JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Question Q&A With…
David Finkel, author of The Freedom Formula: How to Succeed in Business Without Sacrificing Your Family, Health, or Life
In The Freedom Formula, Wall Street Journal bestselling author and successful entrepreneur David Finkel will help you operationalize working smarter. No fluff, no theory, Finkel shares the detailed blueprint to create maximum value for your company without working nights, weekends, or while on “vacation.”
Joey Pinkney: How do you stay in touch with the pulse of the needs of business leaders for all of these years?
David Finkel: By investing the time and energy to talk with and listen to business owners from a variety of industries, geographic locations, and business models share about their biggest obstacles and challenges, and their greatest opportunities. One of the advantages of working with so many business coaching clients is that I get to see them and spend a weekend each quarter with them year after year. This gives me the insights from watching their companies over time.
I think the most important part is just listening. Any time you are in a room with business leaders ask them (and make sure to take the time to actually listen and hear their answers): What is the biggest challenge in your business right now? What have you tried doing to solve it? How did that work out? What keeps you up at night and why? What are the biggest opportunities your company is going after?
JP: How has the busy nature of both your personal and business life compelled your to make The Freedom Formula available in book form for the people outside of your paid client base?
DF: I’ve always loved being the person who reads, experiments, and then synthesizes into simpler, faster, easier systems for other people to use to be better in business. It’s been a passion and joy for me for the last 25 years. I read 50+ books a year (used to be 100+ before my sons were born) and as I read I can’t help but see ways I could extract, combine, simplify, amplify, etc. the information and ideas and teach them. Live workshops are great fun, but I can only reach a few thousand people that way (I’m not willing to travel all the time to do speaking keynotes).
For me, books are a way to get the thrill of creation and the satisfaction of sharing ideas that make business people’s lives better. It takes me about 2 years of playing with the ideas for a book, usually in the workshops I teach for coaching clients, until I’m ready to commit to putting the ideas into a new book. Then it takes about another year of writing and editing to finish the book. With The Freedom Formula, I struggled more than with any other book I’ve written. I kept spotting places where I needed to “eat my own cooking” better, and this pushed me to be more consistent with the ideas from the book. I personally understand how challenging it can be to blend family, business, and personal needs.
The Freedom Formula has my best ideas from this stage of my life (I’m about to turn 50) about how to grow a company without “brute forcing” it through a mass of hours and effort.
JP: We are taught that being in business means prioritizing its needs over the needs of family and friends in order to truly be successful. In what ways does The Freedom Formula dispel that myth?
DF: My observation is that most business leaders dissipate too much of their best attention in their work lives to lower value activities. What’s more, when you observe their staffs, their team does the same thing. I can’t remember the last time I worked with a business leader where we didn’t discover a simple leverage point in their business where, if they just re-allocated five or more hours of their best time and attention to focus on that leverage point, they would reap huge results. It doesn’t take more hours; it takes a much more intentional and strategically focused use of the hours you’re already working. The Freedom Formula is my best attempt to operationalize how you as a business leader can work smarter (part one) and how you can get your entire team doing the same (part two).
JP: Company Culture is a beast that can take on its own life within the lifespan of a business. Company Culture can even be the demise of the company. What is The Freedom Formula’s approach to making sure the Company Culture doesn’t spiral out of control?
DF: Every business leader is building a culture, but most never do it intentionally. The Freedom Formula gives my best game plan for designing, creating, and reinforcing a culture that gets results for your business. Here’s the best part – when you are strategic about a few key elements of the culture you want, the culture shapes your team’s behavior over the long term. Culture becomes the default “way we do things around here”.
For example, seven years ago I realized that my business coaching company wasn’t taking advantage of our own system. I realized that we were coaching clients to do one thing, but were cutting corners and skipping key steps ourselves. It was obvious that if we just followed our own coaching system, our company would thrive. We discussed this as an executive team and started to make “eating our own cooking” part of our company culture. We kept asking ourselves, “How would we coach a client to do this?” and “What would we do if we were a product of our own program?”
Over two years what initially was effortful became the accepted given for how we did things inside our business. That is the power of culture – it shapes behavior and makes the right actions automatic.
JP: Books are big business. What are some of the benefits of having The Freedom Formula in book form when it comes to your company Maui Mastermind?
DF: For every one person who joins us live at a workshop we host, we’ll have thousands who read one or more of our books. This means we get a 1,000x amplification of our body of work through the books we write and share. It’s a huge commitment of time and effort to write a book, usually 1-2 years of work, but most of the impact of our ideas and strategies has come through the written and audio books we’ve published.
I know we live in a digital world, but books, slow as they can be to produce, are still a major way to help shape thoughts and share ideas. For us, about 40% of our business coaching clients got their first taste of how we approach scaling companies and growing businesses through one or more of the books I’ve written over the past 20 years.