Finding More Joy in Business and Life (Featuring Simon Severino)

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Running a business can sometimes feel repetitive. Like you’re on a hamster wheel. Business leaders and their teams run the risk of becoming uninspired and de motivated. In this episode of the Truest Fan podcast, I share an interesting conversation with Simon Severino about how to find joy in life and business. How to make them more fun.

Simon is the Founder of Strategy Sprints, author, and global speaker. He created the Strategy Sprints method to help entrepreneurs scale faster and reach financial freedom.

When entrepreneurs create a business plan, they often look for processes that result in efficiency and repeatability. Most of them believe that businesses are only meant to solve problems which means the fun part of these processes is often taken for granted.

You may have an amazing process but when no one is doing it, it defeats the purpose. Learn more about how you can incorporate fun in business processes so you and your team feel motivated and geared toward important goals, be sure to listen to this episode.

To listen, click the play button above. Or click the “Subscribe” button to go to your favorite podcast player.

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Podcast Transcript

Rob 00:00

We make it fun, get the joy back. That’s not advice you would necessarily expect to get from an expert and scaling up your business from an expert in a creating strategy, but that’s exactly what you’ll hear today on this episode of the truest fan podcast. As you meet Simon Severino, Simon is the founder of strategy sprints. He’s a global speaker, he created the strategy sprints method and has a book pipe that name strategy Sprint’s listen to this podcast and think about where you are in your business as you’re working your way towards your next level of success. Do you have your eye on more fun and more joy? Simon says you should

Rob 01:12

Welcome Welcome, everybody to the truest fan podcast. I am excited today to have a guest from outside of the financial advice industry although he does spend some time investing and with financial advisors. Our guest today is Simon Severino who is the founder of strategy Sprint’s he’s a global speaker. He’s a scaling up expert. And he’s the creator of the strategy sprints method, which I’m sure we’ll jump into later in the conversation. A Simon welcome to the podcast.

Simon Severino 01:48

Hey, Rob. Hey, everybody. Thanks for having me. Yeah,

Rob 01:51

It’s our our pleasure. So normally, when I start the podcast, I’m talking with somebody from the States. And so I asked a baseball question. So I don’t know if you have a favorite baseball team.

Simon Severino 02:06

I know. I heard for the first time that there is baseball in Vienna yesterday.

Rob 02:12

Well, that’s good to know. Good to know. The truest fan podcast, as you might know, was one of the reasons I came up with the idea of being a truest fan is the fact that I am a truest fan of the Cleveland guardians. They used to be the Indians, but now they call them the Guardians baseball team. And as I’m recording this session, just got back from a weekend watching them win a great series in the playoffs. So I’m Extra extra excited today. So let’s do you have a sport or an activity that you’re really big fan of that you that you’re you get involved in, in a in a very active way?

Simon Severino 02:52

I do. I am a triathlete. So I like running, swimming and biking. And I do those races, single races when sometimes in all the three in one day. But it’s it’s not so much a team thing. It’s I raised against myself. And having three small kids right now. It’s just It keeps me It keeps me healthy. It keeps me sane. It keeps me healthy.

Rob 03:19

What got you involved in triathlons?

Simon Severino 03:25

I am the strategy advisor. So I was flying so much. And most of the things that I liked doing, were time and team related. And so I was kicked out of my soccer club, I was kicked out of everything that involves other people and other times lots. Because it was you know, on Monday I was in New York, and on Wednesday I was in Paris, and then maybe on Saturday I was in Shanghai. So I was not able to do theme stuff anymore. I wanted to move and I had to move to stay healthy. The only thing that I found out that works in every city, wherever you are, whatever you do, it’s running. So became a runner. And after a couple of years of running every day, I couldn’t just load more, more kilometers per day or more hours per day says no good for the knees. So I add that swimming because I love swimming. And well. When you start like that you are with one foot in the triathlon world.

Rob 04:29

Yeah, no, it makes perfect sense. I’ve had a couple of guests on who are triathletes. And it’s fascinating to me because it does take so much planning and effort and just daily attention to what you’re doing as you’re gearing up for whatever the next event is you’re going to participate in. So that’s, that’s great. The, so let’s let’s change gears, my favorite question to ask to really kind of kick off the business side of the podcast. To get away from the activities and stuff is, is there a message that you got from a mentor or a colleague or a family member, you know, doesn’t matter when that’s just kind of stuck with you, as you’ve built your business and your career that you kind of the maybe even it’s helped shape, strategy sprints.

Simon Severino 05:23

Many, many, if I had to pick one, it was to make it fun. So when you write down the processes, I was always looking for efficiency and repeatability. That was my main focus. As I was building my business, right in the beginning, I was the consultant, then we, we were scaling globally. So I was the bottleneck of my own company, I had to fire myself out of operations. And so I did that. And it became then a certification model with other people coaching, and I was supervising them teaching them. And so I had to write down the processes in order to hand them over. And I was looking at efficiency and repeatability of the sales processes, the marketing processes, customer onboarding processes, etc. And this coach said, no, no, look for fun, fun dinner business processes. Fun is not what they are here for, right? 

They’re here to solve problems of the client. Yeah. But the best processes are the processes that your team will actually do every day. Otherwise, you can have an amazing process, but nobody’s doing it. Like think of a great CRM tool that you have picked. And that is maybe even expensive. But if your team doesn’t use it, what’s what’s the value of it. So the best process is one that your team really uses everything. And so one variable, yes, repeatability is important. Yes, efficiency is better than an inefficient process. But if there is no fun, if people don’t like using it, then it’s not creating any value.

Rob 07:06

Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great piece of advice, because we all run into processes and systems and tools that we sometimes invest lots of time and money in. And then they just, they just sit there, and then we blame the tool. We don’t necessarily blame how we’ve implemented it and decided to use it. What’s an example of I mean, maybe we’re just even going straight to your reference to a CRM system. How do you make CRM fun so that people use it?

Simon Severino 07:38

Oh, yeah, CRM is a great example. Because if everything comes together in the CRM, so you have sales, you have operations, you have marketing, everything comes together in the CRM. And the hardest part is to do it everyday to do some follow-up right to call somebody to remember yourself to call somebody to call past clients to call current clients to go deeper with current relationships with business partners with possible affiliate partners, past clients that you can turn into referral partners, board of advisors, people that can become your advisors. So that’s the hard part is following up. Because the main thing is, it’s boring. The second problem is you forget. So, for example, I have hundreds of people every week that I meet, and they just forget them next week, I go like, wow, this person is cool. I should talk to them about Narada. And then next week, I just forget about them. So a good CRM reminds you about that, hey, it’s 14 days, you didn’t talk to Peter call them, here’s the number. But it makes it also easy for you. 

And so when we install a CRM with our clients, or when we help them refine the sales processes around CRM, there are so many things that pop up. The first one, does it really work on your phone? We talked about fancy tools. If it doesn’t work on your phone, nobody will use it. So if you have something super complicated with AI features and whatever, it probably does work on your phone, and so nobody will use it. The second because people you know they travel, they’re around, they move around in the house, they are not always on the desktop. So first thing is work on the phone second, can you build in email templates and scripts templates in there, just to make it easy, because the fun comes also from the effortlessness from the easy ness of things. If it’s if I just click and I have five possible templates, I will send more follow up emails. So we help them create email templates that fit their sales flow. Then the third thing is to be clear who is setter who is clear There are some themes don’t have the clear distinction of what is a marketing task, what is a sales task. And so we teach them what those tasks are.

The goal of marketing is to create to start conversations and to get them on the calendar, the goal of the salespeople is to close that wake-up, show up on your with your calendar, invite and close them. So these are very different tasks that need different skills. And so we teach both of them for the marketing teams, we have around 274, marketing blueprints, how to create a marketing strategy, marketing content, reusing content, etc. And have fun while doing it and doing it in a different way. One that is authentic and fresh and inspiring. And for the salespeople, we have sales technique, coaching, so they, they record their zoom call, and they upload it to us and take us, again, must work on the phone, and we are on the phone, we get their video. 

So hey, look at the in minute 1.7 Look what you did there, you lost them look at their body language, you said the price too early. You try this the next time, then they do the next one, and they try it. And so this is how you help the individual increase the conversion rate of those calls. But then also we help the team because we do sales roleplay ABC sales roleplay 15 minutes, I play the prospect you play the salesperson, and a third one observes and gives us feedback. And we play. So I come with objections. Yeah, I want to buy from you. But it’s not the right time, oh, I don’t have the right team, etc. So the typical reasons why somebody doesn’t buy, and then we play with it. So instead of something painful, and maybe awkward, it becomes something that you are you are ready to play with to engage with. 

Because they are usually very important concerns. And so you have to address them, or you pick them up and play with them. And that’s, that’s the art of closing, it’s actuart of talking about concerns and dissolving those concerns bit by bit. And so we do sales role plays for 15 minutes every day for a couple of weeks until the team is totally energized. Because you can imagine if let’s say your day starts 9 am. And we start 845 with the team to do 15 minutes of this comes 9am They are energized, like drinking seven coffees, and they are ready to call somebody they want to close deals. So they will just pick the phone book and call people.

Rob 12:52

So so the fun comes from the fact that you’re really making sure that people are really prepared to do their job or their or play their role and do it at their absolute best. And when you have it, it’s probably a little bit like running a triathlon, if you didn’t train in each area of the triathlon before the events, you’re going to struggle but if you know that you’re ready to ride, you’re ready to run, you’re ready to bike, the triathlon is going to be more fun, more successful because you have an opportunity to perform at your best level beat your personal best in each of those areas. That’s kind of the fun from having, having the systems in place and practicing and, and that sort of thing

Simon Severino 13:40

There are two levels technical and adaptive. Technical is hey, this is the blueprint, this is a process, save yourself time, just just do this. And so they get started faster. They don’t waste time learning stuff, they immediately have a proven blueprint that I can run with. That’s the technical part. The adaptive part is, Hey, you are still low in confidence. When you say the price, you say it’s 40,000 or so that’s low confidence. They feel it that you don’t believe it. So we have to work on the adaptive site. Where are you right now? And What’s hindering you from moving the next step? 

So in triathlon is okay, you can run 17 kilometers at once. Okay, let’s go 19 What’s what’s keeping you let’s see, there is some technical stuff, we have to check your shoes and your running technique. There is also some adaptive stuff, how you feel right now. And what’s blocking you from sleeping better, eating better, telling your family that this is your mealtime. There are many adoptive elements. That’s the inner work. And together it’s powerful. You’re working on your inner ability to expand your performance. So you’re letting, letting go of some limiting beliefs, usually, or some emotions that are hindering you like guilt feeling or similar stuff. 

And the outer work is, hey, here’s the blueprint, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, it’s ready. These are the seven pieces of How to close a deal. So let’s go, let’s play with it. These two elements together, that’s really powerful. And I learned this, you know, I’m a strategy advisor by I learned 50% of my craft, from actually from my triathlon experience, because my triathlon coach would be very numeric, very small loops of engagement, and it was fully online, because when I bike 600 kilometers, you cannot be with me all the time. So he would just get the numbers from my watch. And he would ping me in SMS and say, You’re, you’re going too slow, or you’re running too fast. And I was like, Ah, okay, so real time feedback. And small loops. That’s what I learned from that.

Rob Brown 16:01

Real time feedback and small loops. You know, that’s a that That by itself is a really priceless piece of information. Because I’m too often in business, when we’re dealing with a problem or focusing on a goal. We do it over such long periods of time that we have less, it has less impact, because it’s not real-time that we’re getting that reinforcement.

Simon Severino 16:31

Yes. And so I was frustrated in long, long strategy projects that will run for six months, 12 months. And I was always thinking, how can I make that in smaller chunks, smaller loops because the times are over, you know, 10 years ago, I could do that with the big brands. But now the times have changed. Now, think of a millennial, they play Angry Birds, they should the bird and they get immediately feedback, 500 points, they shoot it again, 700 points. Now they’re motivated, they want to go for 800. 

But imagine you shoot the bird. And it says in two weeks, you will get a 17 metrics report. Nobody will play that the second time. It’s over. There is no energy, there is no reason right? Why would we do that. And so flow states in teams are made of few metrics, immediate feedback, both numeric and adaptive. So both about the technical side, this was a 20k deal. This was a 27k deal. 

But also the adaptive side, hey, you move forward, you showed more about yourself, your soul what you stand for, hey, you reacted much quicker to this very critical concern. So it’s about how to address things quicker and deeper and with more integrity and with more intensity in a high-stakes conversation, which is highly emotional, but you want to be professional. So there’s the technical side, and there is the adaptive side. And when these two things come together, that’s why I love sales coaching. Most people say Oh, sales coach and sales trainers, Liza, guys. No, I love it. I think it’s the art of creating value. When there is a very relevant situation, right?

Rob 18:27

Because I love that you said that because you hear that a lot in the financial advice space. advisors don’t like to think of themselves as being salespeople. But ultimately, they are also the people that are going to tell you that when it comes to closing the big deal, that’s one of their favorite things to do. And there’s something there they’re really good at. So it means that they’re good at sales. They just don’t want to call it sales.

Simon Severino 18:59

Yes, some call it like you’re always an influencer. Always think of the big financial people. The big deal makers think Warren Buffett is highly influential in his world and his team in his surrounding. Even people who never met him are highly influenced by Warren Buffett. Ray Dalio right now. He became a market here in the last couple of years. Everybody’s reading his books right now. Right, highly influential people. And that is very tied to their investment philosophies into their investment principles. And also, those were always investment systems. If you think of Ray Dalio, he went broke at least once very publicly. And he rebuilt everything from scratch using the same philosophy and the same systems.

Rob 19:54

Yeah, that’s, that’s a great, great observation, and the obviously in the financial advice or space, those are two people that many advisors follow because they are influencers. And they do. They do set the tone for lots of things in the industry when I switch gears, because we have about 510 minutes left, but I want to make sure that we talk about a strategy sprints. You know, as when we first met, I talked about the fact that I use sprints in my business with my clients, but I use a different version of a sprint and I spent a little bit more time listening or learning about how you do a sprint and kind of the promise that you make when somebody sprints with you talk a little bit about what a strategy sprint is, and why it’s so important.

Simon Severino 20:45

So in 21 years of helping people increase sales, what I found out is, there is a set of typical 30 to 35 things that we all need to do and it became a system like the Ray Dalio system, the Warren Buffett system, I had my system in the end, distilled from many projects with a ton of mistakes, and some things were working, those things that were working, they are evergreen, and they work for all financial advisory teams for all b2b SaaS teams, for all consultancies for all agencies. 

And we can go through all of them and just have to, I don’t have so much time. But there are three habits and three strategies that we always use. And those are supported by 274 templates. So in the book strategies, and prints, I share the core system, the Evergreen systems, for marketing, sales, and customer onboarding. And then the last chapters are about hiring. Because then you need to scale it. 

At first, you build it, you work on the form, fit, and function of the operations are how you deliver, that’s the most important thing. And when you have done that, there are eight things to do for operational excellence. And when you’ve done that, now you have something that’s working, having that you move to the sale system. Now, okay, let’s close deals. Now you have something that’s working, let’s get people committed to use it and to work it and to, you know, expand their capacity through that, okay, let’s become business partners, I want you to succeed, let’s do this, I will take part of this responsibility, we become partners that sales. So it shouldn’t be called the closing. 

It’s actually it should be called committing. Because you’re intensifying the relationship. You’re not ending anything, nothing closes, you are starting a much more committed relationship forward. So it’s a bit misleading, calling it closing, you intensify the relationship, you start really working together towards a common defined goal. And now that’s delivery. And then when you have that, and when you systemize that so it’s repeatable it works. Now, we will help you that you fire yourself from that. Oh watts. I’m an IMD financial advisor. They come because of my name. 

Yes, they come for Ray Dalio, but they will. They will not have their portfolio managed by Ray Dalio Come on. They count for Warren Buffett, yes, but they will not have their portfolio managed by Warren. Warren has a whole team. And he has industry leads and he has different portfolio managers. He makes sure that the quality is high. But he doesn’t manage each transaction. 

He doesn’t rebalance portfolios anymore. So there is a point where you will make sure that the quality is high. But now you have to work on form fit and function of the marketing system form fit and function of the sales system. Now your job is scaling, your job is not delivering anymore, you have find the formula for delivery. Now you have to teach that formula handed over. 

So write it down, hand it over supervise them, and then making sure that you scale across adjacent industries, IDs and countries. Now it’s about rolling it out to the world. We are just eight people but we operate in 14 time zones. That’s the cool part of living in 2022 technology makes it so easy. Even a solopreneur can can rock 14 countries. With a very small team. You can you can have impact on the whole planet doing financial advisory. I was coaching today somebody who invented or invented and is building a portfolio management software for crypto hedge funds. They can scale it right now, right now across multiple countries. And they were planning locally in Israel why? Luckily, we can go immediately in every country with this solution. So that’s the beauty of the times we are in

Rob 25:01

Yeah, that’s, that’s great. It’s as another common thing among advisors, because we do, they do tend to think and I know that I did in my career when I was an active advisor thinking, well, I want to dominate the market that I’m in the local market that I’m in. And when sometimes that felt too big, you dial it back to a zip code, or maybe even a, even a neighborhood because it had the right people in it. And, and you don’t have to do that, you don’t have to do that today. If you still have a little bit more time, I don’t want to, I want to be respectful of your time, walk, walk through a little bit deeper, if you can, what kind of what a strategy, sprint is, in that kind of what you do through a 12 week period.

Simon Severino 25:51

So many times, financial advisors, they start because they are good at it at some point. And let’s pretty soon I would say around 35k per month, in reliable revenue, you become the bottleneck, because actually, you cannot scale it that easy to 50 to 60,000 per month without losing, you know, the joy of it, because you don’t have any weekends anymore. You, you get kicked out of your own hobbies with your friends, etc, because you’re never there. So you’ll become pretty soon the bottleneck, my line in the sand is a 35k, you need to fire yourself from operations, and many start too late. 

They go home and I’m just a small team. Yeah. But you can treat your business as something that is working for you. You don’t have to suffer and hustle and put in more hours, it’s usually not getting better, it’s better to stop to start hiring people per hour per week, and then later on more to handing over some processes delegate, because now you will have the joy back of running the business. And also you have a higher scalability now. So when we reach the 35k, we have to switch gears and talk about scalability. How do we get now the founder owner out of the weeds? And how do we get more times more hours per week working on the business rather than in the business? That’s a major shift. It comes with emotions, which then when we do it, they say oh, it was much easier than I thought. Because there’s the technical side that helps you. 

And then that’s more of an adaptive thing. They think that they are indispensable. And they think that afterwards, they are not that important anymore. What do I do? I was doing this all the time, what will they do later, when the team does the delivery. But then they realize, oh, there are still enough tasks for me. And I’m still very important and very needed. I just have higher-leverage tasks now. Like writing the book about the methods, like I did strategy, sprints, and then, you know, owning that IP, rolling that out worldwide finding a franchise model or certification model, or some scalable model that you can now bring to IDs and countries or to adjacent industries, because you have now something that is powerful, and that is repeatable and scalable. 

So then you become more of working on the business of business, joint ventures, affiliate partnerships. This is a whole new world that opens up and you thought it will be boring and you have nothing to do anymore. Oh no, you will learn about affiliate partnerships, you will learn how to get big brands partner with you like we are partnering with Google this year. That’s super exciting. And I’m learning completely new, high level b2b processes. In that corporation, you can have up to 50 Small joint venture partners, you can start building up your own JV communities, you can start connecting your clients together and creating extra value there and having a subscription model which is a great model to have on top anyways. It’s highly resilient.

Rob 29:29

Right, you know, I love that and I think that’s a great maybe as far as a final piece of wisdom from you during this conversation to get people thinking about because it I see that happening all the time is the advisor builds the the baseline businesses is actively involved in it. Maybe starts adding some people but not as fast as they could or should. But then when they finally hand those response some of those operational responsibilities over to other people on their team, they get bored. 

They’re like, what do I do now? And what do I do now. And they, it’s that whole thing of, you know, is my path to the next level of success, the same as my path was to my current level of success. And it never is. It’s always something different, something more fun, something more, more enjoyable, I love that you use that term, getting joy back in the business, which relates back to where we started making it fun. 

Because I think when we’re really conscious conscious about how we’re building our businesses, building our teams, serving our customers, and even though there are systems and processes, and it can seem like it’s going to wear you down, it doesn’t have to if you scale it properly. So I think those are some really great, great advice. So So Simon, we’re, we’re towards the end of the call here, I want to make sure that people know how to get in touch with you. So somebody’s interested in learning more about you and more about strategy sprints. I neglected to mention your book at the beginning of the podcast. I’m glad you’ve referenced it a couple of times, what were some other ways that people can get to know you?

Simon Severino 31:14

Yes, they can grab the book on Amazon. It’s strategy sprints, they can come directly to our website, download a ton of free tools, many of the tools that we mentioned there for free, on strategy sprints.com. And if they want to find out if a sprint coach can help them scale their business, then they just click on book a call and they land on a call with us and we can explore how we can help them scale faster.

Rob 31:41

Perfect, perfect. Great to know. So as we as we wind up today, is there any like last piece of advice you’d like to give the audience something maybe that you didn’t get to share? Because the time flew by? I was just loving it because I was learning the whole time. I was. I was I was talking with you.

Simon Severino 31:59

The joy is important. You You just said it. Ray Dalio was recently asked, Hey, Ray, what is it? Actually? Why are you still working? Right? The Arab billionaire? Why are you still working, and he goes, I enjoy the game. It’s the game that I have always enjoyed. And that’s another word for the process of building it. 

You know, this month, two of our clients sold their business, one for $500 million, one for $320 million. They don’t need to work anymore. They do it there they are launching the next venture. Because it’s the fun of it. It’s not for it’s not for money. We don’t do this for money, you know, above 70k per year, your family safe and everything else doesn’t make you happier. So yes, there is the joy of creating job opportunities for other people. Yeah, but that’s still part of the game. 

It’s the game of having impact scaling things, learning, exploring yourself, learning more about yourself, sharing more of who you are, in a more broader way with more and different people. This is what makes us happy. And that’s why we love the game of business, which is a wonderful game. I think it you know, it’s the old old version of most games. And so I love it as so the final piece of advice would be Think of what really brings you joy and brings you alive in growing your business. And focus on that. Because the rest will actually follow.

Rob 33:44

Right again, great, great advice. And it really ties into that whole idea of making it funds, which is where you started this whole conversation because there’s a there’s a ton of negative stuff out there in the world that we could let drown us. But when we set our own direction and our own focus, and we started with joy and making a difference, then it is it is like playing a game that we just get better and better and better at every day. 

Even if we feel like we’ve hit a milestone, there’s always another one. And I think that’s a great thing to be able to shoot for. All right, well, Simon, appreciate all your time and advice. today. I hope those of you who got as much out of this conversation as I do get a copy of the strategy sprint, you can pick that up on Amazon and I’ll make sure to put in the show notes links to Simon’s website so you can contact him and his team directly. Thanks so much, Simon.

Simon Severino 34:50

Thank you, Rob for doing this and everybody keep rolling.

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