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The Oval Table
The Oval Table

Episode 38 · 3 months ago

Hilmon Sorey - Seeking the Business Stars of Tomorrow

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Hilmon Sorey joins us at the table this week. He is co-founder of several companies including ClozeLoop, a consultancy firm, 12 Angels, a early stage seed money venture capital company, and has helped many startups get on their feet and grow to profitability.

We discuss the new demographics of the business world, the need for familiarity with past economic shocks, what kinds of startups his companies invest in, the dangers AND opportunities within the current environment, and how to position your business to become a strong performer.

We also discuss some of the principles that The Oval Table is built on.

Hilmon can be contacted directly on LinkedIn.

#HilmonSorey #TheOvalTable #seedmoney #startup #earlystage #opportunity #economicshocks #ClozeLoop #CloselyHeldBusiness

But what I was telling people is one basic tenant is what can you do to help the folks who are your existing customers today? How can you put yourself in position? And I don't necessarily mean this in a self serving or even a capitalistic view, I mean truly, what resources do you have, what talent do you have as an organization, what competence do you have as an organization that allows you to be able to serve the folks who are already buying from you? Because retention is equally key. Right, if you cannot fix the leaky bus at the bucket, right, if the buckets got a hold in the bottom of it, you're trying to pour into it and an economy like this, that's not going to happen. What you can do is retain and find ways to sell more, do more, provide more access more among the folks who are already familiar with you. Hello everyone, him Rishie cats, and welcome to the Oval Table, where we discuss all things related to helping those who live and work within your business how to survive, thrive, avoid pitfalls, have more fun and become successful faster. Getting advice and input from someone outside of Your Business can make a big difference, and that's what we seek to do for you each and every week here at the oval table. We believe that every voice matters and we want to model how that works. Often the advice that makes the difference comes from where you least expect it. We seek every week to provide a lens for a different way to do business, so much more as possible when everyone's ideas make it to the table. Let me introduce you to our co hosts, Doug Bowers and Carl Walsh. Well, good day everyone, and welcome to an other episode of the Oval Table. Today we have with us at the table Hillman. Sorry, Hillman is a very interesting fellow. We saw him some time ago speak to a group and just thought that he was engaging, exciting and somebody who really has roots that go deep into business, in particular Silicon Valley, but not just there. He's works a lot with startups of all ilk. So I'll just give you a little bit of background on Hillman. Hillman is co founder of coach Crm, sales and coaching software for managers. He's CO founder of clothes loop. That's closed loop with a Z A sales strategy, training and enablement firm with offices in New York, Houston, Silicon Valley and Johannesburg. Yes, partner in two dot twelve angelus as a seed stage venture capital firm and author of eight top selling books on sales, Sales Management and coaching, he has helped build teams and companies that range from early stage startups to Salesforce, box, survey monkey, Bill Dot Com, you know, companies we've all heard of and all know about, and some of the fastest growing companies in the world, totaling over six hundred billion dollars in valuation and Market Cap. He's an award winning trainer who has trained over fifteen thousand salespeople and over five thousand executives. He is a sought after speaker around the Globe and today we got him at the Oval Table. Welcome, Hillman, and we're delighted to see you here today. I'm happy to be here, Douglas and Carl, thanks for having me. Well, Douglas, I and I know you have some things right off the top of your head that you want to get to, so I'm gonna let you do it so we don't forget it. Okay, Carl, last year we were talking about inflation is being an impacting item and we felt that that the first year that inflation was going to go strong it was probably gonna last to the rest of the decade. That's our our opinion and we've seen no reason to change it at this point. The food costs are going to be a lot higher than the five percent of the Wall Street Journal was projecting and it's closer to ten or more. That the supply chain was not going to get fixed, the chips are not going to get fixed, travel is going to be a nightmare and the great resignation or the great realignment is going to continue and more and more people are going to try and work from home. That was our opinion early on in the year and I think we're substantially correct. So now that you have some background in the Silicon Valley area, with with tech startups and tech companies, it would be great to get some input from you as to what's going on in that sector. Well, Doug, let's stick with your day job and don't write children's books, because the doom you've just painted it's very scary. There's...

I want to know what the silver lining is on the back end of that. You know the upshot of this. It's it's really interesting. I appreciate the question relative to Silicon Valley, because Silicon Valley is very interesting place for myriad reasons. You've got some of the youngest CEOS in any industry because of access right. You've got folks who come out of college and maybe they go into directly into an accelerator. Some folks drop out of college, some folks have worked on projects in college. At any rate, you've got CEOS who may have, and this is a key point, never seen an inflationary or recessionary economy. Right, for those of us who have gray or hair or no hair or so common some combination of the two. We've seen this before and we have an idea. Granted, it's different all the time, but we have an idea as to what takes place, maybe how to navigate it or at least some kind of strategic insight. So what's interesting and the three companies you mentioned, Carl as, you introduced me, coach Crm is a venture funded start up, closed loop is a closely held multimillion dollar professional consultancy and to twelve angels is a venture capital seed Stage Fund right firm. So I'm kind of all over the place as it relates to this economy. So the question as it relates to Silicon Valley, here's what we're hearing. For our clients are closed loop clients, are startup clients. Were absolutely hearing pretty much the same thing that we heard at the beginning of Covid, which is shrink, scarcity mentality. Find a way to preserve runway. Money is going to be scarce. You're going to have to find a way to navigate these waters. The question I have, which I do not have an answer to, is is this advice that's being given to more junior CEO s because they haven't experienced it before, or is this truly the prudent advice that a financial you know, someone with some financial acumen who's in a fund on operating side or sitting on somebody's board, is saying really they believe is the strategy, because I have seldom seen sure there are large organizations that do need to make cuts, that do need to be to have a fiduciary accountability and responsibility and maybe move towards layoffs, maybe start rescinding offers, maybe scale back efforts. This is Hillman's personal opinion. I don't think that the macro economics in the industry that is that is really targeted towards disruption right, that is targeted towards process efficiency, that's targeted towards automation. I don't think that scaling back is the way to go and I think if you study history, you'll see that many companies actually had significant trajectory throughout recession and depressionary economies, and I think that that's the way that folks should really be positioning themselves if they believe in their business. Now, if you've got something, there are folks I've spoken to recently who have software that truly falls into the cat gegory of Nice to have, and these founders have kind of come to that realization and what they are looking at now is, is there something that is more critical in my software platform or in my technology that I can leverage to solve a problem that the marketplace is experiencing today, and if so, I need to pivot in that direction to remain viable. Otherwise my runway or my my attractiveness to the venture community is going to wane significantly as folks begin to constrict. I don't know if that was a direct answer to your question is a whole bunch of things that were in my head there, Douglas. Well, how long of a time span doing you do you think the runway is for a? So let's talk seed stage. Right, the seed stage firm could be, if you haven't raised a series a yet, you could be at twelve months, eighteen months. You may have a shorter runway than that, given the amount of money you have in your coffers right now and if you're looking at this from the manage point of okay, seed stage. I need to get to this concept that we call product market fit, right where we've got some segment of the marketplace that said, wow, I gotta have this thing, it's fantastic because it does whatever it does for me. If you are shy of that, then investing in engineering to get there is going to be critical and that's going to put you in a really tough position if you are later stage from the standpoint of your seed round, if your later stage and you're at a point where you've actually got some traction and that traction is in a large enough addressable market where you're able to actually say, Hey, I can peel off these innovators. I can peel off these early adopters and begin to sell something to them, with the product where it is today, solving a problem, then you're probably in a little better situation than those folks who might be coming out of an accelerator right now and trying to gain that traction on the product side. Colonel, I've been around long enough to have remembered prime you were present TV second t ds on houses, uh, and markets really just collapsing around you, and it's UN unpredictable as to how long that lasts. Yeah, so the amount of runway some of these companies have, it's important...

...because if if the runway expires in eleven months and the recovery takes twenty months, then then we've got a big gap period that's going to be a problem. Well, what did the Fed do back then? It's is it trending in the same direction back then? Uh, we had Jimmy Carter's president and then called in Vulcar to run the Fed, and voker just went and slammed it. I mean that's what he did. Stop Inflation. He was just raising the rates, and so the bank rates normally followed the prime and the farther the Fed rates but they go with it with a margin. Well, I'll just add a little bit to that. In those days we were at coming to the end of twelve years of stagflation. People are beginning to throw that word around now, and it's because the conditions today are almost exactly the same conditions back then was. That's sent eight we're talking about, Karl. Yeah, exactly, but stagflation was around long before seventy eight. Nixon was dealing with with it. What we experienced during the seventies was all of a sudden fuel prices rose right, the Saudis emerged as kings of of energy and we had a huge national debt because of the Vietnam War. And these things take take time before they actually hit, and by seventy eight seventy nine it was full force. They had to bring the economy to a screeching halt because for twelve years nobody had done anything about it, and that's sort of the situation we're facing today. For about twelve years we've been pumping money into the economy artificially because first the credit crisis in two thousand and eight, two thousand nine, and then, of course, covid and we have the supply change problem. We have high fuel prices. We've seen this movie before and we have an idea on how it ends. One problem that period is gas was not as readily available as it is now. Now it's available, you just have to pay a high price. Back then you had gas lines. Yeah, you might have to wait another morgo right, right, kill man. Let me ask you. If we get a closely held business, it's past the time when it's a startup. It's been functioning for a while. Perhaps it was functioning before the pandemic and looking at the conditions that we're seeing today. Okay, what do they do? What are their concerns? Well, what I'm hearing is that folks are drawing down whatever lines they possibly can, trying to accrue. Well, like one doesn't necessarily want to accrue debt, but certainly being in a position where you have cash flow covered and you you've pretty well exhausted your availability of any lines of credit at this point, with the anticipation of that becoming more and more scarce and potentially your position relative to being able to do so becoming less and less ideal, or at least the becoming much more of a stringent marketplace. Right, Um, I what's difficult in answering this question is the type of business because, frankly, if you're in a manufacturing your distribution business, you have an entirely different outlook than someone who might be in a professional services or an agency oriented type business or a consulting firm like mine. I don't have supply chain issues running my business. The biggest challenge I have relative to fuel costs is travel, which covid has done a fantastic job of eliminating that as a business necessity. Everyone's getting accustomed to doing what we're doing right now, which is staring at each other in a bunch of boxes on the screen right. So that's that's become a very big benefit from my business, even from a delivery perspective, regardless of whether it's sales, delivery, consulting, whatever it might be. Even even the opportunity to do what we're doing right now, which is to a mass dissemination of a podcast or some means of thought leadership. All of this stuff, the union economics behind them are significantly different. I grew up with a father who is running a manufacturing firm, a dairy processor, out of Wisconsin, and I think about the trucks that came through there. I think about the equipment costs, I think about the you know, employees. It was a much different business, right, still closely held. Much different business, though. So I don't know that I have enough expertise to speak to that side of the equation, but in broad terms, I think that what's critical is to take a look at the business, and this is something we should do all the time. Some of these things become a forcing function. Right, you live in fat times and some of the things that you may not have been paying as much attention to or had been on the to do list of...

...things that you would reevaluate or avenues that you might explore, they have become a little more critical when when we're in this kind of a crunch. So I think that what's important is to take that and not, I'm not saying go into the five year strategic plan anything like that, but really take a look marriage to the outlet and parallel to the runway that Douglass was talking about, whatever that perception might be for your industry, and see where are you with respect to your seasonal trends, with respect to your market trends, with respect to your customers because the biggest key here, I think, is what your customers are doing. If your customers are shrinking, and meaning if they are laying people off, if they are cutting back or freezing budgets, if they are halting on travel, if they are producing less, whatever your customer does, if they're doing less of it, then you have to be able to consider yourself in light of those decisions and not operating in a vacuum. I think this is just basic business acumen right. What we are doing specifically is saying, fortunately, I'm in the business of sales right, in the business of creating revenue for people, and in good times people want more and bad times people want more, and so I have knock on one somewhat of an inflation group of business. But that said, we're still looking at where are the priorities for our customer and how do we best serve that customer? And one thing that I'll tell you was my mantra. This was the drum that I was beating like an energizer bunny back when covid came and there was much less clarity, there was far less history. Right, we hadn't survived the plague for you know, nearly a hundred, I guess a little over a hundred years, and most of us have not experienced that, so we couldn't pattern match around something that had happened fifty years ago. But what I was telling people is one basic tenant is, what can you do to help the folks who are your existing customers today? How can you put yourself in position? And I don't necessarily mean this in a self serving or even a capitalistic view, I mean truly, what resources do you have, what talent do you have as an organization, what competence do you have as an organization that allows you to be able to serve the folks who are already buying from you? Because retention is equally key. Right, if you cannot fix the leaky bus with the bucket, right, if the buckets got a hole in the bottom of it, you're trying to pour into it and an economy like this that's not going to happen. What you can do is retain and find ways to sell more, do more, provide more access more among the folks who are already familiar with you. You kind of stated this Avatar as being somebody who has been running or an organization that has been running for a significant amount of time and therefore has customers and a track record. Go all in on them and figure out how you can serve them best. Actually, you kind of led to a beautiful segue there for for me. What are you seeing as far as your customers coming to you? Do you see a sea change from before the pandemic, where people came to you because they wanted to be an awesome company, and now they're coming to you because, holy cow, I'm in survival mode here. You know what's interesting? It's always both of them and, to be honest, it kind of depends on the maturity of the company, to be frank. So early stage when we're talking, you know, and most of my businesses, of our business on the closing side, is technology based, right. So if you're in that siege series a, I kind of look at it as like you've still got that new car smell. You know, you haven't got a ding on you, you're fantastic, you zip all around town, it's fun to get in there and drive. It still smells good. All this stuff right, and so you think that you are the swiftest, fastest, strongest, lightest, bettest, bestest thing that's out there. And so it's like more people need to know about us. If they knew about us, we'd be a Unicorn. Right. So that's and every you know, within reason, nobody should start a company if they don't think that's going to be the case. Right. So I'm not disparaging that worldview. Then be a little further along and you've tried to hire some salespeople, you've tried to scale your organization. You know you know that you're better than the big leader in the marketplace, yet you're still trailing and you come to me a little frustrated and it's like, how do we get this thing to work? How do we turn this into a repeatable, predictable machine that is investable, and how do we get a defensible story where we can go back to these funds and say, look, we're proving it out and with more money we'll be able to hit scale and do this sort of a thing. So that hasn't changed significantly. I will say, though, that there is something about I will say there are more companies coming to us. They have laid off people or they have cut head count, meaning that they have had headcount for the second half of the year that they've now frozen and said no, we're gonna work with what we've got. So what we're hearing from a lot of people, this is closely held as well as venture funded. How do I do more with what I have? How do I train my people to either leverage technology to create more capacity or to become more effective in closing the business that I've got? The other thing that's happening, Karl is, folks are coming to us saying how do I sell to my customer WHO's not buying? And you know, they answer to that as well. You've got to find a problem you can solve. If the problem you were solving six months ago is no law longer the critical issue,...

...than you've got to find a critical issue and you have to move. You know. Well, moved my cheese. Go Chase it right, right. Well, would you say this is a period while there's there's certainly a lot of headwinds. I would say in the next year a lot of businesses are going to suffer, probably many will fail. But having said that, and I still want to reserve the right to write children's books, so I'm gonna love that positive. I want to look at the positive end here, which is is this a time of opportunity. Our space is opening up in business. Call me an eternal optimist and I've been accused of that. I always see opportunity. When everybody is running away, I'm kind of like, what's out there? What you know? I love the buffet's term that you can always tell the swimming naked when the tide goes out right. I kind of like I'm waiting out there to see what's out there. Um, I just I go against the trend. I tend to move in that way in my life in general. I'm very comfortable in that space. If everybody is saying belt tighten, I'm like, well, what if we spent you know, and I am a student of history. I like studying companies and granted, some of these companies have had way more wherewithal than my company does, but the mindset can still apply. You know, if this is a time where everybody is trying to scale back and mass layoffs have occurred and offers are being rescinded, I look at this and I say, okay, that's what everybody else is doing, and that means that there is a great sea of really talented, really hungry, really ambitious, ready talent where, just six months ago, these people did not exist. Everybody was saying, we're am I going to hire the next engineer? Where am I gonna hire the next salesperson? People paying through the nose for folks who had pedigree but may not have had, you know, proof. You're looking at the historic performance record. I say, well, now they're here, how can I employ with them and what can I do to actually be able to get a little left? Now, one of the benefits of this is that I'm a salesperson. This is what I do. I teach people how to sell, I teach sales process, I teach revenue, I teach everything from demand gin all the way through closing and then the retention of revenue. So I have a certain confidence in my ability to find something to sell, which goes a long way in my flexibility, uh, in doing something like this. But I'll tell you. You know, my business partner, Korey and I, we are constantly looking at the angles, for lack of a better turn, and saying that there is if we are nimble, if we're agile and if we are willing to take some risk. And you know, in a closely held firm that risk sometimes means, you know, putting the college fund on whom it might be. It might be the vacation of opinion, it could be the house that you're like, well, you know, I could take out of this house and put in here and have an exponential return and then potentially end up no longer married. But what's? What's? What's the rest here? Everyone, everyone has a risk threshold and you have to evaluate your risk threshold and I think that if you're an entrepreneur, a sea level individual inside of a closely held held firm, your risk threshold is already pretty darn high. I don't care how long you've been in business, because we know how quickly the seas can change. Risk threshold is the one of the things that separates the closely held from the public, because the public can always go and raise more money, they can always change jobs and say it was the other guy's fault. When you're in the closely held, it is your fault. You are on the line and if you borrow money you have to be able to pay it back. So it's a much different operation and closely held than it is otherwise. I think there is a sincere we're sort of at the start of a downturn or flattening or or a stagflation period. I think it's interesting to look at the background here, because I think it could be easily misinterpreted or you can easily go off into a dark land on it. I think from a public policy standpoint, their number of problems. One is the inflation. Another one is the hyper focus on e V instead of survival. Another one is that we have our allies in Europe, because of Putin's invasion, have significant problems coming up and we have the solution to some of those problems in the form of gas and oil, and we need to be responding to them as they did to us on nine eleven, and helping them get through this period. Yes, and then we have people who have never experienced the high inflationary periods. They have not experienced stigflation, they have no muscle memory, they have no experience, so it's easy to panic. Then there there is the one big thing that's sitting in the background and nobody mentions and that's US debt. Yeah, the service on that debt by three percent. You've got a tremendous problem and we're not the only ones. We can break business down...

...into three groups. One group one is people shouldn't be there at all. I mean they're selling dollhouses or something, some of the kind of things that doesn't isn't relative to uh survival of most families. The second groups as people who are marginal, who have not been paying attention or not organized and not focused on what's going on and are kind of in a cloud, and there's gonna be significant change in that group. The group we like to focus in on are the group that's been managing their business is correctly from the start. They are focused on the seven critical factors that we think are extremely important as true profits, expanding sales with margins. So when you look at these public companies like General Mills reporting increase in sales but the margins aren't going anywhere really selling units, they're just raising prices because of inflation, that's not positive and it's positive in terms of not going in the whole but it's not positive in terms of trying to actually develop a country company. They have to be innovative. Number three, they have to reward and develop their employees. They have to be partners with their vendors, they have to be involved in the communities in which they exist and they have to have honesty and Teger to you know, all things, if you're managing those seven factors and you're really on it, I mean you're you're there every day trying to maximize those seven factors and you're in a much different position than the other people. Okay, so now you've got a great business and you've got a business that's doing well, and now you can start looking at the people who are marginal, and it's just gonna say now now you get into the ecosystem. Right, that's exactly what I would do. Now you start looking at those marginal ones that have perhaps good products or good employees or good customer list or good something, and the people cannot perhaps see the opportunity that's coming and you can take the qualitiness of your business and you can acquire those people. That's right, and then you can really function, you can really go. So this is an opportunity coming up here. We may not be quite at that point yet, we're going to get there. I love this concept and I don't often get a chance to have this conversation anymore. I'm a child of the eighties, so I was a huge fan of you know, First Boston Kkr and these these are folks who were doing it at the highest level of the game. Right I still and I began to study just independently living in Chicago. I was looking at well, where are there some opportunities for consolidation here? Where are some opportunities to bring sales and Marketing Acumen too, a company that may have been around twenty some odd years and does fall into that second level of mediocrity, either because it's been handed down to a couple of generations and the kids just aren't into it the way the the the founders or whatever the case might be, and where can you achieve some economies of scale that actually really create expanse as a business, whether that's geographic expansion, market and industry expansion, customer expansion or even customer sell through cross sell and upsell, opportunities of product overlap or vertical integration. I love this, Douglas, this is my my business. Verner Correy and I we talked about this as kind of being like the sunset once once we get out of venture, we would love to come back and begin looking for opportunities to do this. Interestingly enough, we work with a number of private equity firms. They all invest in tech, but they invest in tech that is bootstrapped and or closely held and you know, five to ten years old founder lad founder looking for exit, founder looking for ways to survive in the marketplace. Typically founder has deep subject matter expertise but a real nice little slice where they have some great opportunities for expansion or consolidation in an industry. I love that concept and I think that most closely held firms that are run at that third stage where they've really been on top of their game and they know it and are positioned in a way where they probably have strong banking relationships and strong customer relationships and can do this sort of a move without upsetting the integrity of their firm and some of those seven points that you mentioned. I think that that's really a strategic outlook right now. A good watchword is if, if you need the bank, you're not there right you need me in a position where the bank needs you. Yeah, that's a good point, and then like that I might put that up on at a bumper stick or somewhere. You need the bank, you're not there. I like that. There's another situation here in the background that Carl likes to point out too is and that is the retirement of the baby boomers. People have been driving business for substantial periods of time and also substantial wealth. This is a chance where people have said, you know, I've been at it awhile, I've done really well. I'd rather try something else, I'd rather go somewhere elseide rather retire right, rather to pick up some hobbies or whatever I...

...want to do that I haven't been able to do. So I'm interested in exiting this business. Yes, okay. So then at that point the question becomes exit to who? So, if you've been training your team around the Oval Table All these years, they're competent, they're ready to go, they've been there, they've been through problems before, they've solved problems and they're ready to go at it. So you have a national buyer there. That's the ideal. Right. Yeah, well, you can back off to and what in a public would be called the executive chairman type position, or you're really not involved in the day to day but you're there to give give some advice from time to time, ask some critical questions, but the team itself is the one who's going to take and run this thing and run with it. And what you've done, if you've running it that way, is you've taken people who, and a lot of environments, would never have a chance to have a say, never be asked anything, and they're the ones on the ground. I mean they're the ones talking to vendors, they're talking to customers. You're not doing that. They're they're on the ground and they they can bring that on the ground background and experience to the Oval Table and collectively they can come up with an answer, they can come up with opportunities, they can, they can. You could ask a simple question at the table. Is there anybody that we need to acquire? Yeah, we could acquire and you might find a list of people that you have not known about before. Shouldn't this be an ongoing discussion, though? I shouldn't that question be posed quarterly? At least it should be. How can you know? The first question at an oval table is how can we make the business better? Right and sit there and be quiet? You don't have the answer. They have the answer. Let them talk about it. Let them find the answer. Are They gonna Stumble? Absolutely gonna Stumble. ARE THEY gonna go in wrong directions? At times. Of course they're going to you, but they're developing knowledge base. Yeah, sooner or later that knowledge base about your industry, about your opportunity, is going to be the thing that's going to turn it. And then you sit and you wait, and it's early now, but you sit and you wait, you get yourself ready to go and you start doing your research and you start doing your thinking, and then when we start to see a bottom coming in, we start to see a turn happening, that'll be the scary time. That'll be when everybody else wants to run for the hills and you're sitting there taking it in. And that's the buffet approaches. is when everybody is is afraid. He's in there doing something about it, but he's not just doing anything. I mean that that's not a reaction, it's strategically deployed. That's right. I mean, if we had, we had somebody in a closely health space with your energy level sitting at the oval table, imagine what an oval table that would be like. I mean, I would just be an explosive. I can't wait to see it, because they have a lot of fun. Oh yeah, everybody, I mean, and if everybody else around the table in their own sectors and their own bringing their own emotional settings to the table, were as excited as you are. I mean, the thing would be bedlam. I mean it would be fantastic to be there. That wait to get there. Can we start now? That would be that kind of thing. But the positiveness for the business would be tremendous. You would be watching everything. I mean, if you focused on making a true profit over its a profit that didn't require a cash commitment somewhere else you have to pay. You have free cash. What can we do to increase true profit? And if we sit there and work on that a while, we're gonna find a lot of ways. Especially when we haven't been paying attention to the business. It all begins with the questions you ask. If you've said this and and we we have this discussion before that. It's all about the questions you're asking and who you've got seated at that table. That's right. Pile on here. Uh Buffet's remark is the best time to buy is when there's blood in the streets and and somewhere down the line we're gonna WE'RE gonna hit that and companies need to understand also and I don't think they do. The situation of the baby boomers, which is basically for the last almost ten years and extending out to about ten fifteen years from now, we are in the midst of the greatest transfer of wealth in human history. It's obscene. Why not have some of it transferred to you? Right? I love that, and that means, you know, keeping your eye on what's going on out there. Well, I think that what you've said is really important. What it's the questions that you ask, it's it's the preparation in understanding that these market of Cercyclical, it will happen. You...

...teep this up basically saying, and we're talking about closely held firms that have been in business for a while, and you know, I certainly don't want to be read anyone, but really, these the action that you're taking today should have been predicated upon the development of a team, the understanding of your market, competence around your strategy, deep understanding of your customers, you know, high level of fiduciary responsibility, even if it's just to yourself, with respect to ensuring that you're in a cash position that allows you to have some optionality and really understanding that our goal. Obviously there's there are all of the other goals and I love the seven points. You'll have to recount those to me. I think that they're fantastic. Our goal is to thrive right, not just to get by. The goal is to thrive and with that in mind, these are the types of things that folks who are running these organizations, these closely held firms, need to be constantly mindful of and I think that if you get into I love the framework, I love the Alpha dogs framework, I love the concept of the old table. There are there is often, in my experience and working with closely held firms, sometimes you find an owner or a CEO or president who has very deep market expertise, maybe very deep product or service expertise, subject matter expertise, and has maybe forsaken some of the other things that would be business rigor with respect to growth and sustainability and optionality in that respect. And I think that what you all bring with the podcast, which is fantastic, is really pithy means by which you can take the stuff into your company and actually tomorrow, begin to have these conversations, to position yourself to be able to not be afraid, but to be aware going into market downturns or even mark bull markets. We could use the tree planting analogy. The best time to these things would have been ten years ago, but the second best thing is right now, right now. That's it is. It will help. That will have happened. Where will you be ready for it? Exactly right, I mean at some point here there's going to be a tremendous opportunity. I think in life you only get well, some people like you get a lot of them, but a lot of people probably only get maybe five or so real opportunities in life to where they could really make a huge difference. And one of those is coming. One of those is coming and you've heard it here first already. You already predicted the Dukes, and now now douglas just tied a bow on this tilden's boat around. I love it. In the doom period it's easy to get thinking that everything is incoming, everything is a cloud. Yeah, things a dark cloud. That's not really true. I mean, America is not going out of business. We're we're not going to just give up and die, and that is not happening. Does never happen. And so we've got some problems coming up and we can't control a lot of them. But what we can control is how we operate our business close in, which means also customers, it means also vendors, it means having an oval table of vendors said the instead of just placing orders, sat at the table and say how can we serve my customer better given your expertise, and what can we do, and listen to what they have to say. We're crying out. Listen, I mean if you, if you're called blue sight, for example, and ask about glues and you're going home depot, there's four or five blues there one or glues the blue, any two things together for any period of time and any open period do you want? Ask them the question and let them help you, and you're gonna help them and you're gonna help yourself and then eventually it goes back and helping the customer. That's right. Well, as we wrap this up and our time together has gone so quickly, Hill and this has has been great, as it always does with you, time flies by. Um, any words of wisdom that you'd like to give our listeners, something, Um, that will help them during this down period? I feel like there's been so much wisdom given. I would just say that that let's let's take it to the personal side, Um, because we've talked a lot about the about the business, and I'll try to keep this tight as I gather my thought here. Um, we talked about the concept of a risk threshold, right, which is about as close as we got to the individual. Let's own the fact that as an operator, whether it's a business owner or someone who's on the executive team, Um, a closely held firm, this can be a scary time, right, because, as you stated, it's all on you. You wear the backpack, you show up every day. Everybody's paycheck, everybody's Children's you know, College Fund, all of your vendors, everybody else is wholly dependent upon you. That said, this is the time to tap into your resources, whether those resource is are an...

...alumni network, whether those resources are things like this podcast, whether there's those resources are other things in your own area that are um CEO groups, so many of those, and they don't even have to be in your area anymore because people are all doing virtual things. But now is the time to really develop oneself and to really explore that self reliance and how do I go about being in the best position to help my team to be successful, to help my customers to be successful and to be kind of that that beacon of light through the storm that really shows where we're going. And obviously we can fail along the way. That's part of what we do as entrepreneurs, but having some guiding principles that get us there I think is really important. So and there's a certain level where I personally will absorb what's happening externally. I will listen to the news, I'll read the Wall Street Journal, I'll have conversations with people, and then there's that point where I go, okay, so what does Hillman know? What got me here and how do I hearken back to those things to ensure that I'm going to be able to continue to move forward and continue to, you know, serve the purpose that I'm here to have. Um. So I just think that that's an important acknowledgement for the individual as well as the company. Great now one of the things they can do, of course, is read your books and we really do see this podcast as as a resource for people. So we do want them to take advantage of that UH filment. If people want to contact you, how do they do it, and can you mention some of your books, please? Sure that's like mentioning my children. I am always scared them to leave one out. So I'll tell you the top two books for this audience that I think would be very important. Our triangle selling, which is the most modern, most modern meaning, most recently developed for today's Times with respect to all the types of things that buyers are experiencing in this economy. Triangle selling. You can find that on Amazon Um and the second book that's really critical for closely held firms is called sales playbooks, the builder's Tool Kit, and this is really a workbook where we open source all of the frameworks that we use when we're paid to consult with organizations around building sales playbooks, where you glean the information from, how you represent that information to your team and how you create an ecosystem of this being an evolving feedback loop that helps you to become more and more impactful as a scaling sales organization. That book is fantastic. It's a do it yourself book, which gives you all sorts of resources. Pursuant to what I mentioned before. If you want to contact me, I think the best way is linkedin. I'm Hillman story on Linkedin. You can probably drop that in the show notes and I'm happy to talk to anybody about anything that we've discussed today. This is this is what gets me up in the morning and keeps me up late at night, and I just want to pass on a special thank you to you, Hillman, and I want to make sure that our audience realizes Hillman is on vacation at the moment. He is coming to us from Milan, Italy, and uh now it's it's coming up on eight o'clock in the evening. They're right about quickly. Wow, the whole time I'm here, it's just now cooling off and it's time for Hillman to go out find a really Nice Piazza. Yeah, sit there with a glass of wine and a little bit of Pasta and enjoy yourself and have a great time, Hillman. That is my plan. Thank you so much, Carl Douglas. It's always a pleasure to talk to you both. I appreciate being being on the PODCAST. If you're enjoying this podcast, wait till you get your hands on Doug's book. We Are Alpha dogs, available on Amazon and wherever books, e books and audio books are sold, go to we are Alpha Dogs Dot Com for bonuses and downloads to help you and your company become legendary and, if you are especially adventurous, while you're at it, take the dog quiz and find out more about who you really are. Yeah, well, I think one of the things that was very interesting about Hillman, but there's a lot of things interesting about Hillman, but one of the things that struck me, for those of you who have listened to our last episode that we did with Joel Block, there's there's some different points of view, slightly different between the two of them. Joel is when he looks forward into the Times that we're going into now, he's saying, get your stuff in line, Um, don't be carrying debt, don't even carry money in the bank because every day it sits in the in the bank, it's worthless. Uh, you know, run clean, really clean and lean, and that's really good advice, particularly if you're a manufacturer. Hillman, on the other end, he's, shall we say, more optimistic and he's much more along the lines that we sometimes think that in bad times, those are times of opportunity, those are times when you can find discounts out there,...

...low hanging fruit. But even Hillman, though, recognizes that it depends on what kind of business you're in, doesn't it? I mean again, if you're in manufacturing, what Joel said is probably right on the mark. But if you're in services, AH, that's different. That's different because you're you're not tied up in them the supply chain. UH, inflation is not going to hit you quite as hard. Most of your costs are human costs, and so uh, that's a that's a different story. And and that is Hillman's world, more or less offering services. So these two points of view are both correct, depending on where you're at and what you do. Doug what do you think? Well, here we have two very valuable interviews and they're coming at things from from totally different perspectives. Joel manages money and as such, his focuses on money and taking defensive action in the present time. Hillman, on the other hand, doesn't manage money as much as he manages people, and so his focus is on how can I get the most out of the people that I have and I enjoy the benefits these people can bring to the table, and so they're both right, but they're right in their areas and not not necessarily right across the board. So as a listener, you need to figure out which, which camp are you in, or are you a little bit in both temps, and you need to be thinking expansively rather than narrowly. Interest Point agree. Another issue that we discussed, and a very interesting point that hillman brought out, is that we have the youngest group of C E O s running businesses these days than we've ever had before. There's nothing wrong with with that. I'm fine with with a young CEO. But here's where the problem may come in, and that is they don't remember then. They don't remember the stagflation that started in the Nixon administration and went right up into the Reagan administration. It lasted for twelve years, and stagflation maybe what we're getting into now, because we have a booming economy, low unemployment, uh, and yet we've got the inflation and that's caused by a number of issues which I won't get into here. We've covered them in in other episodes. But the point is they don't remember those times. They didn't live through that. So they need to be careful. They need to take the viewpoints of Joel and Hillman and apply them to their businesses, because they do understand those those eras. Hillman wasn't around for the eighties, but he he understands it. He has he has studied the the era. What I'm saying is, if you're one of those young owners, and by the way, one of the reasons it's happening is that as baby boomers move out of business and retire, they're leading it to people who are much, much younger. So it makes sense that we have these young CEO s now. Um, pay attention. Pay attention to the people that did live through that era of the nine eighties, because there's a lot to learn there. I think we're entering into that seventies eighties mode again. I hope I'm wrong. I will be delighted if I am, but I think we're looking at perhaps an extended period of stagflation here, where the economy is fine but the inflation simply is running away. Uh. Having said that, I will say that we just recently saw a little bit of moderation in the inflation rate, but it's still really high and so, uh, this is something that we're going to be living with for a while. I don't think that changing inflation rates and statistical aberration. I don't think it's it could be, it could be, yeah, yeah, it could be, but the newspapers are people in their journalistic profession, tend to be repeaters of talking points that they are fed by the people. A little bit of analysis would indicate that gas prices go up and down based upon supplying the man and just because there are a few...

...cents cheaper right now it doesn't mean every way to. I think. I think one thing that human and Joel would both agree to is that if you're a manager with business, a recentably smart move here would be to take us off out the lunch. wout the lunch by yourself, sit by yourself and ask yourself the question. Have I trained my people underneath me, people coming behind? Have I trained them to be good managers in the current environment that's coming? Have I done my job or have I just just pushed the business? Did business did well, but I haven't. I haven't protected the backs. And have I done that? Because a good Scottie would would and Hillman's Scotty. So a good Scottie would say, explain, explained, doug explain what Scotty is. Scotty is as a character who's risk a verse. It thinks about what can go wrong first before he thinks about what people right. And this is a time for Scottie's to be right at the front of the table saying, you know, in this environment, these are the problems and these are the things we need to do with, because the rest of the people on the team can deal with they can fix them. By and large, depends on your nature problems, they can largely fix the problems or or at least cut back the effect of them. But if you're not thinking about the risk, you're not thinking about what could go wrong here, you're not thinking, and so I at lunch with yourself asking yourself, have I done my job to train these people? If not, what can I do to fix them? It would be a good move. and to close this, Doug I, I would like you to relate the really interesting experience that we had with Hillman using our methods to solve a problem that he had in his office. We have a pre call with Hillman prior to the interview, a couple of weeks before the interview, as we do with most of our guests. Because we really want to know the guests before we bring them to so we offered the test to him and he tested out as a Scott, which is a risk of verse, and at first I kind of thought, well, G was he's such a happy, powerful person, but maybe that's not right. And so we we describe Scotty to him. He says, oh no, that's exactly who I am. I'm constantly worried about what can go wrong here. I've got all these running things underneath me and I'm constantly wondering what can they be doing that's wrong, or what can they do they get us into trouble? He says, I'm fine with that. I mean, that's exactly what I do every day, he says, but you know, I'm having trouble with this one guy and we said who is it? He's bustered. I said, is there any chances in outside sales? He's my lead salesman. He's a terrific salesman, but I'm having trouble talking to him. So we said, well, why don't you go back and talk to him this one and then let us know when we did the interview how it worked out. So he comes back and says everything's fine. I get him, he gets me, we're talking the same language, no problems, and so he keeps rolling on being the great salesman eanings. So that's an example of how somebody can take the technology that we have and use it, even on a simple basis, to make a big difference in your business. So that's a great example of some applied psychology. Very good, all right. Well, uh, our our thanks to Hillman for a great interview that he gave us and we'll be seeing you in our next episode. Thanks for listening. Hi, this is Carl Walsh, Co host of the Oval Table podcast. We appreciate your interest in our shows, so please send any comments, suggestions or questions to oval table team at Gmail Dot Com. We value opening a dialogue with our listeners, also in order to keep us able to bring in the high caliber guests you've become accustomed to. Please be sure to subscribe, like, comment and share episodes with friends and a substence. We all hope you have a productive and inspirational week. Tim Rieshie cats, and we will see you next time at the oval table.

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