Visionaries Podcast

Think Differently About Your Business with James P. Friel

James P. Friel

Join James and Dallin as they explore how to think differently about your business by recognizing patterns and focusing on building systems to supercharge your business growth and freedom.

VISIONARIES — Interviews with world’s most inspiring visionaries, creators, and entrepreneurs to explore how they live their vision for life and business.

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Today's Guest

James P. Friel

James is an investor, entrepreneur, and consultant who helps entrepreneurs systemize, grow, and scale their businesses by getting them out of the day to day operations of running their companies so they can make more money and have more time and freedom.

Since leaving his corporate position as Global Head of Digital Strategy for HSBC Bank in 2011, James has simultaneously run multiple 7 figure companies and has consulted with CEOs, entrepreneurs, and executive level staff at companies ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to small, more entrepreneurial ventures helping them systematically increase efficiency while also growing their sales.

James holds a Bachelor of Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and lives in Boise, Idaho where, in addition to being a student of the game of business, he enjoys working out, drumming and skiing.


Welcome to visionaries where we explore stories, strategies and insights from the world's most inspiring entrepreneurs, brands and creators. Were on a mission to help visionaries like you stand out and monetize their knowledge, influence and message online. Exploring topics like business, marketing, creativity, and personal development. Let's build your vision for a happier more meaningful life, business and community together. Today, James P frill joins visionaries. James is an investor, entrepreneur and consultant who helps entrepreneurs systemize grow and scale their businesses by getting them out of the day to day operations of running their companies. So that way they can make more money and have more time and freedom. James runs multiple, seven figure companies while consulting with CEOs, entrepreneurs, and executive level staff at companies ranging from fortune 500 corporations to small, more entrepreneurial ventures, helping them systematically increase efficiency while also growing their cells. James, it's so good to have you.

What's up, john, thanks for having me, man. It's great to be here. Yeah, yeah, of course.

Well, for those who are like, Who is this James P frail, kind of guy, like, Who is he? Um, share a little bit about more about your story and what you're up to in business? Yeah, well, I

you know, first and foremost, I'm an entrepreneur, I love the starting and growth phase of companies. And so I have a, you know, a number of ventures that I'm involved in stuff like that, but I'm also also just, like, get super fulfilled, out of consulting. And so I have a, you know, few hours a week that I dedicate towards my consulting and working with other entrepreneurs who are growing or scaling their businesses. And it's just, I know, it's, it's ton of fun, I love seeing people get great results, you know, people are, you know, doubling or tripling their businesses and like, 12 months or less, and, and I think a lot of times we look at, we look at, you know, businesses that are growing fast or doing, you know, really remarkable things in the world, you're like, man, like, what, are those people? You know, know that I don't know, are they just like working around the clock? And like, all these different things? And I think, sure, hard, hard work is a key ingredient of any success. But a lot of times, it's just, you know, looking at things differently, right? There's that old, saying, you know, change the way you look at things and things, you look at change. And I think that when you look at things in your business differently, the quantum leaps that you're able to get in terms of growth, and impact and income are, are just sort of mind blowing. And so, I love I love doing that with other people, too.

What does it take to look at things differently? For me it

and selfishly, I guess, as part of the reason I still do consulting is because I'm, I'm a person who likes seeing patterns, and recognizing patterns, right? And it doesn't, it doesn't necessarily have to be, you know, all like stuff that I saw, you know, in a business setting, it could be stuff that, you know, you see in relationships are stuff that you see in sports or stuff that, you know, you never know where you're gonna see a connection. And I think, you know, what's really fun for me is, I just, I've always loved reading, I've always loved learning, like, it's like, it's just part of me. In fact, we just moved and probably one of the biggest challenges for me moving is moving all my books. And you know, hearing the movers, like, how many boxes of books do you have, and I'm just like,

and those make up some of the heaviest boxes sometimes too.

And you got to be careful, because if those boxes get too big, like you can't even lift them up. So yeah. But anyway, I think I think seeing things from a different perspective requires identifying patterns. I also think that it's really, really difficult to see things differently. When you are just like stuck in the daily grind of doing what you're doing. It's very uncommon that you're going to be maxed out in terms of like, how much time you're spending, you know, working on your business or in your business. And, you know, you're burning the candle on both ends, all these different things. And then where, like, Where is the space for perspective? In that case, it and I think that really holds a lot of people back because we create hamster wheels for ourselves and we create jobs. But if we're not careful, those jobs become prisons, and not the business that we hope that would be so I think seeing things from another perspective also requires space and seeing patterns. And yeah, I mean, not you know, super high level that's that's how

Yeah, yeah, that's so good. What what I'm seeing About because you're speaking to pain points that I've had definitely throughout my entrepreneurship experience. But before that, too, is this idea of like patterns of behavior patterns of thought. And a big thing that I've recognized is the times when I'm like burning out at noon, it was a burden the candle at both ends, is when you are so involved in like the daily grind of like doing the stuff in your business. And that you have to get so focused on getting that done that you can only have that one train of thought. And then any kind of way to break your mind away from that. You can't really have that space or you know, you're sometimes it's headaches, you know, migraines, other times, it's like insomnia. You know, if you're just trying to hustle so hard to do everything yourself, and not put in the right systems to help support you free up that space. Yeah,

well, I think, you know, it's, it's understandable for people who are driven for people who are ambitious for people who just like, want to get things done, and are very results oriented to just say, like, I'm just gonna freakin Go for it. And, and you need to do that. But I think of, you know, research that I had done a long time ago. And one of the things that I uncovered was the way that Google started creating more of a structure around innovation. And I'm not sure if they still do this, because this was quite some time ago that I learned about this, but they, they would actually set aside 20% of the week for their, you know, key employees or their employees to work on things that were unrelated to current projects, right. So imagine, imagine in your business, you've got some launches coming up, you got a new product, you're developing new marketing funnels, like whatever. And even in the midst of that, you said, okay, you know, we're gonna work five days this week, one out of those five days, we're gonna work on something that's completely unrelated

to the big chunk of time. Yeah, a huge chunk of time, right? Oh, big. Yeah. And,

um, you know, at the time that they, you know, they did that they were a more mature, established company. In fact, I think it was yesterday or the day before the time that we're having this conversation. Google turned 23 years old, so Wow. Like, they're like, they're just like, five, four or five years, either teams, right? Yeah, well,

back then they start back in the 90s. Like, infancy of the internet, it feels like

Yeah, yeah, like 98, Navy, or something like that. But, but in any case, the point is, it doesn't have to be 20%, it could be 5%, it could be 10%, it could be an hour. But if you don't have that breathing room, then you're likely not going to be able to recover. Right. And I think about it a lot, like, you know, driving a sports car, I went to, you know, a track in Vegas a couple summers ago, some friends, we got to drive, like the coolest cars, and you don't just, you know, hit the gas, and then never like, shift into another gear, right. And even if it's small, like even if that gear shift happens fast, you still have to make that gear shift in order to get to the next gear. And when people are just like, hustle 24 seven, I'm grinding, I'm never sleeping, like all that. Forget about the physical and physiological implications of doing that, because we're not designed for that. But the strategic mistake of doing that is that the chances are good, you're just you're just gonna keep at the same level that you're at. Because you're not giving yourself like any any slack whatsoever to be like, well, what could we be doing differently? what's working well, but what's not working? Well? Like? Where's the room for improvement? Where do we double down on the things that are working, and it becomes a very tactical way of running your business, and you can do it. A lot of people burn out doing it that way. But it seems like it's a much better idea to be more strategic about it, and say, okay, even if I can't afford 20%, because that's probably unrealistic for people who are really in, you know, the throes of everything. But, you know, what, about two hours on a Saturday morning, or, you know, two hours, you know, Monday before the week begins or something, and, and really taking a look at things and getting that 30,000 foot view perspective, that really makes a difference because one of the things that's occurred to me and, and I've, I've been so fortunate to work with so many high performing entrepreneurs at this point, you know, people like Russell Brunson and Peng Joon, and like, just like the list goes on and on. And, you know, every single one of these people is innovating. They're they're creating like a next level, but they're in their attending to their current level, but they're attending this next one. And one of what's occurred to me is that the vast majority of our life and our business will be determined By, I don't know, a dozen, two dozen like big meaningful decisions, right? Think about it, you know, who who do you? Who are you in a relationship with right big decision? What business? Do I go into big decision? Do I pivot? Or do I not pivot? Do I stay on the current track two, I currently attend to my current market doing move to a different market. And so there's all these big decisions. And those big decisions create, like a frame. And every single smaller decision that we make is generally made inside of the frame that that bigger decision created. And if we're not thinking about those bigger decisions, and being strategic about them, we could be just like mindlessly working in a much smaller context than our capability or potential would, would allow us to do. And so I think it's, I think it's so important that people create some breathing room for that perspective. And, you know, there, there's a lot of people who say, Hey, you know, work on your business, not in your business. And I think that feels just like, very empty anymore, because nobody really talks about how to work on your business. And, you know, we could get into that, because I have clear strategies on how to do that. But, but I think the point is, you know, if you want the same old same will just keep doing what you're doing. And if that's grinding away, that you kind of know what results you're gonna get. And if you want something different, you got to create the space for something different.

Yeah. And would you say like, creating the space, but also just act like, not act but be someone different to? It's kind of like, if you want to be the business owner, you can't be the business Dewar?

Absolutely, absolutely. And I and I do think that things come in, it's like, it's not binary, right? It's not like I'm yeah, I'm the business owner, or I'm the business doers, not a light switch, right, where it's on or it's off, it's more like a dimmer switch. And, you know, it's like, okay, you know, how am I moving more and more and more towards the business owner, right, and less and less and less relied upon for daily operations, Daily Execution, all of those things. It's a it's a directional thing that we have to consistently move towards, not just something that happens one day where we wake up, and we're like, oh, today I'm going to be the business owner. Yeah. And then you know, freakin you know, Rome is burning down around you, right? That's irresponsible also, and, and I have a framework that I talk about leadership styles, but one of the leadership styles is what I call the absentee business owner. And the absentee business owner is the person who's just taking that to the extreme and too far, and I've known people like that, who were like, Oh, well, that's, that's not my job, I'm not here to worry about that, somebody else will figure it out. I'm just gonna be over here playing around with my new ideas. And, and, and, you know, everything's gonna wind up on its, you know, landing on speed. And the truth is, most things don't just wind up landing on their feet, right? You've got to, like, make things work. And so you know, and then on the other end of the spectrum, from the absentee person, you really have the, the helicopter person who's just like, freaking like, in everything, it doesn't even matter if they have a team they're like breathing down everybody's neck, you know, this thing get done no change that color, change this, change that. And so we've got these opposite ends of the continuum. And for me in the middle of that is what I consider an engaged leader, right? Somebody who's willing to delegate willing to have you know, the challenging conversations, willing to set things up so that they work without them, but also not so far removed, that they have no freaking idea because there's there is a big difference between delegation and application. And I think sometimes we swing the pendulum too far. The other direction after we puzzled our face off we're like oh, well I'm just gonna do the opposite. The opposite is really a gross overcorrection when we need to come back to the center.

Yeah, and to me it kind of sounds like you're describing what some kind of glorify as passive income as far as like a passive leader right? Like I'm going to be passive leader and just make money and build a business in my sleep. I can go and 100% of my time dedicated to being off the grid and no longer involved in my business. And it sounds like it you know, obviously if you're so if you sold your business, that's one thing right? You are completely detached. And that's in the past but being more of an active participant and leader doesn't mean you can't take more time off right? and control your time better but being involved on the strategic direction and taking ownership over the delegation and things going on,

think about it like if you're if you don't want to be a business owner, but you want to be an investor, then that's different right? An investor is not on an org chart somewhere the investor doesn't have daily roles and responsibilities right? And if you're looking to be like the off the grid person, and you know make money off of your your shares your dividends, and like all That stuff that's, that's great, but call it for what it is, right? An investor is different than a business owner, a business owner is on the org chart until they're not, right. And if you want to get to the point where you own the business, but you're not on the org chart, then you are, you know more of that investor at that point in time. But as long as you're on the org chart, that means you know, you have roles and you have a role, you have responsibilities, and you need to make sure they get done right, be your best be your best employee, while you are engaged in the business with whatever that job description happens to be. And it doesn't mean it can't change over time. Because it should be changing over time, right? If we're, we're constantly moving to the point where things are more and more operational without us, then your roles and responsibilities should change over time. But I think a lot of people have, you know, sort of a gap between what they think they should be doing and what they're actually doing. And the more we close that gap, and the clearer it is to everybody else on the team, the easier it will be to have the role inside the company that you want, but still be part of that business while you have that role.

Yeah, definitely. Well, as you've mentioned, you've consulted with major businesses and even helped those who are more newer to business, right? And who are wanting to step more into that business owner role. What is the common experience of problems that they have in that growth stage? Whether it's starting out or further in the business?

So the way that I look at it, I think there's several distinct phases of business growth, there's the start phase, and the start phase really is about finding your market, you know, who is my market? what's the what's the offer that we're going to have for them? What's the right message that connects with them? And there's, there's a lot of experimentation that takes place takes place during that that phase. And, and it's critical that you understand what what is required there is going to be different than what's required in the growth phase, which is next. And that's different than what's required in the scale phase. And, you know, start is it, it's, it's messy, right? Like, it can be very, very messy to start. And, you know, this idea that you're going to, you know, remove yourself while the business is in the startup phase, I think is kind of a pipe dream, right? That's not the right place to remove yourself

is going to be my next question. Like, is there starting the next business? Right? It's like, Is there a perfect model that you can hand over to a new business owner? That's like, here out of it, working

on it? I'm working on it. But and I think a lot of people probably are, you know, it just depends on whether what role do you want in that business? Right? Do you want to be an active participant, you want to lead it, you want to, you know, be the marketing person, but you want somebody else to, you know, be the CEO, like, all these things have to, you know, be decided and thought about? But or do you just want to be the investor, right? Like, I have stuff where I'm just like, Okay, I'm just going to be an investor here. And I'm going to be an advisor for, you know, for that group of people, but I'm not really involved in the day to day, you know, and so, you know, on a case by case basis, you can look at that, but the startup phase is, you know, it's demanding, it's demanding, because there's no, there's no, like, super clear tracks to get you to where you want to go, right, like, you have to lay down the tracks. And sometimes you have to pick the tracks up and like point them in a different direction. And that's really what happens in the start phase. And so exiting the start phase, and moving into what I would call the growth phase, is when you have, you have an offer that's working, you have a pulse on your market, right? You have people who are paying you money, and it's things are, things are not like, ultra consistent yet, but they're getting more consistent. And you have, you know, you have something that's starting to feel like it's turning into a business. And the goal of the growth phase is is obviously to grow as the name implies, but it's not just to grow, you know, top line revenue or profits or whatever, it's also to grow the stability, and the infrastructure of the company, and get it ready so that you can scale, right, I think a lot of people want to how a lot of people have this idea that I'm going to go straight from a start idea, and then I'm going to scale this thing. And I've seen it happen where people try to do that in every single time. You're like okay, let's scale it Let's run like hundreds of 1000s of dollars a month and add traffic or, or whatever the equivalent of like massive amounts of customer acquisition looks. Like, and even if you can do that, it's, it's likely that the structure of the business still can't support all of that weight that you're bringing onto it. And so many of those businesses fail and collapse, not because they couldn't figure out the market side, and the sell side, but because they didn't have the internal infrastructure and the integrity inside of the business to actually keep it going. And so one of the critical things that needs to be done during the growth phase is obviously we want to increase customer value, right? We want to add other offers, so that we have a higher lifetime value for our customers, we want to make sure that we've got, you know, different front end offers that are attracting potentially, you know, different segments of the market or speaking to different needs, or like, whatever those things might be, but but it would be super, super negligent, not to really focus on systems at the same time that you're doing that right. You know, who are the people that are going to take this over? Is it is it well documented so that we can add people in here, I recently worked with a fantastic company that was doing like, where they do, and I think, now maybe it was like, 9 million a year in sales or something. And their goal is to get to 30, in the next year, and they had their freakin marketing and sales were like on point. But we work together to make sure that their organization and their team, and all the things that we're going to be critical for them to get to that 3050 and beyond, we're being put in place. And I think that's the, that's the piece that sometimes feels like work, too. You know what I mean? It's like, it does, and, and it's okay, you don't have to do it all by yourself. But it needs to be done. And then you know, and then when you get to the skill phase, it really is about, you know, finding different sources of traffic, having more front end offers, finding other ways to monetize the backend through, you know, partnerships or jayvees, or, you know, other other mechanisms. And, you know, but that's that's like, really, it works better. If you've actually done what's necessary in the growth phase.

Yeah. Wow. And that's a powerful pattern that you've recognized where right with all your experience, to see that there are these different stages. And that I mean, and I've heard it many times where people are like, Oh, yeah, like each new stage of your business growth comes with its own new challenges, which, of course, is very true. Yet there's a lot of similar themes to those challenges. At each stage is what I've seen with my short time in business. And, you know, a big thing to me is, it sounds like a common theme on what you're talking about is that with all this said, there still still needs to be a Northstar. You know, a clear direction, though, like I'm headed here, you know, it may look different the path may have some zigzags on the way as you pivot. Yeah, and it always does, right. I mean, even if, you know, all those exams can happen easily within a quarter a year, you know, and, of course, then some and, but but that to me, that Northstar is broken down into that clear vision, which speaks to me as like, you know why we talk about these things on this show, and feature amazing people like you that have this kind of clarity on what you're looking to build one thing before we wrap up to. So we were talking about how you were just on this call, you know, all day around this new business venture doing that goes beyond say, this main core consulting, and work you do with systems and business growth? Definitely, it's a testament to your ability to get the right kind of business model and systems in place. But how do you create the time in order to have opportunities and create opportunities to do these other ventures? What does that look like for

you? Well, I think the hardest thing in the world for us as entrepreneurs is saying no, you know, no to a new idea, no two things that sound like they might be fun. But one of the one of my favorite quotes from Warren Buffett says that the difference between successful people and everybody else is that successful people say no most of the time and the difference between ultra successful people and everybody else is that the ultra successful one say no almost all of the time. And and so I think practicing practicing that muscle, you know, and strengthening that muscle of saying no, is incredibly important. Because the more stuff you say yes to, the more stuff you have to do. And and I know that sounds obvious, but with the habitual nature that most people I know have that I still like have to keep myself in check with, trust me, is that, you know, we want to we want to say yes, like entrepreneurs or guests, people are not, not like yes, men where we're like, oh, that's a good idea. And I'm just gonna say yes, but more like, wow, there's an opportunity. Let me let me capitalize on that. Oh, man, that sounds really cool. I want to be involved in that, right? Oh, you guys are going to this next event? Like, let me go to write in? It's like, yes, yes, yes, all the time, which, which can be fun, and it can be stimulating and exciting. But when we do that too often, or it becomes our standard way of being, then we don't wind up having any time left. To be strategic, we don't have time left to work on the one or two things, that's going to make the biggest difference. And so I think being, being really humble and honest about what I say yes to, and what I say no to, you know, is probably the most important thing, that gives me more time than most people. Because I'm, I'm okay, having, you know, some room in my schedule, to be able to evaluate new opportunities, and look at them in reference to things that I've done or what I know other people are doing. And, and, you know, being aware of the opportunity cost of saying yes to something, you know, this thing that I'm involved in right now, which we're we're getting ready to launch, and maybe you'll have me on some other time, we'll talk more about it. But this is a, this is an A level opportunity. But if I had, you know, taken advantage of every B or C level opportunity that, you know, came across my desk in the last year, I may not have even known about this thing. Right. And so I think it's it's absolutely imperative that we abandon the good in favor of the great and that's usually very uncomfortable. But it's absolutely necessary to create something that is awesome.

What a powerful message to leave off on, on everything you've talked about. James, you know, I do really do appreciate your time. And everything you have to share with with our audience here. Where can people learn more about how to get started working with you in some form? Sure.

Yeah, absolutely. So James P. That's my that's my site. There's, you know, some resources and training and stuff like that on there. And then, you know, people want to reach out through the site, because they think you know, it could be a good fit to work with me one on one and that's, that's a great place to get that conversation started to. Amazing. Hey, thanks so much. Yeah, thanks, Don. Great being here, man.

Transcribed by


Dallin Nead

Dallin believes in putting family and God first.

He's the Chief Vision Officer of Content Supply, Advisor to multiple startups, serial entrepreneur and an award-winning producer.

He helps brands create authentic, results-driven media so they can share their message and vision with the world.

He helps brands clarify, create, and communicate their vision for a happier, more meaningful life, business, and community.

He consults with small and large companies including Princess Cruises, U.S. Marine Corp, Teachable and many others.


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