Building an Effective Business Infrastructure

In this, The Faces of Business, Alicia Butler Pierre, Founder & CEO, Equilibria, Inc., talks about building an effective business infrastructure, allowing your business to scale faster.

In this, The Faces of Business, Alicia Butler Pierre, Founder & CEO, Equilibria, Inc., talks about building an effective business infrastructure, allowing your business to scale faster.

Alicia founded Equilibria, Inc. as a global operations management firm specializing in developing business infrastructure and processes for rapidly expanding businesses. Alicia practices what she preached and maintains that effective business infrastructures in her business enable her to run her business efficiently. She applies the same methods in her client businesses. She drew on her learning and experience in chemical engineering to create the Kasennu framework for business infrastructure and the software behind it.

Her book, “Behind the Façade: How to Structure Company Operations for Sustainable Success,” became an instant Amazon bestseller and is the first book ever written about the importance of establishing a reliable business infrastructure. Alicia also hosts a weekly podcast titled “Business Infrastructure: Curing Back Office Blues.”

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Damon warmly greets Alicia to his show. He formally introduces her to the audience.

Alicia is a business expert dedicated to transforming how small businesses work. She accomplishes this through speaking, coaching, writing, lecturing, and podcasting.

She is the best-selling author of “Behind the Façade” and is an adjunct professor at Purdue University and Nikolas College, where she teaches about Lean principles and operations management. Alicia’s background as a chemical engineer and her experience advising, designing, and optimizing processes for organizations like Coca-Cola, Shell Oil, the Library of Congress, and Home Depot make her a valuable asset in the business world.

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Damon wants to know Alicia’s reasons for going to school for chemical engineering. The guest reveals that she wanted to be a journalist and loved the English language and literature. However, she realized her aptitude for this subject after taking a chemistry course in high school. She took an advanced chemistry course at Magnet High School in her senior year. Mrs. Kubler Ross, her Ukrainian teacher, told her that if she wanted to make money right after school, she should study chemical engineering instead of chemistry. She chose to study chemical engineering based on her mentor’s advice and eventually enrolled in chemical engineering.

While replying to Damon’s query on things surprising her in studying engineering, Alicia says she was surprised to realize she didn’t understand the business behind her work making Roundup for Monsanto. She didn’t know the supply and demand fluctuations that caused erratic production schedule changes.

Similarly, her technical skills were not enough, and she needed to develop business language and people skills to communicate and execute their ideas at work effectively. She “literally heard another language.” These two lessons were the most important that the guest learned while working as an engineer.

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Damon, being an engineer, can understand Alicia’s business language-related woes. Furthermore, he asks her about the turning point, motivating her to start her business.

Alicia recounts her entrepreneurial journey. She started her entrepreneurial journey at seven, doing small chores at a daycare. “I would do all kinds of things to make money,” she discloses.

In 2004, while working as a chemical engineer in New Orleans, Louisiana, the guest quit her job abruptly after a terrifying experience during a tropical storm. “I remember being stuck in my home,” she thought.

After completing her MBA from Tulane University, Alicia relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, in 2005, where she experienced fierce competition in the job market. After 60 days of job searching and self-reflection, the guest realized her natural skills and abilities were in organizing.

Alicia joined the National Association of Professional Organizers and started her own business, Equilibria, as a professional organizing company in 2005. The guest emphasizes the importance of self-reflection in finding one’s natural skills and talents to build a successful business.

Two years after initiating Equilibria, Alicia received a call from a district attorney’s office. The district attorney had seen her on a local TV program and was interested in her helping organize things in her office. This was an incredible experience for the guest, who came from a structured environment as an engineer and realized that even organizations could be disorganized.

Her marketing consultant, called Joe, advised Alicia against referring to what she was doing as professional organizing and instead calling it “business infrastructure.” This was a blessing and a curse.

While talking about it as a blessing, Alicia highlights the gains of being a first mover in a new industry and using a less common term to describe her services. She mentions that being a first mover provides an advantage but also requires a lot more effort to educate people about the business and what it offers. She stresses the importance of educating before selling to help potential clients understand the company’s offerings.

When Damon asks Alicia about her secret sauce, she says it is Kasennu. This concept involves figuring out a company’s unique selling point or “secret sauce” and replicating it repeatedly to maintain its success. The term is derived from two ancient Egyptian words, “ca,” which means spirit, and “sennu,” meaning twin or similarity. The idea is to identify what makes the company successful and replicate it to maintain that success.

Damon comments that people find the guest’s book and ideas about business infrastructure, the secret sauce, and her process of helping businesses worthwhile. Damon is curious about the feedback Alicia received from those she has helped.

Alicia simplifies her response, saying that people often appreciate service delivery using a framework that incorporates visual aids to help people understand information quickly. Moreover, they are thankful to Alicia for her precise approach. She uses simple tools like stick figures and index cards to transfer information from team members’ heads to these aids. This leads to interactive and in-person sessions that help people understand and get excited about the program.

The guest has worked with small businesses and large publicly traded companies, and the outcomes are the same—people have conversations they never had before and become highly engaged in the process. The outputs of these exercises include job descriptions, an organizational chart, a guide for physical and digital records, an idea of the best physical workspace layout, and processes that need to be documented. The business infrastructure links people, processes, and tools comprehensively.

Alicia emphasizes the importance of building things with the intention of longevity, despite acknowledging that nothing lasts forever. She mentions her work with Lean Six Sigma, where one of the tenets is a continuous improvement over perfection, as perfection can lead to paralysis. The guest advocates for a focus on constant innovation and improvement, as there’s always room for improvement.

Damon finds some images of ancient Egyptian artifacts and a temple tomb complex on Alicia’s LinkedIn page. He wants to know about the guest’s reasons for uploading them. Alicia maintains that ancient Egyptians built structures intending to last forever. Many of these structures still stand today, even if they are buried or need to be restored. Making such structures involved a team dynamic, and everyone was in sync with the mission and purpose.

The carvings, for example, were done by multiple people working in succession, ensuring that the structures were well made and meant to last for a long time. Over the years, we have lost this idea of building things to last, but the surviving structures are a testament to the great care and effort that ancient civilizations put into building them.

Before parting, Alicia asserts that the craftsmanship in older homes, such as her 1851 house in New Orleans, a brownstone in New York, or a row house in DC or Philadelphia, is not seen in modern times due to lack of time and higher cost.

The conversation comes to a close with Damon thanking Alicia for her time.

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42:43

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

damon, business, people, building, called, person, process, thought, infrastructure, alicia, talking, work, new orleans, tomb, company, literally, daymond, ancient egyptian, kinds, realized

SPEAKERS

Damon Pistulka, Alicia Butler Pierre

 

Damon Pistulka  00:00

All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And I am so excited for our guests today. Because with me, I have a Alicia Butler Pierre from equilibria. Thanks for being here today, Alicia.

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  00:19

Thank you for having me. And I’m noticing that part of my E has fallen down on my wall. So let me just kind of change the angle of my camera there so that we can just hide that. Yeah.

 

Damon Pistulka  00:30

There we go. We’re good. So Alicia, awesome having you here today. You know, Kurt, and I talked to you a while back on the manufacturing EOC e commerce Success Show. And, man, we’re talking about building business or business infrastructure there. And that’s why I wanted to have you come back and talk to us about building an effective business infrastructure because it is a problem that most business people don’t consider, and probably one of the most important things they should consider.

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  01:05

Absolutely. So I think so. And I know you think so we’ll talk

 

Damon Pistulka  01:12

about it in a moment. But let’s just back up a minute. Because I want to do a little bit of a proper introduction of you, because I think I think we’re just gonna go and talk about this a little bit. Okay. All right, Alicia is on a quest to revolutionize the way small businesses operate. She does this by speaking, coaching, writing, lecturing, and podcasting.

Now you over bet your best selling author behind the facade. It is the world’s first published book on business infrastructure. So behind the facade people if you have if you haven’t gotten it, get it. And let’s see adjunct professor of Lean principles at Purdue University and University and Operations Management at Nikolas College, a chemical engineer turned on entrepreneur. And you have advised designed and optimized processes for organizations like Coca Cola, Shell Oil, the Library of Congress and Home Depot.

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  02:15

Correct. Thank you, Damon, thank you. Awesome.

 

Damon Pistulka  02:19

It’s great. Because I think that gives us a little perspective of who we’re really talking to here.

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  02:29

I promise there’s so much more to me than than why

 

Damon Pistulka  02:34

we will get into that because that’s the that’s the cool business stuff. That’s the things that happened. Right, let’s let’s start out and back up a little bit. Okay, growing up, you’re in high school. What drew you to go to school for chemical engineering?

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  02:52

Okay, well, I wish I could tell you that it was clean, a clean linear path of getting there, but it was not. And I know you already I know, you already know this story. Daymond. But for your listeners, and for those who are watching us right now live. I actually wanted to be a journalist. That was my first love.

That was my passion. I loved English, my English classes, I loved literature. And I wanted to be a journalist. But around the time that I was a junior in high school, I remember taking chemistry. And I did, I realized I had an aptitude for chemistry. And by the time I got into my senior year of high school, instead of taking physics, which was you know, you know, and my high school, we I went to a Magnet High School.

So you had to take, you still had to take a science class in your senior year, most people took physics, I actually took an advanced chemistry course. And I can remember during my senior year, at some point, my teacher, Mrs. Kubler Ross, who actually was Ukrainian, interestingly enough, but she took a particular interest in my life beyond high school. And she started to ask me, what was I going to major in?

So as I was filling out all these different applications to apply for different universities and colleges, she was just curious, like, what you know, what are you planning to major in and I said, Well, chemistry because I really like it, I’m really good at it. And she said, you know, you might want to rethink that. Because if you want to make money coming out of school, as a chemist, you would you would have to go all the way up to the PhD level. But if you choose chemical engineering, you can go to school, get an undergraduate degree and you can come out making great money right away in four or five years.

So the motivating factor was money at the end of the tell you is because wow, you know, I heard about chemical engineering. I read liked it. I was drawn to it. I knew other engineers. No, that was not the case for me at all. I literally went with something that my teacher told me, I trusted her. And I went for it. And that is how I ended up studying and studying chemical engineering and eventually working as a chemical engineer.

 

Damon Pistulka  05:22

Cool. So when you got out in your doing, you started out. And working in chemical engineering, what what were a couple of things that really surprised you about when you started working in chemical engineering.

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  05:37

One of the things that surprised me was the fact that I didn’t understand the business of I was making Roundup, so I was making poison I was making, and I always tell people, don’t judge me, don’t judge me. But I was working for Monsanto. And I was making round up. And our daily production schedules could be very erratic, Damon, one day, you could be told to operate at 100% capacity, the very next day, you may be told to scale it back by 50%. And then the day after that, you might be told to shut down altogether. And then after that, you’re back running full throttle again.

So what seemed to be just erratic decision leaders, or decision makers, excuse me, was really rooted in supply and demand market fluctuations. But I didn’t have an appreciation for that. I just I was in my own little zone, I was in my silo. And I was literally just just acting out on whatever orders or commands I was given without having an appreciation for the business of manufacturing.

And so I realized probably about my second year working as an engineer, like I am grossly deficient in the language of business, I don’t understand it, I don’t speak it, when I hear it is it’s I may as well literally hear another language, I don’t understand it. And so I decided to go back to school to business school. So I was pursuing an MBA, I was going to school at night, working full time during during the day, that was one major thing that I learned. Another major thing that I learned was the people issues that exist in companies.

So it was interesting, because while I didn’t under I knew the technical part of my job, I knew that I could I could do the calculations, I could monitor the process and figure out what went wrong. And at what point those kinds of things. The technical aspect, hadn’t had it down pat. So I didn’t understand the language of business. But I also did not have an appreciation for people dynamics, team dynamics. And what do you do when someone sabotages something in the process, because they’re angry about something that somebody else did.

And they’re just, I didn’t, I didn’t learn those kinds of things when I was in school, but that was the reality of working on the job. You can have the best ideas in the world and things that you want to get executed. But if you don’t have strong people skills, strong interpersonal communication skills, you are not going to get it done. I would say those are the two most important lessons Damon that I personally learned during my stint as an engineer.

 

Damon Pistulka  08:42

Yeah, yeah, those are great. Those are great. Yes, that is similar is the business side of it. I really had a wake up call in my in one of my few few jobs into mine is I worked with some people that were had come out of the management financial consulting area, and I’m an engineer, right, I understand how to run like you said, run facilities, run processes, and those guys run businesses.

But I did not know the financial side of it. It really is something that first time when you sat there and you’re really, really skilled in a certain part of the business. But when you hear like you said, almost a foreign language going on, you realize I need to either you want to learn more about it, or you want to run in the other track. So that’s great. That’s great. So as you as you’re going along, what really was the the tipping point or the point where you just said, I want to have my own business?

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  09:54

Great question. Because again, it wasn’t planned. Well I shouldn’t say that. I had always dabbled in little side hustles Yeah, starting when I was 11, I’m sorry, seven years old. My very first side hustle, the daycare that I would go to after, after school, I would actually make money by doing little simple chores around the daycare, I would sweep the carport or the driveway, I might just do things. And then where are you? No, no child protection, no child labor laws were violated. Yeah, but it wasn’t enough for me to to make a little money, you know, and to a seven year old, you know, $5 is a lot of money. Right?

You can, at that time, I could buy a lot of candy with that $5. But I always had something that I always had a way of making money. Especially when I was in high school. I had I did all kinds of things. So I would sell candy, I would do all kinds of things to to make money. But when when I was living in New Orleans, so that’s where I was when I was working as a chemical engineer in New Orleans, Louisiana.

And there was a really bad Tropical Storm around August, September of 2004. And I remember being stuck in my home. Thinking I was I was fully prepared Damon to meet my maker. I was I really thought I was going to die because I was in my house. I was alone. And the water just kept rising. And that is a scary feeling. Let me tell you. And eventually, the rain stopped. The water pumps returned on you know, the water receded. It’s disgusting. After a hurricane it just after any kind of a flood is absolutely disgusting.

But I just remembered after that. I just had this thought this intuitive feeling this, this gut feeling that I needed to get out and get out quick, fast and in a hurry. At that time, I was working for a family owned engineering consulting firm. I abruptly quit that job. So this was like, again, September 2004. I graduated with my MBA from Tulane University by that December, the following January 2005. I put my house up for sale. It’s sold within a week. And I relocated Damon to Atlanta, Georgia, where I knew one person at the time. And I looked at Atlanta compared to New Orleans Atlanta was a land of milk and honey.

Okay, I I remembered studying and reading about the large corporate presence here. You know, the fact that Coca Cola is headquartered here, and Delta Airlines Chick fil A Home Depot. And I thought, Oh, I’m just going to I’m going to move to Atlanta. And who wouldn’t want to hire me, I’m, I have this engineering background. I’m a newly minted MBA, I have this great combination. And I got here, Damon. And the competition is fierce, because there are a lot of really smart, bright, intelligent people who live here.

And I remember thinking I wanted to work at Coca Cola, I wanted to work at Coca Cola, because I studied about them as a company so much when I was working on my MBA, and I thought it’d be really cool if I could work there. But as fate would have it, after about, it only took me a good 60 days of what seemed to be endless, job searching, soulless job searching, because at that point that was it was right around the time when things were starting to transition to being online.

Yes. And it just seemed like you you go through all of the rigor of tailoring your resume and a cover letter and you’re submitting these applications online, and then you never hear anything back. And it was it was just soul crushing. And after again, after about 60 days of that through some introspection I started reflecting on Well, what is it that I’m really good at?

What are my natural skills, talents and abilities? Can I build a business around that? And through that introspection, I realized I’ve always had a knack for organizing things. Every job that I ever had, even when I was a teenager flipping burgers, I excelled at my jobs, not because I was the smartest person in the room or the sharpest knife in the drawer. I did well because I was very organized.

And I’ve always been process oriented. And so I literally went online, started doing some searching and figured out that there was an actual professional association for organizers called naipo, which is the National Association of professional organizers. I joined that organization, I went to an Office Depot, I bought one of those Avery business card packs that you can feed into a Deskjet, or an inkjet printer.

And I made myself some business card statement. And I just started going to different chambers of commerce, different networking events. And I, as I say, you know, I hung up my shingle, and I just I just started putting myself out there. And when I first started my company equilibrium, it was a professional organizing company. Again, this was 2005. So keep in mind, I relocated to Atlanta in February of 2005. Six months later, Hurricane Katrina happened in New Orleans. Oh, so talk about dodging a bullet. I mean, yeah.

So remember, and the reason I like to share that part of my story is because for those who are listening to us right now watching us right now, sometimes we have these, again, these these intuitive thoughts and feelings, and we can’t explain it, it seems so irrational, but sometimes they just won’t go away. And I’m so glad I paid attention to it. Because it does seem crazy. I had a nice life Damon, in New World, I really did.

I had a home, I rented out the front part of my house, I would travel, I was young, I was single, I didn’t have any children. I was completely. I used to say that I was single, sexy and free. And I had a great life. And I I disrupted all of that, to venture into the unknown. I took a bet on myself. And everybody around me thought that I was absolutely crazy. Oh, yeah, yeah. So imagine you, you have this feeling you act on it. Nobody. Everybody expects you to fail. Everybody expects you. Oh, she’ll be back home. Don’t worry.

She’ll be back. She’ll realize the error of her ways. But I never I’ve been here now for gosh, 18 years, coming up on 18 years. And I I never looked back. It has not been easy. I do want to be very clear about that. It has not been easy. But I could not imagine what my life would be like had I not made that decision. I am a much. I am a much a much more well rounded, more experienced, much more traveled person. Today, I believe that I would have been had I stayed in New Orleans.

 

Damon Pistulka  18:14

Very cool. Very cool. Yes. So you, you just you’re going to hang out your shingle. And now you’re going down the roadways, and you look through your history and you go it wasn’t very long. And you decided that you wanted to start working on business infrastructure.

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  18:35

Right?

 

Damon Pistulka  18:36

How did how did that come about? How would you choose that?

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  18:44

The way that happened? I started I started equilibria in 2005. And about two, about two years after that. I received a phone call from a district attorney’s office. And it was from the district attorney herself. And I’ll never forget, I was so nervous. I thought I was in trouble. I thought I had done something wrong because she she rattled off her name. And I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa.

Why is this person calling me. But it turns out she had seen me on a local television program. And she was interested in having me come to her office and get some get things organized. And that’s when I realized Damon and I know this is this is really going to be me showing my age and my naivete at that time in life because I was about 2029 30 years old at this time. And I’ll never forget when I went over there and enlist. I’m talking to her and I’m talking to her executive assistant and some of the other attorneys.

And I remember walking back to my car thinking Wow. So organizations are disorganized too. Companies are disorganized. Like, I didn’t have a concept of that, because I came from a very structured environment. When I worked as an engineer, everything, everything was orderly. There were processes for everything. So I truly had never been exposed to a chaotic situation in an in any other type of working environment.

And I remember being a part of a networking group at the time called Power Core. And I went to a power core meeting. And I befriended a lady who was a marketing consultant. And she said, you know, Alicia, every time I listened to you, and you’re starting to do more and more of these commercial, quote, air quotes, commercial projects, you’re getting further and further away from professional organizing. Let me do a branding. I forgot what she called.

And I don’t remember if it was called a brand assessment or brand evaluation, but whatever it was, she I credit Joe pullin with telling me strongly suggesting to me, you know, you need to stop referring what to what you’re doing is professional organizing, especially when you’re working with these businesses, because what you’re really doing is you’re going in there and you’re putting in place a business infrastructure. And that’s, I didn’t know what that was. So I literally defined what it was. And maybe I’m bullheaded about this statement, just stubbornly just decided to stick with business infrastructure.

The reason I say that is because it is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in the sense that there are not a lot of people out there in the world that talk about it. But it is a curse, in the sense that there aren’t a lot of people out there in the world talking about it. So when the companies that I my company works with, when they are seeking assistance and support and they go online, they don’t use the words business infrastructure, they’re using all kinds of other keywords to try to find a company like equilibria.

So it’s a great thing to be to have that first mover advantage in your space. But just know, for those who are listening right now, it means you have to work that much harder to educate people about what it is you do, what business or whatever your topic or product or service is. You just have to work a lot harder to to get the information out there. You truly have to educate before you can even begin selling.

 

Damon Pistulka  22:45

Yes, yes, that’s a great point. Because you’re right, you you put something together that many people didn’t know much about. But they so you got to show them what it is.

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  22:57

Exactly, exactly.

 

Damon Pistulka  22:59

Yeah. Very cool. So you so you get into business infrastructure, you start using it, you start you start developing a system. Now, I can’t say it but tell me the name

 

 Alicia Butler Pierre  23:13

of your it’s called cost sinew. Causton. Yes. So Ka, and sinew, which are two ancient Egyptian words. Ca is ancient Egyptian for spirit. And sinew is ancient Egyptian for like twin, or similitude or clone. So the idea is that once you figured out your secret sauce, like once you’ve really figured out what is it that keeps your customers coming to you? How can you clone or replicate that over and over and over again? How can you clone the spirit or the essence of what makes your company so great?

 

Damon Pistulka  23:59

Very cool. Very cool. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, and then I mean, what you what you wrote wrote a book about business infrastructure, soon talking about your process and calling the secret sauce. So as you’re helping people do this what what are some of the things that they say once they’ve seen what you can help them do?

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  24:32

The things that they say because the because of the way we actually deliver the services because of the the framework that we actually use. One of the one of the things that surprises people is how how we use visual aids to quickly help people get the information that they need so that because they, they don’t want to do this. They don’t want to do it because it’s it’s getting into the nitty gritty details. And they think it’s because it’s operations, it’s going to be so boring, and they just don’t want to be bothered with it.

But when I put up something like this, I’m holding up a stick figure. Yeah, when I start showing little index cards and things like that, and I say, You know what, we’re going to take stick figures and index cards to very simple, low, you know, low cost tools, we’re going to take everything that you do, we’re going to get that information out of the heads of you and your team members, put that onto those index cards, spread everything around, figure out who’s supposed to be doing what we’re going to use stick figures to figure out help us figure that out.

And because it’s so interactive, and it’s hands on, we’re standing up the whole time, people really get into it. And they get excited, like, wow, that was a lot of work. But that was also a lot of fun. Yeah, wow, how do we do that I did a workshop Daymond, just last month with a very large company, because that we typically work with small businesses.

But there are times when we work with much larger organizations as well. And so this is a large publicly traded company. And they had, this particular team was tasked with coming up with all of the processes that they needed to document. And when they were scratching, I mean, literally everybody expected, the worse, they really did. You know, there were all kinds of personalities in the room.

And we were we were we had to get this done in three days, normally something that I would prefer to stretch out over 45 to 60 days, we had to get done in three days, because people were coming from all over the country to this one location, they knew it just would be too prohibitively expensive to try to have these on site in person sessions and spread them out over several weeks. So they said, Listen, you got to get it done within within this timeframe. And so we were in a room huddled together.

And there was conversation, Damon conversations that never took place before. People were saying things like, wow, I didn’t know you did it that way. Well, why? And and you know what that’s, we actually use a tool for that part of our process. So did you hear about that? Oh, you didn’t, or you know, we’re actually doing the same thing. Who would have thought. So that’s what happens when, when I’m working with companies of any size. They’re having the conversations, they get really into these exercises.

They’re highly interactive. And again, we’re using all kinds of different visual aids, to help them get that information, wrap their heads around it that much quicker. So some of the outputs from all of this, when we talk about business infrastructure, we’re helping them figure out what work needs to be done. Who ideally, should do that work. Because remember, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

And especially for CEOs of smart founders, and CEOs of smaller businesses, were wearing so many hats. But when you go through an exercise like this, the point of it is to help you figure out, yeah, you might be doing this today. But are you really the best person to perform that particular task? should you really be spending your time doing that when you could be doing something else, to help bring more business into the you know, to help generate more business? So we have those conversations?

The outputs are I’m sorry, getting back to the four questions, what work needs to be done? How is that work organized into departments who will perform that work? And how is that work performed, and the outputs of these different exercises with all these visual aids, they have their job descriptions now, which are much more succinct, much more transparent and much more comprehensive.

They also have an organizational chart that they can now use as a growth strategy plan to share with other people on the team. They also have a guide for how they can organize their physical records, as well as their digital records and files. It also gives them an idea of how to best layout their physical workspace. And then finally, it helps them figure out what processes do they need to document and then they can actually begin to to document those processes.

So that that in it in its totality all those pieces together form business infrastructure, it is literally linking the people, the processes and all of the different tools and technologies that you’re using to operate your business on a day to day basis, bringing all of those things together, linking them, so that when there’s a change in one of them, you immediately understand how it impacts the other two.

Yeah, so if you hire somebody, how does that impact process? Do you even have a process? Do they need access to certain technology, so so you don’t do anything in isolation of the other elements? In other words of the business infrastructure? That’s what it’s really all about. That’s what helps you form a foundation that’s solid enough that you can keep building growing, and ultimately scaling without the wheels falling off?

 

Damon Pistulka  30:56

Yes, yes. As we see so many times because of that foundation, and that the process and the infrastructure is not there, like you said, you’ll get to a certain size and it starts to come apart.

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  31:09

Yep. Yeah, build it to last build it with the intention of it lasting, even though we know it won’t go on forever. But at least build it with that in mind. And I always tell people, because you mentioned me, in my work with Lean Six Sigma, that’s one of the tenets of of Lean Six Sigma is continuous improvement over perfection, because perfection can actually paralyze us. Because if we’re, if we’re in pursuit of perfection, it’ll never be perfect. But if you instead say, You know what, we’re going to just continuously innovate, we’re going to going to continuously improve this, because there’s always room for improvement.

 

Damon Pistulka  31:55

Yes. Yes. So it’s been awesome talking to you, Alicia, about business infrastructure, building effective business infrastructures, your process, your costs, the new process for building businesses, infrastructure is very good, awesome stuff I’ve seen. I’ve seen some of the videos watching you guys in action. It’s gotta be a riot doing it. Because, honestly, I’ve had to document a lot of business process and help people do it. It is it is not the most fun thing to do.

 

32:31

Exactly.

 

Damon Pistulka  32:34

That’s great. That’s great. But I do want to talk about something that I saw on LinkedIn. That was that was very interesting to me. Okay. In that is you are a volunteer artifact, registrar. And you work with American, Egyptian and British historians on an Egyptologist what, what,

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  33:02

what, what is this? What is that all about? So this, this idea of building things to last? So that’s a great segue, thank you so much for that it’s happened. So naturally, Damon, thank you. So when we look at these ancient civilizations, because before we started recording, you and I were talking about this, when ancient civilizations built things, they built it with the intention of it lasting forever.

And that is why many of these structures are still standing to this very day. And as we were talking about before the recording started, some of it may is still needs to be unearthed. It may be buried, whether under land or under sea, but the point is, it’s still there. It’s intact. They took their time they understood team dynamics. I’ve always been a fan of ancient civilizations, in particular, Ancient Egypt, and back in 2012, I think it was so right, Gosh, 10 years ago, 10 and a half years ago, I had the opportunity to volunteer on a restoration project in Luxor, Egypt. Wow. And there were a team of Americans.

There were a team of British volunteers, and we all came together. And we worked on the restoration of what’s considered to be a temple tomb complex for an ancient priest, Egyptian priest by the name of Karaca. Moon. And it was it was an experience I will never forget, I treasure it. I learned so much. But again, just how does that relate to business infrastructure again, they understood They build things with the intention of it lasting here’s here’s a really simple thing that I can share with you, Damon, you and your audience.

I never realized this, but in that particular temple tomb complex, it’s interesting because many people may not realize this, but the reason the minute someone became a pharaoh, okay, work began immediately on that person’s tomb. So you can instantly tell when you go into the Valley of the Kings, for example, where many of these ancient Egyptian pharaohs were buried, or the valley of the queens, you can always tell who died young, or who died quickly after becoming feral because their tools are much smaller.

That’s why the tomb of King Tut is so tiny, because he was so young and he was you know, he died very early very early in life. Whereas there are other kings or pharaohs and their their tombs are massive. But inside of this particular temple tomb complex, you can actually see, so, what we consider to be hieroglyphs, what we call hieroglyphs, in ancient Egypt, Egyptian, the term was actually the meta meta.

And so you would have an apprentice actually draw the hieroglyphics first, they drew it in black ink, or black paint on a stone, a stone wall, the master teacher would go behind that apprentice and make the corrections in red is the opposite of what we do here in the United States. Think about it when we were kids, and we were in school. Our teachers always corrected things in red ink. I’m sorry, I’m saying that the opposite. They drew in red and corrected in black, I believe, okay, what they what they did in Egypt, I apologize. Please forgive me for that.

So that’s, that’s how they made the corrections, then there was another person. So once the master teacher kind of went behind and said, No, you know that this isn’t at the right angle, or whatever made the corrections in black, then someone would go behind them and actually start to chisel Yes, carve it out, carve it literally into the stone, and we’re talking several inches deep, like we’re looking at most of now that’s carved, you know, modern age is, yeah, what maybe half of an inch, maybe it’s not very deep, I’m talking 678 inches deep.

Again, they intended it for it to be there for ever. So they’re doing that carving. Once the carvings are done, then there was another person to come behind and actually painted. So this is this is a perfect example of not only is there a process, but there’s a team dynamic that is going on, and they are working in synchronization with each other. A lot of us sit back today, in 2023. And we marvel at what the ancients were able to do. How did they do it? A big part of it, Damon was they were all of one accord.

They all knew you know what we’re starting on this, this structure today. We know we won’t see it through to completion will die before this is completed. But we’re going to start it anyway. And because we are all in sync with the mission and the purpose of why we’re building this, we can get this done. And we can do it on such a grand scale, that it will last forever. Unless you know there’s an a force of nature that you know that that wipes it out, wipes it out? It will it will be there. Yeah. And I think we’ve just over over 1000s and 1000s of years we’ve lost that.

 

Damon Pistulka  38:53

That’s a that’s a great point in two things, like you said, the process, the process and the team work to do it. It doesn’t do it with that they don’t get it done without the first person coming by and, and laying down the draft.

And the second person coming by the master coming by and say well, no, this is how we’re really going to do it. And certainly the third person making the physical changes of carving into the rock and doing that just right. That’s amazing inches deep without having I mean and doing it without having serious errors everywhere. Because that’s not the kind of thing you want to just go oops. Start over, down to the person at the end who painted it with paint that’s still there, some of

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  39:44

it still there that’s still there. And the only reason you may not see paint when you look at some of these structures is because it’s been exposed to the elements for so many years. But but when you’re going into a tomb, it hasn’t been exposed to wind, wind or sand or anything like that. So those colors are still so fresh and so vibrant. It is absolutely amazing.

And to your point, that the precision and the accuracy with which all of this was done, but again, they took their time, Damon, Today everything is about speed. I want to I want it that I want it yesterday. I’ll settle for today. But I really want this yesterday. Yeah, that’s that’s our we were in this society of instant gratification. And the quality, frankly, just isn’t there with a lot of products and services.

 

Damon Pistulka  40:39

Because you don’t have the time to do it. You don’t

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  40:40

have the time to do it and always going to cause too much money. And I mean, think about old homes. My house in New Orleans was built in 1851. Oh, by 1851. And when you look at the crown molding and the plaster walls, or you know, I’m thinking of like a beautiful brownstone in New York or a row house in DC, I mean, or Philadelphia, and you go inside these old, these old homes and the level of craftsmanship, we just don’t we just don’t see that today.

 

Damon Pistulka  41:14

Yes, yes. That’s sad. Let’s do. Alicia, thank you so much for stopping by today. We were talking about building infrastructure. And man, we got to talk about all that relates to so many different things and how Egyptology and what your experiences doing that helping to restore. Oh, my goodness, it’s so great to have you here today. Thank you, Damon, thank you for being here. How can people get a hold of you if they want to want to contact you?

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  41:50

Sure. The best way to contact me personally, is probably through LinkedIn. Connect with me on LinkedIn. Alesia Butler Pierre, I also have a website by the same name. Alesia Butler pierre.com. And when you go there, you can see everything you can, you can it’ll link you to my company’s website, it will take you to the book, it’ll take you to the podcast, so everything about me as well as links to all of my social profiles.

 

Damon Pistulka  42:19

Awesome. Awesome. So Alicia Butler pierre.com. And thanks so much for being here today. Oh, thank you, Damon. You bet. Thanks, everyone for listening. And we will be back again with another awesome person sharing their information hanging out Alicia, we’ll talk for a moment.

 

Alicia Butler Pierre  42:40

all right.

 

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