At our Titans Mastermind meeting earlier this month, one of our speakers was Mark Winters, co-author of the 2016 bestseller Rocket Fuel: The one essential combination that will get you more of what you want from your business.
In my interview with him we explored the essence of the book (and a whole lot more) with the help of the members of Titans Mastermind.
It was a fascinating discussion and I’m thinking about sharing the interview with you in the near future because it is that important to every business. Let me know if that would be of interest to you.
The essence of Rocket Fuel (i.e. “the one essential combination” from the subtitle) is that every successful business at its core needs at least two key people at the top:
One is a Visionary (V) and the other is an Integrator (I).
In short, this is only the tip of the iceberg…and I would never want to shortchange Mark’s masterpiece (with co-author Gino Wickman) with this simple definition of the book.
Nor do I want to do that with this truncated definition of the “V” and the “I”:
The “Visionary” is the idea person and the “Integrator” knows how to get idea(s) done.
Despite just giving you the punchline of the book, it is an essential read for any entrepreneur or business owner.
When it came out it was a phenomenon; now it is a bible for business success.
The discussion with Mark reminded me of a blog post I wrote in 2015—before the publication of Rocket Fuel (which hopefully proves that I didn’t steal any of Mark’s intellectual property). ☺
Not that my post can hold a candle to his book or his thesis.
My take on the subject (written over 6 years ago) was based on my own experience of being an “intrepreneur” (i.e. a “second Visionary” if there was such a thing in Rocket Fuel speak) and it has some relevance to the far more sophisticated approach in Rocket Fuel.
I titled the post at the time “Who is your Rainmaker?”
But I could re-title it today, based on my interview with Mark, “Do you have a second Visionary in addition to an Integrator?”
I’d like to share some of that 2015 post with you today incorporating a Rocket Fuel mindset.
I spent six months in early 2015 interviewing dozens of entrepreneurs for what was to become my initial Titans Mastermind group…all blue chip marketers, entrepreneurs and copywriters.
After talking about where their businesses were at the time–and where they want to go in the future–I asked them all the same question:
“What is holding you back from growing your business?”
Almost all of the answers I received related to one of the following issues:
1. Having too many ideas…and not knowing which ones to focus on first. The usual refrain went something like, “I have more good ideas than I know what to do with…it’s the implementation that screws me up.”
2. Not receiving enough candid feedback and constructive criticism on all of their new ideas. Although then my follow up question was, “Can you (entrepreneur/owner/leader) hear the opposing view, feedback or criticism?”
3. Not receiving any new, groundbreaking ideas from anyone.
Let’s explore each one of these in the context of “Visionaries” and “Integrators”:
Too many ideas
This is a problem we all face–whether we are entrepreneurs or senior executives.
Many of the Titans talked about “too many ideas and not enough time or resources to get them all done”… and trying to create the right balance between idea generation and getting the essential stuff done (and staying focused).
And also what to say “NO” to.
Read The difference between “no longer” and “not yet” for a deep dive into how to say no…while still being true to your entrepreneurial spirit.
The country’s foremost expert in Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.), Ned Hallowell, believes that there would be no entrepreneurs if this “affliction” that affects so many of us did not exist.
So much for A.D.D being a stigma…although it clearly can get in the way of productivity.
Ned (and many others) also believe that controlling (but never eliminating) the urge that all entrepreneurs have to chase every shiny object is the key to success in business.
There is no quick solution to this problem but most of the folks I interviewed understood that if they can get the right systems in place for implementation (which in most cases is not their strong suit), the results can be extraordinary.
And if Rocket Fuel was around in 2015 rather than 2016, reading it would have been my first recommendation.
I now recommend it all the time (post 2016) which eventually culminated with Mark Winters appearing live at Titans Mastermind.
Can an Integrator narrow down the number of ideas a Visionary creates? Doubtful.
But an Integrator can map out the steps to what it will take to get an idea done (before beginning the execution of the idea)…which is not a suitable task for a true Visionary.
Someone with a plan that is not the Visionary is a great place to start…before jumping off a cliff without said plan.
The Titan Visionaries all had thoughts on how to plan and systematize more…but they lacked the ability to really do it.
Nor did they know how to partner with an Integrator to initiate better planning systems as a priority.
Actually they didn’t know what an Integrator was, much less trying to find one.
How to partner with an Integrator who is compatible with you (and vice versa) is outlined in detail in the book…almost as a “how to manual.” That’s one of the many reasons it is such a valuable (and evergreen) book.
Back to the Titans: They knew this unique partnership between “V’s” and “I’s” was critical and attacking this issue has become a topic we tackle regularly when the members of Titans Mastermind have assembled over the last 6 years …business by business…culminating with Mark Winters appearing in May of 2021.
And we will never be done attacking and tackling this issue.
Getting candid feedback…that you can hear
This is an old story…and it’s even the subject of one of the most important children’s books ever written (which we know is not just for children).
The Emperor’s New Clothes is always worth a re-read…and that’s why it is included in the “further reading” section in Overdeliver (along with other children’s/non children’s classics) such as The Giving Tree and Oh, the Places You’ll Go.
The emperor’s new clothes problem arises from employees not wanting to rock the boat and the leader not really listening (for subtle but potentially powerful and useful criticism).
It’s been my observation that a little extra open-mindedness and a true open-door policy from the entrepreneur is always a welcome addition to the business…but it is rarely evident.
If you are the CEO, always know that everyone is looking for ways to not be in conflict with you…and hire “yes men and women” at your peril.
Having the power to hire and fire at will always lead to getting a lot less truth…but you must work to get it…and make sure your team knows that they will not be penalized for telling the truth or giving a contrarian opinion.
This is obvious and we all know it exists within a hierarchical organization but rarely do business owners and leaders ever get proper, candid feedback…and when they do, they always have trouble hearing it anyway.
But that is also because they rarely look for it.
And if you can’t hire folks who will speak up, you better be in groups (Vistage, Young Presidents and Entrepreneurs’ Organizations, high end masterminds) to get your dose of honest feedback.
That’s one of the reasons I formed Titans Mastermind.
Some leaders seem to trust the opinions of “outsiders” way more than the folks close to them on the inside…not a mistake in itself…but getting both perspectives will lead to pursuing fewer bad ideas and more good ones.
And the insiders know lots of stuff that outsiders will never know.
I’ve always said that your true friends are the ones who will tell you if you have spinach in your teeth…or if your idea sucks…while love never leaves the room.
I would recommend that you demand that of the folks who would die on a sword for you in your business (and everyone else in your life for that matter).
It’s not easy…it takes time to build that trust…but it is so worth it.
Hearing…and taking in fully…new ideas from others
I already said that many of the folks I interviewed had more ideas than they knew what to do with…however, it’s the new (breakthrough) ideas that drive exponential growth.
But here’s the issue that came up time and again from the Titans which is true for most founders of businesses:
The belief that every good idea worth pursuing needs to be their own.
This is the toughest one for entrepreneurs…since no one else had the “big idea” to get the party started in the first place (i.e. launch the company).
But I have seen so many businesses fail in the long term because the founder didn’t recognize great ideas from others in the organization readily.
Finding a “second rainmaker” (or “second Visionary” in the spirit of Rocket Fuel once again) is a concept I present to you here…and it is by far the biggest void I found in the companies that were having difficulty making the next big jump in revenue and profit.
In almost every business I encountered, all of the “best ideas” came from one person…the person at the top of the food chain.
Not only did most of the leaders not have someone in their companies to give them candid feedback to every brilliant idea they have (which happens every 15 minutes or so); but they had no one else in the organization coming up with new, unique ideas that they could build on.
How lonely is that?
In almost every case, the CEO/owner did not have a “second rainmaker.”
I know that when you have a mission or vision that is so much a part of your DNA, it is sometimes hard to hear other folks who might actually share that same mission/vision…and are ready to contribute at a much deeper level with their own ingenuity.
Please read my post “From Intrapreneur to Entrepreneur” which talks about the importance of growing superstar idea generators from within…and also making sure you are working to be one of those internal rainmakers if you are not the owner/CEO/founder.
Recognizing talent, hiring them and growing them…and then actually listening to them (and their ideas)…will lead to exponential growth in your business.
There is a risk that your second (or third) rainmaker might add even more shiny objects to your plate… but who is to say that one of theirs can’t replace one of yours?
And in the spirit of Rocket Fuel once again, multiple rainmakers—or “Junior Visionaries”—may each need their own Integrators—which I say go for that too.
Having been lucky enough to be a “second rainmaker” in a company where I shared the vision of the founder at the deepest level…and then definitely got heard…all I can say is that it is doable.
If you can’t grow a second rainmaker, you still need to find one.
Go to outside experts to help you make rain (e.g. consultants who want to be partners, not just creators of chaos).
Do that at a minimum.
But nothing beats growing one in your own image who can then adapt your greatest hits into hits of their own.
Here is what I wrote to sum up that 2015 post which is an indicator of why I’m so glad Rocket Fuel came into my life soon after:
Refrain from doing things someone else can do better, find great implementers [i.e Integrators] who complement your tendency towards shiny objects [i.e. being a Visionary].
Find employees and friends who tell you the truth.
And don’t think that you are the only one who can make it rain.
Note: I just bought a much bigger umbrella which I am very excited about.
P.S. When someone tells me that they are not renewing their membership in Titans Mastermind (which is rare) or Titans Xcelerator (also rare), I don’t get mad…nor do I try to twist their arm to stay.
However, I ask them if not Titans, what’s next?
(Click on the link above, skip the ad, and allow Liza to sing it to you right now for inspiration)
The point being, I warn those who leave me that they better get in with someone (or something) else, equally (or more) meaningful, hopefully another powerful mastermind.
Or at least an accountability group of their peers.
Because in marketing (and in life) you can’t go it alone.
And that includes finding an Integrator (which, by the way, you can find inside one of these groups whether directly or indirectly).
I call that “mastermind headhunting”…and it also works for finding copywriters, media buyers and in every case, lifelong friends and colleagues who will tell you about the spinach in your teeth, your crappy ideas and most importantly, ways for you to shine.
If you would like to interview for a seat in Titans Mastermind—now that we are “going live” again in September—a mastermind specifically for multi-channel, world class direct response marketers, entrepreneurs and copywriters–you can fill out a short application here.
We currently have a few seats open.
Every new member needs to be on boarded with a one-on-one Zoom interview (once I receive your application)—and that was the “rule” even before COVID. ☺
For Titans Xcelerator, you can go to this page to see all of the benefits…and although I am not objective, it is the best value for a marketing mastermind anywhere on the planet. And that’s no hype.
It’s affordable, virtual (no travel which has created an international community like no other) and mind bending in so many ways.
Whether you are a Visionary, an Integrator (or anything else in direct response marketing), you need an outside family to help you run your business, with tough love and compassion…and with expert advice.
I’m here for you when you’re ready.