Debra Chantry-Taylor - From the laboratory to the board room, the science of business as an EOS...
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Debra Chantry-Taylor trained originally as a biochemist and food technologist. In the first 7 years of her career she worked at Glaxo Smith Klein and Roche Pharmaceuticals in sales and marketing.
As she grew her skills Debra changed gear and shifted into senior management positions, GM and CEO roles in entrepreneurial businesses across a number industries.
After earning her start up wings and driving business performance Debra started her first business. The company saw enormous growth and she bought out another company to support growth. Initially the business soared and then failed miserably, forcing Debra to close the business and return to corporate life.
Undaunted Debra left her comfortable role in insurance and joined one of the Top 10 incubators in the world to coach their clients – from start-ups to established owner-managed business and from there began her EOS Implementer journey.
To learn more about Debra or to get in contact with her to commence your EOS experience, click here
TRANSCRIPT OF PODCAST
Welcome to gripping business tails Australia, the podcast designed to help Australian businesses overcome the regular and real challenges of being a success. Now, here's your host, Murray Smith.
Debra Chantry Taylor, welcome to gripping business tales.
Thank you very much for having me.
Now, this is a bit of a unique episode in some ways, because you're in New Zealand, and you're one of the first EOS implementers, based in New Zealand. So we're extending our reach to a global audience now.
So thanks for coming on.
Oh, my absolute pleasure.
Great. So as you know, Debra, Debra, two questions for you. One personal success, one professional success that you've had recently.
Certainly. So the personal success is, actually a couple of years ago now, but I actually did Outward Bound. At the age of 44. When I was 44 years old, I was the oldest person on my entire Outward Bound course, I was also possibly the fattest person on the course as well. So it really pushed all of my buttons and getting up at 5:30 and doing all the stuff you have to do. But really, really proud that I actually completed it. And I got to do my 12 k run at the end of it as well. So that was a major achievement for me.
12k’s is a fair distance well done you
If you're not a runner, it certainly is yes.
Yeah, yeah. Or even if you are. And your professional success, what would that have been?
My professional success was when I was actually a finalist in New Zealand businesswoman of the year.
Yeah. So they picked 30 women from around New Zealand, in different categories. And there was six in the business category. And I was one of those six people. So I'm pretty proud of that.
That’s awesome. Oh, great work. Well done you. So there we go. That's a good segue into a bit more about you, because whilst you're an EOS implementer now, there's certainly a great story to tell before you got to that point. If you care to tell us a bit more about about you and how you ended up becoming an EOS implementer.
Absolutely. So I guess I've been a bit of an entrepreneur since very very young, I had my first business at school when I was 13 years old, and didn't make huge amounts of money, didn’t become the next Mark Zuckerberg, unfortunately, but gave me a bit of a sense of what was to come. But my career's advisor said, No, no, you have to be sensible, you have to go and do science and so became a biochemist. I started working for businesses in the scientific field, then very quickly moved to sales and marketing because I wasn't a bug person, I was more of a people person, and worked my way up from you know, sales and marketing roles into GM roles and running companies for other people. So, they were always owner managed businesses up to a couple of 100 staff. And I guess I was, I was a GM, which in our languages, the integrator, and I was the person that kind of held it all together. And I did all this stuff intuitively, because I wasn't really, I wasn't really formally trained. I went and did my MBA much later, I didn't know what was important. All I knew was that people were really important. And you had to get them to be really clear about what they wanted. So I did that for a number of years, and then got the bug and went ‘I want to run my own business’. So I went out on my own, and I started a text and mobile marketing agency, we developed WAPsites, for those of you who are old enough to remember Nokia phones that had menu driven websites. We used to develop those over here in New Zealand, and then text marketing as well. So a couple of years, we had great success, we grew, we employed staff, it was all going wonderfully. And then we had a major crash and burn, we lost a great big client, everything kind of went downhill. And that was my first liquidation. And it was my first kind of taste of what it was like running a business through the tough times, as well as the good times. So I had to go back into corporate world to rebuild a little bit, and spend about three and a half years heading up a team, quite a large team at an insurance company. And after three and a half years, I just realized I just couldn't do this corporate, is not my thing. I like being out on my own running my own business. And so I left, and I went out and I started coaching, which was, you know, just really sharing the stuff that I had learned from running businesses. And I built up quite a successful coaching and marketing practice. So I had a number of coaches and some different marketing type people. And we'd go into a business and we'd help them not only with their business plan, but also their marketing side of things as well. And started helping people, did that for about – must be about almost nine years, but I decided I wanted to help more people. So I had this great big vision of opening up an entrepreneur's playground, where entrepreneurs can all come together and share their experiences get support from other people. And so I went out and took on this massive lease and a building in Parnell. And for two and a half years, we kind of struggled through trying to make this thing work and, and had some amazing events. There were some top companies around the world, but really just couldn't get it off the ground. Interestingly, that the coaching was still going ahead. EOS actually chose that space to launch into New Zealand. And so while I couldn't make their actual launch, because I was busy with a client, I did get heaps of these books that were being thrown around. And because I've been a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation for about three years and heard of, you know, EO and I was like what's this EOS? And I have to say, I didn't open the book straight away, I think traction is one of those books, it takes you a while to actually get into it. But once I started reading it, I was completely and utterly hooked. It was like, Oh, my God, this is everything that I have been doing throughout my career without having any structure around it. I also took all these amazingly kind of complex concepts and brought it down to something very simple. I just went, I had to do this and made a call to Dan and Fran. And next thing, you know, I was on the course trying to be the EOS implementer.
Well, that is quite a journey, Debra. I want to take you back to a couple of things that you've spoken about there. Firstly, just in terms of, you received advice as a 13-year-old is don't don't be, don't be silly. Get off and get, get an education and become a biochemist and all that sort of stuff. What would you say to your 13-year-old self now about that advice?
Oh, I would say do not listen to people who may not have your best interests at heart. And I think I got swayed by two people, I got the careers advisor who they just felt that was a good sensible role for a female to do. And I had my father who told me that if I got a degree in science, I'd be a more attractive prospect as a wife.
I think looking back now it was just the era, it was what happened in those days. And now I spend my entire time talking to young girls going, saying, ‘just do what you love’. I always loved people. And yet somehow I got stuck in the laboratory. So you know, if I'd followed my true kind of passion, and the fact that I loved talking to so many businesses and talking to people, oh gosh, I could have been where I am now a whole lot earlier, I think.
Yeah, it's interesting. I would say, though, that you - would it be fair to say that you took a lot away from being a biochemist. I mean, if you think about chemistry, a lot of it’s about,
reactions, attractions, repulsions, and so forth. Do you think that's helped you at all?
I'm not sure I'm not as much as I would like it to have I think there's a, there's an element of the way that you actually apply yourself, which I would never, I don't regret it at all. Yeah, I just think that I very quickly got into sales, like I love sales. And then I got into marketing, and I loved that and it was like, I was just really a people person. So it made sense.
Well, that's fantastic. It's also somewhat disappointing that, you know, you,
people were pushing you towards things to make you a more, a more attractive option, which seems a bit, as you say, out of step with how we would operate in today's world. But there you go. That was, that was then. If I take you forward a bit to you running your own your own business, your text and mobile marketing business and you’re having great success.
And then and then as you described earlier, it, it went a bit sideways, and ended up in liquidation. Tell us about what you weren't seeing in that space, you know, whilst you were having the success? What do you think on reflection you weren't seeing as a business owner? That dad you had your time again, you think well maybe I would do
this differently? Or that differently? What do you think you would do?
There's a couple of things. I think, first of all, we didn't really had much reporting going on, we weren't looking at our financials really carefully, all the time. We weren't measuring, you know, what we were doing each week, we were literally kind of, it felt really good, because we had good clients over in the US. And so we were doing a lot of work for them. And, but I think in hindsight, there was very little structure around it, they came to us and said they wanted this done, we did it. We kind of, you know, kept doing more and more work for them. And what happened in the end was they actually decided to bring all their work back in house. And they were like, 80% of our revenue. And so it had a major impact. So I think that we probably should’ve spent more time kind of working on the plan to get, to remove that reliance on the one customer. We've sort of dabbled in it. But we hadn't really spent a lot of time actually thinking about it. And I think from that, we had 14 staff. And I think if I look back now, because they were technical staff, I didn't think they needed to know much about the business and what was going on. But in hindsight, I think they could have had a lot of value if they knew what was going on. So yeah, I think keeping people informed, taking a closer look at you know, what are you measuring and how things are going? And certainly keeping a really close eye on your customer and what's going on with them so that you don't get blindsided.
Yeah, and it's interesting because, do you think that's part of the reason why traction resonated with you because you had that lived experience in terms of if you think about what you've just said and scorecards, and you know, right people, right seats and visions shared by all, is it, do you think that's why Traction you went oh, really?
I think so. Because I think it, as I said to you in the video, I think people have always been really important. But I think it was interesting. So when I, when I ran businesses for other people, I was always really, really clear about, you know, getting the right people making sure they knew what they had to do. But when I went into my own business, for some reason, you get caught up in the day to day fighting of fires, and you forget all of that. And so it was worse in my own business it was working for other people. And yeah, I think that's what the whole, actually Get a Grip was a book that really kind of got me because it's the fable that's told you get a grip, you can literally kind of go ‘Yeah, actually, you know, that was us. Oh yes, I can see that. That person in our organ- you know, we had one person in the organization who definitely wasn't a good fit, but we kind of put up with them, because they were technically very, very skilled, and we felt we couldn't afford to lose them. And so yeah, when reading Traction, and reading Get a Grip it was suddenly, it was a reminder of the things that when you do do them, when you spend the time working on your business and getting those things right, it makes a massive difference.
So tell us a bit about when you're working for others, and you're running other people's businesses, what's sort of, what did you see in terms of the founders, or the owners that you're working for that you thought, that's not really how I'd want to behave, or that's, that's, that's how I would behave or you know, and you took that, those sort of things forward. Particularly into your coaching and now into EOS.
So I, I mean, the biggest kind of role that I had was working for the National coach line over here. And I was a GM there, and we had about 220 staff, throughout branches all around New Zealand. And I think the biggest thing for me was that the, the people who actually owned, there was four people who actually owned the business, and there wasn't a great balance that they were all very much numbers, people. And so they were only focused on the financials, what was going on there. And so it was really interesting that they, they didn't really consider the people and what was important for the people. They also didn't really have a strong vision, you know, they had an idea of what they wanted to get money wise, but they couldn't, they couldn't paint the picture. So as a consequence, the staff weren't really engaged. They didn't know what they were there for. They didn't know what they were doing. And so part of my role was, without really knowing why I was doing it, it was like, okay, so where are we headed and why are we headed? And who do we service? And what do we want to do, and then started to talk to the team around, you know, what, what it meant to them, and all that side of things. So I think, from an own- what I, what I learned was that, yes, in your own business, it's really important that you might have it all in your head, know what you want to do. But you have to translate that to the whole team so that they understand that clarity of you know, where you're headed, what your vision is, and what they're accountable for. So, you know, they don't get to most, most staff do not get turned on by profitability, and, you know, revenue, but there's got to be something more meaningful for them. And I think that's what I sort of saw in some of the owners was that they couldn't get past that very high level financial side of things.
And because you've been in the role of integrator, if you like, in these particular roles, what would be the big piece of advice you'd have for integrators in terms of dealing with founders, where you know, as an integrator, you don’t own in the company, and you've been brought in to do a job, what do you think the best thing they could do to make that, that work better, or to its optimal level.
So I think sort spending time with them, and actually really understanding what their motivators are and where they're at. So I remember when I was working with the large insurance company, our group, group CEO, he was really a very strong visionary. And as the person that was kind of helping to implement us by being the integrator in the company, I used to actually request time with him one on one, just to get a sense of where he was at and what he was doing. And made sure we really had open and honest conversations, and in all honesty, to help keep them focused on what they were good at, and keep him out of the business, of the running of the business.
Yeah, that's a really important point, isn't it? It's about understanding what motivates them and then keeping it you know, keeping, keeping them on track as much as, as everyone else about, you know, right people right seats in terms of what their accountabilities and what their roles are, although you've done it quite subtly, in that, that sort of example. But it's a really important point, isn’t it? About keeping owners, owners on the right track,
And doing the stuff everybody loves, right? Because that's what's important. If you can do the stuff that you love day in, day out, you're going to have far more success in the business. And so often when, I know myself when I run, like with the Event Centre, I was the visionary in that business, and I could not help myself and get involved in the day to day running out. It was the worst thing I could possibly do. Because I kept changing - I’m like, you know, I always describe entrepreneurs as you know, oh bright shiny light oh look bright, shiny, like moths to a flame and so you know if that's not harnessed in the right way, it can be really, really detrimental to the business. Because the most people, they don't have a clear understanding of the vision and what the person is trying to achieve, and all they see is this person that goes, flip flops one day I want to do this, the next one do that. So yeah, I think as an integrator, I kind of recognize that if you could really work with that visionary, or the CEO, whatever you want to call them, and understand where they were best to focus their time and take away the rest of the stuff from them. So they could really focus on that, you know, we call it the unique ability, God given talent whatever they want to call it, then that's when they added the most value. And it was easier on the team, in honesty.
Yeah, yeah. Well, that's, that's fantastic. And of course, that all lead to coaching. And
so it's interesting in terms of, you know, you've got a few scars there that you can share with people which I think's really important. And then this led to your EOS life, if you like, yeah. Now you're working with businesses now, in terms of being an implementer. What do you think is the thing that you've seen, the greatest shift, if you like, between what businesses were doing before and what they're doing now, now that they're sort of on their, their journey through EOS? What do you think, what do you think the biggest difference might be for them?
So my clients are still reasonably early stage in terms of we're about nine months into the journey. So we still, you know, they're still learning. But I think the biggest shift has been that all of the team is suddenly on the same page. And you know, that sounds really silly, because we're not, we're talking about companies. I've got 30, 40, 50 staff, we're not talking about huge, huge companies here, like the corporates. But nevertheless, even in a small organization like that, it was quite interesting to see how they weren't all on the same page when they started, they thought that they were, but it was only when we started having conversations that you realize there was, there was some, not quite confusion, well, a little bit of confusion, but just not, not really strong clarity in terms of what they were trying to achieve. So it was kind of getting on the same page that's made a massive impact. The, the ability, I talked about the uncomfortable conversations, and, you know, we've had some really uncomfortable conversations, I've actually had one person walk out crying, and they came back again, and we can kind of dealt with it. But it's, I think that often in businesses, those conversations don't get had. And so, at first, it feels awful. But now they're, they're really embracing it. And you know, and they have this, this great tension, which is a positive tension, you know, because they're actually all being true to themselves. And you've got such a diversity of thinking. So I think that the real clarity around the vision was really important, the ability to have those difficult conversations that they may not have had in the past. And then accountability. I mean, the scorecard is one of my favourite, favourite tools. That, and the level 10 meeting, I think just give people such, such focus on what needs to be done. I mean, I've had clients that level 10 meeting has been a game changer where they've said, you know, we used to hate going to meetings, because they're so boring, and we never get anything done, and now they actually love their meetings. And they are, and they're excited to tell me how they've gone. And they share their scorecards with me each week and let me know how they're going. And I just, I think it's just given them such, you know, and it's kind of odd, because you’d think, but surely a business that's been going for 22 years and has 30 odd staff would have had that in place. But again, they've just grown from a passion, they've grown organically. And it's never, you know, they never put that structure in place. So yeah, that'd be my my three things, I think, priorities, scorecard, level 10 meetings.
That's fantastic. In terms of the types of businesses you like to work with, what - if you were to describe them what would they look like?
Yes, it goes a little bit back to probably my experience, I love transport and engineering. I'm working with a truck builder at the moment, I'm about to have an engineering firm, I love that kind of hands on stuff. I also really enjoy professional services and other complex professional services clients, and again, goes back to my kind of background. I suppose, track tourism and transport if it existed at the moment, not much of that going on, unfortunately. But the tourism industry is another area that I have a huge passion for, what I think it mostly comes down to it's, it's people who are really passionate about what they do, but they've somehow lost their ways. So most of my clients have kind of come to me because they feel like they used to love their business, but now they're not loving it as much. And they don't know why. And it's only when you start to realize they're doing all this stuff that they absolutely hate and they're, they're not elevating themselves up to be doing what they should be doing. And they've lost their way. You know, we talk about hitting the ceiling, but it is literally, it feels like they just, they've stopped growing and they know that they want some help and they, they're happy to accept that help. So somewhere you know, that sort of 30 to 50 is a really good number for me. I don't mind doing up to a couple of 100 that's my history. But yeah, people who are really passionate about what they do in that transport, logistics, tourism, financial services.
Yeah. Fantastic. Now, I'm sure people are listening and want to get in touch with you. And how would they do that, Debra? What's the best way to get in touch with you and want to talk more about EOS in New Zealand?
Yep, certainly. I mean, so my website is businesstraction.com and you'll find there's a Contact Us form on there. I'm also an avid user of LinkedIn. So if you go to linkedin.com, forward slash in forward slash Debra Chantry or find me there or just, just actually, you can pretty much Google me with a name like Debra Chantry Taylor, there's not too many of us out there you can probably find me fairly easily here.
Yeah. All right. Well, I'm, I'm pleased that you agreed to come on and on Gripping Business Tales, you've got such a rich story to tell. And I hope that listeners have taken a few nuggets away in terms of some of the things that you've spoken about both as an EOS implementer, but also your experience that you, that you bring in terms of all those good times and bad times that you've experienced. I mean, it's you know, that, that’s experience, you just can’t
or you probably don't want to get yourself in some respects. So look, Deborah, thanks very much for coming on Gripping Business Tales. It's been awesome to have you and I look forward to watching your journey as you grow and take over the whole of New Zealand with EOS.
Thank you very much, Murray. And I'm looking forward, I've got a couple of clients who are actually gonna come and talk to you as well so I'd love for you to hear their side of the story.
Again, really appreciate the opportunity. Thank you very much.
I look forward to having them on.
Well, there you have it. Another episode of Gripping Business Tales Australia completed. I hope you've taken some valuable tips away with you today. If you'd like to access any of the tools or materials discussed, please go to the Episode Notes on your podcast provider. If you'd like to explore EOS further, feel free to contact me at www.gripsix.com.au to organize your free 90-minute meeting to see whether together we can get what you want out of your business.