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Unstuck: How to Unlock and Activate the Wisdom of Others, with Craig Lemasters [Episode 885]

Craig LeMasters is the author of Unstuck: How to Unlock and Activate the Wisdom of Others and the CEO of GXG, a consulting firm based in Atlanta. On today’s episode, we talk about what it means to be stuck. As an organization and as an individual. And how to get unstuck. Per the title of Craig’s excellent book. In short, if you’re not making progress at the speed you want to be, if your day-to-day work is a flurry of activity without a lot of impact to show for it, you’re definitely stuck In our conversation we talk about the impact of being stuck. Plus, we get into a learning technique that he used when he was running a $2 billion organization to help get unstuck. It’s called Rapid Cycle learning. Otherwise known as wisdom based learning.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul: Craig. Welcome to the show.

Craig Lemasters: Oh, thanks for having me, Andy. I love your work and love this topic. So looking forward to our conversation.

Andy Paul: Great. Thanks. Yeah,  you’ve recently published a book called unstuck how to activate unlock the wisdom of others, which yeah, it wasn’t written specifically for sales but certainly applies to sales in many respects. I certainly read it with a sales lens if you will. And we’ll get into that. So first of all, Excellent book and a perfect length book.

Craig Lemasters: Thank you for that. That was a controversial thing. Who writes a hundred, just over  a hundred page book, but I’ve actually gotten more compliments on that. Then maybe the contents I’ll have to take it, but I’ll take it. Thank you.

Andy Paul: Okay the content was good. It was I’m laughing cause I’m struggling myself. Cause I just submitted first draft of my latest manuscript to my publisher. And actually it was like to say it was the third, first draft of the latest published and yeah, between the second and third first drafts that. And I’m trying to write a, 150 page book .

Craig Lemasters: Yeah. That’s awesome.

Andy Paul: So what was the motivation to write the book?

Craig Lemasters: It really came from clients. I, I got into this to do this advisory work, after I did corporate work, that’s my history and store has got a chance to run a big company. And I just bumped into so many really wise people and started working on what became the GXG methodology and it worked and went out for.

A couple of years, and it was a blast because it had worked for me running a big company, and then it started work for others. And so just had clients that said, Hey, this is pretty cool. Why don’t you put it in a book? And candidly, I’d like to say that was a big lifetime vision or dream, but I never thought about it.

And just had some really cool people around me that helped me do it and think about it. And yeah, it’s been great again, I didn’t write this for as an author bestselling author concept. I think the work is extremely important and having it documented has been incredible and we’ve gotten great response to it.

And one of the things that was really important to me, I don’t know if you picked up on it, but I thought I only want to write this. If I can get six, eight. 10 operators, people that have actually used these concepts to endorse it. And I will tell you my personal favorite part about the book is I just have amazing clients that have stood up for the book.

And that was the most important thing.

Andy Paul: All right. Let’s take a step back and dive into that. So one you were at the time you were CEO of an insurance company, one that many of our listeners probably interacted with at some point or another. If you bought like extended warranties and so on, so tell tells your company’s assurance.

So tell us what assurance did.

Craig Lemasters: Yeah, exactly right. Which insurance company services company and our lead products over the year started credit insurance. We morphed into a service contracts doing, if you think about anything that has a warrant is a warrantable hard. Good. We were using the name behind that, and then that morphed into the wireless space.

We became the leader provider. Brilliant leading provider of protection for wireless devices. And then for my journey, the big part of that I had a blast with the last 10 years was taking our business model global. And yeah, so that’s what we did really cool niche stuff, great business model. And I tell people all the time, Andy, that I summarize it by, I literally think I had the best big company job anybody could have. I got to be CEO for 11 years and just got to do stuff I never dreamed I’d get a chance to do it was. It was a great ride.

Andy Paul: You reached the point where you felt stuck in this one transformation you had to go through and so you sought the help of this company GXG that you ultimately left your job and purchased. So tell us about that.

Craig Lemasters: Yeah I bumped into this guy and he was a friend entrepreneur, started a bunch of different companies. So I always enjoyed meeting with him because it was that kind of other side of the brain. When you’re running a big company, you get a little fixated internally. So I made meet with him and he had the original.

The core of the idea has not changed. We’ve morphed the business dramatically of how we execute. But the idea is really simple, which is wow. And he didn’t use the word stock. That was actually my word early on a lot of fancy consulting words. And I said, wow, let me simplify this. I’m stuck on these two things.

And I said, if you’re telling me, people that have. That have done these things. And in my vernacular gotten unstuck and they’re willing to come in and sit around a table and help me do that. I’m all in because I don’t have any big, I don’t have any more ideas. I’d play paid millions of dollars for consulting decks.

I had hired different people. I was buying companies and we were still stuck on these two topics and I thought, wow. Why not try it. So I did it and it was a game changer. I’ll tell you, Andy, not to be too dramatic, but it changed the way I thought about leaders learning forever. And so I did it there and then I started using the techniques and we actually built the processes cause he was early in his company.

And so my team helped him build it. And then When I told the board that when I was going to leave, which my whole idea was great succession plan. I’d really love to leave and go, just do different things. Healthy and and I’d like to try some things on my own and literally had a true story. I had coffee with this guy, Dunkin donuts. He called me out of the blue and said, Hey, we have,

Andy Paul: The guy that was the starter, just the founder of GXG

Craig Lemasters: P so exactly. So we have coffee and he was trying to figure out how to scale it and you know what to do with it. And I said, Hey, I love this idea if you’re still doing it. I love it and bought the company at Dunkin donuts and went home and told my wife I’d found something to do. Which she was thrilled about because.

Andy Paul: was gonna say she was probably really happy

Craig Lemasters: Yeah. After, after, 27 years traveling 400,000 miles a year and I’d been around in the house for a couple of months. She was thrilled. So the story

Andy Paul: out. She liked your traveling, all that. Yeah. So that’s interesting. So just to go back to this methodology, you’re, you said you’re a CEO of a big company. You’d spent probably millions of dollars with the traditional big consulting companies as you had transformations.

But the thing that was the. Epiphany, if we will, without indulging that necessarily is that GXG MO was what you call this rapid cycle learning was. I’m going to, ah, instead of fancy consultants, I’m going to talk with people that actually have done this job or something like this job that we need to accomplish. You call them operators. And that you found that way more cost-effective way more effective, way more cost-effective than the consultants you’d been using before.

Craig Lemasters: Yeah. That’s a great summary of it. I feel now, like I could have wrote in the book or have you do it in 12 pages, so this is good. Cause that’s a great summary of it. And I tell people all the time that it don’t. Ever want to try to over-complicate this and make it something it’s not, it is that simple where I just believe that the majority of things that as leaders, we get stuck on, that we are trying to do. Somebody else has figured it out. There may be a few things if you’re going to do the next iPhone or something, but most of us as leaders we’re trying to solve for things that are people are doing. Where are we getting trouble is when we get outside of our core business and we’re trying to do new stuff. There’s another technical consulting term. And that’s what I was trying to do at Assurant. We kept trying, as I said, we kept trying to morph the company. We were great at our core business, but guess what core businesses tend to go away? So when we wanted to do new off in new stuff is hard. And the reason is that’s why I put that little formula in there that w equals K times Z. My definition of wisdom is the intersection of both knowledge and experience. And so what I found was the consultants had massive knowledge, far, bigger brains and mind, better education, the whole thing. And in my case, paid $6 million a year for that consulting firm, deck and board loved it. Great information. The problem is there was no E and again, I’m not being critical. That’s a brilliant business model. But for me as a leader, there was no E there was nobody to tell me, okay, here’s all these facts now. Guess what? I’ve done this. And if you go down road a, you’re going to get run over. Wait a minute. That’s not in the deck. Yeah. It’s not because this is how it works. And road B is a better road and it really is that simple.

Now, again, there’s lots of tentacles where we go down depending on the engagements and the topics, but that’s the beauty of it. If you put. The right wisdom in the room on any topic. I think we’ve been through about 12 different industries and several hundred topics. It’s super fun and watching that little sort of secret sauce happen, which is people sharing their wisdom for one purpose, and that’s getting people unstuck. This is not about all knowing wisdom and pontificating. This is about getting people unstuck and it’s a blast. I’ll have to tell you it’s a love it. It was so helpful for me. And I just love seeing very complex stock issues get solved and we trademark rapid cycle learning because this is how we were supposed to learn. I believe. And this moves very quickly. You’re a perfect example on that with your background and experience and knowledge and sales. 10 minutes with you is worth hours or in some cases, decades with other people. It’s that simple.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I’d like to believe that.

Craig Lemasters: I believe that.

Andy Paul: So yeah let’s start with your equation. Cause I like books with equations. I’ve I’ve got a whole slide decks full of equations where I’ve reduced sales to equations, because I think it’s a fun way to look at things. Yeah. You talked about wisdom equals knowledge multiplied by experience but you had a couple definitions in the book I thought were really interesting too, that you had cited one somebody defined his expertise in the fundamental pragmatics of life. And I thought that’s a great view of wisdom.

Craig Lemasters: Yeah. Yeah. I love it as well, because again, I think one of the things, fortunately early on somebody taught me is we tend to, over-complicate a lot of these things in leadership and business in general. And if we really strip it back, there’s only a couple of things that matter. So I love the whole pragmatic concept, the approach. And again, finding people that have that specific wisdom not. Other wisdom and that’s just a very practical sort of pragmatic approach.

Andy Paul: Yeah,  I take a very similar approach in sales. I say there are four things you need to know, or you need to have in sales, but it’s the ability to connect curiosity understanding and some level of vacuum. And you don’t really need anything else.

Craig Lemasters: I love it.

Andy Paul: if you can do that, what else is there?

Craig Lemasters: I couldn’t agree more and

Andy Paul: That simplicity, I think is so critical because it’s, we’re certainly in an agent and certainly a lot of segments of the sales world where technology has created this complexity in terms of, automating processes and what I call sort of the mechanization of sales, that what we’re finding is that yeah, we can do all these things. But it’s not making people perform at higher levels would expect that.

Craig Lemasters: I couldn’t agree more.

Andy Paul: So that addition of technology that’s hasn’t helped in the regard that we want, which is search strewn across our economy in

Craig Lemasters: Oh, absolutely. As, and now, unfortunately I see, because I share with you before we started, my core background was in sales. So now I’m fixated on your four things, right? Because it really is. It’s so smart because if I think about connecting and my vernacular would be the relationship. Part of it and how I do that.

Curiosity is us asking the right questions and just questions in general. And I’ve got to dissect all that and synthesize it and actually give something valuable back and do it in a way that’s fairly articulate to me is the acumen. And I’m like, that’s a very cool way to describe and say, that’s all you need.

I love that.

Andy Paul: I looked at your equation, wisdom equals knowledge multiplied by experiences. Increasingly I look at not want to hear it, the word knowledge or see the word knowledge. I replace it with understanding because I think that’s what you’re hiring these operators to do is they understand not just that they know, but they understand.

Craig Lemasters: I think that’s right. Yeah.

Andy Paul: Because we have a lot of information in the world, but. Yeah. How’s it transition from being information to knowledge is as people understand how the context in which you apply it

Craig Lemasters: Oh, yeah, no, I love that. And I love how people play and massage the formula a little bit, because another way to think about that would be it’s this intersection of knowledge and experience that actually. Creates the understanding, which to me, I could even substitute for wisdom. So I love the way we can ebb and flow the formula for what feels right. In terms of the language and the meeting. But I don’t think the concept changes right. Or it’s gotta be, it’s gotta be both. That’s my only point.

Andy Paul: How do you find in your business, these operators that, cause it seems like that’d be a substantial part of your business. You take on a new client. That’s yeah, we need to find something that matches up. And this is funny. There was a. Or is, a business that started a startup in New York. The, in Manhattan that was matching in a sales perspective was matching. Operators using your words. So if you were trying to get into Deloitte, let’s say is they had recruited or this roster of people that had been at Deloitte knew how to navigate to Deloitte and you could serve, hire these people as your, they call it an Emissary as your Emissary to help you perhaps be more effective selling within that organization.

Craig Lemasters: Yeah, no, I love those kinds of concepts. And then we get into the sales piece. I can share with you some of our sort of advisory board work we do around your core topic. But the simple answer on the finding people is it’s actually one of the favorite parts of our business model is People love to share their wisdom.

And the key is you have to ask them in the right way and you have to make it extremely easy for them to do it. And it’s super rewarding. We have an enormous network now of people that have worked with us that love sharing their wisdom. What I hear the most is this whole spirit of reciprocity I think, is alive and well, meaning.

Yeah, I’ll go do your stuff. Correct. Because I always learn more than they do is my feeling and that’s just grown. Exponentially the last four years, typically, whether it’s an advisory board or we have a an interesting way, we do a leader coaching with these, this network of people.

But inevitably they finish one of our engagements helping us. And they just want to tell her people about it and they want to do more of it. And we’ve got a great team that does the outreach and explains it, and we want people to buy into our methodology and we’ve had great. We’ve just been very fortunate people.

It’s different. It’s very unique than traditional consulting. Very different than as there’s a lot of companies out there now that do these these conversations with. People some really good companies where they pay for an hour to talk to a tax expert or a legal expert. And that’s the cool business model, but it’s not what we’re doing.

We, we are very narrow and deep because again, I’m an operator. My passion is. I want to get you unstuck. And I want to see a smile back on the leadership team’s face because we’ve got a future. Most of my first conversations, it’s just been fun. I’ve gotten to meet hundreds of C-suite the last couple of years, and a lot of them are clients now.

And my first conversation. Is almost universally the same. I get introduced to somebody or first meeting. I get a chance to sit down with them. It’s wow, that look on your face. And the way your office looks a lot like mine did 12 years ago before some of this stuff. Started to help me. And and I mean that, I have a lot of passion for this because I sat in that chair for a long time, 11 years, or as a public company, we call that 44 quarters. And you know what that means, right? It’s it’s a hard jobs. There is, they’re just super hard jobs. So I have a lot of empathy for that. And part of my motivation is, man, I got this little secret sauce that. I was fortunate to learn and I want to share it, if you want to try it great. If not, then, others are really enjoying it.

Andy Paul: And it seems to me, so first is your definition of Stuck. Let’s dive into that. Cause you talked about the further change. Takes you from your core competency

Craig Lemasters: That’s right.

Andy Paul: and the greater, the likelihood of being stuck and used to phrase as an organization. But, we do have the sales audiences listening. It applies to you as an individual as well.

Craig Lemasters: Oh, absolutely. In fact, we’re already working on a Okay. Cool. Second addition to the book, because since I started doing that book and I won’t tell you how long ago, because even though it’s a hundred pages, it took me a while. Part of it was spirited down, he said but since then our coaching practice has really taken off.

We call it impact coaching  and it’s the same methodology is having wise people teach very specific things to leaders that are stuck individually. So you’re exactly right. The methodology we found works just as well, both when people are stuck as an organization, but also leaders, because that’s what an organization is just a compilation of people.

And. Most of our clients today do our corporate stock work, which is really through an advisory board format and wa as well, do multiple leaders working through the same methodology individually. And the same thing applies, Andy, where, my hypothesis has been, I think we’ve proven this is that where our work really helps. It’s not around the fringe of the core, right? If you’re not doing that well in your stock there’s some other issues that we should talk about and that’s not- more systemic issues, but what I mean by this is, and what I’ve found over the years is we always thought that moving outside of the core meant, I make water bottles.

Now I’m going to make chairs as an extreme example and that’d be pretty extreme and you’d probably get stuck. But what I found is you don’t have to move that far from the core. And what happens to that wisdom, formula, the knowledge and experience it doesn’t go down incrementally. Unfortunately it’s exponential.

And this is the trap that I fell in. Everything I do right now is because they were traps. I fell in and that’s where I was struggling. I thought I was just moving slightly to another sort of different variation of the business model and we just collapsed. We struggle. We got stuck. And it frustrated me.

It’s wait a minute, we’ve got a great team. And I’m super smart. We’re all super smart. And all of a sudden, when I had learned this stuff, I realized if you really dissect and we actually have a probability exercise, we take people through now to diagnosis. It takes, 20 minutes, not hard. And all of a sudden you realize, wait a minute.

Our real knowledge and experience just fell off the cliff. No wonder we’re stock. And so that, that’s why, but again, the same methodology works for an individual and we call them moments that matter. So if you think about organizations, what do we do? W when do moments that matter when we get promoted.

So we have new stuff to work on, or this happens a lot where boss comes in and just piles on a bunch of new stuff that ain’t been promoted, but you’re supposed to go execute. You might be in succession for another job. Those are all moments that matter.

Andy Paul: or a new boss.

Craig Lemasters: Or a new boss, but so how are we supposed to, because inevitably, you’re going to move outside of your core of what you were doing to something new.

So what do we do as organizations to help people do that? I would argue because we did this not much. Not much. We talk about it a lot and we send people to a little classes or we say, we’re going to have a mentoring program in the company. I was always my favorite or we’re going to rotate people around and guess what?

We usually don’t do that. And if we do, how many peers actually tell other people their secret sauce? Not many it’s human nature.

Andy Paul: But here’s a question for you because it just triggered a thought is yes. People. I just start moving you say away from your core competency as what you think are serve. Hey, I can see where I am and I can see where I need to be. I just don’t know. Realize there’s this huge yawning chasm between me and that where I want to go. But the impact oftentimes is much about not your job skills, but off your personal skills.

Craig Lemasters: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

Andy Paul: I think that, cause it triggered a thought, you talked about, we send people to training and so on is I’ve got this belief that. Every role, there’s the human element and the job element.

And as companies, we only train the job element and we just assume that people know how to do the human part of it, which is the foundation. If you don’t have that, the rest doesn’t really matter as much.

Craig Lemasters: Oh, I couldn’t agree more Andy, in its simplest form, if you picture sort of an ecosystem, that’s what we draw for everybody. So if I put a leader in the metal and let’s just take, we were working for example, a lot of new CFOs. So we park people in the CFO role and I say CFO, and it, and even sales leaders, we pluck them in there because they were really good at the technical stuff they were doing.

And now we’ve put them in this big leadership role. And to your point, that’s more, it’s not the technical issues. There’s certainly that they know all this stuff. But it’s not all over, but they know most of it, but what’s more about are the personal things, which gets into some pretty meaty topics actually.

How is that person going to go create follow-ship? Do they even understand really what management processes and thoughts as a human being look like? And so I just argued that. You can go take some classes, but what if I put you in facilitated conversations with people that are great at that?

And they start to teach you. And again, all I’m doing is saying, Hey, I’m going to go back to that. This is not a new concept. This is how education started. I do have that on my side. If you Trask track the history of education, how did we learn wise person teaching the less wise person, and that’s all we’re doing in this concept.

And it’s those. People call it drives me crazy, these soft skills. What does that even mean? They’re just skills, right? And a big part of it is the personal part and who we are and how we behave and how we create followership and how we lead people. And other people can teach us that.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I think to your point about soft skills. Yeah. I agree that the terminology really sucks and it’s somebody’s comment on one of my LinkedIn posts in the last week or so it’s because we had touched on that topic of saying. Yeah, let’s just rename that. Cause that’s foolish.

That’s since they’re so critical, why don’t we call them power skills?

Craig Lemasters: I love it. And I would say in the sales world, there’s very few things as important to this. So if I’m in a new, if I’m a senior salesperson or particularly I’ve gotten promoted to sales leadership, and again, you do this full time. I did it because I loved it even as a CEO, but I can tell you in the course of what I grew up doing and the tenure that I had as a CEO, There were very specific people that I believe God, all of that.

In fact, the four things you just rattled off, which I love that just crushed them. So if I’ve got a new sales leader, stick with that example, wouldn’t it be cool if I had those three people actually teaching them? That meant what it looked like, or they didn’t start out that way. I just don’t believe in the whole, whether it’s a natural sales person or a natural leader.

Yeah. Maybe there’s some qualities that are better. I think if we want to, we can learn this stuff. The challenge is where do we get the learning from? And that’s all we’re trying to solve for. It’s just a piece of it.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And I just think about in the context of coaching, cause it’s a huge emphasis these days, sales on coaching. And of course the problem is that companies don’t invest in training their sales leaders, how to be coaches, but besides that’s all good. But it’s, it is. I could see this being interesting model and sales organizations, where they have a roster of people outside the company who could be resources.

They tap not on a weekly basis necessarily. Because suddenly that relationship changes but somebody that. Yeah, maybe, Hey, we’ll find somebody for you as a sales manager, once a quarter to talk to somebody that’s done this that’s yeah. They’re not going to be holding your feet to the fire every week but can help you.

Craig Lemasters: No. That’s exactly right, Andy. And what we try to do the way our stuff is most effective, we find is we want to do immersion first. So I love getting a hold of, in your case sales leaders that are relatively new to the role or they’ve gotten new responsibilities or it’s gotten bigger, whatever the moment the matter is, and then do an emergency.

Okay. And it’s funny, people can answer this question usually in five minutes, you tell me not HR, not your boss, but you tell us what are the two or three. Buckets of wisdom, knowledge and experience that you would love to have in this newish role. Yeah. As soon as you possibly could. And if you ask that simple question, most people can rattle it off for in very quickly.

And I do it in an ecosystem. So I put them in the middle circle and say, just draw me three bubbles of that stuff. So we do a bit of an immersion for the first three to six months, which is okay, we’re going to go get four or five people that are, that loved this stuff, and they want to help people. And we’re going to, we’re going to facilitate these conversations and immerse you in it.

And then what happens from there is exactly what you said, right? We want people then to build a network. Most of us, I don’t know about you, but coming up in a corporate environment, I never had a network of people that helped me. I had a busy job and I had a network in our little vertical, but they weren’t really a network.

And so what I get great joy out of, we do the immersion. And then what happens is they naturally select one or two people that are lifetime. Quite credibly, candidly, usually friends, but certainly mentors. I get really excited about that. Cause it, to me again, it’s just the most effective way to learn and it works.

I want stuff that works.

Andy Paul: I’ve done an informal survey on this program asking guests over 800 plus episodes about how did you learn how to sell?

And invariably, it comes back to a mentor. Not company paid training. Yeah. None of these things it’s yeah, there was this one or two individuals throughout my career.

And that was just true for me as well, that had out-sized impacts in terms

Craig Lemasters: bingo. Yeah.

Andy Paul: Exposing me to a way of looking at things that I wouldn’t have thought of before.

Craig Lemasters: That’s it, Andy. You hit the nail on the head again and that’s why, again, I don’t like to over glamorize our business model, because all we try to do then is bring structure and intentionality to that very point, because you were fortunate. I was fortunate to my initial mentor was a very heavy, brilliant.

Strategic selling person. But not everybody gets that. Or if we do, we were just lucky. So all we want to do is say, okay, if that’s your role and that’s what you want to go do, let’s be intentional and super structured to bring that to you. And that’s the fun part to me because. Once people try that and they realize, wow, first of all, it was easy.

Cause somebody else is doing all the work. I just got to jump on zoom or at back when we had face-to-face meetings, but it’s jump on zoom. And in 55 minutes I get a fire hose that now I can go process and work on and get better. And then we get to do it again. Oh, by the way, with somebody else, who’s got a slightly different perspective, which is as much wisdom.

And that’s what we do. And it’s just so much fun to see people. Change. I tell people all the time, particularly leaders, and if we get in involved in any CSRO folks and this, I said, look this work, what I’ve seen now after four years. And so at my own company is I want it to move the needle.

I talk about needle movers all the time, because I don’t want to do stuff that’s just incremental for individuals. And I only want you to pay us When, if you see dramatic shifts in these people, in terms of their performance, their behave, whatever we’re working on. And that’s, we’ve been fortunate.

That’s what’s happened so far is we see individuals moving the needle and then companies too, that are willing to have the humility to dive into this stuff, because it does take a lot of humility.

Andy Paul: It does. And you wrote about humility was one of the certified steps of how to get unstuck. And yeah, first I love that. I, by I started spun that a little differently in my mind because. Because absolutely this idea of intellectual humility is so crucial because that is the biggest barrier to people learning, is, if you’ve read about the Dunning Kruger effect, a study done by the Cornell sociologists that, most people suffer from this feeling they know more than they actually do. And as a result,

Craig Lemasters: Absolutely.

Andy Paul: to learning more. And. But I see that as really vulnerability is the willingness to be intellectually humble is really to be vulnerable because you have to say, especially as leader.

Yeah. I don’t know everything.

Craig Lemasters: That’s right.

Andy Paul: oftentimes when people see this humility, I think about the self-effacing humility, but it’s really vulnerability as a leader. That’s so powerful to say. Yeah, I don’t know everything.

Craig Lemasters: Yeah, it absolutely is. And the only reason I, I doubled down on it in the book is I kept getting asked particularly people that were super intrigued with our business model and were willing to try. It was well, what’s the number one. What’s the number one thing you’re looking for.

And what’s the number one reason this might not work and. All I could come up with is as long as you have real humility and I love your vulnerability twist on that. But as long as you have that, we’ve had virtually a hundred percent success. If you think you have it, it will be exposed in the first five minutes.

And if you really don’t and we’ve had some of that now we’ve gotten through it. W, and it’s been opening to people, but it’s shocking when people and most people will say they have it, but all of a sudden you get in there and you can see on people’s faces that, wow, these four people in this room, they have a lot more knowledge and experience than may, and I’m going to push back.

And fortunately, we’ve been able to push through that. It doesn’t happen a lot. I’ve actually been quite encouraged that. I think particularly now I actually think I nothing like a good old pandemic to to drive a lot of humility and people, if you didn’t have it before. But I’ve been encouraged.

I’ve found that most leaders have, it may take a little bit to tap into it, but most habits

Andy Paul: Yeah. Okay. I think that’s, I think these days it’s hard to get to the top without that.  There’s obviously we see public examples that are the contrary, but in general, I think in corporations, you have to have that to get to the top. So second step. And getting unstuck first, you gotta be open.

You gotta be vulnerable. Gotta be Hume. Humble is then you gotta decide where you’re going.

Craig Lemasters: Yeah.

Andy Paul: And I liked Harvey a little way you diagram. So tell me how you diagram when you draw that destination.

Craig Lemasters: I love pictures. And if you’re in this, at this client, with our room is full of flip charts. I’m not a big PowerPoint guy. I love flip charts and drawings. And so that’s why they wanted to share some of that in the book. Because again, it’s back to what we talked about earlier, Andy, I think we overcomplicate some of this stuff.

And so I just challenge our clients, people who work with this whole idea of a, to B let’s just build the road from a to B and along the road. Are these wisdom gaps, but let’s be really clear on be I’m amazed. And we work really big, similar in fortune 20 companies. And I’m amazed at a lot of times, they’re putting a lot of effort in a destination and we don’t have a lot of clarity of what it looks like.

So we spent a little bit of time on that. Hopefully they’ve already done that work, but we can help with that. But. But more importantly is that road is windy and that’s why we tend to draw the picture that way. Cause it is windy and it’s windy cause there’s lots of ups and downs and those create these wisdom gaps.

It’s new stuff that we haven’t been exposed to. So that’s our process and we have a blast with it. It doesn’t take long. We do these. Pretty quickly. And if you ask people, once we clarify the destination and similar to the individual, I had mentioned earlier the same process, we just ask them, what are the two or three or four buckets of wisdom that are imperatives.

You have to have these to get to point B and people can usually rattle them off pretty darn quickly. It’s amazing. And then.

Andy Paul: The question though, is, are they right?

Craig Lemasters: Yeah, I would say in general, especially if we’re with a senior leadership team, I’d say they’re pretty accurate because they quickly either get to consensus and a group setting, or they realize.

They don’t have consensus on B and they have huge disagreements on what internal wisdom they actually have. Now, some of our sessions can go on a while because we’ve got to get to the bottom of that. But you talking about healthy, candid, humble conversations, right? If my position is, we are amazing at technology and I’m going to check that box because that’s not an issue to get to be.

And three other senior leaders are going, Nope, that’s really wrong. And we’re terrible at that. We gotta figure that out. And the way we do it is we actually have people, a probability game adventure. We actually have them score it themselves. They get the grade. And it’s a blast because if you let them do it, they don’t really know what we’re doing.

Quite frankly, they’re just rattling off our don’t have to be terribly scientific, but it’s close enough. It’s directionally. Correct. And like I said, I’ve been doing this for four years and the average score, self score and point B is pretty important. The average self score is usually around 60% and it’s shocking to teams once we sorta add it up and do the math and we do it live and we’re sitting there going, okay, so B is.

Big old, hairy thing that the whole company wants you to get to. How do you feel as a leadership team that your self score is about 60% chance to get there? That’s pretty cool. And it’s a hard thing.

Andy Paul: Humbling.

Craig Lemasters: it’s humbling. And what people usually want to do is change the, my methodology and the score, which is funny.

And then I just push them that I, the question I wanna answer is who’s walking down the hallway to tell the boss that, Hey, good news. We got a 60% chance of getting you to point B. And so it’s a, it’s a fun process. It can be hard, but my point I’m trying to make folks is that it’s okay. Because the question really is on that be is that new stuff?

So what I’m trying to make the point of is it’s okay. Why would you expect to have all this wisdom in the new stuff? So some of the stuff along the way, you’re at 80, 90, maybe even a hundred percent, but there’s always two or three buckets that you don’t have. Let’s go find it real quick.

When that feel good. Let’s go find it.

Andy Paul: And so for people, listen, this year in sales, as Craig described these wisdom gaps, those are opportunities for you as a salesperson, right? This is, we’re only at step two, a five, step one as a seller, if you go into a sales situation, thinking that, you’ve got a process and every customer is just like every other customer, you’re going to be disappointed.

And so you have to have the intellectual humility understand that every customer is unique. And then. You have to help them understand the destination of where they’re trying to go. And the problem there are these wisdom gaps as you described that this is an iterative process you go through, is your opportunity exists to help them fill those wisdom

Craig Lemasters: Oh, absolutely. And again, I just, I can’t get, I wrote them down as you’re talking, so I can’t get out of your four pieces out of my head. Cause I think in ecosystems. So if I look at that and go, okay, that is a beautiful though. To me, those are buckets of wisdom, so right. To be really good at connect, curiosity, understanding and acumen to me, that’s going to take the combination of knowledge and experience.

Those would be a perfect example. I could draw an ecosystem and that would, to me would be my prototype successful strategic selling person. Okay. And so I would just ask the question of somebody aspiring to be that good of. Okay. You’re probably right. Partway there at least on some of these. So where are the gaps here?

And how would we score ourselves on some of these topics? And again, I wouldn’t expect them to be all of them and they’re going to be at different levels, but the ones that are really low let’s go find people that can quickly fill the gap for you and do it through a series of really intense conversations and learning.

That’s it. And so your from a sales application, the work you do is a great setup for that conversation.

Andy Paul: Yeah, who knew? Okay. So third.

Craig Lemasters: All right. The other steps go super fast. So don’t get discouraged,

Andy Paul: Step three smart people ask for what they need. That’s that’s yeah. I mean that this, whether you’re doing it for your personal development or whether it’s your clients asking you they do, I tell sellers all the time is because everybody says, Oh, people don’t have time to talk to sales people, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

And I’m like when you talk to a customer, why do you think they’re talking to you?

Craig Lemasters: That’s right.

Andy Paul: Because they need your help. It’s that simple. If they didn’t need your help, they wouldn’t be talking to you.

Craig Lemasters: That’s right. You get it completely on that. Absolutely.

Andy Paul: So this is, yeah. Hopefully your buyers are smart people. They’re asking you for your perspective.

Craig Lemasters: Yeah,

Andy Paul: if you don’t have a perspective to give, if you’ve, if you’re stuck as a seller in this one model and you don’t have the intellectual humility and you haven’t identified your gaps, then yeah.

Maybe you can’t help that’s, you I’ll be in a position to help.

Craig Lemasters: That’s it that’s exactly right. You would not be in a position to do that. I couldn’t agree more. Yeah.

Andy Paul: And so step four, thinking outside the building, not outside the box. I think this is critical. I think that even fear again, from a sales perspective, even if. If your company doesn’t provide the resources, you need to go find the resource. There was a an interesting book written recently by a guy named Roger Connors called get a coach via coach and saying that, yeah, there’s an emphasis on coaching.

But Hey, the way companies do, it’s not very scalable and maybe insufficient for what you need. You need to go get a coach or get a mentor and build the networks. As you talked about.

Craig Lemasters: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. And I’m encouraged to hear that. Cause it, it is a challenge with so many companies and leadership that this is and what are we? Is it on the coach? If you, that’s why we wanted change the name, change the way people think about it because. Over the years. And I don’t know if it’s your experience.

It took on a very negative connotation. And again we did this in my own company. It’s okay John or Jane down the hall is kinda messing some stuff up. Let’s go get ’em a coach. It’s wow. That’s okay. But that shouldn’t be our go-to solutions particularly then when we go to the high potential people and we’re like, Hey, which should be great news.

We’re going to go invest in you to help you get to point B. And so that’s what w again, I, the paradigm drives me crazy because it should be one of the most important and positive things that we can do. I believe.

Andy Paul: Unfortunately, Recently and sales coaching is deal coaching opportunity. Coaching let’s look at your pipeline. What do we need to, as opposed to, why do I need to do to help this person become the best version of themselves? And that, that part increasingly is missing because now that we have the ability and such insight from a data perspective, into the active, every activity that a seller takes.

The tendency is to fall back on those metrics, as opposed to the person

Craig Lemasters: Couldn’t agree more. And it drives me a little nutso cause we do quite a bit of work around strategic selling advisory board work in different parts of the cause. I love strategic selling and sales process. And it’s so funny that usually the conversations start with, so the output of this is you’re going to teach everybody how to close more business. ex I, it’s not really what we’re talking about here. And again, I go back to your four part model. No, I know I can raise and whatever your things are, we, we can raise that IQ quickly through our methodology and if done, and these are the, in your case, the four right. Things, or this company’s three right things then yes, by definition, they should be more effective.

But. I share your frustration when it’s it’s this tactical fixation of there’s some magic wand that we can wash over a sales person and they go from 20 to 40% close rate. The next day, super goofy, I think

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a topic you and I can talk about offline. That one drives me nuts. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. For people listening, I really encourage you to grab the book. Yeah, because if you’re feeling stuck as a lot of salespeople feel stuck these days and part of that is that again, it’s the impact of embrace of technology is that our processes have become much more compliance, oriented, let’s say.

And as individuals it’d be interested in your take on the session, cause you came up through sales is. There’s a lot less autonomy given the sellers these days. I don’t know if you see that, but any part and the way you become good is by learning how to do things your way I believe. And it requires a certain amount of autonomy.

And I actually encourage people to grab it. Yeah. You want me to have to push back on your boss?  That’s how I came up through sales. I had a reputation for never saying yes to anything. Yeah. A boss said, I think you should do something this way. I’d say let me think about that. And because I knew it was, yeah, I was responsible for the delivering the outcome and oftentimes it could be great advice, but I wanted to see how it was going to fit in and how I would implement it.

And, some bosses just didn’t like that. Yeah. I had once said to me, don’t you ever say yes to anything? And the, so the answer is no, I think we need sellers to embrace that. And I see this outline of what you’ve put together in this book is one way to serve. Look at how do you grab autonomy?

Craig Lemasters: Yeah, I think it is because, and again, I go back to what I started earlier, if in the sales context, if on that topic alone, if that was one of the bubbles that we’ve got to get better at than having an Andy and two or three other Andy’s who had the knowledge and experience to help. Coach and teach through that.

You’re just going to get there faster. And that’s where you mentioned earlier stuck to me, it stuck doesn’t mean that we’re not trying and we’re not working hard. It means we’re not getting there fast enough. So this whole thing is built around, not allow to coach effort or caring. It’s a lack of speed.

And this is the dramatic impact is it will help people to exactly what you said much faster. And it’s this power of this other wisdom that does it.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And I think people need to think about in this environment we’re in where know the tremendous amount of change and rapid pace of change. Is I think people need to think about the fact that they need to be able to change at least as fast as their world is changing. You have, you still have to look at it that way.

Craig Lemasters: I think you’re spot on.

Andy Paul: You’re in a certain industry and it’s changing a certain, you have to change at the same rate of speed of it’s analogous to yeah. As a company, you need to be growing at least as fast as your market’s growing.

Craig Lemasters: Yeah, you’re spot on. And that’s why we do so much technology-related work. We cross the whole board, but you think about how fast that’s changing from a leader perspective. What happens in AI today is different than yesterday. You can’t pause and go to class. Cause it’s on the classes done.

It’s something different, right? But we can put you in front of operators that are super wise on today’s news. And it is that same in sales. The techniques, the opportunities to me and sales have never been better. I think high quality, strategic salespeople have an incredible future for that.

Very reason, because a lot is changing and a lot of tools have changed and a lot of methodologies. It goes back to the four things you preach about, but the how to on a lot of those and ways to do it, there’s wonderful people out there that can help with that.

Andy Paul: Yeah Craig, unfortunately run out of time, but it’s been fantastic. Really appreciate you stopping by and sharing, sharing with

Craig Lemasters: Yeah. No, my pleasure. And you’re, like I said, I love the work you’re doing and and really appreciate you having on having me on love, love the conversation. So thank you very much.

Andy Paul: All right. Craig, thanks again.

Craig Lemasters: Appreciate you.