Mike Maddock, On Transformative Growth (#178)

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Mike Maddock is a serial entrepreneur, best-selling author, global keynote speaker, and transformative growth coach. He has successfully launched six companies, including Maddock Douglas, a world-renowned innovation consulting firm. Mike’s expertise about transformative growth comes from his entrepreneurial journey and has led him to speak on stages all over the world, write 4 best-selling books about transformative growth & innovation, as well as being a contributor for Forbes and Bloomerang, for which he covers topics of transformative leadership and disruption.

Transformative Growth Expert

Mike Maddock is heavily focusing on transformative growth, topic for which he has been recognized as expert.
Stats speak for themselves, as Mike has helped over 25% of the Fortune 500 companies to envision and create new sources of growth. Any kind of change starts from beliefs, which are then used to build tactics and habits in order to experience transformative growth.

That’s what Mike Maddock is doing as a transformative growth expert, giving your team the belief that they can change the world, while also providing them with proven strategies and tools to make that happen.

And now here’s Mike Maddock.

Full transcript below

Video on Transformative Growth.

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Visit Mike-Maddock.com to Learn About Transformative Growth

Check Out Mike Maddock’s Books About Transformative Growth, Leadership, and Innovation.

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Podcast with Mike Maddock. On Transformative Growth.


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Mike Malatesta, Mike Maddock


All right,

Mike Malatesta  00:12

321. Hey Mike, welcome to the podcast.

Mike Maddock  00:17

Great to be here, Mark, thank you.

Mike Malatesta  00:20

Yeah, I think I owe Tim dodge a thank you from YPO so Mike Tim and I are all in, in YPO and even though I. Well, I told Mike we’d met before but we really hadn’t we just kind of ran into each other at a vendor too. But I, and it’s, you know what’s weird Mike I have to say, like when I ran into you, I never thought to myself and this is so that, like, doesn’t mean anything, but I never thought to myself, ah, you know, that’s, that guy’s probably a writer and speaker and you know all these things because you don’t, you’re just some people that are do the things you do come across with a persona that, you know, you think, Oh, okay. Yeah, and I just never. So anyway, I’m glad that you do all those things because it’s going to give us so much to talk about but I’m super glad that the Tim thought of me and you, together to do this podcast so Tim, who was on the show in the early days, I think this is like number 178 or something I think Tim was in the top 10 So he was nice enough to like actually get started when I had no idea what I was doing, and still maybe I don’t have any idea what I’m doing but anyway, pretty well,

Mike Maddock  01:35

better humans in the world i i love that guy. He’s Yes, clever, he’s his heart is as big as his brain. Yeah,

Mike Malatesta  01:44

yeah, good, that’s perfect way to put it. So anyway, Mike I start every show with the same simple question. How did it happen for you.

Mike Maddock  01:54

I, so I was, I was born in, you know, middle class family, and early days, I, I, you know, money mental power and freedom. And my parents, you know, if we wanted money we had to work for it. And so I quickly went out and started getting jobs, and got my first job at 14 My second job importantes my third job and 15 along the way I was of course doing the cliche, you know, doing people’s lawns and shoveling snow, etc. And I, you know, when I had a couple of bucks in my pocket I could do what I wanted. And luckily, and this is just by luck, everyone that I worked for was an entrepreneur, and I got a chance to see up close, that they weren’t perfect, but they it was really really messy, and what they all had in common was they believe they could do it, and they just kept that. And so that was a real blessing for me that I got to see behind the curtain as a young man, and I’ve had some really good bosses and really bad bosses, But all of them are entrepreneurs so I learned, gave me the courage to say hey maybe I could do this too.

Mike Malatesta  03:09

Okay, so let’s, um, let’s explore messy, so give it, can you, I know we’re going back aways for this but what were some of the things that you observed in these entrepreneurs that was that you would describe as as messy.

Mike Maddock  03:27

Well, so, my first job was at 31 flavors, Mr Mrs Domeier, and I remember they had sold them for the family house and ranch to pursue the dream of scooping ice cream, they told them to sell the story or if it told the story that you know how, how bad could it be you’re making people smile and you’re making money. Well, it’s hard to make money, scooping ice cream. So I got a chance to they were closing watching literally Mr Domeier counting the pennies and the scoops and being consoled by his wife, you know, and they just kept at it and you know they did they just everyday showed up. My second job was at Gordon’s fine furniture, which was right next door, and side Gordon was the owner and the ad neck I have a temper and Charmaine, and his daughter Sandy came to work for him, she went to Drake University and I’ve been schlepping furniture around washing, behind the scenes you know the screaming and the yelling and smiling and just doing everything they could to sell another piece of furniture, this has been around for decades. Yeah, and it wasn’t easy but they just kept at it.

Mike Malatesta  04:36

So like when the cameras off sort of thing, like,

Mike Maddock  04:41

one more story. I was a contractor, I was a labor for a construction company in Chicago. And it was a high rise. Real unbelievably premium build. So Eddie is born at a place very own White Sox, Judge crown. Just really wealthy people were building out floors, and to every floor was different, the best craftsman. Self Employed craftsmen in the world were in there doing carpentry custom carpentry and electric, you know, electricians, etc. And every once in a while you’d hear this litany of swear words, see that this Carpenter, who’s the best of the city had just miss cut a piece of mahogany, screwed up, and you know, I was bright enough to understand that that would cost a lot of money, and even the best in the city would mess up, but they kept going. And so it’s just not perfect and I think people think, in order to run a business you have to be really smart, or you have to be, you know, really, really gifted, I don’t think so I think you have to be a little bit of lucky and you have to be tenacious.

Mike Malatesta  06:00

And what about your parents Mike where you, you mentioned middle class I’m assuming your parents maybe weren’t entrepreneurs, but I don’t want to make that assumption so I ask.

Mike Maddock  06:10

No they weren’t. My father grew up in Seattle, and he got a scholarship to Notre Dame. He was a debater, and a ROTC, he met my mom at a republican convention at Notre Dame, my mom kicked his seat and asked him to please kindly Shut up. First Date. My dad went over to Vietnam for three years he’d come home, just long enough to impregnate my mother and then go back to war. And then he took a job in Cuba and worked in Kibera his whole career, So he’s a lifer. And my mother, you know, she worked as a teacher and then became a stay at home mom, so they, they talked about entrepreneurship, but they, they didn’t own their own businesses, so I learned on my own. Through jobs that I got, again and it was just totally coincidence and luck I think that I wound up working for us tech companies.

Mike Malatesta  07:16

And you mentioned having money in your pocket and equating that with freedom. How did you use your freedom at that time, the freedom that money provided you.

Mike Maddock  07:29

So it’s at the end of the summer, I’m going into my junior year in college. And my dad said well man you’ve been working hard all summer. And I said yeah. He goes, How much money have you saved for college, and I paid, probably about $14,000 which is a lot of money back, that’s


a ton he’s worked

Mike Maddock  07:47

my butt off, And I had, I said I think I’ve got like 20 $200 left his face, you know, and he’s shoulders sag was a real moment for me. I’ll never forget it. And I do what’s, what’s a matter, and he goes, I just feel like I’ve failed you as a father, and I know what do you mean to me goes I just don’t think I’ve taught you the value of money that your dad had. And it was that moment I realized it was on me, you know, and I said hey listen, this is my deal. I got this. I’ll take it from here. It’s my responsibility. I’ll find a way to pay for college, you know, I’ll get the loan of girl. So the short answer is I spent it and had fun money, but it was just part of the adventure. We can do a whole other show about people’s relationships with money, I think it’s fascinating for me it’s just, it’s always been kind of a fuel for fun, and members, you know make memories with money.

Mike Malatesta  08:53

And sometimes, you know, you have to spend it to get the lessons that come along with having it, you just,

Mike Maddock  09:00

Yeah, for sure, and I think that one of the lessons was that I, I could make it, you know, yeah, I’ve always had a lot of confidence, there’s a, there’s an old Dunkin Donuts commercial guy that makes the dough.

Mike Malatesta  09:14

Yeah right. The old guy at three o’clock in the morning, trying to make the donuts.

Mike Maddock  09:19

He goes, Don’t worry, we’ll make more for me it was like well I know how to make it. And so I’ll figure it out. And I learned that from watching entrepreneurs, grind it out and constantly pivot. So I think one of the big has for me, is a question that kids should be asking themselves really early in life it is. Are you a finisher, or are you a starter. Turns out I’m a really good starter and a really really bad finisher. And I think most business people fall into one of those two categories, and there’s a paradox of entrepreneurship that, you know, what makes you great at starting mix you’re really bad at finishing percent differently work as Marshall Goldsmith says What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. So, so people that are great at starting businesses typically aren’t really good at scaling. In my experience,

Mike Malatesta  10:18

and when you say you’re, you know, you’re either a finisher or a starter, you’re, you’re not just talking about entrepreneurs there or are you because I’m trying to figure out if an entrepreneur is not a good starter, how do they become a good finisher.

Mike Maddock  10:33

Well, so just business in general. Okay. So, you know I wrote a book called free the idea monkey to focus on what matters the most, and it was really about the tension between the finishers and starters, or the visionaries and operators, Walt Disney, or Disney, and in every company that I’ve seen that is really great at, you know, adapting to changing markets and scaling. They have a couple things in common. One is that they, They’re in a business that’s growing there, they picked the right way, using surfing metaphor. And the other thing is that they have a balanced executive team that there’s the team has a shared dose of visionaries and a really healthy dose of people that are operators finishers and starters, but most entrepreneurial companies start with a, with a visionary someone with an idea, and unless they get around and getting the company in balance, they tend to stall and, you know, peak out pretty quickly, which is, which is my story. Six times over. Now I’ve started six multi million dollar businesses, yay me. But what they all have in common is they got to a point, they just kind of flattened out, so I think a lot about that.

Mike Malatesta  11:52

And when does, in your experience with those six businesses, for example, when does the. When does the starter fire. You know extinguish, like is there a moment that you’ve sort of figured out over your experiences where you’re like, Okay, that’s the trigger for me that’s the trigger. I got to do something different or take some different action bring in somebody to run it whatever choices you’ve made.

Mike Maddock  12:22

That’s a good question. So, Vern Harnish is a friend, he started Entrepreneurs Organization. And I remember being in a conference with him out at MIT, maybe 20 years ago, and he got in front of the board, it was one of those Psych 101 rooms are a couple 100 people in a room, and he drew a line across the this board and he put 2468 1012 all the way up to 200 employees, and he said to employees, this is the issue with four employees, this is an issue at six employees, this is an issue. And when walking all the way down up to 200 employees, and he dropped the dry erase marker and said, Does anybody have any questions, there’s this really, you have about 100 people in the room there are entrepreneurs from around the world, and someone in the back row from California, she’s like, Oh my gosh, it’s like you’re a psychic. I remember crying but that’s a weird thing to say. But the point was that there are these things that happen, as companies scale that are predictable, and they go with the size of the company. And so in my experience at about, 2025 employees, the hero can no longer run the company systems have to take over, and systems are what finishers know how to do. And so all of a sudden, you know, you have scalable systems you have management, you have KPIs etc, that all come out of the brain of operators or finishers. And that’s what allows a company to get from, you know, three to five to 10 million to 15 million to 25 million in revenue. There are differences in every industry, of course, but there’s a lot more sameness than differences.

Mike Malatesta  14:15

That there was a very easy explanation, thank you for that and it’s probably still What do you think, probably still one of the, you know, you seem to have had the epiphany, but a lot of others. They just get to that point, they don’t have that epiphany and they keep trying to jam what worked for them up to that point. And just like it’ll get better. Eventually I don’t have to do anything, it, you know, they’ve just confused and locked and stuck in, is that been your experience with people you know.

Mike Maddock  14:47

Well, yeah I mean because in order to have the Tom Kane, one of my first mentors. When I just, he was so I’ve got this little business going, I’m probably 2026 years old. And Tom is a salty old sailor, and he’s going to help designers at a company for 3040 years done well. And he goes, Michael, you know how I know you’re going to be successful and I go, how’s that Tommy he goes, could she do god damn stupid to know that you shouldn’t be doing, to be kind of an idiot. Yeah. Sort of a narcissist, you have to believe that that you can actually make a dent in this industry that is being run by these multinationals, that’s the courage and the naivete that it takes, but that’s the same thing that becomes your big blind spot when it’s time to go, Hey, maybe I need a little help here. And so I think that, you know, there’s a reason why most, the most successful businesses are started by people in their 50s. One of the reasons is humility. They’ve, they’ve been around the block enough times to go up, hold on a second, you know, intelligence is painful and it leaves bruises and dense wisdom is much easier I need to go find someone that has done this before, who can make it, you know, less painful. And I think that’s what happens but. So there’s this balance that happens in really good executive teams, and most of us don’t have it, because we surround ourselves with people that are reflections of our own goodness whether we understand it or not.

Mike Malatesta  16:34

And you mentioned, Marshall Goldsmith, a bit ago, for people who don’t know who he is Mike who is Marshall Goldsmith, and you.

Mike Maddock  16:45

Yes, Marshall Goldsmith is a friend, he’s a. He has been called the number one executive coach in the world. He is a somewhat of a maverick in the coaching world. He was the person that that was a pioneer in 360 evaluation, he also pioneered the idea of hey it costs a million dollars to hire me as a coach. And if I don’t do what I’m going to say I’m going to do with you that I’m free. You know Bill Ford hired him and some other people. He’s written a whole bunch of books, but he’s a wise, sage, in the coaching industry.

Mike Malatesta  17:22

And I like his i i only be kicked butt I’m embarrassed to say this but I only became aware of him. Last year, I think, or I’d forgotten if I had been aware of him before, but I’m on his newsletter, you know his email thing now and he just the other day was reiterating you know what’s the value you bring to work every day and he was talking about him, you know, not charging you know it’s like if you if I don’t have a demonstrably positive impact on your business in 18 months or whatever I’m not going to charge you for, for being a coach right and when you look at a lot of the coaching industry now and coaching industry is huge and there’s some that are long established like he and Dan Sullivan and some others and then there’s a lot of people who became coaches, you know, in the last couple of years, and it’s just a different, their approach seems like, very different, it’s like, buy this from me and you’ll be, you know, an overnight success or something and his approach I really do like his approach, he’s very humble and easy to listen to and he makes sense. He’s not, you know, there’s no Ferrari, in the back of the picture with Marshall, you know,


it’s like,

Mike Maddock  18:39

he started I’m at Marshall, run an entrepreneurial group out at MIT for last we’ve been getting together now for 17 years and I asked Mark to come out and present to us twice now and he’s been very generous with his time and come out and mentored a bunch of us, he started a group called 100 coaches. That was a referral group, and his, his what he said was, I’m gonna give away. Bob everything I’ve learned to 100 coaches and then your job is to give that away as well. it’s a way for him to have a legacy. And so I was fortunate to become part of that. A couple years ago, and he’s one of those people that he’s easy to learn from because it’s clear he’s quite humble and plain spoken, which is something that I respond to.

Mike Malatesta  19:32

So what is that 100 coaches, what do you actually do Mike, what do you do with it we

Mike Maddock  19:37

get together and share. We learned from martial to learn from each other and help each other out, you know it’s it’s kind of it’s a peer group for coaches.


Oh I see,

Mike Maddock  19:47

You know I, I fell backwards into coaching. It’s something that I do because people ask me, well first of all, I woke up one day and I noticed that a lot of people that I was talking to were actually coaches you know they were calling and saying, Wait, think about this, and then people started to ask me if I would coach them. And I, I have you know, for years, I get offstage after speaking say hey do you coach people and I said well, I’ll be a bikecad, you know, why should I get paid for this. What do you need, you know, and then a few years back, someone said I need to hire you for something so I thought I needed to learn more, very quickly about coaching so we’re looking for, you know, groups like marshals, etc. So, it’s anyway. The one of the things that that taking this idea a little bit further, you have visionary and operator or ringleader and idea monkey. A few years ago I started to think about forum, and Mike I imagine you’ve been informed.

Mike Malatesta  20:55

I am in YPO forum yes

Mike Maddock  20:57

belong, have you been in your forum.

Mike Malatesta  21:01

1210 years, maybe 11

Mike Maddock  21:04

What’s your magic put you on the spot. Yeah. Tell me, tell me what you think, like, what’s the greatest thing about forum for you.

Mike Malatesta  21:17

It’s a. So, so YPO is a big organization, you know, there are some people who get very networked into the organization, because that’s just who they are. And I struggle with that so for me forum is like my own little club inside of YPO where I don’t feel nervous or I don’t feel anxious or intimidated by anybody. And I feel, you know it’s a safe place where, where I can not only share what’s happening with me, but also can contribute to one of the other members, what’s, you know what, whatever they’re sharing and hopefully and, ultimately, the goal is to help each other be more successful in life. So that’s how I, that’s how I look at it how do you look at it.

Mike Maddock  22:05

So, just first context, a forum. There are all kinds of groups that are formed LED so you mentioned Dan Sullivan Strategic Coach YPO Young Presidents Organization EO entrepreneurs or zation distich yes I’ve been involved with. Most of those organizations and the number one member benefits forum Forum is a group of peers that get together usually once a month for four hours or so. And everything that said the room stays in the room, it’s a, it’s a way to bring your toughest challenges to a group where in a safe place you can solve them. And the longer you’ve been informed the more it goes and both personal and business gets blended together. So you’re talking about everything from, you know, making payroll to, you know, problems with your children, etc. Right, and I’ve been in YPO forum for about 15 years and meal forum for 22 years now, and it’s the second best decision I’ve ever made in my life, I mean best friends I have. Together we’ve been through, You know, every, every, high and low that you can imagine in life. But my experience has been that, that even forums are out of balance. It’s almost like you take a whole bunch of ingredients and throw them in a pot of water, and expect the soup to taste good and usually it doesn’t. And when forums are allowed to recruit people on their own, they tend to become more out of balance. And this is the conversation we were having earlier where. So now you have a group of people that are sort of, that might think like you, I remember the first forum meeting I ever had. I went around the room, in my mind I’m doing. Yes, yes, no, absolutely. I was evaluating who is going to give me value. And, you know, turns out I was exactly wrong sure because the people that think differently than you are the ones that show you their blind spots, but I was attracted to people that were like sales minded and, you know. And so, I have seen that, so I did some research. And it turns out that on executive teams that are really bad, really balanced, there’s not just the visionary and the operator is also a strategist and a rainmaker tech futurist, and an orchestrator, and I set up a company called flourish forums, plural, that is basically a curated advisory board where you go out, it’s like playing Tetris, to go out and find people who are running companies that are naturally operators naturally strategists naturally great makers, you put them in a room together, and then you have a forum experience, but you also have a balanced outcome. In other words, the feedback you get is tempered by six different types of thinking.

Mike Malatesta  24:58

And how do you think so that’s really interesting how do you, why assume that that’s not just a local thing then so that’s you can go broad, how do you how do you find to county, what’s the matrix that you run through Mike or whatever to, to get the right people and then how to. It’s interesting, like it’s, it seems like you said Tetris I thought of that let’s It’s Just Lunch or something that dating thing where they sort of, you know, figure out the who might be a good fit and then you go to lunch and see how do you

Mike Maddock  25:37

say, a referral. So, you know, you and I both do excetera so I asked people I looking for people that are great operators, historically, for example. So, so members there are probably two seats two operators, two strategists two rainmakers two visionaries, etc. So there’s a scarcity. So, so I’m looking for two things one, a company, Someone is, there is a visionary, for example, that is, that is in charge of the future for a company in this band of revenue, because I want to keep people in the same revenue bands, and I go looking for referrals from people that I trust, and I you know I interview the people that I have them take the Colby test. If you’re familiar with that.

Mike Malatesta  26:31

Yeah, I’ve taken Colby twice. Yeah, so at first I was a first time I took it, I was a 7644. And then I took it like a decade later, and I always have to look it up what I am so you can keep talking about it but it’s different, I got my, my QuickStart went up to eight. And I think my implementer actually shrunk from four to like two.

Mike Maddock  26:59

That’s interesting because, reliable, it doesn’t change much, right. So that’s unusual. What I love about Colby and I like you. I bet I’m I’m sort of a junkie and all these tests discs and, you know Strengths Finder and Myers Briggs all these tests, we used to have our clients are becoming. But what Colby measures is what you do, under pressure, and what you do in flow and it’s the same thing, it’s reliable. And so if you think about your advisory board or executive board you want someone who’s gonna be reliably reactive, the same way, whether the shit is hitting the fan or things are going really well you need them to be consistent. And so the goal is in the chat, here’s the challenge right after you’ve been in business for a while you know how to operate a company you know how to make lane you know how to, you have a vision, so you can do all these things. But what do you do best, by putting together a basketball team. Are you a better point guard or forward because we want you in that position where you’re, you know when things are going really well or under pressure, you’re going to do the best at your job, so it’s more about focusing on your strengths and weaknesses, and putting you in the seat where you’re gonna feel most comfortable and Colby helps me when someone says, I’m kind of good at everything. I can say I’m sure you are but based on your Colby score, you’re a strategist, and I have a seat for a strategy. Sir, I don’t. So So now, you know, taking a step back. The best definition for creativity that I’ve ever heard, is the ability to have lots of ideas about a particular topic, and then choose the right idea, at the right time. So the ability to be divergent and converge on the right idea at the right time. And what I found is that in a flourish form, you get the divergence because you have lots of different ideas because people see the problem differently. And then when you’re ready to pick. If it’s your challenge of that group is talking about. When you’re ready to pick a strategy, you feel more competent, because it’s been tempered by the six different levels of thinking. So you then can converge more confidently.

Mike Malatesta  29:12

Okay, that’s interesting that you use Colby for that that’s a good i It seems like maybe the simplest of, I don’t know if the simplest is the right word but of all the tests that you mentioned it’s it is. I’ve been taught at least it’s pretty clear cut, you know, it’s like factfinder follow through Quickstart and implement it right so just kind of measures those four things and where you are is where you are. Makes it easy. Yeah, makes it easy, you know, yeah, okay, all right, I like that. I like that

Mike Maddock  29:42

score I will tell you if it is 762 is incredibly rare,

Mike Malatesta  29:48

no no it’s it was, it was 764 for the first time I took it in 2003. And then I took it in 2008 teen, I think it was five five a two


by five,

Mike Maddock  30:04

be more of a quick start. Well, it’s what I was responding to was, you were called above the line in your factfinder follow through Quickstart, which makes you, you can meet people where they are right orchestrator score, where you’re really good at understanding and hearing. Crazy Quickstart. Or, you can roll with a Fact Finder and dig deep, or you’re willing to be pragmatic with a file. So those your type of score tends to be, you know like the head of HR at a large company Tech Center score like that. They have to be able to relate to everyone and meet them where they are. And it’s, it’s, you know, pivot finger is another way of thinking is 2% of all the people in the world that have a score like that. So it’s pretty cool.

Mike Malatesta  30:58

Mike, let’s go back to, you know that conversation you had with your dad about savings for college and you’re ready to go to college you got 2200 bucks and you tell, you know, you say okay I got this I’m going to take care of it so when. So you worked hard through from 14, up through high school so 18 or whatever you go to college. What were you thinking when you got there in terms of what your career was going to be, maybe, maybe you didn’t know when you got there but I don’t know what were you what was going on.

Mike Maddock  31:29

So I was a cartoonist, in high school, in college, I had a job full time as an illustrator cartoonist of T shirt shop with a guy called T galaxy in Ames, Iowa go Cyclos. It was on my dog Carms and amazing entrepreneur who I got to learn a lot from. And so I was going to go into creative services I started my own creative services boutique my junior year in college I was selling greeting cards I was already doing a lot of things, playing, you know, there’s a great book called The second mountain by David Brooks. It talks about how you get these two mountains and second mountain but if you start moving from like just doing to being purpose led, and my big takeaway from the David Brooks was that we do our kids a disservice by saying, follow your passion, because what happens is these kids are like, I don’t know what my passion is I may get stopped, you know, they’re like there’s there’s so many opportunities that they’re like geez I don’t think I know what I was born to do yet so I just stopped to get these, you know, we have these parents who’ve done it because there’s truth to it right if you, if you find something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Sure. Well, here’s his big takeaway is the only way you find something you love, is to start doing a whole bunch of stuff you hate.

Mike Malatesta  33:00

Yeah, it’s experimentation. That’s right,

Mike Maddock  33:05

failing forward first attempted. So so so so I, I was already doing that, and I just knew that I would find a way to pay off the college loan. When I graduated from college, I took the first job I could get. It was with Tom Kane, I was selling something under the condition that I could show my portfolio I was selling some kind of comping system for printing. And my one of my limits was with a company on Carol Stream Illinois. I sold them the system and then I said, by the way are you hiring for an art director and well I got my portfolio, my car and he goes, Well, let’s see if they hired me, they went back to Tom and said well I sold that system for you and I got a job because good for you, Michael, and that was where I met my first real business partner West Douglas College, and I met my wife Ruthie there so it was the best job ever. Let’s see, and I only worked there for about a year and a half before I started, you know, my company in 1991. And really it was, I got, I didn’t like working there, but I really liked Ruthie I was trying to get her to date me to dating the same guy for five years so it was a really difficult challenge. And then I sort of interviewed for a job, to be the editorial cartoonist for Pioneer Press which was a newspaper company that owned a bunch of different publications in the Midwest that gave me the job. I went into resign. And they doubled my salaries stay, which kind of pisses me off. Because what, so I should have been making twice as much. But Ruth did not agree to go on a date with me, so I reneged on the editorial cartoonists job stayed where, which was probably not a good thing to do but I really was focused on grief at the time, and stayed with that job for another six months to review, he and I were dating and then I started magic Douglas.

Mike Malatesta  35:17

Was it the was it the extra cash in your pocket that got Ricky’s attention Mike or what was

Mike Maddock  35:25

god she’s never, you know, the. She’s the daughter of a mechanic. Dick McCausland. She actually was put off, she tells me today because I told her when we started dating that I was going to be very successful and make a lot of money. June like hearing that cheer it was a very inspirational purpose.


Oh really.

Mike Maddock  35:51

Now, which is a mirror right and actually, it gave me a lot of courage, as she did. You know, I’ve never had someone to come going, why aren’t you making more money. That was never a driver, so it allowed me to take some pretty big risks without worrying about upsetting her.


And so,

Mike Malatesta  36:15

which I was interesting if you went to work for Pioneer maybe you wouldn’t know Yeah, interesting, your whole your whole life could have been very different.

Mike Maddock  36:23

Yeah. Here’s another story. My father was trying to help me find my path. And so, when I was a senior in college, he got his boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss got me an interview at Leo Burnett, which is a big advertising agency in Chicago. And I remember going to no preparation, grabbed all my crap went up this elevator the Prudential building all the way to the top floor, get off the elevator go up to this desk and I said hey I’m here to see, hopefully. The woman said, Okay, I’ll be right with you and you’re back, and there’s this big corner office overlooking Lake Michigan. And I said, Can you tell me what Mr. Baldwin does here and she’s looked at me, She’s like, He’s the Executive Creative Director worldwide for Leo Burnett Sago and this guy who invented Tony the Tiger in the Pillsbury Doughboy and Ernie Keibler. He’s a cartoonist. Turns out, and he’s. And he said yeah Mike, you can work here. I see your current Tunis, director, writer, draw cartoons Mark I kind of like both doing both. I like selling stuff, because yeah that’s a problem. You need to pick a swiveling here, because ever thought about starting your own company, really, because if you’ve come to Leo Burnett, you know, you’ll have to do just one of those. That’s how you rise here, and so he planted that seed. So when I say luck, you know it takes a little bit of luck, you know, I think that puts people in your path. If you’re listening messages get pretty loud and pretty clear over time.

Mike Malatesta  38:09

That’s pretty cool that you got your dad got you high enough up in Keeler to meet the guy who created the character for Keibler

Mike Maddock  38:18

thing was his humility, you know, yeah. When he saw that it was pretty unprepared. I mean I was a college kid and just slept. He was put off by it, you know, he was just like well how can I help you, really sweet guy. And, you know, when people call me and say, can you talk to my kid, the answer is always yes why not you know, I’d love to talk to you, it’s an honor. First of all, if somebody asks you to help their child, there’s no bigger. So, good one there.


So Mike, you

Mike Malatesta  38:57

know you’ve started these six different companies, which is hard, you know, it’s hard enough even if you know whether you’re a starter or finisher I mean that’s, that’s very, very difficult, but then, and we talked about this when we had our sort of pre call, you know, you’re also what I would consider now to be a prolific writer and speaker, and it’s not like your car, at least the way I’m looking at, it’s not like you carved off everything else in your life to pursue this new sort of thing, I mean you still have the. You’re still the entrepreneur, right and. And I was just amazed by that because I think I shared with you my sort of desire to write a book and I’ve been working on working on in here you got at least four books, and your newest one is out or coming out soon, I don’t, I don’t know plan. Plenty. Right. So I want to I, it’s, so I have to know I have to dig into how you actually managed to do that Mike m, m y, then let’s take the writing first or which came first, the speaking or the writing.

Mike Maddock  40:08

First Reading came second.

Mike Malatesta  40:09

Okay and the speaking did it come first like doing, you know, business organization type events that kind of thing or, you know, and then it, what, what got you started.

Mike Maddock  40:23

So I went to parochial schools as a kid because my parents were assured that the knives could fix me. Turns out they were wrong.

Mike Malatesta  40:31

I followed a similar path.

Mike Maddock  40:34

I would get detentions for doing, and I just couldn’t shut off. I was talking to doodling in class so it the irony of being paid to draw talk now is lost on me. So, it goes to like what do you do naturally well and people started to ask if I’d be interested in speaking, you know, in front of in front of groups and it turns out, you know, chatterbox always chatterbox so speaking came naturally to me. And I was encouraged by some of the people that were mentoring me to get up and, you know, I own consulting firms and creative services firms. So, this is a great new business way to do it because people will come to you with opportunity. So that made sense to me, and then writing the same thing, you know, Vern Harnish I mentioned him earlier told me that the best business card in the world is at work. You know if you ever booked, you know, people will see you they will, they will listen to you they believe you plus turns out that it’s a really good way to think through ideas is writing. So I started writing for BusinessWeek, and I started writing for Forbes, and, and books really are all, all they are is a bunch of thoughts strung together so you know, writing articles can become a strong man for a book that were sent differently. If you have an idea you can start writing articles about that idea and you wake up Monday is like wow, there’s a book here, because they can be toggled together in a way that is useful for other people.

Mike Malatesta  42:20

And how do you get an opportunity to write for Business Week or, I don’t even know if that’s, I don’t even know which magazines are still, still around, or not but

Mike Maddock  42:35

I have a friend named Paul Brown, who’s an incredible writer if anybody’s looking for someone to help them, edit, or write a book I highly recommend. Paul Brown, he’s written for the New York Times for years he’s ghostwritten some pretty famous books that you’ve heard that. I won’t give away the secrets but, and he’s a great editor. And the reason I know he’s a great editor is because the best art directors and best figures as creative directors. They just tell you what needs to be fixed, they don’t rework things that are good, you know, again, this doesn’t make sense to me, I need an example here. So a friend of mine introduced me to Paul we became friends. He started to coach me on how to do this. And they said, Hey, if you want us to write for Fast Company Business Week, Inc Magazine, etc. He’s offering some introductions and he introduced me someone to Businessweek Forbes eventually so indebted, Paul we become quite good friends, and he’s crazy, crazy talented, Paul, the round is his main goal if you want to write a book.

Mike Malatesta  43:46

I wrote that down because I have so many ideas to write more books but then I think to myself, look how long it took me to do this one. And so like I’m running out of time, you know,

Mike Maddock  44:05

it’s absolutely overwhelming. Yeah, but you know, it’s one bite at a time so I think a good practice is to get up in the morning and write a couple paragraphs about something you’re interested in, and then put it in a file, you know, and then eventually wake up, you have a book. It’s exactly so. Yeah. i That to me is like, I can’t eat aside a beef. I just can’t even do it, but, but a book on a topic, but I believe that you might

Mike Malatesta  44:39

well, but you got to do more than that you got to sort of walk me through it so let’s talk about. I want to talk about each of your books but let’s start with the newest one plan de veau subtitle is lessons from the world’s most successful disruptors, which is a very popular word these days, right.

Mike Maddock  44:56

I define disruptors as people that blow shit up for the good of the whole. Okay. And the reason I was interested in disruptors, is because wherever there is innovation, there’s someone that, that hated something so much that they just couldn’t stand for it. And, you know, I started makeovers in 1991 So 30 years ago, And Maddock Douglass’s innovation consulting firm, so we get hired to sit in a room and come up with a new product, new service and new business model, and the people that hire us are disruptors, they’re, they’re the ones in the, in the company, typically, that the company deemed worthy of blowing, blowing things after the good of the whole. And so I get to watch them, and the book is really just observations about the superhero powers that they had in common. And so I, you know told a story about a disrupter. Outline the superhero power and then laid out some practices. So you can use that superhero power and meaning to it if you wanted to.

Mike Malatesta  46:02

And do you think is it, what’s that I guess it can anyone be a disrupter Mike is it or is it sort of like the start or finish or type thing you got to

Mike Maddock  46:12

your I don’t think everyone can’t be disruptive, but



Mike Maddock  46:21

So it’s a really good question. You know I retract, I think that you can be a disrupter, but it takes a certain amount of courage and and callousness between disruptors leave wakes you know they they tick people off changes hard. It makes people. It creates fear bad feelings, drama, but each change things. And so to say, I’m going to help change things. You have to be okay with that. Yeah, people are gonna lose their jobs, they’re gonna feel incompetent they’re gonna, you know, and so that type of, you know, if you start dwelling on that and some people are naturally built by God dwell on that kind of thing. You’re gonna stop yourself. It’s just too hard. So there are certain people that are much better at it. I wrote an article for Forbes years ago about the two cases of disruption, who was the Maverick and the focus straighter. Mavericks are fired within three years. They could care less. They’re brought in, they’re the kind of like the Hired Gun in the old western town, they’re just gonna change things right leave a tremendous wake, they always get hired again, another company, and the orchestrator. Typically a woman, typically has been with a company for a couple of decades. Everyone loves and trust this person, and they know where the bodies are very, so they’re much more pragmatic about bringing people along. Those are the two types of people get included in organizations from my experience,

Mike Malatesta  48:05

I think too, it’s got to be tough to be an effective disrupter. Because when you’re blowing up an idea, it’s someone’s idea that’s probably sitting at the table, like someone came up with that and thought it was a good idea for example which is why we’re doing it. And when you come in and say, that’s, you know, that’s no longer a good idea people automatically, right, it’s like ownership, well we didn’t. What do you mean it’s not a good idea, you know, it’s, so it’s, you have to be really feel like to be good, you can’t just be like the person who points out, who’s willing to point out what’s wrong, you have to figure out how to make people feel good about the change in what was wrong to

Mike Maddock  48:51

people support what they create. That’s an axiom of innovation. So, leading with ideas is a really bad strategy because they’re too easy to use. No, that won’t work. We’ve already thought of that that’s illegal, etc. So when you think about the phases of growth and I lay them out as the operator of the strategies, The Rainmaker. The visionary tactic futures through orchestrator. They all have different triggers and are different techniques for each one that they can take hard to get on board with an idea. The challenge, one of the biggest challenges is the, is there’s an expertise trap. You know, my favorite sayings, you can’t read the label when you’re sitting inside the jar. You know, you know what works you know what’s illegal you know why he got fired before you can afford you know he tried in the past. No, you know, you know, you know, and so you’re such an expert that you can’t see possibility when it’s walking right in front of you and that’s why most, most times, outside the industry, because people are too naive. Or they’re so frustrated that they’re going to change it. And meanwhile, experts are saying no, you can’t do that. And in every, in every industry there’s a good meaning expert who’s around that table going no, here’s why it won’t work. And they have a lot of, they have a they have a lot of leverage, they might be a lawyer they might be a chemical engineer they might be whatever they are, they know the technologies they know something that other people don’t know. Right. And so they keep innovation from happening.

Mike Malatesta  50:36

Yeah, they may also have an experience from the past that they’re imagining is the same as what you’re, what, whatever you’re talking about would lead to the same thing and they’re like, Nope, didn’t work and, you know, here’s what happened back whenever right, it’s

Mike Maddock  50:56

when I’m on stage I love telling stories. Now, these experiences and we’ve, We’ve all heard him I’ve seen him up close, I mean, I’ve never told the story about how the Chief Technology Officer, yelled at me from Kodak, many many many years ago, I you know I just asked him, What about Fuji because I saw that my wife was buying fuji film at Kmart or something. it was cheaper it was flimsier it was shiny here and brighter and you look to me like you don’t even understand a business that’s black, you know that the chemicals bad papers that Kodak has captured the history of the world, because we know more about chemistry and paper and the quality of photos than anyone else. Okay, well guess what, you know, Geoffrey Hazlitt who became the CMO of Kodak told me that Fuji ate our lunch we couldn’t see a comment. The thing was that, that’s everything that the CTO or Kodak said was correct, but he didn’t know the business, they were really in, he thought they were in the in the paper, and chemistry business. Why, because they had


chemical companies and Trump’s,

Mike Maddock  52:02

you know, billions of dollars worth of stock in that business. Meanwhile, you know they’re in the memory business there. So, and, you know we’ve all, I think most of us know that correct actually invented digital ad that happened, and they were stumbling at Kodak screaming from the mountaintops saying, this is the future this is the future in the room, but he couldn’t convince the executives that he was right. And, you know, We kind of know the end of the story here.

Mike Malatesta  52:35

It’s a great point, like when you’re, when you’ve spent your whole life, like your dad. Your dad at Keibler doing whatever he was doing he was an expert on what he was doing, and if someone came in and said, Hey, there’s a whole new way to whatever, I don’t know what his job was, but there’s a whole new way to do this they’re doing it over at, you know, Nabisco, you’d be like, Oh, those guys. They’re like a fly by night right we’re Keibler you know it’s kind of, it’s really easy to fall into that trap. Yeah,

Mike Maddock  53:08

totally missed earlier I use the surfing. I think businesses is allowed to be a really bad businessman, but if you pick the right way, you will look good and make it to Sure, you can be the best businessman in the world. If you pick the best surfer moreover if you pick the wrong way, you’re not getting anywhere. Yeah, so the ability to pick that wave is is so critical. And when you’re an expert. You’ll often miss the wave the next wave. The next wave. And that’s why, you know, having a balanced perspective is so important. So so hard to do.

Mike Malatesta  53:46

I like that metaphor of the wave, because if you do hit if you do catch the right wave you look like you know your. Everything you touch turns to gold until you try to ride that next wave like doing it and something else. Next is really really hard, you know that’s where you get



Mike Maddock  54:06

comes by her own experience we work from, in revenue as a consulting firm from three to 15 million in revenue inside like three years. So we were on the right wave, and at the time we were competing with companies like IDEO and Fahrenheit in the site clay Christensen’s company and, you know, doing pretty well and we did not recognize it, it wasn’t because we were told by really smart people, that the next wave was all about technology. And so, in a day or competition went from E IDEO to McKinsey, BCG and Accenture. And, you know, digital innovation, became the Trojan horse for let us sell you three or five years worth of technology implementation. And, you know, I’m so smart that I was telling people, no no no no no, because that’s a hammer looking for a nail. You know if you’re, if you’re looking to innovate it doesn’t have to be digital, You have to keep your eyes wide open, or that expertise was a problem, you know, because the next wave, you know, everything’s gonna be a software business. And so you need to be on that wave one way or another. So, it happens in every business,

Mike Malatesta  55:30

how long did it take for that to hit you

Mike Maddock  55:34

like how a couple years. Okay, what happened. So, you know, onwards, but But my point. My point is that we’re all, we all have this challenge of missing things because of our own expertise. And in my experience the most clever leaders, clearly I’m not one of them have found ways to surround themselves with a balanced executive team, and infuse outside thinking regularly, in a way that helps them respond to the ever changing and more quickly changing market. The average fortune 500 companies extinct in 15 years now extinct. There’s a study by Yale that showed that in seven years 75% of the Fortune 500 will be companies we haven’t heard of yet. That’s how quickly change is happening, so it becomes very important to surround yourself with balance and perspective, and have the systems in place. Quarterly not yearly.

Mike Malatesta  56:43

And as most of that extinction due to mergers or failures might just want to be clear on that.

Mike Maddock  56:50

Well I don’t know the answer, okay. Yeah, that’s a good question but I know that that trend is accelerating, I mean, there are all these fun charts and graphs that look like. Yeah, going down, and, and we know that it’s easier than ever with technology to jump in the game and you know, think of what’s the power you have in your, in your phone. That’s, that’s a moonshot that’s moonshot power and everybody has it. So you have that technology so, you know, your next competitor might be a 16 year old in West Africa has an idea that you can’t see because you’re inside the jar. And that can happen. Pretty cool.

Mike Malatesta  57:36

Yeah, for sure, well it’s cool if you’re, if you’re in that game, it’s, it’s scary if you don’t want to be in that game and you want to just hold on right because to this, this is working, it’s going to continue working hopefully at least until I get out of this place you know that kind of thing. Yeah,

Mike Maddock  57:53

a middle aged white guy who’s three years away from retirement, who says that we’re going to innovate, and I will show you a liar. Try to do is get to the finish line without screwing things up, right. I was, I was on the board of the Innovation Board for General Electric. And I remember going to 30 Rock, and going to the top floor, and walking down this long hallway for black and white pictures of middle aged white guys that had run this company and some of the guys on the board with me say, you know why we’re here right and I go get your database. Yeah, we’re here because it’s been 13 years since General Electric has launched a new product service and business model based on one of its 1000 Patents, Patents 13 years, but man could they Six Sigma man could they mitigate risk Jack Welch had done such a good job that they forgot how to have the next idea. This is Thomas Edison’s company, right. This is a classic example of a visionary, a company going in and it was taken over by operators, and now look. So no, that is that is that organism ready, does he have the right type of muscle to respond to rapid change. Probably not. Yeah, balance,

Mike Malatesta  59:17

we able to make an impact,

Mike Maddock  59:20

sort of, look, you know when while slept they lost $200 million of market share.

Mike Malatesta  59:26

So yeah, I just, I just, I just live I just heard Jeff him out on a couple of different podcasts, talking about his experience with his new book that comes out and yeah, it was, it’s, it got it, got real ugly real fast, actually. Oh yeah, okay, she was okay,

Mike Maddock  59:47

reported directly to Jeff amazing company, great company, people doing the right things but, you know, There’s this tiny numbers to make,



Mike Maddock  1:00:04

It’s really hard. It’s really hard to start something new inside the machine that is so good at doing what it did yesterday a little bit better today.

Mike Malatesta  1:00:13

So, like, when I was reading about your company, you say, I lead a team that collaborates with corporate leaders, responsible for answering the question what’s next. So I thought I’d ask you, what’s next.


The future is question,


what’s next.

Mike Maddock  1:00:35

I think that the data is going to become much more available to us. In other words, you know, we will be able to summon the right data at the right time. So instruments around us be our eyeglasses or our hats, or watches are our phones will be integrated in a way that we have the information that we want and need much more readily. You know if you think about it years ago everybody was afraid of pirate privacy and our kids are mad. If their phones don’t know that they’re hungry. Have a burger in your hand in five minutes, right. Yeah, but that’s the way we’re going. So that’s what’s next, I think, along with that there’s going to be a tremendous need for force, the synthesis, and interpretation of data, because there’s so much of it, which is going to lead to a real need for for humanity and sciences to get back together. The people that are even a few years back Silicon Valley started trying to bring in liberal arts, people who could interpret the feelings, etc. So, other people I think, I think there’s gonna be a real need for liberal arts majors to help interpret what’s happening with technology. I don’t think that we’re going back to life as it was before COVID in this conversation with the CEO of a large commercial real estate company and CEO of a large insurance company on the same day. A few months ago, and the commercial real estate guy was saying this is great because a COVID, and social distancing people are going to need much more office space.


Oh by

Mike Maddock  1:02:41

later in the day, the CEO of the insurance company told me, yeah we’re never going back. Like 10,000 employees. They’re like working, you know, we don’t need the office space anymore. So I think the freedom to work where you want when you want isn’t Max, I think the gig economy is over here. And I think companies that are able to, so we used to have, like, nice to eat private boys under one roof. Now we have hundreds of employees, but there you don’t pay them every day. In other words, we have learned to be able to bring in people for 15 minutes, an hour for hours. That’s it.


Fractional employment.

Mike Maddock  1:03:21

That’s when people go and get another full time job. The first question I asked them is hey, can we still work with you, I mean, they work it into their contract, or it’s like yeah for sure because I love working with this team, I know that I can, you know, work, you know for 15 minutes or an hour and something really challenging. Which leads me to one last final point. I learned the hard way that millennials work all the time, the whole nine to five construct has been dead for years and most companies haven’t caught up with it, they’re certainly companies. 95. But, if you’re pushing their employees to work from nine to five, you’re losing out on such bandwidth. It’s more about can you get this done by Tuesday of next week. I don’t care how right, let’s do a good job. If it’s three in the morning, two in the morning, in the morning, okay if it’s from Paris, or Vancouver or from Chicago. Cool. That’s where we’re going. So some of these more conservative industries are going to be catching up with that construct

Mike Malatesta  1:04:29

my it’s so funny you say that because my last week my daughter who’s a senior in college, asked me what time people start work at our company. And I said, Well, I actually don’t know because people start work at all different times depending on what they’re doing or whatever and she says, Why do they call it a nine to five job that it doesn’t seem like anyone works nine to five. Yeah. Right, right right right. Well, Mike, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your wisdom and your experience I got a ton out of this, and I like your thinking, and I like that fractional employment people should take that as, like, that’s a great idea, a fractional employment Well, I’m calling it fractional employment you might call it gig economy or 1099 or whatever you want to call it, but being able to find someone to solve a problem you have right now without having to, you know, do the background check and put them on the payroll and pay them benefits and all that and just pay them for the time like you would some other, you know part vendor partner that you have makes a ton of sense, like a ton of sense. Thanks.


Answer is gonna be yes.

Mike Malatesta  1:05:46

Thank you, where do people, where do you want people to connect with you buy your book, what do you want them to do

Mike Maddock  1:05:52

well if you’re interested in a fast growth advisory board if you think you’re one of those people that could use a virtual form of, you know, a balance, more, it’ll help you respond to the theater, more rapidly. That’s flourish, forums, plural. COMM www flourish forums.com innovation consultant is Matt Douglas back by email at mic at Matt Douglas. COMM looks bearable on Amazon, buying books the three bookstores left near you.

Mike Malatesta  1:06:32

Plan D lesson from the world’s most successful disruptors and check out Mike’s other books as well, Mike, thank you so much. Enjoy your day.


Okay, well thanks Mike. Hope that went all right.

Mike Maddock  1:06:49

I love that you’re one of the guys, people that grew up in radio just hanging up on you like, oh, oh, it’s a weirdest thing to me that it comes out of the TV and radio world where we’re doing the interview so you just hang up like well why can’t we just say goodbye. We’re off. Oh,


yeah, that’s,

Mike Maddock  1:07:09

that was useful for you.

Mike Malatesta  1:07:11

Yeah, super useful.


Yeah, um,

Mike Malatesta  1:07:14

when you were talking about what’s next, I wondered, and you mentioned the glasses and stuff are you do you think this neural net thing is going to become something big, you know where you get a chip, put in your head and you basically connect yourself to the cloud like musk and some others want to do

Mike Maddock  1:07:33

technologist, I look at what’s happening with, like, what we do with our animals, they used to be the nation of pets everything that happened people eventually have pets, I think it’s slipping around. So I, if I hadn’t guessed, I think there are gonna be chips in people’s bodies for medical reasons First, it’s already kind of. Yeah, like Why shouldn’t a diabetic, be like, connected to the phone, where everything is just immediate, yep. I think that’s the first. You know as people become more used to things like an exchange. Like what am I giving up to get what I want, and as long as you’re getting something to work. You’re giving up the

Mike Malatesta  1:08:22

floors for all you have to be do you have like a target size companies that you would want to

Mike Maddock  1:08:30

merge together, the average revenues for.

Mike Malatesta  1:08:34

So really big. Okay,

Mike Maddock  1:08:37

now I’m launching one in May that is between one in 2001 in August or September, that is going to be between 2525 25. So if you’re interested, I’d love to have you involved if you know someone, I have more people that have agreed to be in flourish work in August. So far, it’s, it’s like I said Tetris, it’s kind of like who are the best people I can find either seats available, right.

Mike Malatesta  1:09:10

Okay, yeah, it’s something to think about I like the idea.


Yeah, yeah it’s


really funny.


Why don’t I know you gave me your foot up and orchestrator. Yeah, probably, probably, I’m,

Mike Malatesta  1:09:29

I’m definitely not the I’m definitely not the maverick who’s gonna walk in the room and, you know, just leave a big week behind that’s just not me. Although I will challenge people I won’t do that.

Mike Maddock  1:09:46

Anyway, yeah. If I can, if I can help you get into my talk more about we’ll do it or something. Okay.

Mike Malatesta  1:09:55

Thanks so much. Alright, See you later.

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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