🎙️ Transcript: The Integrity Edge of Leadership

🎙️ Transcript: The Integrity Edge of Leadership

The Sales Consultant Podcast
"The Integrity Edge of Leadership"
Derrick Williams, Ralph Barsi
April 5, 2024

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Ralph Barsi:

For those who aren't practicing, and for those teams who aren't practicing, I blame the leaders. It's got to be a top-down strategy in illustrating leadership by example.

We don't incorporate that practice and lean into it just because Prospecting Day is coming down the pike. This is a daily operation and a daily practice. You talk about that in repetition to the point where it becomes rote, where they don't even think about it anymore.

It's important to put in that work, stay disciplined, and keep the resolve that's needed to move the needle at all costs and all the time. You cannot win if you don't keep score, so you have to constantly measure your progress. Are you moving the needle from A to B or from X to Y? And how often are you doing that?

One window closes and another opens, Derrick. You know this as well as anybody listening.

Derrick Williams:
I do. Trust me.

It's pure joy to have crossed the chasm from leading sales development organizations to leading a sales organization. To go from being tied to revenue pipeline to revenue.

This is an inspirational conversation with legendary Ralph Barsi. Ralph has led global sales development teams at companies like Tray.io and ServiceNow.

And it was back then, in 2015, that I first started following him and taking note of his talks. Currently, he's the VP of Sales at Kahua. And as a first time VP of Sales, we get to unpack what his first year has been like.

We also get into several other topics, like the importance of operationalizing practice and sales organizations, the importance of loving your haters as you grow in your career. And we even get into advice on how to structure payment terms and consulting engagements, which Ralph provides an interesting twist on using family trusts.

In my opinion, Ralph personifies servant leadership and what it means to be an authentic sales leader.

So, I make sure to have a well-rounded conversation with him to understand what truly underpins his success. With over 30 years of experience in sales, sales leadership, and consulting, Ralph drops a ton of advice that you're not going to want to miss. Let me get started with your 75 Hard.

I was doing some homework and I noticed that today is day 27 of your second go-round with the 75 Hard. You did it last year, I was reading about. So, what is this 75 Hard? And why are you doing it?

Yeah, 75 Hard was founded by a gentleman named Andy Frisella. He is CEO of a company called 1st Phorm: they're a supplement and health company. And he created 75 Hard a few years back and called it a mental toughness program.

Now, that said, there are critical tasks that you must accomplish every single day for 75 consecutive days, most of them are physical:

• You've got to do two 45 minute workouts; one must be outdoors, both could be outdoors if you'd like
• You have to read 10 pages of a non-fiction book
• You have to drink one gallon of water
• You cannot drink alcohol
• You must stick to a diet; you can't have any cheat meals
• And you must take a profile picture every single day, a selfie

Typically, for guys, they have to have their shirts off, and you post it privately in the app for your own good just to see your progress. For ladies, they wear a sports bra, for example. None of this is posted online unless, of course, they want to.

But a lot of people, believe it or not, skip that little task of taking the profile pic. And if you miss any task, or deviate whatsoever...if you drink a half gallon of water, if you read nine pages of a book, if you do one workout, the next day is day one of 75 consecutive days.

You start all over again. Okay. It's like playing 21. The old basketball game. When you get tipped in, you go back to zero.

That's right. But therein lies the mental challenge: it's all about how you do anything is how you do everything. So, you're either going to do this full stop or you're not going to do it at all.

I learned a lot from going through it last year. I did 75 Hard last spring. I did it with two friends of mine. We actually had money on the line, which really helped incentivize everybody to get through it. And I just found that, hey, when I'm trying to bring myself back to center and get back on the path, so to speak, a program like 75 Hard's going to get me to go.

Wow. I love that. Have you ever had to go back to zero?


Wow. Johnny on the spot then, huh?

No. You're either going to do it or you're not going to do it.

Two 45-minute workouts a day. And this is seven days a week, this is 75 days consecutively?

That's right. It's 75 days straight. So for example, if I'm traveling across the country, really challenging, so I'll have to get up extra early or I might get to the airport early and do 45-minute walk through the whole airport terminal before I get on the airplane.

And then, when I land on the other side of the country and check into the hotel, I immediately step outside and I might go for a run or might go for a walk outside, but I have to get those workouts in.

But you look back on that trail that you just left 75 days prior and you've got a little swagger. You know that there's no real task or project that you cannot accomplish as long as you break it up into these little chunks and these critical tasks every day.

So, that is what 75 Hard is in a nutshell. And I couldn't encourage people enough to try it.

Yeah. Well, the no cheat meals, I can do pretty good about my diet Monday through Friday. It's the weekends where I usually tend to slip up. But that's admirable. And it goes to show a lot about you as a leader, as an individual, as a family man. How you do anything is how you do everything, like you mentioned. And I firmly believe in that.

I myself try to work out, eat right and try to do all that. And I share a lot of it on Instagram because it comes back to what you said about the picture. For me, it's an accountability step. Once I've started sharing my journey, I feel obligated to continue to share my journey.

And so, the days where I'm like, "I don't know if I'm going to go to the gym. I don't know if I'm going to eat right." I have to remember this persona that I've created for myself and I need to live through, "Okay. Well, I need to show I'm not eating any carbs or sugar today. I want to show my progress in the gym and my deadlifts are getting better, or I'm doing more cardio." Whatever it might be. The personal accountability piece about that last piece where people... You'd be tempted not to take a picture. I mean, I could see why not. But no, great program. Great program.

Alright. Well, thanks for sharing that. I think that's a good kickoff. But now, tell me a little bit about how you balance everything, because I'm going to load this up a little bit.

You have three sons who are all adults, you're a sales leader, you're actively building your brand, you're writing content, you participate in interviews like this, you do keynote speaking, you're an active musician in a band that you've been part of for 20 some odd years, I believe, you're a go-to-market advisor. I mean, you're all over the place, man. You've been on a tear for the last 10 years.

I've been watching your time at ServiceNow and at tray.io and where you are today. Just watching that trajectory from afar. As you know, I was with 10 Bound for a little while and you're a good friend of the 10 Bound crew. So tell me, how is it that you are able to juggle all of this without going crazy?

That is quite a bit, isn't it? It's overwhelming to listen to. I appreciate you calling it out. First of all, how I do it is I do it in bite-size chunks. Very similar to the critical tasks we spoke about in the 75 Hard program, you have to do things one thing at a time and give it your undivided attention.

And then, you move on to the next thing. And I guess when you do look back over the week or over the years, hopefully you've left behind a lot of value for people.

And also, how I do it is I haven't really seen my work as work. In fact, I've always looked at it as a vocation. It's why I'm here, it's what I was put on this earth to do.

We each have unique strengths and gifts in my opinion, and to not use them to benefit others and to help others is a disservice. It's sacrificing the gift that you've been given and that's not going to happen on my watch.

I love that. It's a commitment to just holding the standard, it sounds like.

That's right. And also, it's under the umbrella of leading by example. I certainly can't ask my team or my sons to do things that I wouldn't do as well. And so, the best way to do it is to serve as a model.

I love that. And I'm glad you mentioned your sons, because often as leaders in business, we are very focused on helping our teams, helping our organizations, and we're highly committed to that. But not everybody finds that balance to do the same thing back at home.

I always said I have no business trying to motivate people at work if I can't motivate my three daughters. It's being congruent that way. So on that, I usually ask how one's parents influence their career choices, but I'm going to reverse this.

How do you think your career is going to influence your son's career choices? Will they be in sales, you think?

It remains to be seen. I mean, first things first, I am eternally indebted and grateful to my parents. I'm blessed to still have them. They're still incredible models for me and raised high standards for me and my brother that you want to make them look good. You know what I mean?

Live up to the Barsi name.

Absolutely. So, I honor what I've learned from them and continue to learn from them. And then, of course pay it forward with my sons.

So, I don't know if any of them will end up in sales, but they'll have seen the work ethic, the discipline, the integrity, the class, the professionalism, the humility, the resourcefulness, and on and on, that it takes to move things forward in your career and in the careers of others.

So, whatever route they choose for their careers, all that stuff still applies. It doesn't matter what it is that they choose for their career path, it's going to require those types of building blocks.

Yeah. Transferable skill sets. That's the beauty of things like sports and music, for that matter. And I mentioned earlier that you're in the band. That's a debate I don't hear enough about.

You always hear about the transferable skills or talents from sports and from athletes, but not enough, I don't think, goes into the transferable skills and disciplines, if you will, that come from things like music and the arts, right?

One of the things that comes to mind is, again, we could probably talk about your band till we're blue in the face, which I was listening to some of your music on Spotify. So if you guys aren't aware, go check out Segue on Spotify, some great albums, great music.

Thanks, Derrick.

The thing that carries over for me is the level of practice. You had mentioned, in your 2023 review on your website, that you and your band rehearsed a ton but didn't have an opportunity to perform last year, right? For whatever reason. But the thing that really stuck out to me was the level of practice that you still adhere to.

You didn't have gigs scheduled, but you were still practicing, you were still rehearsing, you were still working. So, make that correlation for me in sales realm, right? As a sales leader, how do you operationalize practice within your organization when you think about the level of practice that goes into this as a musician?

Wow. Big question. I do wish Segue rehearsed much more than we did last year. And we'll change that, that's just a matter of conflicting schedules and everyone's lives, et cetera.

But we all honor the craft of playing music and we all aim to master that craft. And we also know that that day's never going to arrive where we feel like we've mastered the instrument that we play, let alone the music.

We remain vehicles, if you will, or channels from which the song plays through. So, when we're playing music, we're just trying to achieve what the song already wants to convey to an audience.

And hopefully, we're on point and we've been practicing and we've been taking the music seriously and taking our instruments seriously to where we can achieve that more often than not.

So, of course that transfers right to sales and right to leadership. If you're not in the quiet - away from the audience, and away from the team - practicing your craft, and that could be listening to podcasts or conversations like this, reading the books, going back and rereading or revisiting notes that you've hopefully taken years ago and chronicled your work from to get better at the craft and get better at serving others, whether it be prospects, customers, or your team or your company or yourself.

It's important to put in that work, stay disciplined and keep the resolve that's needed to move the needle at all costs and all the time.

You cannot win if you don't keep score. So, you have to constantly measure your progress. Are you moving the needle from a to b or from x to y? And how often are you doing that?

Yeah. Well said. I always get picky about this, but I feel like salespeople don't practice enough, and that's why I always try to harp on this topic. Going back to the sports analogy or fitness, that's the lane... I try to work out often, as I mentioned.

And I make the joke that your PRs in the gym are great, but what about your PRs on the sales floor or back at work?

Your personal records is what we're talking about. A lot of times we're very adamant about being able to have our personal record on a bench press, on how fast we ran a mile or 10 miles, these sorts of physical checkpoints.

But taking that mentality into the sales realm as an individual contributor and holding myself to that and saying, "I need to practice my opening. I need to practice asking for the meeting.

I need to practice my negotiation." This rebuttal I'm hearing over and over again, "I need to pull in my internal persona and balance it off of them. Or at least learn from them if they don't have time."

At least understanding, from my internal persona, how I should approach that external persona that we're reaching out to. But there's so much, I feel like, that should go into this. As performance-based organizations, why aren't we practicing more?

Great question. So, for those who aren't practicing, and for those teams who aren't practicing, I blame the leaders. It's got to be a top-down strategy in illustrating leadership by example.

So, if leaders parachute into an organization, for example, and are there to establish systems, one system that they could, in part, is the pre-mortem and the post-mortem.

You talked about being more prepared to open conversations, to carry through a discovery call, to follow up and follow through when you're in late stages of an opportunity, it all comes down to, well, what did we set out to do? What problems did we set out to solve for these prospects? Or how did we identify what those problems were?

And then, what did we do to reconcile those problems and solve those problems? Or what still needs to be done? And have we asked for feedback along the way internally and externally?

It's systems like that that have to be done consistently, and also have to be communicated, Derrick, that this is how we're going to roll and this is the model we're going to adhere to.

So, anytime I'm asking you if you're a sales rep on my team, hey, tell me not only how the call went, but what the next steps are and what are the lessons we're already learning at this phase of the process?

At least you have an understanding as to why I'm asking you these questions, because I established, from the outset, what model we were following and the purpose behind that model so that it's clear and context has been given.

That way you get everybody heading north together versus all over the map. Or worse, to what you said, people who aren't even doing it at all, they're not even practicing the craft.

Yeah. This is, to me, a big opportunity for most organizations, is how they can operationalize this motion and this level of rigor around improving. When you think about sports teams or bands, this is what they do.

They practice profusely until maybe they don't have it down mastered or perfect, but where they have high levels of confidence that they're ready for the gig tomorrow night.

Or if in a sales context, I know I'm meeting with ABC org at 9am tomorrow and I have an idea of the pain points or the opportunities there, let me flush that out here with a peer, in the mirror, with my wife, somehow. Let me externalize this and make sure that I'm practiced and ready to go.

I talk about my brother quite a bit. He's a football coach for a private university in Southern California, and I go to their practices time to time, and this is where it really hit me.

I was sitting there watching the level of repetition that they go through. The kid just caught the pass, fine. Why are we going back and running it back over and over and over again? It's getting to that level of unconscious competence, I think.

One of the interviews I watched in preparation for this, you were going over your Prospecting Day. You had three stages of it: before the prospecting day, during the prospecting day, and then the post-mortem.

And the question that came to me was whether or not we incorporate practicing in that preliminary stage. Do you facilitate amongst your SDRs and your AEs? And have your managers... Now that you're running the org, are you constructing that where they're not only reviewing the script, listening to good calls, but are they getting into the motion of practicing this at all?

Yeah, the answer is yes. And here's the secret, we don't incorporate that practice and lean into it just because prospecting day is coming down the pike.

This is a daily operation and a daily practice. You talk about that repetition to the point where it becomes rote where they don't even think about it anymore. They're willing to... Or they're able to open up a conversation depending on the persona they're speaking to.

They already, naturally and inherently, know that, okay, as we come up on the last five minutes of this call, it's now time for me to prompt next steps.

And when I prompt those next steps, I'm not going to ask yes-no questions per se. I might ask open-ended questions and give people multiple choice.

Does Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning work best for you? Why don't we open up our calendars while I have you... et cetera, et cetera. That comes from repetition and practice, so that by the time a prospecting day happens, I mean, it's on, we do it at scale.

Absolutely. Love that. Thank you. I appreciate that. I love to hear how organizations are incorporating this into their methodology so that maybe those that are out there who are hearing this and saying, "You know what? We could do a better job of practicing. What are some tactical things that I can action on the heels of this conversation that I could take away from you?"

So there you go, guys, some great stuff from a great VP of Sales. Now, this is your first time as a VP of Sales. You're closing in on your one-year anniversary, I think it was April last year, if LinkedIn is at all accurate.

It is.

Good. Two things on that: Number One, walk me through your thought process and the mental fortitude that you had to employ when you were let go from your last company or ended your last... I was reading your review for 2023.

Very transparent guy. You got to go check out his website, ralphbarsi.com. He has a blog where he's very open about a lot of different things, gives great advice.

One of the things that he did was a recap of 2023 and the things that he had learned, and the experiences that he had, both highlights and lowlights, which I love the balance there.

And one of the challenges that he faced was that he lost his job, and I think it was February of 2023. But then, you were hired in April, sometime around your birthday, to be a VP of Sales for the first time.

So, just take me back to that moment and how you went from thinking, "Man, this sucks. I'm getting let go. I got to find the next role." To then embarking on the next and best role, probably, that you've had in terms of your trajectory in your career. That had to have been a mixed emotion.

Yeah. It was to a degree. Hundreds of thousands of employees, especially in the SaaS industry, were let go over the last two years. Some are still being let go as you and I speak.

I was privileged to work for an incredible company at a tough phase of growth, and am very close to its founding team. So, knew ahead of time that some change was coming down the pike and that I was likely going to be impacted by it.

So, it wasn't really being blindsided. In fact, I think the founding team made a very healthy, tough decision to continue on the trajectory that they needed to be on to get that company where it's supposed to go.

So, I respect the decision that they made, and I love that founding team, and I'm here to this day to support them. That being said, one window closes and another opens, Derrick. You know this as well as anybody listening or watching.

I do. Trust me.

Yeah. I really, I guess, detached in a lot of ways from the situation at hand. And similar to being a musician - and I'm a drummer and I've been a drummer since I was three years old and have played in bands for decades - you have to have an open mind. You have to know when to play and when not to play your instrument.

And when things like this happen to you that aren't always in your control, you have to approach it with an open mind. You have to detach, and you have to stay optimistic knowing that, well, I've left a pretty solid trail of breadcrumbs behind me, and I've recognized that the more value I've added to the industry and the marketplace over time, the more valuable I've become in the process.

So, it's a matter of time where I'm going to measure twice and cut once at the opportunities at hand, and I'm going to land on the one that is the best fit for right now. And it just happened to be a VP of Sales role at Kahua.

And to your point, it's pure joy to have crossed the chasm from leading sales development organizations to leading a sales organization, to go from being tied to revenue pipeline to revenue. And if I look at the past three decades of my career, all of which have been centered on sales, this is one role I have not yet done.

So, I can't ride off into the sunset whenever that day comes having not been a VP of sales. So, I have to have this notch on my belt, and I have to be able to walk the talk, and say that when I look back on the three, or maybe four at this point, when I ride off into the sunset, decades of work in sales, I've done it all. I've done every single role in sales.

And if I had not done this role, I would not be able to say that. So, I'm able to sleep at night with all the inherent pressure that comes with this role. I mean, what a way to grow and to get better and better and better at your craft and to serve more and more and more people.

So, I'm thrilled at the opportunity that I had at Tray, and I'm even more thrilled to have the opportunity I have right now at Kahua.

Man, you're sharp. Well said, well said. I know that had to be an interesting time in your life, but one window closes, another one opens, and now you're a year into the role.

Outside of being measured differently and having a different focus, as a leader, what's the big aha moment? I mean, you reflect on the last year, you do a lot of reflection exercises. When you think about April of last year to where you are now as a leader in this position, how have you grown? What's been the aha moment?

I've definitely been humbled, and I feel like my ego has gotten healthier in this role because there's so much that I don't know, not just about the VP of Sales role directly, but I jumped into a brand new industry, and that is construction and project management specifically for construction owners and construction projects. It's uncharted territory for me.

So, I'm that guy who's asking a lot of fundamental one-on-one questions of my team and of our customers and of our partners, and you have to hang your ego up before you start getting into those types of conversations.

But I'm okay with that, and I'm learning in the process. And I also am very confident in what I do know and what I can do and how I can help. So, it's a great harmony and it's a great balance right now in life and in my career.

Well said, well said. What's some advice you would give to a new manager frontline, maybe an SDR manager, maybe the first time running a team of AEs? Is there any top of mind leadership advice you'd give to that frontline manager?

• Listen more than you talk
• Document and chronicle your work
• Communicate consistently and clearly
• Don't think that more words are going to put you in a brighter light or on a higher pedestal
• Be very simple
• Use short sentences
• Ask questions, repeat. And in your responses, did I hear that right? Or, help me better understand this. Or, my understanding of this is x, I'm hearing y, is it...

Help me understand the difference. Yeah.

Ralph Barsi:
Yeah. How could I be better? And be of service to others? You're in a leadership position for a reason, it's because you solve problems well, and you solve a lot of problems concurrently.

Some you can solve fast, some you solve slow, but that's why you're in this role. So, help others. Help others figure out how to do it, move out of the way and move things out of their way so that they can get where they're trying to go. Try to understand...

Like the great, late Dr. Stephen Covey said, "Seek first to understand before you're understood."

So, try to understand each individual rep on your team or leader on your team that reports to you. Do things that don't scale. Focus on the one-on-one first. It doesn't matter how big your team is, if you need to meet people in cohorts in order to accomplish things at scale, then do that.

But invest time seeing yourself at the bottom of the org chart versus the top. Serve up and into your organization, versus down upon them.

I haven't met a leader yet that I've worked for or worked alongside who's been seen in a good light when they're seen themselves at the top of the org chart. So, my advice would be see yourself at the bottom.

Well said. And you've talked about that before. Another thing you've talked about, you talked with me in our preliminary call, and I heard on another interview, the advice around as you grow and you take on larger teams, so does the number of haters that you have to deal with as a leadership. Talk to me about that.

Yeah. It's just human nature and human behavior. As you grow in your career and as you start to lead either larger projects or larger teams, your contingent of haters grows in proportion, and that's okay.

Haters are a good fuel for you to get better. Oftentimes, if people are hating on you or they don't like your approach, et cetera, et cetera, there's probably a silver lining in that, you're probably doing something that could be corrected or could be improved.

So, don't be quick to judge those haters. Take a moment to go, "Maybe I do need to work on A, B, or C." But then, of course there's a percentage of them that are blowhards and aren't ever going to amount to much in their career.

And so, to those, I would just tell you to pray for them and wish the best for them. There's no reason for you to hate them. It reminds me of the great quote from Abraham Lincoln where he said, "I do not like that man. I must get to know him better."

Wow. It's eye-opening because it happens, right? I've had to deal with similar circumstances where you have a relatively large team and you're not everybody's favorite person in the organization.

And that's leadership, right? I mean, it's lonely at the top. That's what they talk about. But to acknowledge that it might be a blind spot for you, and to humble yourself, as you mentioned earlier, take a step back and think, maybe this is happening for a reason, and maybe there's something I can learn and improve on from here, it's not the most comfortable position to be in when you're having that happen.

But that's where growth happens, I guess, is exactly that.
Because there's times where you're going to make unpopular decisions, you might have to let someone go who is popular on the team, but isn't performing well. And in that process, they create alliances and they try and bring the rest of the team down or against you.

We've probably all seen this happen in different flavors, but I've noticed that you've talked about this a few times in interviews and with me. Has this been something you've had to manage through? Are there any stories that you can share of how you've had to process through things like that?

Sure. Absolutely. So yes, it's happened to me on more than one occasion. Clearly, it's impacted me in a big way because I have talked about it quite a bit.

But today, when I talk about it, it's more for the up and comers, for the newer leaders who haven't done this yet and haven't yet been around the block.

So, I recognize now that the leader I was at InsideView 15 years ago, versus Achievers 12 years ago, versus ServiceNow eight years ago, versus Tray, et cetera, et cetera, is a different leader than I am today.

I've evolved and matured, at least I hope I have, in really good ways to be a much better leader now.

And so, when I look back, if there were people who were doing what you say, pulling people with them to go against me, or a directive, or an initiative that I tried to enforce or create, I look back now and sure, yeah, maybe there was a facet of that directive that I would've done differently today versus how I did it 12 years ago or 10 years ago.

And there's stuff that, no, I would do it the exact same way. And I just acknowledged where I've needed to make course corrections, and I've done it. I've done those course corrections to be better.

And I've also, in prayer and reflection, forgiven people who have hated on me in the past. And I get it. It's all good. And if they choose to hate me today, again, they're the ones holding that anger and that hate, and it's not going to bode well for them in their lives. But I've certainly let go of it.

Well, I'm glad you opened up about that, and I appreciate it. Because I feel like that's one of those things that, particularly new managers, struggle with because it's going to happen.

Even if you have a smaller team, it just takes one rep that just isn't picking up what you're putting down no matter what you do. You can't make everyone happy. That's the reality of it.

You can't. Derrick, it still brings anxiety just to talk about it today, but it's part of life, and it happens professionally, and it happens personally. But mind your attitude and your tone and your disposition about all these challenges and obstacles that we go through and hopefully overcome in life.

And if I'm freaking out, everybody's watching that example. And if I'm calm and cool and really thinking through it, people are watching that example as well. And I prefer the latter.

Yeah. It goes back to setting the example, leading by example, being what you preach and these sorts of things. Thank you. Appreciate that.

Now, this is the sales consultant podcast. So, I got to ask you a little bit about your advisory experience. I know you do some on the side, and it's here or there, not necessarily your primary lane that you're focused on.

Some of our other guests, like myself, who are predominantly just doing consulting, but how did you get into advising, and has it ever been a temptation to do that full time down the road? I mean, talk to me about your ambitions around it and how you got into it.

Sure. Yeah. The part about something that I'd like to pursue down the road, absolutely. As I was mentioning earlier, as I ride off into the sunset, I'll likely create my own boutique consulting firm. It's something I've always wanted to do, and I just have to see it come to fruition.

So by all means, yes to that question. Thanks for asking. How I got into it was, again, by helping, just helping people, not expecting anything in return. The team at Loopio was gracious enough to extend my first advisory role to me back in 2019.

But that was after three to four years of me helping them with new sales development leaders, helping them with sales development programs, just consulting them pro bono, and being able to let them know that they can call me or email me at any time, and I would carve out time to address a problem they might have specifically at the top of funnel.

And over time, we decided together to formalize the relationship. And again, it was a good three to four years before we finally formalized the relationship and created an advisory role at Loopio.

And it was just an incredible opportunity for both of us. And I have a special place in my heart for the team at Loopio. And once that happened, it's almost like it just attracted other colleagues in my network and companies to inquire, "Hey, would you consider talking with our team?"

And it's been a great run over the last several years to be able to advise and consult a number of different companies that are trying to shape their go-to market motion, or hire people, or try to get introductions brokered into prospects they're trying to connect with. And it's been an honor to be able to serve in that fashion.

Wow. Yeah. The three to four years pro bono, that really stood out for sure. But that goes to show you sometimes we get into consulting, it's that way. We're just helping people. And then, one thing leads to another.

Some of us have a concerted effort in mind of, I'm going to consult, I'm going to get paid for it. And sometimes when you force that, I think maybe it becomes a little bit more difficult and hard to grow.

But if you just seek to serve and just help people, there is a level of where things will fall into place. But three years, wow, that was a long run before getting something formal put in place.

That just comes from my immaturity at the time around. I didn't even know that advising was a potential opportunity. It just happened to turn into that. But yeah, that'd be my advice to those thinking about it.

Focus in the right areas, major and major things, not minor things. And that is, let me quantify this, and maybe the first three interactions, I'm not even going to expect anything.

And then, maybe the fourth interaction, I'll manage expectations to say, "Hey, typically at this stage, this is where relationships get formalized. Have you ever considered bringing me on as an advisor, or a temporary consultant, or a fractional X?"

And then, that's usually how the relationship gets kicked off on the right foot. So, I would encourage people who are thinking about it or discerning to take that approach versus starting out with the, let's formalize this now, before we even have a conversation. That's not how people work.

Yeah. And there's a proof of value that you want to establish as well. In those initial conversations you should be giving away as much advice and support as possible to prove the concept that, hey, this is going to be time and an engagement worthwhile as we move on.

One of the things that, and I hope you don't mind sharing this, but to me, it was mind opening, mind shifting, I should say. I mean, how you structure comp, compensation, to you as an advisor in your engagements.

Now, I think we're all familiar with different models of pricing and different things that way, but there's an equity play that you shared with me that... And all the time I've been running the show, none of the consultants that I know of have positioned this.

There's a trust component too, a family trust piece to this. So just break this down for me, how you have this set up.

Sure. So typically, in my experience, consulting terms consist of equity, and, obviously, it's up to the company and the consultant to come to an agreement on is it half a point? Is it even less than that? Is it even more than that?

It depends on what stage the company is in. They could be privately held, they could be publicly held. There's a number of varieties of consulting. But equity is typically at the center or at the core of that relationship.

The second piece of that is, if it is a very early stage company, in my experience, if it's in the seed round, or A, or even B, I have consulted companies for free, whereas I've gotten equity, but nothing came of the company.

The company either closed their doors or slid off the rails, and nothing ever became of the company. There was no exit. There's not going to be an exit. It's clear as day.

And so, I have likened that to, "I worked for free for a year, or two years, whatever that term was, for this, quote, 'equity' that I received."

So, to hedge that and to make it more of a win-win scenario, I have positioned subsequent consulting opportunities, broaching the topic of equity plus a retainer fee, and we've come to an agreement on what... And that retainer fee is cash, of course.

It could be paid monthly or quarterly. But you come to an agreement with the founding team who's reconciling your work against their cap table, and does it make sense to provide both equity and a cash retainer? And in some scenarios, it does make sense. So, I've positioned that.

And then, when you asked about the trust, the equity, and the cash, depending on your personal situation, for me, I set up a family trust. So, the shares and the equity that I have earned in my consulting roles has been signed over to my family trust.

So, God willing, if I can live through the next several years, and I could see some of these companies come to fruition and I get a return on that equity based on their exit, everybody's going to win.

However, if God has another plan for me, and I am not here, that money, should that company come to fruition, goes right to the family trust and the beneficiaries of that trust. So, my wife-

And so, the benefit there is not having to go through some sort of post-death process. What's the term I'm looking for? Probate. Where a trust bypasses that, it sounds like. Is that the core? I mean, why did you do the family trust instead of just having it paid out directly to you? Double-click on that for me real quick.

Sure. Yeah. No, it's a great question. And it's really not that complicated. It's almost like a life insurance. If something were to happen to me, I would like this money to go to the trust and the beneficiaries of that trust.

For me personally, it's my wife, my sons, other family members, and there's also some charitable organizations in there. So, a lot of different people are going to benefit, versus just Ralph Barsi, "Hey, I did this consulting for two to three years, the company exited, more money for me, more for me."

Instead, it's like, no, no, no, no. There are a lot of people that I can impact from this exit based on my work, and I'd much rather go that route. Whether I'm here or not, everybody's going to win-win when that happens. That's the whole point behind it.

Guys, this is service-based leadership holistically. This isn't just in the realm of sales, but in all aspects of this man's life, he's finding ways to give back and make impact. I can't say enough how honored I am to have you as a guest, have you as a friend.

We're not far from each other. Hopefully, we can get out and get that round of golf done. Last question for you... Yeah. And then, you'll, I'm sure, kick my butt, even though you'll probably tell me you're not that good, but I'm sure you are. Last question for you, and I'll let you go. Who has helped you the most become who you are?

Wow. Oh, wow. The most? Probably my wife. My wife, Kathryn. She and I met when we were in college. We started dating as sophomores. We're coming up on our 33rd dating anniversary, and this year we will be married 28 years. I mean, yeah, there's just... nobody holds a candle to her, she's been the One.

Is she your accountability partner? Is she your biggest cheerleader? All of the above? When you think about her being the person that's helped you become who you are the most, there's got to be one attribute that comes to mind, that stands out amongst the most.

Sure. If it were one word, it would be presence. She's present. Present to me, present to our family, present to our world and the world around us. Candidly, Derrick, I can't talk too much about her because I won't even get through the sentence, but she's it.

Well done. I appreciate your time today, Ralph. Good for you and your wife on your upcoming wedding anniversary, your birthday's coming up. I mean, you're a hell of a guy, man. Thank you for being on the show.

Well, the feeling's mutual. Thanks for having me, Derrick.

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