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Guest: Ron Carson, Chairman/CEO, Carson Group Holdings, LLC
Episode in a Tweet: Mega-millionaire Ron Carson says “having it all is actually easier than not having it all”–and he tells you how to do it.
Quick Background: Long-time CEO Coaching International client Ron Carson grew up on a farm in a small town in Nebraska. He had few advantages. His dad was a workaholic who never spent any time with him. His mom and dad had a poor relationship. Scarcity thinking ruled the household. From those humble beginnings, Ron started selling insurance out of his dorm room in college. Soon, he was making so much money from selling that he decided to move full-time into financial services. Within a few years, he reached that elusive million-dollar producer level.
Today, after compound annual growth of more than 28% for more than 30 years, his companies generate tens of millions of dollars a year in revenue. Recently, he sold a 29% interest in his companies for $35 million. Ron Carson shares his insights on accelerating growth.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
Key Insights From Ron Carson On Accelerating Growth
1. Balance leads to growth and growth leads to balance.
Growing up under a workaholic father, Ron learned to equate hard work with success. And for many years, that was true. His businesses grew to eight figures but at a terrible cost. Personal relationships were frayed and staff turnover was high. Meetings with two other billionaires (including Warren Buffett) made him realize that the key to further success was to “hire the best people then get the hell out of their way.” As Ron began to delegate, trust his team and implement a culture of “ask forgiveness, not permission,” business continued to soar while he was able to take more time away from work. “It’s a virtuous cycle of energy that compounds itself on one another,” he said.
2. Words matter and that’s one reason why Ron’s firms don’t have “employees.”
People often ask Ron how many employees he has. “None,” he says. Instead, he calls them internal stakeholders, associates, or partners. “We don’t work for one another. We work with each other. For Bosses’ Day I said, ‘Don’t anybody get me a card like that. I’m not your boss. I’m your associate.'” While this may seem like a small thing, Ron said, “It’s the little things done exactly right that have this astonishing impact on everything. Just that little thing has made a big cultural difference in our organization.”
3. Completing a “Six Most Important” each day keeps you focused on doing the most productive thing at every given moment.
“Every night before I go to bed, I list the six most important things I’ve got to get done in order of priority for the next day,” said Ron. And he has everyone on his team do it too. Once the list is made, each person goes through the six items and answers, “Is this tied to my goal? Yes or no?” If you’re doing a lot of things that are not tied to your goals, then why are you doing them, he asks. Then each person rates on a scale of one to ten how excited they are about the activity and finally, they answer, “Am I good at it?” Ultimately, a perfect six most for the day is, “You’re excited about doing everything, and you’re good at doing everything, and the activities lead to your one-year goals, which are connected to your longer-term goals.” This process drives Ron’s activity and keeps him focused on doing the most productive thing at every given moment.
4. You can use your compensation plan to accelerate the results you desire.
Ron runs a “results-based company” where people are accountable for their own results. “If you look at our comp, I would tell you that from a guaranteed base pay, we’re pretty low compared to our peers, but from a total comp standpoint, we’re well above. That’s directly tied to results,” he said. On top of that, “impact players” participate in a shadow equity plan. The shadow equity has a four-year cliff vesting schedule, and so far, Ron says it’s been a tremendous success in driving top performance.
1. You can improve your quality of life by hiring the best people possible and getting out of their way. When you hire great people and trust them to do their work, you can reclaim balance in your life and take more time away from work.
2. Carefully choose the words you use to help shape your culture. It may seem trivial to say you don’t have “employees” but people do care about the words you use. Your language helps shape your culture so in key areas, be thoughtful of the words you use.
3. Write down your six most important each day. This simple productivity tool can keep you and your team focused on the needle-moving activities in your company.