“You need to work harder.”
“You need to put in more time.”
“If you’re not growing, you’re complacent”
“If you’re not working 80 hours per week as a business owner, do you even care?”
It’s these type of comments that have created a toxic culture of entrepreneurs who believe the only way to succeed is to grind away while everything else in their life suffers.
Why? Pride. Ego. It’s in the way.
And today, we’re talking with Howard Mann – a business coach, keynote speaker, and author on how to get the most out of your business. Howard believes we need to leverage our businesses to create the life we want. Not leverage our life to create the business we want.
If you’re at a point where you’re not as happy with your business as you could be or if you have a sense of feeling stuck, this episode’s for you. Here’s why you don’t have the business you deserve.
Let’s dive in!
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Show Notes 📓
✅ Check out Howard’s New Book: Fewer Better and Other Business Life Lessons: https://www.amazon.com/Fewer-Better-Other-Business-Lessons-ebook/dp/B09JSZYD18/
📷 Watch the video version of this episode and subscribe for updates on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYAr3nGy6lbXrhbezMxoHTSCS40liusyU
🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Libsyn Studio (formerly Auxbus)! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Learn more here: https://www.libsynstudio.com/
🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/
Read the Transcription 🤓
Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of Technically Speaking. We’re your hosts, Taylorr and Austin. Now let me know if this sounds familiar. You need to work harder. You need to put in more time. If you’re not growing, you’re complacent. And if you’re not working 80 hours a week as a business owner, do you even care? It’s these types of comments that have created a toxic culture of entrepreneurs who believe the only way to succeed is to grind away while everything else in their life suffers.
Why? Pride, ego, it’s in the way. And today we’re talking with Howard: Mann, a business coach, keynote speaker, and author on how to get the most out of your business. Howard: believes that we need to leverage our business to create the life we want, not leverage our life to create the business we want. So if you’re at a point where you’re not as happy with your business, as you could be, or a sense of feeling stuck, this episode’s for you. So here’s why you might not have the business you deserve. As always stick around until the end for some awesome resources. And we hope you enjoy this one. See in there. All right, and we are live. Howard:, it is incredible to have you here today. Welcome to the show.
Howard: Hey, it’s great to be here. Great to be with both of you.
Austin: Oh yeah, man. It’s our pleasure. We’re excited for this episode. Also, you just helped us level up our podcasting set up before the show so thanks for that. Anybody that’s interested, audio plugin, krispr.ai, something like that.
Howard: Krisp. K R I S P. ai takes out all of the… in case you don’t want hear the dogs barking in the background or…
Howard: I’m in New York City so if you don’t want to hear sirens going by, takes that all the way it works. Works great, actually.
Howard: In a Zoom working world.
Austin: Yeah. Well, okay. For you podcasters out there listening to this, there you go. Go check it out. You can thank Howard later.
Taylorr: That’s right. Now, Howard, we were introduced by a good friend of ours, Rich Moholland.
Taylorr: Had him on the show a couple of times so this is going be a really awesome episode. Of course, any friend of rich is a friend of ours. And what I love about when we were doing our research initially, after we had gotten introduced, you really have this kind of mantra on your website and we’re going talk all about this today, but strategy and execution and how to get the business you actually want and I landed on your website for the first time when I was doing research and my feelings were a little hurt by the headline that you have on that site. It caused me a point of reflection, let’s say so tell us about that. Where did this idea come from? What does that headline?
Howard: Are we allowed to curse on this?
Taylorr: Of course, yeah, we’ve got the explicit label.
Howard: All right. So it says, fuck your pride in big letters on my website, and the Genesis of that is that I do a lot of work with businesses and entrepreneurs who are stuck or struggling or have fallen out of love with their business. And when I thought back to why, so few of them asked for help. It is true that that people don’t ask for help until the pain is severe or it’s so severe that it outweighs the asking for help. And where I sort of settled on as to the why of that is pride. Pride of looking bad to your peers, pride of feeling that… there’s this entrepreneurial bit of a smoke screen that’s occurred over the years where if you’re an entrepreneur, these sayings that you’re supposed to build the runway when you’re landing and build the parachute on your way down and all of this bravado stuff that just I think is harmful.
And so your pride really blocks you from having the business that you want, your pride blocks you from being able to just focus on the parts of the business that you want. And then there’s lots of great quotes about pride happens before the fall. And I think that the, the core of it, the subtitle of fuck your pride is fuck your pride so that you can build a business that makes you proud. And our ego and our pride can often really sabotage us having the business and the life that you want.
Austin: Yeah. I think sometimes we need to sort of get in people’s faces a little bit, or have somebody get in our face in order for us to get the idea, and fuck your pride is a pretty aggressive statement, but, to your point, it’s speaking to this like softer side of entrepreneurialism that I don’t think gets talked about enough. And I’m speaking about this as an entrepreneur, I struggle with this a lot myself, you know, it’s really difficult just being an entrepreneur period, but certainly knowing how or where to go to get that help and then to get beyond yourself so that you can be honest and real and put yourself out there so that you can improve. But it’s a scary, and it’s a tough thing, so anyways, I like that. It’s a really bold statement that’s sort of speaking to this softer side of entrepreneurialism [cross-talk 05:10] more of.
Howard: Every client that I’ve worked with over the years has come to me saying that they need help with something that is not actually the real problem because pride is in the way. And over the course of some conversations, it moves from, well, if I only had a few more clients, I just need some help with sales or need some help with marketing. And if you dig enough and you ask people, how do you feel about your business? How do you really feel about your business? All of a sudden these nuggets come out over time, that reveal the real problem and the real thing to fix. I often say that that most people just want to talk about the icing on the cake, but don’t want to talk about the cake, which might taste terrible. So all the icing in the world’s not going help it and to get to the cake, you you’ve got to get below your pride.
Taylorr: So, where do you think that hurdle comes from for people? Where do we lose track? What happens in the entrepreneurial journey that that’s the normal?
Devin: Well it’s peer pressure is one way. You only read really about the stories about the entrepreneurs who killed it, crushed it, built up this massive thing, sold it for $1 billion, all of those stories are out there. And so anything that you’re doing that feel less than that feels like a failure. And there is this problem, and this distortion that’s happened to the word entrepreneur, which to me, when I think of an entrepreneur is not necessarily a tech start-up, that’s trying to raise a lot of money and rocket to a billion dollars in revenue. It’s a business owner, it’s a business person who operates the business that they own. And that used to be a sexy thing that used to be enough. And somewhere along the way, that’s not enough.
If you have a business, a $5 million business or a $1 million business that gives the life that you want, it takes care of the people that you care about, it does some good in the world, it’s fulfilling for you to get up and do it every day, that’s a win. It doesn’t have to be anything else. And so I think it’s been distorted by what an entrepreneur has come to mean and this feeling that having a business that’s just enough for you is a failure. And walking around feeling that your business always needs to be more, is a lot to carry around. That’s a lot of weight to carry with you.
Austin: Yeah. Well, even if you can just define what you really want, and I know this is something that we’ll probably talk more about later on, you have a book that sort of speaks to this that’s going come out soon, so teaser everybody, but even if you just know where you want, the hard things that you have to go through to get there can become worth it. And the problem with… I hate pointing fingers, because there’s no one culprit, but social media is a pretty good example of this mentality, this hustle culture that you could probably call it where go big as big as possible and that’s the only solution. It sets up this, to your point, this never ending scenario where you just have to keep pushing forever and you never even know if you’re going get there.
And so if the future is totally cloudy, then when we’re doing hard things in the time, we lose the meaning there because there’s no reason for our struggle and we feel demotivated and it just feels like it’s not impactful and you’re never doing the right thing, and you’re constantly wondering, and second guessing yourself, if you’re going to make the right choice that day and you’re right, it is heavy. It’s really heavy and I think there’s a lot of people that are walking around with that, thinking that that’s normal entrepreneurialism, because there’s a lot of the culture out there, especially this hustle culture crowd that tells you that if you’re not struggling for those reasons, then you’re not even successful at all. So I’m just trying to tie back to your main point originally that this largely comes from peer pressure, because I totally see that out there.
Howard: And, even more to that point is there is this idea that if you say to somebody how’s business, they’re like, look, I’m a business owner. They’ve become resigned to the fact that this is just the way it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be this soul crushing 24 hour a day grind for some period of time because someday it will have a big payoff. If I just do a little more, if I just work a little harder, if I give up more of my life, if I ignore more of my relationships, if I take that vacation in 10 years, that someday, and maybe it’s my age and experiences that I’ve had, but I’ve met enough business owners where that someday never comes. And the pandemic is a big wake up call to that.
There are businesses that were humming along and doing great and that someday was coming, the floor got pulled out from under them. And if it’s not that it’s over the years, there’s been recessions and economic turmoil or shifts in the world where print media disappear years and it’s going digital. And if you missed the turn, it’s over. And I’ve met with enough business owners who are counting on selling their business to retire or for whatever was coming in the rest of their lives, who found out that the world changed under their feet. And all of those years of pain turned out to be nothing because the business had no value. And so those experiences left me feeling and sort of asking the question, what if you could design a business where you enjoyed the journey all the way through and the someday would be a bonus?
That if it didn’t happen, you didn’t feel like, well, what was I doing the last 10 or 20 years? But there is, just as you said, there is this hustle and grind and it’s supposed to hurt. It’s supposed to be painful. You’re not working hard enough, you stink, you’re a terrible entrepreneur at the expense of what? We only get one sort of ride here. Why should five or 10 years be awful?
Taylorr: That’s right.
Howard: Especially if you don’t have an idea of why you’re even chasing…
Taylorr: Why you’re doing it.
Howard: The goal. If it’s just for the sake of more for the sake of more, Or just keeping up with the Joneses, which is a story as old as time, why are you doing it? And that going back to what we talked about, about getting underneath your pride, it requires some self-reflection to say, what actually do I love about my business? What parts make me get up every day? And what is my state of enough? Is it a country home? Is it just a home? Is I want to send my kids to a certain school? Is it I want to be able to travel a lot? Is it I want to have this much in the bank for comfort? One person’s number could be 10 million, another could be a billion, but another person could be like, you know what, if I had a company with four people who I loved working with and we got to choose just the clients that we absolutely adore or, to a lot of your audience, that I’m giving 10 speeches a year, but they’re exactly to the people that I want to reach and connect with, then that’s my enough. And that’s okay. If it gives me the life that’s fulfilling for me. That’s okay. And that that’s not talked about anymore.
Taylorr: It’s such a divide. [Cross-talk 12:57] Yeah. There’s such a people really put a black and white line. I think it’s natural of course the brain wants to do this, but between your personal life and your business life and your business just has to grow, grow, grow, grow, grow, and whatever happens over here, happens over here basically. And before you know that you lose sight of all of it, especially if you don’t have like a feedback loop or a way to kind of reassess if you’re doing the things you really want to be doing. Actually you brought up an interesting story that I heard recently. I was having a conversation with a gentleman named Bob Moesta. He was one of like the principal architects for the Jobs to Be Done framework, it’s a marketing framework.
And he has this counter on his phone that he showed me and it has 2216 days on it. I was like, well, what’s that? And he says, my mom passed away at 65 and for 64 and a half years, she said, when I retire, I am going to do all of these things. So she retired at 64 and a half and passed away six months later, basically. So he was like, is my counter. That’s the day she passed away, that’s how many days I have left as far as I’m concerned so I have to keep that kind of front and centre. And that rattled me to my bones because I feel like as an entrepreneur you can lose sight of that, especially when you’re stuck in the weeds and not really maybe feeling so in line with your purpose.
Howard: And just to have some understanding that wait a minute, I’m actually supposed to be enjoying the journey. This is not some epic struggle to cross the ocean in a torrential storm and hurricane and whatever. This is supposed to be where you are spending 70% of your time. The idea that it’s supposed to be this soul sucking grind is a broken line of thinking. And when you can unlock yourself from it and ask yourself, so many of my clients, what I wind up doing from a coaching perspective is if I can help you isolate what part of the business do you love? And it’s usually the thing that they were doing in the beginning that caused the business to grow and as the business started to grow, they were like, well, I’m the entrepreneur here. I should have to do everything.
So now I’m doing HR and now I’m doing accounting, and now I’m doing all the things where I think that I’m an entrepreneur, so I’m supposed to do it all, but I’m actually not the best at it, I don’t enjoy it, and I’m spending less and less time in the thing where I actually create value for the business and I love doing it and I could do it all day and never get tired. And for many it’s meeting with clients, it’s coming up with ideas, it’s working on product or working on the service or it’s doing marketing. And there is a huge unlock to let yourself say, you know what, if I can spend more and more of my time doing the thing where I create the most value, there are other people who love doing the stuff that I hate doing. There are people who love HR. There are people who love to do sales and marketing if that’s not your thing. And when you can get everybody in the right place doing the thing that they love the most, the growth will happen in a way that doesn’t feel like dragging a boulder up a hill. It’ll start to feel like something that just happens because everybody’s doing the parts that they love and momentum takes over.
Austin: This kind of reminds me of Gino Wickman and his book Traction. He talks one of the principles there is right people, write seats so I don’t know if that’s inspiring [cross- talk 16:31]
Howard: Even in Good to Great, they talk about the right people on the bus and the right people off the bus. And I think the traction and things like that are amazing to get your strategy organized, and the only piece that I not argue with, but I think is missing from some of that is first you got to get your mind right. Because if the strategy is not right and your direction is not clear, then all of the organizing your strategy is not going work so the underlying piece is what’s my enough? What are we great at? How do we become famous for it? And then how do we build momentum out of whatever it is that we love doing? And then I think tools like Traction and EOS and Gizelle and Scaling Up and all of that stuff is phenomenal. But first you got to know why you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it for, and why anybody should care.
Taylorr: Yeah. that definitely makes sense. I’m seeing potentially this cart before the horse conundrum here, because I think that there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that are vaguely, at least aware that they need to be able to offload some of the things that they’re doing so that they can be, we call it in the zone of genius. Doing the thing that you love doing that you’re best at doing. But in order to do that, there does have to be an amount of growth, and so we need to hire people to grow, but we need to grow so that we can hire people and I think that it can be tricky. I, again, speaking from our own experience, knowing where the line is to where we invest in the new person before, maybe we’re even comfortable with it so that we can grow more or how much we need to grow so that we can actually justify bringing on that next version. These are sort of existential questions it seems like so do you [cross-talk 18:29]
Howard: That is always tricky. Yeah. There’s a little exercise that I do with folks where the tasks that you do in a day for somebody running a business, you’re just doing them. You don’t really have a sense of what they all are. So I try to have them first make an exhaustive list for a one full day of every single thing they do, even if it’s getting paper clips and making photocopies and making this many phone calls and doing whatever it is, just an exhaustive list. And then take that list and start to compartmentalize it on what are the things that I’m actually not that good at? What are the things that I actually am good at, but I don’t like doing? And in that, that list is where most people wind up spending their time because they think because they’re good at it that that’s it.
But your zone of genius is something that you’re so innately good at that you actually don’t think that everybody can do it because it comes so naturally to you. And if you can isolate those, turn that list into buckets and see those tasks in front of you, then you have this sort of process now in front of you of, okay, let me look at each one and can I automate or delegate one at a time? I think entrepreneurs want to flip a switch and say, okay, I can hire somebody now or I can make that leap, but it’s a gradual process of, let me see if I can just unload these three tasks and then I have a little bit more time to be in my zone of genius. Now, let me see if I can automate these two things and maybe there’s a way to virtually offload some of this stuff, because I’m not ready to hire somebody, but I could bring on somebody, especially nowadays you could bring somebody who wants to work remotely and maybe they’re happy working 10 hours for you a week or whatever it is.
The key though, is to see it clearly in front of you as a roadmap, as opposed to this binary, I’ve got a to take on a salary or I can’t, or I’m stuck. As opposed to let me create a little bit of a path and I’m going know when I start feeling that I’m spending more and more time in my zone of genius because the revenue’s going start to come in as a by-product of that and I’m going have a little bit more comfort and it’s not going to feel like a leaping off a cliff to make that higher.
Taylorr: I love that breakdown. And for those of you listening, really capture for a moment, what Howard just said. It’s is a small approach, just one thing at a time. And this is what’s like nice about if you know where you’re heading, there’s no reason why you can’t just go to Fiverr or Upwork and find people to handle those one off things that you just know that you aren’t good at and somebody else could help you with it. Doesn’t need to be this giant leap of all of a sudden you need a salary and it is kind of like, I think with hiring it’s almost the same mentality that you broke down, Howard.
One day I’ll be able to do this, and when I can hire that person, I’ll be able to do this. It’s always kind of that one day mentality and then, you know, one day never comes because we just never took action on those small steps to make that leap. And you get stuck by that leap. Bringing on a salary and everything that that entails is [cross-talk 21:43] a big leap, no matter how you do it, and it will feel so scary, and for most entrepreneurs that is that money that you use to hire somebody is really coming out of your pocket. So you might just say, look, just sheer greed or lifestyle, I can’t give it up. I’d rather just do the work myself. And then you get stuck in this loop of, I have to do everything. I can never spend any time doing the things that it’ll grow the business, but I don’t want to give up the salary. But there’s a lot of ways to do it. I’ve had lots of success with Fiverr, with somebody on Upwork, with 99 Designs.
Taylorr: Us too.
Howard: With different places where there’s some extraordinary talent. And now I think we all learned through the pandemic that geography doesn’t matter. the person who did the design for my book was in France and they did a beautiful job and that’s all they do all the time. And it was economical, and it saved me time and energy, and you just have to first understand what it is that you’d like other people to do and I find that just the act of listing out, everything that you do in a day or a week is an eye opener. Because you just so used to doing that you didn’t realize all of the non-productive things that you’re doing in the course of a day in a week.
Austin: Yeah. Well that’s a super practical tip. I like that. And this actually brings up a point, the question that I wanted to ask you again, based on stuff that we saw on your website and the mantras that you preach, but it’s this idea that strategy without execution is useless. Where does that come from? Because we’ve been talking so far about some of these, I keep saying softer, I don’t actually think that that’s the right word, but the humanity side of running a business. But that statement is very much an action-oriented exercise. And so I can tell that there is a balance there for you, where we want to be running the business that we want to be running, but we still have to go get stuff done, like we’re still running a business. So anyways, I’d just love for you to unpack that sentiment a little bit.
Howard: It’s why that book Atomic Habits is so popular because that there’s that saying a goal without a plan is only a wish, you need to be able to get shit done.
Taylorr: Get shit done. Yes.
Howard: There’s two pieces to it. It’s first you have to spend the time to understand what has to get done so that’s the right things that get done. I think a lot of companies spend a lot of energy on a lot of things that are not as focused. There’s more noise than signal. There’s not enough focus on the thing that actually makes them money, the thing that will actually grow the business, the thing that their ideal clients actually care about and so there’s time that has to be spent on that. But once you figure that out, everything after that is being in action executing against that. If you say that we are the best in the world at this, and these are the people who need it, and we need to make sure that they know we’re here and then we need to deliver it, either product or service, then everything after that, once you get your north star, then you need to be rowing frantically towards that north star otherwise you’re just staring at it. So that is the goal, is to find some balance of where do we need to go and then once we feel really good at it, let’s just go like mad in that focused direction.
Austin: It’s like that analogy that the sun produces millions of kilowatts of energy. I can go out and stand underneath it for three hours and I get a sunburn or you can get a laser with 20 kilowatts of energy and direct it in one small place and it’ll burn a hole through metal. There’s something to be said about that. I think that’s a good analogy.
Howard: Yeah, absolutely. Once you figure out where you’re supposed to focus, then you really have to move against it, otherwise it becomes too tempting for something else to come along. A lot of entrepreneurs have this shiny object syndrome where they browsing through social media or they go to hear a speaker speak who says, this is the new thing and they’re like, okay, forget the direction we were going, we’re going over here now. And each year is a different direction and you’re zing and zagging everywhere and there is no clear focus to… there’s this great sort of… just to throw out another mantra is don’t lie about who you are, be relentless about being the best at what you do. And those two things are super helpful.
Once you figure out like, this is what we’re great at, this is what we’re not great at. Those are both important. And then once I figure that out, how do I build momentum around it? How do I prove it? How do I make sure everybody knows that I’m the best at this thing? As opposed to yeah, sure, we can do that too. Yeah, we’ll do that too, because you asked, you’ll pay us. Okay, we’ll do that. And you wind up with this water down mishmash of why you look like every one of your competitors, because you’re all saying you’ll do everything and all you have to do is ask.
Taylorr: Wow. You’re speaking to our souls Howard. What’s funny about your last explanation there, especially about get shit done, is to my left we have a poster, it’s a SpeakerFlow branded poster. We’ve talked about dropping it on our merch store one day, but we’ll get there. It says get shit done. The challenge though that I have with that poster and why I think I want an update is because it’s not just about getting shit done. It’s like what you said, it’s about getting the right shit done. And being in line with your north star, part of our coaching program actually is immediately defining this thing, we call it conveniently the north star. If we have no clue why we’re doing what we’re doing, what is the point of all the strategy that we’re about to talk about? It has to be in line with what you actually want to do with it. So you really unpack that for us and I think it really resonated with us here at Speaker Flow. So thanks for sharing all that.
Howard: Yeah. And great point. It is about getting the right things done and understanding what that is without that, you are just getting things done. So he strategy is important to figure out what that direction is and then the execution. It’s not constantly just feeling that you [cross-talk 28:01]. In my first book I talked about this idea that when sprinters run a hundred yard dash, they actually think about the finish line five steps past where the finish line is because the temptation is to slow down at the finish line. And why I was reminded of that is that I think we just looked to tick things off of our to-do list, or tick things off of our project list. The example I always give is that people make a new website and they launch the new website and that’s the finish line. But that’s not actually the finish line because the goal wasn’t to put up a new website, the goal was that the website should do something.
It was going to help us get new clients, otherwise don’t do it. And so it’s figuring out what are those actions that will show up in the checking account that have to get done, and that becomes your finish line, and those are the things that have to get done. At the end of the day, if you don’t make enough money and you don’t make more than you spend, you don’t have a business. So figuring out the things that you have to do with the minimal amount of expenses that you have to do them creates profit, which reduces risk, which creates comfort, which allows you to have the life that you want. I think the moral of the story is and where I like to work is this intersection of where, what you need individually as an entrepreneur intersects with what your business needs. And in that sweet spot is where you find fulfilment and where you deliver maximum value to your business all at the same time.
Taylorr: Wow. What a way to end this episode. Howard, this has been just jampacked of practical stuff that I think everyone can take away and start doing right now. Especially that delegation exercise you’ve come and provided a ton of value. Thank you so much for sharing all of your insights with us today.
Howard: Always a pleasure.
Taylorr: Yeah. So what else are you working on right now that are listeners can benefit from?
Howard: I actually just finished a book. I hadn’t wanted to write another book for 12 years since the first one. I didn’t know if I had something I wanted to say, but I put together a book of what I’m calling Short Business Stories that focus around this idea of what is your enough, not chasing more, that business should be a craft that you practice and perfect. Focuses on making work more fulfilling to you for whatever that means and it’s going to launch in late February, early March.
Taylorr: Fantastic. Well, hey, I’ll make sure a link is in the show notes. Look, if you like this episode, don’t forget to rate it like it, subscribe to it and if you want more awesome resources like this, go to speakerflow.com/resources. Thank you so much for chiming in, I just wanted to take a second to thank our sponsor Auxbus. Auxbus is the all in one suite of tools you need to run your podcast and it it’s actually what we run here at Speaker Flow for Technically Speaking. It makes planning, podcasts simple, it makes recording podcasts simple, it even makes publishing podcasts to the masses simple and quite honestly, Technically Speaking, wouldn’t be up as soon as it is without Auxbus. Thank you so much Auxbus. And if you are interested in checking Auxbus out, whether you’re starting a podcast or you have one currently get our special offer auxbus.com/speaker flow, or click the link below in our show notes.