Brendan Keegan | How to Lead a Team of Thousands

Show Notes

The CEO of Merchants Fleet shares about how he leads his thousands of employees on a daily basis, the importance of having an agenda for all meetings, how he organizes his day, why all action items need to be delegated to specific people and must be assigned specific to-do dates.


  1. Brendan is a six-time, transformational President & CEO of companies ranging from 500 to over 10,000 employees located in nearly 150 countries in the technology and financial services sectors. 
  2. Brendan also served as the Fortune 100’s youngest Chief Sales Officer for EDS, a $22-billion technology industry leader. 
  3. He has trained over 250,000 leaders, led nearly 50,000 employees, and driven sales of over $100 billion.
  4. As an award-winning executive, Brendan was named a Distinguished Fellow by Dartmouth College, a Fast50 Executive by FastCompany, a successful entrepreneur by Enterprise Bank, a US Business Delegate to Africa, Best-of-the-Best CEOs by Incentive, 100 Fastest Growing Companies by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Business of the Year by NH Business Journal, Top 10 Coach of the Year by USA Football, and Volunteer of the Year & Youth Coach of the Year locally for his commitment to community service.


    1. Yes, yes, yes and yes! Thrivetime Nation on today’s show we are interviewing Brendan Keegan, who is the award-winning CEO of the Nation’s Fastest Growing Fleet Management Company!
      1. If there is any truck or car with a logo on it, it’s probably a part of a fleet.
        1. FedEx
        2. Amazon
      2. They’re 60 million cars being sold and 20% of those cars are a part of a fleet.
      3. We have 500 employees here at the company.
      4. I have managed large companies up to 120,000 employees
      5. I have been able to work with startups and massive companies.
    2. Brendan, I know that you’ve had a ton of success at this point in your career, but I would love to start off at the bottom and the very beginning of your career. What was your life like growing up and where did you grow up?
      1. I grew up in a town 45 miles north of Boston as the youngest of 4
      2. My dad was a physicist.
      3. My mom was a volunteer art teacher
      4. I grew up simply in a 1,200 square foot house
      5. We were wildly successful and had everything we could want.
    3. When did you first figure out what you wanted to do professionally?
      1. In third grade, I figured out what I wanted to do.
      2. At football practice, the coach asked someone to lead. I found myself enjoying leading and telling everyone “we can go faster”. I found that my passion would be leadership.
      3. I had no idea what my career would be but I knew I enjoyed leading people.
    4. When did you first feel like you were truly beginning to gain traction with your career?
      1. My first interview for my professional job, was at a place where I carried beef for a half a day (From 4:00 am to 4:00 pm)
      2. I was talking to these massive companies (J.P. Morgan) and I only had “Labor” on my resume. I found that I learned so much from that physical labor job.
      3. I went to school for engineering and started with a company known as the Former Ross Perot company.
      4. I did programming and eventually moved over to sales.
      5. Sales to me was less about selling and more about listening and solving problems.
      6. Right before my 30th birthday, I became the companies chief sales officer.
      7. That was late 1999 when the internet boom was going on.
      8. When the internet bust happened, I got my first opportunity to be a CEO.
      9. I was able to go in, save it, and sold it successfully.
      10. Little did I know that my career would be turning around companies for years to come.
      11. I was able to run a company that was working with merchants fleet.
        1. CEO Seat
          1. The average week I am in the office 4 days a week and on the road the rest of the time.
          2. In the office we have a 55,000 square foot office where I sit in the direct middle of.
          3. 50% of my role is making sure 2019 is great
          4. 50% of my role is planning out 2020
        2. Company
          1. Netagy
            1. Voice over internet protocol
            2. Long distance calls on the internet
            3. We worked with CISCO
      12. We were a client of theirs, then I became a board member, and eventually became their CEO.
      13. We have been able to raise over 2 Billion of capital and that is something you do as a CEO
    5. I know that you are a serial entrepreneur who has experienced massive success and super low points…walk us through the lowest point of your career and what you learned from it?


  • Brendan has raised nearly $2 billion in capital and returned over $4 billion to investors, walk us through the process of raising money? 


  1. How have you been able to provide such incredible returns to your investors?
  2. How do you lead your meetings?
    1. Organization
      1. I demand that there is an agenda. Weather it’s an open agenda or not, we have to have some sort of agenda.
      2. When you assemble the agenda before hand, you wind up with the right people in the meeting when you get there.
      3. You have to go over the Action items
        1. What is it?
        2. Who owns it?
        3. When is it due?
      4. You have to capture the action RIGHT THERE
        1. This creates accountability
        2. It helps everyone be more efficient
  3. How do you fight bureaucracy?
    1. Set the tone
    2. Don’t tolerate it
    3. You have to do it tactically
    4. You should not feel bad to stop a meeting and tell everyone, “Let’s regroup for a meeting when we have an agenda that has been shared prior and let’s get the right people in here. No problems. Everyone gets 30 minutes back on your calendar.”
  4. How, you come across as a very proactive person…so how do you typically organize the first four hours of your and what time do you typically wake up?
    1. I have 2 alarm clocks. Two pugs
    2. I get up at 4:45 am 
    3. From 5-6:30, I hunker down in the kitchen and work on email and organize my day.
    4. At 6:30, I run to the gym in my house for an hour.
      1. This helps me process my day.
    5. 7:30, I talk to my kids before school
    6. 9:00 I get to the office and have already prepared for my entire day. This keeps me from stressing throughout the day.
  5. How do you react when someone doesn’t do their action items.
    1. Find out if it was clear
    2. I typically am just disappointed. That is pretty powerful.
    3. Most people don’t wake up saying “I’m going to suck today!” most people wake up wanting to be successful
    4. It us up to us leaders to make sure it is clear and they understand.
    5. I ask “It appears this wasn’t done… Was the deadline clear…? There was an obstacle? Should we have done anything different? What could we have done to prepare for this…? This turns into a coachable moment.”
    6. This turns employee reviews into a weekly thing not an annual thing.
    7. This allows the employee to learn and everyone in the room to learn.
    8. You should coach them to solve the obstacle soon and not just wait for a whole week.
  6. What are a few of your daily habits that you believe have allowed you to achieve success?
  7. What mentor has made the biggest impact on your career thus far?
  8. Brendan you’ve actually authored over one hundred articles on leadership, strategy, and technology, and he has been quoted in multiple publications, from the Wall Street Journal to Wired Magazine…when do you typically make the time needed to write?
  9. What advice would you give the younger version of yourself?
  10. We fight that most successful entrepreneurs tend to have idiosyncrasies that are actually their super powers…what idiosyncrasy do you have?
  11. What message or principle that you wish you could teach everyone?
    1. Whatever you say you are going to do, you have to do it.
      1. You can’t invest more than once if you don’t fulfill your promises.
      2. If you can’t do what they ask of you, don’t do it! Do what you know you can do.
      3. You want to have a good reputation
    2. My life moto: Have the courage to fail and the courage to succeed
      1. If you want to do something great with your life, you have to be willing to fail.
      2. If you aren’t willing to fail, you will have a good life but not a great one. You have to be willing to risk it….
      3. As you take risks, you will stare failure in the face so you HAVE to have the faith to overcome it.
  12. What are a couple of books that you believe that all of our listeners should read?
  13. Brendan you are now a very sought-after speaker at conferences in the financial services and technology industries and are a regular speaker at Harvard University, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Holy Cross, Middlebury College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute…why are you so passionate about speaking and teaching what you’ve learned?
Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

Audio Transcription

Guest Topic Banner Brendan Keegan Thrivetime Show

Thrive nation. On today’s show, we’re interviewing the CEO of one of the nation’s fastest growing companies, Brendan Keegan. Brendan Keegan is the CEO of the merchants fleet management company, and he shares with us on today’s show, how he leads over 500 employees on a daily basis. The importance of having an agenda for all meetings, how he organizes his day, why all action items need to be delegated to specific people and must be assigned to specific to due dates. All this and more on today’s show with leadership expert and the CEO of one of America’s fastest growing companies, the merchants fleet management company. Ladies and gentlemen, without any further ado, it’s my pleasure to introduce to you print Kagan.

yes, yes, yes and yes. Brendan Keegan, welcome onto the thrive time show. How are you sir?

I’m doing great with that intro. How would you not be great?

Hey, well, I gotta ask you because, so I want you to kind of fill in the blank. You help run the nation’s fastest growing fleet of what, what exactly do you do? It got a share with the thrive nation. What you do for a living, my friend.

Okay. So you know, some people understand fleet and some don’t. And I got a really ex a really simple explanation. So if you’re in your car and you’re driving down the highway and there’s any car or truck or van that drives past you with a logo on it, it’s probably part of a fleet. So if FedEx just drove by you while you’re listening or Amazon, or if, uh, you know, brothers and brothers, HVAC company, well that would be a small fleet. The Amazon would be a big fleet. FedEx would be a big fleet. So, you know, fleets, you know, there’s 16 million cars being sold every year in the U S and 20% of those are being sold to commercial clients as part of their fleet to go and service things around the country.

You have a, um, quite a lot of responsibility. Can you, can you share how many employees that you help to manage or, or, or to lead at this point in your career?

Yeah. Um, you know, here, here at merchants fleet, you know, we’ve got 500 employees here at the company. You know, throughout my career I’ve had the chance to manage, you know, large companies is as large 120,000 a medium sized companies, 10,000, you know, smaller companies and even startups. I’ve had a chance to, to kind of go the gamut from a fortune 100 all the way to kind of starting my own company and now landing in what I call a mid size company, you know, 500 employees.

Wow. Wow. Now you’ve had so much success. I’d like to kind of, uh, take it back and let’s go back to the very beginning. What was your life like growing up and when and where did you grow up

a lot. We are going back to the beginning. Uh, so yeah, so I grew up in, in a, in a town about 45 miles North of Boston and Nashua, New Hampshire. I grew up, uh, the youngest of four. My, my, my dad was a physicist and worked a couple of miles away from home and came home every day for lunch. And, and, uh, my mom was a volunteer art teacher that, uh, you know, from, from, uh, age 16 the day she, uh, her, she passed away, never driven a car. So I’d say I drove, I wo I, uh, grew up pretty, uh, pretty simply, you know, we had a 1200 square foot house, the six of us. But if you had asked me, I would have told you, you know, we were, uh, we were wildly successful and we had everything in the world person could want.

So you, you grow up in a, in a, in a smaller home with a great, great family. It sounds like with a lot of people in the home and a lot of people in the family. Um, when did you figure out what you wanted to do for, for a living, for, for a career?

Um, you know, it’s ending in third grade, believe it or not, I figured out what I wanted to do. I didn’t know I was gonna make a career of it, but I was at my first football practice and, and it was the first practice and we were in a circle and the business coach asked for some of me to jump in the middle and, and lead, you know, calisthenics. And I, uh, I jumped in the middle and at that point in time, in third grade, all it meant is you just counted one to 10 basically. And, uh, I did it and, and I kinda, I kind of enjoyed it and, and then, you know, we’re taking a lap, you know, the next day and we’re doing things a week later. And I just found myself really enjoying kind of being out in front, you know, telling everybody, come on, we can run faster or, and you know, simple things like refilling the water jugs and just watch the little things.

And I think it was, you know, really at that moment that I kind of found that my passion waiter in life and throughout my life would be leadership. I just really enjoyed weeding people. Now at that time I had no idea what I was going to do as a career. But you know, as I kind of went through middle school and high school and college, you know, I really enjoyed leading people and it all goes back to that, uh, that time in third grade when they just asked for a volunteer to jump in the middle of the circle. And I was kind of bit by the leadership bug that day.

What, uh, you know, so many people, um, have a hard, when we look up somebody like you who manages 500 employees, it can become overwhelming for us to even think about what that looks like on a daily basis. Could you tell us about some of your early jobs? I mean, what was your first job right out of high school, managing a 500 employees simultaneously? Or tell us how you, how you got started with your, with your business career.

Oh man, I gotta tell you my, my, my first interview for my professional job, I, uh, I remember interviewing and, and I hadn’t had much of a job success at that point in my life. So my, my first job was at a company called Nashville beef company. Literally, uh, back then in the day, Rocky was quite the movie. And I would go in, in the morning at four in the morning and put on a white coat and till four in the afternoon. So we used to joke that we only worked half days from four to four. I, uh, I carried sides of beef and loaded them on cars and, uh, and then did that, uh, throughout the day. And, and you know, it’s interesting, I remember interviewing for my first professional job and it was, uh, I was talking to companies like JP Morgan chase and electronic data systems. And I was talking to companies like Anderson consulting, which was later Accenture and all these people had these fancy internships.

And I had laborer national, these company, uh, on, on my resume. And I remember Bremmer telling them in the interview, you know, I probably had the greatest lesson, uh, working at that company for I think it was four years over the summer. And that I learned work ethic. And what I can tell you is it’ll maybe in an internship I might have learned Excel at an earlier age or I might’ve learned some professional habits or, or how to conduct a meeting. But, uh, those four years working at that, uh, that, that beef company was, was very enlightening for the rest of my career. Because what I, what I learned is if you just work, if you get up everyday and work hard, you’ll be successful in whatever you choose to be, to be successful at.

Well, walk us through the, the, uh, your kind of career navigating the labyrinth of jobs you had. I mean, kind of a, maybe a short four form overview, you go from beef to managing 500 employees. What were some of the other jobs you had along the way?

Yeah. So, so, uh, so, you know, I, I went to school for engineering and, uh, um, after getting out of school, I started with a company, electronic data systems. Some people know it as the former Ross Perot company. And, uh, we were, uh, 86 on the fortune 100. And I, I went into the engineering program there and I was a programmer. Uh, now what’s also interesting is my son recently found out that I used to be a programmer and he actually said to me, so dad used to have a cool job and uh, so, you know, program is pretty cool thing to do. I did that for a while and then moved over to account management and eventually over to sales. And matter of fact, at one point my manager came to me and said, Brendan, we think you’re better with people than technology. Now when you’re 23, 24, you take everything as a compliment.

So I’m not sure if that meant I wasn’t good as a programmer, but I started leading people. Uh, I went into sales and, uh, from there just kinda had a chance to, to work with a lot of great business coach clients and found that, um, you know, sales to me was less about selling and more about listening and just kind of consulting with the clients and solving their problems. And I stayed with EDS for 10 years and kind of Rose up through the sales ranks. And, uh, right before my 30th birthday, I became the company’s first chief sales officer. That was a, that was a, that was a big job. It was a global job. It was a job I wasn’t ready for. Um, but you know, I really thank my mentors in the company that really believed in me and thought that, um, I had, you know, a good vision for what, uh, leading sales would be like.

So that was, uh, just give you a perspective. That was late 99 when the internet boom was going on and Silicon Valley was taken off. So me and a friend, uh, left EDS and Cisco systems put a $90 million investment into a startup. Uh, that gentleman came over at the CEO and I came over as his number two. And we, we, we did a startup and that was great. We did that for a couple of years. And then, uh, for those old enough to remember the internet boom became the internet bust. And it was at that point in time, I got my first role as a CEO, uh, taking over a company that was in trouble and was looking like it was going to go out of business. And again, one of my mentors said, Vernon, this is the perfect opportunity to be your first time CEO in that, uh, you know, the companies in, in is struggling, you’re good at problem solving, you’re good at growing companies.

And I went in and we were able to kind of save it and sold it a couple years later on a successful exit. And little did I know at that time that that would be my career for the next 12 years, really being a turnaround CEO for a number of companies. Um, I did it for venture capital firms in Silicon Valley for six years. And then I did it for private equity firms, uh, out in New York for another eight years. Now, during that time, I actually, uh, had a head of a company I was leading. We were about 10,000 folks and we had our own fleet of vehicles. And that’s when I got to know merchants fleet, uh, cause they, they, I became a customer. And actually at the time I was merchant’s largest customer and we went through procurement and we picked them. And so that’s how I got to know merchants.

And I went from being a client to board member to, uh, to, uh, I guess you would say eventually CEO. So it’s been an interesting journey over to merchants. And you know, one thing that’s really benefited me as I, as I sit in this seat, a CEO, I sit with a very interesting perspective. You know, I was a client of the company, so I see it through the business coach client’s eyes. I was a board advisor, so I see it, uh, kind of from, from an advisory standpoint, I was a consultant to the company helping out, uh, during an interim period. And now CEO, I get a chance to enjoy it as an employee. So that’s kind of running through my career in, in a, in a little bit there. And you know, along the way I’ve had a chance to, to, you know, manage over 50,000 folks and, and probably one of the things that’s been a unique during that time is raising quite a bit of capital, um, raised, uh, over 2 billion of capital during that time. And, uh, you know, if you’re growing companies, that’s something you’re kind of always doing as, as the CEO is out raising money.

So let, let me ask you this here. I want to backtrack a little bit. You, you had mentioned, uh, you guys had started a, I think a $90 million, uh, dot com, uh, business where a company that had been, you know, in someone invested in or investors invested about $90 million in. Do you mind sharing what that company was or what that would just so we have some context for some of the people out there who have some, our listeners love researching and going back and checking stuff out.


So it was late 99, the name of the company was [inaudible] and, and it would right when there was, uh, there was streaming coming out in this thing called voice over internet protocol. And at the time we just thought, boy, it’s going to be really cool. We’re going to be able to make long distance phone calls over our phones and over the internet versus over telecommunication lines. So we were an integrator of network technologies for Cisco and you know, we, uh, we did that and at the time, um, you know, we were, you know, way ahead of our time and what’s interesting as I sit here talking to you, uh, now, uh, doing this podcast, I’m staring at a Cisco voice over internet protocol phones that we’re actually talking on. And so back in 99, these things didn’t exist. It was very new. Uh, and we were, uh, the quote unquote cutting edge consultants that were installing these four, uh, firms around the globe.

Now I have a, just a ton of questions for here and I’m so excited to, to, to tap into your wisdom here. You’re your CEO seat. You mentioned earlier as you sit here in the CEO seat on what kind of a CEO seat, DIA sit and eat. You work in an office now or you do have a, an office D do you like to be out on the floor a lot? Do you, do you work from home? Where do you work physically during your day typically?

Yeah, I would, I would say, you know, if the average, the average week, um, I’m in the office probably three, four days a week and on the road a couple. So last week I was at a conference for two days. So if we look at last week, you know, typical week, five days in the office, Monday, Thursday, Friday out in Phoenix, speaking at an industry conference for two days and, and giving awards out at a conference. You know, this week here, Monday I’m, I’m working out of, uh, in our office we have a 55,000 square foot facility where we have about 250 employees working out of, uh, you know, I’ve got an matter of fact when we designed it, I put my office right in the middle of the building. So I’m one of the only factory. I think I’m one of only two people on the leadership team that doesn’t have a window.

You know, I literally sit right in the middle because it gives me access to everybody in the company and it gives people a lot of opportunities for drive-bys. But in the morning I’ll be getting up and taken off to DC, uh, in, in going to meet with my peers in the industry. And we have two days of talking about what’s going on in the industry and legislation and catching up with what’s going on in D C so that merchants can stay up to speed on that. And then Thursday and Friday would be back in the office. And you know, right now I’d say, you know, 40 50% of my role is focused on 2019 making sure we have a good year and 50%, 50, 60% of my role is, I’m already in 2020 kind of working on our business plans and strategic plans for next year. So what I’m in the office, uh, I probably actually physically sit in my office for maybe 30 minutes or so. Other than that I’m kind of a, you know, in meetings with different employees, uh, different leadership team members and their teams, uh, trying to, you know, solve our client’s problems and, and you know, I try to walk around the building as much as you can every day and get to know all the employees.

Now I, I’m not gonna hit you with three-part questions cause I know that can be overwhelming for, for anybody. So I’m just going to go kind of one. I have three parts of this question. Um, how do you, how do you organize your day? Like, cause I I how w what time do you wake up every day? How do you, or so many people who are leaders, aspiring leaders are wanting to know the secret, you know, what, what time, uh, Brenda DHEA, DHEA get up and, and how do you really organize those first four hours of your day?

Sure, sure. It will. You know, I have two alarm clocks called a cricket notice there. There are two pugs and, uh, so they, they wake me up every morning pretty much at four 45, and I get up with them and, and take them out and, uh, feed them and hang out with them for a minute. And then, uh, then just very quietly from five till about six 30, I just, I just kinda hunkered down right in my, my, uh, we’ve got a big Island at our kitchen in our kitchen and I work, uh, catch up on email. God knows we all communicate a lot, so I get that done and, and really kind of organize my day. You know, what’s my first priority, what’s my last priority for the day and, and do that. Then at, uh, six 30, I, I, uh, every house I’ve ever owned, I’ve put a little gym in, even if it’s been a small one, I, uh, run down to to the basement and um, go to, uh, go to a home gym that I’ve got and you know, workout for about an hour.

Some days it’s just kinda little bit of motion, not as much working out other days it’s really hard workouts, but I find that, uh, that kind of lets me process my day. You know, I’ve already kinda been mentally into my day doing some work. Now I’m working out, but you know, my mind subconsciously is kind of working through my day. Come upstairs, get a chance to say hi to my two kids. I got a 15-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter, so I get a chance to spend a few minutes with them before they take off for school, a nice shower up, eat breakfast and get into the office. And I really set my morning up that way so that when I walk into the office and you know, what are we, I probably don’t get to my desk before somebody asks me if I have a minute.

Uh, I’ve already kind of done my work or I shouldn’t say not all my work, but a good part of my work for the day. Having that time, whether it be to get, get notes out to clients, whether it be, you know, put a presentation together for somebody I’m meeting with that day or just prepare. What thoughts am I going to talk with, uh, with, with this banker today or I’m going to be interviewing somebody. What questions do I want to ask them? And I want to read their background before the interview starts. So even today’s interview this morning when I was in my quiet time, I was going through, Hey, who is this guy, clay, I’m going to be meeting with later today? And what’s he like? And, and you know, you know, it looks like he’s going to be a high energy guy and boy, are you fitting that though? So I just kind of organize my weight cause at the end of the day, once I hit the office, I want to be available as much as possible to the employees and to our clients and kind of have my work, uh, kind of done ahead of time. So, uh, again, it all, it all starts four 45 when two dogs wake up and basically say,

no, this is, this is something that’s interesting. I haven’t got a chance to shadow or to spend the entire day with the founder of hobby lobby a great experience. Uh, I got a chance to spend the entire day shadowing being followed this person to every meeting with the CEO of a major, major, a multibillion dollar oil and gas company. I’ve spent, you know, time shadowing with some top CEOs. Um, I spent time with the founder of sky vodka on how do you lead your meetings? Like when you’re in a meeting, you know, like, do you have the, the same, uh, when you’re in a meeting, do you have kind of an agenda flow that you like to go through? Do you like to do standing meetings? Walk us through, it’s to say you’re having a meeting, how many people are allowed to be in a meeting and how long is the meeting and what do you, how does the org, how are you, how do you organize your meetings?

Yeah, I would say, you know, I’ll, I’ll start with how do I organize them? Um, you know, the one thing I kind of demand for every meeting is that there’d be an agenda. But one thing I kind of demand for every meeting is that there’d be an agenda. But one thing I kind of demand for every meeting is that there’d be an [inaudible]

in Boeing, even if it’s an open agenda. So be it. Uh, I think we’ve all been in meetings where, you know, we’re five minutes into the meeting and, and we’re kind of wondering who’s running the meeting, what’s the purpose of the meeting? What are the actions that are going to come out of here? So, you know, one thing I think I’m known for by people that I’ve had a chance to work with is, you know, have, have an agenda, have the agenda, be very clear. Have the appropriate time put aside for each. And what I’ve found is when you put agenda ahead, when you put it together ahead of time and you mail email it out before the meeting starts, you wind up with the right people in the meeting. So, you know, it’s really tough to say who should be in a meeting and how many people should be in a meeting.

But when you put an agenda out in your clear, Hey, we’re going to talk about topic a for 10 minutes, topic B for 10 minutes and topic C for 10 minutes and it’s, it’s, it’s three, it’s three topics and 30 minutes. And someone goes, Oh, I got invited to this meeting but I don’t need to be there based on those topics. Or, uh, you know, Sue didn’t get invited to this meeting, but she’s integral to topic B, so I’m going to make sure she’s invited to the meeting. Um, I find, you know, that’s probably the most efficient thing is getting an agenda out ahead of time, making sure you’ve then got the right people, letting people opt out and people opt-in. And then the second half of that agenda and you know, whenever anybody puts it together, is action items with three things. What’s the action? Who owns it and when is it?

Oh, that’s good. Wait a second. That’s too


Good. I ended up mentally processed this for a second, but he needs to write that down. I want to go back in time or can you share that? The three things that is good. Someone needs to hear that


Wow. So I didn’t, I didn’t know it was that good, but, but I’ll give it to you again there. Why? So going back in time here.

Oh, I mean clay time machine right now. Oh yeah.

What do we write on the agenda? We have a, it’s just, it’s a little table in Microsoft word and it says action one through five. You know you write the action. Who owns it? And when is it, who do we write on the agenda? We have a, it’s just this, it’s a little table and Microsoft word and it says action one through five. You know, you write the action, who owns it and when is it?

Oh, you saying actually wipe things down and commit to who’s the winner? And women do repeat better.

What are we right on the agenda? We have a, it’s 50, it’s a little table and Microsoft word, it says action one through five. You know, you write the action, who owns it and when is it due?


And I think we would all say in meetings when you know, good ideas happen or actions happen, like, Hey Sue, can you do this? Hey Charlie, can you do this? We capture that right in the meeting. So it’s very, very clear. Who has to do what and when is it due? And it’s amazing. Somebody will say, I’ll do that. And then when you say, when can you have it done? And they say a date, that creates another conversation. Well, that dates a too far out or Hey, you don’t need to do it that quickly. Um, it just creates accountability. Uh, but lastly, when you just have that in every meeting, it really helps everybody else be more efficient.

My mind’s going to explode right there because I, I have, uh, I grew my first company, DJ, and we were doing about 4,000 weddings a year before I sold that business. And since that time, you know, I’ve, I’ve invested in different businesses and have grown them. And one of my biggest frustrations, Brendan, is when you see a, somebody who’s had some success grow from, you know, managing five people to 50 and they hop in meetings and there’s no agenda and no one ever gets and there’s no action items assigned to a specific person or a specific to due date and no one really knows what’s supposed to be done. And, and you know what I’m talking about, you start to feel the insincerity of bureaucracy, you know what I mean, where you’re meeting every week and nothing gets done. How do you fight bureaucracy with just thousands of employees? How do you do it?

Well, you know, I think you can set a tone that, you know, that’s not the culture you want. Um, and then secondly, just don’t tolerate it. So, uh, and, and, and I would say, I, I’ve done this professionally and tactfully, or at least I hope I have, but you know, if, if I jumped into a meeting and I walk in and it’s clear in the first couple of minutes that, uh, you know, we don’t have the right people and if there isn’t an agenda we’re running behind, I won’t hesitate to say, all right, why don’t we reschedule this with the right people and agenda, let’s get it out ahead of time. Don’t worry about it. But everybody hate, everyone’s got 30 minutes back on their calendar and inevitably, inevitably we’ll be breaking up. And the person who had the meeting said, you know, look, but for, and you know, we couldn’t get everybody together. This is the only time, I don’t know when everybody else is available. And again, I hope very professionally and tactfully. I’ll just say, maybe you should have thought about that before the meeting started.


again, I, I hope I do it as well as I, as I do in my mind. Um, but you know, it’s really just setting the tone that every single person is busy, you know, take the least busy person you can think of. And if you ask them, they think they’re busy. So with that said, we all have to help each other maximize our time and be efficient. So it’s uh, you know, coming back to the bureaucracy, you know, just literally just don’t tolerate it. And when you see it, just work your best to, to cut it out, but also talk openly and say, you know, Hey, as we grow, if we start to become bureaucratic or we start to become slow or we don’t make decisions as fast tell people call us out on that. That’s not something we want to do.

You know, you, you have been the speaker of choice for Harvard University, Brown University, Holy cross major institutions. You and you’ve, you know, you’ve written articles for wall street journal to wired magazine. I know the listeners want to know when you’re, when you’re in a meeting with somebody it wouldn’t, it was cool. Clearly it was, it was cool. Clearly decided who was supposed to get the item done and they clearly knew they were supposed to do it and they knew what they were supposed to do and they knew when they were supposed to do it and then they don’t do it. How do you react to that?

Uh, I think I react the same way everybody else does. You know, a little disappointed and I say disappointed. Just really, by the way you asked the question, if it was clear if it, if it was known, then they really don’t have much of an excuse. Now, what I’ll say is more times than not, when I see that in meetings and if I’m part of meetings, I try my best not to have this happen is, you know, was it clear? Did the person know? Was there a deadline? And my fundamental belief is everybody wakes up in the morning wanting to be successful. Um, you know, even people that aren’t as successful as they want, they don’t wake up in the morning and say, you know what? I’m going to suck today. No. Most people wake up in the morning say, you know, I’m going to try to have a good day.

So it’s a, it’s cognizant upon leaders and it’s corresponding managers and it’s cognizant upon individuals that can make sure it’s very clear who is responsible, when is it responsible, what are they responsible for? So what I, what I then take is when it’s clear, I take an inquiry versus an advocacy approach. And this is something, you know, I’ve done, uh, you know this, this week actually on Thursday, I’ll ask you, be a not CEO at merchants fleet. I’ll be a trainer. I’ll actually be training people in our rising leader Academy and kind of take my CEO cap off and go into the leadership training. And what I often tell people in those situations, you know, if you advocate and you say, Hey Bob, why didn’t you do this? And you should’ve done this. Oftentimes I go into inquiry mode and say, Hey, it appears this wasn’t done. Was, was the deadline clear to everybody?

And all of a sudden people maybe start mumbling, you know, yes, we knew it. We knew it was due this Friday and when there’s some obstacles we weren’t planning on, Oh yeah, there was an obstacle. Okay, well there was an obstacle. Do we, should we have had a conversation or should we have known about the obstacle before today so we maybe could have overcome it and not been in crisis mode. So I kind of go into inquiry mode and what I’m really trying to do in inquiry mode is ask enough questions to turn it into a coachable moment. And I think the business coaching moment, because if you can business coach in the moment if you can business coach lie while a situation is happening, people’s retention goes up much higher. Here we go. Then you meet with them two months later during a performance review. You catch up with them, you know, a week later and you say, Hey, remember last Thursday when we were in that meeting?

They may or may not remember that particular meeting. Or you know, sometimes people that aren’t as accountable, it’s amazing how they can remember the meeting very, very differently. But when you’re in the moment and you kind of take a nice empathetic business coaching approach, you can really turn that into how it should be done. And now if I’m directing my energy, say to you, clay, it asks you the questions you, you may be learning. But I also think everybody else in the room is warming. And I think lots of people are saying, Hey, wow, you know what? I know next time if there’s an obstacle, I shouldn’t wait till the day of the meeting to bring the obstacle up. I should have brought that up as soon as I found it. So, you know, really going from, you know, cause it’s very easy to be upset. It’s very easy to be mad and I’m no different than anybody else. I get as mad as much as anybody else. One of the reasons I work out in the morning, I figured that’s where I kind of channeled my, my uh, my, my, my, I don’t know what the right word is.

Yeah, I get, I get those kind of like you just, if you have some anger or anxious, you kind of have to find a good outlet for it. And it seems like the workout might be your, your, your spot. You know, you, you, you have a go. This is a wild factoid here. Uh, my understanding there, Brendan, is you’ve raised nearly $2 billion of capital in your career. And you might say, the listener might say, that’s, that’s impressive. What was more impressive as you’ve actually returned over $4 billion to the investors. Um, my friend, you have earned the right to, uh, share with our listeners, whatever you’d like to share with me. About half a million listeners per month who are just taking notes right now. If you could get maybe one tip or one book recommendation or one call to action, what’s the one final tip or piece of advice you’d give all of our listeners?

No, on the raising capital. And the piece of advice I’d give is, you know, I give two pieces. One would be, you know, whatever you say you’re going to do, do it. So if you’re trying to raise capital, and I actually found raising capital is challenging, but you can do it. Uh, you can’t do it again. And again. Again, if you tell investors you’re gonna do X and you do X minus, um, you could tell the investors you’re gonna do X and you do X, there will always be investors for you in the future. So the first piece of advice I’d say is, you know if you say you’re gonna do something, do it. You know, if you can ask by an investor, you know, can you do [inaudible]? Don’t tell him to X because that’s what they want to hear. Because when you do X, they’re going to remember and they’re not going to give you more capital.

And then, you know, raising capital, it is a broad community, but it’s also a very closed community. And that, you know, there’s, you want to have a good reputation. So when it comes to raising capital, I’d say just really simple. Don’t over-promise. Tell them what you’re capable of doing. When they ask you can you do more? Can you do it faster? Don’t, don’t say yes just to take to get the money because you will need more and there won’t be more when you come up with less than stellar results. So, you know, if you say you’re gonna do something, do it. And kind of the, the, the second piece of advice I’d give in kind of partying is a little bit of a life motto that I have for myself, which is have the courage to fail and the faith to succeed. Matter of fact, my wife and I started a foundation kind of under that theme, the courage and faith foundation.

And that, you know, if you, if you want to do something great with your life, you have to be willing to fail. If you’re always just trying to say, you know, I want to fail. I’m not going to take anything risky. I’m just going to do, I’m going to do the status quo. You’re probably going to have a good life. You’re going to have a good career, but you’re probably not going to have had a great career because greatness is, is, is really accomplished when you’re doing something that makes you uncomfortable. Uh, taking the company out into a new market, trying a new product, trying some new things, but at the same time having the courage to fail. But while you’re having that courageous moment or that courageous year or two, that courageous approach to a problem or an opportunity, having faith that you’re going to be successful.

Cause you know, as you take risks throughout your career, as you take risks in your life, there will definitely be moments when you’re staring failure in the face and you just gotta have the faith that you’re going to overcome it. You’re going to work through it, you’re going to come up with a solution. And you know, lots of people when they face that fear kind of crumble. And I’d say, you know, just, you know, stare that, that uh, that fear and just have faith in yourself, your teammates, your peers, your business coach clients, your partners, your employees and your, and uh, and, and, and your friends and family.

We’re, where can our listeners learn more about you? Is there a specific website you would direct our listeners to? Or a specific social media outlet where we can find more about you there, mr Brendan.

Uh, you know, well, let’s see. You know, I, I don’t put a ton out of necessarily about me. Um, you know, I’m, I’m on LinkedIn. If people want to connect with me on LinkedIn, you know, the best way, I got my email and, and a phone number out there, um, uh, here at merchant’s Uh, you know, my bio is there, I’ve got my email up there as well. I keep that very public, uh, as well as my phone number. So if anybody wants to reach out, uh, to me and then, uh, just through podcasts and things like this, you know, I get a chance to get out on the, on the speaking circuit, you know, quite a bit. You know, they said I was out last week, you know, early to share us out at tech crunch out in Silicon Valley. So I think that would be the best, uh, best way to, to, uh, to reach out would be, you know, uh, through my LinkedIn. You know, my email’s really simple. It’s Brendan Keegan, B R E N D a N Keegan, K E G a N at merchant’s

Brendan, I appreciate you for being on the show and thrive nation. A little, a little pro tip for you. If you’re looking for a blasty blast to just type in Brendan P Keegan, click on images and there you will find a beautiful man right there. This guy. Wow. We’re getting the workout. 10 in the morning. Brendan can’t get. Thank you so much for being on the show.

All right, thank you.

Alright man. Hey, you take care and now without any further, do what?


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