How much do you know about essentialism? Or what you as a leader need to do to help your team achieve greater results? Bill Flynn knows it! 


In the new episode of our podcast Workpuls Productivity Talks we talked to Bill, who is a growth coach, an author and a speaker. Our main topic as always was productivity, and we’ve touched base on different aspects of productivity, and what it takes to become a leader who leads their team to success.


Workpuls: Hi everyone, Bojana here for Workpuls  and you're watching another episode of Workpuls Productivity Talks! We're here today with Bill Flynn who is an author, a growth coach and a speaker. We will be discussing some productivity tips, some of his favorite productivity methods as well as some other productivity related stuff. So, Bill, thank you first of all for taking the time to do this with us and just tell us a little bit about what it is that you do exactly. 



Bill Flynn: Sure. Right now, I've been a leadership coach for about four years, which means that I work with teams. I'm generally hired by the head of the company, the CEO of the business owner, whatever it may be. And I basically teach a framework for them to, if they execute it well, have a healthy and thriving organization. It's based on some things that have been around for a really long time. Most of the stuff that I teach is based upon people who are no longer living. People like Edgar Schein and Peter Drucker and Edward Deming, a whole bunch of other folks. And it seems like every 30 years, another group of people like Jim Collins or Pat Lencioni or Verne Harnish or whatever, take that stuff and redo it and so I'm kind of propagating that. But it's stuff that generally has shown to work. My clients definitely like the process, they like having a framework to work with and then sort of fill in the spaces themselves. 



Workpuls: Okay. So, you have been working with teams. I assume it's different companies of different sizes and different industries as well. 



Bill Flynn: Yeah. I have some really small clients. I have one that's less than a million dollars. I have some that are tens of millions in size. I have peers, I've got about 200 peers around the world that I'm associated with through some organizations and such. Our clients, some of them have clients that are quite large, hundreds of millions of dollars in size. What we teach is principle-based, so it doesn't really matter what size company you are. It just really matters for you to believe in the principles themselves and doing that kind of work. It works for any organization and that's been proven by, there is a gentleman that I know, his name is Alan Mulally and he in essence turned around Boeing and Ford in about 20 years’ timeframe. And he did it basically the same way that I teach. And he didn't have a leadership coach. He sorts of figured it out on his own . So, it's based upon some pretty good stuff. I mean, anything could be improved or done differently. But the approach I have works for me and works for my clients. 



Workpuls: Okay. So, it's kind of a one size fits all because it's a principle. It's more general than it is detailed, is it something that I can say, I'm not sure? If it can be applied to so many different companies of different sizes and know that everything is definitely a methodology that obviously works. But how would you describe productivity, what would you say productivity is? What does it mean to you? 


Bill Flynn: Productivity is basically getting the right things done in a timely manner. Getting you closer to whatever you've described as your vision, your mission, whatever that thing is out in the future that you believe you're headed towards. To me, that's when you're being productive. You're actually making, you're making headway as an organization or as an individual or as a team, doesn't really matter, towards that and you can measure it and understand where it is, et cetera. 



Workpuls: Okay. And what are the best ways to measure productivity? 



Bill Flynn: Well, there's lots of ways to measure productivity. Generally, I like to work backwards. I like to sort of help the team and the leader figure out what it looks like when we get there? Right? So, some people call this a vision or a painted picture or there's all these different explanations of what they are. But I think it's really your responsibility as a leader to describe that in such a way that the people that you're working with can see it. It's if it has already happened. That gives you a sort of a beacon, if you will. That's where we're going. And then your productivity is all these things that you do every day, every week, every month, every year that are getting you closer to that thing. So, if you can describe that and then you can say, okay, we’ll know when we get there by doing this. 


So, for instance, Jim Collins says this thing called a BHAG. Other people call that a North Star, a core destination. Simon Sinek called that a Just Cause. Whatever it is there is some way that you can recognize that you did it. So, for instance, one of my clients, is in the study abroad industry and they have a destination that they can describe as changing a million lives. They want to have students or adults, whoever wants to go somewhere and learn a different culture, maybe a different language or study somewhere, whatever it is. They believe that they've changed their lives. Because when you go and you see how other people who are different from you live and interact with each other, it kind of broadens your perspective, right? It's just, okay, we're not this. Everything we know is just this way. So that's one big measure.  So, when I walk into their office, there's this big thing on the wall in the lobby area that says how many lives they've touched. I can't remember how many they're up to. They're up to tens of thousands. 


So then what you can do is you can break that down into smaller bits. Okay. In three years, what are the things that we need to do in order to get us closer to the million? Okay, great. We've got those three or four things you need to do. You might want to call them initiatives, whatever it may be. Then you break that down into, okay, what do we need to do this year? You might want to take some of those things that you said in three years and break them into pieces or whatever it is. And you said, okay, if we get these done this year, we're productive. Okay, what do we need to do this quarter? And then I have some clients who go down to the week because they're not very disciplined and they need to make it into smaller chunks. And smaller chunks are easier to manage and understand as opposed to sort of saying these things. So, that's generally how we do it. Productivity is generally execution. Execution is usually just three things. What are my priorities? Which we just talked about, right? A million. Okay. In three years we want to be at 150,000. Great, okay. And this year we want to be at 75,000, whatever. And those are priorities. What are the things we need to do? We need to hire, well, we need to train our team. We need to have this customer experience. Whatever the heck it is that you want to say is your priority and you have an owner of that priority. I'm a fan of SMART, but there are other things like FAST out there. 


When I first started doing this, SMART wasn't a thing. We had goals and objectives. Goals were things you couldn't measure and objectives are things you could measure. Now we've got priorities and goals. And now you can measure goals, magically you can now measure them. I've also seen something called MBOs, there's something called OKR. Whatever those things are, those tools, they’re all generally the same thing.


What are we doing now? How do we know it's getting us closer to what we're going to do? Okay, how do we measure that? What are the metrics? You know, let's say you're doing training. Are we more productive? Are we selling more? Are we selling more of the right stuff? Has our profit gone up? Whatever it is. Do we have happier customers? You know, those kinds of things. NPS or whatever those measures are that you'd like. And then the one thing that's really important, which we do really badly, is meetings. Meetings are our least productive thing. There are studies out there, I think I've read somewhere that on average we waste somewhere in the 35 to 37 billion dollars in meetings. 



Workpuls: Wow.


Bill Flynn: Which is a lot of money, right? So, we don't do meetings. Well, meetings are, we turn them into status meetings as opposed to progress meetings. You know, I don't know how long you've been working or if you've been in these kinds of meetings. When you have a team meeting weekly, it often always devolves into people telling you all the things they did. 



Workpuls: Yeah, I've had that experience. 


Bill Flynn: They read the report they wrote or they should have written and they want to just show you, “Hey, I'm really been really busy. I've really done a lot of stuff; see all the stuff I've done.” I ran a group of about 60 people and there were four or five of us and I asked my team, I said, okay, what I'd like you to do is on Friday before five, you need to send us your weekly report and there was a certain format that we all did. And then I said, and we meet at 10 o'clock on Monday. I expect everyone to have read everyone else's report and then if you have any questions or whatever. And then the first time I did this, because we've all been trained this way, someone in my group went first and he started to read his report and I just stopped him. And I'm kind of a tease sometimes, and I looked at him, I said: “Brian, do you think I don't know how to read?” “What do you mean,” he said. I said: “I read your report and everyone else should have read your report too. Is there something in the report that's important that you want to call out and elaborate on?” That's when you make progress. 


And so, after that we never did it. We talked about stuff like how do we move forward? What do we need to do next? You know, we always want to check in the past, of course, did we do well, what did we learn? But we don't do meetings well. We've never done them well. We've never learned how to do them well. And mostly because we don't like meetings and people say, you know, I speak a little all over the country and I have audiences and such. And I would ask them, I'd say, how many people hate meetings? And a lot of people put their hands up and I say, my theory is that people don't hate meetings. They hate boring meetings and most meetings are boring, right? It's you just sitting there listening to six or seven other people talk for 10 or 15 minutes of an hour meeting and you already know what they're going to say. They said it last week, you're not actually doing anything. You're not engaging your brain; you're not being motivated to move forward. That is a lack of productivity. I think a lot of productivity is lost in that scenario. 



Workpuls: It seems that all the companies are sort of brought up that way, like we should have meetings on a regular basis, on a weekly or biweekly basis to report what we've done and this and that. And I just as you mentioned, I remember like one of the companies I used to work for. We had those regular meetings where the heads of each department were present at the meeting and they were presenting what was done in the past two weeks, if we had it every two weeks. And it is a waste of time. It doesn't make any sense. Like it's good that we're sharing with other departments that we're all involved and that's fine but it's definitely better to think about what we can do within the next few weeks rather than what we've done in the past two. So, definitely, meetings are something that needs to be changed. We actually recently wrote a post on our blog about like, meetings done the right way. What can you do and how can you shape them to get the most out of them actually. So, what do you think that employers or leaders or managers that want to work on productivity within their companies or want to increase productivity? What is the first thing they should do? 



Bill Flynn: Yeah. Well, the first thing you should do is make sure you know why you're doing it. Is there a purpose, you know, what problem are we solving? How are we helping our clients? How do we make this a really great company? You know when I work with my clients and then when I speak to CEOs, one of the first things I do is we talk about sort of strategy and execution. Because a lot of times when people come to me, I ask them, so what's going on? Why are we talking? What's, what's the barrier here, why are you coming to me? Because I'm a growth coach, I'm helping them with growth. And I say, so what's your biggest barrier to growth right now? And very often I hear things around execution. It's usually an operational issue. You know, my people aren't doing the right things. They're not doing on time, they're missing, you know, they're not doing them well, all these kinds of things. And I said, well, that's generally something you're talking about execution. And they agree and I say, so what are you executing on? And often I get sort of like, what do you mean, what are we executing? No, you're executing on something. Right? So, what is it that you're executing on? And I'm trying to get them to say they're basically executing on their strategy. 


That's in essence what you're doing. What is our strategy? And I say, okay, so if we agree that you work extremely on strategy, what if I came into your senior leadership team meeting one week and I just asked everyone to write down in their own words, what is our current company strategy? And I would have them read them out loud to the whole group. What do you think would happen? And that's exactly the reaction I get is they laugh. It's like, oh my God, they'd be all over the place. I said, yeah. I said, so you're mad at them, but they're executing on what they think is the strategy. So, they think they're doing a great job, which again leads to being unproductive or at least what the leader thinks is unproductive because everyone's going in different directions or you know, slightly different directions or whatever. You're still moving forward because you're doing some things well enough that you can move forward, but you're not doing them together. This is the overused metaphor of the crew, right? You have to row in the same directions. You know, it's basically the same thing, right? And I said, so first we want to get everyone on the same page of what the strategy is. It doesn't have to be an awesome strategy. Doesn't have to be a world dominating strategy. Let's just get them, this is actually our strategy. This is what we're trying to do. This is how we think we'll win in the marketplace. 


Just doing that and getting on the same page... Because people are good and they want to do the right thing. They want to be productive and they want to help. You know, we've learned that now in the middle of this crisis, there are so many people stepping up and changing their factories to help other people and part of it, of course, is commerce, but they also want to do it because human beings are generally good people, right? We want to help each other. So, I said, if you give them that, then they're going to find ways to be more productive without you ever having to ask them. And it happens all the time. I have two companies now where they had a really productive person, productive person getting stuff done, but they were toxic. No one liked them. So, what happened is no one would meet with them. They wouldn't tell them stuff. They tried to avoid them in the hallway, et cetera, which basically leads to being not productive, right? Because if you're a team and they were afraid to get rid of them because they were afraid of this big Gulf that would be left. You know, there's this huge hole that we left when they left the company. And yes, in some cases they dipped a little bit but every time I talk to them, when this happens, every time I talk to people like this, I hear the same exact story. You'd be amazed. I was so surprised. Everyone around this person started to fill in and they started to do stuff. I said, yeah, they were afraid to before because sometimes it's a manager and these are the people that work for them, but they want to do the right thing. 



So, you got to give them that, right? There's you got to get that vision. You got to get that strategy. Where are we going? Then of course you can do the productive step, priorities and metrics and meetings of all the things that I teach, that is the simplest stuff. It's really easy what our priorities are. Write them down. Are they SMART? Right? Are they specific? Do we know when we did it? Are they actually achievable? Are they getting us to where we want to go? What's the timeframe? Who is the owner? Do they have the authority to get it done? That's simple. We can all do that, right? But what happens is we just do the wrong stuff or not enough of the right stuff. And typically, what happens is you go along well for a while, but you'll hit a wall because you're finding that the stuff you're doing isn't working anymore. You're getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and all of a sudden something isn't working and you can't figure out why it is. 


So, then you start blaming those people around you. Well, they're not working hard there, you know, I need to make sure that nothing against your app, but I need to make sure that they're doing the right things, et cetera, et cetera. And I want to check on them, which yes, you know, I'm a big fan of “trust, but verify”, right? Assume they're doing the right thing but yeah, check just to make sure, because people get easily distracted or you know, some people just aren't doing the right things, you know, not everyone's perfect. So, I think to be productive as a leader, you have to give them an understanding of where they're going and then have them figure out how to get there. Don't tell them how to get there. This is the same thing as a meeting, right? People don't like to be told what to do. You don't. But if you give them a direction, we want to end up over here. Let's talk about what are the things that we could do as a team that will get us closer to them. What ideas do you have? I always say when you do your priorities with your team, have some in the back pocket just in case, but tell them here's what came out of our meeting because I usually work with the senior leadership team meeting. Here are the three or four or five things that I said that I needed to do and we needed to do. 


Okay, now I need you to say, each of you, what do you think you need to do to help us get there and other stuff that isn't on that list that you need to, maybe you need to learn something new to help you be better at your job. Whatever it is. People will surprise you. Productivity flows from the bottom up as long as you give them direction. It goes the other way, top down, when you don't give them good direction or they don't believe in the direction, which is a whole other issue. 



Workpuls: You mentioned the issue with our app and everything, it's really a don't tell them what to do because for some reason there's been a huge increase in micromanagers and people who keep trying to control what people below them are doing, what their team members are doing. They're checking in every five minutes. They want things done a specific way, even though the other person can do it a different way and still get the same results. 


And it's also one of the things that I think is causing low productivity levels because if you're pressuring me to do something in a way that you want and then I firstly need to learn how to do that, the that you want it done but I already know a way to do it and I can do it faster because I already have knowledge on this. It creates a very bad atmosphere. It's just bad for productivity. It's bad for morale, it's bad. People leave because of those types of things from the company. Yeah, so it's a thing with our app again, it's how you use it. It’s what type of manager you are. That's the way you're going to use an app like this. And you can either use it as a power up tool that can help you achieve even more or you can use it as a tool that will help you check more what they're doing and get deeper into what they're doing, which are two completely opposite things. And it's interesting to see how one or the other are using the app. In the conversation with them, how they're using the app, how their employees are reacting to the app because they're going to act in a completely different way depending on what kind of manager you are.



Bill Flynn: Agreed, agreed.



Workpuls: Yeah. So, besides giving employees space, giving employees some direction and everything, are there any other tips you could give to team leaders and employers who want to start implementing one of the productivity increasing methods or anything like that? 



Bill Flynn: So again, as we talked about before, some of the principle-based guides. There are lots of methods of productivity. There's the checklist manifesto, right? There's stuff that lots of “productivity experts” work on. Rory Vaden is a productivity expert; he's got his particular method that he does. So, what I generally like to do is.. I'm a science geek. I find that we have fallen into the trap that we don't, what business does is not what science knows. We don't generally follow what science knows. We follow what has been happening in the past. It's, you know, we've always done it this way. 


Productivity has a couple of different vectors, right? One is just efficiency, just am I doing the task right? And, that's what generally we've learned and that's from something called Taylorism, from a long time ago when we were an industrial society and the world was much more industrial. Right? It was generally in the late 1800s, early 1900s with the United States, and people had a certain routinized job and you needed to have them come in and just do the job and you gave them the steps just like you just described. This is the way you do it and that worked really well because yes, there was a machinery that they were on and there were certain steps you had to do, because it was unsafe if you didn't or certainly wasn't as productive, et cetera. But, for the most part, at least in the United States, and in many other places, we've moved away from that. A lot of these things are automated. 


So, part of the other, one of the other vectors of productivity is something that is described as flow or passion or whatever you want to call it. And I'm sure you do this. There's probably something that you just love doing or a bunch of things you love doing. Right. So, I'm sitting here in my family room and I have a guitar right there and I love the guitar. I'm not great at it, I have friends of mine who are musicians, but I love it. And how I know I love it is when I do it, maybe at lunch, if I work at home, at lunch or sometime during the day, I just want to take a break. I'll just sit in here and I'll pick up the guitar and I'll just start playing and doing stuff and then I'll look at my watch or my phone and say, oh my God, it's like an hour and a half just flew by. Right. That's productive, right? You're generally doing something that you love and you're probably good at it or great at it but not necessarily. So, you also have to make sure that you find things for your teammates to do that will have them be more productive because I'm sure there's stuff that you don't like to do. I don't know what kind of person you are, but let's just say you're an extrovert and you like to interact with people, you’re social. You seem like you skew that way. Right?



Workpuls: Yes, yeah.



Bill Flynn: So, what if part of your job, maybe 20, 30, 50% of your job was to sit by yourself in a room and work on a spreadsheet all day and with the numbers and you would probably hate it. And what would happen is you would take lots of breaks. You would be slow at it because your brain isn't working that well, et cetera. But there might be someone on your team that loves that stuff, right? They just love getting in the thing and they love to put their headphones on and they're just into it and for them it goes by really quickly. For you five minutes feels like an hour, right? So that's being unproductive. So, you also have to make sure that you manage that. 


So, there's one tool, there are two tools that I like. The one is based upon something from Marcus Buckingham, if you're familiar with him. He wrote a book called Nine Lives. He' used to run Gallup, and he now works at ADP and he's a speaker around the world. He's one of the most sought-after business speakers in the world. And he has this really simple exercise. I love simple exercises and I've added two things that a coach of mine, Bruce Eckfeldt added to it which I think is great. He has this thing called the love and loathe list, right? And he says just for a week, go around and when you find that thing that you love, the thing I just described, right, your time flies when you're doing it. You can't wait to do it again in the future and then put it in that love column. And then the thing that, you know, if you're sitting in that dark room with a spreadsheet and you loathe it, you know, the time just stops. You procrastinate, you do all these things just to not do it, then put that in the loathe, whatever. If there are lots of things that probably don't fit into either, don't worry about those. Just do the extremes. I'll come back to that in a second. The other thing that Bruce added, which I like, is to have long and lust. 


So, you've got love, loathe, long and lust, right? Long is something that you wish you could do. You've seen other people do it or, but you just aren't doing it. What's that? What stuff do you want to do there? And the lust is what stuff that you used to do that you don't do anymore, that you really miss and you'd like to do more of. And then put that down. What I do is, I then go to the loathe list because most people are under productive because most of the day, they're not doing stuff that drives them. So as a leader or whatever you can, I usually say to the head of the company, let's just assume this is the CEO. Whatever's in your, loathe list you have four options. 



One, is there anything you can automate? So, for instance, you know, I'm a coach and my calendar is public because people can book my time and so I use an app. I use Calendly, you can use Time Trade or whatever because I've read this several times, that the average amount of time it takes to go back and forth to set up a meeting with someone is eight. You guys have probably noticed: eight times, right? It takes and not, you know, so I'm like, why that makes no sense to me. So, let me give you my calendar. Pick a time just once and I do 20, 30 meetings a week. That's a lot of time. That's a lot of eights, right? What's that? 160 times. That's crazy. So, can you automate it? The second thing is can you delegate it? Which is the standard of stuff. Is there someone on your team, especially your team leader, your job is to grow other leaders, right? Is there something that you don't like to do that someone on your team, you think might like to do and be good at and it's something that's important. I don't want you to give him grunt work but if it's something important, then that helps them, that helps develop them, et cetera. 


So, can you delegate it? The next is, can you eliminate it? There's a lot of stuff that we do that we just been doing and you know, like say there's a report that you run every week. Did someone read it? Does anyone read it? If they don't, they just eliminate it. And the last one's my favorite is procrastinate. If there's stuff that you do that you don't like to do, just don't do it. And if nobody notices, eliminate it, right? If someone notices, then you got to automate or delegate it. You got to do something right now. You're never going to be able to get rid of everything, especially if you're a small company but you might also be able to move things around. What I teach team leaders is if you do that with all of your folks, and let's say everyone has three to five really important things that they need to do to make sure that they're productive in their role. And I have to do the same thing, you know, do a red marker and a green marker. Is there anything on this card that should be created? And usually doing a three by five card that's red, you just don't like it. It's not something that drives you. Maybe there's someone else on the team that would like to do that. 


And I say, well, but that's the job. I said, well, how do we, who decided what the job was? Someone just decided before you who says you made it all up anyway? As long as your team gets their stuff done, who cares who on the team does what job? Right? And that's another big factor of productivity in my opinion. Efficiencies, easy efficiency is stuff like yours. I'm not saying, I don't mean to underplay it but it's trackable and you can do it but this stuff is harder. You have to really understand... People have to be safe that they can tell you they don't like something because they might think, Oh, you know, I'm going to be seen as lazy or you know, I'm not a good teammate or whatever. So, you have to be safe. So that's, to me, those are the vectors, efficiency and sort of effectiveness, if you will, are the two main things for productivity. So that's what I teach a lot on productivity. I can teach people how to be efficient but it's harder to do the effectiveness thing. 



Workpuls: Yeah, makes sense. I love the part about that's not in the job description. Exactly, we invented all those job descriptions and nobody said it had to be that way. So, I really liked that. That's very interesting. I don't think that many people think of it that way, either employees or leaders. Like I don't feel that people generally think that way. Why does a, I don't know, why does a social media manager need to write descriptions where social media can a content writer do it, they'll probably like it more and things like that. I like that. But there was something you mentioned in the first email. You mentioned that you're a huge fan of essentialism. So, I'd like to hear a bit more about it. I think we should definitely share a bit more on the method and why are you such a fan of it? 



Bill Flynn: Yeah. So essentialism is basically just, I don't want to say a philosophy or whatever that you want to call it, but it's really a way of thinking. Greg McKeown is the guy who's written several books on it and there are other people who do it as well. And it just really fits with me because I'm a minimalist. So, like if we did another interview in a month, you'd see me in the same type of thing. I generally, I have the Steve Jobs thing. I just kind of wear the same stuff all the time because I just don't want to be bothered with all that stuff. So, the focus of essentialism is also the same as the Pareto principle, which most people know is the 80-20 rule. It's also called the law of the vital few. It basically says that most of your efforts, most of your results are based upon a small amount of effort. So as a leader, what I try to teach my leaders is your job is to figure out the few things that matter the most. A nice quote that I think that really sums up essentialism for me is few things truly matter but those that do matter tremendously, they have an outsized impact. 



And from a productivity perspective, that's the same thing. If you just did a few things, I'm sure, you know, if you went through your day and all the decisions you made, you line them all up and you then looked at them for a week or whatever it was, a day or a week, some timeframe. And then you went through and honestly looked at the ones decisions that you made that made the biggest impact on your teammates or your customers or whatever. My guess is there’s just a couple of them. Most of the other ones were just tiny little things that you did right and supposedly we make 30 somewhat thousand decisions a day as human beings. And this is everything when to brush your teeth, what to have for breakfast, you know, what clothes to, all those little tiny decisions. Someone did some study; I don't know if it's right but it's a lot. So that's what essentialism is, it’s basically less, is more, try to do a few things really well.


And I think a really good example of that is a very famous company which is struggling right now. It's called Southwest Airlines. They are one of the best run organizations in the world. And why is that? Is because they only do a few things really well. They chose mostly what not to do. They went into the airline industry and they said, you know, what are we trying to accomplish? We want more people to fly. And when they first started in the seventies the airline industry was regulated. So, they could only work in a certain area of the country. They actually could only work in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, Texas. They only had three cities they could serve and they had two other competitors. So, it was really simple for them. You know, they're like, we need to be efficient and when they realized what they were doing, they said, who are our customers and their customers were no other airline travelers per se. They were people who took the bus, they were trying to get more people to take the bus and most of them were salespeople. Most people would take the bus to sell their stuff in this area. So, they said, how do we do that? We need to be really efficient. How would we do that? Well, what are the inefficiencies in airline travel? Well when the plane gets delayed, right? And how do delays happen? And I don't know if you've ever flown Southwest because you're in Serbia, but it's only an American, it only works in the United States. Maybe it does a little bit in Canada, but I think it's mostly the United States. They're the second largest airline in the entire world and they only serve the United States.



Workpuls: Wow! 



Bill Flynn: That's crazy! 



Workpuls: Wow!


Bill Flynn: Really. Yeah. They have a really simple philosophy. Their strategy, as we talked about earlier, is two words. It's Wheels up. And everyone at the organization knows what that is and they're all working towards how do I get the plane in the air? Because when the plane is in the air, we make money. So, what they said was, okay, in order to get the planes in the air, we're only going to have one plane. So, it's a 737. So, if we have parts, we need pilots, we need flight attendants, they're all trained on the same plane. There are no delays because we couldn't, I've ever flown in, they say, I'm sorry but the crew that we have needs another hour because airline regulations say that they need this much time off and blah blah blah. They're the only ones who can fly this seven 747 or whatever. You have to wait. Southwest airlines doesn't do that. Also, it takes on average 40 to 45 minutes to load a plane. They can do it in 10 to 20 minutes. Why? No one gets assigned seating. It's a cattle thing. You get in line, you have a number, you go find your own seat. When you get off the plane, one of the things that delay is cleaning the plane, right? So, would they, so the flight attendants clean the plane towards you as you leave. 


So, by the time the last person has left, the plane is basically cleaned. So, the next group can come in. Most other airlines wait till everybody leaves. They have a crew that comes in that they've hired and then they clean the plane and they do it quickly. But it's another five or 10 minutes and then you can load. And I had this once where I was in, I was flying on another airline. I wouldn't say that they are. And I was in group one like, okay, on the group one. And then they started doing the groups before group one and I counted them. There were 13 and from the time that I looked at my phone, by the time I got on, 23 minutes had passed before group one even got on the plane and there were five groups. It took 47 minutes before we left the gate. So that just means that's 20 minutes times how many planes, how many days, you know, that's one of the reasons why they're inefficient. So that's what essentialism is. It's really focusing on the few things that truly matter. And then doing them really, really, really well. It's really hard because especially if you're an entrepreneur, you're distracted by the shiny thing, the fun thing, right? A new thing. 


So, that's why a lot of founders don't make it to the end because or, their organization doesn't make it to the end because they're too enamored of the shiny thing. And by the way, that's great. We need people who like that. But at some point, you have to start creating systems and processes and doing those things and doing them well over and over again and most entrepreneurs don't like that. That's boring to them. That's going to be on their loathe list. I'm like, great. That's okay. Go do another one. We need you. Let someone else who loves to do that do it. They'll be a really good operator, they'll make it happen, right? But you know, 90 something percent or somewhere between 90.75 and 96 based upon what I read of businesses fail in 10 years or fewer. And a lot of it is, I think, because we get distracted by lots of other stuff. We chase revenue and I'm a 30-year sales and marketing guy, and I know I think chasing revenue is a bad idea. And most businesses don't die of starvation. They die of indigestion. They do too many things. And they only do them mediocrely well, and he'd start doing that too much and that's when things start to slow down. That's when you become unproductive.


Workpuls: It's like with individuals, if you have an individual that's doing a bunch of different things that needs to do a bunch of different things throughout the day, eventually they'll become unproductive with that. They won't be happy with that. They grow, their role won't grow, the part of the business they're supposed to be handling won't grow because of all that. So, it's really, it can really connect the individual feeling to the feeling of how the business grows out of the company. 



Bill Flynn: Exactly. 



Workpuls: Okay, well that would be all when it comes to me. I don't know if there's anything that maybe I forgot to mention that you would like to share with our viewers. 



Bill Flynn: If I could do a sort of a shameless plug. So, I love what I do. I know I now know what a calling is. I think it's a shame that really good businesses either struggle or die for completely preventable reasons, partly around productivity. I believe it so much that I never wanted to, but I was encouraged by people I spoke to and my clients. So, I actually wrote a book and part of the book is about productivity and about doing a few things well, et cetera. It's called Further Faster and it actually has the law of the vital few in the title. It says the vital few steps that take the guesswork out of growth. So, it's not a catch-all book. I apply the rules of essentialism. I say there's lots, there's hundreds of different things that you can do, but I think if you do these few things really well, it will get you further faster. You'll move along much more quickly. There's lots of other stuff that you can do as well. 


I call them big knobs and little knobs, right? I'm basically doing the big knobs, right? Performance is a team sport. You should build a system to run your company that combines that strategy and execution needs to be cohesive. And then cash should be the primary financial growth metric because growth sucks cash. And if you want to grow, you need to say, Oh, I want to do all these great things. I want to pay my people better. I want to build these factories or whatever. I need money. Okay, what do I need to do to make that much money? I need a million dollars this year to do that. Okay, what do we need to do to raise a million dollars so we can spend it? Mostly we drive our business on revenue and revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is king, which everybody's probably heard that saying before but I love that thing. So that's the only thing I would add. 



Workpuls: Okay. Well, I'd like to thank you once again for responding to my query and for taking time to talk to me today. It was really, really good to hear. A different point of view as some other tips that we haven't really covered either in our blog or in some videos that we did before. Thank you so much and we can speak soon again. 



Bill Flynn: Great. Be safe, be healthy.


Workpuls Productivity Talks is a podcast about productivity brought to you by everyone’s favorite time tracker software - Workpuls. With every interview we’re bringing you new tips from people who are experts on productivity, but also from managers and founders who have found a way to really master productivity in their teams.


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Free trial 7 days 14 days 30 days 14 days 30 days Yes 14 days 14 days 30 days 30 days
Ease of use Very easy Difficult Difficult Very easy Easy Very easy Easy Difficult Very easy Difficult
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