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Wake Up & Smell The Talent

Mary Grothe July 14 2021



Meet Host, Mary Grothe

Mary Grothe is a former #1 MidMarket B2B Sales Rep who after selling millions and breaking multiple records, formed House of Revenue®, a Denver-based firm of fractional Revenue Leaders who currently lead the marketing, sales, customer success, and RevOps departments for 10 companies nationwide. In the past year, they've helped multiple 2nd stage growth companies between $5M - $20M, on average, double their MRR within 10 months, resulting in an average ROI of 1,454% and an average annual revenue growth eclipsing $3.2 million.


Don't Have Time to Listen, Read The Full Transcription.

[Theme music plays.]

Welcome to the House of Revenue®. I'm Mary Grothe, Founder and CEO. I love scaling companies to their first 5 million, then 10, 15, and 20. If you've reached a revenue plateau and aren't sure how to get past it, you're in the right place. Listen in as we interview CEOs and solve their most pressing revenue challenges. If you want to be on our show or want to learn more, connect with us at

I got to experience a revelation not long ago, as a CEO, in scaling our own company, I'm going to talk to you about two things that happened inside of our own business. And I hope that you can find some encouragement in this conversation today no matter what stage of growth you are in as a CEO. First, I was the CEO who was subconsciously blocking the growth of our company. And it was because I cared so much installed you about the client experience, that I had formed a belief system, that as you grow, or when you scale or as you get bigger client experience and quality of work is one of the first things to go. And in this belief system that I had, I was subconsciously altering the way that I did everything inside of the company, specifically, from a management and leadership perspective, I was not allowing the growth to naturally happen, because I had this belief system, that I needed to be so heavily involved in all of the work.

Well, that was not a good experience for me, because it's drowning, it was so much work, it's not a great experience for my team members, because they work in this environment where they feel like, I have to be involved in everything, or I do get that final say, or I can slow things down or stop things at any point in time. And that can be a difficult environment to be a part of. So, I have to like pause for a second because having a focus on client experience and ensuring that it does not falter at all, that's not a bad thing. But when it becomes obsessive, and actually prohibits good things organically, naturally happening inside of the company, that's where CEO might take it too far. And I believe that that's where I had taken it too far. So, on that, I realized that this belief system that as we got bigger as we scaled, was just going to hold back our ability to serve the client, I had to get rid of that. And so, it was actually keeping me from even saying seen our growth models, and how we would get to the next level.

I had a team member who bravely presented a growth plan to be more like a growth org chart about I don't know, seven or eight months before I had the breakthrough of acknowledging that that was the right org chart for us. And it was so amazing that he had the confidence and the foresight to be able to present that and I hated it. When I first saw it. I thought are you joking with me? Are you kidding me? Do you not know what we do here? Do you not know how we're structured? On this org chart that he presented me all I could see were dollar signs of how much that was going to cost the business and I was looking at it the wrong way. Rather than looking at it like, hey, here's how much this is going to cost to the company. I needed to view it as if we had all of those people, the majority of them in revenue-generating roles. Here's how much money that company could be making with this type of org chart so I just had the completely wrong frame of reference.

Well, fast forward, we start to hit some really exciting milestones within the company, specifically around our pipeline. A lot of clients interested and then we also have really good profitability. So this is at the close of the year last year, and we're looking forward thinking okay, we may be on to something, and we may be able to step into this next stage of growth. And so finally, I started to wake up and realize a few things. I was trying to solve this problem on my own. And that is a very lonely, tiring place to have god-sick conversations. One day I woke up and I realized how truly special and talented and brilliant the people on our team are. Like, I knew they're good. Because that's why they have a spot on this team. I get to see what they do with our clients. They do truly do remarkable work. But I wasn't leveraging their talent and their knowledge and experience and how we were selling scaling our own company. It's amazing looking back, that I could make these mistakes.

I'm a CEO of a company who scales other companies, I can look at someone else's company, and quickly identify all the areas that the CEO is holding back the growth, all the areas where the leadership team is lacking. I can look at where they go to market strategy has holes and inefficiencies. I can identify within each revenue department specifically what needs to happen, but in our own company, why does that always happen? The plumber's pipes always leak here I am inside of our own company. And I was the one that wasn't allowing our team to come together to help solve that problem.

One day I wake up and I start asking questions to our team, I start grabbing them one on one couple of small group conversations, soliciting feedback, asking genuine questions, and truly identifying what the root cause of our problems was. And a lot of them were going back to me that I wasn't all-in on the vision and on the growth plan. And that I needed to shift my mindset because I was withholding the natural organic growth. In fact, in our pipeline, as companies were looking at working with us, I was just stalling the process. Because I was waiting to see when a team member would have a spot open up, I was limiting the way that we were growing because I was fearful of having to go up in headcount and hire more expensive talent, thinking once I go up and headcount now the business development requirement, it just became greater year over year, because the bigger we are, the bigger the overhead and the more new clients we're going to always need. To this point, we've had such a luxury of being able to control the pipeline and the business development process pretty strongly, we only need new clients a couple of times a year. And I have a really good runway about two to three months of a window to see when I need to replace the client as they're rolling off of our service.

We're not meant to be long-term, and our clients are with us for about 12 to 18 months. And so with that lifecycle, I can get ahead of the conversation while now I'm thinking, Oh, geez, now business development is going to become more of a full-time job. So who's going to do that? And ideally, I do business development, FYI. And something in where's that time going to come from in my schedule? Well, I started to acknowledge, hold on a second, if we put the focus into parts with our clients and how great that the work that we're doing the results, we're getting them. Then, they're going to be natural brand ambassadors, and they're going to want to refer and they're going to open up people that they know, to a conversation with us. I'm like, okay, well, that's great, we can put our focus there. Additionally, we decided to eat our own dog food. And we built this same inbound marketing engine for our own company that we build for our clients. Turns out, Oh, my gosh, guess what it works.

We have great lead flow, we have very qualified inbound leads, CEOs who are ready to scale. And so we have no shortage in that pipeline and business development. So I took that risk and that fear away, we solve for that. And now it's just the growing part and scaling and growing our team and making sure that we can continue forth in the right direction going up in headcount. And again, there was a bit of fear. So when I looked at that org chart, again, I realized how well put together that was, and my team member who was so brave in assembling that very early into his tenure with us. And I looked at that chart again, and I said, this is it. This is the exact model that we mean. This helps us cut down on the expense of our talent because we can start to bring in specialists. Then we can work with specialists rather than everyone at a VP level. The specialists can work alongside the VPs in their specialty, and help takes on specific tasks specific for that VP, free up that VPs time theoretically. The VP can take on another client because now they don't have to do everything from executive-level strategy through execution. They're going to have specialists who work alongside them. I'm like, oh, my gosh, this model is amazing. Why didn't I think of this way I didn't have to.

Then something else happened. I also woke up one day and truly started to realize and acknowledge that the talent on our team was better than me in their areas of strength. And that that should be I should be investing in that. And I should be helping create an environment where they can unleash those talents. So this was a big wake-up call, I started to acknowledge that every individual on this team was brought on to do a specific job with the specific job description. However, let's say there are 10 things in that job description and 10 areas of focus. And on average, they are brilliant. I mean, like superhuman talent, brilliant, and six or seven of those things. And then the other three or four things they can do, not necessarily their specialty, probably a little bit energy-draining, not their favorite work, so it could compromise their quality of life.

This the thing, it's different with every employee. I can have two VPS, two identical job descriptions and each of them is wildly talented and proficient in seven out of 10 aspects of their job. But those aren't the same seven out of 10 things. So, when you line them up side by side, it could have a VP that's stronger in certain areas than others, I was so rigid, into believing the only way that we could scale is if I had carbon copy VPS, meaning they were identical. And they had the same areas that they could focus on and strengths. And so it was like carbon copy 10 out of 10, carbon copy 10 out of 10 of those specialties.

Well, one day I woke up, smelled the talent was like, wait a second, if I have a VP who is flourishing, I mean better than others on the team in the seven out of 10 areas. Why am I asking them in these three out of 10 areas or four to 10 areas where there is some deficiency or lack of interest, lack of passion, and some of those tasks, they're taking away from them being great in the seven out of 10. So, I started experimenting and thinking if I structured their role around their strengths for that specific VP. And then I surround them with a team, who not only are specialists in their own specific areas but can also take those three or four things off of the VPS plate where they just, you know, aren't specialists? Will I then unlock the power for them to 100% of the time be focused on the great work that they do that's aligned with their passions, their talents, their knowledge? And will they then do even better work?

Well, I'm going to give you the results of the experiment. It worked. The VPs it's absolutely tremendous. What they have been able to do when I started removing the areas of friction where they weren't as strong as they could be. Now, this model takes a lot of attention and finesse, and I don't have the data for you yet to say, Well, what happens we're about 20 employees now. So, what happens when we're 30, 40, 50 employees? Can we have each person's role be this specialized, and my gut is telling me that because our work is so highly curated and customized for every client that we do? I mean, our clients are investing about a quarter-million dollars a year minimum in our services. And if you look at that number, the return that we're getting them on that over 3 million on that quarter-million is what they're getting back. If you look at that type of structure, and the work that we're doing across all revenue functions to help them scale. I believe that a model is built now that we have this model that we can scale at this level. So why am I telling you all of this? Why am I allowing you to look under the hood inside of our organization? Because I'm a CEO and I'm passionate about sharing these moments as a CEO. Because there are other CEOs listening to this, that are looking for the ways that they break out of that closed mindset that they're in, or if they're full of fear, or they're uncertain how to grow or they just don't know where to start.

I want to transition now into more of the people side of the business, the human side of the embracing and what's happened inside of me as a CEO as well. I am a control freak. And if you're a CEO that has some of those controlling feelings, and I think a lot of us do as a CEO for the initial state of scale that we've had, so one to about two and a half mil or zero to two and a half million. Or we did that in about three years. And during that time. I wanted to have a say in everything. And I finally when I started to wake up over the last several months. I realize it's been Because I truly didn't believe in the subconscious of me in the heart of hearts, I just didn't believe that the team could do it at the level that I could. What a limiting belief, if I'm showing up every single day already believing my team can't do it at the level that I can. Nobody is set up for success. And I believe that showing up with that mentality that I was just manifesting that.

And so yeah, here it is, it's coming true. I have this belief that I'm the best at it. And so how do you think I'm showing up? And how do you think I'm treating my team very difficult on that. So I had to change the very inner workings of my own mind and my own heart to change the belief system, and start to allow myself to see the brilliance of each team member and where they were contributing in how they were unique, and what those superhuman talents were. And as a part of that experience, I started to acknowledge that I needed to shift the belief system to say my team is better. They are more specialized. their experiences are different than mine. They can create and contribute. They can do things that I can't. And when I shifted that mindset, and came in with some humility, and started working with my team, to challenge myself to see what they knew that I didn't, what they could contribute, that I could, in their point of view, ask more questions. I was the queen of dictating. It should be like this, this is the strategy, do it this way, bring in these elements. These are the tactics we're going for. When I just stopped doing that and started asking the question, what are your ideas? How do you see this scenario? If it were you, what would you do? What are you bringing forth?

When I started to transition and shift this mindset in the way that I was leading and asking questions, I created an environment where their opinions were welcome, where their ideas were welcome. You know, if you don't think for people, then they have to think for themselves. And when they're thinking for themselves, you know, what their ability to be complex problem solvers, and creative problem solvers, and ideate. And to be remarkable in the role that I hired them to do, I'm allowing them to do that. But before I wasn't, I just told them what it was. Well, that's not a way for people to learn. That's not a way for people to tap into their inner being and their own experience and think for themselves. So here I am hiring some of the most brilliant, amazing talents out in the market. And I was stifling that. And I didn't create an environment where they could succeed. I didn't create an environment where the richness of what they have inside of them could come out. So, I'm not perfect.

There are still scenarios, especially when we're in tight timelines, or I'm in this scenario with a client that's very familiar to me. And so I have a very clear path of a winning strategy. I do speak up and I do contribute. But I'm tasking myself with how do I honor the people that are here. So, if you are a CEO, that consistently feels like the weight of your company, the weight of the success of your clients, the weight of the world is on you. I'm thinking about that CEO, that feels like the team is just in this habit of escalating things to you things laid on your desk, or if you've created an okay process for clients to come directly to you. And actually, like skip working with your team, you created that. And you have to own it. And you have to figure out how to undo that. For me, it took time, it took time because one I couldn't just change overnight, and say, oh, by the way, team, now you think for yourself, and I'm pulling out of the client experience. That's not how it worked. It had to be slow. And I had to communicate, and I had to tell them a few things.

Step one, I had to be honest with them and acknowledge I've been too heavily involved. And it came from a fear-based mentality. And I wasn't allowing the members of this team to do what they do best and I was holding people back. But we're going to change that starting today. And you're going to notice that I'm going to be asking a lot more questions. As we work together. I'm going to help you create the line of thinking that goes from the current state to how we solve for the client's desired future state. I'm going to allow you to come to me with questions when you have specific questions, but I'm going to give you the opportunity to answer it first and then with our clients. Now, this one took some time, we have some clients that were used to coming to me. And if you have that high ticket client worth a lot of money to your organization, they're also a super important relationship, as their reference for you, you've got a case study about working with them on your website, they refer, that's somebody that you should probably, you know, not just like overnight, be like, Well, you can't talk to me anymore.

Now you have to work with my team, I believe that the relationship with the client, you should communicate in the same way, and say, we are entering into an exciting stage of growth in our company. And you've been such an important relationship to me and I have thoroughly enjoyed our communication and the frequency of it. And the fact that you feel comfortable enough to come to me with anything, it's such an honor, I have loved serving you. As we continue to grow, I'm just looking in the future, I believe that I'm going to have a little bit less time for the client experience and putting my effort in there. So I am focusing over the next quarter, to work with my team to develop that skill set and to create a communication pathway where our clients feel comfortable talking to the initial team first before I get involved.

Now, as I said, I value our relationship entirely. And I'm so passionate about what we've built together and that you've been such a loyal client. And I love what we have. So, I don't believe that's going to go away. But what I'd like to challenge both of us to do is to see when we can leverage the team, and then make our time together with a little bit higher level, much more purposeful. And then we can say an A new cadence and create that together. Are you open to building that with me over the next few months, and you and I can figure out what that right pathway looks like feels like together? I believe that when you can build something like that with your communication, first with your team, and then with your client, you're going to start freeing yourself up as a CEO, to focus on being a CEO, being a leader, being a mentor, a coach, a developer of your people being present, you won't be triggered as much, because you won't be in the fires every day, because you've enabled the team to be brilliant in their work, solve their own challenges.

You're just not going to have as much land on your desk, which can be triggering, and overwhelming and cause you to work a lot of hours. It can cause burnout. It can cause doubt. It can create frustration, like this is how you eliminate all of those things. Then, guess what happens? You become a kinder, sweeter, better CEO. You become more patient, you get to actually practice calmness, you get to have a presence about you because you're not booked back to back to back to back to back to back all day and not present for your team. You actually get to increase the amount of time you spend with them. You get to be available for hallway talk, and sitting and hanging out with people. There's something truly special and so powerful. What happens when you transition from being in the weeds all day long and feeling like you have to control everything, to finally waking up and smelling the talent and the commitment and the passion that your team has brought forth.

They said yes to working for you. You need to say yes to create an environment where they are valued and they can flourish. When you are able to build this inside of your company, you will unlock so much success and it's going to feel effortless. I shared a lot of my story today in our current stage of growth in a way for you to see under the hood to see where I'm a CEO to I don't have it right. I'm figuring this thing out. I'm praying this was encouraging. And that you can look at the mirror and say where am I holding my team back? Where am I holding my company back? Where am I too heavily involved in don't need to be and I want you to understand that the ramifications and how it plays out in the rest of your company are not good? It could cross cause turnover. It could cause issues with your margins and profitability. It could be hindering your top-line growth, it could be hindering a lot of things. It's time to look in the mirror. It's time to remember your team said yes to you and it's time to say yes to them. Wake up and smell the talent.

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Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're interested in being on our show or want to learn more about how we can help you scale your company, connect with us at or with me Mary Grothe spelled G-R-O-T-H-E on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

Connect with House of Revenue® on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

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