Episode 102:

Mark Winters’ passion is helping entrepreneurs get unstuck so they can pursue their freedom. Depending on the unique situation, Mark’s talent for introducing just the right combination of perspective and process sparks teams to start moving, move faster, or begin moving in the proper direction – with clarity. As a teacher, coach, and facilitator, Mark spends most of his time directly engaged with entrepreneurial leadership teams as a Certified EOS Implementer—helping them implement EOS in their own companies. He’s delivered over 400 full-day EOS workshops with companies from around the U.S.

Mark has been an entrepreneur since the age of 28, after catching the “bug” during B-school at the University of Chicago. At last count, he’s started/bought/sold/shut down 11 different companies. One recent venture, as a Founder and CEO, had a very successful exit – yielding a 100x cash return in less than 3 yrs. All this activity has led to some recognition, including being named a Tech Titan finalist as an emerging company CEO, and listed as “40 Under Forty” by the Business Journal in both Milwaukee and Dallas. Mark is a “Freedom Forum” member as an EOS Implementer. He was also awarded Rookie of the Year and Chair Excellence distinctions by Vistage International.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The “visionary” and the “integrator” from “Rocket Fuel” by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters
  • How visionaries and integrators can build trust so that integrators can take control of what visionaries create
  • What business owners need to do when they are an integrator and they need a visionary (most owners are visionaries)
  • If you are a visionary, how to determine if you have an integrator on your team and what to do if you don’t
  • The seven-step visionary integrator connection process for finding the right integrator
  • How to know if you’re going to be able to sell your agency to your integrator or not (and what your exit plan can look like in both scenarios)
  • Things that make visionary-integrator relationships fall apart
  • The five rules and five tools for visionaries and integrators
  • Assessing whether you need an integrator
  • Why you need to read “Rocket Fuel”
  • The Rocket Fuel Maximizer for getting more out of this topic

 

The Golden Nugget:

“The integrator is the scarce commodity. Find a great integrator and treat them well.” – @MarkCWinters Click To Tweet

 

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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Build A Better Agency, where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invest in employees and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of expertise as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you. Please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody Drew McLellan here with another episode of Build A Better Agency. As any of you who know me or have been around me at all, no, I am a huge fan of the EOS System or Traction as many of you call it. I believe that it can be an absolute game changer for agencies and many of you have heard me speak about the virtues and the values, and you hear me referencing elements of that system when I speak or when I’m coaching and those sorts of things. So you have no idea how excited I am about today’s guest. So let me tell you a little bit about our guest and what he has to do with all of that. So Mark Winters, his passion is helping entrepreneurs get unstuck so they can pursue their freedom. Depending on his situation, Mark’s talent is mixing the perfect match of perspective and process, which sparks teams to either start moving, move faster, or perhaps move in a different or proper direction, but all with clarity. As a teacher, coach and facilitator, Mark spends the most of his time directly engaged with entrepreneurial leadership teams.

He is a certified EOS implementer and he helps them implement EOS inside their own companies. Many of you will recognize Mark’s name as the author, co-author of Rocket Fuel a book I am recommending on a regular basis. The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business. So Mark has delivered over 400 full day EOS workshops with companies all over the U.S. This is not new territory for Mark. He has been entrepreneurial since the young age of 28. He caught the bug while he was in B. School at the University of Chicago.

At last count, he has started, bought, sold, or shut down 11 different companies. One recent venture as founder and CEO has had a very successful exit, yielding a 100 times cash return in less than three years. So we’ll dig into that a little bit. All of this activity has led to recognition, including him being named a tech titan, finalist as an emerging company CEO, listed as one of the 40 Under 40 by the Business Journals in both Milwaukee and Dallas. He is a Freedom Forum member as an EOS implementer. He has also been awarded Rookie of the Year and chair excellence, distinctions by Vistage International. So Mark, welcome to the podcast.

Mark Winters:

Well, thanks much Drew. Appreciate you having me on.

Drew McLellan:

So let’s talk a little bit about Rocket Fuel is a companion book to the Traction, series of books, and it specifically focuses on the unique relationship between the visionary and the implentor, right?

Mark Winters:

Yeah. And the integrator.

Drew McLellan:

Integrator, right. You’re the implementer. So for folks who are not familiar with that, give them the distinction between the two and how they come together.

Mark Winters:

Sure. So one of the things we noticed in working with tons of entrepreneurial businesses at that phase where they’re between about 10 and 250 people was when we could get a team that had these two different types of leaders, the visionary being the idea engine, lot of times it’s a founding entrepreneur, but they’re just coming up with new stuff all the time. They can practically see the future. And then what we call the integrator, which is the much more execution focused, detail oriented, follow through kind of leader that makes stuff happen when we could get those two in combination. Those businesses just went way faster and way higher than all the others. So that’s where the structure came from and at the heart, that’s the difference between the two is the visionary makes it up and then the integrator makes it happen or it makes it real.

Drew McLellan:

And in an organization that has not identified those roles and typically let’s say it’s an agency that is owned by a single person. Are they trying to do both of those things?

Mark Winters:

Yeah. So a lot of times it’s just a matter of not realizing they’re doing both of those things. So we’ll describe the functions in an organization as you’ve got your traditional stuff of marketing and sales and operations and finance. Everybody knows that all that stuff has to happen in really any business. But then it’s sort of like there are these two other functions, integration is a function. Visionary is a function. And so a lot of times and somebody who’s doing both of those themselves, they just don’t realize it. And so they’re just happily or maybe not so happily fighting along and just doing whatever needs to be done, not really making a distinction between, “Wow, these are completely different functions that I’m trying to pull together under my hat.”

Drew McLellan:

Right. So if I’m a solo owner and I’ve been sort of we’re chugging along and things are fine, how do I assess if I am more the visionary or the integrator?

Mark Winters:

Well, it just so happens. We have a test for that. So on our website, we have two different assessments. We have a visionary indicator assessment and we have an integrator indicator assessment. And I really Drew, I encourage folks to take both of those, they’re real short 20 questions a piece, and it will give you a sense of how high on the scale you fall in each of those different realms. There’s just different ways of being wired. And typically somebody is going to be much more of one than the other. Although we do occasionally find folks that are balanced, but usually not at a super high level. So the likelihood that we would have somebody who’s really high on the visionary scale and really high on the integrator scale is pretty rare. And so that we find that usually it’s not people doing it because they’re really great at both. They’re doing both because they just didn’t realize it or they didn’t have another option.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It had to get done. Right?

Mark Winters:

It had to get done. That’s right.

Drew McLellan:

We’ll put this in the show notes, but while we’re here, give everyone that URL where they can go and find that test.

Mark Winters:

Sure, rocketfuelnow.com.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So let’s assume that as you said many business owners, so in our case for our audience, many agency owners are probably visionaries. As I talk to them about this concept, it’s an interesting mix of emotion on their face. One is, thank God I can give this stuff that I don’t like to do, or I’m not great at to someone else, but also a, oh my God, I have to give some of this to someone else. Right?

Mark Winters:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

So it’s a control issue.

Mark Winters:

Yeah, go ahead.

Drew McLellan:

So how do you help someone wrap their head around that?

Mark Winters:

The first thing that I want to hit on, because it just really resonates with me is the word control. So when we started this project, I had this premise in mind that it was exactly that, it was one of the things that made this hard was people didn’t want to give up control. And the more visionaries that I talked to, what became apparent to me is that it was not really about control. It was about trust. And the reason for that is we have in our histories, all visionaries, the experience of taking something that’s really special to us, it’s like our favorite toy. And we hand it off to somebody else to play with, or to work with. And the next thing we look back and they’ve dropped it and it’s landed on the floor in 100 pieces.

And it’s like, “Ah, that was my thing. That was something that I really cared about.” And that scars us. And it makes us really protective that we think that’s going to happen anytime that we hand something off. So we just don’t trust someone else to take care of it. So that becomes absolutely essential in this integrator relationship is we have to build this level of trust that the things we do hand off to them, they’re going to be able to take care of, they’re going to be able to do something good with, and they’re going to respect it and take care of it. Just like no, maybe not in the same way we would, but with the same regard that we would, does that make sense?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So how in the early stages of the relationship, how does that trust get built?

Mark Winters:

Well, there’s a number of different levers that we pull you in Rocket Fuel. We lay out what we call the five and the five tools. And one of the five rules is that you stay on the same page with each other. And so we have a structure called a Same Page Meeting where at least once a month, the visionary and the integrator protect time to sit down one-on-one with each other in a place that they won’t be interrupted. Each of them brings a list of we’ll call them issues to that meeting. And when we say issues here really it’s anything that you need to discuss with the other one. It could be, “Hey, something I want to bounce this off of you. Something I have questions on. I’m not clear about something. I don’t think you’re clear about something we seem to be just out of sync on, or somehow not on the same page that we need to talk through.”

So both parties bring their lists and then the agenda is really simple. The first thing is we check in with each other on a really human level, recognizing that this relationship is a big time relationship. So, I mean, it’s almost like a marriage. In fact, I have one client that they refer to their integrator, the visionary refers to the integrator as his business spouse. Right?

Drew McLellan:

Mh-mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mark Winters:

And so, I mean, it’s that level of a really strong, important relationship. So we want to know each other as people. So, hey, what’s going on in your world. How’re how are things with this and that hobbies, interests, family, whatever. And really understand that the total picture of what’s going on with each other. So we check in with each other like that and share some information. And a lot of times we’ll go through a checklist of family and friends and just fun stuff. And then after that, you get into the heart of the issues. And so we just lay all these things out on the table and just start chipping away at them. And one at a time, knock them off until we get on the same page about what each of them are.

And the commitment is that we stay in that meeting. We stay in that room until we’re absolutely 100% back on the same page about everything. And sometimes this meeting Drew, it might take 90 minutes, other times it might take six hours or eight hours. And that’s okay because the time we spend there getting in sync, getting on the same page, is going to pay us huge dividends once we walk out of that room.

Drew McLellan:

So in that meeting, I’m the owner and let’s just call me the visionary. And I’ve got an integrator. What keeps me from as the owner, just going, I totally hear what you’re saying, but no. How does that work when typically one of you is going to be in a more of a power position than the other?

Mark Winters:

Yeah. Well, the interesting thing is we give the integrator a lot of power. And so the commitment and the resolution process between the two and I do interviews with visionaries and integrators all the time, and I’ll ask them when you guys disagree on something, how do you get to closure? How do you decide? And a lot of times what I’ll hear, it’s surprising they’ll they disagree. I mean, they have different points of view a lot, but it’s never or very rarely the power play where the visionary just puts their foot down and says, “No, we’re not going to do that.” Much more often. It’s an exploration of understanding where they circle it and one starts seeing what the other one was seeing.

And now they both have a more complete, full picture. And that’s what brings them into agreement. And that’s one scenario. Another one is when one is just more passionate about it. So one just feels more strongly than the other one does. And so a lot of times that will be the swing. And then there’s other times where as we teach in the book, ultimately, operationally, we want the integrator to have the space, to make the call. We want the integrator to be, when we can’t see it clearly when we can’t decide or we don’t have to reach consensus. We don’t have to be in complete agreement. We want the integrator to have the freedom and really the accountability to make that call. And as the visionary, that’s a little bit of “You know what? I just got to let them do it.”

And that’s hard sometimes depending on what it is. But if you believe and trust that, you know what? I have informed them, I have given them my best thinking. So I do believe we’re on the same page about where we’re trying to go. I’m going to trust them operationally, executionally that they know that this path is the better way to get us to where we’re trying to go. Now, if you watch that over time, and the integrator has a pattern of blowing decision after decision, they’re just making a series of bad decisions. Then the flag goes up and you go look, you’re not hitting it, you’re not doing it. And then it may be time for the visionary to in fact, change the integrator, but you got to give them that chance. You got to give them that rope to make those decisions and a lot of times what the visionary learns is, wow, they were right.

They saw something, they knew something that I didn’t know, that’s why they’re here. And by them pushing back on me and help make sure we went the right way. We actually got farther, faster and did better.

Drew McLellan:

And my guess is that it’s like any relationship you trust on the little things first, and as those go well, you trust on bigger things and bigger things are pretty soon, the relationship is roughly formed and you are able to let go of something and let the other person’s decision drive the boat.

Mark Winters:

Yeah, absolutely right. And one of the other things that we talk about a lot is patience. As you’re coming into this relationship, you should not expect that out of the gate it’s like somebody magically flipped a switch and you’re all the way to 100% it takes time. And I was talking to a visionary the other day and they literally brought the integrator in and just had them watch for the first three months. And they didn’t make any decisions. They just shadowed and watched, and they have a very deliberate transition plan in place where over time, they’re handing over this one direct report then another one, then another one, and gradually over the course of about in their case 18 months they’re making this slow gradual transition.

Now it’s a sizeable company. I have other companies where, boom, they just go right in and they’re right in the water and they’re right in the middle of the fight from the job. But I think you’re absolutely right that we see this natural progression where through the shared experience of having the discussions, going through the conflict, getting to know each other and learning how to play together in this environment that we call a business, you begin to get there and the trust grows. If you’re intentional about it through the Same Page meetings, there’s other things you can do too. So Same Page meetings. I have a lot of folks that they’ll have fun with that. So they’ll have their Same Page meetings on a golf course.

Drew McLellan:

Sure.

Mark Winters:

Or they’ll be out having wine and smoking cigars. Any of that’s fair game. I have one pair that was telling me they take visionary integrator retreats. So the two of them will just go off and have not just enough time for a Same Page Meeting, but they’ll literally take like a day or a series of days where they’re just really getting in tune with each other. And it’s all about building that trust, just like you said.

Drew McLellan:

So in the intro, when you were describing the different roles you said, which, what I think is most people would assume is that in many cases, the founder is the visionary, but I’m also sure you on occasion see cases where the business owner or founder is the integrator and they’re looking for a visionary, is that happen?

Mark Winters:

Yeah. It’s rare. Because here’s how it usually happens. The integrator, usually a pure integrator is not the profile that’s going to go start a business. So the question is, how did they end up there? And there’s a couple of different ways that they ended up there if that’s the case, one is, it’s a multi-generational business.

Drew McLellan:

Sure. Right. Yeah. Mom or dad started it and here I am.

Mark Winters:

Exactly. Yeah. And it could have been more than one generation ago. And so all of a sudden, whoever it is didn’t get the visionary gene. And they’re just not that, but they may be a great integrator. And so then it’s like, “Wow, how do we fill that gap?” And if it’s a business that needs a lot of visionary and different businesses have different needs for visionary life if you’re a dry wall hanging company you don’t need as much visionary as you do if you make some kind of neuro implant thing that puts artificial intelligence inside your brain.

Drew McLellan:

Or you’re an agency. Where you’re constantly reinventing the way you help clients and customers communicate.

Mark Winters:

Exactly. With a huge creative component. And so if you need visionary and it’s not there, then you got to go get it. And what we’ve learned and seen on that front is that’s not typically just something you hire. So it normally comes with somebody coming into the business in a partnership kind of way. So they’re going to be a part owner. They’re going to have some kind of stake in the game, which is absolutely consistent with the kind of profile, the entrepreneurial profile, who would go start something, if I can’t go start something and it can’t be mine, or at least part mine, eh, I’m bored. I’m not as interested in that. So that lines up perfectly with what we see them doing in the first place.

Drew McLellan:

So in many cases, someone will look around their shop and go, “Oh, I know who my integrator is, or I have an integrator. I just never recognized that that is what they could do.” But in other cases, they look around and they say, “I don’t have that person, or I don’t have that person at a high enough level.” So I want to take a quick break. And then I want to come back and talk about how does one find the elusive other half to your whole? So let’s take a quick break and then we’ll come back and chat about that.

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and you find that you’re nodding your head and taking some notes and maybe even taking some action based on some of the things we talk about, you might be interested in doing a deeper dive. One of the options you have is the AMI remote coaching. So that’s a monthly phone call with homework in between. We start off by setting some goals and prioritizing those goals. And we just work together to get through them. It’s a little bit of coaching, it’s a little bit of best practice teaching and sharing. It’s a little bit of cheerleading sometimes on occasion. You’re going to feel our boot on your rear end, whatever it takes to help you make sure that you hit the goals that you set.

If you would like more information about that, check out agencymanagementinstitute.com/coaching. Okay. Let’s get back to the show. Okay. We are back. I am here with Mark Winters, the author of Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business. And we are talking all about Traction, EOS System, however you refer to it.

But the whole idea of this visionary and integrator combination, which is the focus of the book that Mark wrote. So before the break, I asked the question, or I pose the question that sometimes agency owners look around and by golly, you have an integrator on staff already. They’re a senior person, and you can move into this relationship pretty seamlessly and easily because it, odds are, they’ve worked for you for awhile and you trust them. But in some cases you may be looking up and down the ranks and saying, “I don’t have anyone who is ready to fill that role, or is wired to fill that role.” And in that case, Mark, how would an agency owner go about finding… A, how do you recognize a good integrator, and how do you go about finding them?

Mark Winters:

So a couple of parts to this question Drew, I think. So the first one is I want everyone to recognize that the integrator is the scarce commodity. And what we’ve found is for every four visionary profiles, there are in the world, there is one integrator profile.

Drew McLellan:

Wow.

Mark Winters:

Yeah. And so our numbers are already four to one and it gets worse. Here’s why, that one integrator would not be an ideal fit for all four of those visionaries. And when I say fit, I want you to think of a two piece puzzle where the puzzle edges have to fit together just right. And so that goes back to the tests or the assessments that we mentioned at the very beginning, that assessment helps you understand the shape of your edge, the shape of that visionary edge of the puzzle, to where you’re looking for an integrator that compliments your shape.

So the answer to your first question is if I have somebody on the team or in the house already, that might be a good one, give them that assessment, let them take that test. You take it, take both, take the visionary and the integrator. You’ll really understand yourself from that exercise and then have them take it and then look at how those fit together. And you might discover that it would be great if you did that. You’ve already got somebody on the team that fits that role really well. Okay. So that’s one scenario. The other scenario, like you said, is I just know, there’s nobody here that appears to be anywhere close to having the capabilities and the wiring to do this well. So in that case, we’ve built what we call the visionary integrator connection process.

And it’s seven steps that that gets you from here to there, from not having one to getting connected with one. And the first really four steps are pretty introspective. So they’re all kind of looking in. So the first one is something we call the visionary spectrum, which is really understanding your business and how much visionary it requires. So it’s the example we talked about before, where an agency is going to require a lot more visionary than a sheet rock company is. Right?

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Mark Winters:

So it looks at your industry type, your growth aspirations, how your market’s changing, the complexity that you’re working in, and you get real about where you fall on that spectrum. Second thing is, once you’re clear on that is you look at the visionary’s profile. So how are you made up? Through those assessments, you’re trying to understand the edge of your puzzle piece. And there’s another exercise in there that we call the wishlist, where basically you pour out on paper, all the things that you wish a great integrator would show up and take off your plate. If I had a great integrator, I’d have them do this, they could do this, they could solve that, they can use just kind of get that all out and look at what that looks like, that starts to inform what you need that complimentary other half to look like. So that’s the third step is getting clear on the integrator profile that we need and really forming a job description.

So we have in the book, we have what we think is a really good generic integrator job description. It’s a compilation of a bunch of folks that have a lot of experience with visionaries and integrators. And so we think that’s a really good start that you can take with just a little bit of refinement, make it a good fit for your business. So you’ve got that. So you got the picture of both pieces of the puzzle. And then the fourth step is dealing with what we call the readiness factors. There are four readiness factors. This is just a check on you, the visionary to make sure you’re really ready to move down this path. So the four years you’ve got to look at one is financial, this isn’t free. So we kind of go out of step-

Drew McLellan:

On odds are this person is not going to be a bargain. Because A, they’re scarce and B, they’re at a high skill level.

Mark Winters:

Yeah, guess what? Visionaries tend to underestimate how much they should be compensating them. Go ahead.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think that’s a challenge for visionaries in general is the reality side of those kinds of details.

Mark Winters:

Yeah. I mean, we as visionaries and I say, we, because I am a visionary myself and it’s always harder than I thought, it always cost more than I thought. And so I’m a-

Drew McLellan:

It takes longer too.

Mark Winters:

… chronic underestimater. It takes longer to exactly. So financial readiness is you get your head around, “Look, this is how much this is going to cost. And I’m ready to do that. I’m ready to invest that in pursuit of this freedom that I believe this is going to create for me and the impact that it’s going to empower through my business.” So the second one is psychologically, and this is where the letting go, we talked about control and trust, so psychologically, am I ready to partner up with somebody like that have a relationship that’s this strong and this big and heavy with an integrator?

The third one is lifestyle. And a lot of times there’s just a point in your life curve where things happen. And all of a sudden “I’ve got kids now, I don’t want to do all of this and that and whatever I used to do before. So I’m just at that place where I have a lifestyle shift that I want to make, and an integrator is going to go to help me do that, or I’m not.” So you want to see where you’re at on that curve. And then the last one is his unique ability. Dan Sullivan talks about unique ability, this set of capabilities that we’re uniquely gifted with, that will continually energize us. We could do this stuff forever, and we’re great at it. And people watch us do it, and they just marvel at, “Wow, how can you do that?”

So how ready are you to really just play in your unique ability? And let those things go that are not your unique ability, but happened to be somebody else’s like an integrators. So the first four steps there now we’ve gotten real clear on where we are, what we need. And if in fact we’re ready, if we fail on those readiness factors, our counsel to you is don’t move forward. You’re just going to trip. You’re just going to false start.

Drew McLellan:

This is not gonna end well.

Mark Winters:

Yeah. I mean, you’re doomed to fail before you start. So wait until you’re ready at some point in the future, you might be, and if you are ready and you look at those various factors and you’re like, “Oh man, let’s go” then great. “Let’s move on to step five,” which is search and find, and there’s different ways to do it. We see things as simple as just letting your network know that, “Hey, I’m looking for an integrator,” and here’s what that means. And just getting your circle of influence out there and vibrating with, hey Drew’s looking for an integrator and we see tons of pairs, tons of connections that get made just through that. So from there you can go and you can do things like hire recruiter, and there’s actually more and more recruiting firms that specialize in finding integrators.

So there’s professional help that you can get to make it go faster. But at the end of the day, it’s just all a function of you getting the word out that this is what you’re looking for and then going through and doing the work to screen them and make sure that they’re a good fit in alignment with that profile that you came up with in step three, for what you want them to look like and what you really need to complete your two piece puzzle.

Drew McLellan:

Well, that’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of work on the visionaries part even before they start looking.

Mark Winters:

It really is and t’s kind of self-work and getting clear though. So you can’t do anything good without getting clear about what you need.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, the readiness is the key. You have to be open and willing to make the changes, give up the control, build the trust and all of that. And also that I would guess part of it is acknowledging that this is not a quick process.

Mark Winters:

Absolutely right. Absolutely right. And that touches a little bit on all of those different readiness factors, I think because it is going to take time.

Drew McLellan:

One of the ways that I sometimes see agency owners approaching this again, acknowledging that probably they’re a visionary is they are mid ’50s and all of a sudden, they’re, you talk about a lifestyle change or starting to slow down. Maybe all the kids are out of the house. They’re getting a little more tired of the grind every day. And sometimes I see agency owners looking for an integrator with the hope that they are also their successor. So I’m looking to hire someone or bring someone in that will eventually me out, are those two separate things?

Mark Winters:

So that’s a really good question. And one of the things that comes up from time to time is “Can I grow into a visionary?” And what I see is I think the answer is yes, but it’s not so much that you change your spots, it’s that you do the what I would call hard work on the front end of the process of the more integrator type activities, just as part of learning. And it’s really part of the education of learning how this stuff works and how it goes. And then down the road, be exposed to enough that you could step into the visionary seat more fully. Now, somebody who’s going to be able to do that should score really pretty high on both of the indexes on both of the assessments for that to really work. So, yeah, that’s a possibility and kind of-

Drew McLellan:

They are kind of a unicorn.

Mark Winters:

Kind of a unicorn, yeah, it’s a rare thing. You need to think about if you need somebody to come and be a great integrator, you’re probably going to look for a different profile than if you’re looking for somebody to come and fill the integrator seat for a little while and then take over for you as the visionary. Does that make sense?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It does. But it also might suggest that instead of looking for one person, your business may need and value an integrator today, but that integrator, if they truly are an integrator, and they’re not the unicorn, they may need somebody to come alongside them who would fill the visionary role as you phase out.

Mark Winters:

Exactly. And that goes back to the discussion we had a little earlier, which is, that’s unusual because somebody who’s a true, really out there visionary they’re a lot of times they’re wanting to go start their own thing or they already have, so it’s “Why am I going to come do this? Why am I going to do that?” And you can do it. You can make it happen, but usually it involves some ownership.

Drew McLellan:

Right. So again, if I’m the ’55 year old agency owner, I may say, you know what? I’m going to work and find a great integrator, and I’m going to work with them for the next three to five years. And while we’re doing that, we’re going to go on the hunt for my replacement, who would or could buy me out or share in the ownership with the integrator. But now I’m in essence, putting together a partnership of the two halves of the whole that will replace and supersede me.

Mark Winters:

Yeah. And think about how much more saleable that makes your agency.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. So my guess is doing this as long as you have. You have on occasion seen where this didn’t really go well. What are the pitfalls that agency owners should be mindful of as if they are ready to embrace this where it tends to go off-kilter?

Mark Winters:

Yeah. A couple of things. One is failure to embrace that same page rule. It’s just, I would bet heavily on it’s not going to work. So if a visionary integrator pair are unwilling and undisciplined about taking the time and committing to holding those meetings regularly and consistently getting on the same page, it’s going to come unwound. It just will. And they’re going to have the divorce thing happen between them. And it can be pretty devastating in a lot of different ways. So I’ve seen that. The other one that happens is it’s a version of jumping over those readiness questions we talked about and without checking yourself. Well, of a sudden they end up in this relationship and what the dysfunctional behavior that happens then is they will not hand things off or worse.

They’ll hand them off and take them back. Or they’ll do a lot of what we call end-run and end-run can happen one of two ways. So you put the integrator in place and one version of an end-run is when somebody who is now supposed to be reporting to the integrator, just bypasses them entirely and comes back to you the visionary for direction and decisions and all that kind of stuff. So they try to cut the integrator out. And if you let them do that, you’re going to cut your integrator off at the knees, and it’s going to be very difficult for them to be effective. The second way that an end-run happens is the visionary will go around the integrator and they go down into the organization and they start telling people what to do and giving direction and making decisions.

And I call that tampering and that’s really just as damaging. So either one of those types of behavior is really dysfunctional and can really inhibit your integrator’s ability to be effective. And in all likelihood is going to drive them away. And they’re really the third type of behavior that we see, one of our other rules is to maintain mutual respect. So the nature of this relationship is it’s not that the integrator is the lackey of the visionary. It’s not that there’s something less than, your eyeball to eyeball in this thing and we’re in it together. And so we got to have mutual respect for each other. And we never say a harsh word about each other to anybody outside of just our one-to-one conversations. So when that happens and what happens a lot of times is a visionary will be disrespectful to their integrator. And they’ll talk down to them-

Drew McLellan:

A little passive aggressive, perhaps.

Mark Winters:

Little passive aggressive, or a little outright aggressive sometimes. But I mean, they’re just mean. And what I tell when we see this and I’ve seen it and my counsel to an integrator is you’ve got to decide, is that something you’re willing to live with? If you’re willing to live with that, and you’ve tried to change it, or you can’t change it or whatever, then okay. You lie in that bed and be there and just be happy. But if that’s not something you’re willing to live with, and you’ve either got to change it, or you need to go. You owe it to yourself. Life’s too short, go find some somewhere else. And frankly, again, the integrators are the scarce commodity.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Recognize your value.

Mark Winters:

Recognize your value and own that. And that visionary is going to learn the hard way. If they’re going to treat people like that, this integrator is going to leave them, and they’re going to have a heck of a time finding another one. And these integrators are going to find good homes out there working for great visionaries, who treat people with respect and doing wonderful things together.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and my guess is that in that circumstance often, it’s a reality that the visionary probably was never ready to begin with. And so for whatever reason, headed down the road and the writing was on the wall from the beginning, but it shows up in this either disrespectful behavior or I see a lot of, I give them control, but then I take it back and in that way also disrespectful, but perhaps not in a tone or in language, but in behavior.

Mark Winters:

Yeah. I think that’s right. In that third scenario where it’s just disrespectful. A lot of times that’s a values thing. So it’s they don’t really have matching core values and that didn’t come out apparently before they got into this. When there’s good, solid core values, and everybody’s in alignment around that behavior usually doesn’t happen.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Again, that’s part of the interview process, which I would hope companies would be doing, regardless of the position they’re filling. Is are we in alignment at that level, right?

Mark Winters:

Yeah. Absolutely right. You got to do, we have in EOS, we have a tool called a People Analyzer that helps you look at that. And it helps you see how well someone fits with the core values and normally it’s the company doing it to the candidate. So the visionary doing that to the integrator, but the integrator as integrators are out there having these conversations, they need to be understanding that as well. And seeing if they really like the core values of this particular agency and if they think they’re going to be a good fit there or not, and be real honest about that.

Drew McLellan:

Well, you use the analogy, it’s like a marriage, it’s like you’re marrying into that family. Do I like how that family is together and how they celebrate holidays or whatever is important to you, but the family’s not going to change. And so if you’re the integrator coming in the agency, probably isn’t going to change because the visionary is setting the tone, so you’ve got to find the right fit.

Mark Winters:

Yeah. That’s dead on. And just think about how much time the integrator’s going to be spending with that visionary. They better enjoy hanging out together.

Drew McLellan:

Right. You talked about there were some rules and some tools, and I know one of the tools is the whole idea of the Same Page Meeting. Is there another tool that you think is absolutely critical of the list that people need to be aware of?

Mark Winters:

Yeah, so actually Same Page Meeting is a rule. So the five rules quickly, and I’ve talked about them actually, without even thinking about it. So staying on the same page, that’s a rule no end-runs. We talked about what end-runs are. That’s a rule. Maintaining mutual respect, that’s a rule. Integrator is the tie breaker. We talked about the integrator making decisions. So that’s a rule. And then the fifth rule, and actually this is probably really relevant for your audience Drew, is that we are employees when working in the business. So this is about the owner employee rules of the game. And so when we build a structure, we call an Accountability Chart. This is through EOS. And in that we lay out all the different seats that folks are going to sit in and what they’re going to do.

And so a lot of times in a professional services firm where you’ve multiple folks, maybe that are owners, they want to sit in that seat and fill that role. But when things aren’t going their way, they may have a habit of throwing down the “Yeah, but I’m an owner.”

Drew McLellan:

Right. They want to play the owner card. Yeah.

Mark Winters:

They want to play the owner card. And that’s very damaging. It really blows the whole integrity of a system that we’re trying to put in place for people. So we got to remember, and this is one of the rules that when you’re working in the business, when you’re sitting in one of those seats, in the Accountability Chart, you got to play by the same rules that everybody else does, anybody that we would hire from outside to put in there, you got to play just like they would, and really thinking of it. If you’re an owner, as you know what? I need to set the example of how we would want an employee to behave in the seat, I got to set the standard because they’re all looking at me. And if we pull out owner card out and play it when we’re trying to sit in a seat and play a role, it just makes the whole thing come on west. So that’s the last of the five rules.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. And what are the tools real quick?

Mark Winters:

The tools. So tool number one is the Accountability Charts. So we just referenced that and lays out all the stuff that has to happen and who’s going to do it and who they’re accountable to. Second tool, we call it the core questions. And so that’s where we get clear on our core values, our core focus, what our big why is and what kind of business we’re in, our tenure target that horizon mechanism that sits out there in the future for where we want to be 10 years from now, our ideal customer and so our target market that we’re going after and the three uniques for how we win, why they choose us over their other alternatives. And finally the three-year picture. So where we want this thing to be three years from now, what we want it to look like.

So collectively those five are the core questions. That’s the second tool. Third tool is the idea of this 90-day world. Where we got to work in 90-day chunks. We get really clear, we get synced up, we decide what the priorities are for the next 90 days. And then we go heads down and work really hard and hold each other accountable for the 90 days. And then we pick our head back up as a team and reset and do that process all over again. Fourth tool is the weekly Level 10 Meeting. So that’s where the team gets together and has a very clear, concise meeting pulse each week to lay out the latest of what’s going on, flush the issues out onto the table and really spend most of that meeting, working on solving the problems that are getting in the way of the priorities that we’ve set and where we’re trying to go.

And then the last, the five tools is the scorecard. So that’s the handful of measures that we need to be watching that if we can really get those right, they’re going to tell us what we need to be looking at. They’re going to tell us what we need to be working on way sooner than if we weren’t looking at those numbers. So that’s an issue spotting a radar for us to see those issues way sooner than we would otherwise. We see that we’re going to end up in the ditch before we actually end up in the ditch.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. And all of those are core tenants of the whole EOS System. Right?

Mark Winters:

Absolutely right.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So I’m curious, can a business with a strong visionary survive and thrive without an integrator or is it a luxury, or is it a necessity in your opinion?

Mark Winters:

Good question. And I would answer it with this response. It depends on what you want. So if you want this business to do something truly great, if you want to spend the majority of your time in your unique ability, doing those things that really only you can do, that you’re absolutely great at, that you absolutely love doing. If you want to create this freedom where you’re able to make more money, have more time, spend your time in relationships with the folks that you want to, and really maximize your overall impact. Then I would say, yes, an integrator is a requirement. There’s those small handful that might be able to fill both of the roles themselves. But most of those in fact, almost all of those when I really pin them down. And I say you know what? If you could spend your time doing this or this, and you had to pick one, almost all of them have a preference for one over the other.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Well, and they’re both kind of full-time jobs as it is. So it’s also not just and I having the ability. It’s not that I have the capacity to do it, but I have to also have the capacity in terms of time and bandwidth to do all of those things.

Mark Winters:

Yeah, absolutely. And so a lot of times the first step is in that Accountability Chart process, when you split the seats out and you go, okay, the visionary is responsible for these things, the integrator’s responsible for these things. And right now I’m sitting in both of those seats, almost every time the person who’s sitting in both of those seats looks at those and goes, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been doing all that.” And then they realize that what they’ve really been doing is they’ve been doing either both of them not very well, or they’ve really been gravitating towards the one that they’re more naturally wired for. And they’ve been totally neglecting that other and our firm as a result, hasn’t been getting much of that.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It’s fascinating. So much of this is about the business owner, really being able to look at him or herself in the mirror and see objectively, and honestly where their strengths are, where their gifts are, what they could really uniquely bring to the business, but also where perhaps they are slowing the business down or holding the business back or they’re the bottleneck and acknowledging that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Mark Winters:

Yeah. A lot of times when I’m working with a leadership team and the leadership team finds out about this concept of an integrator, they’re the ones that are pushing forward because they’ve been a victim of this visionary, not doing a very good job of being a manager. And just peppering them with just all kinds of stuff, sort of all over the place, changing directions all the time. And so they’re like, “Oh yeah, we’ve got to have one of those. And absolutely you, Mr. Visionary or Mrs. Visionary are not yet. We need somebody who’s really great at that.” And it’s a little bit humorous sometimes in teams that have a really healthy but it’s this aha moment where all of a sudden it becomes visible and everybody sees, “Wow, we would be so much better off if we just filled this void.”

Drew McLellan:

I have to think sometimes it’s also pretty painful. It’s going to be painful for the business owner to really, truly see where they have been dropping the ball.

Mark Winters:

Yeah. Maybe on the front end, we’ll see that sometimes where it’s kind of like, “Oh man, did I blow that? Did I do damage? Did I? Whatever.” But so often it that’s just completely overshadowed on the other side-

Drew McLellan:

With relief.

Mark Winters:

Yeah. I mean, when they get there, it’s unbelievable. And I had a panel discussion at an event recently and asked the visionary to describe what it felt like when he was able to pass all this stuff off to the integrator on the other side, what did it feel like? And in shorthand, he said it was effing amazing. I mean, he couldn’t say it strongly enough how he felt.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I’ve seen mental and emotional and bandwidth relief when the pair is finally together and everybody is living in their greatest strengths.

Mark Winters:

Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s powerful combination when you get it right.

Drew McLellan:

It is. Last question. And then we’ll wrap up. If somebody who’s listening is not an owner, but they exist in an organization where the agency owner is truly a visionary and there’s not an integrator, or maybe they think they’re the integrator or whatever short of tucking Traction or your book underneath their boss’s desk. How would somebody broached this topic? How would you suggest that someone, if assuming that they have not talked about these things before, is there a way for an employee or someone on a leadership team to raise this issue of the need for an integrator tactfully or gracefully?

Mark Winters:

I wish I had a great answer for you there Drew the answer that comes to mind for me in the sound self-serving, but I promise it’s not is to either put Rocket Fuel in front of them. And there’s something about, I don’t know if it’s the title or whatever, but we wrote it for the visionary. Visionary  won’t read a textbook. And there’s a lot of books that a visionary just will pick up an ad and they’ll put it down they won’t read it. Most visionaries will read Rocket Fuel. It short we hook them because we’re talking about them from the first page. So that that draws them in. And so, I mean, literally within the first chapter or first three chapters, for sure.

They’ve seen enough where they will either go, “Oh, yep, this is for me.” And when they do, the next question out of their mouth is “How do I get one?” So I say that as the first strongest idea. The next idea I would give you is I shoot a little three minute video every week. And it’s just some little nugget on some Rocket Fuel related concept that has to do with visionaries and integrators. And so sign them up for that. So get that little thing to pop into their inbox and odds are that the first one they see will hit them with some an experience or thought that they’ve would be curious about. And then that will lead to a conversation.

Drew McLellan:

I lead think of it as a Vistage group, only everybody around the table, as an agency owner from some part of the country. So non-competitive people who do the same thing. So I lead a bunch of those as part of my role at AMI. And I will tell you, I cannot tell you how many times someone has walked in, because part of what they have do is they’re held responsible to teach each other things that they’ve learned. They’re physically together every six months. And I cannot tell you how many times somebody has literally walked into the meeting with a copy of your book and they start talking about it and I can watch all of them. It used to be in the old days, they would write it down. But now they’re all in front of their laptops. They’re all going to Amazon to order the book while the person is talking, because the owner is expressing such relief and such insight into now, I get why things haven’t been going as smoothly or as quickly, or whatever as I wanted.

So I can say that your advice absolutely is not self-serving that I have watched agency owners literally transform their agency after reading your book and recognizing that it was a need that their agency had that they just didn’t know.

Mark Winters:

Wow. That’s really cool to hear Drew, that’s neat.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So I wholeheartedly support your suggestion. So I could chat about this stuff forever. I find it both fascinating and really inspiring. I think it’s such a powerful way for business owners to level up the game and to actually get more joy out of the work they do. That’s the other part, we didn’t really talk about that very much, but I will say that for agency owners who have recognized themselves as visionaries and have found the rare integrator either already in their shop or they’ve gone out and found that person, I watch them love their work again. And that’s so rewarding.

Mark Winters:

Yeah. That’s absolutely true. And there’s this dip that some visionaries will go through on the transition where they feel like they’ve handed all this stuff off and they’re being put out to pasture a little bit. But that dip doesn’t last very long. And then they start to realize the power and the importance of the creative work that they can do when they have space and they have time to really be a visionary. And then how powerful that can be when all of a sudden they’re able to bring that energy back at a high level and pepper it into all the different little things that are going on in the organization day to day. And so they get pretty clear on, “Oh, this is a valuable thing and I shouldn’t feel guilty doing it.”

Drew McLellan:

Right. You’re absolutely right. Mark, thank you so much for carving out the time to spend with us today and for writing the book and talking about this with the passion that you do. I think you’re changing a lot of small businesses and I’m grateful that you spent the time with us. Thank you.

Mark Winters:

Oh, thank you, Drew. It’s really been fun to hang out and talk with you a little bit.

Drew McLellan:

So I want to talk about a couple things that you have going on that I think our listeners are going to be interested in. So can you tell us a little bit about the Rocket Fuel Maximizer?

Mark Winters:

So the Maximizer a program that we put together for people that really just want more Rocket Fuel. So we talk about the visionary integrator journey, where people go through this evolution from crystallizing, just trying to understand the concepts to then connecting, once they get clear, they want to get paired up with each other. And then a third phase is really maximizing that relationship. So taking the friction that would normally be there and have them butting heads and instead blend that into something positive and helps them take it to the highest level. So the Maximizer is all about the content to really help them do that. So we’ve got things in there like extended interviews with visionaries and integrators. I have a monthly office hours, a webinar where people can come on live and ask me questions, try to stop me. And typically we’ll take one question each month and do a deep dive response. So the Maximizer is the one place to go if you want more Rocket Fuel.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. And then you also have the Integrator Mastery Forum. Talk about that a little bit, will you?.

Mark Winters:

Yeah. So that’s a live event where I’ll fill room with 50 integrators and come in and we really teach them how to be world-class as an integrator. So it’s a little bit of teaching. It’s a lot of interaction. It’s the first time that typically they’ve seen the fact that there are a bunch of other integrators out there, so we’re able to connect with each other. And then we’ll also do live issue processing in that day where they’re throwing up their real challenges, their real questions, their real issues. And we’re going at it live and intense to knock those all out and solve all their problems and really completely arm them to be the greatest integrator that they can be.

Drew McLellan:

So if people want more information about either of these is rocketfuelnow.com the right place for them to go?

Mark Winters:

That’s the place to go.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. This has been awesome. If folks want to track you down, follow you on Twitter, all the places that you are again is Rocket Fuel Now the starting point for all of that?

Mark Winters:

Yeah. So for Twitter @MarkCWinters, it really same thing on LinkedIn. I’m on YouTube. But those combinations, you should be able to find me.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. This has been awesome. Thank you so much.

Mark Winters:

Thank you, Drew.

Drew McLellan:

That wraps up another episode of Build A Better Agency. Hopefully you found it incredibly helpful and inspiring, and that you are ready to go out and do some great things. I also want to talk to you about another tool that we’ve built that I would love to offer you. So as you’ve probably heard me preach, I believe a lot of agencies chase after the wrong new business prospects. And I think we do that because we have not taken the time to clearly define who our sweet spot clients should be. And the way you do that is by looking at your current clients and then developing out who your prospects should be based on your best current clients.

So we put together a sweet spot client filter, say that five times fast, that I would love for you to take advantage of and for you to use inside your shop, to figure out exactly who you should be targeting for new business. To get access to that free tool. All you need to do is text AMI, for Agency Management Institute as you might imagine, AMI text that to 38470 again, text AMI to 38470, and we will get the sweet spot client filter out to you right away. Thanks again for listening. If I can be helpful, you can find me as always at [email protected] Otherwise I will touch base with you next week with another great episode. Talk to you soon.

Speaker 1:

That’s all for this episode of Build A Better Agency, be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops and other ways we serve small to mid-sized agencies. While you’re there, sign up for our e-newsletter, grab our free ebook and check out the blog. Growing a bigger, better agency that makes more money, attracts bigger clients, and doesn’t consume your life is possible here on Build A Better Agency.