Rich Manders is the founder of FreeScale Coaching Systems, a program dedicated to helping CEO’s and their leadership teams scale their business and their personal freedom simultaneously through coaching and development. Before coaching, Rich co-founded and managed iAutomation from $0 in sales to become the industry-leading company with 160 employees and ~$80M in sales. He has successfully sold two companies including iAutomation, and worked hand in hand with the majority shareholder to grow the company eightfold. Rich considers himself a serial entrepreneur, lifelong learner and student of business. Attended hundreds of seminars, read hundreds of books, and worked with many thought leaders on Business Management, Sales, Personal Development, Coaching, People skills, negotiation and more, all in the name of building his own skill sets and improving his business.
Bryan Wish: Rich, welcome to the One Away Show.
Rich Manders: Oh, thank you. It’s great to be here.
Bryan Wish: Great to have you. So Rich, we met through a mutual acquaintance, Mark Green, who seems like he’s had a profound impact on my life. I know he speaks extremely highly of you. So I’ve been looking forward to this. What is the One Away moment that you want to share with us today?
Rich Manders: So the first one that came to mind was that I had taken a job out in California working for this company in Northern California. And the founder brought in an outside CEO to scale the company, and the CEO knew most of the folks in the company, I was kind of a newbie to the group, through other businesses he had been involved with. And so he came out to visit and work with me for a little bit. And at the end of the conversation, he said, “I want you to become a part of this company in a different way than you are today.” Then I was Head of Sales for the east coast. He said, “I want you to become a member of our leadership team. And I want you to give you some equity in this business and help us on our journey of growing the company.”
And I thought about it quite a bit because I was living on the east coast and it was a west coast based company. And in order to do that, I had to move to the west coast. And after giving it some reflection, I figured this is a once in a lifetime chance to become an owner in a business that was quite large and we were headed for building the business up and selling it. And so I took that moment and I said, “Yes.” And along with that, there was expectations. I needed to learn a bunch of things that I didn’t know how to do. I needed to learn how financial statements worked. I needed to spend a bunch of time learning about how to do strategic planning and thinking and so on and so forth.
But it was that moment that led me to an amazing change of my career from being basically an engineer who could sell to being a leader in a company that was on a rocket ship pace and all the things that we learned along that journey going forward, which eventually ended with me starting my own business with another gentleman that that same guy connected me to that was a total knock the skin off the ball, grand slam, home run business later on in my career.
Bryan Wish: Wow. From engineer to top leadership salesperson and exec and to founder. Very cool. So let’s dive in a little bit to prior to that decision. Where did you go to school? Why engineering? [inaudible 00:03:19] computer engineering. Give us some background into the skills that you-
Rich Manders: Sure. So I was always in love with machines. I thought when I was a kid, I loved working on bicycles and motorcycles and I was always taking things apart and putting them back together to see how they worked. And so the story’s very long of how I ended up in college. But the short version of it is I went to school for electrical engineering, starting with the Air Force. So in the Air Force, I went to the Air Force Academy and studied engineering and became an expert in navigation systems on airplanes. That was my job. And then from there, I went to college with the funding I got from the Air Force to finish up my degree in electrical engineering.
So I was always very interested in that side of the business. I graduated, became an engineer, and worked at a company where I got a chance to travel quite a bit around. We were moving our manufacturing from the United States to Japan. This was in the ’80s. And then again, we moved it to Taiwan. And then again, we moved it to Shenzhen in China, which was a path that most companies have built machines. So I had that piece weave through my history. And one of the things that happened along the way, another one of those moments, to give the fast version of the story, my boss had got laryngitis on the day of our board meeting and where they were meeting with the board. This was a Fortune 500 company. So this was a Fortune 500 board meeting. I was the only human in the company who could demo the new product to the board besides my boss.
And so I got a chance to present to the board how this machine worked. And like all demos, the software crashed in the middle of it and I had to draw on them, back then it was a chalkboard, how the thing worked. And at the end of the meeting, I got called into the CEO’s office and he offered me a job as the head of training for the company, where I then started working with the sales people in the company out visiting them and training customers and our distributors on how the products worked. And that’s where I figured out that, oh, sales is the place to be. You got a company car, expense account, and all of that stuff. And that was another pivot.
So I went to college for engineering, fell in love with business because of, first with sales and then how the business works, moving closer to the core of how it gets built and started. And that led to everything else. The rest was reading tons of books and belonging to peer groups. I belong to quite a few peer groups. Mark, who you mentioned earlier, we’re in a mastermind group together. We meet every month and share things we learn with each other and challenge each other to play at a higher level. So all those things tie together.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. Very, very cool. It’s neat to see just the application of engineering to so many different aspects of life, specifically within a business and how to build a business and bring it the pieces together, or take them apart to make them better. And just curious, one more thing, growing up, were you… So for instance, I was just at a engineer’s house this weekend with his kids, and every single conversation was literally around taking things apart and putting them together. And it was just a fascinating environment to be in for three days. For you, was that something that you found more on your own or was that something you were kind of raised with?
Rich Manders: No, I definitely was an oddball in my house that way in that none of my other siblings were really interested in how things work. And so I was the weird one in my house that was really interested in how things work. And interestingly, I also, back when I was a kid, which was in the ’60s and ’70s, they didn’t have the diagnoses for kids that they have today. So I would be in today’s world, I would be considered ADD and maybe ADHD, but I was just a problem kid in school. So I was considered a very low potential in school. They actually, my high school guidance counselor sat down with me and said, “Hey, you’re not college material. So you better learn a trade or you’re going to be on the street when you graduate high school.”
And so I literally went two thirds of the day to a technical school where I learned how to become an auto mechanic, which actually wasn’t, it didn’t feel bad at the time. I was like, “Wow, cool. I don’t have to sit in those boring classes and I can work on cars.” That was a home run for me. But part of the growing up story was that I was good at that stuff. And when I went into the Air Force, I realized that I actually could learn at a college level and picked it up later in life. So I spent eight years going to college at night.
Bryan Wish: Wow. That’s a very, it’s an untraditional path. Given kind of what… How you hear most of it today. But it was the journey that worked for you and it might have been different.
Rich Manders: Well, and I belong to several different peer groups. One of them is called EO, which is a peer group for business owners where you learn from each other. And that story is a pretty common story, troubled kid in school, not a very good learner, typically short attention span, et cetera, by the traditional way of learning. And lots of founders of BI businesses fit that profile. I think I read somewhere that something like 15% of business owners are dyslexic. They can’t read or write very well. But relative to the whole population we’re only 1%, so you’re 15 times more likely to be a CEO if you’re dyslexic. Or some variation on that theme.
Bryan Wish: Well, it’s funny, I’m just still hearing you, I’m not surprised. One of my friends is dyslexic who runs a really successful company. And he literally sends all of his emails on video. But to your point, everyone who was more of a misfit or didn’t take the normal path, they have to find ways around what was traditional. So I’m starting to see kind of where your skills were built and how things were cooked for you. So take us to that board meeting where you presented and you took the part, and so the CEO pretty much called you in, if I heard you correctly, and was like, “Richard, your engineering skills are great, but we want to see you sell.” Is that correct?
Rich Manders: No, that was not how it went, actually. Interestingly enough, what he said was, “You are an amazing presenter and you could be so much better with a little training.” And he said, “When I was a young man, I joined a group called Toastmasters.” Which is, it’s dedicated to the art of public speaking. They have chapters all over the world. And you would meet once a month with a group of other people and you would practice. They had a whole way of getting everybody to work together. And you would present to your group and get feedback. And so I started going to Toastmaster meetings with the CEO of the company and started to learn how to do those things.
And in the same time, he said, “Hey, I’ve got a job for you that’s different than the one you have if you’re interested. We have a opening for an international training manager for a company. You’ll get to travel all over the world.” Remember I’m like 23. “You get to travel all over the world and train all of our sales channel and our distributors and so on and so forth. And that’ll be your new job, if you’re interested.” They wouldn’t hire… The company made robotic equipment that made false teeth. And so they didn’t believe that anybody could be a salesperson for the company that didn’t have a dental background. So I wasn’t qualified in their world to actually sell to the dental labs and to the dentists that would buy this equipment. But I was certainly qualified to train people how the equipment worked and how to service it and operate it and so on, and so that was how I ended up in this job where I traveled all over the world.
Bryan Wish: Got it. Makes sense. I mean, that must have been a high intensity job with a lot of responsibility for someone who previously kind of did a lot of work within the more engineering roles. For you, where was the biggest growth gap? Where was the biggest learning gap for you when you had to go train all these people now? Where did you find yourself having the most trouble, but also the most opportunity to really craft a new skill set?
Rich Manders: So I think that the thing that… I’m struggling with coming up with one that was a negative in that job, other than the pay was terrible. It was not enough money to live well on. However, the flip side of it was the skills I had learned as an engineer, along with that I was pretty good… I had no idea that I was good, but turned out I was pretty good at speaking in front of groups. That I was able to take complex ideas and break them down into a simple way to understand them and teach it very effectively. So that was the skillset that I brought to the party that made it easy for me to do that job, easier than most people. Because they might be great teachers, but then they don’t necessarily have the tech background.
Bryan Wish: Right. Makes a lot of sense. It’s the marketing versus tech conundrum. You could speak to both sides of the language. Got it.
Rich Manders: And what we were doing was pretty revolutionary in the business world. At that time, the way that people made false teeth was very manual labor. You would use wax and stick it in somebody’s mouth and essentially an artist would create the shape of the tooth and cast metal and then put porcelain on top of it. It was very manual. You would have rooms full of people just doing this stuff manually. And what we were creating was an automated, we’ll call it robotic, although we didn’t call it that then, but an automated way to do those processes. And it was that learning about how that automation worked in that field that turned out to be the business I mentioned we knocked the skin off the ball and the one where the guy hired me out in California to be on the leadership team. That was all robotics and automation businesses. So it started me on the path of automating things.
Bryan Wish: Got it. Makes sense. So yeah. Sounds like you guys were just very much ahead of the technology curve, which was probably really exciting for you with your background because you could really kind of see a future and be a part of making that future come to life in a really interesting way.
Rich Manders: Yeah. It was very cool. But it also was you were selling to people who didn’t understand what it was that you were selling in all these businesses. And so you had to basically take them along on a journey and help them visualize what their life would be like if you could solve these core problems and make them easier or less labor intensive and/or higher quality repeatably. That was what got them excited. And so that just kicked me off on this career of an automation world for 25, no, almost 30 years in the automation business. S
Bryan Wish: You’re with that company for how long?
Rich Manders: So with that company for seven years altogether, the dental lab equipment business. Then I left there and I went to work for a Japanese company from the time that I had… When I moved all the equipment or manufacturing over to Japan, I got to know enough Japanese and enough knowledge of how things work that I was appealing to a Japanese company that wanted to start selling in the United States, their products that they mostly did not sell in the United States yet. So I was like employee number three in that business. Today that company’s got over a thousand people out in the United States. That was a two-year stint.
And then I went to work for the automation company in California that I told you from there. Then I left there to buy a business. I bought a business in New York with the things I had learned from being on the leadership team. We sold that business two years later to a roll up. And I worked for the roll up for a few years, doing acquisition work and so on. And then we launched the last company that I owned with my business partner, Wayne. And that business was the one that was a super home run.
Bryan Wish: Got it. Okay.
Rich Manders: And then that led to the coaching business.
Bryan Wish: Got it. Lots of businesses. Lots of successful businesses.
Rich Manders: Oh no, not all of them were successful.
Bryan Wish: So tell us about more the home run business. How did that idea evolve and start?
Rich Manders: So while I was working for this company in California, we sold through distributors and manufacturer’s reps. So the difference between the two is a distributor, they would buy your product from you and then sell it for a higher price than they paid for it. So that’s traditional distribution. And a manufacturer’s rep represents you in the territory when you get an order in that territory, you take it directly, the business, and you pay that person a percentage of the fee. So that was a way we sold our products, our automation products. We made actuators that went into airplanes and toll taking machines and all kinds of packaging equipment and stuff like that.
And what I saw was I got to see hundreds of people who were in that business and how they went to market and how they were either very successful or struggled. And I could see that there was an opportunity in that market to do it differently, partially from the ones who were doing it the best, the most profitable, most successful businesses. And interesting enough, it was because they were doing what I was already good at, which was going to companies and sitting down with them and saying, “I can show you a better way to do what you’re doing that would result in you being more successful on a broad scale.”
And so doing that, one of the companies that I work with, one of the owners wanted to retire. And so they really liked working with me and they offered for me to buy into that business. And it was very old school. They had had the business for a long time. I think it was maybe 3 million in revenue, something and like that. And I was able to buy into that business with another partner, actually, a guy’s son who was selling. And we were able to pretty close to double that business in a few years and sell it successfully.
But it was a natural connection because what I saw was what the best ones did was they built a team of people who could do what I was talking about earlier on, which is take a complex idea, break it down into something that people can understand, and then create a value prop around it that’s hard to resist. And you could be very successful. And the value prop always had to be that you were going to create a win for this company, that they could beat their competition or that they could make it easier to produce more profits, et cetera.
Bryan Wish: Wow. It seems like you have this natural ability, or this core instinct to simplify things into their just smallest parts, to have someone completely on the fringe or outside make complete sense of something that they probably would never understand without your ability. Is that accurate?
Rich Manders: Yeah, I would say so. I think it’s more like systems thinking, because you have to have that ability to… And this is kind of what we teach even in the coaching world, is you have to have that ability to kind of zoom out and see the world from far away and see the things that are going on and the trends that are happening and then zoom in and make micro-adjustments to capitalize on the things that need work to help you achieve your dream.
Bryan Wish: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s great planning for teams and OKRs or whatever-
Rich Manders: Right. All those things.
Bryan Wish: … method where you can see the big picture and then break it down into small parts. But I do think there’s an art getting back to when you presented in that boardroom, the ability to present that, to make people understand it, is beyond just the systems thinking. It seems like you’re able to connect that big picture with the explanation and then, okay, what are the pieces to do it? Which clearly you’ve repeated.
Rich Manders: Well interestingly, if you think about it, most of us have a journey we want to go on and you can describe with some degree of clarity what the end place is you want to go get to. I want to be a multimillionaire, I want to have this kind of impact on society, whatever your thing is. And then there’s where you are today. And then there’s a distance between those two points. And the engineer in me says, “Well, okay, well then what we need to do is build a bridge across that gap.”
And so then you start thinking about like what are all the pieces that you need to build that bridge? Well, I’m probably going to need a bunch of really smart people to help me. I’m going to need finance and cash to fund it. I’m going to need to build great systems and processes that make it so that people can actually deliver on the building of the bridge. And we need ways to track it so we know that or ahead of schedule or behind schedule and can make adjustments live. And then systematizing that into something that works for them just comes naturally.
Bryan Wish: Yeah, no, I can’t agree more, and I guess I really resonate with what you’re saying because it’s something that I heartedly believe in and also try to practice and do and apply within our business. And I think when you can do it repeatedly, it creates a lot of momentum, which I’m sure you’ve seen. What’s something maybe right now, I know you’re not maybe as in a scaled up version of your career. I know you’re still doing some really important work within the leadership space. And I really want to get into that. But what’s something right now just to take what you said and make it tangible, maybe even outside of work, where you apply more systems thinking to somewhere where you want to be in your life?
Rich Manders: Well, I’ll tell you that one of my favorite things that I do is plan adventures. So I’ve been with a group of guys for, I don’t know, pretty close to 25 years where we go on adventure motorcycle trips, and we rotate around who does the planning and so on, but we go to amazing places with dirt bikes and have a week of just death-defying, fun, amazing riding with lots of obstacles and things for us to get over as a group and so on. And I love the process of figuring out, okay, we’re going to start in this city, we’re going to than this city. And I want to figure out what’s the most interesting, challenging route that isn’t over the top, we’re going to all die. Along with the cool towns to stop in and stay at and all of that stuff and designing that trip. And I do that with my kids, with my wife, we plan things and I love working on those. The building of the bridge. Here we are, here’s where we’re going, what’s the best possible way to get between those two places.
Bryan Wish: Got it. Yeah. No, that makes… It’s interesting how it carries over to every aspect of life. But I can imagine there’s a science in a way to what you’re doing, but there’s that art and that flow that you get into as you’re doing it that you just… The creative process that really is to just enjoy because you’re creating an experience for others and they get to kind of benefit in a way from your thinking and the design experience you’re cultivating.
Rich Manders: Right. Yeah. And to get people to face some challenges and get over those hurdles and see how it transforms them is really fun as well.
Bryan Wish: Oh my God. I bet. Richard you’ve had a pretty serious coaching business that I know is maybe not as big and scaled, but in our first conversation that we had when we met I could just tell your passion around taking all these things that you have learned in business now, helping other leaders. I would love to hear what inspired you to start the business and just maybe about where it to say and where you find the most joy.
Rich Manders: Yeah, sure. So, as I mentioned, the last business was a home run, so didn’t need to work anymore. And I had always had in the back of my head I was going to retire at 50. I don’t know why I thought that, but I did have that. And so we managed the year I turned 50 to sell our business and I got out of the day to day and I said, “Okay, now I’m retired.” And so what do most retired people do? Well, you go to your bucket list and you start chipping away at all those things that you said someday I’m going to do. So I signed up and ran a few Iron Man races, and we lived in Europe for a summer, and all kinds of fun stuff. But what I found was missing was this element of working on these complicated puzzles of running a business.
And so hold that to one side. The other side was, as we were growing this business, about 10 years into the business with Wayne and I, we brought in a private equity partner. So we packaged up the business, we sold three quarters of the business to a private equity partner that we… Because we knew we were onto something, but we didn’t have enough capital or operational know-how to really get it to the next level. And we also had a team of really cool people who were very smart, who were telling us we need to go bigger or I’m going to need to leave because I need to continue to build my career and my skillset. And so we marketed the business, we found a great partner, an amazing company that bought into us. And into us, not just buying the business, but also bought into Wayne and myself and our development.
And one of the first things, just to take it back a notch, the company that bought us, we were like the 380th platform acquisition they had made over 25 years. And on average, for every dollar anybody invested in this private equity fund, they’ve gotten back two and a half dollars in about five years for the history of the company. So these guys are just this machine. And so they sit down across from us and they say, “Hey, we have a playbook of how we’re going to take your 15 million company and turn it into several hundred million dollar business. And the first page in the playbook is you guys need a coach.” And we’re like, “What?” And they’re like, “Yeah, you need a coach. Have you had a coach before?” And we’re like, “No.” We were too cheap to have a coach. We would never waste money on stuff like that. We can read a book and apply the stuff.
And they’re like, “No, that’s not an option with us. You need to get a coach. You can pick your own or you can pick one from a list we have, but you need a coach.” And besides joining EO, which was the first thing where I got peers and I realized I wasn’t alone on the entrepreneurial journey, the second most valuable thing was having this coach, because it was somebody who had no skin in the game other than to help me become a better player at playing the game of business. And so my ability to lead went up like a rocket, much faster than it had ever done before. And my social awareness of myself, my self awareness of who I was and how I showed up and so on, got challenged a lot, but I also got a lot better.
So it was so transformational to have this coach that was at my side whose only job was to make me a better player. Changed the whole deal. We blew past all that stuff. We returned actually almost five times the money back to all of our investors when we sold that business. And it was such an amazing learning experience doing this at a much greater scale, doing acquisitions and all these other, and outsourcing to Asia and all these things that we wouldn’t have done without them. We learned so much from the fund and from the coaches about what’s possible at another level of scale and another level of scale, working through other people. So I always thought that was a cool job. That guy’s got like a super cool job. He gets to work with neat people doing fun stuff.
And so after a year and a half or so of doing the bucket list stuff, I started to run out of friend who could play with me because they had lives. They had jobs and wives and so on, and that was one element of it. And I was missing some elements of owning a business like the developing of other people, figuring out strategic moves that would help you get ahead in your marketplace and make you more resilient, all of those things. And that’s, when I decided that I would go and become a coach. And a couple people had asked me, “Would you be on our board or be an advisor?”
And so I said, “Yes.” And little by little that turned into the coaching practice that we run today, which it’s a small little business. We only work with a handful of people at a time. It’s a total lifestyle business in that we only work about a hundred days a year or less, but we have this really outsized impact on the people that we work with. And that’s what we’ve been doing for, I guess it’s almost six years and about 40 companies now.
Bryan Wish: Wow. Yeah. It’s admirable that you kind of started out and you said, “Okay, at 50 I’m I’m going to think about retiring,” and you go and you do all these fun things and you’re kind of like, “Okay, what’s next?” And then you channel all this experience and you do it in a way, like you said, to make an outsize impact on a specific number of people. So it’s just interesting where I think it’s hard to just retire, especially if you’ve been kind of on for so long. Something I wanted to dig into because of what led to the journey of you coaching and you saying how transformational a coach was for you. What were some of the things that maybe the coach dug into about you that you kind of saw yourself in the new light or you talked about your self awareness was challenged, so maybe self concept in certain [inaudible 00:32:14]. For you, what did the coach really lean into that was transformational for you?
Rich Manders: Yeah, so it sounds complicated and it’s actually quite simple. It’s mostly just asking questions about… So I would come with my list of problems, the things I was struggling with. So maybe Bryan, you work for me, and I’m struggling with getting you to do what I want you to do. And so the coach didn’t even have to observe us interacting. He would just ask me a series of questions and then he would kind of look at me and in the asking of the questions, I would realize that what I was doing was totally disempowering you. Maybe telling you what to do or trying to fix things for you or whatever. Versus a different approach, one where I’m bringing out the best in you and I’m challenging you to raise the bar on your own game and so on.
And so even without him observing how I was with you, he could tell, and I could start to see what I couldn’t see before. And thinking further out, so you work for me, you come to me with a problem, and I tell you what to do, or I solve the problem. Or even if I help you solve… If I do anything besides help you come to the conclusion you need to, the best conclusion you can, I’m actually hurting myself in the long run because now I’m setting up this system where you’re going to come to me every time you have a problem versus thinking about what you could do to fix it before you show up.
And maybe getting a little bit of sage advice for me like, “I’m thinking about these two paths to solve this problem. Could you give me the pluses and minuses that you see from these two paths?” And that sets you up to be a leader. And I was always kind of the hub in the center with all the spokes coming to me for questions and that was what caused our business to stall out was because eventually I run out of capacity to answer all those questions as the company got bigger.
Bryan Wish: Right. It’s like, how do you remove yourself from all that? But it seems like what… You said a couple things that were pretty profound. I think the first thing was just by the coach asking questions, really good questions, it enabled you to see things just by your answers that maybe you just needed to be sparked. Or you gathered thoughts around things you were facing and you asked for more objective feedback and how they would analyze. So you could really kind of help kind of your line of thinking. Interesting.
Rich Manders: Right, right. It’s essentially just raising… If you think about coaching in sports, what’s their job? They never go out and play the game. Their job is to set you up in your head and your heart to play at the next level up. Like really get. And so that’s one side of it. Another side of it is these guys had a toolbox of different tools and skill and things that they used to figure things out, whether it was what’s the strategic direction of the company, or what’s the right way to onboard an executive, or whatever. They had these tools and frameworks that you could borrow the best practices from so you didn’t have to learn it yourself. You could just copy from the masters and use it yourself. Maybe 99.9% of everything I teach is stuff I learned from somebody else. It’s not stuff I came up with on my own.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. Totally. Yeah. I was telling you about that family I was staying with this weekend and the wife was an author and the husband’s a technologist. And she was like, “So many authors think, ‘Oh, her work is so novel and innovative’, but really it’s just past down and said a new way.” It’s nice to-
Rich Manders: Exactly.
Bryan Wish: It’s nice to kind of be humble about that, but it seems like you really saw first and foremost, just the value of someone looking over your shoulder that was helping you become the best version of yourself. And because of that and that profound experience, you’re like, “Okay, in this last chapter of my career, this is how I want to have my impact and how I want to help transform companies because I saw how impactful it was for me.”
Rich Manders: Yeah. And in the end, the way I kind of judge my progress in this is how many jobs did I help create because these companies are successful. And so I keep track of that by-
Bryan Wish: Do you have a number?
Rich Manders: Yeah. So it’s a few thousand since I started coaching. And my goal is to get to a hundred thousand before I’m too old to coach. And what I do is, so let’s say I’m coaching XYZ company. And for the last five years on average, they’ve added 25 employees a year. Each year, they add 25 more employees every year. So I just baseline that. So I don’t get any credit for that. They’re already doing what they’re doing. But if as they work with me, that goes from 25 to 50 to a 100 to 200 et cetera, that extra employment I count towards my goal that these guys have created a really good resilient business that helps things happen.
And what’s happening inside this business when you get it done right is it’s a learning organism and the people who come into this learning organism learn skills that are highly valuable that make it so that they can live a great life and pay it forward again. So you’re creating a much bigger wake than you think by just looking at maybe just the numbers, but instead think about each person who becomes someone who can lead other people effectively, what’s that do for their life and their career. It certainly for me turned into something that I wake up every day, I can’t believe I get to live the life I get to live. And it was because I learned these things from different people along the way.
Bryan Wish: Got it. That’s so interesting. Thinking about the business as a learning organism. And it’s like when people enter this environment, what are the skills they are going to walk away with. That’s interesting, just [inaudible 00:38:58] framing.
Rich Manders: Anybody who goes to work for somewhere, I believe like at a very core fundamental level… And actually a fast version of the story when Wayne and I were starting our business, we went to the most successful business in that marketplace and we asked the CEO to be on our board and we would give him stock and so on and so forth. And he agreed, after some work, but we eventually got him to agree. And I remember we went to his office to meet him and our first conversation had a sign above his desk, said CEO Job Description: Develop or purge amazing people.
And I asked him about that sign. He said, “That’s it, that’s the only thing CEO’s job is, is to either develop amazing people or if they’re not going to make it here, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with them, they just might not fit our culture or our thing, but we need to purge them quickly so we can get somebody who does fit that in.” And so if you are doing that, then the people who come into your company, your job is to build their market value as fast as possible, their value in the marketplace and capitalize on that yourself by getting the output of that along the way for as long as you can. And one of the things I’m probably most proud of in my career is that lots of the people that have worked for the companies and worked for me have turned into amazing leaders of other companies, which have passed that forward.
Bryan Wish: Interesting.
Rich Manders: And I think that’ll happen more and more with the coaching business. I see as people move from one company to another that they take what they learned and spread it in this new place.
Bryan Wish: Right. And what I think I’m really hearing you say too is your work has a massive ripple effect because if you do it well with the CEO and the leadership team, it’s going to transcend down into the-
Rich Manders: Infrastructure.
Bryan Wish: … entire employee base. And then as those people are raised, they can go into other environments. And by working from the top down, you actually can have a very, very, very large outsize impact.
Rich Manders: Yep. And I’ve never seen a company that can make that happen unless that first happens at the top where they actually embody and do those things. And then it naturally will spread down. When they learn it well enough that they can teach it, now it begins. And then the next people down, they learn it so well they can teach it and it grows again.
Bryan Wish: This is fascinating, Richard. I’ve really enjoyed this. And I’ve really enjoyed just hearing where it all started for you and just kind of hearing your journey and just hearing the application to, I think, every part of your life. Last question for you, when you think of impact and you think of legacy, and maybe you’ve touched on it a little bit. What would you say for yourself when you kind of look back when it’s all said and done, how you’re going to kind of measure and quantify the legacy that you left?
Rich Manders: Yeah. Well there’s two sides to that. There’s the personal side, which is did I raise great kids and have a great relationship with my wife and the rest of my family and so on. And are they making a dent in the universe in a positive way? And then on the business side, it’s really are we creating a place where people grow? We created lots of places where people grow and thrive, and that learning continues past when you’re not there anymore. And our model is that we work with a client until they’ve mastered the things that we teach, and then we graduate them and we get a new one that we can do that same thing for. And so it’s watching the clients that you graduated that continue on. That is really very powerful for me to see. So hopefully there’ll be, I don’t know, maybe a hundred companies or more over time that’ll follow that path. We’ll see.
Bryan Wish: Well, I’m so excited for you. I mean, I can just tell how much you care about what you do, how you do it, why you do it. And I’m just-
Rich Manders: Oh, thank you.
Bryan Wish: … looking forward to following along the journey here. Where can people find you, reach out to you, drop you a line?
Rich Manders: So, easiest thing is freescalecoaching.com is our website, all one word. And by the way, the name Freescale comes from, we really did think about it, that there’s most people can scale their business, but the problem that they have is as they scale the business, their freedom gets squashed in the process by the complexity of the business, by all the stakeholders that you have to answer to, et cetera. And what we figured out by the things I talked about earlier is you actually can have both things happen simultaneously. You can scale your business and scale your freedom simultaneously. And when I say freedom doesn’t mean freedom from having to work, but it’s freedom to do the best work, your unique ability, at a level that allows you to feel excited and free along the way.
Bryan Wish: Beautiful.
Rich Manders: So it’s freescalecoaching.com. On LinkedIn is probably the other easiest place to find us.
Bryan Wish: Cool. Well, thank you. I look forward to following along and sharing this episode with our audience.
Rich Manders: Yeah. Thanks so much.