Episode: 3 Ways to Inspire Your Team

Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.

Megan Hyatt Miller: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.

Michael:  And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. Today we’re going to be talking about a problem that crops up pretty often in business: no growth or slow growth in your business.

Megan: This is a huge problem for leaders. Maybe you’ve had that experience of thinking, “Well, I don’t really want to coast.” After all, you probably want to accomplish something, and you probably see a really exciting future for your company. You’ve gotten your team onboard, you think, and you’ve tried to get them fired up, but then it’s crickets. Right? No fire, no momentum, and worst of all, no growth. So you’re probably thinking, “What in the world is going on? How can I figure out what is wrong in my ability to drive these results and growth in my business?”

Michael: Well, today we’re going to solve that problem by showing you the one thing that’s missing from the equation and how to get it. We’re talking about vision. But before we get into that, we have to bring Larry on the show, because Larry is the guy who guides us through the conversation.

Megan: The guy.

Larry Wilson: I keep saying this, guys. I feel like I keep saying this, but a few weeks ago you said, “Larry is the man.” Can we get that language down right?

Megan: We’re trying to be cool and a little more casual.

Michael: Yeah, and you’re a little elevated. “The Guy” is better than “The Man.”

Larry: Okay. Well, we should make it “The Dude” like The Big Lebowski. Either way, whatever you want to call me, I am really happy to be here. I love this topic. I’ve heard vision talk for a long time, and I can almost hear a lot of leaders saying… I think I probably would have said when I was leading an organization, “Okay, but I have a vision, and I’m still not seeing the growth I want, so maybe the problem isn’t vision; maybe it’s something else.”

Michael: That’s easy to think, but what I would have asked you, had I been back there, is, “Let me see your vision.” Some people think they have a vision. They have a vague idea of where the whole thing is going, but very few leaders have a written vision, and even those who do don’t usually have what we call a vision script, something that’s much more built out than that.

Megan: The other thing is oftentimes vision is talked about like its own separate, aspirational, ethereal thing, like you should just do it because it’s the right thing to do. You know, as a leader, you should have a vision. The truth is there is an intimate connection between vision and results, and if for no other reason than that, you have to have a clear, compelling vision if you want to drive major exponential results in your business.

Michael: Vision drives everything. It’s the driving force behind recruiting and retaining a skilled, motivated team. It’s the driving force behind product creation and pruning, by the way, and marketing strategy and customer acquisition. If you have a clear, inspiring, practical vision, you should see growth.

Larry: What I hear you telling me is that if I’m not seeing growth, one way or another it’s going to trace back to vision.

Megan: I think so, and it’s certainly a great place to start, because everything else, every other problem you could have is probably rooted there anyway.

Michael: That’s right. I think a lot of people jump to strategy, but without a vision, strategy doesn’t matter. The vision is the what; the strategy is the how. You have to get clear on the what first before the how is even relevant.

Larry: Well, today we’re going to talk about how to create that vision that will drive results in your business. Of course, this is the subject of your book that’s coming up, Michael, The Vision Driven Leader, which will be out at the end of this month.

Michael: Yeah. I couldn’t be more excited about this book. I probably say this about every book I publish, but I’m really excited about this book. I think this is the most important book I’ve written, because, like I said, vision drives everything. Every problem in your organization, you have to go back to vision as sort of the first building block if you’re going to correct it. Vision is the way we initiate change. My dream for the book is that millions of leaders everywhere would suddenly find that they can actually do the vision thing.

Most people have never been taught how to create a vision. Most people think it’s something that’s the domain of those special, charismatic people…people like Steve Jobs or John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr. or somebody who just has that “thing,” that X factor that gets them to create vision, but my premise in the book is that anybody with the right format, with the right instruction can create a vision, and more importantly, it’s incumbent upon you to do that, because you cannot lead effectively without vision.

Larry: Well, we’re going to reveal on this podcast right here today three vision secrets. These are elements of a vision that you talk about in the book. This is not nearly the whole system for creating a vision. That’s in much more detail in the book itself. But we want to get at these three vision secrets, so let’s get into them. The first vision secret is that you need to talk about what isn’t, not what is.

Megan: When you’re creating a vision, your perspective is that you’re standing in the future and describing what you see. You’re not looking around you in the present tense and describing what you see. That’s a very, very different thing. When we’re in the present, our attention is really limited. We’re focused on constraints, and those things are kind of driving what we think is possible. So, our current staffing, our current products, our current customers and market share. That’s a recipe, if you’re trying to create vision from the present, of creating incremental change.

That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with incremental change, but that’s not really what we’re talking about when we talk about vision. We’re talking about something much bigger than that. The other problem is it’s really hard to get people aligned around incremental change, because it’s just not that exciting. It’s, frankly, boring. That makes it really difficult to accomplish goals and accomplish big objectives if they’re just kind of a little bit better than they were last year or last month. It’s tough to get people onboard for that.

Michael: One thing about standing in the future and describing what isn’t is, all of a sudden, you’re standing in the realm of possibility. Not what is but what might be possible. In that realm, there really aren’t any constraints. The only constraints you bring into the future are the ones you drag from the present. So if you can free yourself up from those, stand in the future, and begin to think, suspend disbelief about how it’s going to happen but begin to articulate what it is you see, that’s really where you get vision. That’s where you get excitement. That’s what drives businesses forward and creates the kind of growth we’re talking about today.

Larry: I love the story that’s in the book about the creation of Uber. That’s fascinating. Do you mind if I tell that real quick?

Michael: No. Please.

Larry: Well, there’s nothing new about a taxicab. They’ve been around literally since the automobile was invented, but one night in Paris, Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick couldn’t get a cab, so instead of trying to think of ways to put more cabs on the street, they said, “What if there’s a way to get a ride without a cab just by hailing it on your phone?” That thought was the genesis of Uber. That’s thinking about what isn’t, not what is.

Michael: The funny thing about it is… Talk about non-incremental change but exponential change. Uber is now the largest ground transportation company in the world, and they don’t own a single car.

Larry: That’s amazing. I’m sure we’d come up with other examples of that…streaming services, like Pandora and Spotify, or Airbnb for booking your room or the iPhone.

Michael: Hold your thought on the iPhone, Larry, because we’re going to come back to that in just a minute.

Larry: Okay.

Michael: You have to begin asking yourself the right questions. Not “What could we accomplish with this team?” but “What team do we need to achieve our vision?” Totally two different questions. Not “What leverage are we getting from these products?” but “What products do we need to create the impact or the leverage we want to have?” Not “What customers are we now reaching?” By the way, that’s a legitimate question, but the vision question is, “What vision will attract and enroll the customers we want to serve?”

Megan: That first question, the “What can we accomplish with this team?” question, that being kind of the negative, present-oriented question… That is so often where we start. We think, “What resources do we have, and with those resources what can we accomplish?”

Michael: As though it were fixed.

Megan: As though it were fixed. Dad, you always say, “Resources follow vision.” The truth is if your vision is big enough, you will be able to attract more resources. If you start with “How am I going to accomplish that?” the strategy part, which is really that question, you’re never going to achieve your real potential as a business or an individual.

Michael: A great example from the book The Vision Driven Leader is the one I tell in the very first chapter about JFK. He stood up before a joint session of Congress, and he had this vision, and he put this challenge out there to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. People laughed at him. People thought that was ridiculous. In fact, even NASA said it wasn’t possible. Why? Because they didn’t see a path to the vision. But what happened was the vision forced them to think in new ways. The vision forced innovation, and all that happened in less than 10 years. That vision was accomplished in less than the time frame he set forth. Sadly, he wasn’t around to see it, but it happened.

Megan: I love that story.

Larry: You know, this takes me back to doing the SWOT analysis so many times. We do that in business. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It seemed like whenever we would go through a SWOT analysis, we’d wind up just doing the same thing, maybe working harder, because we’re starting with what we already have and who we already are.

Michael: That’s a good insight. I think that’s a really good insight. We use SWOT analysis in the strategic planning process we use, but it comes after the vision part of it. We always start with vision. When we do strategic planning, we start with a review of our vision. Vision informs everything. That’s the destination. Everything has to come in alignment behind vision. If you don’t have a vision, you’re kind of stuck in the present, and like Megan was saying, incremental change on the present.

Megan: Well, a SWOT analysis is really useful to tell you what’s going to be in the way or going to help you achieve your vision. That’s what the purpose of it is. It’s not to tell you how big you can think and what you might be able to accomplish.

Michael: In fact, the best way to ask the SWOT analysis question is in light of the vision. You know, “In light of this vision, what are the strengths, what are the weaknesses, what are the opportunities and the threats we bring to the table?” Those are only meaningful if you’re viewing them in light of the vision. If you don’t have a vision, you’re just kind of spitballing it. (That’s the technical term.)

Larry: Well, we’re saying that you can grow your business with a compelling vision, and to create that you need to know these three secrets. The first vision secret: talk about what isn’t, not what is. Let’s go to the second vision secret: make it exponential, not incremental.

Megan: When you focus on what is, you just get incremental change, like we talked about a minute ago. For example, a 3 percent improvement in gas mileage or a telephone with a longer cord, which seems really irrelevant now. I remember standing in the kitchen and trying to walk into the living room with a cord. You know, longer was better.

Michael: Do you remember when it was a breakthrough just to have the wireless phone in your home?

Megan: Oh yeah.

Michael: Not a mobile phone; just a wireless phone. That was like, “Whoa!”

Megan: Vision ignites the possibility of exponential change for the better. That enables you to create momentum, and momentum is what gets you into the future. It fires your team up. After all, who wants to get out of bed to see a 1 percent gain over last year? That is super snooze-ville.

Michael: It’s particularly important for Millennials, because Millennials want something that gives meaning to their lives. They want to know they’re making a difference, that they’re making an impact on the world. By the way, not just Millennials. Honestly, everybody. Millennials are just more honest.

Megan: It’s a basic human need.

Michael: It is.

Megan: Well, that kind of momentum sets the stage for creating breakthrough products. You said earlier that you were going to talk about the iPhone, so I think this is a perfect opportunity.

Michael: I think the iPhone is a great example of this. Mobile phones always had one feature in common back in the day, whether it was a BlackBerry or a flip phone or whatever.

Megan: A Trio. Do you remember the Trio?

Michael: Oh my gosh.

Megan: I had a lot of Trios.

Michael: Taking me back. Well, they all had a keyboard, and an incremental change would have been a better keyboard, but Steve Jobs wanted a revolutionary change, and as he so often did, he was thinking outside of the box, thinking differently. So in 2007, he introduced the iPhone. No keyboard. No stylus. In fact, he said, “You’ve got the perfect stylus; it’s your finger.” Well, that got people pumped up, because it was so out of the box. It was so exponential. It was not incremental at all.

And everybody laughed. Do you guys remember this? I mean, every major tech company said, “This is doomed to failure.” I have the exact quotes in the book. I remember the head of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer at the time. He just laughed at it. He laughed on TV. He was doing some interview. I can’t remember what show it was, some big interview show. He said, “I give it a year.” Oh my gosh! Microsoft failed in mobile telephones, and iPhone is the biggest part of Apple’s business right now.

So, if we were applying Steve Jobs’ kind of philosophy to our own businesses or our own organizations, we might ask questions like this: What’s the product you would create if you had no constraints?

Megan: I love that question.

Michael: So stand in the future in the realm of possibility. Don’t imagine current constraints. Don’t even bind yourself by the current technology that’s available. Steve Jobs didn’t. John F. Kennedy didn’t. Here’s another question: What do you actually want to do for people? Where is there friction that you can take out of the process and make it easier or faster for people? What’s the big problem everyone else is afraid to tackle?

Megan: Those are great questions. They’re worthy of our time and attention, because we’re so stuck in how we’re going to do that or what we can accomplish that we don’t ask those big questions, and that’s where the breakthroughs come from: that kind of exponential thinking. That’s also what helps you set your strategy. When you’re chasing one big thing instead of a bunch of small things, you’re able to say no to the small things. They’re not worthy of your time and attention.

And a big vision aligns your team. Not only does it get them excited, but it gives them the clarity they need to point their energy behind one point, and that is a powerful force. It also makes decision-making so much easier. One of the hardest things leaders face is decision fatigue and decision-making. The decisions get harder, more complex, with higher stakes the more successful you become, but a clear vision acts as a filter and a compass to make sure you’re on the right track.

Michael: This whole second secret about making it exponential not incremental is what led us to the concept of the double win, the idea that you don’t have to sacrifice your personal well being to succeed at work. Most people are out there teaching it like it’s either/or. You can have one; you can’t have both, so just pick the one you want. We said, “Well, what if there’s a third way? What if there was a way we could both win at work and succeed at life? What would have to be true? What would have to be possible for that to happen?”

Honestly, I think we’ve done a tremendous job of doing that. I’ve said before, probably on this show… Last year, we grew very much, like 62 percent. In addition to that, I took 162 days off, and those two things don’t go together. When I tell leaders that, that that’s possible, or even our BusinessAccelerator clients who experience a very similar growth and shave an average of 11 hours off their workweek, it’s like, “Those two things don’t fit together.” Well, they do if you have an exponential vision, not an incremental one.

Larry: So, the first vision secret: talk about what isn’t, not what is. Second vision secret: make it exponential, not incremental. Let’s move to the third vision secret: make it risky, not delusional.

Megan: This is an important point, because we talk a lot about setting goals in your discomfort zone. A healthy level of risk is really good for your business. It drives innovation and creative thinking and all of those things. It also gets people excited. If there’s no challenge, it’s just not fun to think about getting onboard. It’s not fun to think about getting creative. Nobody is going to get pumped about doing that same ol’ thing we did last year.

It’s also inspiring. When people sense that you are confidently seeing the future, that you are seeing something, that there’s a gap between where they are and something they want, that gets everybody excited. “How are we going to get there? What would that look like? What would that make possible?” It’s really invigorating for your team. In contrast, “business as usual” thinking leads to a slow death in your company. It’s not inspiring. It’s not engaging. It’s not going to be good for retention. It’s not going to be good for innovation and creativity.

Michael: I want to comment on a word you said there, which is engagement. This is like the holy grail of most business thinking today: “How do we get more employee engagement?” because so few employees are really engaged in their work. One of the ways you do it is by making it risky, making it exciting. Again, not delusional, but something that’s out of the box, something we haven’t done before, something we’re not even sure how to do, but something if we did it would be a breakthrough result. That’s what we’re really after. That’s what gets your team onboard.

That’s also what attracts customers. Customers are not going to get excited about an incremental result. When your favorite software company pushes out an incremental upgrade, you’re just kind of like, “I upgraded for that? Big yawn.” But when there’s something that really changes the game, something that makes it easier for you to do what you need to do, that’s when you get excited when you talk about it, and that’s what creates word of mouth. So this has a big impact not only in your company but outside of your company.

Larry: So, Megan, what does it look like when you have a risky vision versus a delusional vision? Maybe some people have a hard time sorting that out.

Megan: Well, I think you have to know yourself, because certain personalities are going to be prone to true delusion, and other people are maybe less comfortable with taking risk, and it may feel really uncomfortable, maybe almost delusional, and it’s not. So you have to kind of use self-awareness in this process, but you can get stupid really fast. You can go from the discomfort zone to the delusional zone quickly if you’re not careful.

For example, you could say that you want to take your business and grow it 10 times in one year. Well, that’s not just risky; that’s probably, in most cases (there may be some exceptions), just crazy. That kind of scaling could be a death blow to your business. Your vision should be challenging, but it shouldn’t be reckless. There’s an element of wisdom here that you need to apply as a leader.

Michael: And if it doesn’t engage your team, if instead they roll their eyes or kind of shriek in terror, that’s not a good sign, because you have to get buy-in. I think risk is kind of like people say, “Well, I’m not sure we could do that, but it would be pretty cool if we could.” That’s the response you want.

Megan: Right. It should not seem to your team completely impossible.

Larry: Otherwise, they’re just going to go back to their desks and say, “Oh boy. Here we go again.”

Megan: The problem is the delusional zone breeds cynicism, especially if you’ve done that a few times and people have watched you fall short or watched you try to achieve it at their expense. It’s not going to go well, so tread carefully.

Michael: Let me give you an example from our own company. For years, we were very involved in the digital space. We had digital courses. We had e-books. Our whole business model was built on online selling. Then we got this crazy idea to create an analog product, the Full Focus Planner. It came after we read a book called The Revenge of Analog, and we saw that, “You know what? Paper is actually a better medium for getting focus, for retention.” There were a lot of benefits of it.

So, Joel and Mike Burns were on a car ride and said, “What if we created this paper tool that pulled together what we’re teaching in our online course Best Year Ever and our online course Free to Focus and created an analog tool for our customers?” Well, that was risky, because we had no experience publishing or creating a physical product. Now, it wasn’t delusional, because about three or four of our teammates had all worked in the publishing industry before.

We’d never done it here at Michael Hyatt & Company, but we thought, “That’s a legitimate risk, but it is a little bit risky.” So we went out there, and thankfully, all it did was work. It has been a huge, huge success, and it has become a major driver of growth in our business. It’s the largest part of our business today, and it was because we were willing to take a risk. Sometimes you have to do that. You have to be willing to make it risky but not delusional.

Megan: It would have been delusional, however, if we had killed the entire rest of our business to intentionally make that the biggest part of our business. We didn’t do that. We really did it as an experiment. We weren’t sure how it was going to work. Certainly, we started investing in it even more as it succeeded, and it has succeeded to levels we did not anticipate at all at the beginning, but we were smart about it. That’s the difference between the discomfort zone and the delusional zone: just basically not being stupid.

Larry: Everything comes down to vision. The message today is that if your business isn’t growing, it probably traces back to a problem with your vision. You can solve that problem by knowing the three vision secrets: talk about what isn’t, not what is; make it exponential, not incremental; and make it risky, not delusional. What’s your final thought today, guys?

Megan: Thanks, Larry. Here’s the good news: anybody can create a vision. This is not the province of the giants of companies; this is something anybody can do. You just need the right template, and that is really what The Vision Driven Leader, Dad, your new book, does. It provides almost a paint-by-number process to help you create a vision for your company that’s compelling enough to drive major exponential results in your business and get your team and your customers totally excited about achieving and experiencing with you.

So I just want you to be encouraged. This is something you can do. It’s worth the investment of your time, and it’s really easy using the process of the vision script in the book The Vision Driven Leader, which you can preorder now at your favorite retailer. You want to make sure to save your receipt, though, because we have some incredible bonuses that are available to you at

Michael: I was thinking as we were talking about this: this really presupposes that you want growth. Not everybody wants growth. If you do want growth, then vision is the first and most important step you have to take if you want to change where you are and create something different. But why is growth important? Something I’m committed to doing is not only growing personally but growing our company. The reason for that is because it requires me to grow.

As the company changes, as we take on new frontiers, as we expand, that requires me to grow in my leadership. It also creates opportunity within my company for people to grow their leadership, for them to be able to move up the corporate ladder. It enables them to provide for their families in ways that they can’t right now. So growth is important for a variety of reasons, and if it’s important to you, then vision is where it starts, and that’s why I think this book is so important and so practical to get you started.

Larry: Well, Megan and Michael, thank you. This is real wisdom here today about creating a vision.

Megan: Thanks, Larry.

Michael: Thanks, Larry. Thank you, Megan, and thanks to all you guys for joining us today. We’ll see you right here next week. Until then, lead to win.