Ron Carucci on Rising to Power: The Journey of Exceptional Executives

Show Notes

Ron Carucci is the boutique executive consultant for CEOs and leaders who are looking to tackle strategies or organization and leadership. Ron is the best-selling author of Rising to Power: The Journey of Exceptional Executives.

  1. Yes, yes, yes and yes! Thrivetime Nation on today’s show we are interviewing Ron Carucci. Ron, welcome onto the Thrivetime Show! How are you sir!?
  2. Ron Carucci, 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. Ron, what was your life like growing up and where did you grow up?
  3. Ron, when did you first figure out what you wanted to do professionally?
    1. Early on, I spent my time in the arts. I learned that I bored easily.
    2. I learned that, engaging people in their own story was fascinating to me.
    3. I love what happens when humans organize and create something at scale.
    4. In my early 20’s I got my masters degree in Psychology.
    5. I quickly learned that inside companies was a little different.
    6. I began collecting severance packages.
    7. I realized that if I was going to make my best contributions, I had to do it from the outside.
    8. There are not leaders walking around telling people to not to tell the truth but it is more of an issue of skill.
    9. You have to bring leaders answers and not just say “You Suck!”
    10. There is the political side to understanding how safe it is to be honest.
      1. Step 1 – You have to determine when you can be honest with your boss.
      2. Step 2 – Build the right pathway
      3. Step 3 – Choose your battles wisely
  4. What is the origin of your companies name?
    1. Navigate and Valence
  5. What are problems that your company solves?
    1. We help people get unstuck.
    2. We do an “MRI” on your company. We deep dive into your business.
    3. We bring a very honest and accurate report to the CEO
    4. We ask the company to tell us who they are. We will always get 10 different answers from the senior team because everyone confuses their mission statement with their strategy.
  6. How big is the average company you work with?
    1. I have a number in the startup world, mid-cap world, and global fortune 500 clients.
    2. The challenges we see in each of the categories are different but we can work with them.
  7. Where are you located?
    1. We are a virtual firm so we have consultants all over America.
  8. Ron, 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 wake up between 7:00 am and 8:00 am
    2. I focus on creating social proof, throughout my day, for my company.
  9. Ron Carucci, what mentor has made the biggest impact on your career thus far?
    1. Toby Tetenbaum
      1. Here is an interview with her:
  10. What message or principle that you wish you could teach everyone?
    1. You get do-overs. Give it a shot! The only thing you have to expect is death. You can always make a comeback.
  11. Ron, what are a couple of books that you believe that all of our listeners should read?
    1. Rising to Power: The Journey of Exceptional Executives – Ron A. Carucci

  12. How can people stay in contact with you?
  13. In a world where 70% of the workplace is disengaged, what are the best ways to fight this?

ACTION ITEM: Choose the time and place to be direct. Be sure that the person you are being honest with can 1) handle it and 2) is asking for it. When someone asks for feedback, do not be afraid to ask them “how honest do you actually want me to be”?


Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

Audio Transcription

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Thrive nation. We are recording today’s show from our plan B studio due to the massive flooding in Tulsa, Oklahoma. So at any point during today’s podcast to be here like it’s settling, our guest is under water or you here. Kind of a weird background sound. Just give us a Mulligan on this one because Ah, we got to keep this thing going nine days a week, but we also have to stay above water. Just Google Tulsa flooding to see what I’m talking about. Jason fired off about today’s show. You know why? Why? Because we’re going to have Ron Carucci on the show and he is a boutique executive consultant for CEOs and he’s going to teach our listeners how to tackle strategic issues that arise within an organization. Can you handle a case? I can handle. I’m ready. Here we go. Three spaces.

Some shows don’t need a celebrity in a writer to introduce the show. This show down to May eight kids, Koch created by two different women, 13 moke time million dollar businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the thrive time.

Sean, what

started from the bottom so you out again? He started when [inaudible] started from the bottom.

Yes, yes, yes. And yes. Thrive nation. On today’s show, I am fired up about today’s guests, the incredible, the wonderful, the ultra humble, Mister Rohn. Kooky. We’ll come on to the thrive time show. How are you sir?

Clay is great and its Karoo g and it’s great to be with you.

Hey, I’m excited to have you on the show here. I gotta ask you this, my friend, you are, have had a lot of success now, but could you describe for the listeners out there what you do on a daily basis? The listeners can kind of Google search you real quick.

Yeah, sure. So, uh, I, I’m the managing partner and founder of a firm called an avalanche and we, we’ve been around 15 years and he spend our days accompanying leaders of all kinds who are facing some kind of messy, challenging, thorny change of some kind in their business. If they’re strategically stock, there’s an opportunity you can, I can’t get after things aren’t growing the way they want them to. They got themselves into some scandal or some mass, but there’s some big change on their horizon they have to get past and they don’t add to do that. And our job is to come alongside them and help them architect of that, that journey in a way that gets them to some place they want to be.

How did you get into this field and into this niche?

Uh, well, uh, you know, um, my, like most people, they could be great entrepreneurs say it’s by accident. But I think early on in my career I was, I spent my time in the arts in a whole different side of the world. Uh, and I, I learned early on that I boardies only. And so doing the same thing eight times a week. Wasn’t that appealing to me or the way it was too many of my friends. But when I did learn was that, uh, while telling great stories was interesting, engaging people in their own story, engaging people in the story of their, of their future and their aspirations and the things they wanted to get done and being helpful to them. And, uh, writing the next chapter of our story that’s fascinated me. It was never going to be boring. It was never going to be the same every day.

Um, and I loved what happens when humans come together to organize at scale, when people come together to accomplish something, uh, you know, uh, part for themselves when they, when they pooled their resources, pull their efforts, pool their ambitions, um, greater things happen. And I love being part of that. So, uh, in my early twenties, I, you know, changed careers, organizational psychology, and got my master’s degree and started inside companies doing this work. Uh, like many organization development professionals do. And then quickly learned that, um, you know, uh, inside companies is a little bit of a political risk. Do this work because you have to tell the truth. Some companies don’t appreciate that the way I wanted them to. Yeah. And so I began collecting what my children loved a lot. Uh, I began collecting severance packages. Hmm. Uh, and of course my kids love that because it meant more time with dad.

What it meant for me was my career kept having to restart. And Soon I realized that what got me in trouble politically inside got me paid very well outside companies because outside companies, not all, I you expected to tell the truth and tell it, uh, in with no pulled punches, but people want to pay a lot of money for it. So, um, I realized, you know what, I need to take the hint here and to realize that if I’m going to let embody my passion for organizations is going to have to be by not being part of one. Uh, and I’m going to have to do my, make my best contributions to them as an outsider. And so that’s what I’ve done.

Can you expound upon that and go into detail about that a little bit? Because I think I know what you’re talking about, about how saying the truth within an organization can get you in trouble when on the outside it can be viewed as a very helpful, uh, asset. W can you maybe educate the listeners out there that maybe find themselves working in corporate America right now and maybe some of the pitfalls or specific examples of things that you can do that will get you in trouble if you are unapologetically honest?

Sure. And I, you know, we just finished a 15 year longitudinal study on organizational honesty to test what can predict whether or not people will lie in organizations. So it’s a, it’s a topic near and dear to my heart. Um, I think they say there’s two sides to every story, right? So I don’t know that there are leaders walking around organizations saying, don’t you dare tell me the truth. Um, you know, most of the executives I deal with, our star for good data are starved for honest perspectives. Most of them generally want to hear the unbridled truth and their people, they want their leaders giving them there. There are people giving them the honest points of view. Um, so, but the problem is it’s an issue. Sometimes it’s an issue of skill, right? So you don’t have the acumen, the ability to bring leaders hard perspectives.

And more importantly, you have to bring them answers, right? So if you just come and say to your leader, this sucks. Oh, you without saying, here’s what I think could be better. Or here’s a suggestion, or here’s an idea. Well, here’s how I’m willing to help you. Sometimes you leave leaders, you know, bereft with. Okay, thanks. Um, so I do think there’s, there’s the political savviness of understanding, you know, how safe is it to be honest. And sometimes it’s just a matter of asking your boss, you know, as you begin your relationship, do, how honest do you want me to be with you? How often can I bring you my perspective? D Does my, does my point of view matter? Do you want, do you want to sent, do you want contradicting views on things and contracting with your bosses for that? Secondly, men should give this a go to do it.

So don’t walk in guns blazing, half cocked and don’t, and don’t walk in so anxious that you have a 20 minute wind up, uh, to the place where you’re 20 minutes babbling about this important that you want to share. And all you do is have your boss confused and anxious. So build a skill and contract for what are the two most important things you have to do and pick and choose your battles wisely. Sometimes you have made a very profound insight to share about your organization or about a problem. Um, and but you may not have the relationship with your boss to hold it, right? Our relationship has to be able to hold conflict and you may be three or four conversations away from being able to share our perspective. It’s difficult to hear. So just because you have the insight doesn’t mean it’s time to share it. Make sure you build the right pathway so that it can be heard and, and uh, appreciate it. And don’t go in expecting that everybody agrees with you. You may have a very strong p, a passionate opinion about something. It doesn’t mean that there’s going to share it. Don’t go in expecting that people agree with you.

I would love for you to share the, the origin of your company’s name.

Yeah. So Natalie, what is the origin of two words? The word navigate. Um, which is, you know, so much of what leaders are trying to do is navigate a path forward, trying to pick a direction, set their campuses, figure out how to weave and Bob all of the pitfalls and potholes on a, on a, on a road of growth and prosperity. The second word is valence. Valence is the chemical property, uh, in chemistry. When two bonds come together to try and effect change or to have some provoked, we action, uh, in their compound to get something to transform. So, uh, literally the words navigating valence come together for, to say the word and, and what do they live. What it means is to navigate the bonds of transformation. And we think that’s what leaders spend their days doing and trying to create relationships and connections and an organization that allow prosperous change to happen.

I know that a lot of the work you do is, you know, uh, probably implied to be confidential and I’m not asking for the specific names of organizations that you’ve helped with Novolin, but could you, could you share of the kinds of problems that you help companies solve on a day to day basis? And maybe it may be an example of how you’ve done that.

Yeah. Um, so one of the very common problems we are called in for our are typically symptomatic, right? So I’m pulling all the levers that I have to pull on. I can’t get growth to happen or I keep thinking we get a product ready to launch and then there’s a problem, some type of a symptomatic idiosyncrasies that are not advancing an agenda or advancing a strategy. Uh, and a leader’s frustrated. We have a pretty rigorous diagnostic methodology, uh, akin to what, you know, will you go into a hospital and tell somebody you have chest pains, you don’t want to cardiology and say, oh yeah, I’ve seen it before I take you need it up to your apple left ventricle. Let’s go pull one in. You think, what do you want to do? An Mri? So, so we do an MRI, you know, treatment without diagnosis is about practice.

And so we go in and we make sure we do a thorough forensic look and how, how is the organization functioning or not functioning strategically, culturally, technologically from a governance point of view, from a process point of view, from a talent point of view. And we examined all of the ways efforts come together to deliver or not deliver results. Um, uh, and to see where their, where their obstacles, where are their challenges were, what, what story are people telling themselves about the organization that they’re in and where are there contradictions in most stories. And we bring a very comprehensive report to leaders, uh, that holds up a pretty harsh mirror, uh, an accurate mirror about a heart mirror, nonetheless about cues, how things are working in your organization. And from there we’re able to, to make some choices. So for example, one of the most common issues when we go in and we asked, okay, so tell me your strategy.

Tell me your identity company, who you walk. Because all business decisions have an from who you are. And Not surprisingly, we get 10 different answers, uh, from the senior team. Wow. Uh, most organizations confuse the mission statement, the Vision Statement, the value statement that you have, the annual operating plan. The product quote is the sales quotas for strategy. But until you can tell me who are you competing with, why you’re better, why potential customers would choose you over somebody else, uh, to provide your service or your product. You have no strategy. And most organizations don’t answer that question. They have counterfeits, they have pho identities, but not the fundamental work of saying, here’s who we are. And, and until you can tell me what you’re saying no to, here’s who we’re not. You really have no strategy. So sometimes the very first thing we have to do is articulate who are you to the marketplace?

Who are you to your customers? How would people know to choose you? How will people know not to choose you? Um, and it’s astounding how much confusion there is an organizations about who we are and who are not. How many, how big is the average company that you work with? Do you work with companies that have hundreds of employees or thousands or just kind of your niche? I have a number of clients that are in the startup world, so they’re getting their series B funding and 30, 40 people. I have clients in the mid cap world, uh, you know, and the, the classic mid Cap Challenges, you know, it’s the, it’s the $100 million company or the $50 million company trapped in the body of a $20 million organization they grew up with. They never scaled. It’s like the teenage boy and his dad’s suit. Got It. So they have, you know, several hundred employees and we have global fortune 500 clients. You have tens of thousands employees. So we have, uh, we, we have the ability to serve, you know, executives at all different stages of maturity and growth. Uh, the challenges we see in those different stages of maturity are different. But, um, the ability to diagnose them and help them find solutions is not

where do you call home these days? Like what state and city are you guys located?

Uh, so we have, I’m in Seattle, Washington, um, but we have offices in Kansas City and at my time as well, that’s where our main owners are. And then we have consultants a little all over the country. So are, we are a virtual firm. Um, and, uh, it enables us to deploy consultants to areas of the country where it’s convenient to serve those clients.

You know, you, uh, contribute for the Harvard Business Review for Forbes. You do a lot of podcasts. I know the listeners out there are always struggling to find more time in their schedule. How do you stay proactive with your schedule? I mean, how do, how do you organize the first four hours of each day and what time do you typically wake up?

Uh, so I typically wake up mass sometime between seven and eight. It depends on the day, depends on how, how late my flight got him the night before, if I’m flying in. Um, and Gosh, you know, uh, yeah, I mean these days, if, if what you’re selling is advice, if what you’re selling is ideas, um, there’s no shortage shortage of hose out there, right? What are the things I had learned years ago was painful realities that unlike when I began my career in this field, when there were not a huge proliferation of practitioners today, there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of practitioners doing this work. I’m always in the same language. I’ll use in the same, you know, uh, catch all phrases by all by no means doing the work the same way to the same degree of quality. But, but, but there’s who are all being compared with. There isn’t a person out there who has had hung out a shingle set.

It says, coach these days. So in order to help perspective buyers, uh, s no, you, you have to set yourself apart. People have to know your ideas these days. The decision pathway to hire a, an advisor, a consultant, a coach does not go directly to that person to test their ideas. Now it goes to the Internet somewhere. They want to know your ideas first. They want to vet you, um, and how you think and how you work before they even call you. And so if they can’t find you, they can’t locate your ideas. If they can’t vet that, the way you think, the way you see the world matches the challenges they’re facing are matches the kinds of things I’m looking to have done. You’re not going to get you. You won’t be in their decision pathway. And there are tens of thousands of options. So it’s not like they missed out on anything.

So part of it’s a necessity that my ideas, my firm’s ideas are visible to the world. Um, and that’s why I, you know, so I make the time to write for four, I was in to podcast and to write for HBR because it’s an important, it’s social proof that our ideas, it’s social proof that others are using our ideas. They’re stories of impact we’ve had with clients we’ve worked with. Um, so you know, it’s, I mean, it’s playing time, it’s weekend mornings before the weekend starts. It’s in a variety of places, uh, that I get that work done. Um, because it’s just part of a job. What a mentor at this point in your career has made the biggest impact on your personal career thus far? Oh my gosh. Um, uh, she’s been my mentor for almost for over 30 years. Um, she, her name is Toby and one of my tedx talks, uh, the secrets of being influenced was my tedx beacon.

She talks about her and, and my, one of my most recent Forbes, uh, columns was an interview with her. It was, um, a 15 year study reveals why the college admissions scandal was inevitable, but that cause she’s from higher Ed. And it talks about the, how do we think about the emissions scandal apart from the celebrities that the parents, but how do we hold the schools accountable? So it was an interview with her and she has had a, an, an incalculable impact on my life the last 30 years. She’s still to this day, gets excited about my work, still challenges me, so kicks my butt, uh, and pushes me forward. Um, we are still the best of friends. Um, I can’t wait to go. I carve out very sacred time to go to visit her in the northeast where we just spend two days alone and go to Costco and eat hot dogs and go to the gym.

She’s, she’s, she’s almost 80 years old, which is a gym rat. Um, she just got her real estate license just because she had retired and wanted to sit most to do. Um, and she’s an amazingly brilliant woman, uh, who has, uh, I’m inspired thousands of her graduate students. She was in higher ed for 40 years and taught phd and master students. Um, and you’ll find many, many people who claim her as a, a deep source of mentorship and encouragement and advice. But for me, she stands apart as somebody without who my career would certainly never have flourished the way it did. Well, you know, uh, Andrew and I are sitting here on Andrews, he’s taken show notes here. He’s right there. Always does ready to go so that we can can purchase a copy of one of your books. Here we are, we love, we love to have to purchase a copy of the books here.

So look rising to power leadership divided, which, which books should we purchased, which was really by rising to power leadership divided. Which book do you think we should buy? I buy rising to power because it’s the most recent one and it’s, it’s a really relevant study. Um, uh, for a lot of people it’s certainly, uh, for people who have aspirations to be a leader of any kind. Okay. Um, and it was a pretty comprehensive, it was, there was helpful, but 10 year longitudinal study that had more than 2,700 folks, um, in it. Uh, and it’s, you know, the, the most gratifying, it was a hard project, but the most gratifying part of that book is not even, you’ll see lots of wonderful reviews, uh, in the, um, on Amazon. But I think when we get, when I get an email from a leader who says it saved a career or a leader who said they were about to walk off, one of the most common pitfall cliffs, we identified in the research, but change their course, made a different choice because of what they read.

It’s, it’s, it’s incredibly humbling. But it’s so gratifying because that’s who we wrote this for. You know, we’ve known for more than 20 years that more than half of leaders trying to aspire to greater influence fail in their first 18 months. And they were called high potential. They recall a skip level. They were called the most promising, they were called corporate property. We had every name in the book for them for why they were so extraordinary. So how is it that half of them could become disastrous in a year? Um, that just made no sense to us. And when it became personal for us is when someone in our organization, in our, one of our client’s systems became one of the victims of that statistic. So we thought we could do better. We need to go find out what’s going on here and why, why have we thought this is okay, but 20 years, why?

I mean, I get it by the recruiters like, and it’s an annuity for them. But, but, but beyond that, why is all this carnage? Okay? And it’s not. And so for us to have gone out to seek how to solve what we thought was a major crisis in leadership, you’re, you’re, you’re appointing people to some of the most important positions in your organisation. Unprepared, rolling the dice on their careers, uh, and, and giving it a 50, 50 shot. And that to us seemed utterly dumb when you could, when it’s knowable, now what it will take to succeed in that ascent, in that ascent and how to help people do it. And so for us, it’s just completely inexcusable that organizations would allow their most promising talent to fail

without helping them. I want, I want to ask you this because I want to respect your time there. You’re a guy who have so much wisdom to share and I know the listeners out there, one a of you know, follow you. And learn more about you and get to really dive into your, to your content. And my final kind of question and a half years, where can people learn more about you and what’s your one piece of advice that you want to share with all the leaders out there listening today? So I love it.

The come stay in touch, you can come visit it and avalanche and a B a l e n We’ve got great videos. We have a, we just launched a brand new website that’s, you know, we want, we want to have named one of the top 10 websites in boutique consulting because our content is so rich that we, we what we up the game, let’s make it even better. And now the content is really searchable. We got videos and blogs and white papers and free ebooks. You can come to Navajo Dotcom. Slash transformation if you want to get our free ebook on leading change. If you’ve got one in your future, it’s our playbook. Um, you can find me at Twitter at, at [inaudible] and you can find me on Linkedin as well. So I’d love to stay in touch and continue to contribute to your journey as a leader.

Um, I would, the advice I would give you is to say what are the earliest pieces of advice? My Mentor, who you asked about before, it gave me very early in my career, she said nothing in late in life is a replicable except death. Uh, and what she meant, what she meant was you get do overs. Don’t be paralyzed in fear. Don’t be anxious. Don’t not give yourself a shot at something because it might not go well. There’s a good chance it won’t go well, but there’s no such thing as failure. It’s just learning, right? So if you have something you want, if there’s a, a position you want to go for it, there’s an idea you want to share. If there’s something you want to champion for yourself, um, you get do overs, give it a shot. Don’t, don’t hang back and wonder later in life to have a massive collection of, I wonder what would happened if questions. Uh, it’s life’s too short.

Ron Carucci, thank you so much for, for taking time out of your schedule. I know you probably have an article to write or a podcast to appear on or a company to help save. Um, but thank you for all that you do. And if you’re out there today, check out the book rising to power, the journey of exceptional executives. Get today on Amazon and a run. I hope you have an awesome day. Clay, you do this and thanks for having me. Great to be with you. Take care. We’ll Jason, we’d like to end each and every show where the boom. Do you know why we’d like to end each end every show with a boom while, because we’d like to be epic, but we also like to bring the big overwhelmingly optimistic momentum. That’s right. That big overwhelming optimistic momentum. And if you’re out there today, you have got to seize today with an er w with a sense of urgency almost as if some day you’re going to die because you will, you’re going to be dead soon. Well that’s a motivational quote. I should put that on a shirt. Right? And have any further ado, three, two, one, boom.


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