How to Drastically Increase Your Business Bandwidth

In this week’s Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, our guest speaker was Alicia Butler Pierre. Alicia is the founder and CEO of Equilibria. She is also an Adjunct Instructor at Purdue University.  Alicia uses her deep experience in engineering, lean processes, and business to help companies rethink their processes so they can drastically improve their performance.

When it comes to increasing your business bandwidth, you have to have the right tools for it. Our guest today explains how she shows people how to do it.

In this week’s Manufacturing Ecommerce Success Series, our guest speaker was Alicia Butler Pierre. Alicia is the founder and CEO of Equilibria. She is also an Adjunct Instructor at Purdue University.  Alicia uses her deep experience in engineering, lean processes, and business to help companies rethink their processes so they can drastically improve their performance.

The conversation of the episode started with Curt introducing Alicia to the show. After this, he asked Alicia to introduce herself as well. Alicia said that her company is a Boutique Operational Management Firm that specializes in working with fast-growing firms.

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After this, she said that her initial career choice was journalism and she wanted to work in that but later she chose the other field. Further into the conversation, Curt asked Alicia about her entrepreneurial journey and how it kicked off for her.

To answer this question, Alicia shared her entire journey of how she started working at Monsanto and later moved forward in her journey. After this, Curt asked Alicia about her work and why she named her company Equilibria.

For this, Alicia said that the name comes from the word equilibrium. She said that in chemistry, the state of equilibrium is when an equation is balanced. Therefore, she named her company equilibria which is the plural of equilibrium. This idea also explored that no matter how hard or chaotic a situation gets, you have to work under a certain balance.

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Further, Alicia talked about the books she wrote. She said that when she wrote the book, she was in business for 13 years and decided it was time to further train people. Aside from this, her business was also not doing as well, as usual, therefore she took the opportunity to publish her own book for others’ knowledge.

She also said that now when she does business with her clients they know about the book and they sometimes read it too. Moreover, she said that at times other consultants also benefit from her book and this is what her motto for the book was.

Moving on, they talked about profitable growth and loss. To this, Alicia said that she knows when someone works in this business, you are one disaster away from a loss therefore you have to be more careful.

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The conversation ended with Damon and Curt thanking Alicia for her time.

Download our free business valuation guide here to understand more about business valuations and view our business valuation FAQs to answer the most common valuation questions.

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Damon Pistulka, Alicia Butler Pierre, Curt Anderson


Damon Pistulka  00:06

All right, everyone, welcome once again, it’s Friday and it’s a manufacturing ecommerce success series. I’m your co host, Damon Pistulka. And with me, right over here is Kurt Anderson, my partner in crime brother from another mother. Take it away, Kurt.


Curt Anderson  00:24

Hey, Damon, thank you so much, brother. This is man I like I can’t even control my excitement today. This is just such an honor such a privilege. We have an amazing incredible guests on this close out the month of February here, my dear friend Lucia Butler Pierre Alisha. Happy Friday. How are you?


Alicia Butler Pierre  00:41

Thank you, Kurt and Damon. I’m excited to be here. And if your brothers from another mother, then I’m the sister from another mister. So let’s


Curt Anderson  00:52

So guys, so Jan Bookbug. Leno’s here today, guys. Chapa. So know, let us know that you’re here today, let us know where you’re coming from, of course, you want to absolutely make sure that you connect with Alicia, this is going to be a great program. So Lisa, you and I connected over the holidays and had a wonderful conversation. We belong to a networking group together just an amazing group of folks. And I saw your profile. And I’m like, Man, this is captivating. So if you don’t mind, if you could sit back for a sec, I’m going to do an introduction.

And so Damon, we might be here for a minute.So this is you know, we could have these overachievers and like I kind of feel down on myself. First I am and I think LSU so maybe go Tigers is in your background. And of course you get an MBA from Tulane. Now you’re a relentless entrepreneur. You’ve written a amazing book, we’re going to talk about your book we’re going to talk about you have a top 2% podcast, we’re going to talk about this podcast, you have so much going on Alicia. So just Sure. Just give a little intro, and then we’re going to take a deep dive into your background, but just hear a little bit about what you have going on.


Alicia Butler Pierre  01:57

Sure. Well, again, thank you both for sharing your platform with me. I really appreciate it. So I’m Alicia and I am the founder and CEO of equilibria. And we’ve been around is coming up on 17 years, it’s so hard to believe that time has flown by. But we are a boutique operations management consulting firm and we specialize in working with fast growing small businesses. And I know we’ll get more into about what I do and how I do it throughout this program. So again, thank you both for for having me. I really appreciate it.


Curt Anderson  02:34

Absolutely. So we’ve got Dan bigger. He’s proud of us, Damon, because we started on time. Yeah, I see that. Here we have Maximo. So we have a great crowd. Guys, again, please drop us a note. Hello. Give a shout out to Alicia here. So Lisa, you are also I make sure I have this right. You’re an adjunct instructor at Purdue University with top engineering for colleges and universities in the country.

You are a adjunct professor at Nichols college. So you have a wealth of man, it’s just like it’s just over the top what you have going on. So I want to dig into let’s let’s go back in time a little bit, and then we’ll fast forward and get up to current. So you’re a young, aspiring, inspirational young woman at college, and you become a chemical engineer share a little bit like what you know, not a lot of women are aspiring to be a chemical engineer. What What drove you what inspired you to go that route?


Alicia Butler Pierre  03:27

Money? Money I mean, seriously, would happen, but, but I should I should preface that by saying what happened but in a girl down to money, but um, So believe it or not Kurt and Damon. I actually wanted to be a journalist. That was my very first career choice, right. And I remember when I was in high school in my junior year, I worked on the high school newspaper still laughing about money.


Damon Pistulka  04:05

Yeah, it was awesome.


Alicia Butler Pierre  04:08

So I worked on the school newspaper, I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t enjoy constantly feeling like I was working against deadlines, what it took to get a quote unquote good story. I didn’t enjoy the experience, but I always loved writing. And I started to learn later in my junior year that I developed a new love and that was for chemistry. And by the time I was in my senior year of high school, instead of instead of taking physics, which was the next science at my high school, I instead took Advanced Chemistry.

And by the time I started applying to different colleges and universities, my chemistry teacher Misko bliss and I want to give a shout out to her because she’s Ukrainian. Um, I’m not sure if Miska bliss is still living, but but that is where she was from originally. But anyway, back to Mrs. comples. She is the reason I became a chemical engineer. She took a particular interest in my future. And I’ll never forget, she pulled me out of over to the side one day after class and she started asking me, What are you going to study? What are you going to pursue once you go to college?

And I said, Well, you know, I thought it would be journalism, but I’m actually thinking chemistry now. And she said, Well, think about this. If you get a degree in chemistry, you’ll have to go all the way up to the PhD level before you start making good money. But if you go into chemical engineering, you can start making great money as soon as you get out of school after just four or five years with a Bachelor of Science degree. So that’s why I say at the end of the day, the route motivation was was money.

I didn’t know thing about engineering. And what’s interesting is my high school that I attended, I went to a magnet high school, we had an engineering program, but I wasn’t in it. So she is the person who introduced me to chemical engineering. And then once I started college, I’m the type of person I do love a challenge. And once I start something, I want to finish it even though I have to be honest with both of you. There was a point where I didn’t want to switch my my major, but it would have been more trouble than it was worth than it would have meant staying in school. Probably another extra year or two. So I just I stuck with chemical engineering.


Curt Anderson  06:26

Wow, what would it Yeah, what a great. Show me the money what an app that’s awesome. Ever Had you caught me speechless on this one. In the chat box is on fire. Not only do we have Dan bigger in the house, we have David bigger in the house. We have Gary wood, Dinah Alaska. So John bogie, all sorts of folks are saying hello, Alicia.


Damon Pistulka  06:48

Everyone. Elizabeth Jeffrey. Yeah, we got. Yeah, just Dwight Smith, lizard Drake. Excuse me. And Jan


Curt Anderson  06:57

bug lino says the earliest mic drop ever. Earliest ever, man. Yeah. Because we’re just getting started. So that’s right. So so again, hot if you guys are just joining us, man, this this man, this is gonna be a good one today. So we’re going to talk about your book, we’re going to talk about your podcast, but you have an incredibly inspiring story. So you become a chemic, chemical engineer. And you have an I want to share, could you kind of lead us into your how you kicked off? This is a major leap of faith you took talk, how lead us into your entrepreneurial journey? And how did that start? And how did you go that route?


Alicia Butler Pierre  07:38

Well, I’ll try to give a cliff notes version of what led me to starting equilibria when I graduated from college, my very first job was at Monsanto, I was making Roundup, don’t judge me. I worked for Dr. Evil. And hopefully none of them sponsor your show. If so, I apologize. But, but I learned I learned quite a bit when I when I worked at Monsanto. And one of the things was in the unit that I worked in the manufacturing unit that I worked in, every every unit actually was assigned an accountant.

And that accountant would come and speak to us as the engineers of each unit once a month. And they would bring these stacks and stacks of reports financial reports. And I have to be honest with you, Damon and Kurt It was it was as though she she was speaking Greek this one particular accountant, you know, equity, finance and accounts payable, accounts receivable all of these terms, and I’m like, What is she talking about? So that combined with I’ll never forget, there was a period in my career at Monsanto, where the production schedule was completely erratic one day, we might be operating at full capacity.

The next day, we’re told to operate at half capacity. And the day after that we may be told to shut down altogether, only to go back up full, full steam ahead the day after that. So I didn’t understand the business decisions that were driving those daily production schedules. And that’s when I decided I wanted to go back to school, I enrolled at Tulane University’s Professional MBA Program. So I worked full time during the day as an engineer and I went to business school at night. And business just opened up. It was it was like the missing link for me. It opened up a whole new world. I didn’t see anything the same anymore.

And I understood the business decisions driving a lot of the activities that these different companies were were going through or actions that they were taking. By the time I was getting close to finishing or completing my MBA education. I just had this hunch this gut feeling this this intuitive thought that would not go away that I needed to I was living in New Orleans at the time, I needed to get out of New Orleans quick, fast and in a hurry, don’t look back, you might turn into a pillar of salt kind of the situation. So So I, I quickly, I couldn’t explain it, I abruptly quit my, my job. Now at that point, I was working at a small family owned engineering consulting firm.

So I left Monsanto went to work for a small engineering consulting firm and abruptly quit. I couldn’t explain it. But you know, and I don’t know, for anyone else who’s watching this right now, if you’ve ever had that feeling, and you just can’t shake it that you need to take a specific action and it seems completely crazy. But you need to do you just you have to do it because that feeling just won’t go away. Well, that’s how this was for me. So I quit my job. I think it was like September of 2004. And graduated December 2004. With my MBA, January 2005. I put my house up for sale in New Orleans, it sells that same week, February 2005.

I relocate to Atlanta, Georgia, where I knew one person. And then six months later Hurricane Katrina happened. But when I when I got here to Atlanta, I, I really thought that Atlanta was this land of milk and honey, you know, I saw these corporations that were headquartered here, like Coca Cola and Delta Airlines, Home Depot, Chick fil A ups, the list goes on. So I thought, Curtin, Damon, who wouldn’t want to hire me, right? I’m not. I’m a good catch, right. But I quickly learned there are a lot of really smart, very bright and intelligent people here.

And after about what seemed to be two months of endless soulless job searching, I decided to redirect the time, effort and energy that I was spending trying to get a J. OB working for someone else, and redirect that same time, effort and energy into creating an opportunity for myself. And that’s how equilibria started. It was, again, I’m sure these answers are shocking you because you’re probably thinking, Oh, she’s probably the type of person that plans everything to the tee. But no, I came here not knowing anybody didn’t have a plan. Thought I was going to get a job. That didn’t happen. So started a business. And I’m still here all these years later.


Curt Anderson  12:36

17 years later, man. Alright guys, let’s,


Damon Pistulka  12:38

that’s awesome.


Curt Anderson  12:39

Let’s give a round of applause for that. We’ll right there. Crazy, right? I love love. Love that story. And man, the chatbox is on fire today. Yes, thank you. So Matthew Perkins says this is back at our show me the money. At least we know we can trust but she says right. Yeah. We’ve got white here. Dan says and how about this than our dear buddy says, Amen. How to Follow those intuitions or better known as the gut, right? How do we probably got How did in John’s and Don’s up in Alaska? Dear friend of ours, he asked how did you come up with the name of equilibria?


Alicia Butler Pierre  13:17

Great questions. Someone just asked me that yesterday as a matter of fact. So this is this is an ode to my background in chemistry and chemical engineering. So in chemistry, if you can remember back to when you may have taken some chemistry classes, when you have a chemical reaction is not considered stable until it has reached a point of equilibrium, meaning that it’s both sides of the equation balance each other out.

So you now have a stable reaction. equilibria is the plural version, the plural form of equilibrium. So the idea of equilibria is, let’s try to maintain that balance, things will get chaotic. It will get crazy and out of control. But as long as we’re always striving to get back to that state of balance, that’s what we we want to try to achieve when it comes to how we operate our businesses on a day to day basis.


Curt Anderson  14:19

That’s phenomenal. And what a great segue it’s like we plan this fast growth can be chaotic. So guys what you need to do you need to go to equilibria check out Alicia his website I have Alicia like we need to talk like your web designer is phenomenal guys. Amazing website, big tagline and you have like these people going like like crazy. Yes, madness. fast growth can be chaotic. And you always knew and we’re going to talk about this more.

You talked about a structure for mega success. So let’s let me let I’m going to talk to talk about your book for a second. Okay, okay. Well, you have a phenomenal book. It was a best seller and its facade behind the facade. How does structure, company operations for sustainable success. Talk a little bit about your book, what inspired that book. And let’s talk a little bit about that. Because we need everybody go out and buy it, at least.


Alicia Butler Pierre  15:11

What inspired the book, I wrote the book at the time I wrote the book, I had been in business for 13 years. And things were honestly, I mean, you all know what by now I’m going to be very candid with you writing, speak very truthfully, I’m not going to sugarcoat anything. But things were getting really stale in my business, to be to be honest with you. And I thought that I was finally at a point where I wanted to start to train other people on how I do what I do.

That was the original motivation for writing the book, how can I get all of this knowledge out of my head, and onto paper, so that I can package it and share it with other people, because I’m one person. And the way the business was running at that point, I was the talent, the buck stopped with me. So if I wanted to take a dose of my own medicine, you know, I’m talking to other companies about how to scale I needed to preach, you know, I needed to practice what I was preaching.

And so writing the book, Curtin diamond was really one of the first steps to me scaling my own company, because now that other people can read it, and they can do these things for themselves or other consultants may look at it and say, Wow, the tools and the techniques that you’re describing in your book, I can add this to my existing toolkit. Now, when I’m working with my respective clients. So that was the original idea of the book, the book is not a typical how to technical book, because it’s, it actually contains short stories. Yeah. So there are all of these different characters in the book.

And each of them, just they’re very diverse, diverse in terms of their makeup in terms of the types of industries that they’re operating their businesses in. But the one thing they all have in common is that they are going through a fast growth spurt. And things are chaotic. And they need to get it back under control as quickly as possible. Because, as we all know, something that’s often that talked about in terms of a source of business failure is when you have too much business, we always talk about businesses failing because they don’t have enough customers.

But what happens when you have too many, your business can still fail if you don’t have that operational or that business infrastructure in place to support the growth. The reason I called it facade behind the facade is because as small businesses in particular, there’s so much of an emphasis on sales and marketing and branding, and PR, and don’t get me wrong, those things, of course, are obviously very important, especially to attract and lure customers into the doors of your business.

But what happens when they peek behind the curtain, or they look under the hood, or they go in the kitchen, so to speak, I’m just making the argument that if you put in all of that hard work to build up this facade that is attractive enough to entice business, just make sure that you’re operating on the inside, as good as you look on the outside. So that’s what the book is about.


Damon Pistulka  18:32

That’s awesome. Because you hit you hit one thing, and I’m going to tell you that when we see with our clients, when we get them into a fast growth mode is you can go off that cliff without even knowing and if you’re not in a matter of a month or two, if you’re not really carefully monitoring, you’re especially in an E commerce company, if you start slamming sales really hard. And you don’t know your margins, you know, almost instantaneously. You can you can run your company out of business literally overnight.


Alicia Butler Pierre  19:02

That is so true. And there’s so many examples of that. Oh, yeah, absolutely true.


Damon Pistulka  19:08

It has to be profitable growth, and anything you do and those big sales might not be good sales. That’s right. And you


Alicia Butler Pierre  19:15

know, I always say we’re all one viral moment away from disaster. I mean, seriously, think about it. If you were on if you had a spot, just even if it’s just a few seconds on a popular morning, TV show, or whatever the case may be. I mean, those few seconds, and all of this web traffic comes to your website. Can your website handle that? Will it crash? Yeah, I met Sara Blakely. When I first built the founder of Spanx.

When I first moved to Atlanta, I happened to be volunteering at a women’s conference and she was one of the speakers. And she was just really coming onto the scene with Spanx. So it’s interesting See, I mean, she’s a billionaire now. Yeah, but I’ll never forget she said that when she was trying to get a spot on Oprah they warned her. Make sure your website can handle the traffic. Because it only takes a few seconds of being on The Oprah Winfrey Show. This was when Oprah still had her regular primetime. daytime TV show. All it takes is a few seconds. Yeah. And, you know, it can literally change the trajectory of your business. Yeah, that is


Curt Anderson  20:30

bad. That is so good. And I love you have a tagline on your website, grow with less pain. And so I just a few things, I just want to recap and then we’re going to we’re going to plunge into like another great topic here. So look at Lisa, you know, go Tigers, LSU goes in, becomes a chemical engineer chases that money, God bless you have a little challenge on the business front.

So what you know, you’re always raising your hand, you’re always tackling that new challenge that next challenge. Tulane University, we’re the top business schools in the country, you earned your MBA, total leap of faith and you take the plunge into Atlanta, no one person and you launch in what do you do get this whole job things not working out? You launch your own business?

So a couple questions here. Who inspires you, Alicia? Like how when you were in Atlanta? Was there? Was there a tipping point, a turning point like when you when you decided to take that plunge into entrepreneurship? Was there a point where you’re like, This is it? This is right, I did make a good decision. We’ll share a little bit of like that early, maybe, for folks that are out there going into entrepreneurship, for the first time, share a little bit like those victories when you’re like, Man, this was a good decision.


Alicia Butler Pierre  21:41

Oh, wow. Let’s see. I’m trying to think of an exact moment when I realized, I guess for me, honestly, and this might this, this probably is not the response. You were, you were expecting. But I think when I when I reached a point in my life, when my friends were dying, or being diagnosed with very serious illnesses, um, and a lot of it being stress induced because of the places where they worked. Yeah.

That for me was was validation. Okay, kiddo, you’re still okay? Yeah, things get tough, it can get very tough, it can get very scary, and it can be very lonely. But I’m okay. Because I’m doing what I actually enjoy. And it’s the reason I get up at 3am every morning and go to bed at nine o’clock at night. And I don’t have those same health issues that some of my friends who are probably working similar hours, but doing something that they don’t like in an environment that is completely stressing them out. So it’s not the financial aspect.

For me, it’s the peace of mind. And it is the knowing that if I don’t want to work with somebody, I don’t have to work with them. It’s that simple. Yeah. And I can do what I want to do, I can move the way that I want to move I call the shots. And that having that level of freedom and liberation, I think is all the validation that I need. And the fact that I can still financially support myself and keep a roof over my head and have food to eat. That that all of those things combined. I would say Kurt is what consistently reminds me that I’ve made the right decision and that I’m on the path that’s best for me. That’s right.


Curt Anderson  23:38

Oh, another another. We did. Oh, gee, a moment of silence. We’re gonna savor that one. And again, a chat. Yeah, to purchase, you know, back to the growth growth can absolutely be what crushes you. Yeah, they give a big shout out to my dear friend, Valle Weber for minor fractures with us today. Gail is in a house gal we’d love we’d love everybody around person. Yeah. Thank you guys for joining us today. So let’s take let’s go, let’s go here.

Okay, Lisa, I’m going to talk about your academic career. I want to I love to hear a little bit about you know, I have immense respect, admiration, you are absolutely crushing it I would shoot eye to I don’t know if you know this, I was going to go into chemistry, but I couldn’t spell it.

So I chose not to go that chemistry. Go we admire that you went that route much smarter than me. So but let’s talk about from your leadership standpoint, and being an academic. Okay, so again, if you guys are just chiming in, our dear friend Alicia, she is a adjunct professor at Purdue University, top engineering schools in the country. And you’re also at Nichols College, share a little bit about like, what drove you to go into academia, your relationship with your students? Why why are you sharing your passion, your wealth, your expertise with students out there?


Alicia Butler Pierre  24:50

I’m actually at a point in my life. Now I’m 45. And I realized I again kind of this this builds off of what I mentioned about the book, how can I scale without everything being so dependent on me? So I’ve come to the realization that I’m starting to wean myself off of consulting, because consulting is a one on one relationship, right?

I would much rather be in a situation now where I can impact several people at the same time. And this is actually something I learned from our friend, Dorie Clark, Kurt is transit making that transition from a one on one relationship to a one to many relationship. And that’s what teaching and training and doing these lectures at other universities and colleges affords me the opportunity to do a creating an online course I’m I have the book, there’s the podcast.

Now we’re working on actually creating an online course, these are all ways to get again, to leverage this knowledge that I’ve acquired over the past 17 years, plus the industry experience that I had working as a chemical engineer and bringing all of that together, and packaging it in a way that people around the world can now tap into. They can’t do that, as long as I’m still working as a pure consultant. So um, what was the original question? Awesome. I don’t know. Repeat the question.


Curt Anderson  26:27

Let’s, let’s take a pause right there. Yeah. You know what, at least Yep, we have. I just have to share this. So and Dan bigger. I love the comments. So you know, I’m your Bob brother. Duty jablow. Here, comment. Love it. So again, we welcome and thank everybody for Yeah, it’s probably why you have no hair. Absolutely love everybody on the program here today. But at least you have a gift for storytelling like we could we could ain’t drain on your you could talk about your paint giant on the wall behind you. And we’d obviously reverse Yeah. So the question being, love your leadership skills, your your stamina, your tenacity, your determination, taking that leap of faith.

So we talked a little bit about if there’s a new entrepreneur out there, you know, so we talked a little bit about you know, that what inspires you now are signing into you know, you as an academic you sharing your expertise, your passion, with your students, just, you know, what, what inspires you or like, you know, as you’re teaching, I guess I want to ask, like, what’s your leadership traits, or any advice for folks in your role on I want to be a leader, I want to be an academic, I want to kind of feel, you know, share a little bit on your superpowers. And you know, I know you’re super modest, but just share a little bit on your superpowers in your thoughts there.


Alicia Butler Pierre  27:42

Sure. And I realized that I remembered your question, your original question about academia. And so I think I can I can answer both questions with with this response. So in wanting to give back right and do more teaching and training, that’s how the opportunity when it presented itself with Nichols college, to teach teach and Operations Management course, as part of their MBA program, I jumped at the opportunity.

Absolutely. With Purdue, I teach a Lean principles course, which is part of the their Lean Six Sigma certification program, what I what I bring to the table, and and I’m going to, to leverage feedback that I’ve received from students, I’m very big on not just teaching concepts, I want you to apply it. I’m constantly this is where my ability to do storytelling comes into play.

So oftentimes, when I’m teaching a concept, we could be talking about what what is Lean Six Sigma. And I can then give some very clear, specific examples. And I can tell when students when they’re, they start to really think they’re like, Oh, I didn’t realize that, okay. And then I challenged them. Now go back to your, wherever you work, or the company that you own.

And I want you to start thinking about how you can apply what we just learned today, what we just talked about, how can you apply that to your business or to wherever it is you’re working right now. So I’m very big on experiential learning. And, and I think the best way to do that is through the storytelling, but also to make sure that they can always tie in things that they are actually experiencing on the job right now or in their businesses, to the concepts that we are actually learning. That is the best way short from just doing the doing it yourself. That is to me the best way to learn


Curt Anderson  29:38

that Yes, great. So let’s, uh, you know what, um, if you don’t mind, I’m going to jump back to your book then. Okay, so and I love how you label it. The first book on business infrastructure, first book on business infrastructure was a best seller share a little bit like for folks who are like, Hey, I’m not sure exactly what that means. Alicia, you don’t share, like what does that mean? I’m visiting that and again, that’s your superpower and it As we talked about, you know, bro with less pain getting checkout, Alicia, his website is phenomenal. But just share a little bit like what does that mean business infrastructure.


Alicia Butler Pierre  30:09

So business infrastructure is a system for linking your people, your processes and your tools and technologies into a cohesive framework that allows you to, to replicate your business model. So that when you are ready to scale, when you have all of those components linked together, it makes it that much easier for you to replicate the success and replicated in a sustainable way. So what do I mean by so that the elements of business infrastructure, and by the way, when equilibria started, it was actually a professional organizing company?

No, yeah, I didn’t know what business infrastructure was someone. It was actually another consultant, a marketing consultant that I hired. And she was like, you know, you really should, you really should call this business infrastructure. This is what you’re doing. It’s, it’s, it’s, you’ve moved beyond organizing people’s home offices, you’re because you’re providing processes and systems. So these different elements, when we talk about business infrastructure, we’re talking about job descriptions, we’re talking about organizational charts, paper and digital records management systems, how is your workspace actually configured?

How? How do you? How are your processes documented? Do people know how to do the work? Once you’ve defined what needs to be done? Do they actually know how to do it? And can they can they perform that work consistently, even when you aren’t around? Those are all of the elements that business infrastructure takes a look at. And that’s what the book is about is teaching you this framework that I’ve developed, so that you can literally apply these same principles to your business, by learning through the stories of the characters that are in this book.


Damon Pistulka  32:04

That’s awesome. Because when you when you look at it, I mean, that is that the what you’re talking about is the barrier where where businesses run into and they can’t scale any further it just the systems that because as you go, you know, you can only work so hard, so many hours in the day, and then when you try to go okay, Damon now I’m working as hard as I can. And we need to Damon’s three daemons for demons. It’s like, how do you do that? And and you need to have those processes in place and instructions and workstations laid out, right?

Otherwise, you can’t scale. And that is where you see these natural plateaus and businesses where you get to a certain point and that that founder can get it so far. But if they haven’t thought about the infrastructure, as you you’re talking about, it won’t go any big, don’t go any higher, because they haven’t figured out how to duplicate and leverage other talent in their in their business. That’s absolutely


Alicia Butler Pierre  33:04

right. And I have some I use I talk a lot about these very low tech analog tools throughout. So so I don’t want anyone who’s watching this right now to walk away thinking, Oh, that sounds so complicated. Oh my god, business infrastructure, Lean Six Sigma, what? I use tools as simple as stick figures, and index cards to help people quickly figure out what work needs to be done.

Who is supposed to be who ideally, is supposed to be performing the work? How is that work organized into departments? And then finally, how is the work performed? So literally, starting with tools as simple as stick figures? Yeah. index cards, okay. And we can quickly help you figure all that out. Now, it does take work. Yeah, it does take work, but it is so worth the effort. Yeah, so I was just,


Damon Pistulka  34:07

I was just gonna dig up some notes because literally, I scribble process, your business process on a piece of paper, and people think I’m crazy because, you know, business process and looking at how you do business and the flow of information and with people doing like you said, it doesn’t take people go, oh, we need to get busy or something like that and draw it up. I said, No, no, no, you start by scribbling on paper because it’s going to take 100 iterations for you really understand, and you go from diagram to steps to then you can start detailing it but it’s so so cool that you’re saying that because it is it’s literally scribbling in a phone so you can communicate it with a picture


Alicia Butler Pierre  34:51

or even even record yourself on your phone or record yourself doing something using something like zoom to to capture this to capture the screen, x the actions that you’re taking on your computer. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I think when people think process, they think old school, the old school big, thick, clunky operations manual that collected dust sat on the shelf, it looks, it looks nice. But it’s not useful. And to the thought of updating it is just, oh my gosh. But when I’m talking about processes, it could be a combination of checklists.

It could be process maps, or flowcharts. It could be you know, step by step procedural instructions, whatever it takes to train other people on how to produce a product or deliver a service such that that quality remains consistent whether I’m doing it Damien’s doing it or Kurt is doing it, will the will the end result be consistent. And that’s when you know, you have a well documented process. Who cares what the format looks like?

I think you’re I agree with you, David, I think people get and don’t get me wrong, I can be a purist when it comes to process mapping and all that kind of stuff. But at the end of the day, is it functional? Can people understand it? And can they be trained on it and then released into the wild to produce? Yeah, produce consistent results?


Damon Pistulka  36:24

Yeah. Well, you know, and there’s sometimes when you have to document I mean, if you’re if you’re certified by certain organizations, but you know, aerospace or food, manufacturing or metal, I mean, there’s times when you have to have those things documented, not negotiable. It’s not negotiable, right?

And I still think, though, people miss that initial step of do it simple the first time because what when, when I’ve seen people just fail terribly at trying to document infrastructure, is trying to take someone that has never written a procedure before and say, Hey, I need you to write a procedure. And that’s like, that’s like telling me to do chemistry. Yeah, I went, I went in mechanical engineering, because I didn’t knew I wasn’t going to be in chemistry. And my, my high school teacher taught me that.


Curt Anderson  37:12

Let’s god man, this. I’m we’re gonna hit a couple of comments here. Yeah, it was the app x is just on fire. So yeah, it is, you know, Dwight dropped a couple of nice comments here. And, you know, nice comment. But here’s a question since cloning is off the table in such a drastic change in the mentality of the current workforce, how do you find those key players to bring into the role?


Alicia Butler Pierre  37:36

Great question. So one of the things first, getting back to that exercise that I was talking about, just really quickly, one of the things that I would recommend is first, getting very clear on all the work that needs to be performed.

So I recommend just writing that onto as you can see, here, I have just some examples here, B three, a one, c one, these are just representative of different activities that you are performing, no matter how complex or how mundane, get again, get all that information out of your head and onto these individual index cards, you then want to take all of those index cards that you have spread them out across a large flat surface, group, similar activities into departments.

So for example, if I have a one and a three, those are similar, right, they both start with A, then I’m going to put another index card above it, and call that department a so in in real in real life practical terms that could be accounting, sales, marketing, HR, IT, operations, so forth, and so on.

Once you have all of your activities organized into departments, you then want to take a look and start to ask yourself in a perfect ideal world, if you had access to all of the resources that you needed, who ideally should perform each of the tests that you’ve identified within each department. So you might look at a three, activity a three and say, Well, right now, I’m the person who’s performing a theory, I’m the CEO, I’m the person who’s performing it.

But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And that’s what I want you to ask yourself. And if the if the answer is, well, you know what, I’m doing this right now, but I really shouldn’t be doing it. If I did have access to the person who really should do this. It would really be a general manager. Okay, right General Manager across that stick figure. As far as how you source these different people. Start with a tool like LinkedIn. If you already have a solid network, reach out to your network first. Let them know who you’re looking for.

You will be amazed at who knows who you might not think that certain people know others certain other types of people, but you Be amazed. I’ve built my entire team as a result of podcasting and LinkedIn. And I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it’s a matter of, you know, you know, the old expression closed mouths don’t get fed. So it’s not that you have to put a whole lot of money into indeed calm and don’t get me wrong, those sites are all great. Indeed, even even trying to put feelers out there officially through LinkedIn paying for that service.

Start with your own network. If you are in different professional organizations, ask ask around in those professional organizations, ask around in your network when LinkedIn, just open your mouth and tell people what you’re looking for. But the the way to know that you’ve made a great match, you have to be transparent about all of those different job activities. The only way you’ll get to that level of transparency is if you go through the rigor of really figuring out everything that you would want that person to do that way, there’s no surprises.

And that the more you share upfront, the more you can see people when once you start interviewing, if they kind of squirm or squeal at certain things. Like, I don’t know if I like doing that, or no, I’m not too good at being on the phone. I remember years ago, I was hiring I was I was I was searching for an assistant. And I was working with this outsourcing company. And the one of the ladies I interviewed. She told me she didn’t like being on the phone. So well. I don’t like being on the phone either.

So that’s the problem. But but just think if I didn’t have that simple again, it’s such a mundane task, right answering the phone. But what if I didn’t put that on her job just on that job description. And then once I hired her because she was great with everything else, but I really needed someone who could get on the phone. But what if she didn’t find that out until we had all signed paperwork? She started the job and then only to find out she hates being on the telephone. So yeah, put yourself go through that rigor first. I promise you it will save you a lot of heartache and pain on the back end.


Damon Pistulka  42:12

Yeah, so much in there so much in there.


Curt Anderson  42:15

Oh, the let’s just let’s let’s just pause for a moment. Yes, guys. I just want everybody just kind of digest what’s happening like this is really magic. This is like a master class. Deficiency. Take a look at the chat box Jan bug lino says step one, step one buy index.



That’s right. That’s right. Absolutely


Curt Anderson  42:34

brilliant. Live great chats. Gail, Thank you, Gail, she dropped. So Lisa, she’s dropped a note about a Dorie Clark reference. So again, Lisa and I connected we belong to a Dorie Clark business mastery group together. And that’s how our our stars crossed. So we’re huge Dorie Clark fan. So if you guys follow Dorie Clark. Lisa, we have couple more things, man, I we could keep you all day.

I’m going to talk about your podcast guys. And you’re just getting a sliver of just what an amazing amount of talent and passion and expertise. Here lies with Alicia. Lisa, let’s talk about your podcast. And I know you’re you are the cure of backoffice blooms. Talk about your podcast. And I would love for everybody to go to your website failure podcast, but just a little bit about this pop popular podcast that you have.


Alicia Butler Pierre  43:23

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about it. So it’s called. It’s so unique business infrastructure. But the subtitle is curing back office blows and I am coming up on my fourth year of podcasting. And this is by no means an exaggeration. It has literally changed my business. It’s changed my life. And I you know that that’s a we could do a whole nother show just about what podcasting is done.

But the podcast is really an interview based podcast. It’s a weekly podcast, but we’ve done and it’s it’s organized into seasons. So each season has a different theme. I know Kurt, you mentioned before we started before we went live, you mentioned diversity, for example. Well, that was just one theme. But the theme for this current season is actually an audio masterclass.

So we’ve taken the stories that are in the book, and we’ve literally reproduce them as these dwith narration voiceovers or original music sound effects we’ve made those stories in the book come to life. Each story is then followed by a tutorial for me like a monologue. So just as I’ve been in what a few minutes, I’ve described how to figure out all the activities that you perform in your business and how to organize them into departments and then assign roles to those different tests.

You’re going to get some so much more. If you just go and listen to the podcasts, you’re going to get step by step details on all of those different elements of business infrastructure. So if you go to business, and look for season 15, season 15 is the master class, the audio master class, it’s completely free, go ahead and take a listen. But if you want knowledge on some of these other other subject matter experts, I’ve interviewed people in so many different countries and across different industries.

And again, everything is organized by season. But there’s so much information. Now one thing I should say, I am a stickler for each guest sharing at least three resources that they can provide to the audience. Because the whole, the whole point of my podcast is really, it’s a business podcast, but it’s really educational. Also, because a big hurdle that us small business owners have to overcome is the fact that there just aren’t a lot of operational related resources out there. There’s no shortage of things to tell us about social media and marketing and branding, all you know, all this stuff to be seen, again, to help us erect the facade.

But what about operating behind the scenes, you know, we have the E Myth, that that just kind of warmed us up to the idea of why processes are so important. And I love the E Myth, by the way, but it doesn’t tell you how to do it. Um, so behind the facade is a is a true how to book. And then if we do find other resources on how to operate behind the scenes, it really tends to be focused more on large corporations. Yeah. And so sometimes we can read those books. And we’re thinking, I can’t relate to this. Yeah.

I love the Toyota way by Dr. Jeffrey liker. I can understand how to apply it to small businesses, but someone else reading that another entrepreneur may have may have difficulty doing that. There’s another popular book called Lean thinking. That’s the book that we use, actually, in my Lean principles course at Purdue, but again, very corporate centric, and for us as small business owners, we can often become discouraged because we don’t see ourselves in this book story. Yeah.


Damon Pistulka  47:36

I know. I know. I just like singing, preaching to the choir here sing and sing into the church. I don’t know what but yeah, this is because that you can’t find operational, many operational people that understand how to work in a, you know, $20 million company or, you know, five $10 million company. They’re just not it’s Yeah, and it’s and you’re what you’re talking about, and what you’ve explained, Here are simple ways to make a huge difference in your business.


Curt Anderson  48:06

So that man, we I know, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Like we’re like, like we like, unlike five minutes. We’re not letting you go. You go. Hey, we


Alicia Butler Pierre  48:17

should do a part two.


Curt Anderson  48:21

Part four. So Chris Harrington is with us. Our dear friend CEO of Gen Alpha technologies. Lisa, you and Chris. Chris hair intention, definitely connect. She’s amazing. We have a veil. I want to go back Val had a hysterical comments number of minutes ago, she was like, she loves your stick figures. And so that was great for Val Val has a wicked sense of humor. Iris is here she dropped a note so true. There’s a lack of operational books for small business and solopreneurs. I agree with you a Oh, Iris. Hi, Iris. Iris.

So we have mad we we’ve covered so I just want to kind of recap a couple things and then we’ll start the wind down. So man, professor at Professor Nicholas, college instructor at Purdue University, you have to check out her website you want to check out Alicia his book. It is an amazing book. You want to check out her podcast, you’re just getting a little sliver in a big takeaway that I’m going to share is what you know if you guys if you’re on the fence, I know like Dan, bigger and John, you’re talking Val, we’ve talked about it.

If you’re thinking about doing a podcast, Damon, we could talk about it. It’s a cheat sheet. It didn’t change your business changed her life. Now, Lisa, let’s go. Let’s go here. You mentioned the word diversity. You put out an amazing wonderful heartfelt post back on Martin Luther King Day. You took your god daughter and look like a number of years ago to the Martin Luther King Memorial Museum. And you had a wonderful post and I’d like to let’s go there. So like our country is we have such a blessing and such a gift of diversity.

And we are really we’re as you Human beings were stumbling, but we’re trying to figure out how can we turn this into such a great competitive advantage for our country against other companies? From a business standpoint? What advice do you have you talked a lot about diversity planning in your blogs, your podcasts? What some advice that you could share for business owners, particularly in manufacturing? On how can we turn diversity into enjoy strength? And how can we really maximize this potential?


Alicia Butler Pierre  50:27

I think the shortest answer to that question is to literally do what Martin Luther King Jr. said, judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, or just not by their outward appearance in general. And it really is that simple. On my team, for example, we have people all over the world, truly.

But we also have, I have someone on my team who has cerebral palsy. And most most of us when we think about when we have the conversation about diversity, it usually tends to be around race or gender. But we almost never talk about people with physical disabilities. So it encompasses all of those things. And I have to tell you, Greg, the person who’s on our team, I credit Greg with a lot of the technological advancements that we’ve made at equilibria. Because he’s always on the computer. He knows these things. He knows he knows about these different technologies.

And he always comes back, and he’s introducing us to new things. So as far as manufacturing, specifically, there’s still a very long way to go. But it all starts with access. You can’t my friend Stephanie, SB, she has an organization called stem gems. And she’s she’s, she’s really far more qualified to answer this question than I am. But, but I’ll just say Stephanie has a motto or mantra, you can’t be what you don’t see. So if you want to attract more women, if you want to attract more people of color, in general into manufacturing, if you want, whoever it is you’re trying to attract more of let them see themselves represented.

We don’t we don’t see it. And you can’t be what you don’t see. If it weren’t for my high school chemistry teacher, Mrs. Bliss, I wouldn’t have known about chemical engineering. I didn’t know a chemical engineer. I knew of other types of engineers, but not chemical. I wasn’t exposed to it. I didn’t see it. So because I didn’t see it, it didn’t exist. And we don’t understand how powerful imagery really is. When you open up these magazines, are these Any, any, pick any of the popular, high profile business publications, and who do you usually see? Right? Think about it. Let’s do let’s just be honest.

So if you if if these organizations want to be serious about and it’s not about specifically, you know, trying to hit a target number is truly looking for the best talent. And if you truly strip away the biases, the prejudices that you might have the preconceived notions, you will be left with the diversity that you’re aiming for. But if you if you when you start specific, excuse me specifically trying to target we want 30% women by the year 2025. It’s like okay, now now you’re going to create feelings of resentment, right?

Because people are going to think, Oh, well, you were a such and such hire or you weren’t really qualified because they were just trying to meet a quota. Truly, just go and look for the best talent and how do you do that you cast a very wide net I’m thinking of another friend of mine who specifically helps she’s she’s also in the manufacturing space. And she works quite a bit with HR representatives and they they consistently tell her what we can’t find them. It’s like, Are you kidding? I go on LinkedIn and I, I can look at 100 easily right here. Are you are you really looking? So that’s, that’s what I can offer on that.


Damon Pistulka  54:16

And honestly, the one of the things that I saw years ago in manufacturing if you start to consider English as a second language, and not just Spanish, but other Russian and other other languages in some of the companies Iran we had more Russian speaking people in in the in the factories and in engineering and other places that we had English speaking people.

And it just there’s certain pockets that you can get some really good groups of people that you can come in to get that diversity you said it is and manufacturers getting hammered. Everybody’s getting hammered and now hiring people, right? If you’re not diverse, I don’t know what the heck you’re gonna do you just gonna be out of business. I think


Alicia Butler Pierre  54:55

and I think too, you know, I I take for granted where I live. Sometimes, like my, my, even my neighborhood is incredibly diverse. But I have to remind myself, you know, there are large pockets of America that don’t look that way. So So I think those companies have more of a challenge.

But now that things are starting to more people are becoming receptive to working remotely. We really don’t have any excuses, right? You know, when you think about it, you can’t say well, I don’t see them. I literally don’t see them in my local community. Well, hey, buddy, there’s a whole world out there. Yeah, you just you just haven’t looked. Yeah, man.


Curt Anderson  55:43

So David, I think like this is a record because like I know like I’m looking at the clock. This is officially Alicia. This is officially a record we’ve I don’t know if we’ve ever gotten this long on this program. So I want to be mindful Thank you. Time because I’m sure thank you. Let’s have a meeting to get. Let’s let’s first off you are a gift. You are an absolute blessing. What a toad what a captivating speaker storyteller. I’ve like I’ve just been on the edge of my seat. I’m standing but I’ve been on the edge of my my heels for the past hour.

Damon I say this frequently. But I this one, Damon i Our girl dads proud girl, dads, you are such an inspiration for the next generation of women coming up in to go into chemistry. You can do this. You can be an entrepreneur, you can write a great bestselling book, you can be a podcaster you can be a leading force in your industry, just as you have. So I just I salute you. thank everybody here today is


Damon Pistulka  56:45

so much


Curt Anderson  56:47

has just been absolute. Wow. Yeah, I’m,


Alicia Butler Pierre  56:50

well, I’m very touch. Can I share a really quick app. This is a really quick, some IRS. I noticed you shared a comment from IRIS. Let me tell you really quickly how Iris and I met and it’s through the podcast. That’s why I wanted to mention this story. So I made an effort to cast a wide net in terms of looking for a variety of different types of guests. I went to Twitter. That was the first place I went. I happen to see this guy named Carl e reach shout out to Carl.

I connected with Carl saw that he was in New York. I was specifically looking for people in New York. That’s all another story. But I sent him a direct message on Twitter. We had a quick 15 minute phone call. He agreed to be a guest on my show. And this was when I was really just starting out with my podcast. Several months later, Carl asked if I would introduce if I would interview his friend Mattiello Mariela, Dabashi owns and runs this amazing organization called the Red Shoe movement.

I interviewed Mattiello on my podcast, She then invited me to her event, her signature event in November of 2019. This was right before COVID in New York. That’s where I met Iris. Wow, there would have never happened. Word not for the podcast. So again, it’s just letting you know the power of podcasting. But then also, I’m talking about casting a wide net and how do you even go about finding people? I went to Twitter, and just through some simple searches and filtering. That’s how I landed on Carl. And ultimately, that’s what led me to meeting Iris. This awesome.


Curt Anderson  58:32

So to close out a couple cons Elizabeth says back to your comment about you just haven’t looked is such a wonderful statement. Dan bigger talks about you know how he talks to his daughters. Elizabeth again says she’s excited about raising daughters at a time like this and Iris says that’s right so man so thank you we covered so much today and thank you know your leadership and diversity is just you know, we’re all in this together we are an amazing wonderful country that stop all the nitpicking and like this really took turn this to our advantage to be made in USA boy, let’s just let’s stop the bickering we’re not always going to get along.

Damon we argue about football games. Oh, yeah. Things like lots of stuff out right about the argue about the important things like sports, right. So guys, this was it out with this. Connect with Alicia on LinkedIn, please go to her website, follow her podcast. Go buy her book. She is a gift blessing, Alicia. Thank you. I think you already on this program today. Damon, I am out dude, I’m turning it over to you guys. Go out. Have an amazing killer weekend. Take it away, brother.


Damon Pistulka  59:43

Thank you, Lisa for being here today. I just I can’t really talk. I just like I didn’t get to half of the notes that I had written down here. So this has been great. Thanks so much for everyone being here. Thanks for the comments. Thanks for showing up every week. We’ll be back again next week. We got to go for now. because we’re over time and I’m just flabbergast


Curt Anderson  1:00:03

Diane Jaya what are our guys dying so Alicia hang out with us one second guys have a phenomenal weekend everybody God bless

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