Ep. 507 w/ Les McKeown Founder and CEO at Predictable Success

Les has over 25 years of global business experience, including starting 42 companies in his own right. He was the founding partner of an incubation consulting company that launched hundreds of businesses with thousands of employees.

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Kevin Horek: Welcome back to the show today. We have Les McKeown. He's the founder and CEO at predictable success. Les, welcome to the show,

Les McKeown: Kevin. Hi everybody.

Kevin Horek: Yeah, I'm excited to have you on the show. I think, well, you've done and worked with basically what all the most popular companies at this point on the planet, but maybe before we get into all that, let's get to know you better and start off with where he grew up.

Les McKeown: Sure. Well, I probably only have to speak for three or four sentences before people will work on that. Although I currently live in Maryland, I'm looking out over the beautiful Chesapeake bay as we speak. I'm actually not from these parts. I'm originally from Texas. No, sorry. I'm from Ireland. I'm from Belfast. Originally that's the part of Ireland that you come from. If you have any sense, you go to Dublin, but if you grew up in Belfast, as I did, then you want to come from it. I did a bug twenty-five years ago, but my accent, even though being here quarter of a century is decided not to fully relocate.

Kevin Horek: Very cool. Walk us through, what did you take in a university and why?

Les McKeown: I never went to university. I never made it. I was all set to be the first in my family. That story, the first one to go to college and I was going to go to a beautiful college called St. Andrew's, which is in Scotland. I wanted to be a journalist and I was going to study politics, philosophy and economics. Back in news day as being a journalist meant, putting on a Macintosh and getting a shorthand notebook and stomping and war zones. I, I bailed at the last minute. I was all set, ready to go. I decided I didn't want to go to college. Part of it was, my family was a white collar. Okay. We didn't have a lot of money kicking around and I thought I was going to put too much of a strain on the system. Long story short, my eldest daughter became the first person in our family to go to college Shiva.

Les McKeown: It showed me up by going to, and I signed up to become a chartered accountant, which is the UK equivalent of a CPA. Right. I had the very last year, which, and which I could do it became all graduate the year after I did it. I did what I call serving articles. In other words, I paid somebody for the first three years for the privilege of studying under them. I became a chartered accountant, a CPA.

Kevin Horek: Interesting. That's really fascinating. Okay. Walk us through the rest of your career. Maybe some highlights along the way up into what you're doing now with predictable success.

Les McKeown: Sure. I warn you, I I've got a lot of miles on the clock and you did ask so I, I qualified as a, as a chartered accountant and I qualified quite well. I came first in the national exams, comes off of a reputation within that industry, which did me no harm at all. When I set up my shingle, so to speak, as soon as I qualified, I went out on my own. At that point, the UK government was still back in the UK. Obviously we're putting a huge amount of resources into entrepreneurship. A lot of there were a lot of tax write-offs or cheap loans, all sorts of stuff. The main reason was that the UK at that time was essentially a brunch economy of here north America and South Korea of all places. A day you or LG or general motors, caught a cold, we would lose 15,000 jobs in somewhere like leads or Liverpool.

Les McKeown: The UK government really wanted to push entrepreneurship throughout the UK. I, I just caught that wave and I got them a reputation in Ireland as being a go-to person to, make cashflow projections, get a loan from a bank for people. I started to help people structure what their business might look like. I was fascinated with business models and long story short people started to ask me if I would actually join them on the startup team. I got to cherry pick six to eight opportunities a year. Lo and behold, by the time I was 35, I had helped launch 42. I'll say organizations. Cause there were some not-for-profits as well as for-profits and Kevin, even a dome Irishman. That's me, if you do something that number of times you begin to see repeating patterns, somewhere around the fifth or sixth, I got more interested in the patterns than I did in the actual businesses themselves.

Les McKeown: These were things like graphic design agency, a tool and dye manufacturer, which you couldn't even start in Europe these days, there wasn't a cost base for it. I bought the master license for pizza hut and Ireland as like that. I was fascinated with what I was seeing as I believed to be predictable patterns in success in the startup and early stage growth. In my mid thirties, I'm 187 years of age in my mid thirties fellow, a friend of mine, sadly not deceased, wonderful child, Coldwell Nikki. He was like me, although we didn't have the word back. He was like me, a serial entrepreneur. The two of us were approached by the UK government to build what essentially became one of the first ever incubator units. Again, we didn't have that phrase back then, but there was no there's no Y Combinator, the new tech stars who were a few things called science parks where a city, which were essentially an attempt to spin off what we would not call tech from university research departments, but there was no real entrepreneurial incubator units.

Les McKeown: We started one in west Belfast of all places and it was in the middle of a civil war back there then. Oh, wow. Amazingly, despite all of this, it was a huge success right out of the park. Our first two years were phenomenal. We really did help turn around the economy there. Before we knew it, we had people sitting in the back of the room who were visiting economic, I suppose, investment agencies from all over the world. Again, long story short, 10 years later when my late thirties, early forties and my partner and I had built what was essentially a consulting company with about 110 people in 13 offices worldwide. Were helping, were helping launch businesses everywhere. Not only that, the economic development agencies were also asking us to help get existing business to second, third, and fourth stage growth. I did that for about 10 years on my main goal personally, and I'll finish with this and it takes us up to what I do know was that I really believed I was seeing a cohesive growth model.

Les McKeown: It didn't just go through the startup phase and the early stage growth, but when all the way up to very large organizations and I was enjoying what I was doing, but I really wanted to prove the model. I had a fantastic opportunity in 1998, a very long, old and long in the tooth. A great a friend of mine gave me the opportunity to move to the west coast. I left Ireland and went to live in the San Francisco bay area. I got to work with fantastic companies like Microsoft. Microsystems American express, you mentioned referenced this at the start. The whole point was just approved this growth model. I wanted to see if it applied, if I could be predictive about success at a very large scale. And so it proved. By the mid aughts is when I gave it a name called a predictable success, the growth model.

Les McKeown: That's what I've been doing ever since teaching and consulting and coaching with it.

Kevin Horek: Fascinating. Walk us through, because you've written a bunch of books on all this stuff that we're going to talk about, what exactly do you do? And how's it different? What do you, how do you really help these companies? Because you've w w like you've mentioned, and I mentioned earlier, it's like, you've literally done this at some of the biggest companies. If you go to your website, like you have testimonials from like the CEO of American express and Ford and like big, huge brands. Right.

Les McKeown: Right. Well, what I really bring to the table is a recognition of just what it means to be at a certain stage in growth and the fundamental challenges that brings. We may, if we're have time, we can get into it, but there are essentially seven stages in the life cycle of any organization. There are three growth stages that pinnacle, and then three decline stages. You just think of the arc of a ball, if you were toss it in the air, that's what a life cycle looks like for all of our listeners in the vast majority of people in me, when I started, when you start a business, you typically have got two stages, you think, okay, this is going to be tough, right? And this might not work. I mean, even if we don't know the statistics, which are that about 80% of all new ventures fail in the first three years, even if you don't know those stats, you're pretty well aware that starting something use a risky venture.

Les McKeown: We tend to think, oh, Hey, this is going to be tough. I ended up buckle down. I'd probably have to, tighten my belt for a while and change my expectations for living and all that stuff. But, I'm obviously doing it because I think I'll beat the odds and then I'll get to the next stage, which is I have a viable business, and that will be wonderful. And that's about it. That's basically what we think. If we think about anything beyond that, it's just more than, bigger than maybe if we're very ambitious with and okay. I don't know what the analog is at the moment, but as you, our listeners will know. I mean, for years, everybody was talking about it. This will be the Uber off such and such. Maybe we think that, we have, so, I want either of them all a pop, I want have a bigger business, but we don't think about actual stages.

Les McKeown: In fact, what happens is as we move through each of those seven stages, the leadership need fundamentally shifts. It brings huge behavioral emotional on initially the finding group. If they stay there continuing funding group, but then maybe it's at a later stage in growth. It's a, it's a professional team of leaders. Whichever of those stages of that, you're in, you've really got to adapt your leadership style or you'll get stuck on it. Worst you'll fail. It's, first of all, just that recognition, that, of what stage I'm in. I help people identify that. Where do I want to go to, which is not always just as obvious as at my thing. What do I need to do to get there? The answer is almost always, most of it is in the four inches between the ears of the leaders. It's not changing your product mix. It's not changing your business model.

Les McKeown: When, when businesses have problems, most people think that's an external factor at all. Most always the more fundamental the crisis, the more likely it's actually a leadership issue and not the environment or the demographics or the business model or whatever.

Kevin Horek: Interesting. Okay. How do you work with leader ship and to basically tell them that, because I think sometimes people don't, they're successful. They're already successful. They're looking to grow. They don't like to be told that well, to actually grow, you guys need to change some things.

Les McKeown: Yes, that's absolutely true. The pain has got to be enough to recognize that. What happens in most cases, Kevin is that folks will either read one or more of my books or hear me speak. The model, because I didn't invent it. I didn't, none of this was researched. No interns were used in or harmed in the making of this model. It's just observational. Right. It's it's just, what's there. All I did was put names around it, give it some vocabulary. Almost always the people I work with intuitively get, I mean, like within minutes, a big aha that says, oh my goodness. First of the first thing they think is, okay, I'm not alone. This, what this guy's telling me is, right. The issues I'm facing right now are a natural part of growth that doesn't make it easier in and of itself, but it really helps to recognize that you're going through.

Les McKeown: You're not going, you didn't become stupid. You're going through issues that every growing organization goes through it. The need to make those leadership shifts typically becomes evident when you realize what the issues are. Let me give you a if I can just take a minute and give you a, a worked example,

Kevin Horek: That that was going to be my next question to you. So.

Les McKeown: That's perfect. The very first stage of growth is I call it early struggle. It's somewhat similar to the startup phase. I'll, I'll come back in a minute as to why I don't use that phrase, but any of our listeners, probably all of our listeners are familiar with the concept of an early struggle. Everybody knows what it is. Yeah. It's essentially, I'm going to be really generalist here. It lasts about three years and it's a race to find a profitable, sustainable market. That's all, it's, that's all it is. It's a race to find a profitable, sustainable market has to be all of those things, gotta be a market, not a customer. It's gotta be sustainable and it's gotta be profitable. The reason that typically takes three years even to succeed is that we spend the first year in denial, that our original idea, isn't what the market wants.

Les McKeown: We spend a second year working out what the market really dolls a lot. We spend the third year getting traction. Now for that 80% that don't make it there's one or two reasons for that. The first reason is not realizing that this is a race against time. It particularly happens in the tech industry where, we're back to being over-invested. Again, I don't, what happens is you get your second Rhonda Fonzie funding and you go out and buy 12 Erewhon chairs and a ground-up top conference table, and think you've got closer to viability and you haven't yet done a single thing, by the way, just as an aside, one of the things that, one of the reasons I don't use the word startup is because people like me who write and talk about business, have done us, have committed a venal sin on the founder community, which is we've glorified, the concept of a startup, the whole burnishing of the notion of startup it's plentiful.

Les McKeown: And it's horrible. I tell people all the time, there's only one valid strategy for a startup, and that is to stop being one as soon as possible. Because if you remain a startup, you will die. It's just a question of how long it's going to take. Do we want to maintain some of the features of being a startup, like being flexible? Also of course we do it anyway. The second thing that is necessary, as well as finding our profitable, sustainable market. That's key to being successful in that early struggle phase is that the lead person in the finding team, or if it's just a funder, that person, they need to be one of four possible leadership styles. And that's that visionary leader. That's shorthand. I'll really quickly. What I mean by that is it's somebody who takes risks. Somebody who sees the big picture, it's somebody who has that.

Les McKeown: I think if they have to do the detail, they'll grind it out. They're really much more interested in getting things started. Now that visionary leader is an essential element of success. However, all successful visionary leaders, even if they don't know my terminology, they will Intuit that they need somebody who's actually going to be there. Benicia. If they're the starter, they're the one that keeps coming up with the ideas. They need someone that I called up operator. It's the second leadership style they need initially, an operator, eventually multiple operators and operators are just ruthless, finishers. They just get stuff done. That's what defines them. You don't give them hyperbolic, adjectives like you would to the visionary. Who's, charismatic got good communication skills, all sorts of the operator just get stuffed on. As a visionary operator combo, that gets the business out of early struggle and into the second stage, which I give a highly technical name.

Les McKeown: I call it fun because that's what it is, right? That's the stage that we intuit, but we will get to that. That's that there's a, this is basically it. And fun is just that it's fun. Visionaries conducting a little mini orchestra of operators. You go do this, you go sell that. You go install that you can make that customer happy. You do our admin. There's just a bunch of operators doing this stuff with the visionary, conducting this. In fun, we say yes to everything. And somehow we deliver it on time. You want a thousand cases of my marijuana infused mineral water in Beijing. By next Thursday, of course we can do that. No idea how I, but we will do it somehow. We reached Friday evening, righteously exhausted, tons on our knees punting, but really feeling good because I mean, obviously we have even fun.

Les McKeown: We have our days and their challenges and so forth, but that highly evangelical stage of our growth is it's. It's a, it's a great stage. You find your profitable, sustainable market. Board meetings are right up in an elevator. You meet somebody over dinner and open a lunch and open an office in Chicago just because you like them. They like we just say yes to stuff and make it happen. What happens? This is where I'm finish this part of the story, because I want to talk about the intuitive nature of all of this. What happens is the very success that fun brings brings with it, creeping, but irresistible complexity, we just add more stuff. We add more locations. We add more products. We have more services. The business just gets a little more complex this day, a little more complex the next day, unlike a frog in slowly boiling water.

Les McKeown: We don't really notice how the environment is changing one degree at a time until that point at which suddenly the complexity begins to eat us. I don't know if you've ever been in that position, but you start to, we start to make mistakes. We start to stand on our, tromping our own feet. We, we sign a stupid lease without really reading it. We fail to turn up an important client meeting. We order, the wrong botch of raw materials. That stage is a stage I called whitewater. That's what vast majority of people begin to think. Oh, whoa, okay. I get this. That's exactly where I, and there's a big behavioral change required. It's one of the first existential stages after early struggle. It's this, we need a third leader ship style to style. I call a processor. We've got to bring somebody in to put systems and processes in place at an enterprise wide level for the very first time.

Les McKeown: That for the very first time brings leadership conflict because the visionary and the operators can finish each other's sentences that builds years of sweat equity. They built the myths and legends of the business. Now we have these processors coming in, I'm putting systems and processes in place and it drives the visionary and the operator's crazy. And that's what I typically do. The first place that I start helping people.

Kevin Horek: Okay. How do you work with companies and leadership to bridge that gap?

Les McKeown: Well, that's where the, it was so important for me, Kevin, to come here to the us solo ago. Obviously I liked it enough that I never went by that. I was trying to find a permanent solution to that. I had been spending the previous 10 years working with, I was, I had slowly got this terminology together and I got to the point where I can recognize visionaries operators and processors, at a, a quite a distance away. For example, you open a clamshell laptop of a processor. I'm going to exaggerate it here for caricature sake. She opened a laptop that a processor owns there in this single stray document on the home screen, right? Everything's in a folder under which there a whole series of nested folders. If anything, dares, escape, it gets filed pretty quickly. You open an operator laptop on every thought anybody ever sent them this other nonsense.

Les McKeown: And thank goodness for search. That's how we find documents. As to the visionary, there, the next mock with the newest chip is arriving tomorrow by FedEx class and their red haired cousin will set it up for them. But, I can recognize those stars. I was spending quite a lot of time helping visionary operator processor teams really learn what the hot buttons are between that set off the internal conflict that occurs here. So, for example, the visionary, the processor is half glass empty because they're always saying no to stuff. They shouldn't be say yes immediately to anything. I'd have to be talked off a ledge to say they kind of do them processors say no immediately, I'm going to as a CPA on while we're on this. We're just trying to say no with the start. Maybe you'll talk me into saying it as an operators are just looking at these parts.

Les McKeown: Think, just give me my marching orders. What do you want me to do? Are we opening this office in Chicago? Or are we not? They just want to get on with it. You ask a processor to move a photocopier and just walk over and they'll unplug it and I'll move the dog photocopier. You ask the processor to move a photocopier. They start writing a memo to the full copy of removal. You ask a vision rate to move a photocopy. So we've got a photocopier. I didn't know. That was one of the best so that, these are different styles and I won't bore you with it. I'd had built a long re good reputation and getting visionary operator processor teams to work together. The problem is it didn't stick after about six months, they'd be back to driving each other crazy. There wasn't a permanent fix.

Les McKeown: The reason I came out to the U S is that I knew with larger organizations, they obviously had fun and answer because many of them had got into the peak stage, which I call predictable success. I'd clearly been there for quite some time. I had an opportunity to just sit, go sit on audit timefully for me back then, meetings were all physical, very level in the world of physical meetings. So I have a virtual meeting. I got to actually see senior leadership teams from just great organizations work together. And here's what happened. I'm sitting there and I'm watching and saying, oh, okay. There's I can, there's the operator because she's just squirming seven minutes into any meeting and operators left bag is going up and down like crazy. They're texting their assistant under the table center. Dear God, please send me an emergency. Just get me outta here.

Les McKeown: I hit meetings, right? I could see that I see the visionaries cause they're standing lounging against the wall and not, I own the room stops, hyperlinking from a to Q. The only thing I don't want to talk about is the agenda because they were bored with it. As soon as they saw it and the processor setting there, and they've got 60 pages worth of PowerPoint for every agenda item and they will not be stopped. They are going to go through all 60 pages. If you interrupt them, they'll smile nicely and go back to page one. So you don't interrupt them. I could see all of that, but here's what I saw in those organizations that were firmly in predictable success. I saw a fourth style, emerged. It emerged in the room. Now I'm out in the west coast and San Francisco bay area. I'm, I'm all prepped for some wound stuff.

Les McKeown: I see some woo stuff, which is that this style emerges. It's not personified in a few cases when there was a person who was clearly pushing this, but rarely it was mostly, the teams had almost like an overdrive they could move into. It was a forced style, which I had to name it in order to try to grapple with. And I called it the synergist style. Again, long story short took me a few years to really work out what was going on. I got there in the end, what happens with high performing teams in organizations that have achieved this stage, I call it predictable success and I'm happy to share the defining characteristics of it. They have developed what I call a synergist style. What that means is this to very simple, very pragmatic thing. When they were talking about non trivial items, right? Something important, they would strive to come to the answer solution that was best for the organization as a whole, as opposed to pushing for answer that would let them scratch their visionary edge or their processor edge or their operator edge, instead of, the vision rate, needing every answer, every solution to be grand swing for the fences that, changes, everything they could put up with a visionary synergist can put up with a grinded out detailed process or late answer if that's the right thing, the operator, instead of trying to get out of meetings at all costs because it kills them on an operator.

Les McKeown: Synergist finds it difficult, but since they're because they know they've got to give their real world feet on the ground input into high quality decisions on a processor, synergist realizes, Hey, it's pretty good. If I can just get to my conclusions, the final slide in the deck, talk about that, and then take questions instead of killing everybody I make I'm giving just a few cutesy examples, but this overall overarching drive as a team to make the bath high quality team, best decisions for the enterprise as a whole, is it incredibly mundane soporific statement, but it's the key to getting to that stage. I call predictable success. You have all of the four styles working cohesively together, visionary operator processor, synergist.

Kevin Horek: Fascinating. Okay. What does predictable success mean to you and how do you stay at that? Because once you're kind of at the top of the mountain, there's only one way to go down or to go right down. It's tricky to stay up there, right?

Les McKeown: It is very tricky. The answers to the two questions are a little intertwined. If the listeners are, excuse me, I just want to take a glug of water here for a second.

Kevin Horek: Sure.

Les McKeown: If you think about the fun stage, so if you recall the are of the life cycle, we've got three stages coming up and that's already struggled fund in whitewater. We've not reached predictable success, which is the apex of that arc. Obviously in fun. We grow in fact, in relatively terms, we'd grow like crazy. I mean, when you just come out of early struggle, your market share, I mean, technically the equation is it's 2% of the square root of squat. It means that, your first substantial customer, you've just grown a hundred percent. Well, actually I think you've grown by infinite percent, but your second customer, you grow a hundred percent. So the absolute figures may be small, but the relative growth is quite high in fun. You grow, but there's always a cap on not growth. That's the, that's the point at which you hit whitewater.

Les McKeown: Typically in fund the rate of growth slows, and if you want to just be a mom and pop, you can, or a boutique business, you can stay in fun and definitely just keep polishing the apple and, squeeze, a few percentage points out here and there, but there'll always be a cop on your market. I personally, I've been in predictable success with many of my businesses. My consulting business is resolutely and fun. I decided to stay here. I do not want to build McKinsey. I do not want to build a Bain and company. That puts a cop on Microsoft, right? I've accepted that the difference between a fun, unpredictable success and the reason why it's worth struggling with, on getting through the pains of whitewater, because it is very painful is that in predictable success, you can scale. That is essentially the difference between a convex group carb and a concave one.

Les McKeown: In predictable success, you can hit that J curve where the rate of growth can actually accelerate the way Jeff Immelt explained that when in the good days GE said back then, and he said, well, I put my foot on the gas pedal in this organization. The cargo's forward. The way I describe it in my fourth book is called do scale, got that strange title because it's part of a series of books called, do bake bread do go for a walk. I wrote a book called to scale, and the way I explain it, there is growth in the fund stage. If you think of this, of the size, your business could be as a tall building, and the top floor is the biggest. You can be growth in fun is all about charging up the stairwell. It's, there's a lot of manual effort involved. The leader jumps out said, come on, let's go up.

Les McKeown: A couple of flights of stairs comes back from my conference, visionary leader. You don't want to talk to a visionary leader. The Monday morning after the big talk conference or being on vacation, cause they come back with a hundred new ideas. I'll charge up the stairwell and everybody follows and we'll charge up a couple of flights of stairs, executing our strategic growth plan. We do pretty well and we get a HUD of breath and we stop that. Kick through the doors and the stairwell. Again, it's a bit like that in fun, a lot of effort involved in predictable success. You go over to the elevator bank and press a button. You walk in, you press the floor and you'd go, no, I'm being obviously very simplistic here. The key distinction I want to make is that growth in fun, depletes the very resources. I'm not just talking about money, I'm talking about energy and enthusiasm.

Les McKeown: That's required to really scale and predictable success. We put systems and processes in place, not Elias to rinse and repeat, rinse, and repeat, and really achieve that scale.

Kevin Horek: Interesting. No, I think that makes a lot of sense. I want to dive into each one of the books cause you've written a number of them. Do you want to kind of give us what each book is called of an overview and kind of how they all kind of tie together?

Les McKeown: Yes. It's important that realize they do all tie together. Th there's four books in this series have actually written seven, but three of them weren't directly related to the predictable success. The first was, is predictable success. Okay. Came out in 2010 and it goes in detail on this to the seven stages. It goes through all seven growth stages helps the reader recognize which stage they're in the second book in the series followed just a couple of years thereafter and it's called the synergist and it's a bite those four leadership styles, visionary operator processor, synergist, and it relates them to the growth stages. That's important for me to say this, that the predictable success model as a whole is those two books and they are intimately connected. They do standalone, which is why I published them that way, because it would have been just more than anybody would have been interested in reading if I put them all together, but they are highly symbiotic and they connect together.

Les McKeown: The seven lifecycle stages in predictable success, the four leadership styles and the center, just the two books that followed into a specific parts of this in more detail. My third book do lead w which is my favorite for a specific reason. I talk there about leadership as being something that anybody in an organization at any level, no matter what their title is and whether they are a recognized leader or not con do leadership. I take a lot of time to point that side. We have put leadership and the concept of leadership in one particular bucket, almost always, which is the formerly accepted leader. And that's an important role. I'm not saying that's not something that's very important, but leadership doesn't have to be permanent. It doesn't, you don't have to be a leader all the time. You can exhibit not so random acts of leadership on a, not so random octave leadership is anything that gets a group of two or more people closer to the common goal.

Les McKeown: You're working on any a team that team has a goal. It will have a leader most likely, but you can commit a Nazi of random octave leadership. That's something that helps your team get closer to its goal. Do lead is about taking the visionary operator, processor, synergist concepts, and allying anybody in the organization to exhibit not to run them ox of leadership, or if you're a, or if you are a recognized leader, it helps you understand more about your leadership styles. My final book in the same series is called, do scale is essentially a bike that distinction between predictable success and fun. It's a, but if you got yourself to predictable success, how do you then scale? Because one of the things that's not that intuitive, it is that you can get, you can find yourself in predictable success and then fail to take advantage of the very opportunity that it brings.

Les McKeown: What's it, which is the ability to scale. There are people who have got their business to predictable success and don't put their foot in the gas pedal. It's really about how to do that.

Kevin Horek: Okay. Interesting. Well, and I think realistically, one of the hardest things to do, right, as a business leader or anybody, even if you're at a startup, correct.

Les McKeown: Is to.

Kevin Horek: Just basically keep that scaling. Right. Kind of keep growing and kind of trying to figure out how to kind of keep your staff motivated. Because I think at some point once companies are going to figure it out, they're at a successful level. I think a lot of people kind of get bored, including the leadership. Have you found that or do you agree with that?

Les McKeown: Well, what I'm finding more often is that a business will get caught up in a temporary. I got to take us all the way back to MBA studies for a moment or two, just to finish that sentence. You may recall someone called a pestle study, P E S T L E. It's a way of trying to anticipate where change may come from. It essentially says, look at the political is the P S T L E political economic, social technological, legislative, or environmental changes. Some were from those seven areas are likely to be the things that are going to most impact you externally over the next period of time. And it's a very useful tool. What had happened, what happens is that it sometimes the other way, Rhonda, something happens from one of those areas that gives up business a temporary sense of permanent scalability. Somebody changes a law somewhere, or some demographics shift, or, a pandemic hits and suddenly you've got a tiger on your hands.

Les McKeown: I don't want to be unthinking. I know the last number of years has just been horrendous, but there were also a lot of businesses that have done incredibly well out of it, but they don't necessarily know how to Trump that they don't know how to turn that into something permanent, or you get first mover advantage in a certain market. And, you're riding that wave for a period of time. Before, what, your Pinterest or something, because you didn't know. I mean, you go back to a company like Kodak before younger listeners to not have to google this Kodak owned cameras. And.

Kevin Horek: It just dominoes, it was like apple on the iPhone. Like,

Les McKeown: Absolutely. But until the day they died, They were listed as a paper and chemicals company. That's what they believed they were, they believed their business was made out of combining chemicals onto paper, because we used to cop to go to, the drug store and leave our rule of film in to get it developed. They didn't own imaging. Right. They didn't know how to trap that for longevity. I see that happen a lot that something comes out of the blocks. There is something that looks like walks like scalability, quacks, like scalability, but it isn't scalability. It's I hit and there isn't the leadership structure, first of all. The infrastructure, secondly, to turn that into something enduring.

Kevin Horek: Fascinating. So you also host your own podcast. What do you talk about? And what's the podcast called.

Les McKeown: It's called scale with predictable success. I just got people on who, have either themselves or with others achieved predictable success. I, I try to spread it around as much as possible. It's not all for profits CEOs often. It's. I, I realized after I published the first book, I started to get calls from faith and cause based organizations who were using a lot and the principles apply just as much there. We have leaders, what I've got lead, pastors have huge churches use the model. It's great to have them come on. We just, we just talk about essentially leadership challenges. If there was a, a common thing, it's the need for self-awareness as a leader. I think that's just one of the most important things that you need in order to navigate these seven stages that I've been talking about, that you got to realize a Marshall Goldsmith wrote a great book with an even greater title, which is what got you here.

Les McKeown: Won't get you there. And in leadership, that's so true. The very things that you not only have to do, but you should do and say the early stages of fun, that whole business of just saying yes to everything that's Darwinian, meaningly necessary, that's the right thing to do. If you don't do it, you'll get squelched in the fun stage because one of the few advantages that you have, one of the very few advantages that you have is flexibility. You just say yes to everything and try something out to do that is a good example of something that not only just doesn't turn neutral, it doesn't become, less helpful. It becomes that just saying yes to everything becomes a barrier to growth in the whitewater stage and helping leaders see that they may actually have to just slow things down for a year or two in order to come roaring back.

Les McKeown: That's tough. Self-awareness is a common theme in the podcast.

Kevin Horek: Interesting. Okay. What is skill architects and how does that tie into predictable success and everything we've talked about today?

Les McKeown: Well, I mentioned a while back that I, I had a difficult actually did it twice just to prove that self-awareness is something we all need. And, and one of them, I made a dumb error of judgment twice in the last 15, 16 years, which is that I, on two occasions, this may sound like I'm being hyperbolic, but literally what happened on two occasions, I woke up one morning, two separate mornings, but seven years apart and had this recognition that they had been unhappy for months and B the reason was that my business was growing in terms of people and infrastructure and all that stuff. I just didn't want to do that. I actually can't do. It's one of the things I've discovered about myself, I can either build my own businesses. I did all those years ago, going back to when it was a serial entrepreneur or I can help other people build theirs.

Les McKeown: I can't do both. If I'm engaged in, five hours with a hiring interviews for a day, I'm done I'm toast. I can't help my clients. I twice had to let people go. I looked around and thought, oh no, I've done it again. I've let this. I don't know. I'm not talking about just like 10, 11, 12 people. I made a commitment to myself a lot by that. I just wouldn't wanna make that mistake again. On the other hand, so I've got myself and I've got a wonderful assistant. Who's about three feet from me. The listeners might be able to, if they listen closely, they might be able to hear my assistant who has no opposable, thumbs and snores most of the day. I used to be walked three times in the day. I've, I'm resolutely committed to staying that way. I really know, I I'm very, very, both proud and privileged to get.

Les McKeown: I mean, I literally get emails every single day, somebody emails me or as somebody did yesterday, just calls me and wants to do a zoom session at many of them. I've never heard of before set up, but I've read your book or I saw you speak five years ago. We've been using your principles and it's really changed my world. And I want the predictable success model. I start, but I don't want to build a big company. A couple of years ago, I met an incredible young man called Scotty ritzheimer and Scott just blew me away. He had read the book and flying over Sweden, going to visit his wife's bomb late, just spoke to him and his business immediately started applying the principles. It transformed his business, and he wanted to see if there was some way that he could take the principles and teach them on coach other people.

Les McKeown: I so admire just how he approached all of it. I, I gave him a license and after working with him for awhile and Scotty, I runs a company called scale architects and together he and I train individuals in the principles of predictable success. They work with their own clients, coaching and consulting people using the predictable success model to help them scale.

Kevin Horek: Very cool. We're, we're kind of coming to the end, but I really want to cover one last thing with you. You have a resources section where you have a blog and some quizzes and a learning center. What type of stuff do you have in there? Because I think it's really useful for a lot of people.

Les McKeown: Sure. I appreciate you asking. That the simplest thing is just the blog. I put something out every Sunday evening. There's a weekly blog post that goes up, but my personal fascination at the moment is in putting as much of what I do online on a a self-serve basis as possible. We have a bite, I think about what 14 different courses on our online learning center at the moment. They go all the way from, just how to get out of early struggle. How do you, what are the things to focus on to get out of early struggle into that fund, the stage, how to maximize your time and fund there's another course, how to get out of whitewater is a third one. There's our flagship course, which I call it a predictable success acceleration program. It just takes you through the whole model from soup to nuts.

Les McKeown: I'm adding to that all the time. I, I love it. I enjoy teaching online. It's it's for me, my current main project. Step stop by have a look at that. If folks can, if you're interested in the visual operator processor, synergist styles aspect of this, you can go to synergist quiz.com. It's all one word, just Synergos quiz.com. In about 10 minutes, you can get food detailed DNA. You know what your style is? We've been talking as if we're only one thing, but most of us are typically a relatively complex mix of all four styles. Just understanding that there's usually a lead style and then a couple of seconds and stuff. So center just quiz.com. People can find out what their styles make says. Lifecycle quiz.com, lifecycle quiz.com. All one word you can. I take, it takes a little longer. It's about a 15 minute investment, 20 minute investment.

Les McKeown: You can onlies if it doesn't strike you immediately, from what I've been sharing, you can analyze what stage in the life cycle of your.

Kevin Horek: Nope. Well, perfect. Les, let's close the show with mentioning where people can get more information about predictable success, the books, and again mentioned any other links you want to mention.

Les McKeown: It's all@predictablesuccess.com just build there. I think we've got a pretty well labeled, and by the way, given there's just me and my assistant with no opposable thumbs. If you send me a message and the contact phone, contact us page on the website, it comes straight to me.

Kevin Horek: Perfect less. Well, I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to be on the show. I look forward to keeping in touch with you and have a good rest of your day.

Les McKeown: My pleasure. Thank you, Kevin. Thanks everybody.

Kevin Horek: Thank you. Okay, bye.

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Ep. 507 w/ Les McKeown Founder and CEO at Predictable Success
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