THE THOUGHTFUL ENTREPRENEUR PODCAST

1860 – Improving Companies’ Results with Lee Benson of Execute to Win

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the CEO of Execute to Win, Lee Benson.

Lee introduced us to his MIND methodology, an acronym for Most Important Number and Drivers. This approach is a game-changer in how organizations set goals and drive value creation. Traditional goal-setting methods often fail to foster the behaviors necessary for genuine value creation within a company. Lee's methodology bridges this gap by connecting culture directly to value creation.

The core of the MIND methodology is the alignment of every team member's efforts towards improving the organization's most important numbers. It's akin to a sports team working in unison to win a game. This focus ensures everyone's energy is directed towards the same end goal, fostering a sense of unity and purpose.

Lee's definition of value creation extends beyond the material. He includes emotional energy and spiritual aspects, presenting a holistic view that resonates deeply with CEOs and leaders. As Lee puts it, a CEO's role is continually increasing the organization's value, necessitating intentional methodologies and strategies.

Lee shed light on his work with organizations through programs like the “quickstart” initiative, which helps companies implement the MIND methodology swiftly and effectively. He also spoke about “Execute Masterminds,” a program designed for CEOs who are determined to accelerate their organization's value. These programs underscore the importance of surgical leadership development, customized to meet each organization's unique needs.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • MIND methodology: Most Important Number and Drivers
  • Connecting culture to value creation
  • Traditional goal setting and driving behaviors
  • Holistic definition of value creation
  • CEO's role in increasing organization's value
  • Quickstart program for implementing MIND methodology
  • Execute Masterminds for CEOs

About Lee Benson:

Lee Benson is a seasoned entrepreneur and business strategist with a remarkable track record of founding seven companies over the last 25 years, achieving exits ranging from millions to nine figures. Beyond his entrepreneurial success, Benson has collaborated with hundreds of leadership teams across various industries and sizes, from small teams of four to large corporations with over 40,000 employees, encompassing for-profit and nonprofit sectors. 

His primary focus has been on enhancing the rate of value creation, crucial for boosting cash flow, profit, and impact. To address the common issue of overemphasis on process at the expense of outcomes, Benson developed the MIND Methodology (Most Important Number and Drivers Methodology). This innovative business operating framework ensures that teams prioritize actions that improve their Most Important Number, fostering more effective and efficient value creation.

About Execute to Win:

Execute to Win (ETW) is a company deeply committed to value creation, viewing it as essential for the growth and health of organizations and communities. With a mission to accelerate the pace at which individuals and organizations can contribute meaningfully to the world, ETW emphasizes the importance of creating value in every aspect of its operation. 

This obsession with value creation permeates the company's culture, finding its way into team meetings, casual conversations, and even festive celebrations. ETW holds the conviction that through fostering value creation, they can play a pivotal role in crafting a better future. They believe that when people and organizations focus on creating value, they enhance products and services and address real-world challenges, generating employment and advancing society. Hence, ETW is dedicated to empowering others to realize their potential and significantly contribute to the world.

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Execute to Win website at

https://etw.com/

Check out Execute to Win on LinkedIn at

https://www.linkedin.com/company/execute-to-win/

Check out Lee Benson on LinkedIn at

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lee-j-benson/

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Transcript

Josh (00:00:05) - A thoughtful listener before we get going. Did you know that my company up my influence? Com has launched more than 200 business podcasts. The host of our shows are amazing leaders and collaborators. Folks, I want to connect you with. Maybe you deserve your moment in the spotlight as a guest of one of these amazing shows. Just go to up my influence. Com where you can see more than 50 shows that are actively seeking business leader guests like you to celebrate right now in front of their high caliber audiences. Just click on the podcast tab and up my influence. Com where you'll see shows like Experience Focused Leaders Podcast. If you're seeking insights on transforming customer experiences, you can't miss the Experience Focused Leaders podcast with your host, Alex Shevchenko. Alex, the CEO and founder of relay two, brings his rich background from Stanford MBA, Wharton BSc and the University of Pennsylvania B.A.. He's a smart dude. Along with his real world experiences of building organizations across global hubs to the forefront of this engaging podcast. Now, each episode is a deep dive into the world of customer centric strategies, where Alex and his guests, seasoned business owners and industry veterans, share their invaluable insights.

Josh (00:01:32) - They discuss the latest trends, offer practical advice, and reveal the secrets behind exceptional customer experiences and business growth. Are you a business owner who values customer experience above all? Then this podcast is your go to resource. Better yet, if you've got unique insights and strategies that have helped you stand out in your industry, we'd love to have you as a guest on the show. Share your story with a community that's as passionate about customer experience excellence as you are. Tune in to the Experience Focused Leaders podcast for your weekly dose of inspiration and practical tips. Let's push the boundaries of customer experience together. With us right now. Lee Benson Lee, you're a bestselling author and you are the CEO of Execute to Win. Your website is e t w.com. Now your book is your most important number,, which we're going to talk about and I absolutely love it. I could just to our friends that listen to this show on a regular basis, you could tell. Well, I'm going to geek out on this topic,, because you also have a podcast.

Josh (00:02:43) - And that podcast is called Show Your Value The Art of Value Creation. Lee, thank you so much for joining us.

Lee (00:02:51) - Josh, it's great to be here. Thank you.

Josh (00:02:54) - Now, also, I feel like you are Willy Wonka and I'm Charlie right now. And I'm seeing the studio that you're in. And it is a really it's like my dream studio. Yeah, it's it's.

Lee (00:03:10) - Yeah, it's a music studio. I'm. This is my home studio. Music is a power hobby of mine. I've had it my whole life, and I just love it.

Josh (00:03:18) - Before we get going into your area of expertise, do you mind sharing just a little bit more about that, about the lessons that because, you know, I picked up the bass about six months ago as a hobby, you know, here I am, you know, just turned 52 and like, okay, well now's a good a time as any to start, you know, you know, an instrument. But I absolutely love it.

Josh (00:03:39) - And I'm learning stuff about myself. I'm also amazed at how our brains work, like it's such a laboratory for me to see and kind of reconfirm. Like how learning a new skill or learning how to play guitar or something like that. It's like it's a it's a reflection of a lot of other things, I don't know. I'm sure you've got some thoughts on this.

Lee (00:04:04) - Well, 100%. I started when I was about six years old. I don't remember not knowing how to play guitar in the 1980s. Played over a thousand nights on, you know, stages, clubs. It's how I made most of my money back then. And I always think, hey, it's really important to keep moving physically, but it's also important to move emotionally and mentally. It may just keep moving in a healthy direction. We all should do that. The thing I love about music, it's about the conveyance of emotional energy. You know, whatever is going on. And when you're learning a new skill like, you know, I could be learning a new song or a new technique.

Lee (00:04:39) - So I'm exercising mentally. But then what's the whole purpose of music? It's about conveying this emotion that's inside. Who cares what anybody else is doing? This is your thing. I mean, literally and objectively. Nobody can play one note that way. You can play that one note because there's a literally on the bass or a guitar, an infinite number of ways to play one note, because it's you.

Speaker 3 (00:05:06) - Yeah.

Josh (00:05:06) - It's you know, and also to again, the thing that is startling to me is that, you know, when we set out to create something and there's this, you know, this dedication or this concerted focus towards something,, just what the brain and the body is capable of. And so anyone who feels like as a leader, you know, they're just there to flawed or they're just way to incompetent or, you know, they're feeling imposter syndrome or something like that, like so many of these things that whatever you're struggling with right now, chances are like you can accomplish about anything.

Josh (00:05:44) - Like you can learn the skill. So it's like, you know, even just like with,, you know, the base. It's like when I started six months ago, like I picked up the thing and I just like, I kid fingers, like, I can't, like, I, I felt like six, you know, six year old you. I'm like, how do you make music with this thing? Like, I'm like, string noise all over the place. It just terrible, terrible, terrible. But then you fast forward. I mean, it wasn't, you know, it was like 30 days and I'm like, I'm muddling along with some songs here. This feels so cool. And it's just amazing. Like how our brains and bodies are designed to adapt like that.

Lee (00:06:18) - Yeah, yeah. I mean, what I'm getting out of what you're saying, and this is what a lot of people miss is. Let's manage expectations, right., there's going to be a fair amount of struggle on some level to, to get a capability that, you know, it's it's difficult to get,, learn to trust that process.

Lee (00:06:36) - And it's always going to be really good coming out the other side. And, and you know, when we when we look at entrepreneurs, you know, it could be somebody, a leader inside an organization or somebody just starting their business or they're they're running something that's a viable going concern. There's a healthy amount of struggle to get to a place where you can actually create the value that keeps it a going concern. Right. And and if you have a process going through that, that you learn to trust and and I'm on my seventh company that I've started from scratch., the harder it is, is I go through this with my business as well as lots of companies that I work with., I get a warm feeling inside knowing that when I come out the other side, this is going to be incredible, you know? And I know it sounds silly, but if if we weren't supposed to struggle. And I think that's the way a lot of people act right now. Kids shouldn't struggle. Adults shouldn't struggle.

Lee (00:07:27) - They act like, oh my gosh, I can't believe this is hard. Well then the less I go to the gym, the stronger and more flexible I would get, right? Like, it makes no sense. Let's learn to trust and love the struggle. That's how we develop in so many different ways to be able to create what I call holistic value in the world.

Josh (00:07:45) - Yeah. So your book is titled Your Most Important Number Increased collaboration. Achieve your Strategy and Execute to Win. Lee, what is the most important number?

Lee (00:07:57) - Yeah that's great. In the book, the whole purpose of it is connecting culture to value creation. So how do you get everybody in an organization fully aligned to creating the value the organization was designed to create? And I've learned that traditional goal setting does not stand the test of time. I've audited goals in hundreds and hundreds of organizations, and with very few exceptions, they're just not that thoughtful. People are doing what they think they're supposed to do instead of really focusing the energy on creating value.

Lee (00:08:26) - So I came up with this methodology called the mind methodology most important number in drivers. So for the top of the organization, there's one number that above all others says you're winning or losing the game and will drive the majority of the right behaviors with your senior team. Every single function in the organization also has a number that can do those two things. Now you might measure, and they all do. You'll have a scoreboard of other things that you're measuring, but you're only measuring those things to help you make better decisions to improve your team's most important number. Now, rather than everybody going on this goal setting, exercise, rinsing, and repeating, it just feels terrible. Now. It's for every role, for every team member on on this particular team. They're doing their best work to improve that team's most important numbers, like winning a football game or a basketball game. You can see where this is at. So I want to know when I look at a company or look at a team, how were you designed to create value? Are you winning or losing? You know, where did you start? Where are you going? Are you on track, at risk or behind? And show me the best work that you're doing with this team to improve that most important number.

Lee (00:09:33) - It is so simple, so fun, and it gets everybody fully aligned. No ambiguity. And and you know, lo and behold, organizations that deploy this create value significantly faster. Does that make sense, Josh.

Josh (00:09:46) - It does, lest someone have less. Our audience have a wide interpretation of what value means. Lee I'd love your take on defining value.

Lee (00:09:58) - Yeah, great. Great question. And I think this is missed. It's a huge missed opportunity., for an organization, let's just say with a for profit organization, we also work with nonprofit organizations and government entities as well. The role of the CEO is to continually increase the value of the organization. And so when I think about value creation, I think holistically there's material value creation, which is where most people stay, you know, money things, number two, emotional energy value creation and three spiritual value creation. So on the emotional energy side, that's the X factor for leaderships to drive this productive, you know, high energy culture. You know, where employees are, you know, highly engaged in productive things, essentially not a survey that says I'm engaged or I'm not.

Lee (00:10:45) - And I believe it's a scarcest commodity in the world, positive emotional energy. And then third, on the spiritual side, it's about being connected to something bigger in the context of a of a business. It's all the team members, our suppliers, our customers, the communities that we interact with and the companies that do the best on the material side, which seems to be what everybody focuses on, are equally, if not more, focusing on the emotional energy and the connected side in that spiritual bucket. When you do all three, it's amazing what happens and how you can sustain and scale and actually accelerate the value of your organization.

Josh (00:11:22) - You know,, Lee, I'd love to learn a little bit more about who you work with and like what that looks like. So obviously, you know, you're doing great work out in the world., your podcast, by the way, to our friend that's listening. You can search us up right now. It's called Show Your Value the Art of Value Creation. And we talked about the book, your most important number,, increase collaboration, achieve your strategy and execute to win, which I'm going to get,, and I'm going to read it because I'm very interested in this topic right now.

Josh (00:11:48) - But how do you work or how does your company execute to win? How do you work with clients or organizations?

Lee (00:11:56) - Yeah, we work with organizations to help sort of kick start installing the mind methodology. And we we actually call it a quickstart. And it's designed that any organization can self-serve. So they start with this. The senior team reads the book, they commit to it, were with them for about 6 to 8 weeks, and then they're off and running on their own. Designed it that way. In fact, the last chapter in the book is a DIY chapter, and I get emails from folks all over the world saying, we're doing this,, in one form or fashion. And the results have changed within a couple of months in a dramatically, you know, really good way. So that that's fantastic. So we help organizations to get started with that., I also run something called Execute Masterminds. And so I have my own groups limited to eight CEOs. It's for CEOs that want to significantly accelerate the value of their organizations.

Lee (00:12:45) - We have certified chairs that that are building groups. And this is something I started about three and a half years ago, after 40 years of being part of other CEO groups and looking at it and saying, wow, they're really missing an opportunity here. The community is great, but we're not really focusing on increasing the value of the organization in a meaningful way. So my vision for this over the next ten years is I want a thousand chairs around the world with 3 or 4 groups apiece, solely focused on increasing the value of the organizations. And within each of those,, to do it, connecting culture to value creation.

Josh (00:13:24) - On your website et WWE.com. There's one thing and I'll. You know, just in case I miss anything, I'll, I'll kind of have you fill in the gaps on anything else that's out to our friend, that's listen to our conversation right now, things that they might want to take a look at. The page that I love on your site is your tools page because you've got assessments, you've got courses, you've got playbooks, you've got videos and worksheets.

Josh (00:13:47) - , you've got a weekly planner sheet. Right? All of these things, you can just go and start using right now. And I've been clicking around here and what I love is you just contributing it to the world. You don't even have to opt in for some of these things, which I absolutely love.

Lee (00:14:03) - Yeah. You know, you know, what's really important is an intentional methodology for creating value. And I believe that every, you know, top leader or leadership team and organization should have that, you know, going out and with that sort of intentional approach, the methodology is what's most important, not the tools. This isn't a set it and forget it exercise. There's no end to how any organization can can increase the value that they actually create. Right. And we get a number of folks that will say, well, can we just put this in? And that's all we need to do, install some software and it's fine., no. In fact, we won't work with you if that's the way you're thinking about it.

Lee (00:14:42) - But if you want to be super intentional about it. Oh my gosh, it's incredible what can happen. And, you know, I'm I'm of the belief in my my team along with me. I'm here at W is that we're going to consult all the time. We're going to help everybody all the time coach give all the stuff away, and it will expose us to opportunities that we can choose to get involved with or not. And I think that's a great way to, you know, think about being in the world and there's no end to the things that I can do and the value that I can create and, and be part of. Does that make sense? Yeah.

Josh (00:15:15) - Absolutely. Lea again your website e t w com aside from the resources that I mentioned, obviously the book and the podcast to someone who's like, they're keenly aware that 90% of businesses don't achieve their strategic goals and they want to join that 10%. What would you recommend that they do?

Lee (00:15:33) - Well? Step one read the book.

Lee (00:15:35) - To get some insights, go to our website. You know, download the tools that you think are appropriate for what you need. And there is not a one size that fits all for any organization out there. And when you really look at the value you're trying to create, you know, maybe at the top you're increasing cash flow or profit or whatever, that is what you need to do next to take the best next step to increase the value is going to be different. And so what is that thing like? Look at all of it. And go, hey, I really need to develop here or in this other particular area. So I'm a big fan of surgical leadership development based on what that leader needs next to create the most value.

Josh (00:16:14) - Yeah., you know, I wanted to mention this too, is you also have another book that you co-authored,, Value Creation Kid. So you just mentioned that really quick.

Lee (00:16:24) - Yeah, yeah. The first book is about operationalizing value creation within organizations. And then the second book, Value Creation Kid the healthy Struggles Your Children Need to Succeed is about operationalizing value creation within the family.

Lee (00:16:37) - And and I believe the purpose of an education is to create value in the world, not get a good grade, get a diploma, get a degree, get a job. You know, in that system, kids are doing what they think they're supposed to do. If we started out from kindergarten and I'm trying to get to them with my co-author, Scott Donnell, before they get to kindergarten, the purpose of an education is to create value. Now, why? To learn is really important. They start discovering their value creation superpowers. Which bucket are they going to be really strong in and think about doing it in balance, and then what to learn and how to learn. They get more of a say in that over time. And I'm working backwards from what's an ideal high school senior launched into adulthood look like they graduate, you know, they're financially competent, financially independent like I was when I graduated high school. If they want to be, they can think critically and they're going into the world to create Win-Win value that you can sustain and scale infinitely.

Lee (00:17:31) - And I'll just say, you know, I believe you are intentionally creating measurable, objectively measurable value in the world, or you're taking value out of the world by rigging the game in some way. And so I'm on this mission. Let's grow the value creator bubble as big as we can, and let's shrink the game rigging bubble. And I think we all know what that means. And just we see it everywhere. And I love the fight. I'm a happy warrior in this thing.

Josh (00:17:59) - Lee Benson, CEO of execute to win your website e t w.com. Again, go ahead and listen to our friend get the book. It's called your most important number. And then as well the podcast which you just search in your app right now it's called Show Your Value which you can search. It's the art of value creation. Lee Benson, thank you so much for joining us.

Lee (00:18:23) - Thank you Josh, I enjoyed it.

Josh (00:18:30) - 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 comment.

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