S: Whether you’re an entrepreneur, executive, employee, or stay at home parent, you’re probably suffering from a lack of balance, meaning you don’t have it all dialled in. Your health, your finances, your family life, your relationship with your significant other, your career, business, it’s not necessarily in balance. How do you get that back? You get it back by listening to this episode. It’s number 142, our guest today is Arman Sadeghi. He’s a business coach for successful business owners, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and professionals who want to crush business and retire young. Arman, welcome to the show.
A: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to be on.
S: Let’s talk about how to create the life of your dreams and have balance, but also great success and build an incredible life because you’ve done quite well for yourself and I think you’re pretty well-rounded. What are the secrets?
A: The first thing that it comes down is understanding that success comes from creating balance around different areas of life. I see so many people who focus on just one area of life at a time. They think that, “Hey, right now, I’m just trying to make more money and so I should let all the other things go,” or, “Hey, I’m just trying to get into great shape right now. I’m trying to lose weight and so maybe if I’m not performing as well in my business, or career, or if I’m not taking care of my relationship with my spouse or my kids,” something like that, “Then that’s okay.” Really, I feel that when you’re trying to gain success in any one area of your life, it’s always best to take a balanced approach. I always talk about lazy people talking about balance. Lazy people will say ‘balance’ meaning they want to work less hours, and they want to take it easy, and they don’t want to do the things they have to do. Instead, it’s ‘balance’ meaning powerfully balanced so that you are focused on your business day in and day out and you’re putting into it the time and attention that it deserves and, at the same time, focusing on your body and taking the time to eat healthy and exercise and, at the same time, investing in your relationships–if you are married, then investing in the relationship you have with your spouse, whether it’s your husband or your wife and, if you have kids, investing in that relationship, and then investing in having fun and, really, bringing all those different types of things together along with spirituality or whatever the other sides of your life are that bring you power. It’s all about starting with the idea in mind that true success only comes from creating that balance in all these different areas.
S: That reminds of a Kabbalistic principle I learned from Kabbala class whereas if you were to imagine a prism and there’s some white light going into the prism and then coming out the prism as different colors. Most people will chase after the colors, chase after a relationship, or financial wellbeing, or health, or what have you, and they won’t go after the whole enchilada. They won’t go after the white light, but that’s where the success is. The secret is, is to go after the white light which has everything in it. If you chase after one, or a couple, or you try and chase after a whole bunch of them, it’s like trying to juggle too many balls and you let some stuff slip as you’re trying to focus on one or several things. I thought that was quite an apropos sort of analogy. Any thoughts on that?
A: Absolutely. That’s a great one. It’s interesting. I’ve never heard that one before so I’ll probably be using it going forward. Yes, it’s absolutely right. If you’re focusing on any one color or one area of life or business, I just feel like you miss the big picture and I just don’t think you’re as powerful even in one area. That’s the interesting thing. It’s funny: today just happens to be the first day of a challenge that I’m doing. I’m kind of known for doing this thing where I create these challenges and then I tell friends and family and, of course, the people I do business coaching for. I get them to join on and I’ll create challenges for 7 days, 10 days, 15 days, 21 days, 30 days or whatever. The point of these challenges is we identify multiple things that we’re going to do at the same time over a period of time, and they usually involve some of the things that people struggle with most. A lot of people struggle with getting up early in the morning so, almost always, my challenges have something like that built in. A lot of people struggle with exercising so we build that into it. Business owners especially struggle with taking care of the important things that are not yet urgent. I call it ‘slaying those dragons’. I’ve heard it referred to as eating frogs and a bunch of other ways of talking about it. I call it ‘slaying dragons’, these things that are just sort of like big, overbearing things that there’s no urgency for. Sometimes, it’s a single phone call. Sometimes, it’s making a standard operating procedure for something. Sometimes, it’s getting started on hiring an employee. Some of these things get put off and so there’s that. Then, there’s eating healthy and, for some people, spending time with their spouse, or spending time with their children, or whatever it is. I just started one of these challenges, and it includes all these different areas. The way that we did it is kind of interesting. This time, we said that, every day, you’re required to do a certain number of things and everyone sort of creates their own plan. At the end of the day, if you haven’t done those things, there’s a financial kick in the butt and you’re supposed to Venmo over a certain amount of money to the person you’re sort of partnered with on this challenge. The whole point of it is that you’ve got to get up early in the morning, you’ve got to work out, you’ve got to focus on your business, you’ve got to take care of your relationship, you’ve got to take care of the kids, you’ve got to focus on your spirit, and all these things. You realize that, at the end of the day, “Hey, 24 hours is a long time,” and even if you’re sleeping for six to eight hours at that, that still leaves you with anywhere from 16 to 18 hours where you can make massive progress in your life and in your business. Today’s Day One of the 21-day challenge for me and that’s sort of what we’re doing. It’s interesting that you’re bringing up this topic.
S: How do you incentivize people besides having to pay money if you don’t meet the challenge for that day? Do you have any positive moving-towards kinds of incentives?
A: In this particular case, this is something I’m doing with a group of close friends and some of the people I’ve been coaching a long time. We sort of all have our own personal incentives. Each person has kind of decided to give themselves some sort of a gift. I know one of the folks is planning a vacation if she hits her goal. In my case, I think just the results are enough for me. For me, it’s seeing certain things happen in my business and in my personal life. Each person’s got sort of a different positive thing at the end of it that they get and then, of course, that negative, having to send money over to someone at the end of the day. More importantly than that, it’s just that reminder–knowing that at the end of the day, you’re accountable to someone. This morning when my alarm went off at four o’clock in the morning, I had to think about it and go, “Wow, if I don’t get up in the next 60 seconds, I’m going to have to send over money to someone today!” because that’s the way it works. You either hit all the goals or we call it a ‘day off’. We say, “Okay, well, you woke up 60 seconds late so today’s your day off.” I got out of bed really quick even though I was tired, and it’s kind of a nice thing. Each of us chooses a different positive towards goal.
S: That’s cool. I’ve heard of different kinds of negative incentives like sending money to a non-profit that you don’t like.
A: That’s a good one.
S: If you’re a liberal, then you have to send money to the NRA. That will wake you up really fast if you’re going to be sending money to the NRA if you didn’t hit your goal. I do my own five-day SEO challenge. I’m an SEO expert and have some books on the topic. I get people to go through the daily challenges for five days, and if they post to the Facebook group their evidence of meeting the challenge, then they get a surprise bonus like some free training, or some tool, or something. By the end of the five days, they’ll most likely have missed some things because there are some complicated things they need to do. It’s not super complicated but it’s not trivial. I give them another shot at getting all five days’ worth of bonuses by attending a master class the following week and sticking through all the way to the end. They get two shots, and it’s all about moving towards rather than pain if you don’t need it so there’s another way to do it.
A: That’s great, and I love how you’re incorporating that specifically with this particular business task. That’s a great way of doing it.
S: When we talk about getting balance, I love not only the prism analogy but also the ‘wheel of life’. Tony Robbins teaches it. A number of people teach it where you have, potentially, a really broken-looking wheel where it goes out regularly from the center, like 1 through 10. If you are amazing in that area of life–let’s say, it’s relationship and it’s 10–and that slice of the pie goes all the way out to the periphery. If you only got a one, then it only goes one level out. If that’s a wheel that you would not be able to ride on, then you’re doing it wrong.
A: Absolutely. I do my own version of the wheel of life and I have 10 different areas I put on it. With my business coaching clients, that’s what I spend a lot of time with them, is we create a wheel for their business and then we create a wheel for them as a person which, of course, includes a piece of the pie for the business. It’s just as you said: If it doesn’t create a nice, well-rounded wheel, unfortunately, that’s not something you can drive around in. You mentioned Tony Robbins. He always talks about it as, “The faster you go, the worse it gets if you have a well-rounded wheel.” It’s so true. You see these people. I love music and there’s a very, very talented artist who just passed away, Avicii. A lot of the younger folks love him, and he was 27 years old, I believe. I still haven’t gotten the final things on what was the cause of death and things like that, but this young man had everything so early in life: success and getting to do what he loves, performing on the biggest stages in the world, one of the best DJs and performers of his entire generation, and achieving all this stuff by the time he’s 20 years old and just having tremendous success. He’s gone now and, potentially, drugs could be a big part of that and things like that. You look at that and say, “Wow, how does that happen!?” How does someone who accomplishes all of their goals–or many of their goals–so early in life…how do they get so far away from it that their life completely falls apart to the point that, in a lot of cases, people kill themselves or abuse drugs to the point that the drugs kill them? We see this in entertainment all the time because those are the stories that are in the public eye, but it happens with successful business people. It happens with successful people in every walk of life. Sadly, these are people who didn’t manage their wheel. Their success was skyrocketing, other parts of their life was not, and there was so much focus on that success that they thought that they could make up for everything else by investing even more in that area. Let’s say you’re very successful in one area of your life and you keep investing more in that area because that’s where you get sense of importance and that’s where you get your sense of being, and then you continue to decline in the other areas because now you’re focusing on them even less. What you’re doing is you’re making this wheel more and more unbalanced. You see it all the time. It’s interesting because I see it a lot of times with business and body–the Two B’s, I call it. You see people who are very successful in their business but totally unsuccessful in taking care of their body. Then, you see people who are very successful taking care of their bodies and totally unsuccessful at taking care of their business. What happens is the people who are having that success in their business, they just keep going back into the business, and they’re eating unhealthy, and they’re not exercising. They go and get their sense of importance from the business. They make a little bit more money. They take a little bit care of their business, and it makes them feel like they’re succeeding. God forbid, they’re 50 or 60 years old or even younger and now they’re having a heart attack or dealing with diabetes and god knows what else. Then, other folks, you see at the gym. Sometimes, they have these great bodies. They must have the discipline of some of the most successful people in the world. They’re at 5% body fat. They have these incredible bodies, and you think, “Wow, if you took that discipline into the business world, you would crush it. You could have an incredible business.” Some of those people have a very hard time even keeping a job and, in business, a lot of them struggle with taking care of their business. That power comes from being able to do both: Can you have a six-pack and a six-figure income or seven-figure income, whatever number gets you excited, but can you do both of those at the same time and then, of course, add a third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh piece to it and really create that balance? But when one area is succeeding at a high level and the other areas are not, unfortunately, the wheels can completely come off of this vehicle that you’re driving so fast. In the case of a young man like Avicii, we see that happening. It’s sad and unfortunate but we see it happening all the time.
S: You take very good care of your body. You’re quite chiseled, right?
A: I try, yes.
S: What’s the routine or the rituals that you go through that help keep you on task and not burning the candle on both ends, not sacrificing your health by skipping a meal or skipping a workout even though you’ve got a deadline?
A: That’s a great question, and I think this is something I kind of got obsessed with at one point in my life, is, “How do you do it? How can you have it all?” What I realize is, is if you talk to people who are in fitness industry and you ask them, “Hey, show me what workout routine to do,” or you go hire a trainer, they’ll give you this two-hour routine. It starts with stretching, and doing this, and doing a foam-roller, and then going through all these different machines and whatever. It’s a two-hour routine. When I was a teenager, I would be able to go the gym and spend two hours at the gym. Unfortunately, I would do it for about three weeks and then give up on it because even as a teenager, I didn’t have time for that. But certainly as an adult and as a business owner, for me owning seven different companies, certainly, I don’t have time for that these days. What I’ve realized is, if you look at the most successful people, they always have some sort of hack that gets the result that other people get but with a lot less time. I’ve sort of become obsessed with this concept of acquiring all these different hacks. I’ve looked for hacks in business, and in fitness, and in relationships, and in parenting, and in spirituality, and wherever else I can get my hands on these. With fitness specifically, the hack I found is one that I’ve been using for nearly a decade, and it works extremely well. That is that I never work out for more than 25 minutes a day. People hear that and they’re like, “You mean less than 25 minutes a day?” I say, “No, I never work out more for more than 25 minutes a day. However, I never miss a workout.” Now, when I say I never miss a workout, I mean every single day of the year. When I say I never miss a workout, there are times on this workout but I don’t ever plan on skipping a day. People will say, “How many days do you work out?” “Well, seven.” “How many days a month?” “Well, if there’s 31 days in this month, I work out 31 days, 365 days a year,” because there’s no reason for me to take time off of exercising. I’ve got to take care of my body. As someone who studied molecular and cell biology and neuroscience, I understand that our bodies were built to be cavemen. The cavemen didn’t take days off of being a caveman, didn’t sit around in the corner of his cave and do nothing all day. When we do that with our bodies and we work at a computer all day and then we go sit in our car and then we go home and we sit on our couch all night, our bodies don’t know what to do with that. They freak out and all kind of stuff starts happening. One of those first things is depression starts to set it, even if it’s not full-blown depression, just a sense of being down and feeling like you’re not enough and you don’t have enough. For me, I get in the gym and I’m in and out in 25 minutes. In fact, I have this thing that I call 45 minutes car-to-car. I go to the gym and from the moment I park my car, the goal is that I work out early in the morning. The goal is I park the car, I go in the gym, I work out, I come back down to the locker room, I shower, I change, put on my work clothes or whatever clothes I’m going to wear for that day, and I leave and get back in my car. That entire time should take no more than 45 minutes. Now, this morning, it happened to take 46 and a half minutes, and I kind of punished myself. I got out and I put a timer on. I looked there and I was like, “Gosh, I’m a minute and a half over so tomorrow, I’ve got to get more on my game and do it even faster.” If you can do that, now, I could work out every day of the year and I don’t have to skip it. If I’m traveling, I still find a way to work out. If I’m in a hotel, there’s always a gym I can go to in the hotel or I’ll find a local gym.I was in London once to do something and I was going to be there for about two weeks. London hotels don’t have gyms like American hotels do. I found a gym–I think it was called Virgin Active–and I got a membership at Virgin Active and then I canceled it after 30 days. If that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. I don’t skip a workout day.
S: That’s awesome. You’re very committed and we should all be that disciplined. That’s great. You mentioned you have seven companies. That’s a lot of companies. Why seven? Are you acquiring more companies or are you just thinking, “I want to create a separate company or spin it off.” How do you end up with seven?
A: Well, you end up with seven by getting bored with things very easily. The company I’ve had the longest is a recycling business, and I’ve had that company for almost 10 years now. With over 100 employees, it’s a pretty big operation with services nationwide, things like that. I decided to get that business to the point where it can run itself so I’ve automated it and I don’t ever go into the office. In fact, in the last year, I’ve been into the office a total of eight or nine times for a total of maybe three hours each time. I spent 25 hours in that business in the entire year. Now, I have some really great business tools. I was talking about hacks. For fitness, the hack is working out 25 minutes a day. One of my hacks for business is having an amazing KPI dashboard where you get your key performance indicators. For my recycling business, for example, I get my key performance indicators coming to me on my phone on a daily basis. I look at them and if things are where they need to be, I don’t get involved. If things are not where they need to be, I get involved for a short period of time, I do what it takes, and then I get myself back out As a result of being able to automate that business, I’ve then been able to get my hands into other types of business and so I have companies in all different sectors. Part of it is just because I like variety, and I love starting businesses, and I love automating businesses. I have a company that’s a photography and videography video, and sort of an entertainment business. I have another business where we do digital marketing. You mentioned you’re an SEO expert. I have a marketing company. I also have my business coaching which is really my passion. That’s the one company that I spend time in, day in and day out, because I love working with entrepreneurs, I love helping them take their careers to the next level, and I love automating businesses. If it’s not one of my own, I love getting together with business owners who are already successful and they’re already doing well on their business and helping them to automate that business as much as possible and then be able to create that balance and the likes because if you’re working 80 to 100 hours a week–trust me, I’ve been there–it’s hard to create balance no matter how hard you try. Then, I have a background, as I’ve mentioned before, in medicine. I started a business related to PRP, platelet-rich plasma, which is a kind of a new technology that is being used in the US now. It just got FDA approval a couple of years ago and it’s pretty revolutionary stuff. I’ve got my hands in that and it just gives me an opportunity to just sort of jump around. It’s a challenge because I have to make these businesses run with only a couple of hours a week. If I practice what I preach and I create really great KPI dashboards and great standard operating procedures and use the systems that I teach others, I’m able to do it and I really enjoy that. It’s a fun thing to do.
S: There’s a big difference between being a business owner and being a business operator. You’ve opted for being an owner and getting other people to operate the business is for you.
A: Absolutely. Exactly. Other people and systems, systems that can guide those people so that they still get the results that I would get but without my involvement. Yes, it’s so much more fun being a business owner than a business operator unless it’s a business that you’re passionate about and you’re sort of the artist in that business. But even then, it’s nice to be able to take a day off, a week off or a month off. Automating your business and being more of a business owner than an operator gives you that freedom, and it’s such a blessing to have.
S: Now, I’m guessing that you used the word ‘artist’ quite deliberately because this is something I learned from Tony, that there are entrepreneurs or artists and there are leaders or managers. If you’re the artist and you’re operating as if you’re the entrepreneur, that’s not quite a fit and you’re going to end up in trouble. If you operate as a manager and you’re actually an artist, it’s also going to end up in a lot of pain for everybody. How do you discover where you are of those three types and how do you then attract the right people to fill the gaps?
A: That’s a great question and it’s one that I talk a lot to, to business owners about because you really do have to identify what are you, naturally. As you mentioned, there are those three different types. I think the words are often misused in our culture. A lot of people call themselves entrepreneurs but they’re really not entrepreneurs. They were just someone who, let’s say, was an amazing chef who then started his or her own restaurant. They call themselves an entrepreneur because they’re very entrepreneurial but they’re not an entrepreneur at the core; they’re an artist, and you can see the artist come out in them the second, let’s say, a patron or customer complains about the food. I love using a restaurant as an example because I’ve owned restaurants in the past but most people have been into a restaurant or I guess everybody’s been into a restaurant. I give the example of an Italian restaurant and I say, “Okay, think of which of these you are in your business.” I say, “Okay, you have an Italian restaurant and a customer’s sitting there, eating the food, and they sort of have a complaint.” They say, “Can you please get the manager over here?” and the manager comes over. The guy says, “You know, I think this lasagna would be so much better if you guys had meatballs and some sausage in it, and it would just make it so much better. You should put more meat in it, and do this, and do that.” Let’s say there’s a person that’s in the table next to them and they say, “Oh my gosh. I’ve been coming to this restaurant for years and you’re absolutely right. I never ordered lasagna because it doesn’t have enough meat. If it had more meat, I would absolutely order it.” At that moment, you, as a business owner, there are sort of three different things that could go through your head. If you’re that artist, the person who’s all about the art of this restaurant, the typical artist in a restaurant would be someone who’s a chef. That lasagna is Grandma’s recipe for lasagna so the artist will say, “Are you kidding me? That wouldn’t be real Italian lasagna from Napoli,” or wherever their background is or wherever they’ve learned. “I would never do that!” You could take a survey and 99% of people could say that the lasagna should have more meat, and the artist will say, “No, it’s all about the art. I’m not going to ruin my food just so people buy more of it or pay more for it.” That’s the artist. On the other hand, you have the entrepreneur, and the entrepreneur in this particular case would be very factual about it, would say, “Wait a minute. So, the two of you think our lasagna would be better with more meat. Would you order it more?” “Yes.” “Would you pay more for it?” “Yes.” Let’s say they could do a survey or some sort of a study and discover that, “Yes, absolutely. If we put more meat in the lasagna, we’d sell more. We’d make more money,” and the entrepreneur is going to say, “Yes, let’s just go for it.” The entrepreneur is going to be the risk-taker who’s going to be willing to take that risk, change the recipe and really isn’t going to be too overly concerned with, “Is this still true to Grandma’s recipe?” because the entrepreneur wants to give the customer what they want so they’ll buy more and they can grow the business. Let’s say after a month of having this new lasagna recipe, the business is on fire and they’re making more money than they’ve ever made and they’re booked two weeks out. The entrepreneur is going to be looking at the space next day because he or she is going to say, “I’m going to expand this business. I’m going to grow it,” and they’re not going to worry about the risk involved and, “I’ve got to borrow money to do it.” They’ll do whatever it takes. As crazy as it may be in some cases, they’ll do whatever it takes to get the business to that next level. Now, let’s assume that this artist, the chef, and this entrepreneur are business partners. Imagine the debate they’d be having. I’d like to talk about it as if the chef is standing there and the entrepreneur’s standing there and they’re having this discussion, and the chef says, “Well, I’m not going to change the recipe,” or, “I don’t want to change the recipe,” and the entrepreneur says, “We’ve got to get the customers what they want because we want to make more money in this and that.” Let’s say they have a third partner, and the third partner is what you call an operator or a manager. This person would be walking by and would say, “Hey, what are you guys arguing about?” and they tell them. The manager would say, “I really don’t care if we put less meat or more meat or what we do. I just want to make sure we have a recipe that ensure that every single lasagna we make is made in exactly the same way.” “I want to make sure we have the systems in place so if someone orders lasagna for lunch, they get the same lasagna as people who get it for dinner. If you order lasagna on Saturdays, it’s the same as the lasagna you get on Tuesday. I want that consistency. I want the systems. I want to know what grade beef are we going to put in it if we’re going to put meat in it. Now, if you’re not going to put meat, fine, don’t put meat, but if you’re going to put it, I want it to be the same way every time.” You have those three personalities. The entrepreneur is that risk-taker. The manager is the one who wants the systems, and wants processes and procedures, wants thing to be done in a repetitive manner. Then, the artist is the one who, at the end of the day, is focused on the art. Interestingly enough, some of the most successful “entrepreneurs” that we talk about in society, in my opinion, are not entrepreneurs at all. Someone like Steve Jobs in my opinion is an artist. You look at the things that he’s done and he did throughout his lifetime, and he was consistently an artist as opposed to an entrepreneur. Now, he may have acted more like an entrepreneur early in his life, but you look at it later in life and, as he developed the iPhone and things like that, I think he was much more of an artist than an entrepreneur. It’s important to identify which of those three things you are and then understand that, if you’re lacking in those other areas, which we all are, you need to find someone to fill in those gaps for you. Typically, most of us are naturally really good at one of those three, and then a second one we’ve sort of learn over the years and we’re sort of able to make it work. Then, there’s a third area that’s just not us, and that’s where you need to hire someone really good or find a business partner who’s really good and naturally good at that area and work with them. For me, personally, I think of myself very much as a risk-taker and an entrepreneur. In some of my businesses like my business coaching, I’m definitely an artist as opposed to an entrepreneur, but the operator is not me. Something I’ve excelled at in business is being able to find those folks who are operators and managers, and partnering with them or bringing them on and taking really good care of them because they’re the ones who, in the long run, are going to make sure that my businesses succeed when I’m not there.
S: Would you say that you need to incentivize these people with equity or is salary enough?
A: I think it really depends on the individual and where they’re at in life. Anytime you incentivize someone with equity, of course, you’re putting them in a place where they have more skin in the game, and that works, but at the same time, I’ve also seen that giving people equity and not giving them in the right way could actually have a negative effect. I remember one of my companies I took about seven years ago and I decided to take 10% of the company and give it to the employees. I did this and, instead of it being a motivating factor, it became a demotivating factor because not only did I have all these managers who owned 1% of the company–which, to me, was a big deal but, to them, they were like, “Gosh, just 1%. That’s’ nothing,” and it almost was a de-motivator. In that way, it was, the way that I rolled it out, but in other cases, I’ve seen and I’ve done it myself where giving equity can be a huge motivating factor for these folks. The key is you have to take care of them regardless of how you do it, whether it’s salary, bonuses, ownership in the business, whatever it may be. I think you need to take care of them and give them what they need. Now, interestingly, if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re trying to bring on a manager, just of personality-wise, most managers are more about structure in their business. Trust me, they’re probably the same way in their personal lives. A manager would probably value a great salary and guaranteed income a lot more than all these sort of at-risk type of things whereas if you’re a manager yourself and you’re trying to bring on an entrepreneur to help you or hire an entrepreneur to help you with the business, then an entrepreneur might be more of a risk-taker and they might see more value in having a lower salary but then having the ability to make a lot more if they hit the ballpark. It all really depends on the individual’s personality and where they’re at in life and also what you’re willing to give up.
S: What are the secrets to finding these missing pieces, these people that are going to fill the empty seats on your bus?
A: I think part of it is you always have to be looking, whether you’re at a dinner party or your kid’s soccer game. Wherever I’m at, I’m constantly looking at people and wondering, “Is there someone here who might be a missing piece for me?” because you find that passive candidates are almost always the best candidates you can hire. If you’re a great employee, chances are, you’re not going to go that long between jobs because before you get tired of your job and leave it, someone else is already trying to recruit you to go work at their company. Some of the best employees are never really going on Craigslist or Monster, or whatever, looking for a job. The way to find them is you have to be passively looking for them. However, there comes a time where you have to make job postings. One of the things I do with job postings is I hate reviewing resumes and doing interviews because I’ve done probably at this point thousands if not tens of thousands of interviews over my years. Having in business so long and hired so many people, I find that resumes and interviews often–people would tell you whatever you want to hear or whatever they want to tell you, and it’s really hard to check those facts. One of the things I teach is when making job postings, if you ever see a job posting I’ve made for any one of my companies–we have live active ones right now online if someone goes–you’ll see every single one of my job postings ends with a series of questions. It’ll be somewhere between, let’s say, five, six or seven questions, and they’ll be very straight, very specific, to-the-point questions and then, at the bottom, it’ll have a little sentence that says, “We do not consider applicants who do not answer these questions.” Depending on the job, there’ll be different questions. Let’s say we’re looking to hire a podcast host. I never hired a podcast host but I might ask some specific questions that relate to podcast. The point is that we’re looking for, specifically, one, that people have read the job posting. Interestingly enough, 50% of people who apply for the job don’t actually respond to the questions so we immediately ignore those people. I call those the people who are just going apply, apply, apply and they’re applying to every job. It’s funny. When you go back, some of those people have really great cover letters and amazing resumes, and we would have been fooled into hiring them but they’re not even interested in reading the job description or the job posting. One, they’re going to waste your time because maybe they’re not even interested in the job, but in most cases, they’re not detail-oriented enough, at least for me. Then, we look at the questions and those questions are there on purpose. Some of the questions are make or break so we have a specific answer that we’re looking to get for a question and if we don’t get that, then we eliminate that candidate–and other questions where most answers are okay but then there’s one answer that we definitely are not willing to expect. In other ones, we’re just trying to see what the person says or what kind of personality they have. What it allows me to do in most cases is eliminate almost instantaneously somewhere between 80% to 90% of candidates. These days, if you put a job posting on Craigslist for a position that is one that a lot of people apply for, you might get 100 resumes. Imagine trying to go through 100 resumes as opposed to, now, with just a few questions and just a little tiny bit of your time or a little bit of technology which is what we use to weed out these people, you get down to only 10, maybe 15, maximum 20 actual resumes. It makes it a lot easier to sift through those and to find the right people. For me, I always prefer passive candidates but when I have to go for job postings and find active candidates, I find that this method works really well.
S: That’s really cool. That’s a very similar process to what I do. I have my head VA do the first interviews. I’ll do the second ones. Before they even get an opportunity to be interviewed, though, they have to solve a riddle as part of the application process. If they don’t solve the riddle or at least they don’t attempt it, they don’t even get an interview; they don’t even get a response back. You have questions, I have a riddle. It’s a pretty slick approach and, boy, the signal-to-noise ratio is amazing since we’ve instituted that. I just won’t put a job advert out there without a riddle now. Very cool.
A: Now, I’m curious to see what this riddle is if I can solve it.
S: Well, it’s something that you could probably Google. It’s not that complicated but, essentially, you have a river. There’s a convict, a child and a policeman, and you’re trying to get all three across in this little boat but the boat only fits two people and you can’t leave the convict alone, you can’t leave the kid alone, et cetera. There’s these different rules and you have to get everybody across the river. That’s essentially it.
A: Very cool. That’s a good one. Doing things like that in the application process really helps to weed out a lot of the people who are not interested or aren’t even going to take the time to Google it or at least try to think about it. In this day and age of technology, I think a lot of business owners forget that it’s so easy to apply for a job. You can go online in a matter of minutes and apply to dozens of jobs so you really want to find people who are truly interested in the position that you have. Sometimes, it may mean that you have to go through a thousand potential candidates and really only have five or six really good ones. That’s okay because those are all the people you would have potentially hired and then they would have quit on you, you would have to fire them or they would have ended up taking space and being the wrong fit. It’s really important to bring on those right people.
S: One thing that I learned from Doctor John Demartini was if you can associate their highest values to the roles and responsibilities of the job, then they’re going to be highly motivated to do the job and to do it well.
A: Absolutely. That’s a very good approach.
S: Let’s jump back to a topic that you covered briefly which was the KPI dashboard. I would love to know what you did to create that KPI dashboard. Is it the same for every business or does it vary depending on the type of business? How did you come up with those KPIs?
A: That’s a great question and, yes, it’s definitely different for every business and it’s different for every businesses at different stages in the growth of the business. It really depends on what the priorities are in the business at that moment. A lot of times, I’ll talk to people who are–most of the people I coach have already established businesses and, like I said, they’re already successful. In some cases, I have had people come to me who are just starting a business. Let’s say a very successful doctor who’s just launching a new medical practice or a successful lawyer who’s launching their own legal practice–in those cases, I have some of those folks who come to me for help. Sometimes, the KPIs are really basic things that make a big difference in the end. In fact, I remember probably the most interesting KPI is the one where we launched the photography business. I launched it with a friend and he’s the operator. He’s the one in there running it day in and day out, and I’m not even involved in it day-to-day. One of the KPIs we set forth at Day One is number of human beings who walk into the studio. It was interesting because after a couple of days, he called me once and he was like, “Okay, today I had to have an electrician come out because we had this problem. Does he count?” I was like, “Absolutely, he counts. Yes.” He said, “Wouldn’t it just be for leads and people who are potentially interested?” I said, “No.” One of the things we want to do–we have this new photography studio, and I want as many warm bodies to enter this building as possible. “On a daily basis, I want us to track and I want you to report to me,” and the way he would report it to me is via text message. In almost all of my businesses by the way, text-messaging is a big part of the way KPIs are done, and I train people to do this. He would send me a series of five or six KPIs, and one of them was how many people walked in the building. It’s amazing that some days, he would find that the number was really big but he didn’t make that much money. I’d say, “It’s okay.” Why? Because it’s a brand new photography studio in an area where people don’t know we’re at. At that time, we said if we could get a thousand people a month to physically walk into the space, then, of course, we need to figure out what things can we show them and all that. Eventually, it would get our business to be known, and it worked extremely well. Now, the business has been around for seven years so that KPI would be a useless KPI. Right now, our focus is not on how many warm bodies can we get into the place; now, it’s more focused on things that have to do with revenue and bigger-picture things. It really depends on the specific business in different stages of the business. However, there are some basic things that have to deal with financials, and those are KPIs that every good business owner absolutely must review on a monthly basis. I can tell you from experience and all the people I’ve worked with, all the people I’ve coached, the number one area as a business owner where people fail is that they do not check their financials on a monthly basis. That means checking your PNL, your balance sheet, your cash flow. If you are not checking that information on a monthly basis–and when I say on a monthly basis, I mean, ideally, by the 10th of the following month or, at the latest, by the 15th. If someone is listening to this episode right now and it’s the sixth or seventh of the month, you’ve got to call your bookkeeper, your accountant, whoever it is who does your books or maybe you do it yourself. By the 10th of the month, you need to have finalized financials for the previous month. If you don’t, the latest would be the 15th but you have to understand where your business is. Some of those basic numbers like total revenue and bottom line net profit and, if you have employees, your total payroll dollars and total number of overtime hours. These are some of those KPIs that exist in a lot of businesses, and they’re very, very important things to track. Then, for some businesses, you get into some kind of interesting things. For example, you could have a KPI that’s revenue-to-payroll dollar, meaning for every dollar of payroll that you spend, how much revenue do you make? If you have a company that makes $100,000 a month in gross revenue or gross sales and then let’s say their payroll is $20,000, well, that means for every $5 of revenue, they have one dollar of payroll expense. That’s an interesting number to track and it’s really good when I’m working with entrepreneurs or operators because a lot of them want to keep hiring people, bringing them on, especially entrepreneurs because they want to grow the business. What I’ll do is I’ll challenge them to keep that 5:1 ratio. It means that if your payroll dollars are $20,000 a month and you have $100,000 in revenue and let’s say that $20,000 a month for the sake of what we’re doing here is divided between five employees, making $4,000 a month each, now you want to go hire a fifth employee and you want to pay them $4,000. That means that when that person comes in, they have to somehow add $20,000 in revenue to the business. The question is, “Can they do that?” and, in most cases, the answer is, “Gosh, no. That’s really hard to do,” or if it’s someone who’s coming in for operations, then you could look at a different number. You can look at the net profit-to-payroll dollar. Now, can they increase your bottom line or your net profit?” That would be by decreasing the expenses, of course, and increasing sales. In every stage of a business, there are these different KPIs, but it’s absolutely critical for every business owner to have somewhere between 5 and 10 KPIs that they see on a day-to-day basis. Ideally, I prefer 5 on a daily basis, probably 10 on a weekly basis, and then a certain number on a monthly basis that you’re looking at, and not all of them have to always be in your face but they always have to be there for you to see. In some cases, it’s the KPI that I compare to the temperature gauge on your car. When you get in a car, by the way, if any of you don’t have a KPI dashboard now in your business, the next time you get in your car, take a look at one of the greatest creations of KPI dashboards we’ve ever seen, is your car. When you go in your car and you get in, if your seatbelt is on, it doesn’t say anything. It doesn’t go, “Congratulations, you have turned on your seatbelt one time.” Instead, it says nothing, but if you don’t put on your seatbelt, it starts beeping at you. Let’s say you look at down at your dashboard, if your car is on, you have an RPM gauge for most cars and then you have a speedometer. Now, your speedometer is probably the one thing you consistently look at as you’re driving because you’re trying to gauge how fast you’re going. Most people don’t look at their gas cage every single minute of every single day but you do look at your gas cage every once in awhile just to see where it is and, more important, someone who designed your KPI dashboard in your car was really smart. They put an orange light in most cases that turns on when your gas gets to a certain point. Imagine if you had that same thing for your business. In all of my businesses, especially the ones that are automated, I have all these gauges, orange lights and things like that that light up. I’ll get certain text messages of KPIs and I’m looking for only a couple of little things, and if those things are okay, then I don’t bother looking any further. Then, there are other KPIs that you almost never look at unless there’s a red light on like the temperature in your car, as I was saying. I’m not a car guy so when I get in a car, the last thing I worry about is temperature. However, if that red light goes on, I immediately look at it and it gets my attention–or if my car has been having trouble, I might be careful to look at some of those things. Some of the KPI dashboards, we don’t even think about it as KPIs, something like what radio station you’re listening to. That’s sort of the KPI thing that’s displayed there. Overall, these are the things that help us run our business. For anyone who has an electric car or maybe a hybrid, I drive a Tesla. For anyone who has a hybrid or an electric car, has one of those little things that displays their energy usage in the car. One of the key things that I do–and it’s really interesting–is if I’m driving a long distance and I know that battery usage is going to be an issue for me and I’d have to manager my battery, the first thing I do is I put that little chart up on the screen. All it is, is just a reminder of how much juice I’m using in this little graph. It almost becomes a game. It started being more focused on making sure that I don’t accelerate too fast, and I don’t do the things that I know will eat up my battery. That concept of gamification is huge in business because so many of us, for ourselves and our employees, get caught up, making money and getting through the day. You introduced a little gamification, something as simple as that little graph in your car that shows how much energy you’re using, and it’s incredible what can happen. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of tracking. Simply by tracking, things start going in the right direction.
S: I love that. What would you say operating cash would be? Is it the kind of that only goes on when you’re getting in trouble or is it something you always want to read out on?
A: I love that. That’s such a great question and it shows, obviously, that you’re a very smart businessman to ask that question. That’s a great example because it really just depends. I do a lot of business turnarounds. That’s one of my favorite things, is people taking me into a failing company and that’s on the verge of bankruptcy and saying, “Hey, look. We literally have 30 days or 60 days before we’re done.” My goal is to go in there and turn these businesses around. It’s my favorite thing to do. In fact, if anyone’s listening who has a business in that situation or knows of one, I love being thrown into those situations. With those businesses, it becomes sometimes a daily thing or even almost tracking it three times a day. If you’re a business that’s in trouble and you can’t manage your bills, now, that operating cash and certain things that have to do with how much physical cash you have available becomes an almost hour-by-hour thing that you need to measures whereas in a well-established business that is chugging along and showing good profits, the numbers are okay and there’s enough of a cushion, now that becomes something that you don’t need to track more than once a month. At the end of the month, you look at it and there’s a gauge. There’s kind of a minimum, there’s an ideal, and there’s a max because maybe too much cash is not necessarily a good thing either. You create this area that you want to be within, and that can change from month to month or year to year, but you create that and, now, if it’s lower than that amount, you’d definitely want to make sure that some red flags go off. If it’s higher than that amount, you want some flags to be going off and you manage it that way. It really just depends on where the business is at and I’d say for most businesses, it’s probably weekly or monthly. In new businesses, it’s much more often and in struggling businesses, it’s much, much, much more often. Like almost all KPIs, it just depends on what you need at that moment and you can change it. There’s no reason to think that just because you’re tracking something daily today, you’re going to track it daily forever.
S: One last question. I know you shared already a fitness hack. You shared a business hack. Maybe now a productivity hack or a parenting hack or some other type of hack that has been profoundly beneficial to you and your life that you want our listeners to hear?
A: You’re going to make choose one of my babies here, one my hacks. I’ll tell you the thing that’s on my mind right now just because I started this challenge. I’d say the hack in this case would be something that I think is the key to the way I live my life, is doing important things as opposed to the urgent things. It’s a concept that has been taught for many, many years by many different people, but it’s the number one thing that I believe drives me in my personal life and in my business life. It’s looking at all the things that I have to do and determining which of these am I doing just because they have to get done today and which of these am I doing because they don’t actually have to be done today at all but because they’re going to have some big-picture effect on my life or on my business in the long term–long term maybe as a week, as a month, as a year, things like that. An easy one is going to the gym. Going to the gym for your health is important but it’s almost never urgent. Now, you can make it urgent by getting yourself a trainer or meeting up with a buddy, but it almost never is urgent and that’s why, god forbid, many people don’t go to the gym and don’t eat healthy and then, one day, god forbid, they have a heart attack. Now, going to the hospital becomes urgent and they have no choice but to go. It’s the same in a lot of areas of your business. For me, a lot of these challenges are built around taking things that are important in my life but not necessarily urgent and making them feel like they’re urgent. One of the things in my challenge that I’m doing now is spending an hour a day with my kids, and I call it on-the-ground level with them. My daughters are five and seven years old. Literally for me to engage with them, I have to be down on my knees. Part of my challenges is I’ve got 21 days and, on these 21 days, I’m going to spend a minimum of one hour each day where I am with them on my knees. There’s no cellphone. There’s no television on. There’s nothing else. For people who don’t have kids, in some cases, they’re going to say, “Gosh, only an hour of time with your kids?” Well, for people who have kids and who think this through, it’s not easy to spend an hour being fully engaged with your kids on their ground and doing it for 21 straight days. For me, that’s going to be an important thing with the kids. I do things like that for every area of my life but the overall big hack is every day, or every week, or month, or as you’re planning your life, identify the things that you don’t have to do, that if you didn’t do, nothing would happen. Today, if I don’t spend an hour with my kids, nothing will happen at the end of the day. There’s no red flags that go off. My kids aren’t suddenly going to get into drugs or alcohol. Nothing’s going to happen. I guarantee you: If I don’t spend that time with them today, when they’re 15, or they’re 20, or they’re 25, a lot could go wrong whereas if I spend that time with them today, I don’t necessarily get this big huge reward at the end of the day. It’s important because I feel like in our society, we love superheroes. You watch Superman or Batman, and I love to poke fun at these guys and say, “What the heck is Superman doing?” This guy always happens to show up at the last minute and save the child from a burning building, and I say, “Where were you yesterday when the arson was thinking about setting fire to that building? Why didn’t you do something about it then?” Back then, it was important and it wasn’t urgent yet. Superman, and Batman, and all of these superheroes show up at the last second and they save the day. In our society, we really value that. As individuals, I feel like we live like superheroes a lot of times. I’m not a big fan of superheroes. I think the superheroes are the ones who put out the fire long before it ever starts and I think in our lives, if we can do that, if we can focus on the important areas long before they become urgent, we could have much more balance and create better success.
S: I think too many of us have urgency addiction where we just get on this adrenaline rush of solving the urgent and then we lose track of what’s really important.
A: No question. Absolutely.
S: Arman, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, your experience and all these great discoveries that you’ve made with your businesses, and your family, and your health. Thanks for being real with us. If somebody wanted to work with you directly, get some coaching, how would they take the next step with you?
A: The best way is to just go to www.titaniumsuccess.com and call our office or fill out our online form, and we’ll follow up and see if you’re a good fit. We love helping people so if it’s just a question that you have about your specific business, you could just submit it to us and we’ll gladly assist you. Sometimes, it’ll be someone from my staff and, often, it’s me. Personally, I’ll get in touch with you, and I love giving people free advice and free help any way I can. If it’s a fit and we can build a long-term relationship, then that’s always great as well. The other thing is I’ve got a book called the Business Bible that’s out there if anyone wants to pick up a copy. Also, I have a podcast called the Titanium Life, and that’s also a great way to see what sort of things I have out there and go from there.
S: Awesome. We’ll include links in the show notes for this episode so that’ll all be at www.optimizedgeek.com also with the transcript and checklist of actions to take from this episode. Thank you again, Arman and thank you, listeners. This is your host, Stephan Spencer of the Optimized Geek. We’ll catch you on the next episode. In the meantime, have an awesome week.