ep. 69 - Troy Hazard
After months of working 18 hour days, 7 days a week at a radio station in Brisbane Australia, Troy Hazard woke up one morning and decided that if he was going to put this much effort into something, then it may as well be something he owned.
Since then, there are few situations in the business world that Troy Hazard has not experienced and survived. A serial entrepreneurial who has founded and nurtured twelve businesses over two decades, Troy has consulted to countless successful companies over the last 25 years.
Through his business career he has owned a diverse range of businesses including a recording studio, an advertising agency, a pizza outlet, pool and spa company, real estate brokerage, property development company, leading franchise-consulting business, and a technology business.
Troy’s lessons from the edge provide businesses with potent and refined tools, a collection of which you will find in his Amazon bestselling business book, ‘Future-Proofing Your Business: Real Life Strategies to Prepare Your Business for Tomorrow, Today!
ep. 69 - Troy Hazard
Troy Hazard: Fair enough.
Gail Davis: Our guest on today's episode of GDA Podcast is Troy Hazard. There are few situations in the business world that Troy has not experienced and survived. He is a serial entrepreneur who has founded [00:01:00] and nurtured 12 businesses over two decades and has consulted countless successful companies around the world over the last 25 years. He has also been a leader of leaders, having served as the international president of the elite EO, Entrepreneur Organization, on their global ward. Troy now shares his experiences through his speaking engagements, his television talk show and his books. His most recent, Future-Proofing Your Business, is an Amazon Business [00:01:30] best-seller. Welcome to GDA Podcast, Troy.
Kyle Davis: Hey, Troy.
Troy Hazard: Thanks for the invite.
Kyle Davis: Glad to have somebody who has an accent. [crosstalk 00:01:39] Where are you from?
Troy Hazard: Just to mix it up. [crosstalk 00:01:44] Just to mix it up.
Kyle Davis: Yeah yeah yeah. So, for people who don't know who you are, me being one of those people, if you could kind of catch us up to speed and let us know who Troy is, I think the listeners would appreciate that.
Troy Hazard: Yeah for sure. Look, I [00:02:00] have an unusual start into private enterprise and as an entrepreneur I actually got fired from a radio station back in the late 80s. I walked into my boss and said, "Look I've been working eight hour days for the last six months, and I either need a raise or I need an assistant."
And he said, "How about a holiday?"
And I said, "That'll be great."
And he said, "Fantastic. You're fired."
So I went home and had a couple of drinks, as [00:02:30] you do when you're lamenting your future. I rang mother and said, "Look the property market is going okay, I just lost my job. I think we might get in to renovating properties. You want to come and join me?" Because she was a designer.
She said, "Troy. I just want to let you know, you're not very handy."
Either way, I didn't take her advise. We went and renovated 13 properties, over the next 18 months. Her as the interior decorator and designer [00:03:00] and me as the guy who did the deals. Actually made four times what I made the year before, in radio. And that kind of launched my business career. We still had no clue what we were doing, but we at least had a bit of money behind us now, so we were a bit more dangerous than we were when we had no money.
I suppose, in a really weird way, started to buy and sale and trade companies, because I had this unusual knack to find things that were broken, and then work at how to fix them. Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
[00:03:30] So when you take, kind of that mindset of, having a knack to be able to take something that's broken and fix it. What are you looking for? Because not everything that broken can be put back together; that's the first thing. And the second thing is, what's like the strategic vision, before you invest your time, money, effort, energy and all that?
Troy Hazard: Yeah. It's funny. Over the years that's kind of evolved. In the first couple of instances, when we were looking at trading companies, I would just run the front door blindly and go, "This looks like [00:04:00] a good idea. Let's just go and see what happens." And I kind of had a bit of a knack with marketing, and a bit of a knack with media, which helped us with some of the positioning and promotion of the companies that we were working with. That was just blind luck.
There was no strategic. There was no vision. There was no understanding of what our purpose was, with any of the deals we did. It was just, I suppose, an intuitive feeling that I think I could add some value to it the way we went. Fortunately, we were right.
As the years evolved, [00:04:30] all of a sudden I realized I had to get a little bit smarter about this and look for an understanding of what the business looked like on the way out, as we went into them. And that's when we really changed the dial a little bit and actually started to make some decent money out of the trades. Before that we were doing okay ... We lucked out, I suppose, in a lot of instances, but when I really understood strategy , and understand how to look forward in the business and know what I thought its real enterprise value was going to be, [00:05:00] with the things we could do or change, That's when we actually started to really make some decent money on some of the trades that we did.
Kyle Davis: So when you're like access the real enterprise value, and you know that you're going to have a three to four year play before you implement and exit strategy, what are you, generally speaking, what are you looking for? What's appetizing verses what's sexy at the time, but doesn't have longevity.
Troy Hazard: [00:05:30] For me it's not about even having an understanding about the industry. We've bought in real estate. We've bought into pizza restaurants, into technology, into a number of different industries that I didn't really have much of an understanding of, nor any experience in. But the fundamentals are the same in each and every one of them.
And that was, understand that you need good people. You need a good product. You need a good positioning of that product. You need a good process to be efficient and effective, [00:06:00] and you need to understand what the purpose is, that you're going into the business for, so you can get out of it.
One of my very early business mentors said to me, "Never fall in love with a deal or an asset." And I think that was pretty helpful to me over the years, where I always went into it on the basis that we knew we were going to get out of it, and we had a purpose for that whole process in the deal. So it wasn't because I loved it or I was excited, or it was sexy. It was just because I felt that there was something [00:06:30] that we could add, as a point of value to the development of that business, and the next generation of that business. And that was what gave us the direction, as to which businesses we get into and which we would kind of pass on.
Kyle Davis: So I was recently having a conversation with somebody who's a serial Angel investor, in the tech space.
Troy Hazard: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kyle Davis: He was mentioning that a lot of the companies, nowadays, are just hyper inflated, because you have a lot of people who are coming to the game late and they're quick [00:07:00] to being like, "I love it!" They fall in love so fast, without one, having an understanding of, I believe the five P's which you just mentioned. And then also having an understanding of what's the real long-term play or what's the technology play that goes beyond this 'dating app', or something like that.
Troy Hazard: Yeah.
Kyle Davis: And so you have a lot of people buying into something that's not real.
Troy Hazard: Well that's right. And I think that there is a rule differentiation between what we call smart money and dumb money. [00:07:30] The dumb money is, unexcited, it's sexy, it's interesting, "I want to be a part of that." I want to be able to say to my mates over a dinner table and a bottle of wine, that I was part of that start up and I [inaudible 00:07:40] because I got that right.
The smart money is, " Can I really add some enterprise value to this business in the short-term. And pop out with an reasonable outcome?" Or I can make a few dollars and then reinvest that into something else, and not want to be a super hero, just want to be able to find a path that says, "This is kind [00:08:00] of safe, but a little bit edgy, and I'm not going to loose the house over it."
Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Troy Hazard: That's the difference.
Kyle Davis: So when you're deploying this kind of like smart money mentality, I'm sure you Hit rate is a lot higher than the dumb money Hit rate. What kind of value are you looking to add? I mean, because that's like ... When I lived in San Francisco, and I was talking to hardcore VC people, it's always, what value from the network of companies we've invested in can we do this thing [00:08:30] to make this company more profitable than it is before. So what kind of value are you trying to add to something that maybe you don't have in familiar with within the industry or maybe you do have a lot of familiarity with.
Troy Hazard: Well the interesting thing for me is that I come from a media and marketing background, before I got into private enterprise. So I kind of look at a business and say, "If I was a consumer, what would I want? What would I like to be told? What would be a sexy positioning for me? What would be something that's [00:09:00] attractive to me, to buy that product or service?" And I think what happens along the way with a lot of companies, is we get to close to it, and we forget to think like the people we are trying to serve.
By way of example, a technology company we bought in 2001, right after the Tech break. They had great technology and a really cool product, and some really smart people in the business, but they were talking like technology guys. I mean, everything was an acronym, or a hip word or a buzz word or a saying. We're not pitching to CEOs, [00:09:30] the CEO is sitting in front of them with glazed eyes and go, "You're patronizing me, and you're not talking to me, you're talking at me."
And so the simplicity of that play was to walk into the business and say, "You need to talk to me like I'm your customer, because I am. I don't understand what we do. I think it's sexy, but I'm not quite sure. But the way you are positioning it to me, as a consumer is gone right over my head. And as a result we are not making any sales." Talk to me like I'm you customer. I am not going to [00:10:00] learn what we sale. I'm not going to learn this industry, deliberately, so that I can be, I suppose, the last test between us and the consumer to make sure we're getting through to them.
That was exactly what happened. We changed our marketing. We shifted the positioning of the business. The business was losing 60 thousand dollars a month when we bought it. We had it back in the black in 90 days, and put it back on the market 3 years later, with a Price Waterhouse Cooper's evaluation of just under 8 million. And we paid a quarter million bucks for it.
So it was [00:10:30] a good strategy, but really really basic. There's no rocket science there. It's just really thinking like a consumer, and how do I be spoken to.
Kyle Davis: I think you hit the nail on the head, when you said that people get too close.
Troy Hazard: Yeah.
Kyle Davis: They get too bought into the idea of what they have, without removing themselves and taking the 30 thousand foot view. So kind of from that ...
Gail Davis: Vantage point.
Kyle Davis: Vantage point, thank you. What can [00:11:00] people do to kind of decouple their view of their business to take a look back and to really reframe the way that they think about their business. So that way they can actually grow it in ways that, maybe they didn't think were possible before.
Troy Hazard: There's an age old saying, "You've got to look outside in." It's pretty simple really. You come to work every day, you work 12, 14, 16 hours, and you go so hard, but you're more focused [00:11:30] on what I refer to as, 'avoiding the accident', rather than the strategy of winning the race.
Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Troy Hazard: I'm an amateur race car driver. I love racing cars. I'm not a very good race car driver, but I love it. And my instructor and co-driver, continues to tell me to, "Focus on the strategy of winning the race, not on avoiding the accident." In other words, stop looking at the stuff that's right in front of you and look further down the track at things that you maybe have forgotten to look for or forgotten they're important to the business. And that then gives [00:12:00] you a stronger consumer view of what you're trying to achieve.
You're removing yourself from what you know to be true and what you are use to saying and doing every single day, and looking at it as if you've never seen it before. As if you've never been exposed to the product of service you're trying to sale, and then try to understand how a consumer would relate to your positioning of that product or service. Because sometimes, we're a little bit too slick, and it's a routine and a habit we get into, [00:12:30] because it's familiar to us, but not those we choose to serve.
Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Gail Davis: Well I was just going to say ... You jokingly said, when you started you didn't really have a vision. There was a lot of luck. But now that you're in the world that you're in and the type of work that you do and the books you write, why ... How important is it for a business to have a vision?
Troy Hazard: I think its incredibly important. I think [00:13:00] what happens is, we go into business with a bit of a romance of working for ourselves, and believing that we don't have to answer to anybody and "Isn't that going to be great?"
"And we're going to make all this money." "We've got this fantastic idea, and it's going to be just this wonderful journey, that we're going to pop out the back end and have fast cars and big houses and everything is going to be fine." I seriously did not start making any real money out of any of the businesses we had, until I understood what it looked like [00:13:30] when it was finished. And it will be finished.
I think we got to understand that; that there is a time and place in space in every business that you're going to get out of it. And a box is not how to get out of it. Your death is not how you get out of a business. You've got to find a way ... That there's a legacy that you might leave for your family or at least yourself. To be able to say, "I'm going to enjoy the fruits of my labor and all the hard work I put into it."
And when I started to understand what that time and place in space was, it changed [00:14:00] the entire perspective of the companies that we were trading, such that they were now working for me, I was not working for them. These things were now a tool for my future, not a burden. I wasn't in love with them, I wasn't attached to them. They weren't a noose around my neck, they were in fact a tool to help me understand what was important in life. And how to really get a handle on, what I refer to as, 'Life Blend'. How I can get my companies to do what I want them to do [00:14:30] for me and my family, so that I can enjoy some of the hard work that I outlined over the last 20 years.
Gail Davis: So is another word for that, work-life balance? Is that what you're ...
Troy Hazard: A little bit. But I think, when you talk about balance, you have this impression or this vision that its either ying or yang. When you talk about blend, it's more of an understanding that, you're going to go to work, it's going to be challenging. There are going to be days that you love, you hate it, and it's going to have an impact on your family at some point for whatever reason. So the blend [00:15:00] is to understand how to compartmentalize your life and know how to get both of those things done effectively and efficiently, such that neither of them have any sort of negative impact on what you are trying to achieve in life.
I'm really specific. Every day I kind of wake up and look at how I can compartmentalize me day, so I've got plenty of time for what I need to get done from a business perspective, but also from a family perspective, and that neither of those things are adversely impacted, because [00:15:30] of a ying or a yang on a balance scale. It's more of a blend of the two, working together to achieve the end result. Kyle Davis: So one of the things that you just mentioned a moment ago, is that you don't fall in love with these companies. In doing so, that they work for you, you don't work for them. I guess what I'm curious about is ... As you have this vision towards a successful exit, [00:16:00] when is the time that most people try to cut out the negative?
You look at a lot of these businesses and they just kind of like ride them into the ground. And they don't think of like, "This investment that you made, just in the long term isn't the right deal." When is it the right time to cut your loses and just pivot into some more advantageous position moving forward? Troy Hazard: Really good point. Because I think what happens in a lot of small businesses or small/medium enterprises even, is that owners or founders [00:16:30] stay too long in the business, and they get jaded or they get complacent, or they're just done with it. And the business is already in decline well before they even see it or notice it. And to a perspective suitor or buyer they're seeing that.
For me, I always try and leave something on the table for the next guy. So that I've got to a point and place in space where I am happy with it, I think we've made a reasonable addition and enterprise value. It think that its enough time that we've spent [00:17:00] in it, where I'm not bored with it, I'm not complacent. I'm not jaded, and the next I can look over the back fence and go, "Hey look I've got some really cool ideas for this company. If I did this, this and this; I reckon I can take it to the next level."
I want them to come in excited and to be inspired to do the things they believe I have not yet done. Because that then given them that blue sky opportunity that potentially lifts the enterprise value, because they're prepared to fall in love with [00:17:30] the idea that they can do so much better than I have. And I'm okay with that, because I'm certainly not the smartest guy in the room, but I know at what point I become un-smart. So that I got to get out. I know when I've reached my limit that I ... There's probably not a lot more I can do here, and so it's time for me to move on.
Kyle Davis: I think that's a very eloquent and beautiful thing, because you start to see a lot of founders and tech companies, but you know, [00:18:00] small to medium size companies that have just been around for a long time ... They're are so in love with the idea of what they've built, that the don't see the pitfalls coming at them that an outside observer sees.
Troy Hazard: And I think you're right. I mean if you look at Silicon Valley, right now, I won't name names, but there are a number of CEOs that I certainly wouldn't invest in. And even though they have incredibly successful companies, I just look at them and go, "You guys just shouldn't be running this stuff. [00:18:30] You're just not that smart. You had a great idea. You took it to a fantastic IPO, it's made you a lot of money, but seriously step aside and let somebody who's got some experience to take it to the next game. I just think it's inevitable, that sooner of later, you're going to trip over and it's going to be spectacular."
Kyle Davis: I will say without naming the company that I, because I have purposely left it off my LinkedIn and I've thrown away all my free 'Swag' shirts so it's kind of hard to figure out who this company is, [00:19:00] because I was kind of embarrassed. If you had a conversation with the founders ... Everybody else in the company, whether it's the HR person who helped recruit me and everything else, super bought in super all about the company, then you go to talk to the founders and you're like, "Huh?" And then you come to find out, just recently that they took a bunch of money from investors so that they could kick them off, kick them out of the company.
They had a very [00:19:30] myopic vision of what the company could be, and they didn't think about what the technology and how it could be applied outside of that, and it was ruining them.
Troy Hazard: They just haven't got the legs as CEOs. They have not had the experience. They haven't got the scares. They haven't had the street value they can add to the enterprise value of the business. This is one of the things that I know I have got, it's street value. I'm a street fighter. I have been since the late 80s. I know I'm not the smartest guy in the room, in fact I haven't ... I never even went to college. I [00:20:00] didn't have the grades to get into college. But I know I can duke it out in the streets with the best of them and I know that that pivotal moment when I have reached my limit, and I got to find smarter guys to help me either get to the next game or get out and hand it to a smarter guy, who can take it to the next game themselves.
Gail Davis: You know when I think of you Troy. Knowing you over the years. When I hear you're name I always think of franchising. And I know you've been both a franchiser and a franchisee, and I'm just curious what some of the challenges [00:20:30] and differences are from those two different vantage points?
Troy Hazard: Yeah. It's funny, I fell into franchising in the late 80s. One of our clients was about to franchise their business and he said, "You know about franchising, Troy, don't you?" I said, "Absolutely. I do." And I remember leaving the meeting and ringing the office saying, "Go buy some books on franchising." We had no clue, but then no one else did in the 80s, and so it was kind of easy to kind of bluff your way through.
I had this consulting business for a number of years. [00:21:00] We consulted to about 300 different franchise brands in 16 different countries around the world. It was a good little business, and along the way we invested in a couple of franchisers that we were working with, as a franchisee. So I've been a franchisee twice.
Here's the interesting pivot. As a consult I can see both sides of the fence; franchiser or franchisee, but as soon as I became a franchisee, I forgot all that. It was just all about me and my business and why [00:21:30] aren't you doing more for me, and it's your job, and I'm paying your fees. How come you can't support me. It was kind of funny, and it actually took me a while to sit back and introspectively look at the way I was handling that position. And remind myself that I knew that this was a partnership between franchiser and franchisee. I knew that I had a responsibility in that, as a franchisee, even though I was an investor or not day to day. I had a responsibility to run and manage and grow [00:22:00] that business as much as the franchiser did.
Now, more recently, as an investor and a franchiser business here in the United States, I see the other side of the fence more literally, because again even though I haven't got a day job in that business, I have a board position and I deal with the high end issues in that relationship between franchiser and franchisee. I have to keep reminding myself that, my job again is to be a partner in that relationship, not somebody that's [00:22:30] just there to serve but one that's there to partner with them to grow our businesses collectively for the future.
It's been a challenge even though I've been in it for 25 years now.
Kyle Davis: I did a lot od work with one of my previous employers, with regards to Quick-Serve or Fast Casual, kind of QSR franchises. And I can say that the holding company that owned multiple different brands, those are some of the most entertaining phone calls, [00:23:00] because they ... It was the most crass ... They were from Pennsylvania, all of them. It was like, "Man you know. Whatever. Whatever." And then all of a sudden, once it flipped to, "Okay. Now we're talking business." Those guys were on. They understood everything from cook time to ... From order time to delivery and cook, and they wanted to know operations and how if they implement our solution is it going to cause them to be backed up 15 seconds per order, because if that does happen, that's going to be a huge problem.
It was militant [00:23:30] in how it was broken down. Then on the flip side, what they talked about as that a lot of these franchisee come in and they just think it turn-key and they can just make the monetary investment and quote be a business owner, when in reality they're ... I'm saying it myself, they never said this, but their kind of too scared to start their own company, so they buy into something that a little bit proven and just requires a little bit of work.
I'm wondering if you could talk about that. Especially when maybe somebody wants to open us a franchise in an area that's kind of away [00:24:00] from the franchise HUB.
Troy Hazard: Yeah. History has changed a bit, in recent years, with private equity moving into the sector more and more. So you end up with, as you point out, a collective group of different franchise systems living under the one roof, and that's in part a good thing.
Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Troy Hazard: Because there's a sharing of resources and experience and ideas and innovation. But in part, it's also a little but disruptive, because everyone [00:24:30] has a slightly different way that they need to run those franchise systems.
From my perspective, if you're looking to come outside in, to a franchise group. Maybe you're a middle manager that's sick of you job or you've had a redundancy or you just decide you want to be on your own in business; look for the systems that you have an interest in, that you believe you could actually add some personal value to that business. Because you're not buying yourself a job. [00:25:00] You're essentially trying to find a path to grow your own little empire. That means you have to have a passion or a interest in what you do, because you're going to be doing it every day, and you're going to be doing it for 12 and 14 and 16 hours a day. And you're going to have the great support of a franchise system to help you do that, but at the end of the day it's still your business. It's your responsibility to your company.
I think that's what a lot of people coming into the franchise sector miss the point. Franchising gives you the support of something that's proven. A process. A system, and some value. [00:25:30] But it doesn't replace, sweat. It doesn't replace the hard work and the effort you have to put in as a business owner to grow and develop that business at the pace that you feel you need to, to deliver the outcome that you set.
Kyle Davis: I think that's kind of a brilliant point that you made. A lot of these are just systems. I don't want to say turn-key, in so far as, you just make the investment the money will be printed. Because it obviously can't be that easy, if it was then everybody [00:26:00] would be doing it.
Troy Hazard: Sure.
Kyle Davis: But these are for the most part ... If it's a proven franchise model, it's a system that works. You get the brand. You get the marketing behind the brand. You get everything. All you have to do is just put the money down and work.
Troy Hazard: And you've also got to make sure that you have the support of the people round you.
Kyle Davis: Right.
Troy Hazard: One of the things that we look for, we're in the Pool industry. We have a retail and mobile service pool business [00:26:30] in the franchise sector. A company called Pool Works. It's got a hundred stores in Australia and 25 here, we've only been here for 2 years. And we got 120 mobile units running around. So that's a relatively good business and it's a relative size of a business. But everybody that we interview to join us as a franchise partner, I want to interview their family as well. I want to make sure that their spouse is involved, that everyone understands that there is going to be a sacrifice of time and energy to grow that company, and we're not going to fix [00:27:00] it for them, we're going to help them on their journey. But at the end of the day, everybody has to be behind it.
I think one of the key things with anyone moving into private enterprise, whether its franchising or not, is to get that support of your spouse, because it's going to be hard, and there will be some good days and some bad days. And without that support then you have this revolving door of, "I'm stressed and angry at work. I'm stressed and angry at home." And it just keeps getting worse and worse. And that's not good for anybody, at the end of the day.
You need to understand that [00:27:30] you are not alone in business, and certainly franchising provides that for you in part from a system process and support point of view. Gail Davis: How do you ... Are there challenges with having franchisees in Australia and in the U.S. and everything being so geographically dispersed?
Troy Hazard: It's interesting. We worked in 16 different countries, as consultants, over the years. And not a day goes by [00:28:00] where I haven't got a franchisee from somewhere in the world say to me, "Yeah. But you don't get it. It's different for me in my area."
Gail Davis: Okay.
Troy Hazard: My city. My country. My customers. "Yeah my customers are different. They're taller, they're shorter. They're richer. Their poorer." There's always something that they believe is different in their part of the world. Here's the interesting thing. Over the years what we've learned to understand is it's not different. Consumers are the same all over the world. They want a number of key transactional [00:28:30] drivers from you in any business.
They want quality. They want service. They want a relationship. They want it to be easy. And if you can deliver those things, those transactional drivers, you offered them the perception of value, and therefore its not different for you. For me, one of the bigger challenges I have is not understanding the geographic or socioeconomic differences between countries or cities or states, is really understanding how to communicate that to the franchise partners we have in those cities or states [00:29:00] or countries.
Have them understand that, the challenges they have as a business owner in Tennessee are exactly the same as Townsville in Australia or somewhere in Europe its not any different. They just need to look at, from their perspective, and maybe look at the slight changes or the idiosyncrasies they have to apply in their world to what we know to be true as real and important transactional drivers that need to be apparent in the eyes of [00:29:30] your consumer.
So it's more a positioning to the franchisee, than it is a positioning to the consumer as to how they deliver that value to those they chose to serve.
Kyle Davis: So taking that idea and pulling on that thread a little bit more. When you're investing in a company and you're getting pushed back from maybe an idea that you want to implement and they are saying, "Hey. You don't understand my customers, my industry." This that and the other. It's the same thing, right?
Troy Hazard: It is. Again [00:30:00] I try to put these guys in the perspective of the consumer. When any of the companies that we've consulted to or the companies in fact that we've bought, a sit down with the staff and say, "If you are a consumer of this product or service, how would you view us? What would you look at? What would you think would be important. And pretend that you don't know anything about what we do or why we should be important to them." Or what value we can bring to them. Let's just break it down to the basic communication [00:30:30] of, "How are you going to improve my life as somebody you are looking to serve?"
Because if you can't communicate that, then you pretty much, haven't gotten the sale. At the end of the day, I need to be ... You can talk to me like I'm a 5 year old to have me understand that you've got some value in my life. And that's all I care about, particularly in the last ten years, with the advent of social media and this clutter that we have in our lives, with the amount of messages that we get delivered every day. We have to cut [00:31:00] through that clutter by saying, "What value are you going to deliver to me as a consumer and if I don't get it quickly and efficiently, in a really short period of time, I'm going to move on to the next opportunity."
Kyle Davis: So when you were talking about the companies that you invested in, you said that, I want to paraphrase it ... I think you said something like, you intentionally don't understand the company or maybe the industry, you want them to be able to tell it to you ... Please expand on this, but my guess is, is that you kind of go back to the Five P's that you mention earlier, [00:31:30] which I had them written down. I know what you're talking about when you do that. But like it's all the same. Tell me how you can add value, right? Is that what you're thinking?
Troy Hazard: It is so Let's use the pool industry as an example. I've been part of this business for 20 years. First as a consultant and now as it's shareholder in the business here, in the United States. I'm on the Board of Directors in Australia and in the America. It's a hundred million dollar business. It's a great little company, and still 20 years down the track, I deliberately do not learn [00:32:00] about the equipment we sell, the chemicals we sale, about water testing, about water balancing. I have never cleaned a pool, and I have no intention of cleaning a pool or even selling something in one of our retail stores.
And that's deliberate. And it's by design, because I want to be the guy that they're trying to sell stuff to and have them really sit in front of me and pitch it to me as if I've got no clue, because that's how we gain new clients.
Kyle Davis: You know, it's funny. I never prepare for these. And by these, I mean the podcast, [00:32:30] because I want you the speaker to tell me everything about you.
Troy Hazard: That's because I'm not interesting. That's why you never prepare. You probably look at my webpage and say, "I don't want to know about this guy."
Kyle Davis: I was just stocked that we were LinkedIn friends. I'm like, "Cool. We have six mutuals."
I intentionally ... Even when I was doing speaker vetting here, I would intentionally not do 'homework', because I want to hear the story. I want to know ... I want to hear the passion, the charisma and everything else, because [00:33:00] then it makes it easier to sell the speaker.
Troy Hazard: Here's an extension of that for you. I have never read a resume of anybody I've employed in 25 years.
Gail Davis: Are you serious, Troy?
Kyle Davis: I use to do the same thing.
Troy Hazard: Yep. Yep. And here's why. No one has a bad resume. No one say, "You know what I suck at that." And you should know that.
Gail Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Troy Hazard: And so typically, I get my HR guys or my senior leadership team to read the resumes and vet it. I'm the last guy they talk to, before we consider employing [00:33:30] them, and I sit in front of them on the desk, their resumes in front of me and I say, "Tell me your story, because if you can't tell me your story ..." to your point Kyle. "with passion and with excitement and enthusiasm and reality and authenticity, then you're clearly lying in your resume."
Gail Davis: That's awesome.
Kyle Davis: Great mind think alike. I'm available for hire Troy. Let's do this.
Gail Davis: That's awesome.
Kyle Davis: I won't do any prep work though, just letting you know.
Troy Hazard: And I won't read your resume either. I can guarantee it.
Kyle Davis: Cool. Awesome.
Gail Davis: I think you guys would be a great pair. [00:34:00] That sounds awesome.
Kyle Davis: Sending the contract over now.
Gail Davis: Troy, in your speech I know you talk about, crashing the party. What do you mean by that?
Kyle Davis: Yeah.
Troy Hazard: So everyone having a conversation about us, and most times we just don't know it. And when I say that, I don't mean that personally, I mean that about our companies and our businesses that we are looking to promote. Social media has given consumers a whole new dimension to be able to do their homework to find out about us and do that research, well before we're even invited [00:34:30] to join the conversation.
So one of our most important jobs is to try and crash the party. While I believe social media is a great tool of us, I don't believe it's going to change the world. For me it's no different than radio was in the 40s, television in the 60s, the internet in the 80s. Its just the next iteration of our communication tool, that we have. And we have to approach it differently to the other tools that we've been exposed to over the last 50, 60 years.
Television radio and those [00:35:00] sort of tools were all push tools, they pushed a message out into the ether and hope that consumers would pick up on that, and in turn respond to it and come and buy stuff from us. Social media is an interactive tool that we need to be a part of that conversation, where we actually going out there and seeking to join the conversation and crash the party, when we haven't been invited.
That's the opportunity that a lot of small businesses miss. They think I can just do a SEO campaign or a SEM campaign or some sort of Facebook [00:35:30] ad or whatever, and everything will be fine. I can let it sit aside and people will find me. It's just another tool. I believe that we have to actually go out there and engage with consumers where they are looking for us, even though we've not been invited to join the conversation. We have to crash the party.
Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Troy Hazard: Now I'm not a digital expert, nor am I a social media expert. But I do know that in our companies, when we have deliberately gone out there and gone one step beyond just a digital campaign, and a SEM or a SEO campaign, [00:36:00] and tried to actively engage and crash the party. We've had tremendous success with it.
I think that's the next generation of digital marketing, the people then you can serve.
Kyle Davis: When I was working out in Silicon Valley and New York, a lot of these early stage kind of start-ups and even late stage start ups, they have the keywords plugged into Twitter and LinkedIn and what not. And they are looking for people talking about something like that. And then you're doing all this social selling, where you're direct [00:36:30] messaging or you're replying to something and saying, "Hey. Here's how I can add value. Hit me up if you need any help." And that's how we both did our, kind of, outbound marketing as a sales team.
Was going out and finding people, chatting about something that's relatively related to what it is that we're doing and those tend to be the, "Man wow. I didn't realize people were reading this."
I'm like, "Yeah, well hey great lets do a phone call." It was some of the best easiest deals and it's just kind of like out there.
Troy Hazard: [00:37:00] Look, we travel a lot, and we have two young children, a six year old and a four year old. Our four year old has Celiac, she's allergic to gluten. So when we travel, my wife does a lot of research on hotels that have gluten free chickens and so we know that she will be safe in those travels. The amount of research that Dominic, my wife, does online is extraordinary. It's interesting, hotels and the people who engage us on a proactive [00:37:30] basis and crash the party, are the ones that always get our business. And they are also some of the most popular hotels for people with that particular disease or condition. So I suppose the simplicity of that is, fish where the people are fishing, and be the first guy there with the bait. Crash that party.
Gail Davis: Love that.
Kyle Davis: So you wrote a book called Future-Proofing Your Business, and I kind of want to segway this into, what [00:38:00] coming down the funnel in the next five years are some of the challenges that small to medium size companies are facing, and what can companies do to future-proof themselves, so that way those hurtles, roadblocks or barriers just are minimized or nonexistent.
Troy Hazard: Yeah. It's funny. You write a book about Future-Proofing Your Business and all of a sudden all of a sudden everybody thinks you are a futurist. Really I'm just a realist, I'm not a futurist. And the realist in me says, "The biggest problem we have in business [00:38:30] is that we forget." We forget what we've learned in previous business and economic cycles, and as a result we live the same cycle again. By way of example, 2008 was a big hit for everybody, and everyone goes, "Wow. So glad that's finished. We can move on with life and business is good now and I'm glad that's behind us." Well the reality is, right now, we are overdue for an economic correction.
Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Troy Hazard: The Dow Jones at 21 thousand is not to be celebrated, because somewhere [00:39:00] amongst that something is artificial and we will see an economic correction, it won't be politically driven, it'll just be the way we do things. As humans, we are either greedy or we're fearful, and we drive the economy either into the ground or through the roof. That's just what we do. And it comes through every seven to ten years. And the same cycle happens again and again.
So small business and small/medium enterprise just need to remind themselves of what I've learned. What did you do in 2008? [00:39:30] What can you learn from that? Learn from the past to apply to the present to protect yourself for the future. It's as simple as that. I mean I lived through two recessions in 1997, in the mid 90s with the Asian Crisis, and collectively those two recessions, economic shifts, significant shifts, cost me about 1.5 million dollars.
By the time I got to the Tech break in 2001 we got smarter, and bought into technology after the bubble, and then in 2008 we got out of everything before [00:40:00] the crash came around, knowing that it was artificial. We were sitting on a bunch of cash, and able to dive back into business where we saw opportunity after everyone was trying to find their way through the rubble.
And it wasn't that I was clever. It wasn't that I'm just this genius futurist. It's just simple because finally after 15 years of being wrong, I remembered the past, applied it to the present to protect ourselves from the future. To the future.
Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Troy Hazard: It's as simple as that.
Kyle Davis: Well if anything is true, history is [inaudible 00:40:30] [00:40:30] . Look if yall want to book Troy Hazard you can do so by contacting GDA Speakers. The number to contact us is 214-420-1999. The websites gdaspeakers.com
How clever. Then if you want the book and transcripts and anything else, with regards to today's podcast, go to gdapodcast.com
Gail Davis: Thank you Troy. It was great catching up with you.
Kyle Davis: Thanks Troy.
Troy Hazard: Thanks for having me guys.