In these two episodes of The Massimo Show, I talk with David Long, Founder/CEO/Visionary of MyEmployees, a 30-year-old firm in the Top 1% Worldwide in the Employee Engagement and Recognition industry. David’s book Built to Lead, 7 Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager is a Wall Street Journal best-seller and earned Amazon’s Best Business and Leadership Books of 2018 Award.

In Part I, we dive into David’s background and the amazing story of the genesis of his company. We also discuss having family working in your business, how recruit talent and why he added engagement coaches to his staff. In Part II, David talks about his book Built to Lead: Seven Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S. Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager and walks us through each of these seven principles. Along the way, we discuss the Book Club that he has instituted at his company, when he fires talent and how he is able to take 24 weeks of vacation every year. Let’s get started with David Long.

 

 

Full Transcript – Part 1

David Long:   I’m not interested in having employees who say, I’m good enough. No, you’re not. Because people who feel like they’re good enough are roadkill in the way of those who are constantly wanting to improve. They will leave them in the dust and I want no employees on our team not being aggressive in learning and improving their lives.

Rod:     Hi, this is Rod Santomassimo. On this episode of The Massimo Show, we hear part one of my conversation with Wall Street Journal bestselling author, David Long. In part one, we dive into David’s background and the amazing story of the genesis of his company. We also discuss having family working in your business, how to go about recruiting talent and why he added engagement coaches to his staff. So here’s part one of my conversation with David Long.

Intro:  Hi, this is Rod Santomassimo and welcome to The Massimo Show. The objective of the Massimo Show is to share how you can maximize your personal professional margin. That’s right – let’s make more money in less time. Let’s turn chaos into clarity, confusion into confidence and income into real wealth. Along with sharing my insight and how I grew a multimillion dollar professional business, we’re going to bring you expert advice from a variety of authors, consultants, and thought leaders who provide the tools you need to maximize your own personal and professional margin. Welcome to The Massimo Show!

Rod:      Today we have a very special guest – Wall Street Journal best selling author Mr. David Long, who authored the book, Built to Lead – Seven Management Rewards Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager. Not only is David a phenomenal writer, a phenomenal leader, but he’s also a phenomenal friend. I’ve known David now for several years, meeting him at a mutual coaching opportunity and with my special guest today, Mr. David Long. David, welcome to The Massimo Show.

David Long:  Thank you, Rod. I’m happy to be here with you, buddy.

Rod:   Oh, I gotta tell you, it’s always a thrill. I know last time we spoke I was down visiting my daughter down in Wilmington where you live. We had chance to get some breakfast and as always you shared some fantastic stories with me.

David Long:   Likewise, they were fun. We had a good time.

Rod:   Well, speaking of fantastic stories, I want you to share yours, cause I knew it before – I thought before I read the book for the second time – but wow, what a story you have! So you know you’re a person, if I think about it, in that Michael Gerber E-myth kind of concept – there’s a lot of folks that are really good at one thing and say, “I can create a business.” But the problem is, you know, we have that technician, we have that manager, we have that strategists, and it’s hard to do that. You have turned this idea of being a technician – you were a great salesperson, you are a great salesperson – and then from that you built a phenomenal company. So take us back to when you just got started, before you built your business, just got started and yeah, let’s start with some of the failures you had and lessons you learned.

David Long:   You got plenty of time? If you’ve got three or four hours, I can tell you a whole lot of failures. That’s not a problem. Well, I like to tell people, I started my company – My Employees, which is the name of the company – out of desperation, not inspiration, which I’m sure a few people can relate to. I lost my job after being with a retail company and I had reached the level of the top seven managers out of 1200 managers on the east coast and I got canned over a dispute over how to do certain things and I didn’t agree with it, so they canned me. At the time, it was devastating. Rod, I went through seven jobs in three and a half years. Man, trying to go for the Guinness World Book of Records was not my idea when I did that, but I hated everything I did and so many people lied to me about what I would be doing and what the job was and it was just, they wanted me to come work there, but they were just totally dishonest in what they told me the job was going to be. But the beautiful thing about it is -and I really, really appreciate this – is that every one of those seven jobs, Rod, I got one little piece of what I needed that I didn’t have, that when I started my own company, it was like I had the complete package. And you know, I look back at it and it was a terrible time. You know, I told my wife at one time, I’m not kidding you, I told her, I said, honey, I said, during this time I wouldn’t have blamed you if you left me. And she said to me, she said, Dave, if I knew you weren’t doing everything you could do, I probably would have. And so, buddy, that’s kind of sobering. But she stuck with me. And now today we’re, gosh, we have phenomenal life. You know, we love our life. We travel, we take off 24 weeks minimum a year of vacation. So then there’s that. Right?

Rod:     Well, let’s get back to, cause you know, you share your desperation in the book. Share with the audience, you know, where are you at the worst of times? Where are you living? How are you living? Tell me about that.

David Long:  Well, ultimately, I had to tuck my tail between my legs in failure and despair, and move back in with my mom and dad, and my wife and three kids in tow into a little over 1,340 square foot house in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. And it was there that I started my business in the garage in a five foot by five foot spot in July in an un-air conditioned garage, I might add, and sweated my buttocks off. And it was, it was brutal, but it wasn’t even a month and a half before I had a little nine by 12 office with AC,I might add. So that was a plus, but I started from there, and I traveled the entire southeast from Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Florida and anything in between. All of those, and I traveled for years and man, it just radically launched the business and my new career.

Rod:  Well, let’s talk about the business. What was the business, what is the business, how did you decide this was going to be your business, that point of desperation to inspiration. Why this business and what’s it all about?

David Long:  So like a two part story, but I’ll give you the condensed version. When I was in high school, I started engraving. I was an artist, I was the Most Outstanding Artist, voted at Hoggard High School here in Wilmington back in ’76. And a couple of years before that I had the opportunity to go work at Kingoff’s Jewelers in Wilmington here and to learn how to engrave. So I knew how to do that. And I got out of it completely, and then I actually was working at one of the seven jobs by the way, at the Circuit City in Charlotte, and I looked up on the wall and I saw they had plaques and they’re about to run out. And I asked Don, who was the operations manager, “What do you pay for these things?” He told me, and I said, “Really? Would you mind if I made a few samples, let you see what I can do?” And he gave me this really sarcastic, “Yeah, I guess, whatever.” So, you know, he was not very excited about it, obviously. But anyway, so I made the samples, I brought them in and he goes, “Wow, these are nice. What are you going to charge me for them?” I said, “Well, I’m going to save you about 30%.” And he goes, “Oh, let’s do it then.” So I signed him up and I immediately went over to South Boulevard and Freedom Drive and signed up the other two Circuit City stores. But that wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding from me, buddy. I mean, I was still going down financially.

Rod: This is so important, David. So you see an award and you’re attracted to it because you had the skill set in high school. The jeweler realized you recognize how those could be made. And so just intuitively you ask their manager, how much do you pay for these? So there was an entrepreneurial, huge entrepreneur opportunity going off in your mind right now. And so what role are you playing right now with Circuit City or, I mean, where are you right now thinking I could do something like that?

David Long:   Well I was just trying to make money any way I could to keep from having to, you know, admit complete failure. And so I was looking for any opportunity that I can to make money. And when I saw that I’m going okay, back to my skillset, I know how to engrave, I’ve got engraving equipment and I did those and then that’s like I said, a sold the other Circuit City stores. But that wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding. And we ultimately had to move home like three months after that. And in the garage, as you know, had my engraving equipment, everything. And I interviewed five separate interviews with a company called Reed’s Jewelers here in Wilmington. They’re based here but they have like a hundred some stores. They’ve become a big huge company. They bought other jewelry companies. So I was interviewing with them, not wanting to go back into retail.

David Long:   Oh dear Lord. Not wanting to go back into retail, but I had to, I was so desperate. I was willing to do that. And I remember, I finally talked to them and they told me they were going to pay me – keep in mind this is 30 years ago – they were going to pay me $24,000 which was less than half of what I was used to making. I could stay in Wilmington at the Independence Mall and then I could go from there, have my own store. Well, over the course of that really five interviews over a little over two months, the final time, the final interview, they told me, “So, well, Dave, we’ve had so many people apply for this job that we decided to start the opening pay at $17,000 and you’ve got to move to Colonial Heights, Virginia or Birmingham, Alabama.” And I said, “No, I’m not doing that. I just moved my family here. I can’t afford to do that. I’m not going anywhere.”

David Long:  So literally I was in Wilmington, which is where I am now, running errands for my dad and I had to stop and put some stuff in the trunk of my Honda Accord and, I’m not kidding, I believe in divine providence and fate, whatever you want to call it, but I’m looking in the trunk as I’m putting something in the back. I forgot what it was and I saw, Rod, those two plaques that I made for Circuit City stores. My samples were in the trunk of my car. I do not remember putting them in there, but I saw them and I’m driving home and I see a real estate office on the side of the road and, you want to call it fate or whatever, but I felt compelled to go into that real estate office. I pulled over, I had boat shoes, shorts, and a polo shirt on. I wasn’t exactly dressed for success. So I walk in, I got the plaques out, and I told Ruby – she was really sweet, I’ll never forget her – I said, “Ruby, who would be in charge of agent recognition in this real estate office?” She said, “That would be Chuck. He’s in a meeting right now. Can you sit down and wait a few minutes?” I said, “Sure.” And I’d realized, holy crap, I don’t know how much I’m going to charge for these plaques. So I said, “Ruby, can I borrow your calculator?” And she goes, sure. Okay. She kind of looked at me weird. So she hands me the calculator and I sit down.

David Long:  I figured, okay, back in the retail days, you know, and uh, I want a good price point so $199.95 and then I divided that by 12 and I said, okay, for $16.65 we’ll recognize one agent a month. So I finally get in to see Chuck and I’m talking to Chuck and I’m explaining to him, and he loves the plaques. He thinks I did great job. And I told him it’d be this much and he says, “Well, Dave, we recognize two agents here.” Well that’s not a problem. He said, “What price would you do for two agents – recognizing two a month?” And I said, “Okay, I’ll do two for $30.” He said, “$25 sounds awfully nice.” I said, “$27.50. Sold!” And he laughed and said, “Okay, we’ll split the difference.” So, we did. And I said, “Chuck, I’m really just starting out in Wilmington here. You can contact these Circuit City stores in Charlotte. and they’ll tell you I’m taking care of them being four hours away, so I’m sure you won’t have a problem with me taking care of you here. So he said,”Well, Dave, you’ve got an honest face. Just tell me how much it is and I’ll write you a check.” So he did. And I walked out of there, Rod, and I opened the trunk of my car. I put those plaques in there and I’ll never forget what crossed my mind. And this is what I said. I said, “Thank you, God, and what a country!”

David Long: So I went home and I’ll never forget it. My mother, my father and my wife were all going, “He gave me the check up front?!” Yeah. So the next day I put on a suit and I went literally two blocks up from the ERA franchise to the Century 21, David Swire. And you met Dave Swire in Toronto?

Rod:    Yes, yes, yes.

David Long:  It was his dad. I walk in and talk to Dave and Polly Swire and I walk out with another check for $346.50. And I again say, “Thank you, God., and what a country,” and I never ever looked back.

Rod:    So you start from the trunk of your car with some materials and some samples you provided earlier. I’m going to star this….you don’t know what it is yet, but you’re going to start that company or this recognition company, this rewards company and it had to become a trunk-of-the-car idea where you’re going around individually. And I know it’s a long time , but when did it go from you being an individual and how long until you started saying, “Oh my goodness, I need to add to my team. I’m getting, I’m getting too busy?”

David Long:  It wasn’t two months. I told my wife who was working a job, I said, “Babe, you’re actually costing us money. If you come in and help me engrave, I can stay on the road a little longer, travel in the southeast, and I could dwarf your income in one day.” So she came to work with me and then we added a part-time college kid, Robbie was his name, and he came in and he took over the engraving and Janet handled the phones and then I went out and sold.

Rod:  Now you say part-time. So I mean a lot of people listening to this are outsourced. They’re independent contractors. So are you using Robbie right now is an independent contractor, part-timer, or employee? How are you building your company?

David Long:  No, I was a sole proprietor and I just wrote him a check out of my company checkbook that we had. So, yeah, that’s it. So I stayed on the road, that kind of thing, and then, I had a challenge about two years in. Another company copied me and that guy’s name was David, too. And he lived up in Greensboro, North Carolina. He copied my product and he got my computer codes – and this was sadly from a relative of mine who apologized later. But I had one of my relatives working with me a little bit and this guy was his friend. Anyway, they talked about it. He told him my contacts from my engraving company and my suppliers and all this kind of stuff. And then boom, this guy starts a company against me. So I was like, what in the world?

David Long:  So I started thinking that there were two of them and one of me and it forced me to innovate which is a good thing, by the way. You know, there’s nothing better than a good competitor to make you get better. So instead of me traveling the southeast, I said, there’s no way I’m going to get there ahead of two people. So I came up with the idea to physically ship a 5×7 walnut plaque to prospects. In the beginning, I was selling one out of four or five, but as I got better and I brought on other people and trained them on how to do it too, my best people have actually got it down to one out of one point something. I mean, we’re good today. Our product and our program is the key. It’s not just the award, it’s the coaching program and everything that goes with it that makes people successful. So we have extremely good success. I mean, Walmart for example, we have over a thousand Walmart stores. We have all the Capital Grills, we have all the Cheesecake Factories, we have Target stores and Home Depot and Lowe’s and Cracker Barrel and a bunch of major companies. FedEx Brown for example.

Rod:  Okay, hold on, David, because I know listeners are shaking their heads saying, well this guy went from the trunk of his car knocking on doors saying, “Hey, interested in our rewards recognition program plaques?” initially to the point where Fortune 500 companies and facilitating fulfilling their rewards programs. Amazing feat. But also something you just mentioned – I think a lot of listeners are in this boat too – I had the opportunity and myself and my company that my wife works with me and actually my brother works with me as well. But family and relative working relationships can be awfully tricky. You got earned obviously, to say the least, on one of them. So with all the companies you’re working with, with yourself, what lesson could you share on the best way to work with someone in the family? Because right now, we set a rule, no more family, no more friends. We’ve gotten beyond that, and we have to just get the best people for the opportunity. So where are you on that? How do you feel about family coworkers?

David Long:   Actually, quite frankly, I have three family members working with us right now and I have had probably six or seven down through the years. But what I do is I tell them before they come to work with us, you are family. I expect more, not less out of you. Like my sister ,Paula, for example, she is one of our engagement coaches – we have 10 of those that work with our clients on kind of a monthly basis – and Paula is, if not the top then she’s in the top two, that’s who she is. I mean, she knows that I expect more out of my family than I do others because I’ve been abused by some family members in the past. And other employees, when they see your family members getting by with things, they want to test it, too. So I nail my family in a hurry. If I see them doing something they shouldn’t be doing, I will shin kick them faster than they can say their name.

Rod:  Okay, so help me understand. Go beyond family – recruiting talent. What are your parameters, qualifications, filters? How you recruit talent?

David Long:  By having an amazing company culture. And by that I mean if you come to my company, Rod, and I hope you’ll come to our book club, which is every Wednesday morning at 9:30 for an hour where we have all 60 some of our employees come into our training room. I, buy books, pass them out. They read a chapter, we come in and we discuss it for an hour and everybody reads the same chapter. And I’ve had people tell me, “Well, Dave, you’re going to be having the exact same comments.” No, you got your Uncle Bill, you think of, and I got my Aunt Betty. I’ve got a child of mine that has this problem that they’ve encountered and that they faced and everybody has a different story. So we spend that time and we reinforce the company culture. So if you will come, Rod, you will see, my friend, firsthand, if you come into that meeting room I will say, “Rod, ask how many of the employees here today are here because other employees told them how much they loved working as my employees.” And you will see, my friend, three out of four hands minimum go up. So the best advertisement for any one in any company is the employees in the company.

Rod:  I agree completely. I’m going to go to the book club. I love it. I mean next time I’m in town, I will make sure that happens when I’m visiting my daughter. And for you, what makes you or your team filter some to say, yeah, they’re the right person for this team. From that perspective -food fit, bad fit – what’s your qualifications there?

David Long:  First of all, they have to have an amazing attitude. I am not going to tolerate anybody griping, complaining. We don’t. Matter of fact, the first thing new employees read is the No Complaining Rule. It’s a book. Anyway. So from that after attitude is in check, then we make sure that they are the type of individual who wants to get better tomorrow than they are today. I’m not interested in having employees who are, “I’m good enough.” No ,you’re not. Because people who feel like they’re good enough are roadkill in the way of those who are constantly wanting to improve. They will leave them in the dust. And I want no employees on our team not being aggressive in learning and improving their lives.

Rod:    Awesome. Absolutely awesome. Hey, listen up. We got a lot more to talk about with David Long. I want to find out the mistakes that great leaders make and then we’ve got to dive into the meat of this and that is this reward system that David has created and just talk about these coaches he has that implement these systems. So when we come back to The Massimo Show, we’ll really get to the meat and potatoes here and talk about how to be a great leader and how to implement the system called Rewards. So stick with us.

Interlude:    Hi, this is Rod Santomassimo, president and founder of the Massimo Group. And did you know that for over the past 11 plus years, we’ve worked with thousands of independent contractors, solopreneurs and small business owners just like you and repositioning their and/or their team’s efforts so they can build the personal professional practice they’ve always dreamed of? We provide coaching programs for all levels of experience, earnings and yes, success. So if you’re finally ready to get off that transaction treadmill and chasing deals that are growing nowhere and start building the personal professional business and life consisting of greater wealth and more time, check us out at massimo.coach.

Rod:   David Long, author of Built to Lead – the Seven Management Rewards Principles of Becoming a Top 10 Manager. So if you’re a Top 10 Manager, that must mean you’re a great team leader. So before we get into what it takes to be a great team leader in this Rewards Principle, let’s talk about what it means to be a bad poor inept team leader. What are the greatest mistakes or elements you find that just shows people having issues with their leadership.

David Long:  Wow. I think the number one thing that will get people in trouble as a leader is keeping the weak people on the team too long. I have never ever had a time that I have looked back on it and said, you know what? I wish I had kept so and so another six months. That’s not the case. If they have proven themselves, Rod, not to be a fit for our company, a culture fit, which is extremely important to me – I’m extremely protective of our culture – as soon as I realize they are not a good fit for our culture, they are gone. We will give them an opportunity to get their act together. And if they don’t, they’re automatically gone. We do not tolerate it. For example, you have a lot of – and you know how sales people are, we’re both salespeople and sometimes they’re primadonnas. So I have some salespeople that can make several hundred thousand a year and working, you know, they work hard, they earn it.

David Long: But the problem is that I’ve had to fire my top salesperson twice in the last decade, a little more than a decade, about 12 years. So what I do today is when we’re hiring new salespeople, the last barrier of entry of them getting into the company is they go to lunch with me and I sit there, Rod, and I look them in the eye. I’m going, let’s just say if I was talking with you, I’d say, “Rod, I tell you what, man, I and my people are excited about you coming on board and everything, but I want you to understand one thing. We hope you come in and just sell $1 million right away and you make a couple hundred thousand dollars and have a phenomenal life. That is our goal and wish for you.But here’s the deal: If you ever start talking down to the other team members who are doing everything to make you look awesome and doing all the fulfillment and everything else, if you ever talk down to them and treat them like they’re your slaves or something, and I find out about it,” and I hold my one finger up, “‘I’m going to give you one warning – one – and I’m telling you this before you’re hired. And if you come in and you get the one warning and you ever have it happen again, and it gets back to me that you’re doing that, you’re gone. I don’t care if you’re making $1 million for the company a year. I don’t care. My culture is more important to me than the piddly amount of money that seems like a lot of money, but it’s really not. Not when you sacrifice the entire company in the process.”

Rod:   Awesome. David, I wanted to visit your business rewards program, and before I do, you talked about, please correct me on the term, I think you said Engagement Coaches, but I could be wrong. Is that correct? What’s the role of an Engagement Coach?

David Long:   That’s an extremely important thing and I figured that out that we needed engagement coaches in the first three months of being in business. My wife was the first engagement coach . What it was basically is that I figured out that people are busy, we’re busy running our companies and we don’t remember to recognize our employees. You remember that those real estate offices I was telling you about? If we didn’t contact them, they would forget to recognize their agents. So I said, you know what? You can’t build a company adding a client, losing a client, adding a client, losing a client. So I need to make sure that they get the value that they need to see on an ongoing monthly and annual basis that they stay on board with us.

David Long:   So we started contacting them and saying, “Hey, Rod, you haven’t turned in your a winners yet for May.” So we follow up on that and we help managers. The engagement coaches’ responsibility is working with the clients and saying, “Rod, what is it you want to improve in your company?” And then we tie the recognition program to the things you want to improve. And the beautiful thing about it is, it’s flexible. One month you can focus on, you know what, we need to add new clients. We don’t have enough clients. So we incentivize that. And then another, maybe a quarter later you can say, well, you know what? I want to incentivize our dollar per ticket. How much they sell each client. We change it to that or we heavily weigh it in that regard. We still give the top salesperson the recognition they need. But what if the top salesperson is selling a thousand itty bitty little widgets and they have a big ticket, but there’s no profit.

David Long:  You know, we want to incentivize the things that make the company money. That’s how you pay the bills and keep the doors open. So that’s what we do is that engagement coaches work with the clients and say, “Rod, what is it you want to improve? All right, what’s the top five things you want to improve? Okay, let’s tie the recognition program to making sure that happens for you.” And that’s what is the difference between our company, my employees, and the average, if you want to call it, trophy shop or awards dealer or recognition company or engagement company. That’s what we do. We are the complete package and we have a phenomenal retention rate just for that reason.

Rod:    Yeah, it goes so far beyond, think about this from your perspective for the listener, let’s face it, what David was generally offering initially was a product. It was a plaque. That was a not the great differentiator amongst your competition.

David Long:   It’s a commodity. You can get them anywhere.

Rod:   So how do you enhance that? You provide programs and, you’re right. Look, I’m busy, you’re busy. Do we take the time? And if we took the time to recognize it, would we know the right way to structure or formulate a program of proper recognition that would drive to the bottom line. And that’s what you do.

David Long:  That’s right. That’s the key.

Rod:    So that was part one of my conversation with Wall Street Journal bestselling author David Long. On our next episode we’ll have part two where David talks about his book Built to Lead – the Seven Management Rewards Principles of Becoming a Top 10 Manager. And he walks us through each of the seven principles along the way. We’ll also talk about the book club he’s instituted at his company and how he’s gotten to the point where he takes 24 weeks of vacation a year. You don’t want to miss part two. Until next time. I’m Rod Santomassimo and this is The Massimo Show.

Conclusion:  Hi, this is Rod Santomassimo. And for those of you out there who are in the commercial real estate space, please be sure to check out our next live event, which is focused on you getting ready for next year and building your own personal playbook, putting you in the best position to make the most in your commissions. That information can be found at www.creready2020.com. See you there.

 

Full Transcript – Part 2

David Long:        Everybody we interview, we explain how important attitude is and we don’t really care how much money you make the company. If other employees come to me or come to the managers and say, “You know what? Rod’s a shmuck. We don’t like working with him.” Rod is gone. That’s how simple it is. Attitude’s huge, buddy. Remember that old song, one bad apple spoils the whole bunch?. Well, that definitely applies to attitudes and we don’t tolerate it.

Rod:      Welcome to this second part of my conversation with Wall Street Journal best-selling author David Long. On this episode, David talks about his book Built to Lead: Seven Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S. Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager and walks us through each of these seven principles. Along the way,he also talks about the book club that he has instituted at his company and how he has gotten to the point where he takes 24 weeks of vacation time. You don’t want to miss this episode, so let’s get started with David Long.

Intro:    Hi, this is Rod Santomassimo and welcome to the Massimo Show. The objective of the Massimo Show is to share how you can maximize your personal professional margin. That’s right. Let’s make more money in less time. Let’s turn chaos into clarity, confusion into confidence and income into real wealth. Along with sharing my insight on how I grew a multimillion dollar professional business, we’re going to bring you the expert advice from a variety of authors, consultants and thought leaders who provide the tools you need to maximize your own personal and professional margin. Welcome to the Massimo Show.

Rod:    So let’s get to this book, Built to Lead: Seven Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S. Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager, which is an acronym. It’s an acronym – R-E-W-A-R-D-S. Let’s not take a half an hour on each one. But let’s start, David, with the R in Rewards – what does it mean and tell us a little bit about that.

David Long:  The first R is reconnaissance or recon as they call it in the military. And you know, you can go back to probably a couple of decades ago that Jim Collins wrote his book Good to Great and he talks about having the right people on your bus, right? So this is that. This is, first of all, there’s steps to do it. First of all, you do an assessment of your leaders that you have in the company. Now, granted, if you’re the only one, that’s an easy assessment. But if you’ve got, let’s say you have four managers, including yourself, and the reason you start with them, it’s like you’re in a car and you have four tires. You’re driving down the road, if one of them goes flat, what do you have to do, Rod? You have to pull over to the side of the road until you get it fixed. Well, that’s the same way. If you have a management team and three of your managers are awesome and one of them is just shmuck and dragging you down, not doing their job the way they should. You have to fix that first. And then once you’ve got that taken care of and you sit down with each of your managers to say, talk to me about Tom, talk to me about Jane. What are they like? Are they growing? Are they learning? Are they improving? Do they have ambition with the company? I want to know about each person. I want that manager to focus specifically on each of their people because they are going to be developing and training them when they use our system.

David Long:  They’re going to help them get better. They’re going to incentivize the things that make them successful, and they honor and they praise and they reward those contributions. That’s what recon is. You start with the managers and then you get down to individual team, so you want to know where you are. You want to know, it’s like this is when a rocket takes off, the launch pad, it exudes and it uses up the vast majority of fuel getting off the platform. And if you don’t have enough fuel to get off the platform, you come back down and start over again. So everything you did before that is a waste. That’s why you start with the managers first and you make sure that you have a solid team in every department put together. Or you change things. That’s recon.

Rod:    That’s the R in R.E.W.A.R.D.s. What’s the E?

David Long:  Education. And there are two categories. First of all, you and I are big fans of being members of masterminds. I am in two masterminds. I am in Titans, which is Brian Kurtz’s mastermind up in Connecticut, and I’m in Todd Brown’s mastermind down in Orlando. And these are $25,000 a year masterminds. So I associate in both places and I met you up in Toronto at a mastermind as well, Strategic Coach. Awesome, awesome, hanging around, you know, birds of a feather, as they say, you know, but we’re hanging around as eagles, not turkeys. So I am a huge proponent of continuous education and I want to be around other winners like you and other successful CEOs and entrepreneurs. So you invest in yourself. That’s your number one investment. And Ben Franklin, I think, said that the number one investment you can make is in yourself.

David Long:   And that’s what I do. I spent at least a $100,000 a year on hanging around with stud entrepreneurs and CEOs. One of the things it says in the Bible is iron sharpens iron and being around winners just makes you that much more of a winner because you have to get out of your element and you have to look back in and have fresh eyes looking back into your company and say, here’s a problem. I need help with this, guys. You all know what I’m going through. Help me figure out this problem. And that’s why you should be a member of masterminds. And if you don’t have one you want to join, start your own with other business leaders.

Rod:    Amen.

David Long:  The second part of education is what we do when we do Book club. Like you mentioned, you know, I bring all my employees in for an hour a week and you’ve got short-sided business people out there that go, “What? You pay them an hour to sit on their butt?!” Yes, I pay them an hour every week to do that. But what happens is that this is such an immense culture builder and we’re all making each other better and it’s the number one thing. If I let somebody go from my company and I see them five years later, they always tell me first and foremost, Dave, I miss the team. I’m miss Book Club. Because we are making each other better. Now think about this. Abraham Lincoln said, and this is a powerful principle, so everybody listening needs to pay attention. Abraham Lincoln said, “If I’ve got six hours to chop down a tree, I’m going to spend the first four sharpening my ax.” Guys, your people are your ax.

David Long:  You know, I don’t work in my company all anymore. I only work ON my people, our products and our processes. They are my ax. My people are on my ax. They’re on the phone, they’re doing all the laser engraving and color printing. They’re doing all the leadership there, the vast majority of it anyway, and they’re doing all the sales and the customer service and the coaching. I’m not doing that, so I have to make sure I have the best possible team, so we educate them. I pay for them to be part of mastermind groups and going to conferences and things like that. I want my people to be the best of the best. So that’s the second aspect of education.

Rod:   I love it David. If you share – this book club, it’s not mandated. It’s voluntary, but …

David Long:  No, no, it’s mandated, buddy. It’s mandated.

Rod:   So are they happy to be part of the book club as an employee of the company?

David Long:   Yes.

Rod:   Okay. Got It.

David Long:   And they know about book club before they’re hired. so if they don’t want to do it, they don’t come.

Rod:   Right. And this goes back to your knowing exactly what you’re getting into when you were first hired.

David Long:    Right.

Rod:  Got It. Love it.

David Long:  Absolutely. Let me, explain that principle to you. And I had another high level mastermind group in. The guy who heard me, I won’t tell you his name because a lot of people know him – he’s pretty famous. But I was in his mastermind group and I remember I explained what I did to them and everybody there loved it – there were 23 other entrepreneurs in the room and this guy was the leader – and I told everybody what I was doing with Book Club and everything. Well, this guy wrote about my Book Club but he wrote about a guy who was using my book club and he was doing it wrong. He made it voluntary. And what happens is when you do some that come and some that don’t, you create two cultures within the company. Do you understand?

David Long:   Well, here’s what happens is if all of us – if you, me and everybody that works at our companies – we go outside and it’s raining, Rod, we’re going to get wet. But if half of them are inside and half of them aren’t, they’re not going to get wet – the ones on the inside. So we want everybody together because if everybody’s hearing the same stories and everybody’s listening to everybody else, it melts the cold hearts away. I’ve had employees get up in front of Book Club and tell us about their stories before they came to work with us. I had two women, one of them who before she came to work with us – and she made $100,000 her first year in sales with us – she got up there with tears in her eyes, and I’ll be honest, most people in the room tear up, she was talking about her and her husband picking up cans on the side of the road to make up the difference when they weren’t making enough money . And she gets up there and says how working at our company – my employees – changed her life. Right? I mean that, that’s powerful. When people hear that it bonds us together as a team. That’s why it’s powerful and that’s why everybody has to be there. It’s not optional.

Rod:   Got it.

Interlude:   Hi, this is Rod Santomassimo, president and founder of the Massimo Group. And did you know that for over the past 11 plus years, we’ve worked with thousands of independent contractors, solopreneurs and small business owners just like you and repositioning their and/or their team’s efforts so they can build the personal professional practice they’ve always dreamed of? We provide coaching programs for all levels of experience, earnings and yes, success. So if you’re finally ready to get off that transaction treadmill and chasing deals that are growing nowhere and start building the personal professional business and life consisting of greater wealth and more time, check us out at massimo.coach.

Rod:   Okay, so now we got to the third of the seven. Take that away –

David Long:   Winners. Winners emerge is what the W is and the winners emerge basically coming out of Book Club. It’s a developmental tool as well, which is a nice stealthy little side benefit because your people step up and they talk and they want to lead Book Club. And I remember – this is a good story, you’ll appreciate this – I was in California on vacation one time and then I had my COO who’s been with me 21 plus years, Adam Tart – my right arm I call him in my book – and I’m talking to Adam, getting an update, what’s going on the company while I’m on vacation. And he goes, guess who volunteered to lead Book Club? And I said, “Who?” He said, “Josh Straw.” Josh Straw! And he said, yeah. I said, oh my goodness, don’t you dare let him do it until I get back.

David Long:  So let me explain why that’s matters. Josh Straw was the most painfully shy person in the entire company. For him to volunteer to get up in front of Book Club and stand in front of 60 people – 60 plus people – was phenomenal. And I remember I came back and I’m sitting on the front row and I’m looking at Josh up there. Rod, he’s holding the book. It was Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. He’s holding the book in his hand and the book is shaking. His hands are shaking. But he did it. And I remember I was so proud of him. I got up when the book club was over and I put my arm around Josh and I said, “Guys, what you see here today is true courage. You all know how shy Josh is. For him to see what we do in Book Club and still get up here and face his fear and conquer it.” And I said, “Don’t you believe he did a phenomenal job today?” Everybody clapped and cheered for Josh and everything. You know, my goodness, you would not believe the change in that individual when that happened. You celebrate, you celebrate and you honor and you put up in front and you let people bloom and blossom into phenomenal leaders. And when I say winners emerge, that’s what I’m talking about from book club.

Rod:  Let’s get to the A –

David Long:  The A is attitude. And I mentioned that earlier, how important that is because it doesn’t matter how awesome you are, if your attitude stinks, eventually you’re going to snap at either a client or employees. Everybody has personal problems sometimes, Rod, you know that. But you have to be able to compartmentalize your life sometimes. And if you bring your personal problems to the company, everybody’s going to know it. So we want to make sure that we hired genuinely happy people with great attitudes. And that’s why everybody we interview, we explain how important attitude is and we don’t really care how much money you make the company. If other employees come to me or come to the managers and say, “You know what, Rod’s a schmuck. We don’t like working with him.” Rod is gone. That’s how simple it is. Attitude is huge, buddy. It’s like, remember that old song, one bad apple spoils the whole bunch? Well that definitely applies to attitudes. So we don’t tolerate that.

Rod:  How do you monitor that? Is it a consistent communication in some way or another amongst your team members? I mean as far as individual reporting? How does that work?

David Long:   Well, basically, when I travel, and I’m on vacation at least 24 weeks a year not including my masterminds or anything to do with the company and going out and speaking and that type of thing. So I get weekly updates from my managers and I’ll say, “All right, tell me what’s going on, any personnel issues?” And they’ll tell me and I’m going, okay, all right, well, okay. So, “We have a little bit of problem with Bill, ” and go, “Well, what’s going on with it? Is it handled?” And then a week later I’ll say, “What’s going on with bill? How’s it going?” “It’s better,” or “No, it’s not good.” And then I get involved and I contact Bill. “Bill, I just want you to know, buddy, tell me what’s going on in your life because all of a sudden we’re hearing things that you’re having. You get a little snippy with people and things like that.” Most of the time that takes care of the problem. But rarely, thankfully, it doesn’t. So, you know, we warn them but we’re not tolerating it because no one, no one, and I mean no one is worth keeping if they’re going to destroy the company culture.

Rod:   Okay, beautiful. Now before we get to the last three, I want to make sure we get back to something you just shared – 24 weeks of vacation a year. We’ll make sure we hit that before we let you go. But let’s get to the next principle and that, of course, is R the second R in the R.E.W.A.R.D.s Process. Tell me about that.

David Long:  Hi, this is Rod Santomassimo and welcome to the Massimo Show. The objective of the Massimo Show is to share how you can maximize your personal professional margin. That’s right. Let’s make more money in less time. Let’s turn chaos into clarity, confusion into confidence and income into real wealth. Along with sharing my insight on how I grew a multimillion dollar professional business, we’re going to bring you the expert advice from a variety of authors, consultants and thought leaders who provide the tools you need to maximize your own personal and professional margin. Welcome to the Massimo Show.That’s the recognition aspect because when you celebrate your winners, that’s recognition. When you acknowledge their contribution to you, that’s recognition. You want to look for ways and reasons to recognize your people. I have, and you read it in my book, I have what I call 5-Superstars-A-Day. I find five superstars a day and I have four dashboards on my computer and I see them every day. I can be in Germany on a Viking River Cruise, as long as I have internet, I’m looking at my dashboards. And then I contact them and here’s what I do. I find five a day and I’ll say, “Rod, talk to me man. What’d you sell today? I see you have you put up $10,000. Talk to me. Who’d you sell?” So I celebrate them. I let them bask in the glory of the acknowledgement and the recognition that I’m giving them.

David Long:  Right before our call today, I just called and let one of my people – he’s our assistant manager, if you will, in our IT tech department, and we hired him several months ago. I told him when we hired him, “Okay, I’m not going to pay you exactly what you asked for. But I will do this – ” – and he’s only been with us three months – I said, “Well, you come in and you amaze us, and I will pay you more than what you asked me for.” And I’m privileged to say I contacted him right before you and I got on the phone today and told him, his name’s Orla and he’s a Jordanian, but he’s, he married an American girl and they were down in Tampa and we brought him up to North Carolina and we hired him and I said, “I will always take care of my people and you prove your worth to me and I will never be indebted to you or any of my people. So I called him up and I told him that I just raised him up significantly and I told him, “I just want you to know I keep my word to my people. I always want you to know that. He says, ‘I’ve heard nothing but good things about you, Dave. This just confirms everything I’ve heard. And I just want you to know that made my day.'” I said, “You made my day because you came in and helped us. We really needed someone else to take some of the weight off of Yuichi,” who is a Japanese employee who’s an American now and he works for us. He’s our IT, head of our IT and Web. And I love that. This is part of recognition. So allow me to say this, I tell my people, “Rod, give me a reason to pay you more money.”

David Long:   So I put it on them. I had one person, pardon me, two – I’ve been in business 30 years and I’ve had two employees make the mistake of telling me, “Dave, I’ve been here a year longer. I need to raise.” Uh, no. That doesn’t fly with me. I nip that in the bud. And I said, “No, no, what can you do this year that you couldn’t do last year? How have you improved? Last year you could do these five things. What can you do now? Can you do 10? Can you do seven? Tell me why I need to pay you more money.” And I let my people know that will always be the case. If you want more money, do more. You don’t go to the fireplace – and you read this in my book – you don’t go to the fireplace and say to the fireplace, give me heat and then I’ll give you wood.

Rod:     I love that.

David Long:    Don’t go to the field and say, give me crops and then I’ll give you seeds. First things first.

Rod:     I love it. Okay, let’s jump into the D. The D in R.E.W.A.R.Ds.

David Long:  Duplication. It’s an incredible concept that winners create winners. So my managers, all five of them, at any given time they have to be able to tell me the answer when I say, “Rod, who are you working? Who are you developing in your department? If, God forbid, something happens to you, who would you say should take your position?” Listen to me, this is very important – everybody listening – is that if you have the type relationship with your managers, they’re not intimidated by that question. So when I say, who should replace you? They know I’m developing leaders that could be for any department in the company. So they have to be able to tell me and they can say, “Well, you know, I’m developing Bill, I’m mentoring Bill.” “Okay, well what do you got bill doing?” “We meet once a week for half hour. We talk about a book that we’re reading together.” “Okay. All right, great. “Do you have them going through any courses, any leadership courses?” “Uh, yes. I have them gone through such and such.” That kind of thing. And by the way, I give my people the opportunity to learn the different things. I pay for them to take courses, etc. But a lot of that, Rod, here’s the key – they have to do it on their own time, not on mine.

Rod:     Got it.

David Long:   Right. So if they truly want to get better, they’ll do it without me cattle prodding them to do so.

Rod:  Which takes us to the S.

David Long:    Success. And you read this in my book too. Years ago in West Virginia, a guy won the largest lottery in the time was 300 and some million dollars. I can’t remember exactly, it was $3.16 million or something. And he won that. This guy was a millionaire, Rod, when he won it. He owned a company with a hundred employees. He won all that money and basically he just fell apart. He stopped working. Basically his granddaughter was the apple of his eye and he basically told her, you need to stop working at Taco Bell or wherever she was working. He started giving her $1,500 a week. He started doing that and he started giving out money to friends and family and that kinda thing. And people were calling him from charities and he was constantly having to, you know, talk to people. So he hired somebody to manage that, you know, all the requests and you know, his daughter stopped paying attention to him and he started going to strip clubs. His marriage was falling apart, you know, just throwing money away and just being ridiculous.

David Long:  And finally his granddaughter, the apple of his eye, she stopped working. So she started hanging around with the wrong crowd. She was bored, started doing drugs. Eventually they found her dead. She had ODed in her car, $100 wadded up in the floor, and she was dead. And he said, and I’m shortening it because of time, but he said – it was on 20/20 his story – “The worst thing that ever happened to me in my life was winning the lottery. And you have so many people, the vast majority of people in our country especially, are always daydreaming and fantasizing how their life would be if they won. Well, when you don’t work for something, you don’t appreciate it. And so success really is being happy in your own skin. You know, I love my life. Anybody that knows me knows I love my life. And you know what? It’s not because I take off 24 weeks a year vacation or more. I’ve taken as many as 30 – that was too many, by the way. Don’t do that. But I’m just saying you really have to focus on helping people get better and mentoring and grooming and challenging and rewarding and celebrating, man, that is where I get my thrills. I really love it. That’s my life.

Rod:    Well that is absolutely awesome and yes, I did read that story. I was reminded of that story. I heard that story that was tragic beyond in so many aspects. Let’s talk about the positive and that is this idea of 24 weeks vacation. You know, my listeners right now are saying, how can someone get to that point? I just want to go hit the lottery. I want 24 weeks vacation because that means that you’re so successful and what you’ve achieved from a professional basis, or personal and professional basis, that you put yourself in position and have the team around you that you trust with everything you’ve got. Know you can travel as much as you do. So was this a goal of yours? This 24, was it a number you created? Tell me about this whole concept of 24 weeks vacation.

David Long:   Well, Rod, like most business owners who are married to the company, so to speak, I did not take a vacation of more than a weekend in the first seven years in business. And I said, this is not the way I want to live my life. So I basically said, all right, let me just study what other successful people are doing. Business owners and CEOs of companies, how are they able to take off so much time? So I realized the number one thing is that you had to empower, challenge, motivate, recognize your people, and challenge them to take on responsibilities that you don’t like doing. And that’s what I did. I’ve found people who were hungry, who wanted to be more tomorrow than they were today. I offloaded things that I didn’t like to do on to all of them until I had nothing left that I had to do other than what I wanted to do.

David Long:   And that was a process over several years, but you have to have competent people that you can trust that have your back and all things for you to be able to take off and not even worry about the company. I can be, like I said, you know, in Europe. My wife and I, we took seven weeks and went to Europe a few years ago. I didn’t miss anything with the company. I did not worry about it one day. It’s not uncommon for me. I don’t like going somewhere for a week and coming back. I hate traveling. I just like going places, how’s that? So that’s what I do. That’s how you’re able to do it is finding competent people, training them, appreciating them, recognizing them, challenging them, motivating them to be better and rewarding them for doing a phenomenal job.

Rod:     But at the same time, as you noted earlier, virtually you have, you’re consistently looking at dashboards and recognizing people via email or is it email, is it slack, is it internal? How are you doing that?

David Long:   Well, we do text, email, calling – it depends on where I am. We don’t use Slack as much as we probably should. We were using it more than we are today. Most of the communication I get from my managers, remember I get the weekly updates from all of my managers about their people, processes, any machinery, like a production, if something went down, that kind of thing. You know, I’m seeing numbers drop off, what happened? Well so and so called in sick or you know, we got two guys on vacation or something like that. Because we have like eight people back there so it’s usually everybody covers for everybody so that’s not a real issue. So I’ll just use that as example. But that’s basically what’s what. I will look at that and I’ll, so you know what, I’ve been looking at Rod on the sales performance chart here, and Rod’s really not doing that much in sales. What’s going on with Rod? He’s struggling right now. I encourage you, you know, if that’s the case. I find out what the problem is, I swoop down. I’m at a 30,000 foot view, right? So I’m looking at everything, all the people, all the processes, all the products within the company, and if I see an issue, I swoop down, I fix it, or I make sure it gets fixed and then I swoop back up. That’s what I do. Everything in the company I’m looking at and the vast majority of everything I need to see are on my four dashboards.

Rod:   Fantastic. Well, absolutely phenomenal. Again, let me repeat this and you’re going to have this in our podcast notes, but Built to Lead: Seven Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S. Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager by David Long, Wall Street Journal bestselling book. I say I read it twice, I read it again. It’s changed a lot of I’d done of how I work with my team. You need to read this book, whether you’re just have a team of 2, a team of 20, a team of 200 this is what you need to do to move your business forward and to be in position to take 24 weeks vacation and be in total control. So Dave, I can’t thank you enough. Any parting words before we go?

David Long: I will say this, I will offer your listeners – if they go and buy my book on Amazon, David Long author and then Built to Lead, like you said, if they buy the hardback version and they send me an email at davidlong@myemployees.com and then let me know their order number, everything, I will send them the workbook that I wrote to accompany the book as well as the Kindle version so they’ll have full coverage just to help them out.

Rod:     Awesome. Okay David, expect my email to you today.

David Long:  Okay.

Rod:     Or everyone else. This is Rod Santomassimo with the Massimo Show. It’s all about you being a personal professional and achieving to life you want to achieve. Until next time, continue to move forward. Take care.

Conclusion:  Hi, this is Rod Santomassimo, and for those of you out there who are in the commercial real estate space, please be sure to check out our next live event which is all focused on you getting ready for next year and building your own personal playbook put you in the best position to make the most in your commissions. That information can be found at www.creready2020.com. Hope to see you there.

TODAY’S GUEST

 

David Long

David is the Founder/CEO/Visionary of MyEmployees, a 30-year-old firm in the Top 1% Worldwide in the Employee Engagement and Recognition industry specializing in helping our client managers build stronger, more engaging relationships with their team members… while linking the rewards and recognition program to the desired goals of the company.

David’s book Built to Lead, 7 Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager is a Wall Street Journal best-seller and earned Amazon’s Best Business and Leadership Books of 2018 Award.

Offer for Massimo Show listeners: Purchase the hardback on Amazon, send David an email at davidlong@myemployees.com with your order number, and David will send you the workbook to accompany the book as well as the Kindle version.

 

YOU’LL LEARN

 

  • How to hire and reward the right people and how family can work in your business
  • How to develop your company culture and encourage personal and professional growth
  • What an Engagement Coach can do and how vacation fits into your life

 

 

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