Thor Conklin is the founder of Peak Performance Group, a profitability consulting firm. His no nonsense approach uncovers the real truth about what is holding people and organizations back from realizing their full potential.
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1) Your business’ profitability only comes down to 3 things: your plan, your execution, and your psychology.
2) Always track and measure your progress – you should know your margins.
3) Make success your end goal and work backwards.
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[00:54] – Besides being a profitability consulting firm, his business also helps high net worth individuals reduce tax liabilities through land conservation
[01:04] – Thor has been an entrepreneur for 18 years and is active in Entrepreneurs’ Organization
[01:20] – Thor always tries to figure out how to take his game to the next level
[02:37] – His expertise is in execution and profitability
[03:05] – Share something we don’t know about your area of expertise that as Entrepreneurs, we probably should: Most entrepreneurs don’t realize that profitability comes down to their plan, the execution of that plan, or their psychology
[04:17] – One of the organizations Thor worked with had a sales team that had targets set up, but no one was tracking or measuring them
[04:48] – “Hold them accountable. Track and measure”
[05:13] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Thor has bought, sold, and destroyed one business. It was an 8 year process. He didn’t have the necessary margins for the business, so it continued to erode while the manufacturing costs went up. Approaching $1M in net losses, Thor got to the point where he had enough. It was a tough decision because he had a responsibility to his vendors, his employees and their families – and to his customers
[06:30] – Movement changed the game for Thor
[07:23] – The only reason a business goes ‘out of business’ is because it runs out of cash
[08:21] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: He asked himself what made the difference between the people who succeed and people who don’t. He wanted a map, a system that he could follow to success. He was on the train system at the Atlanta Airport and he saw a sign that gave him the formula, which he calls, “The Ultimate Success Map”
- Start with the end goal – figure out what you want for your life
- Come up with an EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE plan
- Make a DECISION
- Ask yourself if you’re really COMMITTED to it
- Most people think that the decision phase is enough, but it’s not
- Have your BELIEF systems identified
- ACTION and ACCOUNTABILITY
- You have to spend TIME to see the actions through
- BAGGAGE CLAIM – collect everything you want
[13:00] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “Right now, it’s our paid accountability groups”
[16:18] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Nothing”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Hell on earth would be to meet the man or woman you could have become”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Micro-commitments”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Pzizz
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – The Power of Failure: Succeeding in the Age of Innovation – “he’s a tremendous entrepreneur, phenomenal!”
[18:49] – “Stop learning, start doing”
[18:54] – “Figure out how to find someone and pay them to make you more accountable”
[18:58] – “Pay yourself first”
[19:11] – Send Thor a 50-word email about the things you struggle with in your business and he will give you a 4-Step Process to eliminate it
Thor Conklin: Absolutely!
John Lee Dumas: Yes! Thor is the founder of Peak Performance Group. His no-nonsense approach uncovers the real truth about what’s holding people and organizations back from realizing their full potential.
Thor, take a minute and fill in some gaps from that intro, as well as giving us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Thor Conklin: Absolutely. Besides being a profitability consulting firm, we also help high-net-worth individuals reduce their tax liabilities through land conservation and the tax credits associated with that. I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last 18 years. I’m very active in the other EO, and that would be Entrepreneurs’ Organization. I actually head up the mentorship program there in a local chapter, which is a lot of fun working with a lot of new startups.
And on a personal note, I’m always trying to figure out how to take my game to the next level. So, last year, I went out to California and trained with some Navy SEALs out in your old backyard, which was really cool. They really, really pushed me beyond what I thought was capable, and I walked away knowing that I could do so much more.
And this year, I’m actually gonna climb 29,029 feet, the equivalent of Mount Everest. We’re renting a mountain in Vermont, and actually gonna do that with Jesse Itzler and Sara Blakely. You may know Sara’s name from the youngest female billionaire, the creator of Spanx.
John Lee Dumas: Spanx.
Thor Conklin: Exactly. So, gonna be doing that with them this fall, and really looking forward to it.
John Lee Dumas: Now, did you say you were renting a mountain?
Thor Conklin: Yes, we’re renting a mountain.
John Lee Dumas: How does that work exactly?
Thor Conklin: Well, Stratton Mountain, we rented it for three days. We’re gonna walk up – you gotta do it 17 times for the equivalent of 29,029 feet – and take the gondola back down.
John Lee Dumas: I was gonna say do you actually walk back down because that’s actually where you’d be ripping on your knees.
Thor Conklin: No, we get the gondola back down. Hoping that there’s some cocktails or something, a little masseuse, in the gondola.
John Lee Dumas: That would be great. So, Thor, you’re good at a lot of things, brother, but what would you say is your area of expertise? What’s the one thing that you excel at?
Thor Conklin: It really comes down to execution and profitability. So many people get tied up in, “What am I doing as far as gross?” and they’re not really making any money. So, it’s really the execution, the profitability, and then really seeing what the real issue is, and what’s getting in the way and preventing them to go into the next level, seeing what they don’t see.
John Lee Dumas: Let’s hone in on profitability because I know that’s a big struggle for entrepreneurs. What’s something that you find, time and time again, entrepreneurs just don’t see that you think they really need to?
Thor Conklin: It either comes down to either their plan, the execution of that plan, or their psychology, and most of the time, unfortunately, it comes down to their psychology. It’s something that they don’t see. It’s someone in their organization that is really a cancer to the organization, or it’s something that’s not working with their process, and they’re just not executing on a daily basis. It’s the small little moves every single day that create extraordinary results, and everyone’s looking for that one big move.
John Lee Dumas: Secrets of the Millionaire Mind is a great book. I actually really got into that because I feel like a lot of people, just like they have a fear of failure, a lot of people subconsciously, Fire Nation, have this fear of success, and they subconsciously block themselves from it, and that book really helped me out a lot. In fact, I had the author on my show as a guest and absolutely rocked the mike. Highly, highly recommend reading that book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.
Now, Thor, let’s just give one specific example because you gave a great overview of something, but I like specifics, so maybe one thing that you’re really seeing in your practice. We don’t need names, but maybe a concrete example of something that you found in your practice that we can maybe learn from.
Thor Conklin: So, this one surrounds accountability, and that’s a big piece of what we do as well. So, this organization had a sales team, and they had targets that they were supposed to be hitting. They had targets of how many people they were supposed to be calling, but no one in the organization, as funny as it sounds, was actually tracking and measuring this. There were goals, but nobody was looking at them. And as soon as we took them from, “Okay, you’re gonna be accountable every single day for doing X, Y, and Z, and doing what you said you were going to do,” results improved immediately. It’s just that last step: hold them accountable – track and measure.
John Lee Dumas: Take the last step, Fire Nation, track and measure. And T. Harv Eker is the author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.
So, Thor, I wanna talk about what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment. I mean, you weren’t always renting mountains with Sara Blakely. You weren’t always rolling around in the sands of San Diego with the SEALs. What’s the worst moment you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur? Tell us that story.
Thor Conklin: Oh, goodness, it has to be I’ve bought, sold, and unfortunately destroyed one business, only one, but it was definitely having to close that business. It was an eight-year process. I didn’t have the margin that was necessary in that business. It continued to erode. Manufacturing costs continued to go up. The cost that I could sell to my customer kept going down and getting to the point where you said, “I have to just cut this off.” I was approaching $1 million in net losses, and I said, “That’s it. I’m not gonna go out with $1 million in the hole. I’m gonna cut it off before I get to that.” So, at $900,000.00 and some change, I decided that I had to close the business and then sell off the assets.
That was a really, really tough decision because I had a responsibility to my vendors. I had responsibilities to my employees, their families, my customers. It was a really devastating period of time because everything up until that point was just success, success, success, and it just always doesn’t work that way. So, that was a really difficult moment.
John Lee Dumas: Two-part question: No. 1, how did you recover from that, like what was the next step you took that started getting you back on that right path? And then, No. 2, just your biggest lesson, your biggest takeaway, from that entire episode in your life.
Thor Conklin: It was about movement. I have a basic belief in life that life happens for me, not to me. So, this event, although it didn’t go exactly the way I wanted it to go, it was a stepping stone in a process that is going to get me to where I ultimately need to go. I always like the saying that, “If you want to make God laugh, just tell her your plans. She may have something else in store for you.”
So, it was about getting up. It was about getting up the next day understanding all the lessons that I learned. And matter of fact, I actually give 52 lessons in my podcast about the things I learned through business that I screwed up.
John Lee Dumas: 52, one for every week of the year, brother.
Thor Conklin: Exactly. Thank god there’s not 70 weeks in a year because there were definitely more lessons than that.
In this particular one, margin matters, if you’re in a business and you’re seeing the erosion of your margins. The only reason a business goes out of business is you are out of cash, period. So, that was one of the biggest lessons, and again, I’ve got 52 of them. I could spend all day telling you.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, know your flipping margins, please. And there’s a great book by Seth Godin called The Dip, and a lot of people just think the dip is all about, “Hey, how do I get through that lull in my business?” and part of the book does talk about that because all businesses go through lulls. Thor was approaching a $1 million deficit lull.
But it’s not about just keeping the course for all time into eternity. It’s about being aware that sometimes – sometimes – you’re just digging a hole, and you’re just getting deeper and deeper and deeper. And luckily, Thor was able to identify that he wasn’t in a dip. He was in a hole, and he was just digging deeper and deeper, and he had to step out of that.
Now, Thor, you’ve had a lot of great ideas, a lot of great aha moments. Take us to one of the greatest ideas that you’ve had to date. Tell us that story.
Thor Conklin: I absolutely love this because it was almost like the sun was shining in, like “Aah, it’s here.” Literally, I had been on a path for probably close to a decade, and I said, “What makes a difference between people that succeed and people that don’t, and when I succeed and when I don’t? I want a map. I want a system. I want something that I can follow.” And of course, I had piece of it, and I literally had it in notes and notebooks for years and years, but I didn’t have all the pieces. I knew there was something else missing.
And literally, I’m on the train system that runs in the Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport, the little train you take between the terminals, and there was the sign on the train. It was posted right there. I was like, “Oh, my goodness. I’ve seen this I-don’t-know-how-many times, and here it is.” So, I call this the Ultimate Success Map, and it gave me a step-by-step formula, in order, to follow in anything that I’m doing, and I’ll share that with you.
So, there’s terminals there, which are baggage claim, T gate, A, B, C, D, E, and F. It’s reversed. You start with F. F is figure out what you want. Figure out what you want for your life, and then make sure that the various components of your life – your health, your fitness, your spirituality, your finances, and your business – all support that overall vision of your life. So often, people plan for their business and don’t see how it fits in their overall vision.
Next, E, come up with an efficient and an effective plan. After you’ve done that step, you’ve got to make a decision. Is this something that I wanna move forward with? And the next step, which is C, am I really committed to it? Now, so often, people confuse these two steps. They think a decision is enough. There’s actually a commitment phase to it.
Years ago, I didn’t like flying that much, and I didn’t like the feeling of dropping in an airplane, so I decided that the only way to do this is face my fear. So, I decided to go skydiving. So, I booked the reservation, I showed up for the appointment, I actually got on the plane, but at this point, I had only decided that I was gonna go through with this. The moment I left the aircraft with the guy strapped on my back, that’s when I was committed. There was no going back. And so often, people think that the decision phase is enough, and it’s not.
The next one is B, and this is your belief systems, and this is what you were talking about earlier. So often, we have these belief systems that we don’t even see that undermine our success. We’ve got to have those identified, and we need people within our lives that can help us find out what those belief systems are and how to change those if they’re not serving us.
Next, action – action and accountability. So often, we start to take action, but we don’t have the proper accountability. So often, you grab an accountability partner, and what ends up happening, about two weeks into the process, instead of holding each other accountable, you’re talking about how nice it is, what the weather is, you’re a great guy, and, “I really don’t wanna hold you accountable because I like you now. You’re my buddy.” So, find true accountability.
The next one, T – time. You’ve got to spend the time to see the actions through, to get to the end result. You’ve gotta track, you’ve gotta measure, and you’ve gotta pivot. If it’s not working, because you’re tracking and measuring it, you can pivot and get back on course. It’s like a plane flying from San Francisco to New York. It’s off track most of the time, but it’s constantly pivoting back on track.
And then, the last one is baggage claim. You get to collect everything that you wanted. Whether it’s health or fitness or money or whatever it is, you’ve gottta spend the time.
And what happens at Atlanta airport happens all the time. Matter of fact, a week ago, I was with my son in the train, and I’m actually doing like a little seminar on the train. I’m like, “There’s the map. There’s the Ultimate Success Map. People…” So, it was hilarious. And I was talking about the T gate. Well, my son gets off at the T gate, not paying attention. He gets off. I’m like, “We’re not at baggage claim yet,” and the doors close, and he’s lost. He got off the train too early. So, it happens all the time with entrepreneurs. Stay the course.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, there are so many takeaways from that. I really hope you hit Rewind 30 Seconds a few times. Listen to that one more time. Pull out the things that maybe you didn’t quite absorb the first time through. I know, for me, I wanna kinda point out and reiterate: Identify your belief systems. That’s something that was so important for me taking my life and my business to the next level was identifying my belief systems, and I continue to do that on a day-to-day basis through meditation, through journaling. It’s so critical. It’s so absolutely key.
And, Thor, you obviously have a lot of things that you’re excited about right now. You’re just a fired-up kind of dude, but what’s the one thing that gets you most excited today, on a business side?
Thor Conklin: Right now is our accountability groups, our paid accountability groups, because I’ve seen such a major shift in people when all you do is just add in some real, raw accountability, where there is no backing out. There is no hiding. We have two rules in our accountability groups. You don’t have to do what you said you were gonna get done this month, this week, if two things arise. One, you died, or two, you’ve been incarcerated for the last 14 days. Other than that, there are no excuses.
John Lee Dumas: I wonder if anybody has purposely incarcerated themselves just so they can own up to that.
Thor Conklin: Not yet. I’ve not heard that excuse yet. But life happens, right? Pets die. Things happen. Illness happens. There’s a lot of things that happen, and a lot of times, it’s too easy to use those as excuses. Do what you say, say what you do.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, value bombs have been dropped. More are coming in the Lightning Round when we get back from thanking our sponsors.
Thor, are you ready to rock the Lightning Round?
Thor Conklin: Absolutely.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Thor Conklin: It’s kind of interesting – really nothing. I actually fell into it. A private equity firm that I was doing business with came to me and said, “Would you like to become an employee” – it was a top-three private equity firm in the world – “or would you like to set up your own company and have us as your No. 1 client?” Ding, ding, easy decision.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Thor Conklin: Hell on earth would be to meet the man or woman you could have become. Do not do that.
John Lee Dumas: Ouch! What is a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Thor Conklin: Micro-commitments. Every day, I set a micro-commitment of what I’m gonna do and I’m not going to do for the next 16 hours. The only reason we don’t keep commitments is because they’re too long. Every day, wake up and decide what you’re gonna do, what you’re not gonna do, and tomorrow, do it all over again.
John Lee Dumas: So, besides this interview, what’s a micro-commitment on the business side you set for today?
Thor Conklin: Right now, I’ve got a call with a client at 3:30 that has to happen, and I’ve gotta spend 20 minutes putting together some new content.
John Lee Dumas: Ooh, 20. Recommend one Internet resource.
Thor Conklin: Pzizz – P-Z-I-Z-Z. It’s an app. It’s a sleep-and-nap app. You put earphones on. You spend 30, 40 minutes. It’s like having two and a half hours worth of sleep. You need your strength, you need your sleep, and you need your energy in order to show up and kick butt.
John Lee Dumas: It’s so true. I actually used that app for a while. I kind of got out of it because I didn’t need it to fall asleep at night anymore because I’ve been going through a really good phase with sleeping over the past year or two years. But I think I need to bring it back for my mid-afternoon lay-back-and-snooze sessions, so I’m glad you brought that up.
Thor, what’s one book you’d recommend? And share why.
Thor Conklin: It is by Fran Tarkenton – yes, the quarterback. I interviewed him about a year ago. It’s called The Power of Failure: Succeeding in the Age of Innovation. He’s a tremendous entrepreneur, phenomenal.
John Lee Dumas: Love Fran. Past EOFire guest as well. Dude is just still cranking it, and you know what? That’s my goal. I want to be that age and still be that focused on providing value. And, Fire Nation, what more can we ask for as entrepreneurs?
So, Thor, let’s end today on fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Thor Conklin: So, I got three real quick. Stop learning, start doing. You already know what to do. Start doing it. Figure out how to find someone and pay them to hold you accountable. And three, pay yourself first.
You can get a hold of me at ThorConklin.com. You can send me an email at Thor@ThorConklin.com. And, John, for your listeners, if anyone’s interested, if they send me a 50-word-or-less email and they tell me the biggest struggle, the biggest issue that they’re having in their business, I will give them a four-step process in order to eliminate it or, at the very least, move it significantly forward.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! What an offer from Thor to you, Fire Nation, because you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with TC and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com. Type “Thor” – that’s T-H-O-R – in the search bar. His Show Notes page will pop right up. These are the best show notes in the biz – timestamps, links galore.
And, of course, head directly over to ThorConklin.com. That’s T-H-O-R-C-O-N-K-L-I-N.com. Email Thor@ThorConklin.com, and keep the email 50 words or less about your biggest struggle. He’s gonna give you a four-step process. Take action, Fire Nation. Stop this interview right now and do just that. Make it happen and get that response.
And, Thor, I wanna thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, brother, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Thor Conklin: Thank you.
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