The Power of Doing Less

The Power of Doing Less

Check out the latest episode below. Mr.Biz Radio provides business owners with the knowledge and insights needed to drive their companies forward.

Mr. Biz Radio: The Power of Doing Less

Unedited transcription of the show is included below:


Welcome to Mr. Biz radio, Biz. Talk for Biz owners. If you're ready to stop faking the funk and take your business onward and upward, this show is for you. And now here's Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth.


Alright, welcome everyone to another episode of Mr. Biz Radio with me, Mr. Biz Ken Wentworth. And we're gonna talk about something this week that I think is probably a little counterintuitive to, to a lot of people that have been listening to this show a lot of times, because, you know, especially in the entrepreneur world, we're always hearing and influencers talk about the hustle, the grind, all that kind of stuff. You know, you gotta work hard and you hear some people talking about, you know, the counters of working, you know, 16, 18 hours for the first, you know, how many years to get things going. And then, and then, you know, what's work-life balance. You hear all these things about the hustle and the grind and everything. We're actually gonna talk about with our guest this week about the power get this, the power of doing less.


Now what the heck does that mean? Okay, so <laugh>, we're gonna get into this, our guest this week, when he's not battling needless complexity, Georg Meyer thinks, speaks and writes about beautiful life serving systems and organizations. In the past few decades, he has been an executive at a publicly traded company in a one man show, an academic and a practitioner, a software developer, and a management consultant. He has driven a forklift and designed a warehouse. He has built software and been its own end user. He ever has worked in the energy finance, health, retail, and manufacturing industries, and currently serves as a board member for family businesses on topics of culture, strategy, and technology. And he holds a PhD in information in decision sciences from the University of Minnesota. Georg. Welcome to Mr. Biz Radio.


Hmm, thank you, Ken.


Yeah, so fascinating background. I'm really curious to hear, you know, sort of your journey overall, your entrepreneurial journey. I mean, you've, you've taken all these different stops, as I mentioned in the intro here. You know, what's, what's your journey been like?


Yeah, so I started, I grew up in Switzerland, you know, didn't normally high school then at the time I was very interested in computers. I started studying computer science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, which is the leading technical university. And after two semesters, I realized that really was not for me. Like it seemed, you know, it seemed very theoretical, it seemed complicated, and I decided to drop out of college, and I thought, I really want to get a job as a coder. So, as you can imagine, like that is not the most popular profile for like, companies trying to hire somebody as a software developer. So I probably had to apply to like 60 jobs to end up getting like five interviews and two offers, but it worked out. And so I ended up getting my first gig at actually the Shell Company.


And after that, I got another gig a year later for a Swiss company that expanded into the us and with them I had the chance to move over to us and work work for them. So they acquired a few businesses, and I got to work on integrations, and I got to really learn about different culture, learn about processes, and still do quite a bit of work in software. And then at that time it came up that, oh, you know, I, I probably really should go back for the education part. <Laugh> and I managed to, managed to do a bachelor, mostly remote that Excelsior College and then get a master's at Iowa State. And life SD funny turns in my, my advisor said, well, you should think about getting a PhD. And I, I didn't have anything really planned. So it's like, well, it's, it seems interesting. And I went to University of Minnesota mainly because the name information decision sciences really appealed to me. And so that's very, it's an area like the intersection of psychology, economics, and computer science. On the first day there, I met my wife, <laugh>, on the last day we got married, <laugh>, and by then I had a job offer to work as a management consultant for McKinsey and Company if we moved back to Switzerland. So we got married and two weeks later we were on the plane with our three cats moving to Switzerland,




Yeah. And then from there on, then I did management consulting for a big company for two years. And then I really wanted to strike out on my own with everything I've learned. And that's what I did. I had an independent consulting firm, helping companies improve processes, you know, work with technology. Like I, I like to see, I tried to bring together people, process and technology. Then the opportunity presented itself to take a role as a C I O for a publicly traded company in Switzerland. So I got to do that for kind of a turnaround situation helping to bring a really big project home, but I felt like it, after a couple years, it really pulled me back into the independent consulting work. Like the, the entrepreneurial spirit is hard to, to get rid of <laugh>. Yeah,


For sure.


So, yeah, so here I am now back in consulting and really trying to do, like I said at the beginning, the focus on what's essential, right? Don't I feel that the world is very complex and we do a lot of things, but they're not necessarily always the ones that we should be doing.


Yeah. I'm, I'm very curious to talk actually, gay, because, you know I think, you know, again, like I mentioned during the intro and everything, I mean, that's all you hear about is the hustle, the grind, work, work, work. And I feel like, I know I'm guilty of it sometimes, and I try to watch myself, but I know that I'm guilty of it sometimes is being busy, but not productive, right? You get to the end of the day and you're like, man, I worked my butt off today. And then there's sometimes I look back and I go, you know, the next day maybe I'll get up and I'll, you know, be working through stuff. Or usually what I do is I'll plan my next day, the evening before. And so I'm looking, when I'm planning and I'm like, wait a minute, why do I, why, why is that still on my list?


Like, I, I worked on that today. Well, I worked on it, but I was, it was busy work essentially, you know, it wasn't, well, I wasn't productive. And so I think I'm very curious as we get into our conversation here, to hear some of your thoughts around this. Obviously you've worked in a bunch of different industries. You've got the academic experience, you've got the, the practical experience as well. So I'm, I'm very curious to hear about that. But I guess, you know, one question I wanna ask you gay or is, you know, based on your experience and everything, and you know, kudos for going back to school and everything, a lot of people, you know, stop gonna school and just never go back or whatever, and, you know, for some people that works. But it sounds like, you know, it was pretty rewarding for you and you and if nothing else, you met your wife. So that <laugh>, that was good.




Yep. But, you know, coming, coming through that, what are some resources that have been really valuable for you?


So funny enough for the education, so, you know, I've, I've always been very driven to like, try and optimize things. So when I looked at a bachelor, like I did, you know, basically internet research and looked at like, you know, what are the, what are the most efficient ways to doing that? And there I learned like colleges will give you a lot of credit for like life experience, right? Like, it's called the CLAP. So you can basically, most colleges like test out of a year of college with stuff you've already done. So if the, if that degree is your goal, like that's one way, you know, to really save a bunch of time. Like, you study up a few nights and you can take that test.


Interesting. Yeah. And I mean that obviously probably saves you some money too, right? And you're taking less classes. I'm sure the testing out cost you something, but certainly not as much as actually taking the class.


Yeah. The test was, I think at that time it was 80 bucks, and then if you compare that to tuition for a year, very great return. Yeah.


Yeah. So were you able to test out of a good bit of classes then,


Your bachelor's? Yeah, for, for my bachelor's, most of it, like, I managed to complete it under a year. And that's, Excelsior College kind of has a special setup that allows you to do that. Most colleges that you test out of 30 credits of one year.


Interesting. Yeah. You know, I, and I've heard of that and I, I actually, geez, a million years ago when I was doing my undergrad, I, I think I tested outta one class. Same thing. It was significantly cheaper as well. Which back then was a, was a big deal for me. Keeping those costs down. I was gonna a private school and it's like, oh my gosh, I'm racking up student debt and, you know, that kind of stuff. So that was important. Well, I, I tell you what, Georg, we're gonna hit a break here. Guys go out and we'll put this in the show notes, but you can go out to Georg's website,, follow him on Twitter and on LinkedIn you can find him Georg Meyer. Again, we'll put these in the show notes as well. We're gonna come back, we're gonna hit a break, come back with a Mr. Biz tip of the week, and, and then we're gonna dive into a little bit more of what Georg's doing now, how he helps people and, and things like that. And of course, we're gonna dive into how the power of doing less.


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Alright, Welcome back to the show. And it is time for the Mr. Biz tip of the week. And,this one, you know, I've shared this, this tip,for several years now. I think it's an important one to get asked a question very often about,number one, what should I be spending, you know, what small business owners should be spending on marketing and things like that. But even aside from that, talking about what you should expect from that marketing. Uand what I always say, and some of my marketing friends, they, they, they, they kick and scream when I hear me say this, but I, I say, you should expect to have a 300% return on any marketing dollars. You're, you're spending. And again, my marketing friends are like, whoa, don't tell people that, but <laugh>. But I think it's very important to, to set those expectations.


And more importantly, that if you set that as your benchmark, and, and what I mean by that is if you're spending a hundred bucks on marketing, you should see $300 of revenue from that. And I think if you set that benchmark, it's important to take a look at where you're spending those marketing dollars to ensure that you're getting that return. And it, man, it's such a powerful impact on a business when you are able to look at those things and look at the returns, specific returns you're getting on the different marketing spends you have, and then taking the money away from the things that aren't returning three x and putting them towards, you know, adding more fuel to the fire, so to speak, to the ones that are working. And man, the impact it has the acceleration impact it has on a business is just tremendous.


So that is the tip of the week. Expect a 300% market market marketing return on your dollars if you're not getting that, either get a new plan or fire your marketer <laugh>. So that is the Mr. Biz tip of the week. This week we're gonna get back into talking to Georg Meyer. So Georg you know, we heard a little about your journey in the first segment. Tell us a little bit more about you know, kind of some of the things you're doing now and how you help help folks now.


Sure, yeah. So now I'm a consultant. I'm basically a problem solver. And I think what is kind of my specialty is if, you know, you can look at a business as people, process and technology, and it's usually pretty easy to find a consultant that will like, help you with one of these areas. I think how I help businesses by like integrating that view, you know, 'cause you, you need all three to work well together, right? You de design your processes for your people. You want your technology to empower your people, and you have to take care of them. And so I, what I try to help businesses is to do exactly this, the power of doing less, right? I, I really try to come in, find what's the essence of that problem that we're trying to solve and to help really articulate that. 'cause It's often we struggle with a problem just because we, we haven't expressed it in the right way yet. Like some, you know, oft it's, especially in technology, you often see people ask for a solution before they really started understanding what the problem is. And then what I really like to do is to prototype, right? I think you have an idea of like, what could we solve and let's build something. Let's build the simplest possible version of that and see if that really works. Like test it against reality.


Yeah. And, and so that's one of the things that I think is very fascinating because honestly, we've been doing the show for six and a half years now. We've never had anyone on we, your background and experience that integrates all three of those things. And I, I think you're right. I mean, I saw it when I worked in the corporate world where, you know, they developed a new whizzbang technology solution, but the integration of it was poor or the training for it was poor. And so then it, it could have been this system that had, would have a massive, you know, positive impact on the organization, but because the rollout and integration didn't go so well and so people didn't embrace it. And then of course, you know, you could see the people side of it, of people start complaining, you know, we like the old system and what was wrong with that?


And I knew how to do it in that system and I have to learn it in this one. I gotta tell you Georg, I hear it from my mom. My mom, my mom's still working. She's kind of, she's a nurse, but she's kind of a tele nurse. And so they're always developing new systems. And so almost every weekend when we talk she's like, oh, we got a new thing in our system. And, you know, she's kind of that old dog being taught a new trick and she, you know, sometimes doesn't like it. So what are some of the things that you see with that, with a new technology platform, with a new technology solution and, and how to best integrate that with people and get people to be really good users of it?


Yeah, so first I can say I can really relate to your mom. 'cause I always, I feel I'm very conservative in that sense that I get frustrated when, oh, there's another update and now they move this button and I can't find it, right? Like, it eats into productivity and to figure that happens times, you know, a hundred million people. So for me, like in all projects, like it's, it's really important that people are bought in as much as possible from the beginning, right? So it, it's very worthwhile that you involve people before you make the changes and you explain it and they have a chance to voice their opinion. You know, they, they may ask for, oh, could it do this and that? And I found, even if the answer's no, like they appreciate the fact that they were involved in the process and they've seen the thinking of like, why are we even doing this? 'cause Yeah, it seems like a lot of the times, right? You put in a new solution and people are like, well, what was wrong with the old one?


Yeah. I, I can tell you one of the things that I utilize in my corporate career at one point was after banging my head against the proverbial law a couple of times and, and having some difficulties with some, with some integrations is, is coming up and working with the technology team on what the new solution was going to look like. And just like you were talking about basically like a prototype and then getting everyone together and saying, this is the base model of what we're looking to do. Tell me what about the current system frustrates you and let's see if we can integrate that into the new system. Because then right away, like you're talking about, people go, oh my gosh, this is gonna solve, I love the old system, but man, these two things I have to do are a huge pain in my neck if this new system will solve it. So the, you get buy-in like you're saying right off the bat and they go, oh my gosh, this system's gonna be great. So that, that whole mentality thing from the start, instead of the, oh my gosh, I gotta learn something new, this stinks. You know, it gives them that I, I think, you know, a little positive momentum going into it.


Yep. No, and I think this is for, you know, as your business gets larger, if you have large projects, right, like the investment in the change management really has the biggest return. 'cause Like you said, you could spend 20 million on a new system and for an additional million in change management, you would actually get the return and people would use it to the max. Or you can just have a new system and everyone's frustrated and try to resist.


Yeah, I, I, like I said, the, the couple times that, you know, unsuccessful or or not as successful integrations of, you know, we had literally a, a, a, a person in our department, you know, we developed a system, we put a ton of work into it, we worked a bunch of extra to to, to enter to get it going quicker and all that kinda stuff. And one of the people that was the most productive previously under the old system, you know, we get 90 days into it, and his productivity had gone down significantly and he wasn't producing results. And, you know, I sat down, had a one-on-one with him, I said, you know, Josh, what's, what's going on here, Pete? Like, what? You know, well then I come to find out Georg, he started to use the new system, didn't like it, got frustrated, couldn't figure something out, and just said the heck with it.


The old system was gone. So he was like using Excel. He, like, he tried to just do <laugh> himself in Excel, which was completely inefficient. So, you know, it was bogging him down instead of raising his hand and saying, Hey, I need more training. I need something. He just decided to go off on his own and it, you know, was terrible. We had to get him sort of out of that mindset. And then he was, he had been around the department a a quite a bit of time, so he had the ear of a lot of people, so he was kind of bogging everything down because he was doing a lot of complaining about the system, frankly. So it, it was, it was a, it was a challenging situation for sure. I'm sure you've run into things like that in your, in your past.


Yeah, so I learned, because I started in his software development, so I, I came with the engineering mindset of like, oh, I have the perfectly logical solution, and then I would implement software and then people didn't use it. And it's like, well, I don't get why, it just makes rational sense, right? And then, then I learned that there's also the psychology part to humans, and that's the, you know, even more important part if you want to get through something like that. And it's, I really started to appreciate that as an, as an engineer, you have to understand who you're building for, right? You have to know the customer. So I did a project to design a warehouse at a small family business. And then I love the owner there. He is been a great mentor for me, and he let me work in the warehouse, like as a, back then an IT guy, you know, it's like, hey, that's, I ended up on the forklift and like, I got to do all the processes, got to do all the people who work in the warehouse. And then I really understood that just because it looks great on paper doesn't help you if you have a pallet that has to be raised like 25 feet in the air and put away,


Yeah. And I think that's important too, is to the people that are designing the system or the layout or whatever it might be, you know, to, to really roll your sleeves up and get involved. So you see some of those things that are impacts that, again, on paper you don't see that. Like there's a weight limit on a pallet. Like we can't have a pallet over 10 feet that waves over x or whatever on a piece of paper. You don't see that. So again, this week guys, we're talking with Georg Meyer. We'll put his website and his socials in the show notes. We're gonna come back and talk about the power of doing less.


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Alright, Welcome back to the show. And it's time, it's time to hit pay dirt here. We're gonna <laugh> we're gonna talk about the power of doing less. So, so I know this is one of your, sort of your tenets Georg I know, you know, doing show research for the show and checking out your website and some of your social media content, et cetera. And from having, you know, connected with you earlier, several months back, you know, I know this is one of your tenets and this is one of the things I wanted to dive into. So tell us, you know, what's, what's your definition of that and, and, and what does that look like? The power of doing less?


Yeah, so for me it's really focus on the essential and, you know, get rid of everything else that is superfluous. So it really means, yeah, don't, don't just do things because we're so used to doing things right, because that's how you always get more added on, but have a, have a strong sense of intention and like, you know, do the things you do, do them well, and yeah, try, try to stay away from everything else. And if, if you think about this from a business sense, you know, it's kind of like if you look outside in, what does your customer actually see, right? Where's actual value created for your customer? And if you can't answer that, if you don't see that, then is it an activity that's really worth doing?


Yeah, I mean, I think that's, that's very important. And, and you know, I I I look at it as almost as I was thinking this through, you know, when I was doing a, a preparation for the show and thinking through some of this stuff, and then seeing stuff on your website is, tell me if I'm way off on this, the analogy I was thinking of, Georg was more like someone not, not someone who's a hoarder, but someone who keeps a lot of stuff right? And they go, I'm gonna, I might need this someday. And they keep, you know, they, I just went through a whole purging, you know, in my, in my home office and got rid of so much stuff that I had for some reason got stuck in my head, well, I might need this someday, I might need this someday. And I'm certainly no hoarder and I, I keep things very neat and everything, but I had, I had held onto so many things that I just did not need. And I think, you know, if I'm, if I'm reading what you're saying correctly, is, you know, that's what we do and we have processes and we continue to add on a little here and a little there, and over years you be, you end up with a lot of superfluous activities that really don't add to the essentialness of what you're trying to accomplish.


Yeah, exactly. Like that's a great example you just had with the hoarding, right? Like, because you, you're not trying to hoard, but you hold on because it's driven by this fear that, oh, well maybe one day I would need this. And you imagine, right? Like you would be able to find it in all the other stuff that is around




Right? And, and of course, like it happened that one time, right? That you threw something away and then a week later you needed it. And so that's, you know, your mind weighs that much heavier than like the 99 other things you threw away that you never thought about again.


Yeah. I, I think it's is, it is very important. And I think, you know, I've gone through this with a process years ago, and we literally walked through this entire process and literally wrote down keystroke by keystroke everything. And then we said, okay, and, and I'm oversimplifying, but we basically went through and said, what would happen if we didn't do this step? What blows up? Does anything blow up? What if we, what if this step, we didn't do it, can we take these five out? You know, and just kind of went step by step. And again, I'm making it, you know, oversimplifying and make it more tedious than it actually was, but it's very eye-opening, especially when you have a process that's been around for quite some time and been passed from person to person and things like that, of all the things that end up being non-essential that it becomes that, oh my gosh, I hate when people say it, but that's the way we've always done it, you know? Yep.


Yeah, I mean, it's definitely right. Like you, you see the history in almost everything, and especially nowadays, right? When the world changes so quickly, like the history for a process may be completely different, was built for a completely different environment. And I think, so one of the, one of the things I really like doing is clean cheating, right? Instead of looking at the existing process, try to come up with the, the dream state, right? Like think, hey, if, how, how we, how would we want this to work if we could make it from scratch? And often that's very revealing because then you see actually, you know, it's, it's much more realistic than we would've originally imagined.


Yeah, actually, I would think now that you say that, that's probably a way more efficient process than what I had mentioned, because not only do you come up with some new ideas, but you know, I, and I've heard Sarah Blakely say this the woman who founded Spanx, and she said, would she always asks employees, is how would you do your job if no one told you how to do it? And it sounds like that's very, it kind of ties into exactly what you just mentioned.


Yeah. I, I think these are all really great questions. Also, the one that you had, you know, when you reviewed the process, right? Like, what breaks if I stop doing this? And all too often the answer is nothing.




It's, and again, in, in software, like sometimes you find these because you know, there's a feature in the software and it actually, it doesn't work. And like six months later somebody calls and says, oh, I clicked on it and it doesn't work. And it's like, okay, it didn't work for six months and nobody noticed. So that tell us something.


Yeah. Yeah. Well, I'm curious, as you, as you work through, you know, those, the people process and technology and you're making things efficient and everything, there's gotta be a couple, one or two things at least that are like big pet peeves of yours that you see with, when, when, with those three together, what are some of those things for you? Georg


So yeah, <laugh>, I mean, for, for me, I, I'm really driven by, I really don't like to see waste, right? So that's, that's kind of what brings it all together for me and things that make life harder. So you read at the beginning, you know, the, i, I care, like, I want things to be human friendly and life serving. And I think especially in technology, it often goes the wrong way because everything, we just add more features, we make it more complicated. So one of my pet peeves is, you know, nowadays you can't open a new computer and not end up with like, the news in your face. And it's like, you know, is that really helpful? Because now everyone's distracted by something that's happening far away in the world as opposed to what they're supposed to do. And so that's kind of my biggest pet peeve, is just like putting in these roadblocks for people to get to do what they want to do and what they're good at. So


What would you say Georg to someone, so other than I know you had mentioned before of like clean slating something and saying, Hey, how could we do this? What's another step that maybe a business owner that has a process that they're thinking as they're listening or watching the show right now saying, gosh, I really need to take a look at this. What would, what's like another piece of advice you would give them on how to, how to really dive into that to, to, to to, to make it more efficient?


So I, I think one, one good thing is look, look for the drudgery, right? Like, it's usually the work that nobody likes doing that, you know, that is also not really value adding. So that's, that's usually a good way to identify a problem area. And then it is, like you said earlier, right? Like keep the end in mind, like look at what is actually the output of this process and does it really benefit the customer or employees or whoever this process is for?


Got it. Yeah, go ahead. I'm sorry.


No, no. And the other thing that I also like is we often forget that sometimes we think just because something is a big problem, it requires a big solution. And often that's a false belief. 'cause There's, like you said, every company you see, right? Like people always use Excel on the side of whatever system it has. And it's like sometimes Excel actually is the right solution because you can't make a system as flexible as that. It's only when it really becomes repeatable, right? That you want it, you want to be sure like there is a standard and a system that helps people be efficient.


Yeah. And I think, you know, things have come a long way and technology, you know, way, way better than I do. I mean, things are changing so often. I think a big thing for me that I've seen even, you know, outside of some of the things that, you know, the people process and technology is just, I, I think the big battle, and we kind of talked about this a little bit earlier, is really on the people side, is making sure you go into it the right way and that people get the right mindset to start with. We're not trying to take over your job, we're not gonna eliminate your job. If we make this more efficient, we're gonna have, we'll be able to do more cool stuff, stuff, you know, we're gonna get rid of some of the drudgery and we're going to get, have you doing some things that are more meaningful to you and more fulfilling. And instead of people saying, oh my gosh, if we make this too efficient, they're gonna get rid of me, or I'm gonna lose my job, or, you know, whatever. I think a common,


I, I think that's right. That's a big part of leadership, that, that's where the articulation comes in, is really you have to explain the why. You know, there's this quote that says if people have a why, they can endure almost anyhow. And with that mindset you get really far, and I like to say technology and policy, right? Are no substitutes for leadership. Like really that's the part you have to do, and then you can cultivate that mindset and get people to adopt the technology into processes.


Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Well, Georg, great information. Really love that. Unfortunately we're out of time, but I really appreciate you coming on the show.


Yeah, thank you very much. It was a pleasure.


Yeah. We'll, we'll put every, all the, his contact information and the show notes on here, guys. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening. Have a great rest of your week. And don't forget, as always, cashflow is king


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