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– [Announcer] Welcome to Sarah Squared, the podcast for all things marketing, business growth, branding, and social media. Sara Leisinger is the owner of Who’s Lance Digital Media, serving start-ups and solopreneurs. And Sarah Banowetz owns Banowetz Marketing, a full-service agency located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Together, they make up Sarah Squared, dedicated to the inspiration, motivation, and education of growing businesses. The podcast starts now.

Sara Leisinger: Welcome back to Sarah Squared. I’m Sara Leisinger.

Sarah Banowetz: I’m Sarah Banowetz.

Sara Leisinger: And we are your Saras.

Sarah Banowetz: Sarah Squared.

Sara Leisinger: We still haven’t decide who’s one or two.

Sarah Banowetz: You can be one.

Sara Leisinger: You can be one.

Sarah Banowetz: No, you’re one.

Sara Leisinger: I don’t know if I want to be number one.

Sarah Banowetz: You’ve got the personality for one.

Sara Leisinger: What does that even mean?

Sarah Banowetz: You told me that I have to do things I don’t want to do so you have to be number one.

Sara Leisinger: Fair. You have to be number one, who fights over that? Sarah Squared does. Anyway, we want to introduce our guest for today. Thank you for joining us today James. This is … Jim actually, he prefers Jim from James Mayhew Consulting.

Jim Mayhew: That’s correct. Yeah.

Sara Leisinger: Awesome. And we are going to be talking about kind of the pitfalls of the startup and how to frame that up properly today. So hey, Jim, tell us a little bit about your company. Tell us about what you do.

Jim Mayhew: Okay. So from a consulting standpoint, I do coaching and consulting both and there’s a little bit of a difference between them, but I like to learn about what’s going right in a business or in an organization, not so much what goes wrong. And I think that’s one of the stigmas with consultants is they have that reputation that they’re coming in to find out what’s wrong and tell you how to fix it. I like to come in and figure out what’s going right. I work with culture. I work with leadership. And we usually start there because companies can’t grow unless leaders are growing. So that’s that’s my focus area.

Sara Leisinger: Awesome. So you would be more along the lines of like maybe somebody who is past the startup phase, but they’re in the process of scaling somewhere, right?

Jim Mayhew: Yeah. That’s fair to say .

Sara Leisinger: So not quite a startup.

Jim Mayhew: Right. So usually I would say I’m working with organizations that have you know as few as five, generally 10 and up from there.

Sarah Banowetz: Jim, can you tell us a little bit about how you got to where you’re at today?

Jim Mayhew: I can, yeah. It is this. Opportunity sometimes create themselves and sometimes you help create them and that was what my experience was. And so I got here because I was in a company that was very, very fast growing. I started when it was relatively small and when I left … So I started when it was around 20, when I left it was about a 150 or just shy of a 150. And when I started, I felt like I had been sold a bill of goods that wasn’t right. And for the first couple years, I wasn’t happy, didn’t want to be there. I was a participant in the toxicity that existed and was just so strong. And I just made a decision one day like, this doesn’t work for me ethically, morally, any of those things, and it’s not helping my career either so stop.

Jim Mayhew: And I got there because I volunteered for a position that was being created and threw my hat in the ring and said, “I want to do this.” And it’s kind of a cool story. Longer story than probably what I could share here, but that was the start. And so I started running very quickly learning about what does it mean to have a thriving culture. What does that look like? Because I hadn’t experienced one before. And then I was bringing that back to our leadership and sharing that and basically showing them this is where we’re going to go. And I learned, I made mistakes along the way. When you talked about a few minutes ago, where you can run to quickly if you try and scale too quick. Well, I tried to do that with our culture too and I rocked the boat pretty good. So that’s kind of me. Like I had urgency and I don’t have a lot of patience, let’s go, let’s figure it out.

Jim Mayhew: And as a result, we got a little push back on that. So I had to learn how to play that game. Like there’s times when you can push and there’s times when you need to slow down. But it’s just immersing yourself in. It’s a game of of relationships and I don’t mean game by your trying to game it, I mean it’s authentic stuff, but you have to learn how to do that. And that was something that I spent a lot of time investing on, just pouring into people.

Sarah Banowetz: Nice. So one thing that I’ve heard recently is I heard an employee mentioned that they didn’t understand what culture meant in a company when they were asked, “What is the culture of your company?” And this is an employee. Can you explain that a little bit more to people who just … Back to basics there.

Jim Mayhew: It’s a really popular word. Like it’s buzzy, it’s trendy. Like culture, culture, right? I actually don’t really like the word, but the way that I think about it or the way that I frame it up is really simple, it’s how we want to get work done. That’s culture.

Jim Mayhew: So culture isn’t the perks that you might see, which is the you know the free soda on Fridays or the perks that you might have, like the ping pong tables or the gym time or whatever. Like those are elements of culture, but your organizational structure’s part of your culture, the way you communicate inside your company, your organization, that is part of your culture. It is how you promote, how you hire, how you let people go. Like how you coach them too. All of those things are your culture. So your culture is really the DNA of your business. It’s the personality of it. It’s the fuel.

Jim Mayhew: I’ll tell you how I rocked the boat too hard once, I said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Like I heard somebody else, I read that somewhere and I was like, “Oh, this is good. I’m going to drop this one in the leadership team meeting today.” And man, did I offend some people because we are a strategy based company. But here’s the thing, I don’t think one is more than the other, I think the two are both strategic and you have to do both, you’d have to do both really well.

Sara Leisinger: And frequently, I mean I definitely agree as far as like there are elements of what makes a company a company. That a lot of people look at as mutually exclusive, and they’re not. These things blend. It’s just finding the harmony of how they blend together for a particular company and what exactly the formula is, that’s going to make that particular piece or the way the leadership in the company is going how they want to convey that culture. Finding that blend is in my opinion really what makes a company for an employee a unique selling point and for a client, something unique that the client would actually want to work with.

Sara Leisinger: So Jim, when you’re talking to somebody who is in the process or maybe thinking about beginning a culture, I’ve kind of heard buzz. I’ve heard things around the community and I’ve heard companies were like, “Yeah, we should definitely start creating a culture.” But what I also here is either A, misconceptions or B, fear. Just fear of like, what do you do? Where do you start? What are your recommendations for them at that point?

Jim Mayhew: So a place to even think about … An entry point there is to say, your culture exist whether you are being intentional about it or not.

Sara Leisinger: Oh my gosh. That’s so good.

Sarah Banowetz: Yeah. That’s so good.

Jim Mayhew: So being intentional about your culture is important. You have to direct it. I can share a quick story from my past. The first time that we developed our core values, I intentionally covered them in my office before I showed them to my boss. And I needed to do that because I needed him to hear the setup. And so I showed him, I pulled the sheet off and he looked at them, he studied them for a moment and I remember just so distinctly what he said was, “You know, people are going to lose their jobs over this.” And I went, “Well, like … ” And I think deep down I understood that, I knew that, but to hear it out loud like that made me realize this is true.

Jim Mayhew: And this is what a thriving culture does and this can scare people. This can create some fear that people can have that apprehension that like, “Oh, like I don’t want to increase turnover.” But here’s the thing, what we’re talking about is being intentional about creating a culture where high performance and excellence are the expectation. We’re not settling for mediocrity anymore. If we continue to settle for mediocrity, whether you have two people or you’ve got 200 people, it’s not going to work. And so what I run into is that sometimes people have some fear around getting intentional about their culture.

Sara Leisinger: Okay. And kind of just basically combating that fear would be, “Hey, this is going to happen whether or not you embrace directing your culture.”

Jim Mayhew: Right. You know, in coming back to the example, we had written it out, we scripted out value statements. We had six value statements, and they were strong. They’re the same ones that company still uses today. And I actually had an employee, we were doing some work. As the chief culture officer, I had free rein to run into any department and a full access and people, they didn’t not want me there, they liked it when either myself or anybody in the team was present.

Jim Mayhew: And this particular individual said to me is like, “One of the things I admire most about us is that we don’t tolerate that and we’re not afraid to let people go that won’t be coached.” And I was like, “Wow! That’s really profound.” Because that was a manager that had to deal with some stuff on his team. And I think that speaks to one when a company … Like that’s when you get past the fears. Like you’re setting this up for success. You’re not setting this up for people to fail. You’re creating clear and high expectations. You’re creating a system of accountability around it

Jim Mayhew: I always train when we’re talking that let’s move from accountability to ownership, but we’re talking about the same thing here. Accountability still has to exist. And when you do that well and you incorporate vision with it, suddenly you’re creating sort of an unstoppable force.

Sara Leisinger: That’s so cool.

Sarah Banowetz: So the leadership being concerned that the people are leaving, the end result is the people that leave, don’t fit the culture anymore and you’re creating-

Sara Leisinger: Well, they’re deadweight on your payroll. You’re essentially paying money out that you shouldn’t be … You’re wasting your money.

Sarah Banowetz: And then you’re filling the company with really high performance achievers.

Jim Mayhew: That’s so true. And so let’s talk about brilliant jerk real quick. That’s something like … So some companies will have the brilliant jerk in their-

Sara Leisinger: That’s me. That’s why I can’t work for anybody else.

Jim Mayhew: They’ll keep them around because they’re great. Like they do their job well, they bring in the most sales revenue or whatever it is, but inside they’re creating, and this is why it’s not you Sara, is they’re creating toxicity, and they are bullying people, and they are stealing basically the joy of people around them. The cost is so much higher than any revenue that they could potentially generate. That brilliant jerk, it’s time to let them go.

Sarah Banowetz: Okay. So dive deeper into that one. Dive a little deeper into that one because me, I just I have a hard time with this. I’ve experienced it. When I was first out of high school, I worked in a doctor’s office as a receptionist, and we had someone like that, and it created a mess.

Sara Leisinger: But like the collateral damage on it. Like did that affect people coming into the office? It clearly affected the stuff around.

Sarah Banowetz: That person ended up leaving on their own accord and the whole entire office like calmed down after that. I still, to this day, it’s been so many years now, and I still don’t understand it. Can you dive into that a little deeper as to why that happens?

Jim Mayhew: Well, sure. I mean here’s what it is, it’s a leadership issue, that somebody allows that person to persist in a role because they are afraid that if they let them go that it’s going to hurt numbers or KPIs that they’re being made-

Sarah Banowetz: It’s not hurting the numbers. When they’re gone, the team’s productivity, like [crosstalk 00:12:21].

Jim Mayhew: Well, let me ask you a question. Have you ever pulled in into the parking lot of where you work and it’s been a challenge? Like you didn’t want to open your car door to put your foot … Like to swing the door open, get out and physically walk in the building and you’re feeling it, you’re feeling your blood pressure go up. How does that affect your performance? And if that’s because of that brilliant jerk that’s in there or that person that is creating toxicity around you, they just create a … You know there’s a ripple effect.

Sarah Banowetz: There’s like a vortex of negativity around.

Jim Mayhew: Right.

Sara Leisinger: Absolutely.

Jim Mayhew: Right. And so that’s impacting their productivity. It’s impacting … Think about it from this standpoint, customer experience, it’s driven by employee experience.

Sarah Banowetz: Absolutely. I truly believe that the employees are more important to a company than the customers.

Jim Mayhew: You got to treat your employees best, right? And if you do that well, you create a great customer experience. But when you have that brilliant jerk or that toxic person that’s in there and suddenly you know think about like a customer service or when you’re on a sales call or whatever you’re doing. Maybe you’re in purchasing and you’re working with a vendor and you’re having a bad day because of somebody else, maybe you’re missing opportunities. Maybe you’re not listening to what the customer truly needs. Maybe you just are missing things because you’re preoccupied or you’re thinking about what you want to do after work because work is the last place you want to be. When that person leaves the company, the vortex goes with them and they get replaced by somebody who comes in, and it is a game changer.

Sarah Banowetz: Yeah. Okay so for everyone who’s listening who wants to learn more from you Jim, how do they reach out to you?

Jim Mayhew: Yeah. The best way is … The social media platform that I’m most active on is definitely LinkedIn, so look me up there James R. Mayhew. My website is

Sarah Banowetz: Can you spell Mayhew.

Jim Mayhew: Yeah. Mayhew is M-A-Y-H-E-W.

Sarah Banowetz: Awesome.

Jim Mayhew: And those are the two platforms that you can learn more about me. The website needs to get a little bit of overhaul as my business has shifted. Yup, we’re all shaking our heads like, “Yup, been there, done that.” Right? But …

Sarah Banowetz: We’re not like … We know what we’re doing, but I mean we’re still human beings here too that …

Sara Leisinger: Yeah. Absolutely.

Sarah Banowetz: We’re all a work in progress.

Sara Leisinger: Oh my gosh. Totally.

Jim Mayhew: Well, and then the other way that you can engage me is, we’re creating something called the Busyness Project to help people overcome their cycle of busyness and the bad busyness that can dominate our lives. So you can look it up that way and find more information about me there.

Sara Leisinger: Thank you for joining us on Sarah Squared today. Thank you so much Jim for joining us today.

Jim Mayhew: Thank you.

Sara Leisinger: Hey, all you guys who are in need of culture and you know you are, don’t be that guy that just does bread and butter in your company, it’s bad. Give a shout out, like call Jim Mayhew, get ahold of him at James Mayhew Consulting. Do the thing. You know you need to, okay? Thanks for joining us today. And what are we discussing next time Sarah?

Sarah Banowetz: Next time, we are discussing the social in social media.

Sara Leisinger: Yay! Sounds fun.

Sarah Banowetz: Yeah. As opposed to media in social media, which is what people normally think.

Sara Leisinger: That’s why they’re all failing.

Sarah Banowetz: Media.

Sara Leisinger: Fall on your face. Fail.

Sarah Banowetz: We will see you guys next time.

Sara Leisinger: Bye.

Sarah Banowetz: Bye.

Sara Leisinger of Who’s Lance Digital Media can be found on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram

Sarah Banowetz of Banowetz Marketing can be found on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Our guest today, Jim Mayhew, of The Busyness Project can be found on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram