Value Talks Ep 7: Planning for the New Year: What Every Leader Should Know

Hosted by Travis Tasset, the Value Talks podcast explores a range of topics that matter to people, including healthcare, leadership, and culture. In Episode 7, Travis and I discuss what every leader should know when planning for the new year. You can listen to the full episode here.

Transcript of Episode 7

Welcome to another episode of Value Talks, with your host, Travis Tasset.

Travis Tasset: Welcome to this episode of Value Talks. I’m your host, Travis Tasset and sitting down today with Dan Tasset and we’re going to talk about planning for the New Year: what every business leader should know. Dan, thank you for joining me.

Dan Tasset: Thank you, happy New Year.

Travis Tasset: Happy New Year. Let’s talk about the New Year and what often comes with the New Year is New Year’s resolutions, so I’m curious about what you think about New Year’s resolutions.

Dan Tasset: It’s almost become a tradition for people to talk about what’s your New Year’s resolution and that’s all fine and dandy and it’s great. But the facts are that I think I’ve seen a study that 90-95% of all New Year’s resolutions will be broken by Valentine’s Day and while it’s a fun tradition and kind of funny that would actually occur it’s really quite sad, in my opinion.

Because what some people really do and we all should do is we should take an opportunity to renew ourselves each year and to set new goals. I think it’s just sad that there isn’t more discussion around what could you do to sustain it, so that 95% of all New Year’s resolutions aren’t broken, so it actually results in somebody being more, doing more, with their life.

Travis Tasset: Most organizations go through a process each year annually and do you just want to briefly touch on that?

Dan Tasset: I’m a big believer in business planning process and that while it makes sense to set goals, if there’s not a process around setting those goals and something before it and something that comes after, then you’re going to be less successful as a company or as an organization.

So I’m just adamant that any company that we invest in or we have ownership in has a business planning process and that process starts with vision, mission, purpose. What do we want to be? What do we want to inspire to be, a vision? What do we want to be, do, and have? Then the process of going around it and what’s our battle cry and what’s the reason that we exist as an organization?

A business planning process starts with a vision, mission, purpose. You establish some standard of contact, code of behavior, culture, if you will. Then you kind of look and say, “What is going on in the industry? What are the drivers of our strategy as an organization?” Maybe do a SWOT analysis and strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.

Then you start developing a strategic map. You say, “What are our strategies for this year?” and then from that, you say, “Let’s set some specific short-term, long-term goals.” Notice how much came before you actually set goals, and then as you establish those goals you think, okay, how are we going to accomplish those goals, what disciplines are we going to put in place, what initiatives are we going to put in place, what habits are we going to develop as an organization to help us accomplish those goals?

And then you measure against those goals on a regular, periodic basis so that you can determine whether you’re getting closer to accomplishing and bridging that gap, measure against that, and then you reward people or hold them accountable. Celebrate the wins and make changes where changes need to be made.

That’s the business planning process for an organization. We want everything that we invest in to do that. It works. It’s proven. It comes by a lot of different names, you have people write books. You have companies and organizations that develop what is called a balance scorecard. You can go on and on and on. It has a lot of different things.

But always the same thing, it’s the same process and it’s proven to work. It separates successful companies from unsuccessful companies.

Travis Tasset: Let’s make this a little more personable for everybody. How does that business planning process, that annual process, trickle down and what does that look like for the individual, the leaders of every organization or just me as an individual person? Let’s say I’m not even a worker, I’m a wife, I’m a husband. What does that look like for us as individuals?

Dan Tasset: Great question. One of the reasons why I agreed to do this podcast, Travis, is so that you could take it when we were done and distribute it amongst our company and our leaders and share it with outside as well and this will be posted as are others on our websites. But I want our leaders in our organization – and virtually everybody is a leader in some way shape or form, either at home or at work and even if you don’t lead down you lead up.

I just want this shared with the whole organization. If you took a very impersonal approach to this and said, “How should you develop as a leader or as an individual?” it would be really the same process you go through as a business.

But if I use those same terms, it becomes a little less personal and so I’m going to follow the same process for you to describe how it would happen with an individual and I’ll use different terminology but essentially it means the same thing as what you would in a business.

You might look and say, “Okay, well, New Year’s resolution, I want to set a goal. This is what I want to accomplish.” That might be the equivalent of a vision for an organization and then the very next thing that most people do, which is why New Year’s resolutions are broken, is because they stop with the goal. And if you notice the comparison I did in business, there’s a whole bunch that comes before it.

And that’s the part where I think if you are an individual, before you start setting a goal for yourself you should really ask not even, how am I going to accomplish the goal, what’s the how? But you should ask the question which is the “who.” Who do you want to be? What sort of a father do you want to be? What sort of a sibling do you want to be, a brother, sister? What sort of a leader do you want to be? A leader of your department, a group vice president, a vice president, a president, a CEO, chairman – just the leader of your department.

Who do you want to be because if you know who you want to be then it makes the “how” a lot easier. I think for me that’s the starting point.

Travis Tasset: I’m glad that you started with vision. We’re going to share probably quotes throughout this like we do in every one of our podcasts, but Warren Bennis is kind of the father of leadership, at least really kind of gave birth to the movement of leadership. He said that leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. So whether we’re leaders at work or at home – I’m a big believer that we are all leaders – it all starts with that vision, and so we have to have that first.

Dan Tasset: Yes. I agree. It just will make determining the “how” a lot easier. It’ll hold you more consistent if you say to yourself, “Listen, I want to be thought of by my children as a great father,” and then you’ll start thinking of how do I do that? What is it that I need to put in place? What disciplines or strategies or habits do I need to maintain so that I am known and that’s who I become – a great father. The same is true in leadership in your department or whatever that might be.

Travis Tasset: Once we start with the vision then we can move on to the vision as the “who” then we can move onto “how” we are going to go about accomplishing that vision we have for ourselves. How does the “how” start? What are the steps to that in your-?

Dan Tasset: I think you can put a number of steps but in my mind, I always like to take, particularly early in the year, and again this is not a business planning process, this is an individual development thought process. Let’s just talk about being a better leader, let’s talk about that role regardless of what that might be.

What I’m absolutely convinced of is there are three things that you need to put in place in order to execute on the “how.” The number one thing is, you have to have the discipline in place to start doing certain things. In other words, we’re not just going to talk about it, we’re going to actually do it.

I’m going to have the fortitude to say, “This is what I’m going to do and I’m going to start doing it now.” Again that sounds so easy, but it really is — in fact a lot of people say, “Well, you know I would like to start doing this,” but they never really just — “I’d really like to get healthy and I’d like to start exercising,” but the hardest part of jogging is putting your shoes on and getting out of the door, that’s the most difficult part.

It is true with every aspect of what you are wanting to do regarding the “how.” I’m absolutely convinced: just start. Get out of bed in the morning and start doing it and that’s the beginning.

Travis Tasset: Two quick quotes. Amelia Earhart, one of my favorites quotes of hers is, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity.” Oftentimes I find out people want to act but they’re maybe overwhelmed with where to start and another quote that I love is, “Begin anywhere.”

Sometimes people are so overwhelmed: “Do I start here?” It doesn’t matter, just start. That decision is the stepping stone.

Dan Tasset: Yes, and as part of that too, when you make the decision to start, when you first ask the question, “Who do I want to be?” I want to be a leader who is disciplined, who is well thought of, who is respected, who people love to follow, and if that’s who you want to be and you say, “I’m going to start to be that person,” the very next question you will ask yourself is, “Okay, what is it that I need to start doing specifically?”

So now you’re starting to put tactics in place and disciplines in place, habits in place, to be able to become who you want to become.
Travis Tasset: Assuming one flushes that out, they articulate that vision and they start to define the habits that they need to have in place to make the decision to act. They start to develop those tactics, those strategies, what’s the next step?

Dan Tasset: This is going to sound really– it’s almost the opposite of the decision to start. It’s the courage to stop. You’re like, “Well, that’s confusing.” It’s really not. I am absolutely convinced and particularly I’ve had a lot of successes in my life and I’ve had failures in my life and as I start to study the difference between those two and what’s the commonality and the success, it’s when I started to begin to understand that less is more.

In other words, I could accomplish more by doing less. So I started a long time ago when I started to experience success and tried to study what that was about, I started to cut more and more things out of my day. I stopped having long meetings, I stopped participating in all of the meetings I felt like I needed to participate in.

I maybe said, “I’m going to stop watching television so much because it doesn’t feel like I have time.” I look at it, I need a little bit more time, I need more time at work. Well, I don’t want to take away from family, I need more time with family. How do I get that? Stop watching TV as much.

Although relaxation and time off are critically important, but I started to look at how many hours I was spending on this, stop doing that. So every year at the beginning of each year, I’ll always say, “I want to have the courage and the tenacity to get out of the door, put my shoes on, and get going and start something new,” but I also do the same thing and say, “I’m going to stop doing this.”

Less is more. You can accomplish more by doing less and I just ask all of our leaders and everybody out there to just say, “What can I stop doing that would enable me to do other things more or better?”

Travis Tasset: I’m glad you brought up the word “courage” there because it does take courage doesn’t it?

Dan Tasset: Oh it does. It absolutely does.

Travis Tasset: Why do you think that is? What’s that about?

Dan Tasset: Well, first of all, I think it takes courage to both start doing things and it takes courage to stop doing things, because some of the things that you’re doing you may like or may be a comfort to you and maybe even an addiction to you.

Travis Tasset: Maybe a distraction, yes.

Dan Tasset: Maybe a distraction. Change, in general, takes courage to change. But that’s what life is about and those who succeed change and they change regularly. Because if you’re not changing, you’re not growing, and so the two are synonymous and I think it requires that change and it requires courage to do that.

Travis Tasset: The second thing that it made me think of, we’ve talked recently about the concept of via negativa which is a Latin phrase of basically thinking about things in a negative sense or it was from Christian theology a way of contemplating the creator, the divine, in terms of not what it is but what it isn’t. It just makes me think of as leaders, as individuals, in order to be who we want to be sometimes it is just removing the things that prevent us from becoming.

Dan Tasset: That’s another way of saying the whole thing, exactly.

Travis Tasset: So we can apply that to our life individually as well as professionally. So that’s the second step: having the courage to maybe stop doing certain things. You said there were three pieces. What’s the third piece?

Dan Tasset: The third one is to really – again – have the courage or to delegate. I just call it empowering. Find a person to empower. The first thing that comes to a lot of people’s mind is, “Well yes sure, I need more resources and I’ve got to hire more people.” There’s people out there that are currently part of the organization, that are part of your family, part of whatever that would love to have more opportunity to become more themselves.

In order to become more themselves, they have to be willing to start something and that may be as simple as somebody allowing them and empowering them to start something, particularly if you have subordinates.

I think the third element of this is to find a person to empower and to give work to and I think as a result of that– here’s the way I like to look at it. When I’ve had the most success in my life, I’ve read different people, delegation – there’s been a lot of books written on the subject matter.

If you can find somebody to do your job or some task you are doing, if they can do it 90% or 80% as well as you can, you should be delegating and empowering them to do it. I would lower that bar way down. I would say if you could find somebody to do it half as well as you do, but they have room to grow, then delegate it and let them do it. There’s a reason for that because they’ll feel valued.

Travis Tasset: It is an engagement, yes.

Dan Tasset: They will be engaged, they’ll grow personally. You can focus your energy somewhere else and do things that maybe bring higher value. The organization, therefore, will then thrive. And so what I have always liked and I’ve learned in recent years is, you can’t control everything and grow. It doesn’t work that way. You can have one or the other.

If you want to grow you have to empower others because it helps them, they grow, it gives you a chance to do other things and the organization itself will thrive and grow. Again, I just encourage our leaders all across our organization listening to this podcast and I know it’s been distributed like our others have.

Whether you’re a CEO of a facility or an owner of a business or whatever it might be, even running a department, or again if you’re leading up, I would just encourage you to empower other people so that you can do more yourself.

Travis Tasset: Numerous people have been attributed to this quote but the quote is, “You can do anything, but not everything.” It’s more about what’s the best use of my time, talent, and energy as a leader, and what is maybe something I can tee up for someone else to again help them grow? Why else do we hire smart people? I mean, why hire smart people if we’re not going to give them the opportunity to commit their talents?

Dan Tasset: Steve Jobs had an interesting quote. He said, “We don’t hire smart people and then tell them what to do, why would we do that? That’s just stupid. We hire smart people so they can tell us what we need to do.”

Travis Tasset: Absolutely, I love that quote. We’ve talked about starting with the vision and then being able to, once we’ve determined the “who,” that allows us to determine the “how,” and you talked about just getting started and taking that first step is having the discipline to get started and then having the courage to stop doing perhaps some things. Then the third piece being the confidence to delegate.

So where do we go wrong? Where do we get crossways? Where do we fail? What are your thoughts on that, because a lot of people set out to do this every year and then they fail to accomplish what they want to accomplish. Assuming they did one two and three of the “how” – they’re delegating, they’re acting, they’re stopping certain things, why else do you think they fail?

Dan Tasset: People focus on the “what” or the goal rather than on the “how” or the strategy and I just think it’s interesting if we could dive a little deeper on that for a minute. If you just think about it, this is pretty profound. If the “what” is the goal, I would argue that everybody has the same goals. It’s the “how” that’s different.

Travis Tasset: Meaning we all want to be happy, we all want to be successful.

Dan Tasset: How many people get married and say, “Yes, I want to– If we get five years and get a divorce and go to court and we’ll fight and we’ll divide stuff up” – nobody does that, right? You get married and you want to stay married for the rest of your life. Or a sports team: we’re going to put together a team and let’s just win half of our games.

Travis Tasset: Let’s just go out there and compete.

Dan Tasset: Yes, let’s just go out and let’s not get by more than 20 points, right? Nobody does that, you want to win the game. You all have the same goal. The question is why are some people successful and why are some unsuccessful? Why are some companies successful? Why are some individuals successful?

I would propose to you that the difference is the systems or the processes they put in place. Which is the how am I going to do this? The strategies, the disciplines, the habits, all those things when you lump them together that is the system of how I’m going to get from here to here. How do I bridge the gap from where I am today to where I’m going to be successful, or I’m going to accomplish who I want to become?

That is the difference between success and not success. If you just break those down, you can call it “discipline,” you can call it “habit,” you can call it “initiatives,” you can call it “systems,” you can call it “processes,” but you compile those altogether. What did Sean Covey said that I think his quote is, “Habits will make or break you because we become what we repeatedly do.” I love that quote.

Another quote by James Clear, “You don’t rise to the level of your goals or to your what, you fall to the level of your systems.” I think that just says it all that you have to have those initiatives in place on how you’re going to accomplish something and that makes all the difference in the world.

A goal, I’m going to have X dollars in savings by the end of the year. That’s great, what is the system you are going to put in place to do that? The system I’m going to put in place is I’m going to have X dollars deducted from every paycheck and I’m going to invest that at this percent of interest and this percent I’m going to invest in the stock market.

It is a system, it is a process. It is a discipline, it is a habit of doing certain things that help you achieve success, as opposed to just setting a “what” you determine the “how.” Understanding the “how” is almost more important than the “what.”

Travis Tasset: That makes sense completely. A lot of us know very well what the “what” is but the “how” is probably the missing point and that system of accountability and support in a lot of ways-

Dan Tasset: The second thing, Travis, that I think keep people from accomplishing being successful and for failing on their New Year’s resolutions is that they get discouraged because they don’t see progress, or they don’t see enough progress. If you just have a clear understanding it’s the little consistent things that you do over time that build up and achieve and accomplish success.

Whether it is if you want to become a great discipline-respected leader in your team, your organization, that just doesn’t happen overnight. But it’s a buildup of little consistent things that you might do. Notes of encouragement. Patience that you show. The time you spend with somebody. Good thought-provoking discussion. Good leadership. Good conversation. Authentic conversation, sincere. Fierce conversation.

A build-up becomes and gets you to that point. Losing weight, don’t go in and lose weight. It’s a discipline of consistently exercising, it’s a discipline. The habit of eating the right food that causes that to happen over time and I think where people get discouraged is that they begin to feel the change inside but it hasn’t manifested itself and people don’t see the change and they get discouraged and therefore take that and fall by the wayside.

So that New Year’s resolution, because they aren’t driven by “who” and don’t understand the “how,” now that goal that what starts falling by the wayside and it’s just unfortunate. A great metaphor, an analogy, that I’ve heard is boiling water. If you put water on the stove at 70 degrees and turn up the heat and it gets to 100 and it gets to 150, it gets to 200, gets to 213 degrees, it still looks the external identical to what it did at 70 degrees. But when it goes from 213 degrees to 214 it starts to boil.

So it’s this gradual buildup that you don’t see from the outside and unfortunately, it’s what people don’t even see from the inside. But as you start doing certain habits, certain disciplines, certain initiatives that become part of your life as a leader, as a father, whatever your role might be and whatever you determine who you want to be in that role and the “how,” you need to have the fortitude to stick with it and keep doing it because it’s building up and it will manifest itself in time. I think that’s number two.

Travis Tasset: There’s clearly a delay. What I’m doing today maybe the results won’t manifest themselves today but they will in time and you’re just saying.”Stick with it,” right? Stick with it. We have all these sayings in our culture of inch by inch it’s a cinch, yard by yard it’s hard. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Stick with it, have that fortitude.

Dan Tasset: “Gradually then all of a sudden,” that’s a quote that I’ve heard you say time and time again.

Travis Tasset: “Gradually and suddenly,” that’s the Hemingway quote from how someone became– in his novel, how someone lost all their money, they did it gradually and then suddenly. The inverse of that would be true in terms of how we succeed, it would be gradually then suddenly as well.

Any other reasons in your mind of why people fail?

Dan Tasset: Here’s the one, I don’t know about this one, but it just seems maybe a little bit funky but I often wonder why people they have this identity of themselves. I’m impatient, I’m stubborn, I have a short fuse, I’m quiet, I’m whatever, I’m undisciplined or whatever, I do things at the last minute. Whatever it might be.

They let that built-in identity of themselves – it almost sabotages the “who” that they want to become. It sabotages the goal, the “what,” and it sabotages the initiative the discipline the habit that they want to form to get there.

I just look at it and I wonder to myself– I heard somebody the other day, they were offered a cigarette: “No … I don’t know, maybe … but I’m trying to stop smoking.” I‘m like, “Why would you say, if you are offered and you want to quit smoking, why would you tell somebody ‘I’m trying to stop smoking’?” Why wouldn’t you just say, “I don’t smoke”?

I just encourage all of our leaders, when you determine the “who” you want to become, I want to see people become all that they can become. You’ve given me a great quote around that, I don’t remember the quote itself but it was, “When you see people as they are, you make them worse. If you see them as they could become, you make them better.” I would add my own quote behind that, which was, and you see them as their creator sees them.

But I just would encourage everybody to not let this old identity of yourself as if you’re incapable of doing anything different sabotage your resolutions. Sabotage who you want to become this year and how you’re going to become that person and the goals that you set, so that by Valentine’s Day they’re not all wrecked and thrown by the wayside.

Talk about yourself in a positive way and see yourself in the light of that person you want to become and talk about yourself as if you’ve already become that person and let “who” lead the entire year.

Travis Tasset: We’re often our own worst enemies and one thing that you’ve often taught me at a young age was to use the right words and the language of winners is different than the language of losers. If I could just use those kinds of broad brush strokes and the losers are making excuses and the winners are going to say, “How am I going to figure this out?”

Don’t sell yourself short to the people that are listening along with us. One quick example is often times people will say, “I can’t afford that” and what they should be asking themselves is, “How can I afford that?” That opens up possibilities when we ask ourselves those questions.

Dan, I just want to thank you for your time today. If you have any closing thoughts that you’d like to leave us with? To me, I’m sitting with the words “hold the vision,” hold the vision for who I want to be for myself and my family and then trust the process. Any closing thoughts Dan?

Dan Tasset: Yes. The closing thought would be just don’t take on too much. Don’t take on too many new “who”’s that you want to be, make it simple. Start in a very simple way and as you start developing the disciplines or the new habits you want to create for yourself, don’t get too many.

I assure you if you do too many you won’t accomplish, you won’t do any of them. Just start small, keep it even one, two or three would be better than putting a whole bunch out there and not accomplishing anything. I just want this clear for message for everybody in our organization, anybody in a leadership role, that you can become more if you’ll just follow the disciplines that we talked about here.

Travis Tasset: Brilliant, thank you.

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