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Insights from a global business nomad who helps Big Businesses with Liam Forde – Episode 64

3 top tips from Liam Forde:

1. Strategy

Make sure you’ve got the right strategy you’re going to do the right things because strategy is really just about choices.

2. Culture

The culture is what supports it. So if your culture is not quite right, then you need to relaunch it. Right? And the people in your culture, and that’s mindset and behavior, culture, right? It’s the mindset of the people and the behavior of the people. Right? So if your mindsets not right, you’re not going to crack it. Behaviors aren’t right. It’s not going to crack it. And the behaviors are also not any of the things you do. But the things you allowed to be done. Right, a lot of nice fun.

3. Execution

So strategy, culture, and then have very good execution, very good execution, we have an execution process, which we call moments of truth. So we look out, you know, 90 days and say, Okay, what are the moments of truth that we have as an organization, and people might call it milestones, but there’s lots of other moments of truth, it could be like, our long range plan, board presentation, right? So there’s moments of truth that are beyond just delivery milestones, is when we have to show up at our best, when we have to be exceptional. What are those moments of truth for our customers? Our people, team, you know, our teams, throughout, you know, investors, what are those moments of truth? And then we really nail those moments of truth. And if you get people focused on, you know, being exceptional at those times.


people, Debra, center, life, business, client, friends, strategy, execution, organization, empower, build, pay, company, podcast, share, leadership, culture, sustainability

Debra Chantry-Taylor  00:12

Welcome to another episode of Better Business Better Life. I’m your host, Debra Chantry Taylor. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs and their leadership teams get what they want out of business and life. On the show, I invite successful business owners and expert speakers to share their successes. They are open and honest about the highs and lows of business and also life as a business owner. We want to share those learnings with you to inspire you, but also to help you avoid some of the common mistakes. My hope is that you take something from each of these short episodes that you can put into action to help you get what you want, not only out of your business, but also your life. Welcome to another episode of Better Business better life. Today, I am joined by Liam Forde, who is a CEO and founder of the Zone Global. And we’ve just been having a chat in my office for about the last hour and a half or so about life, the universe and everything. So super excited to find out from Liam for useful things that he has experienced in his lifetime. Welcome.

Liam Forde  01:08

Hey, thanks. Thanks, Debra. It’s really great to be here. And of course, you know, I’m a fan of EOS so, so, I don’t need to plug it, I always will.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  01:15

Thank you very much. Appreciate that. So I like to always ask our guests to give us a little bit of their history about themselves. So their, their background, where they came from, and a personal professional best in your life.

Liam Forde  01:25

Yeah, well, I was born in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and I came from a very modest, poor family. In fact, you know, and so, if I look at where I am today, I never would have predicted that I would have got to where I am today, based on where I was born, how I was born into I was born into a very violent family. And disruptive. So when I was a kid, I was, I was sort of like a bit of a scaredy pants, you know, like, behind the mum’s skirt. And, you know, that takes a lot to get through over life. But she has been no, she was my rock, because she was the kindest person I know. And the kindest person I know today, in my family, I mean, I’d come home and there’d be people sitting around the dinner table I’d never met before. And she’d say, I just found them on the street, and they looked hungry. So I made them do anything. You know, I’d see people steal stuff, hey mum, that person just talk she said they probably need it more than later.  And and so yeah, that was a bit of my background. And then I started off wanting to be a vet. So I went down to Massey University, for those of you know, which is this little town out of nowhere, freezing, and but I really found that I loved animals too much. And being a vet, you have to be sort of like quite cool and removed from it. Not that I’m saying this don’t love animals they do. But I couldn’t do that.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  02:50

We can’t afford to get involved on a day to day basis. Yeah, destroy it.

Liam Forde  02:53

Exactly. That’s, that’s what that’s what I found. So I ended up, then doing a science degree. And as part of that I did psychology and I found that really, really interesting. So anyway, I left New Zealand that, I don’t know, 20 years, when I was finishing my degree, got on an OBE, went to Australia, worked on a building site, made some money went to the UK. And then I stumbled into starting my own business or becoming part of a business which was in the recruitment area. Recruitment is Yeah, totally crazy. I just liked people. Anyway, I grew that business to it was about a $30 million business. And we had 600 people. So I grew quite a large business. And I realized, you know, I was quite a good entrepreneur. But the real story is that I came back to New Zealand. I was at a party with my cousin’s place. And, you know, I was sort of big noting, I’ve got this business. And this is quite a few years ago now like maybe 25 years ago. And he called me a sign. He said, mate, mate, you said you’ve turned into an asshole. Yep. And I was like, should I have, right? Yep. And I realized that, you know, I left New Zealand, the sort of like, you know, entrepreneurial, sort of kiwi kid. And I’d actually let you know, fame and fortune, go to my head. And I had, I turned it on. So I really honestly I looked at myself in the mirror, I went, wow. This is not who I want to be. And so I decided to change everything. And so I’ve been reinvented myself and started a new business here in New Zealand, which was all about helping people reaching their full potential. And that was the precursor to the Zone, where I’m currently now and which is about helping organizations become exceptional. So that was my story about getting to becoming the CEO and founder of the Zone that’s been now since 1999. Worked in 35 different countries around the world. Wow! With hundreds of different types of companies and 1000’s of different people, and it’s been a real journey of joy, helping people become, you know, exceptional leaders, exceptional teams and exceptional organizations, rather than being sort of mediocre and just accepting that this is this is okay. Yeah. And a lot of that’s about making them more human. So our sort of ethos has become exceptional, by being more human.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  05:30

So you must have worked with some really interesting companies when 35 countries around the world. And it’s generally the bigger businesses that you work with, isn’t it?

Liam Forde  05:38

Yeah, yeah. So we’ve, we’ve created a niche with the sort of the larger businesses. So most of our businesses we work with are like 500 to 20,000 people, we could work with bigger companies, if we want, I’ve got a team of like, 17 people around the world. And we enjoy that. Because two reasons, because you’re making a bigger impact. So you’re making an impact or a larger number of people. And why I enjoy working with organizations is because they get behind borders. So a lot of the companies we work with are multi, you know, country organizations, global organizations, they might be in 10-20 different places. So one of my favorite job was back in about 2011, when we had, you know, 19,000 people in 14 countries, and we completely changed the culture of the organization.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  06:32

Across all those borders.

Liam Forde  06:33

Across all those borders by and how we did it was you might say, “How the hell did you do that?” But what we did, we we trained 150 of their people. So we have a technology we call the Zone Way, which is a way of engaging and upscaling and making organizations and teams and leaders exceptional. And we trained them in that methodology. But we started with a methodology called appreciative inquiry. And for those of you don’t know what Appreciative Inquiry is, it’s based on positive psychology. So if you go into a into a room and ask people what’s wrong? They love telling you what’s wrong with the business, right? They’ll say, Oh, this is wrong. That’s wrong. It’s terrible. But what this researcher found is that when he was doing research on this, he found that the number of people coming to see him to tell what the business role started to decline. And nothing really changed in the business. Right. So he saw, I wonder if it’s the way I’m asking the questions. So then he asked some neutral questions. And, you know, the attendance went up, but still started to taper off. Nice, I wonder would have happened if I asked just positive questions. Like, when we’re at our best, what do you see? Yep. You know, and, and, you know, when you’re at your best, where do you see? And, you know, what are the things that really enable people to be at their best here. And what he noticed was people went away feeling energized, excited, and more and more people were queuing up to come and do an interview with. Yeah, okay. And what he found is through that process alone, change started to happen, because he was changing our natural human lens from looking for what’s wrong to looking at what’s right, because we, you know, we’re naturally wired to look for the dangers, because it’s a survival technique, right? So when you ask people to look for the positives, you get a whole different mindset. And people start then looking at all the positives and what they do, and they do more of the positive things, which means is naturally less time to do the negative things, right. So just get rid of those naturally. Still, you still need to lean in some things that are broken. Sure. But it’s a different mindset. So that said, that was pretty interesting.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  08:46

That is part of what we employ in the whole level 10 meeting, which you start off with the critical news, the very first part of the agenda is good news person professional. And the idea is just get people in that positive kind of mindset and feeling about working on things rather than being down in the in the middle of fires.

Liam Forde  09:00

Yeah, yeah. Well, there’s a really good talk that was done by a guy called Shona Coors I think about 2014. Now, it’s a TED talk, right? Watch that. So you know, put that on your show notes. And it’s called Heavy Secret to Better Work. And it’s one that we show a lot of our clients, all of our clients, and it’s all about positive mindset gives you positive results. And he’s got a lot of research a lot of data that that actually backs that up. So it’s a really funny talk to so it’s worth watching.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  09:34

I should pop that in the links. Wonderful. Okay, so in terms of, you know, working with all these different businesses, was when some of the challenges that you’ve seen in these businesses as they because they will continue to grow, aren’t they? Yeah,

Liam Forde  09:46

Yeah. So they’re all They’re all primarily growth businesses. And what you find is, it’s probably no different than the small business, to be honest, just just at a different scale. So we can share notes on this. But as they grow, I’ll tell a story that I tell which might amplify a little bit, which is, you have three riders on the back of an elephant. And one wants to go straight ahead. One wants to go left and one wants to go, right. So you know, one that’s trying to move the elephant straight ahead and one back, wants to lift what? And so the elephants getting confusing messages about direction. And so what does an elephant do? When it has confusing messages? Do you know? Sit down? Well, almost it stops. Yeah. Now, if you think of the elephant as your organization, yes, and the street riders on the back is your leadership team, or your leaders in your team. If you have the messages that are misaligned, where you have misalignment at the top, it’s going to slow your organization down or stop it. Because what people naturally do they want to do a good job. So if one of the leaders are saying this is our KPIs, and one of the leaders are saying, this is our KPI, one of the leaders say, oh, no, this is our KPIs. If one of the leaders is moving at 10 miles an hour, the other one at 20, the other one at 50. That’s exactly what happens. So your organization slows down, and people are then confused. And they go, Oh, Debra, what am I supposed to do here? Even though they would naturally know if miss just realigned? Yeah. And so what you do is you’d hamstring your organization, you actually temporarily disable it. And that’s what I find in the big organizations, because they have a big chain of communication from top to bottom. Yep. So it’s like that old, you know, whispers game, we sort of whisper. Yeah, we you whisper something in one ear. And by the time it comes around to you, it’s it’s a completely different message, message. So that’s what I find is one of the areas. The second area is culture. So quite often, cultures will start to form in the organization because of these silos. So you’ll have a different culture in finance, a different culture in marketing, a different culture and sales, a different culture operations. And that creates another set of silos and misalignment, then that then in order to try and solve for that problem, they introduced bureaucracy. So then they over process things. Yes. So then there’s an SOP or a process for everything, and then everything slows down even more. And then you have to have meetings before the meeting, to check whether we’re either the politics arrived in there’s the meeting, and then there’s the meeting after the meeting. And then I mean,

Debra Chantry-Taylor  12:31

It just reminds me of my 12 months of council. So I since I’ve worked 12 months on the Auckland City Council, exactly like that.

Liam Forde  12:38

That’s the problem with big organizations. So it’s about getting rid of all that BS. Yeah, getting rid of the bureaucracy, getting rid of the misalignment, getting rid of the agendas, right? And I use an analogy of a fishbowl for your culture. So I say okay, so imagine you’ve got this fishbowl. And every time you add a bit of bureaucracy, or politics or hidden agendas, or miscommunication that’s polluting the water. Right? So you have this fantastic fish that’s in the water. And she’s come in from the best university. She’s super resilient. Like, she wants to change the world. And she’s like, Yay, let’s get in there. And when she gets no, I’m too busy for you. Oh, you have to have 10 signatures to do that. Oh, you have to there’s a meeting before that. And so this water starts getting polluted, and the fish starts to get sick. Now, what do you do? When the fish starts to get sick and polluted? What do you change the water? What do you change the fish? Now what you find is corporations do was they changed the fish? Right? When you ask kids, no, I go to schools and I asked him this and I say, hey, what do you do and they go, change the water. Right? Instead, and this is what happens in in big organizations, the water gets cloudy, miscommunications, bureaucracy, and all those things. They start to dirty the water. The fish start getting sick, sicker, work sick of all the BS, and then they start talking behind the water cooler or the seaweed. And guess what? Then they become part of the problem. Yep. And then they actually polluting the water themselves. And when they realize that they go, Wow. And then they leave. And that’s what happens when you have this talent brain drain. And it can happen the same for countries. You know.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  14:26

Like in New Zealand, I said something like that. Yeah. Yeah.

Liam Forde  14:29

Like, it’s crazy. You know, we have such an amazing, amazing country. And, you know, I’ve traveled a lot. And we have so much good here. So much we could do so, we just need the right direction. And, you know, Kiwis would get behind that. And I think, you know, what do they say there’s always trouble with idle hands. So if people are working towards something, collectively, then we can do great things. So.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  14:54

Okay. So when you first start with an organization, what is the first thing that you actually do?

Liam Forde  15:01

Probably not rocket science. But the first thing I do is, let’s say I’m talking to the CEO. And I’m talking to the CEO. And I say, Okay, tell me what the problems are. And I wait for the CEO to start pointing fingers. Because this is the perfect moment. I’ll, the people, it’s technology or somebody in my team that um, and then I say, okay, great. Cool. So I’m just gonna stop you there make an intervention. So who recruited this person? Oh, I did. Okay. Robert. Hey, and who’s leading this organization? Well, I am. Okay. Okay, cool. So the first thing is to look in the mirror. Because if you playing the blame game, then you can’t be taking full responsibility for what you have created. Okay, and everyone has, you know, unless you’re a brand new CEO, and you’re coming in, and you’ve not been part of the problem, there’s, there’s the issue straightaway. So first of all, do you take responsibility and accountability for what has been created? Because if you don’t, you’re not going to fix it? And the second thing that I do is okay, cool. Now, what was your vision when you came here? Or what is your vision? What do you really want to create? What would amazing? What would exceptional look like to you, not just ordinary, not just a little bit better? You know, shoot sky’s the limit. Because that stretch in consciousness helps people wake up. Because then they are held to a higher account. Was that okay? So that now becomes your CEO. So you’re no longer the CEO, but you’re Dreamers. And you report to that dream, then, we start getting things really interesting happen, right? Oh, okay. So I’m not really the CEO. I’m just a period, I’m just like a caretaker of that dream. And then, you know, quite often, I’ll have a meeting then with the exec team, and have the same process with all of the exec team. So I sort of do a discovery process with all of the exec team, and then I’ll put it all together and present it back to them. And, you know, often I’ll have a situation where I’ll talk about, okay, so you’re all here now, because you’ve fought way to the top, right. And that’s what’s got you here. But that’s not going to get you to be a leader of an enterprise. Because as a leader of an enterprise, you need to collaborate across the whole organization. And if you’re not fully aligned, and you’re not got each other’s backs, and you’re not fully committed to each other’s, you know, success, we have a problem. So it’s a little bit like I use an analogy, the difference between the Olympic team, which is flying the same flag, everyone’s trying to get gold medals, right, and eight will win, you win for the for your discipline before you winning for the country. The winning for the country just happens to happen when you count up the medals. That’s one former team. But that’s not the sort of team you need for an enterprise. You need a team that’s collaborating like a football team, or a netball team or a rugby team, or, you know, they’re all playing for the greater good. Yeah, so we’ve got a common shared, greater good vision, goal, what they got good looks like we’re all playing different positions or different functions, then we go from there.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  18:21

We thought about the Olympic team out there. But you’re right. Yeah, very, very different. Yeah.

Liam Forde  18:25

And the other thing is, you know, agile is very popular today, as a word, right. And I’ve seen lots and lots of agile implementations around the world successful and unsuccessful. And what happens is that a lot of companies are actually structured like a matrix, right? So they’ll have a functional accountability, and they’ll have a cross functional accountability, cuz cross function is usually how they launch products or do things. And they want the organization to be more agile. But they put the structure in place, which is matrix, right? And agile on the matrix have two fundamental different, completely different ways of offering it. Yeah, completely different ways of operating. So you have to, in order for the agile way to work inside of a matrix, it’s the agile mindset, understanding how to work in a matrix organization. In an a matrix organization, it’s always the cross points where the function meets the meets the cross functional, that you have an opportunity for conflict. But you also have an opportunity for creativity. So, you know, what I teach people is how at that cross point, to work collaboratively and to unlock creativity or what we call collective intelligence, rather than hit conflict. And then you unlock incredible value to the organization and unlock this collaboration and collective intelligence. So I call it the collaborative advantage. I’m writing a book on that.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  19:56

When’s that gonna be released?

Liam Forde  19:58

Probably next year, I’d say Yeah. So first you first heard on this podcast? Because I keep hearing people talking about competitive advantages. And then I understand that yeah, what makes you different? What makes you stand out? What makes you different from your competitors? But all true enterprises are collaborative. Yeah. Because if you’re not collaborative, you can’t compete. Right? So collaborative is actually the underpinning, competitive. And it comes back to, you know, my love of nature. You know, as you know, I’m also big into sustainability, permaculture, regenerative agriculture, and that’s really important to me. And if you look at natural systems, they very much collaborative systems, and they can live in harmony, which seems like competition. Yes. So it’s pretty cool. So that’s the basis of understanding this whole collaborative advantage that we have. So if you lose that, and you start competing to get on the inside, yeah, you’re gonna be in trouble.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  21:01

Okay, well look for that book coming out. I want to take you back, if I may, to your original business in the recruitment business, I’m assuming because it you had how many staff was at 600 600? Staff and sediment? Okay. How quickly did you grow? And what were the sort of the challenges you came?

Liam Forde  21:18

Well, I had that business for 21 years? Exactly. So we went through three, seven years, three, seven year cycles, we went through went through three, three recessions from fundamentally, in the end, the first one was the most brutal, because that was when I had about 40, people we had to get out of the seven. And it was it was, it was tough. And making those hard calls was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Because you, when you hand select 40 people in your family, particularly your family, and you know that they have families and times are tough. And sure, you can go through and say okay, let’s, you know, look at the bottom 10% of performers and the top 10%. And you can do it that way. But when you’re in a recession, and things are going to change very quickly, negatively. If you hold on too long, you’re going to run out of cash. And that’s the, that’s the truth. And not that money is the purpose of business. It’s like the oxygen is living. So you needed to live. That’s not the purpose of your life. But you need, you know, tricky nowadays, in today’s world, you need cash to live. And that’s just the fact of life. So that was the hardest thing I ever did probably in my whole career. Yeah.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  22:38

I can imagine. How did you handle those conversations with people?

Liam Forde  22:42

With a lot of tears? Yeah, yeah. So it was one on one with every single person. And of course, once you start, the word gets out, and you have to do it real quick. And we knew we were going to have to do this for about three months. To be honest, I delayed it longer than I should have. And we made sure that we did it at the optimal time for people. So you know, we had a long weekend coming up. And so I just did every one on a Thursday and a Friday, personal conversation face to face in those days. Yeah. And that meant me traveling to them, because we had people in different places. And so, I went round, and I did it. And some people were really pissed off, which was hard. And some people took it well, and some people collapsed. And you just think, Wow! That was that was me doing that I had that ripple effect on people. That was that was tough. That was a hard lesson. And the lesson came from that grow responsibly, and look at the macro trends. So you know, I was very myopic. In last days, I was just looking at my business. I was going yeah, I wasn’t looking at what was happening in the macro environment. And so I missed what was happening in the macro environment. I think, as a leader, you need to understand your business, for sure. You understand your marketplace, but understand also the macro environment, about what’s going to happen. And you make a call based on that you’re always going to be right but it’s better to be four armed.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  24:24

Yeah, I was about having you know, there’s the main plan but you have to have other plans. Yeah. The plan B. Yeah, the smash in case of emergency kind of plan.

Liam Forde  24:32

Exactly, break last year.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  24:33

Yeah, we can’t do that. We talked about this when we’re sure we can as a podcast and this whole macro being really aware of the macro environment. Can give me some examples of things people should be looking to in terms of understanding that macro environment?

Liam Forde  24:46

Well, I mean, there’s a lot of good data in New Zealand if you read a lot of the bank reports, a lot of the bank economists then if you look at their ability to predict the future, some of them but like the weather, right? Weather predicting, weather for like a hundred and fifty years and we still can’t get it right, you know right? So you have to take it with a grain of salt. But if everybody is predicting, hey, things are gonna get tougher, and you’re not an economist, I would then go to an advisor, and actually sit down with someone who really knows and say, hey, look, this is what my business, where my business is, what do you think we should do to hedge for the future? Yeah. I was on a call this morning with one of my clients in Southern California, in Brentwood, which is just north of Santa Monica. Yep. And their business is down 66%. They’re in the multi-family housing business. And they do loans for, you know, that two, 300 million worth of property. Yep. And on Tuesday, the new economic data is coming out for us. And so when that comes out, they’ll know whether they need to make cuts or not. And that’ll be, that’ll be sort of a quarter ahead, right? In the cycle. So they know, if the economic data is good, then we’re okay. Yeah. We’ll probably start recovering. If it’s neutral. We’re probably okay. If it’s negative, then they’re pretty sure that the next quarter is going to be brutal. And they can drop another 30%. And so they’re gonna have to make some hard calls. Yeah. Yeah.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  26:22

As you said, it’s just about being prepared for that. And so I suppose that might be blindsided, but then she knowing that that is a potential opportunity. It may never happen. Yep. Yeah.

Liam Forde  26:30

Yeah. Well, we didn’t no one knew about COVID. No one knew about what it was going to do and what it was, what the impacts were. But now, we know enough so that we can know that there will be an impact, you know, the global financial crisis, New Zealand weathered the storm very well, in that, and the government saying, Hey, I think we will weather this recession very well. And we very much could do in might, we might, but you’ve got to have a plan B as you say, and maybe even a Plan C. Right. And, and you know, maybe it’s time to look at, I’ve been struggling with this business for a while. And maybe it’s time to retire it because you’ve got to also know when to get out. Right? Because this. Yeah, I know, a lot of small business owners love their businesses. It’s their baby. Yeah. And maybe it’s only paying them a wage plus, right, you know, and it’s not really a business per se. But they need to go hey, is am I prepared for more hard times? Have I got the energy of motivation? Have I got the capital behind me as things go wrong?

Debra Chantry-Taylor  27:37

Yeah. It’s really interesting, Gino, who are you know, wrote the US model and whatnot, he talks about the fact that in every 10 years, we generally have kind of, you know, a couple of good years, three or four kind of average years, and there’s always one year in every 10 years that has the potential to completely destroy it. Yeah. And you’ve got to be prepared for that. It’s naive to think that it’s not going to happen. And I think sadly, a lot of probably there’s more than a small business owner, but it wasn’t the medium size wants to get affected by it, you know, that they haven’t got the plans in place, then we’ve got about six months with the cash flow sitting in the bank ready to get through it. And having the plans to to make decisions quickly. Because sometimes you have to, as you said, if you hadn’t made the decisions quickly, sure, it affects a lot of people’s lives, but it meant you to come back and then affect a whole lot more lives going forward.

Liam Forde  28:20

Yeah. Well, a lot of those a lot of them are probably a third of those 40 people came back. Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, that was that was the good news. Right? Of course, you know, when sometimes you lose face with people. And and so it’s not good.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  28:36

It is what it is. Yeah. Okay. Right. Okay. So I often ask, I always ask, I guess, to give three kind of top tips, we like to be quite pragmatic on here. So if you think about, you know, midsize business owners, what are the three things that you’ve either learned from working in your own business or working with the amazing business you work with, that you would take both from a personal and professional point of view?

Liam Forde  28:55

Well, one of the things that we do is we say that there’s three levels of performance. And that strategy, culture, and execution. Now, I know EOS is probably one of the best execution platforms out on the planet. So if you haven’t got really good execution, then you need to really lean into that. If you haven’t got a really good culture that supports that strategy, then you need to really lean into that because you’re going to lose talent. When when times are tough, you don’t lose talent, because talent is usually the first people that go and then you can make sure you have a right strategy. Right? So you’ve got a vision for who you want to be or what you want to become or what you want the business to do. Make sure you’ve got the right strategy you you’re going to do the right things because strategy is really just about choices. Yep. You know, you’ve got all these choices. You can choose which ones you’re going to choose and maybe you’ll choose them right maybe you’ll choose the wrong and just a nuance within this strategy. Many years ago strategy used to be set for like five years, 10 years, right? You remember that? Sadly. They sort of set in the bottom drawer they were, they come out once a year, and people say, oh, yeah, we’re pretty much on track, but no one measured it. Well, now you have to be much more agile with the strategy. So what you have to do with strategy nowadays is relook at it every, every quarter. So every quarter, I would say, and I know this is the newest thing too. But it’s just common sense. It’s good business practice to get your leadership team together. And that doesn’t just mean your executive, by the way, because they are always the implementers. So get your wider leadership team to get get him in a room and say, What are you stealing? Now? Where are we going? How are we tracking on track? What are the what’s the data, say? What is the market site? Yeah, once a quarter? And if you just do that for a day or two, will transform your business? So that’s your strategy element? Yep. The culture is what supports it. So if your culture is not quite right, then you need to relaunch it. Right? And the people in your culture, and that’s mindset and behavior, culture, right? It’s the mindset of the people and the behavior of the people. Right? So if your mindsets not right, you’re not going to crack it. Behaviors aren’t right. It’s not going to crack it. And the behaviors are also not any of the things you do. But the things you allowed to be done. Right, a lot of nice fun. Yeah, you know, so if there’s someone in the corner, and they’re performing quite well, but they’re a bit of a shark. And they’re using other people, resources and goodwill to actually drive the performance. And they’re a bit of a silo. It’s a hard one, because they’re performing. But the damage that they’re doing long term is what you have to look into. So strategy, culture, and then have very good execution, very good execution, we have an execution process, which we call moments of truth. So we look out, you know, 90 days and say, Okay, what are the moments of truth that we have as an organization, and people might call it milestones, but there’s lots of other moments of truth, it could be like, our long range plan, board presentation, right? So there’s moments of truth that are beyond just delivery milestones, is when we have to show up at our best, when we have to be exceptional. What are those moments of truth for our customers? Our people, team, you know, our teams, throughout, you know, investors, what are those moments of truth? And then we really nail those moments of truth. And if you get people focused on, you know, being exceptional at those times. The other thing is sort of like, line up. Yeah. So those are the those are three things that I’d say, focus on your strategy, get that right. Culture, get that right, and then your execution. And if you want an execution partner, I’m gonna plug EOS.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  32:54

Yeah, I’m gonna do that.

Liam Forde  32:57

Well, we, the reason why I do like, it’s because I’ve seen it in action. So probably, I’ve got about five or six year clients that run a US moment. Yep. And the big clients and they love it. Yeah. You know, they love it. It’s like, that’s just a process that really a structure that really supports their execution. Yeah, you know, so I’m a big advocate of and, you know, I know there’s other methodologies out there. But

Debra Chantry-Taylor  33:22

We always say like, you just want to pick a system and stick with it. So we’d love it to be us, of course, but doesn’t matter. You’ve got to just pick one, stick to it, and you’ll get the results.

Liam Forde  33:32

Yeah, there’s, there’s lots out there. And I work closely with with YPO, as well. And you know, a lot of the YPO will implement different models or have their own model or whatever it is. But it’s the fact that they implement it like clockwork. Yeah. That’s the thing that makes the difference. Yes, like, consistent system. See, you’re talking about the same things. You allow room for sideways brevity, to come in. Right. Yeah. So it’s not so tight, that you can’t allow for creativity, or things that come out of the blue or people to speak up and just say, I don’t know, my guts telling me, you know, I’ve got to, you have to allow room for that. Yeah, that element of human creativity and insight to creep into your system, and then you can adjust. Right? So don’t try and suppress that. Those views and that diversity, you know, try and encourage it, and a habit habit as a voice yet. Bring it out. Let’s hear what yours let’s hear what you’re thinking. Right? Because it might be totally just imagination. Right? Oh, I could be something, you know, oh, that could be something in it. Yeah. Right. And that’s what we call collective intelligence. Right? Why why dumbed down the room is when you can unlock it and unlock the potential.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  34:47

I give an example. I was working with a company of the day who actually does food manufacture stuff. They’ve got a chef who’s on the leadership team, and we’re having some issues financially. So we’re talking about cash flow and financial stuff. There was actually the chef that came up with the solution yet You’re not it wasn’t his account area of accountability, responsibility, but nevertheless, because we’re all working for the greater good, yeah, we’re all going well, what how can we contribute? And it’s just that diversity of thought I think that yeah, and really challenged by things you do?

Liam Forde  35:13

Yeah, well, we’re all on the same boat, basically, we should all be rowing in the same direction. You know, and, and if we are, then everybody’s voice is equal. And, you know, at the end of the day, the role of the CEO or whatever it is, is to, to maybe take some hard decisions, but also to empower the team to take most of the decisions, and for their teams to empower most of their teams to take more of the decisions that are interfacing with your customers or clients or however you because they are there, Johnny on the spot.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  35:48

Yeah. They’re the representation of your entire business brand. Yeah.

Liam Forde  35:53

Yeah. Forget what was it Mike Tyson, who said, you know, you can have the fight plan can be is great until you get the first punch. And then you’re like, Wow, that’s a little bit life, like life. And it has never, never been a straight line to me. And I’ve never met anyone whose life has ever been a straight line.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  36:11

Now, we kind of get taught that even with business, you’ve got that whole hockey stick growth. I’ve never seen that in a business yet. I shouldn’t say never. I have seen one outlier that definitely did do that. But in general terms, there’s lots of blips on the way

Liam Forde  36:21

Yeah, the whole regression analysis is poorly thought scattered across a line, you draw a straight line through it, just to go, but was that not life?

Debra Chantry-Taylor  36:30

That’s not likely at all. So I’m just really interested. I mean, I love the fact that you’re talking about you know, giving accountability back to people put it back on them, I think that’s really important is kind of like letting go but within the boundaries and the things that you’ve set within your culture and within your measurables. For my listeners, who tend to be a bit more midsize, but potentially looking to grow into that next level up any last words of advice for them in terms of because, you know, you had 600 staff? That’s a significant size business? What changes? Are you seeing that changed in between being a mid sized means like a larger business?

Liam Forde  37:02

Well, I think, fundamentally, I set the culture. We set the vision, and then we systematized right? Yeah, I don’t think you get there’s any magic, right? You can’t scale a business when it’s like you reinventing the wheel all the time. Right? Why do we do this. And now I’ll tell you what I was chatting to someone the other day. And this is how bad the scaling is. Now they got 800 people. We were chatting on a completely different topic. So I was training these champions to go around and reenergize the business react, we were getting them to talk about the vision, the strategy, the values, and you know, the finances and how to have low cost or no cost ideas, right? Because the business was struggling. I want to call dear. And someone says, oh, one of the people in the workshop said, Ah, it’s terrible. We need to get better systems. And she said, Well, what’s an example, I spent two weeks trading this mail merge document to send out to all our drivers and ages and I had to get all the emails and then send them out one by one. And she said, you deliver this thing called mail merge. And she didn’t know. And she showed her this thing where she could import all of that. Email addresses into one spreadsheet, pretty easy. And then just press a couple of buttons if you don’t send it yet. And it went out by email. And she was like, Oh, my God, I didn’t know we could do that. Right. Now, on the same call. There was someone who said, Yeah, I had the same thing in the workshop. I did, and they didn’t even know we had Docusign. And the woman said the other what’s Docusign? And we got Docusign. Yeah, anyway, yeah. She was like, I didn’t know he had Docusign. And they’ve been working together for four months. Right?

Debra Chantry-Taylor  38:58

Like, there’s another lifetime.

Liam Forde  38:59

That’s an example if you don’t systematize your business, and, and that you’ll never be able to scale it. So that would be my advice to, you know, that small to medium sized enterprise to really look at how are we going to scale? How are we going to automate things? How do we do things that still deliver to the customer experience that still deliver to the people experience, but take away all that friction? That’s unnecessary? Because as you know, one of the other things that I do is I’m a flow coach. Yes. So and flow is all about one of the one of the elements is about taking friction out of your life. So when you wake up in the morning, if you’ve got 15 decisions before you can even get out the door. You’ve just wasted a huge part of your mental capacity. Right? You’re gonna be exhausted getting out the door. Oh, my God. Thank God, I gotta get into the car. You they Oh my God. Yeah, I can have a rest all the way to work. Right? You’re already fried. Yeah.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  39:53

And it’s just simple things is that like, I should have a uniform, right? I have a uniform for work, and it’s just a handful of dresses and all that same job and always just consistent. Yeah. Which was in the morning, I wake up and I go right, pick a dress for the jewelry. Yeah, you’ve gotta go,

Liam Forde  40:05

Yeah, three or four choices that may be and then you know, similar sorts of, you know, three or four choices for breakfast and just get on with it. Because you know, what you look like and what you read, sure what you eat for breakfast, nutrition is important. You know, if you’re wanting to make a difference in the world, then the time that you’ve got to make a difference, that’s where you want to be in flow. That’s where you want to be at your best. That’s what you want to be exceptional at. So all the other bits and pieces, take out the friction, you know, take out all the friction. And you know, if you spend all your day in the morning, one client I had recently here in New Zealand, what do you do this? Oh, you know, I’ve got a good routine in the West. Oh, what are you doing? Well, I get up in the morning, I get up about like, 5:36 I go down and make myself a copy. I grabbed the Herald and I sit in bed and read the Herald. And then I say I said, okay, cool. How do you feel at the end days? Yeah, I feel a bit. I feel a bit tired. I’m like, Dude, you have just wasted the first the best 90 minutes of reading, reading doom and gloom, doom and gloom, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. And he’s like, sh*t I hadn’t thought of that. You’ve got dogs over here he goes, Yeah. Okay. So tomorrow, what I want you to do is get up in the morning, don’t have a coffee, first thing for a start, just get some blue light. And because that’s a stimulant, you know, getting out in the morning, take your dogs for an hour’s walk or 45 minutes walk and just just whistle along and play and meet other people and get yourself some exercise. Then come back. What are you going to nail the state? Well, how are you going to win the day? How are you going to win the week? But right? Think about that. Grab yourself a coffee? And then do you most creative, high value worth while you’ve gotten all of your attention freed up? You’re in the best energy space you possibly could be. And that’s some and I didn’t charge him for this. By the way he paid for lux stuffs. Excellent. He’s called me back later. He said “That has changed my life.” You know?

Debra Chantry-Taylor  42:06

I actually am I used to be an avid watcher of the news with the first thing I do when I get home from work in the evening, and we even video on my sky. And then watch it and I suddenly realize it wasn’t any good. And I stopped doing all that. And we now do go for a walk every morning the dogs like rain, hail or shine. What are some great wellies and especially the puddles I tell you what, it is just the best way to start the day? Yeah. And when you don’t do it, that’s when you actually feel a bit.

Liam Forde  42:28

Yeah. And you can talk about, you could talk about the business or ideas, hey, you know, like you, that’s why ideas come to you when you’re relaxed. Because as soon as you relax, you shut down this prefrontal cortex, which is your thinking brain or the CEO brains, and you access your pattern recognition system here. And then all sudden ideas come up. So you’re in the shower like, Well, why didn’t the mirror or something, or you know, you’re going for a walk or, you know, you meet a friend, and you just have such good energy, you’re in the car way back? And you think of a new idea?

Debra Chantry-Taylor  43:05

Yeah, no, I completely agree. I actually had another podcast guest who talked all about that stuff. I was blown away by. Remember, you’re doing the talk of the Connected Communities. Again, it was something that really struck me and completely forgotten it now. But it was just around that that whole flow is like not not wasting that perfect time. Yeah, I look, I know, we could talk for hours, because we already have. But I also know you’ve got a huge amount of resources available that can actually help people. Some great case studies on your website, you’ve got. Have you already written a book? Or is this gonna be your first book?

Liam Forde  43:31

This is my first real book, I wrote a short book for my TED talk. Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  43:36

So your TED Talk. So what is your TED talk title?

Liam Forde  43:39

It’s the TED talk is titled is What’s Really Killing Us? Because I did that in 2014. And what I saw was the, you know, through my experiences, how people are suffering at work, and work is not engaging or inspiring for most people. Most people, it’s clock in clock out. And you can see that from the research from Gallup, for example. Yeah, it was like 60% of people. All they do is clock in and clock out, just to get a paycheck.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  44:09

This is global. I can’t get my head around that, but I can appreciate.

Liam Forde  44:12

Yeah, and then there’s, like, you know, 15% of people are actually going the extra mile. And there’s a whole bunch of other people that actually are undermining the business. Right? And this was global statistics. And, you know, you just look at that. And then that’s what you see, inside organizations. They’re, they’re just operating at mediocre. They can’t stand the next meeting. They they sort of check out in meetings, and they check out at work. And they get the paycheck, but they’re not happy. Yeah. And that’s what I saw around the world. And so someone asked me to speak at a TED talk. And that was the title of my talk was what is really killing us. And it’s a four letter word called work. And it’s just the way that work is sit up, yeah, we can sit up work so much differently, you have to be exceptional, to be excited. I mean, not every day, we all still have to fill in our tax forms and stuff and whatever. But those are the small things. You know, don’t let those small things distract us from the bigger game, which is how much impact we can make and how much we can change things or how much value we can add to clients and how excited they feel when they’re using our product or service. That’s great when you see the spark and the eyes and stuff. Like that’s what we’re here for.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  45:29

So where can that well, I’ll put the TED Talk link in the podcasting as well. Where can people find more information about your how can they contact you?

Liam Forde  45:36

So I’m on LinkedIn as Liam Ford, we’ve also got his own Global LinkedIn. You can follow us on there. Or you can look at the website, which is .com was taken by the diet people. Cause the Zone. Yeah, started his own. I was immediate. I didn’t think of dot com Yeah, that’s so that was like 20 odd years ago. Okay, so Excellent, and LinkedIn for both yourself personally, and also for the company. Absolutely. Now, I’d give you my email or phone number, but you’d probably swamped me so.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  46:10

Hey, look, I really, really appreciate you coming in. Spend some time with me before this, but also giving you time to the podcast, oversights breakthroughs back in person again. So the energy is always a little bit different, I think.

Liam Forde  46:20

Yeah, and you’ve got such a great setup here for the podcasts. Great set up here, too. I’ll probably steal it from you one day.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  46:28

No worries at all. I look. Thank you very much for coming in for sharing all your wisdom, whatnot. Look forward to talking and so yeah,

Liam Forde  46:33

Obviously, it’s been a pleasure. And I’m sure we’re going to collaborate together and and do some great, great stuff.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  46:40

Let’s make a huge difference. We’d love to do that.

Liam Forde  46:42

Thank you. Thanks.

Debra Chantry-Taylor  46:43

Thanks again for joining us some better business better life with me your host Debra Chantry Taylor. If you enjoy what you heard, then please subscribe to this podcast. And let us help you to get what you want out of business in life. Each week we release a new short episode which will give a success story and three takeouts to put into action immediately. These will help you take your business from good to great. The podcast is also supported by free resources, templates and useful tools, which you can find at I am a trained entrepreneur leadership and business coach, a professional EOS implementer and an established business owner myself. I work with established businesses to help them get what they want. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to have a chat about how I might be to help you. Or if you’d like to join me as a guest on this podcast. Thanks again to NZ audio editors for producing this podcast. See you on the next episode.


Debra Chantry-Taylor 

Professional EOS Implementer | Entrepreneurial Leadership & Business Coach | Business Owner

#betterbusinessbetterlife #entrepreneur #leadership #eosimplementer #professionaleosimplementer #entrepreneurialbusinesscoach

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