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Season 02, Episode 12

How To Manage Your Team During The Coronavirus (COVID-19)

With Business Coach & Founder of Scaling Coach, Bill Gallagher

About the Episode

In this episode, we get into a great conversation about how, in this economic climate, you have to lead through adversity. So we talked about how, as businesses are contracting or scaling down, what principles can you pull out of the book, Scaling Up from Verne Harnish, who you saw last season and put in to work in this type of economic climate. 

Bill is an international business growth coach with over 30 years of entrepreneurial and executive experience. Bill has spent the last 15 years coaching and training others in leadership and performance and previously led 4 companies of his own and been a partner or executive in 2 others. Bill discovered the Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up 20 years ago, and has used them in his own companies. Bill has coached and trained thousands in over 25 cities and 11 countries. He also hosts the renowned Scaling Up podcast.

Bill is the father of two grown kids, a recovering triathlete, sailor, pilot, surfer, skier, diver, and all other things fun and active. He’s a passionate and playful speaker whose clients all share a hunger to grow successfully with an openness to new approaches and thinking.

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Full Transcript


Crisis is an interesting word. So our common use of the word has a very, very negative connotation.
Something’s broken. Um, right. There’s a, there’s an urgent negative situation, but in reality, uh, if you
look at the root of the word crisis also refers to a decision and a turning point. So there are decisions
that you will make now that will create a turning point in even in a significant downturn like this. Um,
uh, I’m getting alerts today. The stock market continues down, it’s the worst week. We’ve gone up all the
gains for the last few years. You know, it’s substantially down. But if you take a global, a global, it’s easy
for me to say, right? A global economic recession, even a depression. And you look at the total
shrinkage, um, globally, the contraction, it’s pretty small.

What’s up, everyone? I’m Chris, Ronzio, founder and CEO of Trainual. And this is Process Makes Perfect
as always, we’re talking with experts in process creation, automation, and delegation. Basically, the
people that know how to make business easier. You just heard Bill Gallagher and this episode is all about
the process of scaling up, which we modified to talk more about scaling down. Bill’s an international
business growth coach and has over 30 years of entrepreneurial and executive experience. He spent the
last 15 years coaching and training others in leadership and performance and previously led four
companies of his own and has been a partner or executive in two others. He’s coached and trained
thousands and over 25 cities in 11 countries and he now hosts the renowned scaling up podcast. He’s a
recovering triathlete, sailor, pilot, surfer, skier, diver, and all other things, fun and active. I’ve known Bill
for a while now, been on his podcast a couple of times and we actually got into a great conversation
about how in this economic climate you have to lead through the adversity. So we talked about as
businesses are contracting or scaling down, what principles can you pull out of the book, Scaling Up
from Verne Harnish, who you saw last season and put in to work in this type of economic climate. So
really interesting stuff, very process-driven. I think you’re going to love it. So take a listen to me and Bill

Welcome everyone to Process Makes perfect. I’m your host Chris Ronzio, and as you heard in the intro
today we’re talking to Bill Gallagher. Bill, thanks for coming on.

Oh, it’s a pleasure. Thanks for having me on

Bill. Every time I open Instagram, you’re in a different country or you’re surfing in Hawaii or you’re doing
something crazy. So where, where are you right now?

I am for two weeks. I am home in my house in my neighborhood going nowhere. Fast quarantine right.
[inaudible] and I was traveling even as this whole thing developed and I could feel and tell that we might
be in a lockdown situation. And it was really worried, I want across seven countries and all kinds of
meetings and stuff just before it got real serious. And I was nervous the whole time, like, Oh shit, not
just am I going to get locked down but what’s going to happen? And like that.


Chris: Yeah, this is no joke. So I know business leaders everywhere are sorting out how to operate during this
time, how to communicate during this time. So it’s very timely that you are on here as such a prolific
coach and facilitator of these kinds of business strategic problems. So we booked this a long time ago.
The point was to talk about the process of scaling of business. Right. Um, so before we get into the
current climate, why don’t you catch the audience up, on just how you’ve come to be a worldwide coach
and facilitator. Were you always this way or did you, have you had your own entrepreneurial experience
as well? Right. Yeah.

Bill: So I, um, I’ve been in leadership six times with companies before from startup, uh, right into the ground
and, and also through beyond 500 million in revenue. So I’ve worked a big range of stuff across a wide,
uh, a range of industries, and it just kind of became time in my life and my career to do something
different. And I focused on the parts that I love. So I was a CEO and had my own company four times.
And then I was a senior partner in a couple of other enterprises. But I’ve worked in telecom, in radio, in
technology, in hardware, consulting, marketing research, a SaaS company, in a development shop. Um, I
mean oil and jewelry, a jewelry brand, uh, quite a big range of things, um, all over the world. And I, you
know, I, I love, I’m an idea person. I’m passionate about strategy. Uh, I lead kind of on the influence and the strategy side of things. Um, I’m not such a great executor. Um, years ago I learned, the Rockefeller habits that became the scaling up framework from Verne, with my business partner in, in a wife life partner. And, um, and I applied them
imperfectly, um, which actually creates really great lessons today as a coach. Right? There’s some things
that I did that had great pay off, but then there are other things that I screwed up that had multimillion-dollar costs to me. And sharing, I think both of those is really helpful people because we learn as much
from the mistakes is from the successes.

Absolutely. And I think coaching and working with other CEOs is probably one of the few ways you
can really grow exponentially because you’re making so many connections between industries and
company sizes and you’re seeing things being applied in all different ways. So, so it’s amazing that you
can bring all that experience together. And we had Verne on last season on the podcast. And so how,
how do you talk about kind of the relationship with scaling up and the, and the coaching program?

So I’m part of Verne’s clan – team Verne. Uh, I learned from Verne. I’m a scaling up coach. That means
I’m, uh, legally speaking a licensee, a partner. Uh, I also host the Scaling Up Podcast and I’m on Verne’s
advisory board, so I’m officially in that family. I started, uh, this work as a full-time coach when I exited
my last business seven years ago. So I’ve been a full-time coach around the world for seven years. I also
speak at conferences and give workshops and things like that. Yeah. So I’m very, I mean I was just with
Verne in Amsterdam a few weeks ago leading a thing there.

That’s great. And the content you produce is amazing. I’m not saying that because I was on your
podcast, but you have lots of great guests episode. That was it. Just that specifically. Yeah. Yeah. But if
you haven’t heard the scaling up podcast, it’s great content leaders from all over. So check that out. All
right, so we talk about scaling up. That’s what we intended to talk about. But in this climate, a lot of

businesses are scaling down or trying to figure out how to make it through this time when they’re
contracting or they’re having to cut expenses. So I think I want to spend probably most of our time
talking about how you apply the principles, the methodologies of scaling up, of running a sound business
to an economic condition like we’re seeing today.

Great. So let’s talk really globally first. We’re in a crisis time, right? Um, and I, uh, I want to talk about
crisis leadership and, and scaling up in a crisis. Um, but it’s, crisis is an interesting word. So our common
use of the word has a very, very negative connotation. Something’s broken. Um, right. There’s a, there’s
an urgent negative situation. But in reality, uh, if you look at the root of the word crisis also refers to a
decision and a turning point. So there are decisions that you will make now that will create a turning
point in, even in a significant downturn like this. Um, uh, I’m getting alerts today. The stock market
continues down. It’s the worst week we’d go in a ball. The gains for the last few years, um, you know,
substantially down. But if you take a global, a global, it’s easy for me to say, right?

A global economic recession, even a depression. And you look at the total shrinkage, um, globally, the
contraction, it’s pretty small. Um, these are like less than double-digit percentage contractions globally,
uh, most of the time. And, and yet the massive dislocations are what we feel and notice. So right now,
I’ve been on the phone last few weeks with people and I’ve been offering free coaching to folks that are
in crisis mode and trying to figure out what to do and how to deal. And there are people whose
businesses overnight had been decimated, right? But at the same time, Amazon’s announced that they
are hiring 100,000 drivers. Um, we’re getting grocery and package delivery nonstop cause we don’t go
anywhere. And, and where I am in California, where all on total house lockdown at this point. So you
walk around the block, you can drive up to the park and walk as long as you stay away from people.

The parks officially closed, but there’s a variety of these kinds of things going on right now. Uh,
sequestering us, but in the middle of all that, there’s great demand for things. Uh, so you know,
restaurants are like, Oh my God, we’re going to be closed. But now already, services like Open Table or
advertising that many restaurants are open for takeout and delivery. And I see the kitchen staff in there
and in some cases, uh, I just heard a, friends, uh, multi restaurant business in, uh, in your city and he’s
turned his own staff into the drivers. So instead of giving the driving delivery to another business, he’s
let his front of house, his wait staff, do the, do the delivery if they want to. Right? So now he’s got the
kitchen doing the back and they’ve just changed it up. And in a controlled environment that can be
pretty safe. Um, maybe not 100%, but relatively safe speaking cause they can handle things in a hygienic
fashion. Package them, deliver them with less contact. Right. I think they’re big movements like that.
And the people that innovate will do really, really well right now.

Yeah, I feel the same way. And it’s obvious that there is opportunity being created, but like you
mentioned, there’s other businesses that are just overnight shutting down. And how do I, I think the
biggest problem or the biggest risk is when you hover in the middle too long where here you’re either
not capitalizing on opportunities or you’re not making cuts fast enough. So, how do you self identify
with how this is affecting you and be decisive and move quickly.

Bill: So let’s talk about, um, moving through the things. I’ve got five big moves I’ve been talking with people
about in online webinars, talking to different business groups, peer groups, people who have reached
out to me, our own clients. And, and so let me, let me run through some of these. You’re hearing from
other people before, but I think there’s five big things. So the first thing is around self-care. And, um,
you’ll hear people say, put on your own oxygen mask first like that. I spoke with two people at the
beginning of this on our podcast, I spoke with Warren Russ and who’s a leadership expert and all around
an amazing accomplished human being. And then Heidi Hanna, who is an expert in mental and emotional
health and stress. And we talked about taking care of yourself and Warren stress, the kinds of things like
make sure you, uh, increase or add exercise in this timeframe.

You got to sleep right, eat right, that kind of thing. Heidi talked about that. But here’s the thing, I think
most people are missing. Take care of the emotional space and, and, and you see, the thing to
remember about this is you can’t fake it till you make it here. Uh, you can’t put lipstick on a pig, uh, and
you can’t put icing on a mud pie and have it be anything different, right? If you’re feeling crappy, then
you have to just name that feeling and uh, and call it out. So I, at various points in today, I was feeling
things like, I was talking to them, a woman earlier at one of my client, uh, executives. And, uh, I could
tell she’s just like right on the edge and I said, stop. You can talk to me. Just be still for a minute. Right?
And then I let her and I just listened to her and I gave her that and she lost it.

Then I was right there with her and, and then, one of my family members just had a moment a few
minutes ago, and I’m like, right now I’m still really feeling the echo of her feelings. Right? You gotta be
willing to just embrace the feeling, notice where it is in the belly, um, how it feels across your back, um,
where you’re right on the edge of losing it, where you’re giddy, where you’re keyed up, where you’re
anxious, where you can’t sleep. Right. I’ve been awake all kinds of times this week at different points
worrying or thinking about things.

Yeah. And I think it’s important to recognize the emotion in our teams and our employees because
people can try to hide that and mask that. And I’ve been reaching out to a lot of team members because
we’ll do a group zoom thing and we’re all on there. But then you connect with someone individually
who’s really struggling, working at home. You know, they don’t, they might not have any family or
friends here and they’re at home with their dog for the last seven days and going crazy. And you know,
you need to, uh, provide a, a way to vent, that kind of emotion.

So here’s the thing is that in all of that, at, um, you can’t be there for your people if you haven’t if you
don’t have any capacity there for yourself. So, we know the phrase put on your own oxygen mask
first, right? Um, and now that we’re not flying, it’s more important than ever. So, um, you’ve gotta, um,
you’ve gotta be able to have some room for your own, uh, emotional range if you’re going to have room
for anyone else’s. If you’re trying to cram down your own feelings, what do you think it’s going to be like
for your people? Right? So the first one in the second thing is the people need you, right? The natural
segue is to actually connect with your people. And it’s not just your staff, your team, it is your vendors,
your community, your customers. Um, all of the different business partners.

Everybody needs to hear from you. So it’s time to lead now. But the problem is I think most of us are
used to leading when we figured things out or having a plan in mind first and in this timeframe, you’ve
got to lead even though you don’t have a plan yet, or the plan is highly, um, uh, elastic and changing all
over the place, highly dynamic. So in reality, a better plan is going to be created by your whole team
together. So you want to bring your leadership, even though you may not have a plan yet. Start being
the leader now communicating, Hey, I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’re in this together. I’m
here for you. That’s servant leadership. People want to be a led in that way, from that place. Right?

Right. And so as you bring your leaders together, do you develop a clear plan? Do you communicate that
plan to everyone else? Or how does it go from the blurriness of strong leadership into a more tactile like
actionable plan?

Well, if you studied planning and plans at all, you have heard some version of that planning is priceless,
but plans themselves are pretty worthless or a fleeting value. So the moment you create a plan, it’s
becoming obsolete with every passing second. Right? Um, and, and or no plan survives contact with the
enemy or everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. Right? It’s one of my favorites. And I
think in many ways we all feel like we’ve been punched in the face. Um, so the truth is you’re going to
be planning and planning and planning on going in and replanning and, and the more people are
involved in the planning of the better. So you really just want to become a planning re-planning kind of
culture always, but especially now.

Okay. All right. So take us through, that was step two.

Yeah. So the next thing is people have been talking about conserving cash and it’s really great if you
thought about this a few months ago or over the last couple of years and you’ve built a fortress balance
sheet as Jack stack would call it, um, and you have just a huge treasure chest and you can go, as
companies fail, you could buy up assets left and right when we go through shifts like that, there’ll be
enormous buying opportunities. It’ll be a lot easier and more reasonable to hire people now. There are
all kinds that you can get better terms and pricing. Um, so there’s all kinds of opportunities that will
happen now if you have the cash, but maybe you don’t have the cash and maybe you’re just thinking
about how to survive because your business was a little too finely run before. So people will suggest all
kinds of things and tricks.

And um, I, I personally don’t like borrowing money, but they’re in a situation, well in many situations.
But in a situation like this, I’m really nervous about piling on a lot of debt that you won’t be able to
service later. So what could we do now? And it’s not just slash all your staff. Um, cause those are the
people that will help you dig your way out of it. Now they may give you concessions or you may need to
do some. But, um, I think the key that people aren’t talking about is a radical requests. And here I’m
talking about going to your landlord and telling ’em I don’t know if I have a business anymore. I need
some massive rent relief. In 2008, I went, uh, actually early 2009, I went to our landlord and said, I don’t
know if I have a business anymore.

I don’t know if I’m going to hang onto my house, but I’m committed to. I think there will be, this is a
really uncertain time. Uh, but the truth is I can’t pay any rent. And um, you could force me out and I
could quit and then there’d be nothing and you’d get nothing. But if you would give me free rent for the
next year, I will produce some kind of amazing breakthrough and I’ll return it in some way. And he
gulped and he said, well, this is a huge, huge ask. And I said, I know, I understand what I’m asking. It’s
not fair. It’s not warranted. It’s not legal. It’s not anything but it’s what I need. Um, and he said, okay, I’m
going to give it to you. Uh, but I want you to review your financials every three months with me to make
sure it’s still warranted and I want you to give me a two-year extension on the lease so that when you do
pull through, I have your loyalty in return.

And, uh, and then he asked for some, uh, like legal protection, in the event things went poorly, was
awesome, right? And I didn’t end up needing a whole year of free rent. I pulled out a lot faster than was
expected of the dive, but overnight I had like no business. So radical requests for the key. In order to
make those, um, you have to, and not just be a shyster, uh, trying to get one over on people is you have
to really be considerate of and think about empathetic to their world. Appreciate what you’re asking
them and then the impact on them and what it might represent to them. But, and if you’ll come from
that place of shared, caring, and perspective, and partnership, you will be stunned at what you get
already this week. I’ve heard of our clients and the people I’ve been talking to getting, uh, one guy got
half off his rent for a whole year. Um, somebody else got massive relief of, of some debt service or, or
post deferral on it. Let me ask you this. So lots of things can come to these radical requests.

So I love the idea of radical requests. And I’ve talked to people about this and I think, you know, now’s
the time you want terms from vendors, you want to be able to pay over over time. But how do you
know when it’s okay to make those requests? Because some people are afraid to make those until
they’re so desperate that they will go out of business and other people are making those requests to
maintain their 10% margin, you know? So, so like when is the right time to try to be smart about those
requests and managing your cash?

Well, if you’re just being pushy and obnoxious, right? There’s a word for that. It’s called chutzpah. Uh, if
you’re trying to get one over on people, nobody needs that. This, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking
about asking for something bold because what you care about, what you’re committed to really matters.
Not because you want to hang onto your Ferrari.

Right? It’s more motivating. It’s more motivating to make a request so you don’t have to lay off your
team or to make your request.

I’m really an, and you don’t, you could ask actually radical requests in other times. So now in a time of
crisis, it’s because you’re committed to preserving something and finding your way through to a brighter
day. In other times you could ask and make a radical request for something, even not in a crisis. Because
what you’re undertaking is so bold and so inspiring but at the launch of a business or other kinds of
times when you’re committed to something new, a radical request can also be powerful in a non-crisis
time as well.

So there’s a bit of a contrast or contradiction between trying to slash expenses and be in this scarcity
mindset versus be in the opportunity seeking abundance mindset. So how does someone kind of pivot
and look for the bright side?

You got yourself together, you got your team aligned, you’re starting to get your cash in order. So you have
got some breathing room cause the radical requests. Now, where’s the breakout come from? We want
to be trend spotters. In the scaling-up worldly, we have this thing we call the SWT tool, the SWT. But the
key is looking at trends broadly in the world. What’s going on? Oh, people aren’t coming to my
restaurant. Okay, good. What are they doing? Well, they’re eating at home. Okay, good. Could you send
them a meal to home? People are working from home. I sell to corporations. Okay. Maybe the
corporation would like to send their employees a meal and you could deliver it for them to take care of
people. Oh, interesting. All right. Uh, maybe you’ve got a, uh, a vehicle-based business that’s tied to
tourism and nobody’s traveling.

Well, could you put people in that, uh, Amazon’s looking for 100,000 drivers, right? I bet other people
need drivers too. Um, so where is the puck going? Gretzky said, right. “Skate to where it’s going, not
where it is.” And that’s the key is we want to look at what the trends are and then try to go there no
matter what happens now or how long this thing is or how deep it’s, uh, the, the ripple effects on the
economy are, there will be sustained changes. Things changed after 2001 things changed after 2008 in
those changes. If you anticipate that a ton of businesses will be born right now. Um, so I probably need
to do some startup coaching cause all my work’s been on the Scale-Up Side and, and people will reinvent
their businesses. Right now. And those people that pivot quickly, um, will really win big because they’re
addressing what people need. So you just want to ask yourself, what’s happening in the world? What do
people need? What could I do besides what I was doing? If what you were doing isn’t working right?

Yeah. At the end of last year and kind of every year, we do our strategic planning and plan for the year
ahead and we do some version of, uh, you know, dangers and opportunities and strengths and it’s, and
SWAT and, and one of the things we did was all the trends and sitting at the end of 2019, the trends
were a little harder to spot than they might be today. You know, today the trends are so dramatic that
you can just scroll through headlines and they’re very clear that I think businesses should sit down with
their leadership teams and just do a trends brainstorm like you’re recommending because the
innovation that could come out of this is huge.

But look at all the little cues, right? Normally when we look at trends, we look at our own industry and
we look at our competitors in this time. It’s useful to look, really broadly, people are walking around my
neighborhood and they’re using more of the street because there’s hardly any cars going by and they’re
out with their dogs and their immediate family and everybody’s keeping wide distance, but they’re
saying hi to each other. Uh, right. Um, so there’ll be little clues like that. What could you do with that?
What do people need? My wife says, why did you sell your electric skateboard? I’m like, well, we live in a
busy street. I wasn’t using it that much. He’s like, don’t you wish you had it now? Yeah. That’s funny. I
had this awesome little electric skateboard. I wish I hadn’t sold it. Right.

It’d be interesting to see what products really take off other than toilet paper right now,

but at this time I could get out, ride my skateboard down in the middle of the street.

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So, so let’s round it out the fifth piece here.

So the last thing is you got to do all the basics, right? You’ve got to do your daily huddles and your
weekly meetings in your quarterly planning and all that kind of stuff. And you’ve got to keep your
culture alive with all of your practices that keep the purpose and the values alive in all the ways that
you’ve done it in your business or, or should be doing right. But now you’ve gotta be flexible and
creative in that approach. So if you did a daily huddle around something, you know, a part of your office
before with each team, um, or around a whiteboard, well now you want to do it online and have people
come on via zoom or via phone caller. So you’ve got to still do some of the basics, but you want to do it
more flexibly.

I love that. So I mean, this five-step process, I know we just kind of improvised here at the beginning of
the presentation and switched to this scaling down, right? But, but this really is the process of dealing
with uncertain times. Yeah. And the folks that embrace these kinds of moves time and again, I mean
they worked for me in the last four recession downturns and countless other people. These are the kind
of core things to do. Well, I appreciate you sharing the content. So as we round this out, we always do
this thing that the double-tap with a couple of rapid-fire questions. So you know, I do,

I was thinking about the content. I actually didn’t prepare well so this is going to be very off the cuff.

What’s a brand that you think has perfected its process that you admire?


Who is someone who’s coached or mentored you?

Mmm uh, Dean Jones at the Gallup organization.

Nice. Your favorite book or podcast other than yours in mind?

Uh Oh that’s a good question. I science Friday. Okay.

Most entertaining person you follow online?

Uh, well that’s kind of a toss-up. There are some very funny people out there. Um, I’ve been enjoying
watching Marie Forleo, another coach right now. Cause I like incorporating things like silly, playful dance
with your vibe. Right?

Yeah, she’s great. All right. And one app you can’t live without.

Oh, an app. I can’t live without, Zoom

Especially right now. Right. Good one. Okay. So as we wrap this up, to summarize, I think, you know, we
already said this is the process of dealing with tough times, plowing through uncertainty, recognizing
your own emotions, creating a plan when you don’t have a plan. I think these points were super
relevant. Is there anything else that you want to leave people with? Advice, takeaways.

Be in action, right? B, be intervention. Don’t, uh, you know, take a minute to do your meditation or
whatever, but then act, uh, be bold.

Act and be bold. I love it. You all. Thanks again for coming on. We’ll have to have you back to talk about
scaling up when things start moving in the other direction. We’ll come back.

You know, we could talk about that in, in some near time and go through and the transitional time,
right? What do we mean? What, what does it mean to people, and what’s happening in strategy? Those
five things actually kind of relate to that as well. I didn’t point it out, but they’re all there. It’s embedded
in there.

They’re all connected. Well, we’ll save that for another time, but thank you again for tuning in. Thanks
so much.

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