Episode 166 – How to Go From Idea to Implementation Faster Than a Speeding Bullet – Member Case by Gail Doby

Episode 166 – How to Go From Idea to Implementation Faster Than a Speeding Bullet – Member Case by Gail Doby

In this session we delve into the fast-paced world of an executive coach in the interior design industry, exploring the methods that she uses when it is time to stop studying and start doing. Our role model shares her expert insights on how to deal with a large volume of ideas, how to prioritize them, how to sequence them, and how she includes her executive team to quicken implementation.


Greg Alexander [00:00:00] Hey, everybody, this is Greg Alexander, the host of the Pro Serv Podcast, brought to you by Collective 54. Collective 54 is the first community dedicated to the unique needs of the boutique professional services firm and its founder or founders. And on today’s episode, we’re going to talk about going from idea to implementation. In a nanosecond, and doing so in a way that, you know, compresses time to result. And this is something that I talk to numbers about a lot, and I often hear them say, hey, how do I go faster? So I’m on the lookout for people that are going fast. And we have a great guest with us today, a member, Gail Doby. And Gail runs a company called Pearl Collective, and I’ve spent some time with her, and I’ve gained an appreciation for how she goes from idea to implementation super fast. In fact, I should say ideas to implementation. So with that go. Why don’t you introduce yourself to the audience, please? 

Gail Doby [00:01:24] Sure. Well, I’ve been running this company for 16 years, and I just joined, the collective November of 2023 at the beginning. So I was just in time to join your live event, and I walked up to you at the event, introduce myself, and you chatted with me for a few minutes kindly, and said at the, toward the end of that five minutes or so you said, be sure and check with one of the people on the team and get on my calendar. So I did that while I was there in the next few minutes, and Bonnie set me up for our first call. So we’ve had a few calls since then, and that’s kind of how we got connected. And, I did get connected to you through your book, through Amazon, and that’s how I reached out and became a member of the group. So I will tell you in advance. I normally don’t join groups. I’m not a group person, but I have to say your group is different. 

Greg Alexander [00:02:23] Well thank you. I appreciate you saying that. So. So you’ve only been here since November. So at the time of this recording, it’s the end of March of, 2024. So what is that? Five months, I guess. So maybe we’ll go. Maybe we can start off with some examples of this, the ideas and how you implemented them in particular. So I understand you’ve got a few to share with us. 

Gail Doby [00:02:48] I do, I do, I have so many. And I would start with probably one of the bigger ones, because I’m also the person that likes the financial aspects of the business. And I have a finance background. So what happened was I was looking for somebody that could give me benchmarks for what I’m doing. And you gave some benchmarks, fairly early on. And one of those was working toward an 80% gross margin. So immediately that started me thinking about what did I need to do to to change and to have that happen. And then you and I had a conversation and you told me one of the well, actually, you told me several things in that meeting, and, one was that I should really think about just having one product line instead of three, and that I should consider having just one live event a year. If I had a live event and I went back and I did a model for that, did a financial model for it, and immediately took it to my team, and I said, here’s what happens if we do these things. So I told you that I didn’t know how to drop the two products, but I did figure out that I could combine two. And so once I came up with the idea of combining it, I took it back to the team and I said, okay, here’s what happens if we do this. We simplify our business. We streamline things. We cut our cost of operation for that and also our coaching costs. And we can actually cut down to one big event a year, which can between doing those two things, we can cut about 200,000 out of our cost of goods sold. And guess what? That gets us to that 80% gross margin. So that was one of the very first things that I tackled. 

Greg Alexander [00:04:31] That’s the fantastic example and for so many reasons. And I just want to highlight a couple so that those that are listening to this can get the most from this session. So that’s an example of originating an idea by starting with data. And those are usually the best ideas to rush to implementation because there’s a very clear path. Meaning I should say there’s a clear finish line. And then once you see where you want to get to, the path becomes obvious. So in Gail’s case, she wanted to get to 80% gross margins, which is very doable for a services firm. And she so she reverse engineered her way into that and combined some service offerings, simplified service delivery and presto, you know, she’s on her way to hitting that gross margin target. So the big learning there is kind of starting with the end in mind, using data as a way to determine which ideas to implement and what order. So that’s a great example. So how about another one. 

Gail Doby [00:05:34] Oh gosh. Well I what I’d like to do is highlight some of the advantages of being collective. 54 for one is the people that are in the group. And although I’m not usually a group person, what has happened is I have reached out and I’ve asked a question and I’ve gotten answers immediately from people within the group, or just listening to some of your episodes in your podcasts and some of your sessions. I, have taken some of those ideas and reached out to the consultants and already have been in touch to connect and start using their services. So one of those, I was talking to Tom Schwab, and this is after hearing you talk about, recording your Amazon book and then also starting an advertising, campaign for that. So I took that back to the team and I said, gosh, we should really do the same thing. So we’ve already revised my book. We have new calls to action in it, and we will get back in touch with, the person that you had worked with. And we will get some ads started on that. And then also, I just talked to somebody that Tom Schwab mentioned to me just two days ago, and we’re already talking about recording the book, so I’ll get the recording of the book down, which will be great. So that was another one that I just took action on. And I’ve talked to, Michelle friends about writing a little mini book, and I have that plan on the calendar for the, the, for the summer time. So those are a couple of other things. So the link to that, the second connections are just amazing. I she’s like, I’m trying to think of all the things that I’ve done. You’ve of course, connected me with an acquirer, of possible acquirers, which we will chat more about. But, just really nice people and, really good fit. And I think with our company and we’re just starting the process of having a conversation. So that wouldn’t have happened without collective 54. 

Greg Alexander [00:07:31] And again, I appreciate you saying that. And I want to be careful. And Gail, you being so kind of this doesn’t come across as a collective. 54 advertisement. It really isn’t. What I want to focus on is, is going from an idea to implementation in the in the use case. I want to highlight there. And this is the power of a collective. And by the way, I should mention that Gail runs a collective herself now. It’s a collective for interior design firms. Right. And so therefore she’s skilled at making these connections and organizing group activities. And this whole concept of peer to peer learning and one to many, business models, where you go really fast when you have access to the people that you need to have access to. So often we have a business problem and we don’t know who to turn to or where to go. And in the world of boutique professional services firms, they tend to be highly nuanced problems. So, for example, you want to turn your book into an audiobook. Okay, well, there’s a lot of different ways to do that, but isn’t it nice to be able to go to somebody who’s done that before? For somebody who market, sells and delivers expertise for a living? I mean, that’s a very specific thing. You want to run advertisements on Amazon, going to a generic advertising agency that runs advertising in all of its different forms. That’s one thing going to somebody who absolutely specializes in running ads for a book on Amazon, that’s a such a nuance thing. So plugging into peer networks, whether it’s ours or others, gets you access to this network, and it just speeds up finding the people that you need to find in order to get things done. Which is, just a great example. And I really wanted to highlight that. Question for you on when you take these ideas so you get an idea, you go back to your team and you say, let’s implement sometimes. The team says, oh gosh, let me guess. He just went to another collective 54 event and here comes the IC flavor of the week idea. So how do you how do you deal with the volume of ideas, and how do you deal with the kind of change management component and getting your team behind the ideas? 

Gail Doby [00:09:49] Well, that’s so interesting that you asked me that question. I was just having a coaching call with one of my clients about that very same thing. And what I’ve learned is that you go back with the why, why are we doing this? Why is this important? What is it that we want to accomplish? What is the outcome we’re trying to reach, and what are we trying to solve? And if we can solve the problem with making a shift in what we’re doing, and it simplifies how we’re operating our business, then it’s a no brainer for the team to say yes. And by the way, if I add in another thing that I did, pretty quickly after we and I talked, like within two days, I talked to my, leadership team, and I decided to pull the executive team out of that because you said I needed to have a succession plan that was very well laid out. And I said, okay, fine. And I went to them and I said, here’s what we’re going to do. I need for you two to be on my system, my succession plan. We’ve already talked about this. Here’s how we’re going to do this, and here’s how we’re going to roll it out. So we’re going to have an executive team. And we’ll have a leadership team that’s a little bit broader. So that was another thing I did to make sure that I was positioning my company for exit, and I hadn’t formalized it, and so that it took that moment to do it. And so as soon as I did that, then I started bringing them some of these ideas, and they know I’m preparing for exit. So this is just part of me preparing them so that they can lead the company too, because they need to be able to work with me as a team to solve problems. And we’ve got to go fast. We need to get this done. Yeah. 

Greg Alexander [00:11:26] Another great example, right? I mean, you can only go so fast if you’re one person, you can go a lot faster if you’re a team because you can throw some more horsepower at it. You know, I think it was it was a two people that you included in that conversation is, if I remember correctly, right. So now we have three people working on these things instead of one person working on these things. So the takeaway learning there for all of you that are listening is, you know, if you want to speed up the time it takes to implement all these ideas, make sure that you are distributing the ideas to your team intelligently, and that you have an executive team that enthusiastically wants to implement them. So that’s a that’s another great example. You know, maybe slightly off topic, but since I have you and I know our members are listening to this as part of our weekly programing, you were you were running it firm for 16 years. And you weren’t a joiner of groups. And then after 16 years of running the firm, you decided to do something you don’t normally do and join a group, which is uncommon, I mean normally. After doing something for 16 years. I hear sometimes types people, what am I going to learn? I mean, I’ve been doing this for so long, I know my business so well. Like, why join something like this? So what was happening to you in the fall of 2023 that made you open and, you know, receptive to something like peer learning? 

Gail Doby [00:12:49] Well, a couple of things. First of all, I think if you’re going to be a coach and you’re saying that people should join a membership group, that you should consider doing that occasionally. This is not my first time, but I was looking for something very specific. So I was looking for specific answers. And I hit the jackpot when I happened to talk to you at the back of the room, because you’ve been very kind to help me with a few things along the way in the last couple of months, because I was looking for specific answers, and I knew that if I was with a smart enough later that I would get the answers I needed. That was what I was looking for. In. Your content has been really rich and good, and even today I was not expecting to be on the call and to learn anything about time management, and I thought I got a couple nuggets out of that today. So I think just be open when you are considering what it is that you need, but also be very specific about what you’re looking for it because I knew what answers I wanted, I wanted benchmarks, and I saw that that was part of what you had in your program. And I knew if I had benchmarks, I would be able to come to conclusions faster and make decisions and move on. So that was really important to me. 

Greg Alexander [00:14:01] Yeah. Great answer. And I think the reason why you go so fast and I think you have an unfair advantage here because you do this for a living. You know what it means to be a member of an organization. And you probably have your members and you know which ones, the great members that get the most out of the program. And in the end, you’re doing that yourself now, like you’re you’re modeling the positive behavior that you’ve seen over these 16 years, so that the learning to circle on this one for the listeners is, you know, if you want to go faster, maybe study what it means to be a great member in an organization like collective 54, like, like, how do you maximize, you know, all the value that’s available to you and how do you do so at a time in a cost effective way? And for many of our members, this is the first time they’ve ever been a member of a collective, been a member of a membership organization in a business context. And it’s not intuitive. I remember when I my first experience, I was a member of OEO and a member of Ypo, and I was a member of target 21, and I didn’t really know what it was. I didn’t understand the difference between like a training organization or a consulting organization or like going into like an executive education course and like a Harvard or something, you know, versus a membership organization. I really had to learn what that meant. Any advice for our listeners on, you know, how to learn how to operate within a collective? Well. 

Gail Doby [00:15:31] Well, I think first off, if you are good at identifying what your problems are in your company, then that’s number one. If you can get it written down and figure out what your priorities are, focus on your number one priority and then reach out to the leadership of this group or to the person that you’re assigned to that’s there to help you and connect you with the right people and just start asking questions. Because if you ask questions, the quality of your questions determines the quality of your results, as we all know. So if you are if you have some questions that you need to have answered. Figure out what you need help with and if you’re stuck. I’ve heard this before and I love this statement. If you’re stuck for more than three days, you need help. So figure out who you need to go to to ask the question. And then once you get the answer, then makes the right decision based on like you said, data is very important and you’ve got great resources here within the group. So whenever I’ve had a problem or a question, I’ve just reached out and asked a question of somebody and I’ve gotten an answer almost immediately. That’s all that’s been really good. And, I want to give you another, kudo for the summarization of EOS and how to make this apply to our industry. I’ve been on EOS for about six years, and I took that and I summarized it down into 14 pages, and I went back to my leadership team and I said, we need to make these changes. So we’ve already started and we’ve adapted and we have new KPIs, and we have changed our, structure of our meetings so that we’re doing one data meeting a month and we’re doing the rest of those are issues meeting. So we’ve shortened our calls in order to do that. So that’s been a time saver for our leadership team, which has been great. 

Greg Alexander [00:17:24] Is that’s a fantastic example. I mean, for those that aren’t familiar, EOS is the entrepreneur’s operating system, and it’s kind of a management methodology that a lot of our members use. I use myself and I have for a long time, and I love it. The way to make it most effective is to customize it to your own individual situation, which, is what Gail is talking about. We attempted to give you a running start by customizing EOS to our application, which is for the Boutique Pro search firm. And our little firms are very nuanced things. Right. So a generic methodology applies to all types of businesses of all sizes and shapes and, you know, lifecycle stages. It’s a little too high level. So if you can customize it to your situation it can be that much more impactful. Which is which is what you’ve done. Well, listen, I could I could talk to you about this forever. You know, this podcast is meant to be 15 minutes, and it’s a summary of what we’re going to discuss in the one hour member Q&A session. And I know that our members are going to attend with a lot of questions, because this is an area of struggle. Too many ideas. Not having enough time to get them all in, implemented, figuring out which ones to prioritize, how to measure them after they’ve been been implemented, how to take them from kind of a framework state to make them tangible, you know, to your business, you know, next Tuesday, these are all things that you’ve done very well. So on behalf of the members, Gail, thanks for being here and sharing your story with us. 

Gail Doby [00:18:48] My pleasure. Thanks for having me. 

Greg Alexander [00:18:51] All right. Great. All right. A couple calls to action. So if you’re a member and you’re listening to this and you want to learn more from Gail, look out for the meeting invitation that we’ll be sending you for her, Q&A session on the Friday role model, episode. If you’re not a member and you want to become one, go to collective 54.com and fill out an application that will get in contact with you. And if you just want to learn more, I point you to our book, The Boutique How to Start Scale and Sell a professional services Firm, which you can find on Amazon. But until next time, I wish you the best of luck as you try to grow, scale, and maybe someday exit your boutique. Take care everybody.