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Jackie Serviss | How To Be an Effective Leader and Build the Right Team

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Hosted by
Mike Ayala

On this episode of Investing for Freedom, Mike talks to recruiter Jackie Serviss. Mike and Jackie talk about the importance of sharing your weaknesses as a leader, as well as how Jackie recovered from a brain tumor and started her own recruitment agency. Enjoy!

“If you align the right people, in the right role, at the right time, with the right skill set, and you’re being highly intentional about it, it can unlock some incredible things in your life and your business.”

HIGHLIGHTS:

0:00 – Intro and background on Jackie
1:29 – Jackie talks about how her parents have had the greatest impact on her life
2:08 – Resilience has had the greatest impact on Jackie’s career
2:57 – Jackie discusses her greatest setback and what she learned from it
5:23 – Jackie shares the advice she finds herself giving the most
8:34 – Jackie talks about how she walked backwards down the corporate ladder
9:35 – People are your greatest asset
14:30 – One of the things Jackie loves about Mike and Kara is how they own their story and the decisions made along the way
17:28 – We tend to take responsibility for success but not for the messes
18:42 – Jackie talks about the kind of calls she’s gotten from managers and how it’s her job to hold up the mirror and show them how to improve themselves
27:09 – Jackie left an environment she was comfortable with when she realized how important her network was
29:45 – Mike asks for Jackie’s best advice for small businesses
33:30 – Mike asks for feedback on whether it’s ok to communicate your weaknesses to your employees
39:15 – When you start to look outside of yourself for the answers, take a breath and look at yourself
39:52 – Jackie talks about her agency and explains the services she supplies to companies
46:26 – The best investment you can make is in your business and within that, your people
47:51 – Jackie discusses being at the doctor’s office when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and discusses disease and dis-ease

FIND | JACKIE SERVISS:

Instagram: @jackieserviss
Website: www.jackieserviss.com

FULL TRANSCRIPTION:

Mike Ayala: Thank you for joining me on the Investing for Freedom podcast. Today I’ve got a special guest on the show, and I’m super excited to have this conversation today. I’ve got Jackie Serviss on the show, and I’m going to let her get into her background. But I’ve had the privilege of getting to know her over the last few months and just like most amazing relationships, I’m on a golf course. I’m struggling with a challenge with a good friend of mine. And he says, you know what, you need to talk to Jackie Serviss. And I’m like, great, let me talk to Jackie Serviss. And the rest is kind of history, we were introduced. And, you know, just going forward, Jackie’s brought so much value, and energy into my life. And we’ll get into all that. But I’m just super excited to introduce you guys to her. So Jackie, thanks for being on the show.

Jackie Serviss: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here and chat all things with you today.

Mike Ayala: Yeah, it’s going to be fun, I’m super excited to just be in your energy. And man, your background and experience is just going to I think it’s just going to be a fun conversation. So let’s jump into the four questions. Who’s had the greatest impact on your life?

Jackie Serviss: My parents, my parents just watching their you know, what I loved is I just found out that you and Kara were high school sweethearts. So my parents are high school sweethearts, just watching them kind of go after their pursuit of their own version of happiness, go against the grain of kind of what their parents had set in stone for them, and really pursue some of the things that were a passion for them was just an inspiration to my brother and I and really, I think landed a lot of the foundations and the values that we stand on today.

Mike Ayala: That’s super cool. Yeah, that’s awesome. I love hearing that. If you could narrow it down to one thing that’s had the greatest impact on your success, what would that be?

Jackie Serviss: Resilience. Honestly, I think there’s been multiple times in my career and in life where I’ve been set, you know, had setbacks, or been kind of up against something that a lot of people would maybe fall into some of the victimhood mentality. And I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’ve definitely been there. But I always seem to find a way, I believe that there’s always a way out of any kind of dark time or hardship. And it’s just about navigating it, maybe asking the right questions, finding the right people to support you through it. Or for me, personally, it was really about tapping back into myself, and really kind of following my own guidance and intuition through a lot of that.

Mike Ayala: That’s super cool. I like it, I might circle back and get into some of that. What was your greatest setback? And what do you learn from it?

Jackie Serviss: This is my story, my friend. So a lot of what will come out of our conversation likely today is this particular moment in my life that really shifted everything for me. And it happened back in 2012. And for me, it was walking into a doctor’s office. And recognizing that there was, you know, I’ve been in a lot of rooms where we’ve had to give some difficult news. And there’s an energy around difficult messages. And I walked into a doctor’s office back in 2012. And the minute I walked into that room, I thought, Oh, my goodness, like what is about to be said here. And he sat me down. And that doctor said a lot of things, Mike, but the only words I heard was that I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In that moment, in my late 20s, I had just become a VP of HR, I just hit my leg dream as an executive in corporate. That moment was a setback/now the greatest gift I’ve ever had, that changed the complete trajectory of my life. It changed everything for me. My relationships, my Outlook, how I deal with things like setbacks, how I look at things as to how they’re happening for me, not to me. So that was the greatest setback and the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.

Mike Ayala: Oh, my goodness. Yeah. I mean, I’m pretty, I don’t want to say excited, but I’m pretty excited to peel that back a little bit. Because obviously, you know, that’s the design of the questions really is to get into that. But if you know when we can tie that together with the greatest setback is also your you know, your greatest thing that you’ve overcome, and that gives me a lot of insight. I didn’t even know that before we started just talking here. But the way you show up every single day, the energy you bring the like, I know, that’s not just a front, you know, sometimes in work, in business, we have to put on like this face and we have to like who Rob before a podcast and you just show up that way all the time. And it’s not even just like nine to five. I mean, sometimes you’re there for us at nine o’clock at night and you’re just always there. So I appreciate that about you. And that gives me some insight. So I’m interested to circle back on that. What is the piece of advice that you find yourself sharing the most?

Jackie Serviss: It’s such a good question. in the people context, you know, I have a lot of conversations with leaders right now, a lot of our networker, business owners, leaders in corporations, entrepreneurs, and they often come to me for suggestions or in the context of people. And the number one thing I often say to them, is you’re too slow to hire. So I see it so much, there’s two things. One, you don’t have alignment, so you have lack of clarity on who to hire. And then you’re six months late to the game, you’re 12 months late to the game. And it’s interesting, because I see a lot of leaders like their eyes light up, I don’t know if they’ve ever had somebody be that direct with them. But it’s true. We’re just too late to the game and then we become reactive. And that becomes a crazy cycle, as you know, as a business owner and leader. So happy to dig into that one as well as we chat.

Mike Ayala: I seriously have the chills right now just thinking about, because I was in a room last night of entrepreneurs and high-performing guys at a dinner. And well, I think mutual friend Kyle Depiesse, do you know Kyle?

Jackie Serviss: Love him, know him well. Yes, Great guy.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. So him and I have become, I told him last night like, I feel like I’ve known him for 100 years. But I was in a room with a bunch of guys last night. We’re just having dinner and he asked me to say something. And so I was just talking about what I’m grateful for. And I’m grateful that I said, Yes, Chris Harder reached out to me. And he said, Hey, I’m going on a guy’s trip, do you want to go on a guy’s trip. And I’m like, I was sitting next to Kara. And this was I don’t know, this was in October of last year, which is where I met Jim, who introduced me to you. And this is what I was talking about last night, like the power of just saying yes, and figuring it out later. I’ve always been that person when it comes to like even real estate. Like there’s literally real estate deals where I knew immediately, like I don’t, I don’t really care what the numbers say, this is my deal. I have to go with it. And Kara and I’ve talked about that a lot. That’s one of the things in our life that I think has made us successful. Like we just say yes, and we figure it out later. And when you tie that back into hiring, like I’ve been pondering this lately, leverage. So I’ve thought about leverage for years in the context of like real estate and debt and you know, being able to go further faster. But I’ve been thinking a ton about people lately. And really, the people that we surround ourselves with employees, again, attorneys, whatever it is, people on our team, those people are what separates us from everyone else. And when you talk about that, I want to dig in on that a little bit right now, when you talk about being too slow to hire, the labor pool is tough anyway. And I’ve talked to so many people, I’ve literally had this conversation probably 15 times in the last six months where people, you can’t find good help. You can’t find good people. Nobody wants to work. And I’m like who, like who do we have to become, and I’d love to just throw this back on you like who do we have to become to in order to attract that top talent. because the talent pool is thinning anyway. And then when you bring that in, like being too slow to hire and dragging our feet, we’re going through some hiring stuff right now. And you’ve brought us some great candidates. And I’m like sitting here, I’m worried that we’re going to lose them. Like that’s always in the back of my mind. So Let’s peel that back a little bit. Talk to me about that more.

Jackie Serviss: I mean, there’s so much there. And I love that you’re thinking about leverage in terms of people. and I see it so frequently in the small business space. And I always say I kind of walked backwards down the corporate ladder. So I started kind of big, big corporation, worked for PepsiCo for a decade, left PepsiCo joined a mid-sized company was their head of HR and got to dabble in kind of a more strategic role in that space, then left and started my own business and really started consulting with startups and really scaling startup businesses. So tech companies and different businesses across the US and Canada. And, you know, again, how we met was through this network of people, because we both said yes to an experience to get involved and to surround ourselves with different people that think in different ways. And across all of that the entirety of the scale. So whether it was big corporate, or when I’m working with small businesses right now, people really are your greatest asset. You know, and I know that that’s been said multiple times, but we often forget about how, when we’re building and scaling businesses, one of the tendencies I see so often is we hold on to control, right? So it’s our baby, we started this thing, we kicked it off, whether you’re in corporate or not. So if it’s your team, you started this team, you started this initiative, you started the project, and we hold on and we cling to that particular business endeavor. And what I see is it’s almost like this scarcity mindset or this fear of really letting go and allowing another human to come into your business and cultivate and create and take things off of your plate. And yes, that is the stages of becoming a true leader. So when you ask the question, who do you need to become, you know, I go back to the E-myth book all the time. So technician, manager, leader, like, let’s talk about that in that context, because it’s really easy to kind of, I love the way in which he framed it up. So technician is I’m in the business doing the work. So I’m the actual person doing the job. manager is, I’m the person that’s giving day-to-day operational tasks to the person that’s doing the job. The biggest transition I see with business owners and leaders in corporate and in small businesses is the step between manager and leader. I now let go of the day-to-day tasks and step into a visionary mindset, I hold space, I get clarity on where we’re taking this thing. And I trust that I have the leverage or the people to be able to do what they were hired to do. And to let go of the control and trust that as long as they know where we’re going, as long as they have the right values as long as culturally the right fit, they got this and to really trust and let that go. So it’s such a, it’s such a cool question. Because I’ve been having that conversation, a lot of it like, where are you in this journey? And where do you want to be and therefore Who do you need to become as a leader to get there.

Mike Ayala: That’s so good. I want to like throw a parallel at you that has really helped me and then kind of circle back to this manager-leader conversation and just open it up for you to really maybe coach us and train us and teach us. So it’s interesting, because when I look backwards, you know, Kara and I started our first company in 2004. We sold it in 2014, scaled quickly. I mean, I was at 100 employees before I even knew what to do. And I was definitely, my business was outgrowing my leadership skills, right? And so at every turn, I was looking for mentors, leaders, guidance, leveraging wisdom around me all the above. Along the way, I started investing in real estate. And I found myself at this point in 2014. And I want to say this, and I’ll toss it back to you. We exited the business in 2014. And I was frustrated as a leader. I was really frustrated. And I’ll never forget actually saying this to Kara, like I want to find a business where I don’t have any customers and I don’t have any employees. Like I was burnt out on people. But what I also realized and so okay, along the way, we had got passive real estate investment. And then I just said, you know what, I’m just going to invest in real estate. But I quickly realized that the reason why I was burnt out on people is because I wasn’t growing as a leader-manager, I’ll let you peel that back. And maybe again, just take that a little deeper for us. But I realized, like, a lot of those problems were me, I hadn’t, you know, I hadn’t grown to the level, I hadn’t matured to the level of people are messy, right? Like, I mean, emotions are messy. I was, there was like a body, there was like a trail of bodies behind me everywhere I went, because as a young, you know, half the time I’m trying to balance cash flow and customers that are pissed off and employee emotions, and I just wasn’t emotionally intelligent enough to be the leader that I needed to be. And so let me pull this together. Leaving there, then I’m like, you know what, I’m just going to invest in real estate. But what I quickly realized is, what was a passive real estate investment for me just became a business. And so really, at the end of the day, I found myself saying so many times, I look at rentals as employees, they’re the same, like 1 to 10 is really challenging. I think 1 to 10 employees is challenging. And I think 1 to 10 rentals is challenging, because you’re doing everything as a manager, leader, all of that. And but then as you begin to scale and you begin to grow as a leader, and you begin to learn to delegate like it gets easier. And it’s the same thing with rentals or anything else in life. And so, you know, peel that back a little bit more for us on the manager-leader. I love that. But I think there’s probably a ton there for our audience.

Jackie Serviss: Man, one of the things that I’ve loved about you and Kara since the minute I met you both lose your ability to recognize and own, you know, the story and some of the decisions you made along the way, the fact that you can go back and pinpoint that moment when you were frustrated because I know that feeling I’ve had big teams that have reported to me, I know the feeling of being burnt out by people, you know, your phone rings at all hours, you never know what’s going to hit the, you know what’s on the other end of that call. You don’t know what’s going on in people’s personal lives, you get highly integrated into people’s personal lives and business lives and becomes messy. So I love that you acknowledge and own the fact that a piece of that was your own development as a leader. That speaks volumes to who you are as a person and a leader today. That growth from 2014 when you sold today at 2021. I am actually curious if I can push this back and then I will answer that question, what did you do between 2014 and 2021 to actually change that mindset or see that differently now?

Mike Ayala: I’ll try to make this extremely short. I’ve said this before, and you’ve probably, maybe you’ve heard me say this, but when I sold that business, it was the best and worst day of my life. Because my entire identity and who I was, and everything that I thought had me pissed off, was I just needed to tweak certain little things. And I realized quickly that, you know, I’ll probably never retire. I was 34 years old and literally retired. I mean, I still get a paycheck from that exit today. But it’s never really about the money. It isn’t about retirement. In fact, I even hate that word retire like we’re going to tire again. So, for me, it was like really going to this point, and I didn’t go into a deep depression or you know, get suicidal or any of that, but I was kind of like, lost without a purpose. And so I think it was really that right there. Like all of a sudden, getting to the point where all these things that I thought I hated in my life, I was just resisting, really fully leaning into that emotional intelligence and learning and becoming a better version of me. And all the problems that I had around me, all those bodies that were dead behind me that. I mean, I literally had an awake of people that I just, that was all me. And we can blame. I still have a, there’s a girl that is in a couple of mastermind with Kara and I today that we were business partners with early like really early on, I was probably 26 or 27. She was super young. And she told me just two weeks ago at our couples mastermind, she’s like, you told me a long time ago that you didn’t want to hear excuses from me. And she talked about all these things. And I still, I have that on my phone today, No more effing excuses. And that’s not to everybody else. That’s to me. Because we can literally look at all these problems and challenges and everything that we have around us. And we can make excuses around it. Or we can just accept the fact that I’m in control of my own problems. You know, here’s the thing. Like, if we achieve a certain success, we’re going to take responsibility for that, right? But we don’t want to take responsibility for all the messes. And so really going through that process, and realizing that all those things that I thought I hated in my life, and that I didn’t really want, I just needed to tweak my perspective. And just lean into it and realize that, and this is hard for us to say but realize that like I’m born for this, I actually love people. What I hate is when I’m not getting results. And that’s a direct reflection on me. If I’m not getting something that I want out of good people, what am I doing wrong. And so when I really leaned into that, that’s what happened during that period of time. And I took some time off where I wasn’t running businesses, I dated my business partner for two years, I literally worked in the business that I currently own 50% of for like a year and a half without any pay, any compensation, any equity because I needed something to do but I didn’t want to like fully commit. So that’s what was happening. I was just, I was going through a, it was a me process. I was becoming a higher version of me. I feel like I am getting interviewed.

Jackie Serviss: It just, it feels like and I, thank you for being so honest about that, because it’s a conversation I have with so many leaders. You know, this week, I’ve had six calls. in those six calls, this is what the conversation sounds like. Listen, I’m having a problem with Joey. I don’t know if Joey is the right person for us. I think we need to let Joey go. Okay, listen, I am all for hire, hire smart and fire fast. If they’re not the right people, I’m with you. And I will stand behind you 100% of the way. But in 100% of these cases, there was something within the leader that was not set that they weren’t seen. And so sometimes my role is to hold up the mirror. Sometimes my role is to ask the question of, hey, so Joey’s been with you for 30 days. So did we set the, do we set clear expectations of what Joey would need to achieve in the first 30 days? Well, no. Okay. did we support him from an onboarding standpoint? Or do we just throw him into the fire? Well, he was hired to do a job and like, so these are the kind of comments that come out from a conversation like this. I have been there. I’ve been that leader. So I can see when people are BS-ing, right? Sometimes when we step into leadership roles, not sometimes all the time, there’s a level of responsibility that we need to step up and really do the inner work on ourselves as well, in order to really guide and inspire and align what our vision is, what the business model needs to look like in order to achieve that vision. And who are the right people to enable that for us. And I see that gap so often. So when I think about the leader and I think about getting to that kind of final stage. It’s letting go of the day-to-day operations. Yes, you can know what’s happening in the business. Yes, you can be accountable and or have people accountable to you to give you updates. But it really is aligning that vision to the business model and structure and strategy. And then the people strategy really comes in as to who are those core players that are going to enable that for you. And it’s just this really interesting thing that I see. So I’m so grateful that you showed and she kind of shined the light on that, because so many leaders look outside of themselves for the answer. And I’m going to go as far as a 9.99% of the time, it’s really back to the human that’s leading the business, and making sure you’re making the right choices and getting the right humans in the right role at the right time to be successful.

Mike Ayala: That’s so good. As you’re talking about this, my dad, I remember years ago, him saying, if man built it, I can fix it. And that has nothing to do with what we’re talking about other than it’s like a parallel, a parallel that I hear in this conversation. Because the reality is if somebody, if somebody else, anybody else can run a successful business, and have happy employees, and figure out how to get people motivated. If somebody else can do it, I can do it too. And what it really is, I think it just comes back to that same parallel that my dad always said about equipment. If some man can build and design this, I can fix it. It’s just reverse engineering, you know, what’s the problem here? What’s the real issue. And as you’re talking about this, I want to say this, and then and then get your two cents, I’m looking around. And I’ve got a group of employees that have been with me, you know, for a long time. when I sold that business, there was a group of employees there that over the next year, year and a half, two years, they all left and went off and did their thing. And literally, so when I joined back with my partner, and we started reassembling a team, I started making phone calls all across the country, Chicago, Nevada, I started relocating people like from all over the country, to reassemble my team again. And so I’m thinking through this, it’s like, you know, one of them was managing restaurants, and one of them was managing an insurance company, all this different, they were off into different things, like different realms completely than what we’re doing. But the point I’m making here is I’ve seen a lot of people that I’m listening to you, and I’m looking around me and the people that have been successful, it’s because I’ve spent time with them. I like working with them. That’s one thing that I’ve really realized about me, I don’t care how great, how qualified they are for the job or anything else if I can’t be with them every day. It’s not going to work long-term. Because when I look around me, and I see the people that are in my world, and that want to be in my world, we get along well, and I don’t think you have to be best friends to work well, you know, long term, but we have to, there has to be some kind of, I guess synchronicity involved there. And so I guess that being said, that 30-day person that we’re letting go. I mean, if we haven’t given them enough time, the mentoring the guidance, the expectations, the clarity, just even being there for them. How do we expect them to survive or even be a win? Is that even possible?

Jackie Serviss: Yeah, I’m a big believer in the fact that when I have conversations with leaders and I, you know, choose to work with certain people, it really comes down to understanding if they recognize that we’re not just hiring talent here. We’re not just filling a seat, right? We’re not just putting somebody in a box that we put on an org chart, like I believe and getting clear on the boxes first. So understanding what the org structure needs to look like in order to enable the business. But once we do that, and we have clarity, it doesn’t stop when the person says yes, and signs the offer letter, it actually just starts. That’s your start date and leadership. You can hire recruiter, people strategist or partner to come in and help you find this great talent. But the real endeavor is when that human comes into your environment, into your culture, and how are you fostering success of that person? So I’m a believer in things like getting really clear on effective onboarding. So what is 30,60,90 days look like? How are we available for these new humans? How do we get them peer, mentors or surrounded by really good people within our businesses? How do we set them up for success so that if they feel like they don’t know where to go, there’s at least an outlet for them to go to and ask a simple question without getting shot down or felt like they’re, you know, not enough or that they don’t know something in the business yet. Like, I don’t know about you. I have employees in my own business. man, it Like, I think it takes somewhere between month three and month six for people to settle in a bit. And really start to, okay, that’s how we want to operate. And that’s how you work. And that’s how, you know, we work as peers, I really believe that if we want to see if we think it’s the right person, and we’ve already chosen to invest in this person, then we also need to think about not just the attraction model, but what’s the development plan to retain this person. I hear so many people, like let’s just go hire, let’s just go hire, let’s just go hire. cool, Let’s hire and then what? And then what?

Mike Ayala: Well, and I think, especially when we’re in a high growth environment, right, that’s probably even more important than because, as you were saying that, like, I sit back, and I mean, it’s been, I mean, I was 24, when I left my job. it’s been almost 20 years since I knew what it felt like to be an employee. And it’s been 25 years since I knew what it was like to you know, be hired in a new job. And you know, you’re trying to integrate into all these employees that have been there for a while, and what does that feel like in the insecurities and you’re trying to prove yourself and all the things that these employees are going through? And all we’re thinking about is like, why didn’t you do this? I can’t even imagine what that feels like. And so I appreciate, like this mirror that we’re having right now, just even for me to like, reflect on what that even feels like to be a new employee. I can’t even remember what that feels like.

Jackie Serviss: I’m with you. It’s been a while for me too, not quite 25. I’m thinking about a decade now. But you know, I also left an environment I was with PepsiCo for a decade, I knew that system, I knew those people to your point, I could pick up a call and get anything I needed to get done, done. Because I had spent a decade putting money in the relationship bank, building relationships, working with people dealing with adversity, moving through different situations. And I remember leaving Pepsi and joining a midsize organization. And that network, we don’t realize the importance of that network, when you’re in a corporation in that capacity. Because joining something new and feeling like I don’t even know who to call for the most simple question really does make somebody uneasy or comes with, you know, it just makes you a little bit uneasy. So the importance of those first 30 days for me is like, let’s get that person some solid footing. Let’s make sure they’re welcome. They know they’re loved on, they know where to go to for what they need. And, you know, they’re really, they’re really high performing people, they’ll take off and get your results in 30 days. But they’ll work even harder for you if there’s a solid footing. And there’s time invested into time, Resources, Relationships, whatever that looks like for you. But there’s something invested into them too, watch what people will do for you, when you take a moment to help them in a moment of transition in life and health and business. When you’re there for people through massive transitions, which one is career, Man, they’ll go to the moon and back for you. They really will.

Mike Ayala: It’s so good. I love that. So we have like, I mean, even in our audience, there’s you know, a lot of people that are employees that are navigating some of this or even small business owners. And so there’s just so many different like, I guess, sizes and layers. And even like when we’re talking about like, I think one to 10 employees is super challenging for what we’re even talking about. Because, you know, if you’re a person that’s, you know, running a six-person organization, you’re probably trying to, you’re probably running pretty lean and mean. And so how do you, like give us, I forgot what that’s like too. because, like even right now launching the new fund and buying HVAC companies, I refuse to get very far into this without first identifying a CEO and the right team. but I kind of forgot what that’s like to even have six employees. So how do you I mean, that individual that owns a business with three or six employees, they can’t spend 40 or 50% of their time, like on onboarding process. So did you outsource that? Or what’s your best advice for small businesses?

Jackie Serviss: Yeah, so you know, it’s interesting, I would be at that 10 mark in my own business, right. So I’ve run teams of 200. And I’ve also now have my own team of 10. So I know I can put myself in both scenarios. And what’s interesting in this particular role that I’m in now as leader of my own agency, and model is, for me, it’s about developing that time upfront and developing a plan for people and having effective communication. So I’m not a believer in time equates to better output. Like I don’t believe that I need to spend 60 minutes and that 60 minutes is going to equal the same amount as your 60 minutes or somebody else’s 60 minutes. I am a big believer in what do I know, are the fundamentals that made people successful in their first 30,60,90 days? What are those one or two things behavioral, tendency, that they know that they have support? And that they have what they need to be successful? And how do I ensure that that’s available to them in that transition process? So I don’t think it’s a time thing. I think it’s how do you have effective systems, processes and technology to communicate effectively and how do you hold dedicated space to that person to be able to feel welcome to either ask you a question or this is where structure comes in. Because Mike, you know, I’m at the point now to where I don’t want to answer every question on my team. So that’s always a cue for me is like, wow, I need to spam breaker role. I mean, I need that level between me and people doing the work that can really guide and mentor and support the day-to-day operations, go back to the three layers. As I start to become leader, I need to consider who’s my manager. And that manager can be multiple different things, that can be a COO, that can be a general manager, that can be multiple different roles, but who’s my [31:11 inaudible] to actually, like, handle the day-to-day operations. So I can step into being relational and educating and spending more time in the visionary side, which is you and I talked about assessments like where I love to live, that’s my zone of genius. That’s where I’m best is really developing the strategic insights behind what’s going on in somebody’s business.

Mike Ayala: I love it. I want to share something with you that I think you know about me and right, wrong, different. Just a thought I have, and I would love your professional. Is this right? Is this wrong? One of my mentors, Rob Thomas always says like, we don’t apologize for being awesome, just own it, whatever it is, right? Like our superpowers, our genius, whatever. coaching with Dan Sullivan, and just like really getting clear on who I am in the last few years, I just like you just said like I’ve really realized traction really helped me to understand that I’m a visionary. And leaning into that, it’s also helped me to understand what I’m not. And so even going through interview processes. This is what the question that I really want to ask you. I’m literally thinking about designing a white flag that says, Mike, I need help. And I just realized that I can’t be a micromanager. Like, I can’t be there all the time. I have a lot going on. I’m trying to slow down. But I don’t know if I’m ever going to slow down. And so just communicating my weaknesses, to my direct reports, or employees that I hire up front is something that I’ve felt like works for me. And that white flag is important because like literally, I’ve had people come to me crying. And they’re like, I’m drowning. And I just want to do the best for you. And I love working for you. But I’m drowning. And I’m like, I didn’t even know. And so just tear me apart, like I want like honest feedback, because I, I’ve went through this period of time where I’ve like done a ton of leadership work, and I’m trying to be more present. And I’m trying to be more involved. But really, I’ve got so much going on. And I don’t I’m not trying to make that as an excuse. But is it okay to like communicate your weaknesses to the employees and people that work with you so that they know how you operate as well. What’s your thoughts on that?

Jackie Serviss: Like, heck, yes. Are we not all humans here? Like we all have areas of you know, I’m rereading the big leap, right. So like those upper limiting spaces and like the zones of genius, and recognizing one of the things that I recognize is, there are tasks, there are things that I don’t like it, Jackie does not like doing certain things, and quite frankly, it takes me eight hours to do. I could call our buddy Jim Carter and he do it in 10 seconds. You know, it’s just not my niche. It’s not where I jam, it’s not what I get energy in. And I leave that day feeling like really deflated and defeated. What I started to realize really early in my career is I need to surround myself with people who are completely opposite than me. Because if I surround myself with people who love to do the things, their zone of genius is actually the thing that is my weakness, then collectively, we’re going to have more diverse thinking and diverse thoughts, diverse outcomes, we’re going to have a better output at the end of the day, versus Jackie just always coming up with the answer. So I also think to your question, you know, it makes us human. Sometimes when we’re the leader of the organization, Mike, I’m positive this has happened. People see you as the leader and they’re, you know, mesmerized by what you’ve done. And sometimes that’s intimidating, right to say like, oh my goodness, I feel like I’m struggling. But if you can be open and honest and transparent and share your vulnerabilities of, hey, these are the things that I’m really good at. And these are honestly my weaknesses and things I struggle with. So team, I give you permission. If you see me doing these things, and it’s not landing the right way, or I’m too direct to my communication to you and something doesn’t that land right, I give you permission to speak up, you are welcome to share what’s going on. And so I I’m always a big fan of, you know, sharing your weaknesses, or just sharing areas that like you really want to invest your time in. And surrounding yourself with people that have strengths where you don’t, it’s so critical.

Mike Ayala: And I love how you bring that back to that human element too, I think it’s so important. When you’re talking about the leader manager role. I’m having like, so many epiphanies, usually, this is really good. And I’m excited about it. I think we should probably have a quarterly human podcast update with Jackie Serviss.

Jackie Serviss: I love that.

Mike Ayala: So I’m thinking about all this. And even just thinking about like you were talking about the assessments, and I was thinking back to coaching with Dan Sullivan. And we’re in a room of 75 entrepreneurs, right. That’s what Strategic Coach really attracts. And when we talk about the Colby score, 10% of individuals are high quickstarts, like eight or above, right. And they did a survey just in our room of 75 entrepreneurs in our coaching room. And of the 75 entrepreneurs in their 97% of us were eight quickstarts or higher. And not because necessarily because they went after quickstarts. But because the type of people that they’re coaching or you know, high-performing entrepreneurs, which just happened to be quickstart. So this is my point. Just even like when I sold my business and went through that period of time, where you’re asking me, like, you know, what did you learn and what changed, and I was doing that period of internal, if I can really understand who I am as a quickstart and what my weaknesses are. I think that’s the most important thing. But what we tend to do, as I pointed everybody else, and you know why we hired the wrong person and why they failed and why they didn’t get this done, and why they that’s really what I think you helped me like pull that all fully together, when I really got to the point where I understood who I was as an individual, as an entrepreneur, as a visionary. And I quit trying to become all these other things and just realize, as you said, I need to surround myself with people that have these strengths and areas that I don’t, my literal goal is to do nothing. I want to be like the conductor, right, like, and in order to do that. Like, I’ve got to get really laser clear. And so whether it’s leader manager, whatever role our listeners are in right now, even if they’re just leading a committee, like what are your weaknesses? And what do you need to surround yourself with? And I think if we can get real clarity, ego is the enemy, right? If we can just get really clear on what our weaknesses are, then I think a lot of the problems around us will be solved.

Jackie Serviss: Amen. And let’s be real, Mike, you want to be at a golf course, with a golf club. And as you’re swinging know that everything is taken care of in your businesses in life. So, I love that.

Mike Ayala: And people around us are empowered. And they love that too. That’s the thing… I think it was I don’t know, if it was you, somebody, over the last couple days, like I’ve found myself feeling guilty, sometimes even about that, like feeling guilty, wanting to be on a golf course, or being on a golf course when I know that my team is working. But you know what, they’re happy when I leave them alone and stay out of their way too. So the problems are really here. We are the problem.

Jackie Serviss: Mike, you and I are the problem, we’ll just leave the podcast at that. But it really is back to the human, whether you’re leading the team, or you’re an individual contributor, when you start to look outside of yourself for the answers when you start to point fingers outside of yourselves for whatever excuse or whatever’s happened. My advice to you is to really just, you know, take a breath, and maybe ask yourself the question like, how am I involved in this? How can I be a part of the solution? What role am I playing?

Mike Ayala: So good. So tell us about your agency. I want to make sure we get that in. And then I want to circle back to we got a little bit of time left. I want to circle back to your day in the doctor’s office because I want to see how that all brought you to where you’re at.

Jackie Serviss: Absolutely. Yeah. So my agency, I like to keep things simple. So I keep it via my name. So it’s just Jackie Serviss. I really have classified it as serve people because that’s ultimately what I’m all about. People always joke about my last name, but I think that there’s some synergies to it that you know, I really do have a big service arm and serving, people serving leaders, serving humans is really a big piece of who I am and kind of core to my values. And so yeah, what we do is we essentially go in and we help people from a strategy side of things and get really clear on what is your vision, what is your business strategy and then ultimately, who are the people you need in your team, on your team in order to enable that, so I mean, I see a lot of leaders forecast financials, but I help you forecast talent. And so that’s really what I do. And I help you kind of think through that. And then the fun is, we have an agency model where we’ll actually work with you to find those people. And we’ll find those people, we can help you develop those people and make sure that you have a solid culture in place as well.

Mike Ayala: I love it. And I’ve, you know, we’re, I don’t know, we’re pretty far along in the process. But I’ve really enjoyed working with you from start to finish the energy, the process, the way you show up the people you bring, the amount. I’ve used a lot of recruiters and I don’t even think I’ve told you that we’ve spent a lot of money on recruiters over the years. And a lot of times, I feel like it’s just, you know, you’re just punching another number. And I told my controller in an email this morning, that you’re my favorite recruiter in the world. And that’s true, because you’re so involved, and I appreciate it.

Jackie Serviss: Thank you. Yeah, I really appreciate that Mike. I come from internal, right. I know what the recruiter world’s like. And my philosophy is, I’m here to be a partner. So it’s not transactional. It’s not a one-time thing. It’s how do we make you successful over the long term and that’s really how I view things. So thank you. Thank you for that. That means a lot.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. And some of our listeners, you know, they might have large businesses, which I know for a fact some of them do, but a lot of them are probably, you know, in that small startup, again, you know, mid-size even. What are the services that you provide for them?

Jackie Serviss: Small midsize? Yeah, so I try to keep it really simple. It’s similar. I try to keep my strategy sessions and everything really accessible to all. One of the models I came up with because I realized that having been across all levels, so big corporate, mid-size, small company, and then entrepreneur myself. There’s sometimes a cashflow difference. And I say that like there is a cashflow difference between the different stages of business that you play in. So we’re a big corporation might be able to just hire a recruiter and pay a fee for that person to go find somebody, I realized that my friends, my peers, people building businesses beside me, ahead of me, alongside me, that model didn’t work for them. And yet, they still needed clarity on people. And yet, in fact, sometimes they were the ones that needed the most. And one resource could 10X their business, one resource could change the trajectory of their own lives. And so I sat with that for about six months and tested some different models. And what I’ve essentially done is as now I’m like the car salesmen, but not really, but I essentially finance talent for small businesses. And I do that for twofold. One, I mean, it shows a commitment that I’m willing to stand behind anybody that I bring, and two, it’s really at the end of the day for the business owner to really support them from a cash flow standpoint and making sure that they get the support they need, but that they’re not bankrupting their business doing that.

Mike Ayala: I love that part of your model. And you know, we were already pretty far in when I saw that I get to make whatever how many ever payments it is, and all that. But I’ve often asked the question, like, almost always looked through the lens of, can I afford not to do this? That’s how I make a lot of my big-ticket decisions, whether it’s people or investing in equipment, or whatever it is, can I afford not to do this? And so I always look at that hire, I’m going to make $100,000 hire. Okay, what’s my ROI on that? If I don’t do this, how much is it costing me because I’m spending, you know, 12 hours a week, or whatever that number is doing this. And if I just take that amount of time off, it’s going to bring me 300,000 this year, and it’s going to cost me $100,000. But I love what you do for the small business, because number one, I think they should just, I think we should all analyze the same way I do, can I afford not to do this period? Whether I have to pay for it all upfront or not. But the fact that you help that and finance that over time, that’s so huge. It really takes another layer of excuses of not making the investment in people off the table. So that’s really cool.

Jackie Serviss: Thank you. Yeah, thank you for that feedback. I’ve found just that, right, where people made excuses before about not being able to, and they get into that reactive loop of just, I’m sure you’ve seen this. They will go back to Joey. They hire Joey because Mike told them to hire Joey without really vetting this person. Because they’re in dire need. And you know, they’ve hit burnout and they can’t keep doing what they’re doing. And so they hire their friend’s buddy who comes in and says that they can do all these things for them, but they haven’t taken the time to really assess if this is the right role, the right player, all the things. you know, that costs you more, like that costs you so much more. And so I’m a big believer in like, hey, let’s do it right the first time, let’s get the foundations, it doesn’t mean things don’t change, your business change and that model changes, and therefore people change, it’s all good. But why not get the foundation right off the gate. And if you’re going to only have one or two employees, let’s get the one or two employees that are going to 10 x 20 x 50 your business, so that you see the result on what people can have for you. And that just becomes a cycle of Okay, now, I’m not as afraid to invest in the next person. people are afraid to invest in the person because they had a bad experience with their first hire, often, because they were a little reactive and who they hired, and they didn’t vet them the right way.

Mike Ayala: Well, that’s so interesting, because so many people are like wanting to, you know, get into real estate investing, because they know if they buy a $300,000 house, that it’s going to bring them a $3,000 return. I mean, the biggest, you said this earlier, but as a business, I think the best investment we can make is in our businesses. I’m a real estate guy. But I think the biggest return we can ever make is in our businesses, and then use that return that we make out of our businesses to invest in real estate, and build our wealth. And the best investment, generally speaking, I think the best investment that we can make in our businesses, is our people.

Jackie Serviss: Yeah, if you align it the right way, if you really do align the right people in the right role at the right time with the right skill set, and all that, all those kind of core things, and you’re being highly intentional about it, man, it can unlock some incredible things in your life and your business, giving you capacity back. I’m a big believer, when you think about investing for freedom, a piece of that for me is time. I have four-year-old twins, I want to be, I love work, I love my business, I also want to be available for my family. So for me leaving some of the 80-hour week rolls is having the freedom to choose when I’m working and really have the freedom to invest in other things in my life that are equally as important to me.

Mike Ayala: So good. Do you mind taking us back to the office? And that was obviously a pivotal point for you. So bring me through what happened there? Where did it take you? I’m sure it got you to where you’re at today.

Jackie Serviss: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, I tell the story a lot. And I’m not sure if you can relate to this. But I have a feeling you might be able to, you know, a lot of the first kind of chapter of my life was really around being successful. But doing that through the lens of getting validation from others. So success meant a lot of different things. So I actually grew up in athletes. So I swim at a high level, swam for Canada. And athletics taught a lot about you know, showing up and teamwork and dedication and getting the work in and all of that, that I’ve definitely blended and carried with me. But it also showed me one of the first things that showed me was wow, when I succeed, or I do really well people pay attention to me. And I took some of that same philosophy into my corporate career. So I was hired from PepsiCo out of school and really went on this really cool trajectory quickly because I led this emerging leader’s new grad program for them that went global. And in the PepsiCo world went viral, not on the outside world, but it just gave me opportunities, it presented opportunities for me quickly. And it was so interesting, I kept thinking I was like chasing something, right? It was always like chasing the job, or chasing the title, or chasing the money or chasing the car chasing the house, or the husband or whatever I was chasing, I felt like I was always never enough and kind of chasing towards that. And 2012 for me in the moment was, you know, the scariest news I’ve ever been given. I was 27 years old, relatively healthy, looking from the outside in. And yet, I was in an office with a doctor telling me I had a brain tumor. You know, I didn’t know what that meant. Mike, I didn’t know what does that mean? You know, it was the first time in my life I had been around death before. But it was the first time in my life, I actually started to contemplate like, wow, like I’ve never actually looked through them and said like, I know I will die at some point, I recognize that, but man, we don’t know when. And it can happen that quick. Like the outcome of that could have been different. And I am humble enough to say that and recognize how grateful I am for every day because of that experience. And so it’s just been interesting since 2012 is it really took me on an inner journey. So you talk about the moments where you started to go down that inner journey. It took me on this deep inner world, this deep inner track, where I just started to ask deeper and deeper questions. Who am I? What am I here for? What is this all about? What’s my purpose? Who do I want to serve? And that as you know, just leads to doorways, leads to doorways, and those simple yeses of stepping into the next question, or stepping into the next conversation or saying yes to get on a plane and go to the next mastermind, led me to today. And it also led me to this really cool experience where, through a lot of work that I did with Dr. Joe Dispenza, and kind of rewiring my brain, it was actually the undoing of that tumor and I actually healed the tumor. Yeah, so it was a ride, my friend, it’s been a ride. And there’s still lots of things that come up along that way. But it is very much, it has very much shaped who I am today. And I am so grateful for that.

Mike Ayala: When you say you healed the tumor, like you went through that process, like you healed the tumor.

Jackie Serviss: Literally, what I realized is that there was this like dis-ease or disease in my body, which broke down like I break that word down to dis-ease, like I was so uncomfortable with myself, because I had been conditioned in such a way to really be focused on like the external, what people think and people-pleasing and all the things that I know, so many of us deal with day to day, that I didn’t even know what Jackie sounded like, like, I didn’t even know who I was, or what I wanted in life, or how I wanted to achieve my life and go after that. So I love that your whole message is about investing for freedom, like investing for freedom to me means so many different things. And one of those things is really getting in alignment and clarity on what freedom looks like for you. And that was the biggest shift for me is going from, you know, kind of big corporate exact, I’d hit the role, I’d hit the title and had the car I had the husband at that point in time, I had all the external things. And yet my internal list broken.

Mike Ayala: Yeah, that’s so good. I mean, comparison is such a thief. And like you’re talking about just bringing that so far down into like your body literally being at dis-ease. And I think, I think this is such a valuable, important lesson for all of us. Because I mean, anybody that’s listening to this right now is, we can easily let our desire for more turn into turmoil. And I love the way that you’re repositioning this and bringing us back to, I think sometimes we look over how simple it is. But I’m always asking, like, what do you really want? Why do you want it? What are you going to do to get it measure results and adjust? But it’s really that simple. Like, what do you want? What does freedom mean to you? What does success mean to you? And that’s all that really matters. And it’s such a personal question. And so I appreciate, you know, you being so vulnerable and sharing that. So is did that take you out of the corporate world and bring you to where you’re at today? Or what did that look like?

Jackie Serviss: Yeah, so you think so right? Like a massive moment. I stayed in the corporate world for about two or three years after. And I think for purpose, like I was still navigating so much of the inner world that just keeping my outer world kind of consistent was important to me. For whatever reason, that’s how I approached it. And, it was through that experience, though, whereas I started to get clear on who I am and what I want, and what alignment really felt like, I kept seeing that it just wasn’t fully it. I’ve always, at my heart of hearts, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I’ve always loved to kind of build and create and ideate and, you know, have that kind of capacity. I just entered into my career, into Corporation. So my starting point was just a little bit different. And it took me 10 years to realize that it wasn’t the bath.

Mike Ayala: Well, and some people were going to be there forever. And that’s fine. So what does, I know you’ve probably got to wrap up, but what does not being in dis-ease look like to you?

Jackie Serviss: Yeah, such a good question. So the cool thing about like, as you become clearer about what alignment feels like in your inner world, the outer world shifts. And I’m not sure if you’ve noticed that as well. But for me, being in freedom or peace and not being in the state of disease anymore, is a continuous journey into for me spirituality, uncovering myself, growth, being around people who think differently than I do and being open to different perspectives. You said comparison is a thief, comparison is a thief. Instead of comparing I’m now asking, I’m curious, like, wow, you’re doing something so different than me or you’re thinking about this so differently than me, tell me more. Really curious and taking a curiosity approach to that. I have daily habits that have kept me healthy and kept me you know, active and from a spiritual standpoint, from an emotional standpoint, from a mental standpoint and from a physical, those are the four quadrants I really look at. And then I am so blessed. I know you feel the same way. But I have an incredible partner that really anchors me. So I have ups and he has downs, and he has ups and I have down. And I heard this on your podcast just recently. But as long as one of us really is continuing to be that rock for the other person, then that relationship has been, you know, everything for me as well.

Mike Ayala: That’s so good. I love it. I’m, like just so energized and fulfilled and just appreciate the conversation and I’m just sitting here thinking at the end of this, like I mean, even back to leadership responsibility. All the above, what I just heard you say, I mean, at the end of the day, you took responsibility for all of that in your life. And I’ve often, you know, nobody’s coming to save us. We’re the only ones that can do this for us. And so you know whether it’s our job, it’s our career, it’s problems in our business, it’s our spouse, any of the above. Taking that responsibility and realizing that we control the outcome, I think is so important. You’ve given us just a huge gift today.

Jackie Serviss: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

Mike Ayala: Thank you.

Well, I was so inspired by that conversation with Jackie Serviss that I did something I have never done. I forgot to tell you all where you can find her. And I’m just telling you right now. I mean, if you need any kind of recruiting services, if you need help just with strategy sessions around you know, building out a certain job description or a challenge you’re working with she’s so great at you know, doing strategy sessions, number one around positions in people, but then also creating what those roles look like and recruiting for the positions. She’s literally put the best of the best people in front of us. It’s been such a pleasure working with her.

So I wanted to hop on and just let you guys know where you can find her if you’re interested in her services. And as I said, I was just so inspired. I mean you know, a big part of my life has just been being surrounded by the best people in the world. And it’s a constant refinement, we’re constantly growing and trying to get better and what Jackie and her firm does, it’s just so valuable and powerful. It just makes you become a better version of yourself. And you know, her talking about the leader to manage your role, all of that stuff.

Whether you need it directly or you need it for people in your organization, I highly recommend you just reach out and follow her. She obviously just drops a ton of wisdom and knowledge. And so you can find her across all platforms at Jackie, J-A-C-K-I-E, Serviss, S-E-R-V-I-S-S or at www.jackieserviss.com, www.jackieserviss.com. I highly encourage you to reach out and just follow her because she will just obviously bring some huge value and just love and energy into your world. So I hope you enjoyed that episode. Thanks.

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Episode 102