What if a lot of what you’ve been taught about achievement or success was actually wrong? What if there were four key areas that you got to focus on first to get it right?
Today, you’re going to learn those four areas that you have to focus on first to get to that path.
My guest is Robert Glazer, a best-selling author and the Founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, a global performance marketing agency. He’s the recipient of numerous cultural awards, and his inspirational newsletter, Friday Forward, which started as a weekly email to his team, and now has over 100,000 subscribers.
Don’t miss Robert’s unique perspective on what achievement and success really mean, being true to your values, and how to inspire others to lead.
Listen to the podcast here:
Elevate: The Path For High Achievement with Robert Glazer [Podcast 240]
What would it be worth for you to get on the path to high achievement? What if a lot of what you’ve been taught about achievement or success was actually wrong? What if there were four key areas that you got to focus on first to get it right? You’re going to learn from an expert uniquely qualified to share with you how to be able to go out and get on the path to high achievement. His name is Robert Glazer. He’s the Founder and CEO of a global performance agency called Acceleration Partners. He’s the recipient of numerous cultural awards, including number four on Glassdoor’s Employees Choice Awards. He’s the author of the inspirational newsletter, Friday Forward, which now has over 100,000 subscribers and it started as a little email to his team. He’s also the author of the international bestselling book, Performance Partnerships. We’re going to talk about his bestselling book, which is Elevate. Robert, welcome to the show. How are you?
Thanks, Dan. I’m excited to be here.
We have to thank John Ruhlin for this introduction. As you’re joining us, thanks for making us part of your day. If you want to go deeper with our episode, you can go to GrowthToFreedom.com/subscribe. If you never want to miss an episode, go to that website. Robert, I want to dive right into it, the path to high achievement, Elevate. Why are you doing what you’re doing now? There’s usually a backstory for the mission that people want, so share yours.
I talk about that a lot. I think for me probably as a teenager, I was a classic entrepreneur. I didn’t love school or what everyone else was doing. I underachieved for a large portion of my life. People told me that, and teachers told me, “You could do better,” but didn’t tell me why or how. I learned that later on that I love learning. What I was learning in class wasn’t interesting to me. Once I could learn what I wanted to learn, then I was a voracious learner. I’m making up for some lost time and I have made a personal mission and how we built our business to focus on building capacity both in myself and in others. From a leadership standpoint, it’s the ultimate win-win. If you can help create better-achieving people in your organization, then you’re going to get the business benefit of that. They’re going to get the personal benefit, their families, their spouses and that all ties together. That’s how business can help humanity a little bit.
As you’re reading this, what would it be worth to you if you could accelerate and elevate your performance, your achievement? What if you could do it in half the time by focusing on what Robert calls the four capacities? Before we get into the four capacities, you’ve had this what seems like an amazing success. In the last year or so, you’ve written three books, which is a project. Nine projects in and of itself, running a business and growing by twenty times in your business. Can you think back to your biggest business failure up to this point or maybe your biggest business mistake? What did you learn from it? Maybe what could our readers learn from it too?Founders and visionaries always tend to see what's coming around the corner. - Robert Glazer Click To Tweet
The biggest business mistake was probably a repeated mistake for years in that I was entrepreneurial and I was helping other people grow their businesses. That was probably a function of my risk tolerance and it wasn’t working. I was putting off what I wanted most because it felt safer. It was easier and helping other people build their businesses wasn’t working. That was a long-term failure of a few years. In terms of the type of growth we’ve had, we failed all along the way, that’s how we’ve learned. There have been a couple of inflection points. I think when people say when the business doubles, you break half the processes and half the people. I’ve gotten used to that now, but earlier on, it was hard to admit that. One of the things that are not doing things early enough, company founders and visionaries, they always tend to see what’s coming around the corner. The question is you’re willing to act on it before the car turns the corner. Most things I regret were not doing something that I knew in my gut that we should have done sooner. A lot of that was involving changes in team and personnel or toxic clients or otherwise.
Let’s go back to that place then because a lot of people deal with this uncertainty, a little bit of anxiety or distress or fear or whatever we want to call it. For you, it might be hard to do, but can you remember back like you’re building these companies, probably pretty good at it and behind the scenes, it sounds like working, helping others grow their business. You were at this transition point. Was there a pivotal moment where you finally said enough is enough? What was it that was the catalyst to move you and elevate you to do that?
I talked about this a little bit in the book. A few years ago, I had a chance through EO, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, to go to a pretty deep global leadership program for a few days where I met a remarkable man who has become my mentor. I was at the point where we were growing, I was leading and one of the things I speak about a lot is when you start managing and leading, Jim Collins would probably say it’s somewhere between level three and level four. You learn the basics of managing, but your approach is a patchwork quilt. You say, “I see Dan did this or my former mentor did this,” and you cobble a bunch of things together and some work and some don’t.
When I went to this leadership thing, I thought this was going to be how to lead and manage people. It was very emotional. It was stripping you down to who are you? What do you want? What are your core values? You can’t be a great leader if you’re not in touch with who you are. It was all the inner journey of leadership. I spent a few months to a year sorting that stuff out until I could write it on a piece of paper. I was sure that’s how I was supposed to live my life, what I was going to be doing. That became my authentic leadership style and went back, wrote a vivid vision, three-year plan for the business and said, “Here’s what we’re going to do unapologetically.” This is probably the time to step off if you’re not interested in that journey and become comfortable with what I wanted and then attracting people who are interested in the same thing to go on that trip together.
Speaking of going on that trip together, what would have to happen for you to realize that it’s the inner journey of leadership that creates the foundation? What if you got that foundation right that it would allow you to elevate and double the speed in half the time? What would that be worth for you? Robert, you’ve got the four capacities. There are so many directions I want to go with the conversation. Number one, you started your newsletter, Friday Forward that started this internal communication. It grew now over 100,000 people are downloading and accessing this newsletter, which is fascinating. There are probably a lot of lessons there, but I want to focus on your book, Elevate. Talk about the four capacities and why they’re so critical to the foundation of success.
The two are connected. After a couple of years of Friday Forward, it started to take off and I started to write a book that was a compilation. My agent said people don’t love compilations even though I have these great articles and there’s a bigger story here to tell. As I dug into writing these things and improving my own life and using them in my organization, it’s like, “What are the patterns here? Why do these work? Why are they connecting with people?” I always have to have a framework around something. As I talk to people and I looked around different things, I have different sheets over the years and words. Finally, it crystallized into these four capacities. They’re not new and I didn’t invent them. They’re used a lot in the context of energy management. Capacity management is a more interesting way to look at it because it’s not about doing more. It’s the ability to get more done and the right things. There’s a real difference in that.
When I looked at all these self-improvement things, I was like, “These are the themes.” They interconnect. It puts how for people on how to do that. Those four capacities are spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional. I’ve seen them present in every aspect of self-improvement and the high achievers as opposed to the people that are successful. I use achievement and achievement is about the attainment of what you want. Success can be this perception of what other people think is success. An example I always give, this successful business guy whose family or his spouse are not speaking to him, there’s not a lot of people that maybe think about that as success. For a lot of people, if they don’t know where they’re going, it’s hard to be successful. It would be helpful to define each of them quickly from my perspective.
What’s the difference?
Spiritual is not religious for me, but that’s about what you want and where you’re going. What are your core values? What do you want most out of life? What’s your North Star? You got to understand that. That’s your map and your compass. Intellectual I equate with like a computer processor, how can you upgrade your processor continually so that your computer can crunch more stuff and do things literally faster and with less energy? Physical is your health and your body, but it is also stress and sleep and things that are tied to your physical well-being. All the sciences coming down now, there’s a strong mind-body connection. They’re one and the same, but I’ve peeled off emotional, which is your relationships and how you deal with adversity and on the road of life with other cars on the road is the analogy.
If you think of them as the four quadrants of a ball, if they’re all growing, getting bigger and getting mass, that ball has a lot of momentum. If one of these is out of whack and I’m building archetypes around when they’re out of whack, the ball will tumble around and won’t do very well. Sometimes you don’t have control over it. Sometimes we lose a physical element and there’s an accident or there’s health, so we’ve got to overcompensate over. That’s when it’s dramatic, you can see it. These things are interconnected and I haven’t met a higher achiever who hasn’t consciously or unconsciously mastered and works on all of them at the same time.Capacity management is not about doing more, it's the ability to get more done. - Robert Glazer Click To Tweet
It almost sounds like if you can picture this as you’re reading now, if you have this circle of these four quadrants and they’re strong, your wheel runs down the road very easily. On the other hand, if one of them is out of whack, it’s almost a work tire or the Flintstone wheel. That’s a rocky ride. If you want to stay on the rocky ride, then don’t focus on these four quadrants. If you want to have a smooth ride, then it makes sense to focus on this. In your literature, Robert, is the idea that you don’t believe in growth hacks and it sends people down the wrong track. There’s a new way to be thinking about this, the idea of incremental. Create massive momentum. Speak to that a little bit.
A growth hack is how I can get more result with less work. What’s the cheating example of that from one of the articles that I wrote was this guy met with a social media specialist and she gave him ten recommendations, but none of those were to write better content. Sometimes that’s the thing that sparks all of the social media. I think we’re always looking for a hack versus where do you focus the energy? Where do you get incremental improvement? If you’re clear on where you’re going, you know what you want to learn. If you know what to learn, you know how to focus. There’s quality. That is a more sustainable outcome for what people do is to reduce the energy that doesn’t matter and focus on it.
Even within most companies, they have one marketing channel that works and they have one thing that works. They’ve done a good job in one area, hacking all of these various areas don’t work. We have this hacking economy and I get it. Hacking is great if it’s used in the context of, “What’s the 80/20 Rule?” There’s an 80/20 Rule in every scenario but if it’s used in the, “How do I get high outcomes without much work?” That’s a false premise.
We were talking about some of the mutual connections that we had and such. I would go a little bit off-topic because I see a lot of people get off track and I’ve done this also. Speaking of focus, where we put our energy to around intention, it will grow and expand. If we’re like a leaf in the wind floating, we’re a boat with no rudder and we’re going somewhere because we think we’re supposed to go. We’re a ladder, we lean the ladder on the wrong wall. That gets frustrating over time and yet many people go out and they’ll join a mastermind or they’ll join a mentoring pro, they’ll join a coaching program to try to learn a capability. Do you have an approach to distill down to decrease the stress, decrease the energy so that then you can put your focus into the thing that matters most? Speak to that.
I can give you an example where I’m bringing it all together and why it’s not more I think. If there’s anything sometimes when I show people that book, it’s not about doing more. Success is about getting more of something but let me give you an example. Let’s say one of my values is to be respectfully authentic. I want to do that, I want to have those conversations, but I need to know how to have those conversations. I need a framework. I find Kim Scott’s methodology, Radical Candor, or other things on feedback and now I’ve upgraded my processor and then I’ve learned to have the difficult conversations. That’s the emotional capacity buckets. I’m sitting there and I’ve got to have a tough conversation. I have it effectively in ten minutes and I move on to it and get back to my day to a good outcome.
That was ten minutes of energy that I used on that. Before I had those things or mastered those things, I had sweat about having that conversation. I had no sleep the night before about having that conversation. I don’t know how to have it in a productive way, so it goes poorly. It then rattles me the entire day and the real AB here is how did I use my day before and after that ten-minute conversation? How did the person on the other side do that? That to me is the difference in achievement. I used fifteen minutes of energy and they used eight hours and never recovered. Emotional is always that example to me of two people have that difficult conversation very early in the morning. One goes on the day, doesn’t think about it, the other is ruined and now misses the deadlines. It seeps into all of the other areas.
Speaking of seeping into all the other areas, your business growth path was one where you’re hovering at about a million a year. I believe our readers are mostly business owners and entrepreneurs will be fascinated by this. All of a sudden you started making the shifts in your energy around this or this concept of elevate. It sounds like you’ve grown close to twenty times since. What are some of the breakthroughs in the last several months or so that you’ve experienced either yourself or with your clients that would be insightful wisdom or action steps that are yours and readers could take?
You can grow initially on a good product. I think we did that over the first couple of years. We grew and it was hard. There’s a lot of growth and then there’s a hockey stick when everything comes together. I think we grew, but we got half of it right, half of it wrong. When we narrowed down the core values, when we created the vivid vision a few years ago, when we said, “Do you want to sign up for this three-year mission or a good time to exit?” We leaned into that and some of the things that we did that came together and the goal is alignment. There’s this Gandhi quote, “Happiness is what you think, say and do all align.”
I think you could swap out leadership. If people in the company are thinking, saying and doing is aligned, you start to get a lot of momentum. Things like Friday Forward, which was aligned to my values and the company’s values that I had no idea. I remember even being like, “Is this waste of time? This doesn’t have business value. It’s not monetized.” Our marketing team would say, “It’s not about our business, but what that has done for our business now in terms of awareness or press or we’re in an industry where everyone’s talking about features.” I’ve had other people say like, “If there’s any day that we’re going to do this, I’m going to work with your company because we like how you think, we like your philosophy.” By doing what was aligned across the board, it had an exponential impact.
It sounds like what you did is you planted some great seeds. You’ll call these the seeds of values, the seeds of long-term relationship capital, the seeds of being transformational, the seeds of adding value. Those seeds over time got a stronghold, created roots that now are paying huge dividends. What do you see are some of the mistakes that a lot of businesses make on this journey and trying to find that bridge between success and achievement?Most companies say something but do another thing. Just be open in who you really are. It's liberating. - Robert Glazer Click To Tweet
It’s that authenticity piece particularly around the culture. I tell CEOs, “Say who you are.” If you’re a competitive bleep pole, then tell people that and you’ll find other competitive bleep poles that want to come work at your company. If you believe in harmony and not growth and stability, then do that. Those both can be great companies. I think there’s no single definition of a great company. I do our cultural onboarding. What frustrates people is when they go in and the stuff on the wall and A, B, C and D and no one acts that way. This is the Enron, integrity and respect and no one got promoted at Enron for those things. They got promoted for taking outsize risks. There are a whole bunch of actual values. How liberating is it to be like, “This is who we are. This is what I value.” If you are all about making money for yourself and you want to get a bunch of people to do that and a steady 9 to 5 job and no upside, tell them that. There are people in their life that they’re like, “I want the steady 9 to 5 job and I’m good with that.” It is so much if people either get thinking one thing, saying one thing, doing another thing.
I always say, “If people don’t like our company, they will not like it for the right reasons.” In the interview process, they hear the core value of own it, we talk about it and when the first thing goes wrong and they start blaming all these external forces, we’re like, “That’s not own it. That doesn’t even look anything like own it. This is what our best people would do in this situation,” and how they would talk about how they could have done better, share the learning, and otherwise. What I hope they don’t ever say is like, “These guys are full of it. They say one thing and do the other.” I think they could say, “That was not the place for me. That’s a passing offense and I’m a running back. I need to go to a running back team.” It seems simple but I think it’s hard at the same time to keep many different stories straight. There were some independent candidates running for election last time. There was a CNN Town Hall and he said something like, “I tell the truth, so I don’t have to keep track of all these different stories.” I thought it was a great line.
I read that and it makes a lot of sense. There are many different ways that we can go. We’re scratching the surface. Robert, if people want to go deeper with you, where can they go to learn more about you, connect with you? You’ve got amazing resources available including your Friday Forward, your book, Elevate. Where can people go?
The most integrated place they can go to is RobertGlazer.com. There you can get the book, see my columns, connect to the podcast, and also you can sign up for Friday Forward. I always tell people the easiest thing to do with Friday Forward is Google Friday Forward and it should come up first. You can sign up for it at FridayFwd.com.
I want to encourage you to go to RobertGlazer.com. If you’re at all inspired by the difference between success and achievement and you’re leaning like, “I want achievement more than I want success. I want to get clear on my values. I want to get clear on these four capacities. I want to get clarity around who I am, what I stand for, what my company stands for and be able to grow from that place.” I encourage you to go to Robert’s website, go to Friday Forward, FridayFwd.com to dive deeper into what Robert is doing in the world. Robert, I like to shift gears a little bit and get into some of the personal things. You have three kids. They’re different ages: fifteen, thirteen and ten, if I’m not mistaken.
They are all different. Parents can only get half the blame or half the credit. They have all come out very different.
What are you doing to develop leadership in your kids?
What I want for my kids and with each one is to expose them to things, figure out what they love, what their passion is and support them in becoming great at whatever that is. It’s not about what I regretted or what was important to me or otherwise. I have focused on them on leadership. I think I probably had neat leadership skills as a kid, but no one coached them or pointed them out. A lot of times, that comes out as bossy if you look at my report cards back in the day. I have seen them all. We talk about that stuff a lot and they see a lot of stuff that I’m doing in very different ways.
It is seeing them lead and be voted to head up teams or groups or otherwise. It’s funny, my youngest was a color war captain at sleepover camp and he had to write his own speech. This is for a group of ten-year-olds. They set the lineup for the teams and I heard them saying that all these people were complaining about what team you’re on. Someone else was like, “Welcome to management.” It’s good learning. Whatever they do, leading is important and focused on helping them nurture those skills and develop those skills so that in whatever they choose to pursue, if they want to be, they will have that capacity to lead.
What were you known for in high school?Have clarity around who you are, what you stand for, and what your company stands for. - Dan Kuschell Click To Tweet
Nothing, I was pretty nondescript. I did a little bit of everything, but not anything super well. I was a good photographer, did a lot of photography, got into that. I was always someone that did everything. I could play any sport, do everything, but I wasn’t the captain of anything. I wasn’t best at anything. It was when and this happened sooner I think for people now because they get access to business. If you show creative skills, I am very creative but no one likes that in the classroom unless you’re in painting. If you have creative skills around marketing or your business skills. You’re selling stuff on the side. Everyone tries to shut that down. They say, “Sit down, shut up, stop selling candy.” At the school, no one digs into that like they would if you were great at kicking a ball, they’d put you in the academy. I think it’s different now that people have access to that content. I think business was I didn’t have the opportunity to realize that I was good at that until I started to get exposed in college and later in working and internships and realized that I had a real passion around it and a desire to learn around that.
As you’re reading now, maybe you were in high school and you weren’t the best at anything except maybe selling candy, got in trouble for it, you got your hand slapped, and maybe they put you in detention. I know some of us can relate to that. If so, there’s hope and I would encourage you if you want to go deeper to learn how to transform that into growth and achievement and elevating your game, go to RobertGlazer.com, go check out Friday Forward at FridayFwd.com, check out the resources that Robert has got available. You’ve been married for several years. If your wife were next to you now and you were to turn to her and thank her for how is she has shown up to allow you to be the creative, innovator, the entrepreneur, the wild cat, the genius in your own way. What would you thank her for helping show up the way she does to allow you to be you?
One, she’s patient with me on my unrelenting desire to try to fix or improve everything. As we’ve gone through some of this personality stuff that’s become clear and it’s been interesting and changed how we verbalize things to each other. We can see clearly where our whys clash around certain discussions, but also leading our family, our kids and being the rock for them and for me. Part of the sacrifice I had to make in building this company is a lot of travel, a lot of time in business and you need a partner to do that and to make that all work and she has been that for me.
What is something I should have asked you that we didn’t get a chance to cover?
What’s my next new idea?
This will be the topic of my next book and it was my TEDx Talk and also an HBR article on this notion of eliminating two weeks’ notice. We decided a couple of years ago we were trying to get rid of it as a company and built a program called mindful transition. It took us a couple of years to get it right and have more of an open transition process but we’ve made a lot of progress with that. I’m excited to share that with people because people have asked us, “How do you do it?” It’s a long, complicated discussion. I sat down with our culture head and I’ve been speaking on it and we wrote a book on it. I hope to have that out soon and be talking and sharing that more with companies so they can get rid of a very outdated paradigm in a world where talent is going to come and go more fluidly.
What is one to three action steps that you hope our readers take from our time?
I’d love if they sign up for Friday Forward. They can pre-order the book so that’s ready to go and if they sign up, they’ll also get content as well related to it. More holistically, I know sometimes these things are overwhelming, but I always say pick one thing. Pick one thing that you’ve meant to do and do it tomorrow and do it before 11:00. One of the best tips I can tell anyone from prioritization is that I wake up every day, I go over my list, I built a tool around it that’s on the Friday Forward website called the Whole Life Dashboard. I look at my quarterly list. I pick three things that are most important to me to get done that day. It’s my quarterly list and I do them first and before 11:00. Slowly but surely you knock over those big dominoes by pushing the little domino. I would say do something even if it’s small and push in that direction if you’ve been telling yourself that you’re going to do it for the last couple months.
I want to encourage you to take action with what Robert has shared with you. Go check out Friday Forward and to cite RobertGlazer.com or FridayFwd.com. Get the book. You won’t be disappointed. Get the book, check it out on his site and then pick one thing. What’s one thing from this episode? We’ve got the four capacities. What if you incrementally make it a decision to improve your intellectual capacity or your spiritual capacity, which is getting clarity on who you are, what do you stand for, your values, your physical. It’s not about exercise, which is a typical thing but things like sleep and dealing with stress.
What’s one thing you could do to improve in that area, the one thing you could improve emotionally? What could you do to reduce energy, to create the incremental improvement, to get the exponential growth you’re looking for and so much more? If you never want to miss an episode, you can go to GrowthToFreedom.com/subscribe. Robert, I want to say thank you. It’s been a pleasure to have a conversation and get to know you. To my audience, I hope that as you’re reading now, you will take action. Go get Friday Forward, get the book and pick one thing from this episode. Robert, thank you.
Thank you, Dan.
I encourage you, seize the day. Put this into place. Take Robert’s guidance, his wisdom and take action. We’ll see you next time on GrowthToFreedom.com.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Acceleration Partners
- Friday Forward
- Performance Partnerships
- John Ruhlin – past episode
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization
- Radical Candor
- TEDx Talk –It’s Time to End Two Weeks’ Notice
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About Robert Glazer
Robert Glazer is the founder and CEO of a global performance marketing agency, Acceleration Partners, the recipient of numerous company culture awards, including #4 on Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards.
He is the author of the inspirational newsletter Friday Forward and the author of the international bestselling book, Performance Partnerships. He is a sought-after speaker by companies and organization around the world.