Alisa Cohn is an executive coach and the author of From Start-up to Grown-up. She has coached founders and executives at Venmo, Etsy, and DraftKings, along with enterprises such as Dell, Hitachi, and Pfizer. She writes for HBR and Inc and has been featured in Bloomberg, the BBC and New York Times.
Alisa’s Website – 5 Scripts for Delicate Conversations at Work (plus one bonus script to make your life better!)
3 Value Bombs
1) You do not need to set goals; instead, set directions.
2) When starting a business, the most important thing is building a thriving, sustaining organization with a structure and with people who have their own psychology management through successes and challenges.
3) The secret to great hiring is setting up a specific game plan about what you want to accomplish in 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days.
**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: From Start-up to Grown-up – How to Avoid Common Mistakes Founders Make With Alisa Cohn
[1:28] – Alisa shares something that she believes about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
- She believes that you do not need to set goals, instead set directions. Start to set up and lock in processes and systems, and take consistent actions to achieve your dreams – not the goals.
[2:28] – What is the single most crucial thing founders get wrong when starting their businesses?
- When starting a business, the most important thing is building a thriving, sustaining organization with a structure and with people who have their own psychology management through successes and challenges.
[3:04] – Alisa gives an example…
- A founder of a company in Austin asked Alisa for help because her team was going downhill.
- The founder was so focused on driving and building their product that he missed stepping back and thinking of his team’s needs.
- Your team needs management, systems, and structures to define its hierarchy and to achieve success.
[4:21] – Why is sometimes being a micromanager the right answer?
- Being a micromanager is the correct answer because sometimes, when you hire a team early, your team may not be capable of doing what you want them to do.
- You have to ask and guide your employees on what you want for the business.
- Every leader needs to assess the will and skill of their employees.
[6:13] – How can you hire right the first time, and how do you know when to fire someone?
- When hiring, you can make the right decisions by asking the applicant specific questions to showcase their skillset and expertise.
- When firing, you should know whether the employee meets the set objectives and goals (in the case of firing, they don’t).
- It is essential to talk to your employees.
[8:58] – Alisa shares the secret to making great hires.
- The secret to great hiring is setting up a specific game plan about what you want to accomplish in 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days.
- Have a clear onboarding plan
- Specific deliverables
- Quick wins
- Handling socialization
[12:38] – MAGA – Make Agendas Great Again
- Planning is important. A plan sets out the goal of the meeting.
- Have activities and use tools to get to the goal.
- End the meeting with three powerful questions:
- What did we decide here?
- Who will do what, and by when?
- Who needs to know?
[15:08] – Alisa shares some specific scripts to handle delicate situations.
- The Start-up to Grown-Up book has a whole appendix of sample scripts that you can use during delicate situations.
- Someone wants a promotion that they are not ready for:
- “I think you are great, and I probably don’t tell you that enough. Also, it looks like we are off sync on your career development, and I need to rectify that immediately.”
- “I want you to know that the person we are going to bring into the job that you are looking for has experiences that you don’t have.”
- “I want you to know that we really value you, and I want to work with you to put together a career plan for so that you can ultimately achieve your goals.”
- Have a follow-up plan and be as good as you can about helping the person progress.
[17:23] – Alisa talks about the book – From Start-up to Grown-up.
- It can be helpful for any entrepreneur, as it talks about the process of going from founder to a CEO.
- Three sections:
- Managing yourself
- Managing your employees
- Managing the company
- Think about how you will reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, and find specific tools and practices to help.
[19:19] – Alisa’s call to action
- Alisa’s Website – 5 Scripts for Delicate Conversations at Work (plus one bonus script to make your life better!)
Shake the room Fire Nation. JLD here and welcome to Entrepreneurs On Fire brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network with great shows like business infrastructure. Today, we'll be focusing on going from startup to grown up, how to avoid common mistakes founders make and what to do instead to drop these value bombs. I brought Alisa Cohn and that you will fire studios. Alisa is an executive coach and the author of from startup to grown-up. She has coached founders and executives at Venmo at sea in draft Kings, along with enterprises, such as Dell, Hitachi, and Pfizer. She writes for HBR and Inc, and has been featured in Bloomberg, the BBC in New York times. And today Fire Nation. We'll talk about what founders get wrong.
Being a micromanager, an acronym called mega M AGA and so much more. When we get back from thanking our sponsors, Fire Nation is time to stop trading time for money and start reaching more clients and making a bigger impact. And you can do just that with online courses, try Thinkific for free today at thinkific.com/e O F that's T H I N K I F I c.com/e O F interested in BDB sales strategies. The salesman podcast is the world's most downloaded B2B sales podcast. Host will Barron help sales professionals learn how to find buyers and win business in a moderate effective and ethical way. I recently tuned into Will's episode on digital body language, how to have better zoom sales meetings.
0 (1m 26s):
And I love how he provides relatable examples. So the strategies are easy to understand, listen to the salesman podcast, wherever you get your podcasts. Alisa say what's up to Fire Nation and share something that you believe about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
1 (1m 42s):
So what's up Fire Nation. So great to be here with you. And I w w one thing that I really think a lot about that people think you need to be successful at. I disagree with is setting goals. I say don't set goals. You can set direction and you should, you should definitely set up and lock in processes and systems, and definitely support yourself in taking action and then take action day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, it's that constant consistent action and the process of doing it every day, that's going to help you achieve your dreams, not the goals
0 (2m 19s):
And Fire Nation. This is coming from a pickle ball pro. So, you know, to take notes and listen up, and we're talking about going from startup to growing up, how to avoid common mistakes founders make and what to do instead. So I really like specificity Alisa. So I just want to dive right in to the single most important thing that founders get wrong when starting their business,
1 (2m 42s):
Asking me that. Yes. So I think what founders do is they start their business and they think that their success and their journey is going to be about the product and about the technology and their solution. And it's not, it's actually about their ability to build a thriving sustaining organization. And it has to do with structure with people and the way you manage your own psychology through the ups and downs, which is extremely challenging.
0 (3m 6s):
Let's go through maybe an example. You don't have to use names. You don't have to use companies, whatever it is, but like what's a real-time action of a founder just getting this wrong. Well,
1 (3m 18s):
I worked with a founder a few years ago at a company in Austin and he called me because his team was about to be in mutiny because he had been so focused on drive drive, drive, build, build, build the product that he hadn't stepped back and thought about what do these people need and what they need is management. What they need is stumps and what they need is structure. So it was kind of a free for all. It was kind of like let's have no hierarchy. And then what that means is everybody's tripping over each other. Nobody's clear on what they're supposed to be doing and how they can define success and achieve success. And they're not being managed. So they don't get that sort of positive reinforcement. They don't get guidance and direction. So because of that, even though the product was amazing and what they were building was amazing.
1 (4m 2s):
The car company was really in trouble because of the neglect of those things. One thing
0 (4m 8s):
That I feel like it's a really bad rap in our world, specifically, Alisa is being a micromanager. Everybody's like, oh, don't be a micromanager. Like you, you can't have your hands in everything. Like you just need to let people go do their thing or to tell people how to do things once and then never look at them again. Like if you're a micromanager, your business will fail. Why is sometimes not all the time? So why is sometimes being a micromanager, the right answer?
1 (4m 36s):
That is one of my own counter-intuitive beliefs that people always tell founders, don't be a micromanager or founders themselves will say, I'm not a micromanager. And yet the truth is that when you hire a team, especially early stage, what, even as you grow, they are not always the case, the most capable people of doing the things that you want them to do. Doesn't mean they're bad. It doesn't mean they're not willing to try, but it may mean they don't have the skills and experience to do that thing. Like I had a founder one time who gave his, his actually assistant this per this job of gathering information about the competitors of the company. He, he was just like interested.
1 (5m 17s):
And she went out and she had this whole incredible, like way too much over complicated job about it and brought it back to him. And it wasn't what he wanted. And he got mad. And I'm thinking, did you, even in what we talked about was, did you even really ask her or guide her in what you wanted? Did you set up the structure and the template so she could kind of fill it out and you give her a chance to ask questions. And the truth is that that is just much closer supervision than he thought that she or anybody else would need to do a task. Everybody, every founder, every leader has to assess the will and skill of their employees to be able to delegate to them, to be able to manage them at the appropriate level of supervision. And sometimes that does mean what we call micromanagement.
0 (5m 58s):
I love that phrase, assess the will and skill of your employee. That's really cool. And definitely a thoughts to keep in mind, Fire Nation. Now, hiring is such a struggle and no Fire Nation. This is not a sponsorship ad for ZipRecruiter. I'm just saying that hiring in general, it's such a struggle. So share with us how we can hire right. The first time. And then on the flip side of things, how do we know when to fire somebody?
1 (6m 27s):
Oh yes. So true. So when I think about hiring what I experienced, most of the founders, I work with the most of the CEOs I work with when they're not experts yet at hiring, they tend to go through a big interview process. And then at the end of the day, they kind of decide, I like Lisa let's hire Lisa, or I like Frank, let's hire Frank. And that's kind of how they make decisions about hiring. And that's not all there is to it. But after going through a process, they don't have often evidence about that, that this person can do the job. So the secret is number one, to get super clear and super granular about the jobs to be done, the thing that you want this person to do in like a very specific kind of way, and then go out and get evidence by asking that person questions.
1 (7m 13s):
You know, if you want someone to be super proactive, talk about times that you ask them to ask this person about times that they did something without being asked that they did something that was above and beyond what they wanted to, that they would had to do. If you're looking for someone who's great at influencing, talk about, ask this person about times. They had to bring other people along who disagreed with them and how they were able to bring them to a different place without breaking any glass. You have to ask specific questions. And then when you talk to the references, ask specific questions together, evidence that they can do those specific jobs to be done. So that's about hiring. Now. Life goes on and sadly people are not always up to the task and maybe they were up to the task, go up to the job and you know, they, they outgrew it or outgrew them, or they just weren't the right hire.
1 (8m 2s):
So what happens is I come into a situation very often and we're talking about this one person. And as soon as a founder realizes that he should fire this person. The truth is it's probably a year too late. That's like a truism it's in the startup world. And the way to think about that is setting clear, specific goals for this person and making sure they have the right objectives and then seeing if they can meet those objectives. And if they can't over time and you've had conversations with them over time and really help them see that your series about the need to achieve those objectives, then you can finally realize that it's just not a fit. The secret is also that when you come to somebody and say, you know, it's just not a fit.
1 (8m 44s):
I think we need to part ways they've often come to that conclusion themselves. And they're kind of relieved. You finally brought up.
0 (8m 50s):
Wow. I mean, viral nation. Think about those words when you're setting yourself up for success, the beginning of a relationship so that you can make sure you're doing what's best for both parties, both sides of the equation going forward. And Alisa Fire Nation loves secrets, share one secret to just a fantastic, great hire.
1 (9m 12s):
The secret to great hiring has to do with setting up a specific game plan about what you're hoping they accomplish in 30 days, what you're hoping they accomplish in 60 days, what you're hoping they accomplish in 90 days, you have a clear onboarding plan that includes specific deliverables, including quick wins, which are superficial and super fast things that people do to gain credibility with their new team. So they started like, oh, this person's great. This person's gonna add a lot of value. And then also making sure you handle the socialization, the integration of onboarding. So people can actually have help getting integrated into the team and feeling part of the fabric and the culture.
0 (9m 51s):
There's a theme here, Fire Nation. And that theme is communication. You need to be communicating, setting the right expectations, boundaries, all of this stuff. That's going to set up both sides for that win-win scenario. And we're going to talk about a killer acronym. Manga. When we get back from thanking our sponsors, in order to grow your business bigger, faster, and stronger, no matter what challenges come your way, you need a solid team in place to help support you. What else do you need an effective way to unite that team and the flexible and customizable HubSpot CRM platform can help you do just that HubSpot is continuously adapting to the needs of businesses with sales teams like yours, with brand new updates and features.
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0 (11m 21s):
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0 (12m 1s):
More than 50,000 entrepreneurs have already used Thinkific to build revenue and educate their students worldwide. Try Thinkific for free today at thinkific.com/e O F that's T H I N K I F I c.com/e O F Alisa we're back. And as I kind of teased before the break mega make agendas. Great. Again, expound upon that.
1 (12m 25s):
Yes, I am obsessed with meetings. I love meetings. I love the potential of meetings. Everybody else hates meetings and I'm like, they're not, well-planned, they're kind of a waste of time. And I just think that's such a shame because it's first of all, an expensive room. And also it is the potential of so much wisdom because everyone there is so smart and so interested and wanting to like really eager to make a difference. The key to all that is making a great agenda, specifically making agendas great again, and really it has to do with really planning, right? So you said communication and it's totally true. And it's also being intentional and planning.
1 (13m 5s):
What do you want to do? So an agenda really sets out what is the goal of this meeting? Like seriously, what are we trying to say at the end of this meeting that exists or that's different? That's not true at the beginning of the meeting, that's number one, number two, how are we going to get there? What are the different activities and the tools and that sort of the facilitation process we're going to do to get to that goal. And third to end the meeting with three powerful questions. Number one, what did we decide here? Number two, who will do what by when? And number three, who needs to know
0 (13m 39s):
Road map, Fire Nation? Do you have one, like, do you even have a roadmap for what's about to happen? What's about to take place. And what are your thoughts? You know, some people like to talk about standing meetings, like, you know, having a specific, you know, shorten the amount of time. I mean, what do you feel like is the best for people to go about setting up and creating meetings and putting those on the agenda?
1 (13m 59s):
Yeah. You know, I talk in my book from startup to grown up the different meetings you need to have. And the first is everyday with yourself, a meeting with yourself every day to plan your day to kind of reflect, to think about things. And that should be 30 minutes. A one-on-one with somebody should be about 30 minutes, but if you're having an executive team meeting, you might want that to be an hour or even two hours. But to your point about check-ins check-ins are like such a powerful way to just get everybody on the same page in a 10 or 15 minute period. It's also energetic, it's dynamic. And when you're in person, the idea is you actually standing up. If you're on video, you can also stand up. That's why they're called stand-ups and nobody sits down and it's very dynamic and they, they add a lot of value by way of communication and sinking up without taking up too much time now
0 (14m 44s):
From time to time. And let's just be honest, we all get into these delicate situations. So share some specific scripts. Fire Nation can use to handle these so-called delicate situations.
1 (14m 57s):
Yes. In my book from startup to grown up, I have an entire appendix about scripts to handle delicate situations, including for example, when someone wants a promotion they're not ready for. So for example, somebody comes to you and they say, you know, I wanna, I wanna, you know, go put myself in for this manager role or this director role, the vice president role, and you realize they're not even close. And so then you have to sit down and say to this person, Hey, first of all, I think you're a great, and I probably don't tell you that enough. Also it looks like we're off sync on your career development. And I need to rectify that immediately. I want you to know that the person we're going to bring in to do this, you know, job that you're looking for has this kind of experience that you don't have at the same time.
1 (15m 42s):
I want you to know we really value you. And I want to work with you to put together a career plan for yourself, a career progression plan for yourself so that you can ultimately achieve your goals, whether it's getting promoted in this role, or ultimately finding other roles in the company that are great for you. So that's kind of the way to handle a delicate situation and also to then have a followup plan and be as good as your word about really helping this person progress. Otherwise, they're not gonna understand why they didn't get promotion. They're going to be frustrated. And ultimately they're going to leave you. And it's such a waste because they were a good employee and you could've kept them. If you addressed it directly and compassionately,
0 (16m 19s):
At least the one that you just recently talked about, they really show your employee Fire Nation, that they are the priority. Like they matter that their life matters. And you know, as much as we like to think, otherwise everybody's favorite station is w w I F M what's in it for me. Like what's in it for me. Like, I hate to say it, but like, that's the reality. So if you just think that your employees is willing to fall on a sword and sacrifice themselves for your company at all costs, you got to think again, they need to know that you have their interests. And in some cases, their best interests out for them and scripts like these are going to help you get there. Now you did briefly go over this, but let's take the last couple of minutes.
0 (17m 1s):
We have here together to really dive in to your book from start-up to grown-up break this down for us. What is the deal with this book? Why do we need to read it?
1 (17m 11s):
Thank you for asking that. I think that every entrepreneur can usefully read it, because it's really about the process of becoming of going from founder to CEO, the idea of somebody who's building a product or a service to somebody who's building a thriving business. So it's divided into three sections, managing yourself, managing the people around you, managing them, the employees, and then managing the company. And really everybody, all new leaders, all founders, and really, even solopreneurs need to think about how they're building themselves are along those three dimensions and learning and growing along those three dimensions. So, you know, I talked earlier about managing your own psychology.
1 (17m 51s):
When you, when you manage your own psychology, it's like there are lots of ups and downs to becoming a leader to the workplace and certainly to being an entrepreneur. And so you need to think about how you're going to reflect on yourself, reflect on your strengths and your weaknesses. And then also find specific tools and practices. Like I talk in the book about doing a highlight reel so that when you're feeling down and depressed and you feel like, oh, it's not working. You help you proactively remind yourself of all the successes you've had. That's a highlight reel. And one of the examples of the exercises that I use when you're managing other people, to your point earlier you to think about it from their point of view, right? You're the manager, but you have to think about their point of view and how you're going to help them understand that they're making progress, that you, that they are doing a good job, that you praise them.
1 (18m 40s):
And also they have a career progression. So when you manage other people, you've got to keep those things in mind. And then ultimately nobody has a business unless they're able to measure the business. And so we all need to learn about stepping back and thinking about the structures and tools we're implementing in our own business.
0 (18m 54s):
I have a business Fire Nation and less, you know, how to measure that business. So Alisa, I know you've created something pretty cool for Fire Nation. Give us the call to action about where we can learn more about your book, this gift, and anything else you want to share.
1 (19m 8s):
Well, thank you so much. Well, everyone can come to my website, Alisa cone.com and I've put together for your listeners, some scripts and templates, and that's Alisa cone.com/fire. And it's specifically, we talked about these scripts. I've put together additional scripts for your listeners to help them onboard new employees, have a difficult conversation with anyone, and then also some templates about how to create your own operating manual. So you get a handle on your own kind of quirks and your personality style and your communication style. So you can share that with people around you and also help them fill out their own operating manual and share it with you. So all of that for your listeners, because I want you to benefit, you know, my mission is to light 10,000 candles.
1 (19m 53s):
My mission is to help people get better and, and solve problems before they become problems and really, you know, learn things before they have to make their own mistakes. So I hope all this material helps everybody do that.
0 (20m 5s):
Fire Nation. You're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You've been hanging out with AC and JLD today. So keep up the heats. And if you head over to eofire.com and type Alisa, a L I S a in the search bar, Herschel his page will pop up with everything that we've talked about. And of course go over for that additional awesomeness. She created the suffer you Fire Nation. Take action, AlisaCohn.com/fire. That's AlisaCohn.com/fire. Alissa thank you for sharing your truth, knowledge value with Fire Nation today, for that we salute you and we'll catch you on the flip side.
0 (20m 47s):
Thank you so much for having me. Hey, Fire Nation today's value and content was brought to you by Alisa and Fire Nation. The idea to store contests by.store domains is live. You have the chance to win cash prizes up to $30,000 for sharing your online store ideas. Learn more at www.ideato.store. That's www.ideato.store. And I'll catch you there, or I'll catch you on the flip side. Fire Nation is time to stop trading time for money and start reaching more clients and making a bigger impact.
0 (21m 29s):
And you can do just that with online courses, try Thinkific for free today at Thinkific.com/EOF. That's Thinkific.com/EOF. Interested in B2B sales strategies. The salesman podcast is the world's most downloaded B2B sales podcast. Host will Barron helps sales professionals learn how to find buyers and win business in a moderate effective and ethical way. I recently tuned into Will's episode on digital body language, how to have better zoom sales meetings. And I love how he provides a relatable example. So the strategies are easy to understand, listen to the salesman podcast, wherever you get your podcasts.
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