Greg Alexander | From Gangsters to Growing and Scaling a Professional Services Company

Greg Alexander 3:40
No, I was very, very lucky. I got hired off the college campus with a technology company called EMC. And EMC became a brand name, but back then no one knew who it was. And it was led by one of the greatest sales leaders have ever seen in my life. The guy, the name of Harry Dixon, and Harry built this culture that allowed him and the company to take recent college graduates into their system and teach them what it meant to be a professional salesperson and I went through that program gravitated towards it greatly. I was highly motivated because it was a complete meritocracy. You know, there were no promotions given to people for seniority, you know, you could rise up the ranks and, you know, become a player quickly. So I just gravitated to that, you know, and got lucky went to work for a company and you know, at that young age, that the proper training,

John Corcoran 4:32
what do you think they saw in you, which was the reason that they hired you in the first place?

Greg Alexander 4:38
You know, it’s a great question. They had a very specific hiring profile. And here’s what it was. The first thing is you had to show them how much debt you were in credit card debt, auto debt, student loan debt, etc. They wanted people buried in debt because they thought they would be motivated. That was number one. Number two, they only hired ex-athletes, which today might be politically incorrect, but back then in the early 90s, it was acceptable

John Corcoran 5:00
I’ve actually heard I don’t know if it’s anti PC or what, but I’ve heard a lot of people say that’s a great profile to hire.

Greg Alexander 5:08
Yeah, they wanted people who like to win, and wanted to compete. And then the third one, which is probably the most interesting, and I’m embarrassed to say that I fully qualified if they only hired c students. And their thinking was that A students were too smart. And they were going to have all the answers, and they wanted to train us their way. And B students were the people who wanted to be A students, but weren’t smart enough. So they rolled them out. And they figured the C students were, you know, the guys that were the presidents of the fraternity or whatever, and therefore they would make great salespeople. So if you had those three criteria, you got a job, because you know, when you come out of college, you have no resume, you have no skills. And as luck would have, and I fit all three criteria.

John Corcoran 5:51
Not exactly something you’d put at the top of your resume, C student, loads of debt. Yeah, that’s funny. And what were you selling?

Greg Alexander 6:00
Back then we made a data storage device. And this is pre internet, pre mobile phone, pre email. But large corporations had these things called mainframe computers. And they had to store data reliably. So think of like, I don’t know, an airline reservation system and the sensitivity of that information. So that’s what AMC made. And then of course, I joined in, let’s say, 1993. And then the internet hit in 9697. And the amount of data that was being created, therefore needing to be stored, exploded. And EMC rode that wave, they had a fantastic product. And they had a very capable Salesforce, and we went out there and became a dominant provider in that space.

John Corcoran 6:41
Was it hard for you, it sounds like you’re in your mid 20s, at the time to sell such an advanced, forward looking sophisticated complex product.

Greg Alexander 6:50
There really wasn’t because they turned the selling motion there into a system. And everything was very well thought out, it was a methodology that was step by step. You know, you knew that if you were in step two, you were supposed to perform these three activities, and they were job aids to help you perform those activities. You know, and it wasn’t uncommon. I’m speaking to you from Dallas, Texas, I moved here from Boston, Massachusetts, in 1994, with EMC, and one of the accounts I was signed was EDS, which was Rossboroughs Company, which is now part of Hewlett Packard, when I would walk into senior executives office at 25 years old, you know, sitting across the table from me was a guy in his mid 50s, to control the billion dollar budget. And I was selling them complicated, you know, technology systems. Now, they provided us with a lot of support. So we had systems engineers and professional services, people that oftentimes attended the sales calls with us. But they didn’t care, you know, their approach was age didn’t matter. What mattered was ability.

John Corcoran 7:48
And what about for you? Why did it not get inside your head that you’re sitting across the table from someone who controls a billion dollar budget, and that didn’t seem to bother you? And you got a lot of debt on them on the line too, you know, so you need that commission check.

Greg Alexander 8:02
Yeah, you know, and the job was 100% commissions, right. So either either sold something, and you didn’t and you know, life was difficult. That was it. Really, I mean, I wouldn’t say that I was overconfident, it was survival. You know, I wanted to make sure there were enough steaks in the fridge. So I was fearless in that sense, me and everybody else, you know, that was in that legendary Salesforce back then. You know, it was just, we didn’t think about it, you know, we and I think that was one of the great traits of that great sales leader. You know, he instilled just an incredible belief in us, you know, I truly felt we had the best product in the world. I wasn’t qualified to know whether we did or not, but I sureseq believe that. And I think that came through in those sales efforts.

John Corcoran 8:45
Talk a little bit more about the role of mentorship and and, you know, then it played into development, your career while you’re at EMC?

Greg Alexander 8:56
You know, I had, I was very lucky again, I had some great mentors at EMC growing up on the sports field and elsewhere. You know, and I also think, sometimes we learn more from people who we don’t want to be like, than we do from people that we want to be like, one of my early mentors taught me a tool. And trick I’ll share it with the audience. You may have heard of this before. I’m not sure if this is if this is unique. But it was called the contrary indicator tool. Never heard of this. Now. Basically, what it is you keep a list of people who are reliable in giving you bad advice.

John Corcoran 9:35
And every time, a few pop to mind, right?

Greg Alexander 9:39
Right. Yeah. Every time, you know, you had a critical decision to make. you’d call up those 10 or 15 people on that list, and you’d ask them, and you would do the opposite of what they told you. And it was incredibly effective. So you know, that’s a different type of mentorship, I guess. But, you know, that was a really valuable lesson but you know, I think you know, it all seriousness, I think early on me like others probably, I look to my dad, as an early mentor, he was a small business owner and an entrepreneur and raised four kids, you know, without an education and, you know, taught me grit. And he was someone that was larger than life to me back then. I had a high school football coach who, you know, put us through triple sessions in the middle of August to get ready. And what I learned from him was work ethic, and, you know, not quitting. Those are too early mentors of mine, I mentioned this gentleman, Harry Dixon, who was, he wasn’t my direct boss, he was the leader of the entire sales force. But when you’re 22 years old, you get hired off to college campus, and you go to your first sales kickoff event, and you’re looking at this individual speaking to a crowd of 1000. It’s really inspirational, you know, that his life went on, you acquire others. I mean, several of my clients became mentors of mine, there was an early client of mine, his name is Mike Avail as a YPO, who was the CEO of a software company called Vignette. And he was very influential still is to this day, so I’ve had a lot of mentors in my life. And I believe you can learn something from everybody.

John Corcoran 11:12
Harry Dixon, did you get to know him on a personal level? Or is it more of a like come from afar type of thing?

Greg Alexander 11:20
You know, if he walked into a room, he would say, Hi, Greg, you know, he knew who I was, but I didn’t really get to know him. And there were several people in between him and I. But his legend, and his myth was influential, even though he didn’t know him personally.

John Corcoran 11:34
And what was it like when he walked into a room was the kind of person who had just had a physical presence about him, or I mean,

Greg Alexander 11:40
pictured Moses parting the Red Sea. I mean, he was, he was, he was just larger than life. He was, he was incredibly sharp. Unbelievably inspirational. And I think what I loved about him most was, it truly was a meritocracy. When he was there, it didn’t matter, you know, who liked you, what your political strength was, you know, who your internal Rabbi was, none of that mattered, what mattered was points on the scoreboard. And if you outsold everybody else, you know, you rocketed up the org chart as quickly as possible. And there were high risk, high reward jobs. I mean, they, like I said, it was all commissioned, but if you sold he made a lot of money. And, and that kind of belief, if you will, or that maybe philosophy, you know, was also part of the mental shift, which later in life became an extremely handy because when I stopped being an employee and opened up my own shop, and became an entrepreneur, I mean, that’s the essence

John Corcoran 12:37
of purely commission only, isn’t it?

Greg Alexander 12:39
Exactly. Yeah. And I wasn’t afraid of it, you know, back then, because that’s just the way that I grew up.

John Corcoran 12:45
Right. Right. And I wanted to ask, reflect a little bit on what you said, your father had a small business growing up. So reflect a little bit on how that shaped you and also influenced your decision to start your own? Your own company SBI in January 2006.

Greg Alexander 13:02
Yeah. So my dad, he’s still with me, thank God, he’s 82 years old, just celebrated his birthday earlier this month. We were always around his businesses. So at one point, he owned a sub shop up in Revere, Massachusetts. And, you know, I would take out the trash and sweep the floor, my sisters would manage the cash register, my brother would log in the meeting just like we were always around it. Then later on, he had a men’s clothing store. This is where my interest in gangsters was developed. He sold Italian suits to gangsters in Revere, Massachusetts, so I was around those guys. And, you know, I learned about, you know, what it means to truly have high customer service because these people were very demanding. was that experience

John Corcoran 13:47
like as a child being around? Did you know, they were gangsters or something you found out later when you’re older?

Greg Alexander 13:54
Oh, no, we know. And believe me, everybody knows when a gangster is in a room? I mean, I was never fearful or anything. And I don’t know, at that age, if I understood that they were actually murderers. But, you know, they walked in with the flashy suits and pulled up in the Cadillac and tipped everybody. And, you know, they in our world, they were like movie stars. And, you know, when I went through that experience, I developed ambition, you know, there was that stuff that impresses a young person.

John Corcoran 14:22
And then, you know, on the right side of the law, it sounds like,

Greg Alexander 14:25
Yeah, exactly. Right. So then I would say to my dad, you know, back to mentorship, why I want to be a gangster. He said, No, you know, because there’s two outcomes, you’re either going to get killed, or you’re going to be in jail. And then you know, and then we would hear stories of guys that we knew that went to jail or got killed or whatever, and, you know, that will set you straight really quick. You know, one thing I learned from my dad to answer questions directly about how it influenced me and one has been an entrepreneur, he had a very healthy disdain for authority. Whether it was the government, the police, the fire department, the electric company, it didn’t matter even if he was A Rule Breaker he liked to set his own rules. And he valued freedom. More than anything else, you know, he wanted to be in control of his own calendar. He worked his butt off, but he played golf every single morning and literally played nine holes, every single one that was part of his day, because this was it started at the lunch hour, basically. And I can remember wanting that and saying to myself, you know, isn’t that a wonderful thing? Like, he doesn’t have to punch a clock or sit in a cubicle. And that really influenced me a lot.

John Corcoran 15:29
Interesting. And so you found your company, which I’ve always thought it’s interesting, when, when you are selling something, when you have a company, you’re selling sales, how meta that is. And it’s almost like putting extra pressure on yourself, you know? You don’t make the sale. It’s like, What do you say, you know, or no doubt.

Greg Alexander 15:53
I mean, we wouldn’t be pitching our services. And we were demoing our product on the pitch because, yeah, they were evaluating how we were selling and saying, geez, you know what I want my Salesforce to sell that way. There’s no doubt there was, yeah, very high pressure.

John Corcoran 16:07
Right. Right. So talk to me a little bit about the early days of founding the company and how you got started.

Greg Alexander 16:16
So it’s a great story. So after, bubble popped, EMC took a big hit. And this Harry Dixon and the head of engineering, who made the product, the E and the Amazon, EMC, they all left, the place changed dramatically. And it went from kind of this even though it was a huge corporation, it felt like a family business. And it went to being a huge corporation. And I’m very grateful that the CEO took over, I will tell you, it was another mentor of mine, his name was Joe Tucci, he sponsored me and got my MBA at Georgia Tech, I was living in Atlanta at the time. And the reason for that was that there were a bunch of high potential employees and the future of BMC was going to be grown through acquisition. And they were looking for general managers who knew how to run a p&l as opposed to functional managers who knew how to run a department. And I didn’t know how to do that. So they took me in, they sent me to school to teach me, you know, kind of business fundamentals, which I’m forever grateful for because it was a wonderful experience. But I’ll never forget, Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia, would have a speaker series. And once a month, one of the local businessmen would come in and speak to the entire university, not just the MBA program. Right around that time, this is going back a while the founder of Home Depot, his name is Bernie Marcus, he came to speak to us because he and his co-founder were relieving, and professional management was coming in for the first time. And that’s exactly what was going on with EMC. And he was describing how this G train CEO was running his baby. And his presentation was a single slot. And it was a Ben Franklin, on one side of it was the 10 attributes of the CEO. And the other side of it was the 10 attributes of an entrepreneur. And at that time, I wasn’t crystal clear the differences between hired gun CEO and entrepreneur I just didn’t know. And I was feeling a little frustrated. Because my career had stalled out in EMC, I wasn’t rising as fast as I thought I would, the company wasn’t growing like it once was, and the growth opportunities for individuals were limited. So he walks through these 10 traits of a CEO and entrepreneur and he looks at us and says, Listen, pick one. Which one do you line up with? We tried to do both. You want to have a successful career. And it was as if God Himself was speaking from the skies to me. Because all the 10 items that were on the list of a CEO I had no, when he was going through those, because you went through those first My head was in my hand, like, Oh my god, you know, I’m going to be a loser. And then he gets to the entrepreneur list, and he starts laying them all down. And I’m like, Oh, my God, you know, I’m 100 feet tall now, like, that’s me. And I realized at that moment in time that I was supposed to be odd to avoid that. And that was the first week, literally the first week of MBA school. Now I’m like, Okay, great. That’s what I’m born to do. That’s my natural makeup. What kind of business? Am I gonna start? Well, the only thing I knew was sales. That was it. And I said, I wonder if other companies would benefit from selling the way that we sold that EMC? And I thought they wouldn’t. So I took that approach. And I elevated it out of a single company in a single industry. And I match it up with a well known science called benchmarking, which everybody’s familiar with. And we pioneered bringing the science of benchmarking to the art of sales back in 2006. These days, that’s kind of well understood. Back then, data driven decision making and sales was just, you know, it was a very foreign concept. That’s why the name Sales Benchmark Index, which isn’t a great name, but it was back then. When we went to market, you know, with that solution, and and, you know, as they say, the rest is history, but that’s kind of how it came together.

John Corcoran 19:58
And how did you come up with the idea that was to remember an aha moment?

Greg Alexander 20:05
Yeah, I did. So they at Georgia Tech, they use a case method, and they put it together in a team, team of five. And part of the program was you have to come up with a business idea and write a business plan. And my co-founder was a computer scientist. And he worked for a consulting company. And as we were getting to know each other, we were kicking around ideas, I pushed for my idea, which is to start a consulting company around sales, only because I thought it was an easy way to get an A in the class, cuz I mean, I could write that business plan in my sleep. And I gotta give him credit, he kind of recognized the uniqueness of that cuz he was growing, he was in that world of consulting, and he saw that the methodology, if packaged correctly, can be very profitable. And that’s when we kind of had the aha, we put it together. And then we got a couple of early clients even while we were in school. And, you know, kind of add a side hustle, as they say today. And realize we had something. So at graduation, we said, What the heck and we went for it.

John Corcoran 21:07
So you so some of your people in your whatever you call it, your case group or whatever, in Business School, your co founders, then

Greg Alexander 21:16
me and one guy in that case, you’re learning together? Yeah,

John Corcoran 21:20
yeah. And who are your early clients? How did you find early clients?

Greg Alexander 21:26
Well, anybody would give us the time of day we would talk to you. So in the early days, you know that these were struggling companies, once great companies that were no longer great. You know, an early customer was the CEO would be an engineer, he or she thought they had the world’s greatest product, and it was just going to sell itself. And I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t selling. You know, so they went looking for sales experts, and then we would get hired. And then as time went on, and we got more and more credible, when we started offering more and more things, we were doing business with some of the world’s best companies, pioneers, you know, some incredible projects with great success stories. So it just kind of happened over time.

John Corcoran 22:08
Yeah, that talks a little bit about how you built the culture and how that was influenced by the culture at EMC?

Greg Alexander 22:16
Well, there were some components of it from EMC. But there I purposely designed the culture to be non EMC, like, because as wonderful as easy culture was, there were also lots of negatives, there was high drug abuse, there was lots of divorce because of extramarital careers. I mean, when you throw a bunch of money at young guys, they do a lot of stupid stuff. And I didn’t want to replicate it, replicate that. So the culture was founded around this concept of what we call the ideal life. And each employee went through an exercise, and they looked at their life in a full 360 degree view. And they said, if my life was perfect, this is what it would look like. And then we would say, Okay, so now we have a definition of perfect. What role does work play in that life? And the job that you’re in right now? is it helping you get towards perfection? Or is it preventing you from getting there? And inevitably, it was always things like, well, I’m working too much, or I’m not making enough money, or I’m living in a city I don’t want to live in or you know, whatever it was. And then we would try to design the jobs in ways that satisfy the needs of the company, but also satisfy the needs of the employees. So for example, these days, everybody works from home because of COVID. Well, back in 2006, it was foolishly believed that you were only a real company, if you had a real office. Well, we had no offices. We had people all over the country working from home. We were leveraging things like video technology, and, chatter and all these other things to communicate. And it dramatically improved the quality of life for our employees. Because in the consulting world, you leave on Sunday night, you come home on Thursday night, if I was going to force somebody to go into the office on Friday, it was crazy, right? So we allowed everybody to work from home, and productivity went up. But we hired adults, we treated them like adults. We did not micromanage. And we liberated people, we took them from somewhat de motivating, you know, cubicle farms, and put them into this new way of doing things and unleash the talents. And we had a lot of a lot of success.

John Corcoran 24:29
Now, you did a whole long interview with John Warrillow on his podcast, Built to Sell Podcast, which was great where you deconstructed the whole process of selling. And I know you said a pet peeve of yours is that a lot of entrepreneurs are not forthcoming with how they went through sale negotiation. So that’s part of why you wanted to be transparent about that. First of all, kudos to you for doing that. And I know, I don’t want to go deep into it because people can go listen to that episode. It was great. But I do want to ask, because I love asking about relationships. I know you’re active in it. YPO and that’s one community for you. Did you have one when you went into the sale? Did you have mentors? Or did you have people who helped guide you through that very what can be a very difficult process for any founder.

Greg Alexander 25:16
You know, I had a great investment banking firm at a great investment banker. His name was Sean Terry, he worked for a company called MX D. Now, he wasn’t a mentor, in a pure sense, because of course, I was paying him for his services. But he was a mentor, because his advice was just so great. His philosophy on taking care of the client, and getting an outcome that was going to make the entrepreneur successful, was fantastic. And he did so many things for me, that I don’t believe are traditional investment banking services. And he advised me early on, and he was correct, that when deals don’t get done, it’s usually because the entrepreneur shoots himself in the foot. You know, entrepreneurs get big heads, all of a sudden somebody wants to buy your company, then you start thinking, you’ve got the world’s greatest company, then you forget that the deal is risky for the buyer. And, you know, Sean did an excellent job of keeping me in my seat, giving my expectations lofty, but realistic. So he was a wonderful mentor of mine. There weren’t a lot of other ones. And I will tell you, the reason for that is because at that time, and even So today, there’s not a lot of transaction activity in the professional services space. That’s one of the things that I hope to fix your Capital 54. It’s believed that human businesses, meaning businesses that are made up of people as opposed to products, aren’t sellable assets. That’s no longer true. But back then that was that was to be believed. So I went on the hunt, looking for people that had, you know, pulled off deals like the one I was trying to pull off, and I had a heck of a time finding him. That’s one of the reasons why I said to John on his podcast, there’s guys out there gals out there. If for whatever reason, they’re not willing to share the story, man, I don’t know what they mean, you know, you’re on the other side of it now. Right? So give back, you know, get over yourself and share the knowledge because it’s needed.

John Corcoran 27:08
Right. And so you founded Capital 54 and Collective 54. And talk a little bit about what Collective 54 is, because I think it relates to what you just said,

Greg Alexander 27:17
yeah. So Collective 54 is a membership organization for owners of boutique professional services firms. The number 54 is the North American Industry Classification code 54, which is for professional services. So anybody who sells their expertise and delivers their expertise on some version of the billable hour consultants, IT service providers, designers, lawyers, accountants, etc. There are about 1.5 million professional services firms in the United States, there’s $2 trillion spent per year in the sector 2 trillion, with an organic growth rate of 5% employs 9 million people, it’s one of the largest industries in the world. of the 1.5 million firms. Only a little over 4000 of them have reached the scale defined by more than 250 employees. That’s one quarter of 1%. The remaining 99% is sub 250 employees. But yet, when you talk to the owners of the firm’s, what they want to do, they all want to grow, they don’t want to scale and they don’t want to exit, but they don’t know how to do it. Now they’re working, as they say, in the business instead of on the business. So I’ve been a long term member of YPO. And I love the idea of peer to peer idea exchange. So I figured what the heck, maybe we can build an industry specific version of a YPO like business, where people with similar jobs, you know, in similar firms dealing with similar challenges could get together with some regular cadence, and kind of swap those practices. So that’s what Collective 54 is, if anybody wants to check it out,

Capital 54 is the Owner of Collective 54, just to confuse the audience. And that’s my family office. And for those that aren’t familiar with that term, think of a family office as a private equity firm who invests their own money, as opposed to raising money from other people. So I pushed all my chips into that business, and we’re making investments into professional services firms. Collective 54 was one of them, we got another one called Lumina. And we’re building out a group and trying to get to about 12 companies in that space all around the boutique professional services world.

John Corcoran 29:21
Yeah. And first of all, I want to call out a client of ours, Russ Rosenzweig. I know has been involved in Collective 54 and speaks very highly of it engaging experts podcast, check that out, shout out to Ross’s podcast there and talk about the decision to start your own family office because, you know, it’s funny entrepreneurs are considered very risk tolerant, but a lot of you’ll probably agree with this. A lot of entrepreneurs are very risk averse. They’re cautious actually, in their view, what they do is being cautious. But you know, a family office is putting your chips in putting your money in versus Just risking other people’s money, talk a little bit about why you made that intentional decision, rather than taking your proceeds from your company’s sale? You know, putting them in the bank and gambling someone else’s money?

Greg Alexander 30:11
Yeah. Well, I think it’s disingenuous to invest other people’s money. And I know that that’s gonna make me unpopular with those in the investment world. But I just think it is, I mean, if you’re taking someone else’s money and charging them a fee, then you’re investing their money, but not invest in your own and now convicted really are you in the investment. So I think once you put your own money in, you know, you kind of, you eliminate a lot of the noise. I mean, you’re in up to your needs at that point. So that’s the first thing as to why I did it. So I knew when I sold my firm, I knew exactly why I was selling, I had a vision for my future and how I wanted to live the rest of my life, I sold my firm when I was 47 years old. So I was too young, you know, to kind of hang it up, I knew that I no longer wanted to be an owner operator, that that part of my life was fulfilled with my SBI journey, I had that for 11 years. I knew I didn’t want to be an employee, I had filled that mission. With my time at EMC. I was there for 12 years. And now it was about helping others do what I did. I think for me filming going forward is less about money. I have not to be arrogant, but I have more than I will ever spend. And that’s not because I’m not the richest guy in the world. I just live moderately. So what am I going to do? I mean, how many steaks can eat? How many rounds? rounds of golf? Can you play? You know, how many? How many vacations?

John Corcoran 31:33
prove that? A lot?

Greg Alexander 31:38
You know, it’s like, Okay, so let’s do something meaningful. Let’s help others, you know, reach their dreams? So that’s why I did it. I mean, it was in order to do that, you know, to start these companies, invest in these firms, you need capital. And I’m so yeah, I’m investing my own capital,

John Corcoran 31:56
and how are you going to change the attitudes of the investment slash acquisition community out there to convince them that it’s okay to acquire professional services firms?

Greg Alexander 32:06
Well, they’re doing it. Now, I think, our success story at SBI, and some that have come since proven to be fantastic investments, some of these investors, for example, my firm has been sold again, my old firm, and the original investor did really nice when they sold it. And the new firm See, IP is going to do even better when they sell it again. So what’s happened is, is that, I mean, let’s face it, we’re in a liquidity bubble. I mean, when interest rates is zero, the amount of dry powder that’s sitting in private equity firms right now is absolutely crazy. So there’s an imbalance in supply and demand to the macro environment that is going to drive it, there’s way too much money and too few deals. So investors that have typically shied away from this asset class are now considering these style of deals, because they have to. And the good news is, when they’re doing these deals correctly, now, like anything, there’s been some blow ups, but you do them correctly, you can really make a good return on it. And if you know, then success attracts others, you know, it’s like a moth to a flame. So the smart investors out there are starting to, I hope, I hope they don’t come in droves, because I’ve got a little bit of advantage right now. Not only do I have the growth capital to give to an entrepreneur, but I got a management playbook, you know, know how to make this happen. And it’s a combination of those two things. That represents my differentiation over one of the bigger firms.

John Corcoran 33:27
Yeah. And obviously, you found that the management playbook that applied to SBI is working in other contexts, other non sales focused consultancies and professional services.

Greg Alexander 33:37
Yeah, you know, what’s interesting about that, I was wondering about that. But the commonality, whether you’re an accountant, an attorney, a graphic designer, an IT service provider, application development firm, it doesn’t matter what the domain is, the business model is the same. The business model of running a people business, things like a leverage ratio, things like utilization rates, and dole rates, and etc, etc, the business model is the same, it’s completely universal across that. And in fact, sometimes alerting is best when you get outside of your domain. You know, someone a consulting company gets to talk to somebody who owns a marketing agency, and hear how he or she runs the business. It can be eye opening, because it’s the same business. It’s just in a different domain. Yeah. You know, so that’s the commonality amongst them. Yeah.

John Corcoran 34:31
And finally, I imagine this is an extension of the same philosophy you’ve taken with Collective 54. But the book is ‘The Boutique: How To Start, Scale, And Sell A Professional Services Firm’. We’re running a little short on time, but tell us a little bit about the book.

Greg Alexander 34:44
The book is an introduction to the playbook. So if there’s anybody who’s listening to this, and they’re curious as to what my secret sauce is, get a copy of the book. Have you read the book in under two hours? Each book ends with a 10 question. Yes, yes, no checklist. So you can tell yourself whether or not You know, this is applicable to you. That’s a great way to kind of dip your toe in the water and see if something like this would make sense for you. Excellent.

John Corcoran 35:09
Last two questions. Number one. I’m a big fan of gratitude. So as you look at others, who are your peers? Who are your contemporaries, who are doing things similar to what you are either what you did a few years ago, or what you’re doing today? Who do you respect? Who do you admire that’s doing similar types of things?

Greg Alexander 35:30
You know, the one that comes to mind right away is a gentleman you mentioned earlier, John Warrillow, with the Built to Sell Radio. He’s done like 300 interviews. Now, I was fortunate enough to be one of them. But he’s doing the hard work, you know, he’s getting guys and gals like me to spill their guts, so in building a body of knowledge that they can learn. And so I really admire what he’s doing. And I would drive everybody there. John, I recently, you know, got familiar with your company Rise25, and then all of your clients and through that you can see others that are doing similar things that John and I have tried to do. I admire them. There’s another one called a gentleman who has been a mentor of mine for years. His name is Geoff Smart. And he owns a company called ghSMART. And they were the pioneers of the Topgrading talent selection process. You might be familiar with ABC player, that’s another client actually Topgrading. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. He was another great one who I admire in and around this area.

John Corcoran 36:27
Yeah, yeah, they’re great. They actually have their president Chris Mursau participating in a panel, I’m moderating in a couple of weeks. That’d be exciting. Looking forward to that. And okay, and then the last question, looking back even further, in your career path or to your childhood, let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, like the Oscars or the Emmys. you’re receiving an award for lifetime achievement for everything you’ve done up until this point, but we all want to know is in addition to family and friends, of course, who do you think is it the gangsters that came into your your dad’s shop? Is it you know, others? Is it you know, YPO forum mates? Is it their mentors or their coaches, other investors, who are the people that you would acknowledge in your remarks?

Greg Alexander 37:10
You’re the people that I would acknowledge would be authors. I read about a book a week, and have for probably 25 years, I read autobiographies and biographies. And I love the stories of successful people. So in many ways, my role models, and I’m a huge believer in those are people I’ve never met before, but have told me about their successes and failures in a 200 page book. There’s, there’s so many of those, and there’s so little time to reference them. But you know, recent books have come out about Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk. Musk, you know, those are the current ones. Of course, way back in the day, we all read Peter Drucker and Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and, and all that. And, you know, I would probably point there first and then and then I think, most importantly, without a question would be my wife of 25 years. Brooke, Alexander, I affectionately referred to her as a fabulous book, you know, and no one does this alone. And it’s a hell of a lot easier. When you have an incredibly supportive spouse, the spouse is your number one fan. And Brooke has always been that for me. So if we were doing the Lifetime Achievement Awards, and I was to give a nod to a single person, it would be excellent.

John Corcoran 38:19
Greg, this has been wonderful. Capital 54. Collective 54. The book is ‘The Boutique: How To Start, Scale, And Sell A Professional Services Firm’. Where else can people go to learn more about you or connect with you, Greg?

Greg Alexander 38:34
You can find me on LinkedIn. You can find the book on Amazon. The probably the best place I would drive everyone to and maybe have them. For those that are listening. Obviously, they like podcasts, and we have our own weekly podcast and I want to check that out.

John Corcoran 38:49
Yeah, excellent. All right. Great. Thanks so much.

Greg Alexander 38:52
Thanks, John.

Outro 38:53
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