Build a Thriving Business that Makes a Positive Impact

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Build a Thriving Business that Makes a Positive Impact

Build a Thriving Business that Makes a Positive Impact

As a business owner, it’s difficult to do the right work AND guide your company toward its next big initiative.

With Red Direction Business Base Camp, learn how to implement and handle processes to meet your business’s specific needs and better understand your market.

Get Started NOW!

Starting the conversation:

Your business plan is a tool to know what not to do. This dynamic tool allows you to include core information about the way you do your work, the impact your company makes, and what opportunities are really the right ones to pursue. Bessi Graham, Founder at Benefit Capital shares the power of both/and in strategic planning to grow both business and good for the world.

Finding winfinity (win-win-win) is possible by shifting the lens you look through. Whether internal growth and development of people and process or aggressively tackling initiatives to grow market share, knowing yourself is foundational. It’s only when you have a strong level of self-awareness that you are prepared to discern what is really going on to be of service to your team and achieve your biggest goals.

In this program, you will learn how to use your business plan dynamically, the difficulty (and necessity) of saying no to good things, and to recognize that all change takes time. Change is deliberate and your ability to be intentional and guide your company forward is what will result in success. Jess Dewell talks with Bessi Graham, Founder at Benefit Capital, about why it is BOLD to strive for success and to make a positive impact.

Host: Jess Dewell

Guest: Bessi Graham

What You Will Hear:

Core values are how you show up and actually behave.

Seek clarity: doing less is getting MORE from your work.

Where are the filters, and how those filters actually impact work priorities.

The ability to do versus what you are willing to do is key information to handle fear, find opportunity, and understand how much certainty there may be.

The art of saying no to good ideas.

Plans don’t go according to plan, flip the lens and use the plan to help you discern what not to do.

Your risk profile is important to your business plan to thoughtfully support getting a good outcome.

Listener challenge: self-assess your level of certainty and your ability to lead change through ambiguity.

Additionally, for the Fast Track Your Business Today Uncut conversation:

The intersection of mindset and discernment.

New information, ambiguity, changing situations present “negotiable options” and worth a pause to consider the business plan (and what not to do).

When to ask: what type of thinking is needed here?

Relationship development starts with you.

Self-awareness is necessary to be able to better understand and serve your team.

The way that both/and plays out in your organization will provide clues to use in your strategic thought work.

Use your business model as THE tool to be unapologetic for decisions that have a win-win-win for all.

The questions to ask that find assumptions and can shift a path to more of a win-win.

It is BOLD to intentionally build a business to be successful AND make a positive impact.

Find out more about how to Fast Track Your Business.

Build a Thriving Business that Makes a Positive Impact - Bessi Graham



Welcome. This is the Bold Business Podcast. Your business has many directions it can travel. The one true direction of your company creates the journey for you to move toward a new, exciting level. We call this the Red Direction. In today’s program, we delve into one idea. The idea will support you as you work on ever-present situations, including how to stay competitive in a changing market, how to break through the business plateau, and how to anticipate the changing expectations of your stakeholders. Jess Dewell is your guide. Jess brings you a 20-year track record of business excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your Path comes from consistently working from the special place. Your unique True North. Now, here’s Jess.

Jess Dewell 00:50
Welcome to the Bold Business Podcast. I am here today with Bessie Graham. And before I actually introduce you to her, I just want to remind you, you’re here, enjoy, sit back, I’m just duel. And you will find all of the show notes at Because we’re here at the voice of bold business when we’re having these conversations, we’re talking about the ambiguity, we’re talking about the uncertainty, we’re talking about the dichotomy between what we think we’re supposed to know and what we actually know how we make the decision. And so it’ll be interesting to see where our conversation about those things will end up today. Now, I must bring it you Bessie, Bessie Graham is an award-winning entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience working with business owners, governments, and large funding bodies to bring doing good and making money back together, the grassroots piece, we’re at the beginning or in the middle, we’re trying to figure out wherever we might be going all the way to ultimate success, writing it through. Here’s the deal, whether you’re in the Pacific Islands, whether you’re in the UN headquarters, whether you are anywhere in between, Bessie has seen it all and she’s going to bring some perspectives that can make change happen to us today. So working with people who have made it but haven’t found fulfillment. Bessie is helping them put their time, talent and treasure to work so that they’re aligning all parts of their life, to their values for the most fulfilling impact. Bessi, welcome to our show.

Bessi Graham 02:24
Thank you so much. Yes, that was the most energetic reading of my bio I’ve ever heard, thank you.

Jess Dewell 02:29
When would you decide that values really are this core piece to all of the work in the way that you show up in the world and the work you’ve done and helped others achieve?

Bessi Graham 02:40
Like lots of things in life. There are pieces that are intuitively part of your practice, or that you just go, this is important and central. And it becomes something that is consistent in how you show up how you behave, how you make decisions. For me, the values piece was always in that category. But the point where I began to consciously articulate it as a central piece to be grounded in as a business leader, was when probably in about 2010, when I started to do a lot more work in this space and read a whole bunch of Patrick Lencioni his work, and I can’t remember what year the advantage came out. It may have been 2012. But anyway, a lot of his work even before the advantage came out, started to speak into this space. And particularly in the advantage, this is probably the book I’ve given to the most people have probably bought hundreds of copies of that. You’re welcome Patrick added. In that book, it did a really good job of describing values in a way more satisfying way. Whenever I’d heard people talk about values, I’d ended up rolling my eyes because it was like, Oh, for goodness sake, they’re talking about things or you’re engaging with an organization and up on the wall. There’s all of the typical words being claimed as values, with the beautiful posters of an eagle with its outstretched arms negretti Honesty, and either it doesn’t feel like it means something. Or there’s a big disconnect between these words that they’re using and claiming as their values and how they behave. So it was Lencioni his work that helped me go are this is just how I’ve always operated but you’ve put better language to it. And so it became more intentional in terms of describing different types of values and how important it is to actually name things as core values that are how you actually show up and behave. Ever since then. It has been a very intentional and explosive So part of the work I do with business leaders rather than just being in the mix and deeply true, but not necessarily named.

Jess Dewell 05:09
One of the things I end up saying a lot is, this is the way we do our work here. Your description, your example, I would say, Yeah, that’s right. So then taking the way we do our work here that we say, the way we do that we weren’t here and the way we behave, and the way we do our work here, when we solve our problems or make decisions is key. What’s funny is, I don’t think people realize that by spending just a little bit of time there, they can solve so many of their problems all at once. Have you found that the network?

Bessi Graham 05:41
Absolutely, I think that is at the heart of probably a whole bunch of what we’ll talk about today is that there’s these really interesting situations where we have to stop ourselves and realize that getting clarity on a few fundamental things are actually the best way for you to be more decisive, efficient or the words that people talk about and that they want to be and how they want to show up as a leader in their business. Those pieces, if we don’t take the time to get to a place of clarity, what we risk is being someone who yes, you can make really big decisions really fast, but you make really bad ones, or you make ones that have a whole bunch of unintended consequences that a little bit of forethought could have prevented. Now, you’re not always going to get it right, even if you are deeply rooted and grounded with a sense of clarity in these things. But my experience is that the mental load that it frees up the ability to make these decisions, and already have, in your mind, a really clear sense of what would you need to assess that against because in any decision, the piece that’s critical is, do you even have the filters to decide where this sits, if we don’t have any filters, everything seems important. And I’ve seen a lot lately, I’m not sure if you’re seeing this too. But it’s interesting online watching the, the quotes and the language and the things that are being pushed on us as business leaders. And I’m seeing a lot of pieces that are pushing this aspect of the way you do anything is the way you do everything making out that everything becomes equal. And as a leader, when you have complexity and you have all of these different decisions, pressures, constraints coming at you, you cannot treat everything as equal. And you have to be able to prioritize level conceptualize, okay? Does this even align with where we’re headed as an organization, if you can’t do that, and if you don’t have filters, you will continually be exhausted and frantically trying to decide between 150 things, when actually those filters could have got it down to okay, we’re looking at 20 things here. How do we now bunch those categorize think about them connected to our strategy, think about them connected to what we want to be part of in the world. That is such a critical skill for a leader.

You are listening to the Bold Business Podcast. This program was created to develop your capacity on demand by sharing insights, tips, as well as lessons learned by business leaders, unedited and uncut. Now, back to Jess.

Jess Dewell 08:31
I call those competing priorities when we have those competing priorities where we don’t know where things fit. And we don’t have something to fall back on. It is it’s a deer in the headlights, it is something that takes us off track, we see things as positive when they’re not, or we avoid things that we really must face head-on. Because of all of the diverted attention. The conversations I’m having, they feel it and they don’t necessarily know. They’re like, what’s changing, I don’t understand. And I’m thinking to myself, nothing is changing. It’s just a new way to do the same things. And if it doesn’t resonate, that’s okay. Because I don’t know about you. But I know when we’re facing problems, that redirection or when we’re working with our clients to solve some of their more complex problems, what we have the ability to do, might be different than what we’re willing to do. Hmm. How’s that?

Bessi Graham 09:29
And isn’t that always the case in there can be a whole range of those kind of factors that come up, where you then have to figure out okay, how do I actually look at or filter or I would use the word level, how do you level those out to say, almost the ranking of where do they sit? Because in one of the tools that we’ve used for decades that Brad my partner and I began using in our personal life and then shifted it over, as you often do, you get all this fits in working with clients Yeah, imagine is what we call the decision cascade. And it’s the most beautiful tool because that leveling piece of working out. And we often talk about the fact that if you jump in and you, the first decision you make is actually something that should have been a tertiary decision, what you’ve done is create all of these constraints that didn’t need to exist, if you had really leveled it out, if you give a really basic one. At a personal level, if you make a decision to buy a house in a certain neighborhood, that requires a certain level of mortgage, which means you’re going to now have to have a certain level of income. And this is all of these pieces, but you make that decision first, it actually now forces you into all of the cascading decisions from that point, based on the decision of how huge your mortgage is. Whereas if you had first thought about, okay, what is most important to me, and you said, okay, for us, for example, when we did this years ago, our kids are big now. But when they were little, we said we actually wanted one of us to be able to be with the kids while they were little. And so we were like, okay, that then makes us think about where would we buy. What schools would we want the kids to what kind of cars would we have? And so in that period of our life, again, everything’s chapters, whether it’s in your business, or in your personal life, we were able to go what are the primary decisions? What are the secondary decisions? What are the tertiary decisions, and so we pushed the house decision right down to tertiary like it was not the we didn’t start there. And I see that in businesses so often that we make a decision, for example, about opening a new location or hiring these people. Suddenly, now we’ve got those four new people on the team. And so we have to have work for them to do so we accept projects that aren’t really aligned with what we’re doing, or we have pressures that now push us in a direction, which makes us lose track of that critical piece around often I’m talking to people about the voices that you’re listening to, like how do you tune out the noise and everything else and get clear decisions and how we make them how we level them will be a massive factor in how onpoint we are with our strategy and feeling aligned moving towards those goals, or whether we have done the piece of mistaking movement for progress. And yes, we were busy. Yes, we were hitting revenue numbers, but are we actually going where we want to go.

Jess Dewell 12:43
It’s a tough place to be. It’s a tough place to hold. And it is unpopular. To the point. Of course, these other things that you mentioned, the revenue goals, the deadlines, the capacity, the ability to deliver product, are all incredibly measurable. Performance is usually based on that when we want to shift away from or we are feeling unfulfilled, I find personally and professionally, that something has become a mess. And I’m starting to follow other people’s expectations of me versus the expectations that I have set for myself

Bessi Graham 13:21
All those things you listed are also so yes, they’re easy to measure, etc. But they’re also the things that since we were kids, we’ve been rewarded for the, the things that get, get you put on a pedestal and get people admiring you looking up to you. So there’s ways that they have been reinforced as positive. And so when we are either exhausted or busy or feeling pulled in lots of directions, it can be very tempting and very easy to go towards the bits that seem like the natural kind of ticks the box, it gets the pieces that people will look up to us and think, wow, you’ve got it all going on. And again, if we’re honest with ourselves, you know that just because there’s a really high revenue number doesn’t actually mean there’s a good profit margin, does it mean someone’s taking home a decent amount of money themselves or feeling financial freedom and relaxed in that you can often in the periods where you have the most impressive number on a revenue line, be the most stressed because everything’s so tight and you now feel the pressure of you’ve made decisions in hiring and the officers you have and things that mean, you’ve got to keep bringing in money at that level and you’re not having the time to really be strategic because again if we come back to this at a decision level, my favorite definition around strategies that strategy is saying no to good things. All of these things may be in one context or one chapter or for one business, they might be a really good decision. But that doesn’t mean that you have to or should say yes to it. Right. So the, it all comes back to those pieces of saying, okay, yeah, there’s there are 15 things we could do here, that would all be good. But we can’t do all of them. And we need to get clear on not what does that business that I’m following online or my friend’s business, what’s good for them. But what fits with where we’re trying to go as an organization and bring it all the way back to those pieces we talked about at the beginning, and what fits with how we want to behave, how we show up how we do things around here.

Jess Dewell 15:35
It’s incredibly interesting to listen to you. And recognize not only are those things true, and the importance of saying no is incredibly powerful, when any of us in any point of our life have tried to please everybody all of the time, it ends in failure, if we’re talking about a company, and we’re trying to be all things to all people, ourselves, leading organizations in those leadership roles, we’re going to burn out, and we’re going to fail, which means we’re not actually leading Well, we’re not able to your point making the decisions and prioritizing so people can do the best work to serve our communities, our stakeholders, our shareholders, and our customers along the way.

Bessi Graham 16:21
And that’s also a misunderstanding of what your role is and what you’re meant to be bringing. Because when we fall into that trap of the how do I be all things to all people, when we think we are the answer, then we also start to blur lines into doing tasks or making decisions or playing in spaces that are not actually our brilliance, and where we should have let someone else to it. And so, we are adding workload, which just gets us quicker to that place of exhaustion, resentment, burnout, whatever that looks like for you. But we are also robbing other people of stepping into their brilliance and having an opportunity for us to have created a platform for them. And the pieces we are then not having the energy and the headspace to be doing what we do. If you are in a position of leadership, if you are in a position where you are meant to be shaping and leading and setting a vision inspiring people to have clarity and move towards that the best thing you can do is be fresh and energized and have your mind firing on all cylinders. The worst thing you can do is be exhausted, angry, resentful, skeptical, all of those things, which is where you’re going to be and people, whether they are conscious of it or not. They feel that and they get out from you. I found when I was younger, there is an energy and you can through sheer force of will you can make a whole bunch of stuff happen. But you do get to a point where you are tired. And you cannot do that. And you go both, I can’t do it. And I don’t want to. And that point, I think that’s a great place to get to personally like Three cheers for getting older, and the wisdom that can come with that. But as you get to that place, if you don’t then consciously choose to use your energy and show up in the way that brings the best of you, then I actually think that’s a real shame as a leader to be able to play that role properly.

Jess Dewell 18:32
I’m currently rereading the psychology of money. And in this chapter 13 is called room for error. And the subtitle is the most important part of every play and is planning on your plan not going according to plan. I’m just going to call it out. This sums up exactly what we’re saying now they’re talking about reactions and relationships to money and how we look at different things. And there are unexpected that happens. The takeaway from that particular chapter that I think we’re talking around is we’re saying, so this is the way that it feels. And this is where we go. And there’s something that we can anchor into. That’s not all data. That’s not awfully in this middle ground of probability, the odds of something, what are the odds, because we’re never going to have all of the information to know to work or to know it won’t work? And we’ve got to be willing to take this opportunity to say, Okay, if it’s 95% chance of being successful, are we willing to do it and go ahead, knowing that at some point that 5% is going to show up? And we can’t envision how it’s going to show up? This is a lot of the work that I’m doing right now, which is why I’m like, Oh, we’re talking about this. Oh, this is in the book. There must be something to this then to be in this conversation right now about what do we do with that? 5% And are we willing to be okay with what we can’t envision showing up? And do we have the space do we have the mindset? Do we have the systems in place with which to allow that 5% to exist? Without pushing us off a cliff, that can happen? It can happen? That’s exactly right.

Bessi Graham 20:12
And I think the other bit in the talks too, having the tool, so yes, there’s all those pieces you talked about of like the mindsets and the systems and processes and all of those things. But if we also think about the fact so whenever I’m working with an organization, say, for example, one of the bits that I’m always amazed how organizations and leaders running businesses haven’t got a grasp on thinking about their business model, as opposed to their business plan. What I don’t want is to help you design your business model. And then for you to laminate that, put it on the wall, and it’s done. The piece that’s important in any of these aspects of what you’re talking about there is the ing at the end, right? It’s that I need to teach you to do business modeling, you need to know how to do business planning, not to have a business plan, or to have a business model. But your point is exactly right. This will be wrong. Whatever you design, no matter how thoughtful, how clever how connected to the environment you are, there will be aspects that do not play out the way you predict. And so this skill you have to learn is the thing. It’s that you need to know how to do this thing over and over again, not to do it once and think, Okay, I’m done. I know what my business model is. What if the whole landscape changes? What if the competitive aspects change? What if other people’s pricing now means that you are not competitive anymore, you need to know how to do business modeling. And so I think these pieces have the skills that building up as a leader, a toolkit, for me, this is the quickest way that a leader can be more confident and calm going into any situation, regardless of how other people in your organization may be pulling their hair out and incredibly stressed. When you have the right toolkit, you can come in and you can say, oh, okay, now I know the right strategy for us to use here. I know the right tool to call on for us to think through this problem. That piece, it’s not having an off-the-shelf answer for everything. It’s having tools that allow you as a team, whether that’s your executive, whether that’s individual teams within your organization, to get to a place of clarity, those tools are critical in being able to relax into not knowing to being able to run scenarios, and then make those decisions of Okay, now that we have got clarity on the five different most likely scenarios, we think of how this will play out. So again, take something to its logical end, run it through and go, when we look at that. And then we map it back to what we’ve actually said we’re trying to achieve as an organization, which ones feel like they are trending in the direction of where we want to go, and which sit within our risk profile. Because again, it’s okay, you shouldn’t be comparing to another organization just because someone else might be willing to do something, it may not fit your risk profile. If you’re in a phase where you can’t actually take massive financial risk at the moment in your business. That’s okay. But now you need to think through. Okay, so which scenarios does that take off the table? How do we need to be innovative now and think in different ways to be able to still get a good outcome here, all of those pieces are your ability to think as a leader, and to have the right tools in your toolkit call on in any of those messy situations you find yourself in because the last piece I would say on that is that when you were speaking, Jess about the way that leader is thinking, I would challenge anyone listening. So if you’re listening today, and you tend to go into that mindset of needing to know exactly where this is going to land. That is okay for people in other roles and at different levels of our organization to need that level of certainty. But if you’re running the show, if you’re leading the charge, you are not going to have that level of certainty. And you are going to need to learn to speak into make decisions and act without the ideal amount of information that you might like to have. That’s actually your job. Lecturer I had at university who said if you want to lead in the 21st century, you have to have a stomach for disequilibrium. And I think that’s true in this case that we need to step into that and own it as the leader.

Jess Dewell 24:52
Now you know why bass is here, everybody. Don’t forget you’re listening to the Bold Business Podcast. I’m your host, Jess Dewell. You can listen to this On your favorite listening platform, just go to Red, for all of the show notes, and all of the links, you could want to get that cease conversation with us here today, as well as other programs that have something for you when you need it. We’ve been talking about filters, we’ve been talking about values, we’ve been talking about what we’re willing to do, we’ve been talking about the cascading decisions, and we just ended with off, all we’re going to do is make decisions and ambiguity, one never going to know. And one thing I like to bring to the table is that’s okay because sometimes we’re only supposed to get to the next moment with our decision. Sometimes we get to next week, very rarely, are we making decisions that are going to be set in stone, even for our five-year and 10-year plans in an organization. And that’s something that is hard to let go of the decisions I’m making are just moving us closer, we’re going to adjust back and forth until we’re dialing it in. And as long as we’re I’d call it in the bowling Lane longer was quicker and the buffers of the bowling lane, we’re going to get to the pins and that great.

Bessi Graham 26:07
Yeah, I always talk about that when we look at measurement and tracking things. It’s are we trending in the direction? Yeah, as long as I’m trending in the direction, I’m good, it doesn’t need to be exact or immediate that we arrive at that place.

Jess Dewell 26:23
Have you ever read Range by David Epstein giving meal plus break, I am accidentally increasing your reading list. I am almost done with this one. I’ve been reading it for a little while. This is one that blows my mind every time I pick it up, because I’m naturally this way. And so it’s seeing this in real-world examples, and I’ll explain it in just a second is always exciting Range. It’s the subtitle is why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World Range is about the people out there that make these jumps that seem amazing and interesting that it’s because they can take information from one situation and apply it to something that is totally different. There’s all kinds of case studies in here. There’s Microsoft has talked about in here. Nintendo has talked about it here. It’s one of my favorite stories so far about how I adapt and change and you stay true to something regardless of what the technology is doing around you. Because Nintendo has been around for over 100 years. None of these other technology game companies has, has been around that long. And they started by being in community and playing games. And everything that they’ve done is to continue to do that in a multi-generational way. I don’t know if you remember their little their watch that had games on it.

Bessi Graham 27:35
Do you remember those? And the other one that I remember them?

Jess Dewell 27:39
Yeah, I did not have one either. That, that was a lateral thinking knew that took big video games into a portable space in a way nobody else had done before. By using calculators. Okay, so they came up with the idea for the watch by using calculators. How’s that for crazy cool? It’s around us all the time. And I’ll bet people don’t even realize how much celebrating they could do. I’m a, I’m big into recognizing when something cool happens or when we’ve been trying to do something and then we see it in practice just pop right out of us. Because we know we’re then oh yeah, we’re further defining those bumpers. We’re further divining that rain. Not like the book, but the trend. And I’ll use your word trend that we want to be on. It’s interesting because working in that ambiguity, moment to moment or working in that ambiguity to try and have lateral thinking, knowing that it’s your job at that level that you’re in, really does come down to, how can I discern and do I discern in a way that supports our values that supports where we’re going and the good that we want to do?

Bessi Graham 28:43
And it’s also. So it is the discernment piece. And it comes back to, as you said, the way that we think or the mindset because so often those pieces of we are presented with a case as if the decision is an either-or decision. It’s a pick one. So even something like the subtitle of that book, the word around being a generalist, or being an expert, it’s like, there’s these debates, you’ll see a heading of why the generalist is irrelevant or why you must be always this either or piece. And yet, as the leader, I would say that any situation you find yourself in one of the first things you need to do is to work out what is actually needed in this space. Sometimes if we go down to and obviously we can’t go into all of the details of it. But if you looked at and understood say the difference between something being complex or complicated, if something is complicated, yes, you do need some experts because it is knowable, it can be pulled apart. And you need someone who can say, Okay, here’s the bits that we know will go wrong. If you do these things. This is hate. Now as a business when it’s in that space. I do want to But I do want someone who can mean that I will not make mistakes that were predictable. And I don’t waste time and money on those. In other situations, the worst thing you can do in a complex situation is get an expert who thinks that they know how it will play out, when actually all of the unknown flow and effects and impacts cannot be predicted. It’s not a neat little engineering project that just needs a project manager. It actually needs a totally different thinker, which is where the generalist comes in. And I would put myself in the category of a generalist, but I actually think a generalist doesn’t mean you have no expertise.

Jess Dewell 30:38
Oh, that is correct, it’s far from it,

Bessi Graham 30:41
It’s the exact opposite. It’s a really unique skill set. But it is a very different way of thinking and seeing the world than someone who has a narrow but deep expertise in one area. And so I think this piece is critical for leaders as well to realize that, you need to read the situation, and then decide what type of thinking is required here, and then go down that place and use all the bits we talked about before of running scenarios using different tools, etc. But that whole generalist expert piece, there is a place for both. And I often say to leaders that at the level of the leader, piece I want to encourage people to learn to do is to think like a system, act like an entrepreneur, which is a mantra that, that I find really helpful because it reminds you to do the zoom out. Now zoom in, look at the big picture. But what are you going to do? What’s the practical, and that moving between those two spaces? I think gets you much better outcomes.

Jess Dewell 31:45
People want to do that with every decision every day, I’m guessing it’s not that way, I’m guessing there’s a cadence or rhythm that somebody will go through. As I do something like that, too, right? There’s a process, there’s a rhythm. And it’s make it your own and figure it out. So that you don’t have to be doing it more than once every so often. Because anytime daily, or more than that, it’s too much. We don’t We won’t get anything done.

Bessi Graham 32:12
And there are a lot of decisions that again, if you get clarity in the right places, if you do that thinking, if you strategize, if you zoom out, zoom in, then you can also identify what are the decisions that having come to this place of clarity and thought about it, we can make those once and then set them on autopilot. Or we can make them once and then move them to someone else in our organization and say, because of this overarching strategy, we’ve made these decisions, and now, all decisions below that as long as it’s getting us to that outcome, how you get there, I don’t mind, right. So that’s the ability to then free up and not think that we have to make every decision or become a bottleneck in an organization or in a team. But as you said, it’s the making a whole bunch of those decisions once and then pushing them to the right places to be implemented. Or putting them on autopilot. If they can be then something they said, we’ve already decided that’s the way we do it. Now, we’re not revisiting it again.

In every program, we share stories, tips and concepts that benefit short-term goals and increase confidence in long-term positioning. For additional perspectives on your growth strategy, Jess Dewell is your business advisor and consultant. Now back to Jess.

Jess Dewell 33:34
What we haven’t really talked about yet is so key in all of this are the relationships that must exist so that we can have this be as successful as possible in whatever moment stressful or not, pressure cooker or not. That is showing up in our regular planning or not. Right, that’s keeps showing up. There are key elements I’m guessing that you dig into and hold on to, to build those relationships at that highest level within an organization so that everything you just described can occur,

Bessi Graham 34:10
I think that they come down to again, so one of the critical pieces, if you look, even go 1000s of years back into ancient Greek, the way that they used to think and philosophize, where they always said that the hardest thing but the most important thing was to know thyself, right? So self-knowledge, self-awareness, all of these pieces as a leader isn’t critical. I think that we need to, from a leadership perspective, take seriously that piece of how do I deeply and not just once but again in an ongoing way as a practice, make sure I know myself, I’m in tune with that. I’m self-aware. I know my own brilliance where I should show up and I know the areas where I need to ask for help. But again, nothing’s one-dimensional piece that is a foundational aspect. But what I love to encourage leaders to do is then to say, oh, okay, now that I’ve thought about that for me, how would I better understand my team? How would I then create that platform for their brilliance to shine and to encourage them to have that self-knowledge and self-awareness, because when we collectively are all bringing the fullness of who we are and what we offer, we’re going to do far more amazing things as an organization. And so I think that piece speaks into the relational aspect that that you’re talking about. Because if we have taken the time, and yes, you can’t know everyone in the organization. But this is where if you’ve got good systems in place, in terms of how many reports you have, and if that’s a manageable number, and then the same with the people they report to. So I’m not in any way saying, You need to know all 300 people in that department, or that’s not what I’m getting at, but at the level of those that you need to relationally be able to work with and understand how what their preferences are, how they operate, what kind of information they need. This is that damps again where it’s not the either or, it’s a both end piece, it’s important to know yourself, but it’s important to know others. And I think when you do that, well, you’re able to then tune into, you’ve got this grounded piece, you’re deeply aware of yourself, and how you should show up. But then you’re able to tune in and go on it talking to Jess now. And I know her well enough to know that if I give a 50-page report on all of these things, I’m going to lose her I need to present this information in a certain way. So that I inspire her on the key big chunks of information. And she’s really clear on where we go. She’ll then take it and make it her own. And that’s great like, but she’s clear on the piece that’s important. So the relation or B is actually learning to honor yourself and those you’re either leading or working with, on any given project or strategy within the organization. And the more we do that, the better outcomes we get, because we are tuned in when we’re not then having this frustration of projecting how we think, or how we want information presented to us on to other people and then thinking what’s wrong with them? Like, why didn’t they get it? Because we haven’t actually taken the time to know and understand. I think that’s one of the pieces, obviously relationally relationships. We could talk about many aspects. But I think that’s one piece. That’s a helpful starting place.

Jess Dewell 37:37
I think so too. And thank you for sharing that. It’s interesting because as our conversation is evolving, and we’re uncovering the things that want to be said here, you’re bringing the two, the both in together, whether it’s myself and others, whether it’s system and feeling, whether it’s what has happened, how can we imagine and predict what might happen? All of those are in place here. I’m recognizing that. And I’m also recognizing then that our changing world is really moving away from Let’s optimize every minute of every person in our organization. Because our technology is changing. And that’s only one aspect of why that’s able to now shift a little bit to oh, what are the things that can actually get done so that we can find opportunities, remove our weaknesses, identify and seek creativeness at, in more ways from more people than we ever had before. It seems like the pendulum is swinging a little. And we’re somewhere in the middle. So it’ll probably end up going back down. But I’m curious, from your perspective, do you see that changing also? And you can do something else in technology if you want? And how does that How do you see that swinging and or maybe we don’t have to swing so hard, we can end up in that middle in a trend that we seek for our organization?

Bessi Graham 39:00
I think it, it comes down to if I think of the practicalities of any of those pieces that you’re talking about, and then how they play out in an organization. So for example, the piece of the how hard you’re pushing your team or what it is you’re trying to get out of them that piece of okay, I’m paying people this and I want to maximize the value that they’re adding to the organization. When we think about any of those pieces in practice. I think the unhealthy extremes are where we then see that we keep swinging from one side to the other, right? So because we stay in that either or place so we go too far in one direction. In terms of okay, I need to make sure everyone’s working at 110% and that we are milking every investment this company makes to the maximum so we go to that extreme then all The consequences of that play out, people push back hard against us people leave, we have massive costs around, recruitment, training new people, turnover is really high. So we have all of these consequences from going to an extreme. So then we react and we swing the other way. And we try and adding all of these things, without thinking about the financial sustainability of those decisions. Because we’re now going, oh, gosh, we have to be the most appealing place to work. And we have like, so we, we swing, right. And the reason we see that continual swinging from one extreme to the other, is because we have made an either-or decision when it should have been or both end, right? And the other way to frame that is that if we run our organization, in a way where the ultimate landing place is a win-lose scenario, where we win at the cost of someone else losing, then I think we’re going to find ourselves in those positions where that may work for a period, but then it will bite us. And suddenly, it no longer works. And that is a risky way to run your business, even here, you historically have been able to do that, I can guarantee you as someone who’s been living and breathing, the what would now be called impact investment and or environmental, social governance, overlays of business. I’ve been in that space heavily for over 20 years now. And I can tell you the momentum and shifts that are taking place now that are going to rapidly find you as a business owner in a place where you cannot create a win-lose scenario, but where you have to learn to design a business model, that is a win is unavoidable. And the sooner you realize that and start to make changes in your business. It’s not about saying you’re no longer able to make money. That’s not a bad thing. It’s not about saying that you can’t be trying to have a really healthy profit margin in the business or any of those pieces. That’s not what I’m saying. But you have to learn to create a win. And I think when we do that, and when we identify what are those opportunities within our business, to create a win, instead of seeing this as a zero-sum game, we’re How do I make sure we win? Even if that’s trading on the face of someone else? I think that softens the blow of those swinging between extremes. And it allows us for example, to if it is a staffing piece, so that the aspect of how do I maximize what I get out of my team. If we instead were able to look at a business model and say, okay, when we look at where we spend money in this organization, the bulk of our costs are around our team. So we could create a win-win here, where we said, the good that our organization can do is on the impact we have in the lives of our team. How are we creating an environment where actually their well-being, how they feel when they go home? What they’re enabled in terms of their own financial security, their family’s financial security, all of those pieces are in a good place. But how do we unapologetically connect that to the fact that it needs to make sense for the business. And again, if we come back to Tools, the Business Model Canvas is a really great way for you to rapidly either yourself or with your team, play with the changes you could make that get you to a place where there is a genuine competitive advantage. And it makes sense for the business to operate in this way. But wherever the business wins, your team wins, too. It’s not at the cost of their own mental health or that suddenly they’re having to work 20 hours extra each week, and they’re not seeing their family and they’re feeling stressed. And so I think that shift to seeing our role as leaders in businesses to create win business models, not a win-lose is important in so many ways. And again, we could talk for hours about the drilling into all of the changes in the external market. Whether that is around compliance regulation, whether that is around the expectations of your customers, whether that is what investors are looking for, if you want to sell your business, or internally, if it’s about what your employees are now expecting, if not demanding of you. If it’s about what if you’re a family business, if it’s about what the upcoming generations are wanting to be present in your organization, all of these factors, they’re going to look different for each one of you in terms of what your business how that plays out. But I think that at the heart of what will allow you to long term be successful as a business owner or leader is the way that you start to question all of these unconscious things we’ve taken on board. What’s the purpose or role of business? What does that look like? And the quicker you start to experiment and play with your own business model, to shift it into something that is not a zero-sum game, but is about creating a win, I guarantee you, you will have far more long-term success that is sustainable. And that feels both fulfilling and gives you the financial security you’re after.

Jess Dewell 45:37
What makes a bold, what makes it bold to intentionally do this work and build a business that can be successful and create a positive impact?

Bessi Graham 45:47
I think it’s that last piece I said of it’s actually requiring you to question all of those either unconscious narratives and things that you’ve taken on. Or if we look at the actual explicit things of the amount of business owners and leaders that I talked to where they still come down to that piece, we’ll be having a conversation and then they’ll make statements like, but I am running a business, not a charity is these ideas that are just deeply present where we have separated out different concepts to sit in this box or that. And so it is bold to begin to conceptualize your business in this way, because it requires you to actually question the status quo, it’s going to require you to think in timeframes that are different to how business has fallen into the traps in the last few decades. So again, just as a reminder, we only began to talk about profit maximization or shareholder value maximization as the purpose of business in the 70s. This is not the roots of business, this is new. And it has taken sat hold in those decades, that it is just believed as this unquestionable truth. And yet it’s not. And actually, the results don’t show that businesses have improved in that time period. It’s going to be bold because it will require you to question that it’s going to be bold because it will require you to have a different sense of timeframe. And to think differently about your business to stop thinking in quarterly kind of, okay, have we grown in the last quarter, you’re going to have a more strategic long term timeframe. And it’s also that piece of not only long-term, bigger picture, but you’re also going to have to get comfortable with the pieces we’ve spoken about of. You have to acknowledge then you’re moving into the space of there aren’t easy answers to the questions that you’re going to be asked. And there is not proof yet of a bunch of the things that you’re going to have to step into. And so there’s lots of ways it’s bold, but that’s three of the main ones that I would pull out for people.

The Bold Business Podcast is brought to you by Red Direction. Jess Dewell dug into one idea in this program. Her goal is to ignite your creativity and spark different thinking with the presented material. How you apply this to your current priorities he is up to you. Just duel can bring the missing voice back into your company. With you. Jess will solidify your company’s TrueNorth your unique Red Direction, provided you’re ready to work with Jess email her at radio at Red Special thanks to the Scott treatment for technical production