Bill is the chief encouragement officer of Giant Leap Consulting, a courage-building company. His clients include NASA, Lenovo, Accenture, Spanx, CNN, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. His new book, Leaders Open Doors, became the #1 leadership training book on Amazon.
Click to tweet: Fire Nation, Bill shares his incredible journey on EntrepreneurOnFire today!
Worst Entrepreneur moment
- Bill BOMBED on stage in front of a home crowd… and it hurt. He realized that day the biggest enemy of great is good, and then he set out to correct himself!
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- Bill breaks down the imposter syndrome in such a powerful way, Fire Nation – you simply HAVE to listen in to this!
Small Business Resource
- Fiverr: Graphics, marketing, fun, and more online services, on budget and on time.
- Poll Everywhere: Why can’t any audience anywhere be polled, whenever, with the results projected for all to see?
Best Business Book
- Leaders Open Doors by Bill Treasurer
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- Ralph Waldo Emmerson: Self-Reliance
- Gifts for Fire Nation!
- Email Bill!
- Giant Leap Consulting: The world’s premier courage-building company.
- Leaders Open Doors
- Bill Jumping into a pool from 100 feet take 1
- Bill Jumping into a pool from 100 feet take 2
Bill: Oh, yeah.
John: Yes. Bill is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting: a courage building company. His clients include NASA, Lenovo, Accenture, Spanks, CNN, and the Pittsburg Pirates. His new book Leaders open Doors became the number one leadership training book in Amazon. Bill, take a minute, fill in any blanks on the intro and then give us a glimpse into your personal life.
Bill: Oh, sure. Well, I'm the Chief Encouragement Officer, that’s CEO of Giant Leap Consulting. And as I'll explain a little bit later we're a courage building company. Had the business now for a dozen years, we're actually into our 13th year. Prior to this I worked with Accenture, and before that I worked with a small company called Executive Adventure and another one called High Performing Systems. I'm in the space of leadership development. And before all of that stuff a long time ago I used to be a professional high diver. And I used to dive from 100 foot platforms into tiny pools for a living. Sometimes – and you’ll like this John Lee – I was on fire.
John: I love it. Can we get a YouTube clip of that for the show notes page?
Bill: Oh, sure, no worries.
John: That would be amazing. So Bill you're at a networking party and somebody walks up to you and says, “What the heck do you do?” in ten seconds what's your response?
Bill: I tell them that the mission of me and my company Giant Leap Consulting is the same and that’s to help people organizations be more courageous, so that they can have more initiative, trust, and honesty with one another, and therefore boost performance, so that’s what I'm all about.
John: Man, you got that dialed in brother, impressive. Bill, you told us a little bit about your journey, we've got some glimpses, but I kind of want the entrepreneurial origin story of your current venture, this current passion that you have, so tell successful the story how you became to do doing what you're currently doing?
Bill: You know, I was working for the man. I was working for the big corporate machine for many years, and it was good, it was useful. I mean, Accenture is a great company. I was there when it became Accenture, before that it was Anderson consulting. And I really enjoyed it and it helped me professionally immensely. I still draw on many solid relationships that I came away with from that experience. That said it was also a bit confining for my spirit. I knew that there were things that I wanted to do. My own aspiration lied beyond Accenture.
And so after awhile every day I’d be sort of tethered to a computer like it was a respirator, selling out little portions of my soul on a daily basis. And I guess I got to a point where I said: is this all there is? I knew that I wanted to do more. I knew that life had prepared me for more. And I knew that I had this unique take on risk taking and risk leadership based on the fact that I had been a high diver, who started out with a profound fear of heights. So my boss got ready to retire at Accenture. I wasn’t sure who was going to be his successor. I was at the cusp of 40. My first book was coming out, which is called Right Risk.
And I said if there's ever a time for me to leave a six figure job, where I'm really well networked, but it just isn't quite who I am, this is the moment for me to leave. I talked it over with my wife. I saved up a pot of money. I took night classes about how to start a business. I talked to other entrepreneurs who had been successful. And I finally had the guts to take a dive into myself trusting myself, and it's – and I took that giant leap to start Giant Leap Consulting. And john Lee, guess who my first client was?
Bill: Yes! They were my biggest client for the first three years of my business. And then the second client was the Department of Veterans Affairs, and so I was on my way.
John: Thank you for that by the way. I love all these analogues Bill. It’s really impressive to see how you went from point A to point B. You built a foundation. You talked to people, you saved up money, you built your runway out, so that you had a significant amount of time to be successful because it does take time. And you didn't stray far from home. You knew Accenture, you had connections there and you made it happen with your first client. Bill, today, right now, how are you generating revenue?
John: My business now – again it's been at it for a dozen years, and we have three major services lines. The first is courageous future, because at the end of the day we're trying to create courageous cultures. And people in the organization to be more courageous. And a great place to start is what we call a courageous future, and that’s our strategic planning and ideation. It's a future casting model, where we're helping a company say is your future that you're trying to aim at bold enough for the people here, so that it actually inspires courageous behavior. We do a lot of strategic planning.
What's really cool about that John Lee is that we've worked with organizations like – well, everybody worked with MIT twice. We've worked with Harvard. We've worked with UC Berkley, USC, NC State, Michigan State. We've done a lot of work at the universities. And we've also worked with the city of Ashville, Aldridge Electric Company, Plote Construction, so it really runs the gambit. Our second lien of business, how we generate revenue is start as that’s your strategy, that’s the future you're aiming at, do you have the leaders in your organization that can lead you to that future, so we design and deliver corporate courageous leadership programs.
Often times they're multi-month. Literally last Friday John, I graduated a group of leaders that I'm working with at the Aldridge Electric Company. And I've been working with them for four years and we had our Capstone event. And that’s the second group that I've had from Aldridge, another group that I worked with for five years. And then we designed, developed, and delivered an 18 month program for another company and we're into our fifth iterations, so we do a lot around courageous leadership, and building the next generation of young emerging and new leaders.
The third service line, the third way we make our money is working with teams, what we call courageous teams. And our preference is to work with senior executive groups when we can because often time they're the ones setting the direction for the rest of the organization. But if you’ve got division leaders and business unit leaders who aren’t working well together, the rest of the organization loses confidence in them. And they don’t always play nice in the sandbox together because the egos are pretty big up there at the top.
So we work a lot with senior executive groups trying to get them to tear down the walls between them and get real with one another, so that they can interact productively for the rest of the organization. So those are our three ways that we generate revenue: strategy, leadership, and teams.
John: My biggest takeaway Bill, diversity of revenue. And Fire Nation this is really critical to understand. You need diversified revenue streams, money that’s coming in from different areas because you never know what's gonna happen, shifts in the economy, shifts in the times, shifts in the temperature of the air, anything can affect some things, and that’s why diversifying. You’ve heard the not having all your eggs in one basket is critical, this is another example. Bill, what I’d love to do now is analyze your worst entrepreneurial moment.
And I really want you to take us to that point within your entrepreneurial journey, which is the lowest of the low, and tell us that story feeling like we're there. I want to be there with you when this happens and learn some lessons.
Bill: Oh, boy. The one that comes immediately to mind is about five or six years into my business, I had moved my business from Atlanta to Ashville, North Carolina where I live now, and where I'm actually speaking from today. I was doing a lot of speaking engagements, my profile personally was getting raised in the industry. And I got asked to speak at a conference in Ashville. So this was cool, I mean, I'm on the road a lot. I have been averaging 16 days a month. And you got to figure there's only 20, 22 days of business work a month that you can be on the road, and 16 days a month I'm on the road on average. So here I get an opportunity to work in Ashville.
And what it is is the George Association of Society Executives – Association Society Executives, so GASE. And what it means is that they're all association heads. They all have the potential to bring me in to speak to their own association, so it's a great audience to get in front of, a real sweet spot audience. But because it's in Ashville, and I'm traveling a lot I'm like: well, you know, I'll be able to do that one in my sleep. I'm not gonna have to do much homework for that one because it's right in my sweet spot. It's around the topic that I talk about all the time, and it's in my own neighborhood. So I sort of slow rolled it.
I didn't give it the attention and honor the work the way I would have if I were speaking to a group in Las Vegas, say for example, even though it was going to be speaking to 150 people. So the night before the event I'm in Chicago and my plane is late as usual. So it doesn’t get me home until like 1:00 in the morning. The next day I got to the venue, but I'm dealing with emergencies through my email and people trying to get me and such, and I'm not paying attention. By the time I get to the venue the previous three speakers have gone late – or the previous two speakers, so that by the time – I'm supposed to go on at 11:00, and they can't get me on the docket until 1:00, and the audience hasn’t eaten lunch yet, and now I come on.
And I come on after a pretty famous speaker who blew them away. I got to tell you John Lee, I did the – it was the worst talk in the history – still to this day that I've ever done. And it was at the wrong moment at the wrong time in the right place and I didn't deliver. And I felt ashamed. I actually felt embarrassed, and I came away from that speaking engagement and I thought to myself: do I even want to do speaking as part of my business anymore? And I had been pretty naturally talented at it in the past, but this was like right in front of me. I'm like: am I good at what I do?
And I got really caused a lot of soul searching, and I got a lot more interested – at some point I got interested and said, you know, if I'm gonna do this speaking stuff I got really take it much more seriously. So I went through a presentations skills class. I had people critique the presentations that I would do in the future. And ever since, every single presentation that I've done since – and keep in mind John that a lot of my business now is generated – you know, about 25 percent of my time is giving speaking, you know, talks. And after every talk I'm usually getting some business, whether it's another speaking engagement, or the opportunity to come into a company and do courageous leadership etc., so these are really important to me.
So now ever since that really lousy job that I did I honor the work. And that’s my takeaway that I don’t care if I'm speaking to a bunch of kindergarten kids or I'm speaking to CEO’s of companies, they're still gonna get the best me, and that means that the day of the event, the night before the event, I'm going through the slide deck that I have delivered hundreds of times, and I'm still writing out longhand the order of what I'm gonna say and when I'm gonna say it, so now I honor the work. Because once I know that I've honored it, then I can deliver and feel like the audience got the best out of me.
John: There's not much worse than bombing on stage and knowing you did. And especially, you know, when it's in front of a potential hometown atmosphere. But I will say there's things to be learned here. And there's a great quote that came to my mind Bill, when you were just sharing that, and that is the biggest enemy of great is good. And frankly, you are a good speaker. And you probably would have continued going on being good for a really long time if you hadn’t had that really tough experience, but because you were bad once and you had to sit down and say: man, I've always been good. I'm pretty naturally talented, but I want to be great.
You did some honest soul searching, then you put in the significant time, effort and energy to become great. Fire Nation, think about things right now that you're good at, that you're pretty comfortable doing and saying: is that good? Like, is that where I want to be or do I want to be great because sometimes that is the biggest enemy of ever being great is the fact that you're already pretty gosh darn good. So Bill, that’s my biggest takeaway, but in one sentence I would love for you to share with Fire Nation, what do you really want to make sure that we get from that period in your life?
Bill: Well, it's actually a quote that comes to mind for me: good judgment is the result of experience, and experience is the result of bad judgment. And sometimes you got to – you have to refuse to not learn from an experience like that. and I'll be dog gone that I made sure that I learned from that and other big boners that I've made in my company that I'm always gonna make sure that I've learned from it.
John: Hey Bill, it takes courage to admit when you’ve been a boner. It takes courage to admit when you failed, and that’s something that you teach. And I think Fire Nation that’s something we need to look in the mirror and say it's time to be courageous about these things in my life. And Bill we're doing a shift now, and that to another story, this one being an epiphany, an “ah-ha” moment. You’ve had hundreds my friend, but is one that you think is going to make a great story for Fire Nation today. And take us to that moment and tell us that story.
Bill: It's a story about lack of confidence, and it's a story about nervousness. And it was a moment where I had, after like six months of meeting with a middle manager of a company, and him sort of feeling me out as to am I gonna be the right fir for their cp to design their leadership program? He finally gets me an audience with their most senior executives at their board meeting, and it's in Chicago at a really posh location. And I’m gonna have an audience that – with the CEO, co-CEOs of the company, and their board members right there. I am nervous out of my mind. I feel like: who am I?
Who am I this little pipsqueak to go into this room of people who are way more knowledgeable about their business, and probably more about business in general. They’ve got way more gray hair and way more seasoning and experience than me, who am I little old me to go and meet with this group? So I was nervous out of my mind, and it took doing it, it took walking through the door, getting over the threshold, answering their questions and getting real. It took not posturing. It took relying on my actual experience. And as they were asking me questions, I was able to answer with confidence because it was in my sweet spot.
And I think that that was the “ah-ha” for me is that at least in my particular domain, in the area of my expertise and passion, in the place where I've devoted so much of my time, energy, and will that I do have more knowledge than the average person around this particular topic, only because I've put in the legwork, and because I have honored it. And so once I walked through the threshold and got – you know, I think leading up to any threshold moment is an anxiety provoking experience. For me the metaphor of the high dive, when you're standing on that little one foot by one foot perch, it's a decision: can I can't it?
Should I Shouldn’t I? Will I won't I get off this platform? And we've reached those thresholds literally thousands of times in our life, but a lot of times there's that hesitancy beforehand, and even in front of an opportunity. So here was a big opportunity moment and I was really really nervous, but I walked through the threshold. I said a little prayer on the way. I answered their questions honestly and authentically, and if I didn't know institution would tell them I didn't know.
And as it was going on I was realizing: you know what, I know a little bit about what I'm talking about and we're being present with each other, and I came away with the right, I had earned the right as a result of that meeting to do one workshop with them, and that was eight years ago and they're one of my biggest clients today.
John: Fire Nation, this is such a great story because the imposter syndrome it hovers above and within us all, we all have these doubts. But if you are willing to be great at one thing, at one vertical, in one small niche, you will be recognized for that. And it kind of brings me back real quick Bill to a story, I remember when I started podcasting I was so impressed and in awe of what Dave Ramsey had built with his entire organization. Well, just last week the Ramsey Organization reached out to me and they said, “John, we want to get on the phone with you.”
We jumped on a call and they said, “Listen, we look at you as the authority figure in this podcasting game, like this is the Wild Wild West.”
Bill: Wow, that’s awesome.
John: “And you are the best gunslinger out there.” And I was like: wow, this is mind blowing that this is actually happening, but it came from a place of me focusing so laser like in one area. Bill did it, you can do this too Fire Nation, you just need to commit to that action. So that’s a huge takeaway for me is that imposter syndrome, it's just part of the game. But Bill, one sentence, what's the one takeaway for Fire Nation?
Bill: I think the takeaway is to trust in yourself and earn the right to be there, earn the right to win the work. You don’t just get handed to it, you got to polish your – you got to do the legwork and put the grease on your hands, you got to get dirty and show up and do your level best and earn it.
John: Earn it. And speaking of earn it, when we do some things that we actually learn as entrepreneurs we stumble sometimes, and that reveals some both strengths and weaknesses about us. And Bill, what's your biggest weakness?
Bill: My biggest weakness is ideation and creativity. I can get caught up in distractions that come disguised as opportunities. I can look at the bright shiny thing in front of me and think: oh, I want to go in that direction today. I'm a little child like in that way. In some areas it serves me very well, but that distraction can cause me to get a little unfocused sometimes. And I think it can be frustrating for some of the people that work around me. I think it's kind of classic entrepreneur.
A lot of people experience this working with an entrepreneur is the high energy, the high creativity, the possibility thinking that sometimes can lack a little bit of focus and get people working and all frothy moving in the direction of the shiny ball, and them I'm like, “Oh, wait, there's another shiny thing that I'm more interested in over here.”
John: The weapons of mass distraction, they are everywhere Bill. And on that note, how is that also your biggest strength?
Bill: Because I'm full of lots of creativity. I really think that I enjoy the process of creativity. I tend to be a spiritual guy, and I believe that creativity is very attached to the nature of the creator. And so the creator of me is when I'm the most reflective of the creative energy of whatever that thing is, call it God, call it what you need to call it, but I feel in alignment with that when I'm in the creative space. I feel almost as if I channeled through it, that it's attached to something holy. And so I can be very creative, and that allows me to be a good idieator, a good brainstormer, a good possibility thinker. And I think it's given me – I think what it's done John is that I – I don’t like regurgitation.
By the way I think anybody can write a book these days, I've written three. I think that anybody can write a book just by doing a Google search on tell me the name of the famous company. Oh, let’s write about Starbuck’s tips today. Let’s talk about Google and let’s talk about Steve Jobs. Anybody can write a book on those things, it's easy to do. But what really I think is the premium today is give me an original thinker. Give me an original idea that came out of your own head, and not some article that you read of somebody else’s that launched you off into something else. So I think that I am a pretty good originator of ideas, and my books would suggest that.
John: Well, Bill, that has you fired up I can tell, but is the one thing that has you most fired up about what you're currently doing today?
Bill: One thing I failed to mention is yeah, I've got three kids. I've got twin 11-year-olds and an 8-year-old. I'm a good business man, and I want to remain a good dad, and I have to work at being a better dad, and so I want to get off the road a little bit more. And one thing is that we've spent a good deal of emphasis on, it started last year, and this year we've double dour efforts, is to do a two day train the trainer certification program around our original content, around courageous leadership. So far as I know, we're the only company in the country that has a courage building company; in fact courage building is one of our URLs.
And now you can get this off the shelf material, and you can take it to your organizations, whether or not you have our certification, but we are now officiating a two day certification program. It went really well last year. We did it for the first time, we piloted it, and this year we're doing it twice and that’s got me fired up.
John: Rightfully so. And Bill, I'm fired up because we're about to enter the Lightning Round.
Bill: The lightning Round.
John: But before we get there, let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors. Bill, are you prepared for the Lightning Round?
Bill: I am prepared for the lightning round.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Bill: I wasn’t applying the advice that I always gave other people and that is I didn't trust in myself.
John: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Bill: I'm gonna give you two. The first is from my grandmother, Goo Goo is what we called her. And Goo Goo always told me, “Yes, you can. Why not you?” So that was always great. And I still have that little piece of me that says I think I can, I think I can. The second piece of advice that I received was actually from Jeffrey Gittemer, and it came from a talk that I saw him do. And he basically said, “You know, sell some business and you make some money, make a friend and make a fortune.”
And I've always held to that notion when it comes to delivering work is trust building. And if you can earn the trust of the people that you're selling to and become their friend. And it's got to be real, it can't be with motive, you can make a fortune working with those clients.
John: What's a personal habit that you have that you believe contributes to your success?
Bill: Coffee. Coffee is one habit. It truly is. In the morning I'm always – I have my ritualistic coffee and it helps me start my day, but it gives me some energy. And then beyond that honoring the work. I've learned through the hard way as I shared with you earlier, you got to the legwork, you got to the homework. I'm very good at staying out in front. I've got projects that I'm gonna be delivering six months from now that I'm already starting to spin the plates for because I realize I need to get them going, so I'm pretty good with forethought. And I think the discipline of the to do list, honoring the work, doing the homework, I’d say honor the work.
John: Honor the work, I love that phrase. And what's an internet resource like an Evernote that you can share with our listeners?
Bill: Well, the first one as a dad on the road FaceTime is essential. I like Fiver for the entrepreneur; it gives you some of the quick hit stuff. I never do anything for five bucks, it usually ends up being like $20, but it's usually worth it for a quick blip. And then in my business because of what I do with Giant Leap Consulting, and do a lot of assessment and analysis with companies, Poll Everywhere is just fantastic. It's an online tool where I can do a real time survey with my audience of up to 250 people, and they can text their answers to my questions and watch the bar graphs grow real time right in front of them.
I pay a subscription fee to do that. There is a free version, but Polleverywhere.com is essential, so is Survey Monkey, so those are some that really come to mind.
John: If you could recommend one book for our listeners to join Leaders Open Doors on the show notes page, what would it be and why?
Bill: I'll give you two. The first one I would say as much as I dismissed a little bit before that anybody can write a book about Steve Jobs, the best book about Steve Jobs is his biography that was by Walter Isakson. I think it's an essential business reading book. I think it's an essential entrepreneur book. It is not just a great fascinating book about Steve Jobs, which it is, but it's also a good business mindedness book. You learn a lot about business and entrepreneurialism, and innovation, so I’d say that that’s an essential.
The second one I would say is an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson that you can go online right now and read for free, and it’s simply called Self Reliance. And it's like little small fists from 200 years ago popping you right in the head giving you enlightenment. It's just a fantastic little read.
John: Well, Fire Nation, I know that you love audio, so I teamed up with Audible, and if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audio book for free at eofirebook.com. I know they do both Steve Jobs and his new book Becoming Steve Jobs really well on Audible, really really well. And is your book Leaders Open Doors on Audible?
Bill: It is on Audible, yes.
John: Done. Awesome. Well, Bill this question is the last question of the Lightning Round, but it is a doozey. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter is taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500, what would you do in the next seven days?
Bill: Oh, man that is a doozey is right. Oh, that’s tough. I'm gonna break it down by day. The first day I would do prayer and meditation the first day. The first day would be silent reflection, getting into my inner wisdom, tapping into the great unseen and get some council as to the direction that my higher power would want me to take. The second day ideation and planning. Get out the whiteboard, get out the flip chart, start thinking through what is it that I want to do, how I want to bring my expertise into this strange new land, and there would be a lot of sort of planning.
Day three and four creation and that would be partly me creating some deliverables and starting to reach out through social media, create a web presence, spend some of the money on creating a web presence. Getting tapped into all the social media channels from that foreign land whatever it might be. Hire people in online service like Fiver and oDesk, and Elance and such at an inexpensive way to help build out whatever the idea would be. Day number six I would attend a massive conference of like minded people wherever that would be in that strange country, and I would have as many conversations as I possibly could.
Day seven I would pick three of those conversations and I would tell them I will come in and asses your organization for the services that I deliver, it's a free assessment, and I will come in and I will do a full on assessment for you all, no obligations and I will assess your company in the area of courage to see where the courage might be lacking. And that would be my entry point into the doorway, to do a free assessment around the expertise that I have. That’s the breakdown of seven days.
John: Wow. I mean, Fire Nation, breaking it down for you day by day step by step. Bill, this just makes me want to end how we started, which is on fire, with you sharing one parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Bill: A, trust yourself, B, be courageous and act with courage in everything you do, courage is a virtue. Aristotle said it the first virtue because it makes all the other virtues possible. So be virtuous by being courageous. The best way to get in touch with me is firstname.lastname@example.org, couragebuilding.com my website, or leadersopendoors.com. And John Lee, what a fantastic honor to be with you and your listeners. I love being on Fire Nation.
John: You are on fire. And Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you have been hanging out with Bill and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com and just type Bill in the search bar. His show notes page will pop right up. He’s promised to send me a YouTube link of him jumping from 100 feet on fire into a small little pool. And Bill, I want to thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today, for that my friends we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip.
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