UNCHARTED: Strive for Even More Focus

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UNCHARTED: Strive for Even More Focus


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Starting the conversation:

In this interview Hector Simoudis, Cofounder of eLearning Partners (formerly VP Legacies), shares insight into the journey of making product changes and rebranding. The importance of knowing what product produces most revenue; provides the most impact to clients; and has the most success stories – these are the metrics they used to reduce 15 products down to … one. Simoudis and Jess Dewell explore the many layers of focus, and how putting attention and resources into fewer areas leads to positive growth outcomes.

What is needed to double down and obtain even more focus? The willingness to let the process unfold – without rushing or slowing it down. Hector Simoudis, Cofounder of eLearning Partners (formerly VP Legacies), talks about how the elimination of distraction, as well as internal problem-solving, supports strategic initiatives.

Host: Jess Dewell

Guest: Hector Simoudis



This is Uncharted, a series of candid conversations about facing uncertainty. When we are called upon to be courageous, the strength of our leadership is tested. Red Direction has developed the Fast Track Your Business program to help you stay aligned to your business’s true north. 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 00:44
Welcome everybody, to this program, this Uncharted, this time that you are going to spend with me your host, Jess Dewell, and my special guest, Hector Simoudis. You never know what’s going to come out in these conversations, which is one of the things I like so enjoy being a fly on the wall. And don’t forget afterwards, make sure you give us a review. Make sure you ask any questions of Hector or myself. Let’s keep this conversation going and maybe even share your story where it relates and the learnings that you have taken away.

Alright, let me take a moment to introduce Hector. Hector Simoudis is the co-founder of E-learning partners. It is formerly known as VP legacies. His number one focus is to build long-lasting relationships with his clients and his partners. As eLearning experts, Hector and his team focus on helping companies with what is most important in their online learning, the understanding of who their learners are, what content is most important to them, and getting that content in front of the learners as quickly as possible. Not to mention growing a business, changing a business, bringing on a whole bunch of other things that are going in this strategic plan of yours. Hector, how are you today?

Hector Simoudis
Oh my goodness, I’m so excited to be here. Just thank you so much. I just want to give a big shout out you and your team are amazing. I love the, I love the content you guys are producing it is an incredible show. I’m excited to jump into today.

Jess Dewell
Thank you. I’m glad you’re here, Hector. Alright, so we’re wasting no time. I want to dig into a challenge that you have worked through with your company and I want you to set it up and tell us what was that challenge? And how did you know it was becoming something you were going to have to deal with?

Hector Simoudis
Let’s do it. Who doesn’t love a challenge to overcome? Come on? Alright, guys, as we know, entrepreneurs, business owners, we come across many challenges, right? I can’t tell you how many challenges we’ve come across the roller coasters of emotions I’ve gone through I’ve like cried like 17,000 times in the past several years.

You know, it’s it’s all part of the journey, right. But the challenge that I really want to focus on today, his focus, focus, focus, focus. I know many of us have heard about, you need to get focus, right, you need to focus on what you’re doing, who you are, who you’re servicing. And I’ll tell you when I was younger in my career and younger in the entrepreneurial journey, I thought it was being focused. I’m like, Oh, yeah, no, of course, I’m being focused. However, when push came to shove, oh, my goodness, I saw that we were not focused at all. And what I’m excited to share today, Jess is just the story and the journey of just growing the business, offering multiple, multiple services, what that did, and eventually how the power of focus brought us to where we are today. And the success that we’re experiencing today is nothing like we’ve experienced before in the last six to going on seven years, we’ve been in business.

Jess Dewell 03:54
Wow. Okay, so you set it up pretty good. It’s almost like we started out wrong. And we didn’t know we were doing it wrong. Until How did you finally know that when you thought you were focused, you found out you actually weren’t? What was, what was going on in your business? What was going on? You know, what were the telltale signs that you got? You had to dig a little deeper before you even knew it was a focus problem. Really? Right.

Hector Simoudis 04:17
That’s a great question, Jess. Um, you know, really what it came down to is when we first started the company, right? You know, we wanted to provide as many solutions as we could, you know, we’re entrepreneurs driven to solve problems. And as I have seen many other entrepreneurs do as well, we get very excited, right? We want to solve problems, we want to help people. However, what that ends up happening is, what ends up happening is that we start offering many things that people can maybe not the best at, and then it dilutes what we could do. It dilutes our focus and we end up not doing as good of a job as we can, right we don’t do it, you know, from a negative position. You know, we mean, all the love and all the help that we can however when we spread the butter too thin on the toast, there’s only so much that we can do. So what happened with VP legacies is, you know, we started to grow. And we started to see other problems that we wanted to tackle, right, we first started off in video and producing a lot of video production type pieces, then we started to grow our services into digital signage. We started to grow our services into internal corporate communication strategies, right. And all of a sudden, we kind of looked at where we were a few years into the business, we had openness 15 or so services that we were offering, right? And here’s the crazy thing, the crazy thing is, is that when we started to really look at Alright guys, here we are, we’re offering all these services, you know, but something is not right. You know, it’s kind of that first recognition that maybe something isn’t going as planned. Our partners didn’t really know how to represent us. I also I do a lot of the business development, I could tell when I was trying to communicate who we were what we did, to our potential clients, to partners, channel partners and whatnot, they were quite confused, because we were offering so many things. So when we went back to the drawing board, we really saw that Hey, guys, you know, what’s happening here is the people that are closest to us, even our clients, they don’t even know half of the things that we do. So that was the first reveal that there is something that we’re not doing right, which is focusing. So we started the process, we started the process, where we started to cut services, we started to say, well, we don’t need to do digital signage anymore, we don’t need to do internal corporate communication strategies anymore. And we slowly slowly started to cut down. And what ultimately happened, Jess, is even though we started to cut down our services, we still saw that there was some traction, there was some traction that we were expecting to get. But we still weren’t getting. So we went back to the drawing board. We sat down with our board, we had internal meetings. And really, we evaluated three key performance indicators of all of our services. We said, Okay, guys, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to take all of our services that we have, and we’re going to evaluate them on three key KPIs. The first is where are we producing the most revenue? Right? The second is, where are we providing the most impact where our clients coming? Because they love this, you know, one or two things that we offer? And then third, where do we have a lot of data? Where do we have a lot of success stories? Where do we have a lot of our clients, you know, saying that we were able to take their business from here to there and evaluate our services based on those three key KPIs. Some of you may have guessed, please,

Jess Dewell 07:47
So are you saying that these three KPIs were what allowed you to evaluate all those products and narrow them down? Or were those the things that you measured after you did the narrowing down?

Hector Simoudis 08:00
Great questions. So as we so we wrote 15 services, right, we started to narrow down a little bit, right, we got down to like nine or so off the top my head. And then finally we sat down and said, okay, we need to zone it. Right, we need to zone it. And the reason why we were able to x out of those four or five services right off the bat, is just because there was no traction, it was just one of those clear cases where there just was no traction, not a lot of development there. And did

Jess Dewell 08:29
it was like a one on one. I’m guessing one point came along. So you decided you did it, you added it to what you did. And it was so few and far between that being used, it was a no-brainer to let that go.

Hector Simoudis 08:42
Right. It was just it was a no-brainer to let those go. So the three key indicators, these three pieces of data that you’re talking about, that was like your last chopping block. That was what was that hard? Was it hard to go? Man? I don’t want to let go. You know, yes, yes. And one specifically, that was very hard to let go was internal corporate communication strategies. Because I, you know, just, we had the opportunity to work with a couple of clients, you know, that we’ve really impacted their business. And, you know, what we mean by what we meant, at least then by a corporate communication strategy is all challenges typically come to communication, right? Whether if it’s a toxic work environment, whether it’s a toxic customer, in customer relationship, a challenge, whatever the case may be, so as I was identifying those problems, and trying to figure out how do we build a strategy to overcome those challenges? Yeah. And it was just so sort of so hard to let that one go. Right? It was so hard. Oh my gosh, it almost tore my heart out.

Jess Dewell 09:44
So that’s where your that was your love.

We will return to Uncharted in a few moments. How you work on your business often means the difference between failure and success. When you commit to developing skills, increasing capacity for the unknown and prioritize In your mission, you’re taking action toward success. Find out more about how to Fast Track Your Business at Fast Track Your Business today.com. Let’s get back to Jess.

Jess Dewell 10:12
Now, how about your co-owner? Was there one that was really hard for him to let go of that had to be on the chopping block too?

Hector Simoudis 10:18
Oh, my gosh, you know, so I think my co-founder and I, we were on the same page, right? You know, it just, you know, what it came down to just it was, we just wanted to kind of get out of the challenge, right of trying to not just be all for all, but being clear to our audience being clear to our customers who we were the value that we provided the way that we could truly impact your business. We wanted to eliminate all for lack of better terms, distractions, right, and just do what we were best at.

Jess Dewell 10:48
Yeah. So is that was that the cool thing? I stole the thunder about where you were like, the cool thing is, are the best outcome was and then I interrupted you?

Hector Simoudis 10:59
Oh, yeah. And then the best outcome was right. Honestly, and, and the best outcome was going after it was it. So, everybody that is listening to this right now watching this show listening to it, it’s always good to sit down and really reflect and truly reflect and be completely honest and vulnerable with yourself, put all of your shields down, and look back in the past, look at what you have done and where you are now. Right. And that will help you make these types of difficult decisions. Because the crazy thing is jumping to adjust is that one service. We’ve been doing it since the beginning. Since the beginning, it’s been our most popular, it’s been our most, it’s been our most profitable. It’s been our most clients have been coming to us for this since the start. And it was online learning. It was e-learning. We’ve been doing it it’s been right in front of our face. Number one KPI revenue boom, it was first place client data Toma was first place customer satisfaction boom, it was first place, everything we looked at it was just first place. And we’re like, oh my gosh, it was right in front of us

Jess Dewell 12:07
It was a 15 to 115 to one. People. Are you listening to this? This is why we have this podcast. This is why we have gone on uncharted conversations, the power of actually seeing what this means in action. What, what have you seen in your growth so far, since that 15 to one product transition?

Hector Simoudis 12:30
Oh, it’s been huge. And that’s allowed us to get where we are now because I’m sure like many of us experienced the COVID-19 environment also, you know, allowed us to see some other challenges that we, that we had within the business to allow us to take things to the next level. But that has allowed us to do several things. Number one, our message is so simple. Who we are so simple. People understand what we do. Just I mean, like I’m every single week, I’m not exaggerating, right? This is the big M the Power Focus everybody. Every there’s not a week that goes by that I’m not getting introductions. Right. You know, it may not be a direct referral, but an introduction to Hey, you know, Hector, I was talking to Bob or Kelly, and they were saying some e-learning, you need to talk to them right now. You know,

Jess Dewell 13:18
I do know and there. Okay, so that’s really interesting because, remind us, how many years did it take for you to get that simple, straightforward message?

Hector Simoudis 13:31
April 15, will be or April 14, I apologize. We’ll be I think we’re closing six the sixth year. So to get us to that point of focus to start trimming down, I would guesstimate probably was a couple of years ago, 18 months where we started the process. And then it was a solid year ago where we just just

Jess Dewell 13:53
You were able to you chose and you knew, okay, that’s another thing that I think is incredibly important to talk about is it take not only does it take reflection, and vulnerability and a lot of courage, it takes time. It takes time. And I think that that’s key. Okay, so I want to go back to something else because I wrote this down, and then we just zoomed right on by to some of the things I wrote down full service versus all things to all people do we get, are those actually the same? Or do we actually accidentally mess them up and interchange them?

Hector Simoudis 14:30
When so like full service, like when I was l

Jess Dewell 14:33
Like 15 products is full service, compared to all things to all people. I’ll do whatever I asked my clients for. Are those right? Are they the same? Or do we misinterpret them? Do you have a soapbox about this of any kind? Right. I’m curious about your journey, what that would look like and sound like.

Hector Simoudis 14:51
That? That’s a great, great question. I think they are different, right? And I think the difference is, is and I’ll give an example real example with what’s going now, right? Let’s do from an E, from an E-learning perspective, you know, as online learning, we are, quote, unquote, a dizzy full-service solution, right. And what we mean by that is when it comes to E-learning and online learning, whether it is strategy, so think of like a custom home, right, you have to do the blueprinting process, right? That’s what that’s the strategy process. That’s the chief learning officer conversation, all the way down to them the construction of the custom home, you know, that’s the construction, the creation process in the implementation process of learning, we can help our clients with either the blueprinting, all the way down to the implementation. So when I look at full service, I say, What are you best at? And then can you help your clients full service around that one particular element Now, going to all things to all that is, hey, I’ve heard of this new trend, that markets are starting to do A, B, and C. So we need to create a service that captures that right? Hey, I had a conversation with Bob or Sandy and Bob, and Sandy was saying that they’re, you know, struggling with A, B and C in their business? Oh, my gosh, there’s an opportunity there. Let’s create a service to do that. Right, you know, so the difference between the way that I see the difference is, you know, full service is your specialize in a service. However, within that one thing, learning in my example, we can do multiple things, right verse is we keep adding to our services stack as individual and different services respective to a new trend or a new opportunity, or that one client of that client one-off opportunity, and we just start adding and adding an ad.

Jess Dewell 16:38
I think that’s fantastic. Okay, so I want to know what your goal is, with this transition and continuing that, you know, because you’re in the middle of this branding, change, this focus change it started a few years ago, you really dug in a year ago. And you’re still in the process of going through that. So what is your next milestone as you’re moving forward through this process?

Hector Simoudis 17:02
Oh, that’s such a wonderful question. Thank you for asking, you know, again, everybody that’s listening, one of the most important things, one of the most important things that our board has been telling us our mentors have been telling us it is Don’t forget to talk to your customers, prospective customers and your community. So answering the question as we continuously move forward, which the biggest goals right now is to get that full relaunch complete. So new website, new logo, everything clean and crisp, from a messaging standpoint, from a brand standpoint, we’re by summer, that’s our big goal, right? It is the process of how we’re doing that goal. You see many companies, and this is okay, if you do it this way. Right? Many companies the way that they rebrand, right? They have a team. And they’re the ones that focus on creating the new logo, creating the new design, creating the copy, creating this creating that, right, which is super important. And I totally understand how they do it. On the flip side, the way that we’re doing it is the way that we’re dictating how are we going to select our name, and we’ve selected our name elearning. partners? How are we going to do the copy? How are we going to represent the logo? We’re asking our prospective clients, we’re asking our current clients, we’re asking our community, right? What do you guys think, you know, us, you know, what we could do for online learning and the amount of golden feedback we’ve received things that we would have never ever, ever, ever thought of, is being given to us. Right? A lot of books Talk, talk about this, a lot of our mentors of stuff have shared a lot about this as well is when you do it this way, you’re building an emotional connection with your audience as well. Not only will they be able to represent you better, from a partner perspective, from a client perspective, from just a word of mouth perspective, on one hand, but on the other hand, if it is a prospective client, if it is a current client of yours, the willingness and the chances of them to continuously be a customer or become a customer significantly increased because they have an emotional attachment about process. So we asked our community to help us with the name we came up with, with about 10 or so different names. And you know, we had like a voting process. And that’s how we came down to E-learning partners. We’re now about to do it with our logo, we’re waiting on our third design to be complete. And then we’re sending out our email, I believe it’s either this week or next week doing that same process. And then we’re going to do that with you know, all the other elements of the rebrand process and whatnot. So it’s been very exciting. So those are the big goals. Summertime, we don’t have an exact date. But by summer of this year, it’ll be completely done. Obviously, we want to get it done as soon as possible, but we don’t want to rush the process.

Jess Dewell 19:44
Oh, you heard it here. Let’s get it done as soon as possible. And don’t rush it because everything comes in the right time. And putting in the time now means less work later. It may seem slow, but I’m telling you that time iraq can make one ripple, it can ripple eventually across that entire lake. And I think that that is incredibly important. So for all of you that are listening to this on our podcast, I want to let you know that Hector and I are going to continue our conversation in the Fast Track Your Business program. So all you Fast Track people out there, make sure you go and listen to your private, personalized feed with the same interviews so that you can get the second half also everybody else. If you want to find out more about how to grow your business about how to think about your business about everything that Hector and I have talked about and so much more from founders, executives and leadership teams, just like you go to Fast Track Your Business today. And check out the program. Until next time.

Charte your own course by taking advantage of the Fast Track Your Business program, a vast set of resources and exclusive access to Jess. Visit Fast Track Your Business today.com. Your preparedness and the right perspective is absolutely necessary when you find yourself somewhere, Uncharted. Special thanks to the Scott Treatment for technical production.

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