Fire in The Belly

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E216: “I Have A Mission For Growth.” - Interviewing Jim Barnish

by Pete Lonton
August 20th 2021

 Strategic change leader with over 15 years of leadership experience in global and integrated operations and founder and managing partner of Orchid Black, Jim Barnish Jr joins the show to shar... More

mm Yeah mhm Welcome to today's episode of Fire in the belly. This is where we got to hear some pretty inspiring stories from some amazing people, you know, it's always an absolute pleasure to sit down, take time out and have awards in all conversation about their journey. I'm always intrigued by what has taken for people to get to where they are today. And hopefully in this interview we get to hear some more about that from this. My mission is to help people to find their own fire in their belly and from that to live the mightiest version of you. So without further ado, good back, relax, enjoy. Today's guest success is a process, not an event. Hello and welcome to far in the valley today we have himself might repeat and we are joined by the gym varnish. Good morning, first of all to you, Jim Good morning pete. Very happy to be here. Love the name of the show because there is definitely a fire in my belly. Listen, it's great listen, great to have you on. So listening for the listeners today. It's absolutely awesome to have Jim here.

So Jim has spent the last two decades as a serial entrepreneur, operator, investor and an M and a expert. So emergency acquisitions though, Jin now runs Orchard Black, a boutique growth service services firm complete with a serial entrepreneurs and growth experts. All are accomplished operators and consultants with an investor mindset and a history of value creation and exits like an orchard, a company's maximum value emerges from cultivating growth orchard Blacks business model not only accelerates this value, but aligns their own compensation with their partners, partner clients success. If founders ceos who are listening or interest in learning how to grow your business and maximize your exit value, wealth and legacy. Listen up, buckle in, you're in for the right awesome to have you on jim, listen, that's great and you have a fantastic thing. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna go straight in here. What is your friend, billy Jim, I'm sorry, what was that? What is your fire in the belly? My fire in the belly.

Um, I have a mission for just plain growth ever since I've been a Kid. I've been, I was kind of thrown into my family business at the age of 15 and I've been focused on growing companies and growing people and between those two things, I literally literally why I wake up in the morning, it's what gets me excited and ultimately the same reason that I, that I started working black, wow, that's which, which is more important for you, growing the company of growing the people, what's the problem? Definitely, growing the people. I think if, if you're focused on growing the people as a leader than the people are focused on growing the company and taking care of the customers. So absolutely. Um, growing people through really solid leadership. Cool. Well listen, I love that to tell me on a day to day basis, then who are you serving and really, you know, what is it that makes you get stand out? Yeah. So imagine you're a founder and you've built a really strong company by a lot of measures have achieved success.

But there's just some targets you're missing. Um, you're hitting some, your missing others. And ultimately you're looking for a team of growth and value creation experts that are both able to help you understand how much your business is worth today and how much unlocked value if you will, there is within your business that could be unlocked within the next couple of years. Um, and then a team, you know, that same team was willing to partner with you and align their fees or their business model to your company's growth and performance. And that's really what we do at orchid Black were those growth experts? We've got a swat team if you will, of about 35 hand selected strategists and operators and research experts and we help founders and their teams navigate all the common hurdles and value creation obstacles if you will, that ultimately helped them realize a lot more value in their business on the path towards exit. And that's our focus.

So, you know, when we look at who that who, that really focuses on its founders with Tech focused tech focused companies, mostly software, but we also do hardware and tech enabled services that are typically between a few million and 50 million and annual revenue when we take them on That are looking to exit within the next 6-36 months and that ultimately are in the black, which is part of where the name working black comes from, um, meaning that they are profitable or at least have line of sight towards becoming profitable. So you know, that's our, that's our real focus. We'll only take clients on if we can see at least 50-100% year over your value creation that we can bring to the business, Meaning that if a company is worth 20 million today and we have a two year path to Exit, if you will, um, we'll only take that company on if we can see a 100-200% value creation within that business over the next two years. So pretty special, right.

20 million today. It'll be at least 40 million tomorrow or 40 million in two years. And that's pretty, that's pretty special for us. And what is that? I mean, I mean, I'm going to try and summarize your business in a few words to, which is probably not an impossible. But is it, is it a mixture of inward looking and outward looking, is it a combination of both or where do you find most valued? Yeah, it is, you know, one of the things that, that we really noticed as we were looking at the market. Um, is that the market really needed objective lens to view a company's potential and nothing really existed in the market that looked at both the organization And the market strategy from more of a 360 perspective. Um, and our challenge was really creating something comprehensive but simple because founders can't spend a million dollars on an army of Makin, your big Three, your Big Four consultants, right. We needed a way to tell founders what they needed to know about their business in a few short weeks and the answer became our value creation assessment, what we call the V.

C. A, which is a system that looks at everything around the company in the market. So market strategy, talent and product revenue operations, really everything that creates value in the business, um, and driving the business forward. And so we spent a lot of time figure out the right way to analyze both that, both the current state, if you will, and the impact that are specific team could have on that business and ultimately where we ended up is something that's plug and play at every tech company we work with, um, that is customized to the business, but it's essentially able to tell a founder exact steps that are needed to achieve really transformational success, a road map if you will, um, which is kind of the, what a company needs to grow. Um, and then if we bring, you know, if we bring our team into it after that VC, a, if you will, um, that's where we focus on our playbook are, how the blueprints and plays to operate alongside of these founders and sometimes founders will choose to operate those recommendations on their own.

But the majority of time provided the value creation opportunity is there will partner with them on all the execution in the business. So it's a pretty, pretty differentiated value that we're bringing to the market. Do you tend to be bringing lenders in as well? I mean, is it, does it get to that stage when you either raising funding or finance or, you know, arranging for bios, etcetera? Is that the whole hand holding there is oftentimes an investment, um, element, whether that's debt or equity that's needed to drive the growth. Um, it's not always the case. um, and since our engagements are typically 6-36 months in the sure You no longer basically the exit on the other side of that, 6-36 months, it really depends on what that engagement looks like. Um, but ultimately there's always a transaction at the end of it that were driving whether that's a private equity or trade sale or taking the founder taking some chips off of the table if you will. Um, and uh, and again, sometimes capital is leveraged as part of that, but not always what I mean, did do you see this coming now and you've done it for sort of for quite some time and you can you really almost sniff the value before he have to actually get the calculator out.

Does that you at that stage? Yeah. Ultimately there's there's definitely, um, the experience if you will, that that's able to pinpoint, um, early on what those opportunities are. I think it's the scientific part. Right? That's kind of the art, if you will, there's the science, which is more of the data collection, the insights gathering and ultimately getting to exact numbers of value that we can drive within the business. And that's that's more of the science part because there's really always an art and a science to everything. Um, and that's especially true as it comes to building companies. Am I talking to basically a spreadsheet gig? Somebody who just lives and breathes spreadsheet. Is that, is that a fair accusation? I wish it was. I think you probably used to be, I'm probably spent almost all my time on the art side of things at this point. Um, but we definitely have a ton of spreadsheet geeks. I wish I could spend more time, I guess I probably am a spread geek. I just don't spend my time in them anymore. Right.

But, but ultimately, yeah, we've got some incredible research and uh, data freaks, if you will on the team that really are, you know, instrumental in supplementing the experience of our partners and it's an incredible thing to be able to see, you know, how fast we can deliver value with founders and their companies. It is really awesome. Well, my fire up if you will. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that's the thing, it is to be able to spot that and do that, you know? And is that something, you know, is that something that always comes naturally to you? I mean, are you where you're supposed to be, if that makes sense? Um, I am definitely where I'm supposed to be, I don't know if you're familiar with this japanese concept of geeky guy, right? The ultimate form of happiness. But um, it took me a really long time to um, to evaluate if, if you will, um, where my eco guy is and for those of you that don't know you guy, it's essentially when you're, what you love aligns with what you're great at, which also aligns with the impact that you can have on the world and ultimately what you can get paid to do.

And those four things really simplify. Um, if you look at it in a pie chart, if you will, um, we're not a pie chart, sorry, if you look at it in some sort of infographic that aligns all of these different things and ultimately kind of highlights what the middle of them is. Um, you really can um start to simplify the value proposition that you're looking for in life, um, and, and in your career, um, and I search for a long time on different ways to be able to find something like a good guy and stumbled on it by accident, if you will um geez, probably over a decade now, perhaps thought it seemed way too simple. Uh spent a lot of time going through all these, you know, career assessments and and analyzing different things about what I was great at what I loved and ultimately kind of boiled down to, wow, I should probably go back to the second, I think it's simple, but it actually makes it a ton of sense.

And and so yeah, that's a that's a long way of saying um that I've spent two decades doing what I'm doing. And it wasn't until um I really did that analysis um uh, you know, several years ago prior to starting work at black, that really led me to, you've got to start your own firm that's focused on all the obstacles that you went through when you are building companies, whether that's, you know, strategy and talent misalignment or product market fit issues or failed to go to market expansion or acquisition operational efficiencies you name it. Because all growth stage businesses just seem to hit this inflection point, whether that be at five million or 10 million or 20 million or whatever the number is, it's essentially more aligned with what problems are being experienced and what stage of the business that they're in that ultimately, you know, needs some assistance in some navigation, which I ultimately wish I had when I was in the business, working on and in the business now, I'm lucky enough to focus on businesses, right?

Um but when you're in the middle of it, um and you're not able to kind of see the forest from the trees, it is very difficult to make your way through all of those um, stagnancy issues if you will. Um and it is really hard to push through. Um So yeah, so anyways, that is, that is uh, is even longer way of saying, I am absolutely where I need to be. I will do this until the day I die, whether I do it full time or part time and I could not imagine doing anything else, quite frankly, that's awesome and that's great to be, to be sitting in that position, right? You know that actually because I generally think there's very few people get that opportunity to do that. They spend a lifetime. Some may find it, some may not, I completely agree, I completely agree. And it's unfortunate, right? Because it is um it is magic when you find it and ultimately it is um it does take some of the right luxuries to be able to take the time in your life to do something like that and be able to take risks which not everyone can take.

But if you are able to just take a step back from your personal life, look at um you know what you're looking to accomplish as it relates to both career and um you know, the, the, you uh it is uh it is transformational if you're able to align all those four things, what you're good at, what you're, it can get paid to do the impact that you can have on the world and ultimately, um what I miss uh what you love to do, so, and that's, that's really, you know, a special, a special feeling when you can make that happen out of your experience, then, I mean when you're going to companies, what do you typically, or if you like a top three or top five of companies and you know, whether there's locked up value, and the question is, was being, is why, why is it, you know, why are they not, where they're supposed to be or they could be, let's say, yeah, this one might surprise most people, but typically the first, the first number one answer is something that translates to founder burnout or founder, um uh misunderstanding of what needs to be done within the business at that point in time.

Mhm. Right, on the burn outside, it's something that we, as founders don't really talk about because it, we feel like it makes us look weak when we talk about these things when actually it really just makes us human. Um and there's really no, there's really no guide out there on how to blitz scale your life as a founder, the same way there is, is how to blitz scale your company. Um, and we don't really recognize what's happening in our own lives because we're taught this whole, this hustle culture that startups and growth, growing businesses is just supposed to be hard and, and it is right. Um, it's not easy at all. In fact, oftentimes I kind of compare it to pro athletes, right? We're trying to accomplish the impossible in a lot of ways, and the probability of success Is incredibly low. In fact, in technology businesses, it's upwards of 95% failure, right? Um, but we still want to do it because the rewards are so worth it.

Um, but just like pro athletes, we need to train right, we need to play to win, we need to recover and we need to celebrate and then repeat right train again and ultimately that training part and that recovery part are just as important as playing to win. Um, but instead this hustle culture just just gets at us and we're taught that Everyone should be working 24/7 and we're always playing to win. But what about the rest of that equation that train recover and actually that celebrate like celebrating little winds to, um, which may just sound so dumb because at first it did for me, but ultimately just like athletes, we need a system. Um, we need stamina and we need a systematic approach to growing our personal lives growing ourselves the same way that, you know, we had worked the black for instance, provide a systematic way towards growing companies and um, you know, I I hit my version of burn out a number of times, but most recently, um, a couple of years ago in this business and it an orchid black.

And, and I looked at the impact that I was having on not just my business, but also um, in my personal life on, you know, on my fiance, on the, on the real nature of being, uh, not just a founder, but, but a human being, because we don't have to be superhuman. We can be human because we are human. Um, and I guess, you know, I could go on and on talking about this, but, you know, I developed my own system. Um, and I work with, found some, I work with founders to help develop their own personal system, most of which starts with um hiring an executive coach when you're ready because having that person to lean on and talk to and help bring you to be the better version of you, um, versus just focusing on your company or in your company all the time is um, an incredible opportunity for you to train and recover.

And if you want me, I again, I could talk through my system if that's helpful here or, you know, feel free to ask any other follow up questions here, pete. But it's something that I'm really, really passionate about. No, it's cool. I mean, it's great to see it. And if we were to, to line all your clients up, I mean, what, what would we expect to see? Is there a pattern that you find that you guys either specialist with or, you know, there's certain people that you find that the best value opportunity? Yeah, So if I if I look at first that the first thing about that founder burnout, which is if we equate that problem to opportunity. Um the first four things that boiled down from there are that revenue is growing faster than Talent, um that there's an erosion of accountability, that the there's a lost voice, if you will, of the front line. Um, and that the founder is that there's a non scalable founder in the business. Right. Those are four huge impediments towards evolution of the business, from a simply founder run business to a market leader if you will.

And so those are four things that are core elements where problem meets opportunity as it relates to founder burnout. Um, If we look past just the founder um, into the business itself, there is a um, philosophical way that we view value creation or transferable value if you will, which ultimately starts with who the acquirer's on the other side of the transaction. Um, and it's it's ultimately a pyramid, if you picture this pyramid where strategy is at the top, um, Talent is your next layer product revenue and then operations. So, you know, you build a strategy, you hire a talent around that strategy. You, uh, that talent builds a product or service and that product or service then drive revenue towards the business and, and the operational elements obviously run, you know, make everything run on time and make sure that businesses in working order. Most businesses stop at table stakes, which is essentially the operations layer in the revenue layer, right?

I'm gonna get valued on multiple of Ebola. I mean it valued on multiple of revenue. I'm gonna, I need to focus on driving as much sales into the business. I need to focus on, right, creating a predictable revenue engine. All of these things are super important. Don't get me wrong, right? But the real value in a business sits above that operations in revenue layer, at what transferable value that product or service is going to have, what transferable value that talent that you have on, you know, within your organization is going to bring and the ability of that talent to be beyond you is the founder and beyond the executive team, but truly be an engine that doesn't have key men attached to it or key women attached to it. That that ultimately is truly a business, not reliant on the founder. And then there's a strategic element above that, which is the reason why acquisitions, like, you know, linkedin being purchased by Microsoft at the valuations that it was happened. It's not simply X revenue equals Y evaluation or X profitability equals Y evaluation.

It is based on the transferable value that exists within that business. And that is a big educational element that we work through. Is that pyramid from strategy all the way through operations and looking at every angle of the business to identify where all of that unlocked value truly is, which really depends on stage of the business, right? Um, you could be, you're looking for different things, pre product market fit than you are when you're building efficiencies into the business, which is different than when you're preparing for scale, right? And, and there's, if you start to a blind the stage of maturity of the business to that philosophical way of looking at transferable value from strategy to operations. It is amazing the Aha moments that people get when you really simplify things down to that level because it aligns perfectly to all of the things that they've been struggling to think, struggling to put together if you will for such a long time.

And so I love if you look at the fire up in my village, it's those aha moments that founders get that it can be simple, but ultimately, um, so sometimes you're working so hard in your business that, that you failed to take a step back and look at, look on your business and focus on your business and understand that just like it's okay to bring on executive coach, just like it's okay to admit to founder burnout. It's also okay to admit to company burnout and that you need some outside expertise to bring in and help drive the business forward. That's that's uh that's that's a long way of saying um, you know, strategy through operations really is is a focus of ours as it relates the transferable value and in your experience, I mean, is that, is that pain barrier? Because they talk about, you know, saying being a, being a business owner for a million dollar company or multi million dollar company is very different strategically and very different in thinking and evolution to a billion dollar company.

Right, so, uh do you find that that, is it a thinking mindset? Is it, you know, you talk about, is it burn out that actually to get them to this growth stage that that's taken, that present set of thinking, do people tend to then be able to evolve or does it take a different viewpoint or different management structure? Different, different set of individuals to push it on to the next level and your experience? It depends on the company, it depends on the founders adaptability and um, ability to kind of evolve in terms of what I would consider the five levels of leadership. Most founders are not able to move from level one all the way through level five. Um and that's okay. Um some are, so as part of that is part of that same philosophy of, you know, transferable value in the business. We really do work with the founders on on their leadership style and their leadership abilities and not only are some some capable in some incapable, but some just don't want that level of Leadership responsibility.

Some are great at getting a business off the ground and handing it off, some are great at getting the business off the ground into five or 10 or 20 million and then handing it off um and and some can take it all the way. Um you know, the Mark Zuckerberg's of the world if you will. Um so, you know, ultimately there is um uh there is a level of analysis that needs to be done not only on the business but also on the founders and that that five, that five uh levels of leadership if you will is a big part of it, that's at the core for us. But where is your sweet spot? Jim I mean, when when do when do people get you in the room and then get you out of the room? What well what sort of what's your, your good and your bad if you like the pencil. Yeah, some people might say as soon as I get in the room, they want me out of the room, but no, um uh just just getting I think, you know, my, my sweet spots always been early on in the business. Um that is uh between Call it three million and 20 million, right?

We've got partners that focus on some of the later stages beyond that, But my focus is on companies between three million and 20 million. You know, after there's some element of, of product market fit, um really working to determine what's gonna, what's gonna really prove out that product market fit, meaning to have those customers drawing you in, right? Rather than you having to push your services or your product out to other founders are sorry to other to your customers. Um, and, and with that comes what I would say, a um Somewhere between a level uh, level three and um, and level four, if you will, um, form of leadership. So I'm still working on getting to my level five as a leader, which my executive coach is helping me with. Um, and, you know, as far as those levels of leadership go, I mean, level one is really focused on people, people follow you because they have to write, um, level two is, people follow you because they want to Uh, level three as people follow you because of what you've done for the organization, you know, really results if you will.

Um, and level four is people follow because of what you've done for them, and ultimately, the final level, which I'm still working on getting to is people follow you because of who you are and what you represent, and I'm really in tune with my own mission, write my own feeling, if you own my own pinnacle, which is kind of, that level five leadership, but equating that back to my place and in the place I fit best in building businesses, um, it really fits well with other founders who are going through their own, you know, leadership development, if you will, going through their own challenges of, kind of making their way up not only the, the growth revenue ladder, but also the, the personal leadership ladder. Um and so I would say, you know, that whole philosophy of, we talked about earlier, bring on the right people and they'll take care of your customers is a big theme of what I work on with founders on more of the personal side, um which is really exciting for me just given the, you know, the area that I like to focus on, and building a business and building up founders as well.

Where, I mean, where do your own personal core values set? What's what's your, you know, your main ethos or mantra that you you subscribe to personally? Yeah, that's a that's a really good question. I mean, a lot of it ties back to it may sound silly, but um where we've gotten to as a company from our own mantra and value proposition and it really relates to, um grow, grow smart and then grow fast, because if you focus whether it's your company or yourself, if you focus on doing too many things or growing too fast. Um, without first building in some fundamental building blocks if you will of growth. Um, You're doomed. You're doomed, right? Like you're we are human as I probably said 100 times. All right. And all the people in our company are also our companies are also human and so gross mark grow fast is really the representation um, of the orchid, right?

The flower that can grow for over 100 years straight when tended to properly. And um, that doesn't necessarily shoot up, right? Um, but that can grow to the highest of all flowers over that 100 years when pruned and worked on and and really, you know, put building blocks in place to drive growth, which is a big part of what our name represents in our mantra and in tune my personal mantra of of growth around not just growing super fast, but also, but first building those creating those building blocks if you will to allow for scale to allow for fast growth. So that's that's that's really uh, that's really important to me and and in tune really important to work in black as a whole. Take me through sort of life before orchid Black. And you know what, what your, what you learned from that I suppose the lessons that you wanted to bring into play here. Yeah, yeah, I got I got swimming.

Um let's start with, let's start with life before let's start with life before orchid Black. And I've got a rebranding story that attaches to our name that I think is really in tune with my own personal growth too. So um from my start in my family business, which was really when I was 15 with very little to go on other than a learner's permit and a lot of motivation and drive and excitement. Um I spent the first few years working on M. And a. For the family business. Um we grew from, she's about 40 million when I got there to about 600 million when I left. Um And now it's over a billion dollar company. Um My role was entirely focused on M. And A mergers and acquisitions growth through acquiring other companies. Um and I saw um even as as wonderful as our growth was just how many um miss goals and targets even we had just how much missed opportunity there was in our business and ultimately um you know, family businesses drive family squabbles which in tune drive family to um have a lot of resentment towards one another and a lot of sleepless nights whether you found the company or you're just in the business and so I learned a ton through, you know, all of that early um inorganic growth.

Um And kind of took a lot of that knowledge worked through the years to move not just from M. And A growth, but also more organic sales marketing and general business growth, um, and all of the businesses, all the gross stage technology companies that I worked alongside, experienced all of the same growth and value creation obstacles, right? Mentioned some of them earlier, but you know, misalignment on strategy and talent, lack of product market fit pricing, cost issues, failed to go to market expansion. Things like this, that that ultimately led them to hitting an inflection point or me hitting an inflection point when I was in them and all of them needed some level of guide if you will to help them navigate effectively, whether it's my family business or any of the other businesses that I was consulting or operating in and um, you know, making my way through In total product about 45 transactions and five exits as either an operator or investor.

Um, and over a billion dollars in shareholder value created throughout the years. They're just had to be a better way. They're just had, there had to be a better way. Um, whether I was looking at it from the investor lens or the operating lens and um, the last decade of that or so was with my now co founder steven Horowitz whose impact honestly and his impact and outcomes far exceed mine. Um, and I, you know, we felt like there just needed to be this better way to get to these successes than trial and error, given how much error we had seen along the way. Just in the businesses that we were working in or on. Um, and so we spent our recent years really identifying and documenting a path of more deterministic way, if you will to make technology businesses were so much more that again takes in account the transferable value based on stage or maturity of a business.

Um, and some might call this a methodology, right? I hate that word, consulting to me has this mantra around it that just makes methodology such a negative word to me. But ultimately, you know, the founders we work with call it, which may sound even sillier miracle Gro for companies. Um, so through my trials and tribulations through, You know, Stevens and ultimately through the other, the 30 plus folks we've got on the team trials and tribulations we've really developed and home this methodology over the years. This Miracle Gro for companies if you will. Um, and um, it's something that, uh, that is pretty special and unique, I think to us and also why we're willing to take bets on the companies that we, that we work with, right, that's not normal to align your fee structure with the business growth or performance, but we're really confident in what we've built and in the founders that we select, working with. So all of those lessons learned really, throughout the years.

Um, you know, really passionate about taking those same things and bringing them to other founders and other companies, um, bring that to what we went through um, if I can keep going, is that right? Yeah, sure. Sure. Where we went to with our strategic rebrand, we were called this Dodgy old, you know, non innovative brand called morgan Hill Partners, right? It sounds like an attorney or a 20 year old private equity firm. Uh, someone that, you know, isn't innovative and it just sounds like, oh, like, okay, you're gonna, you're gonna help me be more innovative, you're gonna help me dr value well, make sure your name represents it. Um, and, and we can analyze and looked at the market and heard a lot of feedback during, you know, this time in 2020 when we were all undergoing this, this period of introspection um, within ourselves and our companies, you know, co, you know, covid world if you will, um, and realized that we, um, that we needed a strategic rebrand, which is perhaps one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through as a business owner and something that's added a ton of value to our business, um, and mission, which is all too misaligned and thought of as useless in a company because people don't use or think of it as what it what it really is, which is purpose, um, is, uh, is something that we really internalized um, and, and focused on and and our mission, our fire.

It really was using our experience driven insight from all these years and and our ability to, to execute, to uplift companies and amplify their value, not only in the marketplace, but in the world. Um which is back to that guy concept, right? Really focused on impact, not just value. Um and you know, in this, in this last jungle, if you will have opportunity, you know, we really do truly hunt for that rare breed of partner, like this promising business with super unique offering. Um and like any prized exotic orchid, an exceptional companies value really emerges with that expert pruning and care over the years, cultivating growth if you will, and ultimately when properly nurtured everything can thrive, right? Work gives companies, um everything across the board.

So I think um as we, as we look at, you know, those those, those lessons learnt um those um those those hard things to take a look at, like mission vision values. Um those are some real lessons learned for me. Um you know, up until even including right, that strategic rebrand that I mentioned, and I've got a million other lessons learned that, you know, if you want me to keep going, I'm happy to share. I had a question because I just want to reflect back there. I mean, you talked about impact versus value, you know, and deciding which is which I mean are are those intrinsically linked to each other. Uh they are whether whether intrinsically or or non extreme, you know, it's they are linked. They are not. Um they are not completely the same. No. Right. So, yes, absolutely, there's an effect that I that either has on the other, especially the passion that connects to what you're built, I think.

Um but I have run into so many companies and been in so many companies where the passion they're growing, but the passion just this isn't there? And whether it's next year or a couple of years later, that growth really starts to subside and become stagnant. Um and so that that's where kind of that linkage that you're mentioning I think really comes from. Um and something that we see quite a bit, it's always that the thing is that it's and I'm just wondering with founders as well, I mean, you know, I suppose people, especially if you're a founder and you know, the creator of the company and you go through the natural stages of your own life, I think we all do, you know whereby you go through growth phases, you go through maturity phase, you go through, you know, reflection phase, you go through sort of legacy phases, Right? So it also depends on their journey and going to serve, you know, do want to serve myself to want to, you know, where that does that does that make sense?

I mean almost the the maturity level maybe of the company, the maturity level of the management then the maturity level of the founders and and trying to get those aligned to each other is probably tricky enough. Right? Yeah, it absolutely does. And not all founding teams. Right. Um Stay together. Uh you know, in 2017 we were in our infancy and I had to co founders. Um we were in our ideation stage if you will, or our discovery stage about how to bring our vision into the market and the opportunity was clear. Um the way that the three of us could work together was clear. Um and um formalizing the firm in 2018 and hitting the ground running, we learned, we learned a lot about our co founding team if you will. Um, and Um, that version one team um despite the great impact that we had in our ideation, our discovery phase after many long conversations, long days and experiments to right the ship redefine roles, right?

We finally decided decided to part ways with with one of our co founders, which simply sucked not the first time I had to do it, but it's um, it might not be the last, but it's it's not, it's not great, right? Um someone that we had put this indeterminable trust and faith in, across the team were really all three of us across the team and we expected And to be a partner for the next 5-10 years or long hair, um heading in some ways, you know, let the company down that we, you know, there's always blame on across the board, um right, so it's easy to blame each other, but ultimately, like, we had all let each other down, um and that's a hard thing to admit. It's a, that's a hard thing to, to cut bait on something like that when it's when it's so people integral, whether it's, you know, firing a founder or firing an employee and it didn't take the company off rails, which it could have given how pivotal that point in time was.

Um, but it absolutely set us back in order to jump forward and sometimes you do need to break things down to push forward. Um, you know, our team now is, is, is proof of that, um, and that is something that, that is very hard for a lot of founders to do, whether that's again firing a founder or firing an employee, but you've got to accept it's in your control and what's not, and sometimes things outside of your control require you to just go above and beyond your comfort zone to push the company forward. And um, and that was, that was a good learning lesson for me, it's interesting because one of things was going to ask you there, is, you know, what, is there something that with the benefit of hindsight and experience, now you would do differently. And also then, is there something that you are most proud of, what you've done A bit of a two phase question.

Yeah. Mhm. I'm going to stay on this theme of of of team and and an evolution of team because I think I've got to I've got two things that that point directly to it. Um Yeah, As many people can relate to 2020 again was a tough year, resulted in a lot of introspection and outwardly our company or black was growing, but I personally felt like I had plateau as a leader um right, even with all this experience, I really plateau as a leader and was having trouble getting to do my next level um and my own advisory and Pierre and General Network recommended that I look into an executive coach which I had shown for years um and um I went down a path that resulted in dozens of conversations until I landed on my coach coach, mike, who I felt was right for me and fast forward a year later, I just simply feel so thankful working with Mike, there's been so transformative for me as a, as a founder, as a leader, as a fiance is a friend um as a human and You know, things like looking at a 360 of yourself are hard to do when you're when you're the person in front, Right, um they're hard to do in general by getting feedback from people that and and having a space for them to give it, that that is open and honest and things that they probably want, Sadie Direct do what you do at your own risk, right?

Half joking, but it will reveal some things that are incredibly tough to hear and a litany of other things that help you understand how your actions are interpreted and perceived by other people um right in your business and at home. Um and I've seen new levels of breakthroughs in my relationships with everyone because of it from employees to friends to my managing partners. Um and uh and also my fiancee, Stephanie, right, it's been um it's been incredible seeing what's come out of that, so I think, you know, that's one thing that I'm super proud of that's very recent for me that I had to go through my own journey of realizing when the right time for an executive coach was if you will. Um and that is um incredibly, I think important for every founder at some point in their journey to to recognize and get, which is, you know, some wanted to really be that foundational person who listens and helps advance, who understands behavioral um behavioral psychology, who under whose kind of been there in some capacity and able to understand what you're going through and I'll kind of wrap all that into, you know, what would be an executive coach um man now the other side of it, right?

Something that I I'm not as I'm not as proud of where to go because there's there's quite a there's quite a bit of those as well. Um I've always had this um really tough relationship with with marketing, right? And I like to think of myself as pretty creative, but I'm not a marketer, right? Um And marketers the right marketers really have this interesting way in view of the world that really need the right partners on the other side, on the operation side on the strategy side to be successful. And meanwhile while there's also a lot of marketers out there that um I would say really don't know what they're doing, so it's hard to sift through things because they're very difficult to both understand in some cases and very difficult to find the right ones and so knowing what's what and sorting through it before, you know, you've become so at odds that it's never going to work is something that that I've always that I've always struggled quite a bit with, I would say um I would say uh you know, Stephen, my co founder, would probably put it in an even more negative words than that.

Uh But it was it was Q4 of of 20 boy, what was it? 20 I guess, I guess it was, I guess it was more recent than that, it was Um really this this past this past year, just over I think 12 months ago or so and um I was going through um this this again this experience with um With what was happening with marketing in my own business, I guess it was Q4, we're rounding out our second year of business, we had some big wins, we got good clients over the first two years, but nothing was clicking on the demand generation side. It was like this area of the business that just was proving especially difficult, which is happens a lot in in businesses. Um for us we had tried it all um while the company was growing um marketing efforts, we're spur erratic and results were stagnant.

You know, we had email campaigns and loads of content and an active social media presence and and jeez raving client testimonials, but we just weren't getting the right results from marketing or demand generation. And so we brought in our third marketing leader uh in two years, imagine that this one was more of a focus on on brands and and really the, you know, the true strategic mindset around brand strategy um and connecting back to that strategic rebrand. Right? Um I kept telling myself this one is different, this one uh you know, not wanting to consider the alternative if I'm wrong. Um Right, so so what happened next was at the time, I wasn't looking at it quite like this transformative journey that I mentioned with the rebrand was was a good thing I think, you know, I um this is prior to me having executive coach.

So at times I would say I even acted like that childish founder, right? Um no, no, no, it's got to be this like, no you're wrong, this is the way it's always been, this is the way it's going to be, this is what I've built, this is, this is who we are. And um and I almost that almost led to us leave leaving, that almost led to us losing both of our core marketing people, one on the brand side and and and one on the demand generation and brand side and content side. And um and that was uh those were two of my better, the best marketing people that I've worked with, especially, you know Lauren who's still with us, who is uh Lauren and all who were fundamentally um impactful in terms of everything from the mission and the vision and our unique selling proposition being redefined right, aligning with this hero's journey with the founder.

Um and so, you know, even though I made a lot of the wrong decisions through that process and probably didn't trust enough and ended up okay on the other side because they, because of how powerful they were and being able to deal with my founder personality, but I definitely look back and wish that um that I had been a little more open and, and um and less of an obstacle towards, you know, my own growth in the, in the growth of the company and I think that was also one of the pivotal things that made me realize I needed to get an executive coach to help me through situations like that. So awesome isn't to be able to self reflect because as you say, we can't so often we can't see ourselves take somebody else to sort of extract that or hold the mirror up to us and let us see our blind spots big time. Big time. Especially as it relates to talent, right? I mean talent is one of these things like yeah uh it's everyone's biggest challenge, right? It's like um if you look on any list, any list, attracting and retaining talent is at the top of the toughest challenges for business owners, I don't care what region you're in, what industry you're in, you know what you do, hiring and retaining employees is at or near the top and that is just being uh driven further by millennials driving towards the workplace and ultimately gen z behind it, right?

55% of millennials are not engaged at work. Yeah 42% of millennials expect to change jobs every two years and millennial turnover across the U. S. Economy Over 30 billion each year, right? That's just the U. S. Um Those are big numbers and building a business of qualified to telling people that are going to treat your clients, your customers like you would treat them as a founder is never easy. In fact, damn near impossible shit. And it's even harder in the earlier stages of company where you have literally everything, right? A confluence of factors working against you million things that do hiring is one of the most time consuming processes that you could spend time on. Um you likely don't have the cash to compete with comparable job rules at much larger companies. But the thing is you've got something on your side, which is that you've got the ability to to let the people in your organization grow, right?

You asked me that question earlier about um what's more important people growth or company growth. That's why I answer people growth every time and why I love this stage of a business and its growth stage because people can grow that the best way that people can grow is in that type of culture where you are focused on people growth. It's not not as political, right? It's not as um bottom line focused, it's it's really focused on um how to unlock and drive growth within people who help drive growth within the business. And that's what we've really done at our company right to as much as reasonably possible. We've built working black as a meritocracy from the top down if you will um you know the same way that we align our business model with with clients. Yes. Um we align our business model with our employees. We may not be able to offer the best rates, right?

The Mackenzie level or Big three level um compensations. But you know, we offer a piece of the pie. We offer a piece of what we're building a piece of the growth that our employees are driving within orchid black within the part the the clients that that we're working with, which is exciting. Especially for millennials, right? Uh and and really for everyone. But um with this whole culture of leaving jobs every couple of years not being engaged, right? What's more engaging and and and and fulfilling than both? Driving growth at a company and in time also driving growth within yourself and then having compensation aligned to both of those growth aspects, right? It might not be perfect for everyone, but for the right people. Um it's um it's really, really a good feeling and I think that's what companies really missed the boat on is what's the right, What's the right um model compensation model if you will.

Um and other motivating factors other um driving for forces other benefits if you will within that you can provide to your employees to really make them make your company great and please your customers the way that you would. And uh that's something that's that's really, really fun when you're able to unlock it. Oh absolutely. Yes, thomas as an individual. Would you generally be pained paint based or pleasure based? Where do you sit down? I mean because I hear a lot you're saying, you know it's unlocking working with other with with customers and things like that have been, you love the thrill of a challenge or you know, and do you need the deadline or you you motivated differently? It's a great question. Um I think naturally having just been thrown into Mhm business at such a young age, uh and also, you know, some of the things that I went through as a child, I I'm probably a little more pain based where I really look for um whatever pains I can solve, whatever problems I can solve.

I think um one thing I've been working on is making that a little more balanced, right? Not just focusing on problem solving but also focusing more on celebrating little winds, which I would say is on the other side of that, right? On on, you know, the motivational, I forget how you said it, it was pain versus typically pleasure based, pleasure based, right? Um So pleasure base to me and this is how I'm defining. And tell me, tell me if you're thinking about in different ways, um you know those those motivational factors whether intrinsic or extrinsic that that you're working towards. Um and I for right or wrong, probably more wrong. I was I was I was always again way more pain focused uh and on then jumping forward to the next pain and then the next pain without actually looking backwards and at the pleasure. Um and that is again, like I said something that I've really, really been focused on working on and um and I would say, I think my team would say that I've improved but probably have a while ago on, on celebrating the little winds.

I do, if I do a few things that help with that right? Um on a weekly basis on on sunday night I'll, you know, spend 30 to 45 minutes minutes um really reflecting um to, to make sure that those sunday scary is if you will or uh admitted to and overcome and as part of like that planning for the week, if you will, I've incorporated um at least 15 minutes of that to think about the little women's that that that last week has served, right? So focusing on it week to week um on a monthly basis. I also, this might sound super silly, but I, I also have dinner with myself and my notebook. Um I spent about 2-3 hours um with whether it's just at dinner, you know, at a really nice restaurant being catered to by myself um or um sometimes just in the backyard by myself with a, with a nice scotch or two.

Um looking at it at more of the monthly level, celebrating again, little winds, but also looking towards the month at hand. Um and between those two things that's been transformative in me um celebrating my little, you know, our little weekly and monthly winds versus where I was always focused in the past, which is really annual and, and forward, um, which I noticed was was really starting to, you know, um, spread throughout the organization. And the last thing I want is to, you know, just have everyone focused all on pain. Um, and so, uh, I think, I think that's been, that's been a journey that I've been working on, but that I still have some room to grow. Mm I think we all do this. That's life, isn't it? We were, It's one big growth pattern really. Absolutely, absolutely right. I want to be respectful of time here. So tell us, I mean, if you were to try and describe your fire in the belly and one or two words, what would those Beijing helping founders and myself included navigate, um, muddy waters and get unstuck whether that's around growth around exiting or just around avoiding burnout.

Um, and you know, we started orchid black to serve founders looking to get it unstuck grow and create wealth. And founders that fully didn't realize what needed to be done to maximize the value of their business and exit. Um, our success is partnering with the right founders and companies have allowed us to achieve really incredible success over the past couple of years, which internal allows us to serve more founders and um, you know, we're doubling down on our growth over the next few years as we expect to have several major exits, additional exits. Um, by the end of 20, and and fueling these profits right back into the company to help even more founders achieve the exit exit and legacy and see if you will, that they deserve. Um, so you know, whether it's growth plans or, or mantra or passion fire up whatever you want to call it, it's helping more founders, um, to get unstuck grow and create legacy and wealth.

Um, and uh, and at the same time really represent what I finally found, which is my only kid guy, which I know we talked about earlier. Mm No, So let's, it is interesting there that it's connected to the personal, it's not just a, let's grow a big business that is a, you know, you know, personal values, personal growth. You know, I think that's very, very interesting and probably quite a reflection on most companies now, especially what we've been through is that you've got to love what you do because it's going to be a long life if you don't, you know where else it just, it'll never quite hit its peak because you're, you're sort of, you're not fully invested. Yeah, no, it's very powerful. Tell us jim working personal, sorry, you know, what's going on, please. I was just gonna say it affects our personal life. Like, um, I didn't dig much into it, but I have this loving fiance that is perhaps the most patient woman in the world and over the last seven years she has put up with more three am nights that I care and I'm sure that she cares to count weeks at a time gone for travel, unexpected cancellations right?

In some way the life of dating an entrepreneur and with that set over the last year and the year or so since I've had an executive coach, I've prioritised my personal time more than I ever have in the past and um focused on my personal growth road map and it's been so transformational. So you know that wholesale culture that's instilled in us, it's okay to take a step back um, and and grow yourself. So I love, I love all this conversation back and forth around not only company growth but personal growth because it really is your support system is, is so, so much a part of the ability to grow your company and they should not be separated. They are very much integrated if you will. Mhm Yeah. That's keeping them together. Yeah. Tell us where can people find you learn more hunting down, track you down stalk you uneasy about. I take office hours every week offer complimentary office hours. So, um, you know, feel free to contact me to see if there is a potential fit for hard growth program or just to help point you in the right direction.

You can do that either by email at JB at orchid dot plot or on linkedin. Um, under jim varnish junior and also under grow smart grow fast my mantra. Um, and I would be happy to find a few minutes to connect and and use some of my office hours to just talk through whether it's personal growth or company growth. See if there's an opportunity for me to help or introduce you to someone who can I love it. I love it. That's the final message. You'd like to leave with our listeners. Focus on growing your talent. Um, so that they help grow your company and your customers because ultimately if you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your customers and your customers will take care of your business. Wow. Yeah, super simple. Like a super simple jim. Listen, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. I love you all you're sharing and there's loads of, I mean, I think I got a feeling we could talk all day, but you know, um you know, I think really here is a lovely place to leave it. So thank you very much for your time.

I appreciate it. Thank you. Peter been a pleasure. Well, that was another great episode of fire in the belly. You know, this really wouldn't be possible without a great guest taking the time to share their personal journeys. Boy boy, sometimes it is personal. It's an absolute pleasure to have that. And then to hear the journeys that people have been known with loads more episodes coming up soon. It's always a pleasure to have guests on. If you do happen to know anyone with true fire in their belly, please reach out to us so we can share their journey, lessons and successes. So all that's left to say is have a great day, live with fire in your belly and be the mightiest version of you. Yeah.

E216: “I Have A Mission For Growth.” - Interviewing Jim Barnish
E216: “I Have A Mission For Growth.” - Interviewing Jim Barnish
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