This week we sit down with Alex Judd, founder of Path for Growth and former host of the EntreLeadership podcast.  We discuss why leadership is more than a title, why every company needs to define their core values, and how community bankers can better serve their customers.

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Intro: Helping community bankers grow themselves, their team, and their profits. This is The Community Bank Podcast.

Erik Bagwell: Welcome to The Community Bank Podcast. I’m Erik Bagwell, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Corresponded Division at SouthState Bank, and joining me is Caleb Stevens. Caleb’s a Business Development Officer and produces this podcast. Caleb, how are you today?

Caleb Stevens: I’m good, Erik, how are you?

Erik Bagwell: I’m doing good. We’re sitting here looking out the window at a guy blowing leaves off of a roof with a backpack blower.

Caleb Stevens: I think a few weeks ago, we were looking at a guy hit a wall in the two eight–

Erik Bagwell: Yeah. We’re on the other side of the building.

Caleb Stevens: When you’re on the 12th floor you see all kinds of things going on around you.

Erik Bagwell: I would not do what that guy’s doing. He’s crazy. Let’s talk real quick about our episode today. We’re glad you guys have tuned in. Alex Judd is joining us. Alex is the CEO; he’s the founder of Path for Growth. Alex, this was a really good interview that Caleb and I did. He’s got a lot of really neat stuff as far as culture. Caleb, you had gotten put in touch with Alex through a mutual friend you guys have. Talk about it for a second.

Caleb Stevens: Yeah. Kevin Scott, our mutual friend. Shout out to Kevin if you’re listening, but Alex, he may be one of the youngest leaders and guest we’ve ever had on this show. He’s really strong. He used to work with Dave Ramsey’s company, Ramsey Solutions. He hosted The EntreLeadership Podcast, for the folks listening too, if you’re into leadership podcast, that EntreLeadership Podcast is probably one of the biggest leadership podcasts in the world. I would think, and Alex got the privilege of hosting it and now he runs a company called Path for Growth that helps small business owners. So, this was a good discussion on leadership culture. We talk about how the best leaders have navigated, the pandemic over the past couple years, and we’re excited for folks to check it out.

Erik Bagwell: Yeah. He’s got some neat remarks too, about how banks help small businesses and how you can even enhance how you help small businesses. So, this is a really neat podcast. So first though Caleb talk about our loan pricing model. This is something you help put together. We’re excited about it, had a lot of folks have actually downloaded this series. Talk about it.

Caleb Stevens: Yeah. So, we’ve got five free videos to help you price more profitable loans this year in 2022, if you’re looking at what the Fed is doing, if you’re looking at inflation, if you’re thinking through all of the changes in the economy then these videos are for you. All you got to do is click the link in these show notes of this episode to download them, and we hope you’ll check it out. Five free videos to price more profitable loans, click the link in the show notes, or you can go to southstatecorrespondent.com/loanpricing. So, with that, here is our discussion with Alex Judd. Alex Judd, welcome to the podcast.

Alex Judd: Hey, thanks so much for having me. You all, I’ve been looking forward to this.

Caleb Stevens: Well, it’s great to finally meet you in person or I guess somewhat in person, we’re talking over a Zoom call here. You hosted The EntreLeadership Podcast for a while for Ramsey Solutions. So, I feel like I know you from hearing all those great discussions you did with leaders, so good to be talking with you.

Alex Judd: Hey, thanks so much. Yeah. I feel when people tell me, I’ve spent so much time listening to you. I don’t know if I should say thank you or apologize, one of the two things.

Caleb Stevens: Well, give us a quick fly over of your career that’s for the folks who are not familiar with you and tell us what you’re doing now and what gets you so excited about serving leaders and small business owners?

Alex Judd: Oh man, I promise I’m not going to go through every grade, but whenever I get asked this question, I always have to start at second grade because this story really stands out to me and I think it’s exemplary for what a lot of people actually experienced throughout their career as well. My mom was folding laundry and she remembers this story as well, and I was sitting on the ground. I was in second grade and I looked at her and we weren’t even talking about this. I just looked at her and I said, mom, when I grow up, I don’t think I want to be a motivational speaker, but I think I’d love to be a motivational teacher one day. She looked at me and she was like, who are you? Go play outside. What are you talking about? I say that just to say whether it was at the front of my mind or in the back of my head, the arena of leadership and communication were always things that I was deeply passionate about.

Then going into college, I wish I could say it was intentional. It wasn’t, I just loved to work, and so I took on a bunch of different internships, worked in the Texas capital for a member of the house of representatives, worked for a political consulting group, worked for a corporate consulting group, worked for a church, worked for a startup. What I was doing, I didn’t know it at the time, but I was doing trial and error and trying to figure out, okay, what do I actually enjoy? What am I actually passionate about? It was on the other side of that, after I graduated college, I took what felt like a pretty big risk and took a job to run a leadership development group that was associated with the church out in West Austin called, SPUR Leadership.

That was such a cool experience because it gave me the opportunity to manage my own P and L to bring volunteers in and have to operate through influence to get them engaged in the mission of what we were building to build out curriculum for students that we were trying to train as leaders. I wasn’t getting paid very much, but I didn’t need to get paid very much. I can eat Top Ramen and I learned so much, that job was worth its weight in gold. So, I’m still so grateful for that, but it was out of that, that I ended up moving to Tennessee and accepting a job with Dave Ramsey’s company, Ramsey Solutions, and worked in a couple different roles there, but always in the leadership development space and eventually came the leader of The EntreLeadership Podcast. Then it was just a year and a half ago now that we left to start this company called Path for Growth. We say that we exist to help impact driven leaders step into who they were created to be so that others benefit and God is glorified.

Caleb Stevens: Alex, talk about some of the biggest lessons you learned working at Dave Ramsey’s company.

Alex Judd: Hmm. Well, I think Dave is so famous for saying on the radio cash is king debt is dumb. I would kind of amend that statement a little bit as it applies to leadership. I would say culture is king, and that’s the thing that I learned about Ramsey’s Solutions is they prioritize organizational culture, unlike any place I’ve ever been to. They care about the values that are shared across the team. They constantly point people to how their day-to-day job connects to a higher level purpose. Every single leader in the organization is equipped with the tools and empowered to take eyes in the organization, which is now a thousand people and lift them just 10 degrees above the horizon. What’s crazy, you all and I are friends with Kevin Scott. One of the things that he is kind of famous for saying is great leaders, take the mundane and make it meaningful. That’s what they did.

You could be on a job where you’re literally smiling and dialing all day. You’re just making calls. I would see people that, it was like, that was their life’s calling. They were there to make those calls. There was so much energy, so much passion in it, and it’s because Dave and by extension the people he surrounded himself with have connected the dots for people of how their day-to-day activities connect to an overarching purpose that deeply matters. One more thing just on that Pat Lencioni, who I’m sure you all are familiar with, he talks about three signs of a miserable job, immeasurement, irrelevance and anonymity. Immeasurement is, I don’t know what winning looks like and I don’t know if I am winning. Irrelevance is I don’t know how what I’m doing connects to the big picture, and anonymity means they don’t know me, and even if they did know me, they wouldn’t care. I feel like Ramsey created the systems and structures and processes necessary to exterminate immeasurement, irrelevance and anonymity from the organization.

Caleb Stevens: Now, before we started the recording, you talked about The EntreLeadership Podcast and, man, I would love to host that podcast and you ended up like a year and a half being there. You are hosting it. Talk about some behind the scenes, like some neat people you got to interview and give us some behind the scenes look at that.

Alex Judd: Yeah, that was just such a dream gig. I’m still so grateful for that [inaudible 8:30].

Caleb Stevens: By the way, Alex, not to interrupt you, but you took over for the great Ken Coleman who is like a broadcasting, communicating legend. I mean, that guy is awesome. You filled some big shoes and you did a great job, but I remember thinking when Ken left, I was like, I love listening to Ken. Who’s going to replace Ken and you did a great job at it.

Alex Judd: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. That was just bizarre for me because I was the listener to the EntreLeadership podcast before I started working there and Ken Coleman was a hero, right? That guy was a role model, so to step in, I mean, that guy is just so slick and so sharp. I don’t know if you saw this, they did an event recently with George Bush and Ken interviewed George W. Bush and they’re sitting there and George, it seems like George Bush is in a stage of his career where he’s as laid back as he’s ever been in his entire life. He’s sitting there and Ken asked him a question at one at one point and George just looked at him, kind of cocked his head and said, that’s pretty good slick. That is such an accurate representation of Ken Coleman, pretty good slick. Okay, all that to say, I digress, behind the scenes stories. A couple that stand out, John Maxwell was another hero for me. That guy is the Dean of Leadership.

Every time you wake up, it seems like he’s coming out with a new book. Its like, how does this guy do it? I’ll never forget sitting down to talk with him and you just have this hope whenever you get to meet people like that, that your perception of them aligns with the real them. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, but it is always your hope. You just want to know that, man, is the guy that I see and listen to and have been reading about for years is that actually this guy? The thing that everyone knows about John Maxwell is his go-to quintessential phrase is, I just want to add value. I’m just here to add value, just adding value wherever I go. So, I sat down and I said, hey, John, my name’s Alex. I’m so looking forward to this today, is there anything you need to talk about before we get started? He said, oh, Alex, it’s just so good to meet you.
I just want to add value to you today.

So, before we start, I just want to know from you personally, how can I add value to you? I was like, dang, this is the guy. It’s him. So that was unbelievable. Jocko Willink is also the real deal. He was always the one that would stay after, I think I interviewed him twice or three times and he would stay after and just want to chat and just want to hear what’s going on. He’s a huge Dave Ramsey fan and just such a humble leader that lives in alignment with what he teaches, which is really, really cool to see. So, I think Jocko’s another one. I have more stories if you want to share them but I could go on for the entire podcast, if you want me to.

Caleb Stevens: I always wondered how far in advance you guys booked your guests, because these are such huge names. I would think to get on their calendars. You’ve got to give them a good bit, heads up notice, what was it like getting to the booking process to book people like that?

Alex Judd: It was an incredible team that was running that operation. So, I wasn’t involved in a ton of that, but we would typically meet about six months ahead of time and say, okay, who would we like to talk with, and what would we like to talk with them about? Then the process would occur, but there would be sometimes, and this is the gift and the power of having a podcast that reaches 8.5 million people. Is when you email saying, hey, could you come on for a conversation next week? People actually have a pretty high track record for saying yes to that, right?

Caleb Stevens: Yeah, tend to find some flexibility in your calendar, huh?

Alex Judd: Yeah. They have a vested interest in doing that. It was so cool where, I would read a book by Seth Godin or something and be like, I would love to talk to Seth about this book. Then we’d look up the next week and be like, oh my gosh, it’s happening. So, it wasn’t always like that, but it was definitely a gift to be able to do that.

Caleb Stevens: We’ve got a lot of younger folks listening to the podcast in addition to senior leaders at community banks. I think one thing that they all often are wondering themselves is, okay, I want to build my influence. I want grow in my leadership, but I don’t have any direct reports. Alex, I’m not like you where I run my own business, I want to grow but I don’t have the technical title or authority. Any thoughts for young leaders kind of, as you were coming up, any lessons that you learned? Dave Ramsey and even now, how to leverage influence when you lack authority, which I think it’s maybe Clay Scroggins, who speaks on that, but any thoughts for the younger leaders listening on that topic?

Alex Judd: Yeah. I feel like every leader that we’ve mentioned up to this point either lives in Atlanta or has previously lived in Atlanta at some point. You all are just a hub. I love it. I love this question because I think in many ways it is the question, because the pathway or paradigm of thinking that says, you need a position or you need direct reports in order to lead is just so false and it’s been proven false. We don’t need to go over that discussion. We don’t need to go over that argument. My belief is that if someone depends on you, then you are a leader. So, unless you’re living in isolation, in a monastery by yourself, somewhere off the grid, you are a leader. So, the question is not, are you leading? The question is how are you leading? I just subscribe to that belief that you are an elevator and if you’re listening to this right now, you are an elevator. You are taking people up or you are taking people down, but you are not neutral.

So, then we have to ask the question that you ask Caleb, which is how do you cultivate and create influence? I believe there’s four stages. We teach this in our ownership mentality team training at Path for Growth, four stages that if you follow these four stages, it is the path to influence. You can accelerate the way that you walk through the stages with one thing, outrageous intentionality, but you cannot skip a stage. You always have to walk through these stages. So, the first stage is always relationships, and it’s interesting because lots of people arrive into the workplace or into the marketplace or into this realm that we call leadership and they think that the first stage is results. I’m here to tell you that results without relationships are dead, and so you have to start with the relationship because the question that people are always asking, whenever you enter your office, whenever you sit down next to them in the morning, whenever you walk into that customer meeting, whenever you go home to your family, the question people are always asking is, do they care?

Not do they care about me as a customer, not do they care about me as a number, not do they care about me as an opportunity, not do they care about me as an employee. Do they care about me as a human being? So, whether subconsciously or consciously people are asking the question, do we care? Step one is relationships. From relationships, step two is results. So often we sacrifice relationships on the altar of results and in reality, we need to establish the relationships. Then the second question people are asking with regard to results is can they do their job? Will they do what they said they would do? Does their yes mean yes, does their no mean no? Can I count on them? What we’re talking about there is credibility. So, do they care? Can they do their job? If you can establish those things over an extended period of time, then you move to step three and step three is trust.

Trust is a really interesting one because the question that people are asking whenever it comes to this topic of trust is whose best interest are they operating in? I went through longer than I wish was true in my career where I did the relationships and I did the results because I was an achievement oriented individual. If you really sat me down and got to the core of why I was doing it, it was for me and what I had to learn, and what I had to be humbled in, and the lesson that I had to taught and consistently revisit is the way that you build trust with people is you operate in their best interest. People are constantly looking, okay, are you doing this relationship and results thing for you, or are you doing it for us? That’s how you build trust. So, relationships, do they care? Results, can they do their job? Trust, who’s best interest are they operating in? Then finally we reach that stage of influence. Influence is should I follow them?

There are leaders in my life who have cultivated, such influence that if they ask or tell me to do something, I don’t even question it. I just say yes, because relationships, results and trust compounded over an extended period of time, create influence, and they’re the type of people that I deeply want to follow. What’s so cool is we have a 19 year old on our team right now. He’s a marketing intern for us. He crushes this. He is just so good at the relationships thing. He does his job so well, and I’m watching before my very eyes, as his influence within our team is growing, and he’s able to sit in a room with 30 and 40 year olds and have a conversation, and people listen to what he’s saying, and they don’t report to him. It’s because he’s invested in the path to influence.

Caleb Stevens: Oftentimes, we tend towards one or the other when it comes to results and relationships; some people tend to be results, results, results. Some people tend to be more relationship oriented and the key is to value both because one kind of common measuring stick, I see for this is there are people that I know that when we have a meeting, they’re on agenda item, number one, two minutes before the meeting’s supposed to start. I know other people who, 10 minutes into the meeting we’re still talking about their kids or their golf swing or something. It’s like, all right, guys; we got to get the meeting going. How have you tried to preach the importance of valuing relationships and results? Of course, we care about each other. We need to know each other that builds trust, but we also got to get stuff done.

Alex Judd: I love that question. I’d love to know from you all. Do you lean more into relationships or results? I’m so interested to know where you all land on this.

Erik Bagwell: I’ll answer this because for me, it’s relationships. When Caleb, he just gave it away because he talked about the golf swing.

Caleb Stevens: Sorry.

Erik Bagwell: I love to play golf, but I think relationships is huge. Just like you said, you’re not the 19 year old. I’ve got a son who’s kind of similar to that from a small age. He always looked people in the eye and talked to them and it just amazes people, so now it’s natural for him. I find myself when I talk to somebody young, if they look you in the eye and can carry on a conversation, it’s such the anomaly that you’re just sitting there going, that kid’s pretty good because so many of them, they just can’t do that. I would say relationships for sure. Caleb’s mentioning the meeting that starts really 15 minutes in. That’s the meeting I’m leading probably.

Caleb Stevens: Well, it’s an interesting thought exercise because I would say when I’m in work mode, and this is probably not a good thing, I have very little time for small talk and it can be a pet peeve when we’re talking 20 minutes into when the meeting supposed to start, when I’m off work and I’m just getting dinner with a friend or hanging out with my family or something, it’s totally can be off. When I’m in work mode, we got to go; we got to get stuff done. I love you. I trust you. I care about you, but we got to make it happen. Why are we talking about our golf–

Alex Judd: I so resonate with that Caleb. I’m the guy like when people start talking about the weather, I’m like, why are we talking about the weather? I can see the weather. Why are you commenting on what the weather, it was so convicting for me. I read a book; it was called The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson. There’s a small chapter in that book that is titled the ministry of small talk, and we teach this whenever we do this team training. He talks about the fact that when you diminish the value of small talk, you’re diminishing the value of where a lot of people live a portion of their lives, because some people want to talk about the baseball game last night. Some people want to talk about the weather and sometimes that’s not bad, that just is. If you just say, that’s not valuable, that’s not good. You’re not just saying that’s not valuable and that’s not good. You’re saying you are not valuable and you’re not good.

So, what’s been so helpful for me is to say, okay, you can’t be all relationships, but you also can’t be all results. You want to be the force that mediates between the two, and so if you know you lean into results and you’re going to be that person that says, man, we have to start the meeting on time and we have to be in to productivity mode and objectives mode the minute meaning starts then be the person to gets to the meeting 10 minutes early to just shoot the breeze with people as they walk in the door. If you’re the person that is hyper, hyper relational, then you should probably carve out time to make sure you feel that need so that you can actually have some measurable objectives that you get because it turns out that’s pretty a good strategy for keeping your job, but it’s the mediation between the two and being aware enough to say, okay, what is my natural disposition so that you can correct for it.

Caleb Stevens: All right. I think we’re coming down. I don’t know what this show will actually be, but this probably be like the 93rd show that we have put out as a podcast, and we started this during COVID. I’d love to know how many shows of that 93 we haven’t mentioned COVID, since I just mentioned it. There you go. Chalk up another one, but I would say it’s very few, but Alex, talk about over the last two years, the leaders that you’ve talked to and that you see, what have the ones that have really navigated through this, because the world changed obviously for everybody. Leaders, drastic change and shift. Talk about what they’ve done over the last 18 months and how they pivoted?

Alex Judd: Yeah. I appreciate that question. I’m sure you all can resonate with this too. It’s been such a wild time, I believe in every industry, but from a coaching perspective, it’s been a really wild time because you get a front row seat to how disproportionately people have been affected by this pandemic. I mean, there are some industries, businesses, geographic areas that the past two years have represented the best year in the history of their business. Then there’s some that were darn near or did go out of business because everything’s shut down and then there’s everywhere in between. So, one of the things that I’ve really had to focus on in our communication and the way we train and teach people is, never forget that there’s way more nuance than just a cookie cutter message associated with how people can and should respond to COVID.

What I will tell you is, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and writing about this, our team has spent a lot of time studying this, is that within the teams across industries that have thrived, there are a couple of commonalities. What I have noticed is that the teams that have really done well and the leaders who have done well in that they maintained a degree of stability and unity and forward progress, and they didn’t just blow up in the midst of all this. They were teams that were able to clearly and consistently answer three questions. So, question number one is why do we exist? This connects to what we were talking about at the beginning. We’ve all seen Simon Sinek, Start With Why Ted talk, if you haven’t, you need to go watch that, because it’s so powerful on this topic. If people don’t have a deep seated why and purpose that connects what they do to the reason they do it, they’re going to abandon it at the first sight or sound of crisis.

So, I think it was Nietzsche that said, he who knows his, why can bear almost any how, and that’s what we’re talking about here, when you know why you do what you do, the how just detail. So, why do we exist? Number two is what do we stand for? We saw that COVID brought about uncertainty. One of the things that I know to be true is that for the degree that uncertainty increases in your life, in your leadership, in your business, you as a leader, have to take ownership of creating a sense of certainty and order. So, if things are starting to look like chaos, it would be really wise for you to introduce order, structure, system, and process, and because people are walking around uncertain, they’re walking around fearful and they’re walking around paranoid, if you’re not careful, you have an organization that is led by people walking on eggshells, constantly wondering, is this okay?

Is this going to be a mistake and never actually taking action on anything. So, what do you do? When you create the guardrails within which outrageous freedom can occur. At Path for Growth, we call those your core values. This was popularized probably by Jim Collins and Pat Lencioni writes a lot about this, but your core values are your non-negotiables that you stand for that are immovable. You point to and you say, if you can make a decision that falls under the umbrella of these five core values, then it may be a mistake and we may lose some money, but I’m not going to get mad at you because it falls within the values of who we are and what we stand for. What we’ve seen is throughout the COVID period, because we started this business in a pandemic, we’ve needed people to make decisions and take actions. We’re a startup, and so I can’t approve or give permission on everything. So, we need people to move quickly and be agile.

What’s so cool is I give them those values and I just say, within these boundaries run like crazy, make decisions. You have outrageous freedom, and so that’s number two, and that also directly applies to a remote work environment too. Then number three is really important. Where are we going? That’s a vision, and the thing that I want to highlight here is that a lot of business writing today teaches that you should create a vision by identifying a singular quantitative metric. While I think that, that can be efficient it is often in my experience ineffective, because I have seen so many businesses focus single-mindedly at one metric that while they’re pursuing that metric, that audacious goal, that BHAG, all of their values, all of their purpose, their team’s wellbeing, their personal wellbeing as a leader, goes out the door, because they’ve said the only thing that matters is this metric. Does it mean that metrics don’t matter? Absolutely not.

I would just argue that the things that really matter, your team’s health and wellbeing, your health and wellbeing, the cultural vitality of your business. Is your business becoming more of what you want it to be or less of what you want it to be? Your customer satisfaction and success. All of those things are kind of things that refuse to be distilled into a single metric, but you as a leader should really be paying attention to. So, the people that I’ve seen thrive during COVID are the ones that know where they’re going, and this doesn’t represent a vision issue, this pandemic, it just represents a strategy issue. This just shifted the way that we’re going to get to the destination that we’re going to, and that might change, but where we’re going, that’s not changing. I mean, you all told me whenever we came on this podcast, you said, we used to do everything that we’re doing today on the golf course with people.

Or we used to go have lunch with people or have coffee. Now we can’t do that. This doesn’t mean that a vision changes. You didn’t change your vision, you change your strategy, you start a podcast, you start direct mail. I just see that the teams that are thriving right now and that have thrived through the past two years are the ones that at their core, their team knew, why do we exist, what do we stand for and where are we going.

Caleb Stevens: It sounds like too, as a leader, you can’t always offer complete certainty to your team members, but you can’t offer them the clarity that you have and the clarity, even that and of itself is so valuable to your team, and it’s so appreciated, I would think.

Alex Judd: Yeah. You can be certain that you don’t know everything and that can actually be really refreshing for people. I’ll never forget, so when the pandemic started and first became a very real thing, I was still at Ramsey Solutions and I’ll never forget the meeting that we had that took this thing called COVID from being just this weird thing that was on the news that no one really knew what it was going to be to, oh, now the president’s talking about it, and you’re seeing all these images of people in hazmat suits walking around. It’s like, what is going on? They called an all-team meeting and they started with prayer, and Dave basically ran through in that meeting, all the things the company did know, and the plan for moving forward, but also all the things that they didn’t know, but they were going to be keeping their eye on. It was crazy to watch people’s shoulders drop to watch their accountants improve.

Not because he was presenting this image of, we’ve got this all figured out because that would’ve made me more anxious. It’s like, oh, he doesn’t know that he’s not bigger than this thing. No, he was completely aware. He was completely humble. Humility is to have an accurate viewpoint of one self. So as a leader, sometimes you can say, I don’t know, but it’s something that I’m committed to paying attention to, and that can be really good.

Caleb Stevens: Well, let’s transition to talking about what you do now with Path for Growth. We’ve got a lot of commercial bankers listening and their whole job every single day, Alex is to get to know small business owners to help them with their financing needs, to be a resource for them, to when they have a question and they need to pick up the phone and call somebody they’re always going to get an answer. May not even be the answer they always want to hear, but they’re going to get an answer, and that trust and that reliability is so important in community banking, helping small business owners grow and achieve their goals. Talk about some of the biggest ways that you guys support small business owners and maybe what are some of the ways that that might even translate to how our commercial bankers listening can do the same.

Alex Judd: Yeah. Are you specifically talking about the products that we provide or just the relational way that we work with small business owners?

Caleb Stevens: All of the above. Yeah.

Alex Judd: Okay. Yeah. Well, I shared it earlier, one of our core values is treat people like friends and so that’s everything that we do operates in the context of relationships. We always kind of say at our team, we treat people like friends, like everyone like friends, because they are, and that’s how we act and that’s how we operate. So, everything occurs within the context of relationship, but then within at what we always focus on is principle-based coaching and principle-based team training. So, if you’re someone who’s in the spot where you get to influence small business owners, how cool is that? Number one, small business owners and business leaders are my favorite group to talk to, because anytime I get on a stage and I’m talking to a hundred leaders, I know I’m not talking to a hundred people.

Alex Judd: There’s a pretty good chance. I could be talking to a thousand, ten thousand, right upwards of a hundred thousand people because each one of those one person or each individual in the room represents ten, twenty, a hundred individuals. So, the first thing I would say, recognize that, what you get to do is such a gift. It’s such an opportunity, and if you can make that person five to 10 percent better in their day-to-day work life, if you can even improve their attitude for the day, if you can improve their ability to influence, if you can improve their confidence and their finances, just by 5 percent, you will radically change their organization and you will radically, I mean, have an impact on people’s lives. So, never discount what you do is the first thing that I would say, but then the other thing that I would say, is focus on the principles.

I’ve been doing coaching and leadership development for a long time now, almost a decade, and one of the things that I’ve learned is that if there’s a pattern, there’s a principle. So, if you’re in a position where you get to talk to business owners every single day, or you get to observe businesses every single day, you should have your pattern radar always on, and you should constantly be asking the question, okay, what are the patterns? What are the underlying themes? What’s going on here? Out of the pattern, you can start to define principles and principles, transcend industry, and you can really serve people by giving the principles through which their practical actions can fit into. So that’s what we focus on within the coaching, the team training that we do at Path for Growth, and that’s the thing that I would pass on to your customers is, focus on the patterns, out of those patterns, identify the principles, and then never forget that you are in such a position to serve people, view your work as service because you have the opportunity to really impact people’s lives.

Caleb Stevens: That’s awesome. Really good content, Alex. Great thoughts. Well, as we wrap up, I’d love to kind of get your thoughts on working with a big company versus working in a startup with what you’re doing now. Tell us what are some of the key differences and then what are some of the similarities we had on Keith Wilmot not too long ago. He went from serving as the VP of Global Creativity for Coca-Cola to running like a 10-person startup.

Erik Bagwell: Wow.

Caleb Stevens: It was very interesting to hear him say, I never worried about cash flow in the P and L at Coca-Cola I had other issues, we were publicly traded and had wall street analysts following us and all these things, but never worried about making payroll now it’s a totally different scenario, and so there’s certain things that I don’t feel the pressure that I did prior and vice versa. Any thoughts for you? We’ve got banks that range from 5, 6 billion in assets all the way down to a hundred million. So, we’ve got a range of leaders listening. What are some of the similarities and some of the differences between big and small companies?

Alex Judd: Yeah. Let’s start with the similarities. I think probably the greatest similarity between Ramsey and it’s probably one of the defining factors behind Ramsey’s outrageous, just wild success in the past decade that is also true in the startup world is the people that win have a bias towards action, just do something and do it in the smallest possible way, low lift, low resources, low time invested, low people. Then, I mean to use Jim Collins analogy, once you fire a few musket balls and you get your gun calibrated, then you fire a cannonball. I learned that from Ramsey Solutions, which is pretty wild. I learned a bias towards action and scrappy agile, never-ending improvement from an organization that when I left it, it was a thousand people. So, that is pretty remarkable.

It’s the thing that I will tell you, if you can create that culture, regardless of whether you’re a 5,000-person organization or a five-person organization, it will benefit you. Now, what I would tell you is if you’re a 5,000-person organization, the way the action takes place is going to look different. It’s not going to look like, oh, we have this idea and we’re launching the customer base tomorrow because the stakes are really, really high whenever you have that big of a megaphone and that big of a reach. What I would say though, is you want to create a culture where internal action occurs rapidly and quickly, and you’re constantly running tests and experiments because I mean complacency is the killer of all businesses. So, the organization that is most at risk for complacency is the 5,000-person organization.

The five-person organization is, but if they become complacent, they’ll probably be out of business next week, the 5000-person organization it’s kind of like running. If you start to realize, oh, I’m thirsty, it’s too late to drink water. You should have been drinking water a long time ago. So, you want to create systems and processes for never-ending improvement, reevaluation, and growth within your business. Then in the smaller side of things, I would say the thing that I would tell the people that run a small business is man do the hard work to define why you exist and what you stand for now because it will solve a multitude of issues for you moving forward. Create the cultural foundations and pillars of your organization now because you may look up, I did that whenever we had two people and I look up, I was like, what am I doing, creating this stuff now. This kind of feels like maybe a waste of time.

Now I’m consistently so grateful for it because there’s so many decisions that are already made. That’s what you want to invest in as a leader is what we refer to as advanced decision making, where you make the smallest number of decisions that have the greatest number of ramifications. That’s what I want for you. So that’s what I would focus on is kind of some of the differences in similarities, but honestly, things that all leaders should focus on, Caleb.

Caleb Stevens: Well, how can folks get into touch with you if you’re hearing this and they’re saying, maybe I do need coaching resources that you offer or maybe I have a lot of room to grow myself personally, as a leader. How can they connect with you, learn more about what you’re doing and continue to grow?

Alex Judd: Yeah. Our website is pathforgrowth.com and you’ll be prompted on there if you would like to sign up for an email that I write every Wednesday called Worth it Wednesday, I personally hate email. So, if we’re going to send an email, it better be worth it, worth your time and worth your energy. So, we try to send every week, a principle worth learning, a question worth answering and a recommendation worth taking. You can read in under three minutes, comes out every Wednesday. Then we also have The Path for Growth Podcast that you can find on any podcast app. Hey, I so appreciate number one, that you all had a bias towards action to have this podcast. To hear, you all talk a little bit about the way that it’s reaching you all’s ideal niche customer in such way. I mean, you all are going out of your way to serve those people above and beyond. I’m inspired by you all. So, thank you.

Erik Bagwell: Alex. Thanks for being on, man.

Caleb Stevens: Thanks for being on always great to talk to somebody who shares a similar passion for small businesses and for community banks. So, thanks for joining us.

Alex Judd: Thanks, you all.

 

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