THE THOUGHTFUL ENTREPRENEUR PODCAST
On this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with Peter Christian Books, Peter Christian. Peter Christian knows why businesses and managers at all levels succeed. He uses that knowledge, working closely to assist them in increasing their success and achieving their goals.
Peter Chritian’s first book, “What About the Vermin Problem?“, is a treasure trove of experiences from his time as a consultant. The book underscores the importance of the choices we make and how they can steer our journey towards success or failure.
Peter emphasized that even the most minor shifts in discipline, attitude, or action can profoundly impact the outcome of any situation. He firmly believes these lessons are not confined to the business world but can be applied to various aspects of life.
After being encouraged by a colleague, Peter penned his second book, which delves into the factors influencing our decisions and actions. He discusses how different people in our lives, such as bosses, coworkers, and executives, can both positively and negatively impact us.
Peter stressed the importance of acknowledging and thanking those who have been helpful, while also being wary of those who may not have our best interests at heart. He believes that these influences mold how we think and act throughout our lives, and that continuous learning from these experiences is crucial.
While Peter's books were primarily written for the business world, he believes they also have real-life applications. He discussed the importance of understanding and appreciating different perspectives to work effectively with others.
Peter also highlighted the significance of mentoring and guiding others to help them grow and succeed. He shared his experience as a consultant and mentor, and how he helps individuals and organizations improve their productivity and processes.
Key Points from the Episode:
- Importance of understanding and appreciating different perspectives for effective collaboration
- The significance of supporting roles in organizations, such as sales, marketing, and manufacturing
- The importance of mentoring and guiding others for growth and success
- Peter's experience as a consultant and mentor, helping individuals and organizations improve productivity and processes
About Peter Christian:
Peter Christian is an accomplished business consultant and executive with a wealth of experience. As a founding partner and president of espi, a business consulting firm in Northeastern PA, he has worked with over 300 clients, providing expertise in areas such as business development, profit improvement, operations, information systems selection and implementation, and project management. With a career spanning over 40 years, Peter has excelled in strategic and facility planning, continuous improvement, lean manufacturing, and supply chain management.
During his tenure at Crayola Corporation, where he held various positions including executive roles, Peter played a pivotal role in the company's remarkable 700% growth over 17 years. Since then, he has worked with a wide range of companies, from small enterprises to Fortune 100 companies, helping managers achieve personal growth while driving cost reductions, increasing profitability, and saving and creating thousands of jobs.
Peter is also a bestselling author on Amazon, having written the acclaimed books “What About the Vermin Problem?” and “Influences and Influencers.” His expertise is further shared through contributions to professional magazines and as a speaker at conferences, webinars, and podcasts. Notable speaking engagements include Lehigh University, Rutgers University, and various industry-specific organizations and events.
As an active consultant, Peter specializes in project management, leadership development, operational strategic planning, continuous improvement methodologies, facility planning, and supply chain optimization. He continues to offer his expertise and practical problem-solving approach to individuals, manufacturers, and consumer goods businesses seeking to thrive in today's competitive market.
13:52, “More people need to understand that. If you're not moving product and selling product and coming up with new product and making it and shipping it and all that stuff, the rest of it really doesn't matter at that point.”
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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, it's Peter Christian. Peter, you are a bestselling author. You are an adjunct professor, and you are found on the Web at Pete Christian Bookstore. Peter, thank you so much for joining us.
Peter (00:01:12) - Thank you very much for having me. My pleasure.
Josh (00:01:14) - Yeah. And so your books in terms of, you know, who you serve and who you write for and the impact you have in the world.
Josh (00:01:24) - Give us a quick overview.
Peter (00:01:25) - Okay. Well, they were primarily written as business books, but I think they have a an application to everyday life. The first one, what about the vermin problem was a collection of instances, experiences that I had with a variety of different clients when I was in the consulting world, and some of them were very positive experiences and some of them were not so positive experiences. And the story behind each is that there's a fine line between whether you're very successful or not so successful based on the choices that you make. And you can read through each of the instances and find out what went wrong or what went right and why things went well or didn't go so well. And with just a slight change of discipline or attitude or action or whatever you want to call it, it could have been a very positive experience. Or similarly, the positive stuff could have turned out to be not so good. So and we see that in our everyday life, we make choices. And some turned out very, very well and some don't.
Peter (00:02:30) - We learn from them hopefully so we don't do that again. So that was book number one. Book number two. Then the person I was working with at the time, my book number one in the middle of it, said, By the way, nobody ever just writes one book, which I hadn't really thought about up to that point. So I thought about it and it was, well, what causes us to make the decisions that we make and take the actions that we take and who really has an influence on our life. And we find out that there are quite a few people in our lives who have influences on us. Again, in a variety of things, you know, in the business world that could be our boss or it could be, you know, some executive at the company or just a coworker who we get along really well with and learn from. But similarly in life, there are all sorts of people that have impacts on us both positively and negatively again, and we learn from from those things and they shape the way we think and the way we act.
Peter (00:03:29) - And it never stops. It's really a continuum throughout our lives of learning experiences. And that and I think the, the gist there is to, to realize that, to thank the people that have been helpful to us, never forget them because they're doing it out of the goodness of their hearts and they want to see us succeed and be careful about the people who aren't having our best interests at heart. And you can still again, learn from them. Okay, but not necessarily the kind of people you want to hang out with. So that's the kind of the gist of the two books. And like I said, they were primarily written for the business world, but I think they've got some real life everyday applications as well.
Josh (00:04:13) - Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, in the first one it's called again, the title is What about the Vermin problem? Yeah. Why Vermin? What? Why is that a good metaphor?
Peter (00:04:25) - Well, it was really interesting. We're looking for a catchy title, so I think it was fairly catchy because it gets everybody's attention.
Peter (00:04:32) - But it's one of the instances that I experienced working with a company, trying to help them to expand their business and how best to do it physically. And the decision was made to put an extension onto their plant and so forth. But we needed to move things around in order to make the flow better. So my colleague and I are presenting our final product to them and right in the middle of the meeting, one of the owners says, Well, what about the vermin problem? And there was a pause, as you could probably well imagine, like a stunned pause. And it was like, well, what's the problem? Well, the original building was an old mill and it's still, I guess, had some grains and so forth in there. So they would still have mice or rats or whatever the case may be. And you would think after that period of time that they had figured out that there were things like exterminators and so forth, and they said, well, where you want to put the production operation is right where we have the infestation.
Peter (00:05:35) - Well, that's where the warehouse was. So we're going. So in other words, it's okay to store the materials and have these little critters running all through them, but it's not okay to have them running through your production operation. By the way, did you ever hear of exterminators? And because we work with food industry and if you've ever been in a food industry, you'll see rodent traps all over the place because again, they attract, you know, the little critters and they've got to get rid of them. It's just a way of life. So it wasn't anything new. So basically they rejected what we did because of this vermin problem. And that whole part was about communication here. We had worked with them for a number of months that never came up until the final output. Oh, my goodness. Yeah, I know. It's like if you want people to help you, you've got to let them know what's going on. You've got to be truthful with them. You've got to give them, you know, the best of your knowledge so that they can make the decisions from that.
Peter (00:06:33) - If we had known about it, we would have probably come up with I'm not sure we would have come up with a different solution, but we certainly would have come up with additional things like Here's the name of an exterminator to get rid of your vermin problem. And by the way, it's probably not a good idea to have him hanging around in your warehouse. So new materials and so forth. But anyway, they.
Josh (00:06:53) - Generally don't go. Rats don't generally go away on their own. You got you got to work with them to kind of help them find a new home.
Peter (00:06:59) - Yes, you do. Yes, you do.
Josh (00:07:02) - Yeah. You know, as an 80s kid, it you know, I always think of Poltergeist, you know, that they built the homes on the burial ground. But they did, you know, they removed the tombstones, but they didn't remove the the bodies. Spirits.
Peter (00:07:13) - Yes, yes. Yeah, I know. So it's just amazing what happens and what people don't tell you that can be as harmful as things that people do tell you.
Josh (00:07:24) - You know? And I think that there's often sometimes maybe operational dysfunction that that, you know, it's maybe it's a little bit like the elephant in the room. Maybe we don't address it because it's not yet at the point where it's causing, you know, too much disruption, but it's an underlying weakness or threat. Right. And so sometimes, you know, we're just so busy with our day to day operations or we're putting out small fires that it's hard to consider. You know, hey, we're going to have to dig out that wound and, you know, really do some some deep work here.
Peter (00:07:58) - Yeah. How how much tolerance for pain do you have before you finally do something about it is kind of the gist of it all. It just is amazing. Some people have a pretty high tolerance for pain and they let it go on like vermin problem. So yeah.
Josh (00:08:13) - What if these challenges are interpersonal in nature? In other words, maybe there's a cultural issue or maybe there is a, you know, a kind of a schism between, say, like sales and operations or something like that, because I know that never happens.
Peter (00:08:27) - No, no, no. I've never had that experience. So let's move on.
Josh (00:08:33) - Yeah. But but oftentimes, you know, those the vermin problems can can absolutely just be. Listen, you know, our CEO hates our CFO and, you know, it's just that that has a tax on everybody, even if we're, you know, just trying to listen. You know, it's a festering wound, but they still kind of get along to get along or whatever the expression is. But but still, I guess what you're saying is, you know, you know, go you know, when you can take that time and let's go ahead and clean that wound out.
Peter (00:09:11) - Yeah, because I had that experience before I got into consulting. I worked in the industrial world primarily for Crayola Corporation for 17 years, and most of our executives were sales and marketing types. And I had an engineering background. We did not hit it off the best, and they would always say, Oh, you have the easy job because you just deal with numbers and stuff.
Peter (00:09:35) - Whereas we have to deal with people and people are so erratic and all that stuff, and they thought we had the easy job so they would throw stuff out, you know, with no concept of how to actually make it happen. And we had to make it like really work, which was really interesting. And they did not seem to have that appreciation for the technical side of the business. It was always, you know, Oh, the sales and marketing or the geniuses and you, you know, rescue guys are just the drudge guys who just crank the numbers and everything works out well. It doesn't quite work that way, you know, it's just not a numbers game. When you get into to stuff, there's some pretty interesting things that have to happen in order for the engineering to work, and I don't think there was that appreciation. I tried to appreciate all the different folks I worked for because I work with sales and marketing and finance and human resources and and we all came at things from a different way.
Peter (00:10:31) - And you have to appreciate that and kind of get an understanding of where people are coming from and why they're saying or doing the things they're doing. And then you try to work with them in order to make it happen. You know, if you just kind of shove the technical stuff down their throats, it isn't going to work. Similarly, if you try to shove the non-technical stuff down people's throats who are technical, it's not going to work. So you've got to have that understanding and appreciation for each other. You don't have to be an expert. I certainly am not an expert in a lot of those other disciplines, but I knew how to work with people and to get things done. That's what's important, I think.
Josh (00:11:08) - Yeah, Yeah. What what other interpersonal things do you see Pretty commonly Because again, I know that's the kind of the topic of your, your second book, but are there any dynamics that you know, and when we think about particularly, you know, who influences us particularly, you know, if we are, you know, part of that executive leadership team or were the founders certainly, you know, those those influences are pretty you know, they can be rather significant in in kind of the totality of the impact.
Peter (00:11:45) - Right? I always felt, you know, in any industry, the two main areas to to drive were certainly the sales and marketing because they were kind of providing the direction of what the products were going to be that were going to be sold and how they're going to be sold and who they were going to be sold to. And then we had to figure out how to make that happen. And the other side then is if you're in a manufacturing organization, you know, the people who make the stuff because they've got to satisfy those needs in order to make that that product viable and accessible to people and so forth. And then everybody else is really then there in a support role. So when I was in engineering and I managed engineers, I told them exactly what we were. You know, we are the support role for those other two organizations and whatever it is that they needed in order to fulfill what they needed to do, we needed to be there. So whatever we were working on, no matter how important, if they had a need, we had to drop what we were doing in order to support that because otherwise didn't make any sense.
Peter (00:12:50) - You know, we what we were doing did not drive the company. What they did did and our support of them than than helped it along. And that's true of a lot of the other organizations. Again, human resources and finance their support organizations. Yes, companies need to have them in order to to work and thrive, but they don't drive the stuff. So when somebody says, oh, well, our finance group was driving the company, that's a big red flag, okay? Because they're not thinking about the market and the products and all that stuff. They're thinking about the bottom line. All right. And when you just deal off of the bottom line, you can get yourself in a lot of trouble. All right. Granted, it's important and you need. And to have there, you need to have the bean counters and you need to have the people who know how to to make things happen financially. But their support function at the end of the day, if you're not moving product and selling product and coming up with new product and making it and shipping it and all that stuff, the rest of it really doesn't matter at that point.
Peter (00:13:52) - So I think more people need to understand that. All right. And that was an impression certainly on me. So I knew where my place in the world was and certainly in organization and what the role was. And I tried to get that across to people.
Josh (00:14:05) - You have done a lot of mentoring in your life, and I think of folks that are listening to this podcast and likely we are in a position where we can be that mentor. But sometimes, again, um, you know, maybe we say, well, you know, I'm going to start taking more of a mentor role independent of my operational duties. Um, at some point do you recommend mentoring for, for all business leaders? And if so, like, how do we incorporate that into our life? Or maybe we just kind of start by looking at what we do and who we work with?
Peter (00:14:40) - Well, absolutely. No one person does everything in the organization. I tend to like to use Jeff Bezos. You know, Jeff Bezos is in charge of Amazon, but he doesn't know what's going on minute by minute, day by day, and in the bowels of Amazon.
Peter (00:14:59) - And yet it all flows through. Well, as he grew the company, he had to mentor people and bring people into place who could do the different aspects because he couldn't do it all himself. So it's really important on us because as good as we are as individuals, if we're not training folks and guiding them and helping them along so that they do their jobs better, and then that relieves us from from from worrying about that on a regular basis, then we're not we're probably not going to grow the way we need to. All right. There's going to be lots of fumbles and stumbles and maybe even a disaster at some point. So you're really grooming the the next group of folks that are going to take over. And I see that certainly as a consultant. And I tell people, you know, that's what I'm there for, is to help you and your folks, but not to do this stuff in order to train people and so that they understand what's going on and to point out where the problems are and where the good points are and you know, what to to maintain and what not to and so forth.
Peter (00:16:03) - And I certainly like to do that with students, you know, both in teaching and also I have some mentorship roles with a couple of the universities to point that out to them. So as they get out into the working world, they have a better understanding of what it's really all about, particularly when students work with me on projects, real life projects, and they'll come to me sometimes and say, Hey, you know, you know what they did or you know what they said. And that doesn't make sense. And I point out to them and I say, Just remember that, so that when you're in that position someday you don't do the same thing that you just told me about that you didn't like so much. Learn from it, okay? And be a better person for it. And I'll make you a better manager and leader and so forth. So I think it's very important from the mentorship standpoint that leaders and managers and so forth do that. The good ones do the bad ones, don't they just kind of throw you in the pool and they say, you know, sink or swim? Well, that's not the way to establish stuff.
Peter (00:17:07) - Uh, you know, and I kind of had some of that. As much as I had good folks, I said some people who just kind of threw me in the pool and said, Sink or swim. And I was kind of okay to to learn for myself. And I think I did a pretty good job of it. But others aren't. You know, they don't swim very well and they sink. And that's not a good thing. That's that's not fair to people. In order to do that.
Josh (00:17:31) - You Peter, your website is Pete Christian books and you you do you still you work as a do consulting.
Peter (00:17:43) - I still do some consulting when the opportunities arise. I've had a couple since I've officially retired, so I like to do that. I have one that may be coming up very shortly to train 50 people in an organization on project management, which will be really pretty cool. So, you know, I pick and choose, but I'm not actively out there seeking it. When the opportunities come and they come, you know, at different times, then I check them out and if it works out, then I move ahead with it.
Peter (00:18:16) - Yeah, I worked with one company that wanted to increase their productivity and they did testing services. So I work with them and they had a lot of work that needed to be done on their policies and procedures and how they get did stuff and measured their kind of output. And it's a little bit more difficult because, you know, they get all different sorts of stuff in and they got to figure out how much time it's going to take and so forth. So I work on stuff like that. I worked on some programs with one of the universities in order to to bolster that because they were trying to improve their internship program with outside firms. So we worked on materials and how to get them out and what to say to people and how to introduce it and so forth. So yeah, so I still keep my hand in it, but not as actively certainly as when I was full time and in business.
Josh (00:19:15) - Peter Christian, your books are What About the Vermin Problem? A Guide to Avoiding Damaging Business practices and Influences and Influencers, how our relationships affect and shape us.
Josh (00:19:27) - And again, your website is Pete Christian Books. Com Peter Christian, it's been great having you. Thank you so much for joining us.
Peter (00:19:36) - I enjoyed it. Thank you again. Appreciate it.
Josh (00:19:44) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up My Influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our listener Facebook group. Just search for the thoughtful entrepreneur and Facebook. I'd love even if you just stopped by to say hi, I'd love to meet you. We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world. We love our community who listens and shares our program every day. Together we are empowering one another as thoughtful entrepreneurs. Hit subscribe so that tomorrow morning. That's right, seven days a week, you are going to be inspired and motivated to succeed.
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