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Sept. 1, 2021

113. How to Be an Agile Entrepreneur with Justin Goldson

Leverage large company wisdom in your small business to remain flexible, competitive, and profitable.

Leverage large company wisdom in your small business to remain flexible, competitive, and profitable.



Dr. Justin Goldston is an Assistant Professor of Project and Supply Chain Management at Penn State University.

Dr. Goldston has over 20 years of experience working with organizations around the world such as Intel, Siemens, and Blue Buffalo on business performance improvement, organizational change, and enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives.

Dr. Goldston is the author of multiple peer-reviewed journal articles on supply chain management and innovative technologies, of Critical Success Factors in ERP Implementations, and is a five-time TEDx speaker where he discussed emerging technologies such as blockchain and Artificial Intelligence. 







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If you want to get into consulting, if you want to get into coaching, do what you're passionate about. If you're doing it for the money, it's not going to work out. It's not going to work out. Your clients are going to see through it. The clients, the clients will see that that's what you're in it for. But if you're in it, the passion is going to show through.


Welcome, everybody. I'm excited today to have Dr Justin Goldson talking with us about how you can navigate through the growth phase of a startup. Now, his expertise is well beyond this. He is an assistant professor of project and supply management at Penn State University, a five times TEDx speaker and author and an expert on diversity and inclusion. And when I spoke with him, what was so intriguing to me was how some of the strategies that are used in larger companies and in bigger situations that very often as entrepreneurs we either disregard or we shy away from because they seem kind of complex.


That he's very good to explain these for to be a great person, to help us understand some of the best strategies that use a macro level and apply them to our business. So welcome to the interview. Justin, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks.


Wait for having me Absolutely.


So what I want to start out is something real simple. And again, from watching some of your Ted talks and from Talk with you, I know there's so many level of depth you can go through, but I also know you're really good explaining things in a simple way. How can small business owners apply large company strategies when starting a business just in a generic sense? What are some of the best things they should be using as far as ideas frameworks that maybe they're neglecting?


I would say first, I'm going to say that when these organizations call create their own brand their own framework, if you will, they come from they come from a foundation, right? Whenever we see organizations discussing methodologies for technology, for example, they're basic, they're basic. And these organizations try to brand it to make it sound complex. Everything that we talk about today is not rocket science. And whenever you see these large organizations, these failed implementations, they try to get cute. And it all comes down to getting back to basics.


Keeping it Simple If you keep it simple, you'll be successful. If you keep it simple, you're going to have adoption from leadership. You're going to have adoption from your employees. So I would say keep it simple and look for those foundational methodologies, those foundational frameworks for these things, such as agile, such as digital transformations and things like that.


Awesome. Thank you. And I definitely love in different business books when people will sometimes start with the lemonade stand model, say, look, let's keep this real simple. There's some basic supplies and people okay, there's the lemons, there's the water, there's the sugar and there's the business, and there's some basic things. And I agree with you definitely part of positioning, and it's not horrible. It's marketing. You want to say that, hey, our stuff is pretty cool. But as I said, there's a part where it gets cute or it loses its fundamentals.


And if you look at some of the most successful, whether it be inventions or businesses, I mean, look at Amazon. Amazon just delivers. And that's not even a saying of theirs. I don't think it's part of their marketing, but it's something, you know, you're going to get it, and it can be delivered. And there's a lot that goes behind that as far as the implementation of there's a lot of technical stuff, but the mission, what they're about is very simple. And I can understand definitely how if you're growing a business, that then keeping people remind, look, this is our main thing.


We deliver well, and we deliver what we said we're going to do. So if that's the recurrent theme, then when I have 51 00, 50 00 people beneath me or organizationally or whatnot, I don't have to worry if they're going to mess it up as long as I stay consistent to that message. I know some of the best leaders I've had when I've been in the corporate world have been one, two at most, three objectives that we're working on, and usually it's just one to do.




Awesome. Which strategies would you say that people sometimes get excited by do apply to large companies, but either not to small businesses or not yet. So for example, I heard I'll give you an example of one, and you might have, I'm assuming better examples. But I've heard some people say that sometimes when a person starts a small business, they start at with all these worries about, well, what if we have 10,000 people? I've got to prepare to scale, and it's like, no, no, no. First you got to make it through the first year, and it's great that you see that.


That's great. But there are differences. So there are certain things that now you don't want to use those yet those are truly advanced strategies. That, again, fundamentally speaking, you need to grow into versus saying, I'm going to start with these more advanced strategies. What would you say are the basics that people need to focus on? And what are some of the things that maybe they need to hold off on until they at least grown or received or attained a certain amount of stability in their business?


Before getting a higher education, I was a management consultant, and I was working with a lot of small, medium and large and startups and digital transformations, implementing enterprise applications, if you will. Right. And in some environments, it's exactly like you said. They're trying to they have the strategic plan where they want to grow, and they want to purchase this this $500,000 application and think it's a silver bullet. They believe that technology is going to say is going to save the world. And again, you have to get back to basics.


And you have to take baby steps and also say that you have to get your house in order. When you're talking about technology, that's one of the things that I said, get your house in order. First, ensure that your data is accurate. Ensure that your data is clean. Okay. Make sure that all your customer ship twos are accurate and your customer records are accurate. I laugh. But that is probably probably the most common thing that I see within organizations. You know, it's the basics of data.


And although I talk about technology again and you're going to see hear me say, yeah, back to basics all day long on this call, because that's what it comes down to, especially for startups. They they get this shiny, shiny, shiny item syndrome, and they hear the blockchain and the artificial intelligence and things like that. Yes, I will say that blockchain is applicable with small, mean organizations. Artificial intelligence is applicable small media organizations, but you can't go from Excel to artificial intelligence. It's a phased approach. It's baby steps to get there.


So I would say that it's a progression from a technological perspective. But yes, technology can be a differentiator. Yes, technology can be a competitive advantage, but it takes time. It's not going to happen overnight. And most importantly, most importantly, technology is just a tool. That's all it is. It assists you in making those decisions. It does not make decisions for you. Technology cannot sense body language. Technology can't sense empathy. Technology doesn't have the soft skills that make a business successful.


Absolutely. And I think one of the other things and I think about something. I'm pretty sure this is a quote from Bill Gates talking about technology being a multiplier. But if you've got unprofitable business, also going to do is multiply your unprofitable business. So when people say I'm into real estate, okay. And I'm buying real estate, How's it going? Well, it's not going well. So I'm going to double down and buy some more, like, okay, let's look at why it's not doing well. Maybe you don't know the fundamentals and maybe you shouldn't be buying more.


And again, it's just going to multiply what you're doing. I think if something as simple as people are building an email list, it's a very basic small business trade, building your business, your database. Well, if your emails are wrong, if the date is wrong, just imagine if you had an email software that for some reason transcribe the email is wrong. So you got an email. It was accurate. By the time that your database is wrong, everyone of your email is wrong. Now, every marketing strategy you've done, everything that built up to that, it would basically have been a waste.


Not completely. Guess techncally. You build a relationship and what, but that's a pretty big deal. And so, again, you're pointing a lot of people complicate things, because definitely the idea that technology is going to do something bigger, it's going to scale something. I've made this mistake before he if this new software, this new look on my website is going to make a difference. And, yes, sometimes branding does look different. And if your website looks like it's from 1980 and you move it to 2020, sure, that'll probably help you.


But overall, I think a lot of people get lost in this. And I imagine you've had this happen. I've had more time than I'd like to admit, where clients have paid a pretty good amount of money, and I didn't filter them or educate them all enough to say, well, hold on. There's no magic in you giving me this money. Are you pinging your credit card? There's going to be work that needs to happen. On other side, I'm giving you foundations or fundamentals, but you're gonna need to be doing the work, because if I could just do it by myself, I wouldn't dis code you.


I just do it myself. No fence. Just go. If I could double my money, I just go double my money. I wouldn't go hire clients. I just go do it. And one of the things I think people get caught up in is, again, like you said, over estimating what the technology can do and sounds magical, and it sounds wonderful, but it usually skips the work in somewhere doesn't have to be struggle, but somewhere there's hustle involved, somewhere there's work, there's patients, somewhere. All those things that require something to happen.


So I want to go into something a little more specific. You've talked about Agile. When you and I talked to the pre interview, I said, okay, I've heard of agile. I don't really know exactly what it is. I know what the word means in the sort of generic Webster Dictionary sense of it, but I've heard of it enough to be intrigued by it, but not to understand it. If you don't mind starting out first just for a solopreneur entrepreneur, small business owner, what is agile? What does it have to do with business?


And then how might it apply to helping or how to use it when you work with consultant or when you consult the clients, what does that look like? And why are people saying this word? Agile? Agile. Agile. Okay, what does that mean?


Okay, so let me back up. What the PC up for the basics, right. So in traditional, whenever you're planning projects, when you're planning initiatives conventionally, we would have what we refer to as a waterfall approach. In project management, where you have that step by step by step by step by step. That structured approach, right? You have guardrails. Pretty much you have guardrails. Within agile, you have an Iterative approach where you can implement, you make you plan, you implement something. You get feedback and you pivot. Right? And you just keep doing that.


Keep doing that. Keep doing that. Keep doing that until it's live. Now I was speaking with. I was speaking with. I always love sharing the story. I was speaking with the individual and Singapore. And she says, oh, yes, I listened to one of your lectures. You stand he's like agile. This agile. Isn't that a little reckless? I said, it sounds reckless. I said, but it reduces risk because think about it. If I'm a business and I plan all of that stuff for a year and a half without feedback, and I built this stuff up.


I don't know if it's going to work. I don't have feedback. I don't know if the employees are going to like it. I don't know if the clients are going to like it. I flipped the switch. It says train wreck. Now I'm shut down with an agile approach. I can do what we refer to as sprints. I can do six week sprints. I figure I have all these requirements and I will work with my team and say, okay, how many of these things can we get done in six weeks?


Hypothetically. Okay, we can knock out these five things. Alright, let's knock these at least five things out. Once that time, fences over, cut it off. Now we implement it. Now we get feedback from employees. Now we get feedback from first time adoptors. Okay, you like this. You like this. Do you like this? A feature in our application? Okay, we keep it. This one's trash. All right, let's make modifications and you just keep doing that. But so now a year and a half down the line. I know this thing is going to be pretty solid.


Yes, there's going to be some tweaks that has to happen. Yes, I've pivoted throughout the entire process, but I'm confident that the solution is going to be successful. So that's why I love the agile approach. Because you get that continuous feedback loop, right? I don't have to wait for a year and a half and cross my fingers once I flip the switch after a year and a half to see if this thing works or not. And I think that's very, very, very, very important for startups.


One, because one, because you're at the size where you can do that, you can pivot quickly. Right. And two, I don't think that you can. You can take on the risk of waiting a year and a half to flip the story. Should see if this thing works or not. So that's why I'm a huge advocate of agile for start ups and small medium businesses.


Awesome. Thank you. And that reminds me of examples I've heard. And it's interesting. It's almost like similar language in slightly different way. It's worded. So I've heard a few different different experts in the entrepreneural field, the online business field talk about. Okay, before you even start building your product. For example, create your offer, start your sales page to your brand name. Let's even see if somebody buys. And that doesn't work in all product situations. But for example, if you're about to create, I don't know, a one year mastermind of a coaching program.


Yes. You want to have your twelve steps of let's say, each month we're going to focus on this and what not. But there are certain things that a certain level quality take a while to build out. If you're doing something like a mastermind where you're getting feedback from people, by its nature, you might have I mean, you want to have an idea where you're going. So this is the young lady from Singapore concern. This is not about saying no. I have no idea what I'm going to do, and I hope something happens.


It saying, yes, I have an idea. But I'm also clear that it's not going to work out exactly that way. And in fact, I just think of marriage. Marriage is a constant feedback loop. You might have this idea of what it's going to look like. We're going to do this. We're going to move here. We're going to have this many kids. We're going to do this. They're going to join the basketball team, the all these different ideas, and then life happens, and it's not a bad thing.


It's just something that shifts. And I find a lot of people when they get too specific on something, it's almost they're having a hard time. And it's that whole thing. It is what it is. Well, it's not what you think it is. It's not what you hope it is. It's not what the book you read said. It is. It's what is. And if you're getting the feedback, I like that discipline, really, of constantly looking for feedback, because if you're not doing that, I think of times that I did this did the software business is my software business the first time I launched, and I rolled out this product, and this is back in 2003.


So it's an Excel based software, the computing, or at least I wasn't at the point to be able to update it online. So I'm doing a once a year update, and I've got to get it right. But I've got to launch something really simple, and I've got to have that one thing that I launched, because this is old days. I'm sending it by CD in the mail, SaaS, and I'm burning them on my computer. I've got to get this right. I don't want to your point.


I don't want 50 extra features that are going to bug out. I want the core, you know, PC that they need. I need to get that right. And then I can make updates, maybe every 90 days or maybe. But to be simple to say, okay, this is the one core thing I'm doing, and then I can get feedback. Why? I didn't get feedback on whether or not they had updated. I just sent an email said, hey, if you need any help, let me know. And nobody said they needed help.


Well, year later, I'm like, okay, who's renewing and 50% of them didn't. What happened? Oh, wait, we never implemented it. We bought it and you sent us to CD. So we felt bad asking for money back. But I did not have that feedback loop. And to me, based on what I knew I had done, my due diligence, I said, hey, call me if you need help. I'm open to help. I'm ready to help. But there wasn't an active I was putting on them to run my business, whereas my responsibilities with the way I'd Wade it now to say, oh, let me follow up.


Let me check and see how it's going. And to make sure that there's actually buy in here and what worked and what didn't work.


Yeah. And I think that I think with everything that we're talking about, it comes down. It comes down to two way communication and two way knowledge sharing. Right. And I think that your example just demonstrated that coming from, in your case, your consultant. You've been consulting startups and entrepreneurs for years as a management consultant. I've been consulting for years, and we get lost. We get lost. And we miss the listening part. Right. We have to listen. We have to listen to the clients. We have to listen because we learn from them as well.


And that's one thing that I that I talk about with my students in that and that I got paid to learn and consulting because of every single project. I learned something new because it's different environments. It's different. It's different decision makers. It's different personalities, most importantly, different personalities. This software, I could Wade a greater software in the world, but if the people don't adopt it, it's going to fail. Right. So that's one important thing for for entrepreneurs, I would say to listen to your employees, listen to the voice of the customer is the most important thing for entrepreneurs, and you need to put your product in and listen to the voice of the customer.


And the most important thing is, in most cases, free. With all of the outlets now on social media, you can get the voice to customer. And people are willing to share their opinion, especially you're going to give them something for free and say, hey, try. Just let me know how it is. Right? They are very willing and open to get feedback. And in some cases, in a lot of cases, I incentivized to get that feedback. $25 gift card. Free dollars gift card is nothing for feedback.


That's nothing. I think I was listening to one podcast and this artificial intelligence professor or expert, he said, Did I go? I'll say, Ban, that's brilliant because it is. Look at Amazon. Like I said, not pre call. Amazon used to sell books. I said this on multiple podcast. Amazon used to sell books. Amazon just saved the world back in March and April, and Amazon success is based on data. Look at Netflix. Netflix shutdown blockbuster. Literally. You it comes down to date.


Well, and, you know, the thing that's interesting for me is when you talk with people again, it's great. And I'm an author. You're an author. It's great to write books. We want to inspire people. And one of the toughest things any author knows if you've written any sort of instruction or self help or business or any sort of book like that, as you usually have, let's say, five to seven things you want to say. Very often the audience will remember one or two, and so you hope they remember the right one or two.


Hopefully you point those out, but then some of the other pieces are relevant. And so I see so many people that are starting businesses, and their assumptions are based on something that is very often just incomplete, not wrong, not evil. Sometimes you have people that are sharing information where they don't understand why they did so well. So, for example, Shaquil and I could post or create a book on how to dunk a basketball. Chapter one, B seven foot, chapter two, take ball throat. And he might say, yeah, this is great.


Say, well, hold on, buddy. Your target audience is seven footers. It's not the rest of us that might actually jump little. There might be more steps involved, so it wouldn't mean he's a bad dude for doing that. But sometimes people will have a success, and they don't realize all the steps they might be. Wade, oh, yes. My parents stayed together. I was raised in a family. I had a College education. I had all the support all the way through. And then I wrote this book and everything worked out so well.


Hold on. There's other steps that maybe other people don't have. Other yeah. Oh, yeah. I happen to get a Masters in Business Administration from a top school. Okay. Well, that's a variable. That's a piece of information that you have that other people don't. And I think of the way I started my consulting business, and it wasn't intended to be, but it had to get agile really quickly, because I started with idea, which had to do with charitable giving and estate planning and technology. And I started at January 1, 2020 stock market hit crash.


It crashed. But the tech market, a lot of it really went south about three, four months in, and all this training and all these ideas and all my sequential plans didn't pan out. And it got back to okay, small business owners who I've worked with, what's going on? Just complete 360 model feedback. What's working?


What's not working?


What can I help you? What are the biggest things? Your biggest frustrations? What are they costing you? How can I help you. It those. Here's what I'll charge for Mike. And initially it was here's what I'll charge for my time because I haven't proven I can get results yet. And then eventually round two or iteration two0 is okay. I've gotten these results. Now with this group next group, here's my slightly increased investment. And here's what I believe we can have. Here's why it will take less time.


But I couldn't have written it any other way. It would have either been just false. And I know there's a lot of people say fake it to you, make it, and I get the intention behind it of saying, you know, be confident and step up to the plate. But there's a fine line between that and just absolutely misrepresenting what you can do or putting yourself in a position where you perhaps can't do that. What would you say when you work with the larger corporations? What are the most common areas where they're not agile?


That hurts them? And then what would you say? The same of small business owners. What are the most common areas where they're not very agile? They're very fixed. And let's go into this, if you don't mind. Like, is it the ego is a little more of the personal side, because usually in my experience, there's a lot of Greek tragedy, Shakespeare. And there of here's the one guy or the one Gal that's so sure they're right. And everybody's like, no, no, no. What's that usually look like?


So that when a person's self assessing say, oh, maybe I'm doing this. Maybe I'm not listening to what's trying to scream at me. What are the warning signs? When, again, things aren't working in either a large business or small business. And how can people be more aware of that?


I would say I would say based on the number of environments, the bureaucracy and large organizations is common to your point. To your point, those egos in large, like Fortune 100 companies, work that's huge. You know, the Wharton Grads. They don't want to be viewed as them taking the opinion of adjusting from Penn State. Perfect example. So my company was hired by this startup company in Pennsylvania. Two Warton grads. Right. And they're having an issue. They were having issues with their field service repair area. And whenever I went out there with one of my peers, they were just kicking out, blurbing out supply chain content from textbooks.


I know exactly what textbook it came from, you know, and we went out to dinner one night. We were having drinks and Liquid Courage came out. And I said, Look, I said the CEO hired us to come out here to help you. I said, if you're not going to help, if you're not going to listen to our suggestions, I can sit at home and take my hourly rate. I get paid the same no matter what. Right. I said, I have the industry experience. You have the book smarts.


I have the street smarts. I have the empirical experience. So we have to work together for a common goal. And that example was that example was a startup. That example was a small company where they took that corporate mindset and brought it down to they brought it down to the you know, I think Wade, like twelve employees or something like that. So very successful company. But I think that you have to PC, the egos aside, and you have to you have to. So you have these leadership theories.


You have transformational leadership. You have transactional leadership. You have servant leadership. Now, in some cases, a transactional leader that's required in, like, an Amazon environment distribution environment, where if you don't get this product out the door, you're closing your doors.




You need a transactional leader. Transformation and transaction leader is not going to work in a small and medium enterprise. You need that. You need that servant leadership. Right now. One thing I always explain to people is the I would say the most successful leader is whether you're a transaction leader or you're a transformational leader. If you blend servant leadership and to either one of those, that's where you're going to get buy in. That's where you're going to get people. That's where you're going to get people to follow you.


That's where you're going to influence your people within your organization. Again, you could have the the greatest PC. You can have the greatest product. You have a great technology about the people you're done.


Absolutely. I think of some of the mistakes I made. And as a small business owner, we sometimes have this idea that we've got to or even large business owner. We have to know everything. We have to be the hero. And a lot of people say, oh, that person is so arrogant or dogmatic. And sometimes, as most people know, if you've studied psychology, if somebody projects arrogance, usually there's a lot of absolute 100 PC.


I agree with you on that one.


And so sometimes I make these decisions and almost like a parent that's trying to say, Well, everybody kids, I got this. I don't want you to worry. And yet at the same time, sometimes the information I needed, I needed to be able to say, hey, what are you all seeing? Because I'm kind of confused. And again, coming from a very Noble intention, I don't want you all to be scared. I don't want you to worry about your jobs, but I can't protect that. And I can't prevent that.


The market's going to decide that and how we interact with the market. And so some of my biggest financial mistakes and the mistakes were later had to say something. Gosh, you know what? I wish I had listened earlier. Now I'm having to let you go, which is if you're a small business owner, if you really want to experience if you've never experienced letting go, somebody when you don't want to. To me, you've not fully experienced the full range of being a small business owner because there's something very humbling about looking somebody, the eye that's done a good job for you, that, as best as you train them, did with their best intention what they thought they were supposed to do.


And you have to say, yeah, but you know what? It's not working out. And usually it's because, again, as a small business owner didn't see something, wasn't able to identify something. And sometimes businesses take their course. But certainly so much of that was not meant to be arrogant, but it was just a sense of wait. I'm supposed to know all this pressure again, trying to be the perfect parent without ever consulting another parent or a book or anything else, and just thinking or the perfect husband of the perfect anything and spontaneously knowing everything.


I definitely think that concept, Wade. What I'm hearing from Agile is even just being open to feedback and being willing to shift and change and being humble enough to realize that there are larger forces than you as an individual. Being brave enough to say, yes, I'm going to do X. And I think if there's a concept, some people talk about intentions versus goals, that goals, especially if you get too much ego behind them, can become sort of this hell or high water. Failure is not an option.


Failure is always an option. You might not want it. Failure always on the table.


A feedback.


Yeah. Versus an intention saying, here's my intention. I want to, for example, make the world a better place. I think it's going to look like this nonprofit that does such and such. But then all of a sudden you say all these regulations over. Wait, I could do something over here as opposed to now. If it's not going more, I'm gonna dig my heels and I'm going to fight. And I think again, you mentioned servant leadership. So much of that is a humble approach that can be balanced with still, yes.


But kicking transactions are accurate, or division is awesome. So it's transformation what we're doing. What do you find when you talk to people? There's this concept you hear people to talk about. I'll say, I'm a serial entrepreneur, and I'm going to go with a stereotype area. This is the person you're already smiling. This is the person that sometimes done ten business and every one of them failed. But I'm not trying to knock the person. So if you're listening, I'm not trying. But it's the person that maybe doesn't follow through on things.


So they kind of jump from one thing to another. What's the difference between that and Pivoting? Because I think this kind of speaks to the concern of the woman from Singapore of okay, are we just flaking? We just do whatever we want when we feel like it versus yes. So how do you know you're being agile? So to speak versus. How do you know when you just kind of have no idea what the hell you're doing and you're trying to wing it? And maybe you need to take a step back and be a little more.


And we're assuming if there's Crystal balls involved, I'm assuming somewhere you're being a little too you're not being agile. You might be. No offense, people like Crystal balls, but if that's all you got, if you don't have a strategy, maybe it's something like that. But how do you. How do you balance those two? To know that you're not just way off target, but you can pivot versus. Oh, no, you didn't have a plan in the first place.


You need to kind of go back to square one or kind of pull back of it so early within the planning stage within Agile. One of the first things we were let me back up and talk about. The one of the most important things with Agile is that you don't really have a project manager. You really don't have a project leader, right? You have shared accountability among your team members. And that's another important reason why I love Agile. Right. And so with Agile, you have different different approaches, like Scrum being one of them.


And Scrum could be like PC. You needed to compare them. The Scrum Master is anonymous with the project manager, but the Scrum Master does not manage. The Scrum Master does nothing but educate the project team on Agile. Right. And they only are the only are that servant leader. To ensure that the project team has everything I need to be successful.




Now, to answer your question also early within the planning process, you have to say, what's the definition of done? Right. So that's going to be the difference for the serial entrepreneur versus versus pivoting.




So I have the definition of done. I have what I want this end goal to be, and I can pilot all I want to until I get to that definition. Right. So if that were your entrepreneur, that kind of leaves everything. Did I hit done? Did I hit done? Did I hit done? No. No. Nope. Nope, Nope. Okay. Got a problem. So to answer your question, to answer your question, I think that the difference is understanding a definition of done. I think whenever you are starting up a business, whenever you are doing a project within that business, I think that that's one of the first steps you have to do.


Well, that is a definition of done. What does one look like? What does a successful project look like? What does a successful startup look like once I per verbally flip that switch, right?


Awesome. And one of the things that I've tried to do, and I'm going to ask you to translate this or share your wisdom on this. When people or friends have asked me about, hey, Wade, what about this idea? What do you think for the business. First of all, I get very nervous to give people specific business advice about any particular industry. It's like, dude, you got to do our research and our own stuff because it's like real estate investing, stock investing. Everybody's got to do their own thing, as opposed to, yes, here's the stock.


And you bet on this, and it's going to work no matter what. So when I'm looking at a project and if it worked or didn't work, if it completely tanks, then I've got to look and say, okay, again, this might be a hobby. This might be something that really wasn't to make a lot of money or it's just not going to I still want to do it. So it's a hobby. And that's great for me. That goes on Friday, Saturday, Sunday that goes into my personal life.


What do you want to call that? And that's okay. That doesn't have to mean I failed, especially if it's something that's your soul work that you believe, that you believe you're called to do. I know a lot of people get caught up in Will Wade. My soul work has to make me money. So, look, part of why I believe I'm on the planet is to raise children. I don't make money from that, and I'm very committed to that. But I can do that separately. And then there's another definition of done for me.


I completed it. And then I say, okay, can I stay in the game? And obviously, we have ideas of what we'd like it to be. Like, my question for you is, how do you know where does a person look at? Okay, it's done. I completed. From what I can control. I completed my project, I delivered. So I've met my definition of done. How do I know when if I get a substandard result, obviously get a great result. Great. Let's keep rolling when the result starts getting questionable, where do you draw the line between what can be pivoted to something else versus, like, in other words, what's UN pivotable like, Nope, you're just done?


Is that just your financial constraints? Is that more the definition of the person and their financial ability or their willingness? How do you how would you advise them where you say, Nope, you can't pivot from that?


I would say that it's the age old answer. It depends. You know, it depends on the person on the person's appetite, right? Person's risk appetite. The the person's budget. It depends on where the person is within the project itself. It depends on, you know, are they going to have that return on investment if it's going to require a large amount of investment to pivot, if you will. So there there's a number of different variables that go into that. Now, again, I would say that. And this goes to this next statement goes for anything that we talk about today, where that's where, you know, you have to reach out.


You have to reach out for those who went through it. You have to reach out to your fellow entrepreneurs. Again, put the pro side. Put the product side. People has been through this. You're not the only person who experienced this particular situation. There's probably a large number of people that are experiencing it right at this given point in time, exactly how you're experiencing it. Right. So come and create a band of entrepreneurs to collaborate and and get throw it together is I say this often where there's enough money to go around.


And even if you are competitors, you can reach it. You can kind of come to a common agreement and work it out, because if you both feel what good is it and competing and not collaborating. And that's one interesting thing that I've just experienced in the last three or four weeks where I'm working with a number of startups within the logistics industry, the supply chain industry, and they're like their competitors, but they work together. They collaborate. And they say that there's enough to go around. I mean, you see how big this industry is, there's enough to go around.


And I see that a lot within the Er PC software industry, where those big companies, they Wade, they trade well, the big companies and the partners, if you will, let me go back, the big companies and the partners, if you will. So you're in a sales cycle, the Oracles will compete with their partners on the same product. Right. But then at the end of the day, they'll say this customer to risk. You can have them give me the next one is trade. They're trading is horse trade.


So you don't have to always be in competition. You don't have to always be in competition. And I talk a lot about sustainability. And in order to have this future sustainable world, that your kids, your grandkids, your great grandkids to live in, we have to work together. We have to get away from this mindset. This cut through mindset. That's probably one of the reasons why I left the industry. I went into education to teach leaders, future leaders in undergraduate and graduate programs, that we have to go to a servant leadership.


We have to be empathetic. We have to put our employees first because all these great things that you're starting your company on, this great software solution you're starting your company on. If you don't take care of your employees, your customer service, reps, your programmers, this thing is going to get rolled out because you can't program it. Yeah, a green hat, but you can't program it.


Absolutely. This is the part that for me becomes I didn't know that part. The idea that there's not really a project like an overarching hierarchal project lead in an agile framework, as opposed to more of somebody facilitating. And in so many ways, people that see this have a hard time with either sharing or seeing what's going to happen? Well, we're going to have the wisdom of a group of people, and it's going to require the humility to even say I might have more education than a PC certain person.


I might have a higher IQ than a certain person, but that's just one measure. That's my intellectual quotient. That's not my emotional quotient. That's not my spiritual, my physical ability, my endurance, my psychological. There's so many different pieces, and usually somebody else in there has some other what do you want to call it? Unique skill, unique ability, superpower that if you're having those work together, that it can work better. One of the things that I definitely want us to get into in a short order today is let's go through this.


If you don't mind a typical software as a service business, let's say looking to start a business. And first of all, if a person is in that business, we're looking read 37 are getting real by 37 signals. They're now called base camp. They call their business great book on delivering something and starting a piece at a time. But if somebody is starting that sort of a business. So the software is a service, whether it's a web based software, usually these days, subscription type service. So persons building a business.


I know you know what that is? I'm just saying for to take the audience again, there's this perfectionistic view. Sometimes it says, okay, we're going to deliver all of this. We're going to liver all ten features. Let's say so. Let's say there's ten features, and we know that in by two years, we need to be delivering, let's say ten features or something like that. How would you suggest that that person again, they're designing their startup. This person is now sitting at their kitchen table, and they're thinking, okay, here's how I'm going to start this.


And so I'm going to need to take some risk. I need to take some money on not the program. I may need to hire some talent, but again, I need to be able to stay in the game, because if I can't stay in the game, all the theories aren't going to help us. What's a responsible way, an intelligent way from a big picture for that person to kind of map out perhaps what their first one or two or three years might look like, even with some simple definition.


As of these ten features, these ten features, I believe I have to have them at some point. But let's say five of them are just absolutely critical. I can't launch without these five. What would you tell that person? What would their journey look like? That again, combines a responsible game plan, but an ability to be agile and to take feedback. And what might that look like in a very practical sense? From a scheduling standpoint.


I would I would say you said PC, the five that you said that they are solid, but I would say the list out those ten. Keep the file in your mind and share those ten with the people you can trust. I will say the people you can trust, most importantly, people you could trust and say, pick out your five PC out, pick out your Fale and those five. Tell me why. Right. And now you can. Now you can get to a consensus as to the true file you should really tackle.


I work with so many. I worked with a number of startups in the blockchain space and the artificial intelligence. I just had one guest lecture in my class yesterday, and they said that, oh, yeah, we're gonna go. We're going to be gung Ho with the blockchain in the maritime industry. But then we pivoted pivoted to artificial intelligence with it within the space. So that's too drastic. I mean, yes, yes. On the surface, you would say that's technology. Yes. No, it's two different. Two different, two big, different things.


So but I would say I would say to pick out your top ten, she share with your peers you can trust, have them pick out their five and then get gained consensus.


Saas, you just nailed it. It's funny. The first thing says, like, Wade, you mean, my five could be wrong. And that's something again, SaaS, somebody who's thinking, yeah, no, but I know. And that's one of the other toughest things always told people that the key to successful marriage is knowing when to listen to your spouse and when not to. Now, I've been figured out when to listen to my spouse and one not too. But I know that's the key to successful marriage.


Yeah, I'm the same boat, right.


Well, it's the same thing. It's entrepreneurs. We sometimes have this confidence. And I think about in athletics, it's specifically basketball. People say, well, someone shows got a lot of confidence. And if somebody's a great shooter and they don't let miss shot distract them, you say, Well, that person's, you know, their ice cold, the ice and their veins, they'll take that last minute shot. But if the person's not very good, you say, basically is confidence is unjustified, you know, so sometimes it's entrepreneurs, we've got to side. Okay.


What point are we going into the area of unjustified confidence? And even more so to your point, what's it hurt to ask five to seven to ten other people that you really trust to get a sense of? Oh, yeah, these are their five. And again, your point, there might even be three others that say, oh, no, no, these are three others. Leave a couple other what are your top five and write them in if you need to or whatnot? And certainly you want to be clear, is that your target audience?


It's not five to ten. Random people might be okay. And your target audience that you're looking for. But again, to your point, asking the questions just cost of your time asking that question a year in it's kind of late. You've put now how much at least a year's worth of your life and God knows how much, as far as time and money into it. And I think that's the part that, again, feels very uncertain for people. But something you said earlier when you mentioned the lady from Singapore was how how she didn't like that there wasn't this linear plan.


And if you've been in the business world any amount of time, we used to say this 20 years ago, and it was kind of news because the business world, Wade, been kind of steady. And since then and then the last 20 years, people change jobs all the time. So, look, just because you think it's going to be a certain way that has no impact on reality whatsoever. So you going like this going, la, la, la. I don't need to be agile isn't going to change the fact that Stuff's going to happen.


You need to be willing to pivot to whatever word you want to call that. And I think that's something that people miss. What would you say would be, perhaps any different for somebody in, let's say, consultant or coach practice. You're an expert, you've done your Ted talk, you're a professor. So you've done work. You didn't just say, okay, I've got this book that this little book, what would you say is fundamentally true, and I'm going to throw in one part to it. Sorry for the really long questions.


I just realized I ask questions this way because you you said something earlier about you get paid to learn. And I know so many people when they're starting to business say, Well, I'm not trading my hours for dollars. I'm not doing that. And I said, Well, Leonel Messi, LeBron James, they trade their hours for dollars. Their employees, they're doing okay. They're not abused. They're going to be fine. Don't worry about them. And a lot of people get so caught up in Wade. I'm going to start in my own little world over here, and nobody employs me.


Nobody can tell me what to do. And it's like, yeah, but also, nobody's paying you. So you've got to very quickly come up with something that's going to sell yesterday, as opposed to having whether you want to call it a job sidehustle or whatever or something that's steady where you are, as you said, being paid to learn, you're willing to acknowledge, I don't know everything. How would you say? Or what does that look like in your journey as being someone who's now a successful consultant and or coach professor, being able to, in essence, share your wisdom and get paid for it.


But you've done a lot of the work. What would that look like if somebody says, yeah, I've heard about this coaching industry. I'm going to be a coach, and I'm looking for a responsible way to do it. I'm not running for my job. That's always a good sign, by the way, if you're listening, if you're running from your job to something that's not always a great reason to start a relationship or to start a both can be very costly. But how would you advise somebody that says, you know, it okay?


I normally do things well, I don't have to run for my job, but I do eventually want to in two years, three years, five years. I want to be in a position like you are, Justin, where I'm an expert. Maybe I'm not a professor. Maybe that takes a little longer. But what does that look like to be a successful consultant and start that out again in a way that agile, that's smart, that's just profitable and sustainable without having to work 80 hours a week.


So I would start out. I would start out in my journey. My mindset is was to be the best in the business. I just had one of my peers. I had one of my peers. We were talking he's like Justin. You're doing a ton of stuff. You're talking to all these companies like Justin. What's the end game, man? I said, I'm going to be the most successful professor and supply chain management in the world. Now, I may not get there, but if I have that mindset, if I have that mindset internally, would it be doing pretty darn good right now?


I was in that position where I was teaching part time and adjunct roles for about four years before I went in higher education full time. This is my first semester of teaching higher education full time. One semester in. By February, I will speak at twelve international conferences. Most people, most professors don't do that in that career. I mean, Kobe COVID, that's one deposit about comes to Kobe, where I can just hop on a call just like this and hop off. You know, I got a call at 09:00.


I got a conference at 09:00 tonight. I had a conference at 415 last week. I did my panel discussion, turn my computer right back to sleep. So again, that's the benefits, the code. But going back to your question, if you want to get into consulting, if you want to get into coaching, do what you're passionate about. If you're doing it for the money, it's not going to work out. It's not going to work out. Your clients are going to see through it. The clients, the clients will see that.


That's what you're in it for. But if you're in it, the passion is going to show through. And you have to have the mindset where you want to give back. You want to pay it for. You want to be that servant leader and starting out, you're going to be doing you're going to be doing a lot of talks for free, right? But you know what? The money will come, the money will come. Trust me. But you have to you have to have that mindset to give back, and you have to have that mindset that this is what I'm passionate about.


I'm not getting paid to work. I'm getting paid to do my hobby right now, and I'm loving every minute of it.


Absolutely. That's awesome. And that's something. I think that people, they hear it. And it sounds like something that sounds great for an Instagram post or a postcard or a Hallmark card. And yet in the last 25 plus years that I've listened to different people, same thing. Look, if you're not passionate about it, you're not going to want to do the work to become great at it. It's that simple. And then therefore you won't end up being great, but you add something to it, and that's the part.


Well, there's two pieces. One. And I do think this is a good part. So maybe pride is not the right word, but I guess it's one of the meanings of pride, of you taking pride. And yes, I want to be the best, not in a cut throat sense, not in a way of like, look, if my competition knows more than great, I want to learn from them and be better because it's the topic. And I try to explain this to people. And people ask me, what do you see in the difference?


Why do some people enjoy sports and some don't? I coach kids. I played semi professional beach volleyball, and I really enjoyed the process. So maybe I could have gone farther, but I have fun with it. I still play on Fridays, and there's always been, in my experience, at least two generic categories of people. There's the person that loves the game, and if you have a high level game as an athlete and they lose, but they played well and everybody played well, they enjoyed genuinely. They enjoyed the game.


Like, we got to play this high level of basketball or volleyball or whatever it is. And of course they want to win. That doesn't go away. I mean, if you're not, you want to win, but then there's the person that it's all about the wind. And if the wind doesn't come, it doesn't matter how awesome. If they did things they've never done before, it's literally ultimately did. I have more points than the other person, even if I played horribly, even if sometimes even worse, if they cheated.


But let's even take the cheating part out. Let's assume they're still ethical, but they're not enjoying it. Not to me, is your point about the money? Only if it's just for the result you're just missing out. Maybe find a different topic, because if anything's been proven in the last five to ten years is you can make money just about anything, because now that the world markets are all connected, if you're the best at whatever it is, then you can do that.




Thank you so much. There's so many things I know again, when I first when you reach out to me to be in the podcast, I even thought Gosh knows a lot. I don't know if I'm going to be able to not so much make it simple enough for the honestly, I understand what even ask this guy. And it's funny because people get intimidated by simple words like agile and dude. And I've got a master and a bachelor's. But this is what happens to us when we're so sometimes the small business owners and entrepreneurs like, well, no, I have to know everything.


No, you don't. But I love what you're doing. I love your willingness to serve. I love your willingness to do these conferences to again, to give to do what you're sharing is your hobby, anything else you'd leave people with. As far as advice for those again, who are trying to just navigate themselves and their journey, and then also, where can people find out more about you?


I would say I would say the biggest thing is whenever you're trying to navigate your journey, don't do it for the money. But I do it for your legacy. My legacy is sitting here fussing right now, my baby. But I was speaking to another Pier and he said that. So he's a foster parent. And he said that I have that legacy mindset. I said, man, that is brilliant. He said, that's what it's all about. He said, and this is what I said to tell my students. I say that nobody's going to say, man, just a little money, you know, they're going to say they're going to say, sorry, sorry, you got to cut it out.


But people are going to say, man, Justin impacted a lot of people in the world, right? And that's my goal right now. And my goal is, like I said, my goal to change the world, you know? And again, you may not have a deep impact in changing the world, but if you hit a good hundred people. Hey, I've done my job at the end of the day. If you want to get in contact with me, I can be contacted via email at JLG five six six, Justin Egosten five six six at PSU Penn State University edu, I can also be contacted on LinkedIn.


I hope that you all yes, you all reach out to me on LinkedIn because I'm on there off. And I share a lot of great information in the areas of supply chain management, in terms of agile, in terms of lean. And I'm always collaborating with a number of startups and in the number of industries. So please contact please connect with me on LinkedIn.


Awesome. Thank you so much for message and definitely your perspective. You know, when people say they want to change the old and I've done this before, you write a big number on a whiteboard and say, well, if I hit this number, it's like, dude, if you had 100 people if you hit ten people, if you get five people, and you make a huge impact. So thanks for the reminder on that. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us. And those of you all listing as always, look forward to helping you help more people and make more money in less time.


Doing you do best so you can better enjoy your family, your friends in your life. Thanks for listening.


Dr. Justin Goldson Profile Photo

Dr. Justin Goldson

Web3 Systems Thinker | 2021 Supply Chain Pro to Know | 2021 Rockstars of the Supply Chain | Professor | TEDx Speaker | Author

Dr. Justin Goldston is an Assistant Professor of Project and Supply Chain Management at Penn State University.
Dr. Goldston has over 20 years of experience working with organizations around the world such as Intel, Siemens, and Blue Buffalo on business performance improvement, organizational change, and enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives.
Dr. Goldston is the author of multiple peer-reviewed journal articles on supply chain management and innovative technologies, of Critical Success Factors in ERP Implementations, and is a five-time TEDx speaker where he discussed emerging technologies such as blockchain and Artificial Intelligence.