Mindset Challenges Scaling and Selling Businesses

In this The Faces of Business episode, Jeff Munn, Founder and President of Jeff Munn LLC, discusses the mindset challenges founders face when scaling and selling businesses.

In this The Faces of Business episode, Jeff Munn, Founder and President of Jeff Munn LLC, discusses the mindset challenges founders face when scaling and selling businesses.

Jeff brings over 30 years of experience in the corporate world as a lawyer, consultant, and executive with leading healthcare and financial services firms. He now dedicates his expertise to coaching founders, helping them create more impact from a foundation of greater ease and presence.

The guest has a profound understanding of the pressures founders face, especially when balancing immense opportunities with their well-being.

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The mindset powerhouse specializes in coaching founders to not only scale their businesses while having time for family, health, and personal interests.

Jeff’s extensive background includes roles such as Vice President at Fidelity Investments, where he led innovative benefits strategies, and various leadership positions at Health Dialog and Hewitt Associates. His work has consistently focused on enhancing business performance and fostering committed teams.

Damon is excited to host Jeff on his show. He asks Jeff to share his background story.

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Jeff discloses that his work on mindset began due to his own experiences as a compulsive overachiever. He grew up striving for academic success, which led him to law school and a high-pressure job at a law firm. In his 20s, he experienced severe stress and panic attacks. In the early 90s, inspired by Phil Jackson’s endorsement of meditation, he tried it and found it helped alleviate his panic attacks and improved his performance at work.

After years of personal growth and training, Jeff decided to help others with their mindset. In 2016, after being laid off from his corporate job at Fidelity Investments, he started full-time coaching. He started his work with a client running a large construction company, which opened his eyes to the challenges of running a business.

Damon praises Jeff’s approach to personal growth in becoming a better business leader and growing more successful businesses. He observes that those who focus on personal growth now achieve remarkable success.

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Jeff differentiates between personal growth and “hustle culture.” He critiques the notion that success requires working extreme hours, citing Elon Musk’s comments on working 100 hours a week. He argues that working such long hours indicates poor leadership and is unsustainable.

The guest shares an anecdote from his time at a consulting firm, where a senior leader lost work-life balance and consistently responded to emails within five minutes, creating confusion and setting a poor example for his team.
Similarly, Jeff discusses the challenges of preparing someone for the experience of scaling and selling a business.

He believes while managing hours can depend on leadership style and the effectiveness of the team, the psychological ups and downs are particularly difficult. He describes the emotional rollercoaster of thinking a deal is secured only to have it fall through or face new demands. The pressure of having worked for decades and having only one chance to get it right makes maintaining a level head extremely tough.

Agreeing with the guest, Damon asks Jeff about the most common issues founders mention when they start working with him.

Jeff explains that founders must realize they need to stop getting in their way. They might express frustration over external issues, like not finding good people, but the real problem is usually their inability to delegate effectively.

Damon asks if the challenges founders face during the scaling phase are more about their leadership style and the way they hire people for key roles, or if the issues are more related to the business operations and activities themselves.

Jeff responds that the main issue is usually related to how founders lead, specifically their identity or self-image.

If a founder believes they need to be the smartest person in the room, have all the answers, or handle all critical client meetings, it becomes difficult for them to change their behavior. Overcoming this identity is essential for effective leadership and growth.

The mindset coach refers to Nathaniel Brandon’s “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem” to show that many concepts align with how individuals present themselves to the world and identify themselves.

Damon agrees with Jeff’s observation about the connection between ego, identity, and the initial success of founders.

In Jeff’s view, for some solo entrepreneurs, a lifestyle business with limited growth aspirations may be sufficient.

However, he says that his focus is on businesses aiming for more substantial growth. To modern leadership principles, delegating authority to those closest to the client or customer ensures informed decision-making.

As long as everyone is running toward the same goals, Damon sees this approach as a beautiful and powerful strategy for success. The host asks Jeff to talk about any instance, without revealing confidential information, of a successful client engagement.

Jeff relates to two different clients who successfully led a company sale after being brought in as the first non-founder CEO. He navigated the process smoothly, involving the team effectively, and secured a good outcome for both himself and the founder. Jeff admired the CEO’s composure and teamwork throughout the process, noting that he had done enough personal work to handle the ups and downs without wild swings.

On the other hand, Jeff recounts a challenging experience with a different client who faced numerous obstacles, including key personnel losses and an antagonistic investor. Despite these challenges, she managed to sell the company for more than expected but ended up more involved than ideal with the new ownership.

Damon discusses the distinctions of selling to investors compared to private individuals or strategic buyers. He also explores alternative exit options like ESOPs, ensuring the selection of the right ownership structure for sustained business success and personal satisfaction. He invites the guest’s thoughts on managing this shift in mindset effectively.

Jeff reflects on the post-sale realization experienced by many, where despite receiving a substantial check, life doesn’t fundamentally change. He discusses the identity gap that arises after selling a business, transitioning from being known as the head of a company to an individual without that defining title.

Jeff also explores the challenge of filling the void that arises after achieving significant success, especially for those who have spent a lifetime pursuing goals. He suggests that for some people, the pursuit of success may have been a way to avoid facing internal issues. He quotes Jim Carrey that reads: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

Damon, impressed, asks about the keys to transforming such processes beyond mere transactions.

Jeff views transformation as a gradual journey rather than a sudden event, involving a series of insights and realizations.

Damon comments on transformation in business owners’ behaviors, noting how they transition from being fully engrossed in their businesses to feeling more liberated and less tied down by their roles. This shift marks a move away from feeling obligated to stay in the office to a sense of freedom to decide how they want to spend their time.

At Damon’s request, Jeff discusses his plans for upcoming programs focused on mindset work to help individuals navigate the exit process with more ease and even enjoy it. He mentions the radical idea of “enjoying the exit,” which is often uncommon due to the typical stress and challenges associated with it. Additionally, he introduces the concept of an “exit detox,” aimed at providing individuals with recovery time after the exit to settle their systems and gain perspective before deciding on their next steps.

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• 51:14
SUMMARY KEYWORDS
business, talk, work, founders, people, client, running, jeff, thought, process, exit, grow, investor, identity, selling, damon, started, team, buyer, scaling
SPEAKERS
Jeff Munn, Damon Pistulka

Damon Pistulka 00:00
Faces of business, I am your host, Damon pistulka, and I am excited for our guest today on the faces of business. We have none other than Jeff Munn with us today, and we are going to talk about mindset challenges when scaling and selling businesses. Thanks for being here today, Jeff.

Jeff Munn 00:20
Yeah, happy to be here. Damon, been looking forward to this conversation. Oh

Damon Pistulka 00:24
yes, this is going to be great. It’s going to be great. So we always like to start the show off Jeff learning a little bit more about who we’re talking with. So yeah, let’s, let’s hear about your background and how you got into helping people with their mindset when they’re at this point working scaling and selling their businesses. Yeah,

Jeff Munn 00:49
the mindset work goes way back. I’m I started out as a as a compulsive overachiever, and so, you know, as a kid, I, you know, my dad was an athlete, and I was not an athlete. I figured I was pretty good at school and so, and that’s kind of how I got my my sense of meaning and purpose, at least when I was young and and it didn’t serve me very well. I mean, I ended up, I ended up always asking myself, well, what would the what would the highest achieving thing be to do, you know, and so it was like getting really good grades and going to a good college and and, you know, graduating with highest honors and going to law school, and then. And then I found myself in my 20s, working at a law firm, and like, I was running about as full speed as I could, and was stressing out and started having panic attacks and figure it out over a period of time. I mean, this was the early 90s, and, you know, people didn’t even know what mental health was, let alone talk about it, yeah, yeah. It just like the idea of going to a therapist, or any of that just wasn’t even a thing. And I was in Chicago at the time, and, you know, Phil Jackson was coaching the bulls, and he started talking about meditation, yeah? Read some stuff about meditation, but I thought, you know, it was kind of weird or kooky or whatever, and, and so I just, I kind of dismissed it. And then when Phil Jackson started talking about it, and Chicago Bulls started talking about it, was like, Oh, well, maybe this is, maybe this is something I should try. And, and it worked. And the panic attacks went away, and, and I, am. I started getting promotions at work, and I just started being a lot more, a lot more present, a lot more able to connect with people and in a period of years past, and I decided I wanted to start helping people with that. Started studying it, and I worked with some spiritual teachers. I work with some coaches. I got some training in 2016 I was at my last corporate job, which was with Fidelity Investments in Boston and and I got laid off. And I thought, Oh, I I want to, I want to become a coach. I’ve been thinking about that for a while, and now it was like, Oh, you’ve got this. You have no job, you have a severance package, you have a little runway. Do you want to the universe was saying, Hey, do you want to give this a try? And and I decided to jump in. And I got a referral to a guy who was running a big local construction company. And suddenly I was in this I had never run a business. I didn’t really understand the challenges from that perspective until I coached this particular client, and then after him, I think, you know, for a while it was like half founders I was working with, and now it’s like the vast majority of the people that I work with are founders. Because there’s this, there’s this exciting combination of risk taking, and the ones that I work with at least have figured out, oh, there is this leverage point that a lot of people don’t see. Through my own personal growth, I can become a more effective leader. Get more done, get more accomplished, grow a bigger, more successful business, and ultimately, and this is why you and I are talking, you know, have a more successful exit. So it really became a passion of mine to to work with these folks and really get a sense of what’s the best way that I can help them.

Damon Pistulka 04:42
Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Real quick. Say Hey Harry. Harry says, Happy Thursday. Thanks for stopping Thursday. We got we got John. John spiesman here, thanks for stopping by today, John, down in Utah. He says, Hello, Damon and Jeff. Thanks guys for dropping the comments in here. You Jeff, we didn’t even it might be that we’re going off on the first tangent of the day. That’s okay, but I, I tell you, I really, really enjoy your approach, because most people couple things. You said one thing here that I want to just touch on for a second. You said personal growth and how that helps enable you to be a much better business leader and grow much more successful businesses. Yeah, I yeah, I just have to wonder where the where the heck that was, that was at. You know, in the last two decades, when everybody was talking about, you need to grind in business, grinding business. And they did, they, they didn’t focus on that enough, because now it seems like we’re finally starting to talk about it. When you see people that are actually implementing it, they are the ones that have, that have really done incredible things. Yeah,

Jeff Munn 06:08
absolutely, yeah. I hope, you know, you hear it called hustle culture, or grind or, you know, it’s like, Oh, I’ve got, I mean, I’ve seen Elon Musk say things like, Well, if you’re not willing to work 100 hours a week, you know, it’s not cut out for you. And I just, I don’t believe that’s true. I believe you’re doing something horribly wrong as a leader, if you’re ever working 100 hours a week, yeah, and it’s not sustainable. I mean, you know, how long can you actually do that? Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 06:35
yeah, yeah. And, but that, I’m glad you brought the personal growth is that leverage point, because it is. You know, in in business, the founders are often the limiting factor of the the scalability and the the size, the profitability and so many things in their businesses. Yeah,

Jeff Munn 06:55
you know that. You know that first founder that I talked about, one of the things he said to me, before he hired me, was I really, I am between being a small business and a big business, and I realized the thing getting in the way is me. So that’s exactly right. Like, how do you how do you step back and let other people lead? I mean, if, I work 100 hours a week, that’s 100 hours a week for me, if I’m leading a team of five people, or 10 people or 50 people, they can work 40 hours a week and still get way more done than I ever could. So you know, the math just doesn’t work when you think about that kind of grind it out culture, yeah,

Damon Pistulka 07:41
yeah. Well, we got AJ stopped by and said, almost a long weekend. And said, Hello, that’s great. And then John’s got a comment here too. I think this is real poignant this time. If you want your team to grow, a leader needs to show the way by prioritizing their own growth. And they absolutely

Jeff Munn 07:56
boom. I, I worked at a consulting firm years ago, and was the guy that I was reporting to. He was running kind of the senior leadership team for this particular part of the business, and he always emphasized how much he wanted us to have work life balance, et cetera, et cetera. But it did not matter when you send him an email, he responded in five minutes. And so his team was like, Well, wait, which is it? Am I supposed to have work life balance, or am I actually supposed to work like how my boss works? And so he was not a very good example on that front, yeah,

Damon Pistulka 08:41
yeah, yep. Well, it’s it. It is interesting to see the differences that when you do as a founder, as an owner in the business, make that switch, though, and really work through those things and we’ll, we’ll talk on that a little bit more. Now, one of the things that you do, which I think is really, really interesting, is you’re working mostly with founders that are scaling and going to be exiting someday. However they’re going to do it. Yeah. So one of the things that that I’ve always thought about when someone comes and says, Well, I want to do this. And and when you ask about I say, Are you sure? Yeah. And they look at you crazy, like, well, of course I do. And so you understanding mindset, understanding people going through this situation, talk about that a little bit, and just the fact that this is a going to be a challenging situation.

Jeff Munn 09:54
Oh yeah, yeah. I mean, I It’s hard to prepare. Care for someone, for what they’re going to go through until they’re actually going going to go through it. And it’s not just the hours. The hours are somewhat manageable depending on your own leadership style and how effective a team you’ve built. Because if you’ve got an effective finance team, if you’ve got other people, you know they can carry a lot of the heavy load around that stuff, but it’s the psychological ups and downs. You know, one day you think you’ve got a deal, and then, like, the next morning, you get a phone call. Nope, they’re out, or they want this, or what about this? Or they feel like you were trying to deceive them. All of these things that keep showing up over and over again, and it’s so hard to to keep a level head when you’re in the middle of it and you think, you’re thinking, I worked 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, I get one shot at this. Everything is riding on this, and I’ve got to do it right. And moment to moment, you don’t know where you are in the process. It’s, it’s, it’s tough,

Damon Pistulka 11:07
yeah, yeah, yeah, it is. It is really hard to, hard to describe, unless, unless you’ve been through that with someone or or been through it yourself, that’s for sure. So what we’re talking about you for a second, and I think I want to know the answer. I got an idea. But what are you most passionate about in business today, you had a lot of things you’ve done, but what really gives you the most joy, satisfaction gets you up in the morning kind of stuff,

Jeff Munn 11:44
when I can help someone see that a lot of the most difficult things in their life they are making up when they really get that, oh my god, that nothing like it. That’s why I do what I do.

Damon Pistulka 12:03
That’s awesome. That’s awesome, yeah, and that is, that is hard to do, but once you do it, and you can kind of catch yourself a little bit after you’ve done it, if

Jeff Munn 12:17
I you get better at it, get better at it, yeah, it’s like, oh, I’m doing it again. Okay, that’s not actually happening right now. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 12:25
yeah, yeah. That’s awesome, though. Because especially in in, in the situation where you’re scaling, you’re, you’re, you know, you’re in that, that mode of trying to get things ready, you’re getting the businesses growing rapidly, and then you’re thinking about the exit. There’s just so many things that you’re going, we’re taught in business that we need to anticipate and prepare, right? And there’s a fine line between going, am I anticipating or am I driving myself crazy with stuff that’s never going to happen? Yeah.

Jeff Munn 12:57
Is it? Is it? Is it? Eisenhower, who said, planning is essential, plans are useless. There you go. And a lot of your, you know, yeah, you need to, like, have some contingencies, or some general thoughts, but a lot of that stuff, like, I’ll get into conversations with people about, well, you know, this person isn’t working out, and I need to, like, I need to let them go, and I need to prepare for the conversation and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and they’ll create this, like, script and, and I’ll talk to them afterwards. It’s like, how, how long were you actually able to follow the script. It was like, Oh, we were off of it in the first like 30 seconds, you know? And then we just, we have the capacity to figure it out. And that’s what we’re doing most of the time,

Damon Pistulka 13:53
yeah, capacity to figure it out. Yep. Awesome. Awesome.

14:01
So,

Damon Pistulka 14:05
when, when you’re start out working with these founders, yeah, what? What is the most common thing that they they say it’s like, is it, you know, they’re coming to you. They’re, they’re saying something’s not going right,

Jeff Munn 14:23
right. It’s, it’s usually something along the lines of, I need to stop getting in my own way. Uh huh. Sometimes it looks different than that. Sometimes it’s like I can’t find good people. Or it will look like this is something outside happening to them. But it’s really no you actually need to figure out how to let go and give some people some general direction, and then hire someone who knows more than you about finance, about product, about sales, about, you know, operations, whatever it happens to be. And let them do a better job than you ever would have and and it’s, it’s that shift. There’s, there’s always this tension between growth and control. And if you want control, that’s fine, but you’re going to limit your growth. You’re going to get stuck in that 100 hour a week paradigm, there’s only so much you can do if you’re hiring someone to do something exactly the way you would have done it, and then micromanaging them, you really haven’t accomplished much, yeah, but man, again, a good a good finance person or a good salesperson, and just let them run that’s when things really start to happen.

Damon Pistulka 15:45
Yeah, so when you’re helping these people in the scaling portion, yeah, do you usually see that it is more around the way they’re leading, or is it and and that’s driving the kind of people that they’re putting in the positions or the roles? Or do you think it is more about the business and things that the business is actually doing? Um,

16:18
well,

Jeff Munn 16:21
let’s, I mean, I my, my immediate response is it’s around how they’re leading and and not so much about how they’re leading, but the the identity or self image from which they are leading. Okay, so if I have a if I’ve set up this set of rules in my head that the way that I succeed in the world is by being the smartest person in the room, or being the person who like has the answer, or being the person who has the, you know, the all of their does, all of the critical client meetings or all of those things, right? If that’s, if that’s what my identity is, it’s going to be really hard for me to change my behavior until I am actually able to let go of that identity. Yes,

Damon Pistulka 17:17
yes. That is, that is awesome. Let’s, let’s talk about that just a moment. Harish, here is, is dropped a few things. And he dropped it. Great book by Marco efferson, 10 steps, a high performance. And he said there’s another one that said leadership is turning the ship around, by Marquette. I’ve heard of that one before. I’ve heard

Jeff Munn 17:39
one called turn this ship around. That might be the same book, I’m not sure.

Damon Pistulka 17:43
Yeah, turn the ship around. That’s the line. Yeah. He also mentions the Six Pillars of self esteem I need to leaders.

Jeff Munn 17:52
I know some of Nathaniel Brandon. I don’t know that particular book, yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s all of these things generally, are pointing at the same issue that it starts with. You know, how are you showing up in the world, and what are the stories you’re telling yourself about yourself?

Damon Pistulka 18:13
Yeah, yeah. It is in that identity, God, that identity. It in our ego as as founders. I mean, it just gets in the way so much.

Jeff Munn 18:23
Well, it’s ironic, right? Because it’s this, it’s this dual edged sword, right? Because we didn’t have that ego in the first place, we would have never started the business. Yes, yes. And that’s the thing that gets in the way of actually growing and scaling and ultimately selling the business. Because every step of the way to do this successfully, the owner has to step away, one step at a time. So by the end, you know, and you confirm this for me, Damon, but to to maximize the value of your company, you need to be completely unnecessary to it, yep, and that’s terrifying. Like, why did I start this business? If you know it’s,

Damon Pistulka 19:08
yeah, it you You said it well, though that’s what they need to start the business and the transformation be this identity. That was the reason they were successful in those initial years and got them there because they often were the smartest one. They had the answers. They did know the critical path, or they did have those sales relationships that really grew the business. But there’s only so much of them to go around, and as you talked about earlier, working 100 hours, you can work all the hours in a week, and you’re still not going to be able to be able to scale your business like a good team would, right?

Jeff Munn 19:44
Exactly, exactly. Yeah, and, and, how do I build it? Like these people, they’re, first of all, they’re human beings, so they’re complicated, and they have ideas, and those ideas are different than mine, sometimes, and like, Well, what do I do with. Bad, I’m the one with the great idea, and they’re coming in and wanting to change things. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 20:04
yep. That is, that’s yes, yes. Well, you, you hit it so well, though it’s, that’s what starts that whole ego, identity, all that stuff, and then that transition, if you can’t make that transition, that’s where you see these businesses just plateau. It’s like, that’s where it is, and

Jeff Munn 20:29
that’s fine, yes, as long as you don’t want more, and you’re like, frustrated that you can’t get there, yeah, yeah. I mean, there are a lot of, you know, solo entrepreneur businesses where it’s more of a lifestyle thing, and I want to do this a certain number of hours a week. I want to do work I enjoy. I want to make a decent living, great, but that’s, you know, your clientele. That’s not what we’re talking about.

Damon Pistulka 20:53
Yeah, yeah, yep. Um, the was, Harry said, asking is the hardest task, leaders are nervous about diluting their authority. Yeah,

Jeff Munn 21:05
yeah, yeah. And what do you know? I mean, all of the the most current leadership thinking is around, how do you give away as much of that authority as possible? You know? How do you make that authority as as close to the client or the customer as possible, so that the people who actually understand the situation are the ones making the decision, yeah,

Damon Pistulka 21:29
yeah, yeah. And, you know, that’s, that’s one thing that I’ve always, I’ve always thought that data helps, not the numbers are for everything, but the data really helps. Because, you know, the founders often aren’t data driven people, right? And if they can make that transition to do into relying more on the data telling them, Hey, our sales numbers are this, even if they’re selling a different way than I am, they’re still successful. Our customer satisfaction is this, even though they don’t do it quite the way that I did it. They’re still successful. And it gives them that comp, that data, gives those founders the confidence to be able to let those people move in the different directions, but still knowing that things are happening the way they should. Right. Are

Jeff Munn 22:16
we continuing to grow? Are we continuing to be profitable? Are we continuing to have highest satisfaction, you know, all those things, yeah, 100% and the interesting thing, the thing that I love is, you know, when a founder establishes two or three measures that have some tension between them, and then the art of it is, you know, how do you manage sales growth while growing profitability at the same time. You know, how do you manage client satisfaction while increasing your prices? Right?

22:49
Yeah, yeah, it’s a fun game to play. Oh,

Damon Pistulka 22:52
yeah, businesses, businesses. I don’t know if it’s the ultimate game, but it’s a very fun game, that’s for sure, and very frustrating. Yeah? So Harry said, I got another comment. He said My biggest growth came when I realized it wasn’t a self made person without my wife, teams, mentors, etc, etc, helping me, I never would have grown both personally and professionally. And that’s that’s huge. I think when founders, I mean, you see some of these founders, and they’re they become ultra successful when they really embrace the fact that I don’t have to do it all anymore, and now I can multiply my effectiveness by getting all these smart people around me doing this stuff. And as long as, like I said, as long as I can make sure that things are going in the right direction yet, and we’re all working in the same way, it’s, it’s a beautiful thing.

Jeff Munn 23:47
Yeah, I mean, I think one of the most powerful things that the founder can do is just make sure that everyone has a sense of purpose and is kind of going in that same direction. And then it’s like you want to be as as minimally involved as you can manage, and just let these brilliant people who you brought in take the reins.

Damon Pistulka 24:16
Yeah, so as you’re working with these these clients, you’re helping them in this process. Give me an example without, you know, telling anything you don’t, you really shouldn’t, of the process going right. Really working well.

Jeff Munn 24:35
So I had a client I worked with a couple years ago who he was, the first non founder, CEO that the company had had. So he was brought in by the founders in a different role. Founder wanted to leave. Realized that he was getting in the way of that growth. Brought in my client to grow and very. Quickly after taking over as CEO, they started getting some interest from potential buyers, and he helped usher the company through the process, ultimately sold to a strategic buyer. He got a nice payday out of it. The founder got a very nice payday out of it. Ended up retiring. He’s in his late 50s, and what I admired about him was that during the process, he really there were some ups and downs, but he had done enough work on himself that he wasn’t, like, there weren’t these wild swings, and he was really great at involving his team. And yeah, you’re you. This is what the the finance people are asking for. This is what this group is asking for, etc, etc. And it was start to finish. I think it was about a three month process, and he worked about another three months and agreed to part ways, yeah, and he’s still not quite managing the retirement piece of it. And that’s another you know, topic that you and I have talked about Yeah, but the process of the the sale and going through all that was remarkably smooth, yeah? And if you’re gonna ask, if you’re gonna ask the converse, I can Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 26:35
yes, let’s, let’s say the converse of it, because that that is not typically how things go, no

Jeff Munn 26:41
and and I, I had another client who it was, it was hard, because everything felt like a fire drill. Part of it was out of her control, because she had lost a couple key people, so she needed to be doing more in the process than was ideal, and she recognized that, and so part of it was just her own capacity to kind of soldier through. But there was a kind of an antagonistic outside investor involved. There was lots of dissension on the board about what the right thing was to do and when, and it was just a grind. And every, every she, you know, every conversation that we had, she showed up kind of out of breath and like, these were the these were all the things that were happening, and this was the drama that happened at this point, and it now it looks like this, and now it looks like that. She did ultimately get through it. So it was a success from that point, and she got more than she anticipated as a as a sale price. But I also think she’s probably more it was ultimately a private equity investor, and I think she’s probably more involved than would be ideal going forward. Yeah, you know, that’s more of a mixed, a mixed result. But as far as the actual grind that, you know, the Marathon of that was really hard. It was really hard for me to watch. Oh

Damon Pistulka 28:28
yes, yes. I mean, and this is, this is what people that are getting ready. And you said this was a an investor based, investor buyer, yeah. The the difference in what you are going to have to do when you sell to an investor compared to another private individual or a strategic that’s in the business is is night and day. And when we’re talking with clients about that, and they always say, Oh, I’d like to, you know, sell into private equity or something like that. If they’re a little smaller, maybe they’d say search fund and but they really don’t understand what that entails and the preparation it takes to do it without it being a fire drill and and not just the the stuff, them, getting the record together, all that, because that’s like, baseline stuff. It’s like, right? It’s like, it’s like, saying, I make a high quality car. Yeah, if you’re not doing that, you’re just not in business, right? But what, what it takes, when you go into these investors, they don’t understand things like the specialists that you’re going to have to call in, you are going to have to call in to get things like quality of earnings analysis done, and you look at all this other stuff that you and market analysis. I mean, that’s the other thing that most sellers are just not even prepared to do, because if you don’t do a deep dive market analysis, it’s going to be a really tough. You get into diligence if you can’t defend your market position and other things like that in it. But you never did that, because it took you 20 years to grow the business, and exactly

Jeff Munn 30:10
even do that you were running a business, yeah,

Damon Pistulka 30:12
yeah. And you never thought about really looking at the quality of the earnings that you make and investing or investigating all your customers, and you may have had them from a long time, and the relationships are a lot different, but from the outside looking in those kind of things, and then the the scrutiny of your team can and like you said, she she had some team changes, it can make those things tremendously challenging, right,

Jeff Munn 30:42
right? And this, this was the case. And I’m thinking about a couple other clients of mine too, where, you know, I I haven’t heard people talk about this. I would imagine you talk about this given your focus and how you help people. But you know, do you like the people you’re doing business with? Cannot be underestimated. Oh, just like, do you get along with these folks? Do you trust them? Do you respect them? It? I mean, I, I’ve got and I got involved after the fact, so I wasn’t really there as it was happening. But I I’ve got clients who, you know, they’re kind of in the middle of their second bite at the private equity apple, and the first bite, it’s like they do not respect who they did the deal with. And it, you know, and be really interesting to hear any thoughts you have of like, how do you, how do you assess that, out up front, right? How do you, yeah, yeah. Because, I mean, there’s so many potential private equity partners now,

Damon Pistulka 31:53
yes, yeah, yes. Well, you know, one of the things that we always do is we get, and I know this is not the greatest thing, but we start by giving we want to talk to two or three of the people they’ve done deals with, and not necessarily that they’re actively investing in now, because then we can usually get a better, a better idea of the experience, right and what it was like all the way through the process, because it is, it is such a different relationship. I mean, this is, this is potentially, and you know this from, from the mindset. Part of this is that I used to be able to make decision last week if I wanted to go out and spend $100,000 on that nice new piece of equipment or some land, or whatever the heck I thought, because that was a good business decision that I can do it? Yeah, well, when we’re running in a private equity space where in five to seven years, I have to increase my value this much, and we’re going to do that, and we’re going to buy all the, you know, whatever they’re going to do, whatever their strategy is, that’s gone, right? And if you’re still involved in the business, because a lot of times, they want you to be involved. They

Jeff Munn 32:59
want you to be involved, and they want to run the show like they have all the expertise. You’ve basically outsourced all that financial engineering piece to someone else, and they’re going to do things differently than you, and probably a lot more aggressively than you would have, because they’ve, they’ve got an exit to worry about. Yes,

Damon Pistulka 33:19
yes, yeah, they’ll, yeah, there’s just all kinds of things. And that is, that is a huge part of it. But you really have to you and people, it’s, it’s, it’s like, it, I want to if, if you’re really attracted to someone and you want to go on a date with them, yeah, you really don’t know what they like, and tell you you’ve been on a number of dates with them, and I think this is what happens. And if you get past the point of you don’t realize that who that person is, and you’re still dating them, and the deal is done, yeah, you know, you can get caught in those situations, and it’s so key to do that, and just really do your diligence on who those people are as people and their values, and do they align with what what you want to do, even. And the other thing that you really have to understand, moving from a privately held into an investor held businesses, there are simply things that they have to do differently. Yeah, you can’t, I mean you and I’m I’m not. I don’t know that’s 100% and someone can prove me wrong day in and day out. But if I own my own business and I’m sitting here running it, and we go into a downturn, and I decide to keep paying the employees, even if I go through six months of losses and drain a lot of cash and all that kind of stuff, just because it’s the I feel it’s the right thing to do. Investor owned business is likely not going to do that. Yeah, 100% Yeah. And there’s just some things that are going to be done differently with that kind of of an owner and and I think that’s one of the things that we really. Talk about, when we talk about business legacy, because there are, you know, you get so big you’re going to have to sell to, you know, investors. There’s really what you got to do. But, you know, there are some, are things, some things that we’ve really experienced over the last four or five, three to five years, where you look at maybe an ESOP is a way for you to exit, because it’s a little different, employee owned option is, is really some it works out nicely in some situations, because it doesn’t put a lot of those pressures like the financial buyers do. But it’s, it’s so huge to understand who that next person is going to be, or that next group is going to be that’s going to own you, because you are, whether you like it or not, you’re married to them, until your money is completely out. And then, even if you’re out financially, and you see your business, you’re driving by your business like you used to all the time, and you’re seeing, first of all, you see it not running the way you want, or you see that it’s no longer there or

Jeff Munn 35:59
or that, or that. The the people that worked with you for 10 or 15 years before you decided to do this are all gone, right? Yeah, like, there’s this really interesting tension that I’ve seen some owners go through where it’s like, they recognize the financial buyer can can pay them a lot more, and they’re trying to kind of thread the needle like, how do I get my How do I get my payday and still protect my people? And it’s a really hard one to manage.

Damon Pistulka 36:30
Yeah, it is, it is. And, yeah, Jeff, we got some good comments here. I gotta, I gotta, I gotta hit this because, John, great discussion how not to sell yourself. Yeah. That is, that is, that is the truth. That is a true yeah. Well,

Jeff Munn 36:51
yeah. And we talked a little bit about like, after, you know, like, Okay, I got the big check. And now, do I feel like I got screwed over, or do I feel let down or and, and if you are able to get through the process without feeling like you sold your soul, the chances of you coming through that and feeling decent about it are a lot higher. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 37:13
yeah, yeah. That fit, that, that, Oh, the fit is, is just so critical. If there’s, if there’s anything, and then, and then, after it’s done, you will if it’s the right fit. When you see deals that are done that it is the right fit, it’s so much better because you see it great. Yes, nobody gets exactly what they want in a business, sale, buyer, seller, nobody does. You’re going to end up somewhere in the middle. Long as that is somewhere in the middle, you’re you’re good there. But when you see a year or more down the road and you see people are still smiling and happy, yeah, that’s the good thing. Yeah. I walked into a into a an acquisition of of ours, one of our clients just a month ago or so, and and the founders, the founder of that business that that my client acquired, still works there. I talked to her for a moment about it, and she was very happy. She said, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me. And I was a little bit uneasy at first, but there are some things that have happened in the in the meantime that have made me feel like this is the best thing I could have ever done. And I’m like, oh

38:33
my goodness, fantastic. Like, oh my goodness. And, and then that’s why you do what you do, right? Yeah, yeah. When you put these good

Damon Pistulka 38:43
combinations together of buyers and sellers and stuff, there’s really nothing like it. And it is, it is such a sweet thing, and the mindset of that person that’s selling that business, you know, they really have to be ready for it, like you said, because there is, there is, for a lot of them, there’s a time where I’m, I’m going at 110% and it goes to, I don’t have to get out of bed tomorrow if I don’t want to. Right? How do you? How do you? I mean, do

Jeff Munn 39:18
you? Do you? Oh, yeah, after about there’s like a three day, hey, I got the big check in the you know, and I’ve, I’ve, I’ve had clients go through this. I’ve talked to friends who’ve gone through this and and then they realize, you know, three days after, it’s like, My life isn’t really going to change that much because of the money. Like, I still have the same spouse and kids and family and family values, and, you know, the values of the person like, that’s not fundamentally going to change. But now I have this. I. A gap in my identity, where before I was, you know, Joe, who runs XYZ Corp that, and now I’m just some, some guy at the golf course, or, you know, some, whatever it, you know, whatever it happens to be, whoever that person happens the

Damon Pistulka 40:19
kids off at school or whatever. You know, it’s yeah, how

Jeff Munn 40:22
do I? How do I fill that? And for most people who have come from this lifetime of achieving, it’s really hard to fill that and and what I’ve seen some people do is they, they realize. Sometimes they realize before, the fact, a lot of times it takes them until the actual exit to realize it. It’s like, oh, that, that achieving was actually trying to cover up something. And now I have to look at that. Yeah, there’s a great Jim Carrey quote, of all people, he, he, he said something like, I wish that everyone could become rich and famous and get everything they ever wanted to see. That’s not it. There’s, there’s nothing out there that’s going to make you happy if you’re not already happy in here, right? And yeah, we, we are not. We don’t live in a culture that instinctively looks internally, yeah, that’s for sure. Yeah, whoo.

Damon Pistulka 41:43
That’s wise advice, right there. That’s good stuff. Good stuff. Well, Harry’s got one other question too. He said, you know, Jeff and Damon the roles of dealing with highly emotional transitions, what are the keys to make the process more of a transformation, as opposed to just a transaction. Good one,

Jeff Munn 42:06
yeah, you want to go first,

Damon Pistulka 42:10
but I want you to take this one.

Jeff Munn 42:13
I think of transformation. There’s a lot of talk about transformation as if it can happen, you know, like that. And I think of transformation as, like, it’s a long journey. It’s a long process. It’s normally not one big, huge insight, and then everything changes. It’s like, little, little, you know, like almost little thought bubbles popping. It’s like, oh, yeah, I’m working too hard. Oh, I could hire a really good finance person. Oh, if I just let them run with things, they do a better job than I do. Oh, and so on and so on and so on. And the earlier you can start that, I think the better the any ultimate transaction is going to turn out, yeah,

Damon Pistulka 43:01
I agree 100% it is that transformation. It’s wonderful to see, wonderful to see when, when founders or owners, really, or even just the highest level, is actually start to realize that, that if I continue to get smart people around me, let them do what they need to do, but but understand how just to to whether it’s through however you do it. Understand that the business is running the way we want, even though they’re doing it the way they do, which could be, I know nothing about, could be completely different than I would do in it if I was doing it. But if we know things are going right, and they continue to build that team and allow them all to do their best work. That when you see someone going from the person that was running around trying to know every single person and what everyone is doing, and they’re just, that’s what they’re doing all day, and that’s what it feels like to me. It just feels like static on a television or something, right, right?

Jeff Munn 43:58
It’s just kind of activity for the sake of activity, right? Oh,

44:01
yeah. And

Damon Pistulka 44:02
then when you see them, say, say, see them two years later, yeah, when they’ve got that team, when they go, Well, I don’t know, what do you what do we need to do here? And they’re looking at their finance person or their operations, yeah, oh, that’s,

Jeff Munn 44:17
that’s Mary’s responsibility, yeah, see what she thinks. Yeah, exactly. And

Damon Pistulka 44:21
they and they’re coming into the office, they may come into the office at 910, o’clock in the morning, and they may stay at until two in the afternoon because they’re going to go meet some other business people, or do whatever they’re out doing their thing and industry stuff or or maybe they’re just doing whatever they want. And you see that that transition or transformation, as Harry said, Yeah. From, I can’t leave the business because I’m like that. To, I don’t really know if I’m going to come in today,

44:51
because I got it handled right. It could have done better than I could have done it. I have

Jeff Munn 44:55
worked with so many people on this where it’s this, um. I mean, I had a client who literally said my name is on the door, and it was actually his father’s name, but still, so I need to be the first one in and the last one out. Yeah, and there’s that, you know, I have to be here in case. I have to be here in case people need me. I have to be and, and the way I’ll flip it is, so are people going to learn more if you’re there or if you’re not there, and they have to figure it out? It’s like, oh, and suddenly the it’s like, Well, wait, if I’m not here, that’s not that’s actually not only good for me, but it’s a developmental opportunity for my people. That’s a total shift for people.

45:46
Yeah, yep.

Damon Pistulka 45:48
I remember one of my my early positions. I had someone that just put tons of faith in me, and it worked out. But I was like, I was like, and this is, this was a while ago, and I’ll call him every once along go, man, it’s been a month since we talked. And you know, it’s your business. We haven’t talked since the last board meeting. Yeah, you’re off going around where he said, You got it. I don’t I know you got it.

46:21
You sure about that? Yeah, you know. And

Damon Pistulka 46:23
when you when you get that kind of trust between the founder and their team and other things, and they can be doing the big things or doing other things that can help what they want to do, it is that transformation that that we’re talking about, and it, and then that transaction that happens at the end of it, they really begin to they’ve, they’ve made that transition. First of all, that their identity is not the business anymore. Them in that business as much and that transaction, whatever that is, hopefully to the right buyers, and all the other things we talked about, it’s much easier for them, because they see their legacy moving on beyond them, I think, Oh, yeah.

Jeff Munn 47:03
Well, and they’ve also, they’ve created a culture, and they’ve attracted people who actually want to be leaders, yeah, not people who just want to be told what to do. Yeah. Yeah.

Damon Pistulka 47:15
Huge difference. There. Huge difference in the kind of people that you run a tractor, yeah? And so great talking to you today. Jeff, just so great.

47:26
I really enjoyed this. Yes. Thank

Damon Pistulka 47:29
you so much. What you got coming up? You got some new stuff coming up. You got book coming out, anything like that that we want to talk about briefly before we get off?

Jeff Munn 47:37
Well, no book yet. Although I’m always playing with that idea. I’ve got a couple programs that I’m I’m in the process of putting together, one a little bit earlier, you know, enjoying the exit, like, if people are really wanting to know, how do I actually engage in this? Some of this mindset work to ease the, you know, the ebb and flow of the process of going through an exit. I mean, I think the idea of enjoying it is pretty radical for most people, given the typical experience. Yeah, and the other thing, and I’ll probably do this early 25 just because so many deals close at your end, yeah, I’m fascinated with the idea of, of what I’m calling an exit detox. So you come through this, and it’s just like you, you need some recovery time, right, right? You need to, kind of, you’re in a lot of ways, your body is addicted to, like the motion and the 80 hour weeks and the fire drills, and when that’s gone, it’s hard. And then how do you settle your system enough so that you can actually begin to think reasonably and a little bit more you know holistically about what’s next, instead of just what I’ve seen so many people do is they finish selling one company is like, I don’t know what to do. I guess I’ll go build another company. I’ll make it bigger this time. So the exit is better. And it’s like, it’s just kind of fallen into the same pattern again. And maybe that’s exactly the right thing for you, yes, and you know, but you got to give yourself a little bit of time to actually get some distance, get some perspective, and then think about what is it that I actually want to create next?

Damon Pistulka 49:31
Yeah, yeah. Good stuff. Good stuff. Well, Jeff, if someone wants to find you, contact you. What’s the best way to reach out?

Jeff Munn 49:38
Well, I, I’m, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn, so connecting on LinkedIn is a great way email is Jeff at J, Mun, j, m, u n, n.com, happy to connect with people. If there’s a you know, anything that sparked your interest or resonated in this conversation, would love to have a conversation. And I just. Um, I’m really fascinated by this whole journey, every step of the way, especially as it relates to people continually stepping back from, you know, it’s like you start with this great idea, and then how do you enroll people in that and let them take over, and a little bit more of that, little bit more of that, little bit more of that, until ultimately, you can, you can sell your business and and think about what you want to do next.

Damon Pistulka 50:29
Yeah, yeah. Awesome, awesome. Well, thanks so much for being here today, Jeff. I want to thank you, Harry and John AJ Harish for being here today. I think I’ve got everybody. God, we got a lot of good comments. Thanks so much for all those comments. If you got in here late and didn’t hear Jeff from the beginning, you can get on any of the platforms, whereas at on LinkedIn, here, on Facebook, on on any of the other ones, YouTube. And start from the beginning. It’s worth the time. Take the time to listen to it. And as Jeff said, if you want to reach out to him, connect with him on LinkedIn. Awesome stuff. Thanks, Jeff. Thanks everyone for being here. We’ll wrap up offline.

Jeff Munn 51:11
All right, take care. Bye.

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