This is Moe Abdou. I’m delighted today to be joined by Les McKeown, author of, in my opinion, the best business book that have been written in the last few years – Predictable Success. Les, I’m more excited to have this conversation with you today than I have been in a long time. I really appreciate you joining us.
I’m absolutely delighted to be with you Moe. Thank you for having me.
First of all, as I have mentioned briefly, I was wondering when I first picked up this book about three months ago, where it was 20 years ago. Hundreds of books are written every year on the topic of business success and evolution of business.
I think it might be important Les to share your perspective early on. What makes Predictable Success, for those who haven’t read it, a little bit more unique than a lot of these other business books that are written out there all year?
My own view of course is going to be coming from a slightly biased perception. I think that what has made the book—certainly in terms of the feedback that I get from people who have read it. What has really given it the impact that it has is that — first of all, I have been able to encapsulate literally a lifetime’s work in watching and participating in what makes organizations succeed and fail into something as very readable.
I combine I think an anecdotal way of telling the story of the life cycle of a successful business together with really hard edged stuff that I have learned having suffered bruises out in the marketplace. I started 42 businesses myself before I was 35 years of age. Since then I have helped literally hundreds more.
Even a dumb Irishman like me, you got to see some patterns as you go along. I think I put those into a very readable format that is also instantly actionable. You know, you read the book, you put it down, and you go do the stuff that I share in there. You don’t sit and mull about it for a long time.
About a week and a half ago, I had a small mastermind group of entrepreneurs here in San Diego that I visited with and I brought them each a copy of your book. As I was handing the book to a very young, very ambitious and successful entrepreneur, he looked at the title and looked at me and said, “Moe, if success were really easy and predictable, why isn’t every entrepreneur wildly successful because nobody gets into these businesses to fail?” I felt that was a great lead in to our discussion that day. I’m curious how you would respond to that.
The first thing I would say is that I don’t think you’ll find the word easy anywhere in the book. I don’t say it anywhere. I don’t claim that predictable success is easy. In fact, one of the things that I show is that at two critical times in any organization’s development — stages I call Whitewater or Treadmill — getting through those stages and getting to the stage that I call Predictable Success is in fact incredibly painful. I mean, it really is tough particularly for founders or owners. That would be the first thing. I’m not saying that it’s easy. I’m saying it’s achievable and it’s much more achievable once you know the vocabulary and the methodology that I laid out.
The second thing is that many of us have got different varieties of business training if you want to call it that. I’m from the school of Hard Knox. I learned basically everything that I put in the book from the reality of building, running, growing businesses. There are a lot of wonderful business leaders out there who have got a huge academic background supporting all of their knowledge about business leadership.
It doesn’t matter where you come from. Nobody ever sits down and tells business leaders that success can be predictable. It’s like we’re given the expectation for success. After all, that’s why we do it. Then we give it a whole set of tools to achieve it but nobody ever really links the two and says, how do you use the tools and what sequence to get success in your business which are left to rummage around the toolkit to see what’s appropriate at what point.
Really, all I have done with predictable success in one sense is to show what the sequencing of the use of the most common tools that we all meet everyday in building a world class business like building an orchard for example. Where does that come in, when do you use it and how do you use it.
I think that’s the main thing that I have heard people said to me over and over again. You know Les, I’m not reading anything here that I have never known before but what you have done for the first time is you really showed me to how sequence all of this.