Wayne Patrick is a serial tech entrepreneur whose Hot Mess Hotline conversation is about his lessons learned during the Great Recession in 2008.
His “world fell apart,” when he got a Monday morning call losing 10% of his sales. Sound familiar?
The firm was in hot water.
At the time, Wayne’s company, PDD, was firmly entrenched in the automobile industry.
Wayne’s world was falling apart and he knew he had few choices, and even fewer choices the longer he waited.
Wayne was dealing with multiple issues:
- What would he do about losing 10% of the company’s revenue? How would they recover from that?
- What if anything, could they do, to not lose the other 15% of his existing business?
- What could he do to hold onto the other automotive prospect he had in his pipeline that would be an additional 15% of his business?
They had bet on the automobile industry and the house was winning.
His steps for creating a gameplan:
- Destress: Wayne went for a run so that his subconscious could work through the issue.
- Define the issue: Next, Wayne defined the financial, staffing, legal and cultural implications of the issue and started mapping out solutions.
- Determine the timeline: Wayne met with his CFO to determine how much time they had before they ran out of cash flow and needed to do layoffs.
- Communicate with transparency and hope: Wayne decided to trust the people in the company and he confronted them with the brutal truth of what they needed to do. He asked, “Are you with me? Here are the options we got. . . .”
- Ask, “Who’s with me?”
As a leader, Wayne used a transparent process because he was willing to spill his guts and offer a solution. He was embarassed but had come to learn he could also rely on his people as he had relied on them.
When he went back to his staff they said, “We’re on board. Let’s do it.” And that was one of the most emotional moments he had ever had in business because his people believed in him and the company to make it happen.
While many companies took years to recovery, under Wayne’s leadership, PDD took months.
Wayne and his team were willing to do the really hard, difficult things that you have to do to make it and get through. It could have been easy to throw up their hands in overwhelm but they never quit.
Wayne defines this as willingness, grit, and perseverance which are critical attributes for anyone in business. Through this experience, Wayne learned that he was tougher and more resilient than he thought he was.
Lessons for Mid-Level Leaders:
- When you’re in the CEO’s big chair you have a lot of insight, awareness, and experience that mid-level leaders don’t have. As an individual we see the problem from the perspective of each silo. The owner is looking at it from the perspective of all silos.
- Do your job. Do it well.
- Learn about other people’s jobs and the business. Try to understand everything from accounting to operations so that you can understand enough to support the mission, vision, and objectives of the organization.
Wayne’s Problem-Solving Steps
- Work through all scenarios: what could go right what could go wrong?
- Brainstorm all the possible solutions that could solve the problem.
- Review all of your options.
- Turn to your people and trust them. You have to be willing to share some of the burdens for them to pick it up when times get tough.
- Confront the situation with the brutal truth.
- Ask your team, “Are you with me?” Be transparent with them so that they can join in with you.
- Have the grit to keep going.
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About Wayne Patrick
Wayne Patrick is a mentor and investor in several startup and entrepreneurial companies. He has over forty years of experience in Information Technology including IT Director for a large fortune 500 Financial and Insurance Company. He has extensive experience in the IT Consulting Industry having started and managed his own IT Consulting Company, Professional Data Dimensions to a successful exit. His experience in the Software industry includes having developed and led the consulting efforts for a large software firm and has been the COO of two entrepreneurial/start-up software firms that had successful exits.
AIS is a proactive IT consulting, infrastructure and security company specializing in strategic solutions that help organizations leverage technology to drive positive outcomes. Based in Indianapolis, AIS was founded in 2012 and works with public, private, and government organizations across the Midwest. Through our service delivery platforms, and our talented professionals, they provide personalized, best-in-class digital solutions to organizations, users, and customers. They help our clients resolve their most critical technology challenges and adopt digital technology that improves productivity, efficiency, workflow, interoperability, profitability, and customer outcomes.
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