Episode 181

Growth Multipliers vs Growth inhibitors

Deacon Bradley - Sharp Business Growth
November 3, 2021
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Deacon helps founders & CEOs create profitable, scalable business growth through coaching and consulting programs at SharpBusinessGrowth.com. He's led teams overseeing $50 Million in marketing campaigns, and delivered revenue growth results recognized by Inc. 5000.

If you look at wildly successful DTC brands compared to the rest, you definitely find some differences. But those differences aren’t always what you think. Sometimes really great products fail. Sometimes insanely smart entrepreneurs never reach their full potential. Sometimes great marketing tactics alone just aren’t enough. Deacon Bradley is one of those guys that you feel smarter just from one conversation with him. In this episode we talk about Growth Mulitpliers vs. Growth Inhibitors. Some of these might surprise you.  

  • Missing the connector of brand and strategy that make your team and your agencies to be successful
  • The story of an awesome DTC product that never fully figured out who they were
  • The power of Vision and commanders intent
  • How to be a visionary that integrators love to work with
  • What “knowing your numbers” really means and really looks like
  • How to avoid being a “genius with a thousand helpers”


Deacon Bradley

Via LinkedIn

Sharp Business Growth
Sharp Business Growth Podcast


Mentioned in this Episode

Tier 11

Ralph Burns

Austin Brawner

Dan Kennedy

Sarah Still

Ryan Daniel Moran

“Rocket Fuel” by Gino Wickman

“Traction” by Gino Wickman

Justus Murimi

“Vivid Vision” by Cameron Herold

“Dare to Lead” by Brenê Brown

Craig Groeschel


Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. And today, I have a fantastic guest. This guy I've known for a long time. And I was just thinking about how do I best describe this guest? And I believe my guest today, Deacon Bradley, is one of those guys that you just feel smarter after you have a conversation with this guy. You feel smarter, you feel better equipped to tackle business issues, you feel like you've got things figured out a little bit better, you're ready to charge ahead.

Brett:

Deacon and I first worked together, maybe a couple years ago now, we were both serving the same client, but from different agencies. So OMG Commerce was helping this client with Google and YouTube ads, Deacon at the time was with Tier 11 and Ralph Burns. And so they were working on the Facebook side and I was like, "Man, this guy is smart." And then we reconnected in Austin just recently, had a chat, and we thought, "Man, let's just do a podcast together. Let's talk about some interesting things." And so our topic today, we're looking at growth multipliers versus growth inhibitors. So how do we multiply growth? And how do we identify these things that are really tripping us up and keeping us from growing. And so with that, Deacon, welcome to the show, man. How are you doing? And then thanks for coming on.

Deacon:

Awesome. I am pumped to be here. And I pumped about this topic. And Brett, I remember, this comes up when we were in Austin hanging out, we had talked about this stuff, and really it comes up any time I talk to somebody who is really involved with an agency, so they're behind the scenes of tons of different brands, they get to see all the stuff. And as soon as we started talking about growth, things that are really accelerating growth and things that are inhibiting growth, it's like we're both just so engaged and fired up and both excited and frustrated at the same time as we're seeing all these businesses. So I'm really excited to just let people in on some of those things that we see that really make the difference, because it's not always the things that the gurus are telling you.

Brett:

Yeah, it's so true. And then what's interesting, that the agency model, and you're on your own, you're independent now, you're consulting, you do a lot of cool things which we'll dive into. But being in this agency world, we see a variety of businesses. We're working with just high-growth, rapid-growth businesses, great brands. But sometimes you really get a clear picture, it becomes clear, that growth isn't just about having the best product, and growth isn't just about having the best marketing, it's also the founder behind the company and how the team operates. It's not about who's the smartest per se. So anyway, we're really excited to dive into this with you. Yeah, you and I were having a chat in Austin, and we were like, "Hey, this conversation would make for a great podcast. Let's try to recreate this thing."

Brett:

And so, let's talk about a couple things. What are some of the growth inhibitors you see right now? And I know you've had some recent conversations with CEOs where you're like, "That's going to inhibit your growth for sure." But what are some of the top lids to growth, the growth inhibitors that you see?

Deacon:

Sure. Funny you mentioned that, I literally just got off the phone with a CEO right before this who is running a multimillion dollar business, they've been successful in the retail, they've been successful online, and the CEO is working to figure out how to take things to the next level. And in the process of this, they're reengineering some things. So they're bringing in agencies, they're sending other agencies away, they're bringing in new team members and trying to put the pieces together. And when it comes down to it, though, I'm looking at it from the outside a little wary, and part of me is like, "I don't want to be discouraging." I'm like, "You are missing something really important, and that is, you're looking at these pieces that you're bringing in as like, oh, and then I'll bring in a Facebook agency, and then I'll attach the Google agency, and then the Amazon agency plugs in over here, and growth." That's it. That's as far as you've thought.

Brett:

Yeah, like ingredients in a cake. I'll just throw a little flour, a little sugar, a little butter, hey, presto.

Deacon:

Exactly. And Brett, now that I'm saying this out loud, you and I were talking before we hit record about another CEO that both of us had talked to about this, and I think they're looking at it the same way. It's like these are ingredients in the cake, a dash of Facebook, a little bit of Google.

Brett:

Let's go grab my marketing over here. How hard can it be? Just come and do this thing.

Deacon:

Yeah, and so I think that's one of the biggest inhibitors that I see is just that perception of what agency, or it's almost like it's a fantastic tool but you're using it wrong. If you're just plugging them in and it's like you're putting too much on them as far as what they're able to create, what their responsibility is, stuff like that. It's just I often see it's a great tool that's used wrong.

Brett:

Yeah, and obviously, we've both been in the agency world, and I love it when a client says, "Hey, I could really use some Google and YouTube help. I'm going to talk to OMG." We love that. But just plugging in pieces doesn't fully work. Getting an agency or a director of marketing on your staff that really understands what you're trying to do and that's a good fit for you, a good personality fit and all that, that's super important. But what's the connector that you think people are missing? Because it is good to find the best Facebook agency and the best YouTube agency and the best Amazon agency and plug those in, but what's the connecting piece that's missing? What's that growth multiplier that needs to be there for that to work?

Deacon:

Oh yeah, this one, I don't see it done often, but when it's done, it is such a huge difference maker. And I don't want to put a job title on it, because then people will just go put up a job post with that title, and they use it just like one more ingredient. So it's not a job title, it's really just a mindset, and a role, and what this person's seat is on the bus. So imagine you've got, just to simplify, let's say we've got Google and Facebook going. The person that is missing is, these are usually two different agencies, even if they're one agency doing both things, you still need this person, which is-

Brett:

It's usually different people, right? You don't have the same...Facebook and Google. It's a different head space. It's usually with a different person even if it's the same agency.

Deacon:

Yes. So what I've found is that typically, it is so difficult to run paid media these days that you have to be a real expert on that platform. And so Brett, like you were saying, it's two totally different people. And if you have never been one of those people, let me just let you in on a secret, they are heads down figuring out the algorithm, looking at stats, they're deep in the weeds of operating this thing.

Deacon:

What they're not thinking about is your brand or your customer journey or all of these things that are actually the secret sauce to making direct to consumer work. And so this role that I'm describing is like, "Oh, this is the growth multiplier," is somebody who's thinking about that stuff, who's saying, "Hey, this is the product that we're selling right now, and we know that we want to be selling it because it's a great customer acquisition product. And when somebody buys it, I know I've got an email team lined up that's going to sell them the next thing, and in 30, 60, 90 days, then I'll see my profit so that I can grow and scale again." That is a level or two above where a typical paid media buyer is thinking.

Deacon:

And so, the growth inhibitor is hoping your agency's going to think of that for you, the growth multiplier is taking ownership of that and putting someone in that chair who spends all of their time and effort just thinking about it. They understand your products, they understand your margins, they understand your customers, and where you can acquire customers, and actually grow your business in a strategy that all works together.

Brett:

Yep. I love that. And I think the right agency, even if their focus is more on the media buying side, they can give you insights, they can give you suggestions, they can maybe let you know when, "The brand message here isn't really jiving or this isn't really connecting for me." But usually, they're not the one driving the strategy. And so you need either someone on your team or you need an agency or whoever that can say, "This is an ownable space in the market. This is our position in the marketplace of what our product does and who it's for, and where are we going, and who are we serving, and what is this brand going to be." And then your agencies can just help you get there faster and help you accelerate that growth.

Brett:

But we experienced this with the shared client. Obviously, I won't name names or disparage anybody, because this client that we worked with together is super, super smart. But they even had an issue with this. They had three or four or five products, and we're like, "Well, what product do we buy when? And how do these products ... Is there a journey? Do I buy this product first and then I graduate to that product?"

Deacon:

Yeah, we were making it up.

Brett:

"Or do I use this product on this?" And they're like, "Well yeah, we're ..." And then like, "We never got an answer." And I think the bottom line was, nobody knew.

Deacon:

And you know what's funny about that situation, Brett, is that your team and my team were on calls together without the client. And we were essentially trying to fill in-

Brett:

We were trying to figure it out.

Deacon:

... this role that we just described because nobody was doing it.

Brett:

Yeah. We could feel it in the ads. There were some great ads. We were spending a lot of money on ads profitably, but we were like, "This is missing something, so let's see if we can inject it." And then we couldn't fully, but yeah, it was super interesting. So I love that. What are some other growth inhibitors? What are some things that keep entrepreneurs and D2C brands from growing?

Deacon:

Another one, and this is from the last call that I was on, and as he was talking through it all, I was like, "Man, how do you not know this yet?" And then I thought back a little further, and I was like, "Oh, this actually comes up all the time." And that's just not knowing your numbers.

Brett:

Yeah.

Deacon:

This is a hard topic. A lot of CEO leaders are what you would classify as visionary. And that's a fantastic, it's an amazing gift. It's not a gift that I have. I'm the integrator in most partnerships. So visionaries will often either just totally skip this numbers part, or they'll look at it too, they're zoomed out too far. So for example, a CEO I'm on a call with is like, "Oh, well, we ran the numbers for last year and we had a CPA of 28." I'm like, "Okay, I'm not sure what to do with that. That's really big because you sell about a 100 different skews at price points from $25 to $500. And I'm not sure what to do with a CPA ..." Oh, and that was also blending multiple channels together, so I was like-

Brett:

And blending cold and warm and remarketing, but that's blended, blended. That is a number that's meaningless.

Deacon:

Yes, exactly. And the sad part is somebody went to a lot of work to compile a lot of channels to come up with that number that's not very helpful. And so by not knowing your numbers, I would consider even though this CEO had a specific number when I asked for it, I don't consider that knowing your numbers. Because what I'm really after is, well, let's talk new customers, somebody who's never bought from you before, how much does it cost to acquire one of those? Or interestingly, what I want to know is, so Brett, you and I and agency land are interested in how much does it cost for us to get one of those? If I'm the CEO on the other side of the wall, the way that I'm thinking is, what can I afford to pay to get one?

Brett:

Yeah.

Deacon:

And that's the reverse. It's like, "Hey, Brett, or agency that I've hired, I can pay $100 to get somebody to buy this thing." That's knowing your numbers because you know that when they buy the thing, you're either going to profit a little bit right away and a lot later or however it works in your business model.

Brett:

Break even now and profit later, whatever the case may be.

Deacon:

Yeah.

Brett:

And I remember this fantastic Dan Kennedy quote from back in the day where he said, "He or she who can afford to spend the most to acquire a customer wins." And that if you unpack that a little bit, that's not just saying, whoever throws the most money on a problem wins. That's not what it's saying. It's saying the person that can spend the most to acquire a customer wins. And then what that means is, I can profitably, you can only spend $80 to acquire a customer because your back end and your upsells and your lifetime value is low, but because well, mine is structured, I can pay $120 profitably to go get a customer. So I've got more channels, more tools, more at my disposal, and I can scale a lot quicker than you can. And so that's an interesting way to look at it for sure. But you've got to deeper than that. "Yeah, my blended, blended, blended number is $28 CPA," that's email and that's organic and that's YouTube and Facebook, and not a helpful number.

Deacon:

You're reminding me of a moment, or one of my big takeaways. So the event that we were at in Austin was essentially an event for an investment fund, lots of ecommerce brands there, and so there's lots of investors there. These are people who had put their money into a fund, and the ecommerce brands that received the investment were there, and we're all working together to collectively grow. And so, one of the things that I thought was really interesting was, a big takeaway that I kept hearing over and over was, it was so fascinating to hear these investors saying things like, "I want to free you up to stop trying to make a profit on your first sale, because that is killing you."

Brett:

It kills your growth. It totally kills your growth, yeah.

Deacon:

So the growth multiplier, I think is, it's knowing your numbers and then also that component of that mindset of, "This is how my business works. I break even on the first sale, I go into the whole X amount on the first sale," whatever it is for your business, and then just really committing to that and just relaxing into it that, "This is our plan, and I know that it works, so let's go do it."

Brett:

Yeah, it's interesting. I think sometimes there's maybe this tendency, I know I've done this as a CEO that, I want to go after the hardest problems, the most complex things. And I really like media, I still get into some of the weeds, even though I'm running the company, I'm still the CEO. I've got a great integrator, like you Deacon, we have Sarah Still on our team who is an amazing integrator, so need that, but I'm still casting vision in high level growth.

Brett:

But I like to get into the weeds of things. I like media, I like YouTube, I'm still tinkering and coming up with new strategies and stuff. I tend to go to the hardest problems, and on occasion, I think sometimes the numbers seem disarmingly simple or they're like, "Oh, that's just addition," or "I'll mold it." It's like, "That's easy. I don't need to focus on that. I'm going to focus on this problem." Or, "We're thinking high level and just doing the fun stuff." But the numbers and knowing the numbers at the level you're talking about and that we're talking about, that is the business. That you have to know that.

Brett:

And then once you do know that, and you're comfortable then yes, settle into it. We've got a client who's so good at this, where they look at, they can acquire a customer for about $120, and the initial purchase is less than 50, but they know they just get their systems dialed in, that that's going to be a very, very profitable customer two or three months down the road, and so we can just hit the gas pedal and go. But a lot of people aren't at that, aren't at the level they're at in terms of knowing the numbers.

Deacon:

That's awesome. Yeah, so they're going well under the whole $70 roughly, and they hadn't even figured out the other stuff, but yeah, that's really cool that they have that dialed in.

Brett:

So sometimes it's like the initial offer is 50, but they have some upsells that gets the AOV then they usually AOV up, but they just know their LTV even over the next two to three months, and so, going hard on that, which is-

Deacon:

I would just point out to everybody listening that, Brett, this came to mind, and I can see Brett's face light up as he's talking about this, this sounds like a fun customer to work with. So not only is this a well-run business, those are numbers, but it's energizing everybody on the team, everybody. Brett's not even on the team, and he's like, "Yeah, listen to this guy."

Brett:

No, actually I'm still on these calls because they're so much fun. But we were bringing some of our account managers, which in our company our account managers are more like the quarterback for the client. They're coordinating communication and reports and meetings and stuff, and so I suppose we'll bring in new AM just to listen to these calls, because they're blow your mind, and we get so deep into the numbers, and they've got this cube that they run, and we're triangulating data from multiple sources. It's super fun, actually, super nerdy. But yeah, I do light up a bit about that stuff.

Brett:

Cool. So, we've got to have this overarching strategy to connect our agencies, that's a growth multiplier. We can't just plug things in and hope that they work, we got to know our numbers. What are some other growth inhibitors that we need to switch and use a growth multiplier on?

Deacon:

One that comes to mind to me is, vision. And this can get a little, it can sound a little fluffy or unimportant to the hardcore business person, but the more time I spend around high-level, high-growth businesses, really successful business leaders, the more evident it is to me that vision is the critical component that all of the things we've been talking about, they all rest on that.

Deacon:

And so as a growth inhibitor, it's very clear now with the amount of experience that I have at this point, I can tell when I walk into a business and it's lacking that vision. And a lot of those symptoms include things like, surprise, surprise, not knowing your numbers, or not having a clear marketing plan or idea, or not having a vision for, "This is exactly where this business is going. Here's how we're going to get there. And here's what it's going to look like. That's how we'll know that we're there." When you're missing those things, it's a huge inhibitor to everyone on the team, but also we've been talking about some of the little specific things up until now, and I think a lot of them just are a symptom of lack of vision.

Brett:

Yeah, where are we going? What is the goal here? What is the roadmap? And people need vision. You're integrators and guys like you need that vision, agencies need that vision. I remember you were mentioning that Ryan Moran, Ryan Daniel Moran is one of the best that you've been around at this. You can unpack that a little bit. I think you guys had a conversation in Austin, well, you both live in Austin, so it was probably there, but you guys had a conversation recently that where you were like, "Wow, that is a perfect example of vision." I know you probably can't get into too many of the specifics for confidentiality purposes there, but describe that. What does a good visionary look like?

Deacon:

Sure. I was sitting down with Ryan and we were talking about one of his ecommerce brands. And this is a brand that has really, really high potential. This could easily a 20, $30 million a year business. And so that's the far off destination. What I just described to you though is, people go, they either go, "Wow," or they roll their eyes like, "Yeah, everybody says that." Because it's not a vision, and I wouldn't even consider it a destination. But what Ryan does so well that gets people like me, the integrators, really excited. And if you're wondering what we're talking about, by the way, with visionaries and integrators, I love the book Rocket Fuel, that unpacks that whole model. I don't know if it originated there.

Brett:

Is that a Gino Wickman?

Deacon:

Yes.

Brett:

Is he the same guy that wrote Traction?

Deacon:

That's right.

Brett:

Yeah.

Deacon:

That's right. So I'm like a textbook integrator and Ryan's like a textbook visionary. And so, what I just was really enjoying in that conversation was, I can see the down the road the big $20 million, whatever, but that's real fuzzy and fluffy and nobody knows how to get there. But what Ryan was able to do so well with a clear vision was, unpack like, "Six months from now, this is what the business is going to look like. This is the business model. This is how we'll acquire customers. We'll use these products. They lead to these other products." And so, while there might be like 10 or 15 skews, he was even lining up like, "These are the customer acquisition methods. This is about how much we'll be charging for products. This is how many people we'll have as customers, and is going to result in this kind of revenue." And so as he's saying that six months out-

Brett:

"These are the kind of influencers we need to work with...

Deacon:

Yeah.

Brett:

... was thinking about that level, yeah.

Deacon:

Exactly. And so as the team is hearing this, what we're able to now envision is, "Oh, okay. I know who needs to be on the team. I'm starting to envision like, how I'll need to be testing ads or what kinds of funnels need to be involved here," all of this stuff. And that was six months out. He backs it up, "So three months we need to be here, at two months, we need to be here." And so by the end of that conversation, I could have walked out of the room and hired the next three people really confidently.

Brett:

Yeah, you could have started running that company from that one conversation pretty much.

Deacon:

Yes. And what I was getting a sense from this, Brett, from what you were just describing about the customer example you gave a minute ago about knowing their numbers, to me, they must, I bet they have a really clear vision and know exactly where they're going.

Brett:

They do, they totally do. Yeah, and it's pretty exciting. Yeah, and so we talked about this a lot. I mentioned Sarah Still, our COO, she and I talk about like, "How does this role break down? What does this look like, visionary versus integrator?" And really the visionary or the CEO is often more about the what. "This is what we need to do and where we need to go." And the integrator is about the how. "Okay. Well then this is the who behind it, and these are the tactics, and this is how we get there." But yeah, you got to have that clear vision and it's just super, super important.

Brett:

Any advice there? Any tips or strategies, or resources? We mentioned Rocket Fuel, also the book, Traction, same author, great books. Any other resources for the vision piece? Or anything we've talked about so far, any resources, podcasts, tools?

Deacon:

Yeah, so Justus Murimi, who, I think it was on this podcast also ...

Brett:

Yeah, I interviewed him a couple weeks ago. I don't know when that will be released and you know all that stuff but yeah, that dude's awesome. I love that guy.

Deacon:

I love Justus too. I talk to him almost every day. Him and I have talked about this a whole lot as well. And one of the books that he turned me on to that I thought was helpful, was Vivid Vision. That's, I'm totally blanking on his name, Cameron Herold. So Vivid Vision is a good book. I found it shockingly detailed if you're reading it, and you're like, "Wow, this is a really detailed vision." But it was also really helpful because it gives you that picture of what does a good vision look like?

Brett:

Nice.

Deacon:

And the other thing I would mention is, this isn't necessarily a resource, but I am, and I feel like I'm swimming in a sea of visionaries and they're all looking for integrators. And as an integrator, it's interesting though, because the integrators are really good at figuring out which visionaries they want to work with. So if you feel, if you're identifying like, "Oh, I'm a visionary, and where do you find these integrators?" One, I'd say they're everywhere, but two, the thing that they're attracted to is your vision. So stop asking for integrators would be my advice and start sharing your vision and places where you're stuck in places you could use help, and integrators will just pop up, because we love to solve problems and help move things forward.

Brett:

Yeah, and so I'd be curious from your perspective, because I think sometimes there are visionaries and then there are just dreamers, "I just got all kinds of dreams than ideas and wildness and I'm all over the place." What type of visionary are you looking for? So, an integrator is saying, "Ah, that's a clear visionary, that's the type of visionary that I would like to align myself with and work with." What are some of the elements we're looking for?

Deacon:

I love that you described it as dreamer, because Justus and I had a 45-minute conversation recently or where I was asking him the question and I was like, "Sometimes we're talking to these visionaries and I just want to dive out of a window and run down the block." And sometimes I'm like, "I'll work for you for free." And I was trying to figure out what the difference is, I think he nailed it right there, Brett. It's like something inside me is going like, "Dreamer. They view you as the task doer. They're just going to heap tasks on you and more tasks, and it's like going to be this disconnected jumble them lobbying greasy watermelons at you one after the other."

Brett:

Crazy one though, and so ah And I'm a visionary, but I'm also pretty practical, so I think there's some balance there. But I've also been around people that'd be like, "Hey, I got this idea, go do this thing, research these things and do all this." And then integrator or whoever goes and does that, and they come back and then the visionary is like, "Yeah, I don't really care about that anymore. Let's go do this thing." And then they're like, "I just killed myself doing something and now it doesn't matter." Yeah.

Deacon:

Yes. If you're an integrator, that is very disrespectful. That's how that feels.

Brett:

Yeah, like you don't care about my time. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it's so interesting. And I think that's the difference where, I love this book. I talk about it a decent amount on the podcast, it's called Made to Stick. And they talk about this concept of commander's intent. And a good commander's intent is something that's pretty simple, but also pretty clear, pretty concrete. It lets you know where to go.

Brett:

So the commander's intent is, "Hey, we will control this hill in this region by this time." Commander's intent, clear. Okay. Now there's probably a million things you got to think about on how do we get there, but that's the intent, we're going to go own that hill. And that's not going to be changing back and forth. Maybe your tactics are going to change back and forth. But I think a good visionary is good at delineating that commander's intent would be my thought.

Deacon:

I love that. I never knew where I learned about commander's intent, but now I remember, because I love that book, but it's been probably 10 years since I read it at this point. One of the things that we use the lot with the last team that I was leading was from Brene Brown's, Dare to Lead where she-

Brett:

Brene Brown is awesome. I've not read that book, but Brene Brown, she's amazing.

Deacon:

One of the concepts from that is, she always talks about paint done. And so we had just built into our team culture. If somebody's saying, if Brett's like, "Yeah, I want to be in charge of a hill," I'd be like, "Paint done for me, Brett." And you would describe the thing you just described like, "It's that hill over there, we're going to control it. We're going to, I don't know, build a campfire on it." Whatever done looks like the Brett, is essentially, we built that culture of being, of making it clear of describing clearly what that commander's intent is. And I think that has made all the difference as far as the leader being able to step away, you can imagine that, and actually have your business move forward. And also just have things meet the expectations of where we're all going. But yeah, I love that concept of commander's intent. I think it's really important to actually getting where you're going. And if you're a visionary, develop that, it's hugely valuable.

Brett:

Get crystal clear on that commander's intent and it's going to free your people up, it's going to guide them, it's going to inspire them and motivate them, versus some of the other dreamer type stuff really demotivates the team. So we were talking about team a little bit. I know that's something you mentioned when you and I were prepping a few weeks ago, that you like to focus on the team aspect, what are some of the elements of team that you like to drill into that are either growth inhibitors or growth multipliers? What would you say about a team?

Deacon:

I was talking to a friend about this the other day. So I have just started a consulting engagement with a team that I haven't worked with before. It's an incredibly talented team, but it's just really different than teams that I had operated with in the past. And after I'd been there a couple of days, I was talking to one of the leaders on the team and they were just picking my brain about what I saw, and I was like, well, if I had to describe it, the team is incredibly talented, but it feels like genius with a thousand helpers. And that's where I see a lot of businesses go, and it's-

Brett:

And that's like, isn't that a concept from Good to Great and Jim Collins. I think I've at least heard him use that term before, a genius with a thousand helpers, that's not a sustainable business.

Deacon:

No, it's a recipe for burnout. And so that's often one of the first things that I look at in the business is, how to break that link, that dependency between the leader and the stuff that's getting done. And one of the important tools to that really is what we were just talking about with commander's intent. I think that's an important tool. It's bringing in an integrator, and really just finding ways to, so that you can stay in vision mode as the leader, and then the vision gets carried out and done without you.

Deacon:

And that without you part is always scary and hard, especially for visionaries who have a really clear vision and you're like, "But it has to look just like this." It can if you describe it well and you build a team around you that can actually do it. And so that's really one of my passions and the things that I love is, just unlocking that puzzle and figuring out how to get work done through other people.

Deacon:

And what I've found is that it all starts with vision and it all starts with that leader, and then just assembling the team and getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats, you can solve it for any business. And it's really fun and really rewarding. And Brett, I know you've done a fantastic job over at OMG. You guys are growing like crazy.

Brett:

Thanks man. And it's one of those things where, I really didn't know how to build a team in the beginning. I'd build some ministry teams and volunteer teams and stuff like that, but I made a lot of mistakes, but we have the right people and a good culture. And I think that's the glue that holds it together that attracts the right people and keeps us growing and going forward. But yeah, we're over 50 now and adding people like crazy. I got two interviews early next week and continuing to grow.

Brett:

But this piece is so important, getting the right team in place. And one of the things, I think this actually came up in my chat with Justus, but I'm a big Craig Groeschel fan. He's a pastor of the church that we attend, but also I listen to his Leadership Podcast and his books and stuff. And in his Leadership Podcast, he says, "Hey, you can have growth or you can have control, but you can't have both." And I think I have a tendency at times, dig into all the details and then I become the bottleneck. And it is a little scary and a little weird for this area of the business to be growing. And it's like, you're not doing anything, it's all your people.

Brett:

Weird at first, but then after a while it's kind of freeing, and then you realize, "Hey, my role is just to help them grow, and help them when they're stuck, and bring out the best in them. That's the most productive thing I can do. That's the growth multiplier from my efforts is, not doing it, but helping them do it better and helping them get unstuck and things like that." But it's sometimes tough to release control or going back to what you said of, "Well, no, I've got this clear vision, but it has to be done this way." And that's usually a real lead to growth.

Deacon:

Yes, 100%. I really liked how you were just describing that. Brett, what I've found as I have grown in my own career and just been around other successful leaders is that, and this is one of those things that sounds fluffy to say to somebody who hasn't yet experienced this, but so much of it is mindset and just how you're thinking about things, and what you were just describing there, Brett. When I'm listening to you, I'm like, "Oh, Brett, said that," results through others is your focus right now-

Brett:

Yeah, it is.

Deacon:

... and developing the people, not developing new house, you're developing people. And that's really rewarding and really cool. And your growth speaks for itself that, as you shift your mindset, things are going well.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. And it's really fun. And I think it's just a matter of shifting your mindset. I still like to use a Gary Vee term like clouds and dirt. I still like to get in the dirt on occasion just with certain things, but now I'm taking more of the mindset of, I'm not digging into the dirt so that I do it, I'm digging into the dirt so I can uncover something and say, "Hey, did you guys think about this? Did you look at this? Is this helpful?" Again, more looking at, how do I use the detail to further the team and enhance what the team is doing as that's how I'm looking at that.

Brett:

So, awesome. I love team. And this has been my focus and what I've been thinking about a lot lately. And you and I have both come from the agency world, so how do we apply this to a marketing context? So, as we're growing agencies, we're growing these or rather growing D2C brands, I'm growing an agency, but as listeners are growing a D2C brand, what does this look like? How do you successfully plug an agency into what you're doing or how do you successfully plug the right team in? Unpack that just a little bit, if you would, Deacon.

Deacon:

Yeah, I love your thoughts on some of those too, Brett, because as I'm thinking through this, I'm like, all right, well, when do you ... There's two questions. There's, well, when is it time to hire an agency or what's a growth inhibitor or a growth multiplier in this context? One of the growth inhibitors that I see sometimes is actually hiring an agency too soon, if that makes sense.

Brett:

Yeah, it totally does.

Deacon:

And I say this because a lot of times brands will go talk to agencies and they're like, "Oh, sorry, we don't work with people until they're at X level." And one of the interesting things is like, well, you could suppose that they're just too big and mighty to take on customers that are that small at this point, or you could suppose that they have found that there's actually a better way for you to grow at that stage. And I've always been in the second boat. And, Brett, I love your thoughts on this, but I always view it in the beginning stages it's simple enough and there's few enough moving parts that I want you to do it yourself, just to figure out something. Get some traction around messaging and offers and stuff like that. So it's almost like stage zero, I would say, don't hire an agency, go get your hands dirty.

Brett:

Yeah, I really like that advice a lot. And I think there's a few ways to look at it. I think a lot of agencies, we do this, even when we're like, "Hey, you need to be about this level of spend, this level of traction in these platforms before we can really help." And part of that is, "Hey, there needs to be some data there. We can really accelerate growth when there's data. But also part of that is, you've proven you've got a good offer and you've proven you've got a product that people want." And I love this, have you seen the movie Hitch with Will Smith a little bit older now?

Deacon:

Yeah.

Brett:

I love this part in the beginning. He's consulting with this dude and trying to help him so that he can meet a lady. And he's just talking about, the guy that Will Smith is coaching, he's like, "Well, I'm this, or I'm that," and Will Smith grabs him and says, "You are a very fluid concept right now. We need to get control of this." He was slapping him. But I think sometimes businesses are in that stage where it's like, your brand and what you're doing it's a fluid concept right now.

Brett:

And certainly we'll always be pivoting, tweaking, evolving, things like that, but when you're still really trying to figure things out, you're trying to figure out who you are, that's maybe not the best time for an agency. Maybe that is a time to talk to an agency, reach out to a company like ours, we're happy to still chat. But sometimes a good agent will say, "Hey, go do these things first. Really nail this product and an offer that goes with that product, and let's get some other products with it. And once we can prove that out then come back, then we can really help you." Because we do see that. Certainly there's an area where if you're only spending a couple 1,000 a month on ads, our fees are more than that, so why would you do that? But I think there's also this moment where you're like, you need to tinker, you need to experiment, you need to figure out exactly who your audience is, who your products are and things like that.

Deacon:

Yeah, I love that you mentioned an offer that works because that's like, it's really important.

Brett:

It is, yeah.

Deacon:

And you don't want to way overspend to find out that your offer doesn't work, and it's something that you don't have to be a genius at ads to just answer that one question. And what I see a lot of times with business owners in the early stages is, this rush to outsource everything. I'm the CEO, I shouldn't be inserting whatever menial tasks there. But that mindset can also be I think a hindrance to you moving forward. So stage zero I always recommend don't hire an agency, go do it yourself. You're going to move faster, you're going to spend, you're going to save money for your business and you're going to learn a lot.

Brett:

Yeah, exactly. And then once you have that data, once you hit critical mass, you've got some traction, but you know, "Hey, I don't now have the expertise to take it to the next level," that's when you go find your agency, that's got a proven track record of doing that, of taking someone from where you are to the next level. And I think that's exactly the way you approach it. That's beautiful.

Brett:

Awesome, man. Well, this has been a blast. I can keep talking to you for hours. We'll have to do this again sometime for sure. But Deacon, if people are listening and they're saying, "I need someone like deacon on my team, I need to, or at least I need a chat with this guy and see if this could work." How can people find out more about what you're doing? Also, you just launched a podcast recently so talk about that, but yes, talk podcast and also how can people find you?

Deacon:

Awesome. Well, everything that I am sharing, you can find at sharpbusinessgrowth.com. That's my home base for right now. And yeah, Brett, you just mentioned, I launched a podcast with Justus. Justus has done this show.

Brett:

I did not know that ... Now, I've got to subscribe to this podcast and get it going.

Deacon:

Surprise. And a lot of this came from us, when we were hanging out in Austin and we were having all these really just interesting fun chats with investors, with business leaders, with agency owners and all these different people. And this is where I spend all of my time, where Justus spends a lot of his time, and so really we just wanted to create a podcast and just share candid conversations like, Brett, you and I just had right here, because it's not shared enough. It's there's too much like, I don't know, tactics and shiny objects out there, and not enough of ... What I think is really interesting, Brett, is like, when we hang out, it's like businesses would love to know what we're all talking about right after they pitched us. Isn't that exciting?

Brett:

Yes. That's like, if you could be a fly on a wall when someone's unpacking your pitch you just made to them, that's super helpful. So it sounds like that's what you and Justus are doing. And I totally agree with you. And I'm even thinking about this podcast, how do I maybe pivot a little bit/ People still want tactics, right? And that's what sells so to speak. But some of what we were talking about today, this is really where growth is unlocked. This is really where you make changes, the move, the needle tactics, come and go and tactics are important. But yeah, some of this stuff is timeless and the most important. So awesome man. That website one more time?

Deacon:

Sharpbusinessgrowth.com

Brett:

And what's the podcast and where can we find the podcast? All our favorite podcast apps, I would assume?

Deacon:

I believe so. I just pushed it live earlier this week. I know it's up in Apple and Spotify. The podcast is called Sharp Business Growth. And yeah, you'll find it in.

Brett:

Deacon Bradley and Justus Murimi, all right, man. I am super excited to go download the first, it looks like They've got three episodes, at least, that are alive at the time of this recording. I'm sure by the time this is published, they'll have lots more. So check that out as well. Deacon Bradley, ladies and gentlemen, Deacon, this has been awesome. And thanks for coming on. This was a lot of fun.

Deacon:

Thanks for having me.

Brett:

Yep, absolutely. And as always, we appreciate you tuning in and setting aside your time to hang out with us. We would love your feedback. What would you like to hear more of on this show? Do you like conversations like this, where we're talking a little bit higher level and diving into what kind of growth mindset or growth levers do we need to pull beyond just tactics? We'd love to hear more about that. And if you find this podcast helpful, we'd love it if you reviewed this wherever you consume podcasts, so that's iTunes or Google Podcasts or Spotify or wherever the case may be. And with that, until next time, thank you for listening.














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