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Guest: Kerry Siggins, CEO of StoneAge, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of automated waterblast equipment and tooling for industrial companies and contractors worldwide. Kerry is also a keynote speaker, a member of YPO, and a client of CEO Coaching International.
Episode in a Tweet: How to start a “movement” in your industry that leads to something greater than just more profits.
Quick Background: Some CEOs were surprised when Business Roundtable redefined the purpose of a corporation to include promoting “An Economy That Serves All Americans.”
But some of the most successful companies that we work with at CEO Coaching International are the ones that have a vision beyond profit. They’re the companies that are actively asking employees what’s important to them. They’re turning down huge cash infusions from celebrity investors because they believe their products can improve the environment. They’re finding innovative new ways to let employees earn ownership and grow their personal wealth. And they’re being intentional about how they build their legacies.
On today’s show, we welcome back Kerry Siggins to discuss the grassroots efforts she’s undertaken to promote a global safety movement in her industry. Starting a movement definitely isn’t for every CEO. But it’s leaders like Kerry who are leading their employees and their businesses towards BIG things beyond the business.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
Kerry Siggins’ 3 Steps to Starting a Movement
1. “Define the problem that you want to solve.”
Kerry says that StoneAge sells “squirt guns on steroids.” These high-pressure blast tools are as cool and as dangerous as that description sounds, which is why Kerry wanted to do something about the inconsistent safety standards in her industry.
“Our products have the ability to really hurt somebody if they are not used safely,” Kerry explains. “And we are shifting towards developing mechanized and even fully automated equipment that would remove the operator from the dangerous application of water jets. But it’s slow to change. And there are no global standards on how to perform this work safely. It’s hard to sell products and training around the world when there’s no standard way of doing this. This is something that our industry needs to overcome because we can’t be okay with people hurting themselves, or even worse, killing themselves because of water jet cuts.”
Kerry’s thinking here exemplifies all the best qualities of a corporate movement. Her movement is clear. It’s concise. It’s focused on a solvable problem. It ties back into her overall business strategy. And, as you’ll see in the next step, it’s realistic about what StoneAge can and can’t accomplish by itself.
“I think that it’s important to start simple,” Kerry says. “There’s so many challenges that your industry faces, that we face as a nation. It can get daunting and overwhelming. But if you say, ‘I’m going to stay focused, and this is the core problem that I want to solve,’ then I think that you have a better chance of building something. Everything starts as a small idea, and then can snowball.”
2. “Get help.”
Given the strong culture that Kerry has grown at StoneAge, it’s not surprising that her employees and board were supportive of her movement. She says, “We’ve always been a thought leader, an innovation leader, and this just continues to help spread that message and build our brand as an important influencer in the industry, not only in technology, but also in safety.”
But Kerry also recognized that she couldn’t create an industry-wide safety movement on her own. So she created the Global Industrial Cleaning Coalition with help from her two partners who live in Europe. “That allows us to brainstorm and bounce ideas off of each other,” she says. “‘This is what works in the Netherlands and France. And this is what works in the United States.’ That is extremely helpful when we’re thinking about a global problem. It also helps spread the workload. We each have different backgrounds and different skillsets.”
Kerry also developed a social media strategy that spread her message while also creating a database of likeminded industry professionals that she can communicate with. She focused her efforts on LinkedIn because its unique networking and publishing features allow you to position yourself as a thought leader, connect with other CEOS, and build sign-up forms that capture contact info.
Knowing who your audience is, where to approach them online, and how to mobilize them is going to be a key to starting your own corporate movement. A strong, inclusive network of motivated individuals will help you clear some initial roadblocks.
“Overcoming inertia,” Kerry says, “that statement of, ‘This is the way things have always been done’ is so hard to get over. It’s easy to fall back into the same old pattern and continue to operate with the status quo. And then the other challenge is getting other people on board. There is a fear of change, a fear of losing control, a fear of being left out. And all those things cause resistance. We really had to weave this idea of sovereignty into our messaging to get people on board, to get over that fear of being told what to do, or losing control of the rules and the regulations within their own individual country.”
3. “Develop a six-month plan.”
Like any other business initiative, your movement isn’t going to be perfect out of the gate. You’ll trip over obstacles, including a few you didn’t anticipate. Some tasks will pay off, others won’t. But if you commit to your movement and plan for the long run, you’ll have the perspective, data, and tools you need to course-correct and keep moving ahead.
Kerry says, “We put together a six-month plan of speaking engagements, articles that we wanted to write, meetings we were going to have, creating the LinkedIn page and the social media posts that we were going to put out to start to drive awareness, and to see what the interest would be in taking on this big project. And for us, the time was right, and there was a lot of momentum. And so, in six months, we knew that we had something that was valuable and that could really effect change. But that made it much more doable, achievable, when you say, ‘Okay, for six months this is what we’re going to try,’ and then we can pivot, or we can abandon, or we can tweak based on what we find out.”
The best way to figure out where you should charge ahead and where you should change course is to keep score. Kerry breaks down her movement’s BIG goals into weekly “micro achievements.” Her progress on those short-term goals feeds into a larger quarterly scorecard that tracks her other business targets and personal goals as well.
“That’s how I make sure that I am keeping myself balanced,” Kerry says. “I so believe in this tool. I always have to make sure that I’m doing things to move the business forward. And so the scorecard, and especially the micro achievements, have really helped me stay focused and hold myself accountable for getting those things done.”
CLICK HERE to download Kerry’s micro achievement and quarterly scorecards. Then think about how you can start a similar scorecard that’s going to help you, your movement, and your business get BIG.
1. Identify a problem that can make your business and the world around it better.
2. Recruit top talent both inside and outside of your company to create sustainable momentum.
3. Track your progress and ditch any efforts that aren’t getting measurable results.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies to dramatically grow their business, develop their people, and elevate their overall performance. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 500 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 25 countries. Every coach at CEO Coaching International is a former CEO or President that has made big happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $1 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight and nine figure exits. CEOs and entrepreneurs working with CEO Coaching International for three years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 66.4% during their time as a client, more than five times the national average. For more information, please visit: https://www.