Feb. 8, 2023

E95: CEO Mark O'Donnell: Climbing Mount Whitney And Beyond With EOS Worldwide - How2Exit

E95: CEO Mark O'Donnell: Climbing Mount Whitney And Beyond With EOS Worldwide - How2Exit

In Sept. of 2021, Mark O’Donnell and eight of his colleagues scaled Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental U.S. Then came the more challenging part: When one of the hikers showed signs of severe altitude sickness, the team had to join forces...

In Sept. of 2021, Mark O’Donnell and eight of his colleagues scaled Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental U.S. Then came the more challenging part: When one of the hikers showed signs of severe altitude sickness, the team had to join forces to get her down to safety as soon as possible — which they did, saving her life.

Perhaps no story better encapsulates why Mark is not only a successful entrepreneur in his own right but someone who’s also dedicated to helping other entrepreneurs navigate their way to greater success.

Mark’s personal entrepreneurial journey started in childhood when he and his brother earned spending-money through paper routes and lawn-mowing wherever his family moved. As adults, the two started a business in 2007 that grew to over $25 million in revenues. Mark started several other businesses, landing him and his partners on the Inc. 500/5000 list nine times.

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Website: http://www.eosworldwide.com/
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[00:00:00] Ron Skelton: Hello and welcome to the How2Exit podcast. Today I'm here with Mark O'Donnell. He is the visionary, also known as CEO of EOS Worldwide. Thank you for being on the show today, guy. 

[00:00:11] Mark O'Donnell: Yeah, thanks for having me, Ron. 

[00:00:13] Ron Skelton: Yeah, usually I start off with the bios and like kind of how origin stories and how you get started and that type of stuff. But your team sent over something really cool about a story about you climbing a mountain. So let's start off with an interesting story and then we'll tie it into, kind of who you are and what you're doing. So tell us about, was it climbing, which mountain? It was, Mount Whitney. 

[00:00:31] Mark O'Donnell: That will be Mount Whitney, which is the highest peak in, the lower 48 states, in the United States. It's about 15,000 feet or so. And so September of 2021, my leadership team are three, two members of my leadership team and members of our portfolio that were owned by a small private equity firm at Indianapolis called Firefly. And so the [00:01:00] portfolio leaders and our private equity partners decided that we're gonna climb this mountain together.

[00:01:06] And so David Mann, who's the chairman, it was his idea, so I'm gonna blame him. And he can yell at me, for this later, I'm sure. And so we trained for six months and in September of 21, we made our, Or climb. And so very few people finish Mount Whitney and we didn't really know that only, I think it's about a third of the people who embark on the summit make it. And for lots of different reasons, weather and ice and darkness. Cuz you don't really want to be up there in the dark and it's a one day adventure. And so we went up there and about 10,000 feet, my EOS integrator, Kelly Knight, she started to feel like she had a little bit of a migraine. And we are driven entrepreneurial group of [00:02:00] people, right? And there we saw the warnings of altitude sickness, but we were like, well that's not it.

[00:02:07] Or this is just a little migraine. My headlamp was on too tight or something. So we get to the top and by the time we got to the top, which was hard enough for her, and we thought it's just altitude or maybe it was conditioning, we didn't really know. By the time we summited, we knew she had altitude sickness and there was, we had to figure out how to get down. So we started our descent and what ended up happening is, I wanna say around 12,000 feet, she started passing out and clearly wasn't gonna make it. I mean, there was one point in time where she was going on her own power and, she was right behind me. We sort of sandwiched her between, two of us.

[00:02:53] And I looked back and she had her hiking poles and there was about 1500 sheer drop on both [00:03:00] sides of her. And she was wobbling back and forth and I said, okay, enough is enough. Give me your hiking poles. And so I just sort of put her on my backpack and we started dragging her down the mountain. And there's only two places to, to get a helicopter too. So what ended up happening to kind of cut the long story a little bit shorter is that there's only two places to land a helicopter. And it was getting dark and it was getting cold. We expected to be down and back and around 14 hours. And so none of us had winter gear. It was around 30 degrees or so, which at that altitude, a helicopter at that temperature can't, has a tough time getting up there.

[00:03:47] So we ended up having a, GPS text messaging device that had SOS from Garmin. So he pushed that button and we're in communication back and forth with [00:04:00] emergency services. And they were a little hesitant because seven days prior, one of their helicopters crashed, going lower than we were. And so the at they were just sort of hesitant. And so California Highway Patrol ended up, getting us at, just under 10,000 feet and which was, all of us, there's seven of us or so. We're like, Hey, how do we get down? Cuz now it's dark. And they're like, well, we can only take one in the helicopter so you're on your own for the rest.

[00:04:28] I happen to have the GPS because my wife made me buy it. And, because I trained in the Appalachian Mountains, in Pennsylvania. And so I was really the only one who trained everyone else from the Midwest. And cornfield are not really great mountain training. And so I happen to have this device that ultimately saved her life. It was an adventure to behold. Lessons in leadership for sure. 

[00:04:51] Ron Skelton: Wow. That's kind of a reverse bio, like how you got started. You're on top of a mountain. Let's go back in time and figure out like how did you get involved with EOS. When did you first [00:05:00] kind of learn about it? How do you ascend from learning about it? I guess you were an implementer at some point too, and then you end up being this the visionary, which is what EOS calls a CEO, right?

[00:05:10] Mark O'Donnell: Yep. So I had about nine companies that were all in pharma and biotech. So my brother and myself and a couple business partners. We created a vertically integrated pharma and biotech services business. And we had nine companies, a laboratory, engineering company, everything. Our whole strategy was anything that a pharma company buys. We wanted to have a another company that had that offering. And we were really succeeding in spite of ourselves, growing really fast. And one of my business partners just said, Hey Mark, there's gotta be a way to run these companies as if they're one company and not have all the confusion. So I set out to find a system that, would fulfill that need, and so we can have a sense of control over the business and [00:06:00] really build value over time and have this common language as well as common language is such a huge thing throughout an organization.

[00:06:08] Especially if you're geographically dispersed. We were, all over the country, coast to coast in, UK and Ireland. And so we just needed a way to harmoniously run these companies and intentionally create value. I started implementing a different system, figured out that it was, too hard and complex to get all buy-in from every member of my team. And so Red traction, I, signed up for, EOS bootcamp thinking that, oh, this will help me implement EOS in my companies better not knowing it was about being coming an implementer. And then I met a implementer named Jonathan Smith at the Pentagon having lunch with a three star General . And, he was like, Hey, you ever hear of EOS?

[00:06:55] And I'm like, Nope. But I didn't connect EOS with traction at the time. And [00:07:00] so we got talking and I became an implementer. I hired him as my implementer. Ended up exiting those companies in 2018, but I came, I became a full-time implementer in 2015. Became a coach, then head coach at US worldwide, and eventually in September, 2020 stepped into the role of visionary here. And it's been absolutely a blast. Helping companies get more of what they want from their businesses and seeing all the impact and victories that they all have is just gratifying in every way. 

[00:07:35] Ron Skelton: It's interesting. Is the, the book pulled the first book, traction or I don't know which one. The first one is now.

[00:07:40] Mark O'Donnell: That is the first one. 

[00:07:41] Ron Skelton: Okay. As I'm looking at Rocket Fuel, it's actually on my desk here, but I was like, that's not the first one. It was the Traction. Rocket Fuel's the implementation book. I had noticed something in the entrepreneur space. I'd been an entrepreneur for a while. And I had a process or not process. What am I looking for? I had a problem, in the entrepreneur space. I would buy companies [00:08:00] or, build something. Buy small websites and stuff, build 'em into a company, buy equipment, start a company. And I would grow that company and get right at that high six figures about to cross the seven figures in profit margin, profit, EBITDA type of space, and then get burned out and crash and burn.

[00:08:17] Sell the damn thing and do something else. One of the things I noticed was after about the second or third time was like, wait, there's something there. And so I started looking at all the businesses I really liked and are past that phase, and they're doing something. And what I noticed is they had, I know what it's called now, the book have actually helped me figure it out. If you took their test, I'm extremely visionary. Like 90%, I'm way stuck on that side. And we were talking about the book and what I noticed was, is that people who were past that level, past that seven, eight figure mark, I can identify in their company somebody who was great at implementing somebody, what you guys call an, integrator, right? Or an implementer. I'm getting mixed up.

[00:08:54] Mark O'Donnell: Integrator. 

[00:08:55] Ron Skelton: Integrator. So yeah, I'm so far on the visionary side. I'd never paired [00:09:00] myself with somebody that can, okay, it's a great idea. Reign you back in, and let's put simply, let's put a system of process and, step procedures into this. I did it when necessary. Even in when I, like I used to run a tech company or the technical divisions of companies as director of operations and stuff like that. I had to by that job and it was something forced of me. And in my natural entrepreneurial way, if I have to do something more than two or three times in a row, I want somebody else to do it.

[00:09:26] Like I wanna do it the first time I wanna conquer, I want solve the problem, and then somebody else do it after the second and third, fourth time. That's where it helped me on that. Let's talk about, EOS is a concept and kind of just, I guess for the people that haven't heard about it, it's like we're not gonna make a whole show on what it is, but get 'em the high level of what EOS is so that they can understand why we want to talk about. Why it's important to a small to medium size business.

[00:09:51] Mark O'Donnell: Yeah. So EOS stands for the Entrepreneurial Operating System. It's a complete set of real world, simple, [00:10:00] practical tools that helps those organizations do three things that we call vision, traction, and healthy. So vision from the standpoint of getting you and your leadership team 100% on the same page with your vision, where you're going and how you're gonna get there. And then traction is simply creating all the disciplines and habits, all the accountability necessary to execute on every aspect of that vision. And finally, healthy is just creating really healthy, cohesive, and functional teams. And so we start with the leadership team. And it's everything that we talk about is in the book Traction by Gina Wickman.

[00:10:40] We get to the point where, everyone in the organization is seeing the same thing. You're wanting the same thing. You're masters of execution, and you're moving forward as really healthy, cohesive, and team, cohesive, fun-loving team. And so that's what EOS is and does in a nutshell. We, our tools are [00:11:00] designed to systematically strengthen the six key components of the business. The vision component, the people component, the data component, issues, process, and finally traction. So there's tools that we're just looking at your business in this holistic way and that every issue that you experience can be traced right back to one of those six key components, and you can use the tools to solve those issues systematically. And so that's what EOS is in a quick nutshell. 

[00:11:32] Ron Skelton: Cool. We were talking about you had companies and the reason that you were inter, you stumbled across this or research and, located this is because you wanted a common way to communicate across multiple companies and a common, system processes, way to run them all. And it's important if, for our audience, because, we look at entrepreneur, entrepreneurship through acquisitions. We buy the first company. Most of us spend our time is [00:12:00] we own companies and how do we grow it through acquisition. Right. And when you acquire us a second, a third, a fourth company, having a way to put them on a common playing ground, integrate them in and give them something.

[00:12:17] My goal here in, in this conversation is figure out how does EOS play inside of that? And I think because e os is well known enough as people Google it and they either they know what the book is and they've read it or they know what the book is, they haven't read it. But even if not, when you implement something that's a known system out there, I think there'll be less resistance to what's this new guy think he's trying to do to us.

[00:12:40] Mark O'Donnell: That's right. Yep. We've sold over 2.4 million books. So a lot of people implementing these tools, oh, just shy of 200,000 companies by our account are using these tools in their organizations. About 17,000 are working with an EOS implementer, as opposed to [00:13:00] integrator. Implementer is the, business coach, if you will. And they get results. And this is proven stuff. And the other thing too, to know about e os is that it's built for the plumber next door, if you will. It's simple stuff. When I first read it, it was my first instinct was this is every business book I've ever read with templates.

[00:13:23] And if you come from pharma or any regulated space, you got templates, like that's gold, right? And so that, that was my approach to it. Our typical company is 10 to 250 people. That's really the sweet spot. And so we're, it is just simple, easy things. Disciplines, tools that, that you can use right away that makes a difference. And so it's nothing fancy. 

[00:13:48] Ron Skelton: So what's the process look like? Just run a scenario like somebody like our audience would be, they've acquired a company. It's not on EOS. Everybody has some system of processes, even if it's all, [00:14:00] stories and fables from past generations, right? This is the way we've always done it kind of thing. That's what I call it when somebody goes, well, we don't have anything written down, but there's certain ways we do things. And I was like, okay, you guys sit around a campfire and tell stories like they did in the ice stages, or do you have something documented?

[00:14:14] There's something at all companies that's, if you've been around for more than 10 years, you have a way you want things done. The owner has a way he wants things done. The trick is how well is that documented? So when I say companies that don't have an operating system, none of the guys buy anything. None of the guys listen to our show. Buying a business should not be buying anything that doesn't have some systems and processes because, when the owner leaves, if you don't have something documented and you don't have any systems or processes and your key people leave, you're in trouble.

[00:14:41] Mark O'Donnell: No doubt. Yep. And so W. Edwards Deming, he said that every system is perfectly designed to produce the results it produces. So every company has an operating system. The real question is, it intentional? Did you encrafted that system on purpose or [00:15:00] is it around the campfire, type things. So what a typical company if you were going in, let's say I'm gonna go in and buy, a company and, with the, all the skillsets, and knowledge around EOS, it really all starts with the leadership team. It's the three to eight people at the helm of the organization. You don't want to go and create a vision Traction organizer, which is our two page strategic plan and go a vacuum and fill the whole thing out and come to your team and say, Hey, we're gonna go do this now.

[00:15:33] That's one of the worst things you can do. You can't shove it down people's throats. It'll never, never work. And so EOS is really about buy-in and crafting a world-class leadership team. So everything starts with them. And so you start with the book, you can just go to Barnes and Noble and grab one off the shelf and there it's literally an instruction manual on how to do this in your company. [00:16:00] And so you sit with that team, we always start with traction first, vision second. And so what we often find is that companies, if you're buying one, you're coming in, you have this big idea, these big goals and visions for what the organization looks like. But the key thing is that you're missing the ability, the discipline to execute.

[00:16:22] And that's why 97% of strategic plans go on executed is because that team, that leadership team, does not have the discipline and accountability to execute in a rhythm in a weekly, quarterly, annual rhythm that's incrementally moving them towards executing every aspect of that vision. So we always start with traction first. And th that's really, really where I'd start, create that accountability chart, roles and responsibilities, make sure everyone knows what they're doing. You got the right people in the right seats. They share your core values and they get and want, have the capacity to do [00:17:00] each of their roles.

[00:17:01] Start with a meeting, pulse, a weekly meeting. Get a scorecard. Set 90 day rocks, and we just start there and create those disciplines and start moving the team forward. 

[00:17:14] Ron Skelton: What's interesting is, when I first read through it, I was like, oh, more meetings. I was, I give you a kind of history. I come from the tech startup, I came from the military.

[00:17:23] When I got in the.com world, it was surprising, so I got so jaded by meetings that if you called me to a meeting and I looked around the room, I would, at this point I'm at the director, senior director level running divisions of the company, and I would show up and they'd like have all these regular weekly meetings and the first thing I would do is look around every engineer I had in the room, start writing a roster.

[00:17:42] I have my assistant with me. I trained on how to do this, and we would send all the managers that hosted these meetings and required us to be there invoices of what that meeting cost the company. So just so that you would know, it's just an eye-opening, like, it was that meeting and then what they're meeting, they're running tally for the week and the quarter and the, the month and the co-quarter.

[00:17:59] When I [00:18:00] started reading the book, at first I was like, ah, more meetings. Then I realized how structured the meetings are and it's in an hour. How does EOS differ from the, 

[00:18:07] Mark O'Donnell: The only reason you're talking. Yeah,

[00:18:10] Ron Skelton: Go ahead. 

[00:18:12] Mark O'Donnell: Other than being a little simpler, how does it compare? 

[00:18:15] Ron Skelton: Yeah. How does it compare? 

[00:18:16] Mark O'Donnell: I don't actually know.

[00:18:18] Ron Skelton: Okay. That's a very valid answer. What's funny is, I'm interviewing a few other guys on this space and one of 'em, I, I kind of felt somebody had told me I should read the book and then I'm diving into your website, EOS website, and I, it mentions it somewhere on the website, the book there, it was the Great Game of Business, right? About having open books and stuff. And I was like, so I've already, I've interviewed those guys. It's not out yet. That's the reason I was gonna say, how do they work? I think that EOS is the structure, and then I like the game, great Game of Business and the fact that everybody kind of has an open, like they gotta tie into the financials and the open side of who's doing what and what it, how it impacts the money of the business. So are you familiar with the Great Game of Business?[00:19:00] 

[00:19:00] Mark O'Donnell: I am. In my companies, we used some of the concepts from Great Game of Business alongside of EOS as well. I've had lots of clients who do the same. And EOS doesn't really work if you aren't gonna be totally open, honest, and transparent, because you gotta know the game you're playing. And so from the beginning, from the first day you start implementing EOS, you see the level of transparency and some clients aren't ready for that yet. They hold back on revenue or they show revenue but not profit. And almost always we win them over time. And so what I really like about the Great Game of Business, and I certainly wouldn't consider them an operating system in its totality as I would define it, but the mini games and getting people really juiced around winning, is really good.

[00:19:52] Having some financial acumen I think is really important because giving people content without [00:20:00] creating context for them can be very damaging. If you don't know what a P&L is or how to read it. Because most employees think the owner, the entrepreneur has gold bricks in their basements. They just think exactly, they don't. I mean, they don't equate revenue to profit. They don't understand if you're a 10% margin business, that if you get a dollar in revenue, you're putting 10 cents on the bottom line and probably reinvesting all of that. And things like Great Game of Business or ownership thinking or all very valuable tools.

[00:20:32] We have, an approach here at EOS, which, is abundance mindedness. And what that really means when you dig down through abundance, it's about human ingenuity and unique ability, God-given talents. And so we don't really think of the world as competitive. We think about it as everyone has their unique ability that they're bringing to the table, and we should honor that. They all have their own unique thing and they have their right fit person that they're put on this earth to serve [00:21:00] and, go for it. Awesome. Celebrate it. 

[00:21:03] Ron Skelton: Awesome. We're looking at, we've got it implemented, we're put, what does that do? What I'm going with is the culture and the environment, right? One of the things you gotta look at when we're acquiring multiple companies is, do I have a culture match? Will the two companies work together as a two environments and stuff. How does EOS help the culture of a company? Change the culture of the company? Let's talk about a little bit about like, how does that play into, various cul, when it's implemented? How does it shift? 

[00:21:32] Mark O'Donnell: It can be a dramatic shift or it can be incremental. Or it can be no change at all. And the reason I say that's really about the intentionality of how that culture was built in the first place. Oftentimes when companies, let's say you buy a company and you, you probably shouldn't be buying a company that doesn't fit your own personal core values, cuz it's always gonna be a rub. [00:22:00] Or you're going to have to institute such painful cultural change over a long period of time. You'll want to run full speed into a wall. Like it'll be terrible, or you'll want to climb Whitney and not get rescued by the helicopter. So it's really about the amount of pain that you want.

[00:22:18] So if you're buying a company, try to buy one that, that fits your core values. Now, if you're merging multiple companies together, we think about it in two ways. There's a cultural fit and strategic fit. So number one, with that cultural fit, do they share, the core two companies share core values. Are they close enough? 80% similar? Like, you might have one that says, do the right thing, and the other one is have integrity. Well, they're probably similar to one another. And so the way they express them may be different, but the core of them should be very much the same. And then from a cultural perspective, let's say you do have core values match, do you have all the right [00:23:00] people in the right seat?

[00:23:01] Jim Collins talks about this in, How the mighty Fall and in other books, it's Packard's Law, which is when you're growing a company fast, you have to be very mindful. You can only grow at the speed in which you can put right people in the right seats. You can grow faster and then you have to just hire anyone. And so if you're putting two companies that had a different growth trajectories or different capabilities and putting right people in the right seat, 80% of your company should be people who share your core values and people who get want and have the capacity to do their jobs really, really well.

[00:23:37] If you have one company that's 80% and the other one that's 20%, you're gonna have a hard time doing that integration. I mean, that's what, seven or nine outta 10, M&A deals fail. And this is probably the reason why. The next thing we look at is the operating system. Obviously for us, we prefer EOS, but it doesn't really matter. You need to [00:24:00] agree on how you're gonna run these companies together. If you don't, it's gonna be Tower of Babel where people are using acronyms and saying issues when they mean opportunities. It's a time suck. Egos, and can you work together? Who's the integrator? So you mentioned, implementer versus integrator.

[00:24:21] Integrator is that number two person. Visionary is the person making it up. They're the big idea person. The integrator is the person who keeps the trains running on time. They're the glue that holds it all together. They're the COO, would be the outside title, if you will. And so that's all about culture. And we see huge, hundred 80 degrees shifts in culture. And then we see incremental because they've already been intentional in the beginning. And so companies that we see that are kind of messy are fast growers. They've hired lots of family members because they're available , not necessarily the right fit.[00:25:00] 

[00:25:00] It's really was a pulse check hired, kind of environment. Or it's skill only, no homage to cultural fit. And so you have these people who are just out for themselves, highly ego-driven. And so we see in the first 18 months of clarifying your vision, clarifying your core values, getting the wrong people off the bus first, then getting the right people on. And a lot of people missed that component of what Colin says, of getting all the right people on the bus, and then deciding where it's gonna go. His first thing is actually getting the wrong people off. Then get the right people on, then go. 

[00:25:37] Ron Skelton: So the right bus in the right seat's absolutely critical. Most of these, most of the, acquisitions for entrepreneurs, most of our listeners, you're gonna buy a company and you're gonna need to make some shifts. How do you handle an, through using EOS or using your privacy management experience?

[00:25:52] How do you hand the culture shock to being the guy that comes in and you gotta let go or move? Sometimes not even let go. Sometimes if you talk to these [00:26:00] guys, they just don't wanna do what they're doing now, and they're forced to do it cuz they're the only person that knows to do it. So it's not always, wrong, but in the wrong seat is that they have to leave the company. It's just like, what seat did that butt need to be in? Do you see that true in a lot of cases? 

[00:26:11] Mark O'Donnell: Oftentimes. And when you implement a system like EOS you end up with two core people issues. One, you have the right person in the wrong seat, and the other is that you have the wrong person in the right seat. And of course then you have, the other two, you have right person, right seat, and then wrong person, wrong seat. But the really, those two core issues, and for, in your example, you had a case where someone was the right person in the wrong seat.

[00:26:41] They shared your core values, they fit your culture. Like a glove you loved them and, maybe she was doing the, an admin job perfectly well, but she was not happy and so she was in the wrong seat. She either outgrew it or sometimes that happens the opposite where the seat they're in outgrows [00:27:00] them, but in this case, she outgrew the seat. And so if you have an opening in your organization and you don't wanna let core values people just walk on the street, cuz that's the harder part to find. And so we, we use a tool called the Delegate and Elevate tool. And so we have them sit and organize their tasks and activities. The things that they love to do and they're great at, and things that they're good and like, and the things that they are good at, but they hate. They don't like it, and things that they're not good at and they don't like, and sort of start to organize their world in a way that they can continuously move into a seat in your organization that lights them up, that unlocks their full potential.

[00:27:42] The other issue that we see often is you got the wrong person in the right seat. And this is actually a harder thing for a lot of entrepreneurs to let go of. Especially if you're growing fast, especially in a labor shortage, especially if you're building a company to sell it. And [00:28:00] they have some institutional knowledge that goes along with it. And so this person is, they don't fit the culture. They're like a cancer throughout the organization. They're a negative energy suck, like everyone around them falls in and people start gossiping and all this. There's just huge amount of energy and time wasted. But they're really, really good at their job, or at least you think they're very good at their job.

[00:28:23] They just crush it. They're the best developer, the best programmer, the best salesperson, whatever it is. But over time, when we work with people, we convince them that is the exact person you need to get rid of first. Like, let's use a salesperson. It's probably is, they're the top selling salesperson on the team. And they're cancer, and everywhere they go, they leave a wake of destruction behind them. Are they really the best salesperson? If you add up all the wasted time, effort, energy, and, to your point earlier with [00:29:00] Lockheed saying, how much does this meeting cost?

[00:29:02] Well, how does, how much, let's put the time wasted gossiping about this person, griping, complaining about this person fighting with this person. Let's put that on their individual P&L, and I guarantee you, they're not the most productive. They're probably the least productive, but on the surface, it looks like they're crushing it, but they're not. And so you gotta make those hard choices. If you can't get 80% of your company right, people, right seats, it's just not gonna work for you. 

[00:29:32] Ron Skelton: I think one of the things you didn't bring up or what you, I've seen often, a lot of times your number two, three, even four guys will leave. Cuz they just don't wanna be around that. Right. You'll lose good players because they don't want to be around. We had a, at another company we had an Oracle engineer who was just a nightmare to deal with. But he was so good at like, big Oracle databases and stuff. And I was told when I was a director level and I was told by the vp, you there, you run that entire vision.

[00:29:57] There's three people here. You can't fire no matter what. [00:30:00] Right. Our lead network guy, our lead Oracle guy. And this, somebody that he had put in over there that he was mentoring. It's like, you gotta come before you can do anything to any of those three. You have to come to me. And the Oracle guy was the worst, right? This guy would come in drunk, and this was a startup environment. We had alcohol in our desk, that was like, this is, excite.com. I showed up to excite.com and, people had liquor cabinets in their desk. And, I was the senior director of operations for Excite back in the day.

[00:30:29] Were excite, was head-to-head with Yahoo. Anyway, that said this guy was just the same kind of level as the, Lockheed guy. But he, it was a little bit better cuz he, he only came to meetings where senior Oracle guy had to be there and he hung out in his cubicle and did his thing unless we broke something then an Audis and he had to get on the call. That's where it was horrible cuz he just called everybody else. He like, he had changed the root password to these computer systems. Kick everybody else. I'll fix it and get, move everybody outta the way, not a team player. And it was really [00:31:00] disrupting a couple times. He extended the outage because we needed four or five people doing different things on the system while he was fixing the database, right?

[00:31:09] Knowing what I know now, I would've just went to the, I'd just go to the VP and say, look, I don't care what you say, I'll go hire three, three local admins and take his role. They'll get the stuff he needs done, but we don't have to put up with the attitude and we don't have to be put up with him calling six figure engineers idiots and locking 'em out of the system.

[00:31:25] Mark O'Donnell: Right. And those cases are sort of the obvious ones. I think what's more hideous people who are not that in your face, but never are all in and they're never really rowing in the same direction. Cuz EOS ultimately is a system for man and all the arrows pointed into one sanction and that's where all the magic bin. And some people just won't say anything that they'll be sort of, they're [00:32:00] not the in your face, showing up drunk, but they don't share your core values. Everybody really knows it. And then you start to justify it to yourself that, oh, well they're not that bad.

[00:32:10] They're not that, disruptive. They are doing okay. But they're not doing okay. And but another thing too is when I said that you, what you tolerate, you endorse, one of the most important things is that the leadership team is right people, right seat. Gotta start there. It's one thing for the leadership team or the owner, new owner to, to go in the business and make all these different changes. But if one person on the leadership team is not right person, right seat, and the rest of the organization sees that occurring well, you've just giving them a stamp of approval that if you're a good performer, you can be here.

[00:32:53] And it doesn't really matter. And then they'll be confused when you go and try to enforce it elsewhere. And [00:33:00] you haven't taken care of it at the leadership team for whatever level. For every reason. It could have been ownership or partnership or whatever. It doesn't matter if you're a partner, you're owner. Everyone has to be right person, right seat, regardless of your status. Put 'em in the owner's box. 

[00:33:14] Ron Skelton: Cool. I do wanna make sure we cover one, one area mainly cuz I struggle with it and I know other, acquisitions, entrepreneurs struggle with it. And that's that, chief operating officer role that, I'm gonna butcher this. Is it implemented or an integrator?

[00:33:28] Mark O'Donnell: Integrator. Integrator. 

[00:33:29] Ron Skelton: Integrator. 

[00:33:30] Mark O'Donnell: So integrators are in your business. The implementer is with the leadership team once a quarter. 

[00:33:37] Ron Skelton: Cool. So the integrator, walk through your, your concept of how to identify if you're interviewing and you're trying to find that guy either inside of the company when you acquire one, like see if one that already existed naturally excels at that integrator status?

[00:33:53] I know there's a test we can give him, but I've given a lot of people that test. Maybe I'm just surrounded by entrepreneurs, but most people I've given it [00:34:00] to have scored way high on the visionary. Like, I don't need any more of those. I'm semi just joking on that. But, I really need people that are really high on the integration side and I've yet to find a good source or a good way to identify and during an interview process, either at, you know somebody existing inside of the company or interview process, hiring somebody from outside of the company, that this is gonna be a great person to work with me and to be an integrator. How do you do that? What's that process look like? 

[00:34:28] Mark O'Donnell: Yeah. I'm not gonna sugarcoat this at all. Visionaries outnumber integrators four to one. So the odds are not in your favor. If you're an entrepreneur, like the chances of you finding your right fit integrator are quite frankly, pretty low, right? We can tip the scales in our favor by knowing they'll, places to look. Okay. So number one, fit with the visionary. And [00:35:00] not every organization has both visionary and integrator. Two separate seats on their accountability chart. But we like to show it that way because sometimes the visionary can sit in both seats.

[00:35:12] It's about 5% of the population of visionaries that we know of can do both really well. And as you said, Ron, with, you were able to do it sometimes because when a visionary sits in that integrator seat, you got 90 good days maybe that you can be world-class integrator and then holy smokes, you don't wanna do anything with it. You'll just ignore it all and things will go to crap. That's the reality. It's about visionary, integrator fit. And so who's puzzle piece? And it is that there's multiple, share your core values. Do they, they fit you like a glove, the visionary and the business. So you gotta be a core values fit.

[00:35:56] Do they have a business cycle [00:36:00] fit? because if you're a startup, you need a different type of integrator than if you're a thousand person or a mid-market growth company. It's a different skillset and some people can do both, but you gotta find the right fit for the business cycle. Then you need industry skill. All those types of things are important as well. Not as critically important. If you're in real estate as example, you don't need to go find an integrator who's has a ton of real estate experience, but it could help. But they must have the skills. They have to love leadership, management and holding people accountable.

[00:36:37] They gotta be a world-class manager. Most visionaries, like you and I are probably really bad managers, great leaders, not so good on management size because detail oriented and makes you want to just jump off a cliff. You got those, that puzzle piece that fit, that energy and ca when Kelly Knight my integrator, we operate at the same [00:37:00] frequency. And what I mean by that is the level of intensity in which we do work in focused sprints is the same. Cuz if you got a visionary who's, a quick burn and then they go for wait for five days and then they come back in one day. Quick burn, versus, I'm probably a five or six day burn and then I, need to cut off her a day or two and then I'm back at it, she's the same.

[00:37:26] So you gotta have that, that matching in terms of intensity and frequency. I'm a old electrical engineer. The sine wave needs to be, matched up, the oscillation, the peak, and everything else. Then you start to look at, where do I go to find this unicorn of a person? Depending on where you are, there's fractional integrators, which can be a really good bridge from briefing yourself and a full-time integrator. So they kind of just get the systems and processes. They help you, they own the leadership team, ultimately that integrator. And [00:38:00] so they are helping you design your ideal leadership team so that you can be freed up to do what you do best. And that's ultimately what the integrator's job is. So there's lots of fractional companies out there. We do have an online community at rocketfueluniversity.com, which is Free Visionary Integrator Training. And then, but the important piece, or the most interesting piece for the listener is there's a large group of integrators there. Hanging out who, some of 'em are fractional, some of 'em are looking for a shift, and so that's good resource to go to.

[00:38:35] There are integrator, recruiting firms that specifically focus in on recruiting integrators. One is tightest talent, the other one is Keystone Search. They specialize in finding those integrators. Know too that it, it's seasonal. You might be the right fit, integrator, visionary integrator duo for two years, three years, four [00:39:00] years. But then, it's time to move on because the business either outgrew one or both of you. Or it's just time to move on. It's not like, it's a little bit like a marriage type relationship, in terms of same page ness and all the things you have to worry about there. But, it comes to an end and it's a logical end. Maybe my analogy broke down there, but you got it . 

[00:39:21] Ron Skelton: I got it. That really helps out a lot. I'm gonna check out your community, I guess you wanna call it. And share that with the different communities I have cuz we're trained, the guys out there doing, acquisition entrepreneurship. They're trained to buy companies, put systems and place an operator in, and then get back to doing the mergers and acquisitions. Say buy the next company, merge it in, right? The way they train, at least the three or four mentors. I've interviewed quite a few of 'em, but most of these guys are like, look, if you really wanna be in this game and make serious wealth, you're gonna acquire more than one company.

[00:39:51] So the name of the game is Get in, pick great operators. And that's just another way, word for integrator. A great operator has all the skills of that integrator. [00:40:00] They get in, the daily stuff happens, the systems and process happen. They can look at the key performance indicators and make sure everybody's on track and, the company does what the company's supposed to when you're out there looking at the next company to acquire and put it in on there.

[00:40:12] I appreciate the, the resources on that. So let's talk about the mergers and acquisition space. Do you think that a company like having EOS I mean, for me, it, I think it would makes it more valuable on the exit, right? Because the systems and processes not only just are there and are the ironclad, but there's some validity to, we run this based off EOS. And if you don't know EOS, there's a couple books you can go get and take a look at it. You don't have to figure out is that you don't have to go in and spend that, 12 to 18 months of kind of just getting to know everybody and figure out why they're doing certain things with a certain way.

[00:40:54] You can go listen to the audio book and get a pretty good idea how the meeting's gonna go when you show up, right? You think there's [00:41:00] more value to a company? What's your expectation on, valuation of companies like let's give you a kind of a scope. I guess. I asked you a question.

[00:41:07] You don't know who the audience is fully unless you rumor our previous conversation from weeks ago. We buy the company right under that, yeah, that P&E range where the P&E's not playing we're, we call 'em small to medium businesses, but most of us are acquiring things in just below the radar of private equity with the hopes of maybe buying a second one, growing a little bit and becoming attractive to them. Cuz they pay higher multiples than we do. Right. That's the name of the game here. So do you think it makes it more attractive to a private equity or a strategic purchaser to have a system like this in place?

[00:41:38] Mark O'Donnell: There is no doubt. And when I was working, I worked with a little over a hundred customers, clients implementing EOS myself. Multiple exits in that. And when they were purchased, they were told that they got two or three times multiple more because of implementing EOS. So it's a huge, [00:42:00] hundred x return on their investment, really. One was a really good, they had an offer, they didn't like the offer. They said, Hey, you're missing systems and processes. And we implemented EOS and they had, it was a three, times multiple higher than the original offer in nine months. 

[00:42:18] Yes. Part of it was getting all the systems, the processes documented and followed by all throughout the organization. And that was great. That was probably. But the real key thing, and as I've said earlier during this conversation, it was about the leadership team. About 50% of the leadership team were, was changed out during that process. And so when they came back, the owner came back with, Hey, we think we're ready now. They had a, just a total level up on the leadership team. It went from a okay leadership team. Like, okay, they're, they can do it to, [00:43:00] wow, I want to. Work with this leadership team. And now the world of possibilities that we have as a buyer has just been opened up to just whole new levels of value maximization, revenue capture, new products were put into the mix because the leadership team just had this huge capability. It didn't cost them anymore. It was just a different, set of humans that had a unique ability to live in that company and share the culture. And so we see this over and over and over again, that and we've all heard the stories we've all experienced.

[00:43:37] And when someone goes to, to do a purchase, if you're looking for that next exit and you're gonna sell to a PE. The leadership, I mean, the very little is spent on the business. Talk around TAM and all those different types of things and what the business model is and how do we, what's the value creation versus capture? Are there network effects? We can take advantage of all those things, but when it comes down to it, [00:44:00] it's, they're buying the leadership team, and what the possibilities and the capacity. We just see this over and over and over again that people are getting quite a significant bump in their exit value.

[00:44:16] Ron Skelton: So you brought up something that was interesting and I want to dive just a little bit into it. A lot of the guys listen to this show, not a lot, probably a good percentage. 10, 15% of the show's listeners, they own a company, they're looking at that potential of exiting. And maybe their systems and processes are kind of there, but they're not quite. If they're just now talking about, I think I might sell this pretty soon. They're just now going into the realization that they're running their accounting wrong and stuff for the last few years cuz they've been trying to save taxes to really maximize their value. They have a one to three years of changing the way they run taxes, changing the way they do their accounting, cleaning up the thing, and just to really maximize the value. How long from start to finish does the average EOS [00:45:00] implementation take? 

[00:45:02] Mark O'Donnell: There's lots of factors that determine that. The intensity in which the team is focused on implementing the tools. Our typical implementation is 24 months, two years. We start seeing massive results between 12 and 18 months, I would say. You see results and you feel better and you're more focused almost day one. But you don't really, you're not gonna see immediate P&L results. Probably in until 12 to 18 months out. The system is designed when you work with an EOS implementer that you graduate within two years. We've taught you everything.

[00:45:39] It's all about, independence versus dependence, and so we just give you everything we've got and you're ready to go on your own after two years. But some clients stay with us forever and some finish earlier. But if I'm one of your listeners and I just got to the company, I'm gonna go implement EOS or a system like it. [00:46:00] I would have an expectation of around 18 months to have meaningful P&L results. Almost immediate clarity and impact. Because you gotta get the right, the wrong people off, the right people on and get really clear and focused and get used to that discipline. You're creating a habit throughout your organization of execution.

[00:46:20] And so that takes some time. It depends on your size of company. One of my clients had 7,000 employees, and so it took three years before we could roll out these tools to the entire business. And they started seeing results, at around that timeframe too, because it something really powerful. If you have a hundred people and they're all rolling in the same direction. 

[00:46:42] Ron Skelton: One of the things that's come up to my mind is, I'm a believer that it's often the case. It's the person who starts a company and gets it to the first dollar may not be the same person that takes it from that first dollar of revenue to profitability to be the same guy that takes it [00:47:00] from profitability to 10 million. Like, there's different skill sets, different phases. And maybe I'm breaking up too tight there, but like to go from zero to a million is one guy, and to go above, that's another. And once you get up into that, especially when you cross that 15 to 20, 25 million dollar range and you've got large organization types of stuff going on, it's a different CEO.

[00:47:21] How often is the wrong button, the wrong seat, the CEO that reached out and hired you? 

[00:47:27] Mark O'Donnell: It happens probably 10% of the time and a little bit like, there's aggressive growers. I would say. That yep, they're startup visionary. They're startup entrepreneur and they've done multiple and they just know who they are. I do startups. I take it to 20 people and then I'm out. And then they sell it or they put, integrator there and they don't really need a visionary because it's a, HVAC company or something. Or they go and hire a visionary and bring them in. Then there's some [00:48:00] that they are such learners and they're learners because you can, a company can grow faster than you can learn.

[00:48:09] And those are the instances in where the visionary needs to say, I need some, a new visionary to come in here. And then there's others that they just have an almost an endless learning capacity, and they can take the company from, to themselves to thousands of employees and they do just fine all along the path. About 10% of the time, I would say the, visionary is self-aware enough to know who they are and what their limits are, what they're willing to do, before they move on. And so I would use EOS worldwide as an example, because Gina Wickman, who's our founder, started the company along with his business partner, Don Tinney.

[00:48:51] The moment we had a, an employee manual, he was done. So we had an [00:49:00] employee manual. He is like, I'm out. And so he passed the torch to Mike Peyton. And Mike Peyton was visionary for five years. Gino decides, he's gonna sell the company. And then Peyton six months later is like, I'm out cuz I know who I am and I know that's not what I want to do. And now I've stepped into that role. And I would pay attention to that story a little bit as well because, Gino from the beginning created his role to be able to be passed on to another visionary. Don Tinney, who was his integrator, did the same thing. And so Gino ran it, passed it to Mike Peyton. Did about a year of overlap, give or take. And oh, Gino is available to me right now. So is Mike Peyton. And so we were mentoring each other along these paths. But Kelly Knight then took over for Don Tinney, and they planned that five years ahead of [00:50:00] time, that Don will leave and will get a new integrator.

[00:50:03] What this integrator would look like, what the visionary would look like, and how we pair them together. Now that creates just tremendous value when you have an organization that is not a cult of personality, which is, you can just pass it along. I'm doing that now. I've implementers who listen to this are gonna be surprised. I've already had conversations with who I believe will be the next visionary of the US worldwide when that time comes. It's probably five years from now. But I kind of know who it is, what kind of person it'll take, and I've already started that process. So, Potential, on, it's sort of like hydra. You afford more rise up or whatever the exact thing is. And we never want to be called to personality. Just, total succession plan right in place. 

[00:50:53] Ron Skelton: Now, I've asked a lot of questions in this show, and we're getting, we've got some time spent behind us. What should I ask? Like, what have we missed?[00:51:00] 

[00:51:06] Mark O'Donnell: I think, and you hit on it right there, which is getting really, really clear about your own individual unique ability, God-given talent. And then building your organizations around that. Stay in your lane, you got, we lots of books out there, mastery and by Robert Green, and really if you just do one thing and master that and hone that craft, but that requires a certain level of, emotional intelligence, if you will. Self-awareness to do that and then apply that concept to the people on the leadership team.

[00:51:46] So I suppose it's not really a question you didn't ask, it's more about the mindset of when I look at a company, what's the best way to maximize the [00:52:00] value? So it's scalable and, has succession in place and how do I approach that? And so I think that's really the key as far as I can tell, to that. The other thing is how do I assess a company without knowing much about it? From an EOS perspective? And so we have a, an online tool. It's free. It's called organizational checkup.com. So organizational checkup.com. It's 20 questions, and if you have the current owner or the leadership team member, or all of them answer those 20 questions, it'll give you the results of where they are, in the organization. Terms of systems and processes and all that.

[00:52:43] And it will give you some guidance around what you need to do next to strengthen those areas of the business that need some help. And so that's a great diagnostic tool, that you can use right out the gate while you're doing those assessments of the 20 marketing companies or whatever it is.[00:53:00] 

[00:53:01] Ron Skelton: Let's do that real quick. We're running out time, so what are the other resources, talking about that organizational checkup. What other resources are out there? How do people implement this? What resources have you guys created that make this work for them?

[00:53:17] Mark O'Donnell: Yeah, so there's the Rocket Fuel University, which is a free online training that's all about the visionary and integrator relationship. Of course we have the six books in the Traction library. Which are traction, which is the total system. There's Get a Grip, which is sort of the implementation story, and I'll give you an idea of what order and which to implement these things. Then there is Rocket Fuel, which is again about the visionary integrated relationship. There's how to be a great boss for all your mid-managers. So that's another key piece that's value creation. That every one of your people who manages another human, they really need to learn how to become a great boss.

[00:53:56] And so that's a great resource. [00:54:00] The list is pretty long here. Then we have the book, which is what the heck is EOS, which is the primer, which is for every employee in the organization. Then the other books are, The EOS Life. Because we've noticed the strategic byproduct of implementing EOS is you get to live this life where you're doing what you love with people you love, making a huge difference, being compensated appropriately and having time to pursue other passions. And so that's what that book is. And then the newest book is Process, which is a deep dive into that process component. So if you want to create systems and processes, again, adding tremendous value to the organization, repeatability or franchise prototype. That's a deep dive into that component, as well.

[00:54:43] So those books are, available where any books are sold. Pretty much. And our website's, eosworldwide.com. There's lots of free resources and tools you can download. There's 20, 25 tools that can just go and download. If we also [00:55:00] have our beta software, which is for an execution tool, and we have licensed partners, 90.io, that you can sign up for and track your to-dos and your vto and do all those things. And, those are all good resources. We do as much as we can to help as many people as we can.

[00:55:16] Ron Skelton: What would an operating system be without operating manuals? Right. So you got a six book set operating manuals. Right. 

[00:55:21] Mark O'Donnell: Yeah, that's right.

[00:55:22] Ron Skelton: So I wanna appreciate you, or I wanna say I appreciate you having you on the show today. Is there any, any finishing things you wanna say? If like, if somebody could only remember one or two things from the show, what would it be? That would be a great one to finish off with. What would be your key takeaway? 

[00:55:36] Mark O'Donnell: Build a great leadership team. Build a great leadership team. Those mean by top two things that you can take to the bank. 

[00:55:45] Ron Skelton: Awesome. Well, we'll end with that. So build a great leadership team. Thank you for being on the show. Hang out for a few seconds and we'll call that the show guys. Thank you for being on.