Executing Difficult Business Strategies

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Dasha Tyshlek, Fractional Chief Strategy Officer at StratCraft Partners, unravels the intricacies of executing challenging business strategies to propel your organization into a realm of unmatched success.

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Dasha Tyshlek, Fractional Chief Strategy Officer at StratCraft Partners, unravels the intricacies of executing challenging business strategies to propel your organization into a realm of unmatched success.

Dasha is a seasoned strategist with significant achievements in driving business excellence through strategic ingenuity. At StratCraft Partners, her strategic foresight has been instrumental in helping client businesses navigate complex business terrains, thereby significantly elevating client companies’ performance.
The show commences with Damon’s signature excitement. He begins the conversation by asking the guest about her professional journey and how she transitioned into her current role.

Dasha recounts her initial exposure to strategic thinking during a college internship at a company focused on promoting groundbreaking medical technology known as focused ultrasound. During her two-year internship, she evaluated the impact of the company’s efforts in shortening the technology adoption cycle. As an ardent admirer of measurement and creative methodologies in strategic planning, Dasha pays a special tribute to her mentor, Heather Huff-Simonin, who taught her about measuring KPIs and business intelligence.

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After graduating, she joined Bridgewater Associates, where she found herself in the CEO’s office during a founder transition. The company faced the challenge of building a new leadership team and charting a new course for the future after relying on its visionary founder for 40 years. Dasha’s work directly with the CEO enabled her to experience strategy implementation at a large scale, making it a challenging and impactful experience.

Dasha brings to light the difficulty of transitioning from a visionary founder to a new leader. This transition raises doubts about new leaders’ ability to be visionary, especially in a large company like Bridgewater Associates, where many are watching. Visionary founders can lead informally, but this approach no longer works in an established company without them. Using strategy becomes essential to build trust and communicate the new direction effectively.

Dasha further reveals that she encountered numerous opportunities and challenges while working at Microgrant due to the company’s rich technological innovation. They had to explore multiple possibilities and address common issues in the defense industry, such as funding cyclicality and unpredictability. The challenge was establishing predictability, balancing the portfolio, and improving forecasting.

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These days, Dasha teaches strategy at the University of Virginia, where she helps engineering students prepare for their careers.

Damon asks Dasha about the inspiration that inspired her to start her own company.

Dasha says her motivation to start her own company in strategy development stems from several key factors. While working at Microgrant, she noticed a gap in understanding the potential of strategic planning among customers and suppliers. Many companies, especially those reliant on government funding, faced challenges when their situations changed, like budget cuts due to political shifts and events like COVID-19.

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The catalyst for her decision came when she organized the “Inventor Manufacturer Entrepreneurship Convention,” bringing together various Florida-based companies for collaborative strategy and business skills development workshops. This event’s positive feedback and success made her realize the value she could offer to a broader audience.

Moreover, Elizabeth Pyle, her mentor at the University of Virginia, inspired her. Dasha structured her business after Elizabeth’s successful model.

Damon appreciates the advantage of having a mentor like Dasha did. He also recognizes manufacturing businesses’ unique challenges, where long development times and unpredictable funding cycles can create significant hurdles.

Dasha details risks associated with industries like biotechnology, defense, and space. Their product development cycles are long. Despite extended timelines, these businesses face daily tasks and challenges. She also notes that these complex industries involve various regulatory bodies beyond government agencies, such as manufacturing regulations, quality standards, and private-public partnerships. Strategic planning can efficiently mitigate these risks and complexity.

Damon shares his crucial observation. In his view, many technologists and business founders lack a deep understanding of business strategy and execution. He praises Dasha for identifying this gap. Moreover, he opines that comprehensive planning and execution ensure a business’ growth and continuity.

Agreeing with the host, Dasha recommends starting with small, transformative projects, similar to “low-hanging fruit,” to develop this strategic planning muscle.

She advises small businesses new to strategic planning not to begin with extensive multi-year plans. Instead, she suggests starting with a bottom-up approach by focusing on executing small but high-priority projects. As the team becomes more adept at execution, they can add more people to the meetings.

A company can consistently evolve its approach to quarterly planning and metric tracking by following this process. This gradual growth in planning and execution capabilities fosters a more productive, collaborative, and adaptable company culture.

Damon is curious about the initial discussions when Dasha helps companies implement her methodology.
When helping companies, one of the first things that Disha observes is people’s excitement about their ability to measure progress through metrics and reports. It typically takes about three to six months to see results as the data accumulates and provides insights into what works and doesn’t.

Additionally, she implements a “clear the plate” approach to discard projects and work that are no longer effective or valuable, enabling them to focus on what truly matters. Dasha mentions that she often notes this transformational development in executives when conducting time audits, where they identify tasks that can be delegated, automated, or eliminated, thus increasing efficiency and reducing the burden on the company.

Damon refers to Dasha’s article about global trends impacting private businesses. He asks the guest about the motivating factor that caught her attention to write the article.

Dasha reveals that she wished to explore these trends and provide practical advice for entrepreneurs and innovators rather than dwelling on the doom and gloom of certain predictions. Dasha outlines key takeaways from her article, including the opportunity for businesses to expand through acquisitions, the advantages of smaller businesses merging, and the importance of being aware of potential policy changes related to wealth transfer and taxation.

Similarly, the guest believes in keeping an eye on the world’s changes and how they can affect business operations and strategies. She intends to write more on topics like the parallel economy, AI, and digitalization soon.

Before departing, Damon presents a question asked by George, the attendee of the Livestream. He requests Dasha to recommend the best books for C-suite executives for strategy and execution.

In response, Dasha mentions two valuable books for practical strategy development. The first is called, “The Balanced Scorecard,” which is good for formulating and tracking strategy. The second resource she recommends is “Business Model Generation,” which she believes is equally beneficial for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The conversation ends with Damon thanking Dasha for her time.

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Dasha Tyshlek, Damon Pistulka

Damon Pistulka 00:02
All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And I am excited for our guests today because we have Dasha ties Luke here from strat craft partners, the fractional Chief Strategy Officer. And we’re talking today about executing difficult business strategies. Tasha, thanks for being here today.

Dasha Tyshlek 00:26
Thank you so much for having me on the show, Damon,

Damon Pistulka 00:29
it’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be fun. Because

when you think about business, everybody thinks about doing things, right. And we talk about strategy, and we talk about it a lot. And

Damon Pistulka 00:45
but a lot of times, we talk about a lot of strategy, we may even write it down. But the execution, and getting it done is where companies really excel. They either do it or they don’t. And it’s the differentiator in many cases. So it’s going to be fun.

Dasha Tyshlek 01:03
Yeah, execution is king. That’s a common known term, right? Yeah.

Damon Pistulka 01:09
So Dasha, when when we’ll start the show out, we always like to understand more about you how you got into this because you went to school for engineering, science or engineering. And let’s just kind of talk through this and how it came about that you decided to do this.

Dasha Tyshlek 01:29
First real experience with strategy is during an internship I had while I was still in college, I was working at a company trying to develop and promote a really breaking like groundbreaking new medical technology called focused ultrasound. And, you know, technology like that it’s it’s sort of on the on the level of innovation as an MRI machine is, it takes 20 to 30 years for technology like that, to go through all the cycles necessary to be approved for, you know, any, any valuable number of different treatments. It’s it’s just a really long pathway. And so this company was trying to measure like, you know, they were they’re trying to help the industry basically shorten that cycle and promote it. And they’re like, are we making a difference? Was there a question like, we’re doing stuff? We’ve been doing stuff for 10 years? Are we do is it doing it making a difference, and that was my internship project. I worked there for two years. And my job was to figure out how to evaluate if the if the nonprofit actually made an impact in the speed of adoption of the technology in the patient outcomes. Over Over the many years, it’s been, it’s been doing work. And that that’s a great place to start with strategies, because you have to know whether the things you’re doing are taking you in the direction you intended. And so I had to measure and I had to use a lot of very creative methods for that. I had a really great mentor, Heather huff semonin Is her name. And I always call her out because she really believed in me and train me early on on concepts of measuring KPIs, business intelligence, and thinking broadly about difficult business challenges. But I got real exposure to it after I graduated, and I went to work at a company called bridgewater associates. And I eventually landed in the office of the CEOs there during a time of founder transition. And the company was trying to not only figure out okay, how do we make a new leadership team gel and work together effectively after our visionary founder, who’s led the company for 40 years, is stepping out, you know, that’s a really difficult challenge in and of itself. But also, what is the future? You know, 40 years we’ve done this? Are we missing something is do we need some different way of evolving now that we’re no longer relying specifically on our founders vision. And strategy was the way that that company tackled that problem of both leadership transition, and creating a new sense of cohesion across all of the leadership team towards a new vision. So I got to do that for the first time in a very large company. Right, working right, straight directly for the CEO. So that was, that was really challenging and really exciting to see the impact.

Damon Pistulka 04:20
So during that transition, and I don’t mean to kind of go off off the rails on this thing. But, you know, a founder that’s been there 40 years. They have handpicked everybody. I mean, levels deep not just their executive, the team under them, but the people the next group under them, and if it’s a big company, the group below them yet they probably even have deep ties with AI. But that was a very interesting time because that transition was not easy. could not have been easy.

Dasha Tyshlek 04:54
Oh, and you know, it shouldn’t be easy because when you have a visionary founder right They are the heart and soul, the companies to just start out, and they have a vision that they’re shaping. And people inherently trust that the thing that they’ve envisioned is going to work because they’ve already built this company. And so of course, now, when you transition from your visionary founder to the next level leadership team, regardless of how incredible the individuals taking on that mantle are, there is a lot of doubt that’s going to be happening regardless, because they are not the visionary founder who created the company. And so the question is, can they be visionary? Will their vision succeed as well, it’s, there’s a lot of different feelings going on. But with the clients with the world, if you have a large company like bridgewater associates, it’s impacting a lot of people in the world, and they’re all watching it happen. And they need to know that it’s going to go over well. And of course, when you have a visionary founder, one of the things that happens is sometimes they don’t need a formal strategy to galvanize the company. When you have that individual at the top of the company, they say, we’re going that way. And everybody’s like, whoo. And then when you become kind of an enterprise that’s established, and that’s living beyond the original founder, that no longer works, yeah, a lot on the personality of that founder. And if you have somebody with a different personality, they might not be there. Just what you know, the whatever the charm, or the specific experience, or that long term trust that’s been built, might not be there for them to just say, Let’s go left, people start questioning why left, why not? Right, why not north? Why not south? And so the strategy is one of the ways that you communicate and build a lot of trust in the company in the direction that you’re now creating.

Damon Pistulka 06:43
Yeah, yeah, really cool. Well, we’ll talk about that more, because we’ll talk about that and some other stuff, too. So you’re at Bridgewater, and this keep going a little bit to get to get to where you are today. Because you, I mean, you’ve done a fair amount of things and just be interested to hear some about that.

Dasha Tyshlek 07:01
So one more point about Bridgewater, I think, some people who are familiar with a company might find this interesting. So the founder, Ray Dalio wrote a book called The principles and when I first started working there, I was trained in his entire book of knowledge. And my first job before I worked in strategy and planning was actually to train middle managers who were recently promoted, to help them, you know, grasp their new scope of work. And the way that I had to do that is I had to know and have memorized the entire book of principles which Ray Dalio later published to the world, it was internally published for a long time, and to go in and utilize the principles to abstract different management situations to something called another one of those scope in the book and then to create a body of principles that you could use to balance your decision making around whatever the managerial challenge so very interesting and unusual place to start in a career but made me very familiar with with his management principles and his later published book. After Bridgewater, I wanted to get back to my engineering roots and also discovered through the process of running strategy and going through Ray Dalio is particular culture at Bridgewater that I had a really strong affinity and strengths in doing relationship building and client work and wanted to make sure that my business, my next role really focused me on the front end of the business, which is sales, business development and project management, something in that realm. I went to work at a really exciting company called micro grant in the space and defense industry. And there, I managed all of the product development of their company, which was about 12 to 15, new inventions per year that they were developing some extremely unusual and breakthrough for the entire industry, others just variations of different technologies. And then, when I was there, I decided, okay, this company is ripe for doing a strategic planning experience, they have a lot of really interesting technologies to develop that are sitting on the shelf. There’s a lot of really different directions a company could take with certain product lines, and there’s not specifically anything that’s well developed in terms of how should this product have all over time, or where is it in its lifecycle. So I started gently dripping strategic planning into the company, working with the CTO and the president of the company and the founder to start instilling some of the discipline of thinking strategically, doing strategically, that resulted in me helping create the company strategy, and then taking on some of the really important new projects. One of the most interesting ones has been the spinning out of a company from micro and called core composites, which was kind of a really amazing technology developed, but it sort of didn’t quite fit with exactly what my current was doing. It was its own standalone product and figuring out how that actually fits into the strategy. What’s required to make that into a standalone company? And how do you actually develop that into its own business strategy on its own? Was was a very interesting challenge for me. So that was one of the things that I led in my latest role there as Director of Business Development.

Damon Pistulka 10:21
Well, yeah, because it’s, that really is if you’re in a company that’s developing new products and services, sometimes you develop something, and you go, wow, this is this is really a cool boat. But we’re making trucks. But we developed this boat that’s better than any other boat, because we, you know, did things like this happen? I know people may not realize it, but they do. And then you have to figure Okay, now how are we going to sell boats? Or what are we going to do? Or are we going to spin it out? There’s all different things that you see happening from these situations. So that’s cool,

Dasha Tyshlek 10:57
since services get invented along the way, all the time. And then another very common situation is that there might be a product or service that looks like it’s, you know, going away, maybe it’s no longer purchased commonly, you know, not. And sometimes you might say, Oh, well, it’s, you know, its end of life. But sometimes there are things you can do with it, that extend its lifecycle. And so that’s part of being strategic is not taking things necessarily, as you see them happening, but investigating the possibilities of what else you could do. Or sometimes, you know, maybe you shut it down early, because it’s just a drain on the company. And that’s a great thing to realize, too.

Damon Pistulka 11:34
Yeah, that really can’t be orange to say, Marcel says, who will take the boat is calling from Atlanta, which is a good place to be have a boat? That’s for sure. So all right, well, that’s awesome on that part, the. Yeah. Because that’s, I mean, you just think about in those those two places, you got a tremendous amount of experience it that many people never even touch. This is cool. So what really then, and I don’t I don’t have your your LinkedIn, I guess I can pull up my LinkedIn, your LinkedIn profile here, because it’s right up. I do have it pulled up. I was going through it earlier. And I didn’t write the whole thing. So you’ve done some other stuff since then, is that there other things that you’ve you’ve done that there stand out that you want to talk about in your experience since then? Up until

Dasha Tyshlek 12:34
starting my own business has been its own very interesting,

Damon Pistulka 12:38
before you start because I want to talk about starting your own business more, obviously. So

Dasha Tyshlek 12:45
at Yeah, while I was at microgrant, there, there was a lot going on, because the company really was so rich and technologies and innovation. And there was a lot to do in order to parse out all the possibilities, and take advantage of as many things as were available. And there’s also like any business, there are some challenges. A very common challenge for defense industry companies is that there’s a cyclicality to funding. And that there isn’t it’s things aren’t really spread out. So you know, I think a lot of companies experience some sort of cyclicality or some uneven, you know, unpredictability. So that was a really interesting challenge to sort out is how do we become more predictable? How do you balance the portfolio and also do forecasting in a meaningful way so that you can always look ahead, and you’re not always just looking in the back view rearview mirror. But while I was on my grant, I also got to be a director of the SAT comms innovation group. And that was a really exciting opportunity to do in parallel with with my job, because set, you know, satellite is is is another industry where things take decades and decades to build and create and trying to understand how do we tackle some of the biggest challenges that require collaboration across companies that are education across people in different parts of the industry, that was that was the goal of the group is basically improve the education of people about big issues, and then try to solve them. And so it’s a very strategic role just in the essence of, okay, here’s, here’s International, you know, satellite industry problems that we need to have ideas for how to start solving and bridge bridge those partnerships that need to be bridged, and you know, who who should be talking to who, and how do you organize these people to do something together. So that was a very exciting opportunity as well. Right now I’m also teaching at University of Virginia. So that’s my side gig. teaching strategy, I’m working with engineering students to help them prepare for their careers in engineering.

Damon Pistulka 14:54
Nice, nice. Well, we’ll talk about that in just a moment. because I do want to get to that. So you’re doing this, what really gave you the thought or the just the idea that, hey, I want to, I want to start my own company doing this.

Dasha Tyshlek 15:20
Yeah, it’s a couple of things. But as I was working in the My role at micron, I worked with both customers of the company and suppliers have worked with a lot of manufacturing businesses, and very innovative and interesting companies that had technologists, as founders, I noticed across many of the people that I was working with, there wasn’t an understanding really, of what strategy had to offer for their company. And when situations change, such as funding changes at the defense and, you know, budget going, for example, to Ukraine, not to be political, but it cut a lot of programs, suddenly, and and many companies who are dependent on that, for example, found themselves in a rut. There were other other similar situations where people maybe were missing opportunities to diversify or change direction quickly, or adapt to certain things that happened during COVID. And I saw that there was a real opportunity for education and support, and it didn’t require any sort of extra ordinary effort beyond you know, what’s done is just, for whatever reason, you know, there hasn’t been very much strategy development in companies in that type. And I hosted an event called the inventor manufacturer entrepreneurship convention, and brought together a lot of different companies in Florida, as well as ones that were related to my current and some of its suppliers is a kind of a collaborative experience. And we did some workshops on strategy, and planning and other business skills development for founders and inventing and manufacturing businesses. And it was just such a tremendous success. And the feedback was so good as to not just, you know, just the whole concept of here’s, here’s different things we need to be thinking about that isn’t just the invention and the manufacturing itself. And I think when I saw that, it really got me thinking that I have this value to offer, and that I might be able to offer it to a broader group of people. Also, I have a mentor who had in college, and she her name is Liz Pyle. And she had a business like this when she was my instructor at University of Virginia. And I think she’s still doing some of this teaching. But I remember when I met her, and I learned what she was doing with helping businesses with their strategic planning. I thought, that sounds like something I might want to do one day. And it turns out that, you know, more than a decade later, I was like, Oh, I think this, I think I’m going to structure my business after Liz Biles business.

Damon Pistulka 17:53
Oh, yeah. Very cool. Very cool. Well, at least you had somebody that was already blazing a path you can see. Because, you know, some some entrepreneurs don’t have don’t have that little bit of little bit of help to see a path that someone else has taken down the road. And that’s super cool. And I, man, you’ve been in these really nice kind of manufacturing businesses, which are like, like you said, the length of time to develop something to actually go to use is sometimes decades. And the funding cycles, as you said, you could get halfway through and funding run out. And what do you do, then there’s just so many different things that they have to deal with. And a lot of businesses don’t have to deal with, like, the funding things big, because you could literally get halfway done with something and just be done.

Dasha Tyshlek 18:52
Yeah, the risks are really big because of it. And it’s not because something takes a longer time doesn’t mean you have fewer things to do from day to day. Yeah. So you have to be able to see your way through a very long timeline. But you still have the same number of busy tasks coming at you every moment as a, let’s say, as a business that maybe has a more rapid cycle. So strategy is particularly felt there because of that dual need to be agile on a day to day basis, but have to also meet deadlines and projects that are you know, have this incredible complexity. Also, just as a note, an interesting observation I made both working in the biomedical biotechnology space as well as defense and space industry. You know, you have a very complicated industry you’re dealing with in both cases, there is obviously government regulations to ensure safety. But also, there are, let’s say, manufacturing regulations and certifications that are required and as a level of quality that’s required. There are also non government agencies that put in a lot Under regulations, for example, in the satellite industry, the satellite operators themselves, which are not always a government entity have regulations and rules for compliance. And a similar thing could be said, for many healthcare businesses, there are entities outside of just the government regulatory agencies that add complexity. And there’s a lot of private public partnerships. And so there’s a lot of federal funding. So all of this creates a very complicated industry to watch and understand, and a lot of complexity for businesses trying to maneuver and be agile and take advantage of opportunities with all of this rigor in place. So it makes strategic planning more difficult. But again, the benefits of it and having it become much more obvious because of the quality of work that your company can then produce. And then it’s qualified for the next level of whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve.

Damon Pistulka 20:55
Yeah, and you, you had something that I found, didn’t even realize years ago. And as you got into your career, you probably saw as well as many, many good technologists and business technologists, as founders, as you said, very few understand business business strategy, and execution. And I think that you’ve really hit on something here, because of the fact that that execution in over the over time, especially like you said, in long term projects, is so key, because it’s not, you don’t get enough feedback. And it goes back to your very first position, you know, measuring the, the effects of the visionary, you know, transition of a visionary founder to see if we’re actually moving things, you can probably pick up on the ways to measure these things now, faster than a lot of other people because of the experience, and then show these technologists that are the founders, okay, this is why we need to do this, and then see the results and keep things going. So

Dasha Tyshlek 22:02
and, you know, I always think about, when I’m working with a company, I think about where their founder is coming from, because like you said, there, there are many people who start a company from a technology or product perspective. And that’s excellent, because then you have somebody who has an eye for either a great product, or really awesome novel solutions, or sometimes it’s about quality of manufacturing, production, or maybe driving down costs. But that does, you know, everybody comes from a perspective, and that’s where they’re going to focus their attention, because that’s where both their comfort comfort zone and their strengths lie, which is the right way to think about it. But then there’s things that you might be missing, and the experiences you don’t have, or the experiences are the areas where maybe you don’t have a strength, those are things you probably want to find and partner up with somebody who does. And you know, the same thing can be said for a sales focused executive, right? A sales focused executive might have a really great sales, sales strategy and a process for it. And they might be extremely proactive in getting clients. But can they articulate a great product or service, can they build out the system and the product that is offered and make it like repeatable and all of that, that’s, that’s gonna be their challenge. And you can imagine that for any number of founders. Similarly, if a founder comes, let’s say, from a strategic consulting background, they might have a very good sense of planning and big picture type of stuff, but maybe on the actual product, or when it comes to doing the marketing or selling, they might be less comfortable. So you have to kind of know who you are and what pieces are missing. And if you don’t have experience with a lot of planning and strategy development, that’s when I would say, like, look for somebody with that experience to supplement your knowledge and help you learn those skills over time so that they become a part of your business’s strengths as well.

Damon Pistulka 23:48
Yeah, yeah, it is, it is in the implementing strategic planning to guide your execution is one of the things that we see time and time again that most smaller businesses never do. It’s continuing, okay, we’re going to add a customer, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that. But there’s not the overall picture that says this is where we’re going this year. This is where we’re going in three years or going in five years, whatever it is, to really keep keep the lights on on you know, going down the same path and then behind it, the planning and execution that you need to get there.

Dasha Tyshlek 24:31
But and one of the things I’ve learned working with smaller companies on their strategic strategy and planning is you actually don’t want to start and for especially for business who’s never done like an annual plan, for example, or who hasn’t done this successfully and have found it like to be a frustrating and overwhelming experience for everybody. Yeah, just you don’t want to start with trying to like boil the ocean with your multi year plan. Don’t don’t start there. I think I I actually think you want to start almost, I would say bottoms up, you actually start by learning how to execute small high priority projects. So you take your leadership team, you’d, let’s say, you take between three to five of your like, top most value, like dewy executive, managerial people, you don’t take all of them, you take, like the people that you think if you put them on random projects, they will still get them done, regardless of what else is going on. And you have the meet, like weekly, and you start with like, three things, you’re like, Okay, we gotta like, move into the new building are we got to launch this product, or we got to update the website, we got to do this other thing, and we got to do this thing, three, okay, let’s very quickly, just boom, boom, boom, get it done, okay, you get it done, then you make your next three things, then you add a couple people into the meeting, or maybe you say, okay, in addition to talking about the three things, let’s also bring like a metric each for your operational work, okay, now you talk about the operational metric, you do the three things, then you add some people in, then like a year later of doing that, now you have something akin to quarterly plans and metrics that start to form in your team, everybody has sort of developed a set of like, okay, here’s the day to day operational stuff that other people in my team should be knowledgeable about. And here’s the transformational stuff I’m doing. But if you start that, and you keep it going, and you focus on Okay, first, we develop the ability to say, We got to get this done right now, and you go and you do it as a team, and you deliver it, and then you you decide the next chunk of stuff that’s transformational, right, that’s not operations, things you’re already doing. But that like changes that if you do that, and you develop that habit as a team, and then you start to grow that habit across your team, into all leaders and managers, a year and a half, from that moment, you are going to have a different company, you’re going to have a company that is significantly more productive. That is not nearly as afraid of like changing stuff. But that is also working together collaboratively where everybody understands what each other is doing much better has a forum where problems are solved much more quickly. And you actually might have a sense of like, here’s where things are going. This is when things are gonna get delivered. Here’s the cliff that we didn’t realize we had, here’s the opportunity that somebody’s bringing, now we know if an opportunity comes how to add it to our plan and get it done. But also, we have like a focus and a and a methodology for doing this. So that’s where I usually recommend for small companies have never done it is start with like small I call it low hanging fruit. I think that’s a commonly used term, pick three low hanging fruit projects, but not operational, like transformative projects, and, and figure out how you have a small group of people just tackle them as fast as they can, while not dropping the ball and other stuff. And then and then go from there building that muscle up.

Yeah, that’s a great point. Because so many people, when they think about strategy and execution, they don’t separate the day to day from the transformational because if you spend all your time working on day to day things, improvements, all that you miss out on the transformational things that that allow you to step function, the the performance of your business and products and everything by doing those transformational things that that radically, you know, change product services, whatever it is to go to that next level. And so many people get stuck in that day to day oh, we’re

Damon Pistulka 28:35
trying to refine what we got, rather than we’re trying to build something that doesn’t look like it does today, because we’re gonna do a completely different, but it’s going to be much better. So

Dasha Tyshlek 28:46
yeah, that’s right. And, and, you know, transformation always takes additional energy, right? It’s, it’s even emotionally because you have, you know, we’re all people, we’re not robots. And to create something transformative, you have to really give it a lot of thought, you have to face a lot of risk, you have to deal with a lot of ambiguity and things that are slightly chaotic and don’t like nobody has thought of it yet. So how, you know, you have to do a lot of work mentally in order to conquer a transformational project that always comes on top of the investment in the operational work and everybody always has enough operational work to occupy their full day.

Damon Pistulka 29:28
Yeah, just

Dasha Tyshlek 29:31
because of that, learning how to, you know, even putting together a company wide like say annual plan, in itself is a strategic execution exercise because you have to take time outside of managing operations to deal with the chaos and the unknowns and the risks and the opportunities and the crazy thoughts and ideas that all bubble up and you have to sort them and prioritize them and structure them. And so that’s why I do recommend for smaller companies that they start with the kind of muscle Building Exercises like you wouldn’t go to the gym and you just start lifting the heaviest way, I could go to the gym, start with the lower weights, add weights until you feel like you can do it safely. That’s it’s the same concept you learn, you grow the capability to untangle difficult problems, jointly across departments to do it quickly to report back on it. And as that muscle grows, now, your capacity to actually do transformational projects actually increases as you do the reps.

Damon Pistulka 30:31
Yeah, that’s for sure.

We’ve got a couple more comments here that I want to make sure Dr. Marian has got. She said she’s building their detailing strategy for our orthopedic products platform.

Damon Pistulka 30:42
That’s interesting. And I wonder if that’s a an EEG products themselves, or the the platform to deliver to customers, there’s lots of lots of things going on, in here with that one. And then another person here is I can’t pronounce your first name. So I’m gonna say George is your middle name. Sorry, I’m gonna apologize for that, but launched in a healthcare startup. And that’s good too, because that I go back again, a transformational projects, because it doesn’t matter if you’re making ground baked breaking satellite products, or you’re making car tires, the there are transformational projects and things that you should be doing in every business. And it really, what you’re uncovering here is a methodology that allows you to get really good at doing things that are going to put you much farther ahead over time, because if I allocate, as we talked about before, I need to allocate a certain amount on day to day, things that we have to keep up with with everyone else. But if we don’t take that extra time to work on those transformational things, we’re going to be essentially better down the road, but not excellent down the road, or those kinds of things, which is cool. So as you see, and you’re helping companies do this, and putting these this in like this, what are some of the the first things that people start to talk about as you’re executing these with them?

Dasha Tyshlek 32:18
Okay, so one of the first things that people get really excited about when they start to implement a strategy is actually measuring like progress of things. First, it’s people, you know, when you when you’re managing anything, a team of five people, a team of 100, people, you know, you’re there now things outside of your zone of control, you don’t know everything that’s going on. And we’re not so good at like remembering things, we think we’re good at remembering things. But actually, the way our brain works, it like totally changes how we remember things, every time we remember them, the memory actually changes. So what metrics and and reports do is they actually start to tell people like, oh, my gosh, we thought we would get this much done. But we actually got all of this done, and none of this done. And now we also see the results of that. And, you know, it can be a little bit like it can bring a little sense of shame, or I didn’t get enough done. But it also brings a sense of okay, this is what’s realistic, this is what our team typically gets done. And here’s what we have to do something extra to get done. And you start to actually see whether the things that you are, first of all the things that you think you’re doing, whether you’re doing them. The second is whether the things you’re actually doing are creating the impact you thought they’re going to create. And that starts to happen, maybe three to six months timeframe, right? Because you can’t usually you don’t see like immediate results depends on on the industry in the company, but about six months down the road, you might be able to say, we thought that if we go after this company, this set of companies for our clients, let’s say in b2b business, or we launched this campaign, the results would be ABC, but we didn’t get the results that we expected, we got a completely different set of results, like what does this mean to us. And now because you know what you did, and you can see the results, you have learned something about this, you didn’t just do something and hoped it worked. You’re actually starting to accumulate knowledge, here’s things that really work and seem to be creating impact. Here’s things that didn’t work. And we can just dissect why they didn’t, and whether we should do more of them, do them differently or completely not do them. The second thing you start to do is you start actually discarding projects and work from your team. And that can be a huge, you know, people think, Oh, now we have a lot of transformation projects. But the other thing that strategy is very important about strategy is you purposefully identify things you’re not going to do. And everybody always has things that they are doing because their legacy things are because they think they’re effective, but they’re actually not. And so, being strategic and measuring your results also enables you to clear the plate on things that aren’t effective, or that are legacy things that you’re doing out of habit, or because it was you know, useful. A month ago, but it’s no longer applicable. And I actually see this transformation the most with executives I do executive coaching with, we often do something I call a time audit, where we document what they’re spending their time on. And we also put together a similar chart of activities that they should be spending their time on. And there’s always something that comes up that’s like, Oh, I didn’t realize like, for hours, my time was spent solving this type of problem, there’s somebody I can give it to in my team to solve, or there’s something I could do to automate this, or maybe this isn’t even appropriate anymore for me to be dealing with because of how things have shifted. So that it even at an individual level can have tremendous impact. But now you extend it to the company realize how many resources are being put to something that might not be producing any value, and you’re able to get rid of that work and reduce that burden on the company. That’s really, you know, that always gets people excited not to not to do something to to explicitly state this is no longer what, you know, useful to do.

Damon Pistulka 36:04
I just got off a conversation with that earlier today about a company we’re helping to do some transformational work and what we weren’t going to do any more that we weren’t doing before, because, you know, there’s only so much time in a day. And like you said, all the code was funny listening to you about it, because those are some of the same thing, right? Well, it used to be good now. It’s not livable, you go through that whole thing. And you really have to continue to see where your markets going in the demand for what you’re doing is going especially like in the product you’re talking about. And the things that that changes that those See, my goodness. So, before we get too far, we’ve got we’ve got some time yet, I want to make sure because you wrote an article here last month about the global trends impacting private business, generational wealth transfer over the next decade. And I thought it was pretty interesting. I had seen it a couple days ago, and you reminded me about it, you know, because you said there’s going to be is it 95 trillion total, and you’re 84 trillion and assets transferred to heirs with 11 and nine gold donated 11.9 going to charities. I mean, that’s a lot. We’ve been talking about this deal. And people said the silver tsunami, you talk to wherever you want, but we’ve been talking about it for 15 years now. And, you know, we have we had

2008 we had the the economic, you know, real estate, screwed things up a lot of those, those baby boomers stayed in their business longer, then we hit COVID. We’re about the time that you know, things are things are coming out and people are starting to sell their business again, hit COVID. And that’s put the damper on

Damon Pistulka 37:50
what really and I think I think maybe now maybe now we’re actually going to see this because honestly, some of these people are they’ve been in business long time to say that. What really caught your attention to write this article, first of all?

Dasha Tyshlek 38:08
So I’ve been thinking about what kind of shifts are going on right now that impact a large number of customers that maybe my customers aren’t really thinking about at all. And I really wanted to examine them from the perspective of what can you actually do with that information? Right? It’s great. Oh, yeah, like things are happening. But what do I practically do as a business? How does this impact me and I was reading Carol Roth’s recent book, you will own nothing. And I really enjoy her writing. But it’s a little bit doom and gloom. And I’m not quite so doom and gloom. I also don’t look at the issue necessarily, from a political perspective. I’m more interested in entrepreneurs and innovators, and what should they do today or tomorrow to to improve their chances of success? And so I wanted to examine this issue deeply and understand from different perspectives of private businesses, both the one selling and the ones potentially not selling, but maybe benefiting from this, from the fact that there are businesses selling. So I examined kind of what is happening, and then I thought about what should you do about it? A couple key things I think for people to keep in mind. There, there has been a lot that’s delayed the sale of business and and what its impact, what it’s creating is there is it’s going to be a market for the buyers of businesses to be in a much better position, and so on on one hand, that’s tough news for businesses trying to sell but for businesses who are looking to expand and who have good cash flow assets. This is an opportunity to be thinking about different strategies that include acquisition. And you know, a lot of people talk about there’s a lot of consolidation happening in the industry, in all industries in almost all industry. As there is a gigantic trend for consolidation, but it doesn’t have to be big businesses that consolidate big businesses are are notoriously bad at consolidating. They, they tend, you know, the smaller businesses tend not to flourish, I’ve personally met so many people who, who get bought up by the big business and the engineering team, or the product team is like, Oh, my God, now everything, they killed our customers, you know, because it was competition, and we can’t innovate, and we can’t get anything done, we’re just gonna go leave and start our business, right? That’s your typical story. Actually, smaller businesses are much better at buying and merging other small businesses, and the chances of success of that kind of business transaction is much better, because you are more likely to find similar cultures, the amount of complexity you’re dealing with is very different. And so for businesses who are looking to expand and who have the money, this is going to be a great opportunity, because you’re going to have a lot more negotiation power in the business dealing. The other thing is for entrepreneurs, who want to buy a business and grow it, you know, you this is also an opportunity where you will have the power of negotiation, and you might be able to get more of a seller financing deal, for example, you might be able to negotiate a longer founder transition, because they’re so motivated to sell that they might be motivated to stay on longer and help with the transition, which is, I think, generally a good thing to have, because of the amount of knowledge transfer that really has to happen and assistance that you can get from that experience. So I think that that’s one thing. The second is, there’s going to be policies that people need to be aware of that are probably going to be coming down the pipeline related to this. Some of them are legacy like there’s currently a tax break on wealth transfer, that is going to be expiring. And I think in the next one or two years, it’s going to be you know, if it expires, it’s the amount of untaxed I, I’m not a tax tech expert, go look it up, it significantly reduces the amount of assets you can transfer to your heirs before they get tax, like has it. So there has to you know, so you have to be aware of those things, because it doesn’t just affect the people who are transferring wealth to their heirs right now. It also affects all other small business owners and people, individuals with high net worth for small business owners, sometimes high net worth is tied up in their real estate in their manufacturing equipment. So that you have to be really thoughtful and understand that you should watch for policies that are going to be affecting this wealth transfer because they most likely will affect small businesses. So that’s, that’s on the gloom and doom side, be aware. And then

Damon Pistulka 42:42
this is, what you’re doing is it’s interesting that you wrote this article, because we’ve been doing this this year with a lot of our clients or the people that we’re talking to, we’re saying, Go out and find other people in your industry that in your area to it, I mean, so I’m just saying I’m a plumber, go down to I know Dasha has been a plumber. And Dasha is a couple years older than me and I’m getting I’m I’m, I might have a little more gas in the tank yet. But Dasha might be one that that knows me, we’ve known we’ve been competitors in the same town for 20 years. That is a perfect acquisition for me. Because I can go over a year you saw on that business as somebody you know, and you know, you’ve seen Daymond around town, you’ve seen the people that the community, he sponsors the things and you know, it’s just I think it’s a triple win for these owners, because the people getting out of the business win, because if they do it right, and like you said was some some more seller financing, because the interest rates have also changed and made it more challenging. And so it took about 25% of the value of those businesses, trying to sell them just because of the interest rate change. But if I do seller financing, and I’m selling it to somebody, I know I can get a lot of that back, because I can give them more favorable terms on the sale of the business. So that’s another when I’m a seller, I can get a little more money, the buyer gets something that they can come into with a lot less risk, and something they know a lot more about. But the people that work in the business and the communities when because I used to run a lot of investor own companies. And it’s like you said, you, when you buy a company with an investment group, you have to run it differently than I do with you or I run in our own company in a community. We can make a lot of different decisions about how we run our business. That’s not controlled by am I giving my investors enough money or not. Now, they’re both necessary because you can’t run a huge company, private publicly say, big public company with that same mentality just won’t work. But at the at the community level, there is such an opportunity for this to happen amongst these, these entrepreneurs, that it just a shame to not see it happening. And that’s why when I saw the article, I was like, that’s one of the things you hit in there. That’s so cool. It’s just, I get excited about it, because I think you’re right, I think there’s a huge opportunity there for these one to $5 million businesses to turn into two to $6 million businesses or whatever, by two or three combining together over time, and still rehab that community feel,

Dasha Tyshlek 45:39
you know, different times, and different situations in the world prompt a different response. And I think, for me, like one of the reasons I spend time writing articles like this, I have several others on my blog that are more tactically oriented, like how you do certain elements of strategy, but others that are more what’s going on in the world type of articles. One of the reasons that that’s you know, different times bring different conditions. And if you are not watching what’s going on in the world, and you’re just focused internally, then you might miss opportunities that come around, like at this time, this is probably an opportunity to get more better results, when you’re trying to pick and choose a business to buy, you might be the chooser there are there going to be other pressures, but if you know how to how to manipulate and actually practice the process of being purposeful, and going out and testing this out and trying to accomplish it over time, you might be able to succeed. If you don’t watch what’s going on, and you don’t synthesize How could this affect my business, you might miss opportunities, you might also miss some of the risks. And so, you know, it’s it’s about both of both sides of the point now, you will never miss a risk in a way that doesn’t make itself known. That’s the problem with the risks, they turn into problems. So if you miss it for too long, you will know. Yeah, so opportunities, you might not know if you miss them. And and we have to, you know, we have to look for both but and there’s always two sides of the coin, every every situation harbors opportunities as well. And so, you know, obviously not every single situation life, but generally speaking in business, there are many things that bring opportunities if you know what you’re trying to achieve. And so I will be I will be writing more on global trends. Just to give a couple of notes. We’re going to talk a little bit about parallel economy. Of course, AI, that’s like a must have right now. The digitalization of everything. So those are two of the ones I’ll be I’ll be focusing on in the near future.

Damon Pistulka 47:42
Nice. So what what do you have this exciting you now? What’s going on? I have, I have a

Dasha Tyshlek 47:51
very recent announcement, super exciting. So I’m actually a biomedical engineer by training and some of the businesses I work with work in space defense, but also in the biomedical and biotechnology industry. And I was just announced that I will be hosting a new podcast for University of Virginia biomedical engineering department that focuses on exciting commercializable bio technologies being developed at the University and or that have been developed by its alumni, faculty, and partners. So that’s going to be coming out in 2024, probably, somewhere in March TBD, specific dates, it’s fresh off the press. But I’m very excited to share with the world some of the most incredible types of things going on that are transforming our health, our energy, and many other products that we might not even be realizing that are getting transformed by biotechnology and biomedical scientists.

Damon Pistulka 48:48
Super cool. Well, we’ve got one more question here from George said, which books can you recommend for X executives on strategy and execution?

Dasha Tyshlek 48:58
Okay, this one’s a little bit hard to read, but I think is the best Practical Guide. It’s called the balanced scorecard. It’s a very comprehensive technique. And it takes you through the process of actually formulating strategy comprehensively, and then turning it into a plan with measurable outcomes. And then tracking that over time. And one of the things I love about the balanced scorecard the name balanced, I think, suggests that is it it will it will force somebody to think not only of oh, here’s my like revenue goals, very important revenue, profit goals, very important, but it also tackles other things like the customers perspective, what does that practically mean like in terms of service or quality or you know, how well you’re rated or how many things are actually the customer goes from one product to the other those types of measures, but also your talent in a lot of people tends to focus out there on revenue financial how strimmer thanks but not so much on like, what do I need to do with my people internally, operationally, as well, in order to be able to scale or achieve that next level of growth or development, or maybe transformation, transition or pivot? And so balanced scorecard, I think, has a very good view of all those things. And it’s very practical. And it’s approach. It is a little bit dense, but I don’t think you can find a strategy book that isn’t another one for entrepreneurs that I really recommend is the Business Model Generation, this could be good for smaller businesses as well. And are you familiar with that? Damon?

Damon Pistulka 50:38
I am not, but I’m writing it down.

Dasha Tyshlek 50:40
So the it’s it has a framework inside of it called the Lean Canvas, the business model canvas as the other term for it. It’s, it’s a one page brainstorming tool that makes you think through all the major aspects of a product or a service. And it’s there to help you structure creative development of strategies. So the book actually walks you through, like, Okay, we could sell this as a product, or we could sell it as a product with a service. Or we could sell it as a supply chain, have the product and you assemble it at home, you know, it forces you to be creative and thinking about not just like we made the thing, we sell the thing, but like what are the different ways that you might actually package the solution and generate money from that idea. And then you create this sort of one page canvas that outlines it, and it has a bunch of things that you’d go test. And so it also walks you through? How do you test your theories about what’s going to work quickly. So you can learn from them, adjust your value proposition, or maybe how you how you target the customer, you you pivot pretty quickly, in order to get it right. So that that’s a really great framework for especially anybody launching a new product or early stages of a business, because it’s it’s kind of taming all of the chaos right away. Yeah.

Damon Pistulka 52:00
Yeah. Super cool. Awesome. Awesome. Well, we are nearing the end of our time, Dasha, and it’s great to be able to talk to you today about you know, executing difficult business strategies. I mean, you covered so many just golden nuggets in here, you know, the transformational projects and day to day projects, and all throughout, really about measuring progress all the way back to when you’re talking about your time at Bridgewater, where he really, I mean, that had to be a really difficult thing to measure progress on. So thank you so much for being here today and talking with us. And I always like to understand what’s the best place if someone wants to talk to you and get a hold of you may be asked for more questions.

Dasha Tyshlek 52:44
Yeah, reach out to me on LinkedIn, dosha tissue, click, I’m probably one of the only ones in the world. And I also have a page for my company’s strike craft partners. That’s the easiest. Now if you don’t have LinkedIn or you want to reach me, otherwise, you can also go on my website strat dash craft.com. And I have a form there, you can subscribe to get updates from the articles that I write to it, as well as check out some of my courses on strategy and planning for small businesses.

Damon Pistulka 53:15
Awesome, awesome. Well, thanks so much. Like I said, today we had Dasha Tashlich talking about executing difficult business strategies went through so much great stuff. I want to thank you for being here. Again, Dasha, thanks for all the guests. We’re putting in the great questions today. Everybody that was listening that didn’t put the questions in. We love it that you’re listening out there. And if you started late, go back to the beginning because Dasha has some awesome stuff all the way from the beginning. We’re done for now and we’ll be back later. Thanks so much hanging out just a minute Dasha and we’ll finish things up.

Dasha Tyshlek 53:52
Thank you, everyone.

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