"Leaders make a difference to somebody every day"
- Leon Goren
Leon Goren believes in purposeful leadership. Challenge the status quo, anticipate the future and help those around you excel.
With 25 years of experience, Leon understands the needs and chal...
"Leaders make a difference to somebody every day"
- Leon Goren
Leon Goren believes in purposeful leadership. Challenge the status quo, anticipate the future and help those around you excel.
With 25 years of experience, Leon understands the needs and challenges of leaders. Leon has worked with over 1,000 Fortune 500 and SME Clients.
As the owner of PEO Leadership, Leon builds communities of knowledge and leaders. Leon focuses on 5 key elements of success:
Success for Leon is both enjoyed and achieved when these 5 key elements work in harmony.
Leon's 5 to thrive:
This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth. Are you a business owner who is wondering how to grow your business, sell it, or both? Perhaps you're wondering how to make your business pandemic-proof? Learn how the strategies to grow and extract the deep wealth from your business.
Enjoy the interview!
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Steve Wells: [00:00:00] Hi, this is Steve Wells
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:00:02] And I'm Jeffrey Feldberg. Welcome to the Sell My Business podcast.
Steve Wells: [00:00:07] This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth. Are you a business owner who's wondering how to either grow your business, sell it, or both? Or maybe in today's environment, you're wondering how to make your business pandemic proof.
Visit deepwealth.com to find out how you can master the strategies to grow and extract the deep wealth from your business. Visit www.deepwealth.com
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:00:34] Today, we're delighted to have Leon Goren with us. Leon believes in purposeful leadership, the type that requires us to challenge the status quo, anticipate the future and be confident enough to step outside of our comfort zone to inspire and help those around us excel. Leon's 25 years of leadership experience and understanding of the needs and challenges of leaders comes from leading multiple organizations and working with over 1000 fortune 500 and SME clients.
Leon, welcome. We're delighted to have you. Your background is as varied as your talents.
Why don't you tell our community who you are, a bit of your story and what you've been doing? Juror during this whole Corona virus and this pandemic that we've been going through. Sure.
Leon Goren: [00:01:25] Thanks, Jeffrey. Thanks, Steven. As for my background, well, many of your audience will laugh. I started my career as an entrepreneur When I was 13, delivering newspapers. I went in in the exact opposite direction became a CPA, CA. which really is an accountant for those that don't know the CPA designation. After doing about eight years of that sort of, the entrepreneurial piece came back. So, I've been involved in all types of things, you know, after leaving the profession, working in Boston for Deloitte.
And then Boston, up in Canada as well. I started a dotcom back in 97, 98 with justwhiteshirts.com It's, it's still around, where I really got to do some entrepreneurial stuff and lead a business. and I followed up by becoming involved with PEO leadership. About 10 years later, I started as a member and then about, well, 10 years back now, I actually bought the organization.
So I started to focus much more on strategy and leadership and helping leaders succeed. So that's, that's a little bit of a background, but about me, obviously family guy, three kids, and a fantastic wife as well. I have to add that in there. So the last, last five weeks, yeah. My, work is really about helping leaders, been doing that for 10 years.
And obviously over the last five or six weeks, the world is turned upside down a little bit. You know what used to be pretty, not straightforward advice because people are human. We all got challenges in terms of what we're dealing, whether it be business, health, wealth, family, relationships. But five weeks ago, obviously in North America, what we found was the Corona virus coming and impacting and then shutdowns, the world changed for many later.
So, our focus has really been to support these individuals actually to try and be a couple of weeks ahead of the game. Because as you're going through crisis, a lot of our leaders going through crisis, they're in the midst of it. And so, what they look to us to do is sort of help them through the midst of it, but also to think a couple of steps forward in terms of pulling them heads out of the mud a little bit to think about what's coming down the path here.
So that's really what's been preoccupying us in it. It hasn't let off yet. You know, we've gone through crisis. We're now going through a bit of a transition, and I think over the next 30 to 60 days, we're going to move into what we call recovery or a reset into this new economy. And so again, all sort of very, very new to leaders today.
So, the ability to tap into each other in terms of each other's wisdom, to see how they're all, everyone's moving forward, to learn from each other, and for us to sort of facilitate that journey has been, from what I'm hearing, is that somewhat invaluable to too many of them.
Steve Wells: [00:03:58] Leon, I want to hear more about your organization and what you're doing right now, but I've got a quick question.
I mean, because you had a company, I imagine in 08 and 09 we went through a recession probably. I can't imagine we went through it as well, but nothing like we're going through now. From that experience, is there any takeaway or anything that you saw then that you, you can apply now.
Leon Goren: [00:04:25] Well, the number one thing I, if you think even five weeks ago as the virus was starting to hit and you started getting inklings around businesses shutting down, so, 07 08 what starts to happen? Revenue starts to decline. It's a little slower than what we're saying here, happening to us about four or five weeks ago.
So, there's a lot of similarities. So, the first one being. Understanding where you are with your cashflow today. So, I mean, that was the first thing. We went up to our members and said, okay, how many of you actually have built, I don't care about your business plans. I want to see a 12 month cashflow I want on a monthly basis.
And if he can actually do it, let's do it on a weekly basis and see where we at. And that that'll depend on the size of the business, right? Multinational guys are not doing that, but my entrepreneur guys are definitely doing that. so that's number one. The second conversation that happened in Oh eight and happened here too, was what am I going to do when I, when I look at that cash flow and I realized, oh my God, we're running negative.
Yeah. we didn't have, you know, today we've got companies that have dropped down to zero revenue. About 10% of our membership is probably at zero revenue. You know, people drop 20%, 25% 30% and here we got zero. But the same parameters, the same things existed. So, you know, cash flow is the first thing.
The second thing then is, okay, where can we actually cut costs to actually be able to ensure we can actually come out of this. So, the number one item on most P and L's today are employees. So, a lot of conversations start to happen. Yeah. Started to happen around the employee. What can we do? In 08 we looked at workshare programs.
What did we do five weeks ago? We looked at workshare programs in 08 they didn't have as much around work subsidies and those financial assistance programs, both in the US and also Canada, pretty well all around the world today, five weeks ago, or they started thinking about that. They started implementing them over the last few weeks.
How does that impact, can we actually carry our employees today? So, you start running the numbers, you start looking at furloughs. There were a lot of layoffs. There were a lot of conversations about can I roll back salaries? And that was a big thing in 08 was can I roll back people's salary for 20% by 20%.
Does that help us on the cashflow? Does that make sure that we can actually continue? and we've had those conversations here again in 2020. You know, one of the most interesting things I heard in one of my groups is, this was about four weeks ago. They ran a town hall with their employees and the fellow got up and says, really?
We have two options because we're looking at this. And it's really important that the business is able to survive because if we don't survive. Even if we would all of you on furlough, it doesn't do any good in terms of coming back. So how do we do this? So we have two options. One is yes, we can lay off 30% or 40% of the staff here, or two is we can unanimously agree that we're all going to take a setback in our wages.
We're going to roll back our wages 30% and what he did is he put it out in an anonymous survey to the group. Came back 24 hours later and yeah, honestly, everyone agreed they would take the roll back. So pure transparency, engagement, inspiration of that team. And you know, there's a company that I believe will succeed coming right out of this site.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:07:43] Leon, you’ve shared some terrific strategies, both from 08 as well as today. And maybe we can segment this into two buckets. You know, the old saying, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the next best time is today. So coming out of 08 and, and it may not be helping some business owners right now and today If you would've had a crystal ball and said, okay, coming out of 08 we're going to fast forward to today.
What would be the top two, three, maybe four things to do in preparation for the next big downturn, whether it's a pandemic or something close to a pandemic. And then from there, what we'll switch, but what would that be right now with, with your experience, with your own company and with your membership and just speaking to leaders, what, what would that have been?
What could someone start thinking about today?
Leon Goren: [00:08:37] Well, the first thing is, It's probably the easiest thing to do. And we forget about the cashflow side. We're moving on to that. Moving off of that right now, the most important thing you actually need to do is communicate. So, what does communication, we talk about this with leaders all the time.
Most of our leaders believe they communicate really well. Most of them actually are quite poor in communications in a time of crisis, whether it be in Oh eight or 2020 as you're moving through this transparency over communication. Putting yourself in the situation of those people that you work with.
Being able to inspire them is probably the most important piece, to ensure that you're actually going to come out of this. Well. And, and there's two reasons for that. One is people need to believe in something when they're going through this type of environment. You know, you talk about hope, that's part of the leader's job.
They really have two things. One is a bit, or understand the vision in terms of where we're going to go. And the second thing they got to be important to understand is how are we going to engage and inspire my people? So, they need to portray some true leaders actually come out in these times. So, communication, allowing them to believe in what you're doing and where you're going forward is absolutely a critical.
The second piece then becomes, you know, I define it as crisis, transition, recovery. So even in 2020 right now, we're a bit in transition. So, the key is, as a leader, how am I going to start? I need to think about the future now, I'm not going to think about five years down the road. When I need to start thinking about is in the next two to three months, what is it that, well, what's my world or our world going to look like three months from today?
And what you're trying to do is really start to think outside of the box. And I think it's even more important in 2020 than it was in 2008 because in 2020 you know, there's a lot of discussion here. This is going to be a total reset. And, and a great example is, look how we're doing this interview.
We're doing it through Zoom. What does that mean to real estate in the future in terms of office space? I can tell you already a number of our leaders are thinking about, I'm never bringing my staff back into the same environment we were in before. So how are we going to operate? How are we going to work?
So those companies and those leaders to start thinking about. Where are we going to be three to six months down the road are the ones that are actually gonna come out really, really well. The third piece, and maybe it's even the first piece, is to understand, even in 08 when crisis hits, it's all doom and gloom, and the reality is, you know, we're human beings and we're wired to be resilient.
And so, in every situation I've ever seen, and maybe we're fortunate in the generation that we're living in. But people come back, society comes back, we go through problems, but we all seem to pull through it. And so again, it's that belief saying, yeah, things are lousy today. Things are lousy in my company.
But you know what? They're not always going to be loud. So we were doing really well before. How are we going to make it great again? And so that mindset and that reinforces the communication element again, and it also gives you the energy to thought, thinking out of the box again, in terms of reinventing your business.
So those are some of the ideas I've got around that.
Steve Wells: [00:12:00] Leon, on that last point, do you have any examples or any thoughts? Like, there will be people who really thrive are, they will, they will pivot, they will do something, and it could be in their industry gives them that, you know, advantage or even they have a, a industry that's
Particularly affected by it. and they somehow figure out how to, how to solve that. Do you have any examples for that?
Leon Goren: [00:12:28] Not probably a lot. I've got to think through in terms of thinking, you know, in our own business, for example, we start thinking out of the box and you know, we were lucky before these even hit, we started launching these North American groups without getting people on planes. We started doing Zoom calls.
So even in our business, when I look at our business in the future, and I'm already hearing it from my advisors who run my groups, we have better attendance. We run weekly meetings. We don't run monthly meetings. Now it's a frequency is high. They're zoom calls. that whole face to face element is changing.
In fact, what it's doing is enabling us to broaden the market here. And be everywhere in the world where we never thought we could do that before. We were thinking about smaller communities, touchpoints face to face, being able to touch people and, and deal with them. so that's a little bit from, from our own perspective.
You know, we were talking the other day on the financial markets, for example, this whole debt crisis, right? So, you're managing debt today, and this is a little bit more on the wealth side, but it's a business that does, I think, be able to funds and they build bonds and stuff. If you looked at the March, it was an absolute disaster.
A lot of them dropped 20% but at the end of the day, going forward, if they think of it, they dropped the law. If they drop it right there, chances are, yeah, they're done. But they do know at the end of the day, if they keep with it and keep pushing forward, they're actually going to come back in the, in the coming months, as long as they were wise in terms of what the investments that they had made.
So again, it's, most businesses here are going, they were thriving before they're going to thrive again. It's just the confidence in believing that that's going to happen. I don't have the, you know, I don't have specific examples for you around, well, no one knows yet because we haven't come out of 2020 and in 2008, I don't think the reset was as was as harsh, except for the banking industry.
Really most businesses at that time, survived. I mean, they just carry forward. It hit them. Canada, you know, we were operating a little bit in Canada at the time, more so than we do today with a global group in the U S but the banking industry didn't even get as hit as hard in the, in, in the Canadian marketplace.
So, people, they felt the ripple, but they came out through pretty well.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:14:46] Leon, I'd like to circle back on your points about communication. And firstly, as I heard you talk about hope and communication, I was thinking this guy should run for office. it's a terrific message. there's a saying and I, I believe business owners more than most, can relate to it.
It's lonely at the top. It doesn't matter if it's good times, particularly in challenging times, it's lonely at the top. There's not a lot of people who you can share things with even if you wanted to, and people just don't understand. So there's an element of having, some people call it a personal board of advisors, some people call it a mastermind group, but what you're doing in, in PEO of, of bringing leaders together in, in these confidential forms or confidential mastermind groups, how, how does that help?
Not just in, in pandemic times by just in, in general, should leaders out there coming out of this pandemic, and if they're asking the question, how do I pandemic-proof my business on a go forward basis, what would you think a mastermind group should be at the top of the list and why, yes, or why not?
Leon Goren: [00:15:58] Well, I think it's interesting. I think if you're going to, you're going to ask somebody here that's totally unbiased in my answer here, but I think if you asked our members today, they would tell you it's been an incredible support. Through this period of time because their face, which, you know, and this we're just talking about this particular time, but I'll tell you the importance of it all year round.
But in this critical time, it's the unknown, right? So, you're sitting there whether there are 10 people in your group from different industries, willing to share. And I the one of the important pieces to be vulnerable. So, it's not about wins, but really getting into being able to expose yourself. And that's kind of talks to being lonely at the top when you're, when you're in front of your employees and your stakeholders, you need to be positive.
You need to be transparent, but you got to exude hope. When you come into a mastermind group, it's one of the few chances that you have to sort of sit there and go. I need to take a deep breath here because I'm just being overwhelmed and here's some of the big mountains I need to climb and I really can use some input.
Vulnerability is actually playing a huge part in allowing others in that group to make a difference for you. So, you know, you come into this, this crisis here, and we're sitting here and going, I've just watched my revenue drop by 50% I have to deal with my employees. I've had a phenomenal culture and organization up to this point.
We've never let people go. We've trained people, we allow people to develop, and here we are today sitting and I actually have to furlough a bunch of employees. It's going to destroy my culture. I've never done this before. How do I do it? So, you know, in, in the mastermind groups that we run or the groups that we run, I, I talk about three things.
When you come into that room, pose a question or you're looking for clarity. Give us the facts, pose the question and say, okay, I'm looking for some clarity. I got to make some tea. Am I looking for some counsel from everyone in the group? Or third, am I looking for some courage? And so, if you can premise those conversations around those three C's, what you're doing and helping everyone around that table is huge.
It's an environment where the door is closed. You can challenge, you can be challenged, as long as you're willing to open up. Number one. Number two is you have to be able to listen. You may not take everything. You may rework things. it proves to be invaluable because definitely what you're doing in your business, and if you're.
You know, if you're posing a question to the group and you're seeking some counsel, chances are if I'm sitting opposite you and I'm putting my head space into your Headspace in terms of helping you solve. As a leader, there's a very high probability that I'm dealing with something very similar. A great example is, you know, during good times is I've got a team of seven executives that work for me.
I got a C performer as one of the seven. I don't know how to handle it as a very difficult thing for me to do. I'm not used to letting people go, here's my question to the group. How do I do it? How do I deal with this? Do I hire a coach to help them excel? Do I spend more time? Do I invest in this individual?
The challenge that you're dealing with and as they are, I can guarantee almost everyone in that room is probably thinking through it in their own business as well in their own frame and saying, I probably got that C player on my team to hear. I'm telling Leon what he should do. But actually, as I self-reflect, I'm thinking, Holy shit, why am I not moving on this as well here?
It's so easy to tell somebody else, but I should actually be booing it myself. And so you're getting tremendous value and that that's the value you're starting to receive throughout the entire year. Because those are decisions that are being made on an ongoing basis.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:19:48] And I imagine for people who aren't familiar with a mastermind group, and you know, when you think about it, we can go back to biblical times with that.
Jethro and Moses, where Jethro said, Moses here’s how you're going to manage and lead all these people through to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Even Richard Branson and Oprah have said, my success, I attribute to a mastermind group, but if you haven't been a part of that, I'm sure there's some people who are saying.
What I'm going to sit around a table of strangers and just put it all out there of what, what's going on. And you know, what about my competition? Are they going to be hearing all of this and how do I, how do I deal with that? So how, how, what, what would be, if you're going to be setting up a mastermind group, joining an organization like yours or setting one up on, on your own, what in your experience constitutes an effective mastermind group?
Leon Goren: [00:20:41] Okay, so I believe. My world's a little different. I truly believe, you know, I'm here. We're here to help people succeed in a very holistic way. Like I said, it's business, health, wealth, family, career, and we use the mastermind as one element of a three-part stool, three-legged stool, to actually allow them to get there.
The mastermind itself, I'll tell you right now, it's not for everyone. So for example, if you lead. and there's not many leaders like this, but if you're a dictator and you lead through a dictatorship in a sense, and I know some guys that have been women and men who've been very successful in that, in that type of building wealth in their business, that way you're not going to be able to sit in that group because you're not going to be wanting to listen to others and be attacked or not.
Not attack, but challenged on some of your thinking. Cause that's not what you're accustomed to. So, you know, you already remove a piece of the population from the master, the individuals that thrive. It really comes down to being able to say, I am a, I want to continue to learn. And one of the best ways to learn is through examples and real time situations.
And so, a mastermind actually fulfills that. It's like going to business school, except business schools looking at cases that have been done over a year. Whereas if you're in a mastermind, if done properly, you're looking at a real time, real case situation and act. And when you're sitting there across the table and listening to someone go through the challenge that they're dealing with.
It actually sticks better with you than if you were reading a case and having to discuss a case around the classroom. Because there's a relationship that without individual, there's an element, you know, within us as human beings to be able to give. That you're actually doing in that mastermind group, which provides you with a lot of a sense of gratification actually, that you're actually trying to make a difference to this individual.
So those are the characteristics of an individual, while both an individual on how am I surmised groups succeed. Again, it's, it's vulnerability. It's about really bringing to the group issues and opportunities. that are challenging to you that are not, they're not easy to get to. You're, you're, you're, you're finding difficult and you want to leverage the wisdom around that table.
If you can't do that, and I would tell you don't join a mastermind group. You're actually not even, you're not doing yourself a favor and you're not doing anybody in that group of favor.
Steve Wells: [00:23:17] Leon. I, have a privilege to have mentored a lot of the younger, I'm a boomer, I'm 64, a lot of younger, men primarily, not, not too many women, but it doesn't matter.
I found, the younger generation much more I'm willing to and to listen and be guided and actually look. Toward that guy and says, being very helpful versus maybe I'm speaking just for myself, maybe my generation. Do you find that characteristic in the mastermind and you see younger people, wanting to do that more than, let's say, boomers?
Leon Goren: [00:23:54] Not necessarily. So, you know, we're skewed a little bit older, right? Because you're dealing with some big leaders. Like I said, we're dealing with some big fortune 500 businesses. And so you don't typically have a 20 or a 30 year old individual leading that group in the entrepreneurial side. We do get a little younger.
And I find there, you're right, the millennials very grateful. Easy to open up. They're used to the dialogue around the table. but then I come back to the, there are a good group, even in a boomer, it may be harder to get them over the first time, but once you get them over the first time, and that first time, what I'm saying is the connectivity among themselves, they don't need to love everybody in that group, but they need to respect each other and they need to feel for each other and they need to make.
Have to desire to actually make a difference to everybody in that room. So, there are exercises, for example, with boomers, we, we've done it more with boomers and we've done it with young people. Where do you get to open them up? Whether it be, you know, ideas like lifelines, where people are walking through some of the 10 most highs and lows of their other lives, nothing and sometimes to do with business, but really creates a atmosphere of opening up vulnerability and then you get a group that just changes immediately into a group that becomes so well connected that. Anything can be put on the table. so maybe boomers, we had to work a little bit harder in terms of getting them to that point.
Millennials much more, they're like sponges. I call it the millennials, especially on the entrepreneurial side. They pull everything and pull everything in. The one thing I will notice about millennials though, is they jump. So when I think about loyalty in these groups, and loyalty is a huge thing to me.
Yeah. Cause I'm one, I'm a loyal person, but two is. This group is a giving group, not a taking group. I don't want to take; I want people that do both. And what does that mean? Well, that means in that first year in that group, you know, you could be taking, you could be giving or you're, maybe you're taking a lot more, and I've dealt with this with entrepreneurs.
I'll tell you a story in a moment, but in year two, you sit there and I don't want you pulling out and say, thanks very much. I've gotten to point B where we talked about getting into point B. it's time for me to move on. My question to them is, okay, what did you give back to the group? They're the ones that helped you get to point B.
Now you're just pulling out like that. That makes a lot of sense. I actually find that more common with millennials than I do with baby boomers, and if I break out the demographics, I'll even say men are worse than women are unbelievable in these groups. They're actually the stickiness and the glue to these groups.
They're the ones that challenge the groups beyond belief. Like they push them, especially when we're dealing with the life element and the relationship between life and business. So, that, that's the challenge I actually have with millennials is, okay, that's great. You want to be part of this. I know you're a huge learner, but you know what?
If you want to participate, I want you to understand that it's not about simply taking here. It doesn't work this way. It needs to be both ways. You need to give, and you used to take, and this is a long-term investment, you may not be part of the, in my world, I basically say it may start in a group, but you may actually outgrow that group and go down another group, but you still remain part of the community because the growth is not just within your mastermind.
It's in that entire community. That's how we're leveraging wisdom.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:27:19] How could you pandemic proof a business?
You know, maybe you missed the boat on, on doing that, now, but as, as you, you look forward, what can you do? And I know here at Deep Wealth we've been using a lot of P words lately, and one of them is pivot and profit, you know, how do you master the art of pivoting and, and profiting? And I'm just wondering from, from your experience, someone who's listening in right now and said, okay, I got to figure out how I'm going to make this thing work. It’s a new game. I'd never been here before, but it's a new opportunity.
What, have you seen? What would you be advising? What kind of questions should people be asking?
Leon Goren: [00:27:58] The number one thing I think all businesses need to think about today is building reserves. Because stuff is going to happen. And my, the challenge today is that for companies that did not build reserves, that allow them to survive, and even until they get their checks from the government for one or two or three months.
Are really in a difficult predicament. So that's number one is if the future into the future, you're thinking about this again and there will be waves to this stuff. How do you build a reserve? And, and funny enough, I have a belief that as those check hit checks hit all the Americans out there that are pulling, that are unemployed and stuff, we will not see them spending money because.
They will rationally actually start putting the money aside and building their own reserves from a personal perspective. So it may actually have a different outcome than the government thinks it's going to have in terms of spending, because they are now thinking in a different mindset. But that's number one.
Number two is okay, your other questions. Okay, we're in it right now, right? We're suffering. How do we pivot or start to think about profiting coming out of this? And I think too is it really comes back to thinking, what is my business going to look? What's the future of the ticket? A much bigger picture and say, take the industry you're in.
What's that industry going to look like? And start to think a little bit out of the box. Think about the people within the consumers or whether it's B2B, what is going to be important to them when we come out of this thing. So on a consumer side, it's, it's a little bit easier. We're thinking about how are they going to buy.
What are they going to buy? What's going to be important to them? So for getting even your business, you're now thinking about it from a, an industry, but under trying to even understand the consumer more so than you understood it before in your, when you were normally operating. So we were talking strategy.
So, starting to define that. Then trying to understand what are our core strengths here in our business. So. Because sometimes your cord, that's kind of lost a lot of the time. When we do strategy work with a lot of our, one of our members, they actually forget what their core strength is in terms of what their value is.
They think, Oh God, I'm just selling a product here. But actually, perhaps it was the procurement sourcing and the formulation of that product that was actually your strength, not the distribution of that product. So, it's trying to figure out what are our core strengths, understanding what that consumer is going to be, and then it's trying to reshift.
In terms of where you're going to go. So, let's look an example, and I think Steven, this'll bring it back to how do you pivot and what are the company's going to look like coming out of this? So, let's look at retail, right? We know retail stores were closing before the pandemic kit. We know now coming out of this pandemic that whatever stores were closing before.
Multiply that by 5 or 10 because there are going to be bankruptcies everywhere. On the retail side, you're a wholesale provider to these stores, so they used to be your customer, your immediate customer. If I'm a wholesale, but you have an end customer, you're in the consumer at the end of the day. So, if I'm sitting there in a consumer goods company today, I'm sitting there looking at that end consumer trying to understand how are they going to start to buy.
How are they going to look at my types of products? What are they going to need? So first thing I'm starting to look at is one is they're not going to buy necessarily through bricks and mortar. They're starting to buy. It's IX. E-commerce is going to come at a speed no one's ever imagined because of which just happened.
In fact, we're going to catch up to Asia because they were already way ahead of us on this. So now I'm in the manufacturer design of you consumer products. I'm going to start thinking about where I put my efforts. So, when I bring employees back on the reset, am I going to put people into the sales functions driving B2B, or even during this reset?
Am I going to start to invest heavily into the eCommerce side? Even way beyond them? What I've done before, understanding that most likely I've got to start building relationships directly with these consumers. Because at the end of the day, that's my only way of being able to reach them. So if I used to sell through Macy's and Macy's disappears tomorrow, I actually have no access to any of my consumers because Macy's was the go between.
I'll take it even further. If I'm selling through Amazon today, I still have no access to my consumers. So, I'm trying to think about the reset here, saying, okay, that's not a good environment either. So now I need to think about. Great. I don't want to disappoint Amazon. I still want to sell through, but I need to build that relationship with those consumers.
So that's the pivot in terms of putting your brain in a different space. It certainly will cry some investing, but you're going to have resources to reallocate here. As you reset the business. You know, you make me think, Leon, that, one of the values of having a group like yours is that let's say, you know, you've been a traditional, a company that's been retail.
Now all of a sudden, you've got to go digital. You're going to use it. You're going to use different, distribution channels, different marketing channels that you've never done before. And maybe your staff hasn't even qualified. Maybe you don't, you don't. Maybe you do have to let people go, but you may need to hire a whole different group of people, or at least, you know, at least add to that team.
I mean, I would think that you're absolutely 100% correct. I mean, if you're thinking, you know what I said to. In my role and our role at PO leadership, and this is why my groups don't always pass. Mastermind groups don't always work on their own because mastermind groups, they sit down, they meet once a month.
There's usually nobody thinking about them. There's nobody running that meeting. You go, you disperse, you help each other. In our world, I actually got to think about the future, so I actually believe exactly to your point, what's the next thing coming in the next 30 days, a reset, businesses are going to start to reopen.
Companies and I've ever done this before. I have now seen an opportunity where I can actually look at my entire workforce. I'm not going to match it up to potentially the new strategy. And I got to figure out how am I going to bring people back and who am I going to bring back and what roles are they going to play?
This is a whole new open game again, in terms of value that these leaders required today. And I'll bring that into the mastermind groups cause that's what we're going to end up doing in our groups down the road, is having those conversations around the table and sharing the learnings as we bring these people back and challenging each other to say, okay.
Should I really bring this person back? Does it, you know, am I really thinking clearly that this person is going to align exactly where I want to go to in terms of where we're going as a business? This is one of the, you know, again, crisis, transition, recovery. This is around the transition recovery. The whole bringing back of individuals is going to be an interesting discussion point, about who, when, and how to bring these people back.
Leon, one of the things that I want to go back to because I, I, agree with, with what you've said, and we can say it enough, to build a cash reserve over a rainy-day fund or whatever you want to call it. I saw both of your experience and also your accounting background, you know, number one, how much is enough in terms of how many months should a business have in reserve, and then how do you do it?
What does that look like particularly when you're, you're doing it for the first time in the middle of a pandemic, like ruined right now.
So, you know, you can go back to it from a personal perspective, right? You always hear about people saving for their retirement and the argument that you should be putting away 10% of your wages.
All the time into a personal fund, call it a savings fund. Right. So I, I'm going to break this question into, I'm going to target from a personal perspective, cause I think that's going to impact a lot of your entrepreneurs. Do they think about it from a personal perspective as much as they do from a business perspective?
And I think they do because if I build enough reserves, personally, I can actually infuse capital into my business as well. Okay. So, it works. They're very much overlap. So, from a personal perspective. You know, let's think about where we are today with this pandemic and take some learnings. We are about a month and a half and they're talking about rebooting the economy.
They talk about rebooting it in little sections. We don't know if it's going to work. this could be a six-month reboot. I don't know what industry you're in. Maybe you're coming in on the tail end. Even when you restart, are you going to be up to a hundred percent? You're going to start going 25, 50, 60.
Maybe it's a yearlong. So. That's kind of your answer right there. So, if I know it's going to be, and I would say six months to a year here, I'd want to make sure that I've got enough money, primarily number one, that you put food on the table. For your family, right? Number two is to have enough money to actually, if necessary, be able to carry the business a bit from a break-even perspective, if we ever go through this again.
So personally, I'm thinking about it, saying, okay, what type of money do I need from six for the last six months to a year? And that will differ from person to person, right? I, you know, it impacts wealthy people as well. They just spend a lot more money. But you think about it. So they need to preserve a year's worth of money.
That'd be worth, that'll be a lot more than an individual that is not used to having that type of money. It can live on much lower, lower salary. So that's part eight. So, and then, so you look at the business, so in a corporation, okay. You know, again, at corporation, we think about non-for-profits and I talked before we started a company going to start with them.
There's going to be a disaster with not for profits. Across all of North America, most of them are going to suffer like unbelievable. Why? Because people who sat on those boards of all these not for profit and philanthropic organizations basically always thought about accountability and spending every dollar for good purpose and, and use putting the dollars towards the mission of what they were talking about and not having any type of surplus.
Those are the same board members now are going to learn from this that because they did that and use their finance, great financial acumen to do that, that those not for profits and philanthropic organizations are going to go bankrupt because they have no reserves to actually get through this and no one is donating and revenue is not coming in during this time.
The same applies to business except in many cases you don't have a board. It's yourself. You're running as an entrepreneur. Running that business is to think about it the same way. In a situation that I'm going to have to run, break even. So they're called sensitivity analysis. If you're an accountant and you say, okay, at 50% revenue skeleton staff, I'll have to go through this again.
How much cash do I need? every month to continue operations? And let's say I want to do it. I want to say, I want to make sure that I got six months of cash, six months to a year's worth of cash. what I start doing is starting to put. Whether it be 10% I start building that cash reserve into that business.
Now there's two ways to do build a cash reserve. One, the safest way is to actually build the cash as cash, right? You can put it in short term deposit, whatever, government security. The second way to do it is to establish lines of credit with your bank. Now, you can't necessarily do that as easily when you're living in a pandemic or through a crisis, but before you get into that, when things are going well.
You know, if you're a small business entrepreneurial, let's say you got a quarter of a million-dollar loan, or today you got a quarter of a million, push it, you have a great year. Go back to the bank and say, you know what? I'd like to move that up to seven 50 I like to move that up to a million. I'd like to move that up to 2 million.
You may never even actually tap into that operating line, but the idea is you now have an operating line there. So when a crisis or something hits. At least you have the flexibility to draw on that line, you know, at least in the first 30 days. Now, there may be covenants that you're going to break, but you know, at the end of the day, you're going to break those covenants, but you'll have the cash in the bank and the bank's not going to come after you.
At least not in the early days. We hope so. Those would be a couple of tricks. One is slowly accumulating cash over time. Saving it for a rainy day, but personally and in your business. And number two, and actually can do this personally in your business too. Establish those lines of credits when times are good, that are far beyond what you require today because you never know when you're going to have to dip into it.
Steve Wells: [00:40:54] I have a friend who's at a turnaround expert. He would, in good times, he would go in and these companies are going to, you know, go under. And he would come in and he would do all kinds of, things to, to, to change their direction. And, and, and I, I remember he would come in, I remember there's some company and he had them sell assets that were, that they really needed to sell.
And they were just emotional reasons. And I always, I was asking him, I said, why. Why do you, why do they need you to do this? They're paying you money. He said they just emotionally couldn't make those decisions. I wonder, and you may not have the answer. I mean, we're in, we're in this crisis. I wonder, the emotions in that way are now overcome that, you see, you've got to do some things that are, that are tough.
Like you've outlined.
Leon Goren: [00:41:41] It's interesting. He's using physical assets. let me use people as an asset. Because most, a lot of businesses aren't knowledge-based today, and they're driven by people. So, people are our asset, right. And again, you know, recently I'm in a group and I'm listening to one of the members in that group, and he has a very difficult decision.
He's very emotional around it. He's built a great culture. You really appreciate his people. He's a very much a people person. He needs to dispose of those assets. He needs to furlough them temporarily; he may actually have to sever them. Right. Okay. Those are massive emotional decisions. You know, you think about a mastermind there, and I talked about the three CS.
What's he looking for there? He already knows the answer. He knows that I am not doing anyone, including myself, any good by not for allowing these people. Because in six months’ time, there's no business. No one will be employed here. So he looks to the group and he sits there. He needs currents, right? He needs support.
And again, it's, it's not something with your own employees. It's, you got to be up there standing and you got to believe in what you're saying. You'd be transparent. You can be vulnerable, but you have to have enough strength to push forward in these masterminds. A well-run mastermind group or an advisory board allows that person to say, you know what?
This is really weighing on me. This is extremely difficult and in sometimes they're looking really for some courage to just do it, to get it done. And so that ties into the fellow that you described, right? He's coming in, in this case, you don't know the sweat and tears that gone into buy those pieces of equipment, right?
They may have worked years to be able to do this, to give them the, you know, the capabilities are a competitive advantage. Who knows what it wants and what he's suggesting as, Hey, you're going to have this great equipment, but you're not going to be around as a business. You need to sell this stuff. And so, to me, and again, that's my son, that's an easier decision then dealing with your employees who are also the employees is the most difficult, or people.
That is the most difficult asset to deal with today. Not your physical plants and equipment and warehouse. They're physical, they're material things. You're not dealing with people. You know, you worry, when I'm going to furlough some houses, person going to put money. I think I put food on the table. Are they going to be one of those people in those lines down in Wisconsin or Minneapolis that are around the block three times and have to wait overnight to get food for their family?
These are very, very difficult emotional decisions that people have to make.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:44:24] Leon, as we begin to wrap up, you've been a wealth of insights and wisdom and you know, thank you for that. One question, for you is based on everything that you've experienced coming into today, and as we look at restarting and pivoting and profiting and all the things that we spoke about.
What would be one thing if you could do only one thing starting today as you look forward, what would that be on the business side and, and as a business owner, what would be one thing that you would you start doing today? Where we are right now in this pandemic,
Leon Goren: [00:45:06] I'm going to give you three things.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:45:10] Always giving more value. I love it.
Leon Goren: [00:45:13] I know, I just thought about this and they know it. Last year I ran a conference about resilience. Actually, it was 18 and the timing now, you know, I was worried about resilience with technology coming and all those types of factors. And really resilience is playing into a pandemic here.
That's where you really need resilience. So, it's all about resilience. So, let me share four things that you want to do. One is you need to sit down. And envision what you want to see in yourself, how you see yourself in the future. No. Do you want to be, and you're going to do, from a personal perspective, I want to be powerful.
I want to be strong. I want to be whatever it is that defines you. That's number one, because you need to believe in yourself and, and it's, I use the, you know, athletes do this all the time. The best athletes in the worlds. They always create a vision in terms of where they're going. These, whether you're in business or whether you're just surviving life today in your family, create a vision.
Put yourself in that, in that mode of where you want to be. Number two, define what's important to you in that business to you. What's important. So now I understand where I want to be. Now I'm taking into the business sense in terms of saying what's important to me in terms of the business and how's it relate to reinforcing my own assets.
Make it attainable, be realistic about it, but include some adventure in it and set measurable goals. Really important right now, right? Is, you know, we talked about the pivot. Understand what's important to you, where are you going to be? What's success look like? Bring it back and set the measurable goals.
The second thing that, or the third thing, that I think is really, really important as a leader is to continually reinforce the positive in your communication. Talk to those employees that are still working with you. Talk to those that you believe are going to be important to you upon their return over communicate with them and do so in a way.
You know, when I say it's positive, I'll even use my own example. Every Sunday morning, I write a letter to all our members and I share some of the things that have happened in the week. I share members' stories. I talk about the future. You know what keeps me going? It's the letters I get back in response to my Sunday morning.
it's that positive reinforcement, that positive feedback. Is driving me to make sure that I've got the energy and desire to keep moving forward. So I think about that and I'm like, Oh my God, this should be, this is something that every person needs. How do we do this? Whether you're internally driven or externally, you're probably more important for externally driven individuals.
So constantly providing some type of positive feedback, to these people. And the third piece is, you know, or maybe it's a fourth, is the power of gratitude during these periods of time. Do something that's going to make a difference to someone. you know, you asked me and we didn't really talk from despair to hope.
Those are really a couple of things to move somebody along that, that line, taking them out of a situation where they're sort of, there's too much coming at them around the crisis there. And it's trying to take them into a new place where they're, where they're moving towards that place of hope, and moving their attitude towards there.
And so, you know, gratitude is actually one of the best ways to do it. Make a difference to somebody every day.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:48:56] Words to the wise. Well, Leon, as we wrap this up, where can people find you? If you want to learn more about you and what you're doing, where would that be?
Leon Goren: [00:49:07] So the best place is, our website is PEO-leadership.com
There's a hyphen between the PO and leadership, and so it's PEO-leadership.com. We'll do our best, I can't promise, but we'll do our best to try and get back to. Well, that's no little bit bloody nose.
Steve Wells: [00:49:20 We appreciate that. Well, what an interesting interview. Some really great tips and real practical things that I know are going to be helpful to everyone. Appreciate it.
Leon Goren: No, thank you. Well, thank you, Steven. Thank you, Jeffrey, for taking the time.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:49:43] Thank you, Leon. All the best. Stay healthy and safe.