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Michael Walsh’s new book, Thinking Big Is Not Enough – a special time-limited offer for our readers

March 29, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.11.51 AMWe recently interviewed Michael Walsh about his new book, Thinking Big Is Not Enough: Moving past the myths and misconceptions that stop business growth

Why would a book like this matter to us?  Michael’s someone who helps us dream big and then figure out better planning, negotiation, and evaluation – and we think our field could use a hit of ambition!

After collaborating with Michael on some of the systems and leadership issues in ways that were new to us, we were excited about his first book, Business Growth by Design: A Business Owner’s Guide to Tapping Your Potential Without Getting Tapped Out which walks the reader through some great ideas about planning and sustainability.  We recommend it all the time. Even more than businesses we have multiple “customers” to satisfy and if our work is going to be successful and sustainable and ambitious we need clear missions, methods and ways to involve and grow new leaders while staying focused on what it is we want to do. Michael’s new book Thinking Big Is Not Enough takes those lessons and makes them “conversational” by following an actual case study through from first inquiry to tracking success on multiple fronts and appreciative problem-solving with his clients.

After reading the review copy, I was struck by this quote from Aldo Chies, the owner of A&B Tool Rentals Inc., a greater Vancouver company: “Michael has been able to convey this through a case study that allows you to see and understand the steps for yourself, rather than being told that this is how it works. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to achieve large scale growth without sacrificing customer service or burning yourself out.”  Partly, I liked it that Aldo said what I was going to say about the book but I also liked it that it’s Aldo, who we studied with for two years in a class Michael hosted.   What did we, a non-profit, have in common with the owner of a tool rental company looking to expand? It turned out, once we’d worked through the language with our cohort of entrepreneurs – “So, let me get this straight – as a non-profit, you don’t want to make money? Do you want a cheque?” – we all wanted the same thing. Aldo wanted to open a new business site, he wanted buy-in from the neighbors and the city, he wanted leaders he could trust to run things to the standard he hoped for, he wanted to stay on top of all the new ideas in his field, he wanted a “deep bench” of people ready to take on more, and he wanted to learn from them and he wanted to make sure they were learning from him.   There was a world of transferable skills and ideas at the table and, perhaps even more important, we were sitting with the community we hope the folks we support are part of.

Thinking Big Is Not Enough is organized like a story – it’s very readable and manages to convey the adventurousness of Michael’s take on life and work, and the excitement of walking with an entrepreneur who is dreaming, clarifying and accomplishing goals while constantly problem-solving.   One of the things I like most about it is the way that Michael demonstrates good question-asking that leads to a greater understanding of one’s own strengths.   If you’d like to pre-order this book you can get it on Amazon here.    The book is currently less than $16 bucks and if you order two there’s free shipping, but there are also deals to be had if you pre-order before April 2nd!   See the end of this posting for details – it’s a good chance for those who want to think through new ideas about how to manage what we do.   As well, if you’d like to meet him after the book is out, get your copy signed, get some bling and ask some questions about the intersection of not-for-profits and entrepreneurial ventures we can make that happen! Just send us a note or leave a comment below.

Aaron: We were talking about defining non profits and how we often don’t really think in our field about what the business model is, or who the customer is.  One of the things we’ve learned with you is that we have multiple customers – I’d like to hear more about that…

Michael: A nonprofit is really the same as a for-profit company with one of two other things happening – either you set your target profit at zero dollars, in other words you fiscally balance to zero or you re-invest any “profits” in services that work for your mission, but otherwise, you have to run it just like any other business.  

And the truth is you have often have more constraints because you also have to meet legislated requirements so you’re actually in tighter shape than most for-profit companies – so the business acumen required to run an effective not for profit company is actually stronger not lesser, than for a for profit company because there’s fewer restrictions on a for profit company.

Aaron: This is such an interesting idea that we’ve talked about before – how for-profits and non-profits have these intersecting and complementary areas they might share….

Michael: We know that constraint and limitation really are the parents of innovation so you need to find innovative ways to actually make a difference – to satisfy your mission – and it’s not about the dollars it’s about the impact or reach that you’re generating – that’s the difference.  

Aaron: One of the things that we always talk about in our field is getting out of the silo, that “social service world” – someone recently called it “cogworld,” because the focus of our work is supposed to be inclusion, which is a creative, expansive thing, but we keep talking to each other instead of talking to those we hope will include people we care about as employees and friends. One of the things I often talk about is taking the course with you and all the entrepreneurs and being the only non profit at the table and how it took three of four months before they could understand what we were saying and we could understand what they were saying – and then the bottom dropped out of everything with the American economy – and we had so many of the skills that they needed…

Michael: Absolutely, that was really fun….

Aaron: You highlighted those skills and attributes that we brought to the rest of the group so we could share what they needed and you helped us figure out what it was we had to share  – like how to find good leaders dedicated to a shared vision, with little funding, and how to stretch a penny while still trying to make significant changes….

Michael: When you don’t have a bunch of extra cash to throw at people you actually have to inspire them to be there because they want to be – just because you’re a not-for-profit doesn’t automatically mean that people will naturally flow to you.   Sure, some people will come because of the shared cause they care about, but the truth is that all people join companies because of something they care about and then they leave bosses.  If the boss isn’t a pleasant person to work with I don’t care how compelling the company or cause is, you’re going to have trouble keeping people.  So the key is how do we build a culture where the actual bosses know how to take care of people?

That’s part of the reason we created this new training program because the truth is that well-meaning people were screwing up left right and centre.   This is really hard stuff to get right.  People need to have places to ask questions and get help.

In the not-for-profit world, just like in business, we can take ownership or not when decisions get made somewhere else about what we care about – but just as in any place in life you never have full control over it but the truth is you always have control over your response.  And look what you guys did at Spectrum – you got to do tons of stuff that you cared about, on top of the things you needed to do… 

Aaron: the big part of our learning was the reflective piece – what are we actually doing? You led us through that process of mapping out what we were doing – stopping to take it apart and think it over and make changes as necessary

Michael: Yes, working from the future to the present is the key.

Remember, the bigger the game gets, the more you’re paid to think and the less you’re paid to do.  One of the biggest things that impedes people’s ability to grow is doing – it’s the biggest single threat – they get so concerned with doing they don’t stop to think about what they’re doing.  If I have five minutes to cut down a tree, I’ll spend two and a half minutes sharpening the axe instead of starting by hacking away at it for 20 minutes and getting nowhere…   or, more realistically, I have this client and then there are budget cuts and they say your competitor is offering to do this in 8 hours – they say, I’d like to give this to you, but only if you can do it in 8 hours – and it’s a long term client you care about, so you want to keep them.  What’s the first thing you do?  You take 2 hours and figure out how you’re going to do it in 6 and if it takes me 8 hours to figure out how to do it in six, that’s fine because four times in I’m actually breaking even.

The fifth time in I’m in an unusual profit zone because I’ve used an innovation to actually sort it out but now I am doing it in 6 and getting paid for 8 and life is good because you can make some choices that serve your mission.  That’s how things improve.  

Aaron: One story I tell about working with you is that when I said I described your approach as 99% planning and 1% doing and you said, no, that’s wrong, it’s actually 99.5% planning!

Michael: The doing takes the brawn – and, yeah, we call that time, like that means something, but with good planning the game is done before you actually get out of the gate if you do it right.

Below is the special offer Michael is making for advance copies of his book:

Business growth can be a struggle. But does it have to be?

Thinking Big Is Not Enough: Moving Past the Myths and Misconceptions that Stop Business Growth contains practical ways of looking at growing a business and offers tools to help owners achieve their goals for more profit and more freedom by providing a framework for creating strong, sustainable business growth.

It’s written as a dialogue between Michael and one of his clients, as they work through the practical implementation of these tools, following the owner’s own vision for their company.

We wanted to share with you Michael’s vision to help leaders take their business to the next level.

One of the things you will love about Michael is that he lives what he teaches – and it is out of this genuine commitment to support best practices  that he is offering a special thank-you gift to those who pre-order even just 1 copy of his book through the Amazon links provided below.

If you pre-order 1 copy of the book you will get access to 4 different webinars (valued at $49 each – a total value of $196). These webinars will be set for early April (stay tuned), and if you can’t make it, they will be recorded so you can listen afterwards. Webinar topics include:

1. The first steps to take when undertaking large-scale growth
2. Hiring the right people for a growing business
3. Strategies to find more money (cash-flow) for your business, and
4. An open Q&A webinar with participant questions about business growth.

If you pre-order 5 copies of the book, in addition to access to the 4 webinars, you will be entered into a draw where 5 winners will get a free 90 session (either live, via Skype or telephone) with Michael Walsh on any subject related to business growth that they choose.

If you pre-order 10 or more copies of the book in addition to the other Thank You Gifts, you will get a free Business Value Analysis, done specifically for your business. This normally sells for $500, but it is his very special thank-you to you for pre-ordering 10 books.

In order to qualify, books must be pre-ordered from the following links:
To make sure you receive your appropriate thank you gift, simply email with “proof of purchase” in the subject line and provide your Amazon confirmation showing how many copies of Thinking Big Is Not Enough that you ordered, and she will email you with the appropriate information.

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