Before You “Start With Why,”​ Start With WTF

WTF is WTF you ask? It’s not what you think. In fact, it may be what you’re not thinking, or not doing.

WTF drives results.

Results matter more than dialogue.

Earnings matter more than losses.

EBITDA matters more than negative EBITDA.

But YouTube is filled with experts, isn’t it? Business experts who’ve never, started one, run one, grown one, fixed one. One expert I follow actually sold men’s clothing before becoming “a global advisor to CEO’s.” I don’t think he’s actually run anything other than his mouth.

The fact of the matter is, for those of us who really do it and really counsel real businesses in really difficult situations, real business is really hard real work. To do it right and have success it’s a daily grind. Seeking advice? Get it from people who have earned it the old fashioned way, the daily persistent, push for results, drive progress, never get deterred, jagged, zigzag, never give up, 24/7 and weekends way.

WTF. Watch The Fundamentals of business.

In the candy-coated esoteric world of kumbaya TedTalks and Cliffs Notes-inspired approaches to management (not that there’s anything wrong with those), and conceptual tales spun by teachers who can’t do, talkers who can’t teach and YouTube extroverts who can’t execute, there’s a tendency to pull the satin cloth off the latest management panacea — golden shapes and one size-fits all management paradigms.

Voila! The latest buzzword or model graphic spun into a book by a ghostwriter and a graphic artist.

“when you’re in business, there’s always work to be done.” — Dad

So how many companies has this person actually run? Have they ever actually hired and fired people? Raised capital? Built factories? Negotiated with unions? Made payroll? Negotiated contracts? Signed personally for lines of credit? Made payroll by writing a personal check?

How many mornings has this guru actually woken up at 4:30 and commuted into an actual physical building with people who actually make things, provide services and support all aspects of that business in an extremely challenging, demanding environment?

It reminds me of the movie Up In The Air where George Clooney’s character, Ryan (a one-man HR severance machine working for struggling companies, presumably whose management is probably detached, not engaged) dispenses nonsense advice as a side gig at the Hampton Inn telling people to choose what and whom goes in their backpack when the only value he creates in the world is for the airlines and hotels in exchange for points.

In the real world of running companies, struggling to meet payroll, and striving for growth and market share and margin protection, there is the reality of managing your business minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day and week by week.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Your success in business isn’t driven by sitting around talking in hypotheticals with sycophants; Your success is driven by how you use TIME. What you fill your workday with is most important. It just so happens that business owners and senior managers think about their business and not just lean in, but dive in, and get to work, round the clock; and each week there is a Wednesday, a Thursday and a Friday, (WTF) which is when the battle plans for the following week should be prepared. The 60% of this week you use to manage 100% of next week pays big dividends.

WHAT’s The Focus?

If you don’t know why you are in business, you should pack up your stuff, buy an Airstream, and go on the road like Albert Brooks in Lost in America.

Your purpose? Really, how about, take care of your customers every week? How about take care of all of the people not on your esoteric golden dart board, but your stakeholder wheel? It’s not about asking WHY you have stakeholders, but determining WHO they are and WHAT they expect from you and WHAT you are going to give them and WHAT you get out of it.

HOW about you pay your employees every week? Pay your vendors? The purpose of a business is to take care of its customers for that business. If you are a landscaper, you cut lawns and trim trees. You don’t go kayaking and spend eight hours contemplating the purpose of your business as the grass grows.

WHO’s The First?

No need for the full Abbott and Costello routine here. Who is #1 in your industry? What companies do you admire? Which CEO’s do you admire? What do they do that you haven’t done, need to do, or for some reason, can’t do, or won’t do? What is the bridge you need to cross to that level of greatness, that level of performance?

Have you done a gap analysis to identify every aspect of your company operations, and your characteristics and approach as an owner or senior executive to identify the barriers to greatness? WHAT are they?

WHAT’s Today’s Fire?

Strong CEO’s and senior managers know WHAT is the top priority for them each and every day. What is today’s fire that needs to be put out? What is the most pressing issue for the organization for today? Is a giant bid due? Is there a receivable that needs to be collected? Is the major subcontractor vendor asking for a call to be returned? Before you go to the spa, or to the golf course, you need to run your organization, today, NOW.

WHAT’s Today’s Find?

When you were hard at work today, digging into every aspect of your business, turning over every stone, meeting with customers, meeting with employees, visiting job sites, walking the factory, what was that valuable nugget of information you found? What are you going to do with it?

Oh wait, you did actually do all that stuff, didn’t you?

WHERE’s The Fat?

When was the last time you really looked at your Income Statement and Balance Sheet? Besides their spouse’s or significant other’s name, kids’ and dog’s names, do you know each of your employees’ compensation and what they do all day? What their focus (WTF) is? Is your supply chain and order processing LEAN based? Is your balance sheet solvent? What has happened to your shareholders’ equity over the past few years? Have you spent that equity?

This isn’t a time to ask WHY you make profit, but HOW, and HOW much.

WORK Til Finished

One summer day when I was 10 years old, I was working in our family supermarket; I finished all my work early and made the mistake of telling my father I was done with my work. He then handed me a mop and Spic and Span and a bucket and told me to clean the bathroom and wash the floor. (I didn’t know it at the time, but that was a WTF moment). He then reminded me, “when you’re in business, there’s always work to be done.” Work until you’re finished for the day. Give it your all.

Business is hard work and despite having a team of great employees, you can’t assume that all the tasks you assign are going to get done. Sometimes you’re the last one there and the floor needs washing.

Enough with the podcasts, seminars, videos, retreats and airport bookstore business plans.

GTM. Grab the mop.

GTW. Get to work.

WTF. Wash The Floor.

Winning Takes Focus. Find your WTF moment.

Start with work. You already know why.

Copyright 2019 Paul Fioravanti, MBA, MPA, CTP, Qorval Partners, LLC, all rights reserved.



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Paul Fioravanti, MBA, MPA, CTP

Paul Fioravanti, MBA, MPA, CTP

Business Growth/Startup/Transformation | CEO | Grow it, Fix it, Exit | Executive/Advisor/Director/Connector | |