Leo George William Smith

Episode Description

Life isn’t always how we would like it to be, and that can very quickly lead to frustration. What should we do when our way of thinking affects our job performance and the relationship with our team?

In this episode of The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast, we are honoured to have as our guest Leo George William Smith, President & CEO at Profit Consulting. Leo comes to the podcast with a few problems, starting with the idea of leveraging the pandemic (and preparing ourselves for other global issues that may happen) so it doesn’t bring our business to the ground.

Interestingly, during our discussion, we find that we can also get in our own way, both in life and at work. Leo feels like he doesn't have the same amount of patience he used to have, and that’s affecting his relationship with his team, which brings him to feeling like he needs to babysit his employees, which causes him to have a bit of a reputation. All this prevents him from having the influence he wants.

Have you ever felt like this? Is there another issue that you’d like to address? Let’s talk! If there's a challenge you'd like to discuss here on the podcast or privately, please reach out to me at:

kim@frameofmindcoaching.com

Episode Transcript

Kim Ades: [00:00:05]
Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades. I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching, and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, where we interview or invite leaders from all over the world come on to the podcast and get coached live and in person.

Today it is my pleasure, my absolute pleasure to welcome my guest. He's an interesting guy. His name is Leo George William Smith, and he is the President and Founder of a company called Profit Consulting.

Leo, welcome.

Leo George William Smith: [00:00:36]
Thank you. It's an honor to be here.

Kim Ades: [00:00:39]
So let's just fill in our audience. Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you in the world? And what is Profit Consulting? What do you do?

Leo George William Smith: [00:00:47]
Wow. That's a long answer to a long question. What do I do? We help companies become more profitable. I'm in Toronto today. Before the virus, we used to travel five flights a week. I still believe in face-to-face, building the trusted relationship with clients. I kind of split my time between California and Toronto. Most of my clients are in Canada and all over the US. I hope I answered your question.

Kim Ades: [00:01:20]
Who are your clients, and how do you help them become profitable?

Leo George William Smith: [00:01:23]
Okay. Most of my clients today tend to be in the construction renovation space. Before we used to deal with restaurants, manufacturing, traveling, tourism and so on. But now we tend to focus on our sweet spot. Because I started my first construction business when I was 17, I'm very comfortable in construction. I love construction. It's a very profitable industry. And that's why we kind of focus on the construction renovation space.

Kim Ades: [00:01:54]
Okay. And how do they know about you? They know... They seek you out because you're going to help them become profitable? Are people in the construction industry, typically struggling with profitability?

Leo George William Smith: [00:02:07]
Very much so. Especially today. If they don't have the systems and procedures, or if they're not using the virus as an advantage to create a differentiator for themselves and really get them head and shoulders above their competition: yes, they're going to be struggling today.

Kim Ades: [00:02:27]
What do you mean by using the virus as a differentiator?

Leo George William Smith: [00:02:32]
Good question. Part of what we do is what we call the business blueprint. The business blueprint is really designing the business before it launches. And a quick case study there to show how effective it is.

We have one client in the roofing industry that's been in business for 25 years. And is that the 2.4, $2.5 million mark, after 25 years. We're dealing with another client after four years, they are already at 25 million and their goal is to get to 100 million in the next five or seven years.
So, that's basically the difference of... Or the powerful tools that a business blueprint brings to the table, right? Not only does it help change mindsets, but it also gives powerful tools for their employees to use.

Kim Ades: [00:03:29]
Okay. So... And I hear what you're saying is, basically, when you come in with a map and people follow the map, they achieve their goals with greater speed.

Leo George William Smith: [00:03:40]
Yes, map or a recipe.

Kim Ades: [00:03:43]
A recipe. But you mentioned something about leveraging the virus and I'm just curious a little bit about that.

Leo George William Smith: [00:03:49]
Okay, sorry. The second part of my answer was... Part of the business blueprint is really figuring out or how to design your business, take advantage of economic upturns, downturns, or viruses or whatever it is because part of the business blueprint is really designing a solution for every contingency.

We know that businesses have challenges. We know that the economy goes up and down. We know that competitors want our space, want our clients. We know that there's going to be challenges, right? The virus should not have been a surprise to us because president Obama told us in 2014, Bill Gates told us in 2015 to prepare for something like this.

So part of that business blueprint, no matter how likely or unlikely an event might be, we should be prepared for that. And we should have a contingency or a plan to deal with that, right? So it should not have been a surprise to most of us. And this is one of the reasons why a lot of my clients are doing better in the last nine months, than they did in the previous nine months of last year, because we were prepared for this.

Even though we're prepared for some of these, it's still a shock. But when you have a plan, it's about putting that plan into action, even though, you know, you're startled by the fact that you have to change course or tweak your course a little bit. But you have a plan, it gives you the confidence to implement that strategy because we talked about this, right?

So, I mean, it's like building the Empire State building or building a house. You wouldn't dare start building a house without a blueprint. And yet entrepreneurs, they are every day to start a business without a blueprint.

Kim Ades: [00:05:42]
That is true. Okay. So, you're working with people in the construction industry. Do you have a big team that's that's doing this or is it primarily just you?

Leo George William Smith: [00:05:52]
No, I have 15 staff, and plus we have 30 sub-contractors because it would be ridiculous for me to think that my staff know everything about everything, about business. It's egotistical. And I've been called worse names than that, but I'm not egotistical to think that I know everything about everything. So we seek out experts that can deliver a product or a service or a strategy or a blueprint, a marketing blueprint better than we can.

Kim Ades: [00:06:26]
Okay. And are these partners or employees who are working with you?

Leo George William Smith: [00:06:31] No, the employees, they get paid a salary, they work for different projects. The subcontractors come in as we need them. We have flying CFOs. We have flying CEOs. We have marketing people. We have, you know, paper--

Kim Ades: [00:06:46]
And for those people who have never heard of flying. What does that mean for people to understand?

Leo George William Smith: [00:06:51]
Okay.

Kim Ades: [00:06:52]
Flying CEO.

Leo George William Smith: [00:06:53]
Okay. Flying CEO is... Or CFO is on call or on demand CFO. Because most small companies don't need a CFO on a full-time basis, but they certainly need the blueprint or the strategy or the helicopter perspective. You know, if I'm going to grow to $5 million over the next two or three years, how is that going to impact my tax strategy?

So you need to have the strategy in place and you really need to build the train tracks, so you know, where your train's going to go. Because if you... The blueprint is really building the train tracks, so you know exactly what speed your train is going to travel at. And by pre-building the train tracks, there's no more guessing as to where it's going to go. You've already predetermined that.

Kim Ades: [00:07:46]
So a flying CEO would come in either on a weekly basis, a monthly basis, or even like for a six month period.

Leo George William Smith: [00:07:53]
You know, that's unlikely. But generally, they fly in to get a lay of the land and to really build the relationship. These days, it's more of a Zoom call than the fly in.

Kim Ades: [00:08:07]
Right.

Leo George William Smith: [00:08:08]
Right. So...

Kim Ades: [00:08:08]
Got it. Yeah.

Leo George William Smith: [00:08:09]
You know, Zoom meetings are taking place of a lot of the flyers that we used to do.

Kim Ades: [00:08:16]
Got it. Okay. So when you talk about flying, you literally mean flying.

Leo George William Smith: [00:08:21]
Before the virus, yes. I literally meant flying in. Averaging five flights a week, some weeks we had the 11 flights. So yes, I believe in that face-to-face relationship.

Kim Ades: [00:08:30]
Okay. Got it. So what is your biggest challenge today?

Leo George William Smith: [00:08:36]
You asked me that on the last call and...

Kim Ades: [00:08:38]
When we spoke one-on-one.

Leo George William Smith: [00:08:40]
Yes, and you kicked my ass and...

Kim Ades: [00:08:43]
Sorry.

Leo George William Smith: [00:08:43]
Gave me... No! No, I appreciate that because my biggest challenge is sometimes getting out of my own way.

Kim Ades: [00:08:52]
That's everybody's biggest challenge.

Leo George William Smith: [00:08:54]
Yes. But it's hard to recognize that. It's easy for me to tell my clients that, but when you tell me that, it hits home deeper.

Kim Ades: [00:09:06]
Do you want to share with the audience our conversation? So you were talking about a very specific challenge, and then I had a unique point of view, you could say, to help you look at things a little bit differently. Do you want to share where we were in that conversation?

Leo George William Smith: [00:09:22]
Well, it's really about what I've learned from that conversation and the fact... And by the way, I had another conversation like yours from an interior designer, and, I shared my statistics with you, in 39 years I haven't been able to maintain a relationship with a female CEO for longer than three months.

I see that as a huge failing on my part. I guess, because... I don't want to gender...

Kim Ades: [00:09:56]
But let's share with the audience, first of all, what is your challenge? Like, describe it, define it so that people know what we're talking about.

Leo George William Smith: [00:10:04]
Well, my biggest challenge is the fact that I'm losing patience. I don't have the patience that I used to have. I'm not as friendly as I used to be. I'm not as politically correct as I used to be. I'm more results driven and more of a bull in a China shop than I am a diplomat. And I used to pride myself as being a diplomat. I've lost my diplomatic status with clients, which in a way has helped me, and in another way has hurt me to a great extent.

Kim Ades: [00:10:45] So you lose patience with your clients? And what is it that they do that causes you to feel a lack of patience?

Leo George William Smith: [00:10:56]
I hate repeating myself more than twice and I figure any motivated business owner, and I record conversations on Zoom all the time. I figure if you want results and you're asking me to repeat myself, you know, two or three or 10 times, and I look at the views of our previous conversations and I see that you've only looked at those videos once or twice, it tells me that you're lazy.

I lose patience with people like that. And maybe I shouldn't, but I also have to be very selective how I invest my time. Do I invest my time with a business owner who wants results and is ambitious and absorbed everything that I give them? If I ask them to read a book, it's read a week later.

Or do I focus on babysitting people who are too freaking lazy to read the books that I've assigned to them? That's where I struggle. That fine balance between kicking their ass and being a parent to them. That's where I struggle.

Kim Ades: [00:12:10]
Okay. And can I just ask you a question? What does it look like when you get impatient? What do you say, what do you sound like? Like...

Leo George William Smith: [00:12:19]
I sound like, I just sounded two seconds ago. I raise my voice.

Kim Ades: [00:12:23]
Yeah.

Leo George William Smith: [00:12:23]
And... You know, I believe that I'm raising my voice to create impact, to emphasize my point. But people see that as yelling. I've been called an asshole so many times. You know, this already. And I have this reputation on LinkedIn as being the biggest asshole you've ever met.

But then again, you know, Gary Vaynerchuk is considered an asshole too. I mean, I'm not comparing myself to him, but he has very little patience when it comes to people repeating themselves and not following his advice.

But then again, he has a lot more patience with people than I do. He will talk to people for hours and I don't have that.

Kim Ades: [00:13:12]
Okay. And then what happens when you yell? Do they say, "I don't need this crap" and then they walk away?

Leo George William Smith: [00:13:16]
They're gone. Yes.

Kim Ades: [00:13:18]
Okay.

Leo George William Smith: [00:13:18]
My rationale there, rightly or wrongly... My rationale there is I always test people. I always test people when I hire people for my clients, I always give them a test project. And I figure if I'm going to give you a challenge and you're going to run away at the first challenge, well thank you because you just saved me five years or three years worth of work investing in the wrong client.

Kim Ades: [00:13:43]
Right.

Leo George William Smith: [00:13:44]
So... I know that's not politically correct, but that's how my brain functions.

Kim Ades: [00:13:52]
Okay. So let me ask you a different question. What's your goal? Is your goal to actually work longer than three months with a woman? Like, work effectively with a woman? Is your goal to increase your patience? Is your goal to do a better job of screening upfront so that you don't have to lose your patience? What's your goal?

Leo George William Smith: [00:14:12]
Better screening is probably part of that goal.

Kim Ades: [00:14:16]
Okay.

Leo George William Smith: [00:14:17]
Or... The answer is probably a combination of all three, because I know having the reputation that I have is costing me money. How much is cost to me? I can't quantify that right now, but I know it's costing me. And I should be allowing my salespeople to do the job they should be doing, instead of me trying to do it.

Kim Ades: [00:14:45]
Okay. So, there are a few things. And, before I jump in, we kind of briefly spoke about this when we spoke last time. What did I say, and what was the impact of that? What have you been thinking about since then?

Leo George William Smith: [00:15:01]
That I should be looking in the mirror more and I should be looking... I should be asking the harder questions that I asked my clients to ask. And that I should be looking at where I'm getting the results. But where I'm getting the results today and where I want to get the results tomorrow are not the same thing, because if I want to increase my business, if I want to hire salespeople, I can't be pissing people off at the rate that I'm pissing people off. I know I can't be doing that.

Kim Ades: [00:15:38]
Okay. So there are a few things that I want to talk about. Number one is, I want to talk about the concept of influence, because what you're saying is "my reputation is preventing me from having the kind of influence that I want to have".

Leo George William Smith: [00:15:50]
Yes.

Kim Ades: [00:15:51]
Right? Essentially. So, you know, when... Do you have kids, by the way?

Leo George William Smith: [00:15:55]
I don't.

Kim Ades: [00:15:56]
Okay. All right. So I'm going to use this example, nonetheless, for those of you who are listening and you do have kids.

So what is the best way to influence our children? Is it by yelling at them and beating them up and telling them they're idiots? No, because what happens is when they're receiving that, for the purpose of self-preservation, they shield themselves, right?

They say, "I don't want to hear that", and they do one of two things: it's fight or flight. The either say, "you know what? You can't talk to me like that. You're an asshole". Or they say, "you know what? You're right", and then they stay away from you. And in both of those cases, your influence has just diminished.

Leo George William Smith: [00:16:36]
Yes.

Kim Ades: [00:16:37]
Gone away. So now the question is what is the best... Well, the strongest point of influence is by... Someone wants to spend more time with you when they know you see them in their best light. And right now, what you're doing, as a practice, is seeing people in their worst light.

But your job kind of internally is to say, "okay, I see this person struggling. I see this person failing. And when I pay attention to the failures, I'm really pointing out their worst light. And my job is to figure out what they're doing well and focus on that and grow that piece, so that my influence can be higher". So that's part A.

Part B is why don't people do what you ask them to do? What is that about? They hired you. They know you can help them, but for whatever reason, you give them a list of things to get done. And, you know, you call them lazy, right? The reason they don't do it is because they're lazy.

My perspective is a little different. You know, when you talk about the guy who's been in business for 25 years and has only grown his business to $4.2 million, the question is...

Leo George William Smith: [00:17:51]
2.4

Kim Ades: [00:17:52]
2.4, sorry. Got the numbers mixed up. The question is, so what's preventing him from growing? And I will tell you unequivocally that what stops people from growing their business is their thinking. Not their laziness. Not their motivation. Not their desire, but their thinking. They come to the table with a set of beliefs about what's possible and what's impossible. What they have the capacity to do, what they don't have the capacity to do. What they have access to in terms of resources and what they don't have access to.

And that creates internal struggle. That creates a resistance to growth that is inherent. And if all you do is focus on behaviors without focusing on beliefs, you do not get the change you're looking for. And right now what you're doing is focusing exclusively on behaviors. And when you don't see the behaviors you're wanting, you take a stick and you beat them up, which makes your plight even harder.

And so, you know, if I don't believe that I have the resources to hire three more people, which you tell me I need to do, I'm going to experience resistance. There's going to be a standstill. If I believe that that's a threatening situation for you to put me in, I'm not going to do it. If for whatever reason, there's no trust between us, I'm putting a break in the process. I'm slowing things down. So the relationship you build with me is critical to movement.

Leo George William Smith: [00:19:32]
Okay.

Kim Ades: [00:19:33]
Does any of this make sense?

Leo George William Smith: [00:19:35]
It makes a lot of sense. And I think part of that resistance to change is fear. And addressing fear is part of our process. I mean, part of that fear. But what I keep forgetting is the fact that people forget. Right? So our process is to fly in, do a three-day forensic analysis of their business, to tell them what they're doing well, and what they're doing to could be improved upon. So that's part of the process.

But where I get frustrated is after years of working with a company, they forget certain things and only remembered their fears. So how...

Kim Ades: [00:20:28]
Well, because fears hold a much stronger charge.

Leo George William Smith: [00:20:31]
Exactly. So how do I... Without investing a lot of my time, because I'm already working 16 hour days, how do I... And how do I maintain these clients? Because I don't want to go down in clients. If I need to do more handholding, how do I...

Kim Ades: [00:20:53]
Yeah. So here's the thing. And again, I have a very biased point of view, I will say that upfront. But if you know that the single greatest barrier to moving forward is your client's mindset, which is exactly what you're telling me, then you need something in place to address that, not just once, but in an ongoing manner.

And that's why you might partner with a coaching company, right? Who takes care of that for you.

Leo George William Smith: [00:21:24]
Right.

Kim Ades: [00:21:24]
Or you might implement something in your company that addresses that on an ongoing basis. You might hire or outsource a coach who works with your clients. Whatever that looks like.

But if the mindset piece is not addressed in an ongoing manner, you're going to consistently bump into these issues. Having said that, if you're bullying your clients, you're still gonna bump into these issues. So that's something you need to address as part of your own professional development, personal growth.

Leo George William Smith: [00:21:58]
Shortcomings.

Kim Ades: [00:22:00]
I didn't say that.

Leo George William Smith: [00:22:01]
I did.

Kim Ades: [00:22:02]
Okay. Because bullying doesn't get you what you want!

Leo George William Smith: [00:22:06]
You're right! You're right.

Kim Ades: [00:22:09]
Right. And I get it! All you want is for them to grow. All you want is for them to succeed. All you want is for them to do what you want them to do. But if their thinking and their beliefs aren't lined up with your desired goal or your desired behavior, it's not going to happen. And you need to find a way to address that for them, but also address your frustration in not seeing the kind of progress that you want to see.

Leo George William Smith: [00:22:37]
Agreed.

Kim Ades: [00:22:39]
Good?

Leo George William Smith: [00:22:40]
Yeah.

Kim Ades: [00:22:41]
Okay. Amazing. Thank you for being on the podcast. Thank you for being so damn honest. I appreciate it.

For those of you who are listening and you feel frustrated, impatient, and find yourself bullying too, I'd love to talk to you. I'd love for you to be a guest on the podcast. If you have a challenge you want to share with me, please reach out to me. I'd love to actually invite you to be on the podcast, to be a guest.

My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com

If, on the other hand, you have a challenge that you're not so ready to share on a podcast, but you do want to discuss, please reach out to me as well.

My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com

In the meantime, keep listening, keep sharing. Go to iTune (Apple Podcasts), YouTube, all the places. And like, and share, comment, do all the things. Any comments are very much appreciated.

Until we see you again next time.

Leo George William Smith: [00:23:38]
Thank you, Kim.

Latest episodes