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Season 4, Episode 8

Making the Entrepreneurial Leap

With Author and Creator of Entrepreneurial Leap, Gino Wickman

About the Episode

In this episode, we’re talking with Gino Wickman all about the Entrepreneurial Leap — the topic and the name of his latest book. Since the age of 21, Gino has had an obsession with learning what it takes to make an entrepreneur thrive. So Gino set out to help other entrepreneurs and leaders get what they want from their businesses. Based on years of his experience, he created the entrepreneurial operating system, which you may have heard of as EOS. It’s a practical method for helping companies achieve greatness. He’s the author of the award-winning book Traction, as well as Get a Grip, Rocket Fuel, How to Be a Great Boss, and What the Heck is EOS.

Gino is now devoting his time and energy toward helping entrepreneurs in the making get a huge jumpstart on how to be an entrepreneur and how to take that leap. What I loved about the episode is that whether or not you read the book, he breaks down the attributes of an entrepreneur. This is an episode you want to share with friends, with family, with children, with anyone thinking about whether this is the path for them. We spend so much time talking about practical tips for scaling a business. So this one takes us back to starting a business and deciding is this the journey I want to go on? And what kind of business do I want to build? When I was consulting, I always used to work with companies to map out the context for what they were trying to build before we created the plan to do it. And this episode will get you started on that path, creating your own context for your business.

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Full Transcript

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29:00

Chris:
What’s up, everyone. I’m Chris Ronzio, founder, and CEO of Trainual and this is Organize Chaos. As always, we’re taking a page from a different leader’s playbook so you can put it in yours as you build your own. You just heard Gino Wickman. And this episode is all about the Entrepreneurial Leap — the topic and the name of his latest book. Since the age of 21, Gino has had an obsession with learning what it takes to make an entrepreneur thrive. So Gino set out to help other entrepreneurs and get, and leaders get what they want from their businesses. Based on years of his experience, he created the entrepreneurial operating system, which you may have heard as EOS. It’s a practical method for helping companies achieve greatness. He’s the author of the award-winning book Traction, Get a Grip, Rocket Fuel, How to Be a Great Boss, and What the Heck is EOS.

Chris:
Clearly a renowned author. Gino is now devoting his time and energy toward helping entrepreneurs in the making get a huge jumpstart on how to be an entrepreneur and how to take that leap. And that’s why he created this book called the Entrepreneurial Leap. So definitely go and get a copy of this. But what I loved about the episode is that whether or not you read the book, he breaks down the attributes of an entrepreneur. This is an episode you want to share with friends, with family, with children, with anyone thinking about whether this is the path for them. We spend so much time talking about practical tips for scaling a business. So this one takes us back to starting a business and deciding is this the journey I want to go on? And what kind of business do I want to build? When I was consulting, I always used to work with companies to map out the context for what they were trying to build before we created the plan to do it. And this episode will get you started on that path, creating your own context for your business. So take a listen.

Chris:
And as you heard in the intro today, we are here with the man, the one, the only Gino Wickman. Hey Gino.

Gino:
Hey Chris. A pleasure to be here, brother.

Chris:
Thank you so much for coming on. So I don’t think anyone listening to this, hasn’t heard of EOS Worldwide or hasn’t read Traction or some of the books that followed, but today we’re talking about something different, a new project of yours, Entrepreneurial Leap. So that’s what we’re going to get into today. And I’d love to start with, with your Entrepreneurial Leap, your story. Have you always been an entrepreneur? Take us back.

Gino:
Yeah, so, uh, I always describe it as, uh, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 21. So as I think back to when I really started acting like an entrepreneur, that’s probably the age. So for me, the history is I’ve always exhibited the traits, which we’ll talk about the traits and just a bit. And then after graduating high school, as my friends all went off to college, I said, there’s no way I’m going to college. I am done with academics, I’m going to make money. And so, um, I took a very unconventional path in terms of what everyone else was doing and, uh, and I just wanted to go make money. And so, uh, bumped along for a while, started to catch my stride a little bit at 21, but still bumped along. But ultimately I found myself running a family business. Uh, I took over the reins at 25, got involved in the business a year before that. And about a year and a half, I had the world’s fastest corporate climb and took over a family business that was in dire need of a turnaround. Uh, turned it around in three years, ran it for seven years, and then successfully sold the business.

Uh, but where, what that has to do with this whole story is that was my first interaction with working with a wild and crazy visionary entrepreneur, which was my dad. And then I got involved in young entrepreneurs organization now known as EO and found myself helping my EO brother. And, and then I got involved in Strategic Coach and that’s where I just was surrounded in this entrepreneurial world. Discovered I had this knack for helping entrepreneurs and upon selling the family business, I then took a leap to pursue why I was put on the face of this earth and that’s to help entrepreneurs get everything they want from their businesses.

Chris:
I love that. So we’re going to spend most of this talking about the Entrepreneurial Leap, the new book, the traits, everything you’ve mentioned, but I’m curious when you dove into your own family business and you had to go through that turnaround. EOS is beautifully known for this structure and everything that you’ve created over the years. What existed at the time in your business? It sounds like it was a mess if it needed a turnaround.

Gino:
You know, so it was, it was not being run entirely well and it was wild and crazy, but this, you know, you and I are process twins I’m as much a process fanatic as you are. And so my brain goes to process. And so as I took on that turnaround, um, you know, it was brutal, got out of some deep ugly debt, but I always describe it as when I took on that turnaround. I was armed with two books. Re-engineering the corporation by champion. I can’t remember the other co-author in Michael Gerber’s book. E-Myth those were the two books and I’m a Michael Gerber fanatic.

Um, and so his book was life-changing for me. And obviously, there’s a lot of process and system aspects of that book. And so I was applying those principles to the turnaround. And so the way I always describe it, you know, every time I see redundancy, I just systemize it. I turn it into a process, get somebody to run that process, and move on to the next thing. And so that’s a big part of that turnaround, but I mean, there was so much more the visionary integrator concept from Rocket Fuel, all stemmed from my relationship with my dad. That’s where I created the concept, calling him the visionary, calling myself the integrator, um, meeting quarterly and creating the 90-day world in that quarterly pulse, all stem from that business. I could go on and on, but it’s my brain just sees patterns and trends. And once I see a pattern and trend that works, I turn it into a process, turned into a system, and move on to the next one.

Chris:
Well, what was the last piece to fix? What was the thing you either put off the longest or that took the longest to get done?

Gino: Wow. That is a good question. Um, I think, boy, let me think about that one. That is, that’s a really hard one day or was there a time because I know you say it was a three-year turnaround or something like that, as you got towards the end of that horizon, what made you feel like, okay, this business is operationally sound. Um, well it was cash flowing again, nicely. It was growing again. So it was back to growing. We were winning back clients that we had lost. I mean, it was a, it was a growing business and we were focusing on growth-related issues, not survival issues. So it was literally three years of survival. So when the last of the debt was paid off and we were focusing, focusing on those growth issues, that was the turning point.

Chris:
Got it. So that’s a good pivot when you go from being proactive or reactive to proactive and you don’t have to put out fires, you can focus on the big picture. So, so that’s great. I hope for everyone listening that someday you wake up and that is the case in your business, and you should read all of Gino’s books to get there. So, uh, so let’s get into Entrepreneurial Leap first. Why did you decide to, to write this? Why, why broadened to this audience?

Gino:
Yeah, for sure. And to continue on that story real quick to answer this question, you know, then I took the leap into creating EOS. I didn’t know I was going to create dos at the time, but for five years I was working with clients. I knew what my skill set was, but as I worked with them over those five years, I put the finishing touches on creating EOS and then decided to leverage it and build EOS worldwide with my partner, Don Tinney.

And so when you do all the math on that, it was really 30 years of helping entrepreneurs. And with that, when I was 40, I decided at age 50, I’m going to put some of my energy into helping entrepreneurs in the making. So with the understanding and what I learned with helping entrepreneurs, I now want to help entrepreneurs in the making because I was a mislabeled derelict when I was 18 years old, I was an entrepreneur in the making. And I didn’t know that I was lost, confused, insecure. And so my goal is to help find what I call the 4%. I believe 4% of the population has the essential traits of a true entrepreneur. And the goal of this project is to define them. And so the mission is to impact and help a million entrepreneurs in the making over the next 10 years. And so being equipped with all that experience for 30 years, I kind of did it in reverse, but that was the right way to do it.

Chris:
After spending time with successful entrepreneurs, I would now want to spend time at the beach beginning of the entrepreneurial journey with all of that knowledge and experience. So you, you kind of went from turning around your family business to turning around hundreds, thousands, millions of other businesses through the principles that you were suggesting and teaching, right? And so now as you go to focus on entrepreneurs in the making, is there something you’re hoping to correct or embed in people so that they don’t make the mistakes that you’ve seen so many times a hundred percent?

Gino:
So, um, there are a couple of directions I want to go there. So I’m going to try and keep the answer as focused as possible because maybe there are two things that really stand out. Number one is right now, everyone wants to be an entrepreneur and it’s the new thing. So in the seventies and eighties, everybody wanted to be a rockstar.

Now everybody wants to be an entrepreneur and it’s really dangerous because everyone is not an entrepreneur. And so this is a cautionary tale. I’m trying to save lives here. Okay. I’m trying to save people 10 years of hell that are about to make an entrepreneurial leap because they think it’s cool. The only reason to take an entrepreneurial leap is because you are an entrepreneur in the making. And so I’m going to break a lot of hearts with this project, but at the same time, I’m going to find the 4% wherever they’re hiding in the world. Because again, like I said, they’re lost, confused mislabeled derelicts. And so they’re in the corporate world during the military, they’re in the prison system. I believe 25% of all prisoners are entrepreneurs in the making. And they’d just been using their powers for bad and not for good.

And once they realized they could use them for good, lookout baby, but they’re in the college system there. So it’s a matter of finding them and showing them the life they were born to live. And for the ones that really aren’t entrepreneurs, I’m going to give a little context. So it takes some of this thing off, but I’m just trying to save them from 10 years of hell. And then the second thing is in this book, the book is written in three parts, confirm glimpse path to the kind of create a context. But in the glimpse part, I teach the eight critical mistakes to avoid. So when you talk about what I’m trying to solve, I am also trying to help every startup avoid the eight critical mistakes that almost every startup makes, because they’re all avoidable. They’re just silly mistakes that you make.

Chris:
And we can talk more about that, certainly, as we get into the glimpse part of the book, okay, so we’ll get into the critical mistakes, but let’s stick on, you know, who who is and who isn’t an entrepreneur. Uh, you talk about not everyone is born to do this, and you just alluded to that. So what are the traits? How can someone recognize if they or someone they know is an entrepreneur? And again, I’m a fan fanatic about context.

Gino:
So, so going back to the context and the way that the book is written as I said, three parts confirm, a glimpse, and a path, and there’s a reason for that exact heart three-part process. So on the confirm step, you’re asking the confirm question. And so first and foremost, we have to confirm whether or not the person is even an entrepreneur in the making. And so it’s going to be a little bit of a long answer, but the answer is so important to set the stage for today’s conversation. So, first of all, confirm starts with a very strong belief. I have that every true entrepreneur has six essential traits.

And so my three decades of experience, the many, many entrepreneurs worked with, they all have six essential traits. And so as I share those six, I want you to the audience to do a little checkup from the neck up, just kind of scan their body, look at their history and see if they’ve exhibited these traits. And so they are very passionate problem solvers, driven, risk-taker, and responsible. And then to take it one step further, I believe very strongly that you are born with those tools. They cannot be taught. It is nature over nurture and that kind of rocks half the world’s brain, because half the world agrees with me half don’t, but the people that really think they can teach 7.5 billion people on this planet to be an entrepreneur is a sin and very, very dangerous. So last little point, because this is where I’m talking about.

I got to lay this foundation for this conversation. So I created an assessment on the website. It’s free-leap.com, the entrepreneur, and the making assessment. If you score 90 or higher odds are you have those six essential traits, but here’s the thing. If you score low and you don’t have all six, it’s not a death sentence, you can still own your own business. And so the last point is what I call the entrepreneurial range. And so I teach it in the book. And if you picture this arc well on that arc to the far, right, if you picture the words true entrepreneur, and on the far left, you picture the word self-employed. Every single person that owns a business is somewhere on that entrepreneurial range, the far left self-employed or the one person shows the solo printers, the person with the side hustle, the freelancer. So that’s on that end on the far, right, are the greatest entrepreneurs of all time.

Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, Sara Blakely, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs. So we’re all somewhere on that range. The people that I am teaching and speaking to in this book are the people on the right side of the range. And so the point here is you could still own your own business. If you don’t have the six essential traits, you can still be a sole proprietor, but there’s probably a really good chance that you’re not going to build an empire. You’re not going to build an organization with a lot of people. And so it’s just a cautionary tale at the end of the day. No thyself, you decide, I’m not going to decide for you, but there’s the context if you will,

Chris:
I love how you put systems and processes into everything. Even these big grandiose concepts. It’s just what you do. You can tell it is you are right. You know, it’s funny, I got into a, an argument with my bank because I was filling out some application and they said, oh, you’re self-employed. I said I am not, I am not self-employed, but it’s funny that they stick everyone kind of in this bucket. So another thing from my background, I’m curious about, you know, when I was going through college, running my own business, I had a lot of peers that said, well, should I go get some experience first? Should I go work and start my business someday? So what would you say to those people on one splits a time to do this?

Gino:
Yeah, that’s such a great question. You know, and again, going back to the three parts, confirm glimpse path, you’re asking a path question. And so what I teach in the path, I do an entire chapter.

Chris:
It’s called take action, but be patient. And I teach the power of 10-year thinking. Okay? And so most people with this genetic makeup want everything now, now, now this week, this month, this year, and there’s so much urgency. And I learned this at age 35 and it transformed my life. And it’s the power of 10-year-thinking what it does is the second you shift your mind to that thinking there’s a calm and patience that comes over you, your thinking is clear. You have better ideas and ironically you get there faster. And so my point in the answer, sharing that and answering your question is that be patient. If you’re sitting there and you’re 25, 30, 35, 18, 13, however old you are, even if you’re 50 years old, be patient. Because if you will think in 10-year timeframes, you will realize you have many decades to accomplish this.

And you can build an empire in a decade in 10 years. So the point is, some of you will take your leap tomorrow. Some of you need to wait five years and go play and tinker and work. So in the glimpse part of the book, I teach something called my biz match, which is an understanding that every entrepreneur is not built to build every business. And what it helps you do is decide the right business for you. So the point is it talks about size-types of businesses, types of industries. You may need to go fill out my business match, think about the business you want to start, and just go work in that industry for a couple of years, go work for an entrepreneur. That’s built a business like that, go get your feet wet and make sure you love that. So you may do that for 2, 3, 5, even 10 years before you take your leap.

But again, some people are going to take their leap immediately. That is an answer. That is a question you have to answer for yourself. And it’s all tied to risk tolerance and a lot of different factors. But again, as you get through all three parts of the book, you’ll have absolute clarity for when is the time for you to.

Chris:
So it’s funny while I was running my business one summer, I interned for a management consulting firm, and just that working for someone else in that environment set me up to start my own consulting firm after I sold my first business. And so there are all different paths to get there. And it’s, it’s very much an individualized decision, right?

Gino:
Exactly. Right. And to my point, if you’re sitting there and you’re 20 years old and you’re feeling antsy because you need to go start a business, please, you have like six or seven really good decades left. I mean, six or seven, 10-year timeframes, are you kidding me? So maybe you do need to go work in a few of those industries because, you know, I sold corporate travel. I invested in real estate. I sold real estate. I did mail order for a little bit. I worked in a machine shop where I look back at that, that mess of stuff that I did. There are things that I did that are the, that made me the person that I am. So you got to go out and you just got to do the work and tinker and learn. And it all will come at the right time. Just keep working towards something.

Chris:
So the 10-year thinking is the cure, the remedy to the overnight success, success expectation. Then, my friend, I see the guy on Instagram has a Ferrari. Why can’t I have one?

Gino:
I mean, I mean, to me at 53 now to listen to the 20 five-year-old feeling antsy is just humorous to me being 30 years ahead of that person. I mean, there is so much life left now, please work hard, work towards something, have goals, certainly try and accomplish it as fast as you can, but ease up on the urgency because the 25-year-old is thinking, right. They need to have the Ferrari by 26. Um, you know, and so just 10-year thinking will get your mindset.

Chris:
All right. I know I’m jumping around. But another thing that you mentioned in the book, and a lot of people ask me about is, uh, having a mentor. And so if someone is looking for a guide in this whole process, how do you recommend they find one and pick the right one?

Gino:
Yeah. And so that is also in the path. And so that’s the one, an entire chapter on mentoring and the power of finding a mentor. So first thing is, if you don’t find a mentor, you’re going to be fine. Okay. And so in all the entrepreneurs that I’ve interviewed, half had mentors, half didn’t and they’re all successful, but having a mentor is a bit of a speed pass. It is a bit of a, um, a jumpstart, if you will. And so I was blessed to have three great mentors in my life. And so the idea is for you to find someone who is where you want to be. And so, again, that’s the power of filling out my biz match on the website for free e-leap.com. And let’s pretend you fill it out. And the perfect answer for you is to build a $10 million company, just the hypothetical well rule of thumb, seeking a mentor, go find someone who has built a $10 million construction company.

And, and ask them if they’ll mentor you rule of thumb, you’re going to need to find five or 10 because 80% of them are going to tell you no, okay, these are busy people. So you’ve got to do the work to find them. But the process is that you find that person ask if they’ll meet with you for an hour, meet with them for an hour, share your stories. And then if it feels right, just ask them if they’re willing to be your mentor and create a structure going forward. And I’ve also created a tool called mentor tracks. So there’s a bunch of free tools on the website, but the mentor track is a five-step track to help a mentor, mentor-protege better. And it’s a great awareness tool for the protege for you looking for the mentor to do some of the heavy liftings for the mentor.

But once you create a structure with my business mentor, Sam Cup, it was every single month we met for an hour or two with my dad. It was very ad hoc. And so we began just agree on what the structure is. And then my third mentor is Dan Sullivan and I was just in his program. And so I would see him every 90 days. And then I would make sure I asked him one to three questions every single quarter. So there’s that, that’s basically how you do it. I love it. And then of course you have a tool for that. So I’ll mention this throughout the interview here but go to e-leap.com. Look at all these free tools, because it’s crazy not to, they’ve been set up for you to navigate through this process. All right. Gino, two more things. I want to go back to glimpse and talk about these critical mistakes that people make.

Chris:
And then you talk about the stages of a business there at the end. And I want to at least give people some foresight there. So what are these, the critical things that frustrate people?

Gino:
Yeah. And so now we’re into that glimpse part. So yes, we’re bouncing around, but that’s why I want an eager it for your audience so that they know where we are. So once we confirm and part one that you are an entrepreneur in the making in a glimpse, what I’m doing is I’m trying to give you a glimpse of the life in an absolutely lights up an entrepreneur in the making. And then the path then helps guide them, eliminates half the mistakes increases their odds. So in glimpse, I do three things leading into the answer to your question. First, I share countless stories. Real-world stories of entrepreneurs who are right where you are and what they built.

Number two is where I teach, my business manager and help you understand all of your options as an entrepreneur industry size B2B B to C product business services. The third is what you’re talking about is what I do is I show a day in the life of an entrepreneur, both heaven and hell, okay. The dream scenario and the nightmare scenario. So you see a contrast, but so that you can avoid the nightmare. And the way you avoid the nightmare is by avoiding the eight critical mistakes that almost every entrepreneur makes in their startup phase when they’re building their business. And so I’ll take you through them at a high level. And then if you want to pick one or two, knowing your audience, we can drill down on as many as you’d like, but here they are. Number one, not having a vision number, hiring the wrong people.

Number three, not spending time with your people. Number four, not knowing who your customer is. Number five, not charging enough. Number six, not staying true to your core. Number seven, not knowing your numbers, and number eight, not crystallizing roles and responsibilities. Well, we’ve got a double-tap on number eight there because knowing our audience, they’re coming to us, trying to crystallize roles and responsibilities and add some structure and build their initial team. So talk to us about where, where that failed. Yeah. So with that, you know, I always like to share the critical mistake and then how you solve it. And so the critical mistake, and this one is always, as you’re growing the business, you just start throwing people at the business you’re going forward. You’re growing, it’s very chaotic. And your people tend to be following you as this very inspirational, charismatic high-energy entrepreneur.

And they’re just following your orders. And with that, that can only last so long and you’re burning people out. And so reverse that to the degree, you can create a structure first in your organization, org chart, or as we call an EOS and accountability chart, identify the major functions of your business. And I certainly teach this in the book, identify the major functions. And from there, as you bring people in the organization, just make sure they know what function they’re in, what their role is so that they stay in their lane and you will be much more efficient. It will be much less chaotic. And then you’ll also know better timing on when to hire and when you’re truly reaching capacity because the day you define the structure and let’s hypothetically pretend you have five seats in your organization. And that structure as the entrepreneur, you might be in all five for the first year, but as you make that first great people move, you need to pick the seat that you want to fill to free you up.

And it’s typically the one you like the least. And then when you hire the next person, same thing, the next one, and the next one, while the sudden let’s pretend you have this chaotic model where everyone’s tripping all over each other or this structure model where everyone’s in the right seat, knowing their roles and responsibility. I promise you that the organization that is structured and roles and responsibilities are clear, are close to twice as efficient, twice as productive, getting twice as much done.

Chris:
And so if that doesn’t motivate every entrepreneur out there in a startup, I don’t know what will I love that’s the end of the glimpse portion of the book, because you are projecting a future that I think every entrepreneur aspires to with having that structure in that business, that’s really succeeding, firing on all cylinders. I know it is the nine stages of building a business, but instead, I want is the event we’re doing together later this year, where we can dig more into that.

So later this year, Gino, you’re joining for Playbook 2021. The second time we’re hosting this event to talk all about entrepreneurs, getting started and getting, going with their businesses. And you’re going to be there talking about this, the entrepreneurial leap we’ve already sent out a bunch of copies, but if you want a copy of this book, send me a message. The first five that send me a message. I will ship you a copy, but Gino, where can everyone else get this book?

Gino:
Yeah. At the center of all things, Entrepreneurial Leap is the website e-leap.com. There are links to buy the book. You can bulk order. There, there are all of these free tools we’ve been talking about. There’s also the first 30 pages of the book for free to see if that wets your whistle and kind of pulls you in and sucks you in the other thing too, is you can learn about becoming a collaborator.

Gino:
And so Chris, you are actually one of my collaborators. We have a hundred collaborators now, and these are people that are joining forces in the cause to help impact a million entrepreneurs in the making. I give you my content for free. You’re free to teach all of it, some of it, your choice, but you get to help your audience. And so it’s just the ultimate. Win-win where we joined forces and accomplish this mission together. So you can also find out about becoming a collaborator on the website.

Chris:
Amazing. Well, I’m proud to be a collaborator, proud to be alongside you in this mission, which I think is incredible. As you heard from Gino over the last 20 or so minutes, start by blocking tackling things in your, in your company system. It’s systematize anything that’s repetitive. Like he said, uh, he talked about the power of 10-year thinking and how success doesn’t happen overnight.

But if you think in terms of the long-term, you can be patient and see success over time. He talks about using the biz match tool on their website to figure out what is the right size and scope and scale of business for you. As you build out your own entrepreneurial path. And he talks about how to avoid the nightmare and avoid those scenarios that make being an entrepreneur, not so fun. So there is a ton more content in this book. I highly suggest you get this book, entrepreneurial leap. It’s the type of book you’ll read, and then give some of your friends and your friends will give to their friends and you’ll be helping us impact these million entrepreneurs. But if you liked what you heard today, join us in September for Playbook 2021. Gino, can’t wait to talk to you more there. I look forward to it, Chris, thanks for your time. Had a blast. All right, thanks, everyone. And we’ll see you next time.

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