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I've got a CFO on the show today, a financial guy, and we don't talk about finances at all. It's really interesting. Brandon Rogers from Verber Dental Group is not your typical CFO. We talked about people. We talked about unlocking the potential of our people through purpose and inspiration and helping them feel like they have something to hold onto and something they can change and something they can make better. This was such a good conversation. I was inspired. I feel Brandon was inspired by himself. It was so good. Let's just roll the show. I would love some comments, how you feel about the topic that we discussed here, because it's really, really important. All right. You ready?
Welcome, everybody to another episode of Unlocked. We've got Brandon here today, and he is going to be enlightening us, because he is not your normal CFO. I'll just say that right now. Just reading through some of his pre-interview questions and us just talk a little bit before the show. There's some really cool insights I think that we're going to gather from this conversation. First off, Brandon, thanks for being on and love having you here. I want to talk a little bit, just give us a brief rundown of your person.
What do you do right now? How does that fit into what we talk about on Unlocked? I mean, I don't have many CFOs on this show. Let's just unpack that a little bit for the audience and see what's going on there.
Thanks for having me Scott and these kinds of opportunities for CFOs, or anybody in the finance field are few and far between, so I appreciate it. I'll tell you most of the ways that I communicate through analogies, euphemisms or movie quotes, typically the latter. And so when we talk about CFOs and you talk about... They're very binary. I always say, it's a true story. And I always say, "Ah, yes, but to Neo in The Matrix, everything was ones and zeros until it wasn't, until everything had a picture." And for me growing in the finance world I realized that I wanted to understand more of the human psychology and actually there's a whole, I mean, my person, the right side that drives me and the left side that the dominant piece are finally in marriage with each other instead of at odds. And one of the things in my career that I've learned is the concept of branding, whether it's just me and how I am perceived and recognized and the blind spots of that perception and also how I interact.
So with that, I've started to lay out in my career as a CFO, this conversation about who are we as an organization? How does everybody play a role in that organization? And ultimately what's the perception? So I've got a lot of very technical finance skill, bought my first business of 30, have been in C-suite roles for the last five years. And ultimately coming to a place where I realized that know there's a role in which I spent three and a half years running finance.
And I always said the most important [inaudible 00:04:36] grocery chain, the most important people are our cashiers. And people said, "Why is that the case?" And I speak to our directors and our managers and people that are making the big bucks and making the big decisions. And I'd say, "When those people come in and out, and when they, all of our patrons are shopping the last touch point and the first touch points on that matter are always with these people." So I said, "They may be hierarchically shown lower on level, but they are without question the most important." And they are the ones that communicate the brand. So when they leave, those are the people that dictate. And so I look at that and I used to go into the shoe stores and I would study them. I talk them up, "I realized that you are the reason why we're successful." So I'm finding now that that thought process was carrying me through.
Amen, my man, because you know what, I always say this, the people that influence our brand the most are the people we pay the least. It's, me as a consumer go into my local grocery store down here in Atlanta. It's Kroger, Publix, whatever. I don't shop at Kroger or Publix because of my experience with the CEO. I don't even know who the CEO is. Upper management doesn't matter. For them to understand that, that cash register person, that person in the aisle stocking the shelves, whatever. The person in the deli department, that's where I'm having my brand experience. That's where that reputation is going to just like blow up or it's where it's going to just not be so good. Where I'm going to go around and be like, "That Kroger is a nightmare don't ever go to that place." So that's really important. Now you call yourself a business linguist. I love the term, man. I love that. Now. Why that? What does a business linguists do? What's the label about? Enlighten us.
Sure. Yeah. I appreciate that. And I think you're spot on. I mean, we often misunderstand how we pay the people that drive the most productivity and brand, but business linguistics is really another fancy, puffed up word or a phrase for communication throughout the verticals of an organization, of an industry. And in this climate of micro and macro economics, linguistics is just trying to, and we've been doing it for thousands of years, trying to figure out what the other person means. And so there's social EQ and there's all of these different ways to understand, but at the end of the day, Maslow said it very well. There's only a few very basic needs that we need. The most important of which is a sense of safety and safety comes from being able to understand where we stand with other people.
So business linguistics is just taking that and evolving it to a level where finance, operations, human resource, community, marketing, they all find their juxtaposition and they converge, and it becomes this uniform, very beautiful synergistic concept. And for me, business linguistics is an ever evolving thought. So I have not by any means, nailed down the concept, but it's something that I'm evolving. And every time I work with a new organization or continue to develop my own brand, I think about, "Do I understand? And am I finding common denominators of communication that allow us all to talk and really understand what drives us and allows us to ultimately promote the organization."
Good thoughts. You've hit on something that's really interesting. And it's about those verticals within an organization. I feel like one of the biggest problems is that a lot of organizations work in silos. You're right, they don't work cross platform. You've got marketing and sales people over here. You've got customer service, you've got human resources, you've got executive team, you've got engineering and they all work in their thing and they don't talk enough. And in order to create what we call an internal brand is cohesive... We understand external brand, it's all that marketing stuff and how perception is outside. But in order to get alignment, true transparency, just driven execution on that internal side, we need to have some things. So in your opinion, what is a tangible way that we can include that internal brand and that idea behind internal brand and carry that through, building it, building up our human capital and really leveraging that.
It's a good question. And I'll say this, it is not anything sophisticated, at least in my opinion. It's actually the opposite of that. So I'll preface by saying I have two babies, two baby girls, I call them my babies. They're six and seven. But I'm a daddy of daughters. And I'm finding that they don't care about the expense of a dress or a dog or a house. In fact my wife has made it very abundantly clear that it's my time and presence. And I'll say with that thought that the concept of moving through and branding it's done for me in a way that allows us to do the small things, focus on the small things. So I'll give you a for instance; in our business, we have treatment coordinators in dental. There are the ones that are on the phone, making the appointments.
I just go down there. Sometimes I'll bring eight cups of Starbucks to all the people at the front desk. Today l'll just take one of our managers out for lunch, just real quick. It's those small things that say, "Hey, you know what, not only am I paying attention, but I just value the time." And I try to be very systematic about how I do that. And now you have the bigger organization. It's harder to be more frequent with that. But to answer your question in a more simple and skinny down way, focusing on the small things like, "This is how I appreciate you." lets people understand where your values are and it puts them into action and then allows them to reverb that. So they go ahead, press that forward. And then all of a sudden, and you're seeing a brand develop out of care and grace and gratitude.
And those are the things that your people, your clients, certainly whenever your patrons come in and say, "That's what I want." And that's why the publics of the worlds and that's why you go down South and people go in there loving to shop. They do that because they're greeted well, but not just that when they leave, they're reminded, and Chick-fil-A does the same thing, you can't "our pleasure", or "my pleasure" outdo them in that. They will always get the last word in. And that for me is a simple thing, but it's indoctrinated so well that that's the only way we think. And for me, that's what it's about.
Okay. So let me ask you about this then. What do you say to those executives out there who are more technically minded, okay we'll give them that. They may be very, technically minded. ,They're not softy touchy, feely people. They like numbers, they like spreadsheets, they like profitability stuff. I mean, you're in that world, okay. Like I said, you're not your typical CFO, but you've got that group of... What do you say to those executives that say, "Yeah, we don't need to worry about that touchy, feely stuff. We don't need to have hour long conversations with our employees about how they're doing or what's going on in their life or any of that stuff. We don't, we just need alignment. We just need to get on the same page and get things done. Everybody get on the same page and get it done. We don't need to worry about the communication relationship part." What do you say to that?
This is a simple response and I've actually had people say, they want to stay in their lane. Productivity is not one plus one equals two anymore. It's a compounding effect. And if you do it well, one plus one could equal 50. So to answer that question people can work in silos and they can be efficient, but synergy is not just a buzz word. And they like to use that, but it's not just a buzz word. So my communication with them would be very simple and be very quick advice, "Go and find..." We'll use vertical and it's very business minded language, but use the word vertical and say, "Here we have five verticals. You as a CFO, CEO, CMO ,CO or whatever your role is, could always spend an hour for lunch, coffee or whatever with one manager specialist from each of those verticals, once a week for the next six months. Don't do anything but listen." It's been hard for me to do that as someone that likes to talk and enjoys to speak and get revved up. But I had, with my wife being in psychology and psychiatry, I've had the opportunity to do that. So I would say, spend time with your people. Listen and then you'll find out what motivates them. And moreover, what ultimately gets you to a place where one plus one will equal 50 and it's no longer one plus one equals two.
All right. So we have something that we call the pit of despair. That's when we're teaching somebody, mentoring them, onboarding them, and we get through this I do, you watch, I do, you help. And then we stop investing in them. We just say, "Cool, I did it. You helped. Good." And then we're gone. Then they fall into what we call the pit of despair, because then they're like, they kind of know what they're supposed to do, but they don't feel confident yet. So they fall into this pit of despair. And this is where what you're talking about, we don't spend enough time, we don't listen. Well, how do we get them out of the pit of despair? They need vision. They need a vision of something to hold on to the why they're doing what they're doing every day.
And they need time. They need not just, "Hey, Brandon, good job today." Then I'm out. It's like, "Hey Brandon, I really appreciate the comment you made about this in that last meeting, that was really valuable. Like what brought that on?" Like talking, engaging, helping them feel like you're not just generically speaking to them. So I love what you said about that. Like investing that time in them is really, really critical.
You, yes, CFO, you do all the financial stuff. I know I've said this already, but I'd love to talk about the other stuff. You actually coach the people inside your organization a little bit one-on-one development, personal development coaching that I don't hear that every day from your CFO. It's like, "Hey, I also do some of the relationship coaching stuff." So what's that about? Why do you do that? What's the benefit? What happens as a result of that?
Yeah, it's a great question. And honestly, I'd say it's more selfishly a benefit for me. I coach a couple of our executives, one's in the marketing world, one's in the operations world. The benefit is there's this law of reciprocity, where if you listen and you give it and you allow the environment to be one where you're sharing, the coaching piece it's just a title. But I don't want anybody call me boss. I don't like that. And I also don't, I think when just like products, when they're good enough, people just see the, the connection and they want to be part of it. So for my coaching when I do it and there it ranges in age from 30 to 60. A lot of it is, tell me what your pulse is this week.
What are you feeling? How how are you thinking? What's on your mind personally, professionally? What's motivating you right now? Getting into the psyche a bit and then figuring out to your point about where we are. What's our organizational goal? How can I drive you? This week, one week at a time, sometimes one day at a time, especially in this environment of the pandemic, we just have to remind them like, "Hey, we're all in this together. We're all going to mess up. That's a good thing." And I actually wrote a piece in a business journal a couple of months ago that we somehow a while ago, forgot that it's okay to fail. In fact, we forgot that it's okay to just slip up and we're paralyzed by this concept. Coaching allows us to be in a place where not only are you encouraged to do it, but you're reminded that that refinement comes only as you burn through new ideas. Some of which won't on the wall, some stick very well. And it's allowing them to feel like they're growing. And your piece of that is just enabling it.
I'm nothing more than a moderator and a listener. But listening to them gives me this capacity to grow in my skillset. And the finance piece feels much like breathing. Whereas what they do is new to me, or at least not as simple. So I'm just distilling their communication back to them how much of what I see they're doing is such a benefit and how that is on honesty. I say this to everyone, and this is probably my mantra for business. So you can boil this down, however you'd like, but I see them very often, "People say they want purpose. People say the ultimate motivator for people is purpose." And I always respond with the same thing. I say, "That's not untrue, but it's unfinished. People want purpose, but they want purpose that they can see tangibly contributing to something that's greater than they are." So we often say we've got a purpose, but it's no good unless we have a way, an outlet to take that purpose and evolve it. So I try to listen as a coach and find out what it is that they enjoy and love, and then give them a contribution outlet so they can see tangibly what they're doing and how it's benefiting the thing that they're working 50, 60 hours a week.
That's cool. Because yeah, as a brand strategist with organizations and things like that, I talk a lot about that purpose is the first thing. It's the foundation of this hierarchy of needs. I call it in a business. And it's that purpose is the foundation. I don't care if you're a dental group. I don't care if you run snow cone operations, your purpose generally will be the same because it's ingrained in you. It almost is like that injustice that you're trying to solve, but you go a step further and say, "Yeah, you need an outlet though, to carry that out and to see the impact that you're making." And I think that's where a lot of companies fail with their mission with their values. I mean, with their mission and their vision is that it just becomes this fluffy thing that they print out on a picture of an Eagle flying into the sunset and just like put it in the break room.
And they're like, cool. Instead of really having that aligned with their purpose, having that be the way we're going to carry out our thing and to see that impact right. Every day, that mission should be that daily reminder of what we're here to accomplish every day. So you guys have blown up. You guys have exploded as far as your size is concerned and what you've done. So your workplace culture is shifting continually. These one-on-one sessions you're doing are great. And you have multiple locations now inside your area. And you're growing rapidly. Managing that growth is going to be tough from a culture standpoint, different people coming in and out and doing what you do. Talk about that as far as your needs, as a culture, as a business are growing. What do businesses need to watch out for? What's some advice you can give them as they're scaling?
It's a great question. That's actually timely because we're walking through this right now. Again, the six core plan just built out, talks through this and we have a bunch of partners and doctors and then executives. Change management is a fickle thing because sometimes people will read through it to understand it. But the reality is it involves a little bit of getting dirty gay in a meyer, the first one through the wall and a little bit of blood and all of those cliches. But I would tell you, one word for me is what's dictating this. And that's grace.
Our CEO has built this into this phenomenally grandiose concept. And it's a beautiful thing. He is a visionary among visionaries. What he's doing now is where I think the humility comes in, which is one of my favorite traits of a human being, because it's recognizing in this season of growth, I need the CFO, I need a COO. I need someone to take the burden off me because I'm a good businessman. I'm a beautiful mind when with regards to marketing and vision, but I need those tactical skill sets to come around. And for change management, how people grow and manage it, it's extending grace continuously, and it's reminding ourselves, even in the frustration of not getting something done or feeling like you're not being heard that you've got to step back and say, "Hey, maybe this roadblock is struggling with a roadblock of their own." So you have to reposition and I say this because I'm a huge fault of this. This is a bigger problem for myself. I've always got to reframe my thought process. Is looking around and saying, All right everybody here is still on their own learning curve.
So we've got to calibrate that. We got to recognize that we're all in this together and not in a kumbaya way, but saying, "Hey, solidary is a very strong and powerful mechanism from a human psychology perspective." Moreover, but for an organization to put that into play, you wouldn't tell your children as they're growing, "Hey, you'll figure it out." And every time they burn their hand or smack their face, just look away. Either you take them, you have a post-mortem. You say what you did and then move on and you make less of that mistake moving forward. It's no different in business, you treat your people like your family. You showed them grace, you show them love. And in that process, you also allow the refinement to be a group process. And that's one of the things I think is allowing us to grow and scale so rapidly. But again, it's a process and we haven't mastered it by any means, but we're definitely welcoming the challenge.
Hey talk to the other side of that though, is that what you see the problem being with companies trying to grow? I mean, so expand on that.
Absolutely. So I think people are afraid to bring in some of those warm and fuzzy words about which I was speaking just now, grace, Love because they feel like they don't have a place in the professional world. And I would offer up that that's actually the opposite case. I think what we do is we bifurcate our personal world and values and we put on this mask of, "This is what I've been inculcated to understand and think and action." And we lose our identities and that, then it hurts our ability to connect and find synergy and connection with the people around us. So when people are failing, when businesses are failing to scale, it's often because... And you've heard fail quickly, fail fast and fail often. People don't embrace that concept. And I was just saying we forgot that it's okay to fail. In fact, we're encouraged if we want to grow to be okay with the concept and move forward. So I think for those businesses that are struggling, I would say, "Hey think about those words like grace and love. Find a way to appropriately make them part of the world that you're in and the business that you're growing, but then make sure that you're genuine about how you say to your people, 'This is okay, we welcome it. And we're a company that's going to grow because of it, not despite it.'"
Beautiful man because right into that, I'm going to sa..., I'm just going to read this verbatim because it was beautifully written. I was asking you previously, another one of the big problems that companies make, and you said mismanagement of incentivization, we assume finances and time off are the primary motivators for increased production, right on. We just think throw more money at them, give them another week and there'll be happy. They'll stay for life with the occasional hollow accolade to serve as reinforcement. I love "hollow accolade." People are incentivized by feeling part of a system that needs their gifts. If we are doing that properly, retention is high and the rest falls into its rightful place. So how do we figure out what those gifts are? How do we make sure that we're honing in on those gifts and allowing them to use those gifts? Like how do we do that when we're managing people?
I think a lot of it is... It's a good question. a lot of it, again goes back to that whole breaking down the partition of this is who you are as a human outside of the organization. This is who you are and your role inside of it. And allowing them to find this marriage. So I would tell you getting people into this place where they feel they can be more of who they are at home or in front of their friends at work and allow them to steer that into its contribution. I use the word hollow accolade, not because I don't think people mean it or that they're disingenuous. That's not how I feel. But what I'm saying is that it's fodder.
It becomes so replicated that it loses efficacy. And that's the problem, is that it's like weightlifting. I love fitness. But after six weeks, your muscles catch onto you, they got to trick them again. People are fluid, we're all very fluid. And so part of what this process is, is getting inside of each person, allowing them, the vulnerability part. I mean, I don't say that word then thinking about it, but allowing them to get inside of you as well and say, "Hey, you know what? These are my blind spots. This is what I do well, this is what I need help with. And this is how I think we can blend as a group. When you do that, you invite not just growth and the opportunity to build something great, but you invite this sense of contentment and being satisfied in the work that you do that makes you wake up and you're not even sure what you did for 10 hours. You just knew that you loved it and can't wait to do it again.
And that my friend is something that I think I've been looking for, for 15 years. I found it. And now I'm just completely pressed in, not only on keeping it going, but evolving it. I feel like it's incumbent on me and those around me, my peers, to take this concept and to build it into a place where it becomes self-sustaining and ultimately involuntary muscle like breathing where we just naturally do this because it's not only the right thing, but it is, like anything else, it's cathartic. Catharsism will outweigh the concept of, "Oh my gosh, if I do this wrong, I'm going to have..." That's just not the way the world works in reinforcement in human beings. It's not sustainable. Fear-based leading is not sustainable. It works for a time. Catharsis is the most sustainable thing. And when you make people feel that it really is the sky's the limit.
Brandon, let me know when you start your public speaking career and you still write your book and you start your podcast and your YouTube channel, I'm going to subscribe because man, it's like you, I think we're talking about you in a way. Like on some of this stuff, like we talk about this inspiring to purpose and you said it in here. But the last thing you wrote, me when we were talking back and forth a little bit before the show, to inspire is to give purpose. And I think you, not... Yes, we can inspire other people. But I think in talking with you a little bit, you, I can see this inspiration in you and just the way you talk, so to inspire others is to also give purpose to yourself, is to also to do what you feel like you were meant to do here.
And when you show others how to inspire themselves, you've unlocked a whole new realm of opportunity for them and for your organization. And I'm going to tack on and for yourself because it's bigger. We all want to feel like we, like you said, have a purpose and feel like we have a purpose that we're associated with something or somebody that believes what we believe, but then we're able to see the results of that. And that is where the power comes in. And I think that's what you've seen. And I think that's where your energy comes from, because I sense it, man, just in this interview, I sense it. And I think that that's beautiful.
First of all, thank you. That is very nice of you and I, and I feel the passion comes because it's, you said it and I think you probably nailed it very well. My passion and the love is watching others enact. That is just the reality of the matter. So for me, when I get the chance to coach or watch somebody grow and I do it all the time, there's small pieces or the big pieces, but when that happens, you and your heart, in your mind and your heart you feel like you've done something that is not just for now, you'll see it. It'll bear fruit for the rest of someone else's life. That for me is life-giving and it's also, it's implanting needless sense of connection that a deep rooted connection. I work all day on spreadsheets and I talk to banks and vendors and negotiate and there's tactics there.
And some of that's just business, but at the end of the day, I was end the phone calls with, "But who and how are you?" And I get these relationships going with vendors that are... And it becomes more of a, "Hey, I know where you are buddy, I want to do this for you. It becomes very reciprocal. And then I find myself spending your $400 on a lawyer getting ready for our new acquisition. Spending money to send him a fruit basket, because all the work you did, even though I'm paying for it. But that's not where the fruit basket is coming from. The fruit basket as an extension of me thanking him because I was blessed. I was giving. That gratitude really feels more like, "Wow, I won on this deal. Not you." And, and they in turn feel like, "Wow, that's how I felt." And then you're just exploiting that. And we're saying, "This is how, really how the world goes round." So yeah, there's a personal satisfaction that I take from that. I see it in my children. I see it in my wife. I see it in our colleagues and my staff. It's just, it's a really cool thing.
Rock on, man. What can people do to get in touch with you if they just want to banter with you. If they need some help from you. What is something they can do to get in touch with you, if they need your services, even in the dental group space. I mean how can that happen?
Sure. So again, a bit of an open book. I love talking about business, personal, the juxtaposition of both. Really it's fine on my signature, on my emails. There's my cell phone number. I think I listed for the purposes of optics, my phone, my work phone, but I've never actually checked a message here ever. It's just constantly orange. I would say, call me on my cell phone and email, personal email. You know how to work email. The reality is that if there's a desire to be connected for any number of reasons, typically you can infer on that connection that there's that reciprocal nature in the ask. One of the things I always tell people is that check yourself on why it is that you want to get connected.
And when you see that's an exciting thing that moves you, that's probably going to move me. So reach out by phone, reach out by email. And I don't know, however you want to present. That clearly it's still available, but make that available to anybody else. I intentionally jumped off of social media, Facebook, Instagram, because I wanted to focus my time on my family. That was a few years ago. As my girls are getting older, I'm realizing it's nice to have these opportunities to speak so honestly, but then to invite people in. So certainly those avenues are welcome.
Very cool. I think that there is a... Like you said, I mean, it's like people at some point are just like, "Oh, I got to be done with this social stuff. It's just a bunch of garbage and blah, blah, blah." But when you use it and I've noticed doing these interviews, meeting just cool people, I would have never met in my entire life. And just hearing thoughts that have opened up my mind to the conversations, to new ideas. That's because social media made that happen. I mean, we reached out on LinkedIn, we connected, you were open to the conversation, you took a risk and here it is and now you're going to make billions of dollars from being on the show. So awesome, man. Well, I really appreciate you being on and thank you so much, Brandon. And I'll put all your contact info in the comments. So good luck to you. Hope you guys keep crushing it, keep growing, but manageable growth, Let me keep that manageable, but good luck and all everything you're doing here.
Thank you so much Skot. Again give everybody the opportunity. It was a pleasure to be on. Appreciate it.
Like I said, not the normal CFO. Of course, I don't know a lot of CFOs, but I'd be willing to bet a lot of them, and this is nothing, not a knock against CFOs, I'm just saying the typical mindset of that type of persona is not to venture out and take their employees coffee all the time, or take their employees out to lunch and listen, and to coach one-on-one employees and their management team to listen to what's going on with their day-to-day life and help be a sounding board to help inspire them and feel purpose so that they can drive and win and feel that they're changing the world. This is so great. And it shows me that you can't pigeonhole people. You can't put them in a box. I don't care if they're a leader. I don't care if they're an employee, we've got to think of different ways to inspire, to give people that purpose, to help people feel like they're part of something bigger and that they have something to give.
Everybody wants to feel like they're contributing. Help them feel that way and carry that out through the entire organization. I'm really grateful for Brandon and this conversation. We talked a lot after the interview, we talked a lot before the interview. It was a long interview. The recorded session is just a piece of that. It was really great. If you want to find out more about me and about some of these other interviews I've been doing, you can check out my website at skotwaldron.com. You can also visit my YouTube channel. You can find a bunch of the interviews there as well. I'd love for you to subscribe. I love comments. I would love feedback. I'd love all those things. So yes, I'm asking you to critique my work. Please help me make it better. All right, I will see you on the next episode of Unlocked. See ya.
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