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The “3 P’s” a Former Leader at Universal Studios, Mattel and Teleflora Used to Generate Billions in Global Sales

The “3 P’s” a Former Leader at Universal Studios, Mattel and Teleflora Used to Generate Billions in Global Sales
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Guest: CEO Coaching International’s Cynthia Cleveland, a recognized leader in brand and new business development. Cynthia has run five different businesses at companies including Universal Studios, Mattel Toys, and Teleflora that generated four billion dollars in worldwide sales, while also launching thousands of consumer products.

Episode in a Tweet: How Passion, Profits, and People can lead your company to BIG sales.

Quick Background: In her 30+ year career, Cynthia Cleveland has driven significant growth at major companies like Universal Studios, Mattel Toys, and Teleflora. And while these companies all had their unique challenges and opportunities, Cynthia found a recipe for success by focusing on three key drivers that she believes are essential to getting any business BIG.

On today’s show, Cynthia discusses her “3 P’s” and how CEOs can master these essentials to build a great business.

Cynthia Cleveland’s “3 P’s” for BIG Business

1. Passion

If you don’t care passionately about your business, no one else is going to either. Not anyone who’s working for you, not any top talent you’re hoping to recruit, and not any of your customers.

“I would say most people who are successful are passionate,” says Cynthia. “That’s something you cannot fake. In some cases, they’re passionate about the product. In some cases, they’re passionate about the people, or the service that they’ve got. Others are passionate about winning. But I think without really caring about what you’re doing, then maybe you’re just not meant for leadership. People who are passive are probably not the best leaders.”

Cynthia pointed out something about passion that I learned as a CEO first-hand. Early in my career, I felt more excited about being able to employ a large group of hard-working people than I was about the mortgage products and services we were delivering to clients. But now, running a coaching company and coaching CEOs and entrepreneurs gives me the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s personal and professional lives every day. I know my fellow coaches feel the same way, and that passion trickles down to everything we do as a company.

2. Profits

“No business can survive without sufficient cash,” Cynthia notes. ““Managing your costs, and your margins, that’s really job one when it comes to the business itself.”

I wish this was as obvious to every CEO as it might sound. But one of the main reasons companies struggle is a CEO who’s struggling to manage cash.

In some cases, the CEO sets a big, hairy, audacious goal without making sure the company has the resources necessary to hit it. I’ve seen other companies poised to takeoff that sputter on the runway because they don’t have enough cash in the tank to fuel their growth. And sometimes the CEO doesn’t realize that monitoring cash should be one of his or her top priorities until it’s nearly too late and the company’s cash flow cycle has stalled.

Like most top CEOs, Cynthia Cleveland considered herself the company’s visionary first and foremost. So, her way of keeping on top of the company’s money was to hire the best CFO she could find.

“That’s usually my strongest number two person,” Cynthia explains, “because I want somebody who’s the opposite of me and who is in the weeds looking at every single balance, every single account receivable, and every important cash and profitability metric. My best offense is a bit of a defense in understanding that is not who I am and making sure I have the best possible person in place for that.”

Cynthia Cleveland: Most people who are successful are passionate. That’s something you cannot fake.

3. People

Of course, Cynthia Cleveland didn’t stop at hiring a top CFO. She always hired the best at every level of the companies she was running, with one eye on where she wanted the company to be in the near future.

“No business survives because of just one person,” Cynthia says. “It’s really about having a great team. Hire a balanced team and keep improving that team as the company grows. And what happens is the team you start with today, don’t think that same team is going to get you to where you need to go going forward. Always try to hire the best team for where you want to go, not where you are today.”

Replacing bad hires wastes time and money, so it’s critical to get key hires right the first time, especially in the c-suite.

“The best way to tell if somebody is a 10 is not by what they tell you. Rather, it’s by what they’ve actually done,” Cynthia says. “Have they had big accomplishments in the past? Are they here making excuses? Are they here telling you about the great things that they have done? The best predictor of the future is the past. So, if somebody has been successful in the past, then I think that’s a pretty good predictor for the future.”

And what if that ace hire leads your company into a future that’s too BIG for some of your longtime employees to follow? Well, you can’t hesitate to make a tough decision.

“When tough decisions need to be made, don’t delay,” Cynthia Cleveland warns. “You’ll never meet a CEO who says when they fired somebody that they did it too soon. Most of us will give people the benefit of the doubt and will wait until it’s probably too late. Waiting does not help. The business is better if we make the tough decisions in a speedy manner.”

Top Takeaways

  1. Your passion should permeate through everything you do as CEO and inspire your whole company.
  2. Your profits determine how fast you can grow and how realistic your goals are.
  3. Your people need to be able to get your company where you want it to go, not keep it stuck in the same place.

Dedicated One-On-One Executive Coaching for CEOs

CEO coaching is designed specifically for CEOs and business owners to gain clarity on goals and keep score on the specific and measurable activities it will take to turn vision and planning into reality.

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 67.8% during their time as a client, nearly four times the U.S. average and a revenue CAGR of 25.5%, more than twice the U.S. average.

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