Scott had just purchased his first company after a successful career in engineering and sales. He came to me by referral because he wanted to make sure he was successful in his first business owner/CEO role – where everything was on the line. I’m so grateful he decided to share his story in this video.
In our year together Scott grew his business by more than 30% while separating it from the seller’s business, relocating the company, and upgrading his team.
“… I think that’s a direct result of how we managed this process together. And the … the sessions that we had and how I think about the business, how I think about the team. I think the results are, are very tangible …” – Scott Ashton
Scott is another example of the kind of smart, driven, and purpose-driven executive who makes my role as an executive coach so satisfying. He was fully committed to our work – even when it make him uncomfortable – and that’s when it was most valuable to him.
I’m proud to have Scott in my family of coaching clients and to have him as a friend.
Are you trying to transition into a new role – or transform yourself or your organization?
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[00:00:00] Doug Brown: So, Scott, just kind of starting out, how would you describe how things were going before we started our work together and what got you to the point where you said I need some help?
[00:00:11] Scott Ashton: Well, it was chaos. That’s the only succinct way to put it, we had just bought the company in May of 2020 which was in the middle of COVID. My wife and I were in two different states across the country. So, I was down here in Florida, and she was up in Connecticut working on the financial transition and manning the rest of the family and manning the house up in Connecticut.
And I was down here, we had just taken over the company and trying to get to know the business, the customers, the employees, and we were trying to do all of this simultaneously, separated by 1200 miles. So, it was pretty frantic, and it was a pretty frenetic pace, and it still is, but for the first six months, it was pretty chaotic. We started working together in August and my thoughts around that were that I had always wanted to work with an Executive Coach, I have always believed that there’s value in that coaching regimen and having some accountability to somebody who is on your side.
And so, I had always wanted to do that. And at this point, now that we own the business the stakes were higher because it was our money, it was our employees that we were responsible for and there were a lot of unknowns and unknown known knowns. And so, through a recommendation through a friend of mine, Paul, I reached out and he just said, you know, why do you need us now? Why now? The stakes were higher, and that was the reason why I knew that I needed to have somebody on my side who was providing a little bit of a combination of insight, butt kicking, just listening and some really solid advice to help me, protect me in some ways, protect me from myself.
[00:02:05] Doug Brown: So fast forward to where you are now, about what, 10 months later?
[00:02:09] Scott: Yeah.
[00:02:09] Doug Brown: How is life different than it was back in those days?
[00:02:13] Scott: Well, it’s still pretty fast paced, but that’s the nature of owning a business, but it is much less chaotic. A lot of the lessons that we discussed through the course of the entire engagement, you know, have really kind of stuck with me as, as what might my Branding Coach calls micro scripts. These slow down, , , that goes through my head and it must go through my head 10 or 12 times a day. and not just when I’m driving to work, you know, through the course of the day, whenever we’re dealing with an issue or I’m dealing with an employee it’s slowed down.
The other thing that, , you know, in terms of a transformation is we talked a lot about managing energy and that is also something that is in my mind all, if not like just continuously through many times throughout the day, , in terms of how I manage my energy, my mental energy, , and just conserving my financial energy.
Just conserving that energy throughout the day and shedding things that use energy without providing any value. And I’ve had to do that a couple of times with major things that were, that were consuming a major amount of energy without a lot of return, where I think before our engagement, I would have tried to hang on to that.
For a lot of reasons of ego, some insecurity about giving something up, , you know, feeling bad about walking away from something and, , during, and after our engagement, I look at that and say, well, you know, , my energy level has to come first. And so I’ve been able to shed a couple of things that were no longer really value added and that’s added tremendously to my ability to be able to manage and focus on the company.
[00:04:04] Doug Brown: So, what kind of transformation did that allow you to make for your staff and in your business, where was your business then and where is it now?
[00:04:13] Scott Ashton: Well, I may have been driving a dominant tornado, so that played itself out quite a bit during the initial transformation. Just from the nature of my personality and the situation, another micro-script that we talked about frequently was using pressure versus force and the difference between the two in terms of leadership style and what not.
And you know that’s been another, I think, big transformation in terms of how I lead and really stepping back and letting the company operate rather than succumbing to my nature which is to jump in with both feet, both hands and take center stage and kind of crowd everybody else out.
So, I think there’s a lot less of that, which again has helped me conserve my energy which has been pretty powerful and allowed me to focus on the things that only I can do in the business, you know, major relationships whether it be external, internal, I’m thinking about the organization at a different level rather than what’s happening today, thinking about it long-term.
So that’s been a positive improvement and I think it set me up for success as we move from the transition of the business from separating it out from a much larger organization to creating a stand alone company, which I have today, but that was a pretty hectic transition because we had to unplug every system that we had, which was provided for by the former parent.
And we had to create it from scratch so that was a pretty hectic transformation and transition that we had to make now that that’s behind us, all of the lessons that we talked about really come into play because I think if I had reverted to my instincts it would have been far less successful.
[00:06:09] Doug Brown: And along the way, you had to make some pretty significant staffing adjustments too, right!
[00:06:15] Scott Ashton: Yeah. And, and that’s always difficult because there are people who make the journey with you and people who can’t make the journey and, you know, that’s where the accountability comes in because on the one hand your instinct is okay, well, let’s just get this done. And, you know, so on the one hand, it’s good to have somebody on the reins saying, let’s think this through let’s take a measured approach at this. And then once you get past that point, now let’s execute. And there were times where through the course of our discussions over many months, there was a little bit of the former and a little bit of the latter and some of the advice was, well, it’s not going to get any better, so let’s just deal with it right now.
Others were, let’s hold off and think this through and maybe there’s another solution. And we were able to do both of those I think to the overall benefit of the company.
[00:07:15] Doug Brown: Terrific. What measurable improvements can you look at over the last eight months as a result of our work together?
[00:07:23] Scott Ashton: Well, the business has grown. I mean, we’ve grown our business somewhere between 30 and 40% in the middle of all of the chaos of moving, relocating the company and changing our personnel and just taking over the ownership and having to get up to speed on the company. We’ve grown the company substantially.
So, you know, I think that’s a direct result of how we managed this process together. And the sessions that we had and how I think about the business, how I think about the team. I think the results are very tangible and, I didn’t keep it a secret from my team that we were having our sessions.
And so they also saw the difference and the ideas that I would come back with after a session or just generally how we approach problems. So, there were a lot of different tangible, both financial and just kind of cultural results that I think really helped the business.
[00:08:26] Doug Brown: So as now coming through all that, being in a much better place, how do you feel that’s really helped kind of your overall life?
[00:08:34] Scott Ashton: It settled me down a little bit, that’s probably the biggest thing is it’s settled me down. You know, work-life balance as an entrepreneur is never good, especially when your spouse is working with you in the business but you know we’re very happy down here, we’re happy with the business. And you know, again, managing my energy has been… has helped me say no to some things that I really wanted to do and just weren’t good areas for me to focus on.
So, staying focused I think has actually helped me a lot in terms of just work life balance and not being such a frantic freak all the time.
[00:09:17] Doug Brown: Okay. What was one unexpected benefit or bonus that you got from our work together that you might not have thought of when we got started?
[00:09:26] Scott Ashton: A lot of people that I talk to whether it’s on podcasts or that they keep a day journal and I don’t. And so, I think I’ve missed out on a lot of things because I don’t have those records to go back to and being able to go back through our notes through our discussions and, and kind of relive the journey has been a really pleasant surprise because I go back and I keep very detailed notes of our discussions and, the pre-work and what not.
And I look back to where we were when we started and where my head was and I often… as I was writing up the pre- work, initially I felt like I was whining and… but I look back, you know, it really has been a… it’s been a fun amazing journey. And I think that was, that was one of the kind of, well, that was one of the little Easter eggs, if you will, of working together was having that documentation trail, almost like a journal about what the transformation has been and some of the things that we’ve gone through.
And honestly, some of those things that I haven’t dealt with that I still need to deal with, but they are much less critical than I thought they were at the time. And that gets back to slowing down and, you know, thinking about the things that I should be slowing down on and the things that I should be accelerating.
[00:10:54] Doug Brown: So, what would you say to, if you had a friend or a colleague who is thinking about working with me, what would you describe that? Like and what would you say to them?
[00:11:05] Scott Ashton: Well, first I would say to do it you know, the relationship is great. Just being able to send a quick email to somebody who really understands what you’re going through and what the dynamics of whatever the situation that you’re dealing with is very, very helpful.
It also helps and Doug, you’ve done a great job helping kind of frame what my… what the issues are at any particular point in time. So that’s been very helpful. The other thing, just from my own, how I like to think is I tend to think much more unstructured, well, something in some respects I do.
And there were many times where we kind of set off on one path and I would set off on this stream of consciousness where there was some really just insightful nugget that you know, it was almost transformational and the ability to do that and to have somebody to bounce those ideas off is very, very powerful.
And you can’t do that. You have to be unstructured in a structured environment. I think that was really a wonderful thing, to be able to have that structure to allow me to be unstructured. And I think you were flexible enough to let me kind of follow those trails and create those insights, which I thought was fantastic.
[00:12:34] Doug Brown: Well, I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience. Any final thoughts you wanted to share on our little journey?
[00:12:43] Scott Ashton: Yeah, you’ve got to come into coaching with an open mind and you’ve got to be willing to be a little or a lot vulnerable, which is very difficult.
I’ve always not really been all that self-reflective, so initially it was a little bit of a challenge but after that we got comfortable very, very quickly with each other and developed that rapport. And it quickly became one of the most valuable things that I was doing with my time.
And so, I highly recommend anybody considering using Doug to absolutely go ahead and do it.
[00:13:22] Doug Brown: Okay. Thanks, Scott. I really appreciate your time.