Welcome to the Steve Jobs based Join Up Dots Free Podcast Interview with Steve Shoulder
To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:
Introducing Steve Shoulder
My guest today, on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots free podcast interview is a man whose official bio states as an “international business transformation expert who specializes in turning around manufacturing, technology and service business’s.
His ability to consistently and quickly drive triple-digit growth is the result of his unique leadership style, breadth of experience and expertise in Lean Manufacturing methodologies.”
Sounds great, but of course on Join Up Dots we want to know more about how he got himself into this position.
Where did he position himself straight from school to start the journey to where he is today.
And this is an interesting one, as unlike most people who appear on the show, he hasn’t jumped from role to role building up experience for many different companies and employers.
Instead our guest today has been with the same company for over 21 years.
How The Dots Joined Up For Steve
Since 1996 he has been a professional interim manager normally acting in the role of Ops Director or MD for the Business Turnaround Group. where he goes into manufacturing/technology & service businesses that are under performing and turns them around.
And now his has joined with Norwegian Serial Entrepreneur Erlend Bakke to bring to the world his new book 90 days to profit, which brings about all his learning’s that have worked wonders for companies across the world.
So with a degree in Industrial Relations and Marketing following from a diploma in Production Engineering, was this a path that he always envisaged himself being on?
And what would be the key thing that someone could to today to make their business start going in the right direction?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr Steve Shoulder
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with with Steve Shoulder such as:
Why Steve spends so much of his time dealing with people in business who are unwilling to change, and what he does to overcome the objections.
How Steve found his latest business partner, and the steps he took to make sure that it was a rewarding partnership that works
Why Steve created the content for his new book to be as entertaining as it is educational, and why he thinks that this is the way that learning should always be.
We bring to the world the amazing story of why a group of Northern Englishman felt the need to hang a monkey after believing that he was a french spy….yes seriously.
How To Connect With Steve Shoulder
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here– enjoy
Full Transcription Of Steve Shoulder
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:34]
Yes, hello. Good morning everybody and welcome to another episode of Join Up Dots. You know, when I connect with people I speak to so many Americans I just expect that and American to be on the other line. And I clicked hello to this today’s guest and first of all it through me but he has an English accent. Secondly, it through me but he sounded like a Dalek. Firstly, he wasn’t in the Philippines where I was expecting all over the shop, but at least he’s coming He’s calm, he’s professional, and he is organised. And he’s got an interesting story about hanging monkeys. Now, if anybody is into primate abuse, this is the man to direct your complaints to, but he is a man whose official bio states as an international business transformation expert. He specialises in turning around manufacturing technology and service businesses he’s ability to consistently and quickly drive triple digit growth is the result of his unique leadership style, breadth of experience and expertise in lean manufacturing methodology sounds great. But of course on Join Up Dots, we want to know more about how he got himself into this position. Where did he position him straight from school to start the journey to where he is today. And this is an interesting one as unlike most people appear on the show he hasn’t jumped from role to role building up experience for many different companies employers. Instead, our guest today has been with the same company for over 21 years since 1996. He’s been a professional interim manager normally acting in the role of ops director or as MD but a business turnaround group where he goes into manufacturing technology and service businesses that are underperforming and turns them around. And now he’s joined with Norwegian serial entrepreneur erland. Baca to bring to the world his new book 90 days to profit, which brings about all these learnings have worked wonders for companies across the world. So with a degree in Industrial Relations and Marketing following from a diploma in production engineering, was this a path that you’re always ambitious himself being on? And what would be the key to someone today to make their business start going in the right direction? Or at least in 90 days? Well, let’s find out as we bring them to the show to start Join Up Dots with the one and only Mr. Steve Shoulder. Good morning to you, Steve. How are you sir?
Steve Shoulder [2:45]
I’m well Thank you, David. How are you?
David Ralph [2:47]
I’m very well I’m very well. I can tell that I’m speaking to an English person because I’m all infused gastic I’m all big. I’m all doing the whoop whoop. And you’re very much. Hello there. How are you? You’ve got that great doctors voice. I feel coming I feel I feel safe with you, Steve.
Steve Shoulder [3:03]
You are so kind.
David Ralph [3:04]
Do you know if I walked into a room? Even if I didn’t know you and you asked me to drop my trousers? I think I would for you, sir.
Steve Shoulder [3:12]
I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s an answer to that one.
David Ralph [3:14]
There’s no, there’s no answer at all. So let’s, before we do that, there’s a lot of people banging on my recording studio now. screaming about monkey abuse. What is this? What is this story? Why did I bring it up in the introduction? Let’s get that out of the way. What is it about monkeys and monkey abuse that attracts you?
Steve Shoulder [3:35]
Well, it’s not necessarily that it attracts me. It’s just, I come from Hartlepool, in the northeast of England. And there is I believe it’s a true story that way back in the early 1800s, I believe there was a shipwreck off the Hartlepool coast. And the ship’s mascot was a monkey and it was it was dressed in In a striped, or Soria, hooked jersey, and the monkey actually made it ashore. The locals at the time, this is bearing in mind this is a very, very long time ago, the monkey, the monkey was found by these locals. They thought the monkey was a French spy. They’d never seen a French when they had no idea what they look like. But they presumed that this was a French spy. And they took it into the town square and they hung it. And the the local football club nickname is the monkey hangers. I might hasten to add, you wouldn’t want to be calling people in Hartlepool, the monkey hangers because they get quite touchy. But it’s very this story is quite well known.
David Ralph [4:44]
These weird robot stories and I’ve heard that story many, many times. And you think that even if I haven’t ever seen a Frenchman, I would expect them to look vaguely human and not like us, like a small monkey with a tail.
Steve Shoulder [4:58]
Very true. Yeah,
David Ralph [4:59]
I wouldn’t bizarre. It’s bizarre. Anyway, let’s get on to your story because you are a man who as I say, you, you’re spending a lot of plates. But there is a kind of simplicity to your work. You are somebody that looks at the lean method of going into companies and and finding the quick improvements. Is this something that was always on the cards for you? Was it always an interest? And that’s why you’re sort of diploma your education seemed to indicate that path was starting early.
Steve Shoulder [5:29]
No, not really. I I came into this. About 21 years ago, I kind of reached a bit of a watershed in my life. I’d be working for a company that was being sold and I had a choice to make as to which direction I wanted to go. And I chose at that particular time to go and do a course at Cranfield University which was called the fellowship in manufacturing management. And as part of that course, it’s a full time course it’s a full time it’s only 13 week residential course. But part of that is that you have to go into industry for one year, immediately following that, and actually prove that you can apply the principles that you’ve learned in practice. And during that one year placement, your assessment so on, and you don’t actually get the qualification until you’ve done that year. And you’ve proved that you can do what you’ve you’ve been taught. And the qualification is a silver medal which I which I do have. And as part of that, that one year placement, I was put into a company called ABB utech which is a manufacturing consultancy. And they were putting me into what what I would typically recognise now as entry management roles, where I’d go into a business that needed transformation of some kind turning around maybe. And I actually went in there as the ops director or the MD whatever and did the biz, but I realised after a fairly fairly short time that this was something that I could do myself. So once I’d finished my placement, I then hooked up with a number of agencies and I started doing this work and I’ve been doing it ever since.
David Ralph [7:11]
And is it something that sort of lights you up? Because I would see something like this when you can have such a rapid turnaround is very rewarding. Is it something that still gets your juices going, sir?
Steve Shoulder [7:25]
Absolutely. It’s, it’s an incredibly rewarding,
you know, occupation. that that that that feeling that you get when you know you’ve pulled a company back from the brink, or you’ve positioned it for your enormous growth or your whatever, whatever the challenge might be. there for me there is just no better feeling and the people that that do this kind of work with I’m sure would echo those, those sentiments.
David Ralph [7:50]
And when you go into a company, is it because the deal, I kind of consider this as like the business version of Gordon Ramsay, Gordon Ramsay goes into the piling restaurants, he looks around, he says your foods crap, your service is crap. This needs to be changed, that needs to be changed. And he sort of turns it around over a weekend. Now I can imagine businesses are, you know, more structure, you’ve got to break down. But is it a similar kind of thing to what we see on TV with him?
Steve Shoulder [8:17]
Yeah, it’s not not not not quite as dramatic as that, you know, typically, my, my assignments lasts anywhere from sort of three months, six months, nine months. That’s sort of a timescale it’s not something that you do very, very quickly like that. But the principles I guess, are the same you you would you would look at what’s currently happening and and establish your where that business currently is. You would look to make some improvements and then put them in a place, you’re reasonably quickly, you’re to get a much better result in the short term. That’s kind of what I do, but I do it over, you know, perhaps three to six months.
David Ralph [8:51]
So could you go into a company and over a weekend, turn it around, or does it have to be a longer programme
Steve Shoulder [9:00]
I think if it’s a very small business, you could do that. Personally I, I work in much larger businesses. I mean, I’ve, I’ve worked in, in businesses such as BMW, for example, which is a multi billion pound business. And I’ve worked in in lots of others that are kind of 150 to 300 400 million pound businesses. So it’s much more complex and much more, shall we say? Difficult to to turn around in in a very short timeframe. But what I would say is that you can get the business on to onto a different track. Very quickly, you could probably do that in perhaps two or three weeks. With it now heading towards something different in your from where they were.
David Ralph [9:42]
Yeah. Well, okay, so being devil’s advocate, I am an owner of a company I’ve grown it up to a certain point. And as we say, in the United Kingdom, it’s going a bit pence profits are going down Morales a beatdown you come in. And although I want your help, because I want my business to flourish, it’s been My baby for so many years, I think I know all the answers and I don’t actually want to change because I think we just have to keep on pushing through on what was working before. Do you come across people like me, sir? And how would you deal with me?
Steve Shoulder [10:15]
I’m not gonna name any names. Here no
David Ralph [10:17]
name. Nobody listens to this podcast any way Steve name names.
Steve Shoulder [10:23]
I’m going to protect the innocent but But to answer your question, I come across this kind of person, you know, reasonably frequently. And it’s not that the the person is doing anything wrong necessarily. It’s just that the what they’ve used and they’ve done that worked in the past isn’t necessarily the right thing for the current reality, which is a phrase that I use a lot. So when I go into a business and I experienced this particular situation, I quite often just reflect back what I’ve seen to the owner or the directors, the business cycle. Guys, this, this is what’s actually happening now, never mind what you think might be happening or what used to be happening. This is what’s happening now. And this is something that you need to respond to otherwise, you’re there is a consequence to this. And we can’t take it to a different place. It just needs your support
David Ralph [11:16]
is very professionally answered. But do you hate these people? did you do? Do you want to grab them by the shoulder and say, Look, you’re paying for me? Yeah, yeah, you’re paying for me to come in and do my work. But you’re kind of preventing me you’re tying me down?
Steve Shoulder [11:30]
Yeah, I’ve actually had some some of those conversations in the past where Yeah, I’ve said more or less that look, you’re paying very, very good money to have me here. Are you gonna listen to what I’m saying? Or I’m going to go and do something else because I’ve got lots of stuff to do. And quite often when you have that, bearing in mind, this is the person that quite often is the owner. He’s the guy that calls the shots. And he would very, very rarely have a conversation like this with anybody in his business which wouldn’t is one of the, one of the benefits, if you like, of being the person that comes in from the outside, because I can have that conversation, and I can have it, you know, for me quite, quite openly. And when when somebody from the outside comes in, and then has that conversation with that person, it’s it is quite often a sobering experience for for, you know, for that business owner. Because they, you know, they wouldn’t have heard that before. Hardly ever, I would, I would suggest, and when they do when they do have that conversation, you know, there’s, there’s only two ways you can go they can, you know, they like to show me the dance over this, you don’t really talking about you, I’m going to carry on doing what I’m doing. Or they say, you know what, you might have something here, I think perhaps I ought to listen and we do something different. When that moment occurs when when that realisation occurs and that that denial goes away. That’s when the real work can take place. And that’s when the real improvement can take place.
David Ralph [12:58]
Yeah, see, I’m your perfect life. I was willing to drop my trousers right at the very beginning. You see, you could push me wherever you want, and I’d be willing to I’m perfect. I am your dream. Am I?
Steve Shoulder [13:11]
Yeah, God bless you, David, I don’t find many like you.
David Ralph [13:15]
Not many do not many do. So So let’s talk about this, this, this new platform that you’ve got, and we will sort of Delve back into your backstory because you’ve you’ve joined with a Norwegian serial entrepreneur. Now, that’s an interesting one. How did the two of you connect? Why did you think there was going to be a match fair? And how did 90 days to profit occur? So let’s start with the the speed dating that occurred with this Norwegian serial entrepreneur erland. How did you find him?
Steve Shoulder [13:42]
Hmm, it’s an interesting question, because I read a lot. I mean, I’m an avid learner. And I read a book a couple of years ago called never work again, written by Urban backer, and it was about developing a lifestyle which allowed You to virtually be anywhere on the planet and still have an income and still be able to live the way you want to live. Which which resonates with me, it’s something that I certainly have in, in my plans going forward. And in that book, it actually had buildings, contact details, and I thought, I’ll give this guy a ring. He sounds like my kind of guy. So I did, and I told him what I’ve done in the past, and at that time, I had a vague notion that I’d like to write a book and do some different things. And he, you know, picked up on this and said, Wow, this is a great idea. I think, you know, we could do something together on this. Yeah, I’ve got a lot of marketing experience which you don’t have, you’ve obviously got the the technical and managerial experience etc. You know, perhaps we could work something out. And that’s how that’s how it transpired. I you know, I loved building from the from the moment I heard his voice. He’s one of these guys that you He’s got so much energy and enthusiasm maybe you couldn’t put him out with a fire hose. He’s just absolutely a force of nature. And he just got on really well from the from the word go and we’ve been together now for about 18 months, I’m guessing something like that.
David Ralph [15:15]
And you make a lovely couple you really do I can, I can just send your offspring will be delighted to have overview. So we’ve erland What interests me is that you found somebody that basically said, Steve, you’re not fully realised and I’m not fully realised but together where you complete me Maybe he said those words to you, Steve, Steve, you complete me. Is that a way that people should have operating business should they be looking is the fast track to success finding people that have got your strengths and working with them instead of trying to be a master of everything?
Steve Shoulder [15:52]
I think that’s very, very true. I’m, I’m very conscious of my my own skills and abilities. experience. And I know what I can do well, and I know what I can’t do well, I think the trick in in, in getting ahead quite often is to team up with people that can do the things that you can’t do much better than you. And that certainly has been the case with me. And I’ve, I’ve worked with lots of agents in my life, who you know, find your work and continue to find the work. And what they do, I couldn’t do, but vice versa, they couldn’t do what I do. So it’s a it’s a power of the team that that that makes the difference.
David Ralph [16:31]
Other than putting erland through a series of tests and body examinations, how did you decide that he was actually somebody you want to work with? And it’s kind of a leading question because I have worked with somebody recently. And I won’t say any names. He’s not listening to this rubbish, but he turned out to be mental. And it was a difficult situation. But our professional is just kind of fragmented to a point that we just don’t talk anymore. Did you know that he was going to be good for you? And how would you suggest other people would sense check that they don’t have my situation of ending up with a lunatic?
Steve Shoulder [17:10]
Hmm. Well, I think initially, I was attracted to the work that he done. speaking to him, he felt like he was my kind of guy. But we talked about this, this project, I’m guessing for probably six months before, before we started it, and I was scouting him out, he was shouting me out and we built up a an understanding of that six months that that exists till now. I certainly wouldn’t have jumped into that, you know, straight off and said, Well, you know, what, you know, and if this sounds like a good idea, why don’t we crack on and get something done? It kind of evolved. It was a it was a slow process, but it was something which it felt felt right, certainly to me out, you know, once once I’d gone through that, that six months, and then I started writing the book, and he was, yeah, he was coaching me and all that sort of stuff. So it wasn’t, it wasn’t something that we jumped Do immediately something which kind of evolved? Because I kind of go Yeah,
David Ralph [18:03]
it sounds brilliant, let’s do it. Bang, I’m sort of very impulsive. And then afterwards, I think to myself, Oh my god, what did I do? What does I’ll do? My rabbit is being boiled on the stove as we speak. So I should allow love to occur naturally should I should just allow things to just go in natural course until there’s a point when you think, yeah, let’s let’s make love and get down to it.
Steve Shoulder [18:29]
Yeah, I wouldn’t put it exactly like that. But I think that for me, I I tend to, you know, make a friend make acquaintances very quickly. But it takes quite a while for that friend for that person to become a proper friend or, or a proper colleague as it were. So yeah, my advice would be, yeah, allow time to do to build up and make sure that you’re actually dealing with somebody that you that you can trust. That’s important.
David Ralph [18:58]
Well, let’s play some words now and then we’re going to delve into your history before a course coming back to the modern day. This is Jim Carrey,
Jim Carrey [19:05]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [19:32]
And did those words resonate with you, Steve, because when I was looking at your history, it’s very stable. So there’s, there’s an employee in you, but also you seem to be very entrepreneurial as well. You’ve got this kind of just the fact that you said a moment ago that the desire to travel the world and be independent, and location free is very attractive to you. So do those words from Jim Carrey resonate?
Steve Shoulder [19:56]
Yeah, absolutely. I sent you a note A little while ago, David, he asked me Could I you know, could I recommend a saying or a quote from my past and what Jim Carrey was just saying there about about his dad so very much resonated with me. One of the one of the sayings that my my dad used to tell me quite what any, and he had a lot of these creaky, old sayings that the dads do. But he said that there are only types of two types of people in the world. Those that say can’t be done and those that do it. And you’d better make sure you know which one you are. And you know that that seeing it that it stayed with me my whole life. He’s no longer with us now. My dad, but his wisdom still is.
David Ralph [20:44]
My dad just says the lunatic stuff. Like when when I was a kid, he always used to rub his hands and go, Well, this won’t get the baby bath, and we never even had a baby in the house. And I used to paying. I don’t understand this. But now I’m saying the same thing. Steve and my kids are going you say My granddad he can’t fight these quirky old sayings. Do you say the same things that your dad said?
Steve Shoulder [21:06]
Yeah, unfortunately I do. It’s a it’s a fact of life that you that you grow to be your parent. And I’m certainly doing that.
David Ralph [21:15]
So are your kids gonna grow into you employees, Steve or entrepreneurs, the viewers sending maybe you haven’t got kids? Maybe I’m just projecting. Do you have children?
Steve Shoulder [21:26]
I do. I have one daughter and two songs.
David Ralph [21:29]
Okay, so where are they going in their lives? Are they inspired by the entrepreneurial journey or do they they sort of perceived stability of having a fixed job.
Steve Shoulder [21:40]
I think a bit of both really, my my daughter interesting. It’s a kind of a side story, this one, David, but a couple years ago, with my daughter and my son in law, and another chap I used to work with, we set up an Amazon based business and they work in in the business side. Don’t tell me I don’t have anything to do with it. And they’ve now taken on another couple of people. So there’s five people in the business, but that business is going to turn over 5 million this year. So it’s it’s gone. You know, it’s grown very rapidly. And there’s definitely a large element of entrepreneurial sort of spirit in that business, you know, to have gotten to that stage very quickly. So, yeah, there’s, I’m sure there’s a bit of entrepreneurial stuff going on there somewhere.
David Ralph [22:28]
And then do you see what your kids are doing with that business is is there a requirement nowadays to say to everyone is opportunities there’s opportunities to create a life that your dad would not have believed was possible? Should we be doing that or do by pushing everybody into a kind of an entrepreneurial environment? Are we basically saying, everyone is going to be a free spirit and that’s not good for us either. We need employees.
Steve Shoulder [22:56]
I think we definitely need employees. I mean, being an entrepreneur is is is Not for everyone. But if you have that, that spirit and that spark about you, you want to do it, I would say, by all means that there are opportunities everywhere. And I, I had this this conversation with my, with my brother some time ago, he he and I are very, very different ways of looking at the world. He I actually said to him, I said, you, you live in a world which is cold and dark and full of threats. And, and I live in a world which is warm and welcoming and full of opportunities. And, yeah, it’s only a mindset, but that’s, you know, that’s a massive difference between us. And I genuinely believe that to be true when I see opportunity. absolutely everywhere.
David Ralph [23:39]
Yeah, no, I agree with you. I love the the sort of perceived risk and dealing with it. I like nothing more than driving along and turning the Sat Nav off, and just seeing what’s around the corner and kind of vaguely getting lost. My wife hates it. She says, You’ve got a GPS use it. That’s what it’s there for and like oh, let’s just see what’s around the corner. That’s it. Tell me where to go. And she says that’s where we want to go. That’s where we want to go. And so we have this kind of battle. But I am very free spirited now. And certainly I went down the pub the other day with a couple of guys who I used to work with. And I was saying to them, I could never go back to working for somebody. Now, I just couldn’t the fact of having to be at your desk at certain time, being you know, not being able to lead to a certain time. I just couldn’t there’s too many plus points of turning on the computer and creating your own income. Now, I know it’s not easy, but I do think that I would say the majority of people can create a profitable side hustle something that chips in a little bit each month to pay bills, it might be having a few adverts on a website driving a bit of traffic, I do think it is possible to make yourself your lifestyle a lot easier, which then gives you options later in life, doesn’t it, Steve? Absolutely. And I think
Steve Shoulder [24:51]
that people, particularly if they’re an older generation, they would they would look at what’s happening with the internet nowadays and they they wouldn’t really associate But it’s not something which they grew up with. But certainly the younger generations that are coming through them. And this is this ought to be second nature to them. And the opportunities that we’re seeing now, with the, you know, the advent of e commerce, etc. The world is a very, very different place. And the opportunities are massive.
David Ralph [25:18]
Because I, I do podcast training, and it dawned on me recently that the genius of my podcast training is about I’m not very techie, I basically do just enough to do what I need to do. And I don’t want to know any more. And people were coming up to me going, Oh, I can’t podcast i’d love the podcast, but it’s too technical. When I was saying, well, you should see myself I’m a complete idiot, I can turn the microphone on I do what needs to be done. And I realised that that ability to have less information has actually become my winning my winning point to to the game. And so I do think everybody out there just needs a little bit of knowledge. And there is a market for it. There’s it’s The people behind you but are more interesting to most businesses, because you’re two steps ahead from them on.
Steve Shoulder [26:06]
Indeed, yeah, I would fully agree with that. I think it’s, it’s important to, as I mentioned earlier, to know your limitations, but it’s also important to know your strengths. And for me, one of the things one of the things that that you’ve just described areas, is doing what you do very well, even if it’s not as technical or or as you’re perhaps involved as it could be. But you do what you do well, and that and keep it simple. And that is a real strength for me.
David Ralph [26:29]
And so are you saying, but I am lean, Sir, I am. I’ve got lean systems running through my podcasting world, I turn on microphone, I talk and I bash it out to the world. And the content is leading the way would that be an example of being lean? I think it would. Yeah.
Steve Shoulder [26:45]
I mean, the trick, if you like, or the key to being lean, is to get done, whatever it needs to be done with the least amount of time and effort and what you do what you’re what you’ve just described, I think fits that Bill.
David Ralph [27:00]
I’m like in the bedroom. Steve, do you know that at least at least effort I can get away with, you know, as long as he doesn’t mess my hair up, I’m there. I’m there. But as soon as it gets too energetic, I’m out my I’m out. I’m downstairs, I’m watching Match of the Day. That’s where I want to be lean all the way, lean all the way. So your 90 days to profit this, this interests me and obviously the sort of last half of the episode wickedness will focus into this, because that’s this mean, but you have to have a business which is floundering and the knowledge in this book will turn it around, or is it something that you can start with a blank canvas, have it in front of you, and then not make the mistakes going forward?
Steve Shoulder [27:46]
I guess it could be the there are really two sort of main scenarios that I work with. One is where the business is struggling and there are plenty of those for lots of different reasons. But the other one is where the business wants to position itself for future growth. And that can be very early in a business or it can be an established business that’s now in into a different market or it’s just come across as an opportunity that that has presented itself. And they’re very different challenges, but they’re, they’re part of the, if you like, of the process that I use, it’s, it’s applicable to both.
David Ralph [28:24]
And you do base yours around I’m trying to think Is it is it kosan or something, some Japanese way of operating in industry in engineering, that’s very lean, very focused on just getting it done.
Steve Shoulder [28:37]
Yeah, the word is Kaizen. But yeah, you’re right. Yeah, I do. I do use Kaizen in the work that I do, but it’s only a very small part of what I do. The process that I’ve developed over the last 20 odd years is a structured way of assessing what needs to be fixed, and then working through a creative process if you’d like to get to a point where it Everybody agrees what it is that we got to fix? How are we going to do it, and then we’re getting it done. And it’s a really robust process that’s scalable. You can use it to, you know, to fix a very small problem, or you can use it to fix a group of companies. It’s it really is that scalable.
David Ralph [29:14]
And have you been into a company when you’ve gone hang on this is too much too much for me to buy off? Even Mr. Steve shoulder has to sort of moonwalk out there because it’s just too big a job?
Steve Shoulder [29:26]
No, thankfully, I haven’t. I haven’t seen that sort of situation yet. I’ve done over the last 21 years, David, I’ve done 29 different assignments and all successful you to various degrees. I mean, some have been spectacularly successful others. You’re just mildly successful if you like but the business has always been left in it in a in a better shape after I’ve gone. And I’ve used the same process in all of them. There are times when when I think to myself, wow, this is a this is a big job and I certainly can’t do it by myself. But that’s when you start You start to involve in formal teams within the business. And you start to divvy up the work into sensible, you know, sort of bite sized pieces. And if you do that, then you can certainly achieve a lot more than just working by yourself.
David Ralph [30:12]
Yeah, like James Bond, aren’t you if there’s a mission to be had, we send you in and you’re always successful. You go in, you seduce a few ladies, you change the company around you, you’re like double Oh, seven, sir.
Steve Shoulder [30:26]
I couldn’t possibly comment, Prime Minister. I think
David Ralph [30:30]
you’re you’re already old Mr. Craig, he’s bowing out and I’m gonna put you forward for the next one. You’re gonna be there. It’s gonna be James Bond, lean, lean fighting machine. Mr. shoulder, you’ve got it. You’ve got it. Apollo seven. So what kind of people are going to buy your book fan of the listeners here we have a lot of wannabe entrepreneurs sitting in cubicles sitting on trains listening for inspiration of what they can do going forward. They’re basically kind of slightly jaded in employment. Would they be your target audience? Are they the kind of people that should be reaching out to 90 days to profit?
Steve Shoulder [31:06]
They certainly could be. David, my
buy if you like, my perfect customer, would be somebody that wants to take control of their life and move in a different direction. But using a process, which has been tried and proven, which is, which is what I’ve got here. And that really applies to lots of different people. It could be somebody that wants to go into consultancy for the first time. It could be a manager in a business that can see what’s happening in his business but but doesn’t necessarily know how to how to fix it or or take it to the next level. It applies to lots of different people in lots of different situations. But But certainly, I think it would apply to your audience.
David Ralph [31:45]
So how hard is it Steve? How hard were when they open when I open the pages? Is it going to be Oh my god, this is so much because people are genuinely lazy nowadays, aren’t they?
Steve Shoulder [31:57]
Well, that’s a that’s a very, very interesting question. Because I took the approach when I when I was writing this book, that if you didn’t want to learn anything from the book, it had to be a good read. Yeah. And so I read a book many years ago back in the 80s, called the goal by Eli goldratt. And it was actually quite a technical book. But it was told in the form of a novel, which, at the time was quite, it was quite different and quite unusual. And I’ve taken the same kind of tack with the book that I’ve just written, and created that novel with strong characters and a strong plot. But weaved into the plot is the methodology which I use. I hope I’ve done it. Well. I mean, this is the first book that I’ve written. So I mean, I don’t I don’t consider myself to be a writer by any stretch, but it only took me a year to write this book. But I’ve taken that that view that even if you didn’t want to learn this stuff, at least it will be a good read. And I hope that I’ve achieved that.
David Ralph [32:57]
I think that’s the way forward. I really do it. It’s like my podcasts. Yes, I’m a bit silly. I’m a bit stupid in places. But I think that people are only going to listen to so much content without slight waiver without entertainment to be sprinkled through it. You know, we all like going and watching monkeys riding pigs on YouTube. And there’s no reason for it other than it’s entertaining, and it makes us smile. So I think you’ve done the right thing where we had a guy on the show called Rick Chapman, who wrote a book called setting Steve Jobs liver. And I started flicking through it, and it surprised me, but it was actually a story. It was a story all the way through, but it actually had bad content. So a blended in. I think that is the perfect way forward, really entertainment, education all the way through. No, I would agree, David, I think that I’ve heard from lots of different places that that people naturally respond to stories. They like to learn with stories and they like to you know, they like to tell stories themselves. And whenever you’re you’re You’re learning something through a story, it seems to stick better than if it was just, you know, the, the dry information if you like, which is one of the one of the reasons that, that I went down this particular route. So when you were writing your book, did you get involved in the characters? Did you start thinking, Oh, hang on, I could spin off here. I could have this as a trilogy, or was it always gonna be like a standalone? film?
Steve Shoulder [34:25]
Yeah, well, interesting, because, and again, I’m not going to name any names here. But I kind of based a lot of the characters in the book on real people that I’ve met. And I was taking, yeah, it was, it was strange at first because I was taking somebody that I’d met in a particular setting and I was putting them into a different setting. So I had to use the characteristics of that person, if you like, but in a new setting, and even that, that took a little bit of sort of thinking and working out on my part. But they’re all the people in this book are people that I’ve met. And that’s it. I could, I could feel that myself laughing as I was writing this book, I was laughing to myself, because I could imagine this person in this new situation and creating all kinds of mayhem. And it really it was it was entertaining me as I was writing it, which I thought was it was a fantastic thing.
David Ralph [35:15]
Now every offer every filmmaker, every actor that I’ve had on the show, and we’ve had quite a few, I’ve mentioned to them in their next work but it would be very good to have a kind of sexy UK podcaster kind of character, and they’ve all said to me yet that’s going to be great. We’re going to do it. I haven’t seen a glimpse of anything. Cannot be in the next one’s deep, sexy UK podcaster doing his bang is going to be a winner for you in it.
Steve Shoulder [35:46]
Yeah, I’ll guarantee it. David if if I if I write it out of the book, I will definitely weave in a sexy UK podcaster
David Ralph [35:54]
and if you if you want any sort of leading words how sexy they can be just email me and I will say You’re kind of the sort of sexy words I can really describe that person that we’re talking about now, obviously, got no idea who I’m talking about. I’ve got some words, I’ve got some words, and it’s gonna be powerful stuff. So before we sort of lead up to Steve Jobs, we talked about him earlier. Is there a sort of a ladder that we can go through with the listeners about the steps in your book is there how many steps are there that they would need to take to be able to fulfil the task that Mr. James Bond shoulder has set for them?
Steve Shoulder [36:35]
Well, it’s a seven step process, David which I’ve developed, and I’ve used this in lots of different guises over the years and I’ve gradually sort of fine tuned it to the to the point where it where it is now and I can use this virtually anywhere. And the each step has a has a letter which describes it. And the seven letters are prophets, PR o fit s and Each one of those things, each letter in that that word describes the step.
David Ralph [37:06]
Brilliant, but tell us tell us, Dave, you’ve you’ve got us on tenterhooks, now, what does p stand for?
Steve Shoulder [37:13]
Okay, P stands for problem. And this is if you if you imagine when you when you go into any business and I find this all the time, when you go into any business, there are always 500 things to fix. If the business has been going for any length of time, you know, there are there are any amount of opportunities for things to fix. The the step that would we like to go through in this particular you’re right at the very start of this process is to identify the one problem that we’re going to fix. And I was talking to somebody the other day, and they mentioned a book called The one thing and to be fair, I mean, I wasn’t aware of the book, but it was saying that if you focus on more than one thing, then you’re very likely not going to get anything done. And Peter Drucker, who is a very, very famous managerial, author and philosopher, said the same thing. He said, always do First things first and second things never. Because if you do if you if you don’t do that, you’ll never, you’ll never get anything done. So in this particular step, you identify the one problem, the one thing that you’re going to focus on and that you’re going to fix.
David Ralph [38:24]
brilliant, brilliant. Let’s go to the next one. I’m not going to lead you on you can just seamlessly take us up this staircase. Okay,
Steve Shoulder [38:31]
okay, so the the, the second letter is R, and R is for review. And this is once you’ve decided that you’ve you’ve agreed on what this one thing is that you’re going to fix. You review and analyse all of the available data in the business. So that within a very short time, you become the fount of all knowledge in regard to this particular problem. It’s very common for me to go into a business and within a A couple of weeks to be the one person or business that knows most about this particular problem that we go to fix. And one of the one of the key parts of this step is to not just look at the data, but to tease out the story that sits behind the data. Because there is always a story. And quite often the people within the business, they’ve been looking at this data, you know, perhaps for the last four or 567 years, whatever. And because the differences are quite small, they don’t see these these differences passing by them, they it just becomes normal. And they don’t stand back far enough from the data and they don’t really understand the stories. And that’s certainly one of the things that I like to do in this particular step. And this is what I call teasing out the current reality. So once we’ve got this, we’ve identified the problem we’re going to fix we’ve looked at all of the data and analysed it and we’ve teased out the story. The next thing the next letter is opportunities. This is where we look at all of the this is part, this is where we start to do the creative part of this process. This is where we look at all of the ways that we could fix this particular problem. And there’ll be, you know, the could, you know, could be three or four ways it could be 24 different ways. But there are always lots of things that you can do to make an impact on this particular problem, whatever it might be. And this is in this opportunity. This is where your you mentioned Kaizen earlier, this is where we would apply that creative process to generate those opportunities. The next step is F, which stands for fine tune. and fine tune is where we narrow it down to one thing. So we’ve got one thing to fix. We’re now going to fix that one thing with one thing. So we’re not going to, you know, do 25 different activities to you know, to bring some some brainpower to bear on this One problem, we’re only going to do one thing. So this is it’s it’s looked at all of the different opportunities that we’ve got. And it’s now shopping that focus and really narrowing it down to one thing that we’re going to do to fix the problem. The next step is AI. And that stands for implement and test. This is where I would always recommend that whatever you decide that you’re going to do to fix the problem, you try and find within that business a, a way to run a trial or a pilot programme. This is it’s quite prudent, but it’s a way to limit the risk. And it’s a way to get an idea of how the fix is going to work without necessarily affecting the rest of the business. And that’s always a good thing to do. If you can’t get if you can’t find a way to do a pilot programme, then my suggestion would always be just to roll it out gently and build it as you go. There. If you can,
Unknown Speaker [42:02]
Steve Shoulder [42:02]
which is the next letter is for tracking. Once you’ve implemented your fix whatever that might be, you have to honestly track what it’s doing. And this is, this is an area where quite a lot of consultants and even managers that are in businesses, they’re tempted to sugar coated to dress it up to make it look actually better than it is. And my advice would always be just don’t do that. You know, totally like it is keep it honest. track the you know, the effects, the impact, whatever it is, do it honestly, if it works great. I mean, but the one thing you can guarantee when you’re tracking this, the results of what it what it is that you’re doing, you will always learn from it. And when you you take that learning, you can then do the next step, which is shape and rollout. So we’ve got the s it stands for shape and rollout and this Is this is adapting the learning that you’ve that you’ve had from your tracking. It’s creating a programme or a roadmap to roll it out across the rest of the business. And it will, it will vary. Because you might have tested the the fix in one part of the business, it’s let’s call it dispatch for your whatever term you’ve tested in dispatch. But now you’ve got to roll it out across manufacturing across sales and marketing across the whole business. And in each of those different areas of the business, the fix will look different because of the nature of that department or that area. So this is where you would shape whatever that fixes and roll it out. But you would do it in a way that is tailored to suit the area of the business that you’re working in. And if you if you follow that process, and I would I would challenge anyone, anyone that’s got a modicum of intelligence that’s got some drive and got some confidence and they’ve got a corporate background of any kind. It doesn’t really matter what it is. If they Wanting to improve a business, they can use this process. Now just follow it, you know, as it’s, you know, as it’s taught in the book. And it’s, you know, the book spells it out very, very clearly what you have to do. If you just follow this process, you definitely take the business to a better place. And you can do it quickly. I mean, the book is called 90 days to profit. And that’s, that’s no mistake. It’s called 90 days profit, because I personally have turned around businesses in 90 days, sometimes less. Now, you know, a lot of people would say to you that you can’t turn around a business in 90 days, well, I’m here to tell you, you can, what you definitely can do without a shadow of doubt is put the business onto a different track, which is taking it to a profitable position. whereas previously, it wasn’t going to be that. So you can certainly change the track of the business very, very quickly and get it you’re heading towards profits within a fairly short time. So that’s my that’s my system. The the That whole process is called profits. And I’ve just stepped you through each one of those. Now, I’m sure that if you apply yourself to this sensibly and with some driver vigour, it’ll work for you.
David Ralph [45:14]
Well, we’re gonna hear some words from a guy in a moment. And I bet he went through the whole system, because Steve Jobs, he went into a struggling Apple many, many years ago. And one of the things he did, he cleared the decks of so many things, justifying their core product, which he could then all of those steps on. I, you know, I know that they’re right, because I’ve been through those many, many times, not only in my own business, not only in my previous business, but with consultants coming through to us as well. And it always seemed to be, as you say, but tracking bit was the bit that people didn’t want to do. They were happy to find the problem. They were happy to start working on something but the tracking is the difficult bit, isn’t it?
Steve Shoulder [45:56]
It Well, it’s certainly the bit that a lot of people don’t do well. And it’s certainly the bit that a lot of people are tempted to massage. I personally don’t I don’t, I don’t subscribe to that. I think that whatever you do, you’ve gone through a very robust process. And you’ve got to the point where you’re now tracking what you’ve implemented, if it’s good enough, or if it’s correct me that that’s, that’s wonderful. But if it’s not, then it means that there’s something about what about your process that hasn’t quite worked? It’s good learning. It’s good feedback. There’s no failure involved here. It’s just good feedback. And if you take it sensibly, and you really act upon that, then you’re going to put yourself into a better place anyway. Yeah, great stuff. Great stuff.
David Ralph [46:37]
But let’s hear from the man himself. This is Steve Jobs. He said these words back in 2005. And as always, we’re going to get your feedback on him
Steve Jobs [46:45]
Steve Jobs. Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking back backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [47:21]
Now he talks about dots and you talk about sort of incremental steps, but there’s no getting away from it all success is built about doing one thing after another after another. So did those words resonate with you because you’re very practical. We can see that this systems in your head, but you’ve also a bit of a you know, you’re a bit of a lover, man, you’re a bit of a double Oh, seven spy agent. So when you look at those devices sort of play to you as well.
Steve Shoulder [47:47]
Yeah, very much so I I hadn’t heard those words by Steve Jobs before but very, very wise words. You know, the, the thing that that stood out for me there was he was, you know, he was Saying that you have to have the confidence that the dots will appear, and they will join up going forward. And I think that that is, you know, it’s, it’s very, very wise words. I’ve had lots of opportunities in my life where I’ve reached crossroads. And I’ve wondered which way to go. And and you have to trust yourself that you’re making the right direct choices, and it’s taking you to it into a place that is going to be good for you. And I’ve certainly done that. Now, that’s very, very good.
David Ralph [48:25]
And then Have you found that even if you’ve gone the wrong direction, actually, it’s brought his own opportunities that you wouldn’t have got if you’ve gone that sort of the right way, I suppose.
Steve Shoulder [48:37]
Yeah, yeah. That that’s happened to me quite a lot. David, I, yeah, I’ve looked back on my life and sometimes and thought, you know, if I’d only done that, I could have gone this way or that way. And now they think themselves Now. Now. I’m here at this particular point in my life, because I’ve made exactly the right choices. Anything, even if they didn’t feel like it at the time, that’s turned out to be the case. So Yeah, absolutely no regrets
David Ralph [49:02]
is a great confidence boost, isn’t it when you hear you say that, and Steve Jobs say that and, you know, I look back on some of the things and I screwed up big time, I remember self sabotaging in a job, I was doing extremely well. And for some bizarre reason, I kind of had a mental mental moments and ruined it for myself. But I look back and I thank God I did that, you know, I would have been I don’t know, wherever would be today, and it certainly wouldn’t be what I’m doing now. So even the bad decisions turn out to be good decisions as long as you keep moving forward with faith, trust karma, or whatever Steve was saying.
Steve Shoulder [49:36]
Yeah, dead right. I I fully agree with that, that that there was some there was obviously something in your, in your life at that particular moment that didn’t, that didn’t sit well, on what we or whatever. The reason was that you did this particular self sabotage or whatever it was, there was something that was telling you to do that which turned out to be the right thing.
David Ralph [49:55]
Yeah, he’s weird. You just have to go with it. Go with a light like a twig on the mighty stream of life. We need to upper right. And we will end up where we should be, as we have ended up where we should be on today’s show because this is the part that we called a sermon on the mic, when we’re going to send you back, Steve to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Steve shoulder, what advice would you give them? What age would you speak to? Well, we’re going to find out because we’re going to play the theme and when it fades, you’re up. This is the Sermon on the mind.
Unknown Speaker [50:32]
With the best bit of the show.
Steve Shoulder [50:49]
Okay, this is a quite an unusual moment for me. I’ve never been asked to speak to my younger self before, and I’ve I’ve taken some time to think about this. I think that I would talk to myself as a guy that’s just coming out of school. So, teenager, not really understanding, you know, what life is all about and what lies in front of me. But I know that Looking back, I was limiting myself in my beliefs and in my aspirations. So I would say to my, my younger self, don’t believe that you are limited by anything. When I first left school, I wanted to go into manufacturing. I started my working life on the shop floor. And it was my you know, my first goal and aspiration that I wanted to be a supervisor. I never thought for a moment that I could be a managing director of business because that was just way, way, way too far above my station in life, but it’s come to pass and I would say that at that particular time in my life, I just didn’t have that ability to, to think big and to really put myself out there. So I would say, you know, don’t limit yourself Steve, you know, believe that all things are possible and whatever it is that you want to do in your life. really go for it with it with a lot of energy and a lot of vigour because there’s nobody stopping you but your own self doubts. I think that there is a there is a power in the ability to think big, and I certainly didn’t have it when I was younger. I think I’ve got a lot more of it now. It’s a strange thing. I started my working life making about seven pounds a week. And that felt like a lot of money to me. I know that people might be listening to this thinking seven pounds. I pay that for a coffee. Yeah, you do. But I can tell you when I started work, that was a very long time ago. It To me it felt like an awful lot of money. I now think that a million pounds isn’t really that much. Which is a which is a very, very long way away from where I started. But it’s all I can say is it’s doable. You know, when you when you take the course that you that you absolutely believe in your life, and you get to that point where you’re self actualizing your real potential great things are possible. And I’m certainly a an example of that. And I’m living for me, I’m living the best life that I could possibly live right now. And I would say that to my younger self, you know, don’t limit yourself, Steve, go for it.
David Ralph [53:33]
Absolutely. It was Steven, one day you will be on Join Up Dots with the UK sexiest podcast. Damn, Damn, you now know who I was talking about? Big mistake there. So what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you, Steve?
Steve Shoulder [53:48]
Well, my book comes out on the 25th of April. It’ll be available on the website which is 90 days to profit code at UK and it will also be available on Amazon on Kindle on that day. So yeah, please take advantage of that.
David Ralph [54:06]
We have over links on the show notes. Steve, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up, because I do believe that but joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Mr. Steve shoulder. Thank you so much.
Steve Shoulder [54:23]
Thank you, David. It’s been a delight.
David Ralph [54:27]
Mr. Steve shoulder, so 90 days to profit. So you’ve got the system there. Now people I think that’s a good one to have. So you could actually start your business with the book by the side of you to learn from the mistakes of others. And you know, if you’ve got the opportunity of creating a business and there’s businesses everywhere nowadays, some there are already some that are just dreams in people’s heads. And you could turn it around in 30 days to make a profit, man, I think that’s a big big win. I liked that guy. I like the fact that he knows about monkey abuse and all the other The weird stuff we talked about. And we’re gonna have some more weird stuff as well because that’s what Join Up Dots is all about looking after yourself and we will see you again soon. Cheers. Thanks.
Demon doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you or wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.