Innovation Junkies Podcast

Submission Over Assertion

Jeff S & Glenn Crockett discuss leadership effectiveness. They dive into traits of true leadership, the importance of accountability and staying connected in your business.

Jeff Standridge (Intro):
Are you ready to change the trajectory of your business and see massive improvements? Each week, we’ll share strategies and practices to generate sustained results and long lasting success in your organization. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast. 

Jeff Standridge:
Hey guys, Jeff Standridge here. Welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. I’m here today with Glenn Crockett. Glenn is the CEO and founder of Dave Creek Media, and really excited to have him here to talk with us today about leadership. My co-host, Jeff Amerine, is traveling for the next couple of weeks, and so really glad to have Glenn here with us today. Glenn, thanks for joining.

Glenn Crockett:
Well, I’m glad to be here, Jeff. It’s always a pleasure to get to spend time with you talking about leadership. And whatever the topic is, we’ve had the opportunity to travel quite a bit and present in different settings, and I look forward to it. Thanks.

Jeff Standridge:
Very good. So tell us a little bit about Dave Creek Media. I know it’s one of the fastest growing digital marketing agencies in the region, and I know you’ve begun franchising. So tell us just a little bit about Dave Creek Media and what you guys do.

Glenn Crockett:
Very good. Yeah, Dave Creek started with almost an idea back a little over five years ago. We were both at Acxiom and looking for the next thing. You had left, and just trying to figure out what the next phase was for me. And I thought, “Well, this is the time to start something different.” So I left Acxiom, started Dave Creek, and it’s a little bit interesting in that we didn’t have the original focus when we started, but it was just me. And over the course of about five and a half years, we’re at 25 people now. We’ve 10xed our revenue from the first year, which is really exciting. And you mentioned franchising. We’re actually franchising. So we have a franchisee in the Little Rock area, the Central Arkansas area, northwest Arkansas, and we’re expecting to hear on a couple of others here very soon. Our growth strategy is really through franchises versus an internal team. So it’s going very, very well. We’re excited that we get to create jobs in central Arkansas.

Jeff Standridge:
And you were in the twilight of your career when you started at Dave Creek Media. You weren’t… And that’s kind of funny, but it’s in reality as well, right? You’re a little older than most people when they’re starting out a brand new startup company.

Glenn Crockett:
That’s right. Thanks for pointing that out, Jeff.

Jeff Standridge:
Seasoned. More seasoned.

Glenn Crockett:
Well, yeah, I didn’t realize that my hair was receding until I got on this camera. But yeah, it really was. And when you get to a point where you think, “Is this it? Is this where I’m going to be the rest of my life?” And I just had this desire and I always have had a desire to have my own business, something that I could control for the most part. And you’re exactly right. In fact, Jeff, I bought the domain 50preneur.com because I thought, “What a great option for sharing, starting something later in life.” And I haven’t done anything with it, but I paid $15 for it, and it’s now worth about 2000. So I may sell it if I don’t use it soon.

Jeff Standridge:
All right. Well, we’ve been talk… And I know you’re familiar with the GrowthDX that we use at Innovation Junkie. And so we’ve been talking through various domains of GrowthDX from revenue velocity, we had several episodes on that. Organizational effectiveness, operational effectiveness, and now we’re transitioning into leadership effectiveness. And so I’d like to just maybe start with a question for you. I know you’ve been in various leadership roles your entire career. Now you’re in the leadership role as CEO of a rapidly growing startup. How do you define leadership?

Glenn Crockett:
Jeff, that’s a good question because there are so many pieces to that. But I think the essence is setting up a clear direction, a vision on where we need to go, and then doing whatever it takes to get to that vision. And by whatever it takes, I don’t mean doing anything illegal or unethical, things like that, but really being responsible for getting there and then organizing all the troops in order to get there and get everybody focused on that mission or that vision. So I think that’s the ultimate. You have a really good quote that I think it would be a good time to share on leadership that… You do it much better than I can, but basically it’s being accountable for results. So maybe you can share that.

Jeff Standridge:
All right. Yeah, absolutely. So I have on my wall here… And I tell people that I’ve begged, borrowed and stolen parts of the definition and have paraphrased it so much that no one can claim it as their own, so I’ve claimed it. But it’s, “Leadership is the most important requirement for business and personal success.” And in simple terms, we define that as the willingness to be held accountable for results no matter what the circumstances, situations, or pressures. So it’s kind of whatever it takes leadership, again, consistent with good morals, good ethics, and good legal practices. But it’s, whatever it takes leadership, and it’s this concept of submitting ourselves to being held accountable by the folks whom we lead as well.

Glenn Crockett:
Jeff, one thing that I’ve noticed in leadership is, I think it was Henry Ford that said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” And the point being that if you don’t think you can get to that destination, or if you don’t think you can get it done, you probably cannot. And so I like to challenge everybody to think about how can I get there? What’s it going to take? And it changes your mindset. If you’re focused on trying to figure out how to get there versus making up excuses on why you can’t, then you’ll be much more successful. In essence, it’s setting direction and being accountable for the results.

Jeff Standridge:
I used to think that one of the leader’s primary jobs was holding people accountable. In other words, it was an act of assertion, where the leader must assert him or herself in holding other people accountable. And what I’ve learned is that true leadership is an act of submission, of submitting ourselves to being held accountable and building an environment and a culture where everyone submits themselves to being held accountable. Imagine the difference of an organization of 50 people, all of whom are submitting themselves to being held accountable, versus an organization where the only person asserting accountability is the leader. And it’s just a completely different way of thinking about leadership. But maybe as I hit the twilight of my career, I’m beginning to think about leadership a little differently.

Glenn Crockett:
You’re not that far away.

Jeff Standridge:
I know I’m not. I keep talking like I’m a spring chicken over here.

Glenn Crockett:
I know. I know. No spring chicken.

Jeff Standridge:
So let’s talk a little bit about how you spend your time every day. We believe leadership is a core domain to massive strategic growth. So from growing the organization… Let’s talk about how you spend your time every day as a CEO.

Glenn Crockett:
Well, it’s funny because I probably don’t spend it in all the right places all the time. As CEO, I should be working more on the business than in the business. And because we’re 25 people, and that’s not a huge company, but it is pretty large, so I focus on where are we going from a results… How are we doing on our metrics, our KPIs, things like that. I look at that on a regular basis, but I also find myself getting… I like working with clients. My mindset is in business development.

So even later today, later this morning, I have a call with a potential client, and I really should get out of that, but I enjoy it. And I will always want to stay close to the client because I believe that… I’ve seen it where leaders get disconnected and then they lose sight of what’s important. So I want to stay as close as I can, but also need to step back sometimes. And then there’s the ongoing troubleshooting, an issue comes up, those kinds of things. But a lot of it is still client facing, but then trying to make sure that we’re going towards that vision and that everybody is connected. And the larger you get, the more challenges you can have if you don’t have a good leadership team that you’re working with.

Jeff Standridge:
Well, given that you guys are on such a rapid growth trajectory, it makes sense that you’re going to spend time with strategic clients. Where do you wish you were spending more time from the CEO perspective?

Glenn Crockett:
One of the things that we try to do is get the right people on the bus, and then the right people in the right seat. And my skill set is really more on the growth. And I’d like to spend more time on the franchise part of our business, and I’m doing quite a bit of that. I’m trying to split my time, almost half and half, but really focusing on identifying markets that we need to go into, identifying an operator, and then having those conversations to help them go. But really on the growth piece of it, fortunately we’re blessed with great operations, great strategy, team leaders, things like that. So I can do more of that, but that’s really where, I can see in the next few months, even getting more and more involved in that piece of the business.

Jeff Standridge:
So you’re, what, almost six years in, and… Five and a half years in or so, and it’ll be six years in April, I guess. What’s been the biggest surprise to you about starting and leading a growing company? What’s really shocked you the most about… Good or bad?

Glenn Crockett:
Yeah, the good part is… I’ve said for a long time, there are a lot of easier ways to earn a living than starting a business from scratch. I mean, there are a lot of things you can do that… I had a great job at Acxiom Corporation. So there are a lot of things that you can do that are easier, but what I feel like God has placed me to do is to help provide jobs in this area, not just in Conway or central Arkansas, but when we have a new franchisee and they hire somebody, creating those jobs, I feel like that’s my calling right now is to go do that. And I will do that as long as I can, even though I’m in my twilight years, I think that’s how you phrased it earlier, I want to do that as long as God wants me to do it.

And to see that work where, maybe there’s an investment or a decision needs to be made and we decide that is this the right thing to do and for the door to close, and that’s to say, “Okay, let’s don’t do that.” That’s been exciting. The hard part has been just the balance. I refer to it as a dance between making sure that we have enough revenue, enough sales, and then also making sure that we have enough delivery personnel to support those, that growth. So it’s a constant back and forth on we need more people to get more business, but we need to make sure that we can handle the business when it comes in. And if you get off balance, if your sales are outpacing your delivery, then you’re missing marks and things like that. And if your delivery is too high above your sales, then you run into potential profit issues and things like that. So just managing that balance back and forth has probably been the biggest challenge.

Jeff Standridge:
Gotcha. Is there any specific thing you would’ve done differently, thinking about your growth trajectory and what you would’ve done differently from where you thought, or what you thought you would’ve done?

Glenn Crockett:
That’s a great question. And I challenge myself because it’s easy to get… Seeing how fast this… Every time I think that we’ve 10xed since 2017, and I look at, as one person, and now we’re 25, I can get really excited about that. But then I see XYZ company, they started around 2017, they have 200 employees and they’re all of these things, and it’s easy to get caught up in, could we have done that? But then I also know there’s probably debt associated with that, and they’re… All those different things. I look at the way we’ve done it organically, and I struggle with what would I have done differently. And I mean, I’m really pleased with the way we’ve done it, the integrity we’ve had through the process and where we are today. And quite frankly, I’m excited about the future. I mean, I think we’ve done it well, and I think great things are ahead of us.

Jeff Standridge:
Well, and I think you bring up a good point that a lot of those rapidly growing companies, they’ve either taken on debt to cover the cash deficit, or the cash burn, or they’ve given away significant amounts of equity, and you’ve done neither. Really focused on growing the business organically, bootstrapping the business, and as you said, making sure that you’re cash flowing the business in order to grow and bring on new employees and get new clients and what have you. And not a lot of companies will hit a 10x trajectory in a five year period through strictly bootstrapping. So congratulations on that.

Glenn Crockett:
Well, I appreciate that. It’s been fun. It’s been fun. We continue to look for what God will do next.

Jeff Standridge:
Well, the last question will be, where do you see yourself in five years, Dave Creek Media in five years?

Glenn Crockett:
Dave Creek Media or myself?

Jeff Standridge:
Well, I’ll rephrase that.

Glenn Crockett:
I’ll probably be in the nursing home. Yeah, I’ll probably be in the nursing home based on where I am in my twilight years. I really see Dave Creek Media with franchises all over the US. Right now we had a three year plan that would have 30 territories serving over 500 companies around the US by December 31st, 2024. I believe that we can hit that goal, and I believe we can exceed that. And especially with the team that we have, the leadership that we have, and the way that we do business, we think it can explode.

Jeff Standridge:
And I want to point back something that you’ve done, and we’re going to round this episode out, but back to one of our previous episodes where we talk about a vision is a specific destination some point in the future at which you aspire to arrive with your company, and it needs to be aspirational, meaning you’re not yet there yet, inspirational, and time-bound or time targeted. And you said 30 franchises around the United States serving 500 customers by December the 31st of 2024. Aspirational, inspirational, timebound. Great job on your vision.

Glenn Crockett:
Well, I appreciate that. It came with the help of the leadership team. We did it together, and we think we can hit it. We think we can blow it out, so that’s what we’re focused on. We think we can, so we probably will. Right?

Jeff Standridge:
There you go. That’s right. So we appreciate you being with us. We’re going to have you back on another episode. We’re going to talk a little more about teamwork. So thanks for spending time with us today, talking about the topic of leadership.

Glenn Crockett:
This is my pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.

Jeff Standridge:
This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. Thank you for joining.

Jeff Amerine (Outro):
Feedback from listeners like you helps us create outstanding content. So if you like this episode, be sure to rate us or leave a review. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest growth and innovation strategies. Thanks for tuning in to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

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