Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives. TalentTalk connects professionals who care about leadership, talent-related issues and having the cultural mindset to embrace the needed diversity of the workplace.
Today’s guests are Jonathan Seitz, President of Bellwether Training, LLC and Mike Fingado, Co-founder & CEO of Mowdo. To hear the entire show, click here.
On the show today, a coach talks about how to influence talented individuals and an entrepreneur talks about the challenges of entrepreneurship.
Jonathan started his career in teaching and education in the nonprofit sector. Very quickly he moved to the business world where he started in an entry level sales position and worked his way up to the executive team. Over time the company was sold and Jonathan tried his hand at co-founding a couple different ventures; a photography studio and a business management company assisting dot.com startups. He eventually decided to go back to the corporate world and joined the global company, Bibliotheca, where served as the Vice President of Sales for North America. During that time he came across some leadership development sessions, went through an international training program and realized he should have provided better leadership and management across all the teams he’s managed over the years. Jonathan partnered with the Vice President of Operations, and together started a company of their own to provide leadership and management training for those looking to further their executive careers. Thus was the birth of Bellwether Training, LLC.
Corporate Training Sessions
Seitz’s company is dedicated to improving employee engagement, productivity and profitability of companies through training. Seitz believes that employee engagement depends on how you measure it – whether it is based on employee satisfaction or on the basis of how employees use their extra time and energy in an organization. Productivity, according to Seitz is easier to measure. He quotes a Gallup study that says that 70% of employees are not engaged and that leads to a $400 billion loss to the US economy. Thus, productivity is the ability to see results while profitability is quantifiable because there are targets.
At Bellwether Training they initially conduct a two-hour workshop with the employees to measure current areas of development or needed areas for growth or skill development. The managers talk about what it is to be a team and where they believe they should be growing based on the needs of the organization. Then they conduct training in areas of communication, team development and work on how to develop more effective teams. Action plans are created at the end of the training and they are quantified. Employees are held accountable for their action plans which are fully measurable.
Bellwether Training helps clients at a micro level because it focuses on change on an individual level. They don’t go about telling people that they’re not doing their job or that they’re missing the mark. “We teach leadership and management skills to individuals to help their department and their company. There are very specific measurable results. When a person is taught a skill he thinks about how he can put it to action which leads to an action plan. The action plan then helps in projecting results and eventually measuring those results,” explains Seitz. He says that sometimes there are larger initiatives like strategic thinking and managing change when the organization is going through a transition. With the help of Seitz’s training sessions, people learn techniques for developing a better change process and if that change process is successful it can have a huge impact on the company. For instance, during one of the training sessions Seitz did for a company, the CEO of the company and other leaders realized that if the action plan that emerged out of the session was followed through they could make a difference of $20 million. That is a very measurable result, according to Seitz. He says that this change is not going to happen just like that. It starts with the individual manager making some kind of change and all of them together, collectively, would make the $20 million difference. This is how his training sessions at the micro level help affect change.
Common Problem Areas in Companies
Seitz says that while doing their analysis they always ask their clients to share what is the biggest problem they have in managing or leading the team they are in charge of. He says that every company is uniquely similar based on the answers they get. After having worked with so many companies, Seitz and his team have come up with a list of ten core competencies which pretty much cover every problem most leaders have. These areas are: communication, customer service, developing people, leadership, managing change, problem solving, negotiation, raising productivity, strategic thinking and team building. He sums these up as the key skill development areas. Seitz makes an interesting point when it comes to promoting employees and making them leaders. He says that often people who are good at their job are offered leadership roles but they aren’t given any training to lead and manage a team. Because they were good at their individual role doesn’t mean they’d be good at leading a team. The transition from being an individual worker to a manager requires training in the competency areas that Seitz previously mentioned.
What Are You Reading?
The last book Seitz read was “Sailing Essentials” which has helped him with his recreational sailing.
How Can People Connect With You?
Connect with Jonathan via his company website www.bellwethertraining.com.
Mike Fingado is the Co-founder and CEO of Mowdo, an on-demand platform for home services, especially lawn care. Fingado describes his company as the Uber of home services. Before co-founding Mowdo, Fingado used to work in the automotive industry with a company called Tred, an innovative service that changed the way people buy cars.
Fingado had the entrepreneurship bug right from the time he was in college. He used to be a college athlete but due to an injury his sophomore year he went from being a star athlete to just a regular student. Subsequently, he had a lot of extra free time and started his entrepreneurial journey. Mike and a fellow athlete and friend realized that when the team is traveling for a game, they miss their classes. To help prevent a void in their education they decided to put all the lectures online and formed a little company called notelog.com. They streamed and uploaded notes, presentations and study material from the classes that any student from any college in the world could access. The company was eventually acquired by Notewagon which is now owned by Intel.
Once he graduated, Fingado and a few of his athlete friends launched a consultancy practice, Athletepreneur, to help athletes pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. While back home in Nebraska, to help former athletes form companies, they met a former mentor from Berkshire Hathaway. This mentor introduced them to an industry that is highly fragmented but with huge potential – the lawn care industry. After conducting some research they found homecare services is a $400 billion industry that they wanted to tap into. This is how Mowdo was founded. Since inception they have branched out and expanded their offering to different homecare services across 20 states and recently launched a mobile app.
Over the years, Fingado believes he has become a huge proponent of continued learning. His team is full of people who are open to learning and who bring in more than one value. Just like a sports team, when one person is down, there is always someone else ready to jump in and learn. Being an athlete, a lot of his management style is driven like that of a sports team. He gives an interesting analogy to explain his idea of teamwork. He says that in a relay race the most important part is the exchange between two teammates. If the exchange is smooth you get a clean finish. Those are the teams he says he likes to build. He loves having a team with a diverse background and expertise who are willing to share their knowledge with others. He also likes everybody to be able to do everybody’s job so that no one is irreplaceable and everybody can work together peacefully.
“Leadership is not just something you are born with but it is something that can be taught,” says Fingado. “If you surround yourself with leaders you tend to learn from them.” He has learned a lot from the leaders of every company he has worked with. That is the culture he is striving to build at his company too. He wants his peers and employees to learn from all the knowledge he gained from his past experience and pass it along. He would love for his people to grow and learn something while they are working at his company. This is one of the reasons why he tries hard to build a team of people with varied backgrounds so that everyone learns from each other.
What Are You Reading?
Fingado is currently not reading any book but he listens to a lot of podcasts. One of his favorites is called “Inside Outside” that focuses on investors and entrepreneurs outside the Valley. He also reads a lot of industry publications and news websites.
How Can People Connect With You?
Connect with Mike via his company website www.mowdo.com.