What does being intentional mean to you?
If you're in a leadership position, you likely know intentions are important. Yet how much time have you and your co-leaders spent on getting clear on your intentions and how exactly you'll get to where you want to be?
I can attest to the impact that stopping, thinking, and getting clear on intentions and how they will be attained can have on both long-term success and day-to-day activities. This came about through the Intentional Growth FrameworkTM offered by Arkona. Recently, Arkona's cofounder, Ryan Tansom, and I talked on my podcast about these and other ideas. Ryan is also the host of the Intentional Growth podcast, where he and other business leaders share insight into best practices to grow your business.
When Ryan first approached me, I found him authentic and interesting. At the time, we didn't connect, but he was someone that stood out to me and so later we worked together. The tools I've learned from him and his cofounder Pat Hobby (full disclosure, Pat Hobby is ImageOne's Fractional CFO) have become invaluable resources for me and my company.
The Intentional Growth FrameworkTM rests on five key principles:
- Identifying what drives you and your business.
- Articulating financial targets.
- Charting out exit options and ensuring your business will have value.
- Increasing the business's value and reducing risk.
- Building a winning team of advisers.
This process alone can be incredibly helpful in clarifying your vision and the tools you need to get there. But there is still much work to be done.
Ryan developed some of his ideas for the Intentional Growth FrameworkTM through his own experiences with successes and failures. Ryan joined his family's company at a time when it seemed to be doing well, but despite having healthy profits, it didn't have good financial management for the long-term. "There was a scarcity of working capital," he explains, but at the time he didn't understand why they struggled to meet daily expenses like payroll. As a result of not having a clear picture, the leadership made a lot of bad business decisions. Eventually, with his help, they were able to turn things around and get it on good enough footing to sell it to a competitor.
This and other experiences has taught Ryan how important it was to understand the financial side of business as well as the importance of setting intentions in the right way. "I had to master my understanding of money," Ryan explains. In the process, he says, he's gone from simply trying to keep things together to now having an idea of where he's going and how he's going to get there. It's all about getting intentional. He's come to see money as simply "a way that people express what they're doing."
Ryan wants to help people in business better understand and manage money, as he's learned to do. After they sold the family business, he got an investment license and has learned many of the principles he now teaches through Arkona. "You need to understand how this stuff works," he says. And it's not all that hard. There are three pieces of information you need to understand in order to better understand financial management: income, balance sheet, and cash flow. These need to act as "your compass and map."
Setting a Course: The Role of CFOs
Arkona also offers fractional chief financial officer services to help companies set clear intentions and a plan of action on how to handle their finances and make more informed decisions. When I was CEO of imageOne, I found working with Pat invaluable in helping me and my business partner to get really clear on where we wanted to go and how to get there.
A CFO, ultimately, should be integral to getting other leaders really clear on income, outflow, and ultimate goals when it comes to money. In our case, working with our fractional CFO (Pat Hobby), we realized we would ultimately need to look at expanding through acquisitions in order to meet our goals.
Do you need a CFO? And if so, what should you look for? Most companies, Ryan says, "hire CFOs based on whether they are someone they want to drink and go fishing with." Instead, he recommends hiring a CFO who is going to "describe what they envision and how they're going to build it. The degree of accuracy to how well they are hitting that plan tells you good they are." The CFO needs to be part of planning for the future so other leaders can gain insight into the financial realities of getting there. A CFO needs to understand operations and the vision, and the financial implications on cash flow and future valuation. "If they don't understand this, they are not a CFO," Ryan says.
A vast majority of businesses in the United States make under $5 million and can't afford the services of a good CFO, but having someone who can help them grow is vital. A fractional CFO, then, can be a one way to get the input and guidance business leaders need.
Growing the Self: Goals, Discipline, and Freedom
A lot of learning and change can come from what Ryan calls "inflection points," such as selling a business or going through a divorce, as opportunities for growth and learning. Still, there is much we can do to help us better prepare for the challenges through engaging in practices that aid in self-growth. Ryan espouses the importance of lifelong learning and self-awareness, values held by many successful people.
"The whole life journey is about understanding who you are," he says. It is in interacting with others, through their ideas, through conversation and experiences, that we learn the most. Ryan notes that putting people labeled the "worst" criminals in solitary confinement is the worst thing that can be done if we want them to change and grow.
Ryan has seen a lot of pain in his own family, manifesting as depression, addiction, and more, and has made it is personal aim to find a different path. Goal-setting and discipline are the hallmarks of success for Ryan, and he believes they are the keys to happiness. He practices habit-stacking as a way to decrease the effort and time he needs to use up to make small decisions, freeing him up to focus on the bigger picture and to be more creative. "'Discipline equals freedom,'" he says, echoing a quote he'd heard. These practices, which include daily runs and meditation, have helped him to acknowledge but not act on impulses and desires in order to help him stay on track. "Structure helps me think about other things. You eliminate the decision on should I work out or not," Ryan explains. This gives him more freedom.
Perhaps nothing sums up Ryan's approach better than his interpretation of the Biblical verse, "the meek will inherit the Earth": "If you unpack what meek means, it's people who have the sword but they sheath it. They have the capability to use it but they don't. I take this to be about self-discipline."
The conversation with Ryan Tansom continues on the Leading with Genuine Care podcast, where we talk more about the Intentional Growth Framework,™ Arkona's work and his own journey. Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn and keep up with my company imageOne. Check out my website or some of my other work here.