Power of the Pivot with Tim Sawyer

May 11, 2022

Tim Sawyer joins Michael and Brad for his second appearance on the Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto Podcast. Tim shares the universal business principles he has discovered as a two-time Inc. 500 Entrepreneur. We discuss the process of creating dynamic strategies through great counsel and Tim shares a look into his latest business venture.

Listen to the full episode using the player below, or by visiting one of the links below. You can listen to Tim’s first Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto episode here. To listen to Tim’s podcast, True to Form, visit https://www.patientnow.com/podcast/.

Below is the episode’s transcript which has been edited for readability. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, email us at info@byrdadatto.com.


Intro: [00:00:00] Welcome to Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. Legal issues simplified through real client stories and real world experiences. Creating simplicity in 3, 2, 1.

Brad: Welcome back to another episode of the Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host Brad Adatto with my cohost Michael Byrd.

Michael: As a business and healthcare firm, we represent clients in multiple sectors and multiple specialties, especially healthcare. This season we are searching for common ground for our diverse audience, and we’ll be bringing in many guests to help us. This season’s theme is The Universal Language – Business.

Brad: Yes. I’m excited because today we have a second time guest joining us. He has been a huge influence on both of us, our firm, and he is an all-around great guy. And audience members believe it or not, if you love this show, he’s the person who planted the idea in [00:01:00] our head that we needed to start our own podcast. And those who love the show, you can thank Tim for that. Those who don’t like it, you can blame Tim for that. Or Michael.

Michael: When you say planting it in your head, it was a little stronger than that. A little stronger than inspiration, you guys need to do a podcast!

Brad: Yes that’s true.

Michael: And then spent 20 minutes explaining to us exactly why we do need to do a podcast. Before we introduce Tim, Brad I’ve been wanting to talk to you about a segment I heard on our favorite radio stations.

Brad: The Ticket?

Michael. Yes, of course. They had a discussion during the winter Olympics.

Brad: Well, okay. First off, as we’ve talked about before, you know, I Love The Ticket. But Michael, I think you’re a little late to the game. It’s the middle of May here and the winter Olympics was a while ago. I’m assuming you’re talking of the winter Olympics 2022, but I’m not alone to understand why you’re asking this question. I mean, if I remember correctly, when I was reading the statistics, the Beijing winter games drew like the lowest rating in the [00:02:00] history of the Olympics since NBC has been broadcasting for over 20 years. So yeah, why are we talking about the Olympics?

Michael: It’s a fair point. I’ll have to say, I was pretty disconnected. In fact, the most connected I was, was to this segment that I heard when they were talking about it on The Ticket. It was just weird. I think it must’ve been the time difference. I don’t know. But here’s what they were talking about. They started doing a hypothetical, which is not shocking. They do that all the time. And they were saying they were just starting to talk about how difficult the winter Olympic sports are. And the hypothetical is if you had to compete in an event and just complete it, all you have to do is finish. Which one do you believe you could finish?

Brad: Is this finishing alive? Because if that’s a criteria I’m out in the ski jump completely. But you know, it’s been a while. Help me and the audience to remember what were some of the events?

Michael: And I [00:03:00] had to go back to our assistant Siri to even remember too, so this has been a bit. The first one is Alpine skiing.

Brad: Sure. I can do that. I can do greens and blues.

Michael: Well, I don’t think that’s what it is. There’s a lot of different things with a lot of speed and a lot of turns. There’s the biathlon, which I’ve heard it said that that’s the hardest of all the events. So that’s combines the cross country skiing, which is hard enough, but then at some point you’ve got to get out a gun and shoot targets.

Brad: That’s like doing the Knorr track and then getting off and shooting. So I probably could do that poorly.

Michael: Yeah. So you wouldn’t survive in the wild?

Brad: Right.

Michael: Okay. Got it. Um, bobsled?

Brad: If it’s like the Jamaican bobsled where I could end up on my head and still alive maybe.

Michael: Well, we just kind of talked about it, what if we took the guns out and it was just cross country skiing?

Brad: I might survive [00:04:00] that.

Michael: Um, I don’t know about that. Curling?

Brad: I like to drink. Is that what we’re talking about? Like curling a beer?

Michael: Kind of. Yeah, it does look like a drinking sport. Figure skating?

Brad: Nope.

Michael: Freestyle skiing?

Brad: If you’re referring to freestyle skiing where you’re skiing and then you’d have a garage sale and all your stuff goes everywhere then sure.

Michael: Okay. Dad joke. All right, let’s move on. Ice hockey?

Brad: It is similar to football, so yeah. Sure.

Michael: You got to know how to skate. Luge, Nordic Combined? I don’t even know what that was. I’m not sure. Short track skating?

Brad: Yeah, that sounds like my style, I don’t think very far.

Michael: Yeah, it’s really fast. Well, how about the skeleton?

Brad: That’s Halloween.

Michael: Ski jumping, snowboard, speed skating?

Brad: Yeah. Speed skating? No way.

Michael: Okay. Well that’s all I can remember.

Brad: Okay well, top three that you could finish?

Michael: Well curling, [00:05:00] obviously. I mean, that’s a slow moving sport. It looks like a drinking game. I feel like I not only could finish it, but I might even win.

Brad: I love that despite having never played the sport, your competitive fires are kicking off that you would be better than anyone.

Michael: Just confidence. I’ve had lots of practice at bar games over the years, particularly my formative professional years, my college years in my early twenties. I also think I could complete most of the Alpine skiing events though I would not be going fast. And I guess my last one would be speed skating, although I would be missing the speed part of it. I think I could just kind of walk around the track and complete it. Which one’s the scariest to you?

Brad: Probably figure skating because I don’t think I could fit into any of those outfits. How about you?

Michael: Well, first of all, let [00:06:00] me and the audience agree that that would be scary for all of us. If you had on a figure skating outfit and you’re competing in this. For me personally, I don’t know how to pick between ski jump and snowboarding. Terrified. I don’t even know how to survive, obviously I don’t know how to complete in them and I wouldn’t even know how to start. Like what do you do the first time you try any of those events? It seems like that would be, just the first practice would lead to death.

Brad: I have no idea. Well, actually Michael that was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. But let’s move forward and bring on today’s guest. And I don’t know if you thought of this because today’s guest lives up in the north and that’s why you thought about him or something like that. But we have had Tim Sawyer on here before and a lot has happened since our last podcast. I can’t wait to hear what he has to share today. So Michael let’s bring on Tim.

Michael: Yeah. I have absolutely zero connection between Tim [00:07:00] Sawyer and the winter Olympics, but we’ll find something, we’ll dig.

Brad: Okay. All right.

Michael: So, Tim as you said, he’s been on before and he actually sold his business, Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, not long after he was on with us the last time. Tim is the host of the podcast True to Form. He is the inspiration for the Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. We’ve been a guest of his a few times. Tim was a founder and president of Crystal Clear software marketing and consulting company. Crystal Clear was also not Tim’s first rodeo. He is definitely an entrepreneur. He is a two time Inc. 500 entrepreneur. He is a highly regarded speaker. And if you’ve never seen Tim speak, you’re missing out. He is powerful. We’ll use those words. And now he is spending his time post-sale working on teaching and giving back with teaching financial [00:08:00] literacy. Tim, welcome to the show.

Tim: Great to be here, guys. And I have three words for you. Blades of Glory. That’s all. I don’t think I have seen that movie in a very long time but I can just picture you guys floating around the ice in your outfits.

Brad: That’s an ugly site, but yes.

Tim: Thanks for having me guys I am pumped to be here.

Brad: Yeah, we’re so pumped to have you again.

Michael: I’m so glad you’re here. Let’s get started. I know you’ve been on before, but just for a reset for everyone and to kind of build on what we’re talking about today, tell us a little bit about your professional story.

Tim: Thank you. So my first job right out of college, I went to work for a federal savings bank, essentially It was a subprime lender cloaked as a federal savings bank, a conservative subprime lender in [00:09:00] 1991. Privately held. And I actually started as a telemarketer as all the salespeople did. And from telemarketer to what we call loan officers. So a loan officer’s primary function is qualifying borrowers and then selling money over the phone. So we did home equity loans, we did refinances, and because of the nature of their business model, and subprime in general, there’s a lot of nuance in the sales process because the borrower has certain expectations about the rate and fee structure. And you know, with that not every bar was aware that would increase risk, meaning increased fees. And so there was a lot to the sales culture working as a loan officer at the bank. I did that for 12 years. I started as a loan officer, became an origination manager, managing a team, and then ultimately became the person [00:10:00] managing the people, managing the people. It was a really cool place, man. I got so excited about sales and that’s where I developed my passion for training. Ultimately I became the corporate recruiter and wrote a manual, became a sales trainer. And I was literally the only person in the bank, we had 42 loan officers and I had a radio pack on my belt with a headset and at any point in time, if a call was going wrong, whether it was the mortgage closing or something, I could just tap into their extension and take over the call. So we had a joke, my extension was 442 and they’d be like, uh oh 442. And then I’d pick it up, plug into the phone, and we’re all like a pit, you know? And so I learned a ton from that. From there it didn’t end well. The father who owned the business had four sons. One son graduated from Yale, came into the business [00:11:00] at 23 years or 24 years old, whatever it was and came in as president. He never sold anything in his life. And his father had very different views. Me and the kid couldn’t get along and so I actually left with a pretty bad taste in my mouth. And so took a year off and spent 35 days in an RV, traveling with my family and came to the conclusion at least I would try not to ever have somebody else sign my paycheck. That was after 12 years. And a couple of years before that I had met Adam who you guys know, and he was in the process of getting ready to sell BZ. BZ was a digital marketing CRM solution for car dealerships. So we became friendly towards the tail end of that and he said, hey, let’s do something together. So we started galactically stupid. We started a digital marketing and a CRM company for banks, credit unions, [00:12:00] and mortgage companies going into the teeth of the 2008 financial collapse.

Michael: Oh wow.

Brad: Ouch.

Tim: And we had lots of great, great contracts and we couldn’t collect on any of them. So I had met a guy, so one of the credit union people that we worked with had a friend who owned an independent insurance agency. And the guy approached me and said, hey, can you do for me what you’re doing for them? And so I just asked a bunch of questions around sales and marketing and pricing and profitability, and it turns out the local independent agency channel was a great spot to hang our hat because it had not been a what I’ll call revolutionized yet, meaning they hadn’t fully embraced the internet. You had companies like Geico that every time they deregulated a state, Geico would go in and wipe everybody out with their ads and their online marketing. And so we went into the independent agency channel and then of [00:13:00] course blew that up. And we sold that to a private equity firm in 2011. Did great, however we out thought ourselves at the exit, we sold 48%. And part of the allure or the attraction to that deal was they let us take 60% of the money out upfront on the first 50%, which was a nice number and an unusual for principal or founders to get paid before the private equity firm does. So they came in and did like what most people do in those situations. Totally screwed it up. So we got money up front, didn’t do so great on the back. And then after that, we went into elective medicine and it was the most fun, most challenging, most crazy ride ever. So we went into elective medicine in December, [00:14:00] 2013. Started signing customers in January, 2014. And the first call I made outbound call off a LinkedIn was the American Medical Spa Association.

Brad: And our audience members who haven’t caught on, that’s our partner in Chicago, Alex Thiersch. He is the founder of that.

Tim: Yep. And back then you guys were, you know, it was super new. So Alex was just getting his feet wet as a public speaker. So I would literally MC the events. I showed up and said on behalf of AmSpa and Alex, welcome. I’m going to be your host today. And it was great to see AmSpa go from what it was at that time to what it is today. And I give all the credit in the world to Alex, to Renee, to your team. And that organization is making a serious, serious, [00:15:00] positive impact on the industry. And it was great to see that grow. And then of course we were approached during COVID by two private equity groups. We weren’t for sale per se. One owned by Jerry Jones who owns Blue Star Innovation Partners, which is housed in Cowboy Stadium and then another private equity group. So they made an offer that made sense for us. And we sold it. I still hold the title of chief evangelist. So I’m a storyteller for the business, not chief executive officer. And it’s been a great experience.

Michael: And a quick, like going back to all these companies, were they all digital marketing platforms, well most of them? Talking the insurance, the platform, and then also obviously going into crystal clear. Was it the same kind of underlying business platform [00:16:00] that you have that you were taking to different industries?

Tim: It wasn’t the same. It was exactly the same.

Michael: That’s amazing.

Tim: And that, that goes by the way, that starts with cars, to mortgages, to insurance, to breast augmentation. Same universal principles applied to all of them.

Brad: That’s so cool. And I think that goes into some of the commonalities that you experienced just in general. So you have all this background and knowledge, but what were some of the things those prior companies, and then now Crystal Clear now where you are, what did you see in your experience was a common theme that you started that arrived?

Tim: Yeah, that that’s a really good question. And we had a theme and actually the theme came with Adam from the car space, the dealership space. Which was every business essentially needs to do three things, right? You [00:17:00] guys have heard me say this ad nauseam. They need to find. Meaning, increase the quantity and quality of traffic to their website and phones. They need to convert, sell, treat, whatever verb you want to use for that. And then they need to retain them. And so once you understand the retail nature of every business, meaning somebody has to sell something to somebody at some point, right? Then you can apply universal principles. And those universal principles include people. Having the right people. Processes. Putting people in the best position you can to help them succeed. And then tools. Making sure they have the right combination of technology and workspace. And so it’s find, sell, keep. People, processes, tools. And then everything else, leadership and culture will flow from that. And if we had ever tried to get away from that, I think we would have struggled because this is [00:18:00] about business. You said the universal language of business. So if in business, if in fact the goal or the role of the entrepreneur is to sell their business right. To get a nice exit, right. So if you look at Adam’s application of these universal tools and then subsequently my involvement. BZ, so you’re talking about a kid who graduated from high school, started his own company really young. BZ sold ADP at an enterprise value of $133 million. You could back out some debt and argue over who got what, but that was the enterprise value. Astonished Results, which is our second business was $54 million. Crystal Clear was $37.5 million. The likelihood, the probability, and this isn’t to pat myself or Adam on the back, but the likelihood of doing 1/10th of one of those is super low. But then you string, so you do $133, [00:19:00] $50, that’s $180, $30, you know, $210, $220. So to create $220 million in real equity valuation tells you that those universal principles. You know, as Joe Biden would say, we weren’t particularly poor at applying those principles to different industries.

Michael: That’s so awesome. I mean, I think the power behind the principles which resonate in of themselves is just taking these crazy, I mean, insurance and elective medicine or there’s seemingly…

Brad: Car insurance, mortgage. I mean that’s what was fascinating as you were walking us through your opening story, but those same principles and hopefully the audience members we’re taking down notes, you apply those across in any profession there they’re important because if you have you know all these customers coming [00:20:00] in and you don’t know how to actually take care of them you’re not going to retain them. And if you don’t have the processes in place, how can you have the right people to help work with them? So I think it’s such an important principle in business, no matter where you fall.

Michael: You had mentioned earlier Tim, it was almost a side comment. You said one of the mistakes you made was selling or keeping a controlling interest in your first sale. But I would wonder whether it’s that or something else, some of the lessons you’ve learned across these different company, you know, journeys.

Tim: Yeah I call it tuition. I have certainly learned and paid for more than my fair share of tuition is for sure. I think again, if you apply those universal principles, find, sell, keep, and then people, process, tools, that a couple of things. One is that the company needs to have [00:21:00] strong leadership. I don’t care if you have four people in it, two people in it, 10 million people in it, right. You need to have the right person leading the group. And that could be a combination of people leading the group, but that’s really important. And as part of that, those people need to be really good at defining where we are trying to go. And then once we know, where are we trying to go, how are we going to get there? Share, share, share, share. With all your constituents, right? So that means share with first of all, most important people are your employees start with them, make sure they know exactly where you’re going. Right. And be super sober-minded about how you communicate that. And then share, share, share, like crazy with your customers and then share, share, share with the industry at large. And it’s super important to keep everybody on message [00:22:00] all the time. Right? There’s a saying that we applied that everything speaks from the way we dress. You guys remember we all wore Robert Graham shirts and we all had Rolex watches and we all wore jeans and we all said the same things and responded to the same two objections in the same way. So I think, and that all starts from leadership. Over-communicating, this is where we’re going, this is how we’re going to get there. And I think that’s one lesson that, and at times probably I undervalued that. And when we did, we paid for it. Right. It’s if you kind of leave people to their own devices, you’re going to get what you get. I think that’s really important and it’s hard, right to be corrective with people and offering constructive criticism. None of that stuff’s comfortable. But it’s necessary.

Brad: And I completely agree with that statement is that if your employees, if the top brass knows who you are as an organization, and you don’t share that with your employees and where you’re [00:23:00] trying to go. You’re never going to get there. And so that’s a statement of share, share, share, or over communicate really resonates with those who we’ve spoken with, who are very successful because you can’t get there without, I mean, there’s very few people in the world who’ve been able to pull anything off by themselves. Well, okay Tim, we’ve kind of walked through your journey and obviously there’s a lot of fun things have happened for your journey. If you can, you know, summarize one of the proudest business strategies or accomplishments that you’ve had, and it could be with any of these industries or anything you’ve done since then.

Tim: Simple. Covid. Our response to Covid. And to put in perspective, so in March of 2020, we’re in the elective medical business. All of our customers at that time were on a subscription model, which means they pay for bundled services monthly. So in the span of a month, almost every one of our customers was closed. [00:24:00] So imagine all your customers are forced out of business. And then the number one way we attracted new customers as you know, was shows, we did 70 shows a year. So simultaneously all of our customers were essentially closed and we were cut off from new customers. And that is a very scary place for a business. And from leadership’s perspective, what Adam and Crystal were able to do in terms of workforce management, the way they handled PPP money, the way marketing dealt with literally taking our entire business model virtually. Going from, you know, six shows a month to zero. And then still having to maintain the same acquisition rate was, you know, Audrey’s role in that was unbelievable. The sales guy’s roles in that were unbelievable. They had totally changed the way they sold. And then, you [00:25:00] know, Adam being Adam, being able to land the plane with a nice private equity deal in the teeth of Covid is nothing short of, you know, everybody had to do exactly what they had to do, or we were going to be in trouble. We were in trouble.

Brad: And I think, you know, one thing we’ve learned from a lot of different guests is, you know, with any organization you have certain principles and as you said, processes in place, but being able to pivot when necessary, but then still keeping your focus as to who you are. And I think Covid for a lot of different organizations we spoke with, that was a huge piece. And obviously you had the right people, you have the right processes and you just had to pivot as to how to still get new customers while your customers were closed. Which again, as you were talking about, I start shaking a little bit thinking about what we were going through at that same timeframe.

Tim: Crazy. Yeah. [00:26:00] I think having, you know, to the point of going back to car dealerships and then mortgage and insurance and ultimately elective medicine, I think collectively Adam and I’s mindset has always been an adaptive mindset inherently, right? When you look at it and say, okay, you know, we went into, I’d never had a medical procedure, like a medical procedure in my life. I’d never been in a med spa. I didn’t know what a plastic surgeon was. We went to a convention and said, oh, this looks good. And we went into elective medicine. So the mindset was always let’s learn as fast as we can. And so when Covid hit, I think the company, I think we had an adaptive nature already, right? Because we had dealt with the financial crisis while we were in the mortgage industry, you know? These weren’t like born out of extreme [00:27:00] intelligence. It was like, ah, we have five minutes.

Brad: I think a lot of entrepreneurs who had gone through the 2008 crisis, because we’ve had this conversation with others. They knew what had you had to pivot while larger organizations who are like, you know, parking a battleship. They didn’t know how to make those fast moves. And I’m lucky enough that I have a guy across the table from me that we can bounce this stuff off each other, just like you and Adam do. And I always wonder about those entrepreneurs who have no one else to pick up the phone and say, how should we handle this? And so, you know, it’s always a blessing, even though I have to share the limelight with this guy, it’s still good to have him around.

Michael: Yeah. And those that are on YouTube knows that someone looks nicer today than the other.

Tim: I think with Adam, I never shared the limelight. I was more in the limelight. We had [00:28:00] a lot of fun and he’s off to the races now and the next iteration of find sell, keep, and he’ll be amazing at that. He just keeps going.

Brad: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Michael: Well, I can’t believe it. We’ve already run out of time. It’s amazing as always. So I guess what we’ll do next now, Tim is say goodbye and then on the other side, we’ll do a little quick legal wrap-up here.

Brad: Thanks again, Tim. It’s always awesome to have you.

Tim: You guys are amazing. Great job with the podcast and good luck this year.

Access+: Many business owners use legal counsel as a last resort rather than as a proactive tool that can further their success. Why? For most it’s the fear of unknown legal costs. ByrdAdatto’s Access+ program makes it possible for you to get the ongoing legal assistance you need for one predictable monthly fee that gives you unlimited phone and email access to the legal team so you can receive feedback on legal concerns as they arise. [00:29:00] Access+, a smarter, simpler way to access legal services. Find out more. Visit byrdadatto.com today.

Brad: Welcome back to Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host Brad Adatto with my cohost Michael Byrd. Michael, you know, this season we are searching for common ground. I’m so happy that Tim Sawyer could join us for the Universal Language Business. I mean, oh my gosh, we could spend hours with Tim. Hopefully our audience would still listen, but you know, one of the things that we’re near the end of this episode, we really started getting into is the, you know, being able to pivot and having someone there with you to talk through that process. And we were talking about how hard it is for entrepreneurs for those solos, the guys at the top. And one of the things that we always talk with our clients about is surrounding yourself with great counsel. And that doesn’t always have to be your attorneys or you’re CPAs or your financial advisor. Someone needs to be on that advisory team with you so that you have that opportunity to find that resource, to work with that person and not [00:30:00] just be focused on one element of it.

Michael: Yeah. It’s lonely at the top, as they say. And it’s so often that we represent small businesses that our contact is the founder and CEO type person. And they’ll come in for a whiteboard meeting and say, I want to do X, I want to hire this person, I want to make a change to the corporate structure. And it’s just amazing how powerful it is when you start exploring the strategy behind what they’re saying,

Brad: The why.

Michael: The why, how often they come at it and they haven’t had that. They haven’t had someone kind of prod and challenge and ask questions. And how cool the outcome ends up being a lot of times, because you kind of start a whiteboard session [00:31:00] thinking that it’s going to be almost transactional. Like I need to get A, B, C information so I can go draft this legal document and it ends up being dynamic. And there’s sometimes a minor shift that transforms the business happens like before your eyes or, you know, sometimes there’s a shift in the direction you go and you’re working on a different legal project or whatever, but it’s just listening to Tim and seeing the power of the team of he and Adam being able to pivot, as we say, throughout these different industries, that’s what popped to mind and how it applies to us in our life at ByrdAdatto.

Brad: Well, Michael, I can’t believe the show went as fast as it did. Because it flew by for me, but audience members, don’t worry. Next Wednesday we will be bringing on a new guest. Clint Bundy will be joining us [00:32:00] from Charlotte, North Carolina. Clint is the managing director of The Bundy Group and he’ll be discussing investment banking in the medical market.

Outro: Thanks again for joining us today. And remember, if you liked this episode, please subscribe. Make sure to give us a five- star rating and share with your friends. You can also sign up for the ByrdAdatto newsletter by going to our website at byrdadatto.com. ByrdAdatto is providing this podcast as a public service. This podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by ByrdAdatto. [00:33:00] The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Please consult with an attorney on your legal issues.

ByrdAdatto founding partner Michael Byrd

Michael S. Byrd

ByrdAdatto Founding Partner Bradford E. Adatto

Bradford E. Adatto

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