Todd Smart pinpoints the keys to developing great teams

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This is a podcast episode titled, Todd Smart pinpoints the keys to developing great teams . The summary for this episode is: <p>Being part of a winning team is a privilege. We all understand the frustrations of working with a team that doesn't feel the same passion for a project that we do. But, once you get a team sharing a singular vision and rowing in the same direction, the clarity is remarkable. Todd Smart believes that by using the simplification and prioritization techniques, that EOS provides, creating that winning team is easily within reach.</p>
Get it done through simplification and prioritization.
01:58 MIN
Success is going to come with a fair share of failures. Personal growth and self discovery through adversity is what gives us that edge.
01:10 MIN
Being a part of a winning team can be a privilege and if you get to be a part of one you need to defend it.
02:00 MIN
There are a lot of ways for a team to fall apart.
01:01 MIN
Decisive people moves are critical to accomplishing your goals.
01:02 MIN
Getting processes to be radically simple and followed by all is surprisingly difficult, but it can make a major impact on the organization.
02:39 MIN

Tim Leman: Have you ever felt like you're on the edge of something great? You've put in the work, you've done the hard stuff most people aren't willing to do and now you can just sense a magical run lies ahead. On this podcast, we talk about what separates those special teams. The kind, if we're lucky, we get to be a part of maybe three or four times in our life from the more ordinary experiences. I'm your host, Tim Leman, and let's discuss leading on The Edge. Please welcome Todd Smart to the show. He is an EOS Implementer, co- founder of Traction Tools and has been a key asset in training and developing culture here within Gibson and for nearly 100 other leadership teams. I've gotten to know Todd well over the past six years as part of our own EOS journey at Gibson. Welcome, Todd.

Todd Smart: Thanks for having me, Tim.

Tim Leman: Hey Todd, maybe to start out a little bit with telling us about EOS in general, and if you have any things you specialize in, in particular, as a professional implementer, let us know that too.

Todd Smart: So, EOS, in the event that somebody listening to this does not know much about EOS, what this is, is an execution and communication system. And execution and communication are foundational to winning in business, of course. The way that we get it done is through simplification and prioritization. And if you're listening and you don't know much about EOS, you say like," Well, that sounds pretty simple." And yes, that's the point. It's pretty simple, but not many leaders do simplification well and not many leaders do prioritization well. And Holy cow, are these two things in concert, incredibly powerful. For me, as an implementer, I've mentioned before, as a serial entrepreneur, I've been in a number of different industries. And then, 21 years ago, I began doing form training for new members for EO, that's the Entrepreneurs' Organization, and for YPO, Young Presidents' Organization. So, I have quite literally seen thousands and thousands of entrepreneurial situations. So, there's not a specific business model or things. As an entrepreneur myself, I love a reoccurring revenue business. As an implementer, I love doing virtual sessions. I've carved a niche for myself in doing EOS for distributed teams. And it turns out, even during COVID, we've expanded this and it is completely functional to do EOS and drive team health and get the execution speed going faster and the profits growing faster, getting entrepreneurs and business owners what they want. It's completely possible to do this in a virtual Zoom environment. I'm quite frankly shocked by that. I do miss the hugs, the business appropriate hug that came with doing in- person all day meetings. There's some warmth to that.

Tim Leman: I've been a receiver of those, Todd Smart bear hugs. So I know what you mean, I appreciate that.

Todd Smart: Yeah. Yeah. I'm shocked though, as a guy that always said in person is better, how effective virtual EOS and the virtual meetings, when run well, can be. We are getting more stuff done in the same amount of time. And the ratings on those days are coming in higher than the in- person sessions. And that blows my mind. I wouldn't have guessed that and I'm delighted to report that it's true. And I'm focusing on that and specializing in that as part of my EOS practice. It also removes the geographic boundaries for where I can accept clients. I'm loving that.

Tim Leman: That is great. Yeah. I would not have suspected that would be the case either, but it aligns well with the way leadership teams are probably going to be distributed in the future. Todd, do you find that it's one of those things that, where the entire leadership team needs to be remote, virtual, whatever, on Zoom or can it work where some are in person and some are not?

Todd Smart: So, there's a certain facilitation style when everybody's in person and there's a different facilitation style when everybody's remote. If you have some of each, it calls on the facilitator to hop back and forth between these styles and that's difficult. And I find if we have some of each, the day is actually longer for the same amount of results than if we were all virtual or all in person. So some of each is my least favorite.

Tim Leman: Yeah. Todd, I've been working with you for five plus years at Gibson, maybe six, I guess, as well as my YPO forum has visited a couple of times. What do you think has allowed you to do well on this coaching implementer sort of role? What experiences really do you think helped you be what you are in terms of working with companies and leaders?

Todd Smart: The first thing that comes to mind is failure and the humility that comes with it. I have failed more than the average entrepreneur and blessed with a few successes, thank goodness. But an enormous amount of failure and the humility that comes with it has been critical to my success. Also, as part of that failure, as we were saying, I believe before we started recording this, I went through in the late'90s, a bankruptcy, and that followed with a lot of personal growth and self- discovery. And I found that I wasn't being my most authentic self with everybody that I was in business with and in friendship with. And I just decided to let that go and become my most authentic self in all situations, regardless of if I thought people were going to like it or not. And I'm sure some people don't like me for that, but as a business coach, that has served me really well to just be calling shit, shit, whenever we see it. So I'm delighted with how I don't have to wear a mask or put on a persona in order to be the best business coach for others than relaxing in some regards.

Tim Leman: I have found you, a few times as we've gotten started and to work on helping us get more vulnerable, sometimes you'll go first with the sharing and you said some, outrageous would be too strong of a word, but not what we expected to come out of your mouth. And it was really good though, because it set the tone of just about anything else that anyone else admitted that day, their thoughts or feelings about, not as far out of the spectrum as maybe what you had said, but it was a great way to get everybody going and show us what it meant to, the level of vulnerability that you wanted. Speaking of all that too, I think that's all about building trust on a leadership team. And one of the things that you've talked with our team about, Todd, is this idea of being on a great team and maybe a few times in your life, if you're lucky, you get to be with an awesome group of people, maybe as a youngster on a sports team or a work team, and go on this great run. Talk about that a little bit about being on a winning team and what you've seen and experienced personally, and even what it takes to, what does being on a winning team mean?

Todd Smart: So, this started about 15 or 17 years ago with an EO program that I was taught to facilitate, it's called AFS or Advanced Forum Series. And it was on team inaudible and team building. And I'm not a content creator, so I was following the facilitator script. And myself and about 30 other facilitators would get together once a year and review these. And we were all just shocked at how few winning teams are out there in the world. We were asking entrepreneurs," When's the last time that you've been on a winning team?" And we'd define winning team as having each other's back, this full trust built, working towards the greater good, not their own self- interest. And we'd give them some time of silence to come up with it. And a lot of people didn't have a single instance in their whole life. A lot of people had just one instance and it was in high school and then these would be people in their 40s. So they'd say like," Actually never as an adult and never in the work setting have I had this experience." And as facilitators, we would get together and say," Can you believe how few functional winning teams are in the world? And what a crime." Because when part of it, it's like finding your tribe and having people have your back and it's this joyful experience. And so, that's where my interest in this topic started. So, I've just been paying attention to it for the last 15 to 17 years. And I talk to my EOS teams, I'm like," We're not trying to hit some business objective here. I believe in your lifetime, you get a chance to be a part of two to four winning teams. If you're lucky, two to four real winning teams, doing great stuff together that you could have never done on your own without your teammates, winning, having the sensation of belonging and trust. And you get to be your authentic self, doing the things you're great at while your teammates are doing the things that you're not so great at, that whole thing." And I think if we go through our whole lifetimes and we just get two to four of these, how about this team right here? Let's do the difficult work and have whatever conversations we need to have and put whatever systems or processes in place. But what the heck are we doing here? You're going to spend 10 years at this business and you're going to go to another business and be there for a decade. And next thing you know, you're going to be retired. And let's have the experience of a world- class winning team right here, right now. What do we need to do?" Oh, it turns out we need to kick Sally off the team." Okay, let's do that. I don't care. I don't know, I hope Sally if you're listening. But that's where I come from. And I get quite passionate about it. I've been fortunate now to have three, maybe four winning teams in my life. I'm 52. So, I'm gunning to be above average by the time I wink out. But when having it, it is incredibly special. And then it takes nurturing and energy to maintain it too. You don't just get there once and then you get to keep it forever. You have to defend it. And I love getting the team to a place where they're having one of these two to four magical experiences with a team that they're going to remember for the rest of their life. If they're going to tell their grandkids stories about their best work experiences, they're going to tell stories about this leadership team during this period of time doing EOS and how we won like crazy. Let's have that be this team right now. Why not? If not now, when? Let's do it, let's do it here. It's not about waiting for something, someday, somewhere, this team has all the potential to do that. You've just got a few difficult decisions between here and there. Let's get busy doing them. Life's too short.

Tim Leman: We were talking once before about this. And again, give you credit for this, we borrowed it, fits right in with our new branding too, with the Gibson edge video. It's like that all that hard work, you're riding your mountain bike up the hill and you're pumping and pumping. You get up there, now is the fun part, let it rip down the trail back all the way down and hanging on for dear life. And at the same time, just having a super exciting run of things and yeah, an inspiring way to look at it all too. I love that. Todd, what happens or happened maybe in your case or what you've seen to those winning teams? Why don't they repeat and stay in place forever?

Todd Smart: Boy, I think this is like the snowflake conversation. There's a lot of ways it falls apart. But what I do know is that if you get one person on the team that's working in their self- interest rather than the greater good of the team, that's one way this unravels. If you allow somebody to come in, because they're really technically competent, but they only partially fit your core values. That's one way to have this unravel. Sometimes there's a person on the team that's the glue and that person for whatever reason is no longer on the team, maybe retirement or something else, they take another offer and you lose your glue. I've also seen visionary entrepreneurs and founders that have run out of vision. You get these businesses growing so fast, doing EOS, these companies grow 20% to 100% a year, and if they're tech firms, sometimes over 100%. And the entrepreneur's vision only goes so far and sometimes he can run out a vision and not have a replacement vision in place big enough, and the team kind of loses its spirit.

Tim Leman: Yeah. Reminds me of one of those great teams I had a chance to be a part of in a national firm too. And everybody gets promoted or moves on or gets... With that, all of a sudden, the team fades away. It's not the same team anymore, and it's not that it's bad, but you were all on the way up and gone in for something together. And you get that pure relationship with everybody and it all changes. Yeah, I guess that was that mo' money mo' problems or whatever, but it really does, that can really destroy teams too.

Todd Smart: Yeah. If you can hold onto it for three to seven years. That's about as long as I see this magic sticking around, if you can get the team to a place of" winning" or being one of your top team experiences of your life and then hang on to that, nurture it, and defend it, and keep it for three to seven, three to eight years. Something like that. That's a really special life experience. It so transcends making money and hitting business numbers. That's just an outcome of having this healthy team.

Tim Leman: Well, Just like you're playing to beat the average, so are we. We're planning on a pretty awesome decade run here at Gibson, Todd, but appreciate all the work you've done for us too to help us get there. It makes me think about it, when talking about all this growth and you've seen this and how much EOS improves things. I know some of the implementers, yourself included, over the years have looked for ways to help support that growth or invest in some of those companies and so on. And I think you and some of your pals have built out a fund to try to help support that growth for some of the companies on EOS. Maybe talk about that a little bit. Because I think that's a really cool thing for you and for these companies that you know so well.

Todd Smart: Yeah, so the fund is called TF Investors and I'm together with some really senior, incredible, incredible folks that are part of the fund with tons of experience, specifically on the investment committee. We have 206 exits over the last 40 years represented amongst the investment committee members. But it's myself and 20 plus EOS implementers that threw money into this fund. It is growth equity, so it is for companies running on EOS, using a professional or certified or expert implementer, that have an opportunity to put capital to work to grow faster, leading to an exit, usually some kind of liquidity event in the next three to seven years. So, it's money, seven- figure, sometimes higher, but typically seven- figure kind of investments for profitable businesses, with a growth opportunity, running on EOS, using a professional certified or expert coach. And anybody can reach out to me about that, if you wish. It's pretty fun though. So, it comes in and of course we understand EOS. So, the due diligence process is much shorter and less onerous than taking professional capital from everybody else. Then, we're a helping hand in the corner around the exit with so many exits represented on the investment committee. And the real, the goal, most of the money goes into two different types, it gets invested in sales and marketing to expand sales and marketing resources or to expand capacity to deliver products or services. So, maybe the company just came across a huge opportunity in a niche. Now, to take advantage of this, we'll have to hire and train an extra 100 people, and that's going to take us some multimillion dollar amount of money to get those people up to speed fast and billable, or we need to expand the production capacity at the factory. And then the other half is we would need to invest more money in sales and marketing, whatever that means for your business, in order to get this growing faster. And as we get the businesses growing faster, the multiples of EBITDA or revenue go up and as we cross over some EBITDA thresholds, specifically getting EBITDA up over 5 million and up over 10 million, that also brings additional multiples of revenue or EBITDA. So, it can be win- win for everybody, ownership, leadership team and the investors and EOS friendly money. That's my growth too. 30 years as an entrepreneur and now being able to use that experience, but really grow as an investor myself has been really inspiring to me. And I'm loving the personal and professional growth I'm experiencing as being part of that.

Tim Leman: So, along those lines, tell me about, first maybe, one of the toughest situations you've worked through in your work with a leadership team.

Todd Smart: Well, the toughest are the people issues. So, I guess, because by their very nature, they're personal and those are always the most difficult. And so my teams, what I've concluded now after 85 leadership teams going through this EOS journey, this transformation, and eight startups myself over the last 30 years is that companies and leaders, that are decisive in their people moves, get their goals accomplished faster. So, decisive people moves are one of the principles that we just can't get away from in business. I often mention this decisive people moves with three other things. It's having a culture that celebrates sales, it's investing and obsessing about training and investing and obsessing about culture. So, it's culture, training, decisive people moves, and then celebrating sales means that the non- salespeople in your organization celebrate the living daylights out of sales winning.

Tim Leman: Unpacking a little bit of that too, why is it that people are so indecisive when it comes to people moves? And is it unique to, you and I are both Midwesterners, is it unique to maybe geography and people from the Midwest or just in general?

Todd Smart: I'd like to think it's a human characteristic. I'm originally from Northern Minnesota, a small town called Bemidji up near the Canadian border. And I can speak for myself, I'm nice and I'd prefer to avoid conflict wherever possible. And I think in the process of being nice and preferring to avoid conflict, it's easy to kick the can down the road. I have done work in the East Coast, between DC and Boston, including a bunch at Manhattan. And it does seem that having difficult people conversations comes quite easier for the folks out there. I feel like I'm never wondering how they feel about me, because they're just telling me right to my face.

Tim Leman: I've shared that same experience, my wife and I both grew up in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area and spent some time in Indianapolis. And then we moved out to Phoenix for about six years, big melting pot and had a lot of East Coasters in our neighborhood. And then we moved into and a great couple from New York we became good friends with, and those first few times out to dinner with them, we'd come home and think they just disliked us entirely. No, they're just," I don't like your shirt or I don't like this. I don't like." But I really grew to appreciate that over the years, because I always knew where I stood with them along the way. What does it take or how have you coached and helped leadership teams and leaders become more decisive when it comes to people moves?

Todd Smart: Well, the most effective thing that I've done is raise awareness about it. So, that it's something that can be talked about openly. So, that leadership teams are saying things like," This is the kind of thing that we kick down the road all the time. Remember we recognized three times last year, in hindsight, how we wish we would have moved faster. This is looking exactly like one of those rather than give this person a fourth and fifth and sixth chance, let's just make the decision today." And in EOS, there's 36 hours of pain as a concept that's talked about and that's when you make a difficult people move or a difficult people conversation or if you let somebody go, just to be very direct, that there's about 36 hours of pain after that. And then it's all positive from there on. And you know you've done the right thing when the next day, some of your best people come to you and thank you and say things like," Oh, I wish you would've done it sooner." And then, as a leader, like," Geez, why didn't you say something? Why did you leave that on me? I didn't know so many people wanted that person out of our organization."

Tim Leman: Boy, you are right on that too, Todd. I mean, I've had those situations and it doesn't mean that the person, the individual is not talented and not a great fit somewhere else either, but I've rarely, in fact, I can't remember when though, afterwards were, more things come out and spill out of it and that's exactly the thing, it's like, wow, it's always a little bit worse and more often than you think, yet you spend all this time in turmoil and worked up about it and doing something about it. And after the fact, it's like, it really is almost a blessing a lot of times for both sides. They're not having any fun either.

Todd Smart: Yeah. That's absolutely true. They know it's not a good fit. crosstalk.

Tim Leman: So, Todd, I remember reading in Traction, right about when we got going with you, probably, and I forget the exact stat in there, but maybe Gina wrote some down, it wasn't all that scientific, but 80% of leadership change with EOS, 40% add somebody on and 40% subtract or something to that effect. How often, with EOS and Traction, have you found that there is a change in the leadership team and what does that tend to look like?

Todd Smart: These are unscientific numbers, but it is something around 80% of leadership teams that I've started doing EOS with, that somebody on the leadership changes in the first year. Usually it's an upgrade. With all love and respect for the person that's not on the team anymore. And in some cases, and I have some rockstar teams now, that I coach, who are on the third iteration of the team, where we started with a team, and then 18 months later, we had turned over nearly the whole team. And then as the business pivoted a little bit, we turned over almost that whole second generation of the team. And then the company got all the right people in the right seats, rockstars in every role and the company starts doubling every year. This is an exact example I'm talking about inaudible I didn't check with them in advance. I don't want to drop his name. But very successful YPO. So, if this entrepreneur would not have had the courage to make difficult people decisions quickly, it would have taken him 10 years to forever to get to the place where he had this fantasy team. And instead he got there in about three and a half years, and it was painful, of course, but EOS gives you the guardrails for having these conversations. I should say, as part of this also, that we have a principle that we follow with any EOS when we say one major people move a quarter, one major people move a quarter will not disrupt your culture, will not have fear running throughout your organization. So, if you want to be good at being decisive around your people, just think," What is the most important, highest impact people move we can make in the next 90 days?" And just do that four times a year. This is typically on the leadership team or somebody that reports to a leadership team member. So, the top two layers of the organization. And when I say make a change, I'm not saying fire them in all instances. In most instances, what we're talking about is changing somebody's accountabilities or moving them from one team to another, as long as they're a cultural fit, I'm not talking about firing folks.

Tim Leman: We're coming up on our next quarterly here next week. And that some of the questions on your check- in sheet, I just love that, because it just puts it out there, whether it's, yeah, what's the biggest people move you could make, as you said, the next quarter? Or what's the elephant in the room? And once it's out there, it forces you out. I mean, it's just such a great little two- page worksheet that... And you guys do a good job of asking the same question, maybe four different times in different ways. You can't miss on it. And then you see it and it's right there and really, yeah, so impactful along the way. Todd, next to maybe indecisiveness around people and people moves in general, what do you think or see leaders struggling with the most?

Todd Smart: Well, if it's not people, the next highest impact is process. And getting the processes to be radically simple and followed by all is surprisingly difficult. I continue to be surprised about this. And organizations have their training documents and then they have some checklists and they collapse these things all the time. They add complexity. People come in to your industry with the insurance industry you're in, Tim, and they come from another brokerage and they have the systems they used over there and they come into your systems and they're like,"Oh, we used to do it this way over at ABC." And just getting the whole organization to agree on the best practice way we should do every repetitive task, and all assert, 90% of the things that are getting done inside business every day, week, month, quarter, and year, 90% of the things that are getting done are repetitive tasks throughout the whole organization. You owe it to yourself to identify the best practice way to do all the repetitive tasks and then have everybody in your organization follow the best practice every single time they do it. And when I describe it like that, organizations are like," Yeah, what the hell are we doing if we're not doing that? Isn't one of our jobs as leaders within this industry to identify the best way to do our repetitive tasks and then get everybody to follow the way we've all agreed on?" And I'm not talking about a leader dictating what the best practice way is or coming down from the mountain, like Moses, with the tablets or something. I'm talking about going to the grassroots, the lowest levels of your organization, where the tasks are getting done and involving those folks and identifying the best practice way. And of course, then this lends itself nicely to implementation. So, there's less resistance, because they're their ideas in the first place. And they're closest to the tasks. But I just come back to this and I think," What the heck are we doing in business if we're not figuring out the best way to do the repetitive things and asking everybody to do it that way?" So, people and process, if we're talking about the difficult things and obsessing about them. I think a lot of people get the beginner steps in place and say and they check the box. They're like," Okay, well, we did that." But what I see on my teams is I thinks things have infinite room for improvement. So, it's about obsessing over and over and over year after year, after year and getting right people right seats and the right processes and followed by all. Powerful, powerful stuff.

Tim Leman: Todd, have you had situations where you have a new client come on and after a few of the meetings, you just wonder or think," There's no hope for these people. I can't fix them." Or do you always feel like if they stick with it long enough, they'll get there?

Todd Smart: No, if they're not willing to make difficult people decisions, there is no hope for some.

Tim Leman: How quickly can you sense that?

Todd Smart: In the first real meeting. Because we spend four hours on the accountability chart. And if people are acting in their own self- interest rather than the greater good of the business, family businesses are famous for this, where you've got some nepotism and family members on the leadership team that are not there due to merit, that are there due to bloodline and that's not going to change. I'm just sorry, you just don't get to participate in the high growth business. You don't get to be one of the leaders in your industry. And that's unfortunate. They're often really nice people, but we have to put the greater good of the business in front of any individual's self- interest.

Tim Leman: Now, it's time for my favorite part of the podcast, rapid fire. We'll go through the rapid fire here, if that's all right. So, we'll start out easy with, I think I already know the answer to this one, but what's your favorite color?

Todd Smart: Blue and orange.

Tim Leman: Blue and orange. All right. I've seen it. No one rocks the orange sport coat the way you do, Todd Smart. Todd, what was your first car up there in Bemidji, Minnesota?

Todd Smart: A Jeep Comanche. How do you say on a podcast? It was a POS.

Tim Leman: There you go.

Todd Smart: crosstalk.

Tim Leman: And what kind of chains did you have on the tire?

Todd Smart: A$ 500 car, no chains, but I will tell you that I had a set of deer antlers that I strapped to the front grill at some point. That's how strange I am and how strange Northern Minnesota can be at times.

Tim Leman: I've been to Bemidji, my wife's family is from that area in international falls. So, I understand. What's your most memorable concert, Todd?

Todd Smart: Oh, Sting at Summerfest back in the'90s, sixth row center, almost exactly eye level with Sting. It was amazing.

Tim Leman: You were like in a tantric gaze together maybe you and Sting?

Todd Smart: Yeah. Something like that. I'll tell, that man's a performer. But then, aside from that, I have had so many fun times with friends at Jimmy Buffett concerts. I can't even tell you, the fun just crosstalk.

Tim Leman: You can't miss on those. So what's something about you that very few people know?

Todd Smart: Most people assume I'm an extrovert. And I'm really crystal clear that I am an introvert and I've modified my behavior sometimes to fit business situations. And also I can be extroverted with alcohol as an influence, but most people would not guess that I have to spend time by myself to recharge.

Tim Leman: With all the COVID pandemic stuff and so on, rather work from home and be virtual or do you like the in- person better?

Todd Smart: I really like the effectiveness of working virtual. I do prefer to go to my office to do it, but that's my preference. I miss the human connection, like I had said earlier, I do miss the business appropriate hug and the handshakes and the hanging out by the coffee machine. But, boy, is virtual effective. I'm surprised and delighted.

Tim Leman: If we looked at your phone or your smart TV or whatever, what are you streaming right now? Either listening or watching.

Todd Smart: Why We Sleep is the book on tape that I just started a few days ago. I was skiing and Alta with some other EOS implementers. And the one of them had attended Abundance 360, which is the Peter Diamandis discourse. It was actually Mark Winters, the author of Rocket Fuel, the founder of Rocket Fuel. And he was saying that what came out of Abundance 360 this year was how incredibly important sleep is and that you have to figure it out. So, I just ordered an Oura ring, the sleep tracker ring, that I'm going to start wearing. And I downloaded that book on Why We Sleep. And I'm listening to that. The other two things that came out of Abundance 360 that he shared with me is like sugar is bad. So in all forms, whether that's alcohol or simple carbs, but reduce your sugar, get your sleep great. And that the third thing was that, within the next decade, we are going to be able to choose to live longer. So, start taking care of yourself now, hang in there long enough for this tech to come to full fruition, but we are going to be able to choose to live longer and to reduce our biological age by up to a decade within 10 years.

Tim Leman: Wow. That's exciting.

Todd Smart: Don't get in a car accident in the next 10 years, hang in here, take care of yourself. Be around for the life extending technology to come about and you get to choose to live to between 100 and 150, however long you want.

Tim Leman: All right, I'll try to keep my miles low on the tires until then. Todd, three living people you'd like to have dinner with and why?

Todd Smart: Well, I'll go straight for Bill Gates, not because of the tech, but because of the global health that he's going after. And I think he has access to research and information that a lot of us don't have access to. And then, another one would be somebody like Peter Diamandis or a futurist. I really love piecing together those pieces like, what's coming our way? It's intellectually interesting to me, but it's also for business purposes, I think, to be able to see further ahead than others as business benefit to it. Let me break your rules and give you a couple of dead people. If I were still living in my hometown, I'd be fourth- generation small business owner or entrepreneur, and my grandfather and great- grandfather, neither of which I met. My grandfather died before I was born. But both had a number of small businesses during a time that was quite archaic compared to our day and age. And my great- grandfather specifically had 175 teams of horses that he leased out the logging camps from Northern Minnesota to Montana, and how you do record keeping and collect your receivables and all of that, I would just love to sit down with those two guys in their prime and then pick their brains and really get to know who they are.

Tim Leman: That's cool. Yeah, there's something about, I don't know their exact ages, but the greatest generation, sandwiched all around there too, just life was so different in what they struggled to overcome to make it, it's so different than the stuff we have to worry about. And then, Todd, last one, something big you'd like to do before it's all over, before you get all that infusion of technology that allow you to stretch it out to a 100 or 150, but something you want to go do or accomplish before then.

Todd Smart: I want to say that it's something that I am going to do, and it is transform early childhood education. I believe at the root of a lot of the things that ail us as a society, discrimination and hate and just a lot of the foundational things that don't serve us well can be solved through education. I think it is the thing. If we go to a root cause of a lot of the negatives in our world, it comes from education and I hate the idea of a life wasted because of their environment or their resources or their parents, where they don't value education at an early age. I also want to say, as part of this, that I'm not talking about solely the formal education system. I have mixed thoughts about college in particular. I think there's a lot of different forms of education. I love being an adult learner and constantly learning new things, and that's not coming through the formal education system anymore, of course. But I think that's a root cause of what ails us as a society. And I'm going to do something transformative about it before I wink out.

Tim Leman: Todd, it's always great getting to talk with you. Your ability, in the moment, to speak honestly and authentically as you guide leadership teams is your edge and it's built on a winning combination of simplifying and prioritizing. And on a personal note, I loved hearing about the impact you plan to have on early childhood education. Keep on being you, Todd. Thank you for tuning in today. I'm Tim Leman. And remember to own your edge. Subscribe to The Edge Podcast on Apple, Google and Spotify.


Being part of a winning team is a privilege. We all understand the frustrations of working with a team that doesn't feel the same passion for a project that we do. But, once you get a team sharing a singular vision and rowing in the same direction, the clarity is remarkable. Todd Smart believes that by using the simplification and prioritization techniques, that EOS provides, creating that winning team is easily within reach.

Today's Host

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Tim Leman

|Chairman & CEO, Gibson

Today's Guests

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Todd Smart

|EOS Implementer