The Entrepreneur Podcast
The Entrepreneur Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

24. Acting As If: How to fake it until you become it with Greig Clark, Founder of College Pro Painters

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Clark started College Pro Painters out of desperation in 1971 when he was only 17 years old. He needed to pay for university and realized his summer job wasn’t going to cover his tuition, so he went door-to-door to sell his first painting job…without knowing how to paint! Clark landed his first job, and learned quickly how to deliver on his promise to customers. He went on to expand the business to 500 franchisees, and over 5,000 painters when he ultimately sold the business in 1990.

In this episode, Clark uncovers how to overcome fear and doubt as a first-time entrepreneur, how to make the first sale, and how to set up the systems, processes, and cadence to grow your business.

You're listening to the Ivy Entrepreneur podcast from the Pierre L Morrisse at Institute for Entrepreneurship at the Ivy Business School. In this series I be entrepreneur and Ivy Faculty member Eric Jansson will anchor the session. I'm here with Greg Clark, the founder of college pro. Greg, thanks for making the time and coming in for a conversation. Glad to be here. So in some of the prep for this I came across a quote from you, I think you're re quoting, or pair ofphraising somebody else, that necessity is the mother of invention. And when I think about your story of starting college pro, what was the necessity that got you to start this company in the first place? Yeah, good research. They that's from Thomas Albott Edison on the great inventors in American history, who said necessities the weather invention. mean he's got to be a reason why. And so the reason why for me for starting college pro was that I had a summer job that would make me twozeros a year and school at that time, little while ago, was totally everything, in tuition, everything and living was three thousand. So I had a ONEZERO GAP AD to close that gap. My father's have their six kids in my family and the oldest of six, I thought I got to close that gap myself. So I had started looking around for ways to make a thousand bucks. So that was the gap for me. So I just need I need a thousand bucks. What's what can I do you? What are the tools of my disposal? Let's start a painting company. Yeah, yeah, that was one of the ones. I had a summer job already a great summer job, but it, as I say, it was two dollar pitch since an hour, forty hours a week, twenty Mac weeks maximum in the summer. That's too grand. So I needed to make the thousand bucks, but I already had my regular days filled. So I did try a couple of things, but the one that I landed on was to try to paint houses. Another buddy of mine from the cottage area had painted some houses the year before and, you know, made nearly a thousand dollars. So I thought we could do it. So we started up this partnership to go out and try and paint some houses. Well, I found was interesting about your founding story. So you typically people will build a product. So I have something to sell and then they'll go out and sell it. Yours is a little bit of an interesting case and that you went out and sold and then figured it out afterwards. So can you tell us about those super early days of how did you actually get it going? Yeah, sure, they yes, I had thought of it that way. But yes, yes, we did that. I was hoping, of course, of my partner because he'd paint his houses before. He knew how to paint. I had all a little bit of training and other stuff. So the whole partnership idea was it. I was going to do the marketing, these fancy words selling, land the job. He would hire somebody and he the he and the other people would paint the job. He would pay himself a wage and then the I would do all the accounting and we would divide the profits. So so we said, if we had a handshake deal. So my job was going land the job. So I tried a bunch of things. Tried to do that. So I tried these fancy marketing things, like I put a lad in the in the local shopper newspaper and I got some flyers and distributed those door to door and I got nothing. There was nothing came from that. So I fell back on that marvelous high tech method of marketing called cold calling, which was a very scary thing to do, and went through a lot of a lot of challenges. I was really, you know, petrified the first time I went and knocked on a door because, as you said, I really didn't know a painting all that well and I but I did knock on enough doors that finally somebody said, yeah, we'd like an estimate, and so that I had to get started. That's so the first customer came from. How many doors you have to knock on before you your first? Probably about thirty. Thirty. Oh, that's a pretty good so I was pretty pretty good ratio and pretty good ratio. You talked about the squoonsy toes, feeling, that feeling when you walk up you're like willing yourself to go up to that front door, but you really don't want to go up to that front door.

How did you get over that? Yeah, honestly, it's a good thing to share actually, because a lot of a lot of people are hopefully, you know, watching this, either have started or about to start their own company, and it's that first in this case, literally knocking to door, but it's a first call. Call that first time we are actually going to put yourself forward and say I can do a service for you, and you just feeling they're going to look at you go you, why can you do this? Right inside you're going, I don't know, fucking do it, but damn, I'm going to give it my best. So that, yeah, I call it the squegee tows feeling, when you go to knock on the door and every bone in your body is saying go away, go have a coffee, go, go backs, go back and play some hockey with the guys. Right, it's easier, but there's a little party of that says I'm here, I'm going to do it, you know. Like then, like head. Just do it and knock on the door and you make your mouth work. Didn't work do well the first couple of calls, but do you make it work, and and that and that gets you through it. And so you went from got your first customer, did everything you could to deliver a good service for that first customer. So you went built, built the product, delivered a good service. How did college probe grow? I think you tell the story a little bit about the early days and how it transition from, you know, one man operation with a few painters to really being an enterprise that you were tuning the machine on. But this was involved a lot more people. So what was the transition from this is Greg's company trying to make a thousand bucks to what was that speak the hundreds of five thou employees? Yeah, agree to fight. It's a five hundred franchise. He's and four thou employees. One little piece in the transition is important there, as it did transistor from a partnership to a one person company. Because when I did land that first job, my partner was going to paint the house quit so I had to find go and hire some painters and get them to do that job, which is another one of those forks in the road when the whole idea for the business was a partnership is gone and you persist, persist a performance and say, okay, we're still going to do this. So that was the first fork in the road for me. But I did carry on, did hire some painters in that first summer made about three thousand dollars and then the next summer when it but that was also doing weather summer job. That made two thousands. So the second summer I came back and did pretty much just the painting and made seven thousand dollars. In the third summer just the painting and it made Twelve Tho. That's when I was I was at ivy the last two years and felt pretty good about it and then I took off and travel around the world with some of the money that I had made and got to thinking about this idea which actually we had written up in when I was in business school, which is the idea of taking this college ro microcosm of one outlet and expanding it across the country. Everybody has has this dream of going Nashville. got a good idea going to go, got to go coast to coast. Gotta grow, gotta grow. Yeah, so I drew up the idea the well when I was in Biscus, in bisical but didn't really really quite believe it because you never really trust the sales number. But as I as I travel around the world had spare time, I kept a little book, a little spiral notebook, and started to track things under the same chapters that learned at biscoal marketing, estimating, selling, production, personnel, accounting, HR and so I read all these things down. So I had the beginnings of a college ro Manu when it came back to Canada and started to work at General Foods and Marketing in Toronto. But I then look to get one franchise start. Wasn't a franchise at time. Was it was a it was a company owned operation. Later switched to franchising as a different story. But you got one, one operation going in London. Not a great success, but enough to keep going. The next summer I had to well, I'm still holding my general foods to job down. Next summer I had six. Still Holding on my general foods job. Getting harder and hard to do that. But I made a promise to my fiance and between the second and third year this, you getting tired of all these weekends living in the intense while I went and worked with franchise. He's selling paint jobs. I said, listen, here's the deal. If I use my good operations management training from Western, you know decision tree kind of thing, where I said, okay, if five of the six succeed,...

I'll quit general foods and do this full time. If if three or four succeed, I will will continue to test for another year and if less than that, I'll drop it. While work just for general foods, I'll have a great marketing career and I'll take all my salary and spend all my cellar, which half of which have been going into college pro. I think part of her was hoping for the third option. So that's how that's how I made the decision to leave and do it full time. And then the following year and I actually expanded from the six to twenty operations, and then from two thousand to forty and then Fort d eight. You kind of doubled for a number of years until we grew till five hundred. Franchise isn't about four thousand painters, and how did you balance in those early days? You know, often people will this is perception that entrepreneurs are big risk takers, and that might be true to a certain extent, but often people do a good job of mitigating that risk, whether it's choosing the right partners or validating that there's a workable business there. So the you know, the thirty second story of Great Clark, founder of college pro, quit his job and started this painting franchise and it exploded. As we peel back the layers. You actually did a pretty good job of mitigating that risk and keeping both going at the same time. How was that like? How would working a full time job, which wasn't an easy job, and starting a business on the side? How did you balance the two? Well, it's a good question. But also I want to emphasize your point there, because we often think of entrepreneurs are guys who go parachute jumping and jump off and cliffs and stuff like good hold Richard Branson. I'm not quite like that. So I did mitigate the risk both times for both forks in the road. When I before I left my job, my summer job, I continued it on not just that first summer but part way into the second summer before I quit and did college pro full time. So that's mitigation number one. It for me it was holding two down same time, same thing at general foods. I continue to hold that job until I was sure that the micro cause of working. So the challenge at least you, as you said, was that you're then doing two jobs at the same time and your work life balance gets a little crazy and I'm afraid there's not really any way to handle it. The only thing you have to do is be dead honest with the people who matter to you, and you know your family and your friends, of what's going on and try to I guess the only way I found it to do it was, I call it, put the rocks in this Dream Team. So I'd put the rocks in the stream from my personal life into my schedule first, you know, for me it was hockey and dates with my fiance. You put those in and then other stuff has to swim around it. If you do it the other way, it'll always you know, and then make damn sure you keep those commitments if you if you do it the other way, those those rocks will never show up. Now I was I'm sure if you talk to my family and friends at the time they would say, yeah, Greg could make those appointments, but he wasn't always there, if you know what I mean. And that's that's that's true. I had so a pattern that I'm seeing amongst our guests on the shows. There are periods where you just need to go, you know, put your head down and work. There's some commonalities and some differences between our guests, but one is there's just a period of time, whether it's right in the beginning or growth phase or whatever, they sort of do regain some semblance, mostly of balance eventually, or whatever balance means to them in their life. But they typically is a period. Could be a year, could be ten years for some people, depending on what they're working on. For they just have to make that thing the priority and as long as they're clear with other people that that is the priority, not that you're forgetting what everything else, but this is one of my main priorities right now. Their life does seem to work around that. So did you. You were just sounds like you were clear with family and fiance and friends, like right now I need to. This is one of the big rocks, I'd like to think. So retrosh back to it a hindsight two thousand and twenty. I hope I was. I think that. The couple things I would add to that is, as I say, my coping tactic. Wish to put those things in the calendar first so you and then stick to them and then obviously try to be present when you're there for those. I know that I failed at that sometimes. But the second thing is you got to watch this. Don't worry, honey, it'll be better next...

...year or it'll better when I get to this milestone or this milestone, because there's always another milestone and another milestone and another lovely got to get to. And I remember reading. I read Ted Rogers biography and I think that's one of the challenges he'd faced. Like it like right towards the very end when they're coming to him in his hospital Bett he's asking about cell phone sales and British Columbian. You Go, Oh my goodness, Ted Right, and I read that and I went, Whoa, am I doing the same thing right. So one of the things I did when I sold college pros we took a year and we lived in France for a year and that helped allowed college pro to flow out on my veins, because I must tell you that sort of the day after I sold college pro what I wanted to do the next day was buy another business fast. The next day I'm exaggery a bit pretty close right, and one of my good friends who who is had been my boss at General Foods actually took me up for lunch and he was in the mergerson acquisition business and you know, I see's congratulated me on the sale or having our lunch and I started asking him. So, Scott, what's in your book? What you got for sale? And he starts talking to me. A bunch of me goes hold, there's Colemans for sale and I oh, I used to camp. I like can't be tell me what that one and he literally reached across the table. It said slow down, buddy. So down said you know what I want you to do? I want you to I want you to go to France, for you've always talked about going to live in in France or in England. Go to France and live and just be for a year. Don't do just be right and given it. I'm a guy who always use it as I'm told. That's what I did. There's a bunch of things to come back to, but I have to keep going on this track. So what was the year after you sold new did live in France? What it was? What did you do for the year of just being? What did you do? Well, it's great, because it always sounds great in hindsight, but the first two or three months were agony because if you've had this one thing, I started to college from I was seventeen. Sold I was thirty seven. So you know I've obvious have I have some empathy for hockey players that retire thirty seven right, you'll hall of a sudden this thing that was the folks of my life is gone. Your P for purpose is gone. You're there with your family in this beautiful place called France. Supposed to be me a good time you going, and I was waking up at two or three in the morning and walking around the the streets of ex ampalans and going what am I doing? So, without going too much in at all, I can say is over a slow period of time, two or three months, gradually the past sleep deway seeped away and I could live in the present before starting to think about the future. Two little parts that help that. One is people from my past, including people from college pro one one fellow by name is Steve Lawrence, called me up in France and said can I come more for a visit, and that meant so much to me because I used to be his boss and I was important to him. Now he still wants to see me. Why? Because he values me as a person. Right. That was huge for me. A lot of little things like that. The other thing was I remember a day when I tried to sit down, say after three or fronts there, and I took a great big piece of paper, which I often do with, you know, the all the you know, the quadutor pads on it, so I can make notes and stuff, and start the top of the page and said, okay, when I go back, what's my goal, what I want to do? And I went HAH, HAH, I couldn't do it and I thought, okay, that's all right, let's just live in the present before you even start thinking about the future. And that was a it was a good, good transition here for me with their other tactics that you are habits that you developed that helped you be more present. Nothing like being in the south of France, where the wine is is good and that temperature is lovely. We're at t shirt every day and it's surrounded by a wonderful, loving family. I really got involved in in all the all the jobs of being a dad and dealing with my kids. We walked them to school every day and then my wife and I went to unit of stated excell pools and it had learned how to take courses in French and that all of a sudden your mind gets focused and a lot of other things right in the present, which is a bloody good thing to do. That's great. So I want to come back to college pro. So there's two topics I want to get into. One is the few peel back the layers.

You think about the systems in the processes that you and the team set up there. In my opinion, I think yours who is part of why, big part of why that company was successful. The same all at on the surface can seem simple. It's selling paint to people who need paint jobs. There's actually many other elements of selling involved at college pro. So would you mind touching on the different levels of sales that you had to make sure we're working in order for that company to be successful? Yes, so the basic microcosm of sales identify. I love spoke of Ted Rodgers before. I do love his line. And entrepreneur somebody who finds in need and fills it. Finds in need and fills it. So for person, job of a salesman is to find out the need. Now they've called you for a paint job. So that's the need. But what are there? What are their real needs? What do they what do they care about? Their home where they want to have done and then you show how what you can do can fill it. Now a really good salesman, if what he has can't fill it, should say can't do it. You know, like that great story of the of the scent of Chris Kringle it, you know, miracle on thirty four street, sent on a Bloomingdale's, even though Hese it macy's. So that's a really good salesman fans of true need and fills it. So that we had to do that to the number of different areas where there was selling took place at college pro the first was we had to the company, had to sell the managers of the franchise on taking on this opportunity. So it's a value proposition there. Here's what's in it for you, here's what's in it for us. There's a deal there. We had to learn how to sell paint jobs, teach those managers how to sell paint jobs to customers. We also had to sell managers how to sell. Really had to sell painters at this would be a good job for them. So there was at least three levels of selling going on. An acceptance going back and contracts being made. Here's an offer and acceptance. Here's wanting to do for you, here's what you're going to do for me. And so how did you? What were the keys to success for those? I think the first one being, even if I look at some of your core values, you know revolves around finding the right people. So find the right people for the job. So that first cell of convincing the managers to join college pro for the summer. How did what were the keys to success for that first sale? Well, as in all sales, you have to very strong value proposition, which would be your product, and ours was the headline on our posters. would be make at the time, make seven to tenzero dollars a summer, it says, when school cost you three see you make two to three times what you'R but it'll cost you for a year and and get a real world MBA. You're going to get really good, good training here. It's that was the that was the benefit, that was the promise. And then how we would what was the proof of that promise? The best one we had after a while, not the beginning, was we got a lot of successful managers out there who would either put their stories in the ads. Are Even better if we did a presentation on campus. Some of them would come and tell their stories. As you know, a case history is the best, you know, success story you can have. That's interesting. So the managers doing well themselves and then bottling that up somehow, either intrograting that into the ads or actually having them come back with you as part of the pitch. Right, yeah, that's good. And then what was the the next cell? How did you make sure that those managers then delivered on the promise of college pro well, so that we had to teach them how to sell, to land the job in the first place, of course, but then the next challenge just they actually got to do the paint job to that. But they've just promised and actually neat little, neat little thing. That occurred to me early on. Nothing, nothing earth shattering about it. But in the old and the old days I got these tri copy forms, which was with the proposal form, you know, no no carbon required, and see our paper and the first layer was the white layer and that went to the client, the second layer was the yellow layer and that was that was went to the manager and the third layer was a pink layer went to the crew. So the point of it being the promise is the same to everybody and whatever you promise the customer, that's what you're going to collect on and that's what the crews...

...in the deliver. I mean it's simple little symbolic device. But then we had to put together a set of systems that helped. They teach the painters and the manager, because they had to know how to do themselves, how to do the painting, and so we had a assistant of doing that. We had all the levels. We had a manual, of course, but a manuals like ten cents. The next thing is active experimentation. We actually try it out and do it and then conquered experience, we would have a trainer come in and for their first week in the job would be trained them how to do all the different parts of painting. And one of the first painters was at first trainers for me was my brother Tim, who now lives lives here in London, and one of the great joys of the Canadian climate to see became them the owner of the Thunder Bay operation after I graduated. But the one of the great joys of our climate is that, because it's still winter and Thunder Bay and late April larading May. He would train for me from my operations in London and Toronto. Without that there would be no college pros. That's great. That's great. So I've focus on when I'm teaching sales, on sales process and hard to do from just behind the desk. And I know that you didn't sit down, you know, in a cafe and say what's the perfect process to go about doing sales. You actually did it on your own. Could you go a little bit deeper into how you built out that? The Bible, the book, the training manual for these managers? Sure, and it, as you said, it does actually start in a cafe. But I start with something in my hand in the cafe and that be how does somebody else do it? I love to learn from others, so I look. I looked at the Xerox method of selling, the IBM method of selling. I, you know, go and observe. I went to hamburger. You in for McDonald's. It wasn't able to attend it, but I could go and look at it learn from others. So you then start with your with your book, your how you do it, and then you practice it your dude a lot yourself. But the but the other thing that I think was one of the keys to success at college pro was what I call CPI, continuous process improvement. You write down how you're going to do it. This is draft number one. You Go and do it, you go and observe a lot of your managers doing it, you go and field trips and you make lots of the notes and you improve it. So improve it in the in the manual, you prove your training session and you prove your field sessions. So constantly, constantly gets better. And if you keep doing that, if you improve, pick a number. One percent a week, fifty two weeks a year, you're going to get fifty fifty percent better every year. Needs so you started with something which was a model of another company. Yeah, whatever, who either are companying another industry, who did it well? Right, and then that was your starting point. And then you said you spend a lot of your time in those days actually in the field observing what people were doing. That was already working today. Yeah, I'd like to the in the burke book in search of excellence, which was key at the time. They called it managing by wandering around. I used to call it hand in the can management. You got to get out and you got to see how things are actually working. And we all know the stories of business. I'm a big historian. You read a lot of history of either companies or businesses or armies. Where the generals don't get out and see what's happening the troops up front, they get way out of touch really fast. The other thing I found is when you go around and visit and you have lunches with the guys in the gals in the field, you establish those those special relationships, not with everybody, but just a couple of people who they learned to trust you and you trust them. So when you go to put something new through, you can call them up and you say, like, Joe, what do you think if I try this, will it really work? And he's got enough trust in you or enough selfconversation. You know what, boss, I think that sucks. That won't work right. Or try doing this right and I'll bet you all you scratch. All good leaders they have their joes out there that they can go to wh will tell the truth. Yeah, so you kept in touch with the front lines. That's that's amazing. And then you said that when you were out there you're looking for the one percenters. What were those? Well, unfortunately, there are the the one percentage in terms of clients. was what I was talking about, is that I said that reverse way. Ninety nine percent of the people you'll do with, the customers are really, really...

...nice and really honest. They'll pay you on time, they'll keep their end of the deal. There are those one percent, though, who want to get something for nothing and they'll they'll refuse to pay you until you do more work for them, and there are real pain to deal with. And the one percent, though, in your in your observations with the group, you said you're looking to make you little incremental improvements in the field. Right. So what were those one percent like? Were the things that you were looking at that you could make one percent improvements? So they yeah, the yeah, that's what I referred to. Early if you make one percent improvement a week, the fifty two percent of a year. So, for example, I would drop in on a job site and I'd love to sort of pull up maybe a half a block away from the job site and then and I wander over and watch them. I wasn't trying to, you know, trying to catch somebody do something wrong, trying to cast in you something right. Sometimes you would find them loafing around. But if you could, if you could come up to when it's Ay half a block and you sort of watch and you watch somebody painting a window, which is in your estimating standards a certain time. You'd watch how we did it versus how we trained to do it and quite often to see they had a different way of doing it and it was faster. So you'd come up tone and and and and ask him to do another. One is it's always a little bit he's nervous when you're watching him. But so that would be so catching people doing innovative things. Things. You ahead and thought of going with a manager and watching how he or she spoke to the customer, how they how they close the customer. Almost every time you pick up something new, and I would, I would make a little note, put it in my expando file and take it home and then rewrite the manual in September and if I could, I put in the usually could I put the name and of the person who gave that idea, so that the manual became a bit of a story. That's neat. So capturing what people are already doing in the field, literally writing it down, observing it, putting it in your file, and then that became the process for the next year. That became part of the manual continuous process improvement. I think it droves some my manager's crazy sometimes. I remember one time I didn't have a piece of paper, so I literally had to rip off the label on a pink can and and write down the idea on the back that it was just such a good idea I didn't want to didn't want to lose it. That's awesome. So then you in terms of the measurements, aside from the guide or the the playbook that you put together. Did you have a name for it? was there a name for the annual edition of the College Probinder? It was just college pro manual, college romanual. The other name could have been the Bible, the Bible, yeah, but that was a bit, a bit too much. Sure. So the college pro guide, the guide book. What other things did you put in place to make sure that that was being followed, like what systems, are habits did you put in place to make sure that this was going to be done properly? Well, I've always hugely believed in that phrase. I got from somebody it can't manage, which you can't measure. So I try to put in measures for everything. We had in excellent measures for for the sales as as we've discussed, sales is one thing that can be very much measured, not just the outcome, did you land the sale, but all the the KPIES and the indicators that lead up to that. So we measured the heck out of that. But the other challenge thing was to measure production and you had to measure quality, the quality of really all the all the value propositions. Are we living our value proposition with the manager? So you have one way of doing that, living with a customer, a living with the painter. So we put in different ways, sometimes surveys, sometimes thought soft things like we would have. I would have as I travel across the country, I would have things called franchise, the Advisory Councils, whereas some of them we have a town hall meeting, basically Painter Advisory Councils, and I'd meet, you know, with customers. So it's always that constant radar sweep, both sometimes with quantitative measures like surveys, and also quality of measures like in person meetings, to try and and and find out how to improve. So you collected the figured of the data that was most important. You had your Kpis, and then how regularly did you review that data? Well, for sales it was and it was every every week. I think, as if as...

...we've gotten into things like Internet and social media, probably it's every day from them something now and pros and cons of measuring that every week. Well, the I find the week is a very good cadence for most most business measures, because you then you sit down on the Sunday and your plan your next week. How can we do better? And if you let it go too much longer than that a problem you can start to be feel insurmountable and you can't, especially when it's a twenty weeks. Summer right for the college pro was very, very tight. If you're behind by the end of June, you were. You were in trouble. The other reason that we measured and published it so that that all their peers could see. On the one hand it's spurred competition, which can be a good thing. It also it also inspired sharing. They would see that somebody else not too far away from the geographically had a very high closing ratio so they would get in touch with them. There were lots of events from managers got together and had drinks or whatever and shared stories and you see those two, you know guys or guy and a gel sort of start chatting over. Well, how did how do you do that? And then they're they're picking up so off often this stuff that's already in the manual, but it's hasn't hasn't clicked for them. But when a manual tells you one thing's fine, when the boss tells you one thing, it's okay, but when a peer tells you that, you go huh, and when you see it's working right, that's always better feedback. That's working. I see someone else doing it. This means that I will make more money or write more time or whatever's right. To start using it something that stood out. So my wife is a college pro alumni and has amazing things to say about our experience there. Something that stood out from her days there that I've adopted in some of my own businesses is the opportunity to make customers really happy. And so you'll have to correct me if this is not the right way that you did it, but it was something like every single customer when you were done, you would ask them, on a scale from one to tend how did I do? Anything less than the ten was a fail and it was how do I make it right? And some cases that meant literally, you know something. Things would come up the customers wouldn't normally share. So you'd say, you know, you did an amazing job, you delivered on what we promised, but a couple of the crew stepped on my flowers in the back and so she's a little upset about that. So she'd run to the flower shop, bring them new flowers, plant all new flowers in that garden bed and those people became really, really happy. So Am I am I your wife. Sounds over the top stellar. Okay, I'd love that. That wasn't in the playbook. Well, we it was, but I also you also got to got to got to watch it right, because I because I would say to my to our and our training sessions that the customers not always right. The contract is what's right. That's the deal. You stick to the deal, because there's some customers will ask you to do stuff above and beyond. So don't think that because I took, you know, cause for as a reputation going above and beyond that. You have to do that. If you do it for your own free choice, as your wife seem to do, great, and if you did damage the flowers, and that's because in our thing, which he will leave your house where we found it. So that's fine. I just I just, I think it's just dangerous when people get this feeling that, no matter what the customer asks, especially when you're seventeen each year old student, you think, well, I've I got it. Whatever they say is right. That's not true. What is it that that's a deal, you stick to the deal and delivered to absolute best your ability and then, by the way, they're expect to keep that part of the deal, which is to pay you. Right, but that we were right. We did have we caught. We called the business reply card and we ask people to fill it out and and send it in, and we did also find that. The think the thing you may be saying there is it when people did rite us down more low and we did call them back and or they made an actual, a formal complaint, if we got jumped on that and handled it well, because we thought we should have, because what we had done was not part of the deal. We got higher end ratings from those customers and the customers for everything went smoothly, because there's not just not used to that in a service business. Yeah, so going above and beyond, you'd often get better raving fans, people that are actual going to tell a story about right. Yeah, that's great. So you touched on it a little bit, but I want to revisit it. So what ended up happening with college pro? I sold it in one thousand nine hundred and eighty nine and I would say the main...

...reason, and reflecting back on it, was that, you know, we talked about the growth curve and we expanded, you know, first across Canada and the start expand across the United States. And I would find it as I went to a new area, I was really just repeating when I had done the time before, which was fine. It's just good, but it it wasn't as nothing's quite as exciting as your first time you go to that door and knock on the door it. This wasn't as much squinty toes anymore. Second thing that was happening, as I'm now thirty seven years old, I'm going to managers weekends, which were key parts of our our our culture, and I'm thirty seven, I've got a wife and four kids, and these managers are still twenty years old and they have much different thoughts on their mind. Is What makes for a fun weekend and I just felt that that gap growing. So I felt it was time to move on and try something else, but it was very hard to to leave it because it had been in my blood, for us since I was seventeen. Yeah, do you think there's opportunities for businesses like this nowadays to leverage students who want to be entrepreneurs to create student businesses? Well, it's interesting because I just three or four people who in your class came out to me afterwards and told me some of the ideas they are working on and some of them involve students. So I think the answer is absolutely yes. I think that the the products will be significantly different. I think there would be some of those classic kind of service things, but so many to so many more than have to do with somebody. The technical services that can be can be done and students are right in the right place to do that. So I believe so. Yes, but I think that the providing of physical services will probably be less. Last few things I want to touch on before we wrap up. We were speaking about habits earlier and setting priorities, and I it occurred to me that in our conversations you do that really well. You have a your own process for figuring out what's important and then putting time against those things. Would you much sharing, like what do you do, how do you evaluate or decide what's important, and then how do you actually act on those? Glad to share that. I'll also say that I did attend the last part of your class and that your whole lecture on that was superb. My I guess I think it's superb because mind similar. But I have developed a habit of I do set annual goals, the classic year's resolution, but I do with them in the in the I have sort of three main column the three P's of my life, when number one is people, number two is my profession and number three is personal development. And there's sort of subsets on are these one of those. I won't go through those, but I set sort of do it a year and where I'm at and all those things. What do I wear? What I want to do over the year? But I always find those yearly targets right there, so far away and any week to week. You know, okay, I got next week to do it. The cluck. The real thing that makes it work, as you pointed out in the class today, is what are you going to do next week? So every Sunday, ideally, I I sit down and I and I would set out what things are going to try to get done this week to move that goal, just move the yard six a little bit, maybe even just one of the goals. And I do. I do, you know, sort of track daily on the on the top three. It sounds all sort of mechanistic and boy, it's all sort of organized and programmed and there's a little bit of there's a habit beneath that. But what at the end of the day, what you want that habit to do is to change your behavior in a way that moves you towards a goal that matters to you. I love that. That for me that you put up today, it was priorities plus habits equal success, right, and I think that's a very good formula. Yeah, I think trying to figure out what those priorities are is challenging, you know, even for me from time to time. How did you get down to those three. The wild repeats and says it's so. The three pieces are ready the buckets right. They aren't the priorities of what you set underneath them. So so how to come to three? I guess you used you had a wheel with seven things on it, and I've looked at all those kinds of things and over the time I've just known that simplicity is better. I can get three is that's you know, some people, speakers say as the magic number, and I like that I can keep three things in my mind. If you can't think about your priorities when you're driving your car down the...

...highway, they are priorities, it because because there's too many of them. So that gives me three buckets and then there each one. I have sort of three sort of subsets. So it's sort of sort of works. But you're absolutely right. Your priorities the buckets will probably say the same, but your priorities in each one will change, certainly year by year, and so it makes you doing this sort of annual check in. So we'll get what is important under people to me this year. Obviously, the year you get married, the wife of guy goes right to the top of the list. There because it's the person you spend the most time with and have the most impact on your happiness. When kids come along, same thing, and I have six kids. So there's a lot of prioritizing that happens there. And maybe as a transition to what you're working on now, what are your priorities nowadays? What are you up to? What you focused on so that there be priorities? Under people would be wife, you know, kids and friends, but under under profession, it's now wifercated, has for about fifteen years. I have the for profit side and the not for Prophet side. On the for profit side I have six entrepreneurial companies with whom I do advisory services and generally the role I'm doing is set up, set up for them an advisory board and I usually chair the board. Then I meet on the months in between with the CEO. So and really, if you put an umbrella over the whole thing, the real goal is to help them set their strategic goals and then hit up easy words to say but, as you know, ridiculously hard to do because the day I've just said it's the Gig plan is Peter Dreker said, it's at a date. So, as he said, and I agree with them totally, business plans are useless, but business planning is essential. But what makes business, make it work, is the follow up and that's what I see. The role of the board is to help them follow up and what they said they were going to do. The philanthropic side, which is hugely rewarding, as I try to say to your class today, at this stage in my life, you take all those skills that you've learned and I'm continue to learn, as I learned in your class today. Take all those skills that your you've been blessed with and work done and you're turning intowards things which will help improve that. You know that classic line. While I call I leave the world a little better, you know because I because I lived, and I'm trying to take all those skills that I've that I've brought and tire to help some organizations that most of the areas I worked on has been trying to help break the cycle of poverty. Because if, because a society does not maximize its value, if it doesn't get the value all its citizens. I mean the classic case was for years women weren't able to contribute to society. So that increased our society by fifty percent when that came in. Is also but twenty percent of people are in poverty. If they can get a better crack and getting their potential, that will raise the whole society and them themselves, and so that's where I've dedicated since I started working when I sold my venture capital company in two thousand and six. Since that time I've probably like half my week in philanthropic ventures. That's great. So this will eventually be listened to by tens of thousands of people. Is there anything that you want to hand with today or working on or people can help you with? Ah, good question. The biggest of philanthropic venture that I'm working on now is an organization called trails for youth. It's just north of Toronto and I love it because just just give it a little background. I've also worked, I was chairman of the Christian Resource Center downtown Toronto for years, which works with people who are in poverty and it's really just trying to help make their life a little better. But you're not really going to break the cycle there. My daughter Tara does tremendous job with with an organization called building up which is helping people who have run into real problems, either me a addiction problems, criminal problems, mental health problems, but they, you know, they're in the sort of the S. I want to turn their life around and help them get and keep a job, which is fantastic work. I tried it that Se r seeing was not successful. Trails is working with kids twelve to sixteen from some of the difficulty areas of trial and helping them by taking them out to the the site and near Stillville for...

...one weekend a month and then two weeks in the summer to help them develop the skills and confidence to become contributing members to society. So that to me is very rewarding work because it helps break that cycle right the very beginning and it's a fantastic organization and they and they've had five hundred graduates in all of whom have become contributing members of society. And I bike seventy percent go on to university. So that's very rewarding work. So there's anyone who is attracted to that kind of work, give me a call. That's amazing. Well, Greg I think you've been incredibly generous with your time visiting my class and being on the podcast and, you know, at the service, I seemed like your legacy was going to be college pro you know, employing thousands of students over time and really giving them a foundation that can allow them to go on and be very successful in business. But I'm seeing that there's a whole different layer. You know, this is like the second or third chapter of your life and it feels like your legacy might actually be not college pro might be something on the on the nonprofit, on the charity or on the giving backs. Well, thank you. I'm enjoying that and I enjoyed being here today because it was learning from me to one of the most satisfying things to me to this day is, you want to well, like hearing the story of Your Wife, when I when a college from manager, a college role painter, comes to me and said I learned a lot from that. It, if you want to go wild and crazy, helped transform my life, because transforming lives is changing lives, helping lives, help people prove their lives. What it's all about. A college pro is a big way of doing in the for profit world, and venture capital is a good way of doing it in also in the for profit world philanthropy. If you, and I've met a number of the trails graduates, when you see them and see how they've transformed their lives and you had to a tiny bit to do with that, that is that's got to be the most gratifying thing. As I did refer to the Clay Christensen Youtube clip, the prop from from Harvard Business Review, and he does say at the end of the life and they it won't be a high a climbing organization, how much money you made. Those those are fine, but it will be how many lives you touched and improved. It will be what you really feels good to you. And so that's I liked watching that video because I agree. Yeah, and you've got a group of at least the alumni that I know, the two or three people in my wife's cord when she did college pro attribute a lot of whether out today to the experience they have the college pro. So that feels good. Yeah, thank you for coming to appreciate it. Welcome. You've been listening to the Ivy Entrepreneur podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player or a visit IV dot ca, a forward slash entrepreneurship. Thank you so much for listening, until next time.

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