Helping Entrepreneurs Achieve Business Growth, with Adrienne Duffy
Published DateAuthorDan Sullivan and Strategic Coach
Adrienne Duffy owns Big Futures Inc., a company that uses a unique program to help privately owned organizations scale. With Big Futures, organizations go to the next level in their goals, and leaders go to the next level within themselves. In this episode, Adrienne speaks with fellow business coach Dan Sullivan about being an entrepreneur helping other entrepreneurs achieve business growth.
Here's some of what you'll learn in this episode:
How Adrienne learned she loved helping people transform and realize a bigger future.
The process that sets Adrienne’s company apart from the competition.
How Adrienne’s previous industry was limiting her ability to help people.
The steps Adrienne took to transform a period of personal adversity.
The impact that the Strategic Coach® Program has had on Adrienne’s mindset.
Deeply listening to your clients allows you to see the kind of value you need to create.
Transformations can come from opportunities to innovate.
Achieving an important goal might require you to put boundaries on your time.
All obstacles are opportunities to learn, grow, and transform.
To an extent, you have to stop spending your time on people with small futures, and seek out individuals with big futures.
When you go for a bigger check, everything about your company changes.
If you feel stuck where you are as an entrepreneur, double the size of your biggest check.
When you scale, be prepared to handle volatility and change.
In terms of clients, a company should never put all their eggs in one basket.
Something that was once a solution might become adversity that you have to transform.
Dan Sullivan: Hi, this is Dan Sullivan. I'd like to welcome you to the Multiplier Mindset podcast. Today's Free Zone Frontier transformation story is a great hero in the Strategic Coach community, and that's Adrienne Duffy. But I remember the very first summer when she was just becoming a coach, she also had Clara, her daughter, and Adrienne fell sick, and she was in the hospital—running a business, but in the hospital for four months during the summer. She remembered her Coach tools and she said, "Okay, I'm in a real tight situation here. I'm in a real pickle. What Coach tool gets me out of this?"
Adrienne said, "The only thing that's going to get us out of this and allow me to rest and recuperate and rejuvenate and get back is The Largest Cheque concept, and that is that we have to, to a certain extent, not be spending our time on small cheques with people who don't have big futures, and we have to go to individuals with really big futures who are willing to write really big cheques. This has to be the way that we do it from now on because we have a third member of the family now, and we want to grow our business and I've got to get back on my feet."
Well, what's really interesting out of this is, the experience was so powerful that Big Future became the name of their company. And they do very, very high level business, high level consulting, coaching, strategic design for really big cheque-writing companies. It's been one success after another as we've known Adrienne, and we know Adrienne as well as we know anyone who's an actual participant in the Strategic Coach.
It's just such a wonderful pleasure on my part. I'm like the school teacher who gets to stay with the kids because Adrienne's been in my workshop, I think since 1990, 1991. I've seen her a minimum of every quarter, sometimes two, three times a quarter, and it's one of my great pleasures and actually one of my greatest rewards in the whole creation of Strategic Coach as a company and as a program is just being able to actually accompany people on their growth as they've grown their companies and their whole thinking and how they're looking at the marketplace and the new things that they're creating. So this is such a pleasure for me just to do a little wraparound commentary on Adrienne's story of how it was just being in a very, very difficult situation at a particular point and very crucial to the success of so many things that she just switched over and said, "Look, we have to go after bigger cheques."
And when you go after bigger cheques, everything changes about your company: your confidence level changes, your capability level changes, your teamwork changes, your packaging changes. Everything changes when you go for a bigger cheque. I always tell people, and this is just a lesson that I'd like to attach to the Adrienne Duffy's story here, is that if you feel very, very stuck where you are as an entrepreneur or you feel that you're in a really difficult situation, double the size of your biggest cheque, it'll bring new life into your business very, very quickly.
Adrienne Duffy: Hi, my name is Adrienne Duffy, and I own a company, Big Futures Inc. And we're in the business of helping organizations that are privately held scale through a program that we developed and pioneered many years ago called The Moon Project, which many of you have now heard about moonshots. I've been working with that for over 20 years and helping organizations really, really go to the next level in their goals, but also leaders within organizations go to the next level within themselves through that framework. And we've rebranded our business to really accommodate for some of the big learning that we had and taking so many organizations to the moon and then Mars and then wherever else, Jupiter—huge, huge growth.
What we learned is that there needs to be certain elements in place, both on the inside of the organization and your strategy and goals externally. And so we've rebranded our business under the umbrella of Big Futures Inc. with the Nexus Project, which is really the integration of the inner growth culture elements and leadership elements required to handle the volatility and change that scaling really creates for you.
Essentially, I was trained in the fine arts. I had a career as an orchestral musician in an orchestra in Chicago. And I also had a very, very huge teaching practice. And I had moved to Houston, and that teaching practice grew and grew and grew, and I realized that what I loved, in addition to music, was helping people transform and realize a bigger future. That was the inner energy of passion that really was my Unique Ability and what I love to do. And what I found over time was that the arena of music was limiting to my ability to create a greater impact in helping others transform and realize their big futures. And so I moved into the work that I do today, got training, all of those kinds of things so that I could actually work organizationally.
And because I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, it just flowed into entrepreneurship, which is what I do of course with Strategic Coach as well. But my ability to actually be in a place where I could help individuals and organization transform to realize their big futures was really integral to all of it. I'm very happy because essentially the name of my company also is linked to what my passion is and what my deepest soul loves to do.
If I'm looking at the history and all of the transformations that we've made in our business, which there are very many, generally, they were rooted from the business structure perspective when an element of our industry started to commoditize and the transformation became our ability to actually weave those individual commoditized pieces into an overarching Unique Process that set us apart from our competition.
The other transformation that is always there, and it's something that we'll learn in Coach together, is about how we connect with our target audience in any given time frame and do deep listening that allows us to actually see the kind of value that we need to create. What is the innovation opportunity? And then the transformations come from that because we're able to stay fresh and differentiated from our competition. So I actually call it the transformation immunity to commoditization is essentially what I've received and what my clients in Coach receive. And I've worked on my mindset to see all obstacles as an opportunity to learn, grow, and transform. So I think one of the things that I've learned is that when an adversity hits, how quickly can I make the decision to take the learning and actually create something great with it? So that is just woven into the fabric of who I am. So I don't belabor those setbacks anymore.
But I will tell you that, one, it's not really an adversity, but there was a period of time where I was in my business, I became pregnant with my daughter, and I was very sick with that pregnancy, and I actually ended up in the hospital for four months. During that period of time, I was still actively involved in the business. And I'm laying in the hospital bed going, "Okay, there's a few things that need to happen here. First of all, the business needs to keep going. This is our lifeblood and how I'm going to create this opportunity for my child when it's born." And I laid in bed and I went, "Which of my Coach tools will most help me through this?" And what I realized is that I needed a large cheque, and we have a concept called The Largest Cheque, and I needed not a large cheque, but like a huge, massive, large cheque that was simple, it was easy to do, and that I would be able to leave this situation, get back into my business, and move forward.
So as I'm laying in the hospital bed, I'm calling various different people in my network, and I was very involved in those days in the auto industry, and I called a dealer that I know, and we just had a chat. And he happened to have known that Ford Motor Company was looking for businesses like mine to launch some large programs within their structure. So that adversity of being in the hospital was actually transformed by The Largest Cheque concept, which I actually had pretty well sealed the deal, and it basically handled about the next three years. It was a major transformation that happened to our business.
Subsequently, the adversity happened where Ford wanted more and more of our time. We have a concept in Strategic Coach called the Top 20, and we highly recommend that our clients don't have a top one where we put all our eggs in one basket. Ford invited us to actually move to Australia and take over the whole country to actually implement this program in Australia. And we actually put forth a really bold move and we fired them as a client and went back to square one and remade our entire client base in about six months. And this was a very, I mean, I'm telling you, a large cheque, very profitable client. And so it evolves, right? The very thing that could be a solution at one point in time actually might become an adversity that you have to transform.
I had the privilege of meeting Dan Sullivan very early on. I was an early adopter to Strategic Coach, so I think Dan was only at the workshop program for about a year before I met him. I have a vivid memory of meeting him where it was like, oh my gosh, I have to do this. So I joined the Program quite young at the time, early on in my entrepreneurial career. So the impact that Strategic Coach has had on me personally and professionally is so huge that it's really hard to even say one thing because it's hard to even know who I would be without it. First of all, Strategic Coach for me has really been about how I can use these frameworks to execute on the goals that are most important to me personally and professionally.
You don't know the cycles that you're going to be going through, and so sometimes I've used those tools very much on a personal level. For example, as my daughter was growing up and she's in school, on a personal level, I was the only mom in school every Friday in kindergarten to help the kindergarten teacher, and I was running a very important business on the side. And I was able to do that because of the concepts of Strategic Coach. I was able to put boundaries around my time to achieve a goal that was really important to me. In terms of our business, there are so many of my competitors that either went out of business or really became highly impacted by the changes in the industry that I serve in. And we were always constantly evolving, constantly changing, constantly being challenged to our mindset and then how we looked at our business.
And all of that, I believe is because I'm a Strategic Coach as a client too. I come once a quarter to my workshop. And not only that, I do have the amazing benefit of helping entrepreneurs transform as an associate coach. But all of those things really help that constant transformation happen, which is so beneficial. It is a huge privilege and honor to actually be able to bring this content that helped me transform my life to others to help them transform their lives. And that energy and that passion that I experience with helping other people transform at the same time I get to do the same is really the lifeblood of what's allowed me to commit to be a coach at Strategic Coach.