Tuesday Oct 05, 2021
EP102: A Finishing School for Future CEOs
Driving revenue is what keeps a startup company in the hands of its founders, instead of in the grasp of a venture capital firm. That’s what Canyon Ventures Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is all about: teaching founders how to sell their own product or service to get that revenue rolling in. Robert Vera, founding director of this Grand Canyon University center, is proud of the success of the founders he has been mentoring. During this second part of their two-part conversation, our Market Dominance Guys, Chris Beall, and Corey Frank talk with Robert about the importance of his program. “It’s only by selling that we learn how our business is really working,” explains Chris. Those selling conversations with prospects give startup founders the information necessary to fine-tune their products and services so they can dominate their market. Here on Market Dominance Guys, we try to do much the same thing: For 100 episodes now, Chris, Corey, and their guests have helped our listeners finetune their businesses so they can dominate their markets. At the end of today’s episode, Chris and Corey applaud a couple of stand-out guests who have generously shared their insights on this podcast. Like Robert Vera’s program, Market Dominance Guys is also — just as the title of this episode states — “A Finishing School for Future CEOs.”
Episodes mentioned by Chris and Corey as two of their favorites:
EP7: Don‘t Make the Spiders Angry
EP75: The Secret of Her Success
EP76: I Heart No Shows!
About Our Guest
Robert Vera is a bestselling author and the founding director of Canyon Ventures Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.
The full transcript for this episode is here:
Chris Beall (01:47):
Just to have an organization that can, itself, scale and is based on sound principles, and not just sound principles but sound values, that can attract companies of all sizes who want to succeed and want to take care of the part where they're most likely to fail. That's amazingly heartening, right? Corey and I have each done one company at a time. I've got to help a lot of companies here at Connect and Sell, but it takes more than just pushing a button and talking to somebody. It takes a lot more. It takes having the data, it takes having the messaging, takes having the management, it takes a lot. So having all that come together is super gratifying. The other part is, as you and I have talked, and Corey always laughs at all the different jobs I've had, I was trained in education at Arizona State University. I was going to be a high school physics teacher at [Sorale 00:02:37] High School in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Chris Beall (02:39):
And until I was talked out of it by my high school physics teacher who said, "You should go start companies." And she gave me a bunch of good reasons, including a stack rank of all the students she'd ever had. A stack rank to buy entrepreneurial potential. And she showed me where I was on that list and then sent me off into the world to do what I've since been doing. My heart is still there though. At the age when folks are deciding what to do, deciding what they can do, what they love to do, and even getting a vision of the possible by doing, not just by listening, I think it makes all the difference in the world. And so, to me, it's the opportunity of a lifetime for me to get to provide something. Those $200 in an hour or whatever, that's $200 somebody didn't have to make. Thank God.
Chris Beall (03:28):
My 600 people are navigating those dollars and working for a good cause. And so it's only going to grow. This is just the start. You guys have been doing this in COVID for how long? A year and three months or something like that. [inaudible 00:03:43] story is very familiar to me, I will never forget that day. I was up at that time in the morning, too, with all of the instrumentation that I have bristling in order to watch and listen to make sure it was all going. And it was clear who was going to kick whose butt and I could go off and have a little brekkie and enjoy the day. So I think we're going to have those kinds of stories.
Chris Beall (04:05):
And by the way, Ramsey's a customer of ours also. So, it all kind of comes full circle. That's a great, great firm. I love working with those guys. They're one of my personal accounts, so I like hearing that also. Education is where it's at, but education isn't sitting there listening to people. It comes about from doing and doing in a framework that has a shot. And when I said this was a finishing school for future CEOs, that was not a turn of phrase. That was a seriously considered concept. And I just am totally excited and gratified.
Corey Frank (04:39):
What comes out of the mouth of Robert, that I furiously write down every little nugget, certainly could have easily come from you, Chris. And I think that when you guys sit down and talk about who you know and what you can do and the philosophy, there may just yet be some collaboration between what you do, certainly at Connect and Sell and the flight school, and what we can do here, certainly, at GCU and Robert's vision. Robert has been talking about a cheerleader and an unpaid board member and a coach and an advocate. And so we couldn't have asked for a better landlord, even though I don't pay him any rent.
Bob Vera (05:15):
I get complaints all the time. What happens is, every time they set up a meeting for one of their customers, it's a huge deal. So it means revenue for them and for, potentially, for their customers. So they ring a bell and they all applaud. It's been going on for awhile and there's, literally, I get calls all the time. Can you go back there and tell them to keep it quiet? I go back there and ring the bell and applaud with them. I want everybody to know what's going on over there. That’s what you need to do to be successful. Let me tell you one other thing that makes this organization, Branch 49, different from most organizations I've been affiliated with or know of. Most chief revenue officers will put a safe number up there, especially if it's a publicly-traded company, because you've got to hit your number.
Bob Vera (05:59):
There's only two ways to hit your number as a publicly-traded company. Remember, every quarter ... I worked for a publicly-traded company. I've been a senior executive there. So every quarter, what you have to do to satisfy your investors, is hit your target. It's what you have to do. The only way you can do that is to drive revenues or cut expenses. So what that means is that you're not going to get a chief revenue officer who's really going to go out on a limb to say, "We're really going to dominate our market in the next 12 months." They're not going to say that. They won't, it's too much risk for them. No company that I've ever been affiliated with will ever say ... they'll say we want to dominate our market. Great, so tell me what your total addressable market is, your TAM, and tell me how you're going to get to that in 12 months or less.
Bob Vera (06:47):
Because that's what I would consider a good definition of dominating the market. If you don't have a plan to get to your total addressable market in 12 months or less, you're not going to dominate the market, someone else will. What Corey's group does is, when they meet with a customer, they say, "This is your TAM, 10,000 people in your TAM. We can get to that in 12 months or less," that's market domination. That is. Everything else is a lie. It's a lie. You're not going to dominate your market. You're not. You're not. You think you are, and you've told everybody that you are, but you're not going to. How are you going to dominate your market if you can't get to everybody? Someone else will get to them.
Bob Vera (07:29):
But these are the things that I think are different. So I love hearing that bell ring every day. I mean, I love hearing that bell ring because that's what people need to understand. This is success, Chris, what you said is, I really appreciate this, we have a lot of founders and they'll ask me, "We're in our seed round," which means your very early round. How much should I give up? And I can do the math for you, but I'll say, "Look, if you give up more than 20% of your seed round, you're going to have troubles going forward." And right behind that sentence, I say, "In addition to that, if you're going in after your seed round for an A route and you have not driven revenues, guess what. You're going to be working for somebody else soon," because that's how these things work, right?
Bob Vera (08:17):
So in order to justify your valuation, you need to drive revenues. And in order to give up less of your company, you need to drive revenues. If you don't have a plan for that, guess what, the VC does. They do have a plan for that, right? They're going to give you enough, they're going to dilute you to the point where you were working for them. And at some point, when you're doing 18 hour days, you haven't been your wife and kids, they're missing you, and then someone else owns your company. Tell you what, there's a way around that. That's to drive revenues. Find that target market fit and the product-market fit and drive revenues. And then you are in control. You are in control.
Bob Vera (09:30):
Most people, most entrepreneurs, they're afraid of that. Our entrepreneurs are not afraid of that. They love that. They want to get after it, they want to drive revenues, and they use Corey's group to do that and it's working.
Susan Finch (09:42):
I'm going to ask you real quick, I know you have to scoot so I'm going to fit this in because I know you have another meeting behind this, what challenge would you want to give to companies? Because my feeling is the most successful CEOs out there, the most successful leaders, have that level of mentorship, that route of teaching ... And I'm not saying just successful because of all the money they've raised and their lifestyle things, but successful through and through. I see that in both of you guys. I see it in all three of you, now that I've met you, Robert. And my three favorite bosses I've ever had had that too, where everybody wanted to work with them. Wanted to just stay and do well for them. What would you advise companies that need to challenge themselves or up their game?
Chris Beall (10:31):
Well, from my standpoint it's simple. It's lead from the front in sales. If you're a CEO and you're not out there selling, there's something seriously wrong with you. And I don't care if you have a sales background or don't, you probably will do better if you don't, because frankly, very early market sales work better without a sales background. But you need mentorship, you need help, and you need to talk to a ton of people. And get good at that and stay there. So I mentioned Scott Webb earlier ... There was a guy, a huge company. Leads from the front, highest conversion, highest number of meetings, highest everything, and advances the state of the art every single day. And holds the title of Chief Growth Officer of a multi-billion dollar company. You got to lead from the front and sitting back there and looking at spreadsheets and barking about stuff just doesn't get it done.
Chris Beall (11:19):
There's two reasons, one is to inspire folks to come with you. The other is, frankly, it's only by selling that we learn how our businesses really work and what's really going on. Whether what we're doing is worth doing or not. And when we're selling, we actually get that feedback in a way that has got enough data and enough fidelity that we have a shot at understanding the company that we're trying to create. Pretending you've created a company before the Velveteen Rabbit theory pops in and owns it ... I have the Velveteen Rabbit theory of business, I don't know who has kids whose read that book, but you know the stuffed rabbit? It becomes real when somebody loves it. Well, you're not a real company until your customers love you so much that they insist that you stay in business. And that is how you're real. Everything else is just prelude to that. So you've got to get to that point and you've got to lead from the front to get there.
Susan Finch (12:13):
Oh, that was beautifully said. Talk about bringing tears to your eyes, that brings it to mind because that's how I feel with you guys towards us.
Chris Beall (12:22):
Oh yeah, we're not going to let you go out of business. I apologize, I've got to jump. I got something to sell.
Susan Finch (12:28):
No, you go do it. Talk to you soon.
Chris Beall (12:29):
All right. Robert, so good to meet you.
Bob Vera (12:29):
Good to meet you, Chris. Look forward to meeting you here.
Susan Finch (12:30):
Corey Frank (12:36):
Thank you, Susan. This is great. I'm glad we got ... Robert, thank you so much for joining us today. Long overdue. You can see, you and Chris are brothers from another mother. I mean, you speak to some language, you have the same level of passion, the same level of intolerance for fools. And that's born out of a love that you have, because you've seen too many entrepreneurs give up the keys to their brainchild for pennies on the dollar, without the proper guidance. And I think that stem from, certainly all of us, having our first startup companies breaking our heart because we signed on the dotted line before we had some wise old sages who slapped our hand away at the right moment. So thank you.
Susan Finch (13:22):
This has been wonderful. Audience, if you want to learn more about what they are doing at GCU, more about Youngblood Works, Branch 49, Grand Canyon University, everything happening. Corey, tell us how to find everybody.
Corey Frank (13:37):
We're at branch49.com and Robert, if I'm an up and coming company, technology company, entrepreneurial organization, how do I potentially apply to be part of the Grand Canyon University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship?
Bob Vera (13:54):
Yeah. Great question. So go to GCUworks, all one word, GCUworks.com. That's G-C-U works dot com. You can learn more about the companies here, there's an application for consideration, but GCUworks.com. That's where you can find more information about us.
Susan Finch (14:15):
Terrific. Now I know GCU also has ... You can attend from afar? Do you need to be on campus to do this?
Bob Vera (14:24):
No, so we have companies that are housed with us, but they're in Budapest, Hungary. We have companies in London or England. So we have companies that just want access to our GCU students. They pay them via Venmo, so we have companies from across the globe. We had a company move in, in fact, they work with Corey. The company is [inaudible 00:14:47], they're from Dubai. So companies from across the globe have sought us out. I have a meeting here in a few minutes with one from UK, another one from UK, so across the globe. Students can work remotely.
Bob Vera (15:01):
So we're flexible on how we do this. We just look for great companies. They want access to our GCU students and want the mentorship and have the desire to grow. And I think grow, not just by ... And I see a lot of this, in deference to all those folks, but I see a lot of press releases on money raised. I'd rather see press releases on sales. And if you're in need of that, I think if you believe in that philosophy, I think this is a perfect fit for you. If you want to take your destiny in your own hands, you come here with us.
Susan Finch (15:34):
I love how you just changed that. You are so right. Way too much about money you are able to acquire, borrow, be beholding to somebody else for. Sales are all yours, sales belong to the company, that is something you own.
Corey Frank (15:50):
Well, thank you, Susan, for the opportunity to turn tables here. This is great and we've got to do it again. And we've got to have Funnel Media Group. Maybe we can switch it and we can actually interview you one of these days and learn all about the vision that you have, especially going into the next coming year. The days of Chris eating his oatmeal, bumping into the piano, my dog barking in the background.
Chris Beall (16:20):
I got a glass of wine, does that count?
Corey Frank (16:22):
We're just having conversations and you're like, wait a minute. Okay, guys. It took us a while, took us a couple of episodes.
Susan Finch (16:29): Corey and Chris, we have just celebrated 100 episodes of Market Dominance Guys and people all have their favorite episodes, I know our team does, and you guys do, and then listeners do. But I don't think we've ever shared that. So I want to know, first from Corey, what has been one of your favorite episodes that we have done?
Corey Frank (16:50):
It's got to be the themes that we dive into when I can learn about Chris's prior professions. Which is selling bug spray door to door. Kill spiders ... Actually, sorry, what was the exact phrase, Chris? You don't kill spiders, you just piss them off.
Susan Finch (17:10):
Don't make the spiders angry.
Corey Frank (17:12):
Don't make the spiders angry. Those were some of the golden ... As I've mentioned many times to Chris, Susan, I have just as many pieces of material and hijacked risks from Chris as probably any of our listeners. So this is a nefarious way for me to get a front-row seat. But yeah, probably have to be the episode with all of Chris's professions, we seem to learn a new one every other episode, but it'd have to be when he sold the bug spray and the [inaudible 00:17:43] brushes door to door.
Susan Finch (17:45):
I like it. All right, Chris, so tell us what your favorite episode or episodes have been.
Chris Beall (17:50):
Well, it's interesting. For me, there's two flavors. One is when we were just kids, Corey and I, and we were just doing this together. And it's actually an episode before we were doing a podcast. We didn't know we were doing a podcast, so this all started with Corey saying, "Hey, we need to suck a book out of you somehow." And so there I was in this house in Reno, this rental house, it's a big house, a big room with wooden floors and no furniture, echoing like crazy. And we're just gathering material. And I don't know which one it is, but it was very early, when Corey just got me going on something. It was one of my favorite episodes because it convinced me that my mother was right, I really can go on and on and on.
Corey Frank (18:38):
Chris Beall (18:40):
I don't remember which one it is though, I'm not very good at that. Another one that really delighted me was ambushing Cheryl Turner and getting her to come on an episode because she didn't want to do it. And it was one of those things that, I was just talking with her and I said, "So Cheryl, I want to just have you jump on and be a guest on Market Dominance Guys." And she says, "Oh, I don't want to do that. I don't do stuff like that," blah, blah, blah. And I said, "Well, that's okay because it's only 10 minutes from now. So there's no time for you to freak out."
Chris Beall (19:11):
And it was literally 10 minutes away and there she was, ready to go, and she was dynamite. She was just absolutely dynamite. So for a person who didn't want to be on, wanted nothing to do with it, I'm a very private person, I'm shy. To being one of our best guests ever. And I think that, Secrets of Her Success, is actually the most practical episode we ever did that contains, I think the fourth breakthrough, which is the insistence play as a setup to iHeart no-shows. And I'm still trying to teach it to people in our own company. Apparently, it's hard to learn.
Corey Frank (19:50):
That insisted mindset.
Chris Beall (19:53):
Which we learned from Scott Webb, over at Hub International, but Cheryl picked it up just like that. And so, anyway, it was fun to have her on, all freaked out and ready to go.
Susan Finch (20:05):
Thank you so much, I would love to. Everybody ...
Chris Beall (20:07):
Corey Frank (20:09):
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