AUDIO 18. Dan Sceli Podcast
[00:00:00] Dan: culture eats strategy for breakfast every day. So the most important thing as a leader is creating a culture. That everybody believes in that everybody lives too. And that culture is the foundation for building a business and.
[00:00:15] Dan: Because, you always say shit's going to happen. That's what you do about it. What you do about it is the important thing is culture. Is the driver of how you do things
[00:00:24] most business owners and entrepreneurs are secretly sick of hustling, and if you are too, you're in the right place. Welcome to the Hustle Less Profit More podcast with me, Mickey Anderson, where we're revolutionizing success because you should have it all. Business success lasting. Freedom and fulfillment.
[00:00:48] Join me on this quest to uncover the keys to defining and achieving success on our terms so we can all hustle less and profit more.
[00:00:58] [00:01:00] in life. There are people who have massive impact on who we become the way we look at the world, people and where we fit in. In this very special episode, I sat down with someone who has been one of the biggest influences in my life. I learned almost everything I know about leadership. Culture. Business.
[00:01:22] And people from my dad. He is now a retired CEO of multiple large global enterprises. He's taught leadership at prestigious schools across the United States. He's been chairman of multiple boards and he is one of the most charismatic and influential leaders I've ever. I met. I'm so proud to bring this episode to you and hope that you enjoy this conversation with Dan Sceli.
[00:01:48] Mickey: I guess some context to the listeners. The original concept of the podcast was for the two of us to sit down. Um, like a somewhat schedule basis. [00:02:00] To just chat to have an opportunity. For me too. Absorb and learn from all of your experiences over your.
[00:02:10] Mickey: Many years of. Working up the corporate ladder and running big enterprises. However life got in the way. And, And so I just went without you for awhile, but here we are. And I feel super grateful that I get to sit here and chat with you. Top shop. What I'd like to start off with a little bit is for both the listeners and for me to learn a little bit about how you got to where you are, how you worked your way up and.
[00:02:35] Mickey: Kind of made your way through to becoming the CEO of major manufacturing enterprises and teaching all sorts of cool stuff. Like. Give us give us the long story.
[00:02:48] Dan: Long stories, long story. Two minutes. I grew up. In the country. And, uh, Lantana. Work by working for the neighboring ,farms. And I started [00:03:00] shoveling shit at the neighbor firms. .
[00:03:01] Dan: Some days, it feels like I've spent 36 years shoveling shit. Where you learn how to baling hay and work on the furniture, learn what hard work is and then carry it through. But I was playing hockey. Hockey was a big part of my life back then. And then I did, industrial engineering and Fanshawe college.
[00:03:19] Dan: And, then I started a company called the Woodbridge group, which spent 24 years there. Was a great run. I think in the 24 years I was there, we went from one. One plant to 60 some plants around the world. I spent four, almost five years working in Europe. Headquartered in Germany. I'm in an office in England.
[00:03:38] Dan: Um, And had many roles from. Engineering to costume and finance to sales and marketing general management operations. And senior management rules. And in the end, I, when I left, I was a. Ahead of the automotive business in Detroit. And it was great. 24 years. I was very fortunate to have some [00:04:00] wonderful mentors there.
[00:04:01] Dan: Um, and learned an awful lot. , Then I went and joined a company in the spring of 2008. Took over a company called Peterson American corporation. Um, didn't know when I took it over that the economic crisis was going to hit in 2008, nine. Um, and, uh, I mean the first two months I was there, steel prices went up 50% and we converted steel to.
[00:04:25] Dan: Springs and whatnot. For many markets. The business supply 12, 14 different markets from. Automotive appliance, agriculture, heavy equipment racing. And, then in September, Lehman's crashed and we had two years of craziness. But it gave me the opportunity to fix a broken company. Uh, that, uh, needed.
[00:04:48] Dan: Fixing, we got 10 years of changed on, in about a year, which was a lot of fun. And then in 2019, we sold the company. To a private equity on fit. And, uh, [00:05:00] Waste your past the evaluation we were hoping to get. So it was a pretty good deal. And then I was, on the board at Cadillac products.
[00:05:09] Dan: And, the CEO of Cadillac. Came down with cancer. It was a good friend of mine. And, he asked me if I would step in and, and cover him for a short period of time. Which turned into three years. Was great. Three years. I enjoyed it a lot. Um, I think the best part was mentoring.
[00:05:27] Dan: my friend's son who was. Is not what as a brilliant engineer. And a mentor him to take over the company, which he did this year. And, and he's doing a great job. And throw it all that I sat on various boards. There's two boards that represent the automotive industry. Well, we S a N. Uh, MIMA, um, and the MIMA is a broader thing than just automotive, but, uh,
[00:05:52] Dan: , represents the entire supply industry. So I was on those boards, chairman of both of them. And for a short while I was on the [00:06:00] Michigan state. Advisory board. , for their business school, that's where I got my MBA. And now I'm retired. And. Loving life.
[00:06:10] Mickey: You get to stay here until I, with me. Yeah.
[00:06:12] Dan: I'm doing the things I want to do now. So yeah.
[00:06:16] Mickey: Even in just that short introduction. I learned things about you that I didn't know, which I knew was going to happen. Well, like, I didn't know that you had. Had so many varied roles within the company at Woodbridge. I definitely thought you had like a one-shot track.
[00:06:32] Mickey: I didn't know that you, you got to move around and have that experience of learning in those different departments as well.
[00:06:38] Dan: That was the brilliance of. , management there, they give you lots of opportunities to learn and, without the experience at Woodbridge, I would've never. Become a CEO.
[00:06:47] Dan: And of course that with the mentors. I have really good mentors and It made a huge difference.
[00:06:51] Mickey: Well, let's, let's talk about that a little bit, because I think for at least in my experience, finding great mentors is not an easy. [00:07:00] Feet.
[00:07:01] Dan: No. I've given a number of talks on leadership over the years at Michigan state business school at various places.
[00:07:09] Dan: And. One of the themes I like to spend time on is building a personal board of directors for your career and that personal board of directors, should include. , people from various backgrounds, some people in your company, some people out of the company, community, people, whoever it is that you think you can learn from.
[00:07:27] Dan: And, many times in a career there's there's challenges and you can't, go to the water cooler and bitch about things and, expect good outcomes. Uh, having someone to download to on the outside. That can, that doesn't have baggage your bias. Just someone to listen sometimes makes though the difference you need.
[00:07:47] Mickey: You know, and I get it. I definitely been fortunate enough to have some mentors in different areas of my life, especially in sport. That was, that was the first place where I really experienced that. But, but even over the years, I've been really lucky. That'd be accepted. [00:08:00] As you're coming up in the field. I know for myself getting the courage to ask someone or find a way in, like how, what in your experience have you ever had someone come up to you and.
[00:08:11] Mickey: They just gave you either a great pitch or there was a great way for you to realize, like, I need to mentor this person. All right. I want to mentor this person.
[00:08:19] Dan: Oh for sure. I mean, one of the things, another theme I push a lot in my leadership talks is about networking. Whatever industry, whatever market.
[00:08:28] Dan: Uh, whatever community. You're in network, like crazy, because you're going to come across people that can help you. People you can help. And people that you can learn from, and, I had a, A young guy took over a family business. In Michigan and, he'd get, he had heard my cock, uh, leadership talk at,
[00:08:47] Dan: , young leadership council. In Detroit. And he reached out after and said, can I. Use you as my. One of my. Directors of my personal board and was course. So I do stuff like that. [00:09:00] And, yeah, but people should, you should work at it and it's, sometimes it's not formal asking someone. It's just, you just build a relationship.
[00:09:07] Dan: Meet for a coffee and just talk. It doesn't have to be. Organized or formal sometimes the very best inputs you'll ever get. Are informal.
[00:09:17] Mickey: And I think that's a big misconception that I've heard from a lot of people where networking there always has to be an end game or. It's an outcome that you're looking for. And what I found at least for me is the best networking I've ever done had zero agenda.
[00:09:31] Mickey: And it was just about meeting people and seeing who I liked and trying to spend time with
[00:09:36] Dan: absolutely the same in. Even formal, in business, I think some of the best. Outcomes. I got from business relationships. Is when there wasn't a specific agenda item. I mean many clients or customers.
[00:09:49] Dan: I would go and visit them. Without any issues, because you're going to have to go visit when there's issues, whether it's economic issues, whether it's supplies, whatever it happens to be. And those are tough. But [00:10:00] if you're doing that, when there's no issues and building your relationship, it makes it so much easier, so much better.
[00:10:05] Dan: It builds trust.
[00:10:08] Mickey: Well, what if you could pinpoint some of like the big either lessons or learnings that you had from your mentors? Um, but you're either really grateful for that. You learned the hard way, what comes to mind?
[00:10:23] Dan: I'm sure. There's lots. When I go back to this, the leadership traits that I believe in. It was how we built those beliefs. That I, I pulled from my mentors, whether it's, Being humble, right? No matter what situation you're in, you be humble. Be clear and consistent and, be genuine. You.
[00:10:42] Dan: Those are things that. Really make a difference. In a career. And, uh, and relationships and, and of course, honesty, integrity. Right at the top of the list. So I learned all of those by, watching and working with. The mentors I had in my career. [00:11:00]
[00:11:00] Mickey: And, we talk about leadership skills a lot and business in general, but in life also. And sometimes it feels a little bit abstract. It's like you, you recognize that you need to develop these character traits or, lean in to these. Areas of your life, but how they connect. Is so vast and deep that it's really hard to like pinpoint, well, this skill lifted this.
[00:11:24] Mickey: When you're talking to young business owners or entrepreneurs or people just starting their career about developing those leadership skills. What are you teaching them? Or what are the key things that you want them to take away from how these leadership skills can impact their lives and their businesses.
[00:11:42] Mickey: Yeah.
[00:11:43] Dan: I think. When I coach young folks and I'm, I still do it. A lot of it is. Is just how you manage the personal, , challenges of being a leader. So. The gentlemen that I've been working with for the last three years. Taking over as a [00:12:00] CEO. Um, it's a, it's a very, very challenging.
[00:12:03] Dan: Uh, experience, um, both personally and business wise. And, so I spend a lot of time talking about. Managing your emotions managing. The things you can control. And don't let the things you can't control drive your day. Drive your emotions. Because there's always going to be a lot of things that you cannot control the business.
[00:12:24] Dan: You mean? You see it in. You know the economy today, whether it's inflation or COVID. Uh, policies or volumes of business or labor shortages. And, and I mean, the list is it's quite a long list. Energy costs, freight costs. Um, so much of that is, is not controllable by any. A business leader. It's what you do about it.
[00:12:47] Dan: And then, , behind all of that. It's how you do it, how you do it is so important. That is one of the things about being a leader in a company is. Everybody's watching you. I mean, you can't go get a cup of coffee. Without everybody [00:13:00] watching, What's your move. What are you saying? Who you talking to? Uh, so you have to be cognizant of that and, and to, another trait that I believe in is optimism. I mean, it's the most contagious thing in.
[00:13:11] Dan: In a businesses. as a leader, no matter what's going on. No, you have to be optimistic. Because people will follow your lead. If you walk around. , grumping and groaning and, and a bitch and a boat. Things, everybody else is going to do the same. And that mood. Show up at your customers.
[00:13:28] Dan: And you can't let, let that happen. You have to be. Managing that whole emotional thing. And then your personal life. Being a leader. Uh, whether it's a CEO or a senior leader in a business. Your personal life, many times. He gets a. Put down to second place or third place. And, uh, you have to work hard at finding balance in that that's something I pushed a lot, in my, the company's Iran.
[00:13:52] Dan: Pushing down to everybody to make sure that they have balance in their lives, because there's going to be times when, when shit happens, is it [00:14:00] dose. And, uh, you're going to need them to, pile on the, the hours. But when it's not give them time, you. If their kids have a baseball game, go to the baseball game or the soccer game or whatever it is.
[00:14:12] Dan: Because there will be times when they can't and you better give them when they can. So a. Balance of life. So,
[00:14:20] Mickey: yeah. A lot of people see work-life balance as like this. Static thing where it's like, it's always the same. I always have this many hours of work and this much time of free time, but I think that's.
[00:14:29] Mickey: Um, it's not true.
[00:14:31] Dan: No, no. It's up and down, depending on what's going on. Right. And, you better take advantage of it when it's in your favor and know that there's going to be times when it's not. And you need to, whoever your partner is, your spouse, your partner, your friend, whoever your life is with, uh, communication.
[00:14:48] Dan: And make sure they know what you're, what you're doing, what you're going through. Cause they're the ones that at the end. I have to put up with it and deal with it. And then when, as your career as mine [00:15:00] has. When I retired now. Um, Yeah. They're the one that you're going to be with.
[00:15:07] Dan: Yeah, whoever that partner is and,
[00:15:09] Dan: It's very important. So yeah. And you've noticed I haven't talked to tall about. Learn how to read a balance sheet or a financial statement or. And I learned how to read an engineering drawing, or learn how to. Whatever. Those things are all important, but as a leader,
[00:15:23] Dan: You're mostly building a team around you that can fill those gaps. So another thing you need to know is what you're good at. And what you're not good at and build a team that fills the gaps. You don't want all eight type people. You don't want all people. Yes. People. Whenever you're building a team of any kind.
[00:15:39] Dan: Small business, big business, whatever it is. And it's different than building a hockey team. Right. You have to have some people that are the grinders in the corners. You have to have some good defense men. You have to have some goals, scores. And you better have a Goldie and, building a business team is exactly the same thing
[00:15:56] Dan: and, focus, focus hard on what you do [00:16:00] well, But have other people pick up where you don't. So, so that's some of the general stuff I. I tell, uh, I tell people that I'm coaching and, uh, people that have worked for me. And, I've had people follow me through my career. So I think, and I think it works. I think people enjoy that type of environment work environment.
[00:16:21] Dan: Um, you know, my, my buddy Don, right? He. I think we've worked together 32. Years, maybe. And he was with me at Woodbridge sheet. Went to Peterson with me. And in that he came to Cadillac with me. He very smart, very successful sales and marketing executive. I think he enjoyed and blossomed in the environment where he knows it.
[00:16:42] Dan: Here's what I need and what I expect to go. I'm not going to micromanage. I'm not going to. You know, and you see, you find those. Those people that uh, can work in that environment. And.
[00:16:53] Mickey: Yeah. When it comes to leadership, a lot of times we focus our conversations or focus the topic on how we lead others. [00:17:00] Right.
[00:17:00] Mickey: How we're driving others to take action and do the things we need them to do. But I think a huge component of leadership is really self-leadership it's knowing and managing yourself. Oh, absolutely. Your own life because people just learn through watching.
[00:17:12] Dan: Most of them, they do absolutely. And I mean, I've never believed in micromanaging.
[00:17:17] Dan: But you'd better. Your people better know that. That if you need to, you can jump in and help. You can roll up your sleeves. If, if sales needs help, if engineering needs help, if the shop floor needs help. You're able to jump in and roll up your sleeves if it's needed. Um, but the most important thing is in fact,
[00:17:34] Dan: Not to set, what I really find important is setting the longer-term goals. You said you'd do a strategic plan. Here's what we want to be in five years. Here's the goalposts at each year. Go. I'm not going to tell them what to do next week or next month. They know what we're trying to achieve with that goalpost is.
[00:17:55] Dan: And, my job is to set the cadence of how fast we go, how fast we push. It's one, one thing [00:18:00] that I learned. Um, is don't set too many goals. I've seen situations where people would set, 30 goals. And they would do 15 of them. Half-assed. And 15 that never get to.
[00:18:12] Dan: You gotta be very, very careful setting goals for a company. Set four or five main goals and let people go. And then as you work down in the company and there's more and bigger teams, you can break that into, nuanced elements to support it. But. That's more of the advice I give my a.
[00:18:31] Dan: The guys I work with and gals and work with it. And are you. You can't set crazy expectations and expect results.
[00:18:39] Mickey: Yeah, there's. A gentleman, Ryan Deiss has a good quote about that and he says, don't build half built bridges. You really just need to build one really strong bridge and then just keep building bridges after it. But a whole bunch of half they'll purchase, don't take you anywhere.
[00:18:51] Dan: You make me think about the foundation of success. And it's culture. I mean culture eats strategy for breakfast every [00:19:00] day. So the most important thing as a leader is creating a culture. That everybody believes in that everybody lives too. And that culture is the foundation for building a business and.
[00:19:12] Dan: Because, as I said, you know, stuff's going to happen. You always say shit's going to happen. That's what you do about it. What you do about it is the important thing is culture. Is the driver of how you do things and, you gotta be, uh, creating a culture where people want to come to work.
[00:19:27] Dan: They enjoy it. , they're driven and focused. Um, but along with that, there's a bunch of, guard rails on how you treat each other. Right. We don't allow. People treating each other poorly, for instance, You have a culture of integrity, hard work, discipline, excellence and all the things that also, there's some context to that. I think that's needed.
[00:19:50] Dan: Companies don't need to be. Professional level experts at everything they do. Every company needs to figure out. You know what it is, they do, how they make money. [00:20:00] And, they need to be. Whether you've got professional league, you got AAA. You've got minor leaks and house leak. You need to have a successful business, know what elements of your business need to be at the professional level?
[00:20:13] Dan: You need to know what elements it's okay to be at the AAA level, but also know which ones. It doesn't matter that. They can be my, house league or minor. Uh, league and it's okay. You can't be. An expert in everything. That's what, back to the point of, of, don't set too many goals.
[00:20:31] Dan: Don't set too many expectations that will ruin them. All right. You think about various companies like apple. At the professional level, they have the most creative products. And, um, but operationally. They outsource everything. They don't need to be professional at making stuff. They figuring out there's experts out there. They can do that.
[00:20:53] Dan: But we've got to focus on making sure we continue a stream of creative products that the market wants.
[00:20:59] Mickey: When [00:21:00] you're starting to develop a team or starting even just a business and it's just, you. A lot of times we kind of forget about culture because we assume, oh, well, I'll figure it out. When I get a team.
[00:21:11] Mickey: But I think it's important that we understand what our mission or our values are because that directly influences our culture. As a leader, how do you start to develop or build culture?
[00:21:26] Dan: I think it goes back to your personal beliefs, right? You have, you have a personal belief system? Of how you want to operate your life. And, and operating a business is just an extension to that. And, you believe in, in.
[00:21:41] Dan: Um, integrity. We believe in being genuine. Humble. Clear communication. All the traits that, that, that. Make you a good leader. They're just extensions from your life. Right. Because if you're, if you're not. Honest and genuine if you're at one of the, if you're. Trying to be somebody or not. [00:22:00]
[00:22:00] Dan: In your personal life. And you're likely going to have a problem in your work life because you ended up doing the same thing. And it doesn't work. And, so to me it there's, there's no difference between your personal character. And the culture that you drive in a company.
[00:22:14] Mickey: Is it possible to have like a healthy, strong culture with people who have different beliefs?
[00:22:20] Dan: Absolutely. You can set, but , To me, the culture. It's the core beliefs. Like, I think you can be from different backgrounds because that's certainly one of the things I learned in my life is that, in today's workforce, you're going to have a lot of diversity. Diversity in backgrounds and languages and experiences and culture in education. And you have to know how to operate within that. And.
[00:22:46] Dan: Be able to motivate, build a team. Set direction, deal with issues because there's always issues. And, uh, and that's one of the biggest fallacies when young people get into management. Right. And the only [00:23:00] reason there is management because there's problems. No seriously. Right. If, if there weren't problems, you wouldn't need management.
[00:23:05] Dan: Oh, I love that. It's true. I mean, shit's going to happen all the time. It's how you deal with it. And that's, you have to keep reminding some of the guys that, that have worked for me over the years. And some of the people I've mentored that. Just get it through your head. Shit's going to happen. Yeah.
[00:23:19] Dan: Yeah, it's what you do about it. And then what you do after. So you have an issue come up with the crisis, whatever it is. And you, you need to handle it in a certain way and you do. But then you need to step back and say, okay. Um, is there anything we can do? If it's a controllable or not, sometimes you're not controlled, but if it's controllable,
[00:23:39] Dan: What can we do to ensure that issue doesn't repeat, that's hugely important to, because again, stuff's going to happen. And, You gotta deal with it. The debrief. Yeah. After action report, right. Um, No. For most commonplace, we would do those. If there was a safety incident in a factory. And they're always, they happen no matter how [00:24:00] diligent you can be. In your safety protocols and a plant. Human nature seems to step in and, anytime you got people involved, It can happen and, so anytime we had a safety issue in a plant, we would always circle back and say, all right. Understand exactly what happened, why it happened, what we can do to make sure it doesn't happen again.
[00:24:19] Dan: And then we would communicate that out to all the other factories so they could see. Oh, okay. So things like that. And I mentioned human nature to me, that is the most. Fundamental. Management issue. For leadership. It's human nature is so consistent and so repetitive. Him. I mean, For 5,000 years, human nature has been pretty.
[00:24:43] Dan: Pretty consistent. And so as a senior leader, you're always managing human nature. And, in my travels around the world, whether I was in a factory or in a bank or a customer or a supplier or. Whatever it was. Human nature repeats itself around the world. It [00:25:00] doesn't matter what culture or race or country human nature is prevalent. And, that's what we manage.
[00:25:05] Mickey: So what can leaders and management do actively to understand and mitigate challenges with human nature?
[00:25:15] Dan: Mitigate. I think, there's two paths here. One is, If you work hard at creating a work environment and a culture. It. Mitigates quite often the human nature issues that can come up and bite you. Cause you're creating an environment where, I want to say controls it cause it's not a control. It's, it's just a.
[00:25:37] Dan: Uh, way of living, so to speak. The other thing is, be a student of it. You must as a leader. Continually. Uh, hone your skills at understanding human nature under. You got to know when you're managing people, which person needs the arm around the shoulder? No.
[00:25:53] Dan: Quiet talk versus the person that actually responds to a kick in the ass. There are two different people. That's it too. [00:26:00] And you need to and everything in between, right? So be a student of human nature and use it to your advantage to, Get the outcomes you want.
[00:26:08] Mickey: Yeah. There was a great quote that this reminds me of is it's managed the people, not the outcomes. It's like, you have to know your team, know what's going to make them thrive and then trust them enough, set up guardrails as you imagined, but trust them enough to do the job. And as long as you're taking care of the person, the outcome usually takes care of itself.
[00:26:26] Dan: It does. If you have the right culture,
[00:26:28] Dan: If you've set the goals that are clearly understood by everybody. What you'll find is that there's going to be this path that people we've. Uh, down to get to those goals. And you may have taken a different path, a straighter line of more crooked line, whatever it is. But as long as people are within the guidelines or the boundaries.
[00:26:50] Dan: That you've set both, from a culture perspective, from a operating perspective. And people will also feel in that environment, more [00:27:00] ownership. Too, and that pays off huge dividends. When people feel engaged and part of the, uh, part of the team and own it and. When you get the outcomes, it's a whole lot better.
[00:27:13] Dan: Yeah. Yeah. Because a leader, a CEO of a company. We don't do anything. Oh, no, seriously, all the achievements are from the team and. So you celebrate you cheerlead, you coach. , because they're the ones actually doing the work and achieving the outcomes. And all you're doing is shepherding them along and saying,
[00:27:33] Dan: Here's here's where we want to go. Here's how we do it on the way, that the real. Crunch. I mean in our business where we're industrial manufacturers. We're just overhead. The plants make the money. They make the parts. They make the money. We're just overhead.
[00:27:51] Mickey: You talked about how, what bridge, for example, went from having one plant to 60 plus plants around the world.
[00:27:57] Mickey: In, I mean, it feels like a relatively [00:28:00] short period of time.
[00:28:00] Dan: It's fantastic growth. It was, it was a. Yeah, it was fantastic. Growth led by some really smart people. Um, and, uh, Yeah, highly successful.
[00:28:12] Mickey: So how can we replicate that. How did businesses grow and become successful? What are the key
[00:28:18] Dan: things,
[00:28:18] Dan: I think, yeah, I think. Yeah. It's a real middle. It's the reality is that, For Woodbridge. And there was a lot of examples of this, in the world. And specifically there was a bunch of examples of it in automotive. , The stars aligned. And the late. Seventies, early eighties, where there was a transformational change in the car companies where, you know, up until then, everything that went into a car was built.
[00:28:46] Dan: In the car companies, plants. And they started because at that point, labor costs were rising fast. , and they decided to begin an outsourcing program and a number of components [00:29:00] from interior seats and interior trim to some powertrain stuff and various, components within the vehicle. Car companies started to outsource it to suppliers who could, have labor costs, half of what theirs were.
[00:29:14] Dan: Woodbridge happened to find itself In that timing where there was some opportunities to grow dramatically. And they didn't, it took advantage of it and did it very well. and that blossomed around the world. And, of course they went on to expand into. Additional product lines within this chemical conversion world, they were converting polyurethanes into various products and,
[00:29:38] Dan: So the stars want, it's very important, it's. If you want to grow a business, you have to also find a place where the opportunity for growth exists. Like a soil, essentially. Yeah. At the end of the day, we were fortunate with Woodbridge that, the environment was there. The right people to take advantage of that environment. And, it's become a [00:30:00] wonderful business.
[00:30:01] Mickey: Yeah. So for. A startup who is looking to build a fast growing team. But not. Not like quick and burned. They're looking for a long-term company. Something that they can build a legacy.
[00:30:16] Mickey: When we're looking at the environment, what are the key things we should be looking at when we're starting a business to make sure that we're set for success?
[00:30:22] Dan: Woodbridge for a second. One of the reasons Woodbridge succeeded was because the underlying culture was for a longterm business. They weren't looking for you.
[00:30:31] Dan: Quick returns and get out. They were looking to build a long lifetime business. So you know, you gotta start with the right. The right culture, the right mindset. If you're going to go into a business. No while you're doing. Are you doing it to build a lifetime business or are you doing it for.
[00:30:48] Dan: Build something up, sell in two years. Excellent five years. Cause there's a lot of that happens out there. But no, while you're doing it. And, Be honest with yourself.
[00:30:58] Dan: Yeah.
[00:30:59] Mickey: [00:31:00] When we see an opportunity arise for rapid growth. So for example, a lot of businesses had the I don't mean to sound insensitive at COVID became an opportunity for a lot of businesses to thrive. A lot, obviously suffered from it for there's specific businesses and industries that really were just opened up to a whole new level of growth because of COVID-19 and all of the dramatic changes across the globe.
[00:31:26] Mickey: What can these companies do all of a sudden the stars align? What can they do to ensure that they're able to jump on that?
[00:31:35] Dan: You've got to know your business. I mean, the most important thing about. Being successful is you better know. What does he do that makes money. Right. What's your business model. You got to know how, how in your business you actually make money. And focus like crazy on that, because, if you get distracted and try and do too many other things and you lose focus on what actually makes the business work, what makes the business. [00:32:00]
[00:32:00] Dan: Make money. You can lose control quickly. And that happens way too often. And, but know what business you're in and why you're doing it and how you make money. Whether it's in wellness or health care, whether it's in manufacturing, whether it's a service business. whatever it is, you'd better understand what business you're in and how it works.
[00:32:21] Dan: And focus on that. Cause you know, we've talked before about, time is money. Just working hard. Isn't going to make a business succeed. You have to work hard. At the smart things, the things that make a difference. No, which things make a difference. And the ones that don't.
[00:32:38] Dan: Don't waste your time on, I mean, it's back to this, professional league, triple a minor league house league. No, which ones you need to be professional app. And know which ones are hosted and don't matter. And. Don't waste your time on it. Yeah. One
[00:32:53] Mickey: question I have related to this is when we think of understanding the thing that makes us money in our business, you see a lot of businesses who do that and [00:33:00] they focus on one thing.
[00:33:01] Mickey: And then all of a sudden something happens. Not one thing is that they're no longer in demand are no longer possible to deliver. The old buggy whip. Yeah. How do we ensure that we have diversified revenue, that we have a stable company. If. If that one thing that makes us money, all of a sudden it goes away.
[00:33:16] Dan: Yeah, you got to pay attention to, the business you're in, what's driving the future. So you think about the automotive business today and this push for electric vehicles. So for the last hundred years, there's been all kinds of companies. Making engine components and transmission components and,
[00:33:32] Dan: Down the road. They're not going to be part of the automotive industry at some point. There's a, they've got time right now, but they'd better be thinking about all right. If the drive trains are going to be electric or hydrogen. How can I convert? The things I know how to do. To that place, to that market.
[00:33:51] Dan: And, you got to know. Your markets well enough to know when you know, I've got maybe two years of this product. I better come up with another one. Yeah.
[00:33:58] Dan: It's sometimes [00:34:00] tricky to do. Depending on what you're doing for a living, but, you think about the world today and the demographics. The boomer generation from a percentage of total population is the biggest of the bunch of boomers. Zoomers millennials. Generation X, et cetera.
[00:34:15] Dan: It's it's almost a pyramid going down in terms of volume. So all of a sudden you've got this massive population of boomers. Heading into retirement. So you think, okay, where's the opportunity in that? What's what services, what products does that bloomer? Population need. And drive to where the markets are.
[00:34:36] Dan: You gotta figure those things out. And, if you're in, for instance, appliance, you can see what's happening in the appliance world. Becoming more and more computerized. You know what your fridge keeps your inventory for? And, talks to you and ,
[00:34:48] Dan: But so you can look at any industry. And as I mentioned, , the boomers and, how that would, if you're in an in-service healthcare services, I mean, there's going to be a huge bunch of people around the world, not just here [00:35:00] in Canada, in the us.
[00:35:01] Dan: In industrial markets, whether I say appliance, you talked about agriculture, we're into massive farms now. And they're talking about autonomous tractors and. There's a lot more of them for, to farming than just, driving a tractor. so there's all kinds of opportunities too.
[00:35:17] Dan: Um, allow industries to improve. Uh, so depending on which one you're in. No, your markets, your customers. And, Prioritize.
[00:35:26] Mickey: Well, it sounds like. And I'm a sum up and then you can correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like having almost an ultra long-term perspective. Looking for problems.
[00:35:36] Mickey: That can turn into opportunities. And then. Leveraging what you love doing what you're really good at. To try and find solutions and create opportunities out of those.
[00:35:47] Dan: Yeah, absolutely. Yup. And being in, in, uh, throughout the whole thing. Be true to yourself. Right live to your character. Traits that you believe in.
[00:35:57] Dan: And, uh, build on those and.[00:36:00] It makes life a whole lot easier.
[00:36:03] Mickey: You know, Um, as your daughter.
[00:36:08] Mickey: Uh, study almost, um, over the years, there are a few things that I've noticed that I I'm both grateful that I noticed and learned from you, but also really curious about. Um, because like you and mom. Didn't come from. Hugely successful wild, rich families and have, all sorts of wealth and fame.
[00:36:28] Mickey: You guys have worked really hard from the ground up and built. Not just your life, but our lives too. And build a legacy around that. And I'd love to know. Selfishly. Um, what were the key things that you did to stay on the right track? As well as. Secure your financial health and over the years,
[00:36:53] Dan: I wish there was a, a.
[00:36:56] Dan: An answer that said I had this great plan. And I [00:37:00] stuck to this plan. I never had a plan. I just worked hard and I mean, That's the one thing that I think your mom and I took away from our upbringing. It was just work hard, whatever it is, you're doing work hard. And then we learned along the way.
[00:37:15] Dan: Obviously we had parents that, that taught us, to be good people to have strong characters. , once we got working here, Mom and in healthcare and meaning industrial manufacturing. We had mentors that taught us along the way, all the things that we needed.
[00:37:31] Dan: It was kind of a work in progress. There was never a big plan. I mean, we always had dreams and aspirations of. Someday we would like to. Do this or live here and live there. I mean when the European opportunity came up, we were 32 years old and asked to move to Europe.
[00:37:47] Dan: We didn't know what we were doing, right? No, seriously at that. I mean, when we got married at 22 and had, had you. We were no more prepared to be parents than. Prepared to be professional baseball players. Right. [00:38:00] Um, Oh, your mother more so on the baseball. Um, Yeah. W there was no grand plan. It was really simply about the basics of.
[00:38:11] Dan: Hard work, integrity and character. And be fearless. I mean, that's one of the things I think that. That made a difference for us in a lot of that, your mother coached me into, when opportunities would come, it's like, yeah, let's do it. What the heck? If all fails, we still have each other.
[00:38:27] Dan: Yeah. So there was a, a lack of fear of trying new and different things. And, every opportunity I got to try a new job with, whether it be a bad Woodbridge, whether it was many different jobs, I did. Or jump and try and run a company like Peterson American. It was just be courageous.
[00:38:47] Dan: Right. Yeah. If it fails, it fails. Who cares? But just keep trying. Yeah. And, we were fortunate that, we progressed and, and Opportunities came that allowed us to get where we are.
[00:38:59] Mickey: One of the [00:39:00] things that I noticed. At over the years, but I think now in reflecting upon it, that kind of stuff stands out for me is the fact that you guys were never afraid to both understand and admit your shortcomings and seek out other people to help you in those places.
[00:39:14] Dan: Absolutely. That was certainly, for me. Um, the mentors I had at Woodbridge. They teach you that, right? They were very lucky to have the mentors I had that. Be humble. I don't know what you're good at. Know what? You're not good at. Get help. It pays off.
[00:39:31] Mickey: Yeah. If you kids. Give like a pep talk. To a group of entrepreneurs, startups who are solo operators, they're there on their own. They're starting a business, they're taking a risk. They're jumping in and trying to build something from the ground up. Maybe they're managing another job on the side or they've taken a big risk and are
[00:39:52] Mickey: doing thing. What is one piece of advice or one thing you would want to tell them as [00:40:00] they take steps forward into this kind of leadership journey?
[00:40:03] Dan: Important one thing. Yeah. I'll
[00:40:06] Mickey: answer this with a list, but I always say one thing.
[00:40:08] Dan: Yeah, I'll try it on. I'll come up with the, let me think of what the one thing that if I only got one thing, that I could pass on.
[00:40:16] Dan: Courage. Just. Be courageous and, Courage. Isn't the absence of fear. Courage is having the fear and settling up anyway. Right. Because we all have fierce. I mean, throughout my career, there's lots of times I would get into something. Like when I, my first CEO job taking over Peterson, American.
[00:40:34] Dan: I had no clue what it was like to be a CEO. Now I watched the CEO, Woodbridge, the guy I worked for for most of my career. You learn by osmosis, I guess, but. I was terrified, especially when I get there and the economy falls apart. Right. In 2008, 2009. If there was nights where I'd be lying, awake, looking at the ceiling, thinking I made a huge mistake.
[00:40:56] Dan: Looking back now. It was the best thing that happened to me. I learned. [00:41:00] I learned an awful lot. So if I would, if I had a list of gift people, other than one being, having courage. It's back to the whole character thing. Live your life and your work with character. Always learn. You can learn every day. I'm still learning every day. And so.
[00:41:16] Dan: You know, don't be afraid to learn. And, be optimistic, be courageous, be. I'm humble. Um, clear communication. Um, Yeah.
[00:41:26] Mickey: It's funny because when I think of. You and, and mom kind of watching you both over the course of the years. One of the things I noticed was even when stuff got Rocky or rough, like.
[00:41:40] Mickey: You always had a personal sense of assurance, maybe that like, even if it all fell apart, like, We're going to be okay. With we've got each other. We're good. People we'll figure it out. It was like a grit underneath it all. It's like, even if they strip everything away from us, We can still write. We're still going to be okay.
[00:41:57] Mickey: And I think like if I learned anything, it was as I was being [00:42:00] courageous or taking risks or facing failure or coming out of failure, it was like, no, that even if it all gets taken away, like I can still figure it out and start over or do what
[00:42:09] Dan: I gotta do. Absolutely. You reinvent yourself many times in your life.
[00:42:14] Dan: Because of the bumps in the road or the roadblocks or the failures. Cause. Back to human nature. We're all human. We all have our shortcomings. Everyone. And. It's focusing on what you can do and what your strengths are. Don't get hung up on your shortcomings. Yes, everybody has.
[00:42:32] Dan: And I think. We learned from our parents. We learned from the people we worked with. And you learn as much. In your career, you learn as much from the people that do it well, and you, you want to emulate as you do from the people that don't do it well, and you go.
[00:42:45] Dan: I don't want to do that. I don't want to be that I don't want to, live that it's, um, There's just as many examples of the negative. Is there a positive. But you got to drive towards the positive.
[00:42:57] Mickey: I love it. To add towards [00:43:00] the positive. There's a great quote and it was like, optimism is a force multiplier. And I think about that a lot, both in my life.
[00:43:07] Mickey: And the people that I'm with, when you can leverage optimism to get people moving and rolling. It can absolutely strengthen whatever it is you're doing.
[00:43:16] Dan: Absolutely. I mentioned that earlier in the talk about. Optimism is the most contagious thing and, and. I don't remember. I think it was 1981 or was it 91, 1 of the recessions and the chairman and owner of Woodbridge.
[00:43:29] Dan: The company was struggling and in trouble, like every company during every session. And. Unless young fellows, we didn't know what, because he would be continuing or CEO or they would continue. To be positive and optimistic and like we have we'll get through, You almost felt like they insulated us from the trouble with their optimism.
[00:43:50] Dan: And it worked, we weren't as stressed. I'm sure they were. So I've taken that forward through my career boat. And also when in 2008 and nine, when the [00:44:00] big recession hit, every day I show up at work, it's gotta be positive. Because I didn't want my team coming in terrified. I want them focused. We're focusing on the things we can control.
[00:44:11] Dan: And driving our plan and, I don't want them lying awake at night worrying if their jobs are tomorrow. Yeah. That's on me.
[00:44:18] Mickey: You make different decisions when you're scared, when you feel at risk compared to when you're optimistic and you have trust, right? The decisions you make in your everyday life will absolutely significantly change depending on those two perspectives, of course. And so I think if you want to make the best possible decisions that you got to try and force yourself and push yourself into that optimism and trusting side.
[00:44:42] Mickey: Because otherwise you're going to make short-term rapid, emotionally driven decisions in everything you do.
[00:44:49] Dan: Yeah, I use the 24 hour rule. That's something your mom taught me. Does that mean to, big decisions? For her teaching me, it was more about purchasing stuff and anything over this value of take 24 hours.[00:45:00]
[00:45:00] Dan: But it can apply to your business world as well. And there's times when you're forced into making quick decisions in business. But when you don't have to. Put the emotions aside, come back the next day or two days later and look at it again and, see if you come to the same conclusion.
[00:45:16] Dan: And often you don't. The patient, patients, patients is, is huge. If you have that privilege, some businesses, you don't have the privilege of patients and. You gotta go with your gut sometimes and.
[00:45:29] Mickey: Yeah, that's one thing I'm really grateful in studying negotiations and going to school for paralegal was we learned a lot about deadlines. And how most of them are arbitrary. , some are really important. Yes. But the majority of deadlines you're set are arbitrary. And so you can, you can kind of use that to your advantage and not don't take every deadline for a life or death scenario. Take your time. If you can, whenever you can.
[00:45:54] Mickey: I don't put unnecessary stress on a deadline that someone just made up in their head.
[00:45:57] Dan: Although I've got to tell ya sometimes I'm I [00:46:00] feel I do better. And I'm on a deadline and it's stress, For every board meeting, I would write an executive report to get to the board ahead of time. So they, in two or three pages, they would know.
[00:46:10] Dan: Everything they needed to know coming into the meeting. And I would always wait till the day I wanted to send it out to write it because I always felt that I did my best when I if I took two weeks and a little bit at a time and worked away at it. The product wasn't as good as if I come in in the morning.
[00:46:27] Dan: Block or an hour, right? The thing nonstop. It's a much better product. That was just me, some people. Or better the other way.
[00:46:35] Mickey: I definitely do that a lot with things. I leave it. I find I'm really focused and I don't let fluff get into anything. Like I'm much more clear and concise. Exactly one plate when I write things like that, I, I am so the same way. It's so true. It depends on the thing, but a lot of my writing is done.
[00:46:54] Mickey: Right when it needs to be.
[00:46:55] Dan: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
[00:46:57] Mickey: Thank you for coming and sharing a drink and chatting with me [00:47:00] today. We, uh, we're going to do a series of these because they're just awesome. And I want to learn as much as I can from you. Yeah. Now that you're off and you can hang out with me.
[00:47:08] Mickey: Absolutely. we'll definitely dig in more. Uh, in another episode suit. Thank you.
[00:47:13] Dan: Perfect. Well, thank you. I enjoy it. And, uh, it's always good to, that's the stages of life. You're going through your career and when you get to retirement, it's no longer about what can I do? What can I learn? What can I accomplish as to all right, what can I share? All right, what can I pass on? How can I help others?
[00:47:31] Mickey: Yeah. I'm gonna soak it up and use it as much as I can. Perfect.
[00:47:35] Dan: Thank you.