S13E15: The power of a coaching culture, with James Boettcher (CEO, Righteous Gelato)

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S13E15: The power of a coaching culture, with James Boettcher (CEO, Righteous Gelato)

We're continuing our season on "business as a force for good". In this episode Richard speaks with James Boettcher, CEO of Righteous, Canada’s #1 Gelato Company. James has ensured that this little scoop shop that could would become a force for good and has charted the course for Righteous' tremendous growth and earned several awards including Top 40Under40, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year, Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures and Real Leaders 2023 Impact Awards.

In this conversation, you’ll learn:

  • Why James focuses on frozen desserts as his "vehicle for impact".
  • Why "business is not business".
  • How to care for your staff whilst avoiding an entitlement mentality.
  • 5 essential questions for creating a coaching culture in your team 1:1s.
  • A key tool for scaling yourself and ensuring your leadership are aligned.

"Accountability is not to the leader, but to the rest of the team."

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Resources/sources mentioned:

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Transcript

James Boettcher
Step 1, step 2, is really about, you know, when we all think about being children ice cream, ice cream truck, those moments of joy, you know, making it better, making, you know, if if a kid's crying, you give him an ice cream. He's happy. It really, to me, became the perfect catalyst or or vehicle for for doing good in the world? Welcome to the Impact Multiplier CEO podcast.

Richard Medcalf
I'm Richard Medcalf, founder of Xquadrant, and my mission is to help the world's top CEOs and entrepreneurs shift from incremental to exponential progress and create a huge positive impact on our world. Now that requires you to reinvent your self and to transform your business. So if you're ready to play a bigger game than ever before, I invite you to join us and become an impact multiplier CEO. In this episode, I speak with James Boacher, who is the chief executive of righteous gelato, leading Canadian basically ice cream company, although he probably want me to use the word ice cream because gelato actually is a higher quality, lower sugar version of of ice cream. And James has built his business out as a real force for good. He's really focused on corporate culture. In fact, he describes himself as chief empowerment officer because he's so focused on creating a gem of a culture. employees are truly valued. And in this episode, we dive in to how do you do that without creating an entitlement mentality. How do you value employees without them leaning back and exploiting it in certain ways? we then dive into how he runs He's one to one meetings the questions he asks to create a coaching culture rather than perhaps as many leaders can do almost a kind of a micromanaging and a a culture that actually disempowers people. So if you are struggling to get The best out of your people. If you want them to lean in a bit more, really listen in to his questions. because I think you'll find a couple of gems in there for you. So this is a great conversation, with James on empowering leadership. hope you enjoy it.

Richard Medcalf
Hi, James, and welcome to the show. Hey, Richard. Thanks for having me. So this is gonna be fun. I know that over the last 14 years, you've built up, righteous Gelato, along the way, you've picked up a string of awards. You, you had the 40 under 40 award, entrepreneur of the year, Canada's most admired corporate cultures. You recently got the real leaders, impact award as well. And so I know that you you are somebody who wants to who sees business as a force for good. And so I suppose my opening question is, you know, if you wanna make a positive impact in the world, like, why ice cream? I mean, really? Is that -- Sure. -- why start that? We had gelato ice cream potato potato.

James Boettcher
We'd say in Canada, but, yeah, I think, there's 22 maybe 3 parts to that. One is, I always say Gilato chose me. So I took over a very small scoop shop that is, you know, no longer. but it that's sort of where this started. I was doing freelance design in my younger days, and they were a client. And, I found this magic around being in the store in this theater of it being made and and just the energy of community that really sort of was the catalyst for my this decision to, you know, forge ahead with taking over this this ice cream shop, quote unquote, the the ironic part is in Calgary, Alberta, Canada where I live. it's winter for, like, 6 months of the year. So I wasn't wasn't very bright in my mid twenties to do that. But, lo and behold, you know, the business has changed in our now and in grocery stores is sort of our main business. So that's sorta Step 1, step 2, is really about, you know, when we all think about being children ice cream, the ice cream truck, those moments of joy, you know, making it better, making, you know, if if a kid's crying, you give him an ice cream. He's happy. It really, to me, became the perfect catalyst or or vehicle for for doing good in the world. And then third is I really believe that inherently Change in the world is very rarely brought upon by by governments. It's generally individuals that are passionate about something. or, businesses that decide that they're gonna operate with that type of integrity like Patagonia, for example, or perhaps Ben and Jerry's all these wonderful companies that really sort of, you know, curved a path and led the way and saying, you know, we don't have to be a capitalist empire. we can be sustainable in a lot of ways and then and do a lot of good in the world.

Richard Medcalf
So -- Yeah. It's yeah. I it's nice. I can picture it as this little gem of a business, right, where you pray tracing a high quality product and doing it well. I suppose what's interesting to me is I could imagine having another interview on this podcast where somebody says, I'm here. I'm on a mission, you know, for, like, healthy eating. We've gotta get rid of all these ice creams. This chocolate good I wanna do in the world is, you know, is kind of stop putting people, putting sugar in their bodies, and this kind of stuff. So I think, again, I'm curious how are you gonna think about that? You've already come across that yourself in this journey?

James Boettcher
Yeah. Yeah. I think, you know, it's an interesting one. I think, like, all things including, you know, sugar or wine or anything you you you ingest, even probably spinach at some point. It's really, you know, it's really about everything in moderation. And that's the great thing about our product is that, you know, it's so delicious that you you only need a little bit to enjoy it. So you're not, you know, mowing down on on a full plan. Some people do because it's so delicious. but also, you know, our product has less sugar than than a lot of other products based on our formulations. And, yeah, I mean, I think if we got too caught up in that, We wouldn't have the opportunity to do as much good. So when you sort of narrow the niche too much, then you really don't expand yourself to to that.

Richard Medcalf
So I think at the end of the day, we talk about it all the time as a team will offer no sugar added products and so on and so forth. But sugar is Unfortunately, I think in a way, very delicious. And, and we're okay to have some. You know, we're not it's not or or we're not opposed to having a little bit in our diets. Yeah. I'm just pricking you really. Right? I mean, I -- I like it. I like it. I live in France. Come on. I'm stuffing myself with cheese and sugar.

James Boettcher
I'm a big fan of sugar. you know, just don't don't eat lots of it. There's lots of sugars not to eat. we use organic cane sugar in our products, so we're, you know, the best and the best. but, yeah, I agree.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. So so I know you have a phrase, which is business is not business.

James Boettcher
Both that about? Yeah. Business is is, is not business. I think too often the the phrase when difficult decisions are being made by leaders. You're in a situation where it's like, it's just business, or we have to do, you know, what the business needs. And I think early on in my life, my grandmother at a catering company, and, business is people. You know, every part of it is people. And I think You know, it's the the customers or fans that you serve their people, the suppliers you work with, they're all people. They provide you something, but they're they're people as well. and they should be treated with dignity and respect. The people that you employ, especially, there's they're humans that have decided I could choose any job in the world. And, really, we live in an age where you can do anything. I'm always fascinated by, you know, the influencer career now. It's it's a real thing. People can go and get free stuff and get paid to talk about it online in a very authentic way. And so The the reality of the the business part of it is that, you know, we're always interacting with people So if we make decisions with that type of, approach and, and, inherent responsibility that we're dealing with people, I think I think it'll serve us really well. Someone said something that was really interesting to me the other day. They said when a salesman sells a company, something. So a supplier will say. And he does it because he's gotta meet his targets, but he knows it's not the right solution for somebody who really won't do what they need. He's putting that other person that's sort of signed off on it, their career in jeopardy, and they don't really realize that. You know? So if there's a piece of equipment that's procured, this happens in my business. And my team and operations does it. You know, we run a very you know, holistic companies, so no one's losing their job over anything. But a lot of companies, if someone made a mistake because their salesman sold that, That person's career is in jeopardy, and all they were trying to do is make the number, and they weren't really thinking about all the downstream effects and all the people, not the business part of it. So Yeah. That's just a great example.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, very good example. When I looked to your website earlier on, I noticed, yeah, you put the whole thing about people right on the front. Right? it says, like, whatever it says, like, whatever it says, like, our people make Agilada is not the other way around or words to this effect. which is which is great.

James Boettcher
Mhmm. Yeah. Yeah. We just happen to meet gelato. It's what we say. We just happen to make gelato. It's like, if we made staplers or picture frames, I don't know, I'll pick a bunch of random products to make. We'd still have a great company. They would be world class, state of the best service, they would stand up to what you expect them to do. And, along the way, we make great decisions on how we procure the supplies and, and, have a lot of fun with it.

Richard Medcalf
So Yeah. I love it. So I guess my question for you is, how do you put people first and, like, your employees first? and avoid the sense of entitlement because I've seen, you know, other leaders really struggle with this. Right? They provide great environments. They provide great benefits, And they it's almost like the more we give them, the more they seem to want. Right? Like, they're never satisfied, in fact. And that by we've almost feeding the monster, So I'm kinda curious because it sounds like you've you, I suspect you've had a good balance. What what have you found?

James Boettcher
Yeah. Richard, I would imagine that you were you were raised pretty well. Am I correct?

Richard Medcalf
I would hope so. I would hope so. And do you have children? I do.

James Boettcher
Okay. And do you feel like you're raising them pretty good? You know, no sense of entitlement.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Well, I think they've they've just happened to I just have to be very, very lucky with my children. They seem to be raising themselves.

James Boettcher
You think it's luck? I like that.

Richard Medcalf
I didn't tell them that. Obviously, speaking of you, I just tell them on the perfect ad and they owe it all to me. You're gonna listen to this and say, we really like that ice cream guy. James from Canada.

James Boettcher
What what I'm what I'm highlighting is that, culturally sort of we what we what we tolerate is, you know, really what comes of of of our our ecosystem. So when I look at a corporate culture, There's there's so many starting points where it can go awry to your point. So if your hiring practice doesn't sort of vet that early on in it, So you're just looking for top talent. You don't care if they're, you know, what we call, you know, a disagreeable giver. Adam Grant came up with that. our dis sorry, disagreeable taker. if you're in a situation where along the way, you're not sort of re recorrecting the ship when things are going awry in terms of culture, I think I think that it really starts so early on in the culture. And I think a culture is is often easily described as it's what goes on when no one is looking. So it's like a Henry Ford quote, you know, quality means doing When no one's looking, that's on the wall at righteous. But, the reality is is that, you know, if if someone were to walk in there and there's no bosses there and whatever, What would they see if they were just, you know, a a ghost? And and they saw how people were cleaning or how they were treating it, one another, all those things. And I think We do an amazing job early on in the process finding great people, making them feel like they are they are so they have such deep along these. So we do all these onboarding things of where they have to ask people in the company, fun facts, and There's a lot of connection to to leadership and including me where every team member that ever gets hired sits down for founder coffee and We just connect. I asked some questions about them. They asked me about the, you know, why did you why did you choose gelato? And and what's your favorite flavor? So some good questions. But, really, I think to your your point about leaders struggling with it, it's it's like if you if your kids were like, Always misbehaving. And then you came along and you said, you know what? I think if I give them a bunch of ice cream, they're gonna behave better. You know, it's like the inverse. Like, they the the starting point has to be teaching great behaviors, saying what you tolerate, what you expect, treating people like, I always say treat them like adults or treat them like people. And then anytime it goes awry where there's, something goes wrong, you have a really clear conversation. You know, clear is kind. That's a Renee Brown thing. It's really important to have those conversations. So We have a thing unlimited vacation after 1 year, every team member gets this. It's different sometimes for manufacturing teams. but with our administration team, And someone said, how do you not have the team abuse that? And they say, well, they, they don't. And they're like, well, what if they do? I was like, well, they don't. I I don't know what you want me to say. And what I realized is that it's it's a bit of a deep care for one another within the organization. Patrick Lindsay is one of my favorite authors, and he talks about this. You know, accountability is really not to the the leader, it's to the rest of the team. And when the rest of the team has an innate deep sense of accountability for one another, They won't do that because they don't wanna let one another down. They don't wanna fail one another. And so our organization operates. It's like, this is how we do it. This is the culture. Like, your parents raised you and you raise your children. This is how we do things. We're polite. We say thank you. You know, we Put our knife and fork this way. We don't, you know, swear at adults, you know, all the things you taught your kids, I'm sure. And when people come into the organization, They generally have a good sense. I I I always always say people are inherently good.

Richard Medcalf
Do not do not make rules and regulations for the one person that screwed it up once upon time? because then you earn it for everybody. And I think, you know, in a bit of, again, a bit of, you know, an ecosystem of of our team, that's really the mentality is that, you know, one person doesn't wanna root for the rest of them. So -- So have you had examples where you've had to have tough conversations to really enforce those standards?

James Boettcher
I mean, a tough conversations are probably I look at them different than probably a lot of leaders. I think a lot of skills especially, the ability to have tough conversations or like muscles. And so you have to flex them often, and then they sort of build up this resilience resiliency is another one. You've gotta flex the muscle, which is why we've survived sort of our our history, we'll say. But the, the reality is is that when you have them very naturally, it's way easier. And people respect you so much when they know where they stand. You know? Like, I heard a lesson early on in my leadership, which was do you wanna be liked or respected? And I thought about it and, you know, as a young young man, I, I didn't have a lot of friends, and I struggled with sort of getting bullied. So my natural sort of tendency is to to wanna be liked. And what I realized is that if you are respected and you treat people really well, like like you would wanna be treated, They will like you way more because they respect you. They're not gonna be the person that likes you and sort of takes advantage of you. And so I think that the tough conversations that have happened over time are, you know, we really, you know, the team, you know, teams address that we really need to work through this problem. Can we work together? I always say how can I help? That's literally my mechanism of discipline? Like, what what am I missing in this equation, or my leadership, or my guidance that that I could help you with regardless of, you know, if they're, you know, a team member that just joined us or their senior leader. And And I think that really has served me well. We have a couple things going on in the business right now that are requiring some of those tough conversations. And what I am I'm so amazed by is that the leaders that lead the people that are having some challenges are saying things the way that I would see them if at the same or if not better. And so there's been this this cultural adoption of I'm gonna be honest with this person. I'm gonna be clear about it. I'm gonna say why, you know, like, what are we missing here and confront the issue so that we can resolve it. because if we sort of just let it exist, then, you know, then it's just gonna continue to happen. It's like they expect what you tolerate seeing. Right? So lot of isms I'm sharing.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. I mean, one thing that's coming well, coming to my mind is, yeah, it's wise. So first of all, the Yeah. You don't shy away from that, despite wanting that people first culture. It doesn't mean it's a soft, you know, completely soft, right, because you you won't have those conversations, but about establishing those, expectations. And then but they're having a coaching mindset. I wanted to come on to that because You talk to talk about asking questions. Right? How can I help? What am I missing? I know that you've said that I think one of your superpowers might be asking questions to help point out the things that no one else sees. So wondering kind of how do you do that? And, like, when do you use that skill? Like, when when does that come come out?

James Boettcher
Yeah. early on in my leadership, because of the urgency of survival, we'll almost say, I would solve a lot of problems on others' behalf. So something would go awry, and I would just say, Hey. I can get that done. And 2 things happen as a leader. 1 year, You feel valuable. This is, I would say, the the general trait of why that happens. It's like you feel like you're valuable. Like, you did something, you're important. Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. It's adding too much value here normally. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Leadership is very much about the neurons in your brain and other jobs are generally about the outcome that you built. Right? So I did this. Here's it. I'm a obviously, like, trades is the greatest career ever because you, like, see, you frame homes. It's like, there was a piece of land, and now there's a home. Look, I'm accomplished. you know, whereas leaders, it's like, we don't really know where we're at. So we might grab on to solving things. And so that I learned early on that that, you know, was not gonna certainly well enter of growing the business and teaching other people and learning myself also. I think that's a big thing that's, underrated by leaders is the more that you ask good questions, the more you learn. And so over my my tenure in in the organization, realizing the capacity and capability And generally, the intelligence of of the people I get to work with, they would know an answer that was probably better than the answer I thought of. in the moment. And so asking good questions actually created a better outcome. And it takes discipline, it takes curiosity as a big sort of conversation within our organization. Even in Slack, we've got a curious emoji that we created And then allowing people to leverage their own superpower. So if they're a systems thinker or a cal calibrator or an m pass, You know, what what are the things they can bring to the table while you're trying to solve issues within the organization? because if you just hire a bunch of people and sort of program them to do what you want. I don't think you're ever really gonna get your your full potential in the business, but also they won't realize their full potential. And that's really where the magic happens.

Richard Medcalf
So how what would you be your mini master class or mini guide on, what kind of what kind of questions will bring that draw that out of people? So I think about that. You're going through, you know, someone's asked talking about something that perhaps they're asking you to solve the problem for them. Where would you book be your go to?

James Boettcher
Well, I'll give you a few that are coming up here, after this call. So on, the first Wednesday of the month, I have my one on ones with my direct reports. So they have 90 minutes, and it's really their it's their agenda. And, first question is, an EO thing, much as, like, name and number. or an worded number. And the idea is, you know, you're just sharing where you're at. So if you've had, like, a, you know, a tough week or whatever, you we sort of calibrate to that. So I think understanding where people are at. So I would say first question I would ever ever ask somebody is how, like, how are you doing? And the name and number is saying it gives you sort of two points for them to be honest. because if I'm like, Richard, how are you doing? You're like, ah, James, great. I'm just glad to see it. But, like, an hour ago, someone hit your car in your in the front of your house, like, you didn't you weren't honest about that. So if I say word and number, you might say 7 and frustrated. And I'll be like, what happened in the union chair? So expand. the next one is in one on ones, which I think is the greatest question I've ever learned to use. And this is an anti growth thing is What's the best use of our time today? So I can run through a bunch of things, and we can talk about your KPIs and and we use no GSM model. So we can talk about where you're at on your goals. But if you've got something that's just burning inside of you, And we don't talk. We don't address that really early on in the conversation. Oh, man. We're gonna, like, spend a lot of time just wasting time. And at the end, you're gonna say I got this problem. I gotta deal with them. We don't have time. So what's the best use of our time today is a big one. I hope you're enjoying this conversation.

Richard Medcalf
This is just a quick interlude to introduce you to 2 transformative programs that we run. The first is Rivendell, my exclusive group of top CEOs who are committed transforming themselves, their businesses, and the world. It's an incredible peer group and a deep coaching experience. will push you to new heights, no matter how successful you've already been. The second is Impact Accelerate a coaching program for executives who are ready to make a big leap forward in their own leadership. It's regularly described as life changing, and no other program provides such personal strategic clarity, a measurable shift in stakeholder perceptions, and a world class leadership development environment. Find out about both of these programs at xquadrant.com/service is now back to the conversation.

Richard Medcalf
Can I actually just weigh in there? yeah, please. I love it. often asked my own, you know, my CEO, entrepreneur, coaching clients when I'm working with them, obviously, in big goals and other things, but I I checked would generally ask them you know, what's the most valuable conversation we can possibly have, which is basically the same thing. The nuance though is actually sometimes the most valuable conversation we need to have is 1 or 2 clicks deeper than what they can say. So I for me, it's a great initial question, but I would never kind of take it as as red, but kind of probe a little bit.

James Boettcher
And I like that. I think the more you give people, preparation too. So, like, you you see, say you were coaching me and you gave me that question. Hey. On Wednesday, we're gonna meet. I'm gonna ask you this question. I would now have time to say, what is that? You know? Whereas if you ask me sort of on the spot, I might be like, I don't like, I would come up with an answer because that's, I have to come up with answers sometimes. But I think that that's where you get a couple of clicks to get deep. it's like five wise. Right? It's like You know, why did this happen, but, really, why did it happen? And it's, you know, deductive reasoning and problem solving. I think Jeff Bezos was very famous for that within Amazon, but, A couple other ones I like to ask, is what am I missing? So say there's problem this will happen in, like, operations or supply chain often. Something not going the way it should. And I'm like, this I can see the answer. I know the answer. And instead of blurring out the answer, because I might not know it. I I have an assumption around the answer. I say, what am I missing? And they'd be like, well, what do you mean? I was like, well, I I'm there's clearly something here that is missing.

Richard Medcalf
And so then we'd talk through perhaps some of the, details that got missed in in whatever we're trying to solve. So what am I missing is a good question? just to be clear, you say, well, what I'm missing, even if you feel you aren't missing anything. Is that what you're saying? You feel you know the answer. Are you saying what are you missing in terms of getting them to think think about what they're missing?

James Boettcher
So imagine, I'm just gonna use an example. Imagine I said send me one of those books behind you. Looks like the cool books sent me one of those books. Oh, James, you know, it's gonna take so long. Like, blah, blah, and I'm over here and you're over there, and I'm like, you just put it in the mail, dude. Like, just you just put it in the mail, get a little extra it and I'll get it. I promise. Like, it's it's a miracle, but it I'll get it. And then so then I instead of telling you that, I would just say, what? Like, what are all am I missing? And then imagine What you really were gonna tell me that you didn't tell me was this is the last copy of the book I have. I can't send it to you. So you over explained something to sort of camouflage what was really going on, but I didn't know that. I'm like, just put in the mail. Like, that's that's the cheap answer. Right? So I say that a lot too. I say that a lot too. Whether I'm I'm coaching someone in my business or mentoring outside, I say, this advice is only as valuable as you paid for it, which is $0. So take it. Take it for that amount. because I think too often, people with experience, quote unquote, leaders are giving a lot of feedback and not realizing the consequence of it. So Again, say I told you your book cover should be blue. And you thought I was the greatest personal world, the best book cover person in the world. you would change it to blue. But what the hell do I know? Like, I don't know who your demographic is. I don't know anything about your book. And I think that's a sad thing I see often is that someone sees somebody exalted in power happens in parenting, for sure.

Richard Medcalf
But it's like, you know, the the answer is just a off the cuff thing and people take it as, you know, gospel will say in a way. So Yeah. That's great. So we've got word and number. What's the best use of our time? What am I missing? Anything else you wanted to add before we wrap up this little section on there on them?

James Boettcher
Yeah. I like it. And I I would say see see the last one which I shared, shared earlier was just you know, asking people how you can help. I think that, I heard a CEO a while back, sorry, a COO, a while back, say The day I realized that my job was to help people solve problems. My job was so freeing. So he used to get so frustrated because there's always problems. Right? in a business. That's that's what we do. We create more problems. And, and he said the moment I realized that my job was to do that the the day no problems exist is the day I lose my job. I realized, you know, saying, how can I help as a leader is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, first of all, because you're now solving the problem, not talking about the problem. but you're also showing how much you care about your team.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. That's great. Let me just dive deep into that one a little bit. What how do you avoid in that situation? something

which I do see sometimes happen, which is that the leader ends up taking away many more actions than the staff member. Right? In other words, like, how can I help you? Well, you can help me by, like, giving me a much better strategy and also I need more, you know, resources and Can you talk to marketing because they're really lousy right now? And, you know, and actually, could you mind, you know, just doing this deliverable for me? because, you know, blah blah blah. You know, exaggerating, but there can be a case where that kind of servant hearted leadership ends up kind of the tables get turned almost. Have you ever have you ever experienced that or or felt that tension?

James Boettcher
Yeah. I don't just yeah. 22 funny things I wanna point out, Richard, you bring up all these, like, CEO night CEO nightmares, I would say. and a lot of us live them. a different part. I should I should do a TV series, CEO nightmares. I should do that with you guys. Yeah. Oh my gosh. Just CEO's waking up in the middle of the night. And then the other part of it is, like I said before, is it, you know, whatever Challenges is we encounter as leaders. It's often cultural, and it comes back to sort of what we've already sort of what the understanding is going into it or maybe the culture they served under in their last business. I see that a lot where people come in and they have expectations. good or bad. and you just gotta work through them. But what I what I would say to that one, and this is gonna be funny. My team will really enjoy listening to this one. But, I say give give me something to say yes to you. So say, Richard, same thing. You said, I need I need this, that, and the other thing. I would say give me something to say yes to you. because you might tell me that you need x amount of dollars for something. Right now, we're talking about, you know, influencer strategy or something like that. I'm gonna just say, well, like, how much and how do we wanna use it and what's our best use of that? because two off and I think people are limiting their problem solving skills by saying something's not available. So budgets generally constrain things, right? We can't do that. And, again, back to asking why is once you get a few layers down, you've you sort of discover all the answers within the, reasons we can't. And I love that. I love when people, see their eyes light up because they're like, well, if we had $10,000, I could do this, blah blah blah blah. And they'd sort of give me something to see us to. and say, cool. We'll take $10,000 out of this budget and move it to that. You just gave me something to say yes to. And then I'm like, oh, shoot. That's all I, you know, had to do. So I think again, we've hired this is a a a recent moments, but we've We've hired people to do a job. And there's sort of this fine line where we think that they know everything they should know, and they should just come in It should be experts. Right? But it's not like framing a house or painting a house. You know, jobs that are sort of a to b, they're pretty clear. When you involve strategy, there's so much creative thinking and and a different approach that has to happen. And I think that when you start to unleash the problem solving creative thinking of people. They're, like I said, they're already an expert in that discipline. They're not they're not perfect. They're not the best in the world and know everything. But once you sort of pull on those strings, that's where you get to that point. So I think that Again, being in a position where as a as a leader, you know, in a one on one, that if there is a, an action item, it's really about someone coming back to for you to, sign off on. I call it. So it's like Seth Goden said this one time, he's like, don't bring me an empty bingo square sheet. Bring me it with 2 numbers not filled in and ask me how to fill those in. And so it's you know, when the complexity is big and you are a senior leader or a CEO and you're trying to solve all the things, you need somebody to come with, like, I can't get this to connect to this, and you can help them do that. And, they have to do most of the work, though. 98% there, we say.

Richard Medcalf
Yes. Yeah. Love it. Thank you. Give me something to say yes to. I love that, great. It's a great line. So thank you for this. It's been a great, literally a mini master class, for for any leader, really, in thinking about, yeah, how do I adopt more of a coaching question based mindset, inspecting modes 1 to ones, which come up for so many of us, right, so often. We're kind of pretty joined for the end of our time here, James, but I'd love to ask in one of my favorite questions, which is as you continue to grow the business and actually multiply your impact in the world. what what's the stretch for you? So where might you need to reinvent yourself? to create a new level of impact that's not even on the radar today. What comes up when I say that?

James Boettcher
Yeah. I would say that the The biggest thing is that I am my team would tell you that I am obsessed with the tiniest of details and I have to fly at 50,000 feet. And as we've grown the organization, I've done a good job of helping understand how important those little details are, but sometimes, again, back to the scene when no one else sees or putting priority on it even. You know, how we do anything is how we do everything is a saying. And I I I live I live a lot, of my life that way. And I think the big stretch for me as we go, you know, we're entering the US market. You know, we hope one day to be, you know, across the pond is they would say and we've done a good job of conquering Canada is being able to, really invest and institute a way of thinking within senior leaders that does that. minutia and 50000 feet the way I'm doing it today. And that requires me to step away from that. And and that's, That's a really hard, really hard thing to do because the biggest thing for me, you know, I've I have 3 responsibilities in the organization. culture, capital, and connection. And so I've gotta be the person that is the most connected to all the people we serve or work with. and most importantly, the team. I've gotta make sure that the culture, my job title, as you would know, is custodian of culture and chief empowerment officers. So I say that because the culture is what it is today. We've built it. I just have to show up with a mop bucket sometimes and mop it up when when they mess it up. But, and and empower people to do great things. I think CEO should be chief empowerment officer for every leader, but, that's for another day. and then capitalize the organization. And it's really hard to focus on making sure that the business is capitalized for the growth we want. if I'm stuck in the details. And so that's the big stretch is relinquishing a little bit of that, but having stewards or other custodians of those menu details, so that I can make sure that those big things continue to happen because I think that righteous for what we've done and what we represent and who we are and what we built. really, has the opportunity to to make some big waves in the world like the Patagonias and the Ben and Jerry's. And, And we wanna do that. Our vision is to be the most, loved, inspired, frozen dessert company in the world. And, and I think That's a big stretch, and I'm excited for it is what I would say.

Richard Medcalf
James, that's beautiful. Yeah. Being a custodian of being the custodian of culture, right, it works when you're kind of at the smaller end. And then as you start to scale, do, you know, you need to seeding it so that it it say it grows and and, and lives when you're not present, especially when you have to be in different all locations when you can't be there to embody it every single day. I see that a lot. so that's one distinction I'll I'll leave you with. is around company culture and leadership culture. And you might think they're the same. They don't miss they're not necessarily the same because company culture is more like what the employees experience and, you know, whether you have what, you know, how they will feel. But, actually, they're kind of like the, what the leadership reflect is that you need in order to create that cultur is another thing that you off I see often see my clients need to scale in the business and build that same leadership operating system if you like. so that when you're not there, other people are.

James Boettcher
Keeping the standards where they need to be and understand the importance of that. You you made me think of something that's really powerful, and and I think it's a great another great question. Repeat it back to me. So I think that, you know, what you just said to me that I, you know, mentally took note of was If I were to ask my senior leaders what that culture is that I represent within our operating system as leaders. could they say it back to me and then deliver on that? And I think that's a really great, thing for me to take away from my conversations this afternoon. So thank you. Yeah. Beautiful.

Richard Medcalf
So, James, it's been, a lot of fun. Love kind of sparring with you on, you know, on on the gelato business as a whole, diving into, It's great insights, you know, around accountability, right, that it's not just to the leader, but it's actually to, you know, your colleagues or your stakeholders, the team that you are of. not making rules for the for the one person that, you know, is is abusing the system or whatever. And then asking these questions in order to learn more in order to empower, you know, and getting some really practical examples of where you go there. and then, yeah, being a bit open about, yeah, well, how how are you gonna be able to relinquish let go of some of that, of some of that control, you know, order almost to control it at a at a higher level and make sure the standards are there. as you scale to the US, hopefully to Europe and beyond. So it's been a great conversation. So, James, if people wanna find out more about you or about the business, you know, where should they go? Yeah. righteousgelato.com and then righteous gelato on any social feed.

James Boettcher
We sort of lean into Instagram and TikTok. just based on the brand. And then on LinkedIn, just my name, James Boatscher. And, if you search right, just it'll come up too. But, yeah, reach out. I'd love to love to chat and meet some new people. And if you got any curious questions, about culture or leadership, happy to happy to say, this advice is only as good as you paid for it, which is $0 and, maybe share something back. So Appreciate the opportunity, Richard. Thank you very much.

Richard Medcalf
Thank you, James.

Well, that's the wrap. If you received value from this conversation, please do leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. We deeply appreciate it. And if you'd like to check out the show notes from this episode, head to expodrant.com/ podcast, where you'll find all the details. Now finally, when you're in top leadership, who supports and challenges you at a deep level, to help you multiply your impact discover more about the different ways we can support you at xquadrant.com.

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