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Episode transcript below:
Mike Malatesta 00:00
Hey everyone, Mike Malatesta here and welcome back to the how that happened podcast on this podcast. I dig in deep with every guest to explore the roots of their success to discover not just how it happened but why it matters. My mission is to find and share stories that inspire, activate and maximize the greatness in you. On today’s show, I have an amazing conversation with Simon Severino, the CEO of strategy sprints and an amazing entrepreneur, we talked about how important process and systems are to scaling a business and scaling freedom as an entrepreneur how goals will never help you when you need them. I thought that was really interesting. The difference between agile and rigid and how he thinks about Elon Musk goals will never help you when you need them. Goals give you some you know, aspirational energy, okay, it’s like a coffee. It gives you a little bit of excitement in that moment. Okay, but when things get tough goals don’t bring you anywhere you don’t raise to the level of your goals you fall to the levels of your current systems. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Simon, Welcome to the How to happen podcast. Hey, Mike. Hey, everybody excited to be here. Yeah, thank you. Um, I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time because I just really impressed by you and by all the things that you’re doing, and I feel like this is going to be like a lesson like a learning lesson for me and for a lot of the people who are running specifically who are listening specifically people who are running businesses, because you really put the rubber to the road on how to get how to maximize the like, all of the great things about running a business which usually get overshadowed or tend to be overshadowed by all the grind of running a business so I’m, I’m I’m really excited about this. So let me tell you a little bit about Simon. So here are some highlights. He’s author of strategy sprints, which subtitle that is 12 ways to accelerate growth for an agile business and I want to ask you later about the word agile because that intrigues me. CEO of consulting agencies strategy Sprint’s creator of the strategy Sprint’s method TEDx speaker coach of coaches he is a podcast host his podcast is called strategy Sprint’s the CEO show he is a global speaker and a scale up expert and Simon helps business owners discover how to be able to run their company more efficiently, which results in sales that’s soar, he created the strategy sprints method that doubles revenue in 90 days. Okay, that gets people’s attention by getting owners out of the weeds. As I mentioned, he’s the CEO of strategy sprints. And he is also a Forbes business council member, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, which I am or have been as well. So that’s awesome. And a member of the Duke corporate education or a Duke corporate education now I’m assuming that Duke corporate education is part of the university Simon is Tell me a little bit more about what that means. They do trainings for corporations on strategy, innovation leadership, and that’s the training arm okay. Thank you for that you can reach Simon is email is Severino, S e v e r i n o at strategy sprints.com. He’s at Simon Severino on looks like everywhere, Twitter, LinkedIn, is there any place special you want people to connect with you or follow you? I’m mostly on YouTube and LinkedIn assignments every no YouTube and LinkedIn Simon Severina. So Simon, I start every podcast with the same simple question. And that is, how did it happen for you? It happens every day.
Simon Severino 03:41
I am a believer in process. And I am I’ve been humbled enough by over 22 years in business, to know that I’m such a tiny thing, I cannot decide much. I don’t have much in control 95% of everything that happens is not in my control. So I can wake up in the morning, see what’s happening and decide how I react and that reacting. How will I behave now, that is 100% in my control. And so that’s a little part I cannot control how many employees they have what the sales number in that week is many things are not in my control. But I can control how I respond. And that little thing. That’s what I look at. And for me life is process business also. But life is just process because 95% is not in my control. So I surrender. I look at the 5% and I focus on those. There is opportunity in there. I focus on that part. So this is that was very interesting what you said. You said I’m a tiny thing. Tell me when did you discover that you were a tiny thing because I’m guessing that there was a journey toward that, or at least in my experience
Mike Malatesta 05:00
Since a lot of entrepreneurs think that they are not the tiny thing, they are the biggest. Tell me about that.
Simon Severino 05:05
Yeah, when you start, you’re so important, right? Oh, you are the CEO. And in my email signature, it says, I’m a CEO. So when I show up somewhere, people are super, like, polite. Like your intro in the beginning, super polite, total status there, etc. And so your ego, my thing, oh, you’re big, you’re influential you are something. But if you compare it actually, the size of the universe, right? And the size of the planet, that’s where I start, okay? The planet is a speck. And then you look at the planet, and you say, your country, whatever countries, it’s so tiny. And then in that country, your city is tiny, and in your city, you know, your family and your role in your family? Like, do you think that my three kids and my wife that I have any control over them? Oh, no, come on, when when when I get home, it’s I do, you know, diapers and cleaning up, etc? In real life? Yeah. So I’m a very small part of a very big and very intelligent ecosystem. And you know, I’m in my 40s now. So in my 20s, I didn’t talk this way. I thought, I’m important. I’m influential I’m, I can move stuff. Now I know I am moved by stuff. And I’m part of something bigger. And it’s smart to in every moment, to remind myself of that. And then to think, Alright, what’s the 5%? What can I contribute? Now,
Mike Malatesta 06:39
the diaper thing reminded me I had a gentleman on my show at one time, and he said something similar. He said, during the day, I’m the CEO and at home dishwasher. Just sort of putting yourself in place, you know, we’re all just human beings, right? We all have various roles that we play in life, but we’re not. Yeah, we’re specs. I liked how you said that. We’re just we’re it’s about
Simon Severino 07:03
service and every moment. Yeah. So
Mike Malatesta 07:07
how did you come to become an entrepreneur? The backstory there.
Simon Severino 07:12
The real story is, I was utterly unemployable. When did you I was in in a global consultancy. In the top project, I was getting promoted very quickly, from junior consultant to senior consultant, junior project manager, Senior Project Manager, the whole that famous letter, I was running up that letter. But inside of my chest, I felt there is a song that wants to be to be sung, and I couldn’t, there, you know, these were the times where corporate consulting, you didn’t have blogs, and everybody expressing their voice and all that kind of stuff, I guess, if I could have expressed myself in form of a blog, I could have found a way to stay in that, in that role, and to still express myself. But I’m thankful that there was no blog or newsletter or anything, where single individuals in the enterprise would unfold their voice and their being, we were just in project work, and just expressing the brand, but never expressing us through the brand. And so I was like, there is a song in me, this song wants to be sung. And this is, in hindsight, this is how entrepreneurs realize that they are here to build something, because if you cannot express it, that means that you have to change context, and you have to create your own platform where you can express it. And that was I was feeling like, here, I cannot express myself fully. So I have to find a place where I can express myself fully. And the easiest place is you start your own place.
Mike Malatesta 08:58
Okay, was there. So a lot of people have that, that song inside of them that they, they feel like it needs to come out at some point. But there’s often a lot of resistance to it. There’s you can talk yourself out of your song pretty easily, right? Because it’s a risk. And there’s the feel of there’s a possibility of failure. There’s a lot of inertia to not letting the song come out and to use your words. I’m curious, was there something in your like a catalytic sort of event that made you say, Now is the time or how did you get over any uncertainty you might have had about your song being a song anybody cared about?
Simon Severino 09:34
Yeah, I mean, I’m a numerical person. So I said, Okay, this is risky. Let me quantify the risk, what’s the risk actually? And so because the risk of not expressing myself that to me is huge. That means I have a life have lived. Yeah, that risk is exponential. So I went to the other risk. Let’s look at the economical risk. What do I need per month? How many months do I need safe on the side before I jump. And so I’m a very, very risk averse person. So I said, I want six months of this monthly expenditure that I need. I didn’t have kids. So that was wasn’t the big number. And then six months. And I said, as soon as I have six months on the site, I jump turned out, I jumped after when I had just four months on the site, because I felt safe enough.
Mike Malatesta 10:30
Okay, so alright, I’m just gonna let that go. That’s safe enough. I would like you to So where did you Where did you jump? Where did you just not come out?
Simon Severino 10:37
Yet most easiest way is you started your own thing. Okay, I started my company and gave it a name. And in and I was thinking, Hey, give it a name, that it’s not just surname and call, because maybe other people want to join later. So okay, let’s express what we’re here to do. We care about two questions. What’s the right thing to do right now? And what’s the best way to do it? So it became strategy sprint? Because those are the two questions was the right thing to do? Is the strategy question for every team? And how do we do it the right way? That’s the sprint process. So we said, man, let’s call it strategy sprints, and whoever is into that, and likes those processes. Can can join later. And so
Mike Malatesta 11:24
what was the first strategy sprint that you did? Like, what was the first project? Or how do you remember getting this off the ground?
Simon Severino 11:31
I can’t remember the very first project, but I can remember, like the first three to five people in that year, like three, five people from that year. And they and they are still our clients, or they are again, our clients. Because sometimes, you know, they sell their company, and then they start a new one. And then again, they reengage to us, or they are still members of our community, because we have a community. And so the questions were around sales, how can we improve our numbers? Because they have very long sales cycles, the b2b sales cycle is so long that the team gets demotivated and, and there is always the risk of burnout when you don’t have that. When you’re when your team is not in flow, the risk of burnout is real. And so their question is always Simon, how can we keep the team in flow, have aligned goals have a process that keeps us feeling impactful? And that has little successes regularly so that we get energy back, we get energy back, we are always rolling, we’re always moving and we are in flow, it feels creative, it feels meaningful. And you hear that chugging, chugging that little results coming in. And so sales is the best place because you literally get energy back it says chugging 10,000, chugging. 200,000. That’s the the ultimate energy refill. And it’s the ultimate feedback.
Mike Malatesta 13:13
Yeah, someone right, someone giving you money is the ultimate validation, right? Like what you’re doing is important to me. Yes. This process thing you’ve mentioned, you mentioned earlier, you’re a process person. And then you just mentioned processor, where did process come from in your life? Where were you born a process person where your parents process people? And the reason I’m so curious about it is because so many of us, particularly entrepreneurs are often not process people they are they are, you know, ready, shoot aim, people that you know, and it and it works for them up to a point where it doesn’t maybe work anymore. When you have to have a team and stuff. It’s tough to have a team with no process. Where did process come from in your life?
Simon Severino 13:55
Great question. So in my life, I’m a creative person. I have many ideas I like to grow to, to be very spontaneous. I’m more of an improv kind of person, a Jazz, Jazz kind of person. But as you say, as soon as you have responsibility for others, you start needing processes systems, you start writing down checklists, because you want to make sure that everybody has what they need, and you don’t forget anything. So I started with checklists. And then those checklists became SOPs, standard operating procedures, and that that whole thing became the sprint University and a full curriculum for certified strategies, Prince coaches, but it started with a checklist, just things that I I need to remember that this the minimum viable system, minimum viable process. And so in my life, I’m more of a creative person. I don’t start with systems. I start with passion with an idea and I want to immediately build it, try it and think later, I’m a think later kind of guy. Okay. And so but then after I try something, I build it, I show it to people, I gather their feedback, then I want to make it repeatable, oh, this doesn’t work. Okay, let’s keep it all these works, what exactly works? Let me write that down. And that becomes part of the next checklist. And entrepreneurship is a game where you start, you explore by your passion, and by your your being, you start many things you explore. And then when something works, you write it down, you codify it, you make it repeatable, and you hand it over. That’s the game of entrepreneurship. And I think somebody who does it really well is Elon Musk, he immerses himself into one big problem. He doesn’t know how to do it in the beginning. But he immerses himself totally. Then he finds something that works. As soon as it works, he hands it over to the team. And then he moves on to the next bigger problem to solve. And now he has a fully AI team that’s perfectly capable of doing AI, a full rocket team that’s able of doing rockets. And, and he moves on to the next thing where everybody goes, What is he doing? Why is he buying Twitter. But in his word, it makes sense, there is a strategy behind that. And that’s, that’s the entrepreneurial game, he doesn’t need to solve rockets anymore. When you have found out how to have a rocket land back on Earth, this is the moment where you hand it over. And you move on to the next bigger problem, because now it’s a repeatable thing. Now you write it down, and you have a team of engineers do that. And same thing for our small teams, solopreneurs. Little teams, it’s the same thing. I explore the solution for a relevant problem. As soon as I know it, I write it down, I create a screencast. I write it down. I have also a process for how to create processes, obviously. But it’s basically creating, recording it writing it down and handing it over. And moving on to the next bigger piece.
Mike Malatesta 17:05
And it is the idea. Well, first of all, I am glad you do the distinction between system coming after you’ve explored something that you don’t necessarily know how to do, because I’m assuming that, you know, if you try to put a system together for something you’ve never done, the likelihood that you’re going to do it probably erodes because you don’t know how to do it. And so not knowing how to do it scares you. And he’s like, I can’t go until I have it all written down. But the should I also assume that the the process that gets documented, so after you’ve done something and you pretty sure you have a way to do it, that that is also not just a roadmap for the rest of the team to follow, but but also an opportunity for them to improve the process as they continue to do the work.
Simon Severino 17:52
Let me give you an example from last week. Yeah, last Friday morning, I get an email. One person from my team quits. And so we have a sceptres team. So the marketing team is six scepters. And the the sales team is three closers. So one of those three quits, it’s 1/3 of my team fully gone. That’s the worst thing that can happen to us and probably to most teams, that you lose somebody from the team. So I go for a run. And I was super sad. I was like, okay, cool. Let me digest this. Let me fully embrace surrender to this. What is the feedback in here? What do I need to take more seriously? What do I need to improve? And I go for a run a couple hours, because I’m preparing for a marathon. And then I come back. And No, before that, I just sent that email to everybody else in the team. And then I went just to inform them and I said, we will talk later. Now I’m going for a run. I come back from the run. It’s three hours later. And Michelle from my team says, I have three new people. And are you kidding me? Where do you Where did you get three people in three hours? And she says from LinkedIn, Simon, I used our LinkedIn process, our hiring process. I had totally forgotten because I’m a creative person. And I’m emotional right? I was missing the person in those three hours, just just you know, personally missing her thinking about what it does with me, right? And but she she was already picking the system, which is literally chapter 12 and chapter 15 of the strategy Sprint’s book is exactly those hiring systems. And so she was using those systems and boom, three hours later, we did not just solve the problem but grow the company. And so in that same afternoon, I on boarded then the next three people and and the afternoon was amazing. The rest that happened on the day was magical. The reason why I tell you this in the in the systems section of our conversation is goals will never help you when you need them. Goals give you some, you know, aspirational energy, okay? It’s like a coffee, it gives you a little bit of excitement in that moment, okay? But when things get tough goals don’t bring you anywhere, you don’t raise to the level of your goals, you fall to the levels of your current systems. And so what I have felt there is what every entrepreneur needs, you fall to the level of your systems, because there will be weeks where stuff happens, you will have negative growth in the economy, slow growth, losing people, all kinds of stuff, you will have lawsuits. If you’re an entrepreneur, you will have very, very tough weeks. And so what do you need in a tough week resilient systems, and people on the team who use those systems who know where they are, how to use them, and quickly use them? That’s the most resilient thing to have you
Mike Malatesta 21:04
so so there’s a few things I want to dig into here. But first of all, the do you find in your work? A lot of people that you first encounter are resistant to systems?
Simon Severino 21:14
Yes, they usually think it takes your freedom. Right. And we work with agencies, with consultancies, marketing agencies, recruiting agencies, design agencies, they all are have artists have business person, like I see myself also being half artists, half business person. And when you hear systems you go, Oh, my God, that’s boring. That takes my creativity. And for me, it’s the opposite. Actually, I’m designing a postcards right now for our merch. And it says, Love Plus systems is freedom. Yeah. We met everybody who has kids, I have three kids. If if you don’t have systems, habits, rituals, cadences of things, there is no joy, there is no freedom. It’s just chaos, and everybody is overwhelmed. And nobody knows when stuff happens. So systems are actually the foundation for creativity for spontaneity, for for freedom. For example, I know in the morning, the first two hours before my kids wake up, it’s me time, and so I don’t have to negotiate with myself. When will I run? When will I do yoga? I know exactly when it happens. That’s gives me freedom. I wake up, I can do my run. If I don’t have that, then I have to negotiate with three kids with my wife with 14 countries. When is my time to go running? Well, I will never run again. Without that system in place.
Mike Malatesta 22:42
Yeah, I’ll do it’s like, I’ll do it when the time comes, or the times available and the time never becomes available.
Simon Severino 22:47
Never. Yeah, it gets filled. Yeah, right.
Mike Malatesta 22:50
Yeah. Simon, you said goals will never help you when you need them. And um, I’d like you to dig in on that a little bit more, because I’m, I’m having trouble understanding what you meant by that. But it sounds pretty powerful. So help me help me with that.
Simon Severino 23:04
Yeah, let’s keep it staying the same example. So we lose somebody from our team. Now, is it helpful to have as a stated goal, we’re going to double our revenue every six months doesn’t give me anything in that moment. It’s maybe I don’t even believe that in that moment. So it doesn’t even give me that espresso shot energy that it usually gives me. So a goal is an orientation forward. But a system is actually your current reality what you are capable of shaping this week. And that’s why in a strategy, Sprint’s we have a daily, weekly, monthly habit, daily habits, how did I allocate my time today? What will I delegate tomorrow? That’s the game of delegation, weekly habit, what’s this week, our current marketing number says number operations number and then there is a monthly habit where we look at our goals, what are our most important activities? How do they build upon each other? How will we measure progress, that they’re going in the right direction at the right pace? Okay, those three things are in our control and are actually helpful. And the last bit of that is having goals and yes, when the sun shines, your goals give you direction, but in the worst of all, weathers think of the pandemic shutdown. How did your goals help you during the pandemic shutdown? Zero, we all had to change our goals. They were absolute zero, helpful. What was helpful was saying, Alright, guys, let’s go back to the drawing board. Let’s sit down together around the fire. Let’s try to understand what’s going on and how we deal with this from week to week. And now that’s a process you’re describing a process. That’s a system actually of regrouping, orienting and setting one foot after the other. That is helpful when things get tough.
Mike Malatesta 24:52
Yeah. And I’m thinking to myself, as you’re, as you’re going through that, you know, sometimes Well, oftentimes, the future is not something we can wrap our head is around and the goal goals are future based, right? So the future is not something we can wrap our heads around. But the present is something we can write. It’s the only thing we have past gone the present, the only thing we have in our systems are in the present. Would that be a fair way to sort of go?
Simon Severino 25:13
Okay, yes, yeah, yes, the goals are always a projection that the future is an illusion. And so it’s a mental model, you pull it up there, if it’s helpful, use it. And it is helpful to set direction and expectations. But that’s it. What’s really helpful is your daily habit, your weekly habit, things that are in your control, and that your team can do so when I’m out running. And I’m not available. My team cannot do much with the goals, but they can use the systems and hire new people. It’s funny
Mike Malatesta 25:46
than the hiring that it was, it was a system that you had sort of forgotten about, right? Because and I think that’s healthy, too. Because once you have a system in place, the purpose of it is so that you don’t have to think about it any longer. It just runs right.
Simon Severino 25:59
Exactly. Yeah, I find systems in our in our playbook, where I go, Oh, that’s cool. Who wrote that? Simon, you wrote that? As Oh, yes.
Mike Malatesta 26:08
That resonates with me as well. I forget so many things that. So would you mind if I backtracked on on a few things. First was you mentioned early on that you can control how you behave. And that’s a very logical, I think thing to say people can wrap their heads around that except I also find that it’s not an easy thing for most human beings to do, particularly when they’re faced with a situation, whether it’s this person quitting on you, or whether it’s, you know, your spouse cheating on you, or somebody dissing you, whatever, whatever it is, how have you come to be clear about that in your life, like your behavior being the, you know, the thing you could definitely control,
Simon Severino 26:51
there is a great book about it by Viktor Frankl. And it’s called Man’s Search for Meaning. And he describes there, the toughest situations people are in and how they deal with it. Also, the the movie lobby that Bella speaks to that, where the main character is in harsh conditions and still can make jokes, help others be of service share things. And so even if you think Oh, my God, there’s no, there’s no way to find the positive moment in this situation. It’s such a harsh situation. Both the book and the movie actually show you that you always have a couple of centimeters wiggle room, you always have a couple centimeters, a joke is the smallest space that you have. And now, can you use those centimeters everyday, and then when you use those centimeters, you will have a meter two meters, when you have regularly two meters, three meters, now you have 10 meters, but you have 10 meters, you can breathe again. Now you’re free, right. And so that freedom is just between our ears.
Mike Malatesta 28:05
So in in in Frankel’s book, one of the other things that I think he talks about that relates to what you were talking about with systems and present is one of the worst things that the his colleagues in the in prison camps could do was to look forward to something like they would look forward to, you know, Passover, or they would look forward to some holiday or their birthday, Or their wife’s birthday or something. And when the day came, and nothing changed in their life, they it devastated them, they just couldn’t live in the present of the moment, which he I think assigns his you know, his ability to do that is one of the things that was most instrumental in getting him through that horrible experience.
Simon Severino 28:48
Yes, every time you project the way, that’s why goals are not helpful in harsh situations, every time you project away, you lose context to this space to the couple of centimeters, couple meters that you actually have in control. That’s why all religious practices, all spiritual practices, they focus on here now and what’s in your control, to empower you to get back to your power, which is here. Now, if you space away, you lose your power, and then you have high expectations but different reality. That’s why the weekly habit in the strategy Sprint’s method is always what’s our current reality? What’s our current marketing number, current sales number, current ops number? What can we do given our limited resources? And what are the activities that actually work and focus on that little zone? Instead of you know, sometimes, somewhere we should do this and these will happen.
Mike Malatesta 29:45
Right? Right. Right. Yeah. Okay. And then you mentioned training for a marathon. Tell me more about your running in your business, your first marathon what tell me about as part of your life, it sounds pretty important to you?
Simon Severino 29:58
Yeah, I’m 42 So in my in my 30s, I liked to do triathlons and, and then after every kid, I reprioritized my time to play more with them to be more in service of them. And so my me time became smaller and smaller per day. It’s now just in the in the very morning before everybody wakes up. And so triathlon became just half marathons. And now I do two half marathons per year, one in April and one in September. And I found out that keeps me fit, it keeps me fit on multiple levels. I just tried to be one minute faster than the last time, every time. So I need that little competitive moment, competing against myself and against, again, against being older. And in the end, it’s competing against dying, right? Because I cannot accept the fact that I’m going to die. It’s happening, but I don’t like it. And I don’t have to fully embrace it in my 40s yet. So that’s my way of dealing with that feeling. And with that existential situation. And also not to relax too much. If I don’t have those things. I eat wienerschnitzel I drink beer and wine, I relax a lot. And if if I know, hey, in a month, I’m supposed to be in the race. I eat better. I sleep better. I take care of myself more. Yeah. And so that’s why I actually do it. Because, you know, every three months, I tend to get lazy again. But then I go oh, no, no, no, there’s a race coming up. So I’m gonna stay sharp. What’s the race checklist? And I literally I go to the race checklist with my kids. We go over the checklist. It has nice colors. We pick the race shoes, oh, it’s not the normal training shoes is the race shoes or race shoes we have.
Mike Malatesta 32:01
And I like that I like your approach. I want to be one minute faster, because then I think of that and I go okay, well, that’s a manageable goal, right? That’s something I can do. And it’s not, it may not necessarily be something that I’m going to get to as a result of my training, it could be training my brain that I can do it one minute faster. My legs will just respond to it. My lungs will respond to it, and I’ll breathe better or whatever. And then I thought to myself, well, yeah, okay, one minute doing that one minute better two races a year, maybe that adds, you know, one year to your life, every race you do, because you’re focused on more on your health and your system of keeping healthy than you might otherwise be and just got this thing like, kind of a rolling benefit.
Simon Severino 32:44
Yes. And also also there, you know, the process is more important than the goal. Yes, the goal is one minute faster. But the process is actually much more important because it’s training every day. It’s taking the training plan seriously, when you intensify when you taper off, that’s pretty important to think in cycles. Yeah, so my, you know, now it’s one month before, so some days are very, very intense, some days are very, very long. And then one week before, there will be a tapering phase where I Oh, I have almost no training or just, you know, 60% 30% of the training. And then it’s race time. So it’s also helpful thinking in cycles, that’s again, it’s a process, okay? And it’s bringing attention and awareness to my body every day, not just to defeat, actually to full body. And everyday it’s a little exercise in leading, eating a little bit less sugar today, drinking little bit less alcohol today. And if I do that just 1% Every day, every six months, I’m in a very good state.
Mike Malatesta 33:53
Okay, I like and as you were just going through that I was thinking okay, yeah, the one minute better. That’s like the daily goal, right? daily goal, one minute better. 1% Better you hear people say or whatever, you do all those things. And all of a sudden, the goal that you set for three months from now or one month or one year from now or whatever, you kind of get to it without even thinking about
Simon Severino 34:15
Yeah, all of a sudden you run up break your personal record and it was actually not hard,
Mike Malatesta 34:22
right? Yeah, well, it’s like the can never remember the guy’s name who first broke the four minute mile. You might know anyway, it was like nobody thought that could be done. And once he did it, then all kinds of people started doing it right so that that barrier which was up here that barrier was not in our body at all. It was up here all of a sudden, think he sort of freed everybody’s thinking on that and then all of a sudden, they all could run faster. The subtitle of your book so strategy Sprint’s 12 ways to accelerate growth for an agile business and I want to I mentioned it earlier, I wanted to dig a little bit more into what that means because It sounds like a cool word to assign to your business. And I feel like when I read it was like, Of course I have an agile business. I want more time. I want to be agile. What is what does it mean to you? And how often do you see it? At least initially?
Simon Severino 35:12
Yeah, everybody thinking right now I, of course, I have an agile business. Let’s, let’s stress test it, right? So the definition of Agile is, can you react to things as fast as they happen, then you’re agile. If you’re slower in reacting to things than they happen, then you’re rigid. So an example of agile, a very agile companies, Google, and they are still agile, even if they are now a huge enterprise. But they’re still very agile. Every month, they they kill projects, there is a website, I forgot something like the Google project cemetery or something like that, where they even publish the killed projects. And I visit it regularly. And I show it to my clients regularly. And they go Oh, my God, these are amazing project. So they kill even the good projects. Because they want to stay agile, they want to stay learning. So they they have 1000 projects, they kill 990. They run with the 10 best Yeah, the regularly. So that’s very agile, you continually test, adapt, test, adapt, test, adapt. Now Microsoft came out with AI boom, took them a couple of weeks to come out with their own AI so far. Yeah. And that was pretty slow for Google to them, like two weeks. But it’s still relatively agile, I would say, especially for the size. A super agile company is Tesla, of course, you see the Ukraine is without a Wi Fi. Elon tweets, I’m on it. 20 hours later, Ukraine has Wi Fi. I mean, that is the benchmark of agility. But it’s easy when you just have one person deciding, right? So and, but that’s the benchmark of agility 20 hours to react to a relevant geopolitical change. So the opposite is, for example, the Federal Reserve, trying to manage inflation has data that is six months old. So whenever they do something, it looks utterly incompetent. Because they are never in real time sync with reality of what they are trying to tame, which is the current economy. So there is such a six month lag between what’s happening in the economy, and what they get in forms of data. That’s rigid. Yeah. So if you want it to analyze that, you would go to real time dashboards at least weekly. And you can you can grab that data from Zillow, from Walmart, etc, instead of the way they collect data right now, it’s a rigid way. So does that answer your question about agility versus
Mike Malatesta 38:04
rigidity? Yeah, it does. And that was an excellent comparison between Starlink Tesla, or, you know, Elon, getting Wi Fi to Ukraine and the Federal Reserve, because the Federal Reserve, and I’m not going to pretend to know what it is, but it was what all the information that they use to make their decisions. But it does seem like it is more of a history lesson read it to apply to the future as as opposed to a prediction model based on real time inputs. So anyway, I thought that was a great example.
Simon Severino 38:35
There is a model by the way, if listeners want to have the actual real time data, there is the real time data, there is a website called True flesh on T R O flexion. And, and you can look at country by country at the real time data about you know, how expensive your energy your food, your shelter is in any given country at any given time. And that’s real time data. Oh,
Mike Malatesta 39:04
I never heard of that. So thank you. We’ll put that in the show notes. And I will check it out after this. After this podcast. I appreciate that. As long as we’re on musk, I wanted to ask you you mentioned Twitter. What I’m just going to put you on the spot. What’s your feeling about his ownership of of Twitter’s? Is that a distraction? Is that a brilliant move? Is it what do you think?
Simon Severino 39:27
We will see how it pans out. I did two videos on my YouTube channel and Simon’s every night about why he bought Twitter. Okay. And my face is I’m a Tesla shareholder since many, many years it’s almost 10 years now. I think he’s a strategic brilliant entrepreneur, and masterful capital allocator and a very strange person. But as a as an as a strategist. I think he thinks always 10 years 20 years. And so my thesis, and you can go deeper in that in that YouTube video if you if you go to YouTube and say Simon Severino Tesla, you will find it. My thesis is he wants to do what he attempted to do 20 years ago, which failed when they bought x.com. Their idea was to build a peer to peer transaction platform, like I don’t need a bank, I can send you money, you send me money, okay. That’s what they wanted to build with x.com. It was much too early, the world wasn’t ready. So it failed. It became Pay Pal, which was something else and was run by an another team. And but he did not give up the idea. And now when he saw Twitter, he saw an opportunity, which was overvalued for before billions was much too much. But it was his chance to first realize x.com The old idea of having a peer to peer payment network, which you can easily do when you have a social network and you put the payment system on top of it. Now you have a super app, which is a peer to peer paying system for everybody. That’s a user. And, and there is another thesis that I have it’s unconfirmed, nobody knows. But my thesis, my second thesis is, it’s worth or him paying 33 Billions in surplus, because he can train his AI for his other companies. And for AI, you need three pieces. One is data. One is the model. And the other one is is the users. But how do you train, you need a ton of emotional posts. And Twitter is a very emotional place where people are very euphoric, or, or fight against each other. It’s all it’s real group dynamics tribalism. People don’t like.
Mike Malatesta 42:04
You get dogma, you’ve got introspection, you’ve got future thing. You got all yes, you’re right. There’s all kinds. And so
Simon Severino 42:10
who will win the AI race, that platform that can train the AI better than others. So Microsoft has a horse in the race, but I don’t think they will win it because they can train it. Bing has basically no users. So they end those users don’t put any emotion in there. So they are not in a strategic advantage position to win the race. Google better Tesla even better, because even where they can train the AI,
Mike Malatesta 42:42
even with open AI as a partner to Microsoft, you’re saying you’re not you’re not thinking that
Simon Severino 42:47
Yeah, think of open AI who started that, right? It was Elon, and it was literally distributed and open. Right now it’s a centralized thing, which is is not what it was meant to be. And when it’s centralized, you don’t have the same amount of users. It’s boring, because even if you have users, they never show themselves totally, because it’s not their platform. So they’re still hiding, hiding. And, and that’s why on Twitter, he wanted to have more representation of the full political spectrum, not just you know, the the bubbles, but actually having different perspectives. So that’s exactly what he’s trying to do with Twitter. And will it work out? I don’t know. But I think for him, he sees in 20 years, the payment platform and the train there.
Mike Malatesta 43:37
I haven’t heard an explanation exactly like you just gave. So thank you for that. And like bringing that the x.com part into it. I’ve heard the data part and I’ve heard you know, other things, but I like how you got into his psyche a little bit, you know, at least I know, you don’t know it, but you’ve explored it. Yeah. So thank you for sharing that. I I’m not very active on on Twitter, but I do get some daily emails with some things they think I will like, you know, but I there’s definitely, yeah, I mean, if you could train an AI on and what you can train an AI on everything that goes into Twitter and makeup. Yeah, there’s got to be some way to make a lot of money. Sure, ended Ben to create a lot more value than people just exchanging on on on it, and then it just goes away to the rest of the world has no idea. Right. So as long as we’re on AI, I just was at a conference last week and I was bombarded with with AI speakers and, and, and conversations and I know AI is part of your process for businesses, right? I mean, you got to automate you got, you know, the way to leverage processes probably with AI not just to create it but to leverage it and automate it and reap the benefits sort of, you know, while you sleep type of thing. What can you tell me more about how you’re thinking about AI with the companies that you’re working with and your own company?
Simon Severino 44:54
Yes. So in our own company and in every company that we coach in those nine Today’s in the first month, we want to free up 10 to 14 hours per person, per week by automating 85% of the boring stuff. So whatever a software can do, we want the software to do. And 85% of the boring stuff should be done by Non Humans. So for example, if you think, oh, I want to talk to Bob, he was at my event last week, but I don’t know exactly his his LinkedIn profile, where is his LinkedIn profile, and then you start Googling Bob’s name LinkedIn profile, then you copy and paste it into your CRM. Now those 10 minutes are not a very human activity that can be done by software, you just say, hey, finally, Bob, and it gets populated, that’s what a CRM with a little bit of AI can do. So that’s the 85%, boring stuff, a copying and pasting finding something from spreadsheet a and bringing it to spreadsheet B, those things shouldn’t be done by humans. We we free up in the first month time for the actual human activities, and those are connecting, listening, creating ideating, deciding, negotiating, building, those are the human activities, you know, bonding, a belonging, communing, those are strategizing. So planning, not the plan, but the process of planning, thinking about which rituals do we want to have? Which habits do we need those think thinking, reading, those are the very human activities. And we want to have time for that. Now, if you go to any entrepreneur friend right now and you say, hey, what about next week, we think for three hours together about something in nature, then they go, Oh, I’d love this, buddy. But when? Where would I find three hours? Yeah, I don’t have time to think Yeah. Can you do that in 15 minutes over zoom. So and that’s the point. So that’s why yes, we love AI. And yes, we love systems. And also, you know, the fact of writing down systems is just boring. That’s why we have found a process that we share with our clients, which is you just do you and you record it. And then you give it to the AI with a very specific prompt that we share with them. And that prompt, transcribes the recording, and writes down the processes step by step. Okay, so you just do you, but at the end of the day, you have created three, four processes. Okay, so
Mike Malatesta 47:41
the AI takes your video and essentially creates a process around it that’s uniform and whatever. Yes. Nice. Do you think what do you think it’s gonna happen to businesses that if they don’t, if they don’t bring AI into into the, into the business, like in 10 years, what do you think’s gonna happen?
Simon Severino 48:00
You know, many people right now know what exponential curves are. But some people still don’t feel it. So extra exponential growth means and when we talking AI robotics blockchain, we’re talking exponential growth. Yeah, that means you are at a football game. And you’ve got Oh, darling, I think it will rain in a second. And you just feel and then go, oh, yeah, let’s, let’s collect our staff. Where’s my jacket? And then you stand up and it goes. That’s exponential growth. So what will happen with AI? is oh, maybe we should use a little bit of a oh, maybe we should? Yeah, maybe. But I don’t know. Oh, no. Maybe it’s not legally there yet. Let’s do it later. And then one day you wake up, and you go, Oh, my God, I’m in a new world.
Mike Malatesta 48:49
Yeah. Or we just got, we just got creamed by our competitor. Like, oh, yeah, I didn’t want to deal with it. It’s like, it’s kind of like, it’s kind of like not knowing you’re sick, right? Do you want to? Do you want to just wait until the symptoms are, like so obvious, you can’t avoid them? Or would you rather, start addressing them now? Because maybe you address them now. And you’ll not only not be sick, but you’ll be better and healthier?
Simon Severino 49:14
And what excites me is you know, as as what is the what do we need to solve? As a planet? We need to solve healthcare at scale, food at scale, we need to solve productivity, and as a society, right producing thing. And where will this come from? This will come from the technological innovations in AI in robotics, in smart contracts. And in software. This is where it’s coming from. So I’m super excited that entrepreneurs are actually on the forefront of this. You know, we are part of the solution. For all these things that are broken, our health care, our education, our food distribution, it’s all broken our finance Shell system totally corrupt. And we
Mike Malatesta 50:05
all had our international relations to it as well.
Simon Severino 50:07
International relations. Yes. It totally broken. And so we as entrepreneurs, we are part of the solutions, we we create the micro solutions that if they work, and if they’re scalable, they can become solutions. Well so I
Mike Malatesta 50:21
mean, this has been it’s been a fascinating conversation conversation. I know we didn’t get into all the nitty gritty of of your book and your process, but I think we covered some of the some of the cool parts of it. And of course, if you want to find out more, you find Simon Severino sav e r i n o strategy. Sprint’s is the name of the company? Is there anything Simon that I you’d like to share that I neglected to ask you about or are you just want to leave us with
Simon Severino 50:49
I’m hiring coaches, if you know, people who have scaled businesses and now want to live a free life and having cool clients. As as a management consultant, I’m hiring point them to strategy sprint.com Who’s
Mike Malatesta 51:05
Who’s an ideal candidate for for you, they have been
Simon Severino 51:08
scaling a business or they have been in one of the big strategy advisories for a while and they know how to grow and scale businesses. And they want to do it now with more freedom from wherever they want in a cool remote team.
Mike Malatesta 51:23
Okay, all right. Well, there’s an opportunity if you fit that description give Simon reach out and connect with Simon and get his book strategy sprints and listen to his podcast strategy Sprint’s CEO show and Simon, thank you so much for being here today and sharing so much. And I really have enjoyed this conversation. Thank
Simon Severino 51:42
you, Mike, for doing this for showing up so consistently for your audience and being of service here. And everybody keep rolling,
Mike Malatesta 51:51
everybody. Thanks for listening to the show. And before you go, I just have three requests for you one if you like what I’m doing please consider subscribing or following the podcast on whatever podcast platform you prefer. If you’re really into it, leave me a review, write something nice about me Give me five stars or whatever you feel is most appropriate. Number two, I’ve got a book it’s called owner shift how getting selfish got me unstuck. It’s an Amazon bestseller, and I’d love for you to read it or listen to it on Audible or wherever else Barnes Noble Amazon, you can get it everywhere. If you’re looking for inspiration that will help you unlock your greatness and potential order or download it today so that you can have your very own copy. And if you get it please let me know what you think. Number three, my newsletter. I do a newsletter every Thursday. And I talk about things that are interesting to me and or I give more information about the podcasts, the podcast guests that I’ve had and the experiences that I’ve had with them. You can sign up for the podcast today at my website, which is my name Mike malatesta.com. You do that right now put in your email address and you’ll get the very next issue. The newsletter is short, thoughtful and designed to inspire, activate and maximize the greatness in you