After building up processes, people, and profits for major brands, I’m using my experience and the Entrepreneurial Operating System® to help South Florida businesses
I always want the tough jobs. When someone asks for volunteers to take on a difficult task, I usually raise my hand for the challenge. This is often a good quality—and it might occasionally be a dumb one. But I tend to believe that you can solve any problem with the right tools and hard work. And I think I can help any business, from industry high-fliers to those on the edge of closing, grow and prosper.
This drive underlies my personal “Why:” “To offer solutions so that others can achieve their goals and dreams.” And it’s one of the reasons I’ve joined with my colleagues at The Profit Recipe to help entrepreneurs.
But my business journey certainly didn’t start with EOS or even as an entrepreneur. I spent more than 15 years working in business operations for big companies: creating processes, building teams, and improving financials.
A career in corporate America
My first job at 16 was stocking and then selling shoes for a local store in New Jersey, and within two years (after working my butt off), I was managing the store. That experience gave me a shot at my next opportunity, working in management for Blockbuster Video. Over a 14-year career at the company, I managed a store, ran a district, served as a corporate trainer, and was tasked with developing and transitioning 104 franchises in Mexico.
I gained fantastic experience during this last role, training each franchisee on corporate processes and operations. I also learned how to master and maximize profit and loss statements (P&Ls), getting the most out of a team and location to make a franchise profitable.
But the lesson that might serve me the most in my current job was experiencing things from the franchisee perspective. While corporate had enough money to essentially do anything it wanted, the individual store owners had to make do with what they had. Learning how to successfully “run lean” was an eye-opening experience.
The entrepreneurial bug bit me, and opening a business was always part of my “master plan.” I also have a passion for Cuban food and expanding the average person’s knowledge of it beyond Cuban sandwiches. So, I left Blockbuster and opened a restaurant in Miami Beach. Many people warned me that running a restaurant would make me a slave to my business.
I set out to prove them wrong about this aspect—and mostly did. But other challenges proved far more difficult.
Switching gears into entrepreneurship
The restaurant business may have a reputation for 7-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year work, but I found a way to avoid this always-on situation. I believe that many restaurant owners are only a slave to their business if they can’t let go (and perhaps share) a little.
So, I cracked the “overworked owner” stereotype by finding great employees, empowering them, and giving them a stake in the profits, so they were invested in its success. This formula worked well. But I also discovered the entirely new set of challenges that come with running a small business.
Don’t get me wrong: corporate jobs can be very stressful. There is the need to navigate politics, and getting good ideas heard and implemented in a bureaucracy isn’t always easy. I’m the type of guy who doesn’t like to play it safe, and this go-getter attitude sometimes conflicts with a big-company tendency to keep your head down and avoid standing out. The entrepreneurial world, of course, is very different.
The stressors at my previous job were replaced by overseeing every aspect of a business. From paying all of the bills to managing processes and people to every strategic decision (and many tactical ones), I finally experienced being responsible and accountable for everything. And while an owner may seem to have total control, they don’t control events.
After initial success, the terrible 2004-2005 hurricane season wound up killing tourism and foot traffic on Miami Beach. The resulting struggle and stress bled into my personal life, and I had to make the incredibly difficult decision to shut down. Another entrepreneurial lesson—perhaps the toughest one of all—learned.
A return to big companies
I next worked at FedEx, overseeing numerous branches, followed by a role as district manager of 18 locations for H&R Block. Each position reinforced many of the skills I’d learned in my career, but H&R Block had some unique aspects.
First, while many businesses experience turnover and some are seasonal, few tend to hire 300 employees in September and then let them all go around April 15th. This accelerated recruitment, onboarding, and turnover forces you to get very efficient about hiring the right people. And while I’d long been a believer in processes, I was involved in perhaps their biggest successes at the accounting giant.
I developed or helped create several sales processes, including the company’s Second Look® Tax Review. H&R Block will take another look at a prospect’s old tax reviews for free to find savings that may have been missed. This initiative, among others, made a significant, numbers-backed impact. And it’s still used today.
An EOS awakening
Years later, I was exposed to the Entrepreneurial Operating System® after speaking with my wife’s boss, an entrepreneur who was going through an EOS Implementation. He enthusiastically recommended reading Traction, and I fell in love with it.
Many aspects of the system are fundamental, and I’d executed general concepts at different organizations. But while big companies tend to be more disciplined than small businesses, they don’t always apply this trait to operating systems. Corporations will often bounce from system to system or tweak the elements, and this lack of consistency can weaken the results.
In EOS, I finally found a complete, straightforward system—it was all there. And I knew that if I could apply it comprehensively and in a disciplined manner, I could help almost any business improve.
I decided to return to entrepreneurship as an EOS Implementer. I am perhaps most proud of the results achieved for my first client, who went from overseeing his business non-stop to moving to another state while it runs without his day-to-day involvement. Early in my EOS journey, I met Cesar Quintero, who offered his help and guidance as I learned the system. So, eventually partnering up with my team members at The Profit Recipe was a no-brainer.
Each of us has specific experiences and expertise. And while the EOS Integrator is completely responsible for helping a client, we also combine resources. If there is a business or industry-specific problem, one of us has probably seen or experienced it—and someone often has a solution. On a personal level, working with this group of skilled colleagues is the most satisfying job in my career.
Lessons learned from businesses big and small—and how I apply them
My positions with major brands taught me a great deal about team building, disciplined execution, and mastering P&L statements, the latter something for which I won numerous corporate awards. Seeing things from the franchisee’s point of view was pivotal. And I’ve designed many processes that created tangible, significant results.
But while I’m definitely a “process guy,” I’ve also learned that you can only systematize things to a certain degree and when it makes sense. I used to be somewhat rigid about implementing processes. Trial and error taught me that they need to be adaptable and sometimes upgraded, downgraded, or abandoned and replaced altogether.
EOS has a perfect approach to processes, emphasizing their importance but stressing a version of the Pareto principle (aka “the 80/20 rule”). Excellent results can be achieved by getting 80% of the way there because 100% is a utopia and doesn’t exist. It’s also important to keep in mind that processes have to play well with the human beings who use them. They must be practical.
Restaurant ownership was also a tough tutorial on always staying adaptable. This is a crucial skill in entrepreneurship, and the experience showed me the value of being proactive and shaping events rather than letting them shape you.
Another critical lesson involves hiring, training, and, in some cases, firing employees. While my instinct is always to help people, there were times I poured too much effort into individuals who weren’t a good fit. Entrepreneurs and corporate managers must make some hard decisions for very smart reasons. This is another aspect that EOS clarifies with its People Analyzer and other tools that put “the right person in the right seat.”
If you need a Business by Design to achieve a Life by Design, I’m ready to help
So, looking back on my career: is a tendency to take on the really tough stuff worth it? You bet it is.
Every experience, good and bad, is valuable, and I’ve helped many companies succeed in both unusually difficult and everyday circumstances. Joining The Profit Recipe fits well with this instinct and my purpose. I’m driven to assist South Florida entrepreneurs in conquering their challenges, whatever they may be.
We can do it by building quality teams, instituting well-designed, standardized processes, and replicating the corporate world’s better aspects: a disciplined, results-oriented approach. If this sounds like something your company needs, let’s get started.
Empower your Leadership Team and improve efficiency, increase value, and foster collaboration to get better results. A professional Facilitator can ensure that all of your members are on the same page, so you can kick your business up a notch. Connect with The Profit Recipe to Achieve Traction.