S13E19: Pivoting hard to create 1000 millionaires, with Kerry Siggins (CEO, Stone Age Tools)

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S13E19: Pivoting hard to create 1000 millionaires, with Kerry Siggins (CEO, Stone Age Tools)

We're continuing our season on "business as a force for good", Richard speaks with Kerry Siggins, the CEO of StoneAge Holdings, a fast growing manufacturing and technology company based in Colorado. Under Kerry’s leadership, StoneAge has experienced double digit growth, year over year. In 2015, she successfully transitioned the company’s ownership structure to an ESOP, ensuring that all employees share in the success of the company through employee ownership.

In this conversation, you’ll learn:

  • The low point at age 28 that caused Kerry to move back in with her parents, and yet opened up a whole new professional adventure.
  • The pros - and the cons - of an employee ownership model.
  • The 3 key questions Kerry uses to "hire for ownership mindset."
  • Why Kerry cut ties with all her dealers, and moved to a direct sales model.
  • Kerry's mission to change the face of capitalism by creating 1000 millionaires

"I know I'm on this planet to make an impact."

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Transcript

Kerry Siggins
You would think that it was, like, almost dying that would cause you to say this is rock bottom, but it wasn't that. It was the fact that I could not go to work for 3 days. I laid in my bed healing and recovering. And I felt so much shame about the state of my life and that I had been living this facade and that everything that I had built myself work around, which is working hard, deep work ethic, being successful, It just came crashing down because I could not get out of bed.

Richard Medcalf
Welcome to the Impact Multiplier CEO podcast. I'm Richard Medcalf. founder of X 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 yourself and 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.

Carrie Higgins is on a mission. to change the face of capitalism. No small task then. And what's more, she wants to do it in a very specific way. just looking to create a $1,000,000,000 business, which is an objective shared by many CEOs. But in her case, she actually wants to create a 1000 millionaires. A 1000,000,000 is a billion. So she's looking to create not just well, but distributed wealth. of empowering, and and enriching all of the employees in her business in a really special way. And, as we as she goes on this journey, We discover that she's made some really counterintuitive choices along the

way that are serving her really well. So without sporting any more of the surprise, Invoited to listen in as I go deep with Carrie Higgins on how to create a 1000 millionaires.

Richard Medcalf
Carrie, hi, and welcome to the show.

Kerry Siggins
Thank you for having me. I'm so glad to be here, Richard.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. I'm really glad to. I think this is gonna be a lot of fun. Let's dive straight into your journey. I know that when you were twenty eight years old, you had a bit of a crisis point in your life. You moved back home. It was a low point, right, back in with the parents. And yet, that moment became the start of a whole new adventure. And that's the venture you're still on today with certain age holdings. So perhaps just take us back to that point. What was going on and and why did it become this pivotal moment?

Kerry Siggins
Yeah. It was It was probably the most pivotal inflection point in my life. throughout my twenties, you know, for a lot of reasons that I didn't understand back then, but I do now because of all of the work and therapy and coaching, and I've put myself through, I developed, addiction issues. In fact, I was, well, you would call a high functioning addict. So I, had substance abuse issues, but I was able to maintain a job. In fact, even grow in my career, but I had this, you know, this other side of myself that I hid from my employers that I, that I really tried to hide from the rest of the world. so My motto was work hard, play hard, but it all came crashing down on, on, labor day, of 2006 where I accidentally overdosed. And I lived. I don't know why or how. Well, I should say I don't know how. I know why now, because I know I'm supposed to be here on this planet to make an impact. But, my life shouldn't have. Something just shocked me alive. And you would think that it was, like, almost dying that would cause you to say this is rock bottom, but it wasn't that. It was the fact that I could not go to work for 3 days. I laid in my bed, healing, and recovering, And I felt so much shame about the state of my life and that I had been living this facade and that everything that I had built myself work around, which is working hard, deep work ethic, being successful, it just came crashing down because I could not get out of bed. And so I called my mom who lived in Durango, Colorado Small Town, 1 the Western Slope, rural Colorado where I grew up, and I told her everything. And I said I needed to come home. And she said yes, but she said 2 conditions. 1, no drugs in the house. And 2, you have to figure out how to lead yourself. You have so much potential And you can create this different life for yourself, but you need to figure out why you're doing what you're doing. and lead yourself so that you can lead others. And so I came home at twenty eight years old, and it was the it was it put me on this path to forever change my life.

Richard Medcalf
So amazing story. So you you were that rock bottom place. You came home. So then, They fast forward. You ended up, coming into this this space more company. I think at the time, Stone Age Holdings, and then you started to build that out. Right? Is tell us a bit about stone age and, it it sounds like you've done pivot after pivot in this business. So tell us about just the the main phases of that journey over the last few years.

Kerry Siggins
Yeah. Pivoting is the story of my life. sometimes I maybe even pivot too fast, but, but yeah. So I, and I got to Durango It's a small town, and I didn't know what I was going to do. So I started applying for jobs. And Stoneage was looking for a general manager the 2 founders, started the company in 1979, and they had got it to the point where they wanted to take it to. They were in their mid fifties, and they knew that they needed that next level of leadership. And so they didn't know my story then. they know it now, of course, but what they saw was potential and tribe, and I was a good cultural fit. And they wanted something different with their company. They had other candidates who were traditional. I would say more traditional, men, in their fifties who had a lot of manufacturing experience, but they just said, you know what, let's give her a shot and see what happens. And at that time, we were st1 each tools. we manufacture high pressure, water blasting equipment. So think squirt guns on steroids that go in and clean refineries and chemical plants, food processing plants, anywhere you'd use ultra high pressure water to clean. And they gave me a shot at figuring out how to become the leader that I knew I was. And so that was the start of it. And that was almost 17 years ago. Now I run Stone Age Holdings, which is the parent company of Stone Age Tools, which is our high pressure water blessing group. We have a, another company called, WortHOG, which is our sewer cleaning nozzle and then, a IoT product development company, a company that helps our clients develop smart products, called Breadware. And so we're building all of that out as we are pivoting from traditional manufacturing and to becoming more of a technology company. So we can go into any of those details that you want, but, you know, it's been this wild journey of making manual tools that you screw on the end of a hose that a guy puts his hands on and shoves down a pipe or into a tank to building out semi automated equipment to robotic equipment, now smart equipment and software platforms, that we've, that we've really been, we've really been transitioning to over the last decade.

Richard Medcalf
Well, there's a lot to go into there so much. Let me take us take you back there to that moment when they said, yeah, let's give her a shot. She's not a usual profile, but let's give it a shot. How did you feel at that moment? when you realized that you would be giving the reins to this this this company and that they were kind of banking on you.

Kerry Siggins
What's being on in your mind? a couple of things. 1, I was so excited. I felt that I had been given a new lease on life. In fact, one of the founders who I reported to you at the time, John Wollgamaat. I remember sitting in his office. I was in my 1st week there, and he's the age of my dad. I'm the age of his daughters, didn't want anything to do with the business. And he said, young lady, I hope that you understand the opportunity that you've been given, you know, in a very paternalistic, voice. Aaron, Of course, he didn't know my story then, but I did know that this was this huge opportunity. I didn't understand what it was going to turn into. But I knew that it was something that was different. And I felt like I belonged. Even that first day walking in so nervous that I actually had no idea what I was doing and everybody in the company had way more experience and way more knowledge than me. I felt like I was home. So it was this mix of feeling really excited, really grateful, and completely scared that I had no clue. what I was doing. Yeah. It was wild.

Richard Medcalf
So, one of the reasons that we originally connected was because I know that you a a winner of one of the real leaders impact awards for this year. So just tell me a bit about how purpose and, and broader impact is we've woven itself into into this journey. We can perhaps get into some of the transformations you've been doing, but, you know, where did that come from? Right? It sounds like you're about more than just the pure financials here.

Kerry Siggins
Yeah. you know, I think the one of the two things. First, from a personal leadership standpoint, having the opportunity to come in and run St1age and learn from our 2 founders and from all of my employees, especially those employees in that first in those 1st couple of years who gave me shot after shot when I didn't know what I was doing, I realized that There's so much joy and fulfillment when you help other people achieve their dreams when you help them unleash their potential. And I didn't understand this was one of my gifts, but I'm I ask really good questions and I can help people start to articulate what they want in their life. And then I can okay, here's how we're gonna help make that happen. And he started to see these just unbelievable transformations within, from my employees who you know, took a risk and shared a dream with me or shared an issue with me and helping them work through it and helping them just do everything that they wanted to do in their lives. And so making this impact through leadership was really, was really fulfilling to me, and I wanted to do as much of it as I could. I wanted my employees to love their jobs as much as I did. So how do I help them achieve their potential and find meaning in their work? And so that's been this you know, at this leadership journey that I've been on throughout the 17 years that I've been running Stone Age. But the other piece of it is that we're an employee owned company. And I believe so deeply in employee ownership and the benefits that can come to society to, to communities, to our employees because they get to share in the wealth building aspect of the company. They get to have more autonomy and say in their work, that I believe that we're changing the narrative of capitalism and that know, wealth concentration doesn't just have to happen at the top. It can if you think about sharing the wealth where that value is created. So These two things have kind of come together with how do you help people live their dreams and and the model that we have through employee ownership allows people to do it from meaning meaning network and through financial means by being needing to share in the wealth creation of the company.

Richard Medcalf
Well, yeah, I'm thinking about where to go here. Part of me is like, well, it sounds amazing. Employer ownership, and it must be awesome. Let's go the other side. So what makes it difficult? Right? Why don't other people do it? And, like, what it presumably, it's not a panacea for everything. So what are some of the challenges you've found as you've actually implemented that model? We clearly, we can imagine we can all imagine this world where everyone feels total ownership. They were they're invested in the success of the company and they're doing the extra mile as as a result. But what are some of the kind of the huhs or gotchas that kind of team up along the way on that journey?

Kerry Siggins
Well, 1st and foremost, that not everybody wants that. You know, what what comes with this with thinking and acting like an owner is deep personal responsibility and accountability. It's the foundation for everything. It's what we call the own at mindset, at Stone Age. And I thought everybody would wanna be part of it. because it's so amazing, and it was so fulfilling to me and to so many of our employees. And none have already wants that. Some people just want a job. And that's okay. That's totally fine. but I took it personally, and I would try to, you know, to convince people, sell people, help them turn it around, And what I've realized is that it's okay that people don't necessarily want to think and act like an owner that they don't want to feel that deep level of personal responsibility at work. And so those people aren't a great fit for us at Stone Age. And so, that was a big lesson that I had to learn, is that you can't, like, force this on people, that when it's just not part of what their vision is for themselves, and and learning how to be okay with that.

Richard Medcalf
So let me ask you, what comes first, the kind of sense of ownership or the actual structural ownership? In other words, yeah, do you kind of try to detect to people ready to act like owners before giving them, you know, stock or whatever, or is it more everyone gets it by default? And then, yeah, you're looking for them to step up?

Kerry Siggins
I think very few people get it by default. I do think that personal responsibility and accountability Like, once you're in a formed adult, if you do not have that, it's almost impossible to teach you how to have that. So We definitely look for those candidates that exhibit personal responsibility and accountability because if there's none, there's, in my opinion, no point in in trying to invest in in in teaching them.

Richard Medcalf
How how do you find that? What are the questions that you might ask, you know, interviews, or how do you how do you hire to optimize for that. It's a question comes up, you know, a lot working with clients. They even run a program. I still run it now and again called ownership accelerator. because ownership is such a big issue for people, but you're right. Much better to hire at the start, people who've already got that mindset. So how do you kind of higher for that?

Kerry Siggins
Well, you know, like, any like, like, anything be it's like baseball. Right? You you never bought a 1000. so even though I think we ask good screening questions, Sometimes it gets through because you and people are on their first date on interviews, but we really try to dig in. So we have a pretty, comprehensive, interviewing process, but I ask questions like, you know, really tell me about the biggest mistake that you've made and what you did to fix it. And if the answer has anything to do with somebody else, you know, well, somebody did this, where there's like a deflect or a blame, then that's a big red flag to me. or if it's a relatively benign mistake, we've, every single one of us have made huge mistakes in our, in our lives and our careers. And so I want that honest answer. Tell me about a time where you really damaged a relationship at work. What happened? And I listened for those same types of things. And so we put people on the spot with being able to talk through how, they've handled the mistakes that they've made. Then I ask a question, like, when were, when were you given responsibility to run a project or an initiative and you felt in over your head. What did you do? and so those answers are really telling, with, with how they lean into challenges and and how they take responsibility. In my opinion, the opposite of responsibility isn't irresponsibility. It's blame. When you don't take responsibility for things that happen in your life, then you're blaming time, a situation yourself, another person, And so I look for those types of answers to just get that foundation. Does this person have responsibility and accountability?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Beautiful. Yeah. What I often say is that, yeah, we always have what I call the victim loop, which begins with when you have a situation with begins with ignoring blaming or denying. And, and often it's about the idea that I didn't have something. Right? I didn't have enough time. I didn't have support for marketing or operations. I didn't have clear strategies from my senior management, blah blah blah. We didn't have. And then the other loop, let's talk about is the ownership loop, start with owning it. What could I have done differently? But the key thing after owning is actually people think, well, then I need to learn. No. No. You need to forgive yourself, and that should be okay with it. It's like, okay. Fair point. I'm messed up, or what I could do more. But if we feel terrible every time we go around the ownership loop, we don't wanna do it anymore. It's super painful. So it's actually really important to a observe, but not beat ourselves up about it because then we're in a position to actually move forward.

Kerry Siggins
Yep. I totally agree with you. I totally agree with you.

Richard Medcalf
Well, let's let's gonna be back into this world of pivoting. So, I think you said it was one of the hardest things you ever did. Right. Moving from these manual water blasting tools, which sounds like my son would love to play with in the garden, but there. But, high pressure manual tools to squid and translate.

Kerry Siggins:
But-- No. But you might hurt yourself.

Richard Medcalf
He might be installed. Yeah. I get it. I get it. I'm kidding. but you moved from that to this automated equipment, robotics, IoT, all this stuff. sounds a really tough transition. So tell me about how do you lead the company through that and what were the difficulties and and what did you learn?

Kerry Siggins
Yeah. So there was it was a really pivotal moment in our industry. There was a a fatality that happened, at a plant in the southern part of the US. And, it was actually where a guy was manually shotgunning, much like what he would do, like, car washer with your pressure washer only with very high pressure, 40,000 psi. And the hose, shroud, burst, and it and it went into his gut, and it killed him. A very horrible, horrible accident. And at that time, a lot of these big, multinational industry facility owners, Dow Chemical BASF, ExxonMobil, they said, that's it. We cannot have these types of fatalities. We have to move more towards automation. And we've been talking about doing it for a while, but, it's just a whole different type of engineering than you know, mechanical engineering, you know, stainless steel into very specific nozzles, that we were the best in the world at. but we we didn't want the industry to pass this by as there's this push for more automated solutions. So we made the decision that we were going to go that route. And, we make tools for every application that's out there. There's pipe cleaning. There's tank cleaning. There's surface prep is like taking rust and paint off. There's 2 cleaning and heat exchangers. and we made a tool for every one of those applications. But it was all biz the same basic technology inside the the tool. Well, we made the decision that we were going to build a piece of semi automated equipment for every application. And that was a huge mistake. And it's because it's much more complicated equipment And we should have gone deep instead of broad. so that was a huge learning lesson for me that you can't employ the same strategy that's made you successful when you're making a big pivot to a new product line. And then the second piece of that was we sold through distribution and distributors typically want a relatively easy product to sell. And here we're building equipment that no one has ever seen before or used before, And there's a significant investment of time and money to be able to resell this equipment. And our dealers just weren't success So then we decided that we needed to go direct in our most important markets. So over a 4 year period, we did a massive shift in product development. And we changed our go to market strategy and started selling direct in the US and in Europe, which are our 2 biggest markets and changed our whole distribution model. We opened up offices. We opened up a whole rental business, which we had never done. So it just dramatically changed our business. And, it was the hardest thing they've done, but also the most exciting.

Richard Medcalf
I hope you're enjoying this conversation. 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 to transforming themselves, their businesses, and the world. It's an incredible peer group and a deep coaching experience that will push you to new heights no matter how successful you've already been. The second is Impact Accelerator, 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 slash services. Now back to the conversation.

It's interesting. You're the second person on the podcast that I could think of. We've talked about this reverse out of distribution channels back into doing yourself sales. I think hers Elizabeth from HG Insights had the same thing when she took over the company. to realize that actually the full value that they could add couldn't really be delivered via channel partners that weren't completely all in and, like, immersed in the product and everything else, and they had to actually simplify and scale back. It's the opposite of what most companies do. They're off. Most companies are looking for you know, let's do less ourselves, get people to scale it for us. But what I'm hearing, yeah, and I've seen it in in myself in the past. If partners are not So committed to this. And if it's something that's a bit out of the ordinary, yeah, it's hard. Right? There's an education component, which they're not necessarily haven't got the to do. was that a hard decision as a leader? Yeah. I mean, was was that hard to pull back from those relationships that were a lucrative stallman for you for many years. It must have been a yeah.

Kerry Siggins
Brutal. Brutal. I mean, I flew to every we did the US first, and I wanted to tell every dealer face to face. And so when we made this decision, I flew. I basically over 3 days, 4 days, I flew to every single dealer that we had in the US. and told them face to face what we were doing and why. and so even though they were really angry, a lot of them are really angry with me, Most of them understood what I was do why I was doing it, even though they, you know, didn't like it. There was nobody who could say that I didn't do it with integrity and honesty and that I faced everybody personally, you know, in their in their office, in their city to to to have this conversation. And then a year later, when we did Europe, I did the same thing. And so that's really tough. It was really emotional. Like, a lot of these people we had relationships before, I had come to stone age. So it was a massive change, and I made a lot of people upset. And my personality is one where I want people to like me. And, And so I really had to work through the fact that I made so many people upset, but I knew in my heart it was the right decision for us as a business. and it was a 100% the right decision. I would go back and do a couple of things differently now that I have hindsight as 2020 vision. But, but it was the best decision I have made even though I had to end some of those long term relationships or or change some of those long term relationships.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. What's gonna happen in my mind as you talk about this is, like I said, totally understand that, you know, admire the the bravery and the kind of, like, we have to make this happen and and doing the face to face conversation. Do you think there is a scenario in which if you had really laid out, this is what we require going forward for this to be successful and track people through companies. Do you think if you'd actually said, like, these are the new standards Would Ed do you think any of those partners been able to kind of able and wanted to invest to actually come with you on the journey, or do you think it was just gonna be too complicated for anybody?

Kerry Siggins
Based on how I've seen things play out, Since we made this, this, these decisions back in, in 2015, 2016, I would say, no. I don't think that they would have been able to make that gap. because they've been trying to sell competitor products in the same way. And they're they're just not successful. Of course, they're up against us as, you know, and I have the best sales team in the industry and best customer. We were just a great company to work with, and so it's hard to compete with us. But no, I don't think that they could have made this change. What I would have done differently is that I cut them out for everything, automated equipment, and tools. And I would have still kept the tool distribution relationship, but I thought I had to have it all. I thought, you know, we needed to do all of this or And I think I could have done less damage, and it would have been better for everybody if I would have been more selective in which products they each get to sell. So that's what I would have done differently if I could go back to that time and and and make a different decision.

Richard Medcalf
Well, so, yeah, thank you for being honest. And and also, you know, credit to you for being bold and and making the tough call, right, actually making this thing happen. I've seen many companies kinda tolerate business models, which are no longer serving people and ultimately customers. So, I think really interesting.

Kerry Siggins
It's scary to make make that kind of big change. So and, you know, we were doing things we'd never had done before. We didn't have a the customer relationships. All of our dealers did. So we had to go develop all of those relationships. People always loved our product. but they didn't work directly with us. They worked through our dealers. So it was a huge risk and a big transition, but one that's definitely paid off. Like, we would not be where we are today. in this transformation into a technology company, if we wouldn't have made those that initial pivot with this type of, of semi automated equipment and then changing our business models. So it was the right decision, even though it was really tough. It was a really tough couple of years to get through.

Richard Medcalf
Did you have a lot of internal resistance from employees? Were they all on board from the start?

Kerry Siggins
It was mixed. I think some people saw it, and I think some people were really scared. In fact, one of my employees. I just talked to him about this probably like 6 months ago. And he said, I completely disagreed with you when you made that decision. to go direct. I thought, how are we gonna do this without our dealers? I thought our sales were gonna drop and that we were gonna be in trouble. And now look at where we are. And we were talking this in context of, profit or of, of the ESOP and the, you know, the the the ESOP benefit that people have. I mean, we're creating real wealth within our company through the ESOP. which would not have happened if we wouldn't have made this step. And so it was really, I was just filled with joy that a person who was really practical and and didn't, you know, trust the decision and thought it was a mistake, could come back and say, it was totally the right decision. And I was wrong. And what what's really done is that it has allowed me to to trust you even if I don't necessarily understand the decisions that you're making. it was a huge lesson for me that that maybe maybe you're seeing things that I'm not seeing and that I need to do a better job of asking and be on board with what we're doing as a company because I'm an owner now. As I was a really validating conversation, you know, all those years later to have with him when he was really tactical of the decision.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Wow. It's amazing. Yeah. Sometimes it just takes time for us to build this credibility with people. Right? It takes we want it to be in immediate.

Kerry Siggins
It's not. It takes years.

Richard Medcalf
So you've got a goal to yeah. Yeah. Exactly. It can take yeah. says, we've always we're all playing the long game all the time. That's what I keep reminding, you know, myself in when I get into my short term, I hit result of it. It's always about the long game. So here's the question. I know you've got a goal to continue this transformation. And, ultimately, I think you hit a $1,000,000,000 evaluation. you know, it's it's fascinating. I've got several clients right now working with them that exact same thing, all of which were different places, and it's a really interesting journey. because it does involve the multiplicative aspects from from where they're starting from. And a 1,000,000,000, it's a nice round number, but I'm kinda curious as to, you know, path with just being a big number and, you know, whatever. Like, what is it important? Is the number important? What would it mean? Why set that as a goal? You know, is it that you need a bigger car at the moment or, you know, what's kinda going on?

Kerry Siggins
Nope. It has to do with, with creating a 1000 millionaires. So our goal is to really transform, the way that that at least in the United States that we look at at capitalism. And So my goal is a 1000 millionaires, and a 1000 millionaires is a 1,000,000,000. so, you know, it's it's it's not so much that it's that, about that number. It's about the impact that we're going to have on our employee owners when we build real wealth within the company. And we have to do that in a way that brings value to our customers, but and we have gotta do it in a way that brings value to our employees. still remain a great place to work even as we grow. So this, this message that that I'm building within my team and within the company is that as we scale our business, we have to scale care. And that is caring about each other, caring about our employees, and I can't scale care. And my executive management team can't scale care. It has to be something that is fundamental about each one of us as employee owners. And so, and that's how we're going to do this, how we're going to do this together, every single one of us within the company. And so it's this kind of combined thing of look at the value that we can, that we can create, we can change the world, we can solve really tough problems for our customers, and we get to share in the success, and you get to be part of journey for changing the way you live, but also all the people who you work with with they, with how they live. But we gotta do it in a way that scales caring about each other, belonging, inclusion, being a great place to work. And so that's what our mission is is to to prove that it can be done. And so it's less about the it's less about the billion. It's more about the 1000 millionaires.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. I love it. That's such a very inspiring, Yeah. And and ambitious goal, right, to to do that and to actually become a, also, a case study, right, to shift perhaps a broader leadership conversation around around the around the world. So that's great. So let me ask you the the, the key question there, the question I'd love to get to, which is how you're gonna need to how you're gonna need to change to shift, stretch yourself, to multiply your impact, to see this multiplication effects happen and to create these 1000 millionaires. What's gonna need to change in the way that Carrie Higgins leads and operates?

Kerry Siggins
Oh, this is what I think about all the time. you know, it's a really interesting place to be because I think it's I think it's really tough for people to scale from an $8,000,000 company to, you know, a $1,000,000,000 company. And and a lot of leaders can't make that journey. Like, there are some leaders who are great at running a $100,000,000 company or a $250,000,000 company. And and so I know I have to scale my leadership to be able to be at the helm of this company through this transition. And, you know, sometimes I worry about that. Right? we don't have necessarily have the experience on the team to be able to make this happen, and I don't know. I've never done this before. So so as I'm looking to scale my leadership, the first thing that I'm really considering now is how do I build my team? How do I build the team to have the experience, the vision, the the hunger, the drive to be part of what we're doing, and who can help me bring in knowledge that I don't have, experience that I don't have so that we can do it, hopefully, without making as many mistakes as we might, if, if it was just me. So surrounding myself with people, that are smarter who have more experience who can help me do it is the number one thing. The other thing that I'm working on, you know, I grew up in this company. I started when I was twenty eight years old. I'm 45. I'm gonna be 45 here in a couple months. And, and I have been so hands on. every single department has reported to me. In fact, like individuals and departments have reported to me because if someone leaves or someone's not working out in a position, I'm always the person to go in and fix it. And, and that really has to transition. And people are used to me doing that. And because I think of my inspiring style, people look to that to be like the galvanizer. But I can't do that. You can't scale me being in the in the meeting to be able to rally rally the troops and get everybody excited and on board. And, and even though that's part of my job and I wanna do that at a high level, I really have to make sure that I'm playing the right role. And so that I feel fulfilled every day, being able to play to my strengths and my gifts and my talents and what the company needs, but also making sure that the company that we were that we fill that gap of needing such a hands on CEO too. And so that takes a personal, you know, it takes a personal commitment to myself of of how do I lead through that. When is the appropriate time to galvanize and when is the appropriate time to, you know, really bring the team up and help them figure out how to do it without me. And so, you know, it's, it's definitely an interesting transition that that we're going through as company as I kind of get further and further out of the company, you know, being okay with, like, letting go of control a little bit so that I can do what I wanna do and help those other people grow. It's an uncomfortable place to be sometimes. And so, you know, I'm working through that discomfort.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. I I call it. It's reinventing your success formula. Right? And we have keep doing it time time again on this journey. I'll put it to you. It's something to think about. The all I heard is that being hands on and being galvanizing kind of sound like they're a bit together in your world. Perhaps they don't have to be. Right? Perhaps you can be galvanizing and not hands on. And there might be 2 different things. So you perhaps you can still bring a bit of that magic and also have some distance to be more creative and and strategic. in the way that you work.

Kerry Siggins
Exactly. That is the trick. That is exactly the trick. then it doesn't feel overwhelming because I'm not in solving a very specific problem. Galvanizing around a very specific problem. It's more galvanizing around the vision, you know, the outcomes that we're looking for. And so Yeah. I I I completely agree with you. It just has to change the flavor of galvanizing.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. It's I see it all the time, right, because people get to a really high level where you and you've got this little success formula that works. And the question is how do you get to this whole new realm? Because we keep banging up against ceiling that we've created for ourselves because we know how to operate and add lots of value in this zone. And we're like, well, should I leave this? Who's gonna do this? Where's the void gonna be? And what's even gonna be like? You know, am I gonna add less value if I stop doing this thing here? And the answer is normally no, but there's a there's a courage factor. There's a boldness and it's a reinvention us in all the time, you know, in in this, as I like to say, I say it all the time on this exponential journey behind us looks horizontal and ahead of us looks vertical, you know, because this is, like, but it's always felt like that actually in different places. We've always had to look across this.

Kerry Siggins
I love that. I love that. I love that. You know, and it's not just me too. It's my team getting used to it. Like, I I just had one of my employees tell me yesterday You know, you came in, I came in to help solve some really tough decisions that we were trying to make that the team just didn't feel comfortable making on their own. And so I stepped back in and and and tried to help from a bigger perspective, not in the weeds. but this particular employee said, Carrie, when you're in those meetings, so much better. And I said, I know, but we can't scale And so what I'm trying to do is teach you how to be comfortable with making these decisions because I'm okay even if you make the wrong decision. How you learn is maybe by making the wrong decision, and that's okay. And so he's and he said to me, he's like, I know, and I know that that's the future, but I like it the old way. And so, you know, it's not just about how I get to that next level of leadership. And and for me too, it's do I bring other people along for that journey? For those people who have been working for me for 17 years who like that, or we were like, you know, it just it doesn't feel the same. And I like the way it used to feel. So, you know, they're they're a big part of that transition and that journey too.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Well, in in my book, making time for a strategy, I I talk about one of the key parts is influence. We'd often forget it. it applies because making time is actually involved changing the way that we relate to people, the world around us, the tasks that we do. And I always say your influence is important because if you wanna go on a diet, it's your family that's likely to raise the chocolate cake under your nose, right, because they're used to it. They're comfortable with it. Right? They're the saboteurs because they used to they get comfortable. Right? So you change, they have to change. And so for Anita, there's no change without actually shifting the team's mindset and stakeholders' mindset as well. It's often overlooked.

Kerry Siggins
Yeah. And, you know, what I told him, I was like, it's okay to grieve the past. Like, we can do that. That's what transitioning is always out there. And I think a lot of times we leaders are like, well, just get on board. This is changing. And and we don't make time for people to to grieve like, the way that it used to be so that they can be part of that. They can they can feel part of the they can go through the proper process to get on board. And so, you know, it was a really good conversation. I was like, fine. Let's let's talk about it. And so he told me how he felt, and he was like, I feel a lot better now. And so, like, giving him that space to grieve it, even though like, we're never going back to that. Right? We're only growing as a company. but I think that he just appreciated the acknowledgement that it is different and that it isn't gonna go back to the same way. and that it's okay for him to feel that way. But, you know, how do I help support him be able to, you know, to get on board and to be part of the solution going forward when I'm not in, you know, part of developing that solution all the time. So It was a, it was a really powerful reminder that sometimes people just need acknowledgement. Like, I understand why you feel this way. You know, let's talk about it so that you can move forward.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Perfect. Beautiful. So, Carrie, I've reenjoyed this conversation with you today. We've we've covered a lot of ground. We've started, you know, you're moving back home at 28. getting this job. This amazing opportunity, giving it a shot, transforming the company, I'll see her several times. It's huge journey dealing with the resistance, but, you know, some resistance. you're making the bold moves with your distributors. talked about ownership, hiring for how do we hire for ownership, talked about your mission to create a 1000,000,000 a millionaires, talked about this question about how do we scale the business scale ourselves, get people to step up, not always be the galvanizing one. there's been a whole, you know, whole load of areas that we've looked at. So it's been a really fun conversation. I'm looking forward to hearing and following you along with you as you continue this journey to build this this $1,000,000,000 business, and and a 1000 millionaires. if people wanna get in touch with you or or the company, find out more, where should they go and do that?

Kerry Siggins
Sure. So you can go to kerrysiggins.com. That's my personal website. that has everything about me, my podcast, my book, a little bit about my leadership journey. if you are interested in learning more about what St1age does, you can go to St1ageholdings dot column, and that will take you to all the different companies that we have. If you really wanna learn about water Boston, go to stone age tools, go to our YouTube channel, and you can watch us blow stuff up with water, which is really, really cool. and then if you wanna follow me, I'm on LinkedIn. that's my most active social media channel. And I would love connect on LinkedIn. So you can just search Carrie Higgins, and that's where you'll find me.

Richard Medcalf
Carrie, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure. I look forward to, following along with you in the future. Thanks again.

Kerry Siggins
Thank you, Rich. yep, absolutely.

Richard Medcalf
Well, that's a wrap. If you received value from this conversation, please do leave us a review. on your favorite podcast platform. Would it be appreciated. 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 supportyou@exquadrant.com.

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