By Glenn Grant
Introducing... The Thankful Entrepreneur 2021
We have a tradition in my family called The Thankful Pumpkin. Everyday for the month of November - from November 1st till Thanksgiving day, we take a pumpkin, and we write the things that we are thankful for on the pumpkin. And on Thanksgiving Day, we read all the wonderful things we are thankful for.
This year, I decided to double down and also become The Thankful Entrepreneur and share with you all the things that I am thankful for as an entrepreneur, hoping to express gratitude for the people, tools, and concepts I've leaned on the most in my entrepreneurial journey.
So, feel free to dig in and if you have any questions about one of those nuggets, hit me up here or on LinkedIn.
So, here is the list of all the things I'm super grateful for as an entrepreneur:
Day 4: Built To Sell by John Warrillow
Day 6: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
Day 8: Entrepreneurs' Organization
Day 10: Core Values & Company Culture
Day 15: EMP (Entrepreneurial Masters Program)
Day 16: Who by Geoff Smart & Randy Street
Day 19: Customers & NPS (Net Promoter Score)
Day 23: Great Hill Partners & Private Equity
Day 1: EO Accelerator
I’m kicking off this year with the EO Accelerator.
EO Accelerator is a fantastic program for early-stage entrepreneurs with revenues between $250K - $1M.
This was the first peer group of entrepreneurs I ever joined and it changed the course of my life and my business.
Before I joined Accelerator I was just a tradesperson who owned a job. In Accelerator I learned how to grow as an entrepreneur and build a valuable business.
Accelerator was also my first introduction to the Entrepreneurs' Organization, where I have met and learned from thousands of fellow entrepreneurs.
Through my Accelerator experience, I met some amazing entrepreneurs including Craig Rabe, Michael Kaloutas, Michael Fabbiano, Jonathan Crandall,David Hauser, Tom Fernandes, Lilian Radke, Bill Fistori, Greg Conigliaro, Lauren King,Daniel Moshe, Cesar Quintero, Todd Smart, and many more, all of whom I’m extremely thankful for.
Today I’m thankful for Audible. This is how I consume the many great business books that are recommended to me.
I’m a slow reader, and I don’t typically read for pleasure. Also because I’m an entrepreneur, I’m always on the go go go and I feel like I can’t stop and put all those hours into reading a book when I could be doing something else “more productive.”
With Audible I can listen to all the books I want to read while I’m driving, mowing the lawn, working out, or doing anything else with headphones on. It’s like the OG podcast.
Unfortunately, audiobooks can be very expensive, sometimes $30 for the same $10 paperback. But fortunately Audible came out with a subscription model a few years back that gives you a monthly credit good for a book for roughly $15/mo.
These credits roll over, so typically I have a few credits saved up and go on an Audible shopping spree before a road trip. Also since I have the credits saved up and I have to use them (they eventually do expire) it makes me less hesitant about taking a chance on a book that I otherwise would not have spent $30 on.
I have a number of great business books that I’m thankful for as well and will be sharing those recommendations throughout November.
I want to give a shoutout to Jim Kaloutas who also recommended Audible in a previous post.
Day 3: Asana
Today I am thankful for Asana. Asana is more than a project management tool, it’s a task list, a Gantt chart, a calendar, a Kanban, and much more.
I love Asana for its simplicity, and I chose it when a review said it was “the project management tool for CEOs.” This is because it is an amazing tool for delegating tasks, something every successful entrepreneur needs to learn how to do.
It can also be very robust and complex. You can get deep into the weeds of task and time management, scheduling, ownership, and collaboration. In my opinion, it’s the best of both worlds and has something for everyone in a small business.
Now do I think it’s the right fit for every project? No. If you are building a lunar lander or something you might want to go with a different solution. But short of that I think you can use Asana to manage just about anything from projects to sales pipelines.
Day 4: Built To Sell by John Warrillow
Today I am thankful for Built to Sell by John Warrillow.
Built to Sell was the first business book I ever read (listened to on Audible,) and I’ve probably listened to it 6 times in the past 10 years.
When I started my business, sure I wanted to sell it one day, but I was way too focused on getting it off the ground to even think about what makes a business sellable.
Built to Sell is a parable about a small business owner who is overwhelmed by his business and realizes he wants to sell it. The only problem was his mentor explained to him his business wasn’t sellable. The owner was the center of everything, he was held hostage by big clients, his sales guy would sell anything to anyone, and they were trying to be everything to everyone.
The first time I read this book it vastly improved my understanding of what it meant to be an entrepreneur building a business, vs a business owner who owns a job. Even at my early stage (less than 2 years in business) I was able to immediately apply lessons learned to make my life easier and my business more valuable, 5+ years before I eventually sold it (earnout free!)
Shortly after my exit, I had the pleasure of being John’s guest on Built to Sell Radio, a podcast that features entrepreneurs and their exit stories. This is when I learned that John had actually taken the methodology in Built to Sell and created The Value Builder System™
ValueBuilder is a system to score your business against the 8 Key Drivers of Business Value, that I can attest to first hand, sophisticated buyers truly dig into. I was so impressed with the ValueBuilder System that I adopted it as the backbone of my entrepreneurs' coaching practice.
If you are a small business owner and you only read one business book ever, make it Built to Sell.
Day 5: Zoom
Today I’m thankful for Zoom.
At this point everyone knows what Zoom is, but I still want to take a moment to reflect on how thankful I am for it.
Think about how fortunate we are that Eric S. Yuan (he / him / his) created such an innovative video conferencing platform BEFORE the pandemic. Now imagine how life would have been in 2020 without this type of technology. It would have really sucked. So much of life was able to limp along on Zoom during the lockdown. Birthday parties, holidays, family gatherings, work meetings, school… we Zoomed just about everything in 2020.
I loved Zoom before the pandemic and I still love Zoom today. I know there are a lot of people that hate Zoom or have Zoom fatigue, trust me I’ve been there too, but at the end of the day, it’s still an amazing technology.
Zoom has a lot of great features and they keep adding more. They are also the market leader in innovation and have pushed the likes of Google & Microsoft to vastly improve their products.
I personally am ready to get back to life in the real world with in-person experiences, however, Zoom will still be a big part of the way I do business just as it was before 2020.
I hope that if you can safely meet this holiday season that we all give Zoom the day-off for Thanksgiving and gather with your friends and family in person once again.
Day 6: "The Miracle Morning" by Hal Elrod
Today I am thankful for The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
I always wondered how all these great entrepreneurs I looked up to had all that damn energy to jump out of bed at the crack of dawn and do all the crazy things that they do. Well, Miracle Morning explains how to get there.
This book was transformational for me. I was never a morning person, I mean never. My wife and I were trying to figure out how to change our habits to start our days much earlier now that we had become entrepreneurs and parents of young children.
The Miracle Morning lays out a morning routine that encompasses meditation, journaling, exercise, and diet to start off your day with high amounts of POSITIVE energy. I always wanted to get into some of these habits and had pretty much failed until I discovered this framework. Now I practice these things almost every day and these habits are here to stay.
With the help of guest collaborators, Hal explains these activities in a way that entrepreneurs can actually understand. He explains the “Why” behind them in a way that is more tangible and factual than many guru-type books or explanations. When I read this book it just clicked.
There are many editions of this book, and specifically, I recommend “The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs,” which was co-authored by Cameron Herold.
Alternatively, you may also enjoy the versions for Salespeople, Network Marketers, Writers, Real Estate Agents, Teachers or Parents & Families. (and many more)
I’d like to give a special shout-out to fellow Entrepreneurs' Organization member Sean McDade for introducing me to this book, I am very thankful that you did!
Day 7: Mindfulness Apps
Today I am thankful for Mindfulness Apps.
I meditate just about every morning, and I use a couple of apps to get me there. My favorites are Calm and Muse® by Interaxon Inc.
I start with the Calm app and a 10 min guided meditation called The Daily Calm narrated by Tamara Levitt. This is not like other guided meditations, it’s not over the top mystic guru or anything like that.
Each day has an overarching theme to add to your practice and bring to your day. Tamara sets the stage in the first few minutes of the meditation and then goes quiet to let you meditate in peace. Near the end of the session, she starts speaking again, brings it all together, and packages up the leaning nicely in a clean takeaway. I learn so much from Tamara and the Daily Calm and am truly grateful for her work.
The second app I use is Muse. Muse is not just an app, it also has a hardware headband that senses your brainwaves. They have guided meditations as well but I choose to go unguided with Muse. Muse has biofeedback, so the sounds of the weather I choose get more stormy when I’m distracted and calmer when my brainwaves are calm.
I love this app because I’m a competitive entrepreneur and a nerd, so I want to see a measurable score. Sometimes my mind will wander and I’ll get a low score so I’ll do it all over again to make sure I’m getting the benefits of a good, calm, meditation session.
A third app that I love to mix in when I need a good smile, or I want to introduce meditation to someone new with a flair of humor, is “F*ck That: An Honest Meditation.” It’s not an everyday thing, but worth a listen and a laugh.
Day 8: Entrepreneurs' Organization
Today I am thankful for the Entrepreneurs' Organization, more widely known as EO.
EO is a global network of 14,000+ entrepreneurs, in 198 cities from 16 countries around the world.
There are a few things that make EO unique from other entrepreneur peer groups. To qualify you must do a minimum of $1M annual revenue and be a founder or majority shareholder (not just a hired gun.) Also, it is not a “needs & leads” group, you are not allowed to solicit other members, this is not a business development affair.
I never really understood the saying “it’s lonely at the top” until I was running a business and didn’t really have anyone to talk to that could relate to the challenges and the pressures associated with entrepreneurship. EO is a group of entrepreneurs that want to learn and grow from each other and have a network of peers that understand them.
In EO we use the term “instimancy,” slang for instant-intimacy within conversations and relationships at EO functions. There are many learning events locally in your home city, but also regionally or globally. I can look up an EO member in just about any city I’m traveling to and connect with them while I’m visiting, and even though they might be a complete stranger, it doesn’t feel that way at all.
I can’t say enough good things about EO. It’s changed my life, my business and my family. It’s hands down the most valuable investment I have ever made in my business, and maybe myself as well. If you are an entrepreneur I strongly recommend you look up your local EO chapter and check it out.
I’m truly thankful for EO and all the wonderful friends I have met. There are so many I can’t even list them all in this post, but I’m sure going to try!
I am thankful for... Dave Will, Charles Kouyoumjian, Michael Fabbiano, Mark Stiles, John Schnauck, Dr. Carol Clinton, Jeff Cooper, Denise Blasevick, Jason Bross, Kenan Hopkins, Daniel Moshe, Cesar Quintero, Calvin Wilder, Eric Crews, Anna Walz, Brad Caton, Ryan Mortland, Craig Rabe, Tony Fields, Michael Kaloutas, Jonathan Crandall, CSP, David Reske, Kathy Doyle, Lisa Vitale, Dave Stein, Ernie Lawas,Joel Livingston, Kate Morgan, Kent Gregoire, Marc Hurwitz 🕵️, Mark Worster, Marsha Ralls, Anna Birch, Casey Cheshire 🎤, Adam Schnitzler, Peter Gormley, Robert Glazer, Ryan Villanueva, Kris Kaplan, and so many more, but LinkedIn won't let me mention more than 40 of you!
Day 9: Scorecards
Today I’m thankful for Scorecards.
“What gets measured gets done.” You may have heard that before, and I believe it to be true.
I’d also like to drive home the point that you must measure “leading indicators” just as much if not more than the “lagging indicators.” Additionally, you need to measure these KPIs and review them in a weekly cadence.
Many businesses have scorecards, but far too often they are last month’s results reviewed 15-30 days after the month has already closed. Sure these are important numbers to review, but they are results, they are old news. More often than not, what is done is done, and you can’t do anything about it.
A great operational scorecard is one that helps you bring predictability to your business. You want to see numbers from last week that give you insight into how this week is going to go and beyond. You want these numbers broken down in such a way where you can digest them, and then make a change this week that will help steer the ship in the right direction.
One of the easiest examples to wrap your head around is sales. Generally speaking, most salespeople don’t think anything really matters except results, in the form of closed new business. I think this is very important, but from a scorecard perspective, this is not the most important thing at all. As I learned from my friend Eric Crews many years ago, the most important number on a sales scorecard is leads.
A typical sales process flows like this: Leads, conversations, proposals, closed new business. If you have a tight sales scorecard and you see leads and conversations start to dip, you can predict that proposals and closed new business will eventually suffer as well. Tracking the leading indicator, in this case leads, gives you and your team the opportunity to address that issue far in advance of putting up poor sales results at the end of the month and then reviewing them 15-30 days later!
Give yourself a fighting chance, break down your key performance indicators into a weekly scorecard and review your progress as you go, instead of well after the fact.
Day 10: Core Values & Company Culture
Today I am thankful for Core Values & Company Culture.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and I agree. If you don’t have the right culture, you're not going to have the right team. If you don’t have the right team, it’s really hard to implement that strategy alone.
I’ve learned a lot about core values and culture over the years, and here are my highlights:
- If you don’t have a clear culture by design, you end up with culture by default.
- Culture by default is rarely, if ever, the culture you want.
- Core values must really mean something, they can’t be generic.
- Hire and especially fire by your core values.
- Core values are NOT marketing tools, they are for internal use. If you craft them for marketing purposes they often end up being aspirational, what you want the customer to see.
- Core values should not be aspirational. If they don’t really reflect your company and its culture, your team will become cynical and dismiss the value system altogether.
- Table steaks values like “trustworthiness” and “integrity” should be considered the minimum attributes to even work here, and shouldn’t be part of the core values.
Core values should truly reflect the culture of your company and the people who work there. This is how you will attract the right people to join your company. Many companies have very different cultures, finding the right culture for you, or developing the right culture for your company can vastly improve your happiness and productivity.
If you’ve been struggling to get your core values to truly drive your company’s culture check out the book The Culture Fix by Culture Czars founder Will Scott.
Day 11: 15Five
Today I am thankful for 15Five.
Are you struggling to connect with your distributed remote workforce in a way that is meaningful and allows you to have a real connection to the pulse of your culture? Then you should consider 15five.
15five is a SaaS application that provides a platform for you to connect to all the employees in your business. The premise of 15five is that it takes the employee 15mins to complete and the manager 15mins to review. Think of it as mini 1-on-1 check-ins on a weekly basis.
I tried to have weekly 1-on-1’s with my employees but at some point, either due to scale or sheer business volume, it became almost impossible. I had to keep rescheduling or worse canceling 1-on-1’s over and over again to get work done. That is not a great place to be.
With 15five I’m able to get a pulse from every employee on a weekly basis and ask them a short set of leading questions that give me a better sense of how things are going, how I can help my staff, and the general morale of the company. I can comment on their responses and flag items for monthly 1-on-1’s, which is a much more realistic goal to achieve.
In addition, it provides a platform for team accolades, called “high-5’s” where everyone in the company can recognize the contributions each team member is making toward the cause.
If you are having moral issues, or you are just not sure if your managers have a pulse on the heart and soul of your staff, then 15five could be a solution to this complex but critically important challenge all small business owners eventually face.
Day 12: My Team
Today I’m thankful for My Team.
Where would you be without your team? I know where I’d be without mine, not getting much done that's for sure.
Since it’s been a people-themed week I wanted to take a moment to thank my team, Zlatina Aleksandrova and Aspen Grant. I’m so very thankful for you! One of the many things I’ve learned in EO is that my job as a CEO is to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am!
I’m also thankful for the teams I’ve had in the past...
So a shout out to so of my G2 Crew Elena Shorb, Caleb Mills, Scott Goldberg, Chandler Collison, JP Pagluica, Jason Gay, Lubbi Ernjakovic, Joshua Sutherland, Tom Levins, Kiril Dubrovsky, Jesse Lyons, Andrew Dawson, Matt Rudnick, Jay Bain
And a little what what to the old school NOC crew Jason Bricault, Bob Percheski, Robb McCune, Matt Klepeis, Tom Levins (made the list twice!)
Teams are ever-evolving, however, if you continue to intentionally mix the right culture with the right crew you can build some killer teams, and I have been fortunate to have some of the best.
Day 13: Kanban
Today I am thankful for Kanban.
My favorite tool in the project management toolbox is the Kanban. Its simplicity and efficiency has its roots from Toyota back in the 1940’s, and it still holds up today.
It’s simply a board with columns or “swim lanes” on it, and the name of each stage in a process at the top. You then take a task and move it from left to right through each stage in a process. If you want to go a little further you can write a number at the top of each column representing the maximum number of tasks (or WIP, “work in progress”) that can be in each column.
Most if not all small businesses bump up against a project management wall at some point and most of the time we just can’t justify adding a project manager to the mix when it happens. Sure, eventually that is a great hire, but also an expensive hire, and in the meantime projects still need management. The Kanban is a great solution for the DIY project manager that isn’t formally trained as a PM.
I love the Kanban because by design, it prevents you from overcomplicating the production. I guess you could make too many columns, but other than that you can’t really break it.
An often overlooked benefit of the Kanban is the limiting of work in progress. WIP is the culprit that grinds a project's progress to a halt, while at the same time everyone is super busy. Limiting WIP allows the team to focus on a few items, get them done, and start the next. Alternatively you can end up with 50 incomplete tasks and never see the positive benefits of seeing some of them completed.
If everything is important, nothing is important.
Day 14: Work hard, Play Hard
Today I’m thankful for the philosophy of Work Hard, Play Hard.
I know a lot of entrepreneurs who work hard and also play hard. I think this is because as entrepreneurs we just do everything really hard. We’re all-in, all the time. There are a lot of TYPE A personalities in the entrepreneur circle.
Work Hard, Play Hard was an original core value of one of my companies. Over time that value evolved into Enjoy the Ride, and Work Hard, Play Hard was part of it. I’m a strong believer that everyone should be enjoying the ride, and if you’re not enjoying the ride you should probably consider making some changes. YOLO bro.
I balance out all the Work Hard with some serious Play Hard, and I’m not alone. And I know a lot of other entrepreneurs that fit squarely into the Play Hard category.
My Play Hard is riding my Onewheel by Future Motion. As I like to say, it’s an electric skateboard for aging hipsters. I love to crank up some tunes, hop on my board, and hit the trails with my buddy Derek Hixon, and shred the gnar.
I know many other entrepreneurs who Play Hard in all sorts of different ways.
- Todd Smart also likes to ride his Onewheel.
- Jonathan Crandall, CSP likes to hike all the mountains in New Hampshire, literally all of them.
- John Schnauck likes to kiteboard, which I think is freekin’ crazy, but then again he thinks Onewheeling is crazy.
- Casey Cheshire 🎤 likes to rock climb.
- Michael Fabbiano golfs like a mad man.
- Calvin Wilder does triathlons.
- Eric Crews runs marathons.
- Kenan Hopkins hikes into the wilderness of Alaska and tries not to anger the grizzlies.
The list goes on and on...
PS. A shout out to the guys at Craft&Ride LLC, Michael Vitale & Nick Vitale,
Day 15: EMP (Entrepreneurial Masters Program)
Today I am thankful for EMP, the Entrepreneurial Masters Program.
EMP is hands down the best learning program in all of EO. If you want to transform your business (and your life) then you should sign up for EMP now, don’t wait! Seriously, don’t wait.
EMP is a 3-year program produced by the Entrepreneurs' Organization. Your class is made up of 65 EO members from around the world, and each year you travel to the MIT Endicott House for 5 days of intense learning. Each year you return with the same classmates, reflect on what you implemented over the last year, and then drink from the firehose again.
I think of it as an entrepreneur's summer camp at Professor X’s home for gifted entrepreneurs. These EO members are the best of the best, the most engaged, the most driven, and the most exciting people from a pool of already some of the most intense people I know.
This is my TRIBE.
Over the years I have made some amazing friends at EMP. I witnessed them grow and transform their businesses, and in many cases sell them as well. EMP became such a driving force for many of us that after graduation we created an alumni program called Return of Masterminds, and we still get together every year (COVID permitting) to keep it going.
I’ve learned a tremendous amount from my time in EMP/ROM. I would say half if not more of my Thankful Entrepreneur posts have been of things I learned there. It’s an invaluable investment in your future if you are an entrepreneur. Also if you value EO and the learning it brings you, then really have just scratched the surface until your first day of EMP.
I’m going to take a moment to tag some of the great people I have met on my EMP journey in hopes that they will also share what they are thankful for about EMP.
Denise Blasevick, Jeff Cooper, Carol Clinton, Kenan Hopkins, Jason Bross, Steve LeVine, Martijn Bos, Andre Lang, Sietel Gill, Ryan Mortland, Tom McManus, Anna Walz, Brad Caton, Don Britton, Eric Crews, Finnian Kelly, Gerton Lusink, Matthew Gruben, Angela Gaspar, Pieter Smits, Sean McDade, Corey Tisdale, Dan Lionello, Randy Woods, Mose Ramieh, Luc Stang, Lynn Anstett, Chad Zdenek, Joaquin R. Cordero, Daniel Moshe, Gary Schafer, Jock Gordon, Jean-François Rousseau, Steven Showalter, David Gatchell, Tonya Lanthier
Also, I’m thankful for Stephen Kearley & Brian Brault for making the EMP and ROM experiences absolutely amazing.
Day 16: Who by Geoff Smart & Randy Street
Today I’m thankful for the book Who by Geoff Smart & Randy Street. This book will change the way that you source, interview and hire candidates. In the age of #thegreatresignation this book is more valuable than ever.
The methodology in Who is extremely powerful and precise. It's designed very intentionally and specifically to get the most truthful information you can get out of people. One of the important things about the methodology in this book is that you need to follow the core of it exactly as it’s laid out.
Every word in every question is part of a specific formula. It is designed to get the answers you’re looking for while at the same time creating an environment of accountability.
For example, they have a term called “TORC,” Threat of Reference Check. When you are asking someone about a previous job there is a line of questioning where you ask them to spell the names of their former co-workers and managers. When you ask about what the manager would say you state “when I call Mary, what would she say your strengths and areas for improvement were back then?”
Let’s break th