Todd Palmer is the retired CEO of one of America’s fastest 5000 growing businesses and he joins us to share why it’s VERY important to define what success means to you.
Action Items: Define what success means to you. Ask yourself if you are doing it just for the number or if you have an actual goal. Once you determine what success looks like, you then have to set expectations for everyone around you.
On today’s show, we are joined by Todd Palmer who’s the retired CEO of one of America’s fastest 5,000 growing businesses and he joins us to share why it’s very important to define what success means to you. Ladies and gentlemen, now without any further ado, our interview with Todd Palmer.
Yes, yes, yes and yes. FRY base. Your welcome back to another exciting edition of the Thrivetime show on your radio and podcast download. And on today’s show we have a guy with a last name that I like. For some reason I like the last name, Palmer. I love the first name. Todd, ladies and gentlemen, Todd Palmer. Welcome onto the show. How are you sir?
I am excellent. Thanks for having me here today. It’s great to be here.
Nope. Todd Palmer, you’re sort of a kind of a big deal now. Uh, you’ve done well as an executive coach and as an author and you’ve had massive success. But I would love for you to just to, you know, start off at the bottom and kind of kind of share about your childhood and what it was like growing up so we can get to know you a little bit. Absolutely.
So it’s, it’s interesting that, uh, you know, I, uh, grew up on a small farm in mid Michigan. I have 42 kids in my graduating class. Um, and I remember my very first entrepreneurial venture actually was in grade school, probably about sixth graders. So we had one general store in town and my mom would take me to school and we’d stop by there and I’d buy gum and candy for a nickel or a pet, a diamond piece. And I’d go to school and I’d up sell it for a quarter. Principal, brings me into the office, choose me out for, uh, my entrepreneurial bent, saying it’s unfair of me to take advantage of kids who don’t have the same opportunity I do of being driven to school. And, um, fast forward, you know, 35 years later I’m, I’m being an entrepreneur doing exactly what my teacher told me I shouldn’t do.
I know that if you’re out there and you’re saying clay, why do you always rip on teachers? Why? Well, because it just, I just have so many stories that are, this one just happened this morning here. Todd, this is a funny story. One of my clients we work with, this guy has a fitness center. It’s a, it’s a, it’s like a, it’s like a one-on-one gym that’s not in Oklahoma. Okay. So I won’t divulge the name of it. One is client shows up today and he is a principal. He’s a principal of a school, you know, and he shows up late and refuses to put in the effort. You know, Todd, the Guy who signs up for personal training but doesn’t actually show up you to help you. You’re paying but not showing up. And so I guess the trainer, you know, I said to the guy, the owner, the business said, man, you gotta man up and the principal says you’re, you’re telling you’re gonna use that kind of language, that that’s hurtful language.
I talked to my kids about that all the time to imply that a man, only a man can kid up man up to have to imply that only a man can, you know, step up and just the phrase man up that is very offensive, you know? And so the trainer’s like, so do you want to keep working out or what’s the, no, I cannot work out but I’m going to be harassed like this. I just see it. It’s like there’s, it’s almost like the world that’s taught in school. Todd Palmer is totally different than the world of entrepreneurship, isn’t it? It’s like totally different
goals about rules, schools about being, um, an application for the masses. And if you, if you take that construct and do world of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship is about breaking the rules. Entrepreneurship is not about the masses. Entrepreneurship is a win lose game. Not everybody gets a ribbon. Not everybody gets a trophy. There’s no rice krispie treat, an orange slice at the end of the day as an entrepreneur.
So true. That is, that is hot there, right? Tell me, I’m going to just take that audio, transcribe that audio, put that on a shirt and then save.
Oh my God.
Hot. Wow. Hey, if Harry Kerry likes it, it’s good enough for me. I’ll tell you what, I’m going to have to give a little cowbell here.
Okay, I’m back. Okay. Now, so let’s get into this a, your career. When did you start to gain some traction and were you, you know, when did you hit your head on the toilet seat and Bam, you drew the flex capacitor or what happened?
Well, you know, the, the traction really started early on, started the company, uh, when in 1997. By Day 72, by Hook or crook, we were actually profitable. And what that gave me was a real sense of, of success and a real false sense of how smart I thought I was versus how smart I really wasn’t. But you know, by 2006 I was $600,000 in debt. I was 60 days away from running out of money, put my houses in the line. I was a single parent. My kids looking at me like, what the heck are you doing? And um, I had to make some difficult choices. So I walked in on September 9th, 2006 fired my entire company. It started over. So then we made the inc 5,006 over the next seven years and that’s where we finally got some traction.
What business did you first start? That was, uh, what, what kind of industry or what was the business
business was a recruiting company. Metro Detroit. We specialize in general Labor Day Labor for the manufacturing sector. And we thought, you know, we’ve got a new mouse trap. We would drive people to work. Yeah, we own a transportation company as well. And we thought we were just going to take Kelly services and manpower right out. And they made it very clear very quickly that they will simply bury us if we try to compete in this space that they were in. So what do you do now? What, what does the company do now? Does it still do staff? Yeah, so the company diversified industrial staffing still exists. I’m a retired CEO. I still own the business but I don’t work on it. It working in on a day to day basis any longer in our specialty niche is we provide skilled trades, high, highly trained machinists, welders, a high end c level manufacturing talent all around the country on a direct hire model.
And with the, you know, 2 million jobs in the manufacturing space being open on a daily basis, we’ve got an increased demand and a diminished supply. So if we can find that right person, we’re able to get them a job relatively quickly moving them from essentially from one fully placed position to another. And we simply just broker that deal. And for people that aren’t familiar with, um, you know, w w what’s your, how your industry gets paid, how you get paid. I’ve worked with a lot of staffing companies, but can you explain how you get paid? Like let’s just say that I’m trying to hire a machinist. My company is and you help find the machines. How do you get paid? How did the mechanics work? It’s really simple. We, uh, we work for the candidate for the machinists. In this example, we worked for him or her for free.
Then there’s no fee paid to us. All of our fees are employer paid and we simply get a percentage of their annual income and we actually offer a unique program called no risk direct hire. So we financed those payment terms over a three month cycle, as simple as similar to at leasing or buying, leasing a car versus buying a car. It gives the client a sense of, of control over their spend. And if somebody doesn’t work out within the first 90 days, the faucet turns off that it was no longer any, any fees incurred. And we simply don’t have to replace the person if it’s an unreplaceable situation, which we find a lot in today’s world because there’s just, you know, the average American welder is 62 years old. There’s not a lot of these people out there anymore. Now when you say you hire c level employees, are you talking about like chief executive officers and chief operating officers and chief financial officers or are you talking about people like me that are like c level talent when it comes to playing the cowbell?
Well, you know, I, there was a cowbell manufacturer who wanted to hire you. It’d be, I think it’d basically come down to you will Farrell and Christopher Walken as he was going to get that job. We have faith in you, clay that you can make that happen. I’m really been practicing. Sometimes I’m on beat. There you go. Uh, but for the people we placed in the manufacturing space, typically it’s going to be a, a plant manager was a c level person, somebody who is a CFO with manufacturing experience as CEO us. So we’ve done some presidents, we work a lot with second generation companies who the owners left. The children are now in charge and they really need that, that manufacturing expertise to come in from the outside and they’ll contact contact us to help them out. When you restarted the company did a, how’d you go about getting the first hundred customers?
Did you, did you cold call? Did you do some megaphone marketing? Did you, would you, do, you know, to get those after we restarted, it was really challenging because you know that we had, we started in September of of Oh six we didn’t know it, but the recession, it was already in full play. It was just sitting beneath the surface. So we did a lot of cold calling. I, the people I had gotten rid of, I replaced those with other people who didn’t have that manufacturer, that recruiting background and found that to hire for DNA versus resume was a really strong recipe. We brought in people from the restaurant space, from hospitality even we had one person came in from the medical space to become recruiters and we just did a really simple methodology of calling companies, asking what they wanted to hire and they said, no, it’s a recession.
We don’t need to hire anybody. So if you’re gonna hire somebody and you had to hire somebody, what category would they fit into? And the marketplace kept telling us they needed those high level people. Then the spin became, well, if I did find that person, could you take them tomorrow? I said, absolutely, we’ll make space in a 15% unemployment world for that person because we know we’re going to need them. We can’t find them and we’re willing to pay more for it. So it was that inflection point of increased demand, diminish supply, we could charge more for it. And that’s actually part of the recipe of how we actually dug out of that $600,000 in debt.
Hmm. Okay. Now, so what, what, um, mentors and your career have made the biggest impact to, to help you because you obviously entrepreneurship is, is, uh, obviously very, very much learned by you, but it’s also kind of intuitive, that mindset that made you want to sell, you know, candy as a kid. What, what mentors have made the biggest impact on your life?
You know, it’s, it’s a great question because the, the mentors have come from a huge variety of areas. I’ve been fortunate for nearly 20 years to be involved with a group called the EO, the entrepreneurs organization. It’s a peer peer to peer learning environment. So I’ve learned a lot from my peers. And uh, the great part about it is advices forbidden. Everything is from gestalt protocol experience share. And we took, we share that. Um, one of my biggest mentors early on was a guy named Verne Harnish. He wrote a book called The Rockefeller Habits. I was, I was lucky enough to study under him. And then Metro Detroit spent time with Gino Wickman who wrote Eos, the entrepreneurial operating system, learn from him. Um, my mentors, I’ve come from a lot of different places, but I think honestly the, the biggest mentor I have wasn’t even an entrepreneur at all.
It was my older brother. He was a c level executive out in California when I was here in Detroit. And I really learned from him the, the mental discipline it requires to turn a company around. So in Oh six oh seven oh eight, I lean on him heavily as a coach to get me get my thinking straight because the blocking and tackling of being an entrepreneur was easy. It was getting out of my own way and shutting down that negative committee. In my head it was telling me how much I was a failure and how much I sucked for getting in such a big hole. $600,000 in debt.
What, um, what, as you kind of look at your, your career in, in you, your you part as EO group, I’d like for you to explain what you mean when you said that the advice is forbidden in that group. What would, can you explain what that means?
Absolutely. So what happens when you, you get advice, especially with a lot of type a personalities. A lot of, you know, Egos in the room is, I gave you my advice. You didn’t take it. I immediately dismiss you and I think I’m smarter than you. What we found, especially in the EO community and now I think we’re almost 20,000 across globe is gestalt protocol. Speaking from experience resonates a whole lot more and it creates a healthier communication dynamic. When I say to you, clay, you know, when I had the problem that you’re experiencing, here’s what I did. You can take it or leave it. You can learn from the kernels of, of the story of, wow, Todd did this. That worked really well. Ooh, Todd did that. Yeah, that’s not going to fit within my organization. And you’re able to take what you need, leave the rest behind so that you’re able to then move forward. Because a lot of the challenges come into when advice is given. It creates a sense of isolation. And the worst thing that can happen is an entrepreneur alone. Because entrepreneur alone, as an entrepreneur at risk EEO believes that that could stall protocol. And speaking from experience is the healthiest way to support everybody.
Now you have written a, a, a book and a lot of people talk about writing books and a lot of people say, you know, I’m gonna write a book. I freaking write a book right now. I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do this weekend. I’m going to write a book and then, you know, sometimes we don’t write a book and get busy, you know. Um, so you’re a fellow author. Ah, let’s talk about the job search process. The book you wrote there, find and land a great job in six weeks or less. Uh, my friend. What inspired you to write that book and what was your process like for writing it?
So what inspired fired me is very much the conversation you just had right here. It’s like I kept telling all my buddies, you know, I’m going to write a book and you know, I don’t like this and I don’t like that. And I think I know this and I think I know that. And it came down to the time to put up or shut up. So Buddy of mine bet me a decent amount of money that I couldn’t write my book and I wouldn’t have it out within six months. That’s what you need. Right. That’s a good bet. So it was absolutely that the kick in the kick in the pants that I needed. So I had, I wrote the book in 30 days. I did nothing but focus up, uh, what needed to be done because it really came from a spot of, you know, at the time my son was in high school and a lot of his friends couldn’t find a job.
I was on a board of a university. A lot of those students couldn’t find a job. And I felt that the education system specifically at the university level was really letting the kids down because as a parent who was about to pay for his kid to go to school, I saw going to schools having two, two paths. One, you learn some great life experiences by being around other people, being your, with your peers, falling in love, falling out of love, partying too much, not partying enough. All the craziness that goes into college is fine. But also seeing college as that job readiness program, I wanted my kid to have a great education and I want other people’s kids have great educations because as an it recruiter, I knew the better educated our workforce was, the stronger the economy he was going to be, the stronger the hiring environment was going to be. But I found that the, the schools were not preparing the kids enough to be job to be interview ready. So really that’s why I wrote the book for people to give his graduation gifts to their kids coming out of high school or college so they can go find their first job and it works. It mean kids are finding jobs left and right in six weeks or less. Now in today’s economy, sometimes it’s in six days or less depending how good they are
now. Okay. Now this, I’m going to, I’m going to take the room down, uh, for just a second here. Just hate to talk. We got a lot of negativity out there. I hate to be the guy that brings it down, but I’m allowing you to bring it back up. Okay? So here we go. Um, I write for Forbes from time to time. I know you right? You, you probably look at the statute, are aware of it, but according to Forbes, 67%, uh, Andrew, I’m sure you’ve seen the stat, but 67% of people want to start a business. All right? So, Yup. Now, Andrew, let’s just say that you don’t agree. Let’s say that somebody out there says, I don’t like that state. I don’t like that Stan. Let’s say, okay fine. Half Pete, half the people, but just say, well over half of America though wants to start a business, right?
So the majority now over those people that do start a business, nine out of 10 of the startups according to Forbes to fail. So this is, this is what’s crazy to me Todd Palmer. So now we only have like one out of 10 Americans who haven’t started business to begin with. One out of 10 Americans start a business and then out of those one out of 10 you know, only one of those makes it. But what I see is really sad is the chewed up, burned out, beaten, not having time freedom entrepreneur who works all the time and makes it by working 117 hours every week but doesn’t actually ever get ahead. So when I would like to speak to is the nine out of 10 people that make it but don’t actually ever make it. You know what I mean? The guy who made it. You know, Todd, he’s not bankrupt, but he never gets time freedom, doesn’t have the time to hop on a podcast like this doesn’t have the time to write a book like you’re doing. It, doesn’t have time to give back, doesn’t have time for EO, doesn’t have time for going to his kid’s games, doesn’t have time for anything cause he just working all the time. What advice would you give to the entrepreneur out there that didn’t made it, quote unquote, they’re not bankrupt, but they’re not getting ahead. What advice would you give him?
I think a couple of things. One, I think I would challenge that entrepreneur to define what success means to them. A, I used to think for my, you know, again, using gestalt protocols, speaking from experience, for me, success was, you know, how many, how many Zeros can I get behind that one on my revenue line or how much money can I get my bank account and I’ve discovered that success really is doing what I want. What I want to do it is often as I want to do it with whom I want to go do it with and I’m willing to trade some money for flexibility and freedom. Now having said that, I certainly had to figure out that the, the construct of work life balance is a misnomer. It doesn’t exist. What does exist is the construct of work life, um, integration. So there are times when, you know, now with my coaching practice to extraordinary advisers, I had to work on Christmas eve out of nowhere.
I had a client that was in crisis. I got on the phone with them, I talked him off the ledge. They were able to have a great holiday with their family over the next couple of days. I had to set the expectation with the people I was spending the holiday with that, hey, this person needs me. I’m available 24 seven in my clients. I promise them that it’s my brand promise so I have to take this call. The flip side of that is if I didn’t have great clients like this, we couldn’t have the great holiday we’re having. So then it comes down to communicating those expectations as well. So for that entrepreneur who’s struggling, figure out at the end of the day, why are you working so hard? What does success mean to you? If you’re working so hard, you have this, this whole within you that you’re trying to fill with work. You might want to think about addressing that. You might want to redefine what success means to you. And if you’re only chasing the top line number of revenue, revenue revenue, you may want to consider, are you really focused on the right number? And I argue the right number on your, your p and l is your bottom line. How can you goose that margin up? So it’s worth your time taking away from all the people you care about?
How are he explained? What a um, inc 5,000 member it means for people out there that don’t know what that means.
Sure. A and inc five to be an inc 5,000 company is you have to show and, and share your financials with inc magazine about your revenue growth year over year, over a three year period. So when we made the inc 5,006 out of seven years, we essentially had a decade of strong revenue growth year over year. Uh, what the crazy thing about it is they, they never asked for did you make any money? Like the question you just asked me. And the crazy thing is when you talk to the people at inc there are companies that grow so fast, they grow out of business because they run out of cash. And so we throttled back some of our growth some of those years. So we were, we were still successful and made the list, but it really is, it’s not a sustainable model to think you’re going to make the INC 5,000 every year that your company’s open.
Uh, you know, Eric Schmidt did an interview the other day, um, and talking about his business coach Bill Campbell, uh, the book, you know, the new book, trillion dollar coach, I did interview with Tim Ferriss, which I thought was fascinating and I don’t know if anybody out there listened to it yet or heard it. Um, but he references working seven days a week. He just kinda throws it out there and talk where he’s just talking to, you know, and he’s like, yeah, you know, we worked seven days a week and we do this. And I think it’s so important. You Do, you, you do take time out to define success because maybe success for you is working seven days a week and then growing the world’s most valuable company. It May and maybe it is maybe as long as you bought, bought into it. Right. And for me it’s success is buying a silky chickens for about $7 online. You know, Silky chicken, mostly female. I don’t like the roosters and hanging out with them and then planting trees in my backyard. That’s kind of like success for me. And some people say, really that’s all you want. And you know, Todd, I’m sure you’ve these EEO groups, you’ve met some sick freaks like me who’ve kind of hit all their goals and all they want to do is nothing. Have you met these people, these kind of sick freaks, they’re kind of content.
You know, I, I have met the, a couple of those guys. W what I find those guys typically will do though is they will then do a lot of mentoring. They’ll go back and work with the schools I have met. This scares me more that than the chicken guy is the guy who says, you know, once I get to $10 million in revenue, I’ll be happier once they get to $20 million, I’ll be happy once I get, they’re never happy. Right. Because whatever their beast is with inside of them doesn’t become satisfied. So again, that’s why I would say define what success means to you and go for it. So if you want to be this silky chicken guy in your neighborhood, more power to you.
I just think a lot of people though that we had one guy who came over to my house and he said, clay, I wish people saw you not at work cause you’re different. And I’m like, how? Like I come over here and you’re petting a chicken and you like don’t have a phone on. But I think most people see you during the day, you know, selling something, moving something, speaking at a business conference. And I’m like, well, you know, during the day I work and when I’m not working, I don’t work. I don’t mix mix the two, you know, hanging out with my kids, chasing my wife around. Todd, what’s the final bit of advice that you would like to share with our listeners out there? Because you are, you are, uh, you know, you are a very intentional guy and I, I’m curious about how you organize your day, but I’m sure there’s maybe another piece of advice you’d like to share maybe about how you organize your day or how you plan your day or what’s, what’s your final bit of advice you’d like to give to artists, to the thrive nation?
I think for the thrive nation, my, my final piece of advice would be this. Figure out why you want something. I was very fortunate I was able to spend time with Simon Sinek when he just became, you know, he was, he wasn’t even hot. He was Luke warm and he helped me figure out my why and my why is improved lives. That’s all I want to do and everything that I do. So when I’m working with a client, I’m improving their lives. When I’m going through the drive through at Starbucks to get a coffee, if I can have a conversation with the person at the window that makes their day just a little bit better, that enriches me. Those light bulb moments, those, those, uh, that ability to connect with another fellow human being. Think about why we do what we do, not the services or products necessarily that we offer. Once you flip that switch and you see that Mo, that light bulb go on with inside of yourself, that’s really where the magic happens. So the work you do becomes fun. Whether you’re doing it seven days a week or you’re doing it, you know, what does it, the Tim Ferriss program, four hours a week.
Neil, you, you, you’ve piqued my interest. So now that I know your why and why you’re doing what you do, what time do you wake up everyday and how do you typically spend the first four hours of every day?
I typically wake up between five and six and the first two hours a day. I do my very best to get to the gym. If I don’t make it to the gym, the first thing I do is I pick up a book and I read for 20 to 30 minutes then a, this isn’t, this is a new change in my life. Um, I, my partner, my girlfriend has a nine year old, I have not had a nine year old in my house in nearly 20 years. My son is 28 and she and I will have breakfast and we have our own version of, her name is Edda at a Jane and we have breakfast with Eto and she tells me what’s going on in her day. I tell her I was going to go on my day. We talk about what we’re going to do and then we regrouped at the end of the night, later in the day and see how our day’s way that setting that platform with this young person has is, I mean, the reports we get from her, her teacher are just off the charts. How much more engaged she’s become, how she’s focused on goals, all those little different seeds we plant. So really, I go to the gym, I come home, make sure I have eight, eight 30 with breakfast with ETA, and I scheduled my first client call at eight 35. And that’s the way my day starts.
You know, I, I am infinite, uh, fascinated about shoot, I also want to respect your time. So for the listeners out there that want to, um, you know, learn more about you, where can they find more information about the Todd Palmer show?
You know, it’s, I’m really easy to find, uh, extraordinary advisors.com is my website. Cool. Anybody who mentions that they’ve heard me on the thrive time show, I’m happy to give them a half hour of conversation. Just put in there that you heard me on Clay’s program. Let’s talk about what’s going on in your world. Whether it’s, you know, how do you set goals, how do you get the stinken thinking out of your head? You want to grow your business and you, you don’t have enough margin. We can talk about all those kinds of things. So that’s how people can find me. Todd Palmer,
I appreciate you and I hope you have an awesome day. Thank you for your time. And now ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to end each and every show with a boom because boom stands for big, overwhelming optimistic momentum again, and repeat boom stands for big, overwhelming optimistic momentum because that’s what we believe it takes to grow a successful business. And now, if any further ado, if you could bring a boom with me, that would be great. Here we go. By the way, if you can bring a boom with me while grabbing somebody else to bring a boom with you, that could be you and me. We can bring a boom from three. Here we go, three, two, one. Boom.