#022 Entrepreneurship, Family and Freedom with Clint Drawdy

TRANSCRIPT:

Jay Owen:
Hi, welcome to Building a Business That Lasts. My name is Jay Owen, and I’m your host, on a quest towards stories, tips, and ideas that will help you grow a business without being stressed out, worn out, and ready to quit. Each week, I’ll interview other business owners, who have successfully grown business of all types for many years. It’s my hope that these conversations will help you build a business that lasts.

On this episode, I interview Clint Drawdy. He is the President and COO of iMethods, in Jacksonville, Florida. They’ve been in business for over 14 years, and help serve its employees, consultants, and clients in the healthcare IT consulting business.

Clint is the kind of guy that I feel like is just inside of my brain, when he talks. The kind of guy I wanna be like, he really cares about his team, he really cares about his clients, and really has done an amazing job growing his company, over the last almost 15 years. So I hope you enjoy this interview with Clint.

Hey, Clint. Thanks for being on the show today.

Clint Drawdy:
Hey, Jay. Good to see you.

Jay Owen:
So you have been in business a long time, and had a lot of opportunities over the years to grow, and change, and learn. But where I always like to start is to hear a little bit about why you started iMethods, and why you got in business for yourself, what made you take that leap, as an entrepreneur.

Clint Drawdy:
Well, I guess it doesn’t start when we launched the first company, which was called Medical Methods, 14 years ago. It really started in my youth. I really liked riding bikes, and in order to fuel my desire to change the parts, and so forth, I needed to have money, so I started a lawn business.

And so, kind of the classic American tale, I had a bunch of yards that I mowed every week, and that grew into business. And I started putting flyers out, and I realized that I liked that. I liked the idea of business before it was even introduced as entrepreneurship.

And then, that kind of led into college. I ended up leaving college for a while, and started a company with a lady in South Florida. And I learned a lot about business from that experience, sales, marketing, how to bring something to market.

And so, went back to school, finished my degree, and then that led into a career, a corporate career, for about eight years. But I always had a heart to try to do my own thing.

And so, fortunately, I had a really good relationship with a guy that I worked with for years, his name is Chad Perce, and we decided that we wanted to go out and do something on our own, we explored all kinds of options.

But about that time, actually, it became kind of the desire to have our own business and be entrepreneurs, but it really was led by our faith, and our desires to be with our families. The was really the impetus, and it ended up being our wives that told us, “Hey, enough’s enough. Go start something and take the risk, we got your back.” So there’s a lot more to that story, but that…

So it started when I was young, went through college, and then after about nine years in corporate America, taking the leap to do it for our faith, for our family, and for trying to build a great company, with those kind of concepts in mind.

And so that’s what started it, and we made the commitment in 2003, and left January 2004 to start the whole thing, that’s changed a lot over the years.

Jay Owen:
So that transition’s interesting, because for me, I grew up, same kind of thing, I had the lawn business, sold stuff out my wagon. You know, all those kind of early entrepreneurial stories.

But I didn’t end up in the corporate environment, so I’m always kind of curious to hear how that transition went for you, to go from education to corporate America, very different environment, to then say, “You know what, I’m gonna leave this security over here, and I’m gonna out on my own.” What was that transition like for you, originally?

Clint Drawdy:
Well, I think it’s counterintuitive. And if you ask a lot of people, they thought I was crazy, ’cause I was very fortunate, I was in a nice role at a young age, and a good company, and I was learning a ton. But there were some other big factors that drove me to the decision.

So it was like … First of all, it was a very big company, multinational big company. And so, it was just big and corporate. And so there was that, there was the other piece that was travel. My role that I was in required a lot of travel. I think I traveled 26 times the year before I left.

So it was every other week, I was on the road. And we had first child, and we wanted a big family. And so it was like, this doesn’t align with my family goals. And so, you know.

But then there’s the financial piece, right. There’s the, “I’ve got a job, there’s risk, there’s no money coming in, it’s all money going out.” All that stuff was there.

So what I did was I sought counsel. I knew I wanted to do it … a lot of people wanna do it. Did I have what it took, and was I really ready, and so forth? So I got some counseling, I went to one of my good friends, who happened to be and elder in my church. And sat him down, and others.

But I remember that conversation specifically, because he said, “Clint, over the years I’ve counseled a lot of guys just like you, that have had the corporate experience, want the entrepreneurial thing.”

And he goes, “Very rarely,” he goes, “I only think one or two people have ever done it. They are either fear, they can’t trust, they can’t get rid of the financial piece.” I mean, whatever it is, they kept getting stuck.

And he goes, “Can you get over that? Can you trust, and is it a calling, are you gonna be obedient?” That kind of thing.

So we have this cool conversation, and I left there not scared. I left resolved, like, “I am going to do this, and I feel called to it.”

And that really transitioned our whole kind of “why,” into a faith experience, really that was kind of the turning point, ’cause I felt like it was a calling and that I was supposed to do it, not just for me, and my family, and my business partner. It was a much bigger ultimate purpose of why we were supposed to do it, and then how we were supposed to live out our life, and live our whole life, wide open, transparent, and that was the heart of the business from the beginning.

And the “what,” like what we do has changed, and it will continue to change, but why we do is not changing.

Jay Owen:
Yeah, I love that. I think what’s interesting about that, to me, is it kind of relates to what I really believe in, which is … a lot of people use the term “work/life balance,” and I kind of hate that, because it indicates that there’s this thing over here, and there’s thing over here, and there’s giant separation. And somehow, we need to give this 50%, and this 50%, or whatever is equal.

And I always say it’s more like a blender, where some days you need a little more spinach, some days you nee a little more fruit. But it’s not work over here, family over here, friends over here.

It’s just life, and then figuring out how that looks for you. And how yours looks doesn’t need to be how mine looks.

I think it’s interesting that you used the word “calling” too, because that’s a word that a lot of times, is often kind of saved for ministry. And the last podcast interview I did, actually was with my uncle, and he uses the word to “minister” in his mission statement, even though they’re in the insurance business. And it’s that same mentality of we can care for people, and wanna help people, regardless of what we’re actually doing.

One thing I usually wait till the end, is this whole topic actually. Is how family kind of fits in, and your story is perfect to start with this, because one of the primary reasons, it sounds like, you started the company, was because of family.

So now, as the company continues to grow, and your responsibilities have changed over the years, and what you do has changed over the years, and how you do it’s probably changed too, ’cause of technology. How have you integrated family, in your schedule, in a way that allows you to still grow the business, but allows you to give them the time that they need, want, and desire, and that you want with them too?

Clint Drawdy:
Yeah, I mean, these are all important things. And again, as you said, it’s evolved and changed. When we first started, I had … I think we had just had my second son. He was an infant, and so my business partner had a young child as well.

So that phase of life was just different, the needs are different, the physical needs. So the good thing is, I wasn’t on the road, I was at home every night, that kind of thing. In the beginning, the company that we started didn’t require a lot of travel. So travel was a big deal.

But the long view was, we wanted flexibility. As the business grew, hopefully, our roles would change, and be probably more, and more strategic and less tactical. And that has definitely happened.

And so, over the years, each phase that we’ve kind of gone through, with the kids, and their ages change, and our business growing, has allowed us tremendous flexibility. I mean, I’ve done all kinds of things that I really dreamt about, and that why we did, such as coaching high school football. That’s been a dream, I was able to do that for a couple of years.

I’m able to teach at the co-op that we’re a part of. I’m able to … I’ve been to every sporting event, or coached every event, for all my four kids, for years. It’s left me time to be active in my church, and community, in other ways. I’m very involved in community activities, that allows me to do that. So you see…

And plus, I’ve had my kids along with the journey, they’ve been along the ride. They’re in the office a lot, they love coming to my office, and hanging out, and I’ve taught them a lot of things through the business, I hope.

And then more recently, as they’ve gotten older, and the business has matured further, our dream as a family is to travel together. And so, we’ve bought a little RV, and for the last three summers, we’ve spent weeks at a time.

The first time was a 26 day, 26 state adventure, 7,000 miles. And we got to see the West, the Grand Canyon. All those dreams you hope, when you start a company, that maybe one day you could do, we’ve been realizing those.

And so, that integration, that blender that you’ve talked about, has been a huge part of … to me … We’ve coined this thing, “meaning for work.” Right? That’s what we’re after, is meaning for work. And one of those keys things is just that, no silos, live wide open, have no barriers, and it’s all together. And there’s a lot of transparency in that with the family, of what’s important, and what…

It doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard, and I don’t sacrifice at times, and things like that. But I can pick and choose those really well, because of how we set it up.

And I have a partner, I couldn’t leave that out. Chad has been super supportive on that. And that, I think, that’s pretty rare to have a business partner that’s so yoked, where we see eye-to-eye on all of that. And he’s got great flexibility with his family, I have too, and we support and help each other through life. And we’ve been through a lot of life together, over 14 years. I mean, we’ve through a lot.

So that’s been an essential part to this whole thing working.

Jay Owen:
A couple things that stand out in that, that I would like to kind of drill down.

One is thinking about freedom of schedule. You know, you just talked about taking an extended family trip. And I know for a lot of business owners, especially people that are new in business, they maybe got into business thinking, “Well great, now that I work for myself, my schedule can be whatever I want. I can do whatever I want.”

And I remember, for years, our team was distributed. So I worked from home, all of our team worked from their homes, or Starbucks, or wherever. And I always said, “The great thing about working from home, is you never have to go to work. The bad thing is you never get to leave.”

And so I’m curious, for you, how that … If it was always like that, because you really did a great job planning it intentionally from the beginning? Or if it’s you’ve had to kind of transition to that, as your team’s grown, you had more opportunities?

‘Cause I know for me personally, I could not … there were years, because I didn’t plan it well, that I never took a day off. I mean, never disconnected. And it got to a point where my wife was like, “Look, we need a plan for this.”

And one of my goals, one year as a company, was literally to build the infrastructure to a point, where I could take a week off, and it not need me.

So I’m curious, for you, how that … If it’s changed over the years, or if that was kind of very intentional from the beginning, and how that’s worked?

Clint Drawdy:
I think the idea was very intentional, but the seasons have changed, and the business has matured. And again, because I do have a business partner, that’s helped a lot.

So yeah, I think in the beginning … I mean, if my wife were sitting here, she would you that I worked probably 7:00 to 7:00 for the first few years, and I didn’t have near as much flexibility as I probably think I did back then.

But yeah, so as the business has matured, and with the intentionality in the planning, we’ve done a pretty good job, I think, of taking advantage of that opportunity. But I do think it requires that intentionality. Like you said, you had the set a goal, and make it very clear, and transparent to everybody, like, “This is what we’re gonna do, and why.” And then you accomplished that, right. So I think if…

I had an entrepreneur buddy tell me when we first started to … ‘Cause I think I had the Pollyanna, you know, in five years I’m gonna be something totally. I’m gonna have all this time and freedom. And yeah, I think he even slammed the table and said, “No. It’s gonna take you much longer than you think, and it’s gonna be harder than you think.”

And so I’m here, 14 years later, and so I can glamorize some of that. But yeah, I took years. So all those things that I’ve done, the last five years for example, took nine, 10 years to get there, to do.

And so, I’m definitely enjoying that freedom more, now, then I did in the first phases. Yeah, sure.

Jay Owen:
And I think that’s a really I’m perspective, especially for anybody listening that has been in business for a year, or two, three, four years, maybe even five years, and they’re going, “I don’t even know what these guys are talking about.” Like, “This is insane, I work seven days a week, 7:00 to 7:00 … 6:00 to 9:00,” whatever.

And I think the reality is, behind the scenes, all of us at some point had to put in those hours to be in a place where we could have those opportunities. Otherwise, there’s a…

One of my favorite authors is a guy named Michael Hyatt, and one of the things he talks about, in one of his newer books, is having an intentional plan towards life, or drifting through life. Anybody out there that’s listening, if they haven’t read the book, Living Forward, he wrote it with another partner. It’s just exceptional, and he talks about that idea of intentionality, of what has to be true today in order for that to be true, whatever that is, in the future.

Clint Drawdy:
Totally agree.

Jay Owen:
Thinking about your partner, that’s also an interesting thing for me, because I’ve never had one. Except for my marriage, but that’s somewhat different at least.

You actually used the word “yoked,” to talk about your relationship with your business partner, which is typically a word used for marriage, in the Bible anyway. And it’s this idea of two ox being connected, side-by-side, pulling in the same direction with the same power, that allows you to drive even harder, and have really, multiplied results.

So I’m interested to hear from you, how that has matured over the years, and how you have each kind of figured out your own strengths and roles within the company, and what that’s looked like.

Clint Drawdy:
Yeah, I think that “yoke” is appropriate. Because that’s the thing, we were so, kind of again, aligned, or yoked, on the key things, why we were doing it. Our purpose was so real to us, and the core values were so consistent that that really has helped us in so many ways.

So when you had really good times, you celebrate together on those things. And when you go through challenges, or trials, that’s when really, you’re tested, and to see if you’re really yoked, and aligned. And we’ve been through enough, trust me, that we’ve been really well aligned.

So the trust factor, the transparency, doesn’t mean it’s easy. I mean, going back to your question around how you figure out roles and definitions, and we have a strengths based culture here. So we’re pretty keen with, “Hey man, what are you really good at, and what are you talented at, gifted at? And what am i? What does your experience tell us?”

So we pretty quickly kind of separated roles, where I became more operations, and leadership, and so forth, and his was sales and marketing kind of stuff. And that’s pretty much stayed true, even though we have overlap on some of that stuff, we’ve been pretty good with that.

And that’s helped us, having good separation, clarity on that. But most of it’s communication, trust, and yoking, all that core stuff, the foundational stuff that we had. And we knew each other for years before we did it, that helped too. So it’s not like we just met each other, and had a good idea, and just did it. We had good foundation.

And again, our wives sat us down, in my house, after we had dreamt about this, and said, “Enough, you two. We got your back. Go do it, you’re aligned, you’re ready to go, we’re gonna get through this together.”

So that foundational support, and it wasn’t … so it’s not just Chad and I, it was our wives and us, so four of us, making a commitment to each other, to live this out together, and get after it. So foundation was key.

Jay Owen:
So talking about that, actually, the foundation of having the support of your spouse in something like this, I mean, how critical has that been for you over the years, in order to have a successful business?

Clint Drawdy:
Yeah, it’s immeasurable, for me, and for Chad. I mean again, from the beginning, the trust and the support to go do it, to quit your good job, and all this stuff, to take the risk, and with a young family, and with babies in our hands, and saying, “Go do it, I trust you, I got your back,” that’s huge.

And not only that, I mean, I’ll even tell you, even though 14 years later, it could sound to somebody listening like, “Hey, we’ve got it made.” Well last year, the beginning of the year was really tough for us. We had our biggest client, slowed down really rapidly, and that hurts in a small, midsize business.

And so I was struggling with that, the beginning of last year. And I remember very clearly walking the neighborhood at night, talking to my wife, Jennifer. And her absolutely lifting me up, and putting me on her back, and saying, “Don’t worry about that. You’re gonna get through this.” And reminding me of the context of our history together, and companies, and to be faithful, and to keep walking.

I mean immeasurable impact, even last year. And it’s daily. But I mean, there’s just time where you look back, and there’s just no way I would have done it, no way I would have gotten through it, and no way would I have kept kind of that foundation straight, without her. No doubt.

Jay Owen:
Yeah, I love that. And that intentionality of just being on the same page with your spouse as well. I mean, for me, I would have never kept going in Design Extensions, if hadn’t been for Claire.

There was a very distinct period, where I was gonna work with my uncle. And he needed an exit plan, I needed an intro plan. And so, he was gonna fade out over the years, I was gonna fade in, I’d be the new owner and associates. And it would’ve been great on paper, it was good money on paper, and it made sense. And none of his other kids really wanted to run the business.

And after six months in the insurance business, I thought, “I don’t like the insurance business.” I loved working with him, but I remember that day like it was yesterday. And I went home, and I was really upset. And I just said, “Look, I can do this and I can make a lot money at it, but I’m probably gonna hate it every day.”

And she just said, “Well don’t. Do your dream, and we’ll make it work.” And that has been true ever since. There’s been days where I just didn’t know how I was gonna make it through. So that’s really cool to hear. I love stories like that.

And then, one of the things you mentioned earlier, when we were talking about kind of the family stuff, was seasons of life, too. And I think there’s seasons of business. And I think it’s really important that you mentioned, even last year having some struggles.

I’ve been in business a long time, almost 20 years, and yet the last two years have been really challenging, because we’ve had a lot of change. We’ve grown the staff, we’ve in put an office, all these different things.

And so people that are out there listening that maybe are thinking, “Gosh, I’ve been in business for five years, I should have it down by now. I’ve been in business for 10 years, I should have it down by now.” I’d love to tell you that it gets easier, and in some areas, it really does, and in other areas, it just changes. And you’ve gotta kind of ebb and flow.

Clint Drawdy:
Agreed.

Jay Owen:
I’d love to talk a little bit about something that is huge for you guys. You just gave me a tour of your office, which is awesome. And one of the big things you have here, all over the walls, a lot of intentionality, is core values.

First, what are core values to you? And how did you come up with them?

Clint Drawdy:
Yeah, so again, the purpose was clear for us, the values are kind of things that we … that Chad and I agreed, were just really important to us, that we just didn’t wanna ever derail us.

So for example, we ardent service. We chose ardent, because it was this boutique, personal level, kind of commitment to our clients and our consultants. So that’s an example.

And we knew in the service business, that’s it all about effort, so tireless efforts. We have to work really hard for our customers, and for everybody.

Community was a huge thing that we both valued, and was a huge part of why we started it too, was to give back our time, talents, and treasure, to the community. So we really wanted that to be one of them.

So you can go through each one of them, and it’s just things that we really cared about. And so we had those written down, those were a part of our founding documents, kind of thing. And then after a couple, three years, maybe even three or four years even, we kind of did a gut check. ‘Cause as the staff grew, and everybody came in, it was like … we even asked, “Are we living these things, these six things that we’ve set out to do?”

And we got kind of a resounding, “We are.”

And then we got somebody to help us kind of write them, a fuller definition of each. And so from there, it’s just kind of built upon itself.

So in 2012, I guess, we started a real core values program, where we get nominations each week for the staff, we have an all hands on deck, 234 meeting on Wednesdays, everybody knows it. And one of the first things we talk about is, “Hey, has anybody got a nomination for a staff member?” Anybody can nominate anybody, and we have a wheel that everybody spins, and they get a prize for that nomination.

And then we capture all that each month, and there’s a bigger … So if you have the most nominations for core values in a month, you get a big cash reward, and then you get one for quarter. And then you get the annual, is the one that has the most nominations throughout the whole year. And that’s why we have the picture up in the office, and we celebrate that.

So that’s an example of the core value lived out, program way, that’s kept ’em front and center.

And we also hire on it. I mean core values, it’s so important that when people interview here, they have to write a paper on why they think they align with our core values.

Jay Owen:
I love that.

Clint Drawdy:
So there’s a whole process. We’re pretty rigorous on hiring here. Cove values are at the heart of that. So it’s…

Our clients know our core values, our consultants, our people that we hire, everybody that comes here. And you saw it on the tour. I mean, you can’t know our core values if you get to know us. It’s just our heartbeat.

So that’s a little background, I guess, on how it’s come to be.

Jay Owen:
Yeah, I’m probably gonna steal a lot of that from you. So when you start seeing it pop up at Design Extensions, thank you.

Let’s jump into … kind of transition outta that, because you talked about hiring a little bit. And I mean, you’re in a recruiting business, so it’s kind of critical that you, to some extent, have a lot of knowledge in that area.

And that’s an area I’ve struggled in a lot over the years. Hiring is hard. Finding the right team is hard, it’s not easy work.

And so what are some of the things that you’ve done over the years that have helped make sure that you have the right people in the right seats?

Clint Drawdy:
I could talk your ear off on this one. And it’s funny because it is a key skill that you have to have. And quite frankly, Chad and I struggled with it for years.

Really good for our clients, it’s kind of one of those things. Right? Sometimes you’re really good for your clients on things that you should be good at in house, but you don’t. And this was a critical one that we weren’t good at. So it took us years.

And we’re emotional hires, we’re kind of soft, bleeding hearts. So we would hire either friends, or people that had potential but just were not quite the right fit. And so we struggled with that.

So a few years ago, we kind of got out of the way. And Dean, who’s our … he’s currently the Vice President of HR and Operations, he handles the process. And we went through an extensive planning deal. All of our current … our past experience in hiring, and we use a lot of Geoff Smart’s stuff on top grading, and hiring process. So there’s all that.

So we ended up coming up with our own custom 12-step program, to get hired. And we have it … it’s super well defined. We actually have a bus. We’re Jim Collins nuts, so getting the right people on the bus was our theme.

And so when people come here to take a tour, and to get to know us, they get the bus. They get a physical picture of a bus with all the steps.

And so, I mean, super rigorous, every step is rigorous, from the phone screen to the in-person office thing, the cultural fit that we have, we have a lunch with the whole staff, everybody’s got to get to know ’em. We have a pretty in depth personality profile, called the Hogan Profile, they go online. So we get to know them really well. They do the written exercise, like I said. There’s all this stuff.

So Chad and I are at the very end of the bus now. So they only get to us if everybody else has said, “Yes,” and everything kind of fits. And then, we don’t mess it up usually, ’cause usually they’re really good by the time they get us.

But that is honestly, that’s one of our probably biggest successes, after many years of failing, was getting a very rigorous commitment to hiring, and having a process that was repeatable.

And so our staff now, is exceptional. I mean, we are humming, and our culture’s tight, and our productivity’s really good. And so, we feel really good about the hiring program now.

But I think it’s one of the biggest challenges any entrepreneur will face, is hiring really good talent that fits the culture, that fits the vision, and can stick it out with you, it’s very tough.

Jay Owen:
Yeah, I think, especially for me, in the early years, there’s a tendency sometimes to wait until it really hurts to hire. And then when you’re really hurting, the bad thing about that is you make quick decisions. And quick decisions, often, are bad decisions, especially when it comes to bringing somebody in. It’s a very serious relationship.

And I always kind of operate under the mentality now, which I did not then, of, “Hire slow, fire slow.” Because some people say, “Hire slow, fire fast.”

But my thing is, if I hired slowly and well, and now I think I need to let somebody go, I need to double check on why that’s the case. Is it my fault? Is it their fault? Is there something we could improve as a company? Or is it actually, ultimately, somebody that’s just not gonna be a good fit?

And so, hiring’s really hard. But then when you finally come to that situation to go, “Either the company’s changed, or the person’s changed,” and you have to make the decision to let somebody go, I mean, that’s one of the things I probably hate to do more than anything else.

What has that been like for you? And how have you learned to get better at that?

Clint Drawdy:
Yeah, and it’s gut wrenching. I think that we all go through that. We had a few, even last year, that we had to go through.

And one, for example, was a seven year guy, tremendous guy. He really wanted a mid-management job in our delivery team. And we actually gave him the opportunity, but we … because of the set backs last year, and so forth, we just didn’t really need the role.

And he had matured to a point, where he really was qualified to go do that. And so, we worked really hard with him to help him find another job. He found another job. And that’s happened, over time, a lot.

And so I think because were so transparent, we live life to the fullest, and it’s just the core value of transparency and telling the truth. We hire on that, we look for it, we cultivate that in our culture, really helps that.

And so, even if I have to engage, or we as a team have to engage somebody to start the process to help them find another job, it’s that mentality, that heart of … it’s not a firing, we don’t really fire anybody around here, unless they do something significantly that warrants that.

It’s usually, come alongside, “Look, it’s either your talent’s on the line, your skill’s on the line, or the company’s changed.” And we were very open about that. And we really, we work hard, honestly, on helping people find jobs, that’s what we do. And we’ve helped people find jobs.

Even if we don’t do it directly, we help them with the resumes, we introduce them to people, we do all those things that you have to do to get somebody to the better fit.

So it’s kind of that Jack Welch, they’re better of somewhere else mentality, without the kind of the hardcore, Jack Welch approach.

But yeah, we take a lot of time, and care for people, and we’ve even given ’em a lot of extra time to stay here, and we still pay them, while they’re looking for other jobs, and keeping some productivity while they’re here.

 

But we have a soft heart on that, because we’re family, and that’s the way we roll. And that’s really worked.

We actually have a pretty good alumni group, of people that have worked here, that we’re really close with. They’re here all the time.

Matter of fact, that picture right there, one of our employees who worked here a couple years, she came in and dropped it off, and donated it to us, just this last week. That’s the family kind of thing. We’re still family, even though she doesn’t work here.

So thankful for that, it’s not like most big companies, when you get cut, that’s the last you ever see ’em. I’ve told you, former employees helped build the physical stuff in here.

I could go on … We have a lot of alumni relationship here, that’s still helping us build a great company.

Jay Owen:
Yeah, that is … I mean, that’s amazing and it’s unique. I mean, that’s a really special thing about your company. Because I can say, unfortunately, I haven’t always done a good job of that.

And I’ve made mistakes with that over the years, and those relationships that haven’t ended well, because maybe I didn’t handle the exit well, or maybe there’s something I could have done better, and that’s a tough…

I love that idea of just the transparency, as soon as possible, as much as possible. Not everybody can know everything, but there are a lot of things people could know.

And that kind of ties back to what you were talking about earlier, was kind of avoiding silos. And I think especially as the business owner, or founder, it’s easy to put yourself kind of in this ivory tower, or silo, unintentionally. And it’s kind of that idea of it’s lonely at the top.
So I’d love to hear from you, with regards to how transparency maybe has avoid that, hopefully, or how that’s kind of worked for you.

Clint Drawdy:
Well, I think that … I mean, some of it, I guess my answer would be, we … I sit in the middle of the office, I think you do too.

Jay Owen:
Yeah.

Clint Drawdy:
I think that really helps, just physical presence. I’ve become a pretty good planner, and that’s helped me.

So for example, I plan lunches with my staff regularly, individual conversations. I get to … I know all their families, I know … and not in a mechanical process way, but in a heart felt, intentional way, to get to know them, and to care for them.

And so again, that’s why we’ve had people for years, around here. And we’re really close. But you have to cultivate that, so just like marriage thing, or family thing, or any … again, same principles everywhere.

So I do a pretty good job of trying to get ahead of my schedule, and planning time with everybody. So I sit in the office, in the middle of the office. I have meaningful conversations all the time. We do a lot of stuff together.

You have to look for opportunities to deepen relationships and trust. And I guess, from a managerial courage thing, from a skillset, I’ve tried to cultivate that over the years, where if I have no hidden agenda, right, if that’s truly my deal, in my heart, I have no hidden agenda, I can freely tell you the truth.

That either you don’t fit, or your skillset’s not working, or there’s a gap, or whatever the issue is, and if I don’t have a hidden agenda, or any kind of squirmy feeling, that across as authentic and real, and I can … I’m trying to help you.

I mean, that’s my heart. I’m kind of the coach, right. So I’m trying to help succeed at life. And if it’s here, wonderful, and that’s ideal because that’s why we pay you. But if it’s not here, “Okay, I will help you be successful elsewhere.”

And so that’s why we go to such lengths to get to know people, professional development’s a big deal here. The Hogan Profiles I talked about, the strengths profiling, the review process that we have here, we really know people well.

And we move seats a lot. That’s another Jim Collins thing, right. So you get ’em on the bus, and then move seats. I’ve moved people tons on seats, and I still do.

Olivia, our Marketing Manager, was a producer and in delivery last year. And I noticed her talent for marketing and for other things, so I moved her into Marketing Manager role, so I moved her seat. So she’ll probably stay for years, I hope. If you’re listening, Olivia, I hope you stay for years.

If my heart is to get to know people really well, their strengths, their family, their situation. I had … our HR Director, I’ve known for years. Her life changed, and she got married and moved to Kentucky. She was my HR person.

And you think, on the outside like, “Gosh, I can’t have her work remotely.” You know, she’s critical. And I had worked with her for years, in person, but I knew her so well, and trusted her implicitly, and she convinced me that she could handle the processes there. She did it for three years, and now she’s been back, and she’s been back here for three years.

So that kind of living life together, and working through things, and having a long view, and being transparent, is critical to me having meaningful work. Honestly, to living it out, and living life together, whether they stay here forever or not. So I’m passionate about that, right.

Jay Owen:
That is awesome. I think I could probably pick your brain all day, but I’m not sure everybody would last through the whole conversation. So I’ll have to do a round two at some point, ’cause I’ve learned so much just in the last 25 minutes, and may have, eventually, some follow up questions. So I really appreciate your time today.

One of the last things I always like to try and land the plane on a little bit, is on your own personal development. It’s easy as a leader, no matter where you are in your business life cycle, to get caught up in all kind of stuff that eats up your schedule, especially when you have a busy life everywhere. You know, you got a big family, like I do, you’ve got all kind of other things going on in life.

And so how do you take the time, intentionally, to develop your own skillsets? Whether that’s as a leader in the business, or father, or husband, or spiritually, how do you take that time? And what areas do you find, whether it’s podcasts, or books, or events, that help you grow personally?

Clint Drawdy:
Yeah, I don’t … I think it’s … I think, fortunately, I’ve got a spirit of learning, and it’s one of our core values, right. But I’ve always wanted to learn, particularly as I got older, not so much as a teenager and in college, but after I kind of matured.

And so, even the impetus of this company was spawned by reading a book, Don’t Waste Your Life, by John Piper, rocked me, changed me. And so, I think if anything, I read a lot, I listen to stuff, I’m always trying to learn from other people, from other entrepreneurs, from other business leaders, you name it. So I seek it out.

But I guess one of my things is, I guess the operator in me, I’m all about application. So I scan things a lot, I scan to see if there’s something that fits, that I can connect the dots, and do application. And if I can’t, knowledge is fine in and of itself, but to me, I’m more … I’m the classic American pragmatist, I wanna do something with it. So that’s what I’m constantly searching for.

But I do have a variety of inputs, and so forth. You know, spiritually, I’m disciplined. I feel like that’s been a big part of this journey for me, is I’ve changed over the years on some of those disciplines at home, technology’s changed a lot of that, to me. So I have a good accountability. Again, I could bend your ear on how I stay on track.

But I have an advisory board that we started before we started the company. Most of them are good family friends, or people that I know in the community that have kept me track, and a well diversified thing.

So if I was telling somebody, an entrepreneur, any counsel, I guess it would, surround yourself with good people, counsel, surround yourself with good friends that help you stay on track, that help you learn, to iron sharpen iron, and that kind of concept.

And then seek action and application, because I know a lot of guys that like to learn, and talk a good game, but they don’t do much with it. And I try to do something with it, and help other people.

You know, what did you read … and so I have a survey. I survey my staff, “What’d you read last year, and what’d you apply?” And we talk through that, and see if we can get it.

The dream program that you say, it’s an application of you can have dreams, but if you don’t put goals to them, and get any action, or support, or accountability, or friendship, whatever, you probably won’t live the life that you want. And so, I’m all about taking concepts and getting it.

So one thing as an entrepreneur, that’s probably helped me than anything, and as the way it relates to learning, is another entrepreneur, a good friend mine, Dwight Cooper, years ago, as we were probably three or four years in, he said, “You’ve got to go this program,” it meant a lot to him.

It was an entrepreneur’s organization event, and it’s called The Birthing of Giants, I think back then. But it was at MIT, and it was … 60 entrepreneurs from around the world, came to this program, and they still have it. And you’d have three years of this program, it was absolutely transformational for me, and my business knowledge, my acumen, my relationships, my inputs.

And a guy there ran it, his name is Verne Harnish, and I highly recommend him. So if you … Maybe your good as an entrepreneur at somethings, whether it’s sales, or marketing, or other things, but if you’re not necessarily great at structure, and planning, Verne Harnish is your guy.

He’s got free resources on his website, we use his One-Page Strategic Plan, we have for years. Super clean, super easy, and everything is lined up, everything we’ve talked about today, is on his stuff. Your core values, your purpose, where you play, your sandbox, your goal setting, all this stuff is in there. So that, to me, from a how do you run a business? It was an MBA for me, is what it was, by this guy. So very thankful.

I spent five years at this program, helping develop my own skillset. And then Chad went through it after me. So the two of us have been through the same training, so again, another yoking. We speak the same language, we run the business, we’re very efficient because of Verne, in my opinion. Without him, and without Dwight…

And Dwight, in terms of iron sharpen iron, again, that community piece that I was talking about, how important that is. I remember him saying to me, before I went … ‘Cause I was three years in, we didn’t have a lot of money to … it was in Boston, at MIT. And I was like, “I don’t have the money for that.”

He’s like, “Clint, if you go up there, and you don’t think it’s unbelievably helpful for you, I will pay for your class.”

Jay Owen:
Wow.

Clint Drawdy:
And so I’m like, “All right, well let’s go.” And you know, it’s changed my life. So I’m very thankful for a friend, and an entrepreneur, and somebody to push me to learn, and to go challenge myself, and it’s made all the difference.

Jay Owen:
Well, this is one those episodes I will probably personally go back and listen to about five times, just to take notes. So I just cannot thank you enough, for taking time today, and sharing your insight and wisdom. You are exactly the kind of leader that I wanna work towards being. And I just really appreciate you being on the show.

Clint Drawdy:
I appreciate man, thanks for coming out. It was good to see you.

Jay Owen:
I hope this episode has given you some ideas or inspiration, that will help you grow your business.

If you found it helpful, and you know somebody else who might benefit from it as well, I would greatly appreciate it if you would take time to share this with them, maybe on Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn, or even shoot an email over to a friend, with a link to this podcast in it.

And if you haven’t already, make sure you sign up for our email list, at buildingabusinessthatlasts.com.

 

 

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