69. James Ashcroft, Certified EOS Implementer Adopting the Entrepreneurial Operating System and the Importance of Implementers

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James Ashcroft is a businessman and certified coach for the Entrepreneurial Operating System, a framework that businesses, including law firms, can use to create healthy workplaces in order to help them achieve their goals. As an EOS coach and implementer, James has helped countless business owners to establish their vision and gain traction, including our very own Rankings.io.

In this episode of The Rankings Podcast, James tells us all about his coaching journey and how both seeking and delivering coaching has benefited his personal and professional life. He also gives his advice on how to self-implement a business framework and shares his thoughts on the best way to choose any kind of coach.

Transcript

James Ashcroft

I feel like as a professional coach, um, I just, if I’m being completely honest, it’s really tough to nail any kind of implementation, no matter what field yourself, if you’re a participant while on a learning curve, right?

Chris Dreyer

There are plenty of methods and resources out there that tell you how to run a law firm. But learning about these systems and actually implementing them are two entirely different things. And that’s where my guest today comes in.

James Ashcroft

I don’t want to dissuade anyone from starting to self implement. If you start self implementing you’re way ahead of the competition. But I think a big pitfall to avoid would be thinking that you are going to get to a hundred percent you know?

Chris Dreyer

You’re listening to The Rankings Podcast, the show where top marketers and elite personal injury attorneys share their stories about getting to the top and what keeps them there. My guest today is James Ashcroft, entrepreneur, iron man, an EOS coach. As a coach, James works with businesses to implement the entrepreneurial operating system, helping them to establish their vision, gain traction, and keep their company healthy. I’m your host, Chris Dreyer, founder and CEO of Rankings.io. We help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first page rankings with search engine optimization. SEO is all about the first page and that’s also where we like to start our show. Here’s EOS coach, James Ashcroft.

James Ashcroft

So going back, uh, pre 2012, uh, I think it was a lot like other entrepreneurs, just running like a chicken with its head cut off a bit, and not taking care of some of the priorities in my life. And one of those will was health, right? Uh, I was about 40 pounds heavier than I am right now. Um, and just got to a point where I had to say to myself, like, what are some of my priorities? What are some of my goals? And what do I need to fix in my life? So, uh, I started this journey where I, um, quit drinking alcohol, um, so taking care of my health started reading more, which was a big one. Um, and then I decided to really challenge myself and, um, I was heavily inspired by an author named Rich Roll. Um, reading all about these triathlons and all this crazy stuff this recovering alcoholic was doing. And, uh, said, woke up one day basically and said, I’m going to do something absolutely crazy. And I signed up for a half iron man, uh, that was about four months away. And I had ridden my bike – I had a road bike – and I ran, uh, rode my bike with some buddies in Florida, but then I decided I was going to start taking up running, and after the first night of running up my street, huffing and puffing and almost having a coronary, I was like, I got a long way to go here. But I did it. I trained, I ran and incrementally improved. And about four months later, I crossed the, um, iron man, well, half Ironman finish line in Miami, where I was living at the time. And, um, it kind of kicked off this readjustment, this mental readjustment, and saying, hmm, maybe my limitations are all in my head. So I decided, um, after that to sign up for a full iron man, and then the end of 2013, I ended up crossing that finish line. And, uh, it’s I haven’t looked back since.

Chris Dreyer

That’s incredible and I think it’s it’s who you are, has changed, right? So now you’re an athlete. You run, you’re a runner. And so now it’s part of your life. I imagine when you first put that deadline in the calendar, you were probably scared as hell, you know, especially after that first run, but you know, that, that shows incredible resilience and that’s, that’s amazing. So, you know, take me… you know, how did that affect, and I wasn’t going to go this direction, but how did that affect your mindset and your, you know, the bit in you as a business professional after you made kind of these lifestyle changes?

James Ashcroft

Well, the biggest thing, and I mentioned it before was, was hiring a coach, right? It was such a big challenge for me to take on. I really had no choice, you know. So two and a half, 2.4 mile swim, ocean swim, 112 mile bike ride, and then a full marathon, 26.2 miles, right. It seems so big and out of my wheelhouse. Um, I, um, actually thought about these, these amazing words that the great coach Jack Daly said, he always says, model the masters, right? Go find someone who’s done what you want to do and just model them, right. And so I found a coach who was a professional triathlete who had done countless iron man races, and I said, listen, I’m willing to do the work. Can you just design the plans? Can you build the framework for me to succeed? Right. And so when I look back on that, that was the hack. That was the plan for me to do this and really open up my eyes to getting a coach in any aspect of my life. And then when I say coach, I also just mean mentors, like being around the right people, right? Like masterminds are great. You know, getting in a room with people like you truly do want to be the dumbest guy in the room, right. And it elevates your game. So whether it’s a one-on-one coach for Ironman, whether it’s one-on-one coach, you know, if your business just having that wisdom, um, on your team is just invaluable. So that was my big takeaway. So I started incorporating coaches into all aspects of my life, right. And I think it’s really important to have mentors, even physical mentors, like relationships you have. And then also my virtual mentors, right. Maybe they don’t even know that you’re there your mentor, but it’s just like, getting their thinking inside your head and saying, what would this person do in this situation? And then leaning into that, it’s just been incredibly valuable. And that really kind of started my journey into coaching.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. So there’s so many takeaways there. And I always think of, of, of myself, like when I started, you know, working with you and I was like, how can I apply this to my personal life? And I would make excuses up to go to not go to the gym. But when I got a personal trainer, I don’t miss meetings, right? So I don’t miss meetings and I don’t want to let them down. So it’s, it’s holds you accountable. It’s, uh, I’ve never had that situation where you had to force me to work because I really truly enjoy and love business, but, uh, for me, the personal, the health side. So it seems very interesting. You know, you got the running the triathlon coach. And, uh, I see some to extreme less degree, but it’s truly helping me a lot, uh, as well.

James Ashcroft

So just to have the accountability, um, me personally, on a personal note, I need accountability. I tend to wiggle out of things unless I have that structure. So I know that about myself, right? If I have a challenge, I need an accountability partner, a coach. I just think that’s very important and highly underrated to be honest with you.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, completely agree. And let’s kind of, let’s kind of jump ahead. So, you know, now you’re, you’re a certified EOS implementer and we’re, Rankings, as a traction agency, we work with you. We work, you know, we, we implement EOS and we’ve had some other EOS guests on and you know what, first of all, drew you to EOS specifically? And, uh, if you could just give like a broad, just a super broad overview for those listening, who aren’t aware of us, of what it is.

James Ashcroft

Yeah. So EOS is a business operating system, it’s one of a handful out there, right? That it’s just a framework to follow a proven practical tools and ways of thinking to bring an organization together. And I work with leadership teams. Okay. Come together, speak a common language, but most importantly, share the same vision. You know, understand what great people within the organization really means, right? So we have tools that we can then objectively look at what great means, you know, um, develop score cards so we can run the business on a, on a weekly basis using road, leading measureables, uh, really manage the business to the measurables. Wasy to issue-clear, set up processes, have effective meetings. It’s it’s, it’s just a turnkey framework for businesses.

Chris Dreyer

With that understanding of what EOS is, I wanted to hear from James, why business owners would need to hire a coach given there are so many resources on the system out there? And I wanted to know what it is that James brings to the table over the other EOS coaches in the world as well.

James Ashcroft

So, I truly believe Chris, that the most important thing is chemistry. So it’s probably not the sexiest answer, but it’s just me being me, right? Um, I have my own unique experiences, my own take on things, right. And assuming any coach, um, has the credentials and has the sessions under their belt, so to speak and, um, you know, if those, if you’re comparing apples to apples in that sense, then the differentiator is just the chemistry between the teams. You know, I’m going to spend a lot of time with you. And as you know, on my objectives for every day, like the number one thing is have fun because I truly believe that we should be having fun as entrepreneurs, right? We’re building, we get to create for the world, create this value within the world, make an impact. And, and, and work together in these amazing teams, we should be having fun. So I try to bring an element of that to it, and just my own experience. Um, you know, and I’m, I’m truly invested, um, in team health. I mean that, that’s the big, I would say, cornerstone of my coaching offering is, is elevating that team health. I put a tremendous emphasis on it because I just enjoy, um, seeing a great team work together. Um, so it’s just, I think me being me and I’m not the right implementer for everybody. You know, I mean, I know other implements, very successful implementers who are very tough on the teams that, you know, buy the book and put the hammer down and certain teams are looking for that, right? So when you go out looking for an implementor, you should really be thinking, what do I want? Do I want someone who’s who, who kind of, um, jokes along with the team and kind of fits like the, the team chemistry in a sense of like, uh, being one of the, the team members? Or do I want someone to come in a room and just lay the hammer down and what do we need as a team? What will benefit us? So I have my own style and obviously we fit Rankings and we fit, and my other clients, we fit and, you know, there are other teams I just wouldn’t be a right fit for. So I, I would tell teams to look for that right fit.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. And I’m going to tell you one other big differentiator specifically when we looked at this for an EOS implementer, was your ability to do the EOS chairing, the implementation, via zoom. So I had looked locally and there was a big backlog for months and months and months. So we couldn’t start. It was going to take forever. Also my entire team was remote, so I was just thinking of the logistics of flying everyone in and those additional costs. So I would say another big differentiator was I wasn’t aware of someone that did EOS implementation via zoom, and it’s particularly, how important it was, you know, with coronavirus and all the, the, uh, situation that occurred, you know? And so I just kind of wanted to share that with you too. And so I wanted to jump right in and and discuss, you know, what are, what are some of the particular elements of EOS that businesses regularly find difficult to take action on?

James Ashcroft

I think the hardest part, like pre bringing in a coach, no matter what operating system you’re on or, or however you look at it, it it’s just having those hard conversations, right? When you don’t have a facilitator in the room, sometimes it doesn’t feel like, for lack of better word, a safe space, right? I mean, I probably had two sessions this week where we had very tough conversations that I don’t believe would have happened if I wasn’t in the room. Not because I’m special, but it’s because I was aware of the situation, they felt accountable to the promise that we’ve made together. And so having that element in the room, having these tough conversations, um, that clears that out completely because if they are not, they can sometimes be seeds for cancers within the team, right? So having the hard conversations and developing those, um, over time is absolutely critical. Um, and then I think the other piece is, uh, patients, right? I have a lot of teams who just want, I read the book on, you know, go the first two days and then come on, come on, come on, let’s speed this process up – and I’m specifically talking about visionaries, right? Chris, you can probably relate to this, right? You want everything yesterday right? So my job is to come in there and say, hey, listen, let’s, let’s slow down. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’re literally at mile two of a 26 mile marathon. Let’s just slow down. You haven’t gotten here overnight. You’re not going to fix everything overnight, slow down. So I think those two, having hard conversations and enabling that safe space for them to have those hard conversations. That’s why we repeat every session, open and honest open and honest. And if you’re sitting there kind of biting your tongue, it’s an issue in the business. So we need to get our issue on the issues list sooner than later and fix it. So that’s been two things.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, I completely agree. I also find just from a unique perspective of when you’re chairing and someone goes on a tangent, you have the ability to reign the men. When sometimes if I’m chairing our weekly meeting, I feel kind of like an a-hole maybe doing it too frequently, but when it’s someone else, it’s nice to have that, um, just objective third party to kind of reign in and guide the meeting as well. And the next thing I wanted to talk about, and this has been a real challenge for me, and now it’s kind of a pet peeve after you’ve taught us, you’ve opened my eyes and in regards to core values, and I wanted to kind of hear basically all your thoughts and your opinions on individual selecting core values and, and basically your take on it. Because I thought it was really unique, and now that you’ve explained this, I start to identify a lot of aspirational type values when I see them on the web. Um, could you, could you kind of explain your take on core values?

James Ashcroft

Yeah. Well, you know, first of all, this is, this isn’t my take, this is, uh, Patrick Lencioni. He has a great article called Make Your Values Mean Something and he dives into all of this just beautifully. We will talk about core values in this bucket, and I think most people… I think they’re talking about core values. They’re talking about values across the board. Most don’t realize there are different types of values, right? Core values are the cultural cornerstones, the foundation of the soul of an organization, right. Um, the non-negotiables that never change. Okay. Um, there are other types of values such as permission to play values, right. Those are the minimal standards of acceptable behavior. Right. So when I hear companies saying, yeah, what about core values is honesty? It’s like, well, isn’t that kind of like table stakes? Like we should all be honest. It doesn’t really tell us anything. Right. Um, there’s also accidental core values. So maybe one of, uh, you know, so-called core values is fun or cool. You know, you have to ask yourself, is that really who you are? Is that just a product of where you’ve come from and where you are now? And then, um, the third one is this, which you referenced, was the aspirational, right? This is who we want to become. You know, we want to be about work-life balance. Well, if you’re a company that’s not really into work-life balance, you’re hard charging like PE firm or something, right? Like that’s just aspirational, right? There’s a value there. And maybe you build the strategy around moving to being more work-life balance, right. It’s not really who you are. So I take my clients through a whole core values workshop, where we identify all these values. We, you know, use a lot of sticky notes and everyone writes out thinking about the best employees or looking to the person next to them on the leadership team, some of the characteristics they admire in them. And then we kind of filter out using, uh, Patrick Lencioni’s aspirational, accidental, and permission to play values, and it leaves a board of potential core values. And then we dial it in and go through the theme process. And I know you can speak to your own experience going through this too, right?

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, absolutely. And you know, going through this experience and, and really identifying our values – what we embodied versus those aspirational. One of the things, even it it’s an ongoing process, right? So we ended up with send and delete, fine as the F word, and then don’t be an asshole. But we started thinking about this. Do we really want to wear on a t-shirt don’t be an asshole? Or fine is the F-word? It’s kind of the negative. So now we’re in a process of flipping those to a positive, whether it’s a, you know, uh, something about excellence, more of a positive versus fine as the F word, or maybe team player, as opposed to don’t be an asshole. So it’s been this, this iterative process that I thought we were going to nail it, but it just continues to evolve.

James Ashcroft

Yeah. And I tell my clients that too, you know, before we do our core values workshop. Like. I certainly have clients where after, you know, an afternoon they’re like, we’ve hit the Holy grail, right. It just, it was right there. We got it. But other times it takes a marination process and, or taking it back within the organization, which I highly recommend by going in and talking to the teams and saying, this is what we’re thinking. Can we get your feedback on it? Does this sit right well with you? And oftentimes, what’s happening to you is the normal thing. It comes back and it was like, hmm, we need to flip it around. We don’t like the negative connotation and look at the look at the opposite of that. Um, but it does take time and it also goes back to doing the core values process yourself, especially as you as the leader of the organization, um, it can be very tricky too, because you can be suddenly pushing for what you think the core values are, and so having that facilitator in the room, who says, hey, Chris, hold on a second, I want to hear, um, what Steven has to say or Sonia has to say, because they’re kind of squirming in their seats a bit when you said that and that would not happen if you didn’t have that facilitator in the room. And often, um, the core values or right ones end up being different from the one, the owner of the company was either thinking they were or pushing for.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, I think it’s a key ingredient to, you know, get the right people on the bus, get the wrong ones off the bus and like, how you evaluate an individual’s values, and if they synergize with your team. And I think when you kind of understand those, you put more weight to those values and you can actually look at those a little bit more objectively. I kind of want to jump over to the BHAGs, you know, being a DI driver, when I go to the think of setting these 10 year goals, it just seems like… to put a revenue goal… it just seems crazy. It’s 10 years in the future. We’re moving so fast, you know? So first, you know, why do you think a BHAG is important and you know, what, what are maybe some alternatives to setting a revenue target for your BHAG? And I guess we need to explain what a BHAG is as well.

James Ashcroft

Yeah. So BHAG is Jim Collins’ term from Built To Last. It means big, hairy, audacious goal. And, um, Jim Collins, when he was looking at these companies that have gone from good to great, um, he noticed a common thread and that was, they all had this long-term vision for the business, right. And I liken it to, um, standing at the foothills of the Himalayas, looking up to the summit of Mount Everest and saying, this is where we’re going. We don’t know how we’re going to get there, whether we’re going to make it or not, but that’s the, that’s where we’re going, right. And Jim Collins had interesting conversations with leaders after they left the companies and they just achieve their goals and said, so come on, let’s, let’s have an honest conversation. How, how, how confident were you that you going to hit that goal? And they were like, oh, it was so fuzzy and out there, it was like 50, 50. You know, but it just set the direction for the business, right? So we want to, we want to build this. We want to get there to that summit. So just think of it, like looking around at base camp and saying, hey, who wants to pack on some gear and take this ride with us? Right. It’s a directional rally cry and practically what it does, then it allows you to then reverse engineer, right? You can say, this is where we’re going in the next 10 years. And when we say BHAG, by the way, just to be clear, depending on the industry, it might be five years, but then some companies that BGAG is 30 years. Maybe it’s more, you know, traditional, you know, blue collar factory or plumbing, family, plumbing business. They want to think more generationally, you know. But 10 years is, is, is the sweet spot, right? It’s very fuzzy. We don’t know whether could get there. No one can argue with us whether we’re going to achieve it or not – that’s the also another point, right? We’re just saying, hey, you want to help us get there? Right. Strap on the gear and help us get there. And we’d look at that 10 year. We can then say, okay, what do we need to do in the next three years to get us one step closer to that 10 and everything. As we get closer and closer becomes more focused and once we’ve mapped out or that three year vision for the business looks like, right, we can then say, okay, what do we need to get done in the next year that gets us one step closer to that three, one step closer to that 10, right? And then what do we do next? We say, right. We need to get done this quarter to get us one step close to, oh one, two or three to our time. Right. It’s that whole reverse engineer process gets, gets, gets, um, very clear. Um, you know, the conversation around using a revenue number for example, is really contingent on what the, what appeals to the team. Right? So a financial services company, all about having a dollar value assets on the management. Like, everybody in that organization understands what that means. So it really feels like a rally cry. You know, you may have a, um, commercial real estate company, right? In Texas, I’m in Austin, Texas, right? So your first location here is in Austin and you want to put on there that in 10 years, we’re going to have 25 locations all over Texas. That’s what the entire organization can understand. They can wrap their head around from, from the leadership team down to down to the front desk – everyone understands in 10 years, we’re gonna have 25 locations, right. So it’s really what inspires the team. You know, other teams would be, you know, more inspired about, you know, be the best place to work in, in the United States, within our industry. Or we’re the go-to company for news channels to call when they want experts to weigh in on an issue, right. So I see it all over the gambit, but it really is what triggers that excitement, that rally cry for the organization.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, I think, you know, for myself and, um, I have to relate this to myself too, in these experiences of setting the BHAG where, you know, I just, it seemed too… I couldn’t even see the mist right at the top of the summit. So I had to do one of these other types of BHAGs, you know, to be the Wayne Gretzky of the SEO industry, you know. And I think everyone can see, you know, how he’s at the pinnacle of his sport, and that was something that everyone can, can, you know, lash, lash show around and, and try to aspire to, right? So it’s not a, uh, it kinda isn’t aspirational type thing, but, but it’s a goal. On the face of it, EOS seems like a fairly simple technique to wrap your head around and with so many books and communities available, it looks as though it should be straightforward to implement too. But from my own experience, I know that rolling out EOS isn’t as easy as it looks, which is why I asked James to give us some advice on how you can get started with the entrepreneurial operating system for your law firm.

James Ashcroft

So, um, this is a tough one because I feel like as a professional coach, um, I just, if I’m being completely honest, it’s really tough to nail any kind of implementation, no matter what field yourself, if you’re a participant while on a learning curve, right. Um, so with that being said, you can get a lot of headway by, you know, reading the books, um, joining some Facebook groups. Um, you can, um, join EOS base camp. There is very many practical tools, right, that you can do, and just getting everyone in the room together and following, uh, it to a T gets you ahead of most people, most people are not doing this, right. Um, but it is very different.

Chris Dreyer

I’ll say, you know, my ego, myself, I was like, I’m going to do this myself. And I read all the books, watched all the YouTube videos I could, listened to every podcast I could. And while I think maybe we did it, let’s say 50% of EOS though, that extra percentage, it just rounds out the entire puzzle. And I think drawing that extra percent out, you know, every little 1% helps. And, um, I can, I saw that firsthand, even though, even though I, myself obsessed read the Traction book, probably three times, you know, it was just very refreshing to step in and know that, hey, you know what, I don’t actually have to understand this entirely, but my coach does.

James Ashcroft

Yeah. What I love is that these concepts are simple to understand, but you can’t confuse that with easy to implement, right? Um, it is really tough for you as an owner of a company to read the books and you’re gonna be on a learning curve – I mean, how I coached my first 10 sessions is completely different from the way I coach now, right? It’s just, I’ve become better at it, um, over time. And you’re, you’re in those very early days. Um, and, um, It’s almost impossible to be the teacher-facilitator coach in the room and also be a participant. Um, I don’t want to dissuade anyone from starting to self implement. If you start self implementing you’re way ahead of the competition, but I think a big pitfall to avoid would be thinking that you are going to get to a hundred percent, you know? I would say, you know, dip your toe into this, go ahead and self implement, but there are going to be some great things – I have effective meetings, follow the 10 agenda, right? I work on your accountabilities chart. Work on your structure, forget about people, work on the structure of the organization, right? Do these things you’re you’re way ahead of the competition. I mean, realistically, nobody is doing this. They’re not, I live in a world of business operating systems, EOS and EO. And we talk about this stuff all the time. It’s easy to sit here and think everyone else is doing it. Like the tens of millions of companies in the US, like a tiny percentage of them actually use these frameworks. Right. So I would say revisit, hiring a coach on a regular basis in your mind, you know, bring in somebody to do, you know, an introduction or audit your company or we do like self self-implemented days where we can come in and audit. And, um, always leave that door, open that there’s room for improvement. And then when you find the resources or at that right place in your business, that rate time, go ahead and hire the coach, because you’ll look back and realize, oh my gosh, we didn’t have all these things in place. And now the coach has come in and helped us put the framework in place, like it should be, now we realize, you know, how much work we really needed to get done.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. And I think, you know, even for those of you that have read the book too, it doesn’t have a laid out agenda for every meeting. Yeah. They have a specific agenda for the level 10 meetings. But when you’re thinking about your quarterly meeting in the book, I can’t recall like an exact meeting and structure or the, the annual meeting, and they kind of give some general advice, but in the Traction book itself, there’s, there’s some of those, or the exercises in which you select your core values, it’s more of like an outline than the deep dive, having someone that’s a certified EOS implementer. So I can say that firsthand as well.

James Ashcroft

Yeah, couldn’t agree more when Gino wrote the book, right, it was a manual, like a how-to. And it quickly became apparent that companies needed help. The process needs help. So that’s where the coaching is born and it was born for a reason. Go ahead, please go ahead and self implement. You find the right system for you, follow some kind of process? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. So I don’t want to dissuade people, I guess I’m just saying, keep that door open for the coach, even if it feels like a stretch for you to bring in somebody, just going to help you achieve your goals faster.

Chris Dreyer

You know, and I was looking at a few other of the operating systems. So I was looking at Verne’s Scaling Up and his framework and it just seems for a much larger business. I would say most of the individuals listening are in that, you know, tend to, I would say mid-market size, or maybe even below that. And when I was looking at Verne’s, it was like, geez, this is very technical. And I think the, the overall, um, fundamental EOS model is more simplified and it’s easier to adapt.

James Ashcroft

Yeah. I mean, EOS has a beginning, middle end. Um, very practical tools. It’s very, like I said, simple to understand and wrap your head around and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I in there, you know, Verne Harnish is a big mentor for Gino Wickman. Like Verne’s Scaling Up is wonderful too. There’s other business operating systems out there. You’ve got to find the right one for you and then find the right implementer for you. So I would say for everyone to take a poke around and figure out what’s right for them.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. So let let’s shift over to the personal. So in 2013 you completed an Ironman with just 11 months of training. You know, do you have any other personal goals, anything that you’re working towards right now? Any other Iron Mans in the future?

James Ashcroft

Um, well, uh, I’m coming off knee surgery, so making my way back. Um, you know, uh, but I definitely feel the pull to do something. Set up the challenge a couple of years ago with, uh, with my mentor Jack Daly, we did the rim to rim, to rim, um, crossing the grand Canyon. I love having those challenges in my life. Um, I need them. To be honest with you. I knew that that I need those reminders of what, what I’m capable of achieving. Um, as I think, you know, those are kind of my physical, kind of mental resets, but now, you know, 47 years old right now, I’ve got a, I’ve got an incoming senior um, next year, going off to college. My kids are getting older and I’m really starting to think about my tenure window. And a lot of it revolves around, you know, continuing, um, you know, improving my great marriage – my wife, who I met in college. And, um, you know, it’s, it’s about experiences. Setting up my my life so I can work from anywhere and ultimately spend maybe half the year in Colorado, right. So my wife and I were thinking about, about, uh, specifically Telluride, Colorado. Um, so those, those are kind of my personal BHAGs now. Like, how am I going to architect my life to get to a point where I can spend a half a year in the mountains, as well as meet with these amazing teams. Obviously remote technology is wonderful. Um, but then also thinking about having amazing clients all over the country, that I get to travel to. Um, I, you know, getting to a point where I can kind of pick who I want to work with, uh, which is a great feeling. And what kind of locations would I be interested in traveling to? Um, so those are, if you look to my own personal vision, traction organizer, you’d see a lot of that, like working with amazing clients. I know what amazing means for me – so it is a smart rock, you know? Um, and then, yeah, just really having a, um, a wonderful life, um, full of amazing experiences and, and physically being where I want to be.

Chris Dreyer

That’s incredible. And James, we’re going to, we’re going to go to our final segment here. It is what we call our three for three. It’s just a quick fire round it’s so you can go from your gut and I’m just gonna shoot these to ya, which habit contributes the most to your success?

James Ashcroft

Just go back to this theme. Um, my continuous investment in continuing education, whether it’s getting coaches, whether it’s getting in masterminds, I’m in a mastermind with just amazing coaches, like truly feel like the dumbest guy in the room in many ways. Like, um, that, that habit of constantly striving for improvement and actually writing the checks, right? Like skin in the game kind of stuff is, is a habit I’ve developed.

Chris Dreyer

Wonderful. And which entrepreneur do you admire the most?

James Ashcroft

Oh, this is a tricky question. Um, gosh, there’s so many, I mean, if I, if I think back on, um, I mean, certainly, you know, looking at the Richard Bransons of the world, you know, risk taking, but smart risk taking. It’s just amazing what that guy’s done. The teams he’s built the companies he’s built. Even looking at Elon Musk, I mean, I mean, who’s just moved to my neighborhood here in Austin, right. Like opening up Tesla and, and, and to think that guy wakes up every day, making decisions through the filter of, does this get me one step closer to colonizing Mars? Right. I mean, that’s just incredible. Um, you know, I think about, uh, Jack Daley, right? Like. You just, you know, I saw him speak at my first EO event over 10 years ago. Um, full day workshop with Jack Daly, and for those of you who are not familiar with him, he’s just this amazing speaker workshop, sales… I hate to use the word “guru”, but just he’s been around the block and he’s 72 years old. He’s still running marathons Ironmans, just an incredible, inspiring person. So it’s, again, it’s like all these, like, characteristics of these people, I just admire so much and I try to blend it in and then shove it into my life as much as I can, you know?

Chris Dreyer

Incredible. That’s incredible. And, uh, yeah, I w I was setting when I was in Vistige, Jack Daly came in as a speaker once and he was pretty intense and I still remember some of the things he got on to the, to the room about. I mean, he really commands attention. And if you had to recommend one business book, which would it be and why, and curve ball, you can’t recommend traction here.

James Ashcroft

Yeah. So it’s interesting. Um, I, I read a lot of business books, right. But I look for themes that are not necessarily business, but you can incorporate it into your entrepreneurial life, right? So, um, big books that stand out for me, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. This is just like it’s, like, uh, just a different way to look at life and suffering and purpose. And, you know, it’s just one of the best books ever written, I think. You know, um, a recent book I absolutely love was Bryce Hoffman’s American Icon, um, story of Alan Mulally taking over Ford Motor company. Um, yes, it’s a business book, but just getting inside the Alan Mulally’s has had as a leader. Uh, there are many, many lessons in there. And he has his own framework, he Mulally Operating System that is not too far removed from, you know, other business operating systems. Um, so it’s a great reminder that just come in with a process and follow it, right? Um, There’s a book from like the 1940s, uh, Dale Carnegie, How To Stop Worrying and Start Living, right. Everyone really knows Dale Carnegie from How To Win Friends and Influence People, right, but this book hit the nail on the head. Like very tactical ways to slow down your anxiety and develop a system to, to sit down with your problems and systematically address them. And then there’s, um, other psychological, you know, um, persuasion books I think are very important, like Influence by Robert Cialdini. Um, just understanding how the human brain works. If you’re in sales, you need to understand, um, the power of social proof, for example, testimonials. And so I, I look at not one book and I know it’s not the quick answer. Um, but it’s more of my mental thinking around it. It’s like, let’s go to copywriting, for example, like The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert – letters, to his son, from prison, talking about, you know, life and copywriting and all this great stuff. And it’s, it’s just, uh, it’s like a gem mine, right? Cialdini, Influence in sales capacity, How To Stop Worrying and Start Living as entrepreneurs – we worry a lot, you know, how, how can we deal with that? And so on and so forth and, and just taking these nuggets. Um, from these books, um, you know.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, those are incredible and I’m definitely gonna have to check out the rest. And, uh, James, it’s been such a pleasure and honor having you on the show. Where can people go to learn more?

James Ashcroft

Yeah, you can go, uh, Jamesashcroft.com or shoot me an email at james@jamesashcroft.com. I’m happy to chat, help out any way I can. And if you’re looking for an implementer, um, you know, I’m happy to talk to you and point you in the right direction or help you figure out what’s best for you. If you want to self implement, I can send you some resources, whatever you need. I’m happy to do it.

Chris Dreyer

There’s so much to take away about EOS. And like James says, you might not be able to implement a hundred percent of the framework without a coach, but the elements you do adopt will place you far ahead of the competition. And if you want to learn more about EOS, then you should check out my other interviews on The Rankings Podcast, episode 54 with John Nachazel and episode 59 with Mike Morris of the Mike Morris law firm. I’d like to think James Ashcroft, certified EOS implementer for sharing his story with us. And I hope you gained some valuable insights from the conversation. You’ve been listening to The Rankings Podcast. I’m Chris Dreyer. If you liked this episode or have an idea for a future guest whose story you’d love to hear, leave me a review and tell me more. I’ll catch you next week with another inspiring story and some SEO tips and tricks all with page one in mind.

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