Episode 7:

Mitch Matthews is a keynote speaker, a success coach, and a bestselling author. He has an amazing podcast titled Dream, Think, Do. Mitch works with leaders from companies such as NASA, Disney, Booking.com, and more. He is passionate about coaching entrepreneurs and leaders to dream bigger, think better, and do more of the stuff they love.


What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why mentoring your employees is so important
  • Mentorship 2.0: how to structure your mentor/mentee relationships to draw out the best results
  • The dangers of “getting a PhD in mentoring”
  • Mentoring with the CEO vs. CFO model
  • How to equip employees to make decisions
  • The fundamental differences between how we were brought up and how millennials were brought up and how to deal with these differences
  • How to mentor someone who is skilled in areas that you aren’t
  • Mitch’s “Mentor Manager Cheat Sheet”


The Golden Nugget:

“Verbalizing what success looks like leads to a higher chance of hitting it.” – @mitchmatthews Click To Tweet

Click to tweet: Mitch Matthews shares the inside knowledge needed to run an agency on Build a Better Agency!


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Speaker 1 (00:00:00):

Hey, everybody Drew McLellan here. Before we jump into the episode you are about to listen to, I wanted to make sure that you knew that we are doing open mic webinars and they are available to anyone in the world, just head over to the Agency Management Institute.com/ask Drew, and you will see the dates and times for this month and next month. And we’ll talk about anything you want to talk about – agency operations, COVID, whatever it is that is on your mind. I’m happy to answer your questions and everyone else on the call shares as well as asks questions. So it’s really a round-robin of learning for everybody. All right. I’d love to have you there. All you have to do is register. You can attend live, or just get the replay after we record it. Okay. Now here’s that music that you know and love.

Speaker 2 (00:00:51):

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build A Better Agency podcast presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Speaker 1 (00:01:24):

Hey there everybody. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of Build A Better Agency, where we explore how to build a business that serves you, your employees, and your clients. As we all know the greatest assets that any agency has are their staff. And oftentimes they are both the source of our greatest joy and sometimes our greatest angst. And that’s why I know today you are going to really enjoy hearing from our guests, Mitch Matthews. Let me tell you a little bit about Mitch. Mitch is a keynote speaker, a success coach, and a bestselling author. He has an amazing podcast that I highly recommend called Dream Think Dovand it is at the top of the iTunes charts for a reason. Mitch has worked with leaders and teams from organizations like NASA, Disney, Booking.com and Principal Financial Group and just got off a big speaking gig, seven, eight days of traveling. That’s sort of his life working with folks and coaching. He also speaks on college campuses around the country.

Speaker 1 (00:02:14):

He’s really passionate about helping entrepreneurs and leaders dream bigger, think better, and do more of the stuff they were put on this planet to do. One of the things that Mitch spends a lot of time doing is working with entrepreneurs and business owners, coaching their teams, and mentoring. He also does executive coaching and coaching himself. Mitch happens to live in Des Moines, Iowa, with his beautiful bride, Melissa, and their sons. In full disclosure, Mitch and I are good friends. We’ve known each other for gosh, over a decade, and are part of a mastermind group together. And so I have had the good fortune of having Mitch mentor me many times. And that’s really where we’re going to focus today is talking about how to better mentor our employees and build them to be bigger, better, and stronger for both themselves, for the agency, and our clients. So Mitch, welcome to the podcast.

Speaker 3:

Thank you, Drew. It’s an honor, buddy. I excited to be here. I am excited about this.

Speaker 1:

So let’s talk a little bit about your background in terms of the coaching and the mentoring that you do and sort of how you came to have that area of expertise.

Speaker 3 (00:03:21):

Absolutely. So kind of a background in sales and then moved into corporate training and loved that. Was a training manager for a $2 billion pharmaceutical company, loved that kind of thing. Started to get a taste of the entrepreneurial life and so started my own business back in 2002, primarily doing executive coaching and keynoting. And I really enjoyed that, but the more coaching that I did, especially with entrepreneurs, they appreciated the work that we were doing together, helping them to get focused and helping them to really go after their priorities and kind of simplify in some ways their lives, their businesses, those kinds of things. Kind of a natural offshoot of that was they were like, Hey, help me to do that in my own business. Help me to do this with my teams.

Speaker 3 (00:04:16):

You know, the things you’re doing with me, I want to be able to do with the people around me, to help them get more clear, help them to take more autonomy, be more engaged, all of those things. So I’ve started to do more and more training over the last five years with leaders kind of helping them to infuse more of a mentoring and coaching approach into their leadership DNA. And it’s been awesome to see. And I know, especially in agencies, especially with your audience, this is so critical because you want to inspire the best work. You want to inspire full engagement. You want to inspire loyalty, you want to inspire creativity, all of those things. And one of the best ways to do that is through mentoring. But so few of us actually received it when we were going through the ranks, especially leaders.

Speaker 3 (00:05:09):

So many leaders that I work with now, especially those that are gen Xers, that are boomers, didn’t get a lot of mentoring. Sometimes they might’ve received a little bit, but they didn’t get a lot of it as they were getting started. So it’s something that as people get some skills and as they start to get more tools and strategies, they start to connect with it. But at the same time, there’s a little bit of an interrupt because so few of us actually received that kind of approach. It’s fun to be able to work with great leaders who obviously are always wanting to improve their game. But, this is definitely one of those ways that people can do it. It’s just fun to see it play out though.

Speaker 1 (00:05:48):

You know, I, I think you make a great point that A – a lot of us may or may not have had mentors, but B – I think the way we define mentorship is there was an older guy or woman who taught me some stuff. And I think what you do that makes it really different is, I think one of the things that for agency owners to kind of wrap their head around is mentoring doesn’t happen by accident. It doesn’t happen every once in a while. And it is a skill. It’s not just meeting with your person on your team to talk about what they’re working on. It’s really is a very purposeful activity. And that’s really what I want to talk about with you today is how do I, the overbusy agency owner out there, how do I carve that into my day? And what does it look like? How do I do it well? So help us understand sort of what mentoring is and isn’t.

Speaker 3 (00:06:43):

Sure, that’s a great question. I love it. And that’s something we talk about in the training that we do, and we talk about kind of the mentor 1.0 model is a great model. It’s kind of that Luke Skywalker and Yoda model, right? It’s the old wise sage and the young, up and comer, and the old wise sage just kind of offers all of this wisdom. Maybe it’s the Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san model where it’s the older person with all of the wisdom, bestowing it on the younger person. And that’s great. I mean, if you can get it, that’s fantastic. But at the same time, we see, especially in the marketplace that we’re in currently with how fast things are changing with technology and all of those things, one of the other things that we see all the time is that leaders oftentimes are not necessarily any longer the person that holds the most information or the most wisdom. Technology’s changing so fast that oftentimes leaders are the ones that have a perspective, a higher perspective, but they may not have as much wisdom in a given technology or in a given strategy.

Speaker 3 (00:07:52):

So we see over and over, and we also see, honestly, in some organizations, the younger person is actually in a higher position than some older people. So it can’t be age-based. And it really can’t always be wisdom based if that makes sense. So we see a need for a mentor 2.0 model. And what that is, is that mentor 2.0 model is not the person who is the wise sage, that just bestows advice and sits in, you know, warm leather chairs and smokes pipes with the young one as they share information. It’s more how the mentor 2.0 model is. How do you draw out ownership? How do you draw out autonomy? How do you draw that person’s best work? And how do you do that in a way that’s efficient, that’s rewarding, but also gets results? And so that’s what we talk about.

Speaker 3 (00:08:41):

And so there are different ways to look at that. As an example, one of the things we talk about is project-specific mentoring. You know, a lot of times, I think when people think about mentoring, they think more about that career mentoring and helping somebody with their overarching. And that’s good. And that’s a whole other category that we do talk about. But project-specific mentoring is where you basically, you identify someone maybe on your team, someone in your organization where you see they have the capability, you see that you really want to invest in that person. And so what you do is you look for a specific project where you could actually, in fact, give them more autonomy, more ownership, more that they could actually run with on their own. And you communicate that to them saying, Hey, in the past, I’ve kind of guided you, I’ve told you what you needed to do, but with this particular project or with this particular client or whatever it is, you kind of isolate something,

Speaker 3 (00:09:34):

you say I’m going to take a slightly different approach. I’m going to put on more of the mentor hat here. And I really want you to run with this. I really want you to own this. And so we’re going to check-in, we’re going to do some quick kind of check-in as we go along, but I really want this to be yours. And what that does is that sends that signal of you’re going to hold them as capable. You’re sending that signal that you believe in them, but you’re also giving them that autonomy, that so many of us really long for. Dan pink wrote an incredible book. He’s an amazing author, but he wrote a book called Drive. And if you haven’t read, Drew, I think you read it, but if our audience hasn’t read it, you need to read this book.

Speaker 3 (00:10:16):

It is mind-boggling. It’s offensive. It’s frustrating because it basically takes the carrot and the stick model that so many people believe in and it throws it right out the window, based on research, based on incredible stories, and all of that. And it really goes to show that when it comes to the marketplace, our core motivator, especially once those base-level things are met, our core motivator, especially in the creative class is autonomy. And one of those things is the project-based mentoring really allows for more autonomy. At the same time, it allows for limiting risk and allows for learning fast. And so one of those things that we’ve seen is looking for those things and being able to, again, assign or take a slightly different approach, really allows that person, that high capacity person to become even higher capacity. At the same time, it also increases a sense of ownership and increases that loyalty and it increases engagement.

Speaker 1 (00:11:18):

Well, you know, as I’m listening to you, I’m thinking about conversations I have with sort of both sides of the equation. So in my AE Bootcamps, I’m hanging out with a lot of staffers and what they tell me more than anything else is they want to be recognized for being capable. And they also want more of their bosses or supervisor’s attention and time to learn. So what you’re saying aligns perfectly there. And when I’m hanging out with the agency owners, what they are always saying in one way, shape or form is I want my employees to behave like they own the joint. So again, it’s aligning exactly with what everybody wants. I just don’t think most agency owners understand. It’s not that they don’t have the skill, they don’t have the recipe for how to do it.

Speaker 3 (00:12:06):

It’s one of those things, there are some pitfalls, especially, and I’ve gotten to work with some agency owners, obviously awesome people. But there are some pitfalls that happen, especially for leaders. And I think this applies in spades for agency owners. One of the reasons why leaders are leaders is they fix stuff. They get stuff done, right? It’s one of those things. The reason why you’re in the role you’re in is you’ve had the answers and those answers have worked in the past. And so when you start to take more of a mentor approach, and when we talk about a mentor approach, generally, you know, some of the core aspects of that is instead of telling someone what to do, you actually ask them a question and kind of help them uncover an answer that they own. Because if they own it, there’s a much greater chance they’re going to feel ownership, obviously, but they’re going to feel like they could do it over and over again like that’s something that they helped to create.

Speaker 3 (00:13:04):

They own it so they can run with it. So, asking questions instead of just giving the answer, celebrating the small wins along the way, really guiding them, but also allowing them to have that full ownership. The tension though, that arrives, especially for established and successful leaders, is we have the answer, right? So somebody comes to us with a question. The way that we’ve brought value in the past is to give them the answer. And, let’s just be honest, that feels good. And you’ll have the answer, right? It feels like, Hey, that’s my job. I have the answer, boy, boom, I’ve given it to you. And that in some ways that also feels faster. And some ways it looks faster because you just answered their question. The challenge is that then you create a relationship of dependency that doesn’t always look like that in the beginning.

Speaker 3 (00:13:51):

But it’s so funny. I hear this tension where people talk about, I want to give people more ownership, but they never seem to run with it. It’s like, okay, well, what does that look like? And I’ll give them a project, but then what happens? They start to give advice. In fact, you can get a Ph.D., in mentoring, basically. I don’t recommend it. There’s a couple of schools of thought where you can get a Ph.D. Appreciative inquiry is one school of thought and motivational interviewing is another school of thought. You can get PhDs in those. So, go check it out. Research it at Google. It’s scary. But one concept, especially in an appreciative inquiry that I find so fascinating, and what I love about it is that we’ve all felt this, but basically it’s a phenomenon called the righting reflex. Righting reflex with an R, not a W but basically what that is, it’s that sensation we feel when we see something that we need to fix.

Speaker 3 (00:14:49):

And I see this happen often when somebody says, okay, yes, I want to take more of a mentoring approach. Yes. I’m going to ask more questions instead of just give answers. But then when people start to do that, they start to ask the question, even though they have the answer, and they’re going to ask the question to help that that person uncover their own answer, that righting reflex starts to creep in and almost takes over. Cause you just have to blurt it out just to give them the answer or just take the reins back and say, well, let’s just get this done. And that’s at righting reflex. And what I love about that is sometimes just being able to give a name to a phenomenon helps us to identify it, to experience it. And it’s like, Oh, there’s the writing reflex. Now at the same time, you know, we don’t talk about, and this is where I always love to call out any chance of rainbows, butterflies, and little ponies kind of theories here.

Speaker 3 (00:15:41):

We’re not talking about, well, whatever they say, let’s let them do it. You know, those things, that’s not good. One of the things that we talk about, especially when we’re deciding between needing to wear the mentor hat and the manager hat is, I always say that mentoring is wildly powerful, but it’s only powerful if you have kind of a clear area or clear idea of where you want to use it. One of the challenges with taking more of a mentoring approach that I see all the time is people get excited about it and so they try to apply it everywhere and that’s not good. And it actually diminishes the power of mentoring. So we talk about that basically, a CEO versus a CFO model. That kind of helps people to understand when and where to apply it. So the CEO versus the CFO model. The CEO is if you’re looking to instill creativity, engagement, and ownership, then, and it’s a lower risk scenario, then that is the ideal place to use more mentoring.

Speaker 3 (00:16:48):

If it’s a situation where it’s more CFO, which means it’s clear, it’s fixed, there’s only one way to do it and it’s higher risk, then you can boldly wear the manager hat. And then we even talk about that like, Hey, in this situation, it’s a higher risk situation. Or in this situation, our timeframes are tight so I’ve got to make the call here. I’m going to put the manager hat on. But to be able to say, okay, looking for those project-based opportunities to be able to instill more mentoring, kind of that CEO, where you really want to inspire some creativity, some engagement, some ownership, and it’s a little lower risk, then that’s definitely the time to ask more questions to, to bestow more autonomy and let them run with it. And maybe even table your own righting reflex, catch yourself before you just give them the answer and let them run with it.

Speaker 1 (00:17:50):

Is there a structure or a format, or I meet with somebody at X number of days? What does it like over the course of say a month or a couple of months in and how much time does it take? Cause I know how agency owners are, they’re so time-starved, and I think it’s one of the reasons why they don’t spend as much time with their team as their team would like them to. So this sounds harder and it sounds like it would take longer. It’s sort of like taking the toddler shopping with you. It’s going to take three times as long because they walk so slow.

Speaker 3 (00:18:17):

Exactly. Right. Here’s the thing that, that is true. And it’s one of those that none of us have an overabundance of time. You know, it, especially in the real world. Yes. I know that there are some four hour work week people here, that’s fantastic. Go, God bless you.

Speaker 1 (00:18:36):

I don’t know any agency owner that’s a four-hour workweek.

Speaker 3 (00:18:40):

Well, the title of the book, don’t always see it happen in the real world. So one of the things that we talk about is that the mentoring approach does on the front end appear to take more time. There’s no doubt because instead of just giving them the answer, you’re asking a question. As an example, they come to you saying, what do you think I should do in this situation? And just respond back and say, well, what do you think? You know, tell me what you do. What do you think is the next step to be able to do that? Now in a project-based mentoring situation, we highly encourage kind of the two L’s of science –  limit risk and learn fast. So on the front end, that actually means checking in a little bit more often. Now those don’t have to be long belabored sessions, making sure you’re sitting around a table and talking for hours and hours.

Speaker 3 (00:19:26):

I actually like those follow-up sessions, well, I should back up. So usually there’s an initial session where you sit with someone or talk with someone and say, Hey, I’d really like to give you a little bit more autonomy, some more ownership over this particular part of the project or this particular client relationship. I want to give you some more autonomy in it. And what that means is when you come to me, I’m going to probably ask you more questions than give you answers, because I really want you to learn, but more so I want you to take ownership and really run with this. So there’s that initial session where you’re going to set that expectation, but then depending on the project or depending on the client, whatever it is, to be able to say, all right, let’s talk about when we need to follow back up.

Speaker 3 (00:20:09):

Now I really believe on the, on the front end, it’s a little bit more labor-intensive and a little bit more time-sensitive because you really do want to check in a little bit more often, but I actually suggest those follow up sessions, they can be weekly. What I actually recommend is that those sessions are about 15 minutes. If they need to be longer, that’s fine, but 15 to 20 minutes where you’re actually standing, because sometimes when people sit down, it’s one of those things where they settle in and we start to talk about a lot of different things. But you really are kind of setting that expectation that this conversation is about the project and really being able to kind of define what it is that we want to do. Now that does sound a little bit more labor-intensive.

Speaker 3 (00:20:54):

But one of the things that we’ve found is that when you take more of a mentoring approach and really, go after it, and really in some ways kind of discipline yourself to do that, there is a definite inverse relationship. So much so that we’ve had some leaders actually be surprised by this. So the inverse relationship is that, yes, it does take a little bit more time on the front end to ask a question to instill that ownership, to really draw out that autonomy, right? Those best ideas, that full engagement. It does take a little bit more time on the front end, but what we see is over time, it actually takes less and less time because what are you doing? You’re equipping that person to run with more, right? You’re equipping them to actually make decisions on their own instead of kind of setting up that relationship of dependency.

Speaker 3 (00:21:41):

All of a sudden, they’re actually better equipped to make decisions. They’re not even having to think about it because they know not just the answer to one black and white question. Now they know how to make those decisions and actually feel that they’ve got some autonomy to be able to make those decisions. So it’s funny this inverse relationship happens and sometimes it’s subtle so much so that a lot of times when we work with organizations we’ll work or work with them over a period of months. And recently we worked with this organization over a period of six months. And we did some of the initial training, giving people some tools to run with this. But then we continue to follow up. And one of the last sessions I had a manager pulled me aside and he said, Hey, I really appreciate this.

Speaker 3 (00:22:23):

He said, but I might have a problem. And I’m like, well, what’s the problem. He goes, well, you know, I really picked out a couple of people, high capacity people that I really wanted to challenge. He said I think one of them was even thinking about a different job just because they weren’t really kind of feeling challenged. And he’s like, we don’t always feel like they’ve got a place to be promoted to, but he said, you know, I want to try this thing of giving them more ownership just to see how they’d run with it. And he said, it was a little bit more work on the front end, but now we don’t meet as much. Is that a problem? And I’m like, are they getting the job done? He goes, yeah. He’s like, they’re on fire. I said, so where’s the problem. He goes, I don’t know. He said, I just kinda got used to meeting with them, but now they don’t need it as much. I said that’s a bonus, right? That’s one of the payoffs of taking this approach is yes, a little bit more labor-intensive on the front end but actually, there’s a payoff for that inverse relationship on the backend.

Speaker 1 (00:23:17):

I think agency owners are good at some parts of this naturally. So giving somebody a bigger piece of the pie to manage or whatever that unfortunately most agencies are so lean and mean that happens sort of, I joke that most agency owners initiations or orientation programs are hi, we’re so glad you’re here. We waited too long to hire you. Here’s where the pencils are. And by the way, you have a client meeting at 10. So they’re pretty good at giving somebody something to own, but I think in terms of helping them understand and being really purposeful and sharing, look, I’m giving you this to own. And  I’m here to coach you to learn how to do that. That’s the part that I think agency owners are often fuzzy at. So let’s, let’s set up a scenario and just help us understand some of the specifics. So, I’ve got a relatively new account person on my staff. They might have sort of assisted on some projects before, but they’ve never really owned a client relationship. And so I’m ready to give them their first client relationship Either we want a new piece of business or someone is moving on or something, but there’s an opportunity for them to step into a new role with a client. So what, what does that look like from a conversation point and what kind of questions do I ask them as we’re going into this?

Speaker 3 (00:24:38):

I love it. That’s awesome. That’s a great example too because that’s one of those that probably is a bridge between the CEO and the CFO, as far as those two scenarios, because it’s one of those things that are important. You’re really wanting to inspire that creativity, that engagement, that ownership. But it probably is, let’s just say it’s a new client, right? Let’s just say that that’s probably closer to that higher risk scenario because you really want to wow this new client, you want to make them a raving fan. You want to establish those things. So with that kind of a scenario, I think it’s a great scenario. We would actually even suggest something like what we call wargaming from a mentoring approach. So let’s just say you’re getting ready for their initial meeting, that meeting where they’re going to step in as the account manager or they’re going to take more of a visible role.

Speaker 3 (00:25:27):

One of the things that we love to do is, and wargaming is truly one of those things that allow you to kind of limit risk and help them to learn fast at the same time. It’s one of those things that really does help them prepare them for specific scenarios, specific situations. And it’s something that allows you as the leader, to utilize some of that experience and at the same time still inspire some ownership, right? So let’s just say, Hey, we’re going to get ready for this initial meeting. I can tell you a little bit about the scenario but what do you think, what do you think should be some of the first things we talk with this client about? Now, you know in your mind the very first questions that should be asked, but to be able to ask this person, Hey, what do you think are some of the things that we should be getting into?

Speaker 3 (00:26:11):

What do you think that we should talk about? What would success look like at the end of this meeting? Now, what I love about this too, is you can throw in some kind of wargaming, some scenario planning because you’ve sat in on countless client meetings. Right? You know some of the great things that can happen. You know some of the horrible things that can happen. You can even throw out one time we were at a meeting and something in the hallway caught on fire, what would you do? You know, something crazy like that, which I’ve actually had of course, but it’s like, what is it that gets that person thinking a little bit. And so even though they haven’t had the experience yet, or maybe they’ve only had a few of those experiences, you’re still instilling ownership, you’re still drawing out that creativity. You’re increasing their engagement, but you’re doing that by asking them questions in preparation for that.

Speaker 3 (00:27:03):

And that’s been huge from the standpoint of being able to help people get prepared, still have ownership, but also limiting risks. Because if you hear something as they respond that you’re like, Oh my gosh, okay. You can even throw out, Hey, listen, I love that. I love the creativity that you’re going for, but I definitely saw this happen in a situation and this is something you might want to watch out for. It’s still that whole being able to have the conversation. Now here’s where you also need to decide where you’re going to draw the line for you, where your risk tolerance is. Because this is part of the offensive aspect of mentoring in that it does take some humility and in some ways, it does take a little bit of risk tolerance. I’ll give you an example from our own world.

Speaker 3 (00:27:51):

I’ve got a millennial as an example, a person that’s a year out of school that works for us. Very, very creative, very excited, very willing to share their thoughts and ideas. And recently she brought me an idea and it was one of those things where I have to admit, there’s a part of me, a switch that flipped. And the thing that happened in my brain as I have been doing this for 12 years, that I have to admit there was even a part of me that’s like, who do you think you are? Right? Miss ADL, I know what works. I know what doesn’t work. That will so not work, but I kind of also assessed the situation. I thought you know what?

Speaker 3 (00:28:40):

This is a relatively low-risk scenario. In some ways the client that we were interacting with, I kind of thought, you know, why not let her try it? It kind of reminded me back when I used to work at a bike shop in the little town that I grew up in, in Iowa. The bike shop manager, as I was learning how to sell bikes would say, Hey, you got to burn a couple of customers in order to get good. You know? So that kind of went off in my head. So I thought, let’s let her run with this. This might even, it’ll be good for her. It’s probably going to go down in fiery flames, but it will be good for her to have to deal with that.

Speaker 3 (00:29:16):

Right. Well, low and behold, the thing worked right, like how offensive. Like I thought there’s no way in God’s green earth, that’s going to work and boom, it worked and here she came back and I thought, gosh, how great is that? And so sometimes we become blind to certain things based on our success, especially in this changing world. So, as leaders, we have to decide what’s our risk tolerance? And sometimes letting people run with it, because, you know, with an evolving culture and evolving technology, all those things, sometimes the new idea, even though it goes against what we understand, might be the right idea. So even with doing some of that scenario planning, some of that wargaming on the front end of something like that can help you to sort through, talk through some of those things that they’re going to do, the actions that are going to take the questions, they’re going to ask, how they’re going to engage with the client as an example. But it also helps you to filter that limit risk a little bit and help them stay in that ownership position.

Speaker 1 (00:30:07):

Okay. So after the initial meeting, the initial meeting went fine. You did sort of some more gaming. What does that mentoring look like now as they step into that relationship with the clients?


Speaker 3:

So after that first meeting went well, you feel good about it. One of my suggestions would be to follow up. Because one of the things you want to think about, what are the behaviors that I want to see more of? And so my guess is you have that initial client meeting. One of the behaviors that you’re going to want to see more of is what did they take away from that meeting? What are their next steps right now?

Speaker 3 (00:30:53):

There’s going to be a part of you that’s going to say, I know exactly what the next steps are. I’m going to tell them what the next steps are, right? It’s like, wait, what do I want to see more of? I want to see more ownership. So to do a meeting, and again, these meetings don’t have to be hours long. They can be brief and go in with that expectation. What I’d love to do is tomorrow morning, when we both get back into the office, what I’d love to do is I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think the next steps are. And let’s do a 15-minute, 20-minute meeting to talk about the next steps. And then you go in and say, all right, great meeting. Maybe even give some feedback, celebrate what they did well because again, you want to celebrate what you want to see repeated, but then say, okay, what do you think the next steps are?

Speaker 3 (00:31:34):

What does success look like to you in a week with this client? When we talk again in three days or in six days or whatever it is, in a week, what’s success look like for you and help them soar through that. But really help them to own that and be able to say, okay, that’s great. Celebrate the things that you heard and what you agree with, but also say, Hey, you might want to also think about this or be very clear and say, love that, rocked it, but also make sure that you’re taking a look at this, that kind of thing. So it’s that follow up to be able to say, all right, what did you hear? And what are your next steps? Now, here’s the thing, there’s a real temptation to jump in and take the reins, right?

Speaker 3 (00:32:14):

That’s the writing reflex coming up in us to be able to do that. But especially in these situations where you really want to instill that ownership to be able to say, all right, what do you think? What did success look like in a week? What are your next steps? How do you want to do that? And then also one of the last questions I love to ask is to be able to say, how can I help you? Where do you want me to plug in? Because what that does is that also invites you into the process. Now, if they say some equivalent of you do the work, they won’t say it exactly like that, but you might hear something like, well, could you call them? Or could you do this? Well, no, but I can certainly walk alongside you as you do it. They also might say, I’d love to get your thoughts on this, or I’d love to get your input before I go back to them. Or, I’m going to write this up, but would you mind taking a look at it before I send it? Fantastic. That’s great. So there’s even a strategy called the writing ruler. It’s actually from the motivational inquiry school of thought, but I really liked it as well. Again, you don’t have to get a Ph.D. in this. You just need to listen to Drew McLellan’s podcast.

Speaker 3 (00:33:27):

So the writing ruler is, is something that I like, especially as you’re getting someone ready for that next step. So let’s say you’ve had that first meeting. Now they’re preparing for a second meeting, Maybe now they’re preparing to go back to the client with the next step in their proposal, or to basically follow up on the project. One of the things with the writing ruler is it gives you a quantifiable way in some ways to at least verbalize how ready they feel for the meeting. So the writing ruler is a strategy where you’d say, okay, we’re getting ready for this next follow up meeting with the client on a scale of one to 10, 10 being ready to roll, could punch through cement walls, one being not ready at all. Where do you think you are? And what it does is it allows them to kind of, you know, put a number to it.

Speaker 3 (00:34:16):

Now it’s one of those that it’s still somewhat abstract, but it’s really interesting. A lot of times people might come in at an eight or a seven say, okay, great. And the first part of that is to celebrate, okay, you’re at a seven. That’s great. Why are you a seven and not a five and help them to assess where are they confident? And that’s good to help them say, well, I really feel like I dug in. I really feel like I know their industry, or I feel like I got a real sense of what they want, but I’m maybe feeling a little dicey over here. I’m not feeling as strong over here. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to present this or how I might say this, or I’m worried about how this person’s going to say that. Okay. Well, good. And then the other aspect of that is to say, okay, you’re a seven, what would it take to get you to an eight? What’s one thing you might need to do, or one thing we might need to prepare for, to get you to an eight? And what that does is again, it helps people to verbalize and kind of assess where they’re at and it makes it okay for them to not be a 10.

Speaker 3 (00:35:16):

But it also helps them to identify those areas where maybe if they hadn’t had this conversation, they just kind of go in less secure, less confident. But this is one of those things that really kind of allows a conversation to happen where people actually can put a finger on what’s that thing they still need to do to increase their confidence and really kind of allows again for that engagement of that ownership so that people can feel like, Oh yeah, it allows them to verbalize it.

Speaker 1 (00:35:44):

As much as I hate to do it, I’m going to stop you for a quick second. So we can take a brief pause, but I want to get right back into this conversation. I get that sometimes you just can’t get on a plane and spend a couple of days in a live workshop. And so hopefully our online courses are a solution to that. Lots of video, hours and hours of video, a very dense, detailed participants guide, and all kinds of help along the way to make sure that you get the learning that you need and apply it immediately to your agency. Right now, we’ve got two courses that are available. We have the Agency New Business  Blueprint, and we have the AE Bootcamp. So feel free to check those out at agencymanagementinstitute.com backslash on-demand courses. Okay, let’s get back to the show.

So I’m hearing a couple of themes running through this, and I want to check in with you to make sure that I’m hearing it right. One of them is helping them be very purposeful in terms of sort of starting with the end in mind. So what are we trying to do here? And as you’re preparing, or as you’re working on whatever the next step is, really kind of reminding them to know why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Speaker 3 (00:37:01):

Yup, exactly.

Speaker 1 (00:37:02):

And the second one is really helping them be thoughtful about the process so that they’re not just busy, but that they are really thinking about what they’re doing in terms of how do I get to that end goal, whatever it is. It’s about just being more mindful.

Speaker 3 (00:37:24):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Being mindful and being aware, uh, because it’s one of those things where it’s interesting, you know, one aspect of that is to have that clarity. I love to ask the question, Hey, what does success look like? What’s success look like in a week? What’s success look like in a month? I don’t know if I told you, but our youngest son started competitive archery in elementary school. His first experience was when he went out, kind of never really tried it, anything like that. They went and I think probably in this great effort to protect the kid’s identity and to make sure that nobody felt bad the first night they didn’t even set up targets.

Speaker 3 (00:38:13):

They basically just had this kind of big curtain across the gym. They give the kids the bows and arrows, and they just started shooting these arrows kind of way out into this curtain. And he came home frustrated. Again, I think they were trying to protect them so they didn’t feel bad about themselves, but he came home frustrated and I was like, what’s up buddy? And he started to talk through it. He’s like, I didn’t have a target so I didn’t know if I was getting better. ˇhe question is I’m hitting the sheet every time. One day or one time it was up high. One time it was down low. I didn’t know how to measure that.

Speaker 3 (00:38:53):

I didn’t know where it was and if I was getting better. And that’s why I love to ask the question, what does success look like? Because if somebody can verbalize what success looks like, then they have an exponentially higher chance of hitting it. And one of the other things is, I think in corporate America or in corporate communication anywhere in the globe, one of the greatest kinds of misconceptions that happens is actual communication happened. Right? You feel like I have so relayed what the target is here, but unless you hear them verbalize that back to you, you don’t know if you’re actually shooting at the same target. So that’s why I love to have people be able to identify what success looks like from a global perspective. What does success look like when we’re talking about client relationships?

Speaker 3 (00:39:43):

You know, if they can, if they can verbalize that, then there’s a much greater chance. But to be able to say, Hey, what’s success look like on the backend of this meeting, this particular pitch or this particular interaction? What’s success look like? What are three things that we want to walk away with? What are the three things we want that client to experience? If they can verbalize it, then you’re actually shooting at the same target, but so often we don’t know. And what’s so important, especially when it comes to taking more of a mentoring approach, is just making sure that you’re both working towards that shared target.

Speaker 1 (00:40:16):

I think helping them understand the importance of that question and training them to always ask it. Oftentimes in agencies, everyone’s moving so fast and your to-do list is so long that success looks like crossing another thing off the list, as opposed to why was that thing on the list to begin with? And it’s all in alignment for real success. So, agency owners are so time-starved that I know a lot of them don’t either know how to do this, or they don’t take the time to do this. Other than time, what are some other reasons why a manager or a business owner wouldn’t do this?

Speaker 3 (00:41:04):

I think one of the other challenges is like we talked about that writing reflex where it’s like, I know the answer, so why don’t I just give them the answer because that is going to be faster. I think it’s also one of those things where sometimes it does take some humility. I would say probably one of the biggest pitfalls and we already kind of spoke to it a little bit, but one of the biggest pitfalls is that most of us didn’t experience this. Most of us experienced, it’s a little bit like, my grandparents were great, but they were definitely old school. So when we came to dinner at the table, we got to sit at the big table, but we only got to speak if grandpa said something to us, especially at the table.

Speaker 3 (00:41:54):

We could walk around the farm and talk all we want it. But if we were at the table, you only got to speak if grandpa or grandma asks you a question. That’s just kinda how they were and we all know that that’s a lot of what most of us experienced when we first entered the workplace. We didn’t speak unless we were spoken to. We went after assignments that we were given. That’s definitely not how millennials, as an example,e have been brought up. They come into the workplace, because of the education system, because of the way they’ve been treated, all systems we created. They come in fully ready to be able to share their ideas. Maybe even have their ideas, be respected, all of those things.

Speaker 3 (00:42:42):

And that’s not something we experienced. So it’s not always a bad thing, but because it’s different than what we experienced, it often feels wrong and sometimes really wrong. So it’s that old thing of sometimes offering something that we didn’t get causes some inner tension, but one of the things that we do see, it’s more of the long-term play perspective, but it’s vital and we’ve all seen it. One of the things that we’ve seen is that if a person, especially highly creative, highly engaged people, they want to be able to spread their wings and they want to be able to bring their best, all of those things. And they will continue to search for the organization that will allow them to do that. So although it feels like it takes more time on the front end. One of the other rewards of doing this is loyalty.

Speaker 3 (00:43:38):

You know, one of the things that we’ve seen with organizations that have done this, or especially with the millennial workforce as an example, is they don’t tend to be loyal to an organization. They tend to be loyal to a leader. And one of the ways that leader earned that loyalty is giving them that autonomy and allowing them to fully engage with some guidance. Again, it’s that whole thing of being able to spread your wings with some boundaries. But we see people stick around in organizations where they feel valued, where they’re being held as capable, where they’re able to bring their ideas to the table. So although sometimes it does feel like more work and it does take more time, especially on the front end, what we have seen with organizations is that, yeah, it might take a little bit more time, but how much time does it take when someone leaves because they haven’t been given that autonomy. They haven’t been given that chance to really bring their best.

Speaker 1 (00:44:38):

You know, one of the nuances that a lot of agency owners are facing is not only do they have millennials in the shops, so they have everything you just described, but oftentimes these millennials, especially on the programmer side or the development side, or some of the technology sides, know stuff, which you alluded to earlier in the conversation, know stuff that I, as an agency owner don’t know. So now I am mentoring someone who actually has skill sets and knowledge that I don’t get. So how do you mentor someone in a role like that? So let’s just say, I’ve got a programmer who’s doing, you know, backend web development. And I understand why they’re doing what they do, but I don’t understand how they do it. How do I mentor someone like that?

Speaker 3 (00:45:20):

Well, it’s, it’s interesting. I think in some ways, transparency and authenticity are huge when it comes to mentoring. Obviously having a relationship where there’s mutual trust, mutual respect really enhances, communication, but also a mentoring approach. The beautiful thing about this, especially with what we talk about with the mentor 2.0 model, is that in some ways … Well in the mentor 1.0, model, that very thing, the scenario you just painted, the older person, the more experienced person would almost need to hide the fact that they didn’t know what the younger person was doing. They would need to hide that. That would be a weakness, right? That would be something that would show them as fallible, that would show them as not capable to be that mentor in the mentor 2.0 model. In some ways we celebrate it to be able to say, Hey, listen, I want to say that I have no clue how you do what you do.

Speaker 3 (00:46:22):

I really want to show you how I respect that. Let me share a little bit of what we need to achieve and why we need to achieve it. But I really need you to show me how we’re going to do that. So let me show you kind of what needs to be done and why, but you tell me how, how we’re going to do it. I’d love for you to walk me through the how, and kind of out yourself and kind of honor their knowledge. At the same time, you don’t have to say I’m a dummy, I don’t know what I’m doing. But you get to play your role, they get to play their role. Especially getting them, talking about how they’re going to do it and be able to say, Hey, you can kind of treat me like a second grader on this aspect, but what I’d love for you to do is try to explain it so that I can understand it.

Speaker 3 (00:47:02):

And here’s the thing that happens is as they explain that to you, they also start working through it. They might even say, well, I’m not even sure. You know, tell me more. I’m not even sure how we’ll do it yet. It’s like, okay, well, how might we do it? How could we do it? All those things as they’re verbalizing it, it’s kind of motto when it comes to mentoring, it’s teach, learn, teach. Or excuse me, learn, teach, learn, and what it is is you learn, then you teach and as you teach, you learn all over again. Right? So it’s one of those things where you move people towards teaching, right?

Speaker 3 (00:47:45):

And, and that’s what you want to do in that mentor 2.0 model. And in some ways, you really give them permission. You give both the mentor and the person receiving the mentoring, that permission to learn from each other. And so it creates a safe place and really creates some respect because here’s the thing, if we don’t know something and we are tempted to cover that up, then we almost have to create a persona, right. That persona is that kind of that image you try to create to be something you’re not. And we all know people that are trying to maintain that persona, right? It’s exhausting to maintain that persona. And usually, the only person that is convinced that the persona is working is the person trying to maintain the persona. Right? Everybody else knows that’s not happening.

Speaker 1:

It’s kind of like toupees, I think.

Speaker 3 (00:48:40):

Yeah, it looks right in a certain light if you wear a hat.  And that’s one of the things we hear from people is this mentor 2.0 model is freeing. That you, as the mentor don’t necessarily bring all of the answers. What you do is you bring questions, you bring experience, you bring that place to be able to vet ideas, all of those things at the same time. You’re inspiring that attentive, autonomy and creativity, that engagement. And it really does, if it’s done well, it doesn’t have to be done perfectly, but if it’s done well, it really creates in some ways, a sense of mutual respect as well.

Speaker 1 (00:49:13):

Well, and I know from the millennials that I talked to, that’s exactly what they’re looking for in a leader is somebody who teaches them, but also recognizes their capabilities right off the bat, as opposed to sort of treating them like a beginner, because in some ways they walk in with more knowledge or more skills than the owner does on the programming side, especially in some cases.

Speaker 3 (00:49:37):

iI’s crazy. It’s amazing. I was at an airport recently. And, you know, they let us know that the plane was delayed and these parents had a little baby and obviously they were scrambling to kind of keep the baby busy and the mom handed the baby a magazine and the baby went to the magazine and started to like run her little finger. Yeah. I mean, the baby probably can navigate an iPad better than I can. So it’s one of those things where it’s just, it’s just the way, especially in the way that things are moving so quickly, it’s just the way it is. So to be able to call that out, to celebrate that, but also it’s that whole thing of, uh, as we do that, though, we can be introduced to new ideas.

Speaker 3 (00:50:20):

And one of the things that I’ve found is that if we respect those folks who are bringing their new ideas and give them a chance to share some of those new ideas, it also creates a playing field where you can say, Hey, I love that idea. But in this case, we need to go in this direction. To be able to verbalize that, to be able to talk through that so that there is some give and take, as opposed to, it doesn’t always have to go their way. It doesn’t always have to go your way. But it is kind of helping to draw out that best work and some mutual respect.

Speaker 1 (00:50:51):

So, I suspect a lot of the agency owners listening to us are thinking, this is all awesome. Where is the list of questions that I should ask? I need a blueprint of how to do this. If somebody wants to do more of this, is there a resource you can point them to, that would sort of give them, so here your 20 questions to ask or here at 20 different scenarios and how you might play it out from a mentoring role? Because I think a lot of agency owners want to do this, but again, as I said, right off the bat there, they’re still looking for the recipe.

Speaker 3 (00:51:29):

Absolutely, absolutely. So they can go to MitchMatthews.com, MitchMatthews.com. That’s two T’s. And then just go to the website and I’ve got a post called Mentor Manager Cheat Sheet, so they can just search the website and find the post Mentor Manager Cheat Sheet. And it’s got some quick questions to be able to ask, especially in that project-based scenario. We have some other scenarios too, that can get you some question,s kind of give you some different strategies to be able to apply that. So you’ve got kind of that cheat sheet that you could pull out and lean on to be able to do that.

Speaker 1 (00:52:06):

Okay, great. We’ll find that URL and stick it in the show notes so people can have it. So, okay. As you know, this is a topic that I love talking about, so we could talk about it forever, but I want to kind of wrap up, and what I try and do with the podcast is make sure that we are handing folks things that they can do right now. They’re excited about it. They’re feeling pumped up about it, and they want to go do something to put this into play. So give the listeners two or three things that they can do immediately, in the next day or so, or the next hour or so, depending on where they’re at that they can begin to put this into the DNA of their agency and how they work with their team.

Speaker 3 (00:52:49):

Absolutely. One of the steps that you can do is, is even as you’re listening to this, maybe you even started to think of an individual where you do want to start giving some more autonomy, some more ownership. Watch for that person. I’m going to do some more project-specific mentoring with this individual, because one of the things like we talked about, one of the biggest risks about mentoring is people get excited about it. And then they try to apply it everywhere. It’s a little bit like you got a new hammer and so you want to use it everywhere, but not everything’s a nail, right? So it’s to be able to say, all right, well, who’s that person that I want to just try to experiment with this a bit more and identify one or two people. Even think about, let’s isolate that down and say, I’m not going to do this across the board, but maybe there’s a specific project or a specific aspect of some client work that you can really say, Hey, in this area.

Speaker 3 (00:53:39):

And maybe it’s a shorter timeframe, not something that’s for years and years, but to be able to say, all right, something specific. Reach out to this person and say, Hey, I’d like to take a little bit more of a mentoring approach with you on this. And the reason why is I really want you to fly. I really want you to be able to spread your wings, bring your best work, really take this and own it. And so it’d be able to communicate that. And then as you start to do that, be able to say, all right, isolate, maybe a specific area and start to ask some of those questions of, Hey, what does success look like? And maybe it’s narrowing the focus of what’s success looks like on this project in a week?

Speaker 3 (00:54:16):

And let’s follow up on that. I’d really like to talk with you about that, or what does success look like for this next meeting, and being able to really help them verbalize so that they can be clear on what target they’re shooting at. Then maybe be able to check and say, Hey, how can I walk alongside you with that? Is there anything I can do to help, but also to be able to celebrate along the way those accomplishments, you might even try out that writing ruler strategy a little bit, to be able to say, Hey, a scale of one to 10 as you’re getting ready, where would you say you are? And if they come in at a six, don’t say, Aw, you’re an eight. Come on. It’s more to be able to say, if you’re a six, that’s great. Why aren’t you a five? Help them to first figure out where they’re confident and why they’re confident because even if they come in at a six, that means that they’re confident about something, right? Then say, all right, what would it take? What are one or two things that you could do to help you get to a six or a seven, just take one or two steps up that scale? What all of those things are doing is it helps them to verbalize and get clear on what the target is, because if you help someone get clear and verbalize what their target is, the chances of them hitting it and actually feeling great about hitting it, go up exponentially.

Speaker 1 (00:55:25):

Awesome. Okay. Any last words of advice or counsel or story that you want to share with the listeners?

Speaker 3 (00:55:35):

That’s a great question. It’s interesting as I thought about this approach and all of the stories, I think one of the things that I’d actually turn back around is actually point to you Drew as an example of doing this. One of the things that I see, I’ve seen you get to do this with your team. You’ve got a busy agency, you guys are doing great work, but one of the things that I’ve seen you do over the years is you really do hold your people as capable. I could see that happen. Now I can brag on you. And this is probably, you’re probably like shut up. Right. But it’s one of those things that I’ve seen you do this where, you know, in some cases, what that means is verbalizing, you know, you’re holding somebody who’s capable and maybe you give them a project, I’ve even seen some of your people like think, Oh my gosh, this, project is bigger than I am.

Speaker 3 (00:56:26):

I am not ready for this, but you didn’t abandon them. You stayed close, that didn’t mean hovering, but you were accessible, right. That they could check in with you, follow up with you and you would check in with them. But what I see now, is I see a team of people that you’ve created around you, that would take a bullet for you. You are so blessed. But it’s also one of those things where now your business is so busy and full and you’re traveling all the time. What the fruit of that, that I see now though, is that you’ve got a team that runs like a ship without you there. So yes, it did take more work. And I know you’ve had seasons where it’s a lot of quality time with your team, but now you’ve got this team that it’s almost like, Oh, Hey, Drew’s in the office? Because they are now functioning well without you. Now, do they function great when you’re in the room?

Speaker 3 (00:57:24):

Absolutely. They still want your input. Absolutely. But you got a team of people that you’ve developed over time that now can run without you being fully engaged, loving what they do, taking care of your clients when you’re there and when you’re not. But you created that by taking this approach over the last few years, you know what I mean? And I, in some ways, I think the best story is your story, because yes, you’re still busy, but it’s a different kind of busy and you’ve still got an agency that’s rock solid. And it’s because you took this time, took this approach over the years. And now, it’s running like a clock when you’re in the office and when you’re not. And I think that you’re the example of what it takes to do this, but also you’re the example of the fruit of taking this approach.

Speaker 1 (00:58:15):

Ah, thank you for that. Thank you. And you’re right. It’s completely changed what our agency is capable of doing and it, I could have never done it if I had to help them as much as I did in the beginning, or if I had to do as much of the work as I was doing in the beginning. By being a decent mentor, I’ve allowed myself to get out of some of the work that other people are better at than I am.

Speaker 3 (00:58:40):

Can I throw one more thing in about your story? One last thing that I think about is what this also does, and this might, I’m not sure this maybe opens up a whole other can of worms, but I hope in some ways, this last little bit of wisdom is also freeing. Your story is an example of this, that this approach also allowed you to figure out who were the right people to have on your bus, because you knew you were probably moving towards this model of being in the agency, less and less physically, right? And so you started taking more and more of that mentoring approach. You really did give people more autonomy. You were checking in, but you were letting people run with it, all of those things. And in a number of cases, that meant you had great people that really thrived with that approach, but you also had a couple of cases where people didn’t and they bumped up against that.

Speaker 3 (00:59:29):

And in some ways that also meant you had to ask a couple of people to get off the bus. Right? And I think that’s also kind of freeing from the standpoint that a good mentoring approach can also be a good filtering process as well. And not everybody needs to stay on the bus. And so I throw that out there sometimes too, to be able to say, Hey, some people are absolutely going to thrive with that mentoring approach. Some people won’t. And sometimes that means that maybe you need to get them in a different position, but sometimes that means you need to get them off the bus. So I throw that out again and in some ways, relaying to your example, but I think it’s also something that can kind of be freeing to everybody. That you don’t have to save everybody. This can also help you to really figure out who are the right people are and in the right positions and let’s rock with this.

Speaker 1 (01:00:19):

Yeah, yeah. I think that’s scary. But as you say, it’s also freeing and it, it really does separate the good agencies from the great agencies are when everybody on the bus is a rock star, as opposed to pretty good.

Speaker 3 (01:00:32):

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Right. And it’s that this is kind of one of those additional things where you can really intentionally and some ways filter some people out if they don’t respond to that autonomy and that ownership. Maybe they’re just in the wrong position or maybe they’re the wrong people. And so, you know, to kind of give you that freedom to be able to recognize that and be able to say, all right, I’m really going to watch for those people who do respond to this kind of approach.

Speaker 1 (01:00:55):

Yep. Awesome. I knew this was going to be awesome. I knew you were going to give people a lot of things to think about and a lot of great new tools. And as always, you exceeded my expectations. So thank you so much for your time and for sharing so freely the gifts that you have. I, as I said, at the beginning of the podcast, I’m blessed that I get mentored by you all the time in our mastermind group. And so I knew that you would really bring it today. So thank you so much.

Speaker 3 (01:01:23):

Absolutely, buddy. It’s an honor.

Speaker 1 (01:01:25):

It was awesome. Thank you. I will talk to you soon. Okay. Everybody go and put this into play. I want to hear your stories. I want to hear how you’re mentoring your folks. I promise you this can be a game-changer for your agency. Take what Mitch has taught you, go to the show notes. He’s got a lot of great resources on his website. So check that out and we will catch you soon in another episode.

Speaker 2 (01:01:48):

That’s all for this episode of Build A Better Agency, brought to you by HubSpot. Be sure to visit AgencyManagementInstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to midsize agencies. Don’t miss an episode as we help you build the agency you’ve always dreamed of owning.