Episode 102

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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 yo