There's a scene early in Groundhog Day when the host where Bill Murray's character is staying says something about the weather to him, and he launches into a whole meteorological discussion that he would do on TV, and the person just stares at him. Then he says:
Did you want to talk about the weather or were you just making chitchat?
"Chit Chat," she says, awkwardly for both of them.
"Up and to the right"
When you are a CEO, and someone asks you how things are going at your company, you never are sure if they are just making chit-chat, or if they are really interested in the metrics of your business.
I suppose I could have asked which one it was, but taking the lesson from that scene, I always thought that would seem awkward, so I always just said: “Up and to the right!”
I guess I could have just said “Up!” given that we’re all marching at the same pace to the right on the spreadsheet of life, but “Up and to the right” seemed more conversational and worked for both sets of people asking. At least I thought it did.
When someone was actually asking about the health of the business, they were always glad to hear "up and to the right."
Anyone who’s been around business for any length of time knows that to have 20 positive quarters in a row is hard. Really hard.
And so it was. It was the one thing I thought about more than any other: How to make sure we would grow, and keep on growing. All. The. Time.
And grow we did.
After five years of leading a company that grew every single quarter, I decided to step away, and now BlogMutt has a new CEO.
It's still all about growth
So, what am I doing now?
I'm still thinking about growth, all the time.
Also, I'm very glad that I thought about how I want to grow in my own life, and that I wrote it down and published it.
The top thing on my list was to be an Entrepreneur in Residence. A guy I know saw that, and one thing lead to another and now I'm happy to say that I am a version of an EIR at CableLabs/UpRamp. It's an amazing opportunity, and I'm learning a ton and feel like I'm contributing to the world of cable and broadband in some meaningful ways, helping an established industry think about growth.
(My biggest contribution for CableLabs is not getting to define once and for all exactly what is a startup... but it's up there!)
I'm also doing a couple of other things that I'll write about more later, including helping a great friend grow a business that could actually put a dent in the opioid crisis.
I'm also mentoring some new startups, and have a few other projects going, including one where I'm analyzing some data for my pals at BlogMutt. (REALLY interesting findings percolating there, and I'll share them here, of course, once that's ready to go.)
In addition to that, I've also started doing some executive coaching for CEOs who are trying to grow faster and do more with the hours that they have.
Out of that coaching work has come a new opportunity: Helping launch a new kind of adventure. What I love about it is that it allows me to pay very particular attention to top-line growth.
Steps to Consistent Growth
The idea is simple: While techniques for growth are pretty well established, it can be difficult for operating CEOs to focus on those techniques every day. Once the realities of daily operations set in, it's quite difficult to have the foresight, focus, and courage to ignore what's going on in the business on a daily basis, and do what needs to be done for growing the company in the future.
There's an analogous situation in the public arena that I wrote about recently. In short: The future has no lobbyist. The status quo does have a lobbyist, and so things typically remain the same.
It's the same thing even in small companies. Employees are focused on the tasks at hand, but there's nobody who has the job of representing the unknown future.
Well, if that's your job, and you know that you aren't at your maximum and the organization you lead is not growing as much as it could, I might have an answer for you.
The answer is the 10X Growth Club.
(That's what we're calling it for the moment. Not sure if the name will stick.)
You can read much more about it on the site, but in short we are going to make sure that everyone involved is going to do three things:
- Set really aggressive, specific, structured goals for growth in a business for 18 months from now, basically by the end of 2018. We will work with you to find the right goals specific to your business.
- In a structured way, read the best thinking on growth, and apply it rigorously.
- As a group of peers with a lead facilitator, keep each other accountable to reach our individual goals. (This will be much different than other peer groups you may know about. See the site for more on that.)
So, there you have it: Three steps to consistent growth.
You may be thinking that you are already doing your own version of that, and maybe you are, but are you getting the results you think are possible?
Do you see a clear path to 20 positive quarters in a row? How about four?
If not, maybe you'll want to join us Thursday night.
If you aren't in Denver, or if you don't want to join a club, any club, (I get that, but would tell you to get over yourself) or if you are reading this too late... Just follow those three steps on your own, including getting into a group of peers with a leader who's been through those battles.
If you are in a spot where you'd like to see more consistent growth, I hope you'll consider joining us on the evening of Thursday, July 13th. Write to me to get an invite link.
If you know someone who is leading an organization, and wants to grow, I hope you'll send this post or the 10X site to that person.
Thanks very much in advance.
Up and to the right,