Better Together–Q4 2018 memo to UGURUS
Here at UGURUS, we believe people are Better Together.
A few years ago when we shifted from selling primarily self-paced courses into live mentorship and coaching, I was astounded at how much more real our product became. We went from knowing very little about the inner-workings of our customers lives to getting a front row seat to the trials and tribulations they experienced on a daily basis.
No longer were we just selling sales or marketing training, but we found ourselves trying to help entrepreneurs navigate the complex world of their own lives while trying to build businesses to help them achieve the freedom they so desired.
People are messy.
People are flawed.
People are imperfect.
You might even wonder why we would choose to run a business that depends so heavily on the connection, engagement, and support of thousands of people around the world.
Maybe it’s even crazy.
But together, our quirks, disadvantages, and issues become strengths. And our strengths become superpowers.
This past quarter, I was reminded yet again about how powerful mentorship can be to help transform your work, your business, and ultimately yourself.
That sounds pretty funny to say since mentorship is one of the three primary pillars of this business. We live and breath and are surrounded by the power of mentorship every single day.
But doing something and receiving it are two different things.
There’s an old proverb that says:
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
I want to tell you about my own experience engaging one of my mentors this past quarter and how with his guidance, I was Better Together.
Perhaps sharing this story will help us understand how mentorship works a little better and how hard it can be to engage one, let alone be open to the critical feedback we so need to grow.
You see, I needed help. And I didn’t want to ask for it. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. My ego wanted to say, “I got this, I don’t need anything… I can do this all by myself.” But deep down, I knew that was a bunch of bull.
I had a simple intrinsic goal set at the year’s start that read:
“Deliver a world-class talk at USUMMIT.”
While there had been many times that I had taken the stage and done a pretty good job, my intent when I wrote that goal was to do the work, get feedback, and be mentored to push through to a new level of performance.
A year ago a good friend of mine, Re Perez, saw one of my talks and offered help. He said, “Brent if you ever want to work on your stagecraft, I would be happy to help you.”
I had so much resistance about asking for and receiving help, that I shrouded my ask in small talk. But Re saw through my bluster and cut to the bone.
What transpired over the next month was countless calls, texts, Zoom meetings and endless hours working through slides and rehearsals. Once the process began, I chose to resist as little as possible and to focus on understanding. I allowed myself to be fully coachable—something we ask of our own customers—and to follow the recipe as much as possible.
Being coachable is hard. It means admitting that you don’t know what you’re doing. It means being open to change. It means trying new things that you don’t yet understand or might not even work the way they are intended. It means embracing uncertainty.
About two years ago I committed to the pursuit of mastery in the disciplines I engage. The pursuit of mastery means you not only practice, but you deliberately practice. Deliberate practice requires feedback through coaching and measurement. It means you get over yourself and put yourself out there and allow another human being to tell you how to improve. It also means that you take criticism in stride. At the moment, criticism can be painful, it often sounds like:
“That’s not going to work.”
“I don’t think I would do it that way.”
“May I make a suggestion or two on that?”
“Why did you do that thing you did?”
“Ok, yeah, all of these presentation slides you did is a good start, but let’s go ahead and delete them and we’re going to start over and try something different.”
I think that is a nice way of saying, “you don’t know what you’re doing, let me help you.”
It’s uncomfortable work that pushes against fear and doubt like a mad bull.
At a certain point, when there was no more time to practice, no more time to rehearse, no more time to modify slides or scripts, or get feedback, I found myself in my hotel room all alone. I was sitting at the small desk I had transformed into a mobile workstation. Post it notes strewn about, notecards and reference books piled on top of papers and rough drafts, and chicken scratch scrawled on just about any visible paper surface, including the hotel’s room service menu.
But I wasn’t alone. My mentor, Re, was still with me in my head. My team was downstairs working the event. Our community was connecting and engaging and being awesome.
Sitting by myself in my room I sent my mentor an audio recording. I told him that no matter how this turns out, I appreciated everything he did for me. Good or bad outcome, I would be endlessly grateful for our time together. I told him that doing the work together had changed me. It was a powerful reminder of why the work we do at UGURUS with entrepreneurs and agency owners is necessary.
To have a business that helps people thrive from the hard lessons of others experience.
To have a business that helps people learn to live with fear and overcome obstacles.
To have a business that helps people rid themselves of ever feeling alone or isolated.
It’s my great pleasure to serve our company’s core purpose of empowering entrepreneurs to achieve freedom in their business and life.
It’s an honor to pursue that mission as a team. To embrace the people in this room, the team that is not present, and our global community of entrepreneurs and support that lives this vision.
Better Together is not just a catchy slogan, it’s something we believe. We live and share the idea with many and it changes lives for the better.
It’s an idea that has become a powerful vehicle for change. It’s an idea that was with me as the music died down and I took the stage this year at USUMMIT. As I looked out across the audience from stage… I saw a community that had grown from a couple dozen people hanging out in a demo kitchen just a few short years ago to the 200 people gathered in Denver this fall, I couldn’t believe how powerful this idea had become.
Beyond the blinding stage lights, were two hundred unique, messy, and flawed individuals gazing upon me to do what I had put so much into, deliver a world-class talk at USUMMIT. I’m messy. I’m flawed. I’m imperfect. I let the audience decide if I had delivered a world-class talk, but more importantly, together we delivered a world-class event that was perfect.
We are truly Better Together.
I know that my guiding light for who needs to be involved in this company to see it grow and achieve our long-term vision will be our core values.
Each one of you carries our core values.
Our values are:
Be bold and take risks
Carry your own bag
Start Strong, Finish Strong
These words describe us at uGurus. They are carefully selected because of who we believe we are at the core. What makes us better than our competition. What tells our customers that we care more than anyone else. These words describe how we do what we do every day.
To be bold and take risks. The entrepreneurial spirit is core to who we are and what we do at uGurus. We thrive when we can challenge the status quo. We love building systems and we love tearing them apart so we can rebuild them better than before. To us, problems are opportunities, all issues are solvable, and with the right spark, we can create gold out of thin air.
This is being bold and taking risks.
To be willing to carry your own bag. We can’t read your mind. You must be willing to get your hands dirty, hustle, and be politely persistent and scrappy when needed. Be a creative problem solver. Willing to look at every problem from many different angles. Never leave a stone unturned. We are self-starters. Self-motivators. There is always a way and no one is going to do it for you.
This is carrying your own bag.
To have a growth mindset. We are all lifelong learners and self-improvers. We are only interested in people with a growth mindset. We must have a constant ambition to improve ourselves—both professionally and personally. Open to changing the way we work. A thirst to search far and wide for proven methods, processes, models, and tools. We must learn from others. Life-hack, work-hack, and productivity-hacking are everyday experiences.
This is a growth mindset.
To help first. We must be ready to help others by teaching and showing—not judging or blaming. We know that there is never a stupid question. We are always open-minded to the needs of others. We work to make sure when helping first, to solve the problem immediately at hand and then work to find the root of the issue to solve the problem forever and document the process.
This is helping first.
We start strong, finish strong. Each quarter we come out swinging. But we know that fights are rarely won in the first thirty seconds. If they can be, we will get the knockout. Just like boxing operates on twelve round fights, we operate on twelve week quarters. We are often up against the ropes in the final weeks. And this is where we shine. We push forward. Pull away from the corner. We empty the tank into our foe.
This is start strong, finish strong.
Our customers thank you for holding these values near and dear to your heart. I thank you.
One thing you will notice about these words and stories is that they’re virtues that we can’t teach in a class or train you on; they are part of what makes up each and every one of you. It’s your core, these are your core values, and it’s what makes you thrive every day.
Defining these core values is important. We need to build a common language and culture that will provide direction when we are lost and provide light in dark places. We need a guide to know who is right to join our team and who is not a good fit. These values will provide that light. They will provide the way.
I am driven and dedicated to making the next 10 years at uGurus the best ever. I hope you will all join me for this adventure—it’s going to be spectacular!
Here’s to our next decade of empowering entrepreneurs to achieve freedom in their business and life!