[0:00:00] Betsy Jordyn: You. So welcome everybody, to this week's Enough Already podcast. This is the place where we empower consultants and coaches to forge their own path to success. I'm your host, Betsy Jordan, and I am so excited to have my friend, former client, former colleague, Brad Rex on the show for so many reasons. Brad and I worked together at Disney. We did some work for some nonprofit work together, and we've worked together off and on for years and years. And I had a conversation with Brad about five years ago about the reasons why consultants are hired by executives and coaches.
[0:00:35] Betsy Jordyn: Actually, let me say it other way on the reasons why executives hire consultants and coaches. Not the reasons that we think they are, but the real reasons. And I thought I would do so much better justice to this topic just to bring Brad on the show. So, welcome to the show, Brad.
[0:00:51] Brad Rex: Well, thank you, Betsy. It's wonderful to be with you today.
[0:00:55] Betsy Jordyn: So let's go back in time to your career. So let's talk about your career in finance and as an operations executive and how you went from those roles into the roles that you have now. So if you can just give a little snapshot of your career.
[0:01:09] Brad Rex: Sure. Well, I like to tell people I have a very eclectic background. I went to the Naval Academy. I was a nuclear submarine officer, Harvard Business School. From there I went to British Petroleum and lived in Cleveland and in London with BP. I had five different jobs in six years with them. One of my jobs was financial planning and being on the CEO staff. And so I knew that I wanted to kind of change from BP.
[0:01:41] Brad Rex: And so we actually came as a family right after my son was born, a couple of years old, to Disney. And we had a wonderful time. We had just had our twin daughters. And so when I got back, there was an ad for a financial manager job at Disney. And I said, what do I have to lose? I sent them a resume. They got 1400 resumes for one job.
[0:02:07] Betsy Jordyn: Wow.
[0:02:08] Brad Rex: And it happened that the person reviewing the resume saw that I had gone to business school the same time as his boss. And so he gave my resume to his boss, said, did you know Brad? And he said, yeah, we had one class together. But he said, we're actually hiring for a higher level job, an executive job, so why don't you bring him in to interview for that? And so they did. And again, it was a finance job, so kind of related between BP and Disney.
[0:02:39] Brad Rex: So I ended up working for Disney, moving to Orlando, Florida in 1994. I was with Disney for twelve and a half years. The first half of that was in finance and strategic planning. And then I went into operations, and as fate would have it, I took over as the leader of Epcot theme park on the week of 911, 2001. I remember my second job was shutting down the park for the first time in history with people in it, I'm embarrassed to say, but they said, we need to open the emergency command centers.
[0:03:18] Brad Rex: And I had to turn to one of my executives and say, where's our emergency command center? Because I had no idea. But we did that. We got through the aftermath of that. It was a great kind of growth period for Epcot. I was there five and a half years, and we opened a number of attractions and expanded to the festivals. So it was really a great gig. Left there to go work for Hilton Grand Vacations, which is the timeshare division of Hilton, ran all their resorts, which was fabulous.
[0:03:53] Brad Rex: Really tough job. New York, Orlando, Las Vegas, Hawaii. Just had to go visit all those resorts.
[0:04:01] Betsy Jordyn: Poor you. That must have been hard for you.
[0:04:03] Brad Rex: Very hard. Very hard.
[0:04:05] Betsy Jordyn: Well, but you're just doing for the job though.
[0:04:08] Brad Rex: Exactly. But no, it was a great job. Unfortunately too short, because and we can talk about this a little bit more, basically, Hilton was acquired by Blackstone. Blackstone way overpaid at the top of the market. And so they had to do massive cutbacks. They brought in a consulting firm to do that, and basically my position was eliminated. And so after that, I had my own company. I actually wrote a book.
[0:04:44] Betsy Jordyn: What was the book about? Wait, hold on, I didn't know you were an author. What's the book about?
[0:04:48] Brad Rex: It's called the surpassing life.
[0:04:49] Betsy Jordyn: 52 I remember that.
[0:04:51] Brad Rex: Deep personal excellence. It was actually an opportunity for me to write down all my mistakes for my kids so they wouldn't make the same mistakes. But yeah, I have a lot of respect for people who write books. It takes a lot of work, and just as you finish the book, you find out there's a whole other part of the work you have to do, which is getting the book published and then marketing it and all the rest.
[0:05:19] Brad Rex: But then I got a call from a recruiter friend of mine, and she said, well, Brad, I've got this company, it's private equity backed, they're looking for a CEO, and it's a consolidator turnaround. I said, oh, is it like theme parks and resorts? And she said, well, actually, it's death care, funeral homes and cemeteries.
[0:05:43] Betsy Jordyn: So from the happiest place on earth to the saddest place on earth is.
[0:05:47] Brad Rex: Where you went from Disney to death care, but actually brought a lot of Disney and customer excellence and something we called the share life multi sensory experience room to the funeral industry. Did that for four years, turned the company around, did a lot of interesting things, and then came to my current role, which is I'm the president and CEO of EHOME Counseling Group. We're a nationwide virtual mental health counseling company.
[0:06:19] Brad Rex: Wow. Long before COVID we had this crazy idea that if you could take counseling to people, virtually a lot more people could get counseling. They get a lot higher quality counseling. And in particular, we started off really focusing on reducing veteran suicides and obviously being a veteran, that was very important to me. But then we expanded from there, and we now are in network with all the major insurance companies. We have a major partnership with Wounded Warrior Project, which has been very satisfying. We've treated thousands of veterans with them.
[0:06:56] Brad Rex: We are actually the primary mental health care provider for the US. Olympic and Paralympic Team. So that's very cool, Team USA. But what happened? Of course we had no anticipation of COVID When COVID hit, all the counseling essentially went online. So we were positioned to be a part of that. And these crazy guys out there who didn't have any background in behavioral health, who started this company, all of a sudden people said, wow, that's a really good idea.
[0:07:29] Brad Rex: So we've been able to see that. But yeah, very fascinating. I've had 20 different jobs in twelve different industries in 35 years.
[0:07:38] Betsy Jordyn: It seems like there's a theme, though, is that in terms of what your career is all about is it seems like there's one part of it is all about service and helping people, and the other part is all about executive leadership and providing leadership. That seems to be like service. Leadership seems to be thematically. What I'm hearing through that? Am I hearing that right?
[0:07:59] Brad Rex: Well, it's really a connection. When I went to work for Disney, the whole idea of creating happiness and impacting people's lives and magical memories that will last a lifetime, I mean, that was unbelievable. And when I first joined, one of the other executives said, whenever I'm down on things and just tired of the bureaucracy or the administration, whatever, he said, all I have to do is go out in the park and see all the smiles on everybody's faces.
[0:08:31] Brad Rex: So then you go to death care. Okay. You say, Whoa, what's this all about? Well, with that, you had the opportunity to be with people and serve and minister to them on one of, for many people, one of the worst days of their lives. And that was such a privilege to be able to help them through that. And we were all about creating a celebration of life. So a lot of people think about these kind of depressing funeral situations.
[0:09:02] Brad Rex: We were really, let's celebrate this person's life, and it makes such a huge difference. And so, to me, Hans Christian Anderson said, a human life is a story told by God. And we had that opportunity to tell people stories, life stories, and it was just amazing.
[0:09:21] Betsy Jordyn: Could you say that quote again a little bit slower? Because that one is really powerful.
[0:09:25] Brad Rex: Yeah. Hans Christian Anderson said, a human life is a story told by God. And interesting thing if you look at his background, he had a horrible, abusive childhood. So for him to say that really evidenced kind of the maturity of looking back on that. But we had that opportunity. And as I mentioned, we did the Share Life multisensory experience room, which is where it was actually based on the Soren attraction at Epcot.
[0:09:58] Brad Rex: For those of you who know Soren, it's a massive screen, automatic screen, high quality projection, audio and ascent generator. So as you're flying over the pine forest, you smell the pine smell or the orange trees or whatever it is. So we actually create in the funeral home, we would put a huge screen on one of the walls there. High definition projectors, high quality audio and a scent generator. And now you could have your celebration of life anywhere.
[0:10:33] Brad Rex: At the beach.
[0:10:34] Betsy Jordyn: Wow.
[0:10:35] Brad Rex: Golf course at the Eiffel Tower. It was a reason for people to say, well, why should I have my celebration of life in a funeral home? A lot of people go to hotels or restaurants or whatever. Well, now you could have just this amazing experience. And one of the things that had the most impact on me was for the veteran services. We would project at the end of the service on the screen, if you're familiar with the missing man formation where the planes fly and then one plane diverts off into the distance and play taps.
[0:11:10] Brad Rex: And it was just unbelievably powerful. And so being able to bring that and that type of experience to these situations and celebrations of life. And then the third is my current role, which is mental health counseling and providing those services. So you really look at we've got a massive epidemic within a pandemic when it comes to mental health. I mean, COVID has created an incredible situation, particularly sadly for our young people, being able to heal people, restore them back to full functionality and life, the impact on families, the legacy impact on future generations.
[0:11:58] Brad Rex: If we can take care of a parent now, and so they can parent their child much more effectively, then that has a huge impact. So all of these things kind of tie together in terms of serving others and really allowing people to reach their full potential and happiness. That really drives me every day. And it's challenging. I can tell you our health care system is very broken and everything you read about it is true.
[0:12:32] Brad Rex: And we're not providing the services people need. We're not reimbursing them correctly. So every day is a challenge. But when I get that five star, I get every single review that any client writes. When I get this five star review saying I was going to commit suicide and you turned it around and now I'm with my family and I'm just a completely different person, that makes it all really worthwhile.
[0:12:58] Betsy Jordyn: It seems like that's another theme, is like the family experiences, like the family at Disney, and that's what got you to go to Disney and then around the funeral home. And that kind of experiences, it's really creating a celebration with the family and something that was really specific to that person. And even now, as you talk about it, I hear that ongoing passion of people being their best selves for their loved ones.
[0:13:21] Betsy Jordyn: Seems like the surpassing life is thematically. What drives you? Am I hearing that accurately?
[0:13:28] Brad Rex: It is. And it's how do people reach their full potential, their full God given potential? And what really drives me is that I'm a big believer in faith and work and incorporating your faith into your work. And there's a great book written by Tim Keller, a famous pastor called Every Good Endeavor. And in there he talks about we are co cultivators with God in the garden of creation. In his Garden of Creation.
[0:14:03] Brad Rex: And there's also in the Hebrew tradition, the concept of tikunulam, which is repairing creation. And so I put the two together and I say, I see my role as being a co cultivator with God in repairing his creation.
[0:14:23] Betsy Jordyn: So the redemption theme is like redeeming something that's the driver and being a co creator of redemption.
[0:14:31] Brad Rex: Exactly. When you think about creating the happiness of a Disney in the celebration of life of individuals and restoring people who have a mental illness to their fullness, that's repairing creation and making it the way it should be, the way the world should be. So that's what kind of drives me.
[0:14:54] Betsy Jordyn: It seems like from a gifting standpoint, too. I don't know what your Gallup strength finders are, but I imagine, like, Restorative might be one of them, where it's like as a finance guy or with your engineering kind of mindset, it's like restoring things to its functionality. It seems to be in your gifting realm as well. Am I reading into something that's not.
[0:15:15] Brad Rex: There or does that well, I don't have that one, but I have, for example, Maximizer Achiever belief and things like that. It was interesting. I did the Gallup profile and it was analyzed by the analysts and she talked to me. She said, Companies love you, Brad, because you're a workaholic. She said, Because when you combine Maximizer Achiever, was it reliability and everything? She said, they will take you and work you as much as you will let them. And so that was a big eye opener for me.
[0:15:58] Brad Rex: But I've hopefully gotten a little bit better with that over time.
[0:16:01] Betsy Jordyn: So this whole idea of like, service, redemption, bringing things back to it's not just stasis, but it's full of potential, how does that affect the way that you lead?
[0:16:11] Brad Rex: Well, I look at each person in particular that I lead and say, how can I get them to achieve their full potential? And when I was leaving Epcot, one of my executives said to me, I think what really captured the essence of what I attempt to achieve. She said, with you brad, I achieved more than I ever thought possible, and I had fun doing it.
[0:16:38] Betsy Jordyn: What a great compliment.
[0:16:42] Brad Rex: And that just meant so much to me because I can certainly be kind of demanding boss, but I also want it to be where you're enjoying your work and you're seeing the accomplishment and feeling that sense of accomplishment out of it and achieving again, your full potential. So we try to make it fun at work and try to keep things light, but you got to take care of your customers, and in our case, take care of your counselors and other companies, employers, employees.
[0:17:19] Brad Rex: Those are all very important because it's not just about producing the widgets or how many sessions you do it. It's the quality with which you do it and the culture that you create in doing it as well.
[0:17:33] Betsy Jordyn: I don't know if you know this, because I've been on the recipient several times of that whole belief in people and helping them my whole career, I would attribute to a moment I don't even know if you remember, but I got the job at Disney because of you. So my then husband at the time was a direct report of yours. And when I applied for Disney, because I came from a nonprofit organization, they were going to pass me over, and I wanted to have an informational interview. And because you had recommended me, they gave me that interview. And that's how I was able to talk my way into the next step and the next step and got the job at Disney.
[0:18:08] Betsy Jordyn: And you were there all along. As I moved into my consulting career, as I started my own business. You've always been that cheerleader type of person. So it seems like it extends not just to your immediate surrounding, but you seem to see everybody else as well. What gives you that broader purview of all the other people that you could help that's not just in your immediate vicinity?
[0:18:33] Brad Rex: Well, whenever I answer my phone, I say, Brad Rex, how can I help you? And I mean it. I don't look at it as well. What can you do for me? It's what can I do for you that I think is very important? I see myself as an encourager. Okay, I may have opened the door, but you're the one who went through it. And I like to encourage people. And it was interesting. I heard a definition recently that really helped, and it talked about encourager, and it said, what an encourager does is to put courage into people.
[0:19:17] Brad Rex: In courage. The whole idea, again, from the ancient text, be strong and of good courage. Okay. We're always being urged, take it on, go for it, make it happen. And you need encouragers to do that, to give you the courage to accomplish what is innately within you. Unfortunately, too often in society, it's the opposite. It's discouragers. I feel sad to see, in many cases, now we're seeing so many people being discouraged by social media and other things that they're not achieving their full potential because they look at other people's highlight reels and say, well, my life could never be like that.
[0:20:12] Brad Rex: I won't even try. And that's very sad. They need encouragers around them.
[0:20:17] Betsy Jordyn: You seem like one of these unicorn type of CEOs who's got the depth of conviction of caring about other people and actually really wanting to do right by the organization. You don't seem to be at all driven just by power or the superficial type of things. And it seems like you've always been that kind of person. Where did that come from? Where does your foundation around how I see people and really wanting to do what's right by the organization? Like you're the total Jim Collins level five leader. Did you develop into that kind of leader, or has that always been you? Where does this come from?
[0:20:55] Brad Rex: Well, I think if I go back, I was very fortunate to be in a stable, two parent family, very kind of loving parents, and kind of had that unconditional love to begin with, but also parents who pushed me a lot. And so I think I kind of learned that, started to model that. I've always been interested in leadership. I don't know why in particular. Well, I know part of it is when you look at your entire life I was bullied extensively growing up, and I think because of that, that gave me two things. One, kind of rooting for the underdog, because when I was bullied myself, it's kind of like I see other people like that, but then also a resiliency to overcome obstacles.
[0:21:53] Brad Rex: And that's what's really required in leadership, and particularly being a CEO, you have to be able to keep moving ahead and encourage yourself as well as encouraging the people around you. I think that was important. And then I just had incredible training. I mean, going the Naval Academy, there's no better school in the world for leadership, getting at a very young age, running a nuclear reactor when I'm 23, 24 years old, I mean, how many people get to do that and being on a nuclear submarine.
[0:22:29] Brad Rex: So all those things kind of come together and you get to see how you want to treat people and how you want to do things. I think many leaders look at it and are fearful or don't take steps because they're concerned much more about money or status or power or whatever. And really what you see is if you aren't concerned about those things, if you're concerned about your people, if you're concerned about your customers, if you're concerned about doing the right thing, all the other things come.
[0:23:08] Brad Rex: And so it's where your priorities. But I sadly see a lot of folks like that, and we've seen a lot of business failures and everything else and companies that flame out. And I've certainly seen it in the mental health industry where people who invest put in tons of money, didn't spend it well, didn't focus on the right things, and they're by the wayside now. So we always try to do the right things the right way.
[0:23:44] Betsy Jordyn: So it sounds like you have a combination from your background then, and so it sounds like you had good modeling and good experiences from your parents and being a leader on a nuclear reactor, big opportunities, lots of training. But then your heart and your sensitivity to people was mellowed out by the fact that you were bullied and that you see the underdogs. Like you don't want anybody to feel like that, and you want to help them become more resilient. So those things kind of come together.
[0:24:10] Betsy Jordyn: You're also very insightful, just in so many different things. Part of the reason why, a big reason why I was like, I have to have you on the podcast is your insight into that relationship between executives and consultants. You've always leveraged me in so many different ways. And we had a conversation several years ago when I was doing this little research project, when I was retiring from consulting and moving into the business I have now. I'm like, hey, I'm going to ask my former clients why they hire consultants and coaches.
[0:24:37] Betsy Jordyn: And I remember in this conversation all these times that you leveraged me as a consultant, I always thought it's like, oh, it's because my OD background, my Disney background. And you're like, no, that's not it at all. Do you remember that conversation that we had and what you said?
[0:24:52] Brad Rex: Well, I think a lot of people believe that consultants are brought in to improve the economics or the operations or whatever of the business. Okay. And the reality is, and I'd learned this being a CEO and other roles, and just looking at how CEOs operated that I worked for, really a lot of the reason is more political and it's more to bring somebody in. In many cases, the CEO knows what they want to do, but they want the blessing of an outside consultant in doing it.
[0:25:36] Brad Rex: Even I mentioned when I got laid off at Hilton, well, when I was brought in, they said, well, this is what the consultant said to do that to remove if you had EVP in your title, then they removed everybody who had EVP in their title. You just look at that. I think there's a courage issue there, as opposed to saying directly, well, Brad, we just can't afford you anymore and we need to let you go. It's kind of, well, the consultant said we should do this, but any CEO out there kind of knows if they've been around the block.
[0:26:24] Brad Rex: For example, if you take over in a new company, one of the first things most CEOs are going to do is say, I want to bring in a consultant to look at the organization, and there's a couple of reasons they do that. One, they do want to get an outside perspective. They may have their own thoughts or whatever, but it's always good to have somebody to bounce things off of. But it also frankly buys time.
[0:26:49] Brad Rex: And the board says, oh, this CEO is great, he's bringing in a consultant. That's a great idea. And then the CEO can say, well the consultants told me it's going to take fill in the blank 90 days, 180 days, whatever, for them to go in, do their analysis, provide their report. And so it gives the CEO breathing time with the board to say, well, I'll report out in six months based on what I learned from the consultant.
[0:27:18] Betsy Jordyn: Is this conscious in the CEO's mind or is it subconscious?
[0:27:24] Brad Rex: Most experienced CEOs, it's pretty conscious.
[0:27:29] Betsy Jordyn: So they know like, okay, we're going to bring in the consultant, they're going to buy me time, it's going to help me manage all these different people and I'm going to get validation. Or are they ready for the difference of opinion? If the consultant comes back and says.
[0:27:43] Brad Rex: Absolutely, hopefully it's not just a paper exercise and hopefully they're going to point out some things that the CEO may have missed. But if the consultant is running the business really and making all the decisions, then you probably need a different CEO. But definitely if you're going to bring in, I appreciate it with you Betsy, you would be able to take a lot of my ideas and synthesize them down and make them much simpler, easier to understand.
[0:28:19] Brad Rex: And so it's a huge value that consultants bring in, doing that sort of thing. And again, just being a sounding board because one of the things you find out when you're the CEO is I used to say when I became the head of Epcot, all of a sudden my jokes got a lot funnier.
[0:28:38] Betsy Jordyn: Oh, you're so funny Brad. Oh my gosh.
[0:28:47] Brad Rex: Where trying to get honest feedback is very difficult once you become the CEO. And so a consultant can provide that as well. They can come in and say or they can interview people and kind of give the CEO feedback. This is the way people are really feeling. They may be telling, but this is how they're really feeling. And so it can be very valuable that way. I'd say that the third big area. And as I mentioned, I've been in twelve different industries.
[0:29:19] Brad Rex: So oftentimes if you go into a job and you don't know the industry well, bringing a consultant can help you get up to speed quickly. That can be very valuable as well. So believe me, I'm not saying there's only political reasons. There are other good reasons to bring in consultants. And I've certainly used consultants, I would say in particular in kind of specialized areas. So on things like pricing or revenue management or even guest satisfaction, coming up with the right types of surveys, things like that, there can be very specific needs that you have and you reach out to the experts in it.
[0:30:01] Betsy Jordyn: So I'm hearing four reasons then. So the first reason is, from the political standpoint, if you're new, it buys you some time and space to really look at your organization. The second reason is you're not always getting the right information because people are intimidated to tell you what's really going on. The third is like having somebody sort and organize your ideas and help you bring clarity, like that sounding board.
[0:30:29] Betsy Jordyn: And then it seems like the fourth one is all about when I have a specific need, then you're going to go look for the specific expert. So if I have a problem related to pricing, I want somebody to have a pricing solution. So you want a consultant who's very specific to if I'm struggling with team and getting my team aligned, you want somebody who can solve that problem for you.
[0:30:52] Brad Rex: I think you've nailed it in the first one that you mentioned. I would just also add to that this whole idea of giving you kind of backup for the decisions you've already made. Yeah, well, the consultant agrees with me that we should do this. So then the board, if things don't go right or whatever, you have some backup there to say, well, I wasn't the only one who said the consultant agreed with me.
[0:31:23] Brad Rex: But if it's a good board, they're not going to pay much attention out there. I don't care. You the CEO, you made the decision. But still, in some cases, it can give you some justification or backup.
[0:31:34] Betsy Jordyn: And a good consultant is not just going to agree with the CEO either. I remember one of the engagements in my experience as a consultant, whatever the clients always ask me for at the beginning is usually not correct because either they kind of skip from like, all right, we have a problem. Here's a solution. And they don't necessarily always know what it is or it's because they don't always have the data.
[0:31:55] Betsy Jordyn: Because the other part that you said, and I remember one of the assignments that we worked on together was for that nonprofit where that leader had very big visions for very rapid expansion. And initially you brought me in to help with a strategy session. I'm like, no, I got to wait. I was going to go in and start doing that. I'm like, no, I got to go do the process. I got to incorporate what I know, which is interviewing everybody.
[0:32:19] Betsy Jordyn: And one thing nobody told this leader is all of his crazy big visions was like burning out the entire staff and they would all leave if he continued on with this aggressive thing. And I don't think he ever went back to that aggressive thing is having a consultant and I remember giving him that report. He was a great leader. He was the kind of person that I would give. Him the feedback, he'd take it in, he'd breathe a few seconds, and then he'd walk around the building for a little while, then came back. It's like, okay, tell me a little bit more.
[0:32:48] Betsy Jordyn: And it's like, okay, let's just keep we'll do it like that. And thankfully, he took that advice. But is it just something that the consultant can do to be able to share that difficult feedback? How many CEOs actually really want that difficult feedback? This executive really loved it and changed direction. What's your opinion around having that independent point of view and being able to push back with an executive? Is that important?
[0:33:16] Brad Rex: Well, a good CEO is always going to value that very highly. There are going to be other CEOs who are going to say, we'll go back and rethink it and come to my conclusion that's one place where it's hard as a consultant as well, how hard do you push it and how hard do you tell the emperor that they don't have any clothes? Because consultants are also thinking about, well, I want to get invited back. I want to do more projects, so I don't really want to get the person too upset. So it's a fine balance there.
[0:33:54] Brad Rex: But as I say, a good CEO should always be listening and then should go out and validate it on his or her own. I'm a huge believer. You got to get on the front line. So listen in on calls, and if they're saying, we're providing lousy customer service, well, listen to the recordings on the calls. That's the best way. I tell CEOs, go be the receptionist in your organization for a day. You'll learn a lot more than you're going to learn in any kind of staff meetings with your executives, and you're going to find out if you're really doing it well or not, what people are complaining about and all the rest.
[0:34:37] Brad Rex: You should definitely validate that and be open and admit the weaknesses in your organization. I always like to use the phrase, I can't fix it if I don't know about it, right? And so I encourage people to come to me and tell me about problems, tell me about issues. Don't sweep it under the rug because I want to be able to fix it. Now, frankly, there are other CEOs out there who are kind of la la la la. I don't want to know about it.
[0:35:12] Brad Rex: And those are the ones who usually don't last very long. But the good CEOs are out there testing their organization, and it goes back to what we were talking about earlier. How is your organization going to reach its full potential? You got to remove the barriers. You got to find out what's going wrong. You got to fix things. In one of my talks I talk about back in 2008, believe it or not, in the presidential election, there was a Saturday Night Live actor, and they would set up these debates and everything, and this actor would come in and he'd say, fix it.
[0:35:56] Betsy Jordyn: Fix it.
[0:35:57] Brad Rex: Just fix it. That's what I tell people. They're saying to the CEO, fix it. Find out the problem and fix it. If a consultant can help you to find those problems and help you fix them, then that's hugely valuable.
[0:36:15] Betsy Jordyn: So were you at Upcot when we did the Forwards of Basics project at Disney?
[0:36:20] Brad Rex: Yes.
[0:36:22] Betsy Jordyn: So one of the things that I would say now, in retrospect, after we had that conversation five years ago, I evaluated my entire career. And that particular project really highlighted for me, like, my biggest contribution. And it really wasn't the project plans that I did later. It wasn't all the meetings I led. It was how I got a whole group of executives in operations, all independent, bunch of cats trying to herd them. And I got all of them within a week to get on the same page, to say, hey, we're willing to get rid of what we're doing at the park level or at the resort level, at the line of business level, and how we're doing the guests and the cast experience, and we're willing to come together and do it all together.
[0:37:03] Betsy Jordyn: And it was because of the stakeholder management stuff that I did. I interviewed every single one of the team members and identified the through line and presented that and everybody bought into it. That, to me, seems to be the biggest value that I could have ever brought to the table. Would you say that that's accurate? When I look back at all the different projects I did, all the design process leadership I did, all the assessment reports that I did, everything that I did that was more valuable than anything else I've ever done in my career?
[0:37:33] Brad Rex: Well, what I recall very vividly from that was we had a full day work session in one of the large ballrooms at Disney, and we were all at different tables. And I think we were split up by our teams or whatever, but they had given us the large sticky notes, the full page sticky notes, and they said, list on here all the initiatives that you're doing in your organization and then put them up on the wall.
[0:38:04] Brad Rex: And so literally, by the end of that time, you looked across this massive ballroom and all the walls were covered with these yellow postage sheets with all the initiatives that everybody was doing. And I don't know if it was you or the executive, whoever in charge said, this is why we aren't accomplishing anything, because we got all these different initiatives going on and nobody knows what's important, no one knows what they should be focused on.
[0:38:42] Brad Rex: It's just a mess. And that was, I think, the huge AHA moment for most all of us. And that was where the value came, where it was, okay, let's figure out the basics. Let's figure out the things we're going to teach people. And we came down to the four basics. We said we're all going to be consistent in this, we're going to roll it out across the organization. It really brought people together. People were extremely frustrated because they just were getting bombarded all the time with all these different things.
[0:39:21] Brad Rex: And so basically nothing happened, right? By going the basics we all got on the same page.
[0:39:31] Betsy Jordyn: It seems like though, that there's something that you had said to me. I have it on my YouTube channel. Actually, I captured you when I ran into you at a restaurant one time and you're like, oh, work with Betsy, she can organize all the different ideas. It seems like ultimately as an executive, you love that you have a partner who can organize all your ideas and say this. And it seems like as a consultant and the value you could create for an organization, like everybody's saying all of these different things and having somebody who could organize it all and say, here, this is what you all are dealing with, seems like that framing up is the biggest value that a consultant can actually bring to the table. Both the one on one level and at the collective level, I would say.
[0:40:11] Brad Rex: So I think again, that's hugely valuable because then that's something that the executive can communicate easily to the organization. It's all about communication. And that's why companies that have very short, powerful visions and are able to put that through the entire organization simply and easily, where everybody understands those on the same page, can rally around that and know how to act in any given situation.
[0:40:47] Brad Rex: So yes, there can be absolutely huge value in that. It's not easy to do. And I would say in particular, it's not easy to make it specific to the organization. Unfortunately, you see a lot of times with consultants, they come in and basically they try to apply the same book to every company they're working with, right? So there's no differentiation. It's very vanilla. It's not specific. What is our lane, what are we going to be in?
[0:41:22] Brad Rex: And the value of a vision is really it tells you what you're not going to do. And so I think a lot of times a consultant can add a lot of value by stripping away all the things we're not going to do. Like in the example of the basics here's all we're not going to do because we're going to do these things and we're going to do them really well. Because this is the most important for our strategy, for our future, for our customers, for our employees.
[0:41:53] Brad Rex: Somebody who can come in and really strip away the nonessentials and get down to the essence and then be able to communicate it simply. That's a lot of value.
[0:42:03] Betsy Jordyn: So some of the things that we've been talking about, about the value that a consultant can bring to the table are these some of the phraseologies that would have got your attention, like if somebody put that on their website of saying, hey, work with me. What makes me different is I bring this outside perspective. I could help validate your ideas. I could help bring your singing, your team onto alignment.
[0:42:24] Betsy Jordyn: I could help you get more clarity on your thoughts so you could clearly see a course of action. Would these kind of marketing phrases speak to you and make that consultant stand out compared to others?
[0:42:36] Brad Rex: I think so. And I think when you can actually back it up with examples and I'm not saying a full case study, but for each of the phrases that you just mentioned, let me give you an example, let me show you how I was able to do this. And then what are the benefits? How did it pay off in whatever metric you're trying to measure? So obviously financial is going to be very key, but it can also be customer satisfaction, employee retention, things like that, too.
[0:43:09] Betsy Jordyn: Yeah. So it's really talking about the unique value that you're bringing to the table that the executive doesn't have and then showing more like illustratively wise, this is how it works out. And here's the results, here's the outcomes that you could expect because you're not going to buy my five step methodology about whatever. I didn't even realize all these years, you never even really cared that I have a Master's in OD, like ever.
[0:43:33] Betsy Jordyn: That doesn't matter. My certifications don't matter. My five step process, my consulting engagement cycle, none of that matters. It's more along the lines of like, here's the unique things I could do, here's the story and here's the value.
[0:43:46] Brad Rex: I agree with that, Betsy. I get people all the time who send me emails, I want to be your executive coach. And I'm just like, I have no interest in you being my executive coach. I mean, if that's what you're offering, that adds very little value to me. Okay. Because for someone, and I don't mean this to sound prideful or anything, but for someone who's had the experience and everything else that I've had, unless you can match that, how are you going to coach me?
[0:44:20] Brad Rex: Right, right. My coaches, frankly, are other CEOs, and we've got a whole kind of group of us, and I can call them up and say, what do you think about this? Because they've been on the front lines, they've done these sorts of things. So what I'm saying is, if you think as a consultant coming in saying, I'm going to be your executive coach is going to be the answer, I don't think that's going to work and I don't think you're going to get many takers.
[0:44:50] Betsy Jordyn: What if I said I'm going to be your sounding board, your thinking partner?
[0:44:57] Brad Rex: I would say so. But again, it even has to be stronger than that and it has to be more of the specifics that you were talking about before. Now, I do want to be very clear on this. I'm kind of talking about higher level CEOs and all that. There are some people who just kind of fell into the business world and they're not business experts or anything else. Maybe they're creative people or whatever. And oftentimes they can benefit from people who have more business experience and things. But if you're really kind of shooting for the people who've been around the block, who have been pretty experienced, you have to up your game an awful lot to really make it attractive to somebody of why they need you and what value you're going to add.
[0:45:48] Brad Rex: Because the other thing that they're going to look at like everybody else time, okay, why should I spend my time with you as opposed to even more than money? Because typically the money is not as big an issue.
[0:46:02] Betsy Jordyn: It's the time that's interesting.
[0:46:04] Brad Rex: How are you going to leverage my time and make it more? And so to your point earlier, when it's spend a little bit of time with me, I'll synthesize simplify, improve your communications of how you're going to share your vision with your team. To me, that would be time well spent. But if it's kind of time to teach me about your business and I'll try to throw in some things to help you or whatever, I'm going to say, look, I have to really see the return on my time investment as a CEO.
[0:46:42] Brad Rex: What's the return on my time investment as opposed to necessarily the return on my monetary investment in you?
[0:46:49] Betsy Jordyn: That's really a powerful distinction because that's really what we're supposed to be there for then is to maximize your time, help you get to where you want to get to faster, better, smarter. And the money thing is not as important. If I say, oh, you're going to get double digit growth, it's like, well, I already know how to do that. But it's like, how are you going to help me get there faster with more clarity in my mind and make my time go better?
[0:47:10] Betsy Jordyn: That's very different.
[0:47:12] Brad Rex: Yeah. And you see, executives will hire people to help on time. And what's going to save me time? You look at what will a CEO typically hire people to do it's, to do any of the things that obviously a CEO is going to hire somebody to do their lawn, right? They're going to hire somebody what are the things that they and if they can hire somebody and you can come in and offer and say, this is how by hiring me, you're going to get more time back to focus on what to you are going to be more important things, then that's great. But if you come in and say, well, I want to meet with you every week for 4 hours and we're going to do this and blah, blah, blah, I mean, you're probably not going to get a great reception.
[0:48:05] Betsy Jordyn: What about having a coach who has, like, a specific area? So let's say you're somebody who you're a great CEO, but you're not that great at delivering the town hall kind of speeches that you need to engage your employees. Would you hire a speaking coach for those types of things or a strategist or something to stand out? If you're an executive coach, don't be a generic executive leadership coach. Be an executive leadership coach, maybe for an emerging leader or focus like that, or take a coaching position where it's like you're going to train or equip an executive in an area, a very specific area that they may have identified that may be on their growth opportunity, but not be so generic.
[0:48:48] Brad Rex: Absolutely. That's completely right. I know of many executives who have hired speech coaches. Well, it's kind of like people who go to do a Ted Talk. You almost always hire someone to help you to do the Ted Talk well because people are experts in that. So absolutely there are certain distinct areas that you can focus on. But you're exactly right, being that kind of generic executive coach and come meet with me for a couple of hours every week and I'll give you my wisdom or whatever, that's not going to be attractive to too many people.
[0:49:28] Betsy Jordyn: What kind of label would you put on for me on what I did for you in helping you organize your thoughts and your ideas and help you streamline the plans? Like, what would you call that type of consultant or coach?
[0:49:41] Brad Rex: Yeah, that's an interesting question. I don't know if I could come up with a label immediately off the bat, but that whole idea of taking complex ideas I think I said this to you one time. You're somehow able to pick the ideas out of my brain and say them better than I can say them myself. I don't know what the label for that is exactly, but that's kind of what you're able to do. And I'll even give you an example. During this podcast when you went through and I was signed about consultants and you said, so here are the four reasons why you want to use a consultant.
[0:50:21] Brad Rex: I mean, you synthesized everything I had said and said, boom, boom, boom, boom. And in something that's memorable and easy and that has a lot of value, you can think about the other way. Well, so what you're really saying, Brad, is this and you've synthesized it and made it simple and easy for people to remember. So that has value. And again, I don't know offhand how I would label that, but I'm sure you'll take it right out of my brain and tell me what it should be. Now, Betsy. Right.
[0:50:56] Betsy Jordyn: I'm an executive messaging expert or I don't know right now. It's so interesting that you say that because that's the essence of what I do now, even though I don't consult with organizations. I do brand messaging and positioning now with clients, and that's literally what everybody says. The same skill set is over here. So similar as you are maximizer, always achieving the high potential no matter where you go, I do the same thing no matter where I go is. I'm always like organizing ideas and putting some categories around it. So I don't know if it's like a messaging strategist.
[0:51:29] Betsy Jordyn: I wish I would have known what I learned from you back when I was first starting my consulting business, because I might have leaned into that more and saying, work with me, and I'm going to help you sort and organize your ideas into some sort of actionable. I'm going to create a return on your thinking time, return on your messaging time, because that's the stuff that I would want to do. But a lot of people shy away, so that's my superpowers. I don't know if it's everybody else's.
[0:51:54] Betsy Jordyn: Are there other strengths? Like, I know you lean on our colleague Joni a lot, and I doubt it's just simply because of her products and services. There's something about Joni. What is it about the way she thinks that you've leveraged her time and time again? I know you've leveraged her in every role. There's something about what she's bringing to the table that you don't have. What is it about her?
[0:52:14] Brad Rex: Well, in that case, it's a little bit like we talked about earlier expertise. I mean, she is an expert in multiple areas, or she's brought in experts, but revenue management and packaging pricing. So that's one area. The whole customer surveying, she taught me things about. Well, the order you ask the questions is going to change the outcome of the survey. Okay. I never thought about that, and I thought we just throw ten questions on and it doesn't make any difference.
[0:52:48] Brad Rex: So she has taught me from her different skills, different things, that if I really wanted to get a good survey that gave me accurate information, I would go to her to do it because there's a whole lot of expertise there that I have no idea and no one on my team would likely have.
[0:53:14] Betsy Jordyn: So that's the key expertise that you don't have in house?
[0:53:19] Brad Rex: Sure.
[0:53:20] Betsy Jordyn: So if you're a consultant or coach and you're listening in and you want to go after an organization and they already have a team, you're going to be competing with the internal team. But where there's a market opportunity is where you don't have it in house. So you wouldn't necessarily turn to a consultant to help you with your HR strategy because you probably already have an HR person, but you don't have a full time pricing person or revenue person or customer service person.
[0:53:46] Betsy Jordyn: So it's like that's where the opening is.
[0:53:49] Brad Rex: Yeah, absolutely. So when I was at Appcot, for example, I had a communications manager. If a consultant came in and said, I'll do your communications for you. I'd say, why? I've got a communications manager. You got to find what they're lacking and then fill that gap and obviously do it. In my current company, we outsource everything we possibly can, okay. Because one of the things I've learned over time is only in source the things that you can do better than anybody else.
[0:54:28] Brad Rex: The opportunity for consultants is to be that outsourced service that the company needs. I mean, if you look at it, why do a lot of companies hire consulting firms like McKinsey? Well, they don't have a strategic group to do that kind of work. And so they want to bring in a group that is expert in it and that has all the MBAs and all the rest, because for them to go out and create that, it wouldn't make any sense.
[0:55:03] Brad Rex: So picking your lane and picking and I think you're exactly right. I mean, if you're going out there to find different jobs to do, being able to say, I've looked at your company, I've looked at your organization, here are specific things that I can bring to you that you don't have today. I did a consulting gig. I was a consultant for a period of time after hilton. And for example, there was a theme park company that I consulted for that.
[0:55:38] Brad Rex: I did a timeshare project, okay. Because they didn't know anything about timeshare. Obviously, I'd been in the timeshare industry, so I showed them how they could incorporate timeshare into their offering. It made perfect sense for them to bring me in to do that because they're not going to go out and hire somebody from the timeshare industry if they don't even know if they're going to go into that industry at the end of the day anyway.
[0:56:03] Brad Rex: So what do you specifically bring? But I went to them and said, I can show you how to do this because you're not in it now, but some of your competitors are, and they're doing very well with it. So have you ever thought about that before and did that?
[0:56:22] Betsy Jordyn: So it sounds like if somebody's going to tap into a CEO like you and work with somebody at your level and with your character and the way that you think about things, it seems like the first thing is what motivates you every day. If I were researching Brad rex, I would find your book and I'd read your book and say, okay, brad's all about maximizing, restoring something to what its fullest potential could be, restoring it from here and taking it over here. That's what motivates and drives him.
[0:56:50] Betsy Jordyn: And what also he would be looking for is he does not want to have duplicative effort. He wants complementary stuff, people who are going to help maximize his time. So look at your organization and look at what you already have and what you don't have and where there's a unique need rather than being this generic person saying, hey, this is what I do, or I just want to help create these workplaces where everybody could show up and do their best work. You'd be like, I think you probably would ignore that message all the way around.
[0:57:18] Betsy Jordyn: That would not spark your interest. But if I said, hey, I could get in there, let me maximize your time, get everybody on the same page faster so that you can accelerate the achievement of your goals in a way where you're clear and give you focus that might speak to you more.
[0:57:32] Brad Rex: Yeah, absolutely. I think every CEO out there is looking for how to optimize your organization, how to grow your business, how to get the most out of your people. There's a lot of common themes out there, but I wouldn't pick all those. I'd pick some of them and say, this is what I can do for you.
[0:57:59] Betsy Jordyn: This is the problem I could help you solve. It's not even like, this is what I want to do. This is your problem that I want to help you solve faster, smarter, better.
[0:58:07] Brad Rex: And there's so much good information out there. So for example, you could go on Glass Door and find out what are the companies that have terrible employee engagement and have terrible reviews by their employees and things like that. And you could say, hey, I've looked at this and here's where I can come in and help you to fix this specifically. And so I would say leverage the information that's out there today on different companies and say, here's what I can do specifically for you because I've noticed it can be an issue for you.
[0:58:44] Brad Rex: Now, if they say, we don't really care what the employees think, then.
[0:58:50] Betsy Jordyn: They may not be a fish and then.
[0:58:52] Brad Rex: Walk somewhere and say, you're not going to be around anyway, so I probably wouldn't get paid. But you can take some of the public information out there and then use it to your benefit to figure out where the holes are and how you can go fill them.
[0:59:09] Betsy Jordyn: I think that if I'm going to summarize what we talked about today, it's like, first off, there's something that's very specific about the way you look at leadership and where your leadership comes from. And you're all about service and you're all about optimizing for fullest potential. And a good CEO is going to be looking for something like that, that they're going to actually care about their constituents, they're going to care about the customers, they're going to care about the employees, they're going to care about the whole thing and they want to do right and they want to get help. And if you're a consultant who's going to come alongside, you want to help that executive achieve that type of goal in a faster, smarter, better way.
[0:59:47] Betsy Jordyn: You're not there to sell all your methodologies or your credentials. You're there to come alongside and help the leader themselves, like organize the thoughts and ideas. Get the team on the same page, including the board, who might have expectations. Everybody gets on the same page, help frame up the problems for the executives so that they could solve it, because ultimately they're motivated to solve and look for the unique openings where if they have it on house, they're not going to go to you because otherwise they'll just piss off the person who's in house anyway.
[1:00:18] Betsy Jordyn: Go for something else. If you want to have an expertise that a company won't have, then you might need to go after a smaller company versus a larger like Joni wouldn't go to large organizations necessarily that already have a robust insights team like we used to have at Disney. She'd probably go somewhere else. And that seems to be like the secret recipes. Is there anything else that's missing out of this conversation that we just discussed?
[1:00:43] Brad Rex: No. One final thing I'd suggest thinking about is I always like to say the ideal CEO or even executive in general is going to be a strategic thinker and a tactical implementer where they can do both. Okay? Unfortunately, that's very rare. So most of the times you're going to find somebody who's the strategic thinker, who has the big vision, the big idea, here's what we're going to do and all that, or they're going to be the tactical implementer, which is they make the trains run on time.
[1:01:22] Brad Rex: A good example is obviously Tim Cook at Apple. Okay. He was the tactical implementer or viewed by everybody as a tactical implementer, while Steve Jobs was the big strategic thinker. Now, a lot of people said, well, Tim Cook is going to fail because he can't do the big thinking like Steve Jobs did. Well, fortunately, he is not, and he's proven he can be both, but oftentimes that's going to be missing.
[1:01:51] Brad Rex: So where I'm heading with this is as you're the consultant, looking at it. If you're looking at the CEO or other executives and saying, okay, does this person have both strategic thinking and tactical implementer, or one or the other? If they're the strategic thinker, I'll come in and present as the tactical implementer.
[1:02:11] Betsy Jordyn: Right?
[1:02:12] Brad Rex: If they're the tactical implementer, I'll go in and present as the strategic thinker. That's a good way to kind of think about your overall broad approach. How are you going to go in or how are you going to target specific CEOs or companies that you want to go after?
[1:02:29] Betsy Jordyn: Well, and also be clear, like, I'm not a tactical implementer. Whenever I get into the tactical implementation, I start being less effective. I'm more the strategic side. So I wouldn't necessarily want to flip flop because I'm not necessarily going to be in my zone of genius. And you probably would never hire me as a tactical implementer. You're going to hire me for the strategic stuff. So it's kind of like, know yourself and know your audience and be more specific. Around how you're going after it.
[1:02:56] Brad Rex: And so what you would probably want to do is look for a CEO who's more of a tactical implementer and offer your services as the strategic thinker yeah.
[1:03:06] Betsy Jordyn: Or help them organize or the other way around. But I think it's all about being clear. Like, don't be generic. Be clear on who you're targeting. Really understand how they tick, what motivates them as a leader, what motivates the organization, and really be more precise that's a lot of the work I do as a branding strategist and a messaging person with my clients is helping them really pinpoint, like, what's the size organization? What's the makeup of that executive, and where's the unique opening in the market?
[1:03:35] Betsy Jordyn: And go for those things rather than just trying to be this generic consultant and be all things to all people because you can't. Maybe that worked for Paul, that he could be all things to all people so he could save some, but that's not going to work from a marketing standpoint in a way to connect with executives.
[1:03:49] Brad Rex: Exactly.
[1:03:51] Betsy Jordyn: So is there anything else that you would want to tell me about leadership, about having a surpassing life? Anything about consultants, coaches, and I'm just not asking you the right question.
[1:04:02] Brad Rex: I think we've covered most of it, Betsy.
[1:04:04] Betsy Jordyn: Okay. All right.
[1:04:07] Brad Rex: All the wisdom I have to give, I've given you. It's been wonderful being with you, and I love what you're doing to try to increase the potential or raise the potential for the consultants who you're advising. So that's wonderful. And then they can go out and leverage that with all their clients.
[1:04:28] Betsy Jordyn: Awesome. Thank you so much for being here, Brad. And for those who are listening, I'll see you next time. Thank you for tuning in. If today's episode lit a fire on you, please rate and review Enough Already on Apple podcast or subscribe. Wherever you listen, and if you're looking for your next step, visit me on my website at betsyjordyn.com. And it's Betsy Jordyn with a Y, and you'll learn all about our end to end services that are custom designed to accelerate your success.
[1:04:54] Betsy Jordyn: Don't wait, start today.
[1:04:59] Brad Rex: You on.