Today’s interview is with Louis Tolentino of The Coffee Mill in Tehachapi, Ca.
Welcome to season three of the LeaderQuest Podcast! This season we are focusing on small business leaders who have had to pivot or transition during the 2020 Covid Economy.
Each interview was structured around three main questions:
How did your business pivot during 2020?
What does the future (2021) look like for your business?
What is a current problem or question that your facing?
During each interview, you’ll hear real stories from real business owners. They will share their highs and lows, along with important lessons learned along the way. You’ll be able to take their knowledge and turn it into wisdom.
Today is Louis Tolentino of The Coffee Mill in Tehachapi, California.
Louis is a friend with an extraordinary business mind. I have immensely enjoyed our off-air conversations about life, family, and survival in this business economy.
This interview is a personal favorite and the wealth of information, his passion, and his plans for future growth and service are inspiring.
Throughout this interview, you’ll hear not only how he cares for his staff, but how he is bringing innovation to a crowded coffee market and the larger Tehachapi area. Tune in to get inspired!
We’re continuing our look at Marcus Whitney’s Book Create and Orchestrate by examining what it means to have a strong sense of business operations.
If you missed any of the previous posts, don’t worry, links are at the bottom.
At its core, the purpose of operations is the indefatigable elimination of risk in the business.*
The Structure Of Business
The United States has a dizzying array of tax codes, legal standards, and licensing requirements for businesses. I’m not a tax professional, and I understand very little about the different structures and benefits to each different type of business entity.
What I do understand, however, is risk mitigation and people management.
Yes, creating the right entity matters.
Of course, you need to have insurance, file the proper paperwork, and utilize the right tax incentives.
But above all, it’s the measure of people’s development, conflict resolution, and personal investment that really shapes the future of your business.
Effective Business Operations Includes Substantial People Development
Years ago, I was coaching an individual that often touted his own leadership capabilities. He was convinced that both his ideas and his methods were right. It came as an absolute shock then when he was passed over for a promotion.
To hear that he didn’t play well with others, handled criticism poorly, and was developing a negative reputation in the organization truly came as a surprise to him.
Early on he expressed his anger and frustration. Everyone else’s inability to see his greatness was offensive. It was then that I asked him a fundamental question about his leadership.
“Great leaders produce more leaders. Who are other people you’ve developed that would identify you as their main source of influence?”
He sat in silence for several minutes, ultimately unable to come up with a single name.
He was slowly beginning to realize the difference between ordering others with tasks and leading people effectively.
To his credit, he took the insight seriously and began to change. His method and approach to interacting with others improved greatly. He led his team more effectively and radically improved his leadership capabilities. As a result, his overall business operations improved. His happier (and more well-developed people) made for a better culture, which made for a better customer experience. Everyone won.
Your Key Three Takeaways
To effectively grow your business operations and, as a result, your overall business, you must, as they say, play well with others. Ultimately it will all come down to how well you invest in the people and culture of your organization. Here are three things for you to practice this week:
1.) Think Through the HR Logistics
One of the reasons businesses call me is because they sense that a change is needed in their HR policies. People are leaving. Customers are unhappy. Turnover is high. What’s going on? Most times, the business owner hires an employee but then stops the conversation. Outside of the occasional business meeting, there is little to no talk of promotion, a pay raise, or leadership development. If this is you, your business operations are in need of a serious overhaul. Start with people. End with people. Develop people at every step along the way. Think through those logistical questions and treat your employees with respect, trust, and goodwill. It goes farther than you think.
I almost wrote, “Don’t criticize.” It’s not that people don’t need to hear good, constructive feedback, it’s that it’s so often done poorly. Coach your people through problems. This gives them the opportunity to listen and learn from their mistakes by applying critical thinking to their own actions. The most effective way to change behavior is through good, insightful coaching.
On the positive side, be generous with public praise. I once worked with an employer that openly refused to praise their employees.
“I give them a paycheck, why should I praise them for doing their job?”
The short version of that story is that employee turnover was extraordinarily high and morale was constantly low.
Praise frequently and extravagantly.
Let someone know when they do a good job.
Better yet, make sure others know it as well.
3.) Win Relationships, Not Arguments
Several years ago, mired in a personal conflict with someone else, I learned a very harsh reality: If I win the argument but lose the relationship, I’ve lost everything.
I’m sad to say that I lost everything. My moments of weakness, poor leadership, and even worse conflict resolution ability cost me a friendship and ultimately a job. As a person in charge of business operations, this decision haunts me.
From that moment on, I was determined to never let it happen again. Since then, I’ve never been disappointed. Even when it means swallowing my pride or allowing the other person to be right (even if factually I am) it’s always been worth the extra effort and energy to win the relationship.
As a business owner or other leader, be sure to win relationships. With your employees, your customers, your superiors, and your community. Sacrifice the idol of always needing to be right and instead work towards always needing to be loving. Demonstrate grace, compassion, and empathy as a leader.
Eight Core Concepts
This list is updated as the blog series continues. Click on any live link to go to that post in the series.
Welcome to the Leaderquest Podcast. This season will consist of interviews conducted for the Building With Purpose Conference I held back in May. This is Episode 14 – Interview with Dr. Webb
If you failed to register for the full course, stay tuned for the rest of season two! I’ve got interviews coming up with each of the contributors. You’ll be able to glean wisdom from them and apply them in ways to grow yourself and your business.
For the conference, I assembled a diverse team of business professionals to examine the stay at home order and how we can achieve maximum productivity and success while in quarantine.
This is Episode 14 – Interview with Dr. Webb.
My Interview with Dr. Juanita Webb
In this episode, I’m having a conversation with Dr. Juanita Webb, a workplace consultant with specializations in human resources. She brings decades of experience, is a licensed investigator, serves on hr boards, and has contributed to the advances of human resources in Kern County and beyond.
Be sure to subscribe, leave a comment, and share with someone who could benefit.
What’s one takeaway you have from Episode 14 and Interview with Dr. Webb from the Building With Purpose Conference?
I’m amazed at the knowledge she brings to the table in the quickly changing world of Human Resources. While that is true at any time, the quickly changing rules and COVID and the stay at home order have quickly exaggerated that change.
Because of COVID-19, the changing landscape of human resources means that both employers and employees are entering a new workforce frontier. For some, working from home is a new experience and therefore requires a new way of thinking.
Still, others are questions of accountability, appropriate conduct, and billable hours.
For all of us, we’re realizing just how much we can miss the mark of success if we aren’t dialed in and laser-focused.
I had an excellent, and wide-ranging interview with Dr. Juanita Webb for the Building With Purpose Conference. Check out this clip:
Building With Purpose
This excerpt is a part of the FREE online conference I’m hosting called Building With Purpose. This course will help you pivot during this time of social distancing and working from home.
For many of us, it’s a new experience. These experts will help you gain clarity and momentum and experience success.
For many of us, the changing landscape of human resources can be a source of fear. However, like all things in life, we lean into the fear and learn to conquer it. That’s how we grow. For those of us facing those changes right now, here are three words of encouragement:
1.) The Good Outweighs The Bad.
Despite what you might see on the news, the good that people are doing far outweighs the bad. Like the famous Mr. Rogers quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” Yes, there are jerk-landlords and underdeveloped bosses. There are also amazing people doing amazing acts of service in this time of need. I have one friend who says her goal as an HR professional is to put the ‘human’ back in ‘human resources.’ Now more than ever, I think we are starting to see that.
2.) Opportunities Abound.
Working from home is new for may people. Personally, it has led to a complete transformation of my life. I love working from home. I see my family more, I engage in more meaningful projects, and I have seen my productivity increase. In seven years of working from home, I haven’t regretted a single day of it. While there is certainly going to be an adjustment period, look for the opportunities opening up in front of you, your family, your career, and your side-hustle.
3.) When in Doubt, Ask Questions.
One of the great things Dr. Webb reminds us of is that many employers haven’t had to think about working from home before. Most companies, are making it up as they go. They are building the aircraft and trying to fly it at the same time, so to speak. This means that these are great times to ask questions and take advantage of the new situation. What do reimbursements look like? Will the company provide additional material, training, or support for free? Can the compensation change? What about a more flexible work schedule? Asking questions, both for clarity and for creativity can open us up to a more enjoyable experience and a better working environment. It might even allow you to keep the best parts of working from home after quarantine ends.