The Importance of Leadership in Scaling and Selling, with Guest Robin Pou

April 5, 2023

We kick off Season 12 of the Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto with a live recording and guest Robin Pou! Robin is an executive coach, and he joins Michael and Brad to highlight the importance of strong leadership in successfully scaling and selling a business. Tune in for Robin’s leadership tools.

Robin shares his latest leadership insights in a popular weekly newsletter called The Confident Leader, and you can sign-up for the newsletter online at


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: All right, well, as everybody’s getting their last ring this will be a live podcast. It’ll be the opening of season 12 of the Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto, our podcast. You’re welcome to hoot and holler or whatever you want to do since it’s supposed to be live. Every single time I say something applaud. Every time Michael says something, boo. So just kind of get used to that and then we will have a spot so if you do have questions, we’ll have a monkey with the mic. After we go through the initial part of this we actually say we’re going to go to commercial. Y’all don’t have to leave. We’re not going to go to commercial, but when we record it, we’ll drop a commercial there and after that, if you have questions for Robin or Michael or me, Riley will run over with the [00:01:00] microphones so we can record it, and so it’ll be in the podcast. So that’s it. Any questions before we get started? Well, welcome back to another episode of the Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host Brad Adatto with my co-host Michael Byrd. Now Michael, do you hear that sound? It’s all the paparazzi taking pictures of me because they’re clearly here stalking us since we’re at our live podcast.

Michael: Yeah. Brad, the listeners, they know that this is a live episode.

Brad: They do?

Michael: And the audience, who, by the way, are our coworkers, our clients, and our friends, are sitting right here listening to you call them paparazzi.

Brad: You think so?

Michael: Yeah.

Brad: Okay. All right. Well, my bad. You know, I’m really excited. There’s adrenaline pumping through me right now. We’re about to kick off season 12 and we’re kicking it off here in Dallas, Texas at the Royal Oaks Country Club, and it’s our second live podcast of the entire show for 12 seasons.

Michael: Riley, what he is saying is to please be sure to have your iPhone handy pointed at Brad at all times and [00:02:00] pretend to be taking his picture throughout. It’ll make him feel loved.

Brad: It will and just remember that applause button that you’re going to drop in later. So whenever I talk you, you give me the applause button. I’d appreciate that. Now, Michael, since we have our live show and we have our studio guest right here who’s filming us as we’re sitting here talking, I’m excited. This season really, it’s all about the guests that we’re bringing in, but let’s unveil. What is our theme for this season?

Michael: All right, Brad. As a business and healthcare law firm, we meet many interesting people in various stages of their business. This season, we get to focus on the high-stakes implications of selling a business. This season’s theme is The Hitchhikers Guide to M&A. We will be guest-heavy and bring in different professionals to offer their experiences and perspective on M&A.

Brad: Okay. Well, I think for those who don’t know, we just had our first vocabulary word of the day, M&A. And for those who don’t know, that stands for mergers and acquisitions, our legal jargon [00:03:00] there for buying or selling a business or buying or selling the assets of a business.

Michael: You’re trying to make yourself sound smart by using the word jargon.

Brad: Yes, I am.

Michael: Okay. Nice.

Brad: Mm-hmm.

Michael: Okay. Well, our guest today is a second-time guest. Before I introduce ’em, Brad, I do have to share that our guest had a front-row seat to my competitive typing career.

Brad: For those who don’t know, bring them up to speed, pun intended, on your typing career.

Michael: Well, like most high schoolers in the 1980s, we at some point took typing as an elective. My coach, I mean, my teacher was named Ms. Self, and the class was designed to teach us how to type letters and format appropriately on a typewriter. And the first step was learning how to type. So back then, Brad, as you know very well, we didn’t grow up with keyboards all around. So the concept of learning how to type in high school [00:04:00] was foreign to all of us. And Ms. Self must have seen something special.

Brad: Oh yeah, I bet she did.

Michael: And she pulled me aside to compete in UIL typing competition. All I had to do all semester was train to type fast and accurately. I didn’t have to do any letters, any formatting, and I got automatic 100s for all my grades.

Brad: Well, that’s great. So our guest today was in your class?

Michael: No, he was acutely aware of my typing skills and his future wife was in my class. And she thought it was pretty funny that the teacher had me sit in the corner and speed type during class every day.

Brad: Oh, wait a second here. Hold on. You were sitting in the corner and the teacher liked you. Did you ever think you were that troubled kid? I mean, you had that special typing skill so they stuck you off in the corner? Were you wearing a hat at the same time?

Michael: That said dunce on it?

Brad: No. I don’t know.

Michael: Oh, no. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Brad: All right. Well, every time I hear this story, [00:05:00] I think we could spend entire podcasts of really going into the inner mind of someone who’s excited about their speed. I mean, we got someone in here who played Navy football, but that’s about the same as speed typing, right?

Michael: Yeah.

Brad: Oh yeah. Okay. So, we’ll hold all the autographs, y’all, till later for the speed typing, but, you know, let’s get past kind of typewriting and I’ll only ask one more question besides your letterman in typing or did you get any other letterman’s, or is that the only letterman you had on your jacket?

Michael: No, Brad, they didn’t have typewriter patches back then for my letter jacket. And, to be fair, I mostly tried to keep my special talent on the down low.

Brad: Oh.

Michael: And that was, you know, it was kind of in our vault. Our guest today was aware of that, but somehow along the way when you and I became partners, someone slipped it to you and now the world knows so I just embraced it.

Brad: Yes. Somebody maybe named Oliver Christ.

Michael: Yeah.

Brad: All right. Is there any other typing-related news you want to discuss today? [00:06:00]

Michael: Actually, I bet I can get our entire live audience and the listeners tiled up over a typing-related question.

Brad: I doubt it, but I’m curious.

Michael: Okay. When you type, Brad, do you double space or single space after the end of a sentence?

Brad: Double.

Michael: So I’m going to ask the audience. Everybody that does a double space at the end of your sentence raise your hand. I’m counting, 5, 6.

Brad: Oh 300.

Michael: Yeah. We’ll just say the rest on the other. The rest of the audience, I’m guessing all is single space.

Brad: Yeah. So for our listeners listening, it was a very small percentage for doing the double space.

Michael: Well, I was taught by Ms. Self back in the eighties to double space after the end of a sentence. And almost everyone who is Gen X or a baby boomer does the double space. The correct answer according to [00:07:00] is one space.

Brad: Michael, you cannot trust everything you’re reading on the internet and I actually read that on the internet.

Michael: Fair enough, but apparently the double space was important back when we used to have typewriters so that you could see the separation of the sentences. Now that we’ve had computers for the last 30 years, the double spaces is not necessary to create this separation.

Brad: All right, now, no double spacing while typing. Michael, before we start yelling at everybody and get those like old men, get off our lawns, why don’t we bring in your good friend, my good friend, our guest who bravely agreed to come join us today.

Michael: Our guest today is my longtime childhood friend, Robin Pou. We have been a big part of each other’s lives personally and professionally since fourth grade. We went to the same elementary school, same middle school, and same high school. Went to the same college. We were the same majors in college. We actually have stories of being in the same class [00:08:00] and navigating that together that we won’t get into today. We both went to law school, different law schools, and even later I was hired in my second job as a replacement for a position that Robin had departed. Robin, a few short years later, wisely became a business person and hung up his practicing law hat, and became a client of ours. And that’s around the time that you and I started working together and we represented businesses of Robins for many years. And then he found his passion and calling as an executive coach and speaker on leadership. And now for many years in this chapter we have been Robin’s clients. He is our chief strategist and coach on leadership. Some of the stats, he went to UT undergrad. Business school, finance, SMU law school. As I mentioned, he practiced law for many years, or for the first few years at the [00:09:00] beginning and then he went into the business world and was kind of a COO type in a few tech industry startups. He has co-authored a book titled, Performance Intelligent at Work: The Five Essentials to Achieving the Mind of a Champion and many, many other things, but I’ll pause here to welcome you. Welcome, Robin.

Robin: Thank you, guys. Appreciate it. Thanks for having me. I didn’t know that we were going to get into all the history from the going to state in typing. That is awesome. My kids would agree that there’s only one space. They changed the grammar rule, so everybody was right actually.

Brad: Sure. Well Robin, as you heard, and for our audience, this season we’re really concentrating on The Hitchhikers Guide to M&A, and we’re excited to really launch this season and bring you on to bring on your view of leadership. And I think for our audience’s sake, and I know most importantly from our audience’s perspective, we also know that Michael loves context. And so Michael, since you love context so much, maybe before we really start bringing Robin in with the [00:10:00] questions, talk about the various seasons of a business so that as we start talking about the tail end, which is the season of selling and scaling, you can kind of really give a basis of the four seasons of business.

Michael: Yeah. And so, you know, we can’t talk about selling a business without knowing the whole story. And if we’re starting with someone who’s about to start their business, the seasons start with the building of a business. Think of this as building the infrastructure whether it be the corporate structure, getting everything set up. And as you exit that season, you become an operating company, go into the operating season. You kind of think of, you’re building your policies. You kind of start having some HR questions and, you know, fires that have to be put out. And then you may enter the scaling season. This is a time where you’re like, I’m ready to grow. And a lot of times that is some heavy lifting because you’re maybe [00:11:00] elevating your team members into new roles. You’re hiring like crazy, you’re expanding, you may be raising money and oftentimes entering this scaling season, you are moving towards your exit or the selling season of your business. And to be fair, in the life cycle of a business, you may go in and out of these seasons throughout and cycle through because of just the dynamics and changes that happen, but that is important context as we think about going into this season on, you know, really focusing on the M&A side.

Brad: Yeah, absolutely. And so, Robin, again, thank you for joining us. Now we finally have our first question for you, and, you know, going through these thoughts that Michael had of these different seasons, just from a, no matter what season of a business you’re in, regardless, what are the things they should they be thinking, from a leadership perspective, no matter what season of business they’re in?

Robin: Yeah. I think what’s so great about the fact that you’re launching this season [00:12:00] about M&A and you’re really focusing on, hey, you’re in the building season, or you’re operating or scaling, or some people who are listening might actually be in the process of exiting their business or wanting to exit their business, and there are a lot of technical mechanics that are associated with that which typically squeeze out the entire conversation about leadership. So the fact that you’re opening this season with a focus on leadership is intuitive on some level because each of those doctors or founders or leaders of the businesses that you represent, they entitle or in position are leaders, but what does that actually mean as it relates to the M&A activity? I’ll give you an example. So I, as an executive coach, working one-on-one as part of our leadership development firm, I’m working with leaders, top leaders of a private, high-growth business, or top leaders in a publicly traded company, kind of the C-suite. So the individuals who are running a private [00:13:00] company, they’re in one of those four seasons, and this one gentleman who just successfully sold his business for about 125 million, which is a big scale and the reason I use that number is to set context because two years previously, he had been approached to have his company purchase for about 85 million, and he was very excited about that, but as they went through the due diligence process, they started whittling down that purchase price based on some of the things that they discovered inside of the due diligence. Once he decided that he didn’t like that purchase price and said no, we looked through all of the details that he had offered to that particular buyer, and it all pointed back to not having a strong leadership structure inside of his business. So over 24 months, because he still desired to exit the business, he started developing leaders, putting a succession plan in place and a leadership structure for the type of [00:14:00] business that he had, which is outside of y’all’ s industry. And he sold it literally two weeks ago for 125 million after only two years difference. That’s a 47% increase versus the original purchase price. And the firm that bought him basically said they gave him an extra couple of multiples or turns, clicks on the dial because of his leadership structure. Because they said if you win the lottery and you’re no longer part of the business we know that the asset of the business, the people, the leaders that are there, the value is still going to hold. And so I think that’s a pretty good example, a relevant example today for the reason why leadership is so important related to M&A activity.

Brad: Yeah, and I think full disclosure, for those that don’t know, we work with Robin and we were not that company that sold for 125 million. I think we should just make sure they knew that.

Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Robin: Well my clients are confidential, so I wouldn’t have told ’em anyway, but you’d be in Mexico right now I think.

Michael: Not recording our new season.

Brad: I [00:15:00] love my people. My people love me.

Robin: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. Well, good. Well, the scaling season of a business is critical when the strategies to sell and so I talked about how disruptive that can be in the sense that you’re ironing out the kinks in the operating season. In the scaling season, you’re making changes. And working with us, you have helped us identify our vision for the company. And I’d love to just kind of hear you talk about the importance of vision and having direction when you are scaling a business.

Robin: Yeah, so we have a leadership development framework, which we call the Confident Leader Framework. And so there’s five pieces to it because if as a leader you’re 70% confident, which sounds like a lot, you’re 30% doubtful, and that doubt changes your skill level and your performance every single time. So we’ve got these five [00:16:00] elements that we believe and see on a daily basis, really grow the confidence of a leader who’s otherwise operating their business. When they get to the scaling point, I mean, that’s momentum, scaling, meaning growth, or really figured out their formula for success and that flywheel or that momentum starts going. Vision is the very first element of the Confident Leader framework, so thank you very much for teeing that up. The point for vision is where are you going? Meaning vision answers the question, where am I going out into the future? And it is a very specific set of coordinates. So I’ll give you an example. If I say that I want to go to the hill country, that’s my vision for this weekend. I, you know, am on a bus and they drop me off in Georgetown, north of Austin, down on I-35. Well, that’s technically the hill country. And I’m like, but this is not where I want to be. And they say, well, Georgetown’s particularly nice. And I’m like, well, not as nice as the Four Seasons in downtown Austin, overlooking [00:17:00] Town Lake. And they said, well, if that’s where you wanted to go, you should have told me. And this is what happens with leaders in the scaling phase, is that the world starts opening up to them because in the building and then the operating phase, they’re really heads down and building trust with their client base or their customers. And as they get that trust, there are more opportunities available to them and if they don’t have that focus of where they’re going they might end up one degree off, two degrees off or more. And so this concept of where are you going and being able to keep it really simple as a leader and keep your team aligned towards that focus is very valuable as we will end up talking about on the exit side, but that’s why we believe vision is so important because it helps you know what to say yes to and what to say no to. It’s a very powerful filter for decision-making as a leader.

Brad: So no matter what season you’re in, we have a lot of clients who struggle [00:18:00] finding, keeping employees as they’re trying to grow, right? And in the aesthetic market, one of the biggest challenges I think we see a lot is a lot of turnover for these aesthetic injectors in particular. For our clients that are struggling with this issue or they’re afraid that they might be the next person where they need to do it. How would you recommend they address this problem?

Robin: Pay more.

Brad: Okay. Thank you. Let’s move on.

Robin: That is always the short answer because you feel like the people that are working with you, all they care about is money. That is not actually accurate. So there are more aspects to an individual and what they care about in their work environment. And as the leader, especially if you’re the founder, so a lot of the people who are listening to this are founder owners of the business, and they are actually operators inside of the business so whatever is the subject matter, they’re both doing the thing, leading the business, and sometimes they haven’t been trained in order to [00:19:00] actually lead, and they’ve gotten this far, they are successful because they’ve got natural, intuitive skills, people skills, etc. But when they’re managing a group of people in the margins and those people are not getting the time from the leader, then all they have to go on is, well just pay me more because down the road they’re going to pay me a quarter or a quarter more per hour. So there’s no real silver bullet and it’s basically relationships with your people. Do you care about them? Do you care about what their vision is? Do you care about what they’re trying to accomplish? Do you care about why they’ve said yes to being there? Because if you don’t and you expect them to in turn care back about you, it’s not a two-way street. And so it’s challenging because there’s no time, I’m not trained to actually lead people and I don’t have all the resources in the world because I’m in the middle of trying [00:20:00] to build my business and operate it so there’s not a lot of extra cash.

Brad: And I feel like I know the answer to this, but you started with vision earlier, how do you feel about leaders sharing that vision with their employees?

Robin: Well, what’s a vision for where you want to go if you aren’t sharing it with the other people that are in the car with you? Because they’re just going to say, are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? And “people perish for lack of vision” is an old proverb. And so the whole point is if I don’t know where I’m going and you’re asking me to follow you, but you’re not telling me where we’re going, then I just have to blindly trust that you’re going to end up at a place that I may end up wanting to be also. Well, in leadership, you just narrate your leadership. You just talk about, well, this is what I’m thinking about. This is where I want us to go. And if you have a team that you trust, then socializing that and getting their input, it ends up making room for them to participate in the [00:21:00] conversation about that. They’re not the final arbiter of where you’re going to go, but they’re closest to the work. Why would we not invite them to the conversation and participate in, hey, there’s a pitfall there, or there’s a challenge over there, or is that really where you want to go? Because you’ve also told me this before. So there’s just this collaborative effort that starts taking place when you start speaking that vision out loud.

Michael: So I’m going to go back to your story with the 47% change and talk a little bit about what did this, what did your client do to build, you know, a valued leadership structure from wherever he was to where he was later?

Brad: I can. He hired Robin.

Michael: Well then what did you do?

Robin: I always say that my clients, you know, my jobs easy because they do all the hard work, so we can talk about it all day long. Everything sounds great on the whiteboard in my office, but at the end of the day, they’ve Gotta go out and do the hard work, do the leadership.[00:22:00] And so what we identified was that he actually had some really incredible talent deep down into his organization, but as a second-generation family-run business, he had just grown up grabbing the steering wheel and driving and enrolled, unintentionally, everybody else just to sit in the passenger seat while he drove the business. And so he had a vision of exiting the business, and he knew that having a strong leadership structure was going to be important. And he deemed that the people inside the business were the better candidates for future leadership positions versus bringing people in from the outside just based on the business and institutional knowledge. So he gave them a chance to be leaders. The single biggest hurdle that he had to overcome is that no one that he was going to tap for the next leadership position, whether it was managing a group of people or director or vice president or whatever were the roles, is that none of them were ever going to be able to do it [00:23:00] as well as he would be able to do it, because he had done all the jobs coming up under his dad all the way through the system, so he knew everything.

So how was he going to trust them to do it if they could only do it 80% to the degree that he could do it? And I said, but if you have 10 of those people, then you have a multiplier. You have the leverage to lead the growth of your business through your people, not through your own time and your own skills. And so therein lies the coaching conversation to let go of the steering wheel, and have somebody else participate in driving in those different areas. So that was the first step is telling them that he had a vision for where the company’s going and for their role inside the company and then trusting, trust, but verify, but trusting.

Michael: Interesting. So we’ve had, you a couple of times have mentioned this idea of succession planning [00:24:00] and we know, we have a lot of clients who are in medical practices, and so, you have a surgeon who’s going to sell their practice and how do you repeat that? And historically what we would find is that was a massive challenge to the market because in the old days, the locker room talk was a medical practice had no value because the doctor was the value. And so that was the end of it. And basic business principles would say that, that’s not true. And we’ve learned, or seen the market evolve over the years, that there are people, private equity that are investing in these practices, but the idea of if that doctor left, how can you ensure that the patients will stay with whoever else is there? It’s critical to the [00:25:00] value. And so, you’ve mentioned succession planning a couple of different times, or it’s come up a couple of different times, would love to hear more of your thoughts about how to kind of integrate that into the scaling strategy.

Robin: And so are you talking about sort of a solo doc who’s got a practice? Is that what you’re talking about?

Michael: It could be that. It could be and it could be broader. I mean, it could be, so, you know, he mentioned injectors. You have someone who generates, you know, we have a couple of clients for their injectors who generate $2 million a year in revenues. They’re not even an owner of the business and they want to sell. How are they going to keep that injector to stay on? I mean, short of paying more money.

Robin: Pay more. Yeah. Well first you’ve got to decide what your vision is, so I’m talking to the business owners in the audience and also listening to the podcast. If you want to be the king of your fiefdom and you don’t want anybody else in that kingdom, and you’re just going to run it and take the prophets, that is well [00:26:00] within your ability to do, but don’t expect that you’re going to have all sorts of options at the very end of it. So you may find somebody, a private equity firm, etc., who will come in and buy it, but the only value that is in that business is the client base. And the client base’s only relationship is with you, that doctor. So that is a singular track, but you may be really happy because you live in a nice house and you drive a great car like that’s your strategy. If you want something to live beyond, when you hang up your practice, then you’ve got to start way earlier to decide what is this going to look like? You could still be the single doc that’s running it because there are a multitude of services, meaning you can go horizontal in the way that you’re talking about with the injectors. So if you decide that you’re going to have more of a horizontal practice, that’s additional doctors, that’s additional service providers because of the different revenue [00:27:00] lines that you’ve got. At the end of the day, the math is still the same. Your single greatest asset from a business revenue perspective is your client base.

First of all, the engine is your team, so it’s your employees. That’s your single greatest asset on your balance sheet, but your revenue engine is your client. So if your clients, if you do not have a focus on building strong relationships with those clients, the lifetime value of the client, the average number of years that a client has been with us is seven and a half years. I mean, these are all due diligence questions that whoever’s buying you is going to ask. Because if it’s just a revolving door, you don’t have good client service, or customer service, then the value of the firm comes down. So you don’t have time to pour into client service like we provide a good service, they should like it and be done. If you’re not doing extra things in order to really create that connective tissue with your client base so that you can portray in whatever [00:28:00] conversation that foundation, then you’re going to get deemed value-wise all the time. You, the single owner doc don’t have to actually do that function, but you have to invest in somebody who will be that client services relationship manager, but that costs money, and every dollar you spend there is a dollar that doesn’t go in your pocket, but are you playing for today or are you playing for tomorrow? That’s why that vision question is so important because you got to figure out what you’re actually shooting for. Does that make sense?

Brad: Yeah, it’s awesome. So besides being Michael Byrd’s best friend…

Robin: Well, he didn’t say best friend there. He said longtime friend.

Brad: …and you know, this long list of other accomplishments you’ve had with Michael, tell us a little bit about your company since you have all these stories, but I don’t think we’ve really dived into what you do with your company.

Robin: Yeah, so we’ve got a leadership development firm and we started about 12 years ago, primarily focused on executive coaching, [00:29:00] so one-on-one with the CEOs that I was talking about earlier. And as we really understood that client, what they needed, that leader, we’ve added some additional services and so we do leadership off-sites for that CEO and her leadership team. And so we’ll take them offsite or they’ll come to our office and we do strategic planning or core values or leadership principles. There are a number of themes that they’re wanting to accomplish, and doing that offsite is really important. And then that second and third-tier leader inside of that organization, as they have come up through the ranks, they may not have actually experienced true leadership development. They’ve risen up because they did the thing really well, and now they’re the leader of the people who do the thing really well, and they’ve got to be able to leverage that group. And so that leadership set is really in dire need of, or thirsting for leadership development. So we have a leadership cohort program. It’s a leadership development [00:30:00] program that’s between six and nine people for a six month period of time because we’re really only in it for true transformation. We want to see people move from point A to point B and be able to use the influence that they have to something that helps grow themselves, their teams, and also their business. So that’s our leadership development firm, boutique practice, national footprint, but very clear about what we do relative to what we don’t do in the leadership space.

Michael: Awesome. So what we’ll do is, we’ll take a break for a commercial, and on the other side we will open this up for questions from the audience. And yes, I will answer questions about typing.

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Brad: So welcome back to Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host Brad Adatto, my co-host Michael Byrd, and we’re still here with Michael’s best friend of life, BFF, and typing coach extraordinaire, Robin Pou.

Michael: I’m getting a hug.

Brad: And he’s getting a hug for those who can’t see it. And so are there questions from the audience for Michael and his typing, or Robin or any other aspects? Robin, what’s the question that no one wants to ask, but you know they want to ask?

Robin: Gosh, I don’t know. That’s a great question.

Brad: Yeah.

Robin: I’m really trying to channel, there’s somebody here that has a really good question and I’m not sure why they’re not asking it because I see it. I feel it. So Sam has an extremely [00:32:00] mediocre question. Bring it. He’s got high empathy and nobody else was asking a question, so he’s jumping in.

Sam: Yeah, no, I’m curious, especially in a situation with like the closely held family company, how do you coach people on identifying other talent, like to build this foundation that you need to, you know, at a very baseline drive value?

Robin: Yeah. So the question is, if you’ve got a closely held business, how does that leader identify what is the talent that I need for leading the business? The answer is the same also for the publicly traded company, because you’ve got a leader who’s captaining some size organization and how do you identify the leaders? Like what is the pipeline? And so let me give you a couple of statistics to frame it out. In seven years, the baby boomer generation will be out of the workforce fully. In [00:33:00] three years, 75% of the workforce will be millennial. And so the millennials right now, the oldest millennial is 40, so the generation in between is Gen X, and they’ve been waiting for the baby boomers to kind of move on out, and they’ve had between zero and one promotions over the past five years. So they’re not fully ready in the spot, in the on-the-job training for that top spot because it has not yet been vacated. And then you’ve got the millennials that are coming right behind who are saying, hey, we’re here, and oh, by the way, we represent 75% of your workforce, which means we have lots of bargaining power. Interesting note, the millennials, 95% of the millennials say that they aspire to be a leader, to which most of the Gen Xers, like of course they do, of course they wanna be leaders, but you can’t discount ’em too quickly on the leadership front because 65% of those millennials say that they don’t have the leadership [00:34:00] training that they need in order to be the leader that they want. So inside of that backdrop, the very short answer is leadership development. That’s how you go and assess your talent, but what does that actually mean? Well, historically, the chief Human Resources officer of learning and development would be given a budget, and that budget would then go out and pick a leadership development program, and then they would sprinkle it on some people and they would hope for the best. Like, how come nobody’s being a better leader? We spent all of this money. Well, the millennials are actually gonna end up democratizing learning and development in the leadership space because if they can’t get it from their employers, they will go out and get it somewhere else. I’m not saying they’re gonna, you know, move jobs, but they will go and procure a book or a TED talk or something, a podcast, in order to really understand what kind of leader they can be. So, horrendously long backdrop for your question, which is your people are already [00:35:00] desperate to be leaders and to be given a shot, so why don’t you go ask them? So if the stats play out and you have 10 people in your organization, chances are good you’ve got some aspiring leaders in your organization beyond just the people that have the title. So this goes back to the point, which is, do you have a relationship with your people? Do you actually think of them as somebody that you are leading, that you’re asking to follow you? Or are they just a cog in the system doing the thing so that you can, you know, hit revenue numbers? And so it’s all boiling down in this generation of leadership to relationships.

Sam: So listen and trust, but verify.

Robin: What did you say?

Sam: I said, so listen and trust, but verify.

Robin: Listen, trust, but verify.

Sam: Follow-up question.

Robin: Follow-up question.

Sam: How concerned were you to have your now wife in the presence of a champion?

Robin: She loves living in the shadow of big personalities. And so [00:36:00] y’all know Michael, she was just proud to know that he lettered in tennis and in typing. I mean, this is a Renaissance man in the making right here.

Michael: And we were in driver’s Ed together.

Robin: They were, you know, so safety first. Next question.

Audience Member: So piggybacking off the last question, in that specific example, how did this company go about taking people who were, you know, so deep within the company and turning them into successful leaders in such a short amount of time?

Robin: Thank you for that question, Mr. Pou.

Audience Member: Anytime, Mr. Pou.

Robin: There you go. So what’s interesting is I basically said, what do you want to accomplish? And he said, for my other shareholders, and for my family, it’s time to exit the business because we’ve gotten it as far as we can get it. So he was really clear on what his vision was, and he knew that he wanted to leave a legacy for all of the other people that were in the business that [00:37:00] had been there for many years. So he went down into each level, kind of the second level and the third level, and he said, what are you trying to accomplish? You’ve been here for 10 years, 20 years, 25 years. What are you trying to accomplish? What does this mean for your family? Do you aspire to be a leader? Do you want more responsibility? He literally had one-on-one conversations. And let’s say that half of the people were fine. They were happy right where they were, and they weren’t interested in the next level of leadership. So then he takes that group of people and he basically says, well, what are you good at? Like, what are your strengths? So know what you want and know what you’re good at. And so as they identified that, they started tracking those people literally on the org chart to two different places, and say, this is the role for you in 12 months. Here’s what you need to do in order to get there. What outside assistance do you need? What do you need to be working on individually? And so they created a development plan for each [00:38:00] person that wanted to be on a leadership trajectory, and this is horrible news for anybody that’s listening because it takes time and the leaders that are listening, like, I don’t even know how to go about doing that. Well, you don’t have to know how to go about doing that. You just need to find somebody who does know how to do that, and then get that expert to help you whether or not that’s a coach or a consultant in the industry so that you can build those relationships. It is literally relationship to relationship. And it takes time, but would you say that it’s worth it when he says that he goes from 85 million to 125 million? And I’m not even just talking about the money, I just mean the fulfillment of the fullest potential of the value of the business. Now, of course, he’ll cash the check, but you know, the point is he has set up all of the lineage of his people inside of the business, and the company that just bought ’em is keeping every single one of the leaders. Does that answer your question?

Audience Member: Absolutely.

Robin: There [00:39:00] we go.

Audience Member: Thank you.

Brad: Well, I think that might be it for time. Oh, we got one more question.

Steven: I would imagine that the majority of your engagement with your clients comes from the top down.

Robin: Yeah.

Steven: You used the term kind of second and third-tier leadership. Have you ever had any experience with it starting here and going the other way?

Robin: When you say starting here and going the other way…

Steven: Starting at the second and the third tier and seeing the influence and the difference that was made here and the engagement goes the other way.

Robin: Why yes, we do. So here’s the question. If we start with the top leader and we end up being invited down into the organization for additional engagements for leadership development, Steven’s asking, does it start the other way? Have we ever been invited in at the second or third-tier level and then influenced up? And so for those established leaders, that second and third tier, those are leaders of leaders. We call those established leaders as opposed to aspiring leaders. And so we got called by a CEO and he was like, we’re [00:40:00] in a pickle. We’re in a disrupted industry. They’re the digital technology infrastructure is really eating our lunch, kind of an older analog business. And they’re trying to cross the chasm and he says, these people are not doing what they need to do. Can you do anything with them? Can’t you develop them to be a leader? And he didn’t say it exactly that way, but that was his tone, which is what’s wrong with them? You fix it. And I’m like, well, actually that is your responsibility. He goes, that’s why I called you. I’ll throw some money at you. Can you fix it? And I said, well, it will only go so far because they will immediately ask, we’re learning all of these great things and now we know what good leadership is and we have a measuring stick to determine whether or not the people that are our leaders are actually good leaders. And he was like, oh, we’re good leaders. Trust me. We’re good leaders. So we did our leadership cohorts with them, and we got to about the fourth cohort, so nine people, fourth time, and we got that [00:41:00] exact comment, have our leaders gone through this? And I said, why don’t you go ask them? So that group of people went to go ask their leaders, hey, have you gone through Robin Pou’s leadership cohort? And they’re like, no, why? And they go, well, because we’re focused on active listening. We’re focusing on asking for feedback. We’re focusing on our emotional intelligence assessment. We’re focusing on delegating, leadership thinking time, all the things. He calls me the next day and says, I think our leadership team needs to go through the cohort. So we’ll take it either way. You invite us down here, we’ll go up, and you invite us at the top and go down. And so, you know, we support them. On Sundays we have a Confident Leader newsletter that we send out. So if we want to continue the conversation for everybody here, go to, but our newsletter really focuses on giving you that nugget on Sunday afternoon for the things that you do not yet know are getting ready to come across the bow of your leadership over the next five days. And so we want to be able to ready you on a weekly basis [00:42:00] for whatever’s coming your way so that you can stay as confident as you possibly can. Does that answer your question? Thanks.

Michael: Awesome.

Brad: Well, and for our audience that’s listening, we’ll actually put Robin’s contact information in the notes below, including how to sign up for your newsletter.

Michael: Awesome. Robin, thank you very much for joining us and for being my best friend.

Robin: There you go.

Brad: All right, well, audience members, that’s all the time we have today, but do not panic. Next Wednesday, our law partner Jim Stanford, will be joining us to continue this journey through the Hitchhiker’s Guide of M&A, and we’ll focus on negotiation tactics.

Outro: Thanks again for joining us today, and remember, if you like 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 is providing this podcast as a public service. This podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast does not [00:43:00] 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. 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

As the son of a doctor and entrepreneur, ByrdAdatto attorney Michael S. Byrd has a personal connection to both business and medicine.