388 Be Simple and Successful – Gordon Tredgold

What you will hear in our discussion with Gordon Tredgold:

  • How to be Simple and Successful
  • Leading the Right Way
  • How to improve focus and succeed
  • 4 Principles Every Business Needs to Achieve Success
  • First Time Author on Business Leadership – an Interview

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More about our featured guest Gordon Tredgold

Selected by Inc. Magazine as one of their Top 100 Great Leadership Speakers

#1 Leadership Expert to Follow on Twitter

Selected by Inc. Magazine as one of their Top 100 Leadership and Management Experts in 2014

Selected by Evan Carmichael as #1 Leadership Expert to follow on Twitter for last 10 months

Over 400k followers on social media (over 270k Facebook, 150k Twitter)

#2 Top 15 Must Read Leadership Blogs

#4 Top 50 Most Socially Shared Leadership Blog 


When you buy a book in November, be sure and leave an Amazon review; you’ll be entered into a drawing for free tuition for Gordon’s upcoming online event, FAST Fundamentals. (Valued at $997)

Full Transcript

00:00 Joel: Hi it's me Joel, welcome to ReLaunch, your go-to resource for inspiring stories, fresh ideas and practical steps, so that you can start over with confidence. And if you're a frequent listener thank you for subscribing to the show, and if you are new here, just know that you are among friends, and if you like what you hear you can join us here three times a week by subscribing to the show by visiting joelboggess.com/itc, and today's show is brought to you by Audible. And if you haven't done this yet, definitely take advantage of their no strings attached, 30-day trial membership and see if Audible is for you. You can download for free any audio book you choose, and it's yours to keep no matter if you decide to stay on as a member of Audible or not, any book right there in their library, and the “Finding Your Voice” book, that is my latest one that is also available on audio, and if you haven't read or listened to that yet you can do that for free, just visit joelboggess.com/audible, and take advantage of that 30-day trial membership.

01:20 Joel: Joining us on the show today, author of “FAST: 4 Principles Every Business Needs to Achieve Success and to Drive Results”. Gordon Tredgold is on the show today. Gordon, welcome, welcome.

01:36 Gordon Tredgold: Thank you for having me, an absolute pleasure.

01:39 Joel: Absolutely, it's gonna be a lot of fun. I love the FAST book, we're definitely gonna weave that into our conversation in just a few minutes. And this show, Gordon as you know, is highly practical because it is all about the relaunches, specifically how you did it, and while we've all experienced numerous launches and relaunches throughout our lives, I generally ask our guests to share the relaunch that has been the most transformational for them, and then we unfold the story from there. We'll do that with you here in just a few minutes, but first I'd like to start out the show with a quick piece of takeaway gold, and the FAST principles that you share in the book have been used successfully to turn around failing projects and money losing companies, and I'm curious, of the four ideas that you share in FAST, what would you say is the most challenging of those four for people to kind of get their head around and adopt?

02:42 Gordon Tredgold: That's a great question. Really the challenges with these principles is they're actually interlinked, so accountability and transparency go together and as you improve one it improves the other. The thing that causes most people to fail is a lack of focus, but actually, it's a lack of simplicity which stops them focusing, and I think that's the hardest one, because if you can get simplicity right it makes it so much easier to focus, and then when you focus on the right thing, you're aiming at the right target and you can hit it, but its simplicity. When people are often overwhelmed, and overwhelmed doesn't come from having too much to do, it comes from not knowing where to start.

03:32 Joel: Ohhh, I like that. I definitely wanna dissect the F the A the S and the T a little bit later on in the conversation, but let's kind of back up and talk about Gordon's relaunch. We've all been through numerous personal, professional relaunches, some more dramatic than others, but which one do we need to zero in on today for this conversation?

04:00 Gordon Tredgold: So I would say the most impactful relaunch for me is, throughout my career I've always taken on the tough projects, because I feel that if you… And if can succeed where others fear to tread, then you're gonna really put yourself in a good position. And I was working in Germany and I took on a project that was not wanting to bore people with technical IT details, but basically what we did was we did the equivalent of a heart transplant, a liver transplant, a kidney transplant, all on the same day, and the business had been promised that they'd be able to get up on the following day and dance. And I led that project and it impacted my department's service delivery, and we went through a three-month period of absolute hell; we couldn't sell product, and then when we could sell it we couldn't produce it, and then when we could produce it we couldn't ship it. I mean the business was… I don't wanna say they hated us, but it got to a point where we certainly didn't feel as welcome in the company as we have done previously.

05:12 Gordon Tredgold: And I remember my boss calling me into his office and telling me… And we had a 40-minute one-way conversation, which included an awful lot of swearing in English, and I was very impressed at my boss' command of English. And I learnt a phrase called ‘ [05:32] ____ you're fired', which means, ‘Fix it or you're fired'. And I had to go away and I had to really rethink what we were doing, because we were in a situation where there were so many fires, that we were struggling, we were working 14, 15 hour days, six, seven days a week. And my boss said, “Get everyone to work harder,” but we just couldn't work any harder. And I had to really take a strong leadership stance, and step back, and focus on, not just putting fires out, but figuring out what was causing the fires, and focus on that. And it was… As I said, there's a lot of screaming and shouting, and it took us about four months to finally figure it all out and get it back on track. But the… That project, it forced me to go back and look at how I'd been successful previously.

06:38 Joel: Okay, that's what I wanna get into next, Gordon. When we go through any kind of a relaunch, it can be in business, it can be personal, it can be spiritual, it can be relational or emotional, but there's oftentimes a lot of discovery that we go through, a discovery on our own possibilities within our own personality, and also discovery of certain value, and values that we have, and there's also some recovery that goes on too, recovering some of those same things within ourselves. So I'm curious, what are one or two things that you were able to either discover or recover about your potential, possibilities, value?

07:26 Gordon Tredgold: Well, out of that I came out with FAST, so that was great, but what I also realized was that, I actually wanted to coach and teach others leadership. And actually, once we'd fixed it, I realized that it wasn't something I wanted to do again, and it wasn't because the challenge was so great. We came through it, it was the… I wanted to help other people who we're dealing with failures to understand how they could fix 'em. So it actually got me from the situation of where… And my boss told me, “Oh by the way Gordon, you've got us through this, but you know what, your leadership sucks.


08:09 Gordon Tredgold: And I didn't believe that. And if you look on LinkedIn I have about 105 referrals from people who worked with me, and it made me decide that I wanted to prove him wrong, I wanted to show that not only did I… Not only was I a good leader, and have good leadership, but I could actually coach, teach and write on leadership, and share those… My knowledge and experiences to the benefit of others, and that…

08:39 Joel: Go ahead.

08:40 Gordon Tredgold: And that was the wonder learning of the approach that I wanted to share; and the second was that I actually wanted to do that and it was… That was my… That was a higher calling for me.

08:53 Joel: I understand. And writing about leadership and principles and practices, you did a fantastic job. I actually love the book “FAST”, either your team in the UK sent it to me, or the team that you're working with on this side of the world sent it to me, but either way, I got it and I absolutely… It's a good one. So, let's talk about ‘FAST', and kinda break apart those principles in the few minutes that we have left. But before we do that, why did you think that this book needed to be written and needed to be written by you?

09:34 Gordon Tredgold: So, I'm a big strong believer in servant leadership, authentic leadership, but one of the challenges is that, if you are a leader that leads from the heart, you still got to be able to get results, and what I wanted to do was I wanted to provide some guidance and input to people who want to lead in what I call the ‘right way', so they could actually be successful, because if you're a great leader… If you are a people-focused leader, but you don't achieve results, you're gonna get fired. You're just a nice guy or a nice gal, but can't get anything done. And I wanted to put into the hands of people who want to lead in the right way, some tools that would help them be successful so that we could see that, you can be successful leading in an authentic and servant leadership type of way.

10:36 Joel: Very good. Great, that response, appreciate you sharing that with us Gordon. So, let's go ahead and… F is ‘focus', okay? We've already figured that out, because you kinda talked about it in the beginning of the show, but let's talk about focus and then, how did those other principles weave in, weave amongst themselves, because they're all connected, related?

11:00 Gordon Tredgold: So, we fail because of four reasons, we don't know what we're doing, we don't know who's supposed to be doing it, we don't know how we're gonna do it, and sometimes we give up before we get to the end because we didn't know how far we had to go in order to be successful. And these are the four components of ‘FAST': Focus is about the ‘what'; what's our goal, what's our objective? Accountability is about the ‘who', and do they know what they've been asked to do? And do they have the tools to be able to do it successfully? Okay? And then ‘simplicity' is about the ‘how'; and we come up with the simplest approach possible. Because what I find is, people don't fail because they… It's not a fear of hard work that stops people from being successful, it's [11:52] ____. Sometimes it's just a fear of failure, and they fear failure because they don't know how they're gonna be successful. So we have to communicate how we're gonna do things in a way that people can understand and generate belief, and then we need to be able to lay down a GPS for the progress so that people can see that, in the early stages, they're making progress, they can see how much further they've got to go. And when you're making progress it's motivating. And when you can see that you're getting close to the end, you know just to keep going long enough in order to be successful.

12:27 Gordon Tredgold: So these are four components: Focus, accountability, simplicity and transparency. The more transparency we have the easier it is to hold people accountable; the more simplicity we have, the easier it is to focus. And as we increase in any one area, it allows us to increase in the other areas, and it becomes a multiplying effect. And once you get your teams using this and you yourself use it, you get better at using it, and it really becomes a great tool that will give teams belief and motivation that they can do anything.

13:02 Joel: Fantastic, love how you broke that down for us. So can you give us a tip about focus and determining your business' focus. There's a lot of solopreneurs that listen to this show, and a lot of part-time or side hustlers that are listening to this show as well. So what is the tip for them?

13:25 Gordon Tredgold: So there's two tips on focus for solopreneurs, one of them is, who's your target customer? Who are you focused on? You cannot focus on everybody. If you focus on everybody, you're focused on nobody. You need to really narrow it down who your target market is so you can communicate with them and can get all of your market in and inline with them. And then the other thing for solopreneurs is, you need to have a financial target. The number of solopreneurs that I coach and deal with, and I asked them, “What's your goal?” And they said, “Oh to make more money than last year.” That's not a goal, that's an idea.

14:07 Joel: You need to know, are you looking to make 50,000; 100, 200, 300,000, a million. Because if you don't have that number, then you cannot put a plan in place to achieve it, and if you don't have a plan how do you know whether today was a good day. So if you wanna make a 100,000, and you're selling… Let's say you're selling things that are $100 each, then you need to sell 1,000 in a year, to be successful. 1,000 in a year is four, for 250 days, so everyday you need to sell four. If you sold four today, today was a good day. If you sold two today, today was not a good day and you need to find a way to recover that tomorrow. So you need to have a very clear and specific goal, and when you have a clear goal, there's some research that shows that if you can write your goal down, you increase the probability of hitting it by 42%, and if you share it with somebody by 78%. So if you can't specify it, then you can't write it down and you can't share it.

15:16 Joel: I love how you talk about accountability. And when Pei and I are talking a lot, one of the things that we talk about for successful relaunches, is you gotta have your relaunch relationships in place. And you know what I'm talking about when relationships… You've gotta be linking arms with the right people, and you also have to surround yourself with those people that'll let you stand on their shoulders so that you can see farther and wider, and accountability plays right into that. So, a quick word on accountability, if you will, and then we'll move into simplicity.

15:53 Gordon Tredgold: So accountability is crucial, and once you get accountability then you're gonna take ownership, and once you take ownership you're gonna drive performance. And one of the things that I find with solopreneurs is that… And I fall into this category myself is that, you tend to be doing one of the two things; you tend to be working in the business or on the business. And the majority of solopreneurs that I meet that are struggling are working in the business, and you need to be working both in and on the business. And if you can't work on the business, you have to have somebody working on the business for you. You've got to develop and grow your business, you've got to be making the sales. It doesn't matter how much time you spend making great product, if there's nobody selling it, it's not gonna work. If you're only working in the business, you are very quickly gonna be out of business I'm afraid. So you got to have those two sides covered; in and on the business.

16:57 Joel: I love how you talk about simplicity, and one of the things that came to mind when you were talking about it earlier, is that sometimes entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, side-hustlers, kind of trick themselves into believing that the sophistication, or the complexity of their process, or how hard the work really is on their side, is what impresses clients and customers and prospects, and that's a big, big myth. So let's talk about it, go ahead. You got something to say.

17:32 Gordon Tredgold: Yeah, I've got tons to say on simplicity…

17:35 Joel: I'm sure.

17:35 Gordon Tredgold: And I'm glad that you told me you're audience is solopreneurs, 'cause it allows me to tell you a little bit better. One of the things again I find with solopreneurs, and I fall into this category as well, and that is, I was at an event and somebody was trying to sell a book to me, and I said, “Okay,” and I got my credit card out and they said, “Oh we don't take credit cards, can you pay PayPal or cash?” And it shouldn't be the customer's responsibility to figure out how to do business with you. Make it as simple as possible. If you don't make it simple for people to do business with you, and that means you need to take cash, credit cards, whatever they want to pay in, if you can't do that, then they're just gonna move on to the next business or the next opportunity that's offering what you are. So we have to be simple to do business with. It doesn't always mean everything we do needs to be simple for us, we need to make it simple for our customers. We need to make it simple for people to understand what it is we're doing.

18:41 Gordon Tredgold: I did a workshop with some entrepreneurs, and I said to somebody, “Tell me what your business does in 30 seconds.” And they said, “Well, the thing is, it's quite a complicated business and it's hard to tell you in 30 seconds,” and I said, “You know what? You haven't sold me anything, I've now moved on to somebody else. I could have been a potential customer, but you've made it complicated for me to understand what you do. Why would you do that?”

19:12 Joel: Real quick, let me jump into my world real quick, is that okay?

19:17 Gordon Tredgold: Yeah, sure.

19:18 Joel: I… Pei and I train new podcasters, on how to really rock their show and how to blow it out on iTunes during their show's debut and then how to grow their audience over time, which is exactly what we've done with this particular show, and many, many clients that we've worked with, and one of the things that I've talked with my clients about over and over again is, “You've gotta… ” And this is the phrase that I use, I say, “You know, when you're asking people to help you promote your show, you've gotta make it third-grade simple for people.” And that's… You know what, my attorney actually used that phrase when he was writing a contract for me to use with my book publisher, and he said, “You know what, it's gotta be third-grade simple, Joel,” and that phrase just stuck in my mind. And it's so true, and when… ‘Cause people want to help you, and they wanna buy your book, they wanna attend your event, they wanna work with you one-on-one, or in a group, but you gotta make it third-grade simple so that people can… They can join you.

20:33 Gordon Tredgold: Yeah, absolutely. “Help me help you, don't make it difficult for me to help you.”

20:38 Joel: Well it's definitely a game-changer when you do that. And when the podcasters and authors that I work with, when they start to understand that, you gotta just make it easy for people. Then when they're able to do that, gosh, the results are phenomenal, because all of a sudden, boom, that podcast goes to number one in iTunes; or boom, that book hits number one in Amazon, and their categories. And people will help you, but you gotta take the steps so it can be easy to do, because the last thing anyone has, these days, is more time to figure out, “Okay now how do I do this? Or how do they want me to help them here? Or, how am I supposed to pay for this product or service?” You gotta make it easy.

21:28 Gordon Tredgold: Yeah. There's a couple of companies that I really admire…

21:33 Joel: Sure.

21:34 Gordon Tredgold: Apple's one of them. Their products are so simple. That's why…

21:37 Joel: That company is gonna catch on, Gordon. You mark my words, that company's gonna catch on.

21:43 Gordon Tredgold: Their products are so simple to use; you bring the computer on, there's one cable, you plug it in, you turn it on, it works. You buy a Microsoft PC, or the PCs that run Microsoft, there's a dozen cables, there's discs, and you have to… No, you know what? Forget it…

22:01 Joel: You have to have a PhD.

22:03 Gordon Tredgold: Correct. And Apple, I think… I'm not sure if they're still the highest-revenue company, they're certainly up there. And then another company I love, is Southwest Airlines. 37 years, 37 years of profit, in an industry where the major players have all had to merge or file for Chapter 11. American Airlines is now joining US Airways, and yet Southwestern, through simplicity, have been profit for 37 years. You compare them with Delta, and I think Delta has something like 45 different type of aircraft, which means you need different spare parts, you need different engineers. You need different configurations of flight crew. Southwestern, one model of aircraft, the Boeing 737. Every single pilot can fly it, every single spare part can fit it, simple. And when people tell me, “Oh, you don't realize how difficult simplicity is,” “Hello, Southwestern Airlines did it.” We go out of our way to complicate things, stop doing that.

23:08 Joel: Right. And what a great way to bring us in for a landing, wow. You see how I did that?


23:16 Joel: Okay, so F-A-S, and that leaves us with the T. So let's talk about the T.

23:24 Gordon Tredgold: So transparency is about understanding two things; it's understanding what's involved, and then how far you're performing, because a lot of things fail because we didn't understand the… We see that top third of the iceberg. It's like pricing; we set a profit based on what the cost-of-goods is, but we don't look at what the cost-of-sale is, and our cost-of-effort involved. So if you price over the top third of the iceberg, the thing that you can see, you can end up pricing your product so you're making a loss rather than a profit, or you can underestimate what's involved. I run marathons and people tell me, “Oh, I couldn't run a marathon, I don't think I could run 26 miles.” Excuse me, it's not about running 26 miles, that's the last day of the marathon. It's the six months before, where you've gotta be getting up at six every morning and running five days a week, running 500 miles in training. You've gotta be able to do that first, then you can worry about running the marathon.

24:26 Gordon Tredgold: And then the last part is, having a clear picture into performance. And you know I was telling this story the other day, when I did my fourth marathon I wanted to break five hours. I got close, I did five hours, two in one, and I ran the Athens Marathon. And you're running from Marathon, and you finish in the Olympic Stadium, wanting to break five hours. After four and a half hours, I was bang on track, and then my iPhone battery died, and I had no visibility into my performance, and I completed the race in five hours and nine seconds.

25:02 Joel: Oh…

25:02 Gordon Tredgold: If I'd have had the visibility, I could've found nine seconds. I could have skipped the croissant and coffee at Starbucks, at mile 25. There's so many things. I could've not high-fived as many people as I ran into the stadium, but because I lacked visibility into my performance, five hours and nine seconds. And I can tell you, you don't wanna know how bad I felt when I saw that time came up. I was gutted. And you can do the same in your business if you don't have that transparency, so you have to know what's involved and how far we're progressing, that's what transparency is about.

25:41 Joel: Love it, love it. Gordon Tredgold, that's who we're talking with today, the name of the book is “FAST”. Of course, we will have all of the social media links and all of the go-to places included in the broadcast show notes that accompany this episode. Gordon, I appreciate your time today. You're welcome back here on the ReLaunch show anytime. And I really appreciate you spending time with me today, and help me get a better understanding of four of the most important letters in business, F-A-S-T. Have a wonderful rest of your day, Gordon. Thank you.

26:20 Gordon Tredgold: Thank you very much.

Connect with Gordon on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and his website.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.

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