Being a good manager and effective leader is not just about making decisions on your own, but about understanding how much decision-making depends on the customer’s behavior.
In this podcast, we talk with Chris McGoff, founder and chairman of The Clearing, who has been helping big brands and the federal government drive change and find success for 30 years. Chris provides a simple visualization of how managers divide their time: customers to the east, peers to the west, boss to the north, and staff and employees to the south.
“Spending your time in each of the four places is not equal. Some places are much more important than the others,” Chris tells us. As a typical manager, we are taught to keep focus on all the aspects, which isn’t wrong, but some areas need more focus than others.
What Chris focuses on is the importance of customers. When you spend time with your peers, boss and staff, without first and foremost spending time getting to understand your customers, you aren’t generating much power, Chris says. The manager who first goes to the customers, communicates with them, understands their problems, and then brings that voice to their boss, staff, and peers creates more powerful conversations.
When you “surrender your own voice, you take on the voice of the customer,” and you can go to your boss, peers, and staff knowing what your customers need, and approach solutions from that space.
Chris states, “Everything is created through value distribution to the East,” so your focus should be on communicating with customers first and regularly, then bringing that knowledge to the other groups in your circle.
The sole reason a business exists is because of the customers, so communication is critical but doesn’t have to be overwhelming. As Chris points out, “The coolest part about this is: it’s easy! It’s ancient. There’s nothing new here. You simply go and have a good conversation with people.”
Tom Bilyeu, the co-founder of Quest Nutrition and life-long entrepreneur, chooses to focus on “everything being in my control.” While most people would agree in principle, they don’t often put it into true practice. Once you start working on the things that you believe in, it will not only be a motivating process, but will bring promising results.
Much like the movie The Matrix, Tom’s philosophy is that “everything around us is a construct,” so by believing that everything is under our control, the choices we make towards the things we want to and can do become much more powerful and effective. Conversely, creating a web of lies in front of your eyes by not doing what you believe in leads to ineffective results.
Tom also explains the usefulness of knowing when you are wrong and being open to other’s point of views. Even though it is good to have strong beliefs, sometimes what you are doing might not be as right as you think it is. Knowing that you might, at times, be wrong about certain things allows you to open up to what others are saying and reconsider and refocus your goals and beliefs.
Those goals need to be crystal clear, because “everything is reverse engineering from that.” Once you figure out what you want, then you can figure out what’s needed to get you there. If you don’t know what you want, then you’ll be pulled in too many directions, and getting what you want will be “really hard.”
Moving toward your goal and can be scary, but Tom believes it’s important it is to do the things that you’re most scared of, in order to become the person you want to be. Doing things that you know are right and are what will get you to your goal may be painful, but also bring great reward in getting where you want to be.