03: Why Work With Businesses That Interest You

Steve Preda condenses his personal experiences into six key reasons why you should work businesses that interest you. These six reasons reflect a symbiotic relationship or two-way street that benefits both you and your client. 

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Why Work With Businesses That Interest You

Today’s episode I’d like to talk to you about why you should work with businesses that you’re interested in. And this is an idea that I picked up from David Maister’s podcast and it really made me thinking because it really is a huge driver if you work with companies that interest you then those companies really benefit from working with you in turn. So it’s kind of, it’s a two-way street. And I just want to share with you some of the ideas that came to my mind about why I love to work with companies I’m interested in and how they benefit from it.

And obviously my favorite field is professional and technology services. So this is the kind of companies I love to work with. Here are the six things that I love to work with these companies. I’m just going to list them out for you and then I’m going to deep dive into each of them and explain what I mean by that, how it helps. So these reasons are curiosity, excitement, depth, experience, transfer of best practices, and connections with industry players and resources. So let’s take them one at a time.

So first one is curiosity. I don’t know about you, but for me curiosity has always been a huge driver. Whenever I was curious about something, I would get really motivated to learn as much and understand as much of that topic as possible, whatever the topic was. Early in my career, I was hired by an injection molding company and I knew nothing about injection molding I thought I better dig in and I read you know I ordered from Amazon a couple of books on injection molding and I read everything about it and I could talk with the owner much more intelligently and they were excited to work with me.

Curiosity is the compass that directs our journey into the unknown. The more we seek, the more we understand, driving a profound motivation to unravel the intricacies of any subject. Share on X

So curiosity is a huge driver and that takes me to the next one which is excitement. So if I am curious about something I’m going to dig in and the more details I find out, the more I understand what are the underlying drivers of that topic, the more excited I get about this whole thing. And when you get excited about a topic, it really starts to mobilize your thinking. So the way it works for me is I’m kind of a great sponge, I soak everything up and then I get to a point where I’m overfilled with information and then it starts to flow out of me as in the form of ideas. And this is what really benefits your clients.

When you get to the stage that your ideas start to flow, then it helps you get your best thinking mobilized for the client. Now your clients will probably want to work with someone who understands their industry and who, because obviously whatever you do, whether you’re an attorney or an accountant, you’re a technology professional, an engineer, whatever you do, whatever is your profession, it is taken for granted that you know that, right?

So the client, when he approaches you, they will assume that you know your profession. What is going to differentiate you is not knowing your profession, but can differentiate you in the eyes of your client is that you know their profession, they know what make them think. You can only do that by specializing and drilling deeper into what they are doing, and then you can use their terminology, you understand their language, you start to understand the problems at a deeper level, and then you can relate to them better as well as well as them can relate to you. The whole relationship changes.

It’s going to be a much more intimate relationship. You’re going to be seen as part of the inner circle. You’ll be seen as a person who get them and then they will love to work with you rather. So that’s about the debt. One story I’d like to share with you earlier in my career, about 15 years ago, when I was building my investment banking firm, I was really excited about deals and deal-making and I was very excited about leveraged buyouts and all kinds of investments that the private equity industry grew up from. And I dug in and I ordered all the books. I ordered probably 50 or 60 books on the topic from Amazon and I was devouring them.

In business, forming intimate relationships goes beyond transactions; it places you in the inner circle, making clients love to work with you. Share on X

I spent three, four hours every morning reading these books and it was just an exhilarating experience. And then basically I had so many ideas, I had so many insights, I felt like was relevant. I started a newsletter, which became an outlet of my ideas as kind of a channel where I could channel all these thoughts I had. And the newsletter became very successful and it helped me build my business and eventually sell my business. So that was the excitement that I felt about it. I read a bunch of stuff on it and it really helped me differentiate my business and eventually proper my business into something great. The next one is experience.

So your interest in a type of business will attract live businesses as clients and will deepen your experience further. And in my experience, the more experience you get of a type of business, the more interested you become in that type of business, and then you are going to be more excited, you’re more curious, so everything works in tandem and your experience really helps your clients. I have a friend that has been a very successful investment banker working for one of the boutique, like global boutique firms.

And he is the global managing director for healthcare and used to be a generic healthcare expert. And his job consisted of traveling all over the world on five continents and he was visiting with CEOs of these generic pharma companies. And he was basically like a bee flying from one flower to another. He was meeting with all these people. He had 80 clients around the world that he built a relationship and maintained relationship with and he would meet with them and just discuss the state of the industry, share information, share insights.

And they would want to meet with him just to hear what’s going on in the industry. And obviously that positioned him as a great expert in his field. So whenever these companies want to do a transaction, he was the obvious person to go to because he was a thought leader. He was highly trusted. He was a friend to them. And this is how he made his business. He had that knowledge, he had experience, he knew all the people, he knew all the players in that field globally. And he had all the insights, he knew all the rumors and all the information. And he became the go-to person and rose in the ranks. And now he’s the global head of healthcare.

The next one, number five, is transfer for best practices. So when you are the expert, when you have the experience, when you’re visiting all these companies, when you’re spending all your time working at the same type of companies, then you are going to see what works, what doesn’t work, what are the best practices, and you will be able to bring that to your client. Earlier in my career, I was helping the CEO of a major commercial bank, and they were going through a reorganization, and the CEO, the company, the bank hired McKinsey Company for a major project, and they did a big due diligence trying to figure out what’s going wrong at the bank.

Becoming a thought leader isn't just about expertise; it's about building trust, being a friend, and positioning yourself as the go-to person in your field. That's the journey from knowledge to leadership. Share on X

And my boss, the CEO, hired this company because they had worked for an even larger commercial bank, which is the most successful commercial bank in that country. And he wanted to get the best practices from that bank. He wanted to know what’s going on, what’s working really well for this bank. So he asked the partner to set up a meeting with the partner on this other bank project to just pick his brains. And there was a potential conflict of interest, but somehow they managed to arrange this meeting and I was sitting in this meeting and it was pretty amazing.

It was the first 10 minutes beating around the bush and then my CEO who was a very seasoned executive he was in his early 60s he had been chairman of a major French regional bank for over 10 years and he asked really good questions and eventually that partner who worked for the other bank, he kind of gave up. He asked for a cigar and he kicked back and he just started sharing all the information. And that was extremely valuable because this bank was very well run.

And they had gone through a lot of the processes that we were going to go through in the next couple of years with my bank. And it allowed an insight into that other bank. And whether there was a conflict of interest, I don’t know, may have been, but nevertheless, we got the information and it helped the bank turn around and get on the right direction. So that’s about transfer best practices. And finally, connection with industry players and resources.

So if someone is an expert in an industry and they do all their work in that industry, that obviously they’re going to have the connections like my friend, Tommy, who was the traveling guy for Generic Pharma. He had all the information, all the connections. And if you do that, you will have all these connections as well. So your clients, your prospects are going to want to get close to you because you have the connections. You become more than just an expert.

Becoming an expert isn't just about knowledge; it's about building a network. Connections turn you into a valuable asset, providing clients with a shortcut to resources and saving them the effort of figuring it out on their own. Share on X

You become a repository of connections, which can be much more valuable even than knowledge and all the other resources. So you have the information where the other resources are, you can target these people, you can guide them to those resources without them having to do all the legwork, having to figure it out for themselves. That’s hugely valuable and that’s what’s going to be provided to your client. So if you become an expert, and we’re talking professional services here, and you start working for companies you like, it’s going to trigger your curiosity.

The deeper you dig, you’re going to get more excited. And then it’s going to give you depth of knowledge. You’re going to be talking the language of your clients. You’re going to gain experience, which you can leverage. And then that’s going to fuel the flywheel because they’re going to get more clients being interested in talking to you. You’re going to accumulate all those best practices, you will be able to share that with your clients that can increase your value further and then you will have built up the connections in your industry to major players and resources and that’s gonna benefit your clients and ultimately benefit you.

So that is for today’s podcast. If you’d like to learn more about what I’m doing check me out or if you want to download one of my books, then feel free to visit tractionactivity.com. I’d love to connect with you through the website. There’s different ways you can schedule a call with me. You can reach out by email, whatever works for you, or you can attend the webinar that I’m doing regularly. So, that’s it for today, and I look forward to talking to you very, very soon.

 

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