Grow Through Adversity

Episode 999: Grow Through Adversity, with Brett Gilliland

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Grow through adversity—Discover resilience’s power in overcoming challenges and turning setbacks into opportunities. Let’s grow through adversity!

Grow through adversityBrett Gilliland is Founder and CEO of Elite Entrepreneurs, a company that specializes in giving $1M+ business owners the knowledge, processes, and tools to grow to $10M and beyond. Brett is an expert in organization development, leadership, and strategy and spent 10 years helping Infusionsoft grow from $7M in revenue to over $100M. Brett was involved in the foundational work of Purpose, Values, and Mission at Infusionsoft and facilitated the strategic planning process for many years.

One of Brett’s favorite professional accomplishments is co-creating Infusionsoft’s Elite Forum along with Clate Mask and building the Elite business inside of Infusionsoft. As the leader of the Elite business, Brett has helped hundreds of struggling seven-figure business owners overcome their biggest challenges and achieve new levels of success. He also played a central role in the development of Infusionsoft’s Leadership Model and was serving as the VP of Leadership Development when the decision was made to spin the Elite business out of Infusionsoft. As the new owner of Elite Entrepreneurs, Brett can’t think of anything else he’d rather be doing professionally. When Brett isn’t busy helping $1M+ businesses succeed, he is a family man who enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, Sharon, and their 8 children.

Join Brett and Casey Graham, from Gravy Solutions, for a free “un-webinar” on April 21st at 3 pm ET/12 pm PT for business owners who are looking for the skills, knowledge, and tools needed to grow to 8 figures in revenue…and beyond.


What you’ll learn in this episode is about how to grow through adversity: 

  • Why the big lesson to learn from 2020 is that we always need to be ready to respond to change and adapt to the unknown so that we can continue to grow through adversity
  • How Brett saw that “small business owners” and “entrepreneurs” approached the challenges of 2020 with very different mindsets and achieved very different results
  • Why the outbreak of the global pandemic proved that “the best leaders build the best businesses, and the best businesses win every time, in any situation”
  • Why strengthening your relationship with your clients and your team is a powerful strategy for growing through adversity and becoming stronger as a business
  • Brett shares how a brick-and-mortar music education business strategically engaged their community and found new ways to connect to a broader audience during the lockdown
  • Why offering stability to your team through your leadership is crucial during chaotic times, and why great leaders rise to the challenge
  • Why reflecting on the last year is a crucial step to ensure that we keep our gains and don’t lose the progress we’ve made through the difficulties
  • How intentionality, structure and processes can help bring your team closer together and help you become more nimble and effective as an organization
  • Why adversity can actually make our businesses stronger, and why easy times can cause our “business muscles” to atrophy
  • Brett discusses the Elite Ignition program and how it can teach anyone looking to shift from entrepreneur to capable business leader


Additional Resources:



Grow Through Adversity: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host, Stephen Woessner.


Good morning. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and your host for Onward Nation. Thanks for coming back for today’s episode. Almost exactly this kind of crazy. When I think about it, almost exactly one year ago to the day, Brett Gilliland, CEO of Elite Entrepreneurs, was our guest. He shared his insights and wisdom about how business owners could and should lead through the chaos to lead through the crisis. It was an impactful discussion. And I know the lessons that Brett shared back in episode 929 were helpful, and they were helpful when we needed at the most. 


So now I have invited Brett back for another conversation. This time, he and I are going to get at it. We’re going to do what, well — let’s call it a year in review. So I’m going to ask Brett to share his insights around where he thinks leaders scored some wins, were they scored some losses, and what he thinks or some of the aha moments along the way. So, I’ve asked Brett to share his thoughts about the year in review because of his unique lens. So, if you’re learning about Brett for the first time, let me tell you more about what I mean. Brett his company Elite Entrepreneurs is a community of seven-figure business owners who are looking to scale to eight figures and beyond Brett and his team work alongside their members in the trenches, Onward Nation, through a myriad of leadership and business growth challenges. 


And the results are impressive to say the least now in full transparency, Predictive ROI is a member of this community. So we have experienced firsthand how amazing the support from Brett, his team, and fellow community members is. Okay. So because of the role that Brett and his team play, he has seen behind the curtain. As you know, I like to say behind the curtain to know all of our companies, he has seen the wins, he has seen the losses. He knows how we’re doing. He has listened. He has advised and candidly, sometimes, he has been a shoulder for us to cry on to. So his lens is going to be super helpful to you also, let’s say your business isn’t quite to seven figures. So, this is what Brett shares in this conversation. Is that going to be helpful to you? Yes. 


And here’s why, but it also works alongside business owners who have set seven figures as their goal, and they wanna plan to get there. So, no matter where your business is currently at its growth path or his growth path, this we’ll be a helpful conversation. Okay. And lastly, but not least, there are still some choppy waters out there, Onward Nation. We still have some big challenges that we as leaders, have to address our vigilance, and our attentiveness. It can not wait because we’re still, yes, that’s great. 


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: Brett’s Introduction


We see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there are still things that need to be addressed. So here again, Brett, and I will talk through what leaders need to do in order to continue moving forward in gaining momentum. So without further ado, welcome back to Onward Nation. My friend. Thanks for joining us again, Brett. 


Yeah. Super thrilled to be here. It’s always an honor. As the service you provide to your audience, Stephen is stellar and I’m just excited to be a part of it. So, whatever we can do to share today will be fun and awesome. 


Well, thanks again for your generosity and your willingness to share your insights and wisdom with our community. You’re always very, very generous in that sense. So thank you. So before we, we go in like maybe eye level and some of the very specific like wins and losses and ah-has that you would have seen within the community. Let’s go high-level. So if you were to give us kind of a Brett year in review at a high level first, what are some of the things that come to mind as you think about that? 


So one of the things that come to mind for me is I think about the year end review is a big lesson. That’s kind of stating the obvious is that even if we think we know what could happen in our businesses, we don’t always know what might happen right. There, there is an unknown and the better prepared we are to respond, to changes and bring a team together in a powerful way to figure out what just happened and what steps you’re going to make forward in to move together as one team, the better we’re going to be able to handle the unknown. So I saw some of the best businesses out there led by people who stepped up in their leadership to bring people together in a new way. 


And I don’t mean like virtually because now we all meet with each other and be a Zoom and use other technology. I mean, they brought them together at a more powerful way to solve problems together. And that was, that was really powerful. So number one, I would say that good leadership is good leadership in good times or bad times. Right? And I saw people who really figure it out, figure out how to do that in a better way over the last year. Another thing that I saw was that unfortunately, some business owners in the U.S. and I hope, I wouldn’t think this of you, but some business owners just sort of sat and waited to see what would happen. 


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: Navigating Business Strategies Amidst Uncertainty


How to grow through adversity? They kind of sat on the sidelines, and we’re hoping to wait it out. And I saw a lot of businesses really suffer as a result of that have taken that kind of stance on the flip side of that. And you were really big in sharing this message with your audience. I saw a lot of people and I think the phrase you use a lot was the devil down. I was like, let’s figure out how we can innovate, see, and take advantage of new opportunities to come out of this thing on the other side, stronger than before, kind of a thing. And I heard you as being a powerful voice for that. So I know your community is not unfamiliar with that kind of idea. 


But, I did watch that first-hand with lots of people. So the distinction between small business owners and entrepreneurs became way more and more distinct. It was way more visible. It’s like we could see it. Some people felt more in the camp of I’m a small business owner and I just do my best to run the business. How I know it today, while the entrepreneurs look for sought-out opportunities and really made adjustments that allowed them to not only survive during the pandemic but in some cases have record-breaking years for their businesses. 


So I saw both. And then I guess the last thing I would say is that I saw people. And when I say people, business owners, leaders, I see the most effective business owners and leaders get closer to two audiences. They got closer to their customers, their people, and their team. That was the only way to really handle what took place last year. So those are probably some of the overarching things that just come to the top of mind. I don’t know if I babbled on too much with that, but that’s when it comes to mind, Stephen. 


No, that’s great. And it also starts to, to really show this lens that you’re looking through to not just your community, but of, of seven-figure business owners, which is a great community, but also just how you have your pulse on what’s going on and in the broader market, broader industry. Okay. So let’s start to break some of that down and let’s start with maybe the, the closer to customers and closer to our team and the reason why I would like for us to go there first, and then we’ll also kind of put these into some buckets of When losses and aha’s. But this seems to be a big one because, and I can see you’re, you’re wearing one of my favorites T-shirts that you gave to me.


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: Strengthening Relationships for Business Success


But I love this T-shirt that you have with this motto on it. And so if somebody was just listening, if you, can you give us that motto? When you say clear to customers or excuse me, closer to customers, closer to the team, I immediately thought of that quote. Can you share that in the lesson for me? 


Really the quote was sort of born out of that time in our business, where I just realized, and it may have been after talking with you one day. Still, I started sharing it and I bet it was around the pandemic, but the best leaders build the best businesses and the best businesses. When that’s the quote, Stephen talks about the front of my shirt, and says the best leaders build the best businesses. The back says the best businesses win. And I think it was before the pandemic, but the pandemic really brought that up. And I could even add up a kind of an exclamation point in two words, the best leaders build the best businesses and the best businesses win every time, right? 


Learn how to grow through adversity. In any situation, I guess, there are three words in any situation, because whether we’re in a pandemic or not, It’s really well-built. And well-run businesses that produce extraordinary results in a pandemic that may be just enough to keep us alive. If we’re in certain industries like restaurants or travel or live events where people gather in large, in large gatherings, I’m the best business is the best leader. I figured out how to make adjustments to keep themselves afloat. And in some cases, they innovated in ways that transformed their business together and took them into a new direction. 


But that was in contrast to some of those other businesses that we referenced earlier where they were just small business owners and kind of sidelined themselves and hunkered down and sort of crossed their fingers and waited to see what would happen. And they are, and in some cases, they didn’t make it, or they’re on life support still ’cause they just kind of limping along. 


Okay. So then, let me give that back to you to take the quote and tie it into this piece, have closer to customers and closer to the team. So it sounds like if I’m tracking with you, when you said the best leaders build the best businesses, the best businesses, when, and then you added with exclamation every time, any situation. So that makes me think, okay, one of my first step to winning him, is to develop even closer relationships. Maybe I think I have close relationships with clients, and customers now, and doubling down and being even closer with my team, through quarterly reviews. How can I help them level up their skills? 


Like those types of things. If I’m really living the motto on a shirt like starting with and customers, and my team is probably one of the first places, right? 


Grow through adversity in pandemic times: Yeah. We talked about earlier in the pandemic, we shared an idea that a good friend of mine named Tyler Norton to talk to our Elite momentum community about it. And this is the idea of relevance. And as soon as the pandemic hit on all spending sort of just dried up, right, it was like everybody put their arms around their money figuratively, and just said, I need to make sure that I know what’s going to happen. So they were just wanting to make sure that they were gonna protect what they had. And everybody, all of us had to go out there and sort of re-earn the ability for our customers to see us as relevant, right? 


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: Adapting to Survive


How to grow through adversity? They were going to scrutinize every penny that they were spending. So we had to get really close to customers. I know you did this as well, but, as soon as the pandemic hit, we kind of went heads down and we started to really get close to our current customers to see how to help. And we just started sharing as much information externally as well with the broader community of business owners around leadership in changing times around money, right? This is around cash or how to preserve it, and how to generate cash. So, we were trying to help businesses of all kinds, figure out that the leadership during changing times and the cash flow challenges that everybody who was experiencing, and it turned out to be really relevant for our customers end and for other people out there and the small business world in general. 


So, the best leaders figure it out. We got to get out there and surf, and that meant getting closer to our current customers is which meant serving as a broader audience of whoever needed help from us. We were gonna be sure they can see here’s a place that you can go to get the help you need right now. And so I think all the best leaders that we know did a similar exercise, and their respective areas, businesses, and markets, but it was the way that we made sure that what people needed, we were serving up. Yeah. 


Strategies on how to grow through adversity: And you certainly lived that in full transparency. What does the expression talk about? The talk, the walk, or whatever that is, because, like immediately you created a Resource section and then it was weekly emails. And it was just all of these free resources about PPP, managing cash, etc. So a huge kudos, because as a member of your community, that was extremely helpful and valuable Then we took some of those resources with proper citation of credits of course, and share those with our community. Because I mean, that was, I was an amazing asset, but it is a great example of what to do during a crisis, but also don’t stop it. 


Right. So, now that we’ve gotten closer to our clients and customers, like when I, my assumption is your advice would be, don’t let up on the gas, keep doing that. 


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: How Businesses Thrived Amidst the Pandemic


Right. Yeah. It was sort of like the pandemic invited us to relearn the lesson. We all kind of knew or should know about really being in tune with what customers need the most and staying in, dialed in on that all the time and just amping up our ability to deliver against those needs and expectations. And in good times, I don’t know, maybe we get complacent, we get lazy, but the pandemic forced us to put an eye on that in a way that most of us haven’t had to do before. 


Is it possible to grow through adversity? Yeah. And I totally agree. Let’s go back and think about the kinds of wins and losses. Aha. Buckets that I mentioned during the introduction and going back to one of the things that you said, I’m sure, for our audience size, are really compelling; they may have been stopped in their tracks when you said some members in the community. Ah, some of the business owners that are really close to some of them had record-breaking years or so that’s certainly an easy one to put in the wind bucket. Can you add some additional context around that? Like where are there special circumstances? Like, what do you think were some of the ingredients that, enabled them to have record-breaking years? That’s big. 


We already talked about some of the ingredients, but they got, they got really clear about what their community, their audience or their prospective customers needed during the pandemic. And they saw the shifts, right? They saw the technology shifts like an obvious one for everybody listening right now is the Zoom phenomenon, right? Like you and I are using that medium right now to talk to each other. It’s not like Zoom didn’t exist before the pandemic. It did. Many of us used it competently, but now it’s like there’s this widespread acceptance and use of a new way of interacting with people that requires less travel. 


And it was just really simple for us to have these conversations and we could share it with others, and there’s just a lot more opportunity out there. And so I saw, I saw I’ll give a few examples. Most of them have to do with the delivery of expertise or a service that once was in person that went online. Okay. So in person, it’s actually called Brooklyn Music Factory by the business owner. His name is Nate Shaw. He had a brick and mortar. He has a brick-and-mortar facility in New York where they teach jazz, and other genres of music. 


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: How Businesses Thrived Amidst Adversity


They teach instruments. They do all these music lessons for kids who were coming to their facility. Well, when you’re hit with it, you can’t come to this facility anymore. It’s good for him to move that online and try to keep the current community in Ghana. So there are two things that the best businesses did. They kept the current community-engaged, and then they went out and found new ways to provide their product or service to a broader audience. And that’s exactly what Nate and his team did. And they are, as I talked to Nate about this, I remember I was sort of pacing around. We were on the telephone. And so I was just pacing around it in my front yard with the phone up to my ear. 


How to grow through adversity? We talked about this strategic decision he was trying to make. Do I make the shift to technology just enough to get us through to where we can go back to in-person, or do I see this as as an opportunity to shift, to take what we do to a much broader potential audience? Okay. And there are businesses like that in our community and everywhere who figured out, wait, this is my opportunity to do something bigger. And the entrepreneurs did that. Right? Many of the small business owners didn’t, and there’s that distinction again. So I would say in the wind column that the businesses which they are, the ones who have made the transition and how did it record-breaking years? 


I figured out how to leverage the new opportunities available because now, instead of trying to manage a bunch of change with people around learning via technology, the pandemic just cleared the way for that. Like everybody was willing to get on a Zoom meeting, and their business model allowed them to do that. So there were music lessons that did that. There was a Pilates instruction that did that. And you and I both know and serve a business that does that out of Australia. There was, there was coaching businesses with live events, again, you and I know somebody who’s been on your show before Chris Prefontaine, whose business has been able to grow despite the pandemic in wonderful ways of marketing agencies that I know that have been able to grow during the pandemic and have record years a cleaning company in our community, which some people might say, well, that’s because of the pandemic. 


Everybody is more in tune with that. But a lot of businesses just shut down altogether and didn’t need cleaning services. And yet this cleaning company was able to grow its business during a time when maybe many other companies were where we’re pulling back. So a lot of great stories or record years despite the pandemic, and it’s fun to watch. 


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: The Evolution of Business Models


It is fun to watch. So, in the instance in there, or the example with Brooklyn Music Factory, I think you said it, his name is Tyler, right? It’s Nate. Thank you. Oh gosh. That I was thinking of Tyler Norton. Thank you, Nate. 


Sorry, Nate, if you’re listening. So what do you think? Is it like, will his business go back to a brick and mortar, or do you think the sort of reinvention that he has done has given him some really cool opportunities going forward and now either to be hybrid or all online, or what do you think going forward looks like for that, for sure. 


Yeah. I think there’s no going back to all brick-and-mortar from Nate and his team, at least. We are talking hybrid, but at some point, it’s being able to deliver his product and his service via a technology-enabled platform that just opens up the world. And we think that Brooklyn is a big place, with a lot of people, right? But still, it’s finite. There is only a certain number of people that can go through the walls of his Brooklyn music factory, right. His facility. Now he can, now I can serve the world. I don’t see him going back and Charlie ever. 


Best strategies on how to grow through adversity – Okay. Well, a really cool opportunity for him, but the fact, and that sounds maybe disrespectful to some, I certainly don’t mean that the pandemic really cool opportunity, the fact that he saw a way to pivot the business in, and like you, you mentioned the two ingredients keeping the current community engaged. So it sounds like he doubled down and did that really effectively. And then, he found a way following your advice, found a way to provide that valuable service to a broader audience. So you know where to execute Nate by strong. So, let’s think about some losses here. And I go back to one that can probably fit really easy in that bucket is when you are giving us the, the high level of the urine review, you mentioned how you know that, that some just sat and they waited to see, I remember when you and I had to have this conversation about a year ago, you were talking about freeze or excuse me, you were talking about fight or flight, but then you mentioned the freeze peas. 


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: Navigating Tough Decisions and Supporting Teams


And so, is that what you’re talking about? The freeze, they just sat and then the opportunity to pass them by. 


How do you grow through adversity? Well, yeah, let’s just assume for a second. There was no additional opportunity. Okay. Even in quote-unquote normal times freezing, I mean, and in normal times, freezing looks like just doing the same thing you’ve always done. Right? That’s kind of like I’m stuck in a pattern, but when some big unexpected event happens, a pandemic and people freeze out of not knowing how to respond or out of fear. That’s when your chances to come out of that thing in a healthy way go down significantly when we’re not taking action. 


And one of the ingredients to the winning companies and we talked, and we did talk about getting close to the customers. We mentioned getting close to your people and then we didn’t really drill down on that part, but let’s bring it into this conversation. So the business owners who froze really just went into that Resource preservation mode. Some of them let go of people right away. Others felt like I got to try to keep my team employed and let all their cash or resources depleted. They just use them all up, but they didn’t figure out a way how to bring those people together to go solve the current problems and the best leaders. 


I figured out how to get really close to their people and provide some stability, right? Like the earth is shaking underneath us. How do we provide some stability for our people who have family members who they are concerned about from a health perspective who have maybe the same family members maybe if they are not at risk from a Health perspective, maybe they are, maybe they lost their job, or maybe there are other concerns in, in their family or their friends or their community that just really has them worried and are our job is a leader. It’s interesting. I can’t even put good words to it right now, Stephen. 


So you just have to bear with me. But, what I saw is that people who were good, who they were good business leaders, they were a good business. Owners became much more intentional and better people leaders through this through this catastrophe, right? Here’s this event that nobody anticipated sort of forced us to either become a better leader or to sit on the sideline again, and the best leaders did. They rose to the occasion. They got really in touch with what mattered to their team and in, at a level that they never did previously, even good leaders. They weren’t connected with their folks as deeply as they became during this pandemic. 


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: Sustaining Trust and Connection Beyond Crisis


And then they helped them get through that fear thing on the other side of it. So where are we to get focused together on the action we’re going to take? What reasons do we have to believe? How do we line up our activities? How do we take targeted coordinated action as one team to move forward in a positive direction instead of sitting back on our heels and waiting to see what happens? And that was a difference between the good and the bad companies. I would say during the pandemic, that’s really huge because 


It sort of puts the pandemic in the role of almost a crucible of really distilling down, like forcing, like putting so much pressure, just like coal goes under the pressure reform, a diamond, a whatever metaphor you want to use, but then this great leadership comes out the other side, where they are doubling down on, on their team. So let’s say that Onward Nation, business owners, it felt that exact same crucible, they feel like now on the other side, they’re even closer to their team as a result of that. What would be your advice and recommendation? So they don’t lose that. 


Yeah, because that’s where it can easily happen. Right? When the atmosphere around us no longer forces us to be in, when we were at Infusionsoft growing fast, and there was a lot of stuff coming at us, we used to talk about these as foxhole moments, right? Oh, don’t get you, don’t get your head up into the firefight. You stay low. And this wasn’t avoiding what was happening, but it was another angle on this conversation. The angle was this. When you get that close to people, when you’re out in a firefight with your comrades, you create a bond in a level of trust that you can’t forge another way. 


And so the pandemic, if you went through the pandemic the right way and got closer to your team, it gave us a gift that we couldn’t, but there are not really many ways we could reproduce that. And so now that we are tight, let’s come back to your question. How do we keep from losing that? And part of it is to acknowledge that it happened. So let’s reflect on that as a team and say, Hey, let’s rewind to a year ago and talk about the health and strength of our teams, the levels of trust that we had. Let’s try to put a score to it. Let’s evaluate it. Let’s, let’s look at it together for a minute. Now, let’s fast forward or come to the present time of day. 


Did that change, or are we closer as a team? Is our trust deeper? How would you score or rate that? Right? And, if you see some contrast there, you can at least begin a conversation as a team. What are we willing to do to commit to one another, to keep the gains, right? This is one of those things where continued investment allows us to keep the gains, and neglect probably has some of that muscle atrophying if we don’t do something about it. So, I mean, we can get into some thoughts. I mean, we would just be brainstorming Steve, and I didn’t prepare something in advance, but we can talk about what are some practical ways we can try to keep the eye on that level of Team high, especially in the face of bringing on new team members, how do you bring people into this new space where high trust and have them quickly, you have belonged to that level of connectedness. That might be a trick for so long.


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: Elevating Team Standards Post-Pandemic


Well, okay. If you don’t mind that brainstorm, I think that would be fun and beyond fun. I think it would be super helpful. And because, as you have seen, many of the businesses in your community, in the business owners that I talk to every day there, many of them are in full-on hiring mode, right? So they’re adding new teammates, too. The team that help them navigate the choppy waters. So is that going to put pressure on culture, or how do you indoctrinate them? What’s the vision? How do you marinate them in the Values? Like all of that. So getting your guidance around that topic so that, so that now we don’t experience choppy waters because now we’re trying to onboard people who are not aligned. 


So I think giving your insight on that. So, if you don’t mind, we’ll be awesome. I don’t know, In my mind, and I’m just thinking about how to take the hour’s worth of teaching on that topic, and then we do in a lead on Entrepreneurs and try to represent that in in a useful way for your audience right now. And a few minutes might be a little tricky, but I think that you hit on some of the key points, right? Like, we can’t hire people who don’t fit with our team. And now it’s almost like the bar for what fits for our team. Just got a lot more clear may or may have gone up during the pandemic because whoever stayed or whoever survived, right? This core team is now tighter than ever in the best businesses. 


And not every business handles it the right way during the pandemic. So I can’t speak to the unity of those teams, but the ones who did it in a really healthy way got closer to their customers and closer to their team. This is the tightest they’ve ever been as a team. And so they’re understanding of what it means to be on this team. Just got a lot more clear, and if they didn’t put words to it yet, there’s, there’s a really awesome opportunity for all of your listeners to really nail down, put words to what is, what is our purpose and what are our values and what is this thing that we’re up to do together right now. I call this setting the vision, but now is the time, if you haven’t done it yet, to get super clear on why we exist, who we are, how we operate, where we are going together as a team, and then hire a lead and fire to that just really consistently with an exceptionally so that you don’t lose the specialness that just got created out of this adversity. 


I love that. Okay. So maybe a follow-up to that. Are you seeing members of your community or the business owners in your community because of what they went through? They got super tight with their team. Like you said, that it actually raised the bar ’cause, they saw their team perform at such an amazing level, kept the team together, and maybe even discovered what was possible because of the doubling down on that, that anybody they bring on now, like the standard is higher. The bar is higher. The level of expectation is higher. The commitment to excellence is higher because average, there was no place for average during the pandemic. Is that a fair statement? 


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: Preserving Standards and Celebrating Wins


No, I think that’s an accurate assessment, or at least for the businesses who took advantage of the adversity to be a better version of themselves as a result. Right now, we talked about some who kinda sat on the sidelines and didn’t do this, but the one that the winning version, they all got better. They got tighter. They looked at how they worked on their business when they didn’t have as much business with customers, right? Because they got close to the customers and delivered value in new ways. They also worked on their business. They had to lose team members. They lasted a week as team members. Right? So they, they became really strong. I think the standard is higher if they capture that standard, right? 


If they preserved the standard, like they haven’t done this Good set, the vision work that I alluded to earlier, then they could easily lose what they just gained. And so there is a time right now, and I think this is critical for those who haven’t done this kind of work. There’s a time right now to capture, preserve, and articulate in writing, right? It’s almost like canonize. Who are we? What did we learn about why we’re, why this business deserves to have life, how we operate well as a team, our unique identity, or our unique identity as a team, which is kind of the other side of what a brand looks like externally, right? 


There’s brand out there and there’s culture or who we are inside the business. And they learned a lot about that. If they took the time to reflect on it and capture those learnings. And then with that new standards, they could really hire powerfully going forward and continue the trend. Right. It was just let’s keep growing. 


It was amazing. So I hope you don’t mind a bit. I want to publicly celebrate a win here with you, in and out of all, Stephanie, who is a rock star on your team. I know you don’t need me to tell you that when she is just absolutely amazing. She orbits a distant moon of awesome. I mean, she’s just incredible. And she has been spending some more, some, group time with Catherine on my team. For context, Onward Nation, I’m talking about Catherine Bessler, who’s our director of operations. When the two of them got together, Stefanie shared with Katherine the importance of the quarterly review process. Stephanie also went up to my peer group momentum, which I was a part of in your group just a few days ago, and Katherine was super excited about the conversation with Stephanie. 


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Grow Through Adversity: The Impact of Intentional Processes and Structure


She had told Eric, my business partner, about it, and I’m like, Oh, that sounds awesome. So Stephanie brought it up. I’m like, Catherine has briefed us on it. I can’t wait to learn more. So Catherine steps into this meeting with Eric and I literally just this morning; I’m not making this up to try and make you feel good. I mean, it literally happened just this morning, and she has spent several hours preparing this quarterly Assessment, a quarterly review of herself. And then I shared that with Erik; it was insanely amazing for me. And when I, when I, when I was listening to her walk us through all that. Then, we asked questions at the end. I thought the intentionality that the process in the discipline forces and the depth into the thought process that she had to reflect on how am I living out that value in this value? 


How am I can see here? How are my big three contributing to the overall vision of the business and really being thoughtful and mindful about it, and then presenting it to the two of us, I thought, Oh, my word, Catherine, you just absolutely crushed it in raising the bar, the standard of excellence inside this business, because now we’re all doing that. It was incredible. So thank you for teaching that to us. Cause it’s amazing. 


Well, you’re welcome. And I think what you just described is a great example of how some simple processes and structure to be more intentional bring the team together in a way that isn’t as possible without the structure. In other words, when we just go about our day-to-day, doing our best, right? People have. I believe people are good. They have good intentions. They want to perform. I’m not really into it. You know, making a lot of decisions in business based on a few outliers who aren’t trying to do well, right? So most of our good people, they’re trying to perform. 


And when we put a little bit of intentionality and create a little process and structure around it, we can really come together and find a powerful way to do more. And whether it’s in good times or bad, the best businesses are during the pandemic. They have been a little forced, right. or the crucible, right? Pressure was applied to them, and they learned some of these lessons. And now we gotta, we’ve just got to move them forward. So, what worked during the pandemic works great in normal times or prosperous times. And then the challenge is that most business owners will, I don’t, I don’t assume business owners are lazy, but most business owners will just kind of settle back into a routine, whereas before, they were kind of forced to get to that better place, to be able to survive and move forward. 


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Grow Through Adversity: Elite Ignition Program 


They are really super important. Not to slip back into not necessarily bad habits but inaction, maybe a few things for granted, right? 


Yeah. There’s a little complacency that happens when it’s good work. And this happens in life. All of us personally are in a business. It’s like, Hey, life’s pretty good right now. And I know I don’t really have to lean in, and adversity just forces us to strengthen some muscles. And then after that, adversity sort of passes as we go. Okay, I want to take a little break from that. And that was hard. And I get that. So, let’s exhale a little bit. Let’s reflect. Let’s take care of ourselves. You know, there’s been a lot of emotional and mental strain across the board over the last year. Let’s make sure we’re well, and then let’s keep moving forward with some of the great things that we, some of the new muscles we developed over the last year. 


That’s a great metaphor, and the accountability within the group is awesome. I really love it. So it is at the beginning when I was introducing you, cause in, in, through this conversation, and I know that we’ve been talking to a lot about a seven-figure business owners and so forth, which is incredible. It would allow me to hang out with super smart people and learn from them. But it also means you spend a lot of time with business owners who are committed to getting there but aren’t quite there yet. So if any Onward Nation business owners are in that kind of category, if you will, if that’s the appropriate way to say it, I’d like for you to share what the next step might be. 


Your Ignition Program is a great next step. So, can you give us a little bit of a context around that? I know we talked about it maybe about a month or so ago during a webinar that you and I coasted, but I think it’ll be super relevant to share with our listeners today. So, can you give us a little bit of context around Elite Ignition? 


Yeah, sure. So, the pandemic actually forced us to make a change around how we deliver our expertise. We used to have a two-day experience called the Elite Forum. Stephen and the Team came to you. You came in. That was wonderful. You came, you came a couple of times, which is awesome, right? and then we couldn’t have that two-day in-person event. And so the lead Ignition was born as a way for us to share our elite business growth method. So, in good times or bad, a business owner who wants to make that shift from entrepreneur to capable business owner, right from scrappy, figure it out, gritty, tenacious, founder and all those are great qualities and never want you to lose. 


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: Elite Ignition Program Explained


But often, there is a technician they are, or figure it out and get it done type of person. And we have to help transition to being a leader of people and a builder of a business. And there, it’s hard to go from technician, doer, superhuman entrepreneur, to a business owner who now has other people in that. And I have to organize work, and I got to give some ownership with the accountability, and I let go of some things, and that’s a hard shift. So, we have a method we call the elite business growth method. And Elite Ignition is a really easy way to get to learn that method and not just learn it but begin to implement it with our Health over the course of weeks. 


So we do two Zoom meetings once a week for four weeks. That’s a lead ignition where we teach the Elite business growth method, but we give assignments at the end of each of those meetings, at the end of each of those calls, and then between calls. So, during the week, we provide a coaching opportunity to make sure that people are moving forward with their assignments. So, it’s not pure workshopping the way that we used to do in a two-day in-person setting, but it’s the closest thing to it. It actually enables participants to have a month’s worth of implementation and some coaching along the way to make progress. 


And in that way, it’s actually superior to the former version of it. So, leaving mission is super easy to get started. You can just go to if anyone is interested in, and it’s not just interest level. If they’re at seven figures, you should definitely consider doing this. If you’re fast approaching it, if you’re not quite there, but you can see it coming on the horizon, and you want to get ahead of the common challenges that they’re going to face at seven figures, It’s still a great experience to come through as you’re approaching seven figures. So we can go to Our business is a lead Entrepreneur or Website. We didn’t never want to have entrepreneurs in the website URL. 


So it’s just If you wanna see anything more about Elite Ignition. 


It was awesome, Onward Nation. We will certainly include that link in the show notes as well to make it really easy to find a Brett before we close out. And before we say goodbye again, thank you for being so generous with your expertise and your insights, very kind of you be before we go. Any final advice, anything you think we might have missed, and then please tell Onward Nation is the best way to do it. 


Enhance your knowledge of how to grow through adversity by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


Grow Through Adversity: Last Bit of Advice and Connect with Brett


Yeah. So, advice you might’ve missed a week. We set it in two ways. We say, get close to your customers, get close to your people. But let me just underscore that with a concept that I’ll just generally call care. What I found is that the best leaders figured out how to care for their people in a way that connected them to them just really powerfully. And I’ve seen a huge amount of loyalty built up during this time. You know, we referred to it as a foxhole moment. There are relationships that have been forged at a new level that only something like a pandemic or severe adversity could create. 


And I think not as capitalistic, not from a capitalistic place, but I’m going to leverage those relationships for my own benefit. But, from the place of understanding that your people will like run through walls for you when you create that level of connection and the best leaders prove I’m here for you. This is a really hard time in general. What matters to you right now? How can I help you? And I saw leaders Get more loyalty and more commitment out of their people than ever before. And I think that’s not the case; it was hard for you. 


You couldn’t mimic that pre-pandemic. I don’t think that level of, of like me to really connect, but I think that it won’t be that hard to maintain if people will just continue to invest in that relationship, but it takes care. You can’t see people; you can see people as employees or as a necessary evil anymore as a business owner. That’s behind us. We got to see them as real people with real aspirations and dreams of their own, but you care about who they are now and who they want to become. And when you connect with them in that way, you get off the charts, and you get a commitment level of performance. 


Stephen talked about how amazing Stephanie is. I love how you said she orbits a moon on the planet. I don’t know if you said the planet is awesome. It’s true. And the reason that it’s true is because of our connection. She knows that I care about her personally, her husband, and her family and what they’re trying to do, and I’m fully committed to them. And she’s committed to our purpose, which I absolutely love it. Elite Entrepreneurs, our whole purpose is to help you lead entrepreneurs and build meaningful businesses, and wherever we can do that, we are going to keep doing it. And, she loves that. 


And she knows that I care about her, and she’ll run through walls for me. Yeah. She does. I mean, and she’s just a stellar within the community, a real rock star; the best way to connect with you, either a LinkedIn email, what would it be? Your preference? 


Yeah, I’ll go ahead and give my email to this group. It’s Brett with two T’s: You can find me on LinkedIn. Built to Last Champ is my Twitter, and my LinkedIn thing is built the number to Last Chance, a little homage there to Jim Collins, built to last book, which is basically what I base all of my working life on to build a great enduring company. 


Yeah. So it’s the last chance where the goal of my friends and Onward Nation, no, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back to this, this blueprint that Brett so generously shared with you, no matter how many times do you do that, the key is you have to not be complacent. You have to actually take action on what he so generously shared with you today. 


That’s the key. So learning all of this is one thing, but then not being, not sitting there, not freezing, and actually applying it is super key in Brett. We all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day. And I am grateful that you said yes once again to come onto the show, to be our mentor and guide, to help us move our businesses onward to that next level. Thank you so much, my friend. You’re welcome. It’s been a pleasure. 


This episode is complete. So head over to for show notes and more foods to fuel your ambition. Continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation. 


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