S13E05: Reinforcing purpose and culture every single day, with Steve Bilt (CEO, Smile Brands)

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S13E05: Reinforcing purpose and culture every single day, with Steve Bilt (CEO, Smile Brands)

We're continuing our season on "business as a force for good", and today Richard speaks with Steve Bilt, CEO of Smile Brands.

Steve has been recognised as EY Entrepreneur of the Year, the Wharton School Social Impact CEO of the Year and in the ADSO Hall of Fame. Smile Brands also was recognised in the Real Leaders 2023 Impact Awards. Smile Brands represent currently ~700 practices and 7000+ providers & employees providing care for around 3 million people annually under a comprehensive vision of Smiles for Everyone!

In this conversation, you’ll learn:

  • The mental model Steve used to defeat fear and build his business.
  • The power of win/win - and what it looks to REALLY put it into practice.
  • The daily ritual Steve performs to fully embody his purpose.
  • The best way to deal with fear amongst employees and other stakeholders.
  • The "scratchy throat" technique Steve uses to reinforce the company culture in every single meeting.

"It's easy to drift from your purpose and get sucked into the problem of the day."

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Transcript

Steve Bilt
We have all our cash laddered out into four tiers. Here's what the tiers look like. Here's what's in each of the tiers. The most high priority tier is payroll. It's first, so we would have to not be able to pay three other tiers before we get payroll. The last person getting paid on payroll is me, and I am not even remotely concerned about this payroll, the next payroll, or the one after that. Now, if you want to make sure the one after that has a great chance of getting paid, the best thing you can do for you and your family is not think about us making payroll and think about what you're doing in your dental office or in your role to make the company more successful.

Richard Medcalf
Welcome to the Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast. 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 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. Steve, it's a pleasure to have you here. I know that you are somebody who has made making a huge impact. You've built a billion dollar business. You've been helping establish a $75 billion sector in the US. And you've been doing this for some time now. So I want to jump straight into fear. I want to jump into fear because one of the things you said to me was that when you started, one of the secrets of getting this whole thing going was having a no fear mindset. So tell me, let's just go back in time to that moment. What was going on, and why did you need a no fear mindset, and what did that give you?

Steve Bilt
Yeah, so we just passed 25 years from founding the company a couple of days ago. But if you go all the way back to the late 90s, when we started the company, we started it. We rolled up a few little businesses, put it together, and found out that we were in a sector that was operationally dramatically more complex than we had really planned for. And that's good and bad. Right. If we had known how complicated it was and tried to plan for all the variables that go with the complexity, we would have never got started. So sometimes not knowing is good. You jump in and you go, sounds.

Richard Medcalf
A lot like parenthood, if you ask me. Or indeed any other big decision. Right. If you knew it all, you might not do it, but you'd miss out.

Steve Bilt
Yeah, it was a lot like parenthood in that way. And you do forget some of the pain. That's why you keep doing it and try it again. Right. So we jumped in, and I was a young guy and had been a finance guy in my past, but hadn't been, but I had an operational mindset. My mindset as a finance person was if it involves money, I should be involved. If it doesn't, keep me out of it turns out in business, that's most things, and that's a little bit of the advice I pass on to people in my leadership team, too. If you're in human capital and it involves people, be involved, and that's most everything, right? So that was kind of my mindset. And so when the opportunity came to run the business, I was 32 years old and had not been an operator, and the company had something like 15 times debt to EBITDA, which is not a good ratio, but should be more like four or five. So I was in a position where I was like, wow, this is risky. And so how do I attack something that risky without having real experience doing it? And I had been around the business and been around people businesses my whole brief career at that point, so had a sense for what I wanted to do on the relationship side, but had to be willing to trust myself and jump in. So I set a mental model, which is going to be a very big part of my career and my thinking in terms of how I run businesses. But I set a mental model that in this case, I was an Er doc, an emergency room doc, and the best emergency room doc in the world can do the best work in the world. And sometimes the patient just comes in too late or too catastrophically harmed. And that's the way it goes. You can't say I shouldn't try because maybe the patient's too risky for me. And so with that mindset, I was really pretty free just to say, let me go do it. Let me follow my heart. Let me go establish relationships, in this case, with each of our key lead doctors. We call the and sit down with them and say, what does a win win relationship look like to you? And will you trust me to go fight for that win on your behalf?

Richard Medcalf
Let me just pause you for a second before we get into the win win, because I just want to pick up on this point of the mental model, because what you really created there was a metaphor, the metaphor of the, er, Doctor emergency doctor having to intervene because, well, it might not work. But what's to lose, right? There's an impact to be made here and it's really important, the language we use, the mental models we create, if you want to change our mindset, we need to just create a new metaphor because you could have come with another metaphor where it was like, oh, I'm a tightrope walker. If I slip up, I'm going to fall off, or whatever it is. And that would not be a helpful and empowering metaphor. So it's a really fascinating choice.

Steve Bilt
Absolutely. Richard I think the thing being a student, mental models for now at least 25 years, one thing I always remind people is if you don't set your mental model, that doesn't mean you don't have a mental model. It's set, it's running in the background. Right. And your mental model might be, in your example, the tightrope walker more fear based or at its best, very precision based, even. Right. But that fear or precision. Whichever one you want to ascribe to. The tightrope walker isn't the same as sitting down with someone and saying, you tell me what the outcome needs to look like to feel like a win to you. Right. Because for a tightrope walker, it's not negotiable. The tightrope is a fraction of an inch wide, or whatever it is, and the fall is catastrophic. And you can't say, well, yeah, I'll maybe go right, maybe go left, whatever you think right, you're going in a straight line. Whereas the mental model I was trying to set was, it's okay, I'm free. What does a win look like for you? Can I find a win in that? A balanced win for both of us? So I talked to doctors at the time and say, look, I'll take your paycheck as seriously as I take my P and L, but I have a quid pro quote ask. I'm asking you to take my P and L as seriously as you take your paycheck, because if I have a great PNL and you have a great paycheck, we're both winning. This relationship is going to last a long, long time. We're both going to be happy. If you're making a fortune and I'm making nothing, how long do you think it's really going to last? And conversely, if I'm making a ton of money and you're not achieving your goals, you're going to go find something else to do.

Richard Medcalf
So, Steve, let me ask you, everyone talks about this for everybody. A lot of people talk about, yeah, you need to have win win and everything. Right. A lot of people talk the talk, but I hear it's really deep to you. You've mentioned this several times. I've seen it in things you've already written. What advice would you give? How can somebody kind of go from going, yeah, we always need win win? Because I think a lot of leaders say win win, but secretly they're saying, yeah, but I like to win quite a lot more than you at the end of the day, and how would you hack people thinking?

Steve Bilt
So a few different ways in everyone's business is a little different, but let's just take mine. We have 650, let's say, locations across the country. I don't need to win dramatically in any of those locations. I just need to have a win in the significant majority of them. If the doctor or my counterparty is winning a little bit more, that's okay, because he or she may encourage someone else to join the organization or may encourage a little more growth out of their location, and maybe they win even a little more. But then I'm still winning more, but we win at scale. So we win not so much by winning the individual, and it's not a battle with that partner in the location. It's cooperative. We just need to be jointly successful and candidly, if they're a little bit more successful than me, all the better, because I have more stability there and we can focus on the next one. So in our case, we don't need to do that. So that's one. So it's partially just setting your mindset as to are you okay if you say, oh, I could have got a dollar five, but I got a dollar, right? Because the alternatives like losing money. So, yeah, I'm fine. So that's one. Are you okay, truly okay with your partner actually winning, not them thinking they're winning and you going they're not really winning. I'm winning. Right. Are you truly okay with that? That's number one, and that has to be in your heart and in your mindset, in this case, your mental model. Then number two is can you communicate that to your organization in a way that works? So in our case, we think about our constituents. So you've got patients, they have to get a great deal, great care, great quality, great value. Our providers, that's the win win. We were talking about our employees, our suppliers, our investors, company itself, right? And then our broader communities. So that's kind of our everyone, that's our everyone, that's everyone impacts us. And we're in the dental business. So if you win in dental, you might say, I don't know, smile. So our mission statement and our vision statement, and I know you have a consulting background, so you tell me you can't have the same mission and vision statement. Well, we do. It's smiles for everyone. We have a three word mission statement. And so that's it. That's our vision. Our vision is smiles forever. And our mission is to move closer to delivering smiles for everyone at every step of the way, but it's smiles for everyone. And so literally on my wrist, going back for 20 years, I wear those three words. What I do, and this goes to your question, is, I literally have a ritual. I take this off every night. I put it in the drawer with my keys, in my wallet in the morning. I don't just grab it and put it on. I grab it and I roll it on like this. And if I roll it on, I say to myself out loud thing. I am committed to moving closer to delivering smiles for everyone today. So whoever I interact with, how is this a win win? I'm establishing constantly fighting for that. And that vernacular is in so many conversations that I have, and it's usually at the start of every meeting. What is the goal here? How are we trying to achieve? What does that look like for you? What does that look like for me?

Richard Medcalf
So this is a beautiful practical piece of personal transformation that you're showing us here, right? That bracelet for many years that you put on that ritual, I'm sure it's the stage. Now, if I cut you through like a stick of rock, I don't know whether you have rock in the States. This is British kind of candy, right? There's a seaside and you cut through and there's a word, right? And in the word, the word normally is the name of the town, but probably for you, if you cut it through, it would say smiles for everyone, right? That's going to be so impregnated into who you are as indeed, I think for me, this idea of multiplying impact. Am I multiplying impact today? In what way am I going to multiply the impact of my clients, right? How do I help top leaders create breakthroughs that serve the world? So I love this. So it goes back into this whole point of what came first, right? So were you coming at this from the point of view of the commercial mindset and then you realized, oh yeah, this is doing some good as I go, or were you coming at it from, what you might say, an impact or mission mindset and created the business to sustain that?

Steve Bilt
So I've been in and around healthcare my whole career. So to me, the two are inseparable. You shouldn't be in healthcare if you're not aware that that's a service that's vital to people. And if you're in for profit health care, it can't be lost on you that you are utilizing other people's money to achieve the end game. And so we have investors, those investors have money, other people's money. Other people's money could be former teachers or former they're on pensions, right? And this is where they get their money. And so the idea of saying, well, I'm in health care, therefore it doesn't matter if I lose money, that doesn't work, right? Because it's not your money to lose. Now, if it is, if you're the sole owner and you want to say, hey, I put X millions of dollars into this business, and at the end, I just want to make it last as long as I can until it's to zero, that's up to you. But when you have other people's money involved or bank money involved, which overwhelming majority of businesses, then you have an obligation also to achieve an outcome for them. Because you made a promise, right? You signed a loan agreement, you signed an equity agreement. You didn't guarantee what the return would be, but you certainly guaranteed you'd be trying to generate it for them. And so that's where I fight for this. I don't want to say radical transparency because I think that's sort of a buzz and just clear and unequivocal transparency, which is a little redundant, but just say, look, here's the score, here's what's going on. Here's the expenses of running this business that you've been entrusted to run also, and let's figure out what a win win looks like, and there is an outcome where it's there, and let's row the boat in the same direction, if you will, but really clear communication around it. And that's what I've done with my organization. We just came off a virtual summit meeting with our entire company where they were available to view content, and each morning I'd do a huddle and I'd talk for like 20 minutes to the team on this huddle. And one of the things that was kind of fun for me is I've had the same CFO since I moved into the CEO seat, and he actually worked with me previously, back when I was at Ernst and Young. And so I've known him for 30 years, and he called me after the third huddle, and he says, I don't think people have any idea how transparent what you're delivering in the morning is. They're just used to it in our company, so they just don't realize the level of detail that I'm sharing. I mean, they may as well be sitting in the board meeting because they're getting literally everything.

Richard Medcalf
And what do you find the benefit of that is? How do people respond to that? Why do you do that?

Steve Bilt
Well, they respond incredibly well, and it actually goes back. Richard too. I told you the origin story about being the Er doc, and we were up against 17 times, 15 times debt and things like that. And one of the things I noticed early on was that people were spending a lot of time around the company going, oh my gosh, I heard we're in trouble and financials are difficult, and I wonder if we're going to make payroll. I wonder if we're going to make payroll. And that's a legitimate fear. People work for that paycheck. They have bills, they have mortgages, they have car payments, they have kids to feed. If they're saying, my goodness, I might not get paid, that's a real issue. And so right then, I grabbed the entire company, which was smaller then, but still grabbed. I said, Listen, I understand that's a fear, and make no mistake, I'm not a wealthy guy myself. I'm not in a position where I'm sitting on I don't have to get paid. I need to get paid too. But arguably not as acutely as maybe some others. So let me tell you how this works for me personally. We have all our cash laddered out into four tiers. Here's what the tiers look like. Here's what's in each of the tiers. The most high priority tier is payroll. It's first, so we would have to not be able to pay three other tiers before we payroll. The last person getting paid on payroll is me. And I am not even remotely concerned about this payroll, the next payroll, or the one after that. Now, if you want to make sure the one after that has a great chance of getting paid, the best thing you can do for you and your family is not think about us making payroll and think about what you're doing in your dental office or in your role to make the company more successful. In all honesty, that was the last peep I heard about payroll. And so I said, boy, it's so interesting. People have an incredible fear of the unknown and an amazing capacity to deal with the known. The said, look, what's the worst that happens three weeks from now, four weeks from now? You ask me the same question. I say, I'm a little more concerned earned. Well, you got paid the other three times, and now you got to decide, am I going to roll the dice for another week or am I not? And people said, okay, I can see that. All right. And I said, by the way, we put our heads down and do what we're supposed to do, it's going to become a non issue very quickly. And honestly, it did become a non issue very quick.

Richard Medcalf
I hope you're enjoying this conversation. This is just a quick interlude to introduce you to two 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@xquadrant.com services. Now back to the conversation. Yeah, it's a beautiful example, a beautiful quote, I think there, of people have a fear of the unknown and amazing capacity to deal with the known. And I think that's what a great argument for transparency. Thank you. Hey, Steve, let's talk about purpose again, because I know you said to me that it only exists if it's number one on your agenda. And you said you quite literally would launch every meeting or strategy or tactical discussion with that. How do you do that? How do you really keep it up there? How do you make sure that it happens when you're not in the room as well?

Steve Bilt
Well, I've done it a number of ways over the years, but one kind of funny one was if I'm in a meeting and someone's kicking off the meeting, it wasn't uncommon that as they started going, I'd start sort of agitating a little bit in my seat, and people in the room would go, oh, boy, here we go. And then if the person kept talking about the meeting agenda, I'd start to get a scratchy throat and cough a little bit and maybe rattle drum my fingers on the table eventually. And then sooner or later, person would be the last one in the room sometimes to get it and go, oh gosh, okay, I'm sorry. We exist in order to deliver smiles for everyone. This meeting is intended to move us in that direction because we're talking about a new supply contract and that new supply contract relates to smiles for everyone in the fallen way, or we're talking about a new compensation program, or we're talking about a new technology program. And then people say, oh, so that's how it links. And so there'd be this very obvious but they'd have to make this statement. We link to smiles for everyone in this way and that's why we're gathered today. And so I'd force that oftentimes. And that was a great check in and it was always funny because people say, oh, I really have to say that that's how it feels. And then they'd say it make the linkage. And everyone in the room, including the outside participants, would say, wow, that feels really good that we just did that. And it was one of the things where it was like every time you go to do it, it's kind of like exercise. Every time you go to do it, you're like, I'm going to have to do this. And every time you finish, you go, I'm so glad I did know.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, fascinating. And this is a great example. One of the people, very early episode on the podcast actually is somebody I know, Ben Page, who's now the CEO of IPsoft's Mori Globally, a massive research organization. I remember him telling me in one of our other conversations, it wasn't on the podcast, I don't think, but it might have been, I can't remember. But the difference between mediocre leaders and great leaders is like they all say the same stuff about leadership. You can't tell the difference by what they say, but you can tell it by whether they actually do what they say. For example, what you just said is a great way of saying this is how we embody culture, right through language. And we do put it in every meeting. And I'm going to literally champion that. And people are going to damn well they're going to do it because I'm there. And if they don't do it, they're going to realize that it's not right. One of my first place I worked, the founder, again, an amazing founder. I was just fresh out of university. I remember he would walk around and if anybody was not I mean, it's a minor thing. It was not about purpose, but it was around the actually, it's about the customer relationship management system. The thing that often people have difficulty getting their people to use because it's just easier not to do it. This is a consulting business, and for him, it was just like, absolutely essential. We always know what's happening with all of our clients. We have a catistic view, and also any document that we created had to be in the document management system. And if he ever saw anybody just like, whip up something off their hard drive or refer to a conversation that wasn't there, you were in serious trouble. He would fire you and think, but there would be a real conversation about that. And so because he took it seriously and lived it himself, he didn't think he was above the use of these kind of systems. That was what everybody would do.

Steve Bilt
I've had this conversation actually twice in the last two days inside our company. I said, You've never heard a leader, most likely with lousy espoused values. No leader ever says, okay, what we exist to do is take advantage of our customers and ring every last penny out of them. Or we just use and abuse our employees until they leave, and then we just hire new ones. No one ever says that. They all say the same flowerly great stuff in slightly different words. Their values in action are totally different. And when your values in action are totally different than your espouse values, you become this parody of yourself. And people roll their eyes when you say things that are purposeful.

Richard Medcalf
And that's why it's about character and not about leadership, education. I mean, obviously there's a place for that, but often we know the stuff it's actually doing, the courage.

Steve Bilt
Yes, I think things like this are useful, not so much to help you develop a spouse values. I think we all can come to those. It's how do you demonstrate consistently that those are in action if you really believe them? Because one thing that does happen in the CEO seat it's funny. One other slight story I remember bear with me 1 second early in my career, I came out of the gate like a lot of CEOs. I was pretty good at the technical field I was in. And so it was amazing. I came out of, my God, I'm pretty good at business. Like, things come to me and I can make a decision. I get to the right answer. I'm pretty sure up and quick with this stuff, this is cool. And then I get promoted and I get another promotion again. And one day I woke up and I was a pretty young CEO of a high growth business. And I'm like, wow, what happened to me? I feel like I used to be so quick and decisive. Now everything that comes to me, I have to move it to a different pile on my desk and wait to decide what to do with it, because it's just so agonizing. I can't figure out up from down, right from wrong. Everything feels like hard decision now. I used to be so much better and the finally the light went on. It's like all the easy decisions are getting made by kid me and all the hard ones are getting kicked upstairs to now promoted me. And so the stuff I'm trying to decide between is like the 51 49 and the 52 48 stuff where nobody wanted to deal with it, so they kicked it to me. Of course, it's agonizing. I think what happened, at least to me in terms of that journey, I think similarly, when you get to things like this and where they're useful, it's not so much what's in your heart, do you have the right espouse values? I think either you do or you don't. If you don't get out of leadership, that's horrible. I do think what happens though, is in the CEO job, you're getting dealt all the problems constantly. And so it's easy to drift away from the vision and the purpose and get sucked into the problem of the day. Because if you're like me and you wake up at whatever time, six in the morning, by 601, if you've looked at your phone, well, there's a few problems waiting for you, right? And so it's easy to launch into those. And then the end of the day comes and you haven't done anything related to the purpose of the company. And then a day becomes a week, becomes a month, becomes a year, and suddenly the company's lost its way. And so where I think these things are helpful is how do you force yourself to check in constantly and how do you communicate it through an organization to enroll others in the fact that the vision is the most important thing. And think about that meeting I was describing. If we're attacking a problem, you can say, okay, we're attacking a problem, somebody screwed it up, we're in trouble. Or you can say, hey, we're trying to move closer to our vision of smiles for everyone. We have something that's standing in our way, so we're going to tackle this problem so we can take a step closer to our vision. We just reframe the whole meeting to a purpose driven meeting.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Love it. Thank you. So, yeah, great examples. I love that. Yeah, I love that point that it's easy to drift from our purpose if we just get sucked into the problem of the day. Brilliant. Let's quickly talk about one of my favorite questions. People on this show is what's it going to take for you to multiply your impact as the business continues to grow? Right. It's obviously already significant. It's big. But what's the next level for you as leader? Where's the stretch in you your next growth?

Steve Bilt
Well, I think one that it's kind of like what I was talking about. We get promoted into roles usually because of our technical competence, and then suddenly we're in a role where we don't get. To use our technical competence very often. And so now you become someone who's primarily responsible for organizational design and organizational development. And so the bigger you get, the more that design of your organization and the development of your people matters and all you're really doing. I've used the example, and it's a US based one. I'm sure it applies across the pond as well. You go from kind of being this field general, right? You're in the trenches or even a soldier. You're out there prosecuting the battle to suddenly you find yourself promoted to, like, Supreme Court Justice and a Supreme Court justice. Yes, you make decisions that matter in the moment, but really what matters is Supreme Court Justice isn't the decision you make, it's the precedent you're setting. And so that's what the CEO job becomes, is you're not in the room necessarily for the thousands of decisions that happen that really shape the future of your company. But you are there enough times for people to see how you make a decision and why you make a decision so that precedent can be followed downfield. So do we make the decision short term in a way that takes advantage of a counterparty or do we make the decision short term in a way that lifts the counterparty up with us and demands they lift us up also and therefore we do that a thousand more times as an organization and our culture becomes very strong. So you can see if you do it in the former way, then everyone emulates that behavior, and next thing you know, your organization is very different than the one that you would have if people were trying to do it in a win win with it.

Richard Medcalf
So what I'm hearing, if I hear you right, is that that next level for you is to kind of scale your own way of thinking, way of operating a little bit more. Is that right? So that people kind of understand the black box of why you do what you do. Is that what I'm hearing about this kind of action?

Steve Bilt
Yeah, you become an example, right? You become an example for people is what it is. So you could have the type of leader where you say, I love our leader because, boy, if our leader got locked in a room with their leader, we'd win. Okay, well, does that ever really happen? Not very often. What really happens is your organization is making hundreds and thousands of decisions every day as individuals, and you want them making them with your culture. And so it's not so much our guys, the toughest or the smartest or whatever. It's what is our culture. And you're the embodiment of your culture. That's what you are. And so you want an organization that behaves in a way that's congruent with the culture of the company. And that will never happen if you're not the one embodying that culture.

Richard Medcalf
And yeah, I'm sure you already embody that culture, right? Because for all the reasons you've taught. So I guess as I'm looking and thinking about what that edge is for you, as you kind of think, well, this is the way I could have an even bigger impact. Well, in and through and beyond my company, what comes to mind, I embody.

Steve Bilt
It sometimes, not always, right? So I know, like, for example, there was a period of time when someone come into my office with a problem, and I'd just be like, you could feel it coming off me, like, oh, man, another problem. And then they'd be uncomfortable and anxious. I'm not yeller or something like that, but you can just tell. I was like, do we really have to deal with this? I actually at one point decided to reset my mental model around that and say, this is what I do. My job is to be involved. When there's a challenge, my job is to sort through it, say, hey, come on in, sit down. Let's figure this out together. This is what I do, right? Let's enjoy it. It's not the end of the world. Let's figure this out. So it was it was an approach to how we solve a problem. Now, what does that beget? Well, if you're uncomfortable to approach, that means people will wait till the last possible minute to approach you with something, because who wants to go through that? And problems don't get better with age and being in the dental business, we know dental issues don't get better because you leave them unattended, right? So problems don't get better unattended. So if you have an organization where it's like, it's okay to approach me with an issue and we're going to actually have some fun with it and figure it out and not expect the answer to be abundantly obvious because that's not the ones that get to me, as I said earlier. Okay, so now problems are being approached earlier. Broached earlier with me. Now follow that through the organization. What are they doing with their team? How are they behaving with their team? If I have a direct report who doesn't want to approach me with a problem, the last thing they want to do is have a problem present to them because that means they might have to approach me, which means they're going to give that off to their people, who are going to give that off to their people. And next thing you know, everyone's ignoring problems which don't get better, they only get worse. So that's an example. That domino or that precedent theory playing.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, that's a great example. Thank you for opening open about that. I figure it's a great one, right? Because it's really about leader leaders setting the cultural tone that replicates across. And it's actually about the way of being that we all need to work on. We're not always playing the game we want to play, right? We're not always on form. But those inconsistencies start to matter a lot more when you have the scale of influence because people see them. And you might only do it 1% of the 5% of the time, but that could be inflated in people's minds. It's like, oh my, it's another time. It's a bit of a risk, even though it's not perhaps that much. People notice it and they feel, yeah.

Steve Bilt
And look, someone comes in and maybe I don't react well. The best culture example might be, gosh, I don't think I like the way I reacted to that. Let me talk about that and rewind the tape. Now what are they going to do when they get approached and don't react properly? They're going to say, okay, you know what? Sorry I didn't react well. So whatever you do is multiply. It's a massive force multiplier impact multiplier through the organization, good or bad. And I sometimes think when you step in it, that's the best opportunity to get a great impact multiplier because you say, wow, I don't love the way I handled that. Or you made a decision, didn't work out and you say, hey gang, just so you know, this thing that crashed and burned, that was me. I decided to do that and it didn't work. So we're going to stop doing that. So now what happens? Now your organization has got behavior happening that's not productive and culturally it's okay to say, oops, that's not working, let's stop.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, absolutely. So I think that's a great place for us to wrap it up. Steve, I think you've given us a lot today. Thank you for that. We've just been talking right now about that inner work of a leader, to be able to humility admit mistakes, to be able to maintain that constant positive attitude despite what's happening. Catch the times when we're going to disrupt the way people think and expect and create issues within a bigger company. And before that, we focus on so many things, mental models, right choosing the right metaphor, this win win mindset, the way that you've incarnated your mission in so many ways, from the bracelet you wear to how you start meetings, the fact that transparency is a game changer because it removes the fear of the unknown. And so many things here that we've talked about. So I want to thank you for kind of being generous with your insights and with your time. If you want to find out more about you or more about Smile brands, where should they do that?

Steve Bilt
Two places you can find us Smilebrands.com. We'll have our website and then there's smiles for everyonefoundation.com as well, which is a great place that might be a dotted work, I apologize. Where you can check out what we're doing from a mission standpoint as well with the foundation around the world.

Richard Medcalf
Perfect. We'll put those into the show notes so they'll be there. Well, Steve, it's been a real pleasure and I look forward to following your journey as you continue to create smiles for everyone.

Steve Bilt
Thank you, Richard. I really enjoyed it.

Richard Medcalf
Thank you. Well, that's a wrap. If you received value from this conversation. Please do leave us a review on. Your favorite podcast platform. We're deeply appreciated, and if you'd like. To check out the show notes from. This episode, head to Xquadrant.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@xquadrant.com.

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