Blogs Archive - Predictable Success

Touch Points and Teaching Are Central to the Success of ConvertKit

Email marketing is one of the pillars of digital marketing, and service providers come along all of the time. However, ConvertKit has been able to disrupt a seemingly commoditized market with its simplicity in design. Tune in to the audio interview between Les McKeown, Founder and CEO of Predictable Success and Nathan Barry, Founder and CEO of ConvertKit, and hear about the mission and impact this company has had on their industry.

podcast - convertkit nathan barry

ConvertKit is an email marketing platform for creators that sent more than seven and a half billion emails over the last five years, with its subscriber base of roughly 20,000 members (and counting). At only 35 years of age, Nathan has managed to build a thriving organization with unbelievable growth, a subscription model publicly showing one point 7 million in monthly recurring revenue!

One of the factors that sets ConvertKit apart is its transparency. If you haven’t heard, this is a company led by a Founder who teaches everything he knows, and publishes his own company data on a public dashboard for anyone interested. Wins, losses and everything in between – it’s all available for the public to review, analyze, and learn from.

Nathan shares the biggest impact that Predictable Success has had on him, and how important the Whitewater phase can be to the growth of any organization. He shares the evolution of his management and leadership style, and how different styles of conflict resolution can ultimately lead to less stress and better team management. Perhaps one of the most interesting things I learned about his company was his “unfair advantage” as he calls it, and how it is central to the culture of ConvertKit.

Listen in as Nathan shares his journey, from his homeschooled upbringing that fueled an entrepreneurial spirit, to the product launch that sparked the creation of ConvertKit. Hear why understanding the phases of Predictable Success can help you to feel “normal” and empowered to grow and succeed.

Ways You Can Listen:  (Running time is approximately 28 minutes.)

 

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Identifying a Gap and Going Deep Leads to Predictable Success

Many people start a business because they want the freedom that comes with launching their own venture. However, not many couples start by jumping off of a bridge! Meet Bryan and Shannon Miles, Co-Founders and Co-CEO’s of BELAY, a company that provides solutions to equip their clients with the confidence to climb higher. Their focus is in serving leaders, and it is evident by their passionate approach to virtual assistance.

podcast - convertkit nathan barry

After identifying a need in the marketplace, they made a conscious decision to focus on the one vertical that they were already experienced with, and go deep into that vertical to gain traction. Clearly this decision paid off. Their agility in the early days allowed them to take advantage of opportunities for expansion, most notably in the form of a single tweet that turned into their “Oprah moment” and launched the company into 25 different verticals.

When they upleveled their small business mindset and shifted from wanting to own the business instead of running the business, the game changed. When you understand phases of Predictable Success, you will be more prepared for the challenges that accompany growth, and you are better suited sustain the business for long-term success.

As Shannon so eloquently stated, “We fight so hard to stay in the Predictable Success phase because we want to create a sustaining, lasting company that our employees and clients and contractors can get behind.”

Listen in as Bryan and Shannon share their journey, from meeting in college to starting a family, leaving successful corporate careers, and cashing in their 401Ks to planning to scale to $50 million in the next 5 years.

 

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The Icarus Syndrome: 3 Warning Signs Every Leader Should See

By Les McKeown, CEO of Predictable Success
The Icarus SyndromeCall it the Icarus Syndrome: A once high-flying business leader finds they can’t get a break – at least not until their board hands them an enforced break, by way of a firing or a sabbatical.
How can it be that so many previously stellar CEOs suddenly can’t deliver the goods? Is it the rest of the world (or the rest of their organization) that is suddenly out of step?
More often than not, no – the person who is newly out of step is almost always the now-flailing CEO. And beware, you’re no less exempt from the Icarus Syndrome than were any of those celebrity CEOs.
The Warning Signs
Here’s how it happens: You build a business. You master it. You know every wrinkle, every nuance, every employee. You are personally involved in every major decision, and nothing of any significance happens without your say so. It’s as if you live in a zone of laser-like awareness about every aspect of your business. Until one day, none of this is any longer so – and the only person who doesn’t know it, is you.
Put it down to complexity. Complexity (or rather, to be precise, the aggregation of complexity over time) is a leadership killer. Like a frog slowly boiling to death in a pot of water, ever-increasing complexity takes you slowly, incrementally, but inexorably further and further from that ‘zone of awareness’ you lived in for so long. Over time you know less than you think you know, see less than you think you see, understand less than you think you understand.
And the kicker? You almost certainly don’t realize that any of this is happening. You still think you’re the font of all knowledge, the best person to make every decision.
There are three specific areas where your decision-making is impacted by the Icarus Syndrome:
1. What you know may still be right, but what you don’t know is how it connects with and impacts everything else.
So maybe you are still the best judge of how a new product, say, will land with your target demographic. After the growth of complexity, however, what you don’t know is (say) what the alternatives are for your customers out in the marketplace; or how difficult it is now (compared to ‘the early days’) to adapt a product after beta-testing; or how much your vaunted new product is cannibalizing your existing market.
Think of this as the ‘What you don’t know about what you do know’ category.
2. There’s tons of important stuff no one is telling you.
Then there’s the somewhat simpler category of ‘What you think you know, but you don’t’. This can be particularly dangerous. For example, you may well think that important Project Y is being headed up by Jo Soap, a stellar middle manager who you entirely trust to execute well, when in fact, that project was taken over by the untried and therefore high-risk Jim Colander weeks or months ago.
3. Your gut doesn’t work right any more.
If you’re in denial about whether or not you’re slipping in to the Icarus Syndrome, here’s a litmus test: How many recent decisions that you just ‘knew’ were right, didn’t work out? If the answer is more than one or two, then complexity is almost certainly rendering your visceral decision-making less and less effective. (This would be the ‘What you think you can intuit, but you can’t any longer’ category.)
That can’t-miss hire you made that flamed out? Icarus Syndrome. The product launch you dreamt up over a weekend in a flash of genius, but which died a death in the marketplace? Icarus. The big meeting with the potential customer you thought you’d wing easily, but which went south? You get the idea.
Complexity screws with the ability to manage viscerally. Don’t leave your gut behind, but put more of your brain in the mix to process all the new data you need to master in complexity.
How to Stop It
So, if you feel you’re drifting toward your own Icarus-like fall from grace because of the increase in complexity, what should you do to stop the drift and regain control? Start with these three imperatives:
1. Delegate (but verify).
It’s time for you to start passing off decision-making authority to the folks who really do have the information needed to make high-quality decisions. Use this phrase as your mantra: “Only make the decisions that only you can make.”
Take an objectively hard look at the decisions you’re still making yourself, and you’ll almost certainly find that there are many that you should not be making anymore. (To get even better feedback on this, ask your colleagues, peers and direct reports, “What am I keeping hold of that I should really be delegating to someone else?” Then stand back.) Oh, and make sure you institute a fail-safe accountability process to give you regular feedback, so you don’t go crazy with worry in the early days that things aren’t getting done.
2. Slow down and do the work.
In our business, we have something we label a ‘drive-by review’– it’s where someone has been asked to review a document, or read some stuff ahead of a meeting, and they give it a cursory glance and email it back with ‘Works for me’ or something similar. Drive-bys are the on-ramps on the road to a full-fledged Icarus syndrome.
Do the work. Read stuff – with your full attention. Sit in on information-sharing meetings. Go meet your people and ask hard questions. Listen to long answers.
3. Make remaining decisions in teams.
After you’ve effectively delegated much of your decision-making (see 1 above), run whatever decisions are left through this prism: “What’s the best (i.e., optimal, most efficient and effective) team to make this decision?” If the genuinely truthful answer is “Just me, on my own”, then fine, make the decision on your own. If it isn’t (and I can guarantee that the honest answer in 80% of the cases won’t be ‘Just me’), then find an effective way to get that team together.
At root, complexity in organizations is the primary contributor to the Icarus Syndrome (read: Getting yourself fired out of your own job). Don’t let it happen to you.


Learn the decision-making strategies your business needs to beat growing complexity!

Amazon and Whole Foods: Why No Strategy Is Sometimes the Best Strategy

By Les McKeown, CEO of Predictable Success
Amazon’s just-announced purchase of Whole Foods reminded me of the time, years ago, when I started writing articles like these. Back then, I faced the same challenge every wanna-be regular writer faces – what the heck do I write about week after week?
There’s a plethora of advice out there on just that topic, but my favorite idea-generating device was one I came up with myself (and subsequently discovered wasn’t so original after all – many other writers use it, too): Grab two seemingly unconnected subjects and try to find a way to connect them. (See, for example, ‘What app would your business be‘.)
I found that even if that off-kilter noodling didn’t in itself generate something helpful and useable, I’d almost always find myself in some business-growth thought pattern that would. (See, for example, this series on leadership styles.)
Find that Next Growth Step
Sometimes when you’re in Predictable Success, the next step – the right way forward, the right next growth strategy – isn’t just sitting there in plain sight. A cool, logical process won’t always deliver what’s needed to keep alive that exquisite tension between entrepreneurial vision and scalable systems and processes. Building Heroic Leadership on top of High-Quality Team-Based Decision-Making (HQTBDM) isn’t always a result of taking an obvious next step.
Sometimes, like a business-model version of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, you’ve just got to take two seemingly unconnected things and smash them together. Sometimes it works – like when a fringe computer maker with tiny market share decides to make a…phone. Oftentimes, it doesn’t.
By all accounts, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos made the decision to acquire Whole Foods – and executed the deal – in about six weeks. That’s a nanosecond in corporate planning time for most large organizations. It’s clear he has some idea of what he wants to do with the chain, but has far from worked out the details.
Boost Your Odds of Success
In these ‘WTH, let’s do it and work the details out later’ deals, the difference between success and failure lies – I believe – in the Most Senior Executive (MSE)’s ability to first seize an opportunity, then execute on the basis of an already-built, robust growth platform.
I’ve written in the past about Mr. Bezos’s splendid intuition, and although Amazon doesn’t get everything right, I believe Bezos will intuit himself (and Amazon) to increased Predictable Success with this acquisition.
For the rest of us, it’s great to have railroad tracks to run on.

Madison Avenue’s CEO on Disney, Oprah and Finding a Framework That Works

Sara Rahn, President and CEO of Madison Avenue WorldwideNot many people kick off their careers with Oprah Winfrey, and follow it up with five years at Disney. The lessons Sara Rahn learned from these billion-dollar brands continue to serve her and her Fortune 500 clients well.
But fulfilling the urgent marketing needs of Verizon and Microsoft (among others), while trying to scale her agency hasn’t been easy. In this interview, Sara reveals how the Predictable Success model provided the vital framework her senior team needs to achieve the growth they’re seeking.
Listen as Sara shares the most important branding lesson she’s learned, along with the critical first steps her agency has taken to unlock its full growth potential.

Ways You Can Listen:

(Running time is approximately 20 minutes.)

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A Closer Look at Madison Avenue’s Challenge:
President and CEO Sara Rahn identified a key niche that her firm could fulfill. When it comes to marketing, Fortune 500 companies move like a large ship, they cannot turn on a dime. So there’s a need for an agency that can respond when urgent regional needs arise.
Madison Avenue has been highly successful, cultivating a roster of juggernauts as clients. But in order to grow to the next level, they needed to identify not only the bottlenecks that were holding them back, but the shifts they would need to make to position themselves for scalable success.
That’s precisely what Sara Rahn and her leadership team were able to do after being introduced to the Predictable success model. Hear how they’ve used its principles and tools to transform how they communicate, identify the key executive leader they need to hire next, and make the essential move from “heads to hats”.

Determined & Driven? Bring Your Talents to Our Team!

Learn more about this career opportunityAre you looking for an opportunity to truly shine? One where your focus and persistence will pay off – both financially and in the advancement of your career? If so, then our Sales Rep role could be perfect for you!
We’re seeking someone who can connect quickly and communicate easily. An individual who enjoys engaging and guiding others, but always keeps an eye on the prize. If this sounds like you, click here to learn more.
Predictable Success is a fast-growing company that believes people come first. Our focus is on giving team members the opportunity to thrive both in and out of the workplace. In addition to competitive compensation, we also offer these great benefits.
Ready to apply? Access the full job description and application here!

Hear What the Future Holds for Your Business

Ever wish you could see into the future? Specifically, what challenges your business will face next, so you’d know how to address them head on?
That’s precisely what Dave McKeown examines in this new interview. Listen as he talks with Building a Story Brand about the growth stages that every organization goes through – and how to navigate them.
Discover the steps you can take next to make sure your business’s growth is not only scalable, but sustainable. (Note: The interview begins 9 minutes in.)
Listen to the Podcast!

 


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Fit to Role Assessment

Ever hired a bona fide hotshot, only to see them stumble and flame out under your watch? There this individual is, blazing a trail and breaking records, then everything starts going awry. Nothing they try seems to go well, everything feels forced and somehow ‘off’.
So what’s the likely cause of this downfall? The answer is a Fit to Role imbalance. Find out why it could happen to those you lead, and how to address it proactively.

Download the Assessment!

Fit to Role Assessment

 

Uber: What Just Happened (and Why They’re About to Blow It)

By Les McKeown, CEO of Predictable Success
Uber: What Just Happened
The last few days have effectively handed the car-sharing space to Uber’s competitors. It may take a while – my guess is 24-30 months or so – but expect the market to become increasingly disrupted and for Uber’s market share to markedly decrease.
Why? Not because of the (rightly) much-discussed, much-investigated, much-castigated abysmal working environment there, but because of the company’s proposed solution to that problem.
How Uber Got Here
Let’s recap: Through aggressive marketing and an unsavory leadership culture, Uber had almost reached the holy grail of market dominance: the equivalization (I know, not a word, but you know what I mean) of their company name with their industry’s core activity.
Just as ‘Google’ is now the accepted verb for web-based search (in search of an easy titter? Just suggest someone ‘Bing’ the next thing they’re looking for online), so Uber was within a micron of attaining the same equivalence with ‘calling an Uber’.
Now, after three days of organizational mayhem, I predict that that goal will begin to recede into the rearview mirror faster than a cab driver reversing out of an unsavory alleyway.
What Came Next
First, Uber’s board – themselves under pressure for not acting on reports of sexual harassment and other horrendous cultural misfires – lock themselves away to consider forcing the CEO, Travis Kalanick, into a leave of absence. Except someone leaks the whole protracted discussion to the press.
Next, a prominent (male) board member makes a sexist comment during the company all-hands meeting at which the decision to send Kalanick on garden leave is revealed. (Which is also leaked to the press, leading the board member to resign.)
But then, the coup de grace. Kalanick will indeed leave for three months – and in his place, Uber will be run by a committee of 14 execs.
Huh? Uber – a market-dominating, still-fast-growing, but brittle organization – will be run by committee?
The chance of success with this approach is zero.
Add in the fact that Kalanick, the exiled CEO, isn’t really going away – he’s still CEO, and will undoubtedly be lobbing in his 2 cents from the sidelines.
Listen, co-CEOs alone (essentially a committee of two) are themselves enough to kill any company, let alone a committee of 14. (Oh, and by the way, the proposed committee includes a number of executives who are rumored to have materially contributed to the unconscionable culture inside Uber.)
To be clear, the board are intuitively struggling to do the right thing in terms of attaining Predictable Success – making the difficult move from dark-side heroic leadership to High-Quality, Team-Based Decision-Making (HQTBDM), but handing over the reins to a committee not only isn’t the way to do it, it’s a surefire recipe for disaster.


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