What does your company do?
RRC is a management consulting firm specializing in leadership development and organizational transformation. We use clients’ current projects as the applied learning environment to develop their leadership mastery and achieve superior results. Client achievements range from buildings built, watersheds cleared, and balance sheets balanced, to forests renewed, homeless sheltered, performances sold out, refugees protected…and so much more.
Was there a specific turning point when you realized your business was moving to the next level?
Over 20 years, my business has up-leveled several times. The cycle of my firm’s growth and expansion parallel my own readiness to stretch, and each cycle has been prompted by a desire to broaden the reach and application of my expertise.
For example, I first started RRC as an outgrowth of my executive leadership roles in nonprofit organizations. At that time, I realized I was a change agent and that striking out on my own would enable me to apply my skills to a wider range of situations. Then, after nearly 10 years consulting with hundreds of nonprofits, I felt ready to apply my capabilities to a broader arena – RRC immediately started getting clients in the public sector and began our focus on multi-stakeholder collaborations and executive leadership development there. Now, 10 years later, we are moving into the international arena. So, our growth is a consequence of my evolution, in tandem with the opportunities of our changing environment.
What processes or procedures have you implemented that have helped grow your company?
There have been two very significant processes that have supported RRC’s growth – one more obvious and one perhaps less.
First, we strive to systematize everything we do – my team’s vernacular includes “maintenance” versus “development” efforts. Whatever is maintenance, we codify as standard process (SOP) in our team handbook and in RRC’s policy/procedures manual. This serves as our foundation. Then when we move into development – e.g., creating our social media strategy, we are much more attentive to exploring and validating what works and what doesn’t before we identify SOP. We do a lot of innovation and creating at RRC, so this clarity helps everyone know what mode we’re in!
The second, perhaps less obvious process is the use of collaboration tools. We teach collaboration to our clients, so we must excel at it ourselves. We have worked with most of the basic tools out there (Central Desktop, SharePoint) and continually push the boundaries of how we use them, both internally and with our clients.
What is most rewarding about running your business?
Bar none, it is experiencing people achieve much more than they ever imagined possible. To see someone – whether a client executive, a client group member, or an RRC team member – realize their heart’s desire is inspiring and energizing for me. I never tire of it.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
My challenges generally fall into one category: dealing with my limitations. These may result from different causes: what I don’t know or am blind to, what I am afraid of, what I don’t think is possible. But ultimately, each are addressed the same way – by examining my thinking and making shifts. Over the years I have made it my practice to use RRC as my own learning environment. This mindset enables me to overcome any challenge since all challenges are simply my current curriculum for growth.
If you were starting over today, what would you do differently?
I would network more. Before the terms existed, I was a “solopreneur” and a social entrepreneur. A common trait of both is the “go it alone” mentality. I started RRC after just six years in the work world, which was possible because of that mentality. But what I didn’t know then was how much more was possible and faster by connecting with others with whom I share values and vision. Since I have opened to this, my business and my own growth have expanded exponentially.
What advice do you have for other business owners?
Document your business strategy and processes early. One of the defining characteristics of entrepreneurs is our unique ability in some area or other. Too often we take this ability for granted – since it’s easy for us, we assume it isn’t worth much. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The entrepreneur’s unique ability is the source of everything in their business. Documenting it means you can more easily replicate it, teach it and productize it. This can seem like tedious work, but the payoff is enormous.
Please list any favorite books, tools or resources (software, website, etc.) you would recommend for others:
Warren Bennis’ books on leadership.
James Gleick’s The Information – essential reading for understanding the role of technology and information today and its fascinating evolution.
Twitter: following broadly and using theme lists and Paperli.com enables me to tap into the global consciousness in a flash.
For my blogs, WordPress has been a terrific tool – both versions (.org and .com)
What is something that people might be surprised to learn about you?
I am a sports movie junkie. The irony is I don’t follow any professional sports, but a good sports movie (has there been a bad one?) enthralls me. The reason is simple: even though sports movies are formulaic, the formula of teams triumphing over adversity is what I live for. My favorites are Remember the Titans, Mystery Alaska, and now Moneyball.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Entrepreneurial businesses are the way business is moving, so many more people of all ages, situations, and with every possible idea are getting into them. This is tremendously exciting for a variety of reasons: greater opportunity for personal satisfaction and purpose; further democratization of the economy; increased possibility for collaborations, partnership and joint ventures; and more flexible business models that are resilient to change – to name a few. I would encourage anyone with a passion to explore the entrepreneurial business model – but don’t think you have to go it alone or start from scratch. There are tremendous resources out there (the Business Info Guide being a terrific example), as well as myriad mastermind, networking and mentoring groups. This is a truly exciting time for small business entrepreneurship!