Elevate the Genius Around You! With Dan Williams - Season 2, episode 2
Updated: Jun 8
3 top tips from Dan Williams
1. invest time in understanding why you do what you do
If you really dig deep and understand why you do what you do, then it becomes a lot easier to bring people along. And when it flows naturally, then it's authentic, then it's even easier. So invest in understanding why you do what you're doing.
2. Invest in Yourself
You're no good to anybody, if you're a broken mess, especially yourself. So, you need to really be deliberate in investing in yourself. And that's your health, your physical and mental health, your well being, and your organ in your head that is going to guide you and make all this sustainable - your brain.
You need to invest in your own development. And, if you don't do those things, then you're placing limits on what you will achieve. And, also you're limiting your impact.
3. Surround Yourself with People Who are Challenging.
People who are going to encourage you to have different conversations are going to offer you different opinions to yours. Some of my favorite people throughout my journey, are those who I didn't actually agree with. Because, they encouraged me to expand my thinking... If you surround yourself with people who are going to challenge you, then you're going to grow. Ironically, tip one and two will start to take care of themselves
Read full transcript here:
business, people, visionary, seat, implementer, ceilings, eos, day, fun, opportunity, founder, person, entrepreneurial, grow, operating system, tip, invest, elevate, business partner, leader
Dan Williams, Debra Chantry-Taylor
Debra Chantry-Taylor 00:00
Okay, so that's now a recording. Cool. So I'll start with the intro, and then we'll take it from there. Welcome to another episode of Better Business, Better Life. And today I am here with my fellow EOS implementers. Dan Williams, is a certified EOS implementer from independent EQ. Welcome, Dan.
Dan Williams 00:19
Thanks for having me, Debra. Appreciate the opportunity.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 00:21
Absolute pleasure! Looking forward to hearing your story. So, as I said, Dan is actually a certified EOS implementer. But up until 2020, he was actually a business owner himself. And I understand that you started in the business, an IT business at 21 years old as a technician. Is that right?
Dan Williams 00:37
Yeah, yeah, I'm a lot younger than I look. I started out, it was effectively my first real job. Starting companies... yeah, two or three peers, based in Richmond in Melbourne.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 00:52
Okay. And by the time you sold it in 2020, what was the size of the business at that point?
Dan Williams 00:59
Yeah, so it's kind of hard to believe when I reflect on it. So we had bills, two or three of us, I say two or three had a bit of a transient workforce at the beginning. And we were sort of nudging 100 employees and around 25 million in revenue in 2020. Yeah. Which when I, when I think about that, it sounds like a lot of effort, but it was a lot of fun as well.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 01:22
Okay, so that's, that's pretty huge guts. What time period was that between when you started? And when you sold that?
Dan Williams 01:27
Yeah, 2004, I started in the business and as an employee, which was a novel experience, I haven't been an employee for a long time now. And yeah, exited 2020. So 16 years?
Debra Chantry-Taylor 01:46
And how was it?
Dan Williams 01:47
It was a mixture of a lot of fun, a lot of loan and a lot of uncomfortable, sleepless nights. You know, when I reflect on it, there was so many things that I wish that I knew, as I was going in, lots of times that the things that kept me awake at night was the responsibility for the livelihoods of the people that were employing, and responsibility for the people. And I was never really concerned about my own abilities always trusted myself to get things done. But when you start to be accountable, for others, that was always... we seem to be along the way, attracting some great people. I found that the higher caliber of people that we had around us, had a greater awareness of how important it was to get things right. But along the way, there were so many different things at different ceilings that we hit. And I kind of carry them like scars on my back these days. I'm grateful for every opportunity along the way.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 03:03
So yeah, I mean, it's interesting, because when you talk to businesses, you know, the overnight successes and quite an overnight success. What would be the biggest sort of challenges that you think that you faced along that journey?
Dan Williams 03:15
I think the biggest challenges were probably inside my own head, most of the time, I was pretty insecure about my ability to lead people into make the right decisions and to have all the answers. And, you know, I obsessed over having the right people around them. And I didn't always get that run. So I had some failures along the way. And in the IT industry, quite often businesses are looking to you and wanting you to give them assurance that everything's going to be okay, their systems are going to be online, their data is going to be okay. Along the way some of the challenges were around that. Having the right tools and systems and processes in place to be able to actually deliver that to the clients. But then also making sure that we were hiring and surrounding ourselves with the right people on the way that perpetuated the brand and the way we wanted to and going from... when it's two or three people, it's really easy. You can always have like the toolbox time at the start of the day, and be on the same page. But as you grow and scale, being able to have consistency of message, consistency or quality, those sorts of things become a real challenge. Now, I think when I look back on it was always my proudest moments came from when people rose to the occasion, people stepped up, and I look at that, I look back into that business now. I have the privilege of being their EOS implementer. I look back, you know it's like my window into the business once every 90 days. And I'm really proud that all those things have continued on in my absence. And I'm really proud of that team.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 04:54
That's awesome. So when we talk about business growth, you know, there's the traditional kind of hockey stick growth that they always show Are you in business? And I know with my businesses that certainly hasn't been that way, it's been a little bit more mountainous, I think, than just a pure old hockey stick. Would you say that was similar in your business? Or how did it grow?
Dan Williams 05:09
Yeah, definitely, I can almost, for some reason, always remember revenue. When I think about ceilings that we hit along the way, I can remember breaking through like a $2 million revenue ceiling. And it's kind of like we were living out the entrepreneurial myth. You know, there were a lot of technicians. Not a lot of managers or we didn't identify as visionaries. So we were able to, just almost instinctively surround ourselves with more people that we could get more done. And what happens is, we were getting to a point where we were able to churn out greater volume. But, we weren't strategic. We weren't planning what was happening next. It was kind of like we were laying the runway as we were getting ready to take off. And I can remember getting stuck at like 2 million and even 5 million in revenue. I think one of the most painful things, for some reason was a $10 million revenue ceiling. And so we had some times where we would dip while we were trying to maybe lay some runway, or we were trying to prepare for the future. And when we got to... some reason, I think it was around 10 million, we realized that we actually probably needed to take our own development more seriously. And even our professional personal development, human resources is a thing that a lot of entrepreneurs acknowledge that. And sometimes we would regress off the back of over capitalizing on a technology or over capitalizing on a one key relationship. So along the way, we got better and better. I think layers of leadership, often associated, directly associated with some of those ceilings, where suddenly you need a few more people at front of house, you know, taking, driving us forward. Always think of the mental image I think Verne Harnish came up with the genius with 1000 followers. You take the genius out, and all you have is followers. Yeah, so there's lots of learnings and lots of ceilings, and I can, I love talking to businesses about them now, because the revenue numbers are different, but the ceilings and very similar still to these days. Because it comes to... as I said, comes down to growth, doesn't it and that complexity that comes with growth and whether or not you've still got the right people in the right seats. I'm interested to know like, as you grew as you went from three of you up to almost 100 staff did the same people stay in the same seats the whole way through or weather changes as the organization grew, There was there was a lot of changes and some of the most painful memories and when we made the wrong call. So there's always often an instinct to elevate people, because you love them to give them an opportunity to lead when they're not leaders. And they don't want to be. And they often will do it out of obligation to me because you've shown that trust in them. So I definitely as a leader made that mistake a few times, certainly throughout the journey, elevated people when I shouldn't have and they weren't ready, I wasn't ready, or they didn't want it. And along the way, had some great successes bringing some people in from outside. And ironically, the leadership team, as it stands today, the two people in pivotal leadership roles don't have an IT or a technology background. And when I made that breakthrough discovery, we hired someone into the business. The name is Alana Kane, I'll give her a direct plug.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 08:47
Dan Williams 08:47
Love, love her to bits. She created an opportunity for me to drive the business forward as a visionary. I was a stifled visionary trying to be a general manager. And definitely that's definitely not me. Or as we call an integrator in EOS speak. I'm definitely not an integrator.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 09:08
I know. (laughs)
Dan Williams 09:11
And, yeah, along the way, learning those things and understanding that how important it was to not only have the right people but to have them in the right seat. And you know, I look back on it, and had some uncomfortable conversations with people where I was leading them down a path and I could see it all ahead of us. it's sometimes hard to convince people of these things and when trust is high, and they trust you, when you trust them, you know, these things are possible. But yeah, grateful that I get to meet with that leadership team now and so rewarding to see them you know, having the right people in the right seat to this day.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 09:51
So was there sort of a turning point, something that happened that kind of made things suddenly click?
Dan Williams 09:57
Yeah, so I can give another plug to a person, Daniel Davis, about six, maybe seven years ago, he introduced me to the entrepreneurial operating system. And he had attended an event overseas and got a copy of Traction by Gino Wickman. And he read it on the flight home. And when he got back, he contacted my business partner and said, we've learned about this thing called EOS. And you need it in your business. And we trusted him. He's a... anyone who has met him, he's a lovely, introverted individual. And he gave us what we came to know is the 90 minute meeting and told us about this operating system. And I was so frustrated, I went through this range of emotions, frustration, embarrassment, all these sorts of things. I didn't realize it was such a thing, as an operating system for a business. And being a tech person. He says the operating systems with Apple, Mac, or Windows.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 11:02
Yep, iOS yeah.
Dan Williams 11:05
Yeah, and he introduced it to us, and we started implementing it in the business. And that was about nearly seven years ago. And that was a major turning point. Because suddenly, we knew whether we had the right people in the right seats or not. And we had a plan that we could unite behind, not being the original founder in that business and coming into a business that is now nearly 30 years old. We were adopting some somewhat of a legacy. And I was creating a new vision for the business at the same time. So we were finally able to unite, and then made some key decisions, like identifying that I wasn't the person to be the general manager. I wasn't integrating and elevating some key people and having some tough decisions. But being able to link it back to that vision. And, you know, six or seven years later that business is still running on the on the entrepreneurial operating system, which is hugely satisfying.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 12:02
And you're the implementer now, aren't you?
Dan Williams 12:04
Yes, I am. And it's great. It's a privilege to have them in this room, once every 90 days where I get to reap the rewards of the investment that I made personally into that business. And to know that their tools and systems are everlasting and enduring and they going, wanting to stay on, I'm quite proud of the fact that they've actually kicked on since I left. Maybe the timing is right for both of us.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 12:36
It's interesting, isn't it? Because obviously when I joined EOS, about 18 months ago, there was talk of changing a visionary at EOS. And for me that was kind of like... but you can't do that because the visionary is the founder, it's the person, who you know, but it's not true is that I mean that as the business grows and changes, you can require different people even at that top level, right?
Dan Williams 12:56
Yeah, definitely. So I guess now, that business has changed visionaries three times. So pre EOS unofficial visionary was the founder, who's one of my business partners, Jacob. And he was never really comfortable. He was more of the the entrepreneurial myth, the E-myth of the technician, and was great at that. And really tenacious. And I was more of the visionary, big picture thinking, obsessed with learning and development. And he was quite happy to him that had passed the torch to me. And then leaving the business, we've done three or four mergers and acquisitions through the time. And so some of the founders of those businesses stayed on. And so that was a great opportunity for one of them. His name is Nick, to step into that visionary seat as I exited the business. I think it's more about understanding that every business needs a visionary element. And I always see that seat as actually being the one who's accountable for making sure that when moving forward and for channeling that energy in the business, because I think great businesses have lots of visionaries in them but they don't harness that power for good. Whereas Gino describes that organizational whiplash. So yeah, if you can really get someone who's a strong visionary in that seat, but has the discipline to take that as an accountability, not as a license to do whatever they place, and it can be in writing.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 14:37
Okay, And you've talked about, you know, obviously, having the right people the right seats is really important. But sometimes you have got the elephant in the room, the person who maybe isn't in the right seat, how do you tackle that? What would be your sort of tips or pointers for... even thinking about that, let alone dealing with it?
Dan Williams 14:54
Yeah, so we come across this all the time, and the way I deal with that has evolved for the better over the journey. I always encourage you to try and understand first, whether they're the right person. Not to say that I wouldn't bother with the right seat conversation if they're not the right person. But if you're adamant that they are the right person, that they share your values, then always encourage leaders and talking to myself here as well, to be prepared to lean on those values, and have a conversation about what is in the best interests of the team, and the company and ultimately, the individual. Because no one wants to be in a position that they don't enjoy, that they aren't good at. So if you can give people an opportunity to self identify that perhaps they're in the wrong seat, then that's always the best path to actually remediating. But if they don't see it, then you need to be the one who goes first. And I love the way we use the GWC acronym, if someone doesn't get it, but I understand how they contribute and what their the requirements of the seat are. They don't want it, their behavior, their results, perhaps don't demonstrate that they want it. And then I have the capacity for it, then it can't feel good for... So giving them the...
Debra Chantry-Taylor 16:23
Lose, lose right?
Dan Williams 16:25
Yeah, yeah. And I love the way we can just illustrate that. And I'm working with one of my leadership teams recently, I wrote GWC on the whiteboard. And it was a lightbulb moment, when we actually we, we sort of dug deep into what that actually meant to be in the right seat. Because I know that I've been in the wrong seat lots of times. And I never put my hand up. People don't unfortunately. So you've got to create a
Debra Chantry-Taylor 16:51
I'm not sure that it's normal. I say 'normal', it's not like it's accepted practice to kind of go, Hey, you know what, I'm actually not happy in what I'm doing. And what I love about the EOS way of dealing with it is you actually get a chance to review it on a regular basis, and actually have those conversations, you know, is this really a role that I want? And I've seen, you know, literally senior management team members swapped roles once we've gone through that exercise because they realize that in fact, they had a desire and the capacity for the other role, not the role that we're currently doing. And when do we have those conversations in life? And by the way, I wouldn't mind doing your job.
Dan Williams 17:28
Yeah, yeah, spot on. And I can think even through the Powernet journey, hitting a ceiling, of being able to grow and have a healthy pipeline. And I was because we were asking a sales leader, to also be accountable for marketing. And what happens is they choose, they're going to choose the one that they get, or they want more. And they're a great salesperson, really strong sales and marketing is suffering. So as soon as we separated the tune, that actually elevated this person, they became a better salesperson, a better sales leader. And they were able to sort of sigh with relief, that marketing is now someone else's accountability. And lo and behold, we bring any subject matter expert there, and we actually decided to outsource it someone to be accountable for that seat, but to outsource it, and suddenly, our image in the market improved dramatically. So you can sort of use cases as examples for when you actually elevate someone to their natural law, the unique abilities and, quite often, especially entrepreneurs and business owners and founders find themselves in seats that they don't want, but the business needs them. And there's no one else. And if we don't keep a check on that, systematically keep a check on that, then they can become like a ball and chain sort of business on a founder or an entrepreneur's ability to fulfill, like the financing. high risk, you know, when I started Independent EQ, and I did an accountability chat with all one of me in the business, I realized the first thing I needed to do was outsource my finance. So I've done that, and still have that to this day. And that was the benefit of experience and knowing that that wasn't mine that didn't align with my abilities.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 19:29
I also think there's an opportunity cost, right? Because if you're doing all that stuff that you're not so great at, then you're not free to do things where you really, truly add value. But we're so scared to kind of let go of those things. Or as you said, we feel we can't, but in actual fact, it can be really as simple as going Yep, I'm going to outsource that or I'm going to let somebody else step up and do that. And even if they're only 80% as good as me, that's good enough and it gives me the freedom to do what I love.
Dan Williams 19:53
Yeah, I often refer to it when I'm dealing with smaller leadership teams. Some of the leadership teams that I work with are just two people. Like a visionary and the integrator, and it's often a lot of fun dealing with teams that size. And I use an example when I was 18, I used to work in a drive thru bottle shop. And I was fascinated that they had no breakage allowance, that they would just accept that sometimes a forklift would drop things, or people would drop a bottle of wine in the shop. And I thought, wow, actually allow for breakage. And I thought that was fascinating, but I didn't want to make it so things weren't broken. So with business owners, you almost need to accept a little bit of breakage if you want to be free, to be your best self. And sometimes 80% in a seat needs to be enough. And that 20% breakage means that you go on to excel in other areas.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 20:49
That's a good analogy. I like that. Okay. So obviously, you know, you did a great job with - what was the name of company sorry - Powernet?
Dan Williams 20:56
Debra Chantry-Taylor 20:56
graduate Powernet. I always ask my guests, what was their professional and personal best in their life? What would be yours in terms of both professionally and personally?
Dan Williams 21:07
Yeah, so from a personal perspective, there's lots of things along the way, I have a lovely wife and beautiful kids. So their personal perspective, it's kind of easy to gravitate to those sorts of achievements, which I am eternally grateful for. When I look at how a major turning point in my life was in a personal great was, when I decided that I wanted to be a property owner, I didn't want to rent property. And a lot of my friends were renting. And I actually thought, I prefer to live somewhere where I'm not 100% happy living there. But I was I owned the building that I was in. Then my reasons for justifying that to myself would probably change over time. But I got into property ownership in my early 20s, which, which has made a lot of entrepreneurial decisions simpler in my life, where I had equity from a young age. So I was able to roll the dice sometimes and take risks. From personal perspective, it's no disrespect to my wife and kids, I love them dearly. Great personal highlights, but actually taking that plunge when some of my friends would prefer to party and spend all of their income on enjoying themselves, I decided to spend my income on building some personal wealth. And for a professional perspective, it's really the Powernet story that, you know, getting in there, being prepared to lead to learn, surround myself with the right people - implement an operating system, and then successfully transition out in 2019, I exited operation of the business. And I really struggled because they were my family as well. And then in 2020, I sold out of the business and to see that I didn't know how I was going to feel about that. But to see that business flourish and thrive in my absence is absolutely now my professional highlight of my career today.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 23:14
Great. And so now you're obviously working full time as an EOS implementer. But also a couple of boards. Is that right?
Dan Williams 23:22
Yeah, yeah, I've got a couple of things on the go. So EOS is my main stay. My absolutely my purpose aligned activity. Everything else is opportunities to give back involved with some board positions and leading a peer group. And I've recently started a business, a third party logistics business with a friend.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 23:45
Really? I wasn't aware of that. Okay -
Dan Williams 23:46
Yeah, which is really exciting. And skills that I don't have, which is a lot of fun. My business partner runs it. He's in there and sees it's his field of expertise and experience. And I'm lending my outside experience to help develop and grow that, which is a lot of fun. Yeah, and the rest of the time I'm scratching that entrepreneurial itch. I'm always looking for opportunities to grow and to do things better. Yeah, exploring. Yeah.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 24:19
Perfect. So we always like to make sure that our listeners have got sort of three top tips they can take away with them around the topic. Today's topic was really around people and getting the right people in the right seats. What would be your three top tips for them Dan?
Dan Williams 24:32
Yeah, not in any particular order. I would say as a business leader, owner, entrepreneur, My first tip would be to invest time in understanding why you do what you do. And Simon Sinek sort of started the whole start with why movement. And I think that I love his work and so no disrespect to Simon but I think you If you really dig deep and understand why you do what you do, then it becomes a lot easier to bring people along. And it's and when it flows naturally, then it's authentic, then it's even easier. So invest in understanding why you do what you're doing. The next one would be kind of helps fuel that is, tip two would be to invest in yourself, you're no good to anybody, if you're a broken mess, especially yourself. So you need to really be deliberate in investing in yourself. And that's your health, your physical and mental health, your well being, and your organ in your head that is going to guide you and make all this sustainable - your brain, you need to invest in your own development. And if you don't do those things, then you're placing limits on what you will achieve. Yeah. And also you're limiting your impact. The third tip would be to surround yourself with people who are challenging. Once you know, people who are going to encourage you to have different conversations are going to offer you different opinions to yours. Some of my favorite people throughout my journey, those who I didn't actually agree with, because they encouraged me to expand my thinking. And as long as there's no ill intent or malice in your values are aligned. If you surround yourself with people who are going to challenge you, then you're going to grow. Ironically, tip one and two will start to take care of themselves.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 26:48
And otherwise you just end up going back to the beginning of our conversation, you end up being the genius with 1000 followers, right?
Dan Williams 26:52
Yes, yeah, absolutely. elevate the genius around you is the best way to go. And if you can understand why you do what you're doing, invest in yourself and surround yourself with people who are going to challenge and you'll have a lot more fun as well. And ultimately, if you're not enjoying what you do, and that's a call to action, you need to change.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 27:16
Completely agree. Fantastic. Hey, Dan, look, thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. It's been absolutely awesome. Actually, the first time I've really heard it too. So really appreciate that. If somebody wants to get in contact with you and wants you to help them out with their business, how would they get in contact with you?
Dan Williams 27:30
The best way is to probably get me on email. So it's firstname.lastname@example.org And I write a blog every Sunday on LinkedIn.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 27:41
Yes, I follow it avidly.
Dan Williams 27:44
Which is a lot of fun. So if you don't want to interact directly with me, you can get some insight into my mind once a week.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 27:52
Stalking you online
Dan Williams 27:53
Yeah, I'd love to connect and share and learn together.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 27:59
Fantastic. Hey, look, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Dan Williams 28:02
Thank you, appreciate it.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 28:02
Have a lovely rest of your day. Thanks for coming in on your day off as well. We really appreciate that
Dan Williams 28:06
Yeah, my Pleasure.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 28:06
We look forward to seeing you later on.
Dan Williams 28:08
Thank you Debra and good luck to you.
Debra Chantry-Taylor 28:11
Dan Williams 28:11
Professional EOS Implementer | Entrepreneurial Leadership & Business Coach | Business Owner