Tips to Find and Solve the Right Business Problems

Listen to the BOLD Business Podcast


Search Blogs and Podcasts

Tips to Find and Solve the Right Business Problems

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:

The quickest way to resolve a problem is to know what the problem really is. Decision-making always sounds easy, but in practice can be difficult. Peeling back the layers of what you think; what you’ve used in the past to fast-track to taking action; and what worked to solve a similar problem in the past are three often-overlooked keys that slow down the path to achievement.

You will hear about the cues to know you are connecting with others, tips to discover your customers’ true problems, and how to operationalize trust. Finding causality helps you find the root issue … in other words, what the actual problem to solve. Jess Dewell talks with Dr. Tom Tonkin, CEO at The Conservatory Group, about how rapport comes before empathy as people want to feel noticed

You solve the problems important to you. When investing in a relationship, selling a service, or even deciding what to do today, those choices reflect your values. Dr. Tom Tonkin, CEO at The Conservatory Group, shares how to quickly find the true problem and what it takes for a successful resolution.

Host: Jess Dewell

Guests: Dr. Tom Tonkin

What You Will Hear:

Dr. Tonkin conducted a study of how decisions were made… and found the stumbling block we all face.

Decipher the non-verbal cues you can use to ensure you are communicating well and others are receiving what you say.

Tips you can use to discover your customer’s true problems.

Your beliefs dictate what problems you will actually solve.

Dr. Tonkin’s three steps to create an amplified mission.

An example of operationalizing: trust.

Get started and make a difference in your business with a Growth Framework Reset.


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 00:51
Hello, and welcome to the Bold Business Podcast. I am so excited to be here today with Tom. And before I introduce him to you which I know you cannot wait because everybody that comes on the show has something to share with you that you take away something useful, something immediately actionable. And most importantly, the ability to listen to an amazing conversation that just seeps into your psyche and into the world around you as you’re doing whatever you’re doing while you’re listening or watching. So that at the right time, you’ll be like, I heard that. I know I heard it on the Bold Business Podcast. And I heard Tom say it so you know exactly where to come back to in your feed at Apple or visiting to get that direct link to the platform that you listen to your podcasts on. Now, another thing to keep in mind is that this is an amazing conversation that we bring to you. And we have a full uncut version that we bring to the Fast Track Your Business today subscribers, I have to tell you, it’s really awesome. So you’re gonna get to hear a lot from Tom. And then Fast Track Your Business subscribers, you know, in your TrueNorth dashboard, where to go find the entire program and where your own customized specialized feed is for your full uncut recordings of this conversation. All right, I can’t do it anymore. I have more stuff to tell you. And I’m gonna throw it right out the window. Because I really want to introduce you to Dr. Tom Tonkin. Tom, all the words in your bio are too big for me today. So I’m going to make up your bio, and then we’re going to go because those of you who are hearing from this moment on did not hear me mess it up once did not hear me mess it up twice nor third time. This is going to be the best one yet just for you. Okay, so I wanted Tom to be on the show. Dr. Tom Tonkin, a PhD, a recovering executive with over 30 years of business and technology experience. I wanted him on the show because he has done something through chronicling and journaling that we can all learn from to the point of actionable and useful you heard me mentioned earlier. He is an organizational leadership expert. He has a whole bunch of big words that go with Professor and Forbes and Ashford University that support leadership and d i and s Am I would have said Sammy games, and focused on crowdsourcing futuristic possibilities. And the power of having done all that comes from his ability to solve problems and figure out the best way forward by what he’s already done by reflecting by journaling by using all of this experience and helping others to do the same. Tom, welcome to the Bold Business Podcast.

Tom Tonkin 03:47
And that is how I roll.

Jess Dewell 03:53
I think he was one to see me pressure. That’s what this was.

Tom Tonkin 03:57
50 cent words going out of style. They should have all gone on sale.

Jess Dewell 04:02
Right? Now, you know, now you know you need to go just listen to this introduction because oh, you know, the experience though, that you bring, I have to say it’s really interesting to me that you have such a curiosity and such a basis in a desire to learn that you have created a way of approaching the world that just is that Tom?

Tom Tonkin 04:31
I have to go back to uh, believe it or not. I’m academic because I enjoy it. I have to go back to a study I want to share with, with your listeners. And it was a study that I never published it was my own personal curiosity about leaders decision-making process. And so I went out and, and I did a very rigorous study which sounds ridiculous but because I never put bullshitted around the decision-making process and I’m going to get right to the punch line because it was unanimous, which was figure what problem, figure out what problem you’re trying to solve first. That was that. I mean, that was, that was the I mean, you know, my paper would have fit in a purchase, poach postage stamp. Look at me now I’m loving it because it was so small. That was really it. It was unanimous. And the background to that was, if you figure that out, meaning what problem you need to solve, the solution will appear.

Jess Dewell 05:39
Okay, so what I’m very interested in is that that was the unanimous come back for you that you could have put that, that thought bubble, what problem to solve first? Isn’t that usually what gets people stuck, though? I don’t know what the problem is first.

Tom Tonkin 05:57
No, it is. And so So my point was, that was the genesis. Yes. Okay. And so now, like, what’s the thing that allows me to figure out what that is? Yes. And I went through a quest of my quest started in 2008. Uh-huh. And I think ended. And I’m always worried, you know, around 2015, about how to do that. And I came up with a methodology around discovering what the problem what problem we’re trying to solve? Yeah. And it was very interesting. And I put a curriculum around it and all this other stuff around how to teach. Yeah, how to do that. And it really stems from NLP Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Yes. Yeah. And using some of those things to help me be able to operationalize the ability to discover what problem we’re trying to solve. And it was, it was fascinating because you get antsy, right? It was It usually takes like 20 minutes of fanciness. Before someone goes, Oh, wow, look at that, I get it. Because I’ll start asking some of these kinds of questions. And people will like, want to get to the punchline, come on, come on, like tell me like, like, what do we do? What do we do? What do we do? What do we do? Interesting. And so we landed about 20 minutes when somebody finally comes to the point where they realize that 20 minutes ago, they had the wrong problem that they’re trying to solve.

You were listening to the Bold Business Podcast. We will return to the show soon. But first, I want to take a moment and give you a peek into what additional services and solutions you could access to Fast Track Your Business. 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. And we don’t just stop there. There are three additional benefits to help you reach your growth goals. You will also have unlimited access to one, hearing tips and insights to develop yourself as a leader to get better results more often. Two, experiencing viewpoints from many different business leaders. Three, receiving frameworks to build core competencies and to more effectively focus on business growth and leadership. Altogether, The Fast Track Your Business program will allow you to face uncertainty, anytime, anywhere. You can access what will become your most versatile tool in your toolkit by going to FastTrackYou Now back to Jess.

Jess Dewell 08:40
What are the reactions when that moment occurs? Right, I call them lightbulb moments. But there’s more to it than that. And there’s depth and context around when somebody goes, I can’t believe I was looking at this in a completely different way and going nowhere.

Tom Tonkin 08:54
So 45% of our communication is usually nonverbal. And I look for that because obviously that’s a huge number. people’s shoulders drop. Just drop, like in and what you find is you find that a lot of people hold a lot of stress in the unknown, physically, such as in your shoulders in your neck. And that’s a cue for me to say, okay, Tom, stop selling it stop that we hear. And then words come out of people saying, Oh, wow, that’s great. I didn’t understand why that was such a great journey or whatever. But if I don’t see those shoulders drop, we’re not there yet. And I remember working with a company many years ago as a consultant, where it was like a big startup like they had a lot of money, but they were still and sort of startup mode. And they, they, it was built by friends. And all the friends had the executive positions. And they walked around the hallways with that shoulder, right with their, like hunched back. And you would sit back and you would look and go, that’s a, that’s somebody, there’s somebody, that’s somebody, and there was like eight of them out of a company, I’m gonna say up 1000 that did that. Because not only that, they didn’t realize that holding on to all of this decision-making power, and lack of delegation, and all this other stuff was all like build up intents and didn’t really understand what problems they were trying to solve. So I, I know that I probably took this conversation to a different place, but

Jess Dewell 10:57
it’s exactly where it should be, right?

Tom Tonkin 11:01
The idea that, that all of this, you know, comes together and develops into something that becomes very actionable. Yes, that’s what I’m saying. I’m trying to describe to your audience, what it is the queues, if you will, as to how do you go about solving problems and discovering things. And I remember just going through, and I want to give some tips, if you will, as to how to do this, okay. But I am a storyteller, I like to tell stories becomes vivid. And I don’t know if anybody realizes, but your brain stores all of its information and images. Not in words. Like for example, if I say Car, car, it’s not stored in your mind, that’s not something you probably have an image of a car that came up to your, to your brain. So that’s why you stories. And the other thing is there’s a neuroscience phenomena around telling stories with information, because what happens is, the story part is on ends up being on your right side, and the information ends up being on your left side. And a connection between these two points gets created literally, what I call pathological meaning it forms in your brain. It’s called dendrites and those dendrites have information. And so it’s interesting because I can, some weird way, that’s how we manipulate people’s brains is by creating these connections that we end up owning in people’s brains. That’s why stories work so powerful. So there was so this the story that I want to tell about how do you, how do you figure out that problem is, I was teaching a class, and I was talking about discovering people’s values. And because that helps, it’s helpful for that, to understand people’s values and beliefs, because then you can understand where, where, what problems they’ll solve, or put it this way, they will feel as if it is worth solving.

Jess Dewell 13:16
Ooh, such a key distinctive piece there. Is it worth and it does come from your values. That’s exactly right. Yeah.

Tom Tonkin 13:24
So there was this guy, and he, he’s a Jeep lover, and I’m sure there’s people in your audience that are like Jeep aficionados. You even see those things on the road, right, it’s a Jeep thing, it’s a Jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand the Jeep thing. By the way, I’m not a Jeep guy. And I don’t understand. So that’s as far as it goes, right? What a great place to start. So so this guy, so he says, he says, Look, Tom, you’re not gonna be able to change my mind. I have the model of the Jeep, I know the accessories, I’m gonna buy, you know, all this other stuff, you’re not going to be able to upsell me or change my mind or anything. And they said, Okay, well, then you’re perfect. Come on up to the front of the stage. And let’s have a discussion. In about three and a half minutes, I changed his mind. Interesting. And here’s what I did. I elevated the conversation up his value chain.

Jess Dewell 14:32

Tom Tonkin 14:34
So for example, I would he has something in mind in his, in his, in his brain, and I don’t necessarily need to know what that is. Right. But all I need to know is that it exists and I would say, if you had said thing, what would that give you? Right? And, you know, it started with this whole idea of satisfaction and I really liked and all this other stuff. And they said that satisfaction that you feel, you know, what’s the value behind it? So it continue it in, you don’t want to sound like this person that keeps saying something like, well, they’ll give you what would that give you? And you formulate it and you started them. And I ended up getting to a place where he said, and I can spend more time with my boys.

Jess Dewell 15:23
There was, there was there was.

Tom Tonkin 15:27
And I said it. And so you value spending time with your boys. I said, right. Well, what else could you do to increase the value of that time with your boys? And he said, something I said is can the Jeep do that for you? And he said, No. Well, what do you need to do to get that? And all of a sudden, we started taking that turn? And he says, Well, maybe this is not the best way to solve my problem. Yeah.

Jess Dewell 15:56
And it’s amazing what we decide are problems that we don’t even realize. And I want to consider that a minute to just in the sense that the things that we want, we have some times and somehow decided and disguised them as the solution to the problem. Because we haven’t stopped to take the time to find out what the true motivator is. What is that particular thing? How will that change my life and those of those in my life that are around me right now. And next. And that’s an interest. The stories that you’re sharing, are very poignant. And this concept of the value chain and what it really is. Okay, so now I have a total side question. Yeah, that little squirrely bit. So when people come on the show, and we end up talking about values, when that comes up like we are now, do you have values that are like words with a meaning? Do you define them? Do you have a bunch of them? What is your value matrix? And how if I said, Well, what are your values? Tom? What would you say to me?

Tom Tonkin 17:05
Well, I would go back to an I would, I would what am I specialties is to operationalize a lot of these mushy concepts. Yes. Because some of these mushy comp concepts are very self-righteous and noble. They get to a point where they become sacred. Yes. And once they become sacred, you can’t undo them. For example, if I were to say to you, you know, you should, you should be honest. Like, who’s going to go to the mat, say, now you shouldn’t? Right, right. Just that becomes very noble. The question that I have to you then is, what is your, what is your meeting of honest, for example, and I’m going to be very transparent and open as I was before it was, yeah, I, you know, I have a mother right now that lives with us that has dementia. I mean, severe dementia has completely changed, the dynamics are my home. She doesn’t understand anything. She makes up stuff now. Am I going to go down the path of rectifying making it up? Or do I just go with it? I go with it. Which means some of the times is I’m saying things that are not true. Am I being dishonest? Now as a matter of fact, I, I think that I am being I’m keeping her from, from harm. I’ll give you a very real classic example. yesterday. She asked for the her address here. Because she wanted to send it to her sister to let her know she’s here. Well, her sister passed away last year. Am I going to say to her now your sister died last year for her to only relive the pain of her sister died? Because she had a lot of pain. What I said was, Here’s the address.

Jess Dewell 19:04
Right. Right. Right, by the way, um, that I want to put that thank you for sharing that. My grandma just in December passed away from severe dementia and understand completely having been there. And you’re right, would it? There’s so many places we could go and not talk about what we had planned to talk about. And that’s okay. I think what comes up for me, though, that we could tie back to this from your story is that in a sense, it is the world that she is living in now. And we have to remember the only way to help somebody else develop their problem-solving skills, is to have small successes. So even though there’s a whole bunch of contexts outside of this, that could have been shared. It was not the right place nor the right time because she was on one tasked to have a small success for her day. And I think that there is a lot of leadership in that. Because you’re right. Somebody could say, Geez, Tom, I can’t believe you didn’t tell the truth. And I can’t believe you didn’t do this. And I can’t believe you’re letting her whatever you’re doing to let her whatever. And on the other side of that is, we wouldn’t cause that kind of pain on purpose to other people without a very good reason. And so why not shape it as well? What’s the learning experience here? What is the opportunity that, that’s going to come out of this so that there is strength in whatever skill they were working on whatever task they wanted to tackle so that they can have interest in the next one?

Tom Tonkin 20:46
That’s correct. I go back to and we might have talked about in the past this idea of the Golden Rule versus the platinum rule. Yeah, yeah. Right. So the golden rule, basically say, treat others as you would want to be treated, which, by the way, sounds incredibly noble and very pithy. Yes, right. Right. Like, argue with that, right? It’s like, Oh, yeah. But I would suggest that that is not very helpful. I would suggest to Platner more will treat other people as they would want to be treated. Yes. Which is a heck of a lot harder. Yes. And, but yet incredibly effective. So my point is, I certainly don’t want to inflict any pain on anybody. I could have been self-righteous and said, I have to tell her the truth because her sister doesn’t look, right. It’s not going to bring back her sister, it’s not going to do this. If anything, it’s going to make her more upset. And people in that position or perhaps up so I’m thinking okay, fine. Here’s the address, even though we both know that she’ll never do anything with it. Exactly. So, you know, so I think the where I wanted to go into question you asked me was this idea about high definitions of things? Yes. And so I also teach people how to write their own personal vision and mission statements. Nice. And I call it what I call it as the amplified mission statement workshop. And I use the word amplified because I’m dipping back into the literature of writing, which was the you, when you amplify your writing, you’re taking a word and you’re operationalizing. It’s beyond a dictionary definition. And it’s usually something that’s self-evident and can be provable. So, for example, when when I say, My vision is, is the people in my lives, thriving. That’s it. And so then I was like, Okay, well, you know, who’s gonna argue with that one? So I amplify it. What are the people in my lives, the people in my lives or my family, my friends, my acquaintances? Boom, now all of a sudden, we have we brought it down to a situation where you just are somebody in my purview now. Yep, thriving, is I break that down to enjoying themselves. Being societally contributing to society, and be able to also take care of themselves, meaning, you know, make a living and all that. That’s right. So now I’ve again, I’ve dropped it down to something that I can go measure and do. And then opportunities is how do I give people opportunities? Well, I teach them I coach them. And, you know, I pass on, you know, become part of their network and I pass on opportunities that will a right, go back to the thriving part. So now it’s super clear what I need to do and I live with this, you know, every day of my life.

Thank you for tuning in and listening to the Bold Business Podcast. If you’ve learned something from this show that will help you and your business right now, consider what additional impact you can get by subscribing to the Fast Track Your Business program. You owe it to your business to seek out new ways to achieve more while building a resilient and profitable business. Subscribe now. Visit Special thanks to The SCOTT Treatment for technical production.