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About This Episode

In this episode, Tricia and LZ welcome Casey Graham, co-founder and CEO of Gravy, an organization that helps businesses collect unpaid recurring payments. Before launching Gravy, Casey founded The Rocket Company where he helped church leaders scale their financial leadership and fundraising opportunities. 

 

Not only has Casey launched three businesses, but he’s authentic and passionate about helping business owners. He understands what makes a business successful and what can lead to its failures. Today, Casey is going to help us recognize how unsatisfied owners create unfocused and unmotivated leaders, and what to do about it. 

 

Your One Next Step

Go download our activation guide, Gravy’s Core Values Guide. It outlines how Casey’s company translates its values into everyday actions for its employees. It’s a simple yet effective way for us, as leaders, to help our team members understand what we should and shouldn’t do because of our values. If you’re looking for a tool to help strengthen your culture, we recommend you download this resource and create one for your organization.

 

Download Now

 

In each episode, we highlight one next step for you and provide an activation or delegation guide to help you immediately take action, start applying what you learn, and get your team to help you.

1.  Plan to retire to something, not from something.

Most entrepreneurs feel a sense of emptiness and lack of purpose when they sell or leave their company without a plan. They end up floating through life, maybe with plenty of money, but without any feeling of a goal they are working toward. Make sure you have a plan for after your retirement so you won’t encounter that feeling so many former business owners face.

2.  Clarity is currency.

When you’re honest with your team about your intentions as an owner, they will become more involved, invested, and passionate about what you’re doing. If you don’t have that currency in the bank with them, it’s difficult for them to get on board with your journey. So whether your intention is to pass along the business to your kids or just make money and party, be clear. There is no judgment. Your intention is your intention!

3. When you sell your company, be weary of losing purpose, structure of time, and community.

There’s nothing wrong with selling, but you have to be intentional about what life looks like afterwards. You don’t have the daily meetings and the shared sense of purpose with your team any more. You won’t have that built in daily structure…all the freedom! And you won’t have all the people around you that helped you get to where you are. Just be aware of these three potential pitfalls when you step out to sell and plan for how to navigate through them. 

What is your plan for retirement? Do you think you’ll retire from something or to something?
If you’re a business owner, how would you describe your “owner intention?” Be honest with yourself. 
How is your identity affected by what you do for a living?
Could you be more clear about your owner’s intentions with your team? What would that look like?

Clarity is one of the greatest currencies that leaders can use to build trust, build momentum and attract talent.

Casey Graham

You need to retire to something, not from something.

Casey Graham

The first step when starting your business is to determine what you don’t want out of the business.

Casey Graham

The best place to start is just start.

Casey Graham

(4:13) Casey Graham talks about his love for drinking wine out of a red solo cup and his childhood nickname of “Cussing Casey.”

(6:21) Why did Casey decide to sell his previous business, The Rocket Company?

(8:03) Was there a point where Casey said “I’m going to sell this business” or did it naturally come to him?

(10:03) Failure unites. Success separates. 

(12:45) Why is it so common for many entrepreneurs to lose purpose and focus after selling a business?

(14:14) Good or bad, our identities are tied to what we do for a living. 

(16:03) Three things you lose when you sell your company. 

(19:34) What are some things Casey is doing differently now, with Gravy, than he was with The Rocket Company?

(24:20) What would Casey tell someone who doesn’t have a clear intention with their company? He talks about the process of determining “owner intention.”

(28:20) Why aren’t owners authentic about their intent?

(31:35) Clarity is one of the greatest currencies leaders can use. 

(36:17) This week’s one next step: Download our activation guide, Gravy’s Core Values Guide. It outlines how Casey’s company translates its values into everyday actions for its employees. And it’s a simple yet effective way for us as leaders to help our team members understand what we should and shouldn’t do because of our values.

Tricia Sciortino:

Guess what guys I wrote a new book Rise Up & Lead Well: How Leveraging An assistant Will Change Your Life & Maximize Your Time. An assistant is the secret weapon you need to level up your leadership in the new year. Someone should be in your corner managing the details, so you stay focused on the priorities. I’ve spent more than a decade at BELAY a virtual assistant company, and I’ve led VA’s, trained them and even worked as one early in my career. I’ve seen all sides and know the secrets for success. Use my new book to get a clear plan for how to effectively use an assistant. This isn’t fluff or theory or inspiration, it’s battle tested tactics that really work. Find it on Amazon on January 26.

 

Casey Graham:

That’s where my life really went through a really, really rough patch for 14 months. I didn’t like me. My wife didn’t like me. I didn’t know if we would make it and survive through that time. I was manic. I drank too much. I ate too much. This whole dream of I’m going to sell my business and then I’m going to be free and do whatever I want to do for me became a nightmare. And I have no desire to ever be there ever again.

 

Speaker 3:

Welcome to One Next Step, the most practical business podcast in the world. Helping you get more done, grow your business and lead your team with confidence with tips and tools you didn’t get in business school. Here are your hosts, Tricia Sciortino and Lisa Zeeveld.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Welcome to One Next Step, the practical business podcast that helps you run your business and make it stop running you so you can enjoy your work and your life. I’m Tricia Sciortino, the CEO of BELAY.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

And am Lisa Zeeveld, the COO of BELAY. Together, we’re T and LZ. We’ve known each other since 2005, and have had the privilege of working together for almost a decade. We’ve grown a 100% remote business from startup to being recognized on the Inc 5000 fastest growing companies list for six years running.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes, LZ and I have learned a lot along the way and have made some great friends and partners. For the One Next Step, we are cashing in some favors to bring you episodes filled with excellent content delivered by some talented people. And we may have a thing or two to add ourselves. The One Next Step is here to help you on your leadership journey.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

That’s right. Each week we release a new episode, answering your questions about running an organization. We will always highlight one next step for you to take immediate action and include an activation guide that reinforces what you’ve heard today.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Today we have Casey Graham as our guest. We are thrilled for Casey to join our show. Casey is the co-founder and CEO of Gravy, an organization that helps businesses collect unpaid recurring payments. Before launching Gravy, Casey founded The Rocket Company, where he helped church leaders scale their financial leadership and fundraising opportunities.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Not only has Casey launched three businesses, but he’s authentic and passionate about helping business owners. He understands what makes a business successful and what can lead to its failures. Today, Casey is going to help us recognize how unsatisfied owners create unfocused and unmotivated leaders and what to do about it. So listen, as we talk with Casey.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Welcome to the podcast, Casey. It’s great to have you.

 

Casey Graham:

I’m so fired up. I love you two. I really do.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Welcome, welcome.

 

Casey Graham:

I do.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Of course, you said fired up. That is so your words, your words right there.

 

Casey Graham:

Well, I am.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

We’re excited to have you.

 

Casey Graham:

Thank you.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah, we know you are. This is, it’d be a great episode.

 

Casey Graham:

Thanks. I was just told today they came in and I didn’t know, because I say fired up, but there’re different versions of it. So there’s excited, there’s pissed. There’s all the different versions of fired up. So, today I just learned that. So that’s a fun fact.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

So which kind of fired up, are we?

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah.

 

Casey Graham:

For all of this interview, I have been on the pissed side. Okay.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

The pissed fired up.

 

Casey Graham:

I have. I have, and I don’t think entrepreneurs talk enough about the frustrations of doing this thing. It’s all the glitz and the glamor.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Well, we’re about to.

 

Casey Graham:

Good, good, good. All right. Cool.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. I can tell your vibe is off right now. So we’re going to have to get that,

 

Tricia Sciortino:

We’re going change his vibe.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. We’re going to change it.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

So we’re going to start by changing the vibe by letting you share something fun about you. What’s fun, fascinating Casey facts?

 

Casey Graham:

I am super uncomfortable if I’m not drinking wine out of a red SOLO cup.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

No, really?

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Like in a wine glass, you mean?

 

Casey Graham:

Yeah. No. If it’s not in a red SOLO cup, I don’t really want it. So like… Is that not fun?

 

Tricia Sciortino:

It’s interesting. So do you bring SOLO cups to restaurants?

 

Casey Graham:

No, but I want to. I want to.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

He wants to.

 

Casey Graham:

So pretentious and bougieness even though nice hotels, that’s the only thing I like to be bougie. The rest of life is that I was arrested at 10 years old. I don’t know if that’s fun, for breaking beer bottles in the street. And my nickname was cussing Casey.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Cussing Casey. I wish I knew him.

 

Casey Graham:

Well, I was a red head and might I’ve had the same mentor from the time I was seven years old till today. And his name is Kim Polk. You guys may know Kim. And he helped cussing Casey from getting kicked out of a basketball league when I was seven for aggression. So those are some fun nuggets, I guess.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

I love that.

 

Casey Graham:

Y’all don’t seem like the very fired.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes, you can see that the fire up started way back in the day.

 

Casey Graham:

And my wife’s name is Kacie. So if I talk about Kacie on the episode, I’m not talking about myself in third person.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Oh, because that would be weird.

 

Casey Graham:

Garth Brooks does that. I think he talks about himself in third person.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

But see, I actually have to call you out on this. I don’t like it, that you said the fiery red head part of it. Because as a redhead, I think we get a bad rap for having a bad temper and I don’t think I have a bad temper.

 

Casey Graham:

Well, that’s because you’re a mature, elegant person.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

I thought you were going to say ask my husband, he might have a different response to that.

 

Casey Graham:

Oh no. You’re a smooth as can be. I love it.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

My sister is a redhead too. Look, I’m surrounded by red heads. It must be a thing. Right. So you two and my sister is a redhead.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Interesting facts.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. Yeah. All right. So we’re going to dive in fast here. We got your vibe up, I’m feeling it. You’re fired up. You’re fired up and in an excited way now.

 

Casey Graham:

Okay. Got it.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

So I want to know, why did you decide to sell your previous business? What made you sell The Rocket Company? Why did you leave?

 

Casey Graham:

The short story is I got an unreasonable amount of money for a business and it was going to be upfront and it was going to be a lot of cash and it was a lifelong dream to start, grow and sell a business. And I wanted to be a millionaire. I didn’t say that to myself at the time, and I lied to myself and everybody else about why I was selling it. But as I look back, I wanted the money. I wanted the success of it. I wanted the story of it. And I wanted all of that, even though I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

But you’re not a guy who likes to be bougie though. So that’s a weird dichotomy.

 

Casey Graham:

It wasn’t about the bougie.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

You were going after the dollar amount though.

 

Casey Graham:

No, I was trying to make my dad proud and I didn’t know it, so it wasn’t really about… I don’t have big taste of I need to buy a bunch of homes and do a bunch of stuff. That’s just… I don’t want all that stuff. So mine was about security, and people think I’m a risky entrepreneur, but I’m extremely fiscally conservative. And so I don’t like debt. I don’t like stuff. So there’s something about that security that I thought that having a big bank account would give me for the rest of my life and that it would take my angst away. It would take my darkness away. It would take depression, anxiety, all that stuff would go away if I was settled there. And so there was a lot of that going on, maybe a little too deep for you too early in the show.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

No, no, actually it’s perfect.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

So then maybe it wasn’t a realization. So was there a decision point where you said I’m going to sell this business or did it come to you then? Or did you wake up and decide, Hey, I can go this route, sell this business, and to your point, make this money, receive this accolade, have the success and so there was this moment in time where you decided that was what was going to happen for you?

 

Casey Graham:

Yeah. I always had the dream of selling the business, like the success magazine, the story, the “they did it,” the finish line, the hit, there was a lot of that in it. For two years, I tried to sell the business for three years before it sold. And a lot of war stories in selling a business. People think it’s the smooth, easy transaction. It’s not, especially if your business isn’t like this great business, like excite this being bought for $28 billion, something like that. If you’re just this smaller business, you got these people coming in and, and it’s hard and it’s nasty. And so for two years I tried every quarter of the person that I ended up buying the business would send me a message. Hey, you’re ready? Hey, are you ready? Hey, are you ready? And we kept going into what’s called due diligence. And they would tell us how ugly we were naked basically. That’s what due diligence is.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah.

 

Casey Graham:

That’s what it is. Because on the external and you send them the reports and all this stuff and then they come back through and they’re looking at all these different things and telling you why. And that’s actually was the birth place through the due diligence process of what I do now at Gravy came as a result of me understanding what people that buy businesses and find value in businesses look for. And anyway, so it took two years and then he ended up making an offer five X of what his initial offer was and there were no contingencies and it was all cash. So that’s how it worked.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Wow. So how did the exit go? You signed the papers, the deal was done.

 

Casey Graham:

Went and partied.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Went and partied.

 

Casey Graham:

I did. We here, we had a big celebration. What I really realized is that nobody really cares about your successes as much as you do. So, there’s a few people that you can really… There’s a lot of people… Failure unites. Okay. You’ll see it everywhere. You’ll see it in relationships. You’ll see it in families. Failure unites, bring the girl, let’s get together. Let’s talk about how bad it is. Failure will bring people together, success separates.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Right.

 

Casey Graham:

And so instantly there was a separation that happened. Meaning I felt like two weeks later when I’m sitting in a Starbucks by myself and I’m looking at the clock going, “I don’t have anywhere to be, I got freedom.” I got what all the entrepreneurs want. Right. I got the freedom and it was the longest days. And my life started to deteriorate. And I started to not have the crunch of the busy-ness of being in business every day. And I didn’t have the purpose of what goal we’re going to go for next, that in the moment seems like it sucks. And then I didn’t have the planning meeting at the two day retreat we go away and you’re thinking about, and it’s just, there’s just emptiness. And it’s just, I have no structure. I have nobody waiting. I have no accountability. I have no sense of space and time and I’ve got what I thought I wanted, which is freedom.

 

Casey Graham:

And what I found out is that ultimate freedom of doing what you want to do, with who you want to do it, when you want to do it is ultimately hell for me. And so that’s where my life really went through a really, really rough patch for 14 months. I didn’t like me. My wife didn’t like me. I didn’t know if we would make it and survive through that time. I was manic. Y’all heard all the ideas. I tried 12 ideas in 14 months. Just started doing crazy stuff. I drank too much. I ate too much. I went and did all that stuff and so this whole dream of like, I’m going to sell my business and whatever, and then I’m going to be free and do whatever I want to do, for me became a nightmare. And I have no desire to ever be there ever again.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. It’s interesting because I actually met you. We became friends right during that period when you were selling Rocket Company and actually got to see you go through that. And it was like you said, I don’t think most people understand or imagine it’s going to be that way. I think there’s this story that we tell all entrepreneurs and business owners that you’re going to ride off into the sunset. And you were so transparent and so authentic that I got to see part of that journey of that unhappiness. Do you feel like that was just unique to you? Or do you feel like this as you’ve leaned into your peers and your network, that this is pretty common?

 

Casey Graham:

It’s very common. And the thing I’ve learned is… Think about it. When’s the last book you saw come across your desk of post exit stuff?

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, no.

 

Casey Graham:

You don’t see it, because it’s very rare the exits actually really go through and happen. And so it’s so rare, there’s not a lot on it. There’s not a lot of groups. There’s not a lot of things. And I found a white paper that I’m more than happy to send you guys then your audience can see if we want to do that as well. And on the white paper, it was a study that a private equity group had done on a 100 post exit founders of a study of their life. They’ve sold for over $10 million. And what do they do? What happens to their lives? All that stuff. A third of them buy their old businesses back, which I thought was interesting.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Fascinating. Yeah. That’s a large percent.

 

Casey Graham:

Because the entrepreneur loves to be the hero.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right.

 

Casey Graham:

They love to swoop in when the sells aren’t there and get everybody, and then they claim victory and success. It’s a similar version of that. So a third do that. A third go and they buy a smaller business that they run. And a third of people try to become investors and lose their money. Isn’t that interesting?

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. It relates to good, bad or indifferent how much our identities are tied to what we do for a living. Right. So I think, we think like, Oh, it’s just my job. Or it’s just my work, but I’m this whole other person, I’m this wife, I’m this spouse, I’m this father, I’m a daughter and a sister and I have all these hobbies, but I think it’s a really good reminder that we do as individuals, especially Americans, tie so much of who we are into what it is we do in our careers. And we’re invested in… It actually gives us purpose and meaning. And I feel that way myself, I take great purpose and meaning from my work. So to your point, Casey, I can’t imagine that it being gone tomorrow and I’m sitting in a Starbucks, like without a goal or a plan, sit there and go, what is it I do now?

 

Casey Graham:

Yeah. So that was the beauty of this. And again, it doesn’t have to be this way for everybody. So is this way for a lot of people. Like the founder of Minecraft that becomes a billionaire and… Go read the stories. When I see somebody exits the first thing that goes through my mind, or if I see they raised a bunch of capital round of a $100 million, the first thing that goes through my mind is I wonder what their partner, spouse or kids, how they feel right now. Because I’ve been on the other side of it and I’ve been on the go home and not the LinkedIn and not the article and the flip side of it. And I feel sorry or bad for a lot of people and not for their success.

 

Casey Graham:

I’m happy that they did that. I just know that there’re humans behind it. And I know there’s real people behind it. I know Steve Jobs’s daughter didn’t invite him to her graduation. These are real things. This is real life. And how you experience your life is the most important part of life and so support it. Let me give you three things you lose when you sell your company, okay. You lose your purpose. And what I mean is, listen, I’m a Christian actually, I’m a follower of Jesus. That’s great. You still got to wake up and go do… You don’t just sit in your house and that’s fulfilling. There’s a reason we do something. So you lose your purpose, so you sitting there listening to this podcast and going, “I’ve got these goals and it’s hard.”

 

Casey Graham:

You think that it’s hard in the journey and the conversations and the tough work, but you’re shooting towards something. And when that goes away, you better have something else. So you need to retire to something, not from something. So that was a big learning.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

That’s good.

 

Casey Graham:

Second thing you lose is you lose a structure of time. Dear entrepreneurial, listening to this thinking that you just don’t want to be anywhere or be accountable to anybody and have nothing to do. Some of the worst versions of yourself will happen in that space. There’s something good about being accountable. When I looked that we have now 76 full-time people and that my actions then affect other people, It keeps me just grounded, in like this matters. And so losing a structure, and then the last thing you lose is your community.

 

Casey Graham:

So as an entrepreneur, for me, you really don’t think about this, that especially if you’re in a smaller business, let’s say under a $100 million. And you founded it, you let these people in because of alignment and you won battles together. And you’ve got these great stories. Okay. I handed the keys over, went down the street. They were still going. And I lost all that. And for me, because I didn’t have a good exit plan and I wasn’t honest with people about exiting and I wasn’t honest in the process about it, they felt I sold them. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t sell your business, but there’s a way to do where you can be authentic through the process and honest about it. So that on the flip side, everybody’s in alignment and agreement doesn’t mean that everybody has to agree with the decision, it just means that they knew it was coming.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

If you’re anything like me, then keeping up with the daily tasks of AR, AP and account reconciliation are not your favorite things, but you also know how necessary and important it is. The good news is it doesn’t have to be your thing anymore, BELAY can help.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Numbers are totally my thing Tricia, and thankfully numbers are BELAY bookkeeper’s thing too. Our sponsor BELAY believes you deserve top notch bookkeepers, to produce balance sheets, pay bills, reconcile bank and credit card statements and monthly reports to keep you up to date on the numbers of your organization. Whether you’re a church, nonprofit or a business, they have the right people ready to help. Talk to their team today and never lose sleep over your financials again. Get started by visiting belaysolutions.com/services/bookkeepers today.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

One of the things I respect you for many, many different reasons, but I’m going to hit on one is that you have been so authentic and transparent in this journey. You’ve really used LinkedIn as a great platform to really encourage other entrepreneurs and just individuals who are in business. And you’ve got this great following to do that. So now, as you are in Gravy and running full speed ahead, what are some things that you’re doing different now in Gravy that you did not do in The Rocket Company?

 

Casey Graham:

Yeah, the very first thing we did is that we built a criteria… When I say we I’m talking about Renee and I, so y’all know Renee, or you know Renee, if you don’t know Renee. Everybody’s always like, “I want a Renee.” There’s only one. And she started as a part-time virtual assistant 18 years ago. So that’s where she started, but now we’re co-founders in this business and she’s great. So when I say we, I’m talking about her. We built a criteria and this was very important. And the criteria was that the next business idea that we go full board in that it had to have certain things, they couldn’t have other things. So let me give you example, number one, it had to have a high ACV. So the monthly payment had to be over on average, a $1,000 a month, or we weren’t going to get into it.

 

Casey Graham:

So that was number one. Number two, it had to have recurring revenue. So the revenue had to be a recurring revenue. Number three was it had to be something that there was brand focused, not Casey focused, meaning I was Mickey Mouse in my last company and I had to get on camera and do all this stuff all the time. It was like I was done doing that after eight years. And so I had to be a brand business, not a Casey business. Number four was that I wouldn’t have to sell it or Renee wouldn’t have to service or deliver it. And so that we would be disconnected from the actual doing of the business so that we can lead the business. And so we built those things in it, so that helped us pick the right business that we knew that we could stay in for longer than 18 months without being miserable.

 

Casey Graham:

So that’s the functional side. Now let’s get to the heart side. This was the biggest difference is that we built what’s called owner’s intent. So this is the number one concept that’s going to be in my book, that as we talk about it, people go, “Oh my gosh, I’ve never heard of that.” Owner’s intent is this. I was in Alpharetta, it’s out in Atlanta, and I was in a boardroom when we just started this company. And we hired this guy to come in, his name was Brian Core. Brian Core came in and he was going to help us with our strategic plan for the business, because he’s a strategic planning expert. We kept talking about here’s what we want the business to do. We need it to be this size, and we just going to be this many clients, and he kept saying, “Casey, I don’t care about the business. Why do you wake up every day? And why are you going to want to be interested in this business two years from now when that happens?”

 

Casey Graham:

I was like, no, no, Brian, we just need to get revenue and we need to. So I start, I’m doing business intent. He said, “Casey, you told me after your last time, you didn’t know why you were in business. You didn’t know why you sold the company. We’re not going to let this happen this time. And so we’re going to build an owner’s intent.” An owner’s intent is you being, in a single sentence, crystal clear about your intention with building the business. My owner’s intent that we built, it took 90 days to build this, was to build a company that my adult children would want to work at someday if they so chose to. Okay? That’s my owner’s intent.

 

Casey Graham:

Now, people always go, “Were you trying to build a big generational business ventures?” No, but I’m going to make every decision as if my adult child was working in that business. Casey, why are you so transparent about the finances with everybody? Why do you tell everybody everything? Because I would want my 29 year old daughter when she came home from Christmas and she’s sitting at dinner and says, “Dad, let me tell you what our owner does.” Why do you put people up in the best hotels when we do travel? We do that because I would want my adult daughter to come home and tell me. So my filter of everything, our hiring, our firing, our culture, how we do LinkedIn, how we’re doing this interview, what we do in Slack, what we don’t do, all of that is filtered through that. And that’s my purpose and that’s my why inside of this business.

 

Casey Graham:

And so building that intent is what allows me to be here today more fired up than I was three years ago, because my daughter now is the junior celebrations coordinator on our team. She’s in Slack, she in the summer sends thank you notes to all of our first time clients and this morning, and she’s in our channel called Decade of Destiny, where we help people plan 10 years of their lives inside of the company in three main areas. And she’s seeing all this. And literally I had tagged her this once, said, Darby, this is why I’m stressed. This is why we work so hard is for this story. And it was a story of somebody with a kid of autism and they’re saved their paycheck from Gravy for the last two years, and they’re going to be able to move to Jacksonville to get their kid that help.

 

Casey Graham:

That’s what I want for Darby, for Gage. That’s where I want to build. So that’s a long answer, but that’s the difference here is I don’t need 50 million dollars. I don’t want more, if we sold the company one day, great, but it’s, I need fulfillment. I need a story. I need a… That energizes me. That’s my fuel. That’s what fires me up. And so I’m going to shut up now, I’m preaching.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

No preach, preach, preach, preach.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

So good.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. So I was going to ask you, so what would you tell someone who doesn’t? Who doesn’t know… Let’s pretend you’ve already started a business. Okay. So-

 

Casey Graham:

Yeah. Happens all the time.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Right. So someone’s in business and to your point, you ask them the question, what is your intention with this? And they don’t know, is there a process or a step? What would you recommend to somebody? They’re listening to this podcast and go, “Gosh, I don’t have that. I’m not clear.” What-

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Or maybe the intent, isn’t something they can share.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Right.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right?

 

Tricia Sciortino:

True. Well, it might be to sell and make a million dollars and be successful.

 

Casey Graham:

Bingo.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Right.

 

Casey Graham:

Step number one of owner’s intention. I have no judgment on anybody’s owner’s attention. I’m going to say this because Renee made me take it out of the book.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes.

 

Casey Graham:

I literally wrote this in. I said, “If your owner’s intention is to have nice stuff and be single and have sex with as many people as you want to have sex with, because you’re rich.” See, now you’re going to cut this out of the show. But-

 

Tricia Sciortino:

No, we don’t cut anything out of the show.

 

Casey Graham:

But I told Renee. I said, if that was so owner’s intention and they told me that I have no… That is their intention. Just you have to be authentic with it is the key.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Agreed.

 

Casey Graham:

And if you want to build a lifestyle business, literally a greater intention might be, I want to build a lifestyle business that gives me $25,000 of net profit every month. Great. But when you hire people, tell them that. When you’re making decisions about why we’re not going to give you more budget. Well, instead of doing that, because you just won’t even have to sell the company, tell them, this is why I’m doing this, be honest about it in the process. And so owner’s intention is there’s no judgment. And if you say, I want to be a billionaire, I don’t care.

 

Casey Graham:

There’s no judgment inside of it. You just got to be honest about it. Number one is it’s got to be yours. It took me 90 days to be honest with mine. Okay. To be ruthlessly, honest and go, what’s going to last? What’s going to matter? So number one, number two, the first step is to write down everything you don’t want out of the business. That’s the first step.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. Because that’s usually easiest. Right?

 

Casey Graham:

Yeah. Everybody can tell me what they don’t want. Everybody can tell me what they don’t want in their life. Why I don’t want this, I don’t want that. Oh, do you want to have 150 people in your payroll? No. Okay. I don’t want that. Right. So start with everything you don’t want is the first place to start. And then the next thing I do is I say, you start with… Have you guys done the exercise, five whys?

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

No, I don’t think we have.

 

Casey Graham:

All right. So I always say, okay, the best place to start is just start. So tell me why you own this business? Well own this business. Like I did this with a lady, she was like, “I want to empower a billion females or something across the world.” I said, “Wonderful.” Okay. And I’m sitting there going, okay, do you know how hard it is? First of all, there’s only eight billion people, there’s only four billion in females. So 25% of the… No, I’m literally… Because people say, “I want to have a $100 million business.” And then the first question I ask is, “And what is it going to cost you to get there?” Right. So you start with, I want a $100 million business. Okay. Why? Well, I want a $100 million our business because I want to buy blank. Okay.

 

Casey Graham:

Why? And I take everybody through and I keep asking, tell me why? Tell me why? Tell me why? And after five why’s, five to seven, you can usually get down to, “Oh really, I just want my dad to be proud of me.” Or, Oh really, I want to build a business that my adult children would be… You can get down to the real, and it doesn’t have to be this big, meaningful thing. It might stop and I’ll get people in the whys and they go, “Casey, I just want to be rich. And I want to have $10 million in my bank account.” Perfect owner’s intent. Now when you hire people, tell them that.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Well, so why do you think people don’t? Is there this fear that who wants to work for that guy? Or is it going to lack purpose or meaning? So what would you say, why are people not saying that?

 

Casey Graham:

I don’t think it’s an intentional thing. I don’t think that they’re like, I’m not going to tell people the real reason. I just think that they haven’t necessarily thought about this, but here’s what my thing is all I’ve said. You have an owner’s intent and you’re going to live it out, whether you tell people or not.

 

Lisa Zeeveld:

Sure. Yeah.

 

Casey Graham:

Right. So the whole thing is like, you’re going to live it out. They’re already going to know, “Oh, he just wants to be rich.” Here’s why I’m passionate about this. I was in the church space in a company like, “I want to help churches grow.” I would come into the meetings and everything was about this corporate of what I’m going to do, why? This is so purpose-driven, it was a lie, I just wanted to be rich.

 

Casey Graham:

And so I knew it, but I was stressing my team out on pushing the net profit and creating this cashflow for myself so that I could get rich while they get stressed. But they thought it was all about purpose, so why can’t we do this stuff? And it was confusing for everybody, because there wasn’t a clear intention. And so I think that people are scared that “people are not going to want to work with me, if my intention is clear and it’s not some purpose driven, make the world better,” that’s not true.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Then you’d be a non-profit.

 

Casey Graham:

That’s right. That’s right.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

If it was really purpose driven you’d be a nonprofit.

 

Casey Graham:

That’s what I keep telling people. Yeah. And I’m like, “Guys, just be honest about it.” And there’s no judgment inside of it. And what I found is the opposite to be true. The clearer you are, the more likely you are to attract the people that will align with that, work inside of it. And everybody will be happier in the process because it’s clear on what our intentions are. And so I found it actually works in the opposite way and it’s actually attractive to people, not retracted to people.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. I also think to you going through this, that I like to look at everybody holistically, right? So it’s not, you’re just not a business owner, but who are you to your spouse and your kids? And that I would imagine that there’s some people who this scares the living daylights out of them because they actually probably don’t know who they are as an individual either. And so I really see that this could take you from just trying to set an intent for your business to really setting an intent for your life, because there’s really no separation. We’re here today, I’m a co-host of a podcast and I’m an officer in an organization, but the most important jobs I have or that I’m a wife and a mom.

 

Casey Graham:

Right.

 

Tricia Sciortino:

And so if those don’t start to align, but a lot of people don’t know who they are. And so they’re just going through life and they’re going through business with other people’s ideas. They’re starting a business because somebody else told them, “Hey, in order to be successful, you got to start a business.” And that actually may not mean anything to them. So this is awesome. Good, deep stuff, Casey.


Casey Graham:

Well, but it drives everything is the thing is people think the things that drive is that when you get really authentically clear with yourself and you get authentically clear with your team, it’s a currency you can use. And in turn, inside of the organization, and clarity is one of the greatest currencies that leaders can use to either build trust, build momentum, attract talent. The more you lack clarity with your team and authentic clarity, you will over time and it won’t happen at first, over time, people they’ll just look and they’ll be like “He says that, but this is what happens. And so I wonder what’s real.” And then I meet with these people and then inside a meeting with them, it’s like, I was once bought in, now I’m not.


Casey Graham:

And I think it always just because the owner and the leader and the person in the organization has not been fully showing your cards. And some people disagree with me on this, by the way. Old school mentality, don’t talk about religion. Don’t talk about politics. Don’t talk about money. Don’t talk about… Also, which is fine. But this is just how we do what we do.


Tricia Sciortino:

I love that. Well, Casey, you gave us so much to think about, and I know that our listeners right now, if they were driving, they’re probably going, “Holy crap I need to pull over and take a lot of notes.” If that’s you and you’re listening right now, don’t worry, you can replay it. It’s such good stuff. And I’m going to tell people right now, and this is not even a part of what we’re supposed to talk about, but hopefully they go and follow you on LinkedIn and they see what Gravy is doing and see what you’re doing, because you’re just an inspiration to very many people. And it’s just a pleasure to know you and call you a friend.


Casey Graham:

Thank you.


Lisa Zeeveld:

Talk about energy. I don’t think you could have Casey Graham anywhere and not have a ton of energy and he was fired up. I love it.


Tricia Sciortino:

He always brings it up. He does.


Lisa Zeeveld:

He does. He does. All right. So there was a lot there he gave us today. But what would you say was your big takeaway, your key takeaway?


Tricia Sciortino:

I know. I know. His authenticity is off the charts. My most favorite thing about him and his energy. Gosh, anyway, my biggest takeaway from Casey was really how he said you should plan to retire to something, not from something. So you don’t wind up in that place, that hopeless place he talked about, where you have this emptiness and a lack of purpose when you’ve kind of left your business or left whatever that is. So I really loved conceptually how we talked about making sure you have that thing you’re going to go to, instead of just leaving it and thinking you’re just going to float through life.


Lisa Zeeveld:

I totally aligned with his intention to talk about having purpose after selling a business.


Tricia Sciortino:

Totally.


Lisa Zeeveld:

How about you?


Tricia Sciortino:

That has to be just gold for our listeners right now. Totally hear that.


Lisa Zeeveld:

Totally.


Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. Because I always say that we put a lot of intentionality around our communication and an intentionality around our lives. I love when he said that clarity becomes currency with your team, and how you can really use that to buy not in a way that’s creepy, right. But really use that clarity to get them involved and get them interested and passionate about what you’re doing. Because if you don’t have enough clarity, right, you don’t have enough of that in the bank, then you don’t have enough to really bring them along with you on that journey. And so whether your intention is to create a business that your kids will want to work for someday, or just to make a lot of money so you can have sex and party.


Lisa Zeeveld:

Having that clarity is ultimately what will help you reach what your goal is on either side. And like he said, no judgment, it’s your business, no judgment, but just having clarity. And it’s catchy, clarity is currency.


Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. And the honesty about it too, it’s like, okay, you get clear, but then you don’t hide that. So if your intention is to make a billion dollars, then don’t pretend it’s not, don’t pretend your intention is to, like he said, serve the church or… Just be honest about the fact, most people start a business to make money and that’s okay.


Lisa Zeeveld:

Right.


Tricia Sciortino:

So I loved how he just is so unapologetically, authentic and real about those facts.


Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. And that he’s willing to share his experiences, the good, bad and the ugly with so many when that’s normally not a cool thing to do, right? We’ve created this in our society that people don’t want to talk about all the things. And he’s made such a great platform off of that. Well, Hey guys, you know what time it is? It is time for the One Next Step. As the most practical business podcast, we want to make sure that taking action isn’t overwhelming to you. So with each episode, we’re going to offer you one next step to propel you and your business forward. Today’s next step is to download our activation guide, which is Gravy’s core values guide. It outlines how Casey’s company translates its values into everyday actions for its employees. And it’s a simple, yet effective way for us as leaders to help our team members understand what we should and shouldn’t do because of our values. If you’re looking for a tool to help strengthen your culture, we recommend you download this resource and create one for your organization.


Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. Values are important. I love this download. So to download it, now, text the phrase One Next Step to 31996, or visit onenextsteppodcast.com. When you request today’s guide, you’ll also receive a summary of today’s episode, which includes key quotes and takeaways and links to resources mentioned in the episode.


Lisa Zeeveld:

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of One Next Step. We hope you enjoyed what you’re hearing from us and now we want to hear from you. Head over to Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen and leave us a review. We created this podcast to help you lead your team and grow your business. So you got it, we’re going to read every single one of them.


Tricia Sciortino:

Remember, we’d like to make sure the podcast is helpful to you. So submit your business questions, so one of us or a future guests can answer them during an upcoming episode by calling the One Next Step listener line at 404-480-3003. That’s 404-480-3003. Until next time own your journey. It’s your life and your business. It’s up to you to create the life and organization you want. Join us next week for more practical tips and actionable tools to advance your business one step at a time.


Lisa Zeeveld:

Start by making today count.


Speaker 3:

Thanks for listening to One Next Step. Be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or follow us on Spotify. Then join us next time for more practical business tips and tools to help you get more done, grow your business and lead your team with confidence. For more episodes, show notes and helpful resources, visit onenextsteppodcast.com.

Go download our activation guide, Gravy’s Core Values Guide. It outlines how Casey’s company translates its values into everyday actions for its employees. It’s a simple yet effective way for us, as leaders, to help our team members understand what we should and shouldn’t do because of our values. If you’re looking for a tool to help strengthen your culture, we recommend you download this resource and create one for your organization.

 

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Thank you for listening to One Next Step.

Next week we’re going to explore the common response “I’m fine!” We all say it; sometimes we mean it and sometimes we don’t. We’ll talk about why it’s a popular response, why society views it as an acceptable answer, how we and the members of our team can have more honest, vulnerable relationships, and what we can do when we’re not fine.