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July 25, 2022

John Nantz On Little Known Strategic Planning Strategies That Get Results (#145)

John Nantz On Little Known Strategic Planning Strategies That Get Results (#145)

John Nantz is the Founder and Strategic Consultant of Redwood Advisors, a business consulting and services firm focused on delivering strategic, organizational, and digital consulting projects to executives at large and high-growth mid-sized companies. Formerly with McKinsey & Company, John has accomplished more than 50 consulting projects while working as a management consultant over the last ten years.

John's academic portfolio includes earning a BA with distinction in Economics and an MS in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University. Under Redwood, John and his team have rendered consulting services to the Unified Physician Management, BioScrip, National Veterinary Associates, Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Solutions, Sidewalk Labs, Ares Private Equity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Geographic, NASA Education, and among others.

Aside from being a Stanford-educated and McKinsey-trained strategy consultant, John is the author of "Rediscovering Republicanism," a political history book.

Enjoying taking on significant challenges in the company of great people, John specializes in serving outpatient healthcare, business service, and technology companies. He is also passionate about Kite surfing and yoga outside his professional work. He is looking forward to getting booked on your show!

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This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth. 

Your liquidity event is the most important financial transaction of your life. You have one chance to get it right, and you better make it count. 

But unfortunately, up to 90% of liquidity events fail. Think about all that time, money and effort wasted. Of the "successful" liquidity events, most business owners leave 50% to over 100% of their deal value in the buyer's pocket and don't even know it.

Our founders said "no" to a 7-figure offer and "yes" to a 9-figure offer less than two years later. 

Don't become a statistic and make the fatal mistake of believing that the skills that built your business are the same ones for your liquidity event. 

After all, how can you master something you've never done before? 

Are you leaving millions on the table? 

Learn how the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience and our 9-step roadmap helps you capture the maximum value for your liquidity event.  

Click here to book your free exploratory strategy session.

Enjoy the interview!


[00:00:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: Welcome to the Sell My Business Podcast. I'm your host Jeffrey Feldberg. 

This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth and the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience. 

Your liquidity event is the largest and most important financial transaction of your life. 

But unfortunately, up to 90% of liquidity events fail. Think about all that time, money and effort wasted. Of the "successful" liquidity events, most business owners leave anywhere from 50% to over 100% of their deal value in the buyer's pocket and don't even know it.

I should know. I said no to a seven-figure offer and yes, to mastering the art and science of a liquidity event. Two years later, I said yes to a different buyer with a nine-figure offer. 

Are you thinking about an exit or liquidity event? 

If you believe that you either don't have the time or you'll prepare closer to your liquidity event, think again. 

Don't become a statistic and make the fatal mistake of believing that the skills that built your business are the same ones for your liquidity event. 

After all, how can you master something you've never done before? 

Let the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience and our nine-step roadmap of preparation help you capture the maximum value for your liquidity event. 

At the end of this episode, take a moment to hear from business owners, just like you, who went through the Deep Wealth Experience. 

 John Nantz is the founder and strategic consultant of Redwood Advisors, a business consulting and services firm focused on delivering strategic, organizational and digital consulting projects to executives at large and high growth, mid size companies. 

Formerly with McKinsey And Company, John has accomplished more than 50 consulting projects while working as a management consultant over the last 10 years. John's academic portfolio includes earning a BA with distinction in Economics and an MS in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University. 

Under Redwood, John and his team have rendered consulting services to Unified Physician Management, BioScrip, National Veterinary Associates, Johnson and Johnson Diabetes Solutions, Sidewalk Labs, Ares Private Equity, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Geographic, NASA Education and others. Aside from being a Stanford educated and McKinsey trained strategy consultant, john is the author of Rediscovering Republicanism a political history book.

Enjoying taking on significant challenges in the company of great people, John specializes in serving outpatient healthcare, business service and technology companies. He's also passionate about kite surfing and yoga outside of his professional work. 

Welcome to The Sell My Business Podcast. And as always, I have an incredible guest for you, but before we get there, I have a question. And actually we were talking about this offline and the question for all you listeners out there is this, where do you want to be in the next three years or five years?

And for some of you, you may not even have an answer, but if you do. How are you going to get there? Two key questions that are everything in business and for success, but I'm getting ahead of myself. So John, welcome to The Sell My Business Podcast. Such a pleasure to have you with us, John, there's always a story behind the story.

What's your story? What got you to where you are today? 

[00:03:46] John Nantz: Thanks for having me on. It's good to talk to you and I'm excited to have this conversation. Yeah, we'll look a very, very short about me. I started my career at McKinsey and company. It's a management consulting firm, out in the San Francisco area had gone to school in the Bay and started my career there, left to do some research.

 And ended up just having a lot of people who I work with the McKinsey, reach out to me and say, hey, this thing that you did for me and McKinsey, could you do you know, for me now that I'm at a new company or starting my own company, so you know, something along those lines. So I take about two and a half years off McKinsey and had a number of people call.

And by the time that was done I had five or six people regularly calling me and I said, God, this is crazy. But maybe instead of going back to McKinsey, I'll start my own firm. And I went for it, it's called Redwood Advisors. And we do hear the questions that you were like throwing out at the beginning, which were great, you know, helping companies figure that out.

We call it strategic planning or value creation planning, you know, how do I really think about my future and then actually get there is where we focus.

[00:04:38] Jeffrey Feldberg: It's interesting when we talk about this. So number one for our listeners, some of this is going to sound simple, but like I say, never confuse simple with simplicity. If it can come off as simple, a lot of work has gone into that. And John, let me ask you, I mean, you have a terrific pedigree going into this and your experience and your background.

So what would some of those common mistakes or traits that you're seeing out there? What would those be and what should we be on the lookout for?

[00:05:04] John Nantz: There are few things that are going on too. And I think a lot of people will identify and resonate with this. And I struggle with myself just by getting paid to do this every day. There is a incredibly powerful gravitational pull to the present, ironically, cause I know meditation is all this mindfulness is all this, which is great from a personal perspective, but from a business person's perspective, it's actually a problem because if you're only worried about today and this week or this month that is an incredibly myopic and narrow view.

And you're almost fundamentally looking at things in the way of like, how am I going to do what I'm doing today incrementally better. That is the natural path of an entrepreneur because you know, just running the business you have to take so much energy. 

There is just a natural myopia that comes into play and what you lose is a few things, which is there might be these really big opportunities that I can't do in a month or three months. But if we ask ourselves the question of what can we do in five years, everyone would immediately say, oh, here's what we could go do it.

And when you do the math, you're like, that might be a huge opportunity. So I think number one is just really getting to a short term in your thinking number one, two is never pulling back and actually thinking long run, which is the solution to one, which is like, you actually do need to step back and say, get away from the day-to-day operations, pull yourself out.

I know it's really hard. I know it's really painful, but dream a little bit. And like, you know, when we talk about, if you'd listen to strategist over and over, it's always think bigger, but you have to, you actually have to do the thing. That's the second one. The third one is probably just alignment.

Even if you know where you're going. And actually, I think this is probably true. I don't know if I've ever had a single client where this isn't true. I'm always really struck by how misaligned people are. And it's very easy if you just people like, oh, I'm not sure this is true. Here's a test, go ask the owners or leaders of your company, go in the room and say, write down, we need the top three priorities are for our company. Or why do you think the top three ways that we can grow to the next year or three years are and ask your executive team. And you'll be shocked at the variance. So if you guys aren't aligned on that, then I mean that's a problem, right?

Like obviously this isn't going to happen because people are literally trying to accomplish different things. So I think that's probably the third one is a lack of alignment.

[00:07:13] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow, John, there's a lot to unpack there, but let me go back to a term that you use that may not be so familiar for our listeners out there. And you're just talking about myopic thinking. And as you said that just you know, my MBA days right away, I'm thinking of that classic case, Ted Levitt Marketing Myopia.

And how, as an example, railroad companies just thought that they were railroad companies instead of lifestyle companies. And they're no longer as prevalent today as they would have been. But for the benefit of our listeners, what is this myopia that you're talking about in present day in businesses, what are you typically seeing with that? 

[00:07:51] John Nantz: Yeah. What I would just say is that running your current business it's very easy to spend 100% of your time energy on. It's just very easy to do that. There's always little things that could be better and people calling in all the stuff, so actually takes a fair amount of discipline to think longer term like I don't know, a single owner of a CEO. It's like, oh yeah, I can easily find three hours to do some visioning work. It doesn't exist. Your calendar is going to get sucked up in other priorities, so you have to make it a priority. I don't know if that answers your question, but I think that's what's going on.

It's driving it and I'm not, I guess I'm criticizing it to some degree. I don't criticize the people for doing it. I think it's the natural course of things, but I think there's a real cost to it and the cost goes unseen. That's what's so interesting about it because you don't know what you don't know.

You don't know because you actually haven't thought about what's out there in the long run. So you actually don't know what the cost is. It's behavior. You don't know the cost of not taking three hours, but I can tell you it's extremely high. And the thing that really blows me away is, and I'll work with companies that have over a billion dollars or even a billion in revenue.

I have yet to do a project I've probably done 20 to 25, like really large scale strategic planning projects. And one of the key outcomes that comes out of that, it's like, what are the top three to five highest prioritize for this organization moving forward? I have yet to have a single project where one of those, wasn't a surprise to the team, at least one, which is shocking because if like you're running a billion dollar company and you're telling me your executive team doesn't know what are their top three biggest opportunities.

That's crazy. And it's not only common. It's been the rule of my career, which is shocking. So that's what I'm saying. That's the massive value of pulling away is there is almost, I guess in my experience, I have yet to have a situation where there's not a massive opportunity that you don't know when you open the aperture in time.

[00:09:45] Jeffrey Feldberg: Scary. Just scary. You think of these billion dollar entities, all the resources that they have, the smart people, the systems, everything else. And John, here you are. And really you did read the start of this episode. You did it, you took a question that I asked and you reformulated it into really a better question and just the power of questions, you want to change your life, change the questions that you're asking.

And so on the negative side, what I'm really hearing you say is when you're myopic or when you're not in alignment, you're maybe to long-term or too short term. You're all over the place, your executive team or your leaders are perhaps not thinking the same things, but you're missing the big opportunities, which is a scary thought.

And both you and I in the M&A role, then with what we're doing there, I mean that's a big deal. You're having a liquidity event. And if you're missing those opportunities while maybe your future buyer, when those with that opportunity isn't going to tell you because they want to capitalize on a lower enterprise value.

So knowing this is absolutely paramount for your success as a business owner at liquidity event, but now let's flip it. Let's talk about you walk into a business, John, they're doing everything right not sure that exists, but you know, they're doing everything right. What would be some of the top one, two or three things that what they're doing is making it Right.

What should we be looking for or doing?

[00:11:09] John Nantz: And when you say right, can we define that a little more? Cause there's so many ways to define that, like in terms of running their current operation or like having a really good strategic planning process or value creation, planning process that they're executing on, or give me a sense of how you want to scope that. 

[00:11:22] Jeffrey Feldberg: I love it. I just love how you're asking these questions and we're just drilling it right down. We're distilling it right to the essence. Why don't we do it this way? Because big picture wise as business owners really what's it about for us? It doesn't show up on the balance sheet.

We're changing lives, making a difference, solving problems. Typical entrepreneurial thing to do, but what does show up on the balance sheet? What does count? What is a scorecard ultimately from your growth to your profits? And so doing it right to maximize the profits, what would be some best practices that you're seeing in companies that are really well run versus those that aren't, they're missing these best practices? 

[00:12:00] John Nantz: Okay. Got you. That's helpful. And I might even open the aperture to just a little more and just let's talk about value creation. So instead of just profits, because when you go into a transaction like the amount of white space that you have, that there's credibility around may change the multiple on the profit.

So maybe I'll just take that, that will add the value creation, it gives room for the multiple to shift. It's funny. Look, everyone knows it's like to you know, do a hammer, everything's a nail. I've been involved in this. I mean, we had a client recently at a, you know, at a $1.6 billion transaction, nine months after we work with them.

And I was talking to the CEO about it and he said, look like the fact that you guys helped us identify so much white space was critical because you know, every people have to remember, like the next time someone's buying, it's really people for only forget this. It's really funny. They're not buying what you've done in the past.

They're buying what they think they can do in the future. And like right side up thinking. It's cause I know everyone, we're naturally inclined to think about ourselves 98% of the time, but as social creatures, you need to think about other people. So when you're going through a transaction is like okay, this person is buying with what's going to happen. So let's talk about best practices from that perspective. I'm biased. But I think the first thing is they only on a long-term view because ultimately that's what they're buying. They're not buying your retrospective financials, they're buying the future and like to give someone a vision of you're not buying, you're not buying a $10 million, $5 million, $500,000 EBITDA business.

You're buying a future $2 million EBITDA business or a future twenty-five million dollars. That's what they want to hear. And the more that you can build their confidence in that the higher your multiples can be. So I would encourage people. I really think that long-term strategic planning, just having some sense of the future.

And then of course, this is what I do, so I'm biased, but I can truly believe in it. The fact that I do it, I could care less. I just believe it. So I think the first thing is having that longterm view. I think the second thing is just prioritizing. So I think every business owner from the local taco stand to a big tech company, What are your three to five biggest opportunities?

And what are your three to five top priorities? Let's start easy three. And most of them are like, I don't know. Okay, good. That's great. That's great. Not to know, but we need to figure it out. And so you need to figure out, let's take the taco stand cause it's fun. Is it seeing if you can offer alcoholic beverages?

Is it opening a second taco stand? Is it expanding the hours of operation? Is it figuring how you get your average basket size larger? I never consulted a taco stand, but these are the types of questions I would ask. And so look at your business and figure out, hey, like what are the biggest opportunities and then focus on those because what we do, we'll do some long elaborate process, but at the end of the day, that's the outcome is here are your priorities. Go focus on those. You want to focus at the point of it's painful, like when I'm working with clients we're doing the prioritization process. I'm not interesting for like, yeah. We're heading out and yeah, those are top priorities.

Like we're going to budgeting everything's fine. It's like, no, no. You want to put the screws on a little bit. It's every incremental dollar investment going in your top three every dollar. Like five to 15, no money, $0 didn't know new head count. No tech. No, we're not doing that. Like focus, his focus, his focus and that, oh, now people feel the pains.

It's like good, the rubber's meeting the road. That's what focus is. So it's not supposed to be pleasant. It's hard, but then you get results. I think having the long-term view, having your top priorities and then focusing on them to the degree where it almost feels painful, that's what best practice looks like.

And no one, by the way, no one likes to do that. They only have to think longterm, it only set priorities and they don't like to focus on the same way, but I'm just telling you it works and you'll read every business book you read say the same thing.

[00:15:54] Jeffrey Feldberg: John, you are preaching to the choir here at Deep Wealth and in our community. And for our listeners, what John was talking about is so spot on, I hope you're really paying attention. And John, if we go back to what you were saying earlier, in terms of the future buyer, if we're really, as business owners, we're really open and honest about it.

And of course, we are. Most business owners heading into a liquidity event, like you said, are selfish. We only think about ourselves and in step number three of the nine step roadmap, it's all about the art and the science of mastering. How to think like a future buyer. And to your point, when you think like a future buyer, your buyer knows what you did yesterday, they know what you did today.

What they want to know is what's the business going to do tomorrow? And how's that going to drive the ROI for the buyer you've already made your money after the liquidity event you're done you're out, or maybe you're saying it for the company for a little bit more, but you're taking care of. But the buyer, like all of us wants to maximize that ROI.

So I just love how you put that strategic thinking into, okay. Let's put ourselves into the shoes of a buyer and let's try and figure out what's going to really move the dial for that buyer value wise. That's going to increase enterprise value, the multiple and just make things better all the way around.

And so John, when you're brought into a situation where hopefully a company smart enough to say, we're not in the liquidity event yet. It's sometime down the road, not forever, but you know, in the very near future, John, help us out here with your background, with your company, with your systems and process.

What are you doing, John? To really have them identify those value drivers? 

[00:17:37] John Nantz: Good question. When we do have a strategic planning, we take an initiative driven view. So it's sorta like two components to it. There's high-level strategy, which is what you were talked Jeff, at the very beginning of, you know, and I like to tell every business owner, I think you should answer these three questions and they're subtly simple, they're not simple articulate.

The implications are not unimportant. What's your winning aspiration. Where do you want to play and how are you going to win? Fourth-grade level questions by the way. That's a good place to be from a complexity perspective, but everyone can understand those questions, but they're very hard to answer and I always felt people know what is your winning aspiration?

Like really think about three to five years. If you sat around a table, had a glass of wine you know, what's gonna make you look back and say, God, we were successful. And it was really interesting is it's not always about the money. It's not always about the dollars.

It's not always about that. It's hey, you know what? I want to have a good relation with my employees or we want to be a good member of our community or we want to launch a product that blows people away. We really believe in what we're up to and we want to make some money, but we also want this product to be really cool.

So I always tell people. You got to have some money on there. Like most people are doing what they're doing, cause they want to get compensated. That seems fair. It's not an easy thing to do what people are doing. But be honest about it and then, really dream big and it's really a beautiful thing.

You dream that. And then you live into that vision and you really feel meaningful. So it was very purposeful. So you got those three questions and then on the, what I say is, go answer those three questions. And then, where the rubber meets the road is what we call initiatives. So I'll give you the cheat sheet, which is the way we like to do the initiatives is there's two dimensions to think about any opportunity.

One is how big is it? Size. So like how much profit or value creation does this offer you? And then the other dimension is ability to execute. So how well positioned are you to execute on that? If you take those two dimensions, you form a matrix. An X, Y grid. And I can plot my initiatives on a size and ability to execute matrix.

And you're looking for things that are high opportunity, high size, and relatively high ability to execute. That's where you want to focus. And a lot of people focus. It's really funny because if you just look at size, you get what I call the dreaming syndrome you're going after your biggest opportunities, but you may have literally no business doing it.

And just like, you're not going to sell into China. You're selling into Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi right now. Like, why don't you focus on Georgia first. China's a huge market. You do not have the capability to do that. Okay. So that's what we call the dreaming syndrome. Then if there are other people are just focusing on ability to execute, which let's just do the easy stuff, it's making a little more money, but then you're not looking at the big stuff. The key is looking at both. And if you look at them both, you're looking for those things that are like right there in that sweet spot. And that's what I encourage people to do. And you can do it on a napkin.

We obviously have a much more rigorous process, there's nothing wrong with you basic juristics and you'd be shocked. Just score your opportunity on a 1 to 10 scale on both. And you might be surprised.

[00:20:24] Jeffrey Feldberg: Yeah, I love this. And John, what you said heading into those terrific insights and those questions to ask, hey, a fourth grader could ask these questions and understand them, and you bring a realism to strategic planning that I feel gets lost along the way. And somewhere along the line people rightly or wrongly, they just assume this is complicated stuff.

I have to have these lofty words and these big words and all these kinds of questions that are out there that, that fourth grader certainly isn't going to understand, but I don't think adults are going to understand or business people are going to understand either. That is hard to do. It sounds easy when you hear it, but it's hard to simplify and you and I were talking a little bit about that offline.

So John, when you're walking into, whether it's this billion dollar company or it's a startup or everything in between John, how are you not just for yourself, but for the executive team, for the CEO, for the business owner, how are you helping them simplify things into questions that make sense? They resonate.

They're simple, but they move the dial. They get things done. 

[00:21:31] John Nantz: I think there's two things which is, I think this is why we get hired and it's like anything, like you want to do your own knee replacement. So, you know, sometimes people do. It's really funny though, because it's like, well, there's these really high, complex things, but people don't think they can do their own knee replacement, but they think they can just do strategy once every decade or two.

But I think the first thing is just. I do think there's a value of working with people who do this for a living. And that sounds very self-serving, but I genuinely believe it, which is working with people who have a documented process of like, how do you actually ask the right questions?

How do you, what is the form of the answer? What's the order in which you do these things. And so I think just having a thoughtful process, and if you don't, obviously I shouldn't say you have to work with external third party, but you know, if you don't like go find some type of framework that you think you can follow in a rigorous way, like at least give yourself the benefit of something that please don't. I think there's a lot of find some form of expertise that you can put to use.

 The second thing is trying to say things in a really simple way. And I don't know why people are doing strategy. I was thinking about myself as a recovering graduate student.

I did graduate, but that academic language it's not always that beneficial. And just saying, hey, do we all agree on this? Do we all know what these words mean? If we can say it simply, let's just say it simply that's the principles that we try to operate on.

[00:22:40] Jeffrey Feldberg: So ask really good clarifying questions so that you have clarity coming out of it. Keep it simple. Dream big, but don't get lost too much in too far down the road thinking. Also look at what's ahead, but don't get lost in just focusing on today and tomorrow. So it's really a balancing act what you're saying, but this really ties in nicely to what you do.

And so when we're applying your methodology, your success system, when you're walking into a company and I know every busines, it's going to vary. Some businesses are in better shape than others, and it's going to take longer or shorter periods of time, depending on what's going on. But a general rule of thumb, company approaches you and says, hey John, can you and the team help us with our strategic development here for whether it's a liquidity event or whatever the case may be of what they're looking to do. 

[00:23:31] John Nantz: Yeah. 

[00:23:32] Jeffrey Feldberg: How long of a time period, do you feel a business needs to not just do okay. But to do really well, what are we looking at? 

[00:23:41] John Nantz: Yeah. I think it depends on size. I think it's less than $10 million. We do what we call a strategic planning workshop project, which is and I think that's like Tino, you could do three to four weeks. And the business should business. Shouldn't be that complicated and it's just really running a best practice process around the business to figure out what's possible.

I think 10 to a hundred million dollars is in terms of who I'll be talking about revenue. So sub 10 million is three to four weeks. I think 10 to a hundred million is probably, we're looking at four to six weeks. And again, this isn't that complicated, maybe 80 weeks at the top.

And then if it's really a big company it's a eight to twelve weeks. I mean, even a billion dollar company know it's 12 weeks.

[00:24:20] Jeffrey Feldberg: Fair enough. And you know, again, it goes back to what you're saying. You could be huge in terms of revenue, billion dollar plus company, but you're still following your system and all of these best practices. So let's call it three months as an example, in terms of the process, just to get this down and have a customize and really come up with a strategic plan.

And for the next question, I know it's going to be the answer. Jeffrey, it depends. It depends on the company and where they are and what they're doing, but the set expectations for business owners who, in this case, they want to grow. They want to increase the value, increase the profits. They know there's a liquidity event down the road.

Once they have that strategic plan from what they've created with you and the three months that took, how long typically do you see in terms of the implementation of that plan to start getting to that ideal outcome? That's been the goal from day one. 

[00:25:14] John Nantz: When I was at McKinsey, it's really a defining moment for me to answer your question, but I'm gonna start with a story that's illuminating. And we did a three month project, and I remember when the CEO and we gave him this stack and as 120 pages, it was extremely insightful.

I'm going to have to say, I'll have to work with really high quality and early CEO. He has a really interesting question. So what should we do differently tomorrow? And we did not have a good answer to that question. And that was a problem. That was a big freaking problem.. And the problem with that is there's an actionability problem.

And that changed my whole perspective on strategy. Like I never looked at strategy the same way. I was very junior on the team. It was not my responsibility to answer that question, but I took responsibility for learning something from it. And I said at the end of the day, me it's like insight and action.

Action comes first insight, love it's insightful, but like this has got to be actionable. So we have an extreme bias towards actionability and whatever's coming out of this needs to be actionable. And oftentimes we'll actually work with our clients to do that. So we'll build a strategic plan. And then how do you build what we call the performance management system post plan to execute. 

What's the governance model look like? What are the meetings? What's the agenda? Who's in it?

What are the inputs into the meeting? And what are the dashboards you're using to track yourself, to track and drive progress against your own plan? So that is just as hard as the planning.

And I know people hate the hate to hear that, but that's just the truth. But in reality, things should change the next day. They should change the next day. They should change the next week. If you come in and say, hey, I didn't know what my priorities are now. I know my top three to five. That's what you should be talking about to everyone in your team.

What are we doing on this and this? What are we doing on pricing, procurement and new market expansion? Like where are we at on pricing? Whoever's runs pricing come talk to me, sit in my room office and give me an update for 30 minutes every week. Things should be changing, day one.

[00:26:59] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. I love that again. It's simple, but it's not simplistic and you're really taking the big picture and yeah, it's great Jeffrey that you have this big picture, but you know what, tomorrow, you should start taking some actions to begin to see results, and you really have that cause and effect that's coming into play that so often with these grandiose strategies that we come up in these company retreats and these fancy words, and nothing happens, it just sits there and collects dust.

And it's a distant memory until next year. 

[00:27:29] John Nantz: So first of all, when people do it on their own. You almost that's like the default is what's the through line between this process and how your business works. And if there's not a through line, it's a shared intellectual experience that does change how you think and behave, but on the margins, as opposed to sitting at the center of what's happening in your company.

You know the first day after the project's over or within the first month or two, this is a different different things.

[00:27:56] Jeffrey Feldberg: And again, I'm going to ask you a question and you may say Jeffrey, hey, this is just too general. It's hard to say, but I'm wondering and again, looking to simplify things.

I'm a big believer in, as an example, when you're looking at key metrics or KPIs, I would suspect that there's probably a few KPIs that are in just about every other scenario that you can look at.

And so that's really the question, whether it's a billion dollar company or a startup. What are some of your favorite KPIs that you like to, once you have the strategic plan in place, you've done the planning process. You're saying, okay, here are some tried and true KPIs. We may have some others, but these ones are definitely in the mix and something that you should pay attention to. 

[00:28:37] John Nantz: Yeah. I will tell you the KPIs, we like to define the top KPIs at the initiative level. And so, you know, let's say, depending on size of company, you might have 5 to 12 to 15 initiatives come out of it. Like I think the power of KPIs really come when you get into that level of granularity.

I'm kinda sights up your question, but it's again, I think that's where you find the KPIs. Like If you sort of saying like, it's one thing to say, what are the KPIs for my company? And we can talk about them. Revenue, gross margin, net margin, then new customers. Customer acquisition, customer retention rate percentage wise, you can look at that absolute numbers or dollar weighted.

Those are some common things that I would expect to see a lot of companies prioritize at the company level, but then when you get into more to me, the KPIs get really fun when you get the brilliant initiative level. Let me just put that on everyone's radar, take a look at your pricing because there's been very few clients where there's not money there, no pun intended, but it's like, you know, pricing. You know, I'm always like, okay, one KPI is what percentage of your business from a revenue perspective, do you think offers pricing opportunity?

Like how much have you been looked at and how much is in versus out? Like where do you think, hey, you know, we could increase price here. For what percentage of those do you currently, like what's your pipeline of pricing changes look like? What has been your increase in revenue due to pricing increases?

Like those are really interesting because the first two are quite operational because like first one was telling me, how much of my business do I think I can potentially take price on? The second one's telling me what's my pricing pipeline look like, and my third was what do we actually captured?

So you get one and those are all like highly leading, like leading indicators and an outcome indicators. And so these are enterprise best practices, but the extent that you can sort of get that, those extreme. That is a very helpful KPI.

[00:30:25] Jeffrey Feldberg: John, I mean, it's clear. What's coming out of here and for our listeners, I hope you're picking up on this. You may look at the metric or KPI one way. John is seeing that same metric, but it might as well be in a different language because he's interpreting things that you're simply going to miss. And John, I suspect that there's some listeners out there that are saying, you know what, John, you sound like a really terrific guy. 

You've done some wonderful things, but a fancy management consultant and now bringing it into my company and all this time and all this money, we'll just do it on our own.

Maybe I'll get a book or I'll go onto the web and find some questions and we got it covered. And so you, and I know that really isn't the way to go. Particularly when you're thinking of a liquidity event, you have one chance to get it right. You really want to make account, but for people that are kind of on the fence, Do I bring John as an advisor and have John come in and just really take things to the next level, or do I try and do this in-house?

Give us all the reasons. And I think they're obvious, but why not? Why not give us the reasons of having an outside advisor like yourself who does this day in, day out, why there's an ROI on that? Why that's really the only way to go? 

[00:31:35] John Nantz: Yeah, and I don't think it's the only way. And I think if people want to go the, that way, I think there's an argument to be made for it. I think the argument for doing it is the first thing I would just say is having someone actually push your thinking. I mean, that's one thing I see in almost all my clients.

You get a little too wedded to how things work and what you're doing today. And you don't ask hard questions about like what could we do what's actually possible. And if someone come in from the outside that scene. A number of businesses and they can understand your business but challenge your thinking a little bit and not just take what the leader says for an answer.

So I think that's number one is really thinking bigger, then that's going to uncover new opportunities. I think two is to doing it in a best practice way in a best practice demonstrated or proven way. You're going to get better results there. And I think the third thing is alignment.

So having an outside party come in to facilitate this process in coordination is very helpful in getting everyone on the same page because everyone's going to have their own opinions on some of these topics. And so the CEO is leading a process. CFO's leading the process or the owners leading that process.

He's got both going to be a participant and a facilitator. And those are very challenging has to wear at the same time, because everyone's like, well, is it just what you think? Or like, why are you making the calls you're making? Is it because you're trying to run a good process or because you just want to beat the outcome to be what you want it to be.

When we come in, I say, look, I'm not here to hurt anybody's feelings. We're just committed to helping you collectively get to the right answer. And that I think makes a really big difference. And I've seen that before, we'll get brought in where a company was trying to do it on their own, and it wasn't going that well.

And a lot of the retirements cause people didn't trust the results. And when I come in and no one's ever questioned my results. Cause I'm like, I'm not trying to make your department smaller. I'm not trying to freeze your budget, that's ridiculous.

I'm trying to get to the right answer.

[00:33:21] Jeffrey Feldberg: John, that's interesting. And really you're bringing up to I'll call it on the art side of being an advisor, being an outside advisor, you know, as the saying goes, you're never a profit in your hometown. You're never a profit in your company. People are always going to doubt or challenge or question you.

So you're spot on with an outside advisor like yourself. Number one, you're bringing accountability. So it's one thing to say it, it's another thing to do it, and it's completely different to measure it and then talk about it and analyze it. But then to the other point, you are a third-party you do bring that credibility.

You can get different groups together and perhaps move things forward in a way that just from politics wise or just internal issues, who knows whatever it may be, just isn't going to happen. So you bring up some terrific points. And speaking of that, I suspect it happens more than we think about.

[00:34:11] John Nantz: I think this one is what people would expect. There's a lot of politicking and a lot of people wanting their own departments to grow more than, you know, and people just taking their own point of view. And we do see that, and I think a lot of people want the company to, you know, they think that they take the best interest of the company into consideration.

But I do think it's really easy to get off kilter when you're running a process internally. And I think people are always trying to figure out like how can the answer of this exercise benefit me?

[00:34:36] Jeffrey Feldberg: Fair enough. The what's in it for me. Everyone's favorite question or is like we say in Deep Wealth everyone's favorite radio station, WII.FM what's in it for me?

So John you've really walked us through from both a micro and macro level the importance of strategic planning and how that can really make a difference.

And you've done a terrific job of just the foundation for all of us. What I'm wondering is with the pandemic have things changed from a strategic planning side of things in terms of what you're seeing or what you're doing than prepandemic? 

[00:35:09] John Nantz: Maybe I'll give you a boring answer. Not really. I think there's sort of a cute answer, which I could offer, but I'll abstain from that. But I think in reality I think during the pandemic, it was a little bit of a tough time to think long run, but I think now we know. Look, no one knows where inflation is going to be.

No, one's going to know, like what Asian politics are gonna look like, will China attack Taiwan? There's all these uncertainties, but there's always going to be uncertainties. And so I think at this point and actually I think a lot of our clients have been really eager to say, look, we know where the world's going at this point.

And or we think we have enough competence, you know, we have to start to plan. And where do we want to be? Where do we want to be in three to five years?

[00:35:44] Jeffrey Feldberg: And I think what's terrific about your answer. It just really highlights the importance and the timelessness of best practices that different times, different situations, fads are not fads, whatever the case is that the best practices get you through time and time again is really like your north star to help make that difference.

Get the results, move the dial. As we like to say. So John let's do this. I mean, we can go down this strategic planning rabbit hole for hours and hours, but we're starting to bump up against some time here. And as we begin to wrap up the episode, I have my favorite question that I feel so privileged to ask every thought leader like yourself, who comes onto the podcast.

And the question is this, John I'd like you to imagine the movie Back to the Future. And in the movie you have that magical DeLorean car that can take you to any point in time. So for the thought experiment, imagine now it's tomorrow morning, you look outside your window and there it is. The DeLorean car is not only there, but the door is open, is waiting for you to hop on.

So you now go into the DeLorean car and you can go to any point in your life, John, as a young child, teenager, adult, whatever the case would be, what would you be telling your younger self in terms of life wisdom or lessons learned or, hey, John, don't do this or try that. What would that sound like? 

[00:37:12] John Nantz: Wow. Okay. That's a great question. I was not expecting a question of that nature. That's a great question. 

That's really, that's a really tough one. There's so many, I've just so many different directions to go with it. Probably what I would have done is I'd probably go back to my 26 or 27 year old self. And I would probably tell him, really enjoy the journey and relax it's all gonna work out.

[00:37:36] Jeffrey Feldberg: Oh, such timeless wisdom, John, and you know what great minds think alike because many of the guests who come onto the Deep Wealth Sell My Business Podcast and answer that question. It's all about the journeys, what they're sharing exactly what you're talking about it.

And you know what it, as simple as it sounds, it seems that we've just lost our way in society. And it's all about the now and just having things really quick in, and just getting the results and not really taking a step back and saying, hey, let me just enjoy the journey. The journey is where it's at. And I think that's timeless advice.

And John, let me ask you this. As we begin to wrap up the episode and everything's going to be in the show notes and it'll be a point and click for the listeners just to save time and make it really easy. If somebody would like to reach you online, what would be the best place? 

[00:38:24] John Nantz: Email me.

John[dot]a[dot]nantz[at], which stands for Redwood Advisors. 

 I take emails from all sorts of people and I love giving people an input on this stuff. I actually really enjoy what I do. So it's fun for me to think about.

[00:38:43] Jeffrey Feldberg: John that's terrific. And you're walking the talk. You're keeping it simple and it's actionable. You can just email and boom. It goes right there. So we'll put that in the show notes for our listeners and they can reach out to you that way. 

[00:38:55] John Nantz: And our website, They can look at the website too. 

[00:38:58] Jeffrey Feldberg: Absolutely. We'll have the website link as well. And they'll take a look at what's going on there. John, as we officially wrap up this episode a heartfelt thank you. Thank you so much for taking part of your day and spending it with us on The Deep Wealth Sell My Business Podcast and as always, please stay healthy and safe.

[00:39:13] Sharon S.: The Deep Wealth Experience was definitely a game-changer for me. 

[00:39:16] Lyn M.: This course is one of the best investments you will ever make because you will get an ROI of a hundred times that. Anybody who doesn't go through it will lose millions. 

[00:39:26] Kam H.: If you don't have time for this program, you'll never have time for a successful liquidity 

[00:39:31] Sharon S.: It was the best value of any business course I've ever taken. The money was very well spent.

[00:39:37] Lyn M.: Compared to when we first began, today I feel better prepared, but in some respects, may be less prepared, not because of the course, but because the course brought to light so many things that I thought we were on top of that we need to fix. 

[00:39:53] Kam H.: I 100% believe there's never a great time for a business owner to allocate extra hours into his or her week or day. So it's an investment that will yield results today. I thought I will reap the benefit of this program in three to five years down the road. But as soon as I stepped forward into the program, my mind changed immediately. 

[00:40:15] Sharon S.: There was so much value in the experience that the time I invested paid back so much for the energy that was expended. 

[00:40:26] Lyn M.: The Deep Wealth Experience compared to other programs is the top. What we learned is very practical. Sometimes you learn stuff that it's great to learn, but you never use it. The stuff we learned from Deep Wealth Experience, I believe it's going to benefit us a boatload.

[00:40:39] Kam H.: I've done an executive MBA. I've worked for billion-dollar companies before. I've worked for smaller companies before I started my business. I've been running my business successfully now for getting close to a decade. We're on a growth trajectory. Reflecting back on the Deep Wealth, I knew less than 10% what I know now, maybe close to 1% even. 

[00:40:57] Sharon S.: Hands down the best program in which I've ever participated. And we've done a lot of different things over the years. We've been in other mastermind groups, gone to many seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, read books. This was so different. I haven't had an experience that's anything close to this in all the years that we've been at this.

It's five-star, A-plus.

[00:41:24] Kam H.: I would highly recommend it to any super busy business owner out there.

Deep Wealth is an accurate name for it. This program leads to deeper wealth and happier wealth, not just deeper wealth. I don't think there's a dollar value that could be associated with such an experience and knowledge that could be applied today and forever. 

[00:41:43] Jeffrey Feldberg: Are you leaving millions on the table? 

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