Scott Anderson | Launching 8 Businesses and Growing Up with Warren Buffet

Scott Anderson is the CEO and founder of Double Dare Executive Coaching, a business growth consulting firm. He specializes in helping entrepreneurs to live fully in their unique talent, passion, and purpose. He is a serial entrepreneur who has owned and ran 9 businesses over the last 30 years which includes a number of closely-held family businesses and the launching of for-profit and not-for-profit companies.

In addition to being a certified executive coach, Scott is also a licensed therapist with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • How a family tragedy brought Scott Anderson back to his hometown in Nebraska
  • How Scott took over the family business and his decision to sell it later on sold the employees
  • How Scott got into coaching
  • Scott talks about using the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)
  • How Scott uses his skills in coaching to help resolve a bad business partnership
  • Common mental health issues that Scott has observed among entrepreneurs
  • What is the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and when should an entrepreneur consider consulting a therapist versus a coach?
  • The unique challenges agency-style businesses and owners face
  • Scott recalls his upbringing in Omaha, Warren Buffet’s hometown
  • The people Scott acknowledges for his accomplishments
  • Where to learn more about Scott Anderson and his companies

Resources Mentioned:

Sponsor: Rise25

Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you business podcast solution and content marketing. 

Along with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weisz, we have over 18 years of experience with B2B podcasting, which is one of the best things you can do for your business and you personally. 

If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great ROI, great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing

A podcast is the highest and best use of your time and will save you time by connecting you to higher caliber people to uplevel your network. 

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Episode Transcript

John Corcoran 00:40

All right. Welcome, everyone. John Corcoran. Here. I’m the host of the smart business revolution podcast where I talk with CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of companies and organizations like YPO eo Activision Blizzard, which is the world’s largest video game company, lending tree Open Table x software many, many more, also the co-founder of rice 25, where we help to connect b2b business owners to their right Deal prospects and I’m really excited today because my guest is Scott Anderson. He’s the CEO and founder of Double Dare executive coaching. He specializes in helping entrepreneurs to live fully in their unique talent, passion, and purpose. He has owned and run nine businesses over the years over the last 30 or so years, including a number of closely felt held family businesses launched for-profit companies. He’s launched not-for-profit companies. He’s also this is interesting, in addition to being a certified executive coach, he’s also a licensed therapist with a master’s degree in clinical counseling.

So we’ll get his insight into entrepreneurship but helps them to tick on the inside. And that will be really interesting. But first, before we get to that this episode is brought to you by rise25 media which is the company that I co-founded with my business partner, Dr. Jeremy Weiss, and our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners and customers and we do that through our done for you podcast solution and content marketing. I believe if you have a business, you should Have a podcast period and it gets to talk to smart people like Scott here today, which is what I love about it. One of the best things I’ve done since I founded my business, so if you’re interested in that, go to rise 25 comm you can learn all about it. So, Scott, now, you were starting your career Early on, you’re settling down, you’re in New York City. You’re going into advertising going into a copywriting career, things are working out pretty well. And unfortunately had a family tragedy and it didn’t work out that way. You were called back to your native Nebraska had to come home after your father passed away. Tell me what happened.

Scott Anderson 02:39

Well, thanks, john. It’s great to be here. Yeah, I was really loving the advertising business. I was working in Boston in New York and writing and producing television commercials mainly in those days and having a great time. My father died rather suddenly.

Scott Anderson 03:00

What I now know is a young age and we had a construction equipment business in Omaha, Nebraska. And there was no succession plan. Really, the only thing we have is a list that said, if there’s a fire, here’s who you call, kind of a thing. And so we had no succession plan. One of the reasons I’m so adamant about it now with my own clients. And so I was the only person in my family who really knew anything about it, who is actually whatever work there. So I came back home and not only was the business of mass, but the economy was a mess. There were 90 19% interest rates in those days and it was impossible to sell anything to anybody. But it was a great trial by fire and education for me. It was only 25 years old and had to grow up in a hurry and learn a lot of things quickly.

John Corcoran 03:55

What was it like with that you that the big city boy coming from Manhattan back to home to Nebraska. I’m picturing this, first of all, it sounds like a movie. It should be a movie if it doesn’t already. And I’m picturing you come back and there are these burly guys who are working this construction equipment in the Midwest and they’re like, Who’s this preppy college boy coming home to? What is that? Am I painting a picture? Is that what it was like

Scott Anderson 04:22

that is excruciating Lee accurate. Yeah. And I had all these big ideas about advertising and no one really wanted to hear it, john.

John Corcoran 04:36

Guys, here’s what we need. We need a TV ad.

Scott Anderson 04:40

I had just written a particularly successful kitty litter campaign that was taking Boston by storm. Not especially relevant. Yeah, you know, I am grateful that I that no one videotaped my first year doing this because it would just be a rendus to watch

John Corcoran 05:00

So how did you figure out how to run this business? And you ended up you know, being able to turn around a couple of years later, four years later, sell it back to the employees. So, you know, how Where did you start? Did you have mentors? Did you learn from anyone? Was it all trial by fire? Did you read a lot of books?

Scott Anderson 05:21

Well, it was sort of all of those things, but fortunately, and it was definitely trial by fire. A trial by blast furnace was, you know, intense. But I had some good mentors. Absolutely. A couple, in particular, one within the company and one outside, they were just incredibly generous with their experience and kind of putting up with my naivete in some inexperience in so many ways, on the company itself. You know, on top of everything, I was a third-generation, owner, manager of the business, the generation that’s supposed to put it in the ditch, or at least that’s what I Everybody kept telling me and, you know, I was very fortunate to have a great team, a great group of employees, a great reputation that my grandfather and father bill. So, you know, the thing that we had to do right away with 18% interest rates and nobody buying anything was to develop great relationships with our suppliers or continue great relationships with our suppliers and bankers and ask had to ask a lot of people they have faith and hang in. And, you know, we did everything in our power to cut costs and kind of survive about an about a year’s period where almost nothing was happening and there was no way to make it happen.

John Corcoran 06:41

Was it at a time when there wasn’t a lot of business like there? There wasn’t a lot of client work. There wasn’t a lot of equipment rentals happening.

Scott Anderson 06:49

Yeah, what was happening was, on one hand, there were 19% interest rates so it wasn’t financially feasible for people to finance the acquisition of equipment. The other thing that was going on was that there was a national bid rigging investigation going on by the FBI. And Nebraska was one of the first states to be hit with this investigation. And what it meant the Nebraska Department of roads, suspended all bids for almost a year. And so literally no business was happening. And, you know, fortunately, there was some private construction going on and so forth. But the biggest part of our business was heavy highway and the Department of roads was not letting any work. So we had to, we were more diversified than just happy highway fortunately, but we had to cut costs. We had to get really efficient. We had to keep spirits up. We had to maintain some great people we had and Yeah, it was. I later thought about going to business school but decided that I’d been to business school by going through this question

John Corcoran 08:00

Yeah. Now obviously you’re an advocate of coaching today you do coach for people. Did you have a coach at that time?

Scott Anderson 08:08

You know, I got a coach later I had two, two really great mentors at the time. But it was later when I started. So I sold the construction equipment business in 86. We did an Aesop with the employees, which turned out to be a good solution for everybody. Shortly thereafter, I started an advertising agency, which I ran for 25 years on and sold about five years ago, but about 10 years into the advertising agency experience. I was really burned out and everything was okay financially and competitively, but I was just really burnt out as a person and hired a coach, kind of at random and not even knowing much about what a coach was. There Were None in Nebraska at the time, and I hired a guy from Kansas City actually, who really changed my life in a lot of ways, and I was able to accomplish in about 90 days time, more than I would have expected to accomplish in five years time. And that was really what turned me on to coaching in the first place. During that time, we really changed our business. This was before EOS, but essentially we, we installed an attraction like process really changed our marketing. And during that period also, I started a nonprofit organization called at ease USA, which is, which develops treatment technology for PTSD treatment for veterans and their families. But all of this, I don’t think I would have gotten done, especially in the time that I had it done without a coach. It’s just amazingly transformative,

John Corcoran 09:56

yeah, and EOS, which you mentioned, created by God. wickman course transformative. Yeah. operating system for entrepreneurial companies, especially family-held companies. Tell us a little bit about, you know, your experience with that system. Is that something, in particular, you’ve worked with the sound really sounded familiar with it

Scott Anderson 10:16

at least Well, all of my clients, I think that that 95% of my clients are EOS implementers. And I’ve just seen it done just incredibly good, a good thing, particularly in the family held closely held businesses on you know, just the, it sounds so simple and yet it’s such a brilliant insight by Gino to develop the visionary versus the implementer or integrator, excuse me, contact me, that in itself, really stratifies most of my client companies in it in a, you know, an incredibly powerful way. Yeah, big proponent,

John Corcoran 10:57

I believe. I believe his situation is similar. Here’s where he was drawn into the family business, kind of reluctantly. And so it’s kind of the same similar experience to what you had, by the way. A tremendous new book called the entrepreneurial leap that he came out with a couple of months ago and highly recommended to everyone listening, Gruber. I haven’t read it. Yeah, definitely have to go check it out. I do a lot of work today in with family held or closely-held businesses, because I really did acquire the, as they say, the scar tissue research on that one.

Scott Anderson 11:32

You know, nothing really prepares you for a family-owned business or, or for a closely held business. I mean, I was very fortunate in my advertising agency to have had the experience I had and we had very good succession plan, very black and white, effective, buy sell agreements. And, you know, a lot of the work that I do right now is between partners who are going in different directions after x years in business together, and, or who have stopped contributing an equal amount, whether it’s intellectual property or sweat, equity or dollars. So EOS can be really, really helpful in that respect. But I do a lot of kind of what amounts to succession planning, even if it’s between the founders.

John Corcoran 12:22

What is that process? Like? You know, I’ve known a lot of I fortunately, I’ve got a business partner. Now, we’ve been business partners for about five years now. And I feel like we have a really good relationship, especially when I talked to other people that have had really bad business partnership relationships. Talk a little bit about what that is, what your approach is, when the relationship between business partners isn’t what isn’t a strong one, it’s broken down, maybe it’s frayed or maybe it’s really beyond repair. What do you do when you come into a business like that,

Scott Anderson 12:59

you know, the most important thing is to determine what the partners really want. And, you know, in that sense, it’s sort of mediation, to help them decide what it is that they really want to get out of it. And hopefully we can find common ground. You know, for this typically what happens though is that one of the partners is intent on continuing to run the business is fully invested emotionally and financially in the business and one partner is been distracted by something else is interested in going in a different direction. But it’s not making the same kind of contribution to the business that they did the beginning. And so, you know, this is why a concept like EOS and the separation of the visionary or an integrator or indeed a, you know, a, someone who needs to be on the sideline is really important. So it starts with role setting, really goal setting and role set. To understand what each of the partners really does want. And often, I’ve had a lot of occasions with clients where they’re kind of afraid to say out loud what they really want. And getting them to the place where they’re finally able to blurt out, here’s what I want is the key to the whole thing. If we get clear about what they’re trying to achieve, then we can really make some some good changes. But it helps you know, to have I really, I really advocate very solid succession plans and buy sell agreements, because if the worst should happen, there has to be a way through on that won’t paralyze the company and its employees. And so if you don’t have anybody watching this interview, if you don’t have a great buy sell agreement, get one today. It’s sort of like a prenuptial agreement and it’s difficult to put them in place. have gone down the aisle, right But critically important

John Corcoran 15:02

right? Now, you mentioned in the introduction, you’ve got your master’s degree in clinical counseling, which is extremely unusual. I know a lot of business coaches can’t say that I’ve ever come across one that also has that degree of education and training in the background. Talk a little bit about some of the mental health issues you’ve come across with entrepreneurs. Sure.

Scott Anderson 15:25

Well, and I’ll back up a lot of the reasons that I mentioned earlier, the not for profit I developed to develop a PTSD treatment technology called Eddie’s USA. I also got my other motivation for getting this master’s degree in clinical counseling was to be more knowledgeable and to be able to speak intelligently with our providers and our partners and developing this program. But you know, one of the things I discovered myself is that you know, the ins and outs of the business that They’re so well addressed by programs like EOS, on our, you know, certainly complex and challenging and so forth. But I’ve really found with most of my clients that a lot of the challenges and they can do the most damage potentially, both to the founder or the founders and their families, our mental health issues, basically. And, you know, I’ve been speaking at eo chapters recently on the topic of imposter syndrome, one that I find comes up really often with a lot of my clients. There’s a sort of a parallel to imposter syndrome called founder syndrome. I’m sure you’ve heard of that. And excuse my barking dog. Here, the dog in the background.

Scott Anderson 16:50

Now we’ve got a house full of dogs. I don’t know what this dog’s problems but you know, what I found are that the issues that affect the A lot of entrepreneurs are some version of anxiety and depression. You know, one thing we know for sure, statistically, is that entrepreneurs are three to four times more likely to have mental health challenges. And, you know, extremely high-performance people. It’s like, as I like to say, it’s like having a Ferrari, that can, that can blow past anybody else but has to spend some time in the shop occasionally for fine-tuning. And that’s kind of the way high-performance high achievement people are FM. So, you know, anxiety and depression are very, I see them very frequently. A variety actually of anxiety disorders. Sometimes there are relationships, a lot of relationship problems between partners between the family Under owner and employees, and also relationship problems at home. The biggest problem is Who do you who to explain this to if you’re the owner, founder or CEO of a business, that’s why my mental health practice is called lonely at the because it really is, it’s not appropriate in a lot of cases to share what’s going on between your ears, with your peers and or potentially your founders or your co-founders or partners, but it is critically important to talk about it. So, what I found is that you know, I approach my coaching engagements in a holistic way, which obviously includes the operations of the business and the competitive differentiation and market position, etc, etc. But, but which also notably focus on the mental health and the peace of mind basically, that the founder or owner has

John Corcoran 19:00

Yeah, and we, you know, we talked earlier you mentioned earlier speak to eo groups, and that I believe that’s how we originally connected was through a shared connection through eo and active here in San Francisco with the chapter. And, you know, that’s one that when you hear people talk about eo, they kind of talk about it like it’s their therapy, you know, it’s their opportunity to talk, you know, outside of their business partner outside of their spouse outside of their board of directors, they can air they can talk about those sorts of things. And, you know, share with us a little bit about how you feel where you feel the line needs to be drawn between the role that eo can play and explain to people what eo is for those who don’t know what it is, and also the role of where you really need to be talking to a therapist or versus a coach maybe also, right?

Scott Anderson 19:55

Well, and you may be as good as restoring audio I’m not sure I’m that great. But, you know, eo was formed in response actually to a pure business peer group organization, where an individual member committed suicide. I mean, it was specifically, it was meant to do lots of things, but one of them was to create a very intimate atmosphere where members in their forums could share the, as they say, the top 5% and the bottom 5% the information in the experience that they typically don’t share with anybody, one of the things that I think eo is just incredibly valuable for one of the many things but I really do think that its emphasis its ethos, to create a safe environment for people to share the top five in the bottom 5% is just critically important because it really is lonely at the top. And as a result do attracts people that I just really, really like. I mean, I’m an entrepreneur, myself. Myself and so we sort of resonate on that level. But you know, what I found is to do people tend to be those who stick with it tend to be humble and transparent in a way that’s unusual. With high performers. For example, I was presenting about imposter syndrome and founder syndrome in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago, and asked all of them to complete a, an assessment, and then to raise their hands in response to a lot of pretty touchy questions about how they deal with things. And, you know, folks are just, you know, brave and bold and all things, but especially in sharing, you know, what they’re really going through. And I think that’s such a tremendous asset. And so in their eo, in eo in their individual forums of maybe eight or 10 people, you know, they share the top 5% bottom 5% You know, and form really deep relationships and supportive relationships Sure, I think is incredibly valuable. You know, sometimes it’s not, it’s not enough, it could be that members want to talk more or in more depth or have, you know, issues that are serious enough they really need to be focusing some time on. So, you know, when I’m working with with my clients, and they are typically AEO or YPO members, on you know, they’re, they’re interested in talking about and resolving things that so that they can not only have professional success and financial success, career success, but can also feel good at got level, at home with their families with their business partner sometimes, and just generally, can feel as can enjoy a wealth of between their ears in the way that they enjoy wealth and prosperity in other areas. Because one of the things that happens achievement people are prone to do is push the personal issues to the bottom of list. If there’s a crisis, and just in general, I mean high achievement people are, by definition, high achievement people and moving the needle is can be a compulsion. And this is why we know that entrepreneurs are three to four times more likely to have mental health issues. It’s a blessing and a curse. Yeah.

John Corcoran 23:33

That’s one of the reasons I love eo. I’ve interviewed so many hours connected with so many years interviewed a ton of YPO ORS as well. Yes. I would encourage any listeners to go back listen to my interview with Sean McGinnis, who’s the president CEO of YPO incredibly smart guy. So check that out. I also interviewed Vern harnish as well founder right eo which was wonderful, but really supportive community. So if you’re listening to this and you are an entrepreneur and you’re feeling like you need that kind of supportive community. Definitely check it out. I wanted to ask you also you ran an agency for 25 plus years or so. Yeah. And that’s one of your areas of focus. You have been involved in so many different types of businesses from the construction business in the beginning. Talk a little bit about what some of the unique challenges of agency style businesses

Scott Anderson 24:25

are. Yeah. Actually, I have a niche practice for agency owners called fast agency And, yeah, there are some definitely some unique challenges, not the least of which is the barrier to entry to start an agency whether it’s an experiential agency branding, creative, digital, SEO, what have you, the barrier to entry is almost doesn’t exist. And so in America alone, there are estimated to be 200,000 advertising agencies and most of them are one man or woman shops. But what it essentially says is that to differentiate yourself and have a value proposition that’s worth listening to, you really have to be focused on a niche today, either a vertical niche within an industry type, which is what we did with my agency. A couple actually a vertical or a horizontal niche against being an expert in a specific niche delivery system, artificial intelligence and SEO for example, experiential marketing of a certain type, etc. But the days of being all things to all people are over. I looked at it at a prospective client site today that said that they are a full-service advertising agency that used to Be a popular term, but it basically means nothing to anyone. There’s no reason for anybody to hire you if you’re a full-service advertising agency, and have no other differentiating characteristics. So that’s a lot of what we work on is and that’s the most important thing I think, for agency owners to focus on is what is the value proposition? You know, who is the market? What is the size of the market? What is what are the comp? What is the competition? Do you have, as we say, as our own Warren Buffett says, in Omaha, can you have pricing power? Because if you can’t, the sooner you get out of this business, the better. And so you have to be able to offer a differentiated value that is of that will 10 acts at least the investment of your client. Otherwise, it’s just not a sustainable business. So that’s what we do in that particular niche practice fast agency scaling. That’s what we help our clients do.

John Corcoran 27:03

You mentioned Buffett and I wanted to circle back to that because you are in Omaha the home of Berkshire Hathaway. Yeah. And we talked about this last time you and I spoke your father, I believe it was growing up with Charlie Munger. Is that right? It was. Yeah. Yeah. Charlie’s toast is an awesome home. So to the extent you can tell us some home hometown stories about growing up in the hometown of Buffett Buffett sightings around town some Yes.

Scott Anderson 27:31

Well, you know, I mean, this is the thing about Warren is that he is genuinely a small-town guy. I mean, he’s a multi global genius, you know, best investor of all time, but he is just fundamentally a humble Nebraska Omaha guy. So it’s not uncommon to see him at. There’s a steakhouse called garage, which is one of our favorites and it’s just kind of the local small steakhouse, where he is likely to To be with Bill Gates or LeBron James or you know any number of or just with his family, you know, but he’s about as what you see is what you get guys as you can imagine. He’s a genius also. But you know, the thing that’s been so inspiring to me it really is his ethics You know, he just as he says, if you don’t want to see it on the cover of The New York Times, don’t do it. And you know, I think that’s really how he runs his businesses. I grew up a block south of block and a universe south of the buffets out of the house that weren’t still lives in and, you know, very middle-class neighborhood. And you know, I grew up with these kids and who are great people follow them have accomplished so much. But, you know, it was really you know, they’re very strict Forward saltier people.

John Corcoran 29:02

Yeah, that’s great. I love hearing those stories, because it’s such a great example the way he lives his life. Well, I think we’re almost out of time to wrap things up. Scott, this has been really great. I want to wrap things up with a question I was asked, which is let’s pretend we’re on an awards banquet, much like the Oscars or the Emmys and you’re receiving an award for lifetime achievement for everything you’ve done up until this point. And we all what we all want to know is, who do you think who are the mentors? Who are the friends who are the peers, business partners, employees that you would acknowledge in your remarks?

Scott Anderson 29:32

Well, there have been so many people, I’ve been fortunate to work with so many great organizations over time, both for profit and not for profit. You know, I think one of the organizations and the folks that I’d cite are the people involved with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. I was chairman of the board of Boys and Girls Clubs in the Midwest for some time and both the staff and the end We’re incredibly inspiring to me still are an incredibly wonderful organization. So I suppose I mentioned them.

John Corcoran 30:08

Oh, that’s great. All right. So Scott Anderson and Double Dare executive coaching is the name of the company and you’ve got a bunch of different websites. So point as to where people can go learn more about you. Scott, it was a pleasure. Thanks so much. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Thank you.