Take the Guesswork Out of Growth

Take the Guesswork Out of Growth

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Mr. Biz Radio: Take the Guesswork Out of Growth

Unedited transcription of the show is included below:


Welcome to Mr. Biz radio BizTalk for biz owners during the next half hour, Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth, a leading business advisor, and two time bestselling author we'll cover topics that will help business owners run their companies more profitably and more efficiently. If you're ready to stop faking the funk and take your business onward and upward, this show is for you. And now here's Mr. Biz Kenworth.

All right. Welcome to another episode of Mr. [inaudible], Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth. And this week we are going to talk about we've covered this topic before. Of course, you know, we've been doing the show now for almost five years, so we've covered a lot of different topics and some of them multiple times, of course, but, uh, this is something that's going to hit home with everybody, and that is the topic of growth. And again, we've talked about it before we have a special guest this week. And, uh, you know, as I say all the time, we don't just have anyone come on the show here. So, uh, this particular guest this week has, um, you know, when you're looking for someone to talk about growth, here's, here's sorta some of his background, some of his resume he's been involved with 10 startups, two of them have not been successful, right? Normal par for the course, actually better than part for the course. Um, he's been involved with two IPO's of those 10, five of them have been, uh, acquisitions as well. Um, he's written a book further, faster, the vital few steps that take the guesswork out of growth. And by the way, all just, just throw this one in there. He's actually pitched to Steve jobs before as well. So without further ado, this week's guest is Mr. Bill Flynn. Bill. Welcome to the, yeah,

You can. Thanks. I'm honored to be here.

Yeah. So look, I gotta start here. Let's talk a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey. What got you to through all these things I just mentioned and, and to where you're at now with, with catalyst growth advisor.

Sure. So I sort of had two arcs to my career. Uh, one was, as you mentioned, the startup, so in 1991 was my first startup. It was actually a speech recognition and actually is what Siri turned into eventually. Um, apple has since replaced that technology, but it was a pretty cool technology at the time. Uh, and then I got into the internet in 1995. So pretty early on, um, and sort of stayed in that multiple different kind of approaches, as you said, you know, I was pretty lucky. Um, I'm either five for seven or five or 10, depending on how you count my contribution or lack thereof, um, over the timeframe, but either one's a pretty good hit rate. Usually it's one in 10. Yeah. Uh, and then somewhere along the lines, X between started five and six. I, I, I kind of had this, uh, taste of being a coach and of course I wasn't smart enough at the time to know that I was being a coach.

Uh, but, uh, I really liked it. Um, it worked really well. If you look at my LinkedIn profile, you can see my resume looks terrific on that. But the best part was when I left the company to go do another startup, uh, the, um, two of the, two of the least experienced managers that I work with, um, came up to me and said, you know, the stuff that I made do. So I basically said, look, I don't know how to run your, I don't know how to run your, your department. You know, I'm, I'm a sales and marketing guy. I'm not, I'm technically adept, but I've never run a network infrastructure before. I've never run support. I certainly never hadn't run finance before. Um, but I said, look, what I'd like to do is I have an idea of where we're, where I want us to go.

And I'd like us to discuss debate and decide if that's a good place to go. And once we do that, I want you to draw me your map from where your team is now, to where we want them to be, you know, in a year or two or three. And, and then we're gonna help each other get there. And when I left, uh, pretty much the day I left, they both said sort of the same thing to me, which was, I just want you to know the stuff that you made me do, draw that roadmap. I hated it. It was really, really hard, but I'm so glad you made me do it because now I know how to do it. I mean, I taught him how to fish and I wanted that feeling again, and that was really being a coach. And so after four more startups of which the last four were not as good as the first six at all.

I said, I want to try that. So I became a coach about five years ago. I I've, I've been certified in multiple things, scaling up in three ag and a bunch of other stuff. Um, and, uh, I found that I now know what a calling is. Uh, I knew what it was intellectually, but I, I would do this for free. I do do it for free. Often. I do get paid an obscene amount of money, you know, when I work with real clients, but my ROI is through the roof. I have no guilt in how much I charged, because if they do the work, they'll make 10 X what they pay me at least. Um, so, so that's sort of my quick and dirty how I got

Here. Well, it's interesting. I wonder bill, as you look back now, and you said, you know, the, the last four sort of after you had this sort of, uh, aha, you know, semi epiphany moment of becoming a coach potentially in the future, you said the last four start-ups, didn't go as well. I wonder, do you think maybe some it's, it may be subconsciously your, your kind of your heart was already moving forward.

You got to psychoanalyze me now again. That's great. I didn't know I was in for this on the show. Should I sit on the couch? Um, you know what I, uh, that's an excellent question. I don't think so. Um, what I, so my belief is that this is what I've learned is that in 1995, to start a high-tech company, you needed $15 million to start just to start in 15, 20 years later, you need to do the same start. You need a hundred thousand, I've read between 50 and a hundred thousand dollars. So it's really easy to start a company. Almost anyone can do it, but not everyone should. And I think if you've got $15 million, you feel a little more responsibility to do things correctly. But if, if you don't, I think you, you kind of wing it a bit. And, uh, uh, I ran into what I call founder rightness, which is, uh, th the founders fall in love with their idea.

And I couldn't shake them as a sales and marketing guy to say, look, people don't care. What your idea is. They only care if it does something valuable for them. It helps them make progress. It helps them with the struggle. And many of them just didn't care, right? They they're like, well, we've got to convince them, we need a different deck, or, you know, you need to better be a better sales person or whatever. And I, I, you know, the last three or four, I really had a hard time convincing them of that. Uh, and, and being the head of sales. And most of them either I left them or they got rid of me because, you know, things weren't happening the way they should. And I had been studying startups for years. I'm a Steve blank fan. Uh, I follow lean customer development, you know, all that kind of stuff.

I know that there's a way to do it, and it doesn't guarantee success, but at least it guarantees an answer as quickly as possible, and they weren't willing to do it. So that's when I decided to be a coach. I said, you know what? I can't, I can't figure out how to interview a founder and find out if there there's a Goldilocks founder, as I like to call them there, you have to be a crazy to be a founder because the odds are so stacked against you. You have to have this distortion of reality, but you can't be too crazy. Uh, so you need that sort of Goldilocks thing. And so I decided not to try anymore. And I'm glad I did. I actually, my only regret is that I didn't start doing this earlier.

Yeah. Well, that's interesting. It's interesting. Interesting. Well, we've only got a couple minutes left here before we, uh, we're going to head to a break, but I want to be remiss if I did not ask you to, uh, to give us at least the, the, a very short version, I guess probably just in a couple of minutes here, but of what it was like pitching the Steve jobs.

Yeah. So I, I, um, I didn't know. I was pitching Steve jobs at the time. It sort of happened by accident and I have friends and family that actually worked for apple really early in the eighties. So I knew of his reputation and he was much more difficult early on Steve jobs to O was a little better, but he was still a pretty cantankerous guy. And so I showed a bit next, you know, the thing he did after he got fired and I was doing speech recognition and the two product managers I was working with said, Hey, you know, just, you got to hang on a minute, you know, Steve's gonna join us. Uh, so would you, would you mind waiting? And I'm like, well, who the hell is Steve? Right. You know, and I'm supposed to know. And I said, okay, fine. I thought Steve was their boss or something.

And he clearly, he was. Um, and yeah, I set up my speech recognition. I had all ready to go, the microphone, all that stuff set up and in walks Steve jobs and he's like fired up. I'm like, okay. He asked me about four or five questions. He just wanted to see where the technology was at. And then I said, you know, great. He left the room. That was it. Uh, I never heard from him again. Uh, but he was, he was fine. He was, you know, he didn't, he didn't, I didn't see any of the tendencies that, that I had seen from other folks. He was actually very gracious. Um, but it was kind of cool. Right. I just happened to meet Steve jobs was just the neatest thing. Yeah.

Well, I mean, and actually it probably probably would have helped you not

Knowing, right. If you

Didn't know two or three weeks ahead of time, like you're prepping for a meeting to pitch the Steve jobs, you know, I'm sure the nerves would have taken over big time.

And, and I think my, my, my CEO and other folks would have been like, well, I should go and whatever. And, um, I'm glad that they didn't go cause, uh, I think they would have just screwed it up. I'd probably screw it up anyway, but the technology wasn't ready for it mean you want to continue with speech and it wasn't there yet. It was discreet. So you had to pause between each thing

You said. Gotcha. Gotcha. All right. Well, we're going to a break here. We're going to come back, continue talking with this week's guest bill Flynn on Mr. Biz radio

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Welcome back to the show. And it is time for the Mr. Biz tip of the week. And this week's tip is dealing with pricing. You guys hear me talk about this all the time, but one of the quickest ways to financial problems is holding on to unprofitable customers find and eliminate them. Now, I know that sounds really obvious, but as you guys have heard me say before, if you've listened to the show, uh, I've been a loyal listener to the shows. Most businesses, unfortunately have what I call the silent business killer. That's a, an unprofitable or at best break, even product or service that you have, and it's the silent business killer because you don't realize you have it. So you got to find those peel back the onion on your pricing, make sure you have everything included from top to bottom soup to nuts and find those because again, almost every business I've ever worked with has at least one of them.

So you got to find it and eliminate that, uh, unprofitable product customer, et cetera. You know, again, sometimes it's customers, sometimes it's just a product, uh, either way can have a really detrimental impact on your business. As you can imagine, as you're selling more, your revenue's going up, but if it's unprofitable, your net income is going down. It seems very counterintuitive, most people. And for that reason, a lot of people don't find it and they are just really perplexed. Don't understand what the heck is going on. It just doesn't again, on the, on the macro view of things, doesn't make a lot of sense. So that is the Mr. Biz tip of the week. So again, this week we're talking with Mr. Bill Flynn of catalyst growth advisors. He is the author of further, faster, the vital few steps that take the guest work out of growth. So let's get back in this a little bit. Tell us, um, if you would bill a little bit more about what you do now with catalyst growth advisors.

So, uh, I of three things, primarily, I'm a business coach, uh, and, and that's what people call me, but I really thought about Canon and I'm really a teacher more than anything. Uh, I teach a framework that is mostly based on, you know, these founders of management science, right? Drucker, Deming, shine McGregor from some of them are 90 to a hundred years old, you know, in terms of the things in management science. Now we've got the next generation, which is Porter and Collins and cynic and all these in Buckingham and all these guys. But to be honest with you, I've been researching this for about 30 years and nothing much has changed of how to run a really great business. Unfortunately, most people just ignore the science of how to really run a great business. So that's what I'm teaching folks is sit here. This is how Alan Malali ran Boeing and Ford.

This is how her Keller, her runs Southwest, you know, pick your, pick your iconic business. That's been around for generations sometimes centuries. They actually do the same few things really well. And that's what I teach my clients. Um, I teach them how to, to create a situation where they can focus on the few things that matter the most to their two most important constituencies, which are their, their team members or their employees and their customers. Often we ignore them, uh, and to our peril. And as you mentioned in your tip, right, is, is we ignore the ones that, that are actually sucking money out of the business because we think revenue is important. And you know, the saying goes, revenue is vanity. Profit is sanity and cash is king, but most of us ignore that. So that's what I do.

Well, I like it. So, so tell us a little bit, so I know from your book, um, you talked in the book about the, uh, uh, culture, psychological safety. Uh, so, so how do we, so first of all, if you would define that for us, because there's a lot of syllables there, uh, and then how do we make that?

Sure. So psychological safety is, is a term coined by Amy Edmondson. She's a Harvard business school professor. She's been studying teams for 20 years. She's got a great book called teaming, T a M I N G, which talks a lot about this. But in essence, psychological safety is creating an environment of humans, uh, realizing that we're all human, we're all flawed. We all make mistakes and to not create an environment where people are scared to admit a mistake, um, try something interesting and a little, you know, a little risky, et cetera, and to avoid what Simon Sinek calls, the second job at work, which is the job of lying, hiding, and faking. If you can create a psychologically safe environment where people just feel safe to be human, then you'll actually get much better productivity out of them than if you, um, create this, this really often inadvertent world of, of fear and at least anxiety that is completely unnecessary, uh, at work.

So that's, that's sort of what it is, how you do that is you start with yourself, you, you basically, you know, say I screwed up. You say, I don't know, I need help. You have to, as a team leader, you have to be the one who sets the stage because you'll give permission to everyone else to also make mistakes. You know, there's people like Google, uh, you know, Google X, which I think is now called X. They actually reward mistakes because it is closer to getting to, to an, an understanding it's maybe not always an answer or, or success, but when you, when you fail well and you fail gracefully, you can learn a lot from it and you can actually accelerate your success because most people fail their way to success. Right?

Yeah, no, I think it's interesting because I know even in my corporate days, um, with JP Morgan, you know, Jamie diamond used to talk about that determined CEO there's he said, you know, I would rather have someone who will ask for forgiveness, not permission. And I think it kind of falls in line with this.

Exactly. I think you, as a leader, I mean, and Jamie diamonds, you know, obviously been lauded many times. I haven't really studied him. So I don't know too much about his style, but you have to create the conditions for that though. Right? I mean, it's fine for him to say that, but if you don't create the conditions for it, you know, then people don't really know what to do, or they don't know the parameters. Right? The theory of constraints says, if you give the right amount of constraints, you actually increased velocity. So you have to say, you know, you can make mistakes, but you sort of have to play in this arena. And I, my metaphor is, um, I don't know if you bowl, but, um, you know, here in new England, there's two different kinds of bowling. There's, there's 10 pin and there's candlepin and Kendall depends a little tiny balls.

You can throw three of them, but most all of them have when you're take your kids, they have those barriers that go up on the side and that's what you need to do as a leader. You have to, you have to say, you know, the barriers are up. Anything between the barriers you can do whatever you want. Right. Go crazy. But if you want to go outside the barrier, you either have to talk about it, ask permission or realize that it's probably not in our best interest to do that. If you can create those conditions and create that environment, psychological safety, I think that the velocity of business will increase tremendously, but it's counterintuitive. We don't do it.

Yeah, no, I think you're right. And that's, that's why I found it pretty fascinating. And I hadn't heard that term before, so that's what I found it pretty easy.

Yeah. She's awesome. I'm actually kind of connected to her now. She's a wonderful lady.

Good stuff. Good stuff. Um, so again, we, gosh, time flies so quickly here. We're almost out of time on this segment, but, um, give us, uh, and I don't want to give away some of the tips you're going to give us. I know in the last segment on, on, on, you know, playing into your book of taking the guesswork out of growth, but, um, if you would, what are some things that leaders should be doing to avoid failure?

Yeah. So I talk about three things, um, at a high level, and then we can get into a little depth in the second and last segment. Uh, one is that, uh, there's a meaningful gap between what science knows and business does. And we have to leaders have to figure out really what that gap is, uh, and focus on those things. Uh, the second is that few things truly matter in business really and in life can, but those that do matter tremendously. And if you are ever a parent, the days of pre parent to post parent, you know what I mean, your priorities changed dramatically when you bring that little thing home. Um, and I think that to business as well, and the last is we rely much too much as leaders on luck, effort, timing, and force of will to, to succeed. And those four things do not scale. Uh, and you have to figure that out, uh, as a, as a leader. So if you focus on those three things, you will go a long way to taking the guesswork out to growth. And again, I'll be happy to go into more depth there's we won't have enough time in the last segment to go through all the things that I've learned, but we can pick a few and, and dig a little deeper if you want. So that's what I've learned. Awesome.

Yeah, no, I love it. So again, this week we're talking with Mr. Bill Flynn of catalyst growth advisors. You could find out more about a lot of the things that Bill's got his hands on right now at catalystgrowthadvisors.com and a fascinating topic here. Again, we're going to talk in the last segment, he's going to give us some tips on a right from his book of further, faster, the vital few steps that take the guesswork out of growth. We're going to get his tips on how to do that. How do we take some of the guesswork out of that? Um, and as you know, as he mentioned, scope boot go further, faster, or even fail faster as oddly as that sounds. So we're gonna hit a break here on Mr. Biz radio. We'll come back talking with Mr. Bill Flint.

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All right. Welcome back to the show.

And again, this week we'll be talking about growth. Everyone likes growth, and again, we've talked with Mr. Bill Flynn of catalyst growth advisors. Again, find out more at catalyst catalyst, easy for me to say catalystgrowthadvisors.com. And I would also encourage you to go follow bill on LinkedIn as well. Bill Flynn, F L Y N N. Um, and find out more, you can find out more about his background, a lot of things he's got going on. Um, and, and, um, uh, you know, take advantage of some of the content that he shares on a regular basis. So bill, the moment we've all been waiting for the moments we've all been waiting for. Tell us, tell us a little bit more about how we can take the guesswork out of growth.

Sure. Um, so you mentioned growth. Anybody wants it, but, uh, there's this great saying, but I think his name is Edward Abbey is growth for growth's sake is the ideology of a cancer cell. And often the often that that cancer kills its host. So you shouldn't just grow for growth's sake, you should grow deliberately and in a healthy way so that you can thrive, not necessarily just grow. Um, and what I found is that if you want to grow, it's actually a creation process more than anything, which means that you have to have insight, uh, you know, it's innovative, it's creative, uh, as part of that as well. And the best way to do that is to, um, create a situation. So you, you, you can have your best ideas. So I ask this of most folks and I'll ask it if you can, is when you get your best ideas, what are you actually doing?

That's a good question. Um, I guess as I think about it a little bit, um, I'm usually either, honestly, I'm either in the act of doing something physical, whether it be, you know, yard work or working out or something like that, or I, I literally, I, I I've found that I need to take the time to actually sit down and force myself to really brainstorm and think about things. So oftentimes it's, it's in that situation, but I would guess I know there's a lot, a lot of people that do that.

Yeah. So, uh, it's more often than the first thing, right? So I hear taking a shower on a run, whatever. Um, and, and that's because your brain is quiet. So your job as a leader is if you want to, if you want to create a growth in your organization, you have to actually quiet your brain. So you meet, you, can't be doing. And, uh, I was a Vista speaker for about three or four years, and Vistage's a peer to peer advisory company, uh, organization, for those of you don't know. And so I travel all around the country and I've spoken to hundreds and hundreds of years, and I would ask them, I said, how much time do you spend in the business versus on the business? And I'll tell you, it was almost 80% or 90% in the business, meaning actually doing operating, et cetera, and 10 to 20% on.

And that's the exact opposite of what it should be. If you're, if you're the leader, especially if you're the, the leader in the company, the head of the company, you need to be doing less, obviously it's different pace. It's one size and that kind of stuff, right? But the larger you get, the less you should actually be doing. And the more thinking you should be doing, which means you have to find time and space to let your brain relax. Cause that's when the best ideas come to you. Uh, and that's, that's when an insight happens and that's literally a fusing of neurons in your brain. It's a physical act. When you get that epiphany of that new idea, your brain is actually changing, it's rewiring. And so you have to do that. So how do you do that? You need to fire yourself from the day to day.

What's the first thing I teach all my leaders. You need to find ways to fire yourself from the day-to-day. And I make them put a list of things that they do. It's a, it's a great list of, um, which is really impetus from Marcus Buckingham, who runs the ADP research Institute. Uh, and we used to run Gallup and he's written a bunch of books, really good books. Um, and he has, he has a love load list. I like, uh, I like love load long and lust. Uh, and I asked them to keep this piece of paper with them for a week, you know, put it into squares, folded into fours. And then as something comes to you, like, you love it. Meaning it's something that, that you just, when you're doing it time flies, you're looking forward to doing it again. Uh, you're probably pretty good at it.

And you might not be, but you might be getting better at it. That's that's love. Right. And I say, write that down when it's low. And that means the exact opposite you're doing it. Time is going, you know, five minutes feels like an hour, right. And you're bored and you're distracted and you're trying to find other things to do. Instead, you take a lot of breaks, put that in that list. And then long is stuff that you would, um, long to do that you used to do that you don't do anymore. And lost is maybe something that, that someone else is doing it that you see out there that you think you'd really love to do. And after a week, look at that list. And what you want to do is you want to do the stuff that's in the love and the long and the lust and the love, the long and the lust as often as possible.

And you want to get rid of the lobe. Um, there'll be a bunch of stuff that isn't any of those categories. Don't write them down. They're not that important yet. Let's just work on the edges. And then on the, on the lobe part, um, I like to work stuff from Rory Vaden into, into, um, into Marcus's list. And Rory Vaden is an efficiency expert and he says, there's four things you can do. You can automate, you can delegate, you can eliminate and you can prep procrastinate, right? So is there something you can do that you can automate? So for me, I automate my calendar. I read somewhere years ago that it takes eight back and forth to set up a meeting with someone. And so it's a colossal waste of time. So I have a public calendar and I send you my link and you just pick a time, it cuts out seven back and forth. So that's automated, right? So delegate, we all know eliminate, maybe it's something to be doing forever. You don't need to do and procrastinate, which is the one I love the most, which is, you know what, just stop doing it for awhile. And if nobody notices get rid of it.

Yeah. It's, it's interesting. Um, I, I, first of all, I love that I'm taking copious notes over here. I love that because, you know, it's, it's, you know, along the same lines, as, you know, when people, as I'm talking with owners and working with them and they, I, I encourage them. The same sort of thing is again, they need to be working on it, not in it. And they say, well, gosh, what do I delegate? And one of the things right along the lines of what you're saying, although on a much, uh, somewhat of a microcosm of what you had mentioned, bill is I say, you know, during the week, anything, or during the month, you know, if you have a kind of a monthly cycle, anything that makes you sigh or roll your eyes, you need to get rid of those, go on the load list, obviously.

Um, but you know, get rid of those things. Because again, as you mentioned, I agree with you a hundred percent. Those are the things you're probably not good at. You clearly don't enjoy doing, which means you're probably not going to do a great job on them. You were probably, or likely to procrastinate what you procrastinate. Then it may potentially have a deadline, which means you rush through it again, the quality suffers you need to get out of that. And especially as a leader of an organization, even aside from those things, you really need to be on the business, not in it. And those things that are making you sign or roll your eyes are probably things that are in and not on.

Exactly. And so, uh, and so I'm, I'm a big fan of, of helping others. You know, my, my core purpose is called simplified servant hood. Um, and that's really to help those leaders to really focus on those few things that truly matter. Uh, so I wrote the book, I actually write a bi-monthly newsletter. I'm doing it for five years. It was 130 or so out there. They're all a minute to two minute reads is almost always something to do. There's a tip in there for everything that you do. Uh, same thing on LinkedIn. I'll throw stuff out on LinkedIn. My book is a, is sort of a, a Parado principle towards, towards growth. It's not, it's not, it's not a scaling up book or like one of those kinds of books, a really dense, uh, it's really the, I'd say the four or five big knobs that if you turn them, they will probably have the biggest impact.

And that's sort of the impetus of further and faster. Uh, so, uh, and my book you can get for free, as you mentioned on my website is I is, I mean, I'd love for you to buy it. I get four or five bucks every time you buy it. But, you know, if you just want to try it out and you just download the PDF and read, I'd rather, it's more about the message to me than the money. So, um, I'm really glad that you have me on, so I can at least give a couple of tips and then point them towards many more as well.

Yeah, absolutely. That's that's the whole idea is, you know, as I said, as I flipped through your book, I thought, man, there's a lot of good stuff in here. And obviously in only 30 minutes, there's only so much we can cover and just kind of scratching the surface of it. But that was kind of the ideas I wanted to kind of scratch the surface during the show here. And probably what a lot of people's appetite to say, holy crap. There's a lot of a lot. I want to know more, you know, give me more bill

Great. I'm happy and I'm happy to do it. You know, that's, that's, that's what a calling is, right. Is you just want to share to those who are willing to listen. If you're not willing to listen, that's perfectly fine. Um, but I don't wanna waste your time. Certainly don't want to waste mine either. Yeah, yeah,

No. A hundred percent agree. A hundred percent. Uh, well again, we've been talking this week with bill Flynn of catalyst growth advisors. You can find out more at catalystgrowthadvisors.com, as you mentioned, if you are interested and you've heard some things on the show that have piqued your interest a bit, you can download a free copy of his book there and the name of his book, if you want to, if you, if you want to give back and I shouldn't say give back, but pay it forward a little bit, um, with some of the content that bill has shared with us today is the name of his book is further, faster, the vital few steps that take the guesswork out of growth. So do check that out as well, um, and buy a copy, um, that wouldn't be bad. And as bill mentioned as well and follow him on LinkedIn, as like I said, bill shares a fair amount of information on LinkedIn. I've been connected with him now for a bit, and I've seen, and I, when I first connected with him, went back and looked at a lot of the things he had posted. I think it's a lot of good information, but bill, thanks so much for being on the show. I really appreciate

It. I really glad to be here. Thanks, Ken.

Yeah. Awesome. Thanks for listening guys. Have a great week and don't forget as always cashflow is king.

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