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Multiplication By Subtraction … In Real Life, with Ben Laws

It’s one of the hardest conversations you’ll have as an entrepreneur. You want the business to have a bigger future, but someone on your team isn’t aligned with that growth. Ben Laws is here this week to talk Multiplication By Subtraction and how to do it so everyone wins.

Show Notes:

Ben Laws considers each of his businesses as experience companies.

  • Inspired by Simon Sinek’s 2009 TEDx Talk and a JW Marriott ad line, Ben Laws re-envisioned his “why” of business around the core value of curating an “insanely awesome experience.”
  • That experience begins long before any interaction with a client; it starts with how his team members treat one another.

Upgrading the businesses started with upgrading himself.

  • Strategic Coach® asked him to think about what team success really means to him.
  • He started the Self-Managing Company® Series in 2018 and has since expanded his team of six by 4x while growing the business at a rate of 30% per year with no marketing and only through referrals.
  • Clients reported that one of the top two reasons they hired Ben’s company was because of its incredible team.
  • Business growth is happening because team growth came first.

To multiply the team, Ben had to subtract some wrong-fit team members.

  • Only one person from the original team is still with them.
  • One tough conversation he had to have was with a relative, but many of the Strategic Coach concepts helped both sides see the parting as win-win:
  • Unique Ability®: Is there a better role elsewhere that would allow them to do more of what they have superior skill and passion for? That better matches their purpose?
  • The Bigger Future: What are the bigger goals for them and the company, and are they aligned?
  • The 4 C’s Formula®: What are we committed to? What will require courage so that we can achieve that?
  • The Gratitude Principle: What do we truly appreciate about each other and about having worked together all these years?

To build a 100x Self-Managing Company, Ben is focusing on the culture inside the company.

  • Ben learned to not avoid having a difficult conversation with a wrong-fit person. That person is probably causing right-fit team members to leave.
  • “A” players want to work with other “A” players.
  • A bad attitude from one person can do so much damage to the rest of the team that even losing their tremendous contribution is worth saving the rest of the team.
  • The truth is, you’ll probably gain more than you think you’ll lose because that person likely caused a bottleneck, with the rest of the team trying to avoid or bypass their input.
  • Collaborations are built from a foundation of trust and respect.

See pages 34-35 of Multiplication By Subtraction for Shannon’s chart of the symptoms of problem behaviors and the results or costs for the rest of the team.

People don’t usually fire themselves.

  • Who are you truly benefiting by hanging on?
  • If someone is struggling, they may need permission to leave a situation and stop doing things they’re not good at and don’t enjoy.

You need a future-based mindset to upgrade your team.

  • As Dan Sullivan says, “The skills that got you out of Egypt aren’t the ones you need to get to the Promised Land.”
  • The skills needed in your organization at one stage of growth may not be enough at the next stage.
  • Does each person have the right horsepower for the current climb?
  • The downside of having a great company culture is that people hate to leave.

You can’t expect the person to care about the company if the company doesn’t care about the person.

  • You want them to grow professionally, but also in alignment with the company’s bigger future.
  • To show them how important they are to the business, Ben gives all team members the time, effort, and resources to help them win.
  • Ben and his partner, Jenna, know that when someone doesn’t work out, they were probably not a core value fit.
  • People who are there for their reasons and not the company’s will pay lip service to its values.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you know what talents you’ll need on your team?

  • In your vision of where your company is going, what does your culture look or feel like?
  • As a culture, what is the impact you want to make in the world?
  • When you’re clear with your vision, you’re clear about what talents you need.
  • Many great structures can help you find the talent once you know what you’re looking for: EOS®, Kolbe, CliftonStrengths®, or PRINT®.


The Self-Managing Company by Dan Sullivan

Multiplication By Subtraction by Shannon Waller

Simon Sinek, “How great leaders inspire action,” filmed September, 2009, in Puget Sound, WA. TED video, 17:48.

The 4 C’s Formula by Dan Sullivan

EOS: Entrepreneurial Operating System

The Best Of: The Always Quotable Dan Sullivan

“A Beginner's Guide To Unique Ability” free PDF download.

“[Webinar] Your Bigger Future: Creating And Achieving Your Vision.”

The Gratitude Principle by Dan Sullivan

Topgrading by Dr. Brad Smart

The Kolbe A Index

The CliftonStrengths assessment

Who Do You Want To Be A Hero To? by Dan Sullivan

“The Downside Of A Great Company Culture” Shannon Waller's Team Success Podcast, Nov 3, 2022

Wanting What You Want by Dan Sullivan

Episode Transcript:
Shannon Waller: In this conversation with Ben Laws, he continually drops incredible words of wisdom. For example, “You can’t expect your team to care about the company unless you first care about them.” How good is that? Stay tuned for an amazing conversation about upgrading your team and Multiplication By Subtraction.
Hi. Shannon Waller here, and welcome to Team Success. Today, I am beyond thrilled to talk to my good friend, client, colleague, peer, all the things, Ben Laws, with whom I’ve had the deep pleasure of working with him as team on the Self-Managing Company on-site series through Strategic Coach. And what we’re here to talk about today, because, Ben, you’ve grown so much in terms of your company, is really all about upgrading your team, some of that includes Multiplication By Subtraction, and I thought, “Oh my gosh.” What I was so excited to hear about your progress, and I thought, “Ooh, can I interview you?” Because I think your story and the difference is made for you, and what you now have freedom to do, and some of the hard subtraction that you’ve had to do would be really useful for other people to hear and to understand how this actually plays out. It’s all good to read it, try to be as practical as possible, but when someone is actually lived it, it’s incredibly instructive. So Ben, thank you, thank you, thank you so much for being on my Team Success podcast and welcome to the show.

PRINT assessment

Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy

About the Author

Shannon Waller, Entrepreneurial Team Strategist, is a natural collaborator who instinctively saw that a thriving Unique Ability® Team can strengthen their entrepreneur, the business, and themselves. A win-win-win. Go, team, is Shannon’s rallying cry.

Profile Photo of Shannon Waller