some good,

David Finkel (08:21):

Sure. It’s like any cliche. It has, uh, it has, uh, a kernel of truth to all these things. I need to work smart and I need to put energy in, I can’t just sit back and say, well, cause my brain, I’ve got it off. Now I do need the energy. And I do need some hours and effort, but hours and effort undirected don’t get me anywhere other than tired. Um, that they’ll let me do a functional job. But if I, I mean, think about it. I, if I’m managing six people on a frontline team, I do want their hands and I want they’re there. They’re doing the work, but I want their heads in their heart too. I want them to actually think about what they’re doing. You know, I want them to solve a customer’s problem. I want them to, to figure out a way to, to solve a challenge on an operating line.

David Finkel (09:05):

And if all I have is putting in hours and efforts, that’s just not the right way. I want them to be able to take a step back and say, should I even really be doing this? Is there a more elegant solution to this? Could I preempt this from happening? And those are where we come into play, where we’re by knowing what to focus on with our discretionary time and energy, it makes the hours and efforts pay off a magnitude better. Well, and so, you know, we talked about this a little bit off, um, off my, um, but to bring it into this conversation, which is so important is to talk about how having some structure and frameworks and plans around that and intentional effort, you know, in, you know, thinking about those types of things in of itself may seem, I don’t have the time for that, but pay significant dividends on the backend.

David Finkel (09:53):

Yeah. I mean, I I’ll describe it for, like, for example, the woman who runs our company now, Teresa, she started off years ago as my assistant. One thing I noticed from her was she was always looking for ways that she could make a bigger contribution. And I think that if we can make a bigger contribution, if you’re in a reasonably intelligent company, it’s going to be spotted, it’s going to be rewarded. And part of the reward is going to be opportunities for you to try and learn new new things and have new responsibilities. Theresa’s now our company’s COO. She started off as my assistant over a decade ago. Right? So the idea behind it is if I can, first of all, be more intelligent about how I work, where I invest my hours and effort to, for maximum effect, it’s going to be noticed. Uh, I mean, I talk with so many different business executives and leaders who say the hardest thing is to find people who do great work and are open to grow.

David Finkel (10:48):

But it’s obvious when you see it, it’s the people who are looking to say, where can I make my point of maximum contribution? Yes. Maybe 35 of my hours are spoken for each week. I’ve got to do this specific thing. But somewhere in the week, I’m going to be able to create two, three, five hours to do more valuable things. And just that the rudimentary of what I’ve been technically tasked with doing. And when I do that, my career just can blossom. Well, and I think it’s important to know it is because you give this more tangible reference. When you start talking about those things that I had mentioned, you know, the work hard, you know, all that is that you start, you call that the time and effort economy. Uh, and then you had taught you talk about five chains that are associated with this.

David Finkel (11:34):

Um, you say that we have a faulty model. Um, we chase after control. We have a lack of clarity, lack of depth and an outdated time habits. Give us some insight into those. Yeah. So first of all, it’s go to control. So inflammation, if your control Grande, that that’s what causes most frontline managers to work harder than everyone else they manage, but still underperformed what they should be doing. Why? Cause we grip on so tightly and what is control itis? It’s, it’s the fear of being out of control. I’m a control freak. I hate being out of control. So what it drives me is to two behaviors. It drives me to either grab on and make everything come back through me or to just advocate and not look. Because if I look I’m scared of what I’ll see one or the other, both of which are horrible models, you say, well, David, I, I hand it off to Shirley the other day and she didn’t do it right?

David Finkel (12:22):

You can’t trust other people. Well, let’s look at the mechanics of how you help you hand it off. That’s why in the second half of the freedom formula, we talked in there about how to actually do things like delegation correctly. So it’s not necessarily the fact that you let go. It was how you let go was the problem with that part of it. Another one out data, time habits, for example, um, a lot of companies make a proxy for, are my staff working? How responsive are they? How fast do they get back to my email? Well, that’s ridiculous. If I’ve got someone who’s on the phone with one of our most important customers solving their problem, do I really want them to have some of their attention going to monitoring their inbox, to be able to respond and multitask? No. I want them to be present doing what their most valuable task would be, which is solving that customer’s issue or challenge or delighting them.

David Finkel (13:12):

So our push for responsiveness and making responsiveness a proxy for is this person actually working. That’s an outdated time habit. You know how we use email on outdated time habit. We talk in the book about some best practices around email. So the way we schedule, we have a, to do list that’s about 75 items long. Well, no, a better way of doing it. Like we talk about is to pull out, we call it our big rock report. What are the one or two things this week that create the most value? In my role, I put those on a sheet of paper. And then at the end of the week, I report on how did I do, what were my victories challenges, what other updates? And then I decide, what are my next week’s one or two big rocks I needed to do as sure, but I also need to pull off that to do list the things that matter. So that visually I see the things that will make a bigger difference. And those are a few of several dozen other ones from the book.

Jim Rembach (14:04):

Well, and as you’re talking though, I start thinking about the reality of the friction associated with the fact of, okay, so based on whatever, you know, model and factor and importance model that I have, these are the things that I need to be doing. Um, you know, over the next week, like you’re saying, then you have some, you know, superior pressure that says, Oh no, no, you need to do these things too. I mean, so at what point, and then I think that’s where a lot of people who are in a junior role or a subordinate role will just fold. And then that’s where the extra hours come in. Well, I’ve got to do this too. So what do they do?

David Finkel (14:41):

Yeah. So that’s why in chapter three, we’re talking this idea of focusing on your fewer better. And so the way we do that is I negotiate with my direct manager. What say her name, Valerie. I say, Valerie, what do you see this quarter is the most important one, two or three contributions that my team can make this quarter. And I, I create a one page plan of action. It’s one of the things we talk about in there, but I negotiate it with my manager. Here’s the one or two, possibly three, no more than that focus areas with a very clean, clear criteria of success. And then I put it into a one page plan. I go back to Valerie, Valerie. Here’s my understanding of what you’re wanting from me this quarter over the next 90 day sprint. In addition to the core tasks that I’m responsible for, this is where our team can contribute the most value.

David Finkel (15:28):

Can you take a look at this and make sure if you want to make any tweaks or adjustments, but this is where my discretionary time and my team’s small, but important discretionary time will go. And I’ll tell you, Jim, if I ever had a team member who did that, which Teresa was one of those team members who would do that? You just stand out. This person is exceptional. I’ve had hundreds of people work for me in companies that I’ve run. And I will tell you that fewer than 10% of them, without me training them, how to do that, have ever even had somewhat of that conversation. And we were scared like, Oh, Valerie is going to be upset that I’m taking up her time or why she’s wondering, why am I asking no, Valerie is going to be delighted impressed. And she’s going to want to clone you about a thousand times throughout the company, if she can’t.

Jim Rembach (16:19):

Well, I, you know, as you say that, I’m like, ah, I’m going to have to have him. I’m going to push back on you on that, David, because, and because the thing is, I mean, I’ve been in environments where, you know, you get that dead, stare looking at you and say, I don’t care. You need to do it. Right. And so I think if that happens now, of course having some age on me, you know, cause back then I did do that. It was like, I have to all these other things, do they have to, you have to just do two. No, but I can’t do which one you want. Nope. You have to do it all. I mean, it’s, you know, you get in that environment is I didn’t last long.

David Finkel (16:49):

Yeah. Yeah. And let’s face it in corporate America. There are plenty of poor managers. Absolutely. I will tell you that your career is going to be hampered by having a, let me just be blunt, a crap manager. Your career will be hampered by that. So my suggestion is that whenever I’m working somewhere and it’s been many years since I haven’t been the boss, I will acknowledge that. But early on, I’m always looking for not just the direct compensation, but who am I working with? And for, because that person’s going to have a big impact on where I go next. And so is there a lateral transfer if you really have someone who’s not interested, but if I can negotiate that upfront, that is the best defense I have later on and the best offer fence. I have to be able to make my contribution to get clear every 90 days. Here’s what the next sprint looks like. The next sprint. Yes. Things will change. And yes, there will still be people in the world who will say, Nope, you got to do it all. And you can make decisions about who a you work for. And B you get to be the manager you want to be. I think that’s important,

Jim Rembach (17:56):

Such important advice. Cause I remember my earlier career that somebody made, made me work, who was two levels above me, made me work 35 days straight to problem that existed. And you know what? I was young, you know, and I did it. Um, and, but that should have been a telltale sign for me right there. Uh, that, that, that, that was a culture issue. And what I found is that that culture was permeated throughout the entire organization, which had several thousands of people. Um, now unfortunately it took me four and a half more years to figure it out before I finally left. But you know, hopefully, you know, people learning and being part of this conversation and then also maybe not being, you know, creating that culture, you know, will help people to say, you know, what, if that happens, I just need to go.

David Finkel (18:41):

Yeah. And it’s interesting, even like emails, a big hint for this one. Um, so one of the things we talked about in chapter two is this idea of, we call it the one, two, three method with email. So we do this internally at our company. We tell our coaching clients to the same. So when we do an email internally, not to external customers, but to internal people, we put at a preface before we put the subject line a one, two or three, a one means this is urgent important. You have to take action on it right away, drop everything. A two means you have some action to take, but you have a reasonable period of time to do that. If you get it in the morning, by end of day, if you get it in the afternoon, by the next morning, a three is FYI on here’s how this works.

David Finkel (19:17):

So if I get an email from you, Jim, that says two, and then it has, you know, Parsons project update needed. I know that I need to do something with that, but I don’t have to drop everything and do it at this exact moment. Here’s the big clue whether you use the one, two or three internally or not, but if everything in your company is a one or treated like a one that is a danger sign that you have a value of con, pardon me? You have a time and effort, economy, culture, no question about it. Cause you’re when everything is that urgent, what happens is nothing really is prioritized. And so it’s random chance or whatever seems to be least painful that I do or don’t do is what I end up getting done. And that tells you you’re in the wrong place. And it’s just so obvious. You can see it from people’s email habits within half an hour. You can tell what the company’s like.

Jim Rembach (20:05):

Well, and ultimately what we’re talking about is talking about that system and that framework and all that stuff is as you in the first part, you know what we’re building is our UBS. What is a UBS?

David Finkel (20:15):

Yeah. So years ago a partner and I, we used to love acronyms, but we said, what’s build the business system for how we do what we do. But the acronym for business system is not very appropriate. So we added the word you in front of it for ultimate business system. And now for 20 plus years, when I build companies or have my staff working in different departments, the idea is how can you systematize your area of the business? And so it’s a framework in organized mythology, a methodology of how to systematize an area of the business. And here’s where that impacts what say my team is responsible for, for, for customer support. Okay. If we don’t have really good sound procedures, scripting policies, procedures, et cetera, in place the right, the right workflows designed linkages of who hands off, what and how. And then it’s all in people’s head and you have these informal systems.

David Finkel (21:06):

What say my number one person, Sally, she gets ill and she’s out for six weeks. Now, going back to the model, me as the manager of that team, likely what’s going to happen is I’m going to step in and have to cover all that. So I’ll be working 16 hours a day. My staff will be doing subpar work because we missed the knowledge that Sally left with. But if I can start to build strategic depth, if I can start to make sure that other people are cross trained and we have standardized ways, we do things and follow a methodology to actually create this system of how we create our systems, store systems, access our systems. So that we’re all on the same page. Sally goes off, we can support her and cover for her. And at the same time when she comes back, she comes back to a place that’s not in chaos. It’s good for everybody. Customers, team members, managers, company, as a whole, all the stakeholders are benefited when I build strategic depth into an area of the company.

Jim Rembach (22:03):

Well, and as you’re talking to, I even start thinking about the whole dreaded fear of what all you have to do before you go out and miss a couple days or go on holiday. And then what you’re facing when you come.

David Finkel (22:15):

Yeah. I mean, I tell my staff members, I say, I insist, I push them. Like for example, an email today, I just sent off to funny enough, it was Teresa. I said, when are you going to be looking for your, your, your planning for the summertime to take some time away. I want her to take some kind of way. Number one, I want her to recharge, but number two, a business that doesn’t have people regularly go away. We can’t see where the redundant we’re, where the dependencies are. We can’t make it better. And so if I’ve got a 12 person team that I’m managing, I should encourage them at different times. I want them to be gone for a week or two to recharge. I want them to have a life and it lets perversely. It lets the business, my team see where we still have reliances that we need to strengthen so that we can become more able to cover and support for each other. And that’s important as well.

Jim Rembach (23:01):

Most definitely. Now you talk about, um, four steps that are needed in order to be able to create the UVS. You say, create your organizational file folder hierarchy. Yeah. Pick one area to start with and break that down into five to seven sub areas, populate this with one, populate this one area with five to seven sub areas with any of your existing systems and then pick one or two systems to build on this quarter for this area of your business. And so you’re, you’re teaching everybody how to chunk

David Finkel (23:32):

That’s right. And so generally someone who’s listening right now to the fast leader podcast, they’re, they’re managing a small area of the company, so they could start just with that and say, okay, in our area, what are the three to seven subdivisions and then ask what system do we already have? Well, Sheila created this and it’s pretty good. Okay. Let’s put that in there. I know that the company has already given us these 15 different scripts and spreadsheets and standardized documents. We’ll put those in there. Where are the holes? Where’s the one system. If we had that one system would be the most helpful or the most expensive system, the lack of which causes us the most issues. And what’s take the next 90 days and make sure we build that in. And every 90 days, I just add one or two more things, making sure that I don’t just keep adding.

David Finkel (24:17):

Here’s the most important part. I’ve gotta be pruning and erasing as I’ve go, because systems are not about something that you create a manual. And then you’re done policies and procedures. Manuals are universally ignored. I see this with companies that 50 people, companies of 5,000 people, I see universally past the first 30 days of hire, no one will ever look at it again. What matters is a culture of saying in our company, we build and create systems. We cross train on systems and over time we delete or archive systems as we find that they need to mature because it’s a nonstop, never ending process because things will change. Technology changes, internal needs, change, customer needs, change, market conditions, change. And we have to adapt with that as we go through.

Jim Rembach (25:05):

Well, as you’re talking, I’m thinking about, you know, experiences that I’ve had and probably ones I’m creating now is where I created that a year and a half ago. It needs updating. Um, but you’re, you’re, uh, I’m certain, you’re not saying that that’s what we need to be doing.

David Finkel (25:21):

Yeah. So rather than saying, I need to be updating this part. I want to be updating as we go. So I believe in a distributed model where all the competent people who are using the system, if they see something that’s not working, that they feel empowered to, if not make the change themselves, because in some documents that might not be appropriate, but to at least regularly have a voice to say, Hey, here’s two or three changes. And here’s a great way of doing feedback. We talk about this in the second half of the book or the book is most people do feedback wrong. Here’s a much better way of doing that. The next time you’re going to do feedback, ask what’s working well, we call these liked best. And what are one or two things you would suggest that we do different going forward. We call these next times.

David Finkel (26:01):

It’s a really useful way of grabbing feedback from team. And if it were me and I were running a team of nine people and, and doing our client experience or our receivables department, what I would do is I’d say, okay, once every, probably 30 days or 60 days for a while, then once a quarter what’s working well and what do we need to improve? Or Justin, what would you recommend we do? So that next time we do it better. And that, that process of just doing that regularly, it changes the whole feel so that we’re no longer fixing blame. We’re just fixing the problem. People are much more open to that.

Jim Rembach (26:38):

I’m talking about the second and a half of the book and getting to those, what you call accelerators. Uh, you mentioned five, uh, that’s engaged your team, become a better coach, grow your leaders, cultivate your culture and leverage better design. And when I’m looking at that, you know, I start thinking of magnitude and factor of, right. So if I would say of those five, which one of those is going to really give me the biggest bang for my buck?

David Finkel (27:02):

Yeah. For the people that are listening to the fast leader podcast, without question, it’s be a better coach because part of my job as a manager of the frontline is I’ve got to grow my people. I’ve got to help them learn skills, learn attitude and imbibe culture and just get some basic experiences to be a better producer in an area. So with that, I’ll give an example from that section, when I’m coaching somebody, there are two different types of coaching conversations to happen. I know this cause for 20 plus years, I’ve built coaching companies. I’ve literally have coached thousands of people. Our coaching staff has coached tens of thousands of people. So here’s one simple distinction. I asked myself the question, if I’m working with Sheila is Sheila someone who is a grow player or a Sheila, a role player, a grow player, someone who wants to develop mature, grain, new skills, they want new experiences, a role player.

David Finkel (27:58):

You know, David, I just want to do a good job. Let me just do my job. Don’t put me in new situations. Just let me do what I know how to do and stat on my way, by the way, a good role players worth his or her weight in gold. They’re wonderful. I don’t have a problem with that. The problem comes is when I try to grow a role player, when I try to grow a role player, they’re uncomfortable, they’re resistant and they end up quitting or wanting to work somewhere else internally. I drive my best people away that way. And I, and I’ve had so many managers who are, who are a little bit immature in experience, they’ll say, well, why wouldn’t they want to grow? Well, people get to make that decision. We cannot ascribe ambition to somebody else. So if I know which they are, when I’m coaching a grow, grow player, the way I coach, uh, grow players, I ask questions.

David Finkel (28:45):

I help them come to their own conclusions. Um, if I wasn’t here, what would you do? Hmm. Tell me why you would do that. If you couldn’t do that, what else might you do? Hmm. What could go wrong with that? That you would need to anticipate in advance? Hm. Hearing all that. That sounds great. Do it that way. A role player though. I don’t coach that way. They’d find it frustrating. I coached them for results. I say, I want you to do this by this time in this manner. And then close the loop by telling me when it’s done. Can I count on you to do that? I’m much more directive. It’s easier once I know the distinction. Now I can grow the people who want to be grown. And by the way, how do you know if someone’s a grow player or a role player?

David Finkel (29:23):

It’s not by what they say. Cause most people will say, Oh, of course I’m a grow player. It’s two things. Number one, I watch how they respond to feedback. A role player almost always is defensive or will rationalize a way the feedback or dismiss it in one ear, out the other, right? The doc, it just goes right off their back or grow player hungers for feedback. They, they value it. They care into it and they use it. They might not be perfect with it, but they really do try to use it. Um, the second clue is how they deal with novel situations. Um, when I put a grow player in novel situations, they’re happy. They’re, they’re challenged. They just, they find it in livens them and engages them. When I put a role player in new situations, they shut down, they’re scared, they’re intimidated, they’re uncomfortable, they’re anxious. And they just want out. They avoided.

Jim Rembach (30:16):

I think that’s a great way of really looking at the different players that you have, because sometimes you may find that you have all of one and none of the other and having that diversity and mix is really what’s gonna make the difference. So now when I think about all of this, Oh my gosh. Um, a whole lot of things come flying through my head. But one of the things that we look out on the show to help us focus our quotes. Is there a quote or two that you’d like that you can share?

David Finkel (30:41):

Yeah. So my friend, Karen, who, um, successful business owner, he started off in, in, um, managing restaurants of all things. That was his, his thing. He, he worked opening up new restaurants, training frontline staff. Uh, today he runs and own several groupings of convenience stores, but he said something and it’s in the book. He calls it. Can’t do, won’t do don’t know how and for a young leader or a young manager, this is a really wonderful way to think about how to handle someone’s behavior that you don’t like, that you’re managing. Is it because they don’t know how to do it? They can’t do it, or they won’t do it. And that tells us how to treat it. If they don’t know how it’s a training issue, if they can’t do it, it’s a, they’re in the wrong seat in the bus, or they might be in the wrong bus altogether. If they won’t do it, you have a culture of cancer. You have a direct, honest adult conversation. If that doesn’t cure it, they’re out of there. And that really was so helpful for me as a, as a, a way of thinking a frame of reference to, to be a better manager.

Jim Rembach (31:38):

Well, and I would dare to say that when you start talking about all the navigation that you have gone through and throughout your career and having those role models and how that initially impacted you and, and all of that, and even working with all these clients is that you’ve had a lot of opportunities to experience humps and you have learned from that others can learn from as well. So is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share?

David Finkel (32:03):

Yeah, so I think probably one of the hardest ones for me, believe it or not was when my kids were born. Um, I was totally unprepared. I mean, my wife and I you’ll laugh. We took three different rounds of birthing classes. Cause I was so scared of the birth. So it was my wife, my wife’s pregnant with twins. And then she ends up having literally a 62nd C-section and then I’m holding my kids. And the next three days later, we go home and I’m shocked. I I’ve never changed a diaper. I’ve never fed a child. I have no idea what to do. And my wife’s just had major abdominal surgery and she even lift her children for a whole week. So at the same time, I’m still owning a business. And that was a real challenge. And what the eyeopener for me was this idea that it was no longer okay for me to do the business the way I used to do it.

David Finkel (32:54):

I mean, I, I did get to a point where I was taking, you know, vacations and other stuff. But when push came to shove, if something needed to get done in the business, I would just go, I worked out of the house. I would walk across to my home office and I would just do it. You know, if it’s nine, 10, 11 o’clock at night and needed to be done, I would just do it. It was no longer an option. Number one, I was so sleep deprived that I think I slept maybe four hours. My wife probably had two hours of sleep for a night for the first six months. The second piece was, I didn’t want to miss this stuff. And so I made a decision to run the business differently, which actually ultimately became this idea of a formula for how do you work much more intelligently in the business?

David Finkel (33:31):

I, I said, I’m going to put a hard stop. I said, I I’m willing to work 40 hours a week. That’s my hard stop. And I owned at that time two different businesses. That was my hard stop. And I said, I’m going to treat this like an astronaut treats, his or her supply of oxygen or any other consumable. That’s all I have. That’s my inventory. So how I invest or spend that inventory becomes incredibly precious. And when I started spending that time differently, what happened was I started having what goods, business successes. Yes. But I started having a better life at the same time. I didn’t let it get out of whack as much. And I realized for me that the things that really were the hardest hurdles to get over where my fear of being out of control, control, itis, like we talked about and some behaviors and patterns around time and effort and work that just didn’t serve me anymore. They were outdated. They fit 20 years prior when I started working as an employee in the workforce. But 20 years later, technology culture, all these things that change and I needed to update them as well. And that’s why, you know, over the last 10 years I’ve worked to do what I’ve done

Jim Rembach (34:41):

And the fast leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now, before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

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Jim Rembach (35:07):

Four slash better. Alright, here we go. Fastly Legion. It’s time for the home. Oh, okay. David, the Humpday hold on is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust, get revenue responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. David Finkel. Are you ready to go down? I sure am. All right. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today? I’ll try to finesse too many conversations I should just have directly. And

David Finkel (35:38):

What is the best leadership advice you have ever received? Three questions? Well, actually, no, I’ll go with this one. It’s Stephanie Harkin is one of my mentors, a coauthor for earlier book that I wrote. Um, she gave me this thing. She said, I want you to write it on an index card and I did. And so the next time one of my staff came to me with a question. She had me read this index card for about a year and a half the index card read. I don’t know, what do you think we should do? And I just forced myself to keep asking that and it made me a much better leader. And what is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success? I’d say a little bit of perspective. I’d not taking myself too seriously. I’m a pretty serious person by nature.

David Finkel (36:15):

And I have to keep reminding myself, you know what, at the end of the day, a lot of what I’m worried about, scared about anxious about it really doesn’t matter. It won’t matter in a month. It won’t matter in a year and won’t matter in a decade. So don’t take myself too seriously. No one else does. And what is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life? And I call it my big rock report every single week. At the beginning of the week, I get a one page report that says here’s what my most important to do’s are for the week. My one or two big rocks and the victories challenges and updates from the prior week. And each of my direct reports does that. And I do it as well. It takes them about five to 10 minutes. It takes me about 20 minutes to read through and I get a really good understanding of what they think is important and what their victories were to remind me to go back and acknowledge them for the victories and support them through their challenges.

David Finkel (37:02):

And what would be one book you’d recommend to our Legion. It could be from any genre, of course, we’re going to pull it, put a link to the freedom floor as well. Yeah. So I think one of my favorites would be the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, a beautiful book, the Alchemist, it’s just a lovely fable and it has a lot of insight for how to manage and lead other people. Okay. Fast leader Legion. You can find links to that. And other bonus information from today’s show by going to fast Finkel. Okay, David, this is my last hope they hold on question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take it all. You only take one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

David Finkel (37:42):

Yeah, I would want to save her a lot more, a lot deeper look, I’m going to be moderately successful in business, regardless of which, right. I’ve done it the first time. And if I come back there, I’m going to have enough for my family. But the thing that I look back was all the times I took moments for granted that are gone. People in my life, I thought would be there forever aren’t relationships that ended, um, experiences that I thought I would be able to go back and do again. That really, we all recognize I’m about to turn 50. You just don’t get to do that. I wish I’d taken more pictures. I wish I had just, just enjoy that moment a lot more. That’s what I would take back with me, David. I had fun with you today. How can the fast leader Legion connect with you?

David Finkel (38:22):

Yeah, they can take a look at our website, connect with us there. Maui If you want to put that in your show notes, it’d be wonderful. And if we can help in any way, we’d love to do that. And I just think it’s a, it’s a real gift that you’re doing for people, Jim, to give them clear insights about how they can be a better leader and grow in their career. I think that’s a pretty darn good way of serving the world. So kudos to you for doing that. David Finkel, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom and the fast leader Legion honors you. And thanks you for helping us get over the hump.